June 4, 2007

Tuesday, 4 June 1907


Scott remained studiously quiet about his plans, and had no intention of being "pushed out of that position," he wrote to Shackleton, "by a windbag like Cook. My opinion of Cook is nil -- he is a needy adventurer -- seeking notoriety ... the man who gives money to Cook must be an ass." [1]

To Keltie, Scott wrote, "As regards the future, you saw Shackleton's article in the 'Tribune' prompted by Cook's essay -- he (Shackleton) wished me to make an announcement but I refused. I saw no reason -- as I presume it won't stop Cook if he means real mischief. This leads me to a real point. What is or has been the international position as regards exploring areas and how far do Geographical Societies regulate it? ... Is the Public Press the only means by which England can signalise her intention of going on in that area? if so what are international geographical congresses for? Will you tell me what are the Society's powers in this matter. Would it be listened to if it assured the American Societies that England was willing and able to go on wiht the work of exploration in that quarter."

"This is a matter of great importance to me. On these lines everything is going well. I have arranged for all the patient & exhaustive trials which I proposed to myself. I never talk idly -- so you will not think so when I tell you that I see my way ahead and a road to all the money I want.... When I go south it will be with something that promises a great reward by I cannot pretend that I do not wish to keep my field clear. It is not that I fear great things being done by others, but it's the occupation of the field of action by strangers which will render it impossible for me to go to the same field -- and possibly waste all my labours." [2]

A few days later, Scott wrote again to Keltie. "I should explain. I had no thought of an official letter being sent by the RGS to American societies. I presumed only that the RGS has sources of information with regard to what is happening in geographical matters which cannot be open to private individuals -- it being obviously absurd that two persons of different nationalities should start for the same place at the same time in ignorance of each other's intentions."

"Of course Cook may be and I think he is a mere adventurer, in that case official authority could do nothing. But it is scarcely right to assume that he cannot be genuine and if he is and continues preparation with the support of American Geographical Societies, both he & the authorities of the Society would be justifiably aggrieved if they were asked to change plans at the last moment.... I hope I have made the object of my last letter clear. i was not asking for the Society's support in any form -- I would not dream of doing so at such a time." [3]

Keltie replied, "Rupert England came to see me yesterday to tell me that he is engaged to go with Shackleton as Captain of the ship. He did not tell me that there was any secret about it, so I suppose there is no harm in my telling it to you. I understand Shackleton has practically bought his ship, I forget its name, I dare say you know it. For they are pushing on all they can to leave about the end of July or the beginning of August." [4]


[1] R.F. Scott to Ernest Shackleton, 23 May, 1907, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.337-338.
[2] R.F. Scott to Scott Keltie, 25 May, 1907, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.338.
[3] R.F. Scott, letter to Scott Keltie, 1 June, 1907, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.338-339.
[4] Scott Keltie, letter to R.F. Scott, 4 June, 1907, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.339.