Scott's Last Expedition -
The Journals of Captain R. F. Scott, R.N., C.V.O.
Chapter 11 - TO MIDWINTER DAY
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Thursday, June 1The wind blew hard all
night, gusts arising to
72 m.p.h.; the anemometer choked five times--temperature +9°. It
still blowing this morning. Incidentally we have found that
heavy winds react very conveniently on our ventilating system. A
is always a good ventilator, ensuring the circulation of inside
the indraught of fresh air; its defect as a ventilator lies in
level at which it extracts inside air. Our ventilating system
the normal fire draught, but also by suitable holes in the
causes the same draught to extract foul air at higher levels. I
this is the first time such a system has been used. It is a bold
to make holes in the funnelling as obviously any uncertainty of
might fill the hut with smoke. Since this does not happen with
follows that there is always strong suction through our
and this is achieved by their exceptionally large dimensions and
the length of the outer chimney pipe.
With wind this draught is greatly increased and with high winds
draught would be too great for the stoves if it were not for the
relief of the ventilating holes.
In these circumstances, therefore, the rate of extraction of air
automatically rises, and since high wind is usually accompanied
marked rise of temperature, the rise occurs at the most
season, when the interior of the hut would otherwise tend to
oppressively warm. The practical result of the system is that in
spite of the numbers of people living in the hut, the cooking,
the smoking, the inside air is nearly always warm, sweet, and
There is usually a drawback to the best of arrangements, and I
said 'nearly' always. The exceptions in this connection occur
the outside air is calm and warm and the galley fire, as in the
morning, needs to be worked up; it is necessary under these
to temporarily close the ventilating holes, and if at this time
cook is intent on preparing our breakfast with a frying-pan we
quickly made aware of his intentions. A combination of this sort
rare and lasts only for a very short time, for directly the fire
aglow the ventilator can be opened again and the relief is
This very satisfactory condition of inside air must be a highly
important factor in the preservation of health.
I have to-day regularised the pony 'nicknames'; I must leave it
Drake to pull out the relation to the 'proper' names according
our school contracts! 
The nicknames are as follows:
James Pigg - Keohane
Bones - Crean
Michael - Clissold
Snatcher - Evans (P.O.)
Christopher - Hooper
Victor - Bowers
Nobby - Lashly
Friday, June 2The wind still high. The drift ceased at an
hour yesterday; it is difficult to account for the fact. At
the sky cleared; then and this morning we had a fair display of
aurora streamers to the N. and a faint arch east. Curiously
the temperature still remains high, about +7°.
The meteorological conditions are very puzzling.
Saturday, June 3The wind dropped last night, but at 4
A.M. suddenly sprang up from a dead calm to 30 miles an hour.
instantaneously, certainly within the space of one minute, there
a temperature rise of nine degrees. It is the most extraordinary
and interesting example of a rise of temperature with a
wind that I can remember. It is certainly difficult to account
unless we imagine that during the calm the surface layer of cold
is extremely thin and that there is a steep inverted gradient.
the wind arose the sky overhead was clearer than I ever remember
have seen it, the constellations brilliant, and the Milky Way
a bright auroral streamer.
The wind has continued all day, making it unpleasant out of
went for a walk over the land; it was dark, the rock very black,
very little snow lying; old footprints in the soft, sandy soil
filled with snow, showing quite white on a black ground. Have
digging away at food statistics.
Simpson has just given us a discourse, in the ordinary lecture
on his instruments. Having already described these instruments,
is little to comment upon; he is excellently lucid in his
As an analogy to the attempt to make a scientific observation
the condition under consideration is affected by the means
he rather quaintly cited the impossibility of discovering the
of trousers by bending over to see!
The following are the instruments described:
The outside (bimetallic) thermograph.
The inside thermograph (alcohol)
Alcohol in spiral, small lead pipe--float vessel.
The electrically recording anemometer
Cam device with contact on wheel; slowing arrangement,
inertia of wheel.
The Dynes anemometer
Parabola on immersed float.
The recording wind vane
Horizontal force measured in two directions--vertical
force in one--timing arrangement.
The high and low potential apparatus of the balloon thermograph
Spotting arrangement and difference, see ante .
Simpson is admirable as a worker, admirable as a scientist, and
admirable as a lecturer.
Sunday, June 4A calm and beautiful day. The account of
a typical Sunday, would run as follows: Breakfast. A half-hour
so selecting hymns and preparing for Service whilst the hut is
cleared up. The Service: a hymn; Morning prayer to the Psalms;
hymn; prayers from Communion Service and Litany; a final hymn
our special prayer. Wilson strikes the note on which the hymn is
start and I try to hit it after with doubtful success! After
the men go out with their ponies.
