April 25, 2010

Monday, 25 April 1910


"Cherry", photographed later on the expedition by Ponting, 30 August, 1911. [1]

Apsley Cherry-Garrard had been so inspired by Edward Wilson, whom he had met in 1908 at the home of Cherry-Garrard's cousin, Reginald Smith, the publisher of Scott's The Voyage of the 'Discovery' and a friend of Wilson's, that he submitted an application for Scott's new expedition as one of the "subscribing volunteers".

A shy, bespectacled young man of twenty-four, Cherry-Garrard had at Oxford rowed for his college and read Classics before switching in his second year to Modern History, and squeaked through with a third-class degree despite the burdens of burying both his father and his grandfather in the space of a few months and inheriting a large estate with its attendant responsibilities. Although deeply sensitive to his duties as head of the family and landowner, he found the life of a country squire unappealing, and took to travel as a means to satisfy a longing for adventure.

When he heard on 21st April that his application to join the expedition was turned down, he offered his donation of £1,000 regardless.

Four days later, Wilson wrote to him that "Captain Scott wants to see you again and have a talk over things with you before giving you a final answer. Can you manage to be at the office, 36 Victoria Street, on Wednesday forenoon, say at 11 o'clock?"

"I have received your cheque and I am withholding it," Wilson went on, "as Captain Scott wishes you to see him first. He says he must satisfy himself by a talk with you that there is no misunderstanding on the subject before coming to a determination, otherwise he feels you might both be in something of a false position. I believe he is right, and the time has come when you and he must understand one another. I can tell you one thing however, and that is that he very much appreciates the motive which induced you to send your subscription independently of your chance of being taken. That is an action which appeals to him, not because of the money for which he cares very little, except impersonally, insofar as it helps the Expedition to be a success, but because he knows what to expect of a man who felt it was the right thing to do."

"I know Scott intimately, as you know. I have known him now for ten years, and I believe in him so firmly that I am often sorry when he lays himself open to misunderstanding. I am sure that you will come to know him and believe in him as I do, and none the less because he is sometimes difficult. However you will soon see for yourself."

"Come prepared to be examined medically in the event of your being accepted, as we have arranged to overhaul everyone at the office that day." [1]

Scott was so impressed by Cherry-Garrard's gesture that he eventually agreed to accept him, and the young man was duly appointed assistant zoologist.


The Fram departed the dockyards at Horten for Christiania.


[1] Scott Polar Research Institute.
[2] E.A. Wilson, letter to Apsley Cherry-Garrard, 25 April, 1910, quoted by Sara Wheeler in Cherry : a Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard (New York : Modern Library, 2003, c2001), p.59-60.