who had ever crossed his legs under mahogany.


Senior Member
Hi folks, this is cited from Wellingborough Redburn by Hermann Melville (1849)
Context: Redburn warns his new friend about crew.
Question: What does this bold sentence mean? Does it simply mean every civil person who sits on table?

I told him, that unless he was somewhat accustomed to the rigging, and could furl a royal in a squall, he would be sure to subject himself to a sort of treatment from the sailors, in the last degree ignominious to any mortal who had ever crossed his legs under mahogany.
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    I suppose under mahogany was intended to convey the idea that this mortal was wealthy, enkidu, but I am not sure of that interpretation.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I think you have the idea. Mahogany is the kind of wood good furniture is made out of. Melville is saying that if you were someone who was used to respectable food and surroundings, you would find that sort of treatment very hard to bear.

    cross posted.


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Here's a possibly-relevant quote from the OED's entry for mahogany:
    6. colloquial.​
    †a. A table, esp. a dining table. Frequently in to put one's feet under (another's) mahogany, etc. Obsolete.​
    1837 Dickens Pickwick Papers xlviii. 520 He having been, for half an hour before, the only other man visible above the mahogany.​
    1848 Thackeray Bk. Snobs xxxi. 119 Other families did not welcome us to their mahogany.​
    1850 Florists' Jrnl. 149 Nearly forty gathered round Mr. Lidgard's mahogany after the exhibition.​
    1891 L. B. Walford Mischief of Monica III. 90 I could have put my feet under his mahogany..with the very greatest satisfaction.​
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