A chivalric knight and deep sea dredging; or, ‘the everlasting thunder of the deep’ by Nicholas Pritchard
For Britons in the mid- to late nineteenth century the deep sea was starting to take a hold on the imagination. The successful attempt in 1858 to lay a telegraph cable between Ireland and Newfoundland drew political, corporate, and public attention to the seafloor. Scientists, whalers, and explorers focused their gaze downwards to the bottom of the ocean in search of new species, hunting grounds, and stories of derring-do. The most successful deep-sea exploration of the period was the voyage of HMS Challenger; a round-the-world journey which sought to measure and dredge the furthest depths of the ocean. This article works within recent scholarship in literature and science to look at the journal of Henry Nottidge Moseley, a naturalist on board the Challenger, and the vessel’s figurehead, a chivalric knight, in order to examine connections between Victorian deep-sea exploration and the contemporaneous phenomenon of medievalism.