It’s obvious that Weddell was well-read on the history of the region he explored (cf. his translation and abstracts of earlier Spanish reports, on p. 61-9), but this isn’t evidence of books aboard—he does speak of the credibility of some books inducing him to search certain islands, implying that copies were on the ship. And the obligatory prayer-books on British ships were certainly present.
p. 78: I read the funeral service of the English church over the body [of a recently deceased sailor].
p. 81, Lt. Edgar’s charts of Falklands praised for accuracy: I am induced to recommend his chart entirely by the experience I have had of its great utility, during the many dark and stormy nights which I have passed among these [Falkland] islands.
p. 84, refers to Commodore Byron’s Voyage, as evidence of the fecundity of seals on these islands.
p. 166-7, among the Fuegians: I was anxious to discover if they had any object of divine worship, and accordingly called them together about me, and read a chapter in the Bible; not that they were expected to understand what was read, but it was proper to show them the Bible, and to read it, in connection with making signs of death, resurrection, and supplication to heaven. They manifested no understanding of my meaning; but as I read and made signs, they imitated me, following me with gabble when reading, raising and lowering their voices as I did…. One of them held his ear down to the book, believing that it spoke, and another wished to put it into his canoe: in short, they were all interested in the book, and could they have made proper use of it I would willingly have given it to them.
p. 179, another attempt at reading the Bible: In the middle of the day I assembled these people together, in order to ascertain if they had any idea of a future state. I practiced the same mode of enquiry as I had done with the last tribe, by reading out of the Bible, and making signs to them. I certainly observed them to have a solemn feeling, which they exhibited by looking each other in the face, with a countenance expressive of extreme wonder, and speaking to one another in a low tone of voice; but, notwithstanding these appearances of a religious principle, I could discern nothing like a form of worship among them.
Weddell’s appendix of observations on the probability of reaching the South Pole (p. 277-314) is well-supported by learned references, but his suspicion of an open sea and relatively temperate clime for the poles is not very convincing.