The Daily Dick: Musings from the Greatest Novel Ever
"What was America in 1492 but a Loose-Fish, in which Columbus struck the Spanish standard by way of wailing it for his royal master and mistress? What was Poland to the Czar? What Greece to the Turk? What India to England? What at last will Mexico be to the United States? All Loose-Fish.
What are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish? What all men's minds and opinions but Loose-Fish? What is the principle of religious belief in them but a Loose-Fish? What to the ostentatious smuggling verbalists are the thoughts of thinkers but Loose-Fish? What is the great globe itself but a Loose-Fish? And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too?"
Musing: Gah! What beauty! So, to Melville, a fast fish is one that shows signs of possession. It perhaps has a harpoon in it and the harpooner is nearby or it was tied to your ship and drifted away slightly. A fast-fish is one that shows signs of having been caught. A loose-fish is free. It always gets to me to hear Melville say I am completely free to think, pray, and travel as a free person, but do I? What causes me to be tied to something or someone? Fascinating. Really.