MARKHAM, Sir CLEMENTS ROBERT (1830-1916, promoter of Antarctic exploration)
Clements Markham, President of the Royal Geographical Society, was a strong advocate of a British Antarctic expedition and especially of Captain Scott. It was as a result of his efforts that the Discovery Expedition sailed in 1901, with Markham himself drawing up the instructions for the officers and men under Scott's command. The present letters reveal something of his vision for the Antarctic expedition as it took shape in the 1890s. He was against use of dogs and skis. A homosexual, he cultivated young lieutenants and midshipmen and kept meticulous notes of the hundreds of naval officers he met.
'...Wooden ships will certainly by (sic) necessary for the Antarctic Expedition, on account of the magnetic observations and also because iron ships are no good in the ice. A strong resolution was passed in favour of an expedition by the International Geographical Congress...I intend to summon a Committee to decide upon the way of approaching the Government...'
'...I cannot yet judge whether this Government will be better than the last, as regards the Antarctic question. Both sides are a half educated lot barely knowing the difference between the pole and the equator. So that the principal hope of success will be from the advocacy of the newspapers...there is no chance of a Government Antarctic Expedition: owing to the pressing need of placing the navy on a more effective war footing...'
'A scheme has been got up for sending a vessel to the Antarctic seas on a whaling venture; and Mr Borchgrevink is to go with it...Their plan is to travel over the ice on Norwegian "ski" or shoe shoes. It is a foolish scheme, and Brochgrevink is such a howling cad that it is quite out of the question for you to think of serving under him...'
'...I was very sorry that your appointment did not come off. Scott had many volunteers, and at last decided on Armitage for Navigator on account of his considerable Arctic experience, more especially of winters. I know he would have liked to have had you, and hesitated for a long time. It seems hard when you were the very first volunteer...Royds and Barne are the two young Lieuts in the "Discovery", and a young R.N.R. man named Shackleton a first rate chap. Skelton, the engineer, is also naval, and there are 28 naval A.Bs, Petty Officers, Stokers and 2 Marines. So that it is a thoroughly naval expedition...'
Frank Martin-Leake (1869-1928), became a Vice-Admiral and commanded H.M.S. Achilles in the Grand Fleet during the First World War.