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However much good I may write of Wilson, his many friends in England, those who served with him on the ship or in the hut, and most of all those who had the good fortune to sledge with him (for it is sledging which is far the greatest test) will all be dissatisfied, for I know that I cannot do justice to his value. If you knew him you could not like him: you simply had to love him.

– Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, pg 209

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My Dear Mrs. Wilson, —
     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 he died as he lived, a brave, true man – the best of comrades and the staunchest of friends.
     My whole heart goes out to you in pity,
          R. Scott

(undated letter from the last camp in March 1912, quoted in Edward Wilson of the Antarctic pg 291)
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When Scott was planning his second trip to Antarctica, and had secured the help of Wilson as head of the scientific aspect, Wilson described his plans thus:
No one can say that it will only have been a Pole-hunt, though of course that is a sine qua non. We must get to the Pole; but we shall get more too ... We want the Scientific work to make the bagging of the Pole merely an item in the results.

(Seaver, 182)

So when the final Pole party discovered they were not the first human beings to set foot at the nadir of the planet, he did not seem to have been particularly badly affected:
... in any case [we] are all agreed that he can claim prior right to the Pole itself. He has beaten us in so far as he has made a race of it. We have done what we came for all the same and as our programme was made out.

(Seaver, 279)

In fact, in one of the less famous 'outtakes' of the photos taken at the Pole, Wilson appears downright jovial:

That's Wilson, standing left; Scott seems to be laughing too. In the full photo (which you can find in Race to the End, the companion book to the AMNH exhibit) Birdie's armpit frames the shot, so one can only assume he was adjusting the camera or something and accidentally took an exposure. It's probably my favourite of the Pole pictures because it so captures a moment ...
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The Barrier Silence

The silence was deep with a breath like sleep
     As our sledge runners slid on the snow,
And the fate-full fall of our fur-clad feet
     Struck mute like a silent blow,
On a questioning hush, as the settling crust
     Shrank shivering over the floe;
And the sledge in its track sent a whisper back
     Which was lost in a white fog-bow.

And this was the thought that the Silence wrought
     As it scorched and froze us through,
Though secrets hidden are all forbidden
     Till God means man to know,
We might be the men God meant should know
     The heart of the Barrier snow,
     In the heat of the sun, and the glow
     And the glare from the glistening floe,
As it scorched and froze us through and through
     With the bite of the drifting snow.

E.A. Wilson, in the South Polar Times, 1911

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I think of the good, honest, religious folk who are just now putting themselves away from sunlight, from fresh air, from the songs of joy and gladness, from all the wonder of the Spring’s awakening that fills my heart with gratitude, away from all that God has laid out so lavishly to inspire our hearts with love and worship for Him – into a dark and stuffy building made with our own hands upholstered with cloth and tapestry, decked out with dust and fading cut flowers, the crude vulgarity of stained-glass windows and brass candlesticks, and a ludicrous brass image of an eagle. Here, in the heart and love and life of Nature, and with Christ by my side, I cannot bring myself to go to church, when the whole creation calls me to worship God in such infinitely more beautiful and inspiring light and colour and form and sound. Not a single thing out here but suggests love and peace and joy and gratitude, every single thing is true, lovable, and full of virtue and praise – it is better than the best Church service, there can be no doubt about it.

– E.A. Wilson
from Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 71

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Shortly after returning from the Discovery, Wilson was commissioned to investigate what was killing off all the grouse in Scotland, work which was supposed to be part-time but which ended up having him work harder than he ever had, putting into practise an ethos he'd outlined years earlier:

