March 28, 2008

Saturday, 28 March 1908


The Nimrod in pack ice, 1908. [1]

The news broke in London that Shackleton had landed at McMurdo.

Scott was furious. "The letter was an agreement and it has been completely disregarded in a manner which is too obvious to need comment," he wrote to Keltie. " But unpleasant as this must be I cannot bring myself to associate again with such a professed liar nor to credit any statement he may make which is unsupported by the ample testimony of others." [2]

Shackleton had planned to land at Barrier Inlet, which had been visited on the Discovery expedition and which Shackleton now renamed the Bay of Whales, or at King Edward VII Land. Finding upon arrival in late January that the edge of the Barrier had changed significantly due to calving, Shackleton could not risk wintering there, and went on to King Edward VII Land. Unable after repeated efforts to land, and with pack ice threatening the ship, Shackleton felt that he had no choice but to return to McMurdo and winter there.

Scott was not alone in thinking Shackleton's actions ungentlemanly, but it was hardly fair. Shackleton had written to his wife, "I have been through a sort of Hell ... whether to go on or turn back, my whole heart crying out for me to go on and the feeling against the lives of the 40 odd men on board.... I had a great public trust which I could not betray ... my duty to the country and King ... and the eyes of the world upon us." [3]

Scott in any case kept his criticisms of Shackleton to private letters.


[1] Wikipedia.
[2] R.F. Scott, letter to Scott Keltie, 28 March, 1908, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.349-350.
[3] Ernest Shackleton, letter to Emily Shackleton, [date not given], quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.349.

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