A splendid biography of one of the most valuable members of Scott’s Terra Nova expedition.
p. 6, re departure of Terra Nova from Cardiff: Apsley joined the ship at Cardiff, and Elsie and Mildred went to see him off. The girls stayed on board until the Barry Docks, and there they finally picked their way down the ship’s ladder and climbed into the last tug back to Cardiff. Then the crew steamed away down the Bristol Channel, gleefully tossing overboard hundreds of tracts and periodicals left by earnest visitors, the flimsy sheets lifting briefly aloft before floating down to dissolve in the pewter water.
p. 63: His bunk was in the nursery, so called because it housed the youngest members of the expedition. Next to the engine room…with six bunks as well as the ship’s library and a pianola equipped with bulky rolls of music.
p. 84, [enroute from NZ to Antarctica]: There were low moments. Cherry cut his hand on a flensing knife and found it dreary not being able to work, obliged instead ‘to moon around with a gun’ or read Nansen’s Farthest North on his damp bunk.
p. 91, 12 Jan 1911: This evening a variety of things went wrong and I felt very chippy. I am going to turn in with a little Tennyson for company.
p. 100, March 1911 at Hut Point: They thawed out some old copies of the Girl’s Own Paper, and a battered edition of Stanley Weyman’s My Lady Rotha, which they all read, the suspense of the plot permanent since the end was missing. After the last box of lavatory paper had been counted out—twenty-nine sheets were issued to each man—back numbers of the Contemporary Review (‘contemporary to ten years ago’) fulfilled a useful function.
p. 101, Cherry at Camp Evans: Today has been the greatest fun, fitting up my bunk, fitting up shelves, unpacking my Kiplings, and now getting into The Light that Failed for the fifth or sixth time. [Cherry identified with many of Kipling’s motley cast of heroes, none more closely than Dick Heldar from The Light that Failed. He latched on to Heldar’s urge to travel….] The novel as a whole endorsed the conservative, anti-feminist world-view that Cherry had absorbed throughout his youth, as well as his father’s attitudes to Indians, and to foreigners in general.
p. 103, Scott asked Cherry to edit the expedition newspaper…. Desperate to do a good job, Cherry began by nailing a flour box to a wall alongside a notice inviting anonymous contributions for the first edition. While he waited, he read Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge, wrote a report on the building of snow huts for Scott, and put the roof on his stone taxidermy lab.
p. 106: On 12 June Cherry went to Cape Royds for a night with Birdie…. On a previous visit, Ponting had unearthed a pile of illustrated newspapers displaying his own work. Leafing through them back at Cape Evans, Cherry’s eye was caught by a photograph of the shapely Marie Lohr. He asked Ponting if he could have that page of the newspaper. The delighted Ponting thought his colleague wanted his photograph of the Jungfrau, which was on the other side of Miss Lohr, and generously offered to mount it. ‘I got badly ragged in “Virtue Villa” when it was found by Titus that I did not want Ponting’s photo,’ Cherry recorded in his diary. But Miss Lohr went up on the wall next to his bunk.
p. 109: During the long sledging journey towards the Pole on the Discovery expedition Scott, Shackleton and Wilson had taken it in turns to read aloud On the Origin of Species while swaddled in their three-man sleeping bag.
p. 124: Now, a few days out of One Ton, dogs, ponies and men met the four-man motorless motor party, who had passed the time reading ThePickwick Papers out loud.
Cherry had been out for three weeks when the first pony was shot…. Everyone felt depressed in the bad weather. Cherry, reading the ostensibly consoling verses of In Memoriam in the tent from his green leatherbound Tennyson (‘Ring, happy bells, across the snow’), tried to focus on nobler things, but in reality his life revolved around Michael, his pony. [That green Tennyson is now at the University of Rochester Library.]
p. 125-26: Pressed against the green walls of the tent, clothes clinging wetly and a line of sopping socks and balaclavas dripping above their heads, they listened to the patter of falling snow and the flapping of the canvas. There was nothing to do but finish their books. Cherry swapped The Little Minister with Silas for Dante’s Inferno. He had lent his Tennyson to Bill [Wilson] who was busy rhapsodizing over In Memoriam, ‘a perfect piece of faith and hope’. [8 Dec 1911]
p. 130, when Terra Nova returned after the first winter to resupply the party Cherry: “received cases and cases of gear from Evelyn and Reggie, among it thirty scarves, sixty books and an eighteen-gallon cask of sherry.”
p. 139: On the other side of the partition Cherry discharged his duties and read, subsisting on a conventional diet of Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Arnold Bennett, Rider Haggard and Anthony Hope. For light relief he pored over reports of the coronation of George V in the illustrated papers sent down by his old Winchester housemaster, Theodore ‘Kenny” Kennington.
p. 148: Besides taking copious notes on the behaviour of Adélies for an article he planned to write, Cherry sketched, skinned and indulged his taste for solid Victorian novels by knocking off Adam Bede.
p. 171, in 1914 after return: Cherry was devoted to Kipling and his robust imperial ideas (on some subliminal level he also identified with the dark, depressive strain present in both the man and the work). In a fit of reverential munificence when sorting through his Antarctic packing cases, he decided to send his well-thumbed copy of Kim to its author. The novel had been read by almost everyone in the shore party. ‘I can say quite truthfully,’ Cherry wrote to his hero, ‘that there were no books which we had which were so much used, gave so much food for conversation of more enjoyment.