His sense of the value of time was equivalent to most persons’ sense of the value of money. For money he never had any concern except to do with as little of it as possible, but time was a free and sacred gift to be spent up to the last minute of every day.
"What a huge responsibility we who employ servants in any way incur by doing so ... they are giving us time to ourselves to use as we like, usefully or wastefully, busily or idly. In no sense does our paying them alter the case – it is purely a matter of time, not money.... Each one of them is doing a little of my drudgery and thereby giving me time for other work. They are all fulfilling their side of the bargain; they are at drudgery day after day from morning to night; and the question comes to me whether I am fulfilling my part of the bargain also day after day from morning to night. Cooks, housemaids, bootboys, gardeners, labourers, milkmen, dustmen, postmen, clerks, agents – in hundreds and hundreds – who have given their lives to save time for the few; and one by one we, the few, will be brought face to face with them and asked what we have done with our lives, and the time they gave us, to make the world better. How awful it will be if we find that there are practically none whom we have helped, and all we can do will be to answer for ourselves – so many hours or days or months I spent playing golf, or hockey or billiards; so many years while you were cooking my meals I was eating them, and so on.... Is this the best that I can do with their time? Am I getting good enough out of this book to warrant my getting others to do my drudgery while I read it? Does the writing of this letter, the painting of this picture, the good of this walk or ride or conversation, warrant my using their time for it? If not, I am not fulfilling my side of the bargain, and I shall be responsible to them for the time they have given me."

from Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 70-71

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The second year on the Discovery was time for more reflection, and what can only be called 'extreme sketching.'

Went up Crater Hill to make some sketches. One has to be pretty rapid over it. I started by getting my hands practically frozen in putting on my crampons – a matter of three minutes; the pain in bringing them back in warm gloves makes you dance first on one foot and then on the other, because there’s nothing else to do. I repeated the proceeding three times in sketching with my right hand. There is nothing to fear if you stop when you can no longer feel the pencil, then put on warm gloves and you soon feel something else for 5 to 10 minutes. The softest B is as hard and gritty as an H, and makes the same sort of mark ... My eyes have been in a sorry state all day from sketching with sun-glare, streaming with water and very painful from time to time. Sketching in the Antarctic is not all joy, for apart from the fact that your fingers are all thumbs and you don’t know what or where they are till they warm up again, you can only sketch when your eyes stop running – one eye at a time through a narrow slit in snow-goggles.

– from Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 119

Why in the name of all that is holy were we always taught to fear God? It is an idea that still hangs in my mind that if I don’t fear Him enough something terrible will happen someday – and that is the sort of Ogre one is expected to ‘worship and glorify’ ... an unapproachable Being to be addressed by the repetition of high-sounding and eloquent phrases full of a rather pompous grandeur.... I think I want a more familiar God whom I can turn to at any minute of the day without fear, rather than a Being who must be approached with extra special language on one’s knees, or by priests in splendid vestments.... It is everything not only to reverence Him but to love Him, and to feel that you know Him so well that you can even enjoy fun with Him.

pg 120-1

What I marvel at most now is that you saw the reasons for giving me those walking tours in Wales before I left school, do you remember? and all that bird-nesting regardless of my school-work, Sundays and even meals; and making me draw plants and birds and what not; and then my visits abroad – and rather than spoil the whole show for six penn’orth of paint you were good enough to give me everything, and not a thing you have given me in the way of education but has helped to fit me for this sort of business, and I have only recently begun to see how fully I owe it all to your broad view of things ...

– to his father, at the end of the Discovery expedition, 1904
from Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 144

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One day, as the Antarctic summer bloomed, Scott, Wilson, and Shackleton went for a stroll.

The object was to push as far into the interior of the continent as they could – previous expeditions had only explored the periphery, and there were many hundreds of questions unanswered. While knowledge of the geography was accepted as nil, knowledge of sledging and everything that went with it wasn't much better, and accounts of the journey read like a long string of learning things the hard way. All the dogs died. Everyone was repeatedly struck with snowblindness. When they finally pulled in to home, all three were raddled with scurvy, Shackleton so badly he'd been hauled on the sledge by the other two and had to be sent home with the relief ship. Besides gaining all sorts of practical knowledge about Antarctic field work which would come into play on the Terra Nova Expedition (for better or worse), they discovered the Barrier extended quite a long way into the continent, and was ringed by mountains which were duly charted.

