|New York Observer - November 20, 1851|
The Whale, by Herman Melville, is a beautiful book, just out of the press of the Harpers, a complete exhibition of the art and mystery of whaleology, with graphic pictures of the life and times of whalemen, in which the peculiar tact of Melville appears on every page.
--New York Observer, November 20, 1851
Nowadays tact generally implies "avoiding offense," but in Melville's time the word conveyed the senses of touch, feeling, and
"Peculiar skill or faculty; nice perception or discernment."
--Webster's 1848 American Dictionary of the English Language.