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Frederick The Monk
54255.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:23 am Reply with quote

TOPIC: Dick (Moby)

QUESTION: Who was Mocha Dick?

FORFEIT: The founder of Starbucks

ANSWER: Mocha Dick was a real-life albino sperm whale that lived near the island of Mocha off Chile's southern coast, several decades before Melville wrote his book. He was described as:

"the stout gentleman of the latitudes, the prodigious terror whale
of the Pacific, the redoubtable white sperm whale that fought and won a hundred sea battles against overwhelming odds"


Mocha Dick, like Moby Dick in Melville's story, had escaped countless times from the attacks of whalers, whom he would often attack with premeditated ferocity, and consequently had dozens of harpoons in his back. Mocha Dick was eventually killed in the 1830s. No one knows what prompted Melville to change the name "Mocha" to "Moby", but given that Mocha Dick was an albino sperm whale, it is obvious that Melville used him as a basis for his book. it has been suggested that the change to 'Moby' was perhaps meant to suggest his amazing mobility and to avoid association with the "color" mocha.


NOTES:

Starbucks
Interestingly, Moby Dick was indeed a book beloved of one of the Starbucks founders. He proposed naming the company Pequod, after the ship. "Pee-quod" was vetoed by his partners, and they cast about for a name with some local flavor (local to Seattle, Washington). They came upon the name Starbo, from an old mining camp on Mt. Rainier, and liked it. Then the Moby Dick fan drew a phonetic connection between "Starbo" and the novel--the Pequod's First Mate named Starbuck. And Starbucks it was.

Mocha Dick
Mocha Dick was a notorious male sperm whale that lived in the Pacific Ocean in the early 19th century. He is associated with the waters near the island of Mocha, off southern Chile. Unlike most sperm whales, Mocha Dick was white, possibly due to albinism. He was the inspiration for the fictional whale Moby Dick in the 1851 Herman Melville novel Moby-Dick.
Mocha Dick was famous for having survived many skirmishes (by some accounts at least 100) with whalers before he was eventually killed. He was large and powerful, capable of wrecking small crafts with his flukes. According to Jeremiah N. Reynolds, who gathered first-hand observations of Mocha Dick, the whale also had a peculiar method of spouting:
Instead of projecting his spout obliquely forward, and puffing with a short, convulsive effort, accompanied by a snorting noise, as usual with his species, he flung the water from his nose in a lofty, perpendicular, expanded volume, at regular and somewhat distant intervals; its expulsion producing a continuous roar, 'like that of vapor struggling from the safety-valve of a powerful steam engine'.

For his species, Mocha Dick had an enormous number of barnacles, giving him a rugged appearance. According to Reynolds, Mocha Dick was most likely first encountered and attacked sometime prior to the year 1810 off Mocha Island. His survival of the first encounters coupled with his unusual appearance quickly made him famous among Nantucket whalers. Many captains attempted to hunt him after rounding Cape Horn. He was docile and friendly if not attacked, sometimes swimming alongside approaching whale boats. When attacked, however, he was capable of great ferocity and destruction and was widely feared among harpooners.

Melville probably first read about Mocha Dick in a piece by Reynolds in the May 1839 Knickerbocker Magazine. Reynolds told how Dick was sighted and fought off the coast of Chile near the conical peak of Mocha Island, from which the white whale took his name. He may also have heard of him before from the crews of the ships he sailed. The last mention in history of Mocha Dick is dated August 1859, when, off the Brazilian banks, he is said to have been taken by a Swedish whaler. Measuring 110 feet in length, he weighed more than a ton for each foot. The whale that Melville and other believed caused the 1819 Essex sinking, which formed the basis for Moby Dick, was captured without much of a struggle. The Swedish whaler's log discloses he was dying of
old age, blind in his right eye, his head a mass of scars, eight teeth broken off and the others all worn down.

But no one would ever remember him this way. He had already become legend when Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick.

LINKS TO: Death and Disaster/ Dolphins/ Devils

SOURCES:
Source 1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moby-Dick

PICTURES/ PROPS: Cup of coffee/ White Whale

RESEARCHER: JP

POSSIBLE TOPIC/THEME: Dicks/ danger/ disaster/ death


Last edited by Frederick The Monk on Thu Mar 30, 2006 6:23 am; edited 1 time in total

 
Flash
54299.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:28 am Reply with quote

The original Dirty Dick was a City merchant called Nathaniel Bentley, known as The Beau of Leadenhall Street. When his fiancée died the night before their wedding he became a recluse who never washed and so earned his new name. After his death a room in his house was found to contain tables still laid for the wedding breakfast which ought to have taken place 50 years earlier. There's a pub called Dirty Dick's in Bishopsgate.

 
MatC
54325.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:52 am Reply with quote

"After his death a room in his house was found to contain tables still laid for the wedding breakfast which ought to have taken place 50 years earlier"

Like in Dickens? (Is it David Copperfield?)

 
Flash
54330.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:59 am Reply with quote

Yes, I'm guessing that must have been part of the provenance of Miss Havisham. Great Expectations, isn't it?