Wilson is the most indefatigable person. When it is fine and clear at the end of our fatiguing days he will spend two or three hours seated at the door of the tent, sketching every detail of the splendid mountainous coastline to the west. His sketches are most astonishingly accurate: I have tested his proportions by actual angular measurement and found them correct. ... But these long hours in the glare are very bad for the eyes; we have all suffered a good deal from snow-blindness of late, though we generally march with goggles, but Wilson gets the worst bouts, and I fear it is mainly due to his sketching.

– R.F. Scott (Seaver, 112)

The snowblindness (sunburn of the eyes) meant that Wilson spent much of his time skiing blindfolded, which resulted in some fantastic turns of the imagination:

I had the strangest thoughts or daydreams as I went along. Sometimes I was in beech-woods; sometimes in fir-woods; sometimes in Birdlip woods – all connected in my mind with the hot sun; and the swish-swish of the ski was as though brushing through dead leaves, or cranberry undergrowth, or heather, or juicy bluebells – could almost see and smell them. It was delightful.

– E.A. Wilson (Seaver, 112)

On the return journey, with Shakleton too ill to pull the sledge and therefore out of psychological earshot of the remaining two men in the traces, Wilson 'had it out' with Scott. No one knows quite all that was discussed* but it went on for a few days, and by the end, they'd forged a deep and lasting friendship.

Only three know the inner history of the Southern Sledge Journey, but it was pretty broadly whispered that Wilson was the backbone of that trip which but for him would have been briefer. … Whatever he conceived to be his duty was first and foremost, and always done regardless of cost to himself. … I think he was more or less the confidant of us all. … I have never met with a man so universally admired and respected in every way.

– T. Hogdson, expedition biologist (Seaver, 126)

And it was remarked of Scott how that ever after this journey, on meeting Wilson or when his name was mentioned, his face would light up with that spontaneous radiant smile that always bespoke his happiness and his deep affection.

– George Seaver, Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 126

*this may be a euphemism; tempers were short, patience low, tension high, and there was at least one blow-up recorded anecdotally
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A break from semi-biography today, for excerpts from the foreword Cherry-Garrard wrote for Wilson's biography in 1933. It's a beautiful piece of writing and a little heartbreaking; it's clear what a profound impression Bill left in his life and how fresh it still was twenty-one years after losing him.

In a post-war world where ideals have been smashed by the million and disillusion has won the temporary day, where men and nations live on jealousy and fear, it is almost impossible, though inexpressibly pleasant, to get back into that atmosphere where a number of men ... risked their lives and all that was dear to them for an ideal. (pg xx)

Cowardice is catching; that is why men are down on cowards: they are frightened of them. But courage is catching too. These men handed down their spirit unconsciously and with cheerful generosity. It was easy to be brave when Bill and Birdie were near; it would have been difficult to run away. (pg xv)

How far was his courage based upon his faith? After all, courage alone will not take you far in the Antarctic as we knew it in the old man-hauling days ... Courage, or ambition, or love of notoriety, may take you to the Antarctic, or any other uncomfortable place in the world, but it won’t take you far inside without being found out; it’s courage: and unselfishness: and helping one another: and sound condition: and willingness to put in every ounce you have: and clean living: and good temper: and tact: and good judgment: and faith. And the greatest of these is faith, especially a faith that what you are doing is of use. It’s the idea which carries men on. There, if I am not mistaken, you have Bill Wilson.

