Wives and Mothers. Scott makes no entry for the next few days, instead his writing energy goes into letters. The other men write letters to loved ones as their lives slowly ebb away.
Bowers to his Mother – We have had a terrible journey back… When man’s extremity is reached God’s help may put things right – although the end will be painless enough for myself I would so like to come through for your dear sake. It is splendid to pass however with such companions… oh how I do feel for you when you hear all. You will know that for me the end was peaceful as it is only sleep in the cold. Your ever loving son to the end of this life and the next where God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes.
Wilson to his Wife – Don’t be unhappy – all is for the best. We are playing a good part in a great scheme arranged by God himself, and all is well… I should have liked to write to Mother and Dad and all at home, but is has been impossible. We will all meet after and death ahs no terrors… I leave you in absolute faith and happy belief that if God wishes you to wait long without me it will be for some good purpose. All is for the best to those that love God, and oh my Ory, we have both loved Him with all our lives. All is well. … We have struggled to the end and we have nothing to regret. Our whole record is clean. An Scott’s diary gives the account… The Barrier has beaten us – though we got to the pole. I feel so happy now in having got time to write to you… Dad’s little compass and Mothers little comb and looking glass are in my pocket. Your little testament and prayer book will be in my hand or in my breast pocket when the end comes.
Scott to his Wife – I wasn’t a very good husband, I hope I shall be a good memory certainly the end is nothing for you to be ashamed of and I like to think that the boy will have a good start in parentage of which he may be proud. Dear it is not easy to write because of the cold — 40 degrees below zero and nothing but the shelter of our tent — you know I have loved you, you know my thoughts must have constantly dwelt on you and oh dear me you must know that quite the worst aspect of this situation is the thought that I shall not see you again — The inevitable must be faced — you urged me to be leader of this party and I know you felt it would be dangerous — I’ve taken my place throughout, haven’t I? God bless you my own darling I shall try and write more later — I go on across the back pages.
Since writing the above we have got to within 11 miles of our depot with one hot meal and two days cold food and we should have got through but have been held for four days by a frightful storm — I think the best chance has gone we have decided not to kill ourselves but to fight it to the last for that depot but in the fighting there is a painless end so don’t worry. I have written letters on odd pages of this book — will you manage to get them sent? You see I am anxious for you and the boy’s future — make the boy interested in natural history if you can, it is better than games — they encourage it at some schools — I know you will keep him out in the open air — try and make him believe in a God, it is comforting. Oh my dear my dear what dreams I have had of his future and yet oh my girl I know you will face it stoically — your portrait and the boy’s will be found in my breast and the one in the little red Morocco case given by Lady Baxter — There is a piece of the Union flag I put up at the South Pole in my private kit bag together with Amundsen’s black flag and other trifles — give a small piece of the Union flag to the King and a small piece to Queen Alexandra and keep the rest a poor trophy for you! — What lots and lots I could tell you of this journey. How much better it has been than lounging in comfort at home — what tales you would have for the boy but oh what a price to pay — to forfeit the sight of your dear dear face — Dear you will be good to the old mother. I write her a little line in this book. Also keep in with Ettie and the others— oh but you’ll put on a strong face for the world — only don’t be too proud to accept help for the boys sake — he ought to have a fine career and do something in the world. I haven’t time to write to Sir Clements — tell him I thought much of him and never regretted him putting me in command of the Discovery.
Scott to Mrs Bowers (mother) – I am afraid this will reach you after one of the heaviest blows of your life. I write when we are very near the end of our journey, and I am finishing it in company with two gallant, noble gentlemen. One of these is your son. He had come to be one of my closest and soundest friends, and I appreciate his wonderful upright nature, his ability and energy. As the troubles have thickened his dauntless spirit ever shone brighter and he has remained cheerful, hopeful, and indomitable to the end. The ways of Providence are inscrutable, but there must be some reason why such a young, vigorous and promising life is taken. My whole heart goes out in pity for you. Yours, R. SCOTT. To the end he has talked of you and his sisters. One sees what a happy home he must have had and perhaps it is well to look back on nothing but happiness. He remains unselfish, self-reliant and splendidly hopeful to the end, believing in God’s mercy to you.
Scott to Mrs Wilson (Wife) – If this letter reaches you Bill and I will have gone out together. We are very near it now and I should like you to know how splendid he was at the end—everlastingly cheerful and ready to sacrifice himself for others, never a word of blame to me for leading him into this mess. He is not suffering, luckily, at least only minor discomforts. His eyes have a comfortable blue look of hope and his mind is peaceful with the satisfaction of his faith in regarding himself as part of the great scheme of the Almighty. I can do no more to comfort you than to tell you that he died as he lived, a brave, true man—the best of comrades and staunchest of friends. My whole heart goes out to you in pity, Yours, R. SCOTT
Scott’s Journal 24th March 1912. NO ENTRY
Commentary. In our modern world leaders communicate through shortened text, abbreviations, email and so many other mediums, all of which turn communicate into a function without beauty. The written words that flow from the men in the final days of the expedition are some of the most memorable and powerful ever written. As a leader you can make a massive impact by thinking through a piece of communication or meaningful gesture. A hand written note, thoughtful in word and tone will be treasured. Be mindful of communication and that it can say more than simply the words on the page.