“Pull, pull, my fine hearts-alive; pull, my children; pull, my little ones,” drawlingly and soothingly sighed Stubb to his crew, some of whom still showed signs of uneasiness. “Why don’t you break your backbones, my boys? What is it you stare at? Those chaps in yonder boat? Tut! They are only five more hands come to help us—never mind from where—the more the merrier. Pull, then, do pull; never mind the brimstone—devils are good fellows enough. So, so; there you are now; that’s the stroke for a thousand pounds; that’s the stroke to sweep the stakes! Hurrah for the gold cup of sperm oil, my heroes! Three cheers, men—all hearts alive! Easy, easy; don’t be in a hurry—don’t be in a hurry. Why don’t you snap your oars, you rascals? Bite something, you dogs! So, so, so, then:—softly, softly! That’s it—that’s it! long and strong. Give way there, give way! The devil fetch ye, ye ragamuffin rapscallions; ye are all asleep. Stop snoring, ye sleepers, and pull. Pull, will ye? pull, can’t ye? pull, won’t ye? Why in the name of gudgeons and ginger-cakes don’t ye pull?—pull and break something! pull, and start your eyes out! Here!” whipping out the sharp knife from his girdle; “every mother’s son of ye draw his knife, and pull with the blade between his teeth. That’s it—that’s it. Now ye do something; that looks like it, my steel-bits. Start her—start her, my silver-spoons! Start her, marling-spikes!”
—The First Lowering
Second Mate. The most comical of the mates, Stubb’s easy wit and jollity of character belie his true nature, a man perfectly suited for his chosen profession, a pipe-smoker and whale-killer extraordinaire. Stubb is a whaler through and through, and a dodger to boot, fitting his delightful personality comfortably between the more sober and serious Starbuck (first mate), and the bucking young bronco Flask (third mate).
With Stubb at the helm of your boat you are at a distinct advantage, and are afforded the ability to dodge anything you simply must dodge (STOVE BOAT, BATTERING-RAM, etc.). Unfortunately for the jolly Stubb, another Whale card must be drawn immediately following the dodge, and he has put himself at the front of his boat by activating. Easily can the life of a whaling man from Cape Cod thus be ended, and if he were to go to his final rest in such a way, he surely wouldn’t bat an eye on the way down.
Stubb’s observations of Ahab, Fedallah, and other crewmates are some of the best-paced and funniest monologues in the work, and Ishmael’s description of his character under fire is at once thrilling and hilarious. Stubb’s infamous pipe was once a card of its own in the early stages of the game, awarding the recipient player with the virtue of patience—I like to think of Stubb languidly lighting his pipe, after drawing STOVE BOAT for example, and politely saying to the offending whale, ‘No thanks—what else have you got?’
Original Image Courtesy of the University of Washington Freshwater and Marine Image Bank.