Scott’s Last Expedition. In Two Volumes. Vol. I Being the Journals of Captain R. F. Scott, R.N., C.V.O. Vol. II. Being the Reports of the Journeys and the Scientific Work Undertaken by Dr. E. A. Wilson, and the Surviving Members of the Expedition,

[There is a considerable difference in the lengths of the British and American first editions of these diaries which I’ve been unable to unravel or understand. Paginations below are from the London edition.]

Volume I:

p. 80, Sunday, January 1, 1911: To-night it is absolutely calm, with glorious bright sunshine. Several people were sunning themselves at 11 o’clock! sitting on deck and reading.

p. 239-40: Notes on Flyleaf of Fresh MS. Book

Genus Homo, Species Sapiens I


Wm. Barents’ house in Novaya Zemlya built 1596. Found by Capt. Carlsen 1871 (275 years later) intact, everything inside as left!

What of this hut?

The ocean girt continent.

‘Might have seemed almost heroic if any higher end than excessive love of gain and traffic had animated the design.’—Milton.

‘He is not worthy to live at all, who, for fear and danger of death, shunneth his country’s service or his own honour, since death is inevitable and the fame of virtue immortal.’—Sir Humphrey Gilbert.

There is no part of the world that can not be reached by man.

When the ‘ can be ‘ is turned to ‘ has been ‘ the Geographical Society will have altered its status.

‘At the whirring loom of time unawed I weave the living garment of God.’—Goethe.

By all means think yourself big but don’t think everyone else small!

The man who knows everyone’s job isn’t much good at his own.

‘When you are attacked unjustly avoid the appearance of evil, but avoid also the appearance of being too good!’ ‘A man can’t be too good, but he can appear too good.’

p. 289, Saturday, May 27: In the evening Bowers gave his lecture on sledging diets. He has shown great courage in undertaking the task, great perseveremce in unearthing facts from books, and a considerable practical skill in stringing these together. It is a thankless task to search Polar literature for dietary facts and still more difficult to attach due weight to varying statements. Some authors omit discussion of this important item altogether, others fail to note alterations made in practice or additions afforded by circumstances, others again forget to describe the nature of various food stuffs.

p. 320: afterwards people read, write, or play games, or occasionally finish some piece of work. The gramophone is usually started by some kindly disposed person, and on three nights of the week the lectures to which I have referred are given. These lectures still command full audiences and lively discussions. At 11 P M the acetylene lights are put out, and those who wish to remain up or to read in bed must depend on candle-light.

p. 321-2: I came across a hint of the value of a doubtle tent in Sverdrup’s book, ‘New Land,’ and (P.O.) Evans has made a lining for one of the tents; it is secured on the inner side of the poles and provides an air space inside the tent. I think it is going to be a great success, and that it will go far to obviate the necessity of considering the question of snow huts—though we shall continue our efforts in this direction also.

p. 335: Quotations on the Flyleaf [of a new MS book]

‘Where the (Queen’s) Law does not carry it is irrational to exact an observance of other and weaker rules.’—Rudyakd Kipling.

Confident of his good intentions but doubtful of his fortitude.

‘So far as I can venture to offer an opinion on such a matter, the purpose of our being in existence, the highest object that human beings can set before themselves is not the pursuit of any such chimera as the annihilation of the unknown; but it is simply the unwearied endeavour to remove its boundaries a little further from our little sphere of action.’—Huxley. [These quotations from Kipling and Huxley may have been from copies Scott had with him or from memory.]

p. 402-03: Last night Bowers lectured on Polar clothing. He had worked the subject up from our Polar library with critical and humorous ability, and with his recent journey he must be considered as entitled to an authoritative position of his own. The points in our clothing problems are too technical and too frequently discussed to need special notice at present, but as a result of a new tudy of Arctic precedents it is satisfactory to find it becomes more and more evident that our equipment is the best that has been devised for the purpose, always excepting the possible alternative of skins for spring journeys, an alternative we have no power to adopt. In spite of this we are making minor improvements all the time.

p. 544: We have been descending again I think, but there looks to be rise ahead; otherwise there is little different from the awful monotony of past days. Great God! this is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have laboured to it without the reward of priority. Well, it is something to have got here, and the wind may be our friend to-morrow.

p. 621, Appendix, note to p. 202: Note 15, p. 202.—March 12. Thawed out some old magazines and picture papers which were left here by the Discovery, and gave us very good reading. [Dr. Wilson’s Journal.]

p. 629-30, Appendix, Note 25, p. 574, on how Scott’s notebooks were produced: At this point begins the last of Scott’s notebooks. The record of the Southern Journey is written in pencil in three slim MS. books, some 8 inches long by 5 wide. These little volumes are meant for artists’ notebooks, and are made of tough, soft, pliable paper which takes the pencil well. The pages, 96 in number, are perforated so as to be detachable at need.

In the Hut, large quarto MS. books were used for the journals, and some of the rough notes of the earlier expeditions were recast and written out again in them; the little books were carried on the sledge journeys, and contain the day’s notes entered very regularly at the lunch halts and in the night camps. But in the last weeks of the Southern Journey, when fuel and light ran short and all grew very weary, it will be seen that Scott made his entries at lunch time alone. They tell not of the morning’s run only, but of ‘ yesterday.’ The notes were written on the right-hand pages, and when the end of the book was reached, it was ‘ turned ‘ and the blank backs of the leaves now became clean right-hand pages.

