The Voyage of the Discovery.

[A new edition with introduction by E.C. Coleman was published in Stroud, Gloucestershire, in 2005.]

Volume I:

p. 298: Reading on the mess-deck is of a very desultory character. Arctic books of travel are of course much sought after, simple and popular histories are frequently read; especially in request are such books as “Fight for the Flag,” “Deeds that Won the Empire,” and stories of the sea are much appreciated also. Novels are not very popular, though Dickens and Marryat find readers; old magazines seem to go the round many times and become much thumbed. Books of a quite different character from above are often asked for, however; last week one man was deeply immersed in the “Origin of Species,” another is studying navigation, and not a few have the evident intention of improving themselves. There is a good deal of writing as well as reading on the mess-deck, and the excellent articles that have been contributed to the “South Polar Times,” show that much that is written is well worth the perusal.

p. 302, April 1902, at officer’s dinner: After “The King” has been drunk there is generally a rush for reference-books, and then a good deal of twisting of position to suit the reference. Our reference books are fairly numerous, but (though we feel the lack of the “Encyclopædia Britannica”) the “Century Dictionary,” the Atlas, Haydn’s “Dictionary of Dates,” “Whitaker’s Almanac,” “Hazell’s Annual,” the “Statesman’s Yearbook,” and some others provide an ample field for supporting one’s own opinion, refuting one’s opponent, or at least confusing the issue. I am not sure we get much “forader” by our heated discussions, but it is a great deal better than being dull and silent; we have never yet sat through a meal without continual discussion, and I hope we never may.

p. 306: I find time also to read up Arctic literature, of which I am woefully ignorant; most unfortunately our library is deficient in this respect, as owing to the hurry of our departure many important books were omitted. We have Greely, Payer, Nares, Markham, McClintock, McDougall, Scoresby, Nansen’s “Greenland,” and a few others of less importance, but sad to relate, Nordenskiöld , Nansen (“Farthest Nortth”), and Peary are absent, and two of these at least would have been amongst our most valuable books of reference. Yesterday I was pleasantly astonished to find that Wilson had some notes on Nansen’s “Farthest North,” giving extracts of the sledge weights, &c., and these may be of great use in calculating our own weights.

p. 358, July, 1902: I find that after my labours at the wash-tub and the pleasing supper that follows, I can safely stretch myself out in a chair without fear of being overcome by sleep, and so, with the ever-soothing pipe and one’s latest demand on the library bookshelves, one settles down in great peace and contentment whilst keeping an eye on the flying hours, ready to sally forth into the outer darkness at the appointed time [i.e. the night watch].

p. 377-81, a long section from August 1902 on the performance of the Royal Terror Theatre with Royds playing some piano pieces, a “screaming comedy” called “A Ticket of Leave,” and a negro minstrell show. Picture on p. 285 has three figures in drag, one of whom may be Scott, though he doesn’t mention appearing as a lady. The temperature was – 40 degrees.

p. 528, September 28 [1902], on sledging journey: Not being at all cold, we find time to be bored, and, by ill-luck, no one thought of bringing a book or a pack of cards; but who would suppose that it would be possible to use them during a spring journey? We could really get on now but for the light, but that is so bad that to move over this rough country would be a great risk.

Volume II:

p. 36: On our return to the ship, I could find no account in the reference books as we had, of anything to equal this scene [an unnamed visual “atmospheric phenomenon”], nor have I since heard of its having been witnessed elsewhere. The accompanying drawing [by Wilson] shows more clearly than I can describe what we actually saw; our artist has shown it diagrammatically, and the observer is supposed to be looking straight upward towards the zenith.

p. 248-49, Nov. 4 1903: To sleep much was out of the question, and I scarcely know how the other long hours went. In our tent we had one book, Darwin’s delightful ‘Cruise of the ‘Beagle,’ and sometimes one or another would read this aloud until our freezing fingers refused to turn the pages.

p. 393, November 4, 1904: After reading Wilkes’ report again, I must conclude that as these places are non-existent, there is no case for any land eastward of Adélie Land. It is a great disappointment to have to turn north at such an interesting time, but I feel that it is imperative; we have scarcely coal enough for ten days’ steaming, and our late experiences have shown clearly how unmanageable the ship is under sail alone with our small spare rudder. There is nothing for it but to turn homeward, and even as it is we shall have to rely on favouring winds to reach our rendezvous.

p. 240, Nov. 1, 1903: In other words, to find either latitude or longitude, a certain amount of data is required. Now, all these necessary data are supplied in an excellent little publication issued by the Royal Geographical Society and called ‘Hints to Travellers,’ and it was on this book that I was relying to be able to work out my sights and accurately fix the position of my party.

When this book was lost, therefore, the reader will see how we were placed; if we did not return to the ship to make good our loss, we should be obliged to take the risk of marching away into the unknown without exactly knowing where we were or how to get back.

As will be seen, this last is precisely what happened, and if the loss of our ‘Hints to Travellers’ did not lead us into serious trouble it caused me many a bad half-hour.

p. 306, Dec. 1903: I found that Ford had become cook for the few who remained on board, and that, as a result of studying Mrs. Beeton’s cookery book, he was achieving dishes of a more savoury nature than we had thought possible with the resources at our command,