with Panoramas, Maps, and Illustrations by the Late Doctor Edward A. Wilson and Other Members of the Expedition
in Two Volumes Volume One
Constable and Company Limited LondonBombaySydney
First published 1922
Printed in Great Britain
This volume is a narrative of Scott's Last Expedition from its departure from England in 1910 to its return to New Zealand in 1913.
It does not, however, include the story of subsidiary parties except where their adventures touch the history of the Main Party.
It is hoped later to publish an appendix volume with an account of the two Geological Journeys, and such other information concerning the equipment of, and lessons learned by, this Expedition as may be of use to the future explorer.
This post-war business is inartistic, for it is seldom that any one does anything well for the sake of doing it well; and it is un-Christian, if you value Christianity, for men are out to hurt and not to help—can you wonder, when the Ten Commandments were hurled straight from the pulpit through good stained glass. It is all very interesting and uncomfortable, and it has been a great relief to wander back in one's thoughts and correspondence and personal dealings to an age in geological time, so many hundred years ago, when we were artistic Christians, doing our jobs as well as we were able just because we wished to do them well, helping one another with all our strength, and (I speak with personal humility) living a life of co-operation, in the face of hardships and dangers, which has seldom been surpassed.
The mutual conquest of difficulties is the cement of friendship, as it is the only lasting cement of matrimony. We had plenty of difficulties; we sometimes failed, we sometimes won; we always faced them—we had to. Consequently we have some friends who are better than all the wives in Mahomet's paradise, and when I have asked for help in the making of this book I have never never asked in vain. Talk of ex-soldiers: give me ex-antarcticists, unsoured and with their ideals intact: they could sweep the world.
The trouble is that they are inclined to lose their ideals in this complicated atmosphere of civilization. They run one another down like the deuce, and it is quite time that stopped. What is the use of A running down Scott because he served with Shackleton, or B going for Amundsen because he served with Scott? They have all done good work; within their limits, the best work to date. There are jobs for which, if I had to do them, I would like to serve under Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton and Wilson—each to his part. For a joint scientific and geographical piece of organization, give me Scott; for a Winter Journey, Wilson; for a dash to the Pole and nothing else, Amundsen: and if I am in the devil of a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time. They will all go down in polar history as leaders, these men. I believe Bowers would also have made a great name for himself if he had lived, and few polar ships have been commanded as capably as was the Terra Nova, by Pennell.
In a way this book is a sequel to the friendship which there was between Wilson, Bowers and myself, which, having stood the strain of the Winter Journey, could never have been broken. Between the three of us we had a share in all the big journeys and bad times which came to Scott's main landing party, and what follows is, particularly, our unpublished diaries, letters and illustrations. I, we, have tried to show how good the whole thing was—and how bad. I have had a freer hand than many in this, because much of the dull routine has been recorded already and can be found if wanted: also because, not being the leader of the expedition, I had no duty to fulfil in cataloguing my followers' achievements. But there was plenty of work left for me. It has been no mere gleaning of the polar field. Not half the story had been told, nor even all the most interesting documents. Among these, I have had from Mrs. Bowers her son's letters home, and from Lashly his diary of the Last Return Party on the Polar Journey. Mrs. Wilson has given her husband's diary of the Polar Journey: this is especially valuable because it is the only detailed account in existence from 87° 32′ to the Pole and after, with the exception of Scott's Diary already published. Lady Scott has given with both hands any records I wanted and could find. No one of my companions in the South has failed to help. They include Atkinson, Wright, Priestley, Simpson, Lillie and Debenham.
To all these good friends I can do no more than express my very sincere thanks.
I determined that the first object of the illustrations should be descriptive of the text: Wright and Debenham have photographs, sledging and otherwise, which do this admirably. Mrs. Wilson has allowed me to have any of her husband's sketches and drawings reproduced that I wished, and there are many hundreds from which to make a selection. In addition to the six water-colours, which I have chosen for their beauty, I have taken a number of sketches because they illustrate typical incidents in our lives. They are just unfinished sketches, no more: and had Bill been alive he would have finished them before he allowed them to be published. Then I have had reproduced nearly all the sketches and panoramas drawn by him on the Polar Journey and found with him where he died. The half-tone process does not do them justice: I wish I could have had them reproduced in photogravure, but the cost is prohibitive.
As to production, after a good deal of experience, I was convinced that I could trust a commercial firm to do its worst save when it gave them less trouble to do better. I acknowledge my mistake. In a wilderness of firms in whom nothing was first class except their names and their prices, I have dealt with R. & R. Clark, who have printed this book, and Emery Walker, who has illustrated it. The fact that Emery Walker is not only alive, but full of vitality, indicates why most of the other firms are millionaires.
When I went South I never meant to write a book: I rather despised those who did so as being of an inferior brand to those who did things and said nothing about them. But that they say nothing is too often due to the fact that they have nothing to say, or are too idle or too busy to learn how to say it. Every one who has been through such an extraordinary experience has much to say, and ought to say it if he has any faculty that way. There is after the event a good deal of criticism, of stock-taking, of checking of supplies and distances and so forth that cannot really be done without first-hand experience. Out there we knew what was happening to us too well; but we did not and could not measure its full significance. When I was asked to write a book by the Antarctic Committee I discovered that, without knowing it, I had intended to write one ever since I had realized my own experiences. Once started, I enjoyed the process. My own writing is my own despair, but it is better than it was, and this is directly due to Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Shaw. At the age of thirty-five I am delighted to acknowledge that my education has at last begun.
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927.
The author died in 1959, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 60 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.