Do ye, by star-eyed Science led, explore 
  Each lonely ocean, each untrodden shore.

In June, 1899, Robert Falcon Scott was spending his short leave in London, and happened to meet Sir Clements Markham in the Buckingham Palace Road. On that afternoon he heard for the first time of a prospective Antarctic expedition, and on the following day he called upon Sir Clements and volunteered to command it. Of this eventful visit Sir Clements wrote: 'On June 5, 1899, there was a remarkable coincidence. Scott was then torpedo lieutenant of the Majestic. I was just sitting down to write to my old friend Captain Egerton [Footnote: Now Admiral Sir George Egerton, K.C.B.] about him, when he was announced. He came to volunteer to command the expedition. I believed him to be the best man for so great a trust, either in the navy or out of it. Captain Egerton's reply and Scott's testimonials and certificates most fully confirmed a foregone conclusion.'

The tale, however, of the friendship between Sir Clements and Scott began in 1887, when the former was the guest of his cousin, the Commodore of the Training Squadron, and made the acquaintance of every midshipman in the four ships that comprised it. During the years that followed, it is enough to say that Scott more than justified the hopes of those who had marked him down as a midshipman of exceptional promise. Through those years Sir Clements had been both friendly and observant, until by a happy stroke of fortune the time came when he was as anxious for this Antarctic expedition to be led by Scott as Scott was to lead it. So when, on June 30, 1900, Scott was promoted to the rank of Commander, and shortly afterwards was free to undertake the work that was waiting for him, one great anxiety was removed from the shoulders of the man who had not only proposed the expedition, but had also resolved that nothing should prevent it from going.

Great difficulties and troubles had, however, to be encountered before the Discovery could start upon her voyage. First and foremost was the question of money, but owing to indefatigable efforts the financial horizon grew clearer in the early months of 1899. Later on in the same year Mr. Balfour expressed his sympathy with the objects of the undertaking, and it was entirely due to him that the Government eventually agreed to contribute £45,000, provided that a similar sum could be raised by private subscriptions.

In March, 1900, the keel of the new vessel, that the special Ship Committee had decided to build for the expedition, was laid in the yard of the Dundee Shipbuilding Company. A definite beginning, at any rate, had been made; but very soon after Scott had taken up his duties he found that unless he could obtain some control over the various committees and subcommittees of the expedition, the only day to fix for the sailing of the ship was Doomsday. A visit to Norway, where he received many practical suggestions from Dr. Nansen, was followed by a journey to Berlin, and there he discovered that the German expedition, which was to sail from Europe at the same time as his own, was already in an advanced state of preparation. Considerably alarmed, he hurried back to England and found, as he had expected, that all the arrangements, which were in full swing in Germany, were almost at a standstill in England. The construction of the ship was the only work that was progressing, and even in this there were many interruptions from the want of some one to give immediate decisions on points of detail.

A remedy for this state of chaos had to be discovered, and on November 4, 1900, the Joint Committee of the Royal Society and the Royal Geographical Society passed a resolution, which left Scott practically with a free hand to push on the work in every department, under a given estimate of expenditure in each. To safeguard the interests of the two Societies the resolution provided that this expenditure should be supervised by a Finance Committee, and to this Committee unqualified gratitude was due. Difficulties were still to crop up, and as there were many scientific interests to be served, differences of opinion on points of detail naturally arose, but as far as the Finance Committee was concerned, it is mere justice to record that no sooner was it formed than its members began to work ungrudgingly to promote the success of the undertaking.

In the meantime Scott's first task was to collect, as far as possible, the various members of the expedition. Before he had left the Majestic he had written, 'I cannot gather what is the intention as regards the crew; is it hoped to be able to embody them from the R.N.? I sincerely trust so.' In fact he had set his heart on obtaining a naval crew, partly because he thought that their sense of discipline would be invaluable, but also because he doubted his ability to deal with any other class of men.

