alienist an old term for a psychiatrist.
assegais slender spears or javelins with iron tips, used in southern Africa.
Ave! Old knitter of black wool. Morituri te salutant. Literally, "Hail! Those who are about to die salute you"; a salute of the gladiators in ancient Rome to whomever was hosting their tournaments. Here, Marlow is ironically comparing the knitters to Roman emperors.
Brussels The hypocrisy alluded to is that King Leopold's brutal colonial empire was run from this beautiful, seemingly civilized, city.
Cruising yawl a small, two-masted sailing vessel.
Du calme, du calme. Adieu. French: "Stay calm, stay calm. Goodbye."
the Erebus and Terror In 1845, the English Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin led a voyage in the ships Erebus and Terror in search of the Northwest Passage; the ships were stuck in ice from April 1846 to September 1848.
Falerian wine wine made in a district of Campania, Italy.
the first of the ebb the start of the outgoing or falling tide.
Fleet Street an old street in central London, where several newspaper and printing offices are located; the term "Fleet Street" has come to refer to the London press.
fusillade a simultaneous or rapid and continuous discharge of many firearms.
Gauls the Celtic-speaking people dwelling in the ancient region of Western Europe consisting of what is now mainly France & Belgium: after 5th century B.C.
the Golden Hind a ship sailed by the English navigator Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540-1596) during the reign of Elizabeth I.
Gravesend a seaport on the Thames River in southwest England.
the greatest town on earth London.
Ichthyosaurus a prehistoric reptile with four paddle-like flippers.
Martini-Henry a military rifle.
men on 'Change Men working in a place where merchants meet to do business; exchange.
a mighty big river the Congo River in Africa.
Plato (c. 427-c.347 B.C.) Greek philosopher.
scow a large, flat-bottomed boat with square ends, used for carrying coal, sand, and so on and often towed by a tug.
serviette a table napkin.
Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540-1596) English admiral and buccaneer: 1st Englishman to sail around the world.
Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) English Arctic explorer.
sixteen stone 224 pounds; a stone is a British unit of weight equal to 14 pounds (6.36 kilograms).
sounding-pole a pole used to determine the depth of a body of water.
They had sailed from Deptford, from Greenwich, from Erith Deptford, Greenwich, and Erith are three ports between London and Gravesend.
trireme an ancient Greek or Roman galley, usually a warship, with three banks of oars on each side.
ulster a long, loose, heavy overcoat, especially one with a belt, originally made of Irish frieze (wool).
whited sepulchre in the Bible, a phrase used to describe a hypocrite. The relevant allusion in Matthew is "beautiful to look at on the outside, but inside full of filth and dead men's bones."
Winchesters a type of magazine rifle, first made in the 1860s.
Zanzibaris natives of Zanzibar, an island off the E coast of Africa: 640 sq. mi. (1,657 sq. km).