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Billy Budd, Sailor
Herman Melville

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Doria, Andrea Noted for his fearlessnes, Doria (1466-1560), an admiral and politician of Genoa won several major victories while serving both the French and Spanish crowns.

drum Like the pipe, the drum is sometimes used to give orders aboard a ship.

drumhead, drumhead court The drumhead itself is the circular top of the capstan where the bars are fitted to aid in turning. The drumhead court, a summary court martial held while the ship is still at sea and presided over by the ranking officer, takes its name from the occasional necessity of the drumhead doing service as a writing table. Usually, only the senior naval officers -- as opposed to marine officers -- make up the court, which has full power to convict and sentence while at sea.

du Val-de-Grace, Jean Baptiste, Baron de Cloots  Though born a Prussian, during the French Revolution, the Baron of Cloots (1755-1794) was a radical French democrat famous for his support of French expansionism. After his June 17, 1791, speech to the National Assembly, in which he claimed to be "The Orator of Mankind," Cloots adopted the name Anacharsis. He hoped, with this pseudonym, to evoke the memory of the legendary Scythian prince sometimes identified as one of the Seven Wise Men and extolled as an exemplar of primitive virtue.

dubieties, dubiety 1. A feeling of doubt that often results in wavering. 2. A matter of doubt.

dubious 1. Fraught with uncertainty or doubt; undecided. 2. Arousing doubt; doubtful: a dubious distinction. 3. Of questionable character: dubious profits.

duck trousers The duck trousers get their name from the material from which they are made, a linen or cotton fabric that is finer and lighter than canvas. While occasionally used for men's clothing, generally, the fabric is used for the lighter sails of vessels and the sacking of beds.

Dundee Dundee, a major industrial center of Scotland, lies in the east-central part of the country on the Firth of Tay, an arm of the North Sea.


effacement, efface 1. To rub or wipe out; erase. 2. To make indistinct as if by rubbing: "Five years' absence had done nothing to efface the people's memory of his firmness" (Alan Moorehead). 3. To conduct (oneself) inconspicuously: "When the two women went out together, Anna deliberately effaced herself and played to the dramatic Molly" (Doris Lessing).

ejaculated, ejaculate To utter suddenly and passionately; exclaim.

Elisha, Elijah Though the text names the prophet Elisha, the reference actually recalls his predecessor, Elijah. In 2 Kings (1-12), Elisha inherits the mantle of Elijah when the latter ascends into heaven on "a chariot of fire" pulled by "horses of fire." Melville uses the biblical allusion as a vivid metaphor for the dawning of Billy's execution day.
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