ExWeb Special, part 3 final: Gentlemen explorers - FG Jackson's Diary extracts

Posted: Aug 01, 2007 01:23 pm EDT

(ThePoles.com) In this week's special, our friends at Long Riders Guild are making tribute to a forgotten hero - Frederick George Jackson - the man who cared for Nansen and Johansen after their nightmarish winter in the remote Franz Josef Land.

The story is thought provoking - an ethical contrast to the later 'race for the South Pole' and a message perhaps from the very graves of our ancestors - about today's fierce competitiveness for far lesser 'firsts'.

Yesterday, the Long Riders offered an extract from Jackson's diary, describing his first meeting with Nansen as he approached Jackson's hut. In this second part of Jackson's story - the riders offer more unique entries, detailing Jackson's and Nansen's weeks together - and Nansen's farewell.

FG Jackson's Diary extracts
Courtesy of Basha and CuChullaine OReilly - The Long Riders Guild

18th June, Thursday

"Nansen offered to leave with me his kayaks and small theodolite, but of course I will not hear of this, as I should be afraid of something happening to them. It is good of him, though."

"He asked me what he should do about the country I had discovered to the north prior to his reaching Franz-Josef Land, and which he had since passed through. He would have to give a map showing his course; should he leave this blank and say that it will appear in Jacksons map? . It is very decent of him to think of it: some would have published that portion of the map without consulting me."

19th June, Friday

"Providence alone brought him to such a spot, failing which the end of his expedition, so far as he and Johansen were concerned, would have been very different had he missed meeting with us and what a marvelous meeting that was!"

"He could not have left Franz-Josef Land, for the extension of that country towards Spitzbergen is quite unlike what Nansen and every one else believed it to be, and a stretch of practically open sea of more than one hundred miles...cannot be crossed in leaky canvas canoes..."

"Nansen and I went for a walk after we had breakfast, and we discussed plans for reaching the south pole. I strongly advised the use of northern Russian horses, and described the best method of handling and camping them out."

22nd June, Monday

"Yesterday I told Nansen that he might publish my map if he wishes to, as his route goes through the country which I had discovered a year previous to his passing through it."

"I am also going to offer to allow him to name the land I discovered in 1895 north of Cape McClintock, which is in the neighborhood of his winter hut, as he has discovered very little to name, and I think it hard lines on the chap if he cannot name the capes and fjords in the neighborhood of his hut, where he passed a winter under such hardships and privations, which until he met me he had imagined to be his own discoveries...He thanked me for being so kindI have offered him the naming of everything he could see from his winter quarters."

28th June, Sunday

"Nansen appears to be very anaemic and out of condition. Three years in the Arctic has evidently taken the vigor out of him for the time He has had, poor chap, a very rough time of it, especially during the last fifteen months, and all the care, responsibility and worry which falls to the lot of a leader of an Arctic expedition in addition to it."

6th July, Monday

"Nansen went on with his map, which he is drawing from mine, and I have placed everything unreservedly at his service. He asked me about naming a cape after Armitage, and a rock after Blomkvist, in the large bay...he has accepted my offer to name everything he could see from his winter quarters. (Footnote: On reading Dr. Nansens book, Farthest North, I find that he has only availed himself of my offer so far as naming one of these spots Frederick Jackson Island after me, which I should never have consented to had I known of his intentions to reject the rest.)"

12th July, Sunday

"I have told my chaps to give Nansen all the information and help in their power in every way."

21st July, Tuesday

"It is by daily intercourse and intimacy with Nansen that the conviction is borne home to me how arduous and heart-breaking was the life he and Johansen