To-day Wilson, Bowers, Cherry-Garrard, Lashly, and I went to
start the building of our first 'igloo.' There is a good deal of
difference of opinion as to the best implement with which to cut
blocks. Cherry-Garrard had a knife which I designed and Lashly
Wilson a saw, and Bowers a large trowel. I'm inclined to think
knife will prove most effective, but the others don't
it yet . As far as one can see at present this knife should
longer handle and much coarser teeth in the saw edge--perhaps
the blade should be thinner.
We must go on with this hut building till we get good at it. I'm
it's going to be a useful art.
We only did three courses of blocks when tea-time arrived, and
was not good enough to proceed after tea.
Sunday afternoon for the men means a 'stretch of the land.'
I went over the floe on ski. The best possible surface after the
winds as far as Inaccessible Island. Here, and doubtless in most
along the shore, this, the first week of June, may be noted as
by which the wet, sticky salt crystals become covered and the
possible for wood runners. Beyond the island the snow is still
thin, barely covering the ice flowers, and the surface is still
There has been quite a small landslide on the S. side of the
seven or eight blocks of rock, one or two tons in weight, have
on to the floe, an interesting instance of the possibility of
by sea ice.
Ponting has been out to the bergs photographing by flashlight.
I passed south of the Island with its whole mass between myself
and the photographer I saw the flashes of magnesium light,
all the appearance of lightning. The light illuminated the sky
apparently objects at a great distance from the camera. It is
that there may be very great possibilities in the use of this
for signalling purposes and I propose to have some experiments.
N.BMagnesium flashlight as signalling apparatus in the
Another crab-eater seal was secured to-day; he had come up by
Monday, June 5The wind has been S. all day, sky overcast
air misty with snow crystals. The temperature has gone steadily
and to-night rose to + 16°. Everything seems to threaten a
which cometh not. But what is to be made of this extraordinary
temperature heaven only knows. Went for a walk over the rocks
found it very warm and muggy.
Taylor gave us a paper on the Beardmore Glacier. He has taken
to work up available information; on the ice side he showed the
very gradual gradient as compared with the Ferrar. If crevasses
are as plentiful as reported, the motion of glacier must be very
considerable. There seem to be three badly crevassed parts where
glacier is constricted and the fall is heavier.
Geologically he explained the rocks found and the problems
unsolved. The basement rocks, as to the north, appear to be
and grey granites and altered slate (possibly bearing fossils).
Cloudmaker appears to be diorite; Mt. Buckley sedimentary. The
suggested formation is of several layers of coal with sandstone
above and below; interesting to find if it is so and investigate
coal. Wood fossil conifer appears to have come from this--better
get leaves--wrap fossils up for protection.
Mt. Dawson described as pinkish limestone, with a wedge of dark
this very doubtful! Limestone is of great interest owing to
of finding Cambrian fossils (Archeocyathus).
He mentioned the interest of finding here, as in Dry Valley,
cones of recent date (later than the recession of the ice). As
to be looked to in Geology and Physiography:
1. Hope Island shape.
2. Character of wall facets.
3. Type of tributary glaciers, cliff or curtain, broken.
4. Do tributaries enter 'at grade'?
5. Lateral gullies pinnacled, &c., shape and size of slope.
6. Do tributaries cut out gullies--empty unoccupied cirques,
7. Do upland moraines show tesselation?
8. Arrangement of strata, inclusion of.
9. Types of moraines, distance of blocks.
10. Weathering of glaciers. Types of surface. (Thrust mark?
snow stool, glass house, coral reef, honeycomb, ploughshare,
11. Amount of water silt bands, stratified, or irregular folded
12. Cross section, of valleys 35° slopes?
13. Weather slopes debris covered, height to which.
14. Nunataks, height of rounded, height of any angle in profile,
15. Evidence of order in glacier delta.
Debenham in discussion mentioned usefulness of small chips of
rock--many chips from several places are more valuable than few
We had an interesting little discussion.
I must enter a protest against the use made of the word
by Geologists and Physiographers.
To them a 'glaciated land' is one which appears to have been
by former ice action.
The meaning I attach to the phrase, and one which I believe is
commonly current, is that it describes a land at present wholly
partly covered with ice and snow.
I hold the latter is the obvious meaning and the former results
a piracy committed in very recent times.
The alternative terms descriptive of the different meanings are
covered and ice eroded.
To-day I have been helping the Soldier to design pony rugs; the
thing, I think, is to get something which will completely cover
Tuesday, June 6The temperature has been as high as +19°
the south wind persisted until the evening with clear sky except
for fine effects of torn cloud round about the mountain.
the moon has emerged from behind the mountain and sails across
cloudless northern sky; the wind has fallen and the scene is
It is my birthday, a fact I might easily have forgotten, but my
people did not. At lunch an immense birthday cake made its
and we were photographed assembled about it. Clissold had
its sugared top with various devices in chocolate and
fruit, flags and photographs of myself.
