the stun'-sails were lying all tumbled upon the deck

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
Hi folks, this is cited from Wellingborough Redburn by Hermann Melville (1849)
Question: I am not able to comprehend these bold ones coming after each other.
BY the way in previous paragrahp: "...But I did not have much leisure to indulge in such thoughts; for the men were now getting some stun'-sails ready to hoist aloft, as the wind was getting fairer and fairer for us; and these stun'-sails are light canvas..."

While the stun'-sails were lying all tumbled upon the deck and the sailors were fastening them to the booms, getting them ready to hoist, the mate ordered me to do a great many simple things, none of which could I comprehend, owing to the queer words he used; and then, seeing me stand quite perplexed and confounded, he would roar out at me, and
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    It is probably a mistake to read "all tumbled" as meaning there was anything amiss. It is quite difficult handling sails on deck, and it probably would look a mess from the point of view of a novice sailor. "All tumbled" simply means in a mess. In a domestic situation (which might have been what Redburn was more used to), it might seem that someone had turned over a linen chest so all the sheets had just tumbled (fallen) out.
    < Previous | Next >