The Admiralty, however, was reluctant to grant a concession that Scott considered so necessary, and this reluctance arose not from any coldness towards the enterprise, but from questions of principle and precedent. At first the Admiralty assistance in this respect was limited to two officers, Scott himself and Royds, then the limit was extended to include Skelton the engineer, a carpenter and a boatswain, and thus at least a small naval nucleus was obtained. But it was not until the spring of 1901 that the Admiralty, thanks to Sir Anthony Hoskins and Sir Archibald Douglas, gave in altogether, and as the selection of the most fitting volunteers had not yet been made, the chosen men did not join until the expedition was almost on the point of sailing.

For many reasons Scott was obliged to make his own headquarters in London, and the room that had been placed at his disposal in Burlington House soon became a museum of curiosities. Sledges, ski, fur clothing and boots were crowded into every corner, while tables and shelves were littered with correspondence and samples of tinned foods. And in the midst of this medley he worked steadily on, sometimes elated by the hope that all was going well, sometimes depressed by the thought that the expedition could not possibly be ready to start at the required date.

During these busy months of preparation he had the satisfaction of knowing that the first lieutenant, the chief engineer and the carpenter were in Dundee, and able to look into the numerous small difficulties that arose in connection with the building of the ship. Other important posts in the expedition had also been filled up, and expeditionary work was being carried on in many places. Some men were working on their especial subjects in the British Museum, others were preparing themselves at the Physical Laboratory at Kew, and others, again, were traveling in various directions both at home and abroad. Of all these affairs the central office was obliged to take notice, and so for its occupants idle moments were few and very far between. Nansen said once that the hardest work of a Polar voyage came in its preparation, and during the years 1900-1, Scott found ample cause to agree with him. But in spite of conflicting interests, which at times threatened to wreck the well-being of the expedition, work, having been properly organized, went steadily forward; until on March 21, 1901, the new vessel was launched at Dundee and named the 'Discovery' by Lady Markham.

In the choice of a name it was generally agreed that the best plan was to revive some time-honored title, and that few names were more distinguished than 'Discovery.' She was the sixth of that name, and inherited a long record of honorable and fortunate service.

The Discovery had been nothing more than a skeleton when it was decided that she should be loaded with her freight in London; consequently, after she had undergone her trials, she was brought round from Dundee, and on June 3, 1901, was berthed in the East India Docks. There, during the following weeks, all the stores were gathered together, and there the vessel, which was destined to be the home of the expedition for more than three years, was laden.

Speaking at the Geographical Congress at Berlin in 1899, Nansen strongly recommended a vessel of the Fram type with fuller lines for South Polar work, but the special Ship Committee, appointed to consider the question of a vessel for this expedition, had very sound reasons for not following his advice. Nansen's celebrated Fram was built for the specific object of remaining safely in the North Polar pack, in spite of the terrible pressures which were to be expected in such a vast extent of ice. This object was achieved in the simplest manner by inclining the sides of the vessel until her shape resembled a saucer, and lateral pressure merely tended to raise her above the surface. Simple as this design was, it fulfilled so well the requirements of the situation that its conception was without doubt a stroke of genius. What, however, has been generally forgotten is that the safety of the Fram was secured at the expense of her sea-worthiness and powers of ice-penetration.

Since the Fram was built there have been two distinct types of Polar vessels, the one founded on the idea of passive security in the ice, the other the old English whaler type designed to sail the high seas and push her way through the looser ice-packs. And a brief consideration of southern conditions will show which of these types is more serviceable for Antarctic exploration, because it is obvious that the exploring ship must first of all be prepared to navigate the most stormy seas in the world, and then be ready to force her way through the ice-floes to the mysteries beyond.

By the general consent of those who witnessed her performances, the old Discovery (the fifth of her name) of 1875 was the best ship that had ever been employed on Arctic service, and the Ship Committee eventually decided that the new vessel should be built on more or less the same lines. The new Discovery had the honor to be the first vessel ever built for scientific exploration, and the decision to adopt well-tried English lines for her was more than justified by her excellent qualities.