Not that we knew anything of his spritiual life. The man upon whom we threw our troubles and our worries, as well as our aches and pains, who was to us such a happy companion, never revealed to us the depths of religious feeling which is apparent in those letters and diaries of his which I have read. When we were going to die [on the Winter Journey] we sang hymns because they were easier to sing than La Boheme and it was a good thing to sing something. You must not think of Bill as a ‘religious’ man. It has come almost as a shock to some of us to learn ... that he held a service to himself up in the crow’s nest every week. But after reading some of these letters I begin to realize why Bill made no comment when, after years of preparation and months of racking toil, he reached the Pole only to find that the Norskies had been there first. (pg xiv)

I saw him impatient only once, when I tried to pull him up an ice cliff by an Alpine rope: the rope had bitten into the snow cornice so that for all my pulling it was slack below. All through the journey he was quite self-controlled, and although the strain upon his nerves must have been great, he appeared to be unmoved. As we approached Cape Evans and the hut that last night in pitch darkness, he and Birdie had quite an angry argument as to where Cape Evans was: that was because the strain was coming off. I remember that, because it was the only time. (pg xxiii)

When men who are truly great get into these messes they think more and more of others, and less and less of themselves. ... What these men did and what they wrote inspired the world. There was no trace of selfishness, no regret for themselves, no blame of others. There was, it shines through all we know and read, all human help for their companions, and thought for those who would be left. (pg xxx)

And Wilson was convinced he had more work to do, although down South we knew little of those deep feelings which are revealed in his letters and diaries and which were the foundations of his character. We saw then his serenity, his courage, and his sympathy. For of course that sympathy, which in a way is love, was at the bottom of the devotion he got from us all. Whatever was the matter you took your trouble to Bill and, immediately, he dropped what he was doing, gave you his complete attention, and all his help. If you were doing your best he would do his best for you: though maybe you could not reach his standard, he was immensely tolerant of your shortcomings: he treated you as an equal even if you were not so. In a way he who lies in the snow of the Barrier was like Mallory who lies on the snow of Mount Everest. But Mallory was burning with a kind of fire, an ardent impatient soul, winding himself up to a passion of effort the higher he got. Bill was not like that: he was calm, unchangeable, serene, plugging along with a certain neat smartness and with a ready smile. Indeed, he was a gallant kind of gentleman upon whom you could lean. And so men did lean upon him, and no doubt he loved them for it, and liked them to come again. It was a proof to himself (could we have doubted) that he was doing some good. (pg xvii)
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The National Antarctic Expedition, known commonly after the name of its ship, Discovery, departed England for Antarctica in August of 1901. The rough company of Navy men was uncomfortable to Wilson and he found himself bereft of anyone with whom he could share his deeper thoughts and feelings, but took the experience as an incentive to improve his character.
"I am more thankful than I can say for having been brought to this life because it is such an education. But God knows it is just about as much as I can stand at times, and there is absolutely no escape. I have never had my temper so tried as it is every day now, but I don't intend to give way ... It's a hard school down here, but I wouldn't have missed it for worlds ..." (Seaver, 103)
According to his biographer George Seaver, this trial cut right to what Wilson considered his primary flaw: "He could always 'give as good as he got' and better; he could never suffer a fool gladly; and he accused himself of having been often sarcastic, cutting and contemptuous, when he might have been a peacemaker." (Seaver, 103)

In trying to live up to the idea of 'peacemaker' Wilson became something of a counsellor for the ship, and his cabin was a popular destination for those wishing to talk things out; he became good friends with Scott but it was Shackleton who was his closest companion the first year, for his 'wonderful memory ... quick wit and keen humour' (Seaver, 104). But it was in his letters that he poured his heart out: Wilson had married his beloved Oriana a mere three weeks before leaving and whenever he had a moment alone he would write to his 'grass widow' and commune in spirit.

