Friday, August 02, 2013

QotD: "... and made a gateway in the form of a Gothic arch by setting up a whale's jaw-bones" N. Hawthorne

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"I built a cottage for Susan and myself, and made a gateway in the form of a Gothic arch by setting up a whale's jaw-bones. We bought a heifer with her first calf, and had a little garden on the hillside to supply us with potatoes and green sauce for our fish. Our parlor, small and neat, was ornamented with our two profiles in one gilt frame, and with shells and pretty pebbles on the mantelpiece, selected from the sea's treasury of such things on Nahant Beach. On the desk, beneath the looking-glass, lay the Bible, which I had begun to read aloud at the book of Genesis, and the singing-book that Susan used for her evening psalm. Except the almanac, we had no other literature. All that I heard of books was when an Indian history or tale of shipwreck was sold by a pedler or wandering subscription-man to some one in the village, and read through its owner's nose to a slumbrous auditory." From "The Village Uncle", Nathaniel Hawthorne in Twice Told Tales 

Today's quote is inspired by a visit to the Captain Edward Penniman, part of the Cape Cod National Seashore National Park. The Penniman house, built in the 1860s, was the fruits of the Captain's long and successful whaling career. The original whale-jaw gateway of the house was made from the jaw of a Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus formerly Physeter catadon, there are photos of the gateway in the house where one can see the teeth in the jaw). The current gateway is of more recent vintage and is of a baleen whale.

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