The greatest strength lay in her bows, and when ice-floes had to be rammed the knowledge that the keel at the fore-end of the ship gradually grew thicker, until it rose in the enormous mass of solid wood which constituted the stem, was most comforting. No single tree could provide the wood for such a stem, but the several trees used were cunningly scarfed to provide the equivalent of a solid block. In further preparation for the battle with ice-floes, the stem itself and the bow for three or four feet on either side were protected with numerous steel plates, so that when the ship returned to civilization not a scratch remained to show the hard knocks received by the bow.

The shape of the stem was also a very important consideration. In the outline drawing of the Discovery will be seen how largely the stem overhangs, and this was carried to a greater extent than in any former Polar vessel. The object with which this was fitted was often fulfilled during the voyage. Many a time on charging a large ice-floe the stem of the ship glided upwards until the bows were raised two or three feet, then the weight of the ship acting downwards would crack the floe beneath, the bow would drop, and gradually the ship would forge ahead to tussle against the next obstruction. Nothing but a wooden structure has the elasticity and strength to thrust its way without injury through the thick Polar ice.

In Dundee the building of the Discovery aroused the keenest interest, and the peculiar shape of her overhanging stern, an entirely new feature in this class of vessel, gave rise to the strongest criticism. All sorts of misfortunes were predicted, but events proved that this overhanging rounded form of stem was infinitely superior for ice-work to the old form of stem, because it gave better protection to the rudder, rudder post and screw, and was more satisfactory in heavy seas.

Both in the building and in the subsequent work of the Discovery the deck-house, marked on the drawing 'Magnetic Observatory,' was an important place. For the best of reasons it was important that the magnetic observations taken on the expedition should be as accurate as possible, and it will be readily understood that magnetic observations cannot be taken in a place closely surrounded by iron. The ardor of the magnetic experts on the Ship Committee had led them at first to ask that there should be neither iron nor steel in the vessel, but after it had been pointed out that this could scarcely be, a compromise was arrived at and it was agreed that no magnetic materials should be employed within thirty feet of the observatory. This decision caused immense trouble and expense, but in the end it was justified, for the magnetic observations taken on board throughout the voyage required very little correction. And if the demands of the magnetic experts were a little exacting, some amusement was also derived from them. At one time those who lived within the circle were threatened with the necessity of shaving with brass razors; and when the ship was on her way home from New Zealand a parrot fell into dire disgrace, not because it was too talkative, but because it had been hanging on the mess-deck during a whole set of observations, and the wires of its cage were made of iron.

The Discovery was, in Scott's opinion, the finest vessel ever built for exploring purposes, and he was as enthusiastic about his officers and men as he was about the ship herself.

The senior of the ten officers who messed with Scott in the small wardroom of the Discovery was Lieutenant A. B. Armitage, R.N.R. He brought with him not only an excellent practical seamanship training in sailing ships, but also valuable Polar experience; for the P. and O. Company, in which he held a position, had in 1894 granted him leave of absence to join the Jackson-Harmsworth Expedition to Franz-Josef Land.

Reginald Koettlitz, the senior doctor, had also seen Arctic service in the Jackson-Harmsworth Expedition. As his medical duties were expected to be light, he combined them with those of official botanist.

The task of Thomas V. Hodgson, biologist, was to collect by hook or crook all the strange beasts that inhabit the Polar seas, and no greater enthusiast for his work could have been chosen.

Charles W. R. Royds was the first lieutenant, and had all to do with the work of the men and the internal economy of the ship in the way that is customary with a first lieutenant of a man-of-war. Throughout the voyage he acted as meteorologist, and in face of great difficulties he secured the most valuable records.

Michael Barne, the second naval lieutenant, had served with Scott in the Majestic. 'I had thought him,' Scott wrote after the expedition had returned, 'as he proved to be, especially fitted for a voyage where there were many elements of dangers and difficulty.'

