The following is from a work-in-progress called "Moby Dick: a Book Report" in which I read each chapter of Herman Melville's classic novel Moby Dick, and write about what I read.
In this chapter, Ishmael pokes fun at a British law of his day which stipulated that any whale caught off the English coast belonged to the royal class, regardless of who actually caught the creature. He gives a recent example of two poor British whalers who, at great personal cost and danger, succeeded in capturing a whale and bringing to to shore. Instead of keeping the whale, however, they were forced to give it to the local Duke. Technically, under British law, the Duke had every right to the whale. But, by any reasonable standard of fairness, the two poor whalers should have gotten it. What this chapter hi-lights is that “law” and “justice” are not always the same thing.