The Nantucketer's. For the sea is his; he owns it, as Emperors own empires; other seamen having but a right of way through it.
Melville is praising the Nantucketers saying that they have conquered the ocean, which makes them greater than any imperialist power in history. I read this passage is a critique of western imperialism, which had become a lackluster, legalistic enterprise wherein the powerful sit around a table and divvy up the powerless.
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