The original idea in appointing two doctors to the Discovery was that one of them should be available for a detached landing-party. This idea was practically abandoned, but the expedition had reason to be thankful that it ever existed, for the second doctor appointed was Edward A. Wilson. In view of the glorious friendship which arose between them, and which in the end was destined to make history, it is of inestimable value to be able to quote what is believed to be Scott's first written opinion of Wilson. In a letter headed 'At sea, Sept. 27,' he said: 'I now come to the man who will do great things some day - Wilson. He has quite the keenest intellect on board and a marvelous capacity for work. You know his artistic talent, but would be surprised at the speed at which he paints, and the indefatigable manner in which he is always at it. He has fallen at once into ship-life, helps with any job that may be in hand... in fact is an excellent fellow all round.

Wilson, in addition to his medical duties, was also vertebrate zoologist and artist to the expedition. In the first capacity he dealt scientifically with the birds and seals, and in the second he produced a very large number of excellent pictures and sketches of the wild scenes among which he was living.

One of Scott's earliest acts on behalf of the expedition was to apply for the services of Reginald W. Skelton as chief engineer. At the time Skelton was senior engineer of the Majestic, and his appointment to the Discovery was most fortunate in every way. From first to last there was no serious difficulty with the machinery or with anything connected with it.

The geologist, Hartley T. Ferrar, only joined the expedition a short time before the Discovery sailed, and the physicist, Louis Bernacchi, did not join until the ship reached New Zealand.

In addition there were two officers who did not serve throughout the whole term. Owing to ill-health Ernest H. Shackleton was obliged to return from the Antarctic in 1903, and his place was taken by George F. A. Mulock, who was a sub-lieutenant in the Navy when he joined.

Apart from Koettlitz, who was forty, and Hodgson, who was thirty-seven, the average age of the remaining members of the wardroom mess was just over twenty-four years, and at that time Scott had little doubt as to the value of youth for Polar service. Very naturally, however, this opinion was less pronounced as the years went by, and on August 6, 1911, he wrote during his last expedition: 'We (Wilson and I) both conclude that it is the younger people who have the worst time... Wilson (39) says he never felt cold less than he does now; I suppose that between 30 and 40 is the best all-round age. Bower is a wonder of course. He is 29. When past the forties it is encouraging to remember that Peary was 52!'

The fact that these officers lived in complete harmony for three years was proof enough that they were well and wisely chosen, and Scott was equally happy in his selection of warrant officers, petty officers and men, who brought with them the sense of naval discipline that is very necessary for such conditions as exist in Polar service. The Discovery, it must be remembered, was not in Government employment, and so had no more stringent regulations to enforce discipline than those contained in the Merchant Shipping Act. But everyone on board lived exactly as though the ship was under the Naval Discipline Act; and as the men must have known that this state of affairs was a fiction, they deserved as much credit as the officers, if not more, for continuing rigorously to observe it.

Something remains to be said about the Discovery's prospective course, and of the instructions given to Captain Scott.

For purposes of reference Sir Clements Markham had suggested that the Antarctic area should be divided into four quadrants, to be named respectively the Victoria, the Ross, the Weddell, and the Enderby, and when he also proposed that the Ross quadrant should be the one chosen for this expedition, his proposal was received with such unanimous approval that long before the Discovery was built her prospective course had been finally decided. In fact every branch of science saw a greater chance of success in the Ross quadrant than in any other region. Concerning instructions on such a voyage as the Discovery's it may be thought that, when once the direction is settled, the fewer there are the better. Provided, however, that they leave the greatest possible freedom to the commander, they may be very useful in giving him a general view of the situation, and in stating the order in which the various objects are held. If scientific interests clash, it is clearly to the commander's advantage to know in what light these interests are regarded by those responsible for the enterprise. Of such a nature were the instructions Scott received before sailing for the South.

During the time of preparation many busy men gave most valuable assistance to the expedition; but even with all this kindly aid it is doubtful if the Discovery would ever have started had it not been that among these helpers was one who, from the first, had given his whole and undivided attention to the work in hand. After all is said and done Sir Clements Markham conceived the idea of this Antarctic Expedition, and it was his masterful personality which swept aside all obstacles and obstructions.