After my walk I discovered that great preparations were in
a special dinner, and when the hour for that meal arrived we sat
to a sumptuous spread with our sledge banners hung about us.
especially excellent seal soup, roast mutton and red currant
fruit salad, asparagus and chocolate--such was our menu. For
had cider cup, a mystery not yet fathomed, some sherry and a
After this luxurious meal everyone was very festive and amiably
argumentative. As I write there is a group in the dark room
political progress with discussions--another at one corner of
the dinner table airing its views on the origin of matter and
probability of its ultimate discovery, and yet another debating
military problems. The scraps that reach me from the various
sometimes piece together in ludicrous fashion. Perhaps these
are practically unprofitable, but they give a great deal of
to the participants. It's delightful to hear the ring of triumph
some voice when the owner imagines he has delivered himself of a
well-rounded period or a clinching statement concerning the
under discussion. They are boys, all of them, but such excellent
good-natured ones; there has been no sign of sharpness or anger,
no jarring note, in all these wordy contests! all end with a
Nelson has offered Taylor a pair of socks to teach him some
geology! This lulls me to sleep!
Wednesday, June 7A very beautiful day. In the afternoon
well out over the floe to the south, looking up Nelson at his
and picking up Bowers at his thermometer. The surface was
and beautifully smooth for ski, the scene brightly illuminated
with moonlight, the air still and crisp, and the thermometer at
-10°. Perfect conditions for a winter walk.
In the evening I read a paper on 'The Ice Barrier and Inland
have strung together a good many new points and the interest
in the discussion was very genuine--so keen, in fact, that we
break up till close on midnight. I am keeping this paper, which
a very good basis for all future work on these subjects. (See
Shelters to Iceholes
Time out of number one is coming across rediscoveries. Of such a
nature is the building of shelters for iceholes. We knew a good
about it in the Discovery , but unfortunately did not make
our experiences. I sketched the above figures for Nelson, and
going to the hole that the drift accorded with my sketch. The
explain themselves. I think wall 'b' should be higher than wall
My night on duty. The silent hours passed rapidly and
bed 7 A.M.
Thursday, June 8Did not turn out till 1 P.M., then with a
head, an inevitable sequel to a night of vigil. Walked out to
around the bergs, bright moonlight, but clouds rapidly spreading
Tried the snow knife, which is developing. Debenham and Gran
off to Hut Point this morning; they should return to-morrow.
Friday, June 9No wind came with the clouds of yesterday,
the sky has not been clear since they spread over it except for
two hours in the middle of the night when the moonlight was so
that one might have imagined the day returned.
Otherwise the web of stratus which hangs over us thickens and
rises and falls with very bewildering uncertainty. We want
for these mysterious weather conditions; meanwhile it is
lose the advantages of the moonlight.
This morning had some discussion with Nelson and Wright
action of sea water in melting barrier and sea ice. The
was useful to me in drawing attention to the equilibrium of
of sea water.
In the afternoon I went round the Razor Back Islands on ski, a
of 5 or 6 miles; the surface was good but in places still
with the pressures formed when the ice was 'young.'
The snow is astonishingly soft on the south side of both
is clear that in the heaviest blizzard one could escape the wind
altogether by camping to windward of the larger island. One sees
more and more clearly what shelter is afforded on the weather
of steep-sided objects.
Passed three seals asleep on the ice. Two others were killed
Saturday, June 10The impending blizzard has come; the wind
with a burst at 9.30 this morning.
Simpson spent the night turning over a theory to account for the
phenomenon, and delivered himself of it this morning. It seems a
good basis for the reference of future observations. He imagines
atmosphere A C in potential equilibrium with large margin of
i.e. the difference of temperature between A and C being much
than the adiabatic gradient.
In this condition there is a tendency to cool by radiation until
some critical layer, B, reaches its due point. A stratus cloud
thus formed at B; from this moment A B continues to cool, but B
protected from radiating, whilst heated by radiation from snow
possibly by release of latent heat due to cloud formation.
The condition now rapidly approaches unstable equilibrium, B C
to rise, A B to descend.
Owing to lack of sun heat the effect will be more rapid in south
north and therefore the upset will commence first in the south.
the first start the upset will rapidly spread north, bringing
blizzard. The facts supporting the theory are the actual
of a stratus cloud before a blizzard, the snow and warm
of the blizzard and its gusty nature.
