We’ve had several Luther spottings on our classical journey. There was that time we ran into him in the Slough of Despond, and then he and Pearl were kindred spirits according to some of the Bostonians. But now, we’ve run across his good friend and fellow Reformer, Philipp Melancthon.
Ishmael really likes physiognomy, assessing character based on head shape, you remember the connection between Queequeg and President Washington, right? Well, Melancthon apparently has something in common with both the Bard and the whales Melville so revered.
But in most creatures, nay in man himself, very often the brow is but a mere strip of alpine land lying along the snow line. Few are the foreheads which like Shakspeare’s or Melancthon’s rise so high, and descend so low, that the eyes themselves seem clear, eternal, tideless mountain lakes; and all above them in the forehead’s wrinkles, you seem to track the antlered thoughts descending there to drink, as the Highland hunters track the snow prints of the deer. But in the great Sperm Whale, this high and mighty god-like dignity inherent in the brow is so immensely amplified, that gazing on it, in that full front view, you feel the Diety and the dread powers more forcibly than in beholding any other object in living nature.