The fatuous optimists exhibit their fears

“Food is life and life is too serious a matter to risk needlessly. Strange to say, now that there really is a shortage the imperturbable pessimists are apparently quite unconcerned… It is not unusual that pessimism and equanimity are counterparts. The fatuous optimists exhibit their fears [by] assuming that the pessimists are now thoroughly scared and therefore making mocking remarks such as … “We shall have to eat the one who dies first” and so on, which has actually occurred before now when people have been in only very slightly worse straits than we are now. There’s many a true word said in jest.”

—Thomas Orde-Lees

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Se las arregular

Don Luis Pardo, Captain of the Yelcho and Freemason

Don Luis Pardo, Captain of the Yelcho and Freemason

“The Yelcho was manned by volunteers from the Chilean Navy. Her commander was a naval lieutenant called Luis Pardo. He happened to be a Freemason, indeed the Masonic connection had smoothed Shackleton’s path in South America. Shackleton had no objection to sailing under Pardo. Their relations had been left refreshingly vague. The philosophical Spanish motto, Se las arregular (‘Things will arrange themselves’) summed it up.”

— Roland Huntford, Endurance

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Against laying in a stock of meat

“I think [Wild] considered I was exceeding my prerogative in discussing the matter at all and judging from what he then said I suppose that he considered that if people observed that he was laying in a stock of meat for the winter it might convey to them the impression that he expected to have to remain for the winter and so cause people to become despondent.”

— Thomas Orde-Lees

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Limpets

Nacella (Patinigera) concinna

Nacella (Patinigera) concinna

“…until lately the ice-cap over the rocks and the floating ice seem to have kept the luscious molluscs to a depth of 6ft or more below water, but now they are creeping up the rocks and we have found a few. Limpets are ‘perks’; everyone eats all he can find.”

— Thomas Orde-Lees

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Elephant Island Tunes

“My name is Franky Wild-o and my hut’s on Elephant Isle.
The wall’s without a single brick and the roof’s without a tile.
Yet, nevertheless, you must confess by many and many a mile,
It’s the most palatial dwelling place you’ll find on Elephant Isle.”

— composed and sung by Reginald James, to the tune of Solomon Levi:

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She could not survive the pack

“It was, in every sense, a forlorn hope. The Yelcho was a steel lighthouse tender of about 150 tons, originally built as an ocean-going tug. Even properly maintained, she could not survive the pack. As it was, paint had long since disappeared from her hull. Plates were dented. Rust was flaking off. Her engines and boiler were suspect.”

— Roland Huntford, Endurance

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Argument, continued

“This morning we were awakened by a sudden rush of brains to the head of one of the participants in last night’s argument, prompting him to ejaculate in a loud voice, and at an early hour, ‘I tell yer I know that pub is in — street’, a sally to which his opposite number heatedly replied.

“For a moment it looked as if trouble might come of it, but the two silly fellows were soon howled down by the majority and made to throughly inwardly digest the fact that they were both exceedingly unpopular, and we have heard no more of the stupid altercation, though apparently they are now at the still-more-stupid game of ‘not speaking’.”

— Thomas Orde-Lees

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