It is a pretty starting-point, but, of course, there are weak
Atkinson has found a trypanosome in the fish--it has been
photographed and drawn--an interesting discovery having regard
the few species that have been found. A trypanosome is the cause
The blizzard has continued all day with a good deal of drift. I
for a walk, but the conditions were not inviting.
We have begun to consider details of next season's travelling
equipment. The crampons, repair of finnesko with sealskin, and
idea for a double tent have been discussed to-day. P.O. Evans
Lashly are delightfully intelligent in carrying out
Sunday, June 11A fine clear morning, the moon now revolving
aloft and with full face.
For exercise a run on ski to the South Bay in the morning and a
up the Ramp before dinner. Wind and drift arose in the middle of
day, but it is now nearly calm again.
At our morning service Cherry-Garrard, good fellow, vamped the
accompaniment of two hymns; he received encouraging thanks and
cope with all three hymns next Sunday.
Day by day news grows scant in this midwinter season; all events
to compress into a small record, yet a little reflection shows
this is not the case. For instance I have had at least three
discussions on weather and ice conditions to-day, concerning
many notes might be made, and quite a number of small
have been made.
If a diary can be so inadequate here how difficult must be the
of making a faithful record of a day's events in ordinary
life! I think this is why I have found it so difficult to keep a
diary at home.
Monday, June 12The weather is not kind to us. There has not
much wind to-day, but the moon has been hid behind stratus
feels horribly cheated in losing the pleasure of its light. I
know what the Crozier party can do if they don't get better luck
Debenham and Gran have not yet returned; this is their fifth day
Bowers and Cherry-Garrard went to Cape Royds this afternoon to
the night. Taylor and Wright walked there and back after
this morning. They returned shortly after lunch.
Went for a short spin on ski this morning and again this
afternoon. This evening Evans has given us a lecture on
was shy and slow, but very painstaking, taking a deal of trouble
preparing pictures, &c.
I took the opportunity to note hurriedly the few points to which
want attention especially directed. No doubt others will occur
me presently. I think I now understand very well how and why the
surveyors (like Belcher) failed in the early Arctic work.
1. Every officer who takes part in the Southern Journey ought to
in his memory the approximate variation of the compass at
stages of the journey and to know how to apply it to obtain a
course from the compass. The variation changes very slowly so
no great effort of memory is required.
2. He ought to know what the true course is to reach one depot
3. He should be able to take an observation with the theodolite.
4. He should be able to work out a meridian altitude
5. He could advantageously add to his knowledge the ability to
out a longitude observation or an ex-meridian altitude.
6. He should know how to read the sledgemeter.
7. He should note and remember the error of the watch he carries
the rate which is ascertained for it from time to time.
8. He should assist the surveyor by noting the coincidences of
the opening out of valleys, the observation of new peaks,
Tuesday, June 13A very beautiful day. We revelled in the
clear moonlight; the temperature has fallen to -26°. The surface
the floe perfect for ski--had a run to South Bay in forenoon and
away on a long circuit around Inaccessible Island in the
such weather the cold splendour of the scene is beyond
everything is satisfying, from the deep purple of the starry sky
the gleaming bergs and the sparkle of the crystals under foot.
Some very brilliant patches of aurora over the southern shoulder
the mountain. Observed an exceedingly bright meteor shoot across
sky to the northward.
On my return found Debenham and Gran back from Cape Armitage.
intended to start back on Sunday, but were prevented by bad
they seemed to have had stronger winds than we.
On arrival at the hut they found poor little 'Mukaka' coiled up
outside the door, looking pitifully thin and weak, but with
energy to bark at them.
This dog was run over and dragged for a long way under the
runners whilst we were landing stores in January (the 7th). He
never been worth much since, but remained lively in spite of all
hardships of sledging work. At Hut Point he looked a miserable
as the hair refused to grow on his hindquarters. It seemed as
he could scarcely continue in such a condition, and when the
back to Cape Evans he was allowed to run free alongside the
On the arrival of the party I especially asked after the little
and was told by Demetri that he had returned, but later it
that this was a mistake--that he had been missed on the journey
had not turned up again later as was supposed.
I learned this fact only a few days ago and had quite given up
of ever seeing the poor little beast again. It is extraordinary
realise that this poor, lame, half-clad animal has lived for a
month by himself. He had blood on his mouth when found, implying
capture of a seal, but how he managed to kill it and then get
its skin is beyond comprehension. Hunger drives hard.
Wednesday, June 14Storms are giving us little rest. We
a thin stratus over the sky this morning, foreboding ill. The
came, as usual with a rush, just after lunch. At first there was
drift--now the drift has gone but the gusts run up to 65 m.p.h.