 
Flash
54336.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 8:06 am Reply with quote

Great Expectations is 1860, and Dirty Dick's opened as a pub in 1804, so that works. The gimmick of the pub was that everything was kept as Bentley had left it, including the dead cats which he had just left where they died. When it was re-built in 1870 the detritus was put back in position but in the mid 1980s they fell foul of the Health & Safety people and had to clear it away.

http://www.pubs.com/dirtec2.htm

Incidentally, that site indicates that the house was turned into a pub when Bentley retired (rather than died).

 
Flash
54352.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 8:32 am Reply with quote

Dick Turpin did ride the 150 miles from London (Whitechapel) to York on a horse called Black Bess, but not quickly; the famous 15-hour trip is from Harrison Ainsworth's 1834 novel Rookwood. Another highwayman named John "Swift Nick" Nevison did apparently ride from Gad's Hill to York (190 miles) in 15 hours in order to establish an alibi, about 50 years before Turpin's time.

In York, Turpin lived under an alias. Arrested for an unrelated crime, he now had a stroke of bad luck:
Quote:
From his cell, Turpin wrote to the sibling of his estranged wife (his brother-in-law) who still resided at Hempstead in Essex, Turpin's real birthplace. The letter was a plea for help; requesting his brother-in-law to 'procure an evidence from London that could give me a character that would go a great way towards my being acquitted' i.e. provide him with an alibi. Turpin did in 1739; the Uniform Penny Post started in 1840.

The plan might have worked, but it backfired. Turpin's brother-in-law refused to pay the sixpence postage demanded, for what (he reckoned) was probably the 18th century equivalent of spam junk mail, and as such the letter was not delivered to him. This unpaid sixpence would prove the price of Turpin's life.

The unread letter then naturally fell into the hands of John Smith, as the village postmaster (Smith was also the village schoolmaster, whom had taught Turpin to read and write). Smith recognised the handwriting of his former pupil immediately and traveled to York to consult with the magistrate and identify Palmer as Turpin. Smith, his former friend and mentor, collected a £200 reward for identifying the notorious highwayman to the authorities.


He was never convicted of being a highwayman or a murderer; they hanged him for horse-rustling. He spent the last of his money buying a new suit in which to be executed. The hangman was a former associate of Turpin's who had become a hangman in exchange for his pardon. Turpin hurled himself from the gallows and so (technically) committed suicide.

His body was stolen by resurrection men (link to dissection), though it was later recovered. (Query - as an executed criminal, surely the body would have been given to the anatomists anyway?)

All this comes from the wiki entry, which seems sober enough but doesn't seem to be of the first quality.

Possible link to the disparaging remark about the penny post noted at post 52603; if pre-paid letters had existed when Turpin wrote to his brother-in-law he mightn't have been exposed.

 
Frederick The Monk
54388.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 9:37 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
(Query - as an executed criminal, surely the body would have been given to the anatomists anyway?)


Anatomy schools usually had a quota of corpses they were entitled to. As this was the great age of hanging just about anyone for no bloody good reason whatsoever I suppose supply might have outweighed demand. In the case of celebrated convicts their bodies were often snaffled away by relatives or admirers - usually aided by giving the hangman a reasonable bung.

 
Flash
54415.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:20 am Reply with quote

Although there seems to have been enough demand to make Turpin's body worth nicking.

 
Frederick The Monk
54423.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:36 am Reply with quote

Good point - do we know if they were simply going to sell it to the medics for carving practise or show it to people?

 
Frederick The Monk
62702.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 6:30 am Reply with quote

Updated 30/03/06

 
eggshaped
65429.  Fri Apr 14, 2006 9:03 am Reply with quote

Did we ever get a question on Dick Turpin, and if we didn't, do we want one?

I'm half way through an excellent biog of him at the moment, which pretty much backs-up what Flash says above.

However:
Quote:
Turpin's brother-in-law refused to pay the sixpence postage demanded, for what (he reckoned) was probably the 18th century equivalent of spam junk mail, and as such the letter was not delivered to him.


The book implies that Rivernall might have recognised Turpin's handwriting on the envelope, but refused the postage as he didn't want anything to do with his troublesome brother-in-law.

Also this
Quote:
'procure an evidence from London that could give me a character that would go a great way towards my being acquitted' i.e. provide him with an alibi


Is slightly at odds to what I have read. Rather than wanting an alibi, it says that he simply wanted a character testimony as they were often the difference between hanged-criminals and deported or fined criminals.
(how does that sound to you Fred?)

The general problem, I think, is that many people know the name "Dick Tupin" but it's hard to gauge how much they know.

I think "What was Dick Turpin hanged for" could be as good a question as any, as I was surprised that it was for horse rustling.

 
Frederick The Monk
65452.  Fri Apr 14, 2006 11:02 am Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:
Rather than wanting an alibi, it says that he simply wanted a character testimony as they were often the difference between hanged-criminals and deported or fined criminals.
(how does that sound to you Fred?)


Sounds good to me. In an era of almost casual capital punishment and very cursory trials a good word from a toff could make all the difference. Mind you it would have to be someone 'respectable' as one theif calling another thief a good chap wasn't good enough. What you needed was someone to plead that you weren't 'irredeemably bad' or useless but that a spell in the colonies might really bring out the best in you.

I like the "what was he hanged for' question. No-one will get it but there's plenty of scope to come up with amusing 'crimes'.

 

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