Notes by a Naturalist on the Challenger, being an Account of Various Observations Made during the Voyage of H.M.S. “Challenger”… 1872-1876.

Moseley views most things from the viewpoint of a naturalist but brings a sympathetic humanity to everything he observes. One would have been fortunate to travel on the Challenger with him.

p. 80-81, Sept, 1873, on the Brazilian convict island of Fernando do Norhona, 200 miles from the South American coast, and visited by Darwin on the Beagle. Moseley visited the island with Captain Nares: I was told that there was a garrison of about 120 men on the island, and that these, with a few officials, constituted the entire non-convict population. There were said to be 1,400 convicts on the island. They are all let loose during the day-time, the blacks being locked up at night whilst the whites are allowed to live in their huts with their families, if they have any. They have to answer a roll-call daily, and are flogged if they fail. They are all criminals, political prisoners not being confined here; many of them are murderers, capital punishment not being exacted in Brazil. They have as a rule a horribly ruffianly appearance, especially the blacks, and being mostly half naked they appear especially savage. … Two-thirds of the convicts had been flogged during the last seven months. He [an interpreter] said he himself had had a misfortune and had got 64 years’ imprisonment. He had bought off 20 of these. He would like a bible and some newspapers. He would sooner die than be flogged. His statements must be taken for what they are likely to be worth.

p. 114, on Tristan da Cunha: A mouse lives about the houses in the settlement, but there is no rat on the island. This I gathered from conversation with some of the islanders in one of the cottages; the walls of which were decorated all over with pictures from illustrated newspapers Several of the women were dark, of mixed race, from the Cape of Good Hope.

p. 286, about the town of Nukualofa in the Friendly Islands [July 1874]: At a small printing office close by, an almanac, a magazine, bibles, and a few books, are printed in the native language.

p. 319, Fiji Islands: King Thackombau was visited in the morning by two or our party, who took him by surprise; he was found lying on his stomach, reading his Bible.

p. 377, footnote 43 of Introduction: Seagoing ships were supplied with libraries by the Admiralty beginning in 1828; most books were of a moral, religious, or educational nature. The scope broadened as donations were received from private sources.

p. 417-18, a long passage on the Chinese language, Pidgeon English, Chinese writing, and Chinese bookmaking: A Chinese book is very interesting in its construction. The back of the book has its edges cut, instead of the front as with us, and the front is left doubled in the condition in which we leave the backs of books. The numbering of the pages and the title of the Chinese book are placed on the front edge of each leaf, where the paper is doubled, so that half of each character is upon one side of the edge, and half on the other; and the folded edge has to be straightened out if the entire characters are required to be seen [and so on with three more pages on book construction].

p. 417-20, very interesting passage on Chinese and Japanese writing and book construction, with their double leaves and writing on one side of paper: At the bookshops close by the water-clock [in Canton], a bookseller, from whom I had bought some books, presented me with an old wood block as a specimen at my request, and refused payment for it. Yet the Chinese are commonly accused of being universally grasping, in their dealing.

p. 421, at the great monastery at Honam: We were next shown the refectory; here was a small pulpit for the reading of pious books by one of the monks whilst the others are at dinner, just for example as at Tintern Abbey.

p. 484: In Osaka, I spent much of my time in the booksellers’ quarter, where there is nearly a mile of continuous book-shops. I bought here a large collection of illustrated books. The shops of each kind of wares are mostly placed together in the city.

p. 494, on the Sandwich Islands: The illustrations in many of the Japanese Zoological books are very interesting to a naturalist and remarkably complete. Even Land Planarians (Bipalium) are figured in some them. In a book in my collection, representing the doings of the Ainos, the Ainos are represented as hunting Seals, or Sea Otters, with bows and arrows from Canoes…. I often visited the Japanese theatres. Besides the ordinary stage there is a second stage, consisting of a narrow platform, which lies on the left side of the audience, and extends from the side of the main stage the whole length of the theatre, to a point close to the entrance door. Actors go round to the door behind the box seats, and appearing at the end of the long platform, approach the stage along it, acting their parts as they go. In this way journeys are acted. A man may be represented as on a journey home, and at the same time his family are seen waiting his return to the main stage, and he may be waylaid and murdered, for example, on the way; two separate but connected scenes being acted at once.

p. 593: At one point in the voyage, a number of these insects [winged Cockroaches] established themselves in my cabin, and devoured parts of my boots, nibbling off all the margins of leather projecting beyond the seams on the upper leathers. One huge winged Cockroach for a long time baffled me in my attempts to get rid of him. I could not discover his retreat. At night he came out and rested on my book-shelf, at the foot of my bed, swaying his antennae to and fro, and watching me closely…. I often had a shot at him with a book or other missile, as he sat on the book-shelf, but he always dodged and escaped. His quickness and agility astonished me. Cockroaches soon became plentiful on board, and showed themselves whenever the ship was in a warm climate. A special hunt of a swarm of them was behind the books in the chemical laboratory, from which Mr. Buchanan in vain attempted to evict them.

p. 596-97, concluding remarks: I did not suffer at all from the confinement of ship-life…. There are many worries and distractions, such as letters and newspapers, which are escaped in life on board ship, and the constant leisure available for work and reading is extremely enjoyable. [Apparently this absence of ennui was not true for all of his shipmates.] I felt almost sorry to leave, at Spithead, my small cabin, which measured only six feet by six, and return to the more complicated relations of “shore-going” life, as the sailors term it. I had lived in the cabin three years and a half and had got to look upon it as a home.