Had a comfortless stroll around the hut; how rapidly things
when one thinks of the delights of yesterday! Paid a visit to
Wright's ice cave; the pendulum is installed and will soon be
for observation. Wright anticipates the possibility of
with ice crystals on the agate planes.
He tells me that he has seen some remarkably interesting
the growth of ice crystals on the walls of the cave and has
the same unaccountable confusion of the size of grains in the
showing how little history can be gathered from the structure of
This evening Nelson gave us his second biological lecture,
with a brief reference to the scientific classification of the
organism into Kingdom, Phylum, Group, Class, Order, Genus,
he stated the justification of a biologist in such an
as being 'To determine the condition under which organic
exist in the sea.'
He proceeded to draw divisions between the bottom organisms
power of motion, benthon, the nekton motile life in mid-water,
the plankton or floating life. Then he led very prettily on to
importance of the tiny vegetable organisms as the basis of all
In the killer whale may be found a seal, in the seal a fish, in
the fish a smaller fish, in the smaller fish a copepod, and in
copepod a diatom. If this be regular feeding throughout, the
or vegetable is essentially the base of all.
Light is the essential of vegetable growth or metabolism, and
quickly vanishes in depth of water, so that all ocean life must
ultimately depend on the phyto-plankton. To discover the
of this life is therefore to go to the root of matters.
At this point came an interlude--descriptive of the various
implements in use in the ship and on shore. The otter trawl, the
Agassiz trawl, the 'D' net, and the ordinary dredger.
A word or two on the using of 'D' nets and then explanation of
sieves for classifying the bottom, its nature causing variation
the organisms living on it.
From this he took us amongst the tow-nets with their beautiful
silk fabrics, meshes running 180 to the inch and materials
guineas the yard--to the German tow-nets for quantitative
the object of the latter and its doubtful accuracy, young fish
From this to the chemical composition of sea water, the total
about 3.5 per cent, but variable: the proportions of the various
do not appear to differ, thus the chlorine test detects the
quantitatively. Physically plankton life must depend on this
and also on temperature, pressure, light, and movement.
(If plankton only inhabits surface waters, then density,
&c., of surface waters must be the important factors. Why should
biologists strive for deeper layers? Why should not deep sea
maintained by dead vegetable matter?)
Here again the lecturer branched off into descriptions of water
bottles, deep sea thermometers, and current-meters, the which I
have already received some notice in this diary. To what depth
may extend is the difficult problem and we had some speculation,
especially in the debate on this question. Simpson suggested
laboratory experiment should easily determine. Atkinson
growth of bacteria on a scratched plate. The idea seems to be
vegetable life cannot exist without red rays, which probably do
extend beyond 7 feet or so. Against this is an extraordinary
of Holosphera Firidis by German expedition from 2000 fathoms;
this seems to have been confirmed. Bowers caused much amusement
demanding to know 'If the pycnogs (pycnogonids) were more nearly
related to the arachnids (spiders) or crustaceans.' As a matter
fact a very sensible question, but it caused amusement because
its sudden display of long names. Nelson is an exceedingly
lecturer; he makes his subject very clear and is never too
Thursday, June 15Keen cold wind overcast sky till 5.30 P.M.
an idle day.
Jimmy Pigg had an attack of colic in the stable this afternoon.
taken out and doctored on the floe, which seemed to improve
but on return to the stable he was off his feed.
This evening the Soldier tells me he has eaten his food, so I
all be well again.
Friday, June 16Overcast again--little wind but also little
moonlight. Jimmy Pigg quite recovered.
Went round the bergs in the afternoon. A great deal of ice has
from the irregular ones, showing that a great deal of weathering
bergs goes on during the winter and hence that the life of a
very limited, even if it remains in the high latitudes.
To-night Debenham lectured on volcanoes. His matter is very
his voice a little monotonous, so that there were signs of
in the audience, but all woke up for a warm and amusing
succeeding the lecture.
The lecturer first showed a world chart showing distribution of
volcanoes, showing general tendency of eruptive explosions to
in lines. After following these lines in other parts of the
showed difficulty of finding symmetrical linear distribution
McMurdo Sound. He pointed out incidentally the important
which could be drawn from the discovery of altered sandstones in
Erebus region. He went to the shapes of volcanoes:
The massive type formed by very fluid lavas--Mauna Loa (Hawaii),
The more perfect cones formed by ash talus--Fujiama, Discovery.
The explosive type with parasitic cones--Erebus, Morning, Etna.
Fissure eruption--historic only in Iceland, but best prehistoric
examples Deccan (India) and Oregon (U.S.).
