Herman Melville: the Noble Truck-Horses at the Quay

Herman Melville: the Noble Truck-Horses at the Quay

(© Herman Melville, Redburn: His First Voyage (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976), pp 271-2. Photograph: Roadway and quay at Regent Quay West, Aberdeen, Scotland. More information at bottom of post.) 

“Among all the sights of the docks, the noble truck-horses are not the least striking to a stranger. They are large and powerful brutes, with such sleek and glossy coats, that they look as if brushed and put on by a valet every morning. They march with a slow and stately step, lifting their ponderous hoofs like royal Siam elephants.

Thou shalt not lay stripes upon these Roman citizens; for their docility is such, they are guided without rein or lash; they go or come, halt or march on, at a whisper. So grave, dignified, gentlemanly, and courteous did these fine truck-horses look – so full of calm intelligence and sagacity, that often I endeavoured to get into conversation with them, as they stood in contemplative attitudes while their loads were preparing. But all I could get from them was the mere recognition of a friendly neigh; though I would stake much upon it that, could I have spoken in their language, I would have derived from them a good deal of valuable information touching the docks, where they passed the whole of their dignified lives.” 

(Photograph details: Harbour Office building and buildings to the east of Weigh House Square including the office of Ellis & McHardy, Coal Merchants, various cars, lorry, empty railway carriages, single storey goods shed at Regent West, double storey goods shed at Regent East, steam cargo vessel bow on to quay at Regent Quay West, bollards, steel tow rail, cobbled deck, train rails, Chain and Stanchions, street lamps. Photographer’s location: Centre of the roadway at Trinity Quay. Direction of photograph: Northeast. http://www.mcjazz.f2s.com/index.htm)

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