Volume II:

This volume consists of various accounts of specific events of the expedition: The Winter Journey to Cape Crozier (by Wilson, Bowers, and Cherry-Garrard), p. 1-78; Narrative of the Northern Party (by Victor Campbell), p. 79-181; The Western Journeys (by Griffith Taylor)), p. 182-290; Spring Depot Journey (by Cmd. Edward Evans) p, 291—97; The Last Year at Cape Evans (by Surgeon E. L. Atkinson), p. 298-337; The Ascent of Erabus (by Raymond Priestley), 350-58; and ten other chiefly scientific reports.

p. xviii:

The Silence was deep with a breath like sleep
As our sledge runners slid on the snow,
And the fate-full fall of our fur-clad feet
Struck mute like a silent blow
On a questioning ‘ Hush ? ‘ as the settling crust
Shrank shivering over the floe.
And the sledge in its track sent a whisper back
Which was lost in a white fog-bow.
And this was the thought that the Silence wrought,
As it scorched and froze us through.
For the secrets hidden are all forbidden
Till God means man to know.’
We might be the men God meant should know
The heart of the Barrier snow,
In the heat of the sun, and the glow
And the glare from the glistening floe,
As it scorched and froze us through and through
With the bite of the drifting snow.

These verses were written by Dr. Wilson for the South Polar Times. It was characteristic of the man that he sent them in typewritten, lest the editor should recognise his hand and judge them on personal rather than literary grounds. Many of their readers confess that they felt in these lines Wilson’s own premonition of the event. The version now given is the final form, as it appeared in the South Polar Times.

p. 138, at the hut, winter of 1912: We luckily had one or two books—‘David Copperfield, ‘The Life of R. L. Stevenson,’ and ‘Simon the Jester’ being the favourites, and after hooch Levick used to read a chapter of one of them. Saturday evenings, we each had a stick of chocolate, and usually had a concert, and Sunday evening at supper twelve lumps of sugar were served out and we had church, which consisted of my reading a chapter of the Bible, followed by hymns. We had no hymn-book but Priestley remembered several hymns, while Abbott, Browning, and Dickason had all been, at some time or other, in a church choir, and were responsible for one or two of the better-known psalms. When our library was exhausted we started lectures, Levick’s on anatomy being especially interesting. Saturday evenings, we each had a stick of chocolate, and usually had a concert, and Sunday evening at supper twelve lumps of sugar were served out and we had church, which consisted of my reading a chapter of the Bible, followed by hymns. We had no hymn-book, but Priestley remembered several hymns, while Abbott, Browning, and Dickason had all been, at some time or other, in a choir, and were responsible for one or two of the better known psalms. When our library was exhausted we started lectures, Levick’s on anatomy being especially interesting.

p. 199-200: That evening we discussed literature. P.O. Evans disliked Dickens and Kipling, whom Debenham and I enjoy thoroughly. He preferred a well-known foreign writer whose name he very sensibly pronounced Dum-ass. Our sledging library was quite extensive, for each of us had devoted a pound of our personal allowance to books. I will give the catalogue, if only as a caution to late explorers. Debenham took my Browning and the ‘Autocrat’; Evans had a William Le Queux and the Red Magazine; Wright had two mathematical books, both in German; I took Debenham’s Tennyson and three small German books. The Red Magazine, the ‘Autocrat,’ and Browning were most read; Evans contribution being an easy winner. Somehow we didn’t hanker after German.

p. 245: Gran was reading Jules Verne’s ‘ Mysterious Island ‘ this trip, so we named our sample of Polar architecture ‘ Granite House’ from that exciting melodrama. On the 3rd Gran and I set about placing a letter on the Rendezvous Bluff as Captain Scott instructed me.

p. 249: Anyhow we can’t move and I’m learning to take these blizzes philosophically. Besides, the bags are dry and warm, and when I tire of writing this diary I snooze a bit, and then read Harker’s Petrology ” (Debenham’s), and then snooze more. Or Poe’s “Tales” (too fantastic and Oriental to please me, most of them), or “Martin Chuzzlcwit,” or German Grammar. Forde is reading the “Mysterious Island” which Gran has nearly finished at last.

p. 273: Gran started a drama—a great ‘nature play,’ full of storms and wrecks with a strong substratum of melodrama. It was called ‘Tangholman Lighthouse ‘ and we used to urge him to fill it full of incident and cut out the ‘nature’ part of it. I read ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ for the nth time and found it as always, very interesting; while Forde tackled ‘Incomparable Bellairs’—a book which charmed Gran—but luckily Forde made it last a very long time.

p. 325: On June 22, Midwinter Day, Cherry-Garrard, our editor, presented us with another number of the South Polar Times, and the remainder of the afternoon was spent as a holiday in reading this, playing bagatelle, or making preparations for a happy evening. The whole hut was decorated with the Christmas tree, sledging flags, and some red bunting. A large white ensign was hung over all as a canopy. Nelson presented each member with a very pretty menu card. These were cut out of cardboard and painted to represent Adelie penguins.

p. 463: Those who, previous to reading this book, have read Amundsen’s ‘ South Pole ‘ cannot but have been struck by the fact that while this book is full of descriptions and references to blizzards the word hardly appears in the other. It is very natural to ask the reason for this strange difference. The reason is an important one, and if it had been known previously the history of the conquest of the South Pole would have been very different. One can now say definitely that the blizzards which have been so fateful to British Antarctic exploration are local winds confined to the western half of the Ross Barrier.

p. 497: An invaluable collection of Polar literature, alike Antarctic and Arctic, was made for the expedition by Admirals Sir Lewis Beaumont, G.C.B., and Sir Albert Markham, K.C.B., and a beautiful library in miniature was presented to us by Mr. Reginald Smith.

[It might be noted that there are over twenty references to monotony in the index, though none to boredom or ennui.]