There is small ground for supposing relation between adjacent
volcanoes--activity in one is rarely accompanied by activity in
other. It seems most likely that vent tubes are entirely
Products of volcanoes The lecturer mentioned the escape of
quantities of free hydrogen--there was some discussion on this
point afterwards; that water is broken up is easily understood,
what becomes of the oxygen? Simpson suggests the presence of
CO 2 as a noxious gas also mentioned and discussed--causes
'upas' tree--sulphurous fumes attend final stages.
Practically little or no heat escapes through sides of a
There was argument over physical conditions influencing
explosions--especially as to barometric influence. There was a
deal of disjointed information on lavas, ropy or rapid flowing
viscous--also on spatter cones and caverns.
In all cases lavas cool slowly--heat has been found close to the
surface after 87 years. On Etna there is lava over ice. The
finally reviewed the volcanicity of our own neighbourhood. He
various vents of Erebus, thinks Castle Rock a 'plug'--here some
discussion--Observation Hill part of old volcano, nothing in
with Crater Hill. Inaccessible Island seems to have no
Finally we had a few words on the origin of volcanicity and
some discussion on an old point--the relation to the sea. Why
volcanoes close to sea? Debenham thinks not cause and effect,
two effects resulting from same cause.
Great argument as to whether effect of barometric changes on
vapour can be observed. Not much was said about the theory of
volcanoes, but Debenham touched on American theories--the
out from internal magma.
There was nothing much to catch hold of throughout, but
of such a subject sorts one's ideas.
Saturday, June 17Northerly wind, temperature changeable,
Wind doubtful in the afternoon. Moon still obscured--it is very
trying. Feeling dull in spirit to-day.
Sunday, June 18Another blizzard--the weather is
ought to settle down soon, but unfortunately the moon is
Held the usual Morning Service. Hymns not quite successful
To-night Atkinson has taken the usual monthly measurement. I
think there has been much change.
Monday, June 19A pleasant change to find the air calm and
sky clear--temperature down to -28°. At 1.30 the moon vanished
the western mountains, after which, in spite of the clear sky,
was very dark on the floe. Went out on ski across the bay, then
about the cape, and so home, facing a keen northerly wind on
Atkinson is making a new fish trap hole; from one cause and
the breaking of the trap, and the freezing of the hole, no catch
has been made for some time. I don't think we shall get good
during the dark season, but Atkinson's own requirements are
and the fish, though nice enough, are not such a luxury as to be
greatly missed from our 'menu.'
Our daily routine has possessed a settled regularity for a long
time. Clissold is up about 7 A.M. to start the breakfast. At
Hooper starts sweeping the floor and setting the table. Between
8.30 the men are out and about, fetching ice for melting, &c.
is off to feed the ponies, Demetri to see the dogs; Hooper
on the slumberers with repeated announcements of the time,
a quarter of an hour ahead of the clock. There is a stretching
limbs and an interchange of morning greetings, garnished with
humour. Wilson and Bowers meet in a state of nature beside a
basin filled with snow and proceed to rub glistening limbs with
chilling substance. A little later with less hardihood some
may be seen making the most of a meagre allowance of water. Soon
8.30 I manage to drag myself from a very comfortable bed and
toilet with a bare pint of water. By about ten minutes to 9 my
are on, my bed is made, and I sit down to my bowl of porridge;
of the others are gathered about the table by this time, but
are a few laggards who run the nine o'clock rule very close. The
is instituted to prevent delay in the day's work, and it has
a little pressure to keep one or two up to its observance. By
breakfast is finished, and before the half-hour has struck the
has been cleared. From 9.30 to 1.30 the men are steadily
on a programme of preparation for sledging, which seems likely
occupy the greater part of the winter. The repair of
and the alteration of tents have already been done, but there
other tasks uncompleted or not yet begun, such as the
provision bags, crampons, sealskin soles, pony clothes, &c.
Hooper has another good sweep up the hut after breakfast, washes
mess traps, and generally tidies things. I think it a good thing
that in these matters the officers need not wait on themselves;
it gives long unbroken days of scientific work and must,
be an economy of brain in the long run.
We meet for our mid-day meal at 1.30 or 1.45, and spend a very
cheerful half-hour over it. Afterwards the ponies are exercised,
weather permitting; this employs all the men and a few of the
for an hour or more--the rest of us generally take exercise in
form at the same time. After this the officers go on steadily
their work, whilst the men do odd jobs to while away the time.
evening meal, our dinner, comes at 6.30, and is finished within
hour. Afterwards people read, write, or play games, or
finish some piece of work. The gramophone is usually started by
kindly disposed person, and on three nights of the week the
to which I have referred are given. These lectures still command
audiences and lively discussions.
At 11 P.M. the acetylene lights are put out, and those who wish
remain up or to read in bed must depend on candle-light. The
of candles are extinguished by midnight, and the night watchman
remains awake to keep his vigil by the light of an oil lamp.
