March 31, 2007

Sunday, 31 March 1907


Wilson, a photograph used as the frontispiece to v.2 of Scott's Last Expedition (1913). [1]

Scott asked "Bill" Wilson to accompany him as the new expedition's chief of scientific staff and official artist.

Edward Adrian Wilson was a naturalist, doctor, and gifted amateur painter who had accompanied Scott on the Discovery as zoologist, junior surgeon, and expedition artist. On the southern journey, during which they reached a then-record of 82° 17' S, he had become close to Scott, who was deeply impressed by Wilson's quiet optimism, serenity and sense of purpose, good temper, and faith.

"Can you really mean that you would like me to go south again with you?" Wilson wrote. "If you do I may tell you that nothing in the world would please me more, and my wife is entirely with me.... As for your good opinion of me I can only say that there is nothing I would not do to deserve it." [1]

Wilson, who was something of an ascetic, wrote privately to his wife, "I am getting more and more soft and dependent on comforts, and this I hate. I want to endure hardness and instead of that I enjoy hotel dinners and prefer hot water to cold and so on -- all bad signs and something must be done to stop it." He believed that he would survive to publish his work on ornithology. "This conviction makes me absolutely fearless as to another journey South, for whatever happened I know I should come back to you.... I should not feel it was right now to desert Scott if he goes." [2]


[1] Wikipedia.
[2] E.A. Wilson, letter to R.F. Scott, 31 March, 1907, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.336-337.
[3] E.A. Wilson, letter to Oriana Wilson, [date not given], quoted by Diana Preston in A First Rate Tragedy (Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1998, c1997), p.103.

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