We learn in The Symphony Ahab becomes a boy harpooneer at age 18. If we add 18 to 1782 we arrive at the year 1800. This is the year Allan made his first ocean voyage to Europe where he would eventually set up an export business to the United States. Another document, titled: “Recapitulations of Voyages and Travels from 1800 to 1822 both inclusive,” this document written by Allan lists 1800 as his first voyage and the year 1822 as his last. Allan then was forty years old when he made his last voyage. Recall the statement in Chapter 28 Ahab by the Gay – Head Indian with respect to Ahab’s scar: “…not till he was full forty years old did Ahab become that way branded, and then it came upon him, not in the fury of any mortal fray, but in an elemental strife at sea.” We can narrow Ahab’s strife at sea to November 9, 1822 to a major meteor shower. Melville’s treatment of meteor showers in Moby-Dick will remain for another posting.
Some may conclude Mr. Melville had issues with his father and therefore patterned Ahab after those issues. Along similar lines, Moby Dick was a whale, there is a constellation of Cetus a sea monster, Moby Dick must be represented by Cetus. The Pequod was a sailing ship. There was the constellation of Argo, a sailing ship, the Pequod must have been represented in the sky as Argo. Mr. Melville was a world class author and a much greater artist than these simple conclusions warrant.