Day after day passes in this fashion. It is not a very active
perhaps, but certainly not an idle one. Few of us sleep more
eight hours out of the twenty-four.
On Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning some extra bathing takes
chins are shaven, and perhaps clean garments donned. Such signs,
with the regular Service on Sunday, mark the passage of the
To-night Day has given us a lecture on his motor sledge. He
hopeful of success, but I fear is rather more sanguine in
than his sledge is reliable in action. I wish I could have more
confidence in his preparations, as he is certainly a delightful
Tuesday, June 20Last night the temperature fell to -36°,
lowest we have had this year. On the Ramp the minimum was -31°,
the first indication of a reversed temperature gradient. We have
a calm day, as is usual with a low thermometer.
It was very beautiful out of doors this morning; as the crescent
was sinking in the west, Erebus showed a heavy vapour cloud,
that the quantity is affected by temperature rather than
I'm glad to have had a good run on ski.
The Cape Crozier party are preparing for departure, and heads
put together to provide as much comfort as the strenuous
will permit. I came across a hint as to the value of a double
in Sverdrup's book, 'New Land,' and (P.O.) Evans has made a
for one of the tents; it is secured on the inner side of the
and provides an air space inside the tent. I think it is going
a great success, and that it will go far to obviate the
considering the question of snow huts--though we shall continue
efforts in this direction also.
Another new departure is the decision to carry eiderdown
inside the reindeer ones.
With such an arrangement the early part of the journey is bound
be comfortable, but when the bags get iced difficulties are
certain to arise.
Day has been devoting his energies to the creation of a blubber
much assisted of course by the experience gained at Hut Point.
The blubber is placed in an annular vessel, A. The oil from it
through a pipe, B, and spreads out on the surface of a plate, C,
with a containing flange; d d are raised points which serve as
heat conductors; e e is a tin chimney for flame with air holes
To start the stove the plate C must be warmed with spirit lamp
primus, but when the blubber oil is well alight its heat is
sufficient to melt the blubber in And keep up the oil
gradually rises until the oil issues from B in a vaporised
when, of course, the heat given off by the stove is intense.
This stove was got going this morning in five minutes in the
temperature with the blubber hard frozen. It will make a great
difference to the Crozier Party if they can manage to build a
and the experience gained will be everything for the Western
in the summer. With a satisfactory blubber stove it would never
necessary to carry fuel on a coast journey, and we shall deserve
of posterity if we can perfect one.
The Crozier journey is to be made to serve a good many trial
ends. As I
have already mentioned, each man is to go on a different food
with a view to determining the desirable proportion of fats and
carbohydrates. Wilson is also to try the effect of a double
suit instead of extra woollen clothing.
If two suits of wind-proof will keep one as warm in the spring
single suit does in the summer, it is evident that we can face
summit of Victoria Land with a very slight increase of weight.
I think the new crampons, which will also be tried on this
are going to be a great success. We have returned to the last
Discovery type with improvements; the magnalium sole plates of
our own crampons are retained but shod with 1/2-inch steel
these plates are rivetted through canvas to an inner leather
and the canvas is brought up on all sides to form a covering to
'finnesko' over which it is laced--they are less than half the
of an ordinary ski boot, go on very easily, and secure very
Midwinter Day, the turn of the season, is very close; it will be
to have light for the more active preparations for the coming
Wednesday, June 21The temperature low again, falling to
curious hazy look in the sky, very little wind. The cold is
some minor troubles with the clockwork instruments in the open
with the acetylene gas plant--no insuperable difficulties. Went
a ski run round the bergs; found it very dark and uninteresting.
The temperature remained low during night and Taylor reported a
fine display of Aurora.
Thursday, June 22
MIDWINTER. The sun reached its maximum
at about 2.30 P.M. on the 22nd, Greenwich Mean Time: this is
A.M. on the 23rd according to the local time of the 180th
which we are keeping. Dinner to-night is therefore the meal
nearest the sun's critical change of course, and has been
with all the festivity customary at Xmas at home.
At tea we broached an enormous Buzzard cake, with much gratitude
its provider, Cherry-Garrard. In preparation for the evening our
'Union Jacks' and sledge flags were hung about the large table,
which itself was laid with glass and a plentiful supply of
bottles instead of the customary mugs and enamel lime juice
seven o'clock we sat down to an extravagant bill of fare as
with our usual simple diet.
Beginning on seal soup, by common consent the best decoction
cook produces, we went on to roast beef with Yorkshire pudding,
potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Then followed a flaming
and excellent mince pies, and thereafter a dainty savoury of
and cod's roe. A wondrous attractive meal even in so far as
by our simple lights, but with its garnishments a positive
withal the table was strewn with dishes of burnt almonds,
fruits, chocolates and such toothsome kickshaws, whilst the
supply of champagne which accompanied the courses was succeeded
a noble array of liqueur bottles from which choice could be made
the drinking of toasts.