It was on the Discovery that he acquired the nickname 'Bill' – 'Billy he was, and Billy I think he always will be in the minds of us all,' wrote his shipmate Hodgson. (Seaver, 126) Everyone regarded him very highly, and Oriana received letters not only from her absent husband but from his friends, such as this from Capt. Scott:
There is one thing your husband will not have told you, and that is what a fine fellow we all think him. His intellect and ability will one day win him a great name, of this I feel sure. We admire such qualities, as well as the artistic talent which goes far to cheer our monotony; but his kindness, loyalty, good temper, and fine feelings are possessions which go beyond the word admiration and can be simply said to have endeared him to us all. (Seaver, 85)
Wilson's rigorous character work on the Discovery may have taken some time to take effect, but it was not without fruit:
A caustic tongue was a formidable weapon which could also become a dangerously unruly member, and this he sternly set himself to curb, but it took some little time; he was 'Bill the Critic' and even 'Bill the Cynic to a few of his comrades of the Discovery days, but he was 'Bill the Peacemaker' to all without exception on the Terra Nova and ever after. (Seaver, 18)
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As Wilson was in the midst of wrapping up his MB, and regaining his health after being cleared of TB, the president of the Zoological Society (with whom he was acquainted via his nature illustrations) suggested he consider filling the post of zoologist on the upcoming National Antarctic Expedition, which was being put together by the leading scientific societies under the auspices of Clements Markham of the RGS. Wilson did not think he was qualified, but his uncle wrote to Markham on his nephew's behalf, and Markham replied that his artistic skill alone made him an attractive candidate: "It is very desirable that he should see the Commander of the Expedition as soon as he is well enough. Will you tell him to write to Captain R.F. Scott, R.N., ... asking him to make an appointment to see him." (Seaver, 73)

When Wilson did finally get to London for the interview, his arm was in a sling, having had surgery to deal with complications from injuring himself in a post-mortem while working at Cheltenham hospital. Scott was impressed with him and offered him the position as long as he recovered fully. The expedition's medical review was January 4, 1901, but when the day came around Wilson's arm was in a sling again – the abcess which had troubled him before had required further surgery to clear up. He explained the situation, and the doctors excused it, but said he needed to check back in July. When he did so they gave him a clean bill of health, but as he was leaving the room "his conscience smote him," and he told them about having just got over TB. They examined his lungs and found no trace of the disease, but there was scarring, so his final medical report was unfavourable. Scott, though, was set on taking him, and offered Wilson the position as long as he agreed to come at his own risk.
I think I am intended to go. If I had tried to get it I should have had many doubts, but it seems given to me to do. If the climate suits me I shall come back more fit for work than ever, whereas if it doesn't I think there's no fear of my coming back at all. I quite realize that it is kill or cure, and have made up my mind it shall be cure.

Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 75

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Why in the name of all that is holy were we always taught to fear God? It is an idea that still hangs in my mind that if I don’t fear Him enough something terrible will happen someday – and that is the sort of Ogre one is expected to ‘worship and glorify’ ... an unapproachable Being to be addressed by the repetition of high-sounding and eloquent phrases full of a rather pompous grandeur.... I think I want a more familiar God whom I can turn to at any minute of the day without fear, rather than a Being who must be approached with extra special language on one’s knees, or by priests in splendid vestments.... It is everything not only to reverence Him but to love Him, and to feel that you know Him so well that you can even enjoy fun with Him.

– E.A. Wilson
from Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 120-1

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There isn’t a picture without a branch of willow or hazel or alder or fir or birch over it. There are bunches of last year’s dead bracken, dock, and rushes stuck into various crevices, there’s a glass-covered box on the wall with the Swallow-tail chrysalises, pots of water with sprouting chestnuts and young sycamores, branches of thorn, beech and oak, with the old leaves on, and a map of South Africa stuck on the wall with seccotine.

– E.A. Wilson, describing his living quarters, 1900
from Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 68

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After returning from Davos, Wilson was recommended a quiet life, to complete his recovery. While he didn't much like the idea of a career in medical illustration, his artwork didn't slow down at all, only it was of the observational variety. He went sketching in wild and wooded places and made paintings of his beloved birds, but was reluctant to sell any of them 'because it seems like selling a bit of oneself which isn’t even one’s own to sell.'

