Important series of 28 autograph letters signed ('Apsley'; a few unsigned) to his mother

Lot Number 140
Title Important series of 28 autograph letters signed ('Apsley'; a few unsigned) to his mother
Year Published 1910
Place Printed
Printed By
Description BRITISH ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION, 1910-1913 -- APSLEY GEORGE BENET CHERRY-GARRARD (1886-1959) Important series of 28 autograph letters signed ('Apsley'; a few unsigned) to his mother, Southampton, Cardiff, Madeira, Cape Town, Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, 25 June 1910 - 13 February 1913, a few letters written in pencil, altogether approximately 140 pages, 4to and 8vo, envelopes; with a carbon copy extract from his journal, 23-29 February 1912, during the attempted relief of the Southern Party, 5 pages, folio, and four telegrams, 15 June - 29 November 1910; and six letters by his mother to Cherry-Garrard during his absence, 22 December 1912 - 30 January 1913, all but one transcribed in a notebook, 4to, card covers (worn). 'I REGRET NOTHING IN THE EXPEDITION, WHICH WILL HAVE VERY GREAT RESULTS, THOUGH SOME OF IT IS VERY SAD'. A previously unknown correspondence by one of the key members of Scott's Last Expedition, covering the whole span of the Terra Nova Expedition from its departure from England to its return to New Zealand. The outward journey is covered in 16 letters, which give a strong impression of the idealistic and hopeful spirit with which the expedition began, and in particular of the youthful enthusiasm of Cherry-Garrard, its youngest member: 'We gave Scott a dinner last night before he got in -- i.e. as far as you can give a man a dinner on his own ship -- and got a speech out of him afterwards. It is obvious that he is extraordinarily pleased with the kind of spirit which prevails -- in fact he said that he believed that it had never been equalled in the history of Polar Exploration ... (13 October 1910). A number of letters look forward -- with what seems like fatal light-heartedness -- to the famous 'worst journey in the world' with Wilson to study the emperor penguin rookeries at Cape Crozier in mid-winter: '[Wilson] & I are going to Cape Crozier for some time in the winter if all goes well & that will be great fun I think, but of course very cold'. Four letters cover the establishment of quarters in the hut, and the early sledging: a substantial letter curiously misdated 16 November 1910 but evidently from mid-January 1911 provides an extensive description of the unloading, the early sleding and the construction of the hut, including a sketch map and plan; the theme is pursued in a letter of 22 January, which includes a more detailed sketch-plan of their living quarters, showing the cramped space occupied by Oates, Bowers, Cherry-Garrard, Meares and Atkinson, known as 'Bedlam' -- 'You should see us in "Bedlam" beckoning the others to "come inside"'. A long letter of 4 and 15 February 1912, the only one to survive from the expedition's second summer in the Antarctic, finds Cherry-Garrard on his return from the Southern Journey: 'We left Scott to go on with 7 men, 4 of whom would turn back after another 2 weeks, and he was then certain, as far as it is possible to say that such a thing is certain, to reach the Pole ...'. The mood thereafter darkens, and the final, tragic act of the expedition is played out in six numbered missives sent out simultaneously on the Terra Nova's return to New Zealand on 13 February 1913. The first of these, a long, dismal letter written during a night watch on 13 August 1912, without superscription or signature, gives the essence of the terrible news: 'The Polar Party have never come back, and as far as we know Campbell's party had to be left at Evans Coves. I will try to tell you what I can ...'; Cherry-Garrard goes on to recount his fruitless attempt to meet the Southern Party with Dimitri and the dogs, and the later attempt by Atkinson and others to meet them, and to provide for Campbell's party. The letter continues with harrowing details of the breakdown Cherry-Garrard suffered during the bitter winter that followed: 'I fainted after we got in ... I think this month was the worst time I have ever had -- I was so weak I could hardly get outside the Hut, and the anxiety & strain was [sic] very great ... I have had a series of sick headaches which I thought would drive me crazy at one time'. The letter concludes with reflections on the survivors' decision to go in search of the polar party, rather than trying to rescue Campbell's party, and an evaluation of the achievements of the expedition as a whole: 'this expedition, as Scott himself emphasised, stands or falls by reaching the Pole -- for instance the Scientific results ... the polar journey in itself is a great achievement: these men have reached the Pole -- this is morally certain -- & they have lost their lives in doing so ... I believe we are right to go South. I also feel fairly sure that "the public" will consider we are doing wrong ...'. The second, third and fourth envelopes send the carbon copy extract from Cherry-Garrard's diary, and two letters of 10 and 23 October, relating to preparations for the hunt for Scott's party. These are followed by a letter of 30 November 1912, with the account of the discovery of the Polar party: 'we have found the bodies of Scott, Wilson & Bowers and all their records. Theirs is a fine story. Their death was, I am quite sure, not a painful one -- for men get callous after a period of great hardship -- but the long fight before must have been most terrible. Wilson & Bowers had died quietly, probably in their sleep. We went 20 miles to see if we could see any trace of Oates' body -- but we could not see anything: it was most unlikely. But we found his sleeping bag on a cairn, & they had left their theodolite in it. They had stuck to all their gear in the most magnificent fashion: when they were unable to pull 9 miles a day they had about 30lbs of geological specimens -- all very good & important -- & they went on pulling them to the end'. The letter continues with a happy account of the survival and return of the Eastern Party ('the 1st happy day in nearly a year'), and closes with forebodings of a hostile reception for the expedition, and implicit fears of personal criticism: 'I am afraid we shall be coming home to face a good deal of hostile criticism. Scott states that he found less oil in the depots than should have been left for his party. And then people will want to know why I did not reach them with the dog teams ... I know that we did all that we could ... I regret nothing in the Expedition, which will have very great results, though some of it is very sad'. Two final letters, both dated Christ Church, 13 February 1913, provide a coda, the first giving a brief account of Cherry-Garrard's health and recovery from his breakdown, the second recounting his meeting with Wilson's wife and her fortitude. From a wealthy, landed gentry background, Apsley Cherry-Garrard was the youngest member of Scott's last expedition. His lack of experience and severe myopia made him in some ways a rather improbable explorer, and indeed Scott initially rejected his application, only relenting after he made a ú1,000 donation. Although Cherry-Garrard perhaps suffered more than any other survivor of the expedition (famously, his teeth chattered so violently during the worst days of the Winter Journey that they shattered), and bore lifelong psychological scars, his memoir of the expedition, The Worst Journey in the World, remains one of the most elegant and profound works in the literature of polar exploration. (27)
Estimated Price GBP 50,000.00 - 80,000.00
( USD 84,000.00 - 134,400.00 )
Actual Price GBP 67,250.00 ( USD 108,272.50 )



Auction House Christies
Auction Name Travel, Science, and Natural History
Sale Number #6911
Auction Date October 9, 2012 - October 9, 2012
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