25 September 2002
SIR ERNEST HENRY SHACKLETON (1874-1922)
Autograph letter signed ('Ernest H. Shackleton') to 'Mr Douglas', Discovery, 3 August 1902, 4 pages, 8vo (light soiling to first page).
A characteristically grandiloquent summary of the first year of the Discovery expedition, outlining events from the departure from Lyttelton, the pack ice ('our stout ship ... crashing through mighty floes and every now and then reeling back from the shock'), the landing at Cape Adare, the coasting of South Victoria Land ('Wonderful were the sights we saw. Mighty icebergs: and huge glaciers'), the balloon ascent ('I went up 700 feet: but no sign of land could be seen; we then got it down and let the gas out just in time as a strong wind was springing up from the South'), Shackleton's sledging reconnaissance, the preparations for the Southern journey, the South Polar Times ('Our paper I think is a success so far'), the death of Vince ('One unfortunate accident deprived us of a man'); ending with hopes that 'I may be lucky enough to be chosen for one of the long trips by sledges', and promising to show his correspondent his diary on his return.
A splendid example of Shackleton's orotund epistolary style. Shackleton presents a positive and invigorating image of the expedition's first year, written towards the end of their first winter. On 2 November he, Scott and Wilson set off towards their Furthest South.
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