|Photo: J. N. Bartfield Fine and Rare Books|
In parentheses, DeLombard gives the date as 1840, thus presenting the doubly loaded epigraph as a quotation from the first edition of Two Years Before the Mast.
This date is important for historically grounding the ensuing argument, as DeLombard makes sure to point out early on, at the start of the second paragraph:
"My epigraphs indicate antislavery rhetoric's pervasive influence on antebellum culture."Maybe so for the second epigraph from Moby-Dick, although a case can be made for Seneca as the inspiration for Melville's philosophical question "Who aint a slave?"
(White-Jacket: Telling Who Is--and Aint--a Slave, New Cambridge Companion p51)
"He is a slave." His soul, however, may be that of a freeman. "He is a slave." But shall that stand in his way? Show me a man who is not a slave; one is a slave to lust, another to greed, another to ambition, and all men are slaves to fear. I will name you an ex-consul who is slave to an old hag, a millionaire who is slave to a serving-maid; I will show you youths of the noblest birth in serfdom to pantomime players! No servitude is more disgraceful than that which is self-imposed. --Seneca, EPISTLE XLVII
|Plato Seneca Aristotle - medieval via Wikimedia Commons|
"You see your condition! You see where I've got you all, and you know what to expect!"—"You've been mistaken in me—you didn't know what I was! Now you know what I am!"—"I'll make you toe the mark, every soul of you, or I'll flog you all, fore and aft, from the boy, up!"—"You've got a driver over you! Yes, a slave-driver—a negro-driver! I'll see who'll tell me he is n't a negro slave!" --1840 Two years before the mastThis same passage with "negro-diver" and "negro" instead of the capitalized N-word was quoted in the New York Knickerbocker review.
Now perhaps Dana in 1869 was aiming to restore the sadistic captain's offensive language as he originally heard it, not as first printed in 1840. OK but even so, you would need to explain that line of reasoning. You can't give 1840 as the publication date of a text first published in 1869. Well you can, it turns out, but you shouldn't. For comparison, Hathi Trust digital library also has the 1869 revised edition with the passage that DeLombard excerpts for her epigraph.
You could say the vocabulary does not matter a bit for DeLombard's argument, that either way, in either version, Dana's sailors are explicitly compared to and treated as slaves. Yes indeed! So why bother at all with the anachronistic (in a discussion focused on Melville's 1850 White-Jacket and antebellum culture) and for us in our time gratuitously offensive 1869 version?
The crazy thing is, in her book In the Shadow of the Gallows, DeLombard did accurately quote the 1840 passage from the 1981 Penguin edition where editor Thomas Philbrick followed "the text of the original Harper edition." And as in the New Cambridge Companion, DeLombard there juxtaposed Dana with Ishmael.
What's going on?