I screwed myself up to a little speech which drew attention to
nature of the celebration as a half-way mark not only in our
but in the plans of the Expedition as originally published. (I
there are some who don't realise how rapidly time passes and who
barely begun work which by this time ought to be in full swing.)
We had come through a summer season and half a winter, and had
us half a winter and a second summer. We ought to know how we
in every respect; we did know how we stood in regard to stores
transport, and I especially thanked the officer in charge of
and the custodians of the animals. I said that as regards the
chance must play a part, but that experience showed me that it
have been impossible to have chosen people more fitted to
in the enterprise to the South than those who were to start in
direction in the spring. I thanked them all for having put their
shoulders to the wheel and given me this confidence.
We drank to the Success of the Expedition.
Then everyone was called on to speak, starting on my left and
round the table; the result was very characteristic of the
individuals--one seemed to know so well the style of utterance
which each would commit himself.
Needless to say, all were entirely modest and brief;
all had exceedingly kind things to say of me--in fact I was
to request the omission of compliments at an early stage.
it was gratifying to have a really genuine recognition of my
towards the scientific workers of the Expedition, and I felt
warmly towards all these kind, good fellows for expressing it.
If good will and happy fellowship count towards success, very
shall we deserve to succeed. It was matter for comment, much
that there had not been a single disagreement between any two
of our party from the beginning. By the end of dinner a very
spirit prevailed, and the room was cleared for Ponting and his
whilst the gramophone gave forth its most lively airs.
When the table was upended, its legs removed, and chairs
rows, we had quite a roomy lecture hall. Ponting had cleverly
this opportunity to display a series of slides made from his own
negatives. I have never so fully realised his work as on seeing
beautiful pictures; they so easily outclass anything of their
previously taken in these regions. Our audience cheered
After this show the table was restored for snapdragon, and a
milk punch was prepared in which we drank the health of
party and of our good friends in the Terra Nova . Then the
was again removed and a set of lancers formed.
By this time the effect of stimulating liquid refreshment on men
long accustomed to a simple life became apparent. Our biologist
retired to bed, the silent Soldier bubbled with humour and
on dancing with Anton. Evans, P.O., was imparting confidences in
heavy whispers. Pat' Keohane had grown intensely Irish and
of political argument, whilst Clissold sat with a constant
smile and punctuated the babble of conversation with an
'Whoop' of delight or disjointed witticism. Other bright-eyed
individuals merely reached the capacity to enjoy that which
ordinary circumstances might have passed without evoking a
In the midst of the revelry Bowers suddenly appeared, followed
satellites bearing an enormous Christmas Tree whose branches
flaming candles, gaudy crackers, and little presents for all.
presents, I learnt, had been prepared with kindly thought by
Souper (Mrs. Wilson's sister) and the tree had been made by
pieces of stick and string with coloured paper to clothe its
the whole erection was remarkably creditable and the
the presents caused much amusement.
Whilst revelry was the order of the day within our hut, the
without seemed desirous of celebrating the occasion with equal
and greater decorum. The eastern sky was massed with swaying
light, the most vivid and beautiful display that I had ever
on fold the arches and curtains of vibrating luminosity rose and
across the sky, to slowly fade and yet again spring to glowing
The brighter light seemed to flow, now to mass itself in
folds in one quarter, from which lustrous streamers shot upward,
anon to run in waves through the system of some dimmer figure as
to infuse new life within it.
It is impossible to witness such a beautiful phenomenon without
sense of awe, and yet this sentiment is not inspired by its
but rather by its delicacy in light and colour, its
above all by its tremulous evanescence of form. There is no
splendour to dazzle the eye, as has been too often described;
the appeal is to the imagination by the suggestion of something
wholly spiritual, something instinct with a fluttering ethereal
serenely confident yet restlessly mobile.
One wonders why history does not tell us of 'aurora'
easily could the phenomenon be considered the manifestation of
or 'demon.' To the little silent group which stood at gaze
enchantment it seemed profane to return to the mental and
atmosphere of our house. Finally when I stepped within, I was
to find that there had been a general movement bedwards, and in
next half-hour the last of the roysterers had succumbed to
Thus, except for a few bad heads in the morning, ended the High
Festival of Midwinter.
There is little to be said for the artificial uplifting of
spirits, yet few could take great exception to so rare an
in a long run of quiet days.
After all we celebrated the birth of a season which for weal or
must be numbered amongst the greatest in our lives.
XII - AWAITING THE CROZIER PARTY
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