"Long exile from Christendom and civilization inevitably restores a man to that condition in which God placed him, i.e. what is called savagery. Your true whale-hunter is as much a savage as an Iroquois. I myself am a savage, owning no allegiance but to the King of the Cannibals; and ready at any moment to rebel against him."
In this series of chapters, Ishmael is trying to tell us why it is impossible to paint a true picture of a whale. He goes on to list all the way men have tried. This lovely little line pops up in the middle of these chapters. Melville often takes time to try to 'explain' what a true whale hunter is. Here is one more attempt.