After one page of Melville's delightful prose, I stopped to check the author's name again. Isn't it Charles Dickens? The language, the rhythm, it was all so Dickensian! I had no idea Melville wrote that way. The main difference, in my opinion, is Dickens' humor, which Melville doesn't share. But both are masters of description and of the construction of rich, beautiful prose.
The story is superb. If you don't have access to a printed version, it is available in the Bartleby Project. Read it.
I, on the other hand, must now read Moby Dick. Right after the two-dozen books I'm in the middle of already.