My pictures are the realization of little things that have been treasured up in my mind, little traits of character picked up crumb by crumb in fields and by hedgerows, at last pieced together and put into the form of something living. — The realization of every happy day I have spent on the hills is in the picture of a stoat I chanced to see; in the snake’s in that little head and one eye is all the fascinating quickness and supple gracefulness of all the snakes I have known ...

He did need to make a living somehow, though, and the idea of selling his artwork in some capacity was floated. He took some samples to a gallery and was rebuffed, but wasn't too put off because he didn't like the markup or their appraisal, and wished he could sell them himself according to his own values:

Do you think I am right in keeping the prices of my beloved little bird-pictures down as low as possible to give the poorer people a chance? I just would love to make them see and feel and interest themselves a little in such things ... If only one could knock out the dealer and sell them to those who want them for what they are, for as much as they would choose to give!

quotes from Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pp 65-67

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After several months, Wilson's treatment at Davos saw his TB retreat, and he was sent home to recover further. He passed the medical exams he'd been training for before falling ill, and wrote home in what was apparently a fit of loquacious giddiness:
This is a home-letter for you all, ALL at Westal, married or single, maiden ladies or aunts, insects or Buzzard Eagles. It is meant to be a letter such as may well be written by a demented monomaniac recovering from general Paralysis of the insane. As a monomaniac on Physic and the allied sciences I have been found not wanting. I am admitted into the comparatively select circle of amateur and other druggists. The prospect of immediate admission to the degree of M.B. is the Christmas present which I propose to proffer for your acceptance. It has cost a mint of money, but will produce such consequences in aiding Nature to abet only the survival of the very fittest that I am glad to join that select company to the dismay of their Pyrixites Bacillus Tuberculosis and Staphylococcus Pyogenes Aureus ...

– from Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 63

His doctors recommended a quiet life away from the stress of the hospital, doing pathological illustration, but of course he wanted a bit more excitement than that ...
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The brisk and clear Norwegian air may have been refreshing, but sadly it did little to fight Wilson's TB, so the original plan of going for treatment at Davos was put into effect. Wilson found the drab, snow-bound alpine town depressing, and the confinement with tubercular company and conversation even more so:
The conversation is all about bacilli and hearts and weights and expectoration, so that one hardly dare clear one’s throat without feeling that someone has said something tuberculous; still more, I think, the want of a smoke begets a desire to bite everybody and run away.

from Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 51

He was forbidden from outside exercise for a while as it got his temperature up, removing a great joy and source of inspiration, which didn't help:
I am convinced that the sitting still and stuffing and lying out system of cure does kill some people as surely as it cures others. The killing part about it is the lack of occupation ... terribly depressing and demoralizing.

— pg 55

When at last he was allowed a little freedom he may have taken it a bit too far, starting with a six-mile walk along a mountain road in the dark, followed shortly by an escapade on a snowy mountainside:
So the care with which I felt my heels hold at each step was phenomenal, but useless, for a few yards lower the snow slid with me on the rock, and in a few seconds the pace took my breath away. For twenty or thirty yards I kept my balance with my elbows, and all I said or thought was ‘You must keep your head and go feet first, but you must keep your head.’ Then my heels caught in something, and I shot out head first, sliding, rolling, and bouncing clean into the air; and all at such a giddy pace and in such a cloud of snow and with one bump after another that I hadn’t time to think at all. ... If you saw [my face] you really would say ‘disgusting,’ for I have scraped the skin off it ... such a beastly mess all over the place. I put up two white ptarmigan at the bottom as a reward for slipping, quite sufficient to make it worthwhile. ... And my cap came slowly sliding down with a tuft of campanula in it. A walk of eight miles home. It was an experience worth having — once.

