"He was a long, earnest man . . .Only some thirty summers he had seen . . .
"This Starbuck seemed prepared to endure for long ages to come . . .
"A staid, steadfast man, whose life for the most part action, not tame . . .
"Uncommonly conscientious for a seaman, and endued with a deep natural reverence . . .
"For all his hardy sobriety and fortitude, the wild watery loneliness of his life did therefore strongly incline him to superstition . . . Outward portents and inward presentiments were his.
"Starbuck, there, is as careful a man as you'll find in the whale fishery . . .
"I will have no man in my boat, " said Starbuck, "who is not afraid of a whale."
"Starbuck was no crusader after perils . . . he had no fancy for lowering for whales after sundown.
With memories of his father and brother who lost their lives hunting whales, the courage of Starbuck, given as he was "to a certain superstitiousness", was indeed extreme, but -- As brave as Starbuck might be in conflict with seas, or winds, or whales, yet brave Starbuck was not cut out to withstand the more terrific spiritual terrors "which sometimes menace you from the concentrating brow of an enraged and mighty man". In other words, brave, level-headed Starbuck will prove no match for shrewd, crazy Ahab.
After introducing the reader to Starbuck's sterling character, Melville regrets that he will have to expose the reader to "the fall in valor of the soul". He then waxes philosophical about the "august dignity" of man in the ideal, so noble and so sparkling, such a grand and glowing creature. He speaks rapturously of this august dignity "shining in the arm that wields a pick or drives a spike". From here in the chapter on, the author goes ballistic, speaking of "the democratic dignity which radiates from God himself! The great God absolute! . . . bear me out in it, O God!"
This departure into paroxysms of worshipful apostrophe reminds one of the comments of the great literary Englishman D. H. Lawrence concerning Melville and Moby-Dick: "The man is rather a tiresome New Englander of the ethical mythical-transcendentalist sort. So unrelieved -- the solemn ass, even in humour. You feel like saying, Good God, what does it matter? Give me a drink, that's what I want just now."