– cobbled extracts from his journal and a letter, found in Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 53-4

For all that his time in Davos was a challenge physically and emotionally, it was, in the words of his biographer George Seaver, 'a period ... to which he always looked back as the most important in his life.' The forced inactivity drove him inward, and it was a time of intense study and spiritual work, forging in him 'that selfless reliability which so constantly sustained and inspired his comrades in the South, who, though unaware of its origin, noted in him "some mysterious force that triumphed, some faith that upheld" at all times of stress and emergency.' (Seaver, pg 56)

It also saw the blossoming of correspondence between Wilson and Oriana Souper, who he'd met briefly in London and had befriended when she took a job teaching in Cheltenham. Letters from 'O.' were cause for celebration and he was generous in his replies; though his doubtful health precluded any serious thoughts about a future together, a mutual understanding and affection was well established.
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     Westal, March 10, 1898

     If there was one whom I could trust and love and be so bound up with that he or she could share with me and understand my joys and my love, and my passion for beauty, for colour, for form, for pure joy in nature,—if he or she could enter into my thoughts and feel with me,—if my sorrow, my pain, my doubts, my unspoken thoughts and hopes and fancies and longings—my life and my love—if only—
     If I could find such a one, shouldn’t I bring every joy, every delight, every pain, every sorrow, every passion, every love to be shared and to open the whole before that one : I know that I should : but there exists not the person on earth with whom lies the power of even to a small extent feeling with me in one of the smallest of my joys. Now and again one can truly say that one has felt with another, in joy or pain, in love or sorrow. But it is only now and again, and for years the heart hungers in between.—Why hungers?

– from Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 46

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While staying with family in Gloucestershire, in anticipation of heading to Davos to treat his TB, Wilson was invited to take the fresh air with some friends-of-friends in Norway. He did not stay home like a good invalid but went crawling all over the mountains and fjords, sketching and collecting and reflecting on all the new sights and experiences on offer there. His observations range from the artistically sublime, regarding the environment:
Last night there were showers of rain flying about, and a rainbow, and the whole of heaven was a rosy orange blaze, and one of the mountains caught the light and was flooded with a brilliant scarlet haze.—I covered seven bits of paper with red and orange and purple paint, but oh! they’re so ghastly and insufficient, and yet I couldn’t tear them up because they are all one has to help one’s memory.

Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 59

... to the prosaic, regarding the bugs:
The bite is like a drawing pin and itches like the devil. I use a clothes brush for the itching and then hazeline. I have tried vaseline and turps and the cleanings of a foul pipe rubbed all over my stocking, but there is nothing like a clothes brush for real happiness . . .

– pg 49

Exciting as the new locale was, though, his heart still belonged to home ...
If one could plant The Crippetts up here as far as this from towns and conventions and night, and shift the mosquitoes, I wouldn't grumble at it for an eternal heaven.

Cheltenham in Antarctica, pg 44

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In his early 20s, after his medical education, Wilson worked at St George's Hospital in London. He loved it, but the environment and exhaustion took a toll on his health, and at 26 he was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis. His doctor recommended he go to Davos in Switzerland for treatment, but first he went to his family's farm near Cheltenham for some fresh air and the pleasures of the countryside he knew and loved so well. While there he resumed his former pastime of sitting out in Crippetts woods to watch the sunrise.
Cold it was, and I used to wrap up well in a cloak and light my pipe and watch the sunbeams gradually lighting up the different corners of the wood, and sitting like an old stump one was never noticed . . . with Modern Painters and the New Testament and a good deal of pain, but I was most intensely happy. For one thing I thought that the end of life was within measurable distance anyhow, and that alone brings extraordinary peace of mind.

Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 50

tealin: (terranova)
A nation should be judged on exactly the same ground as an individual. As a nation we have the vilest of sins which everyone extols as the glories of Imperialism. One day all this part of our history will be looked upon in its proper light.

– E.A. Wilson, 1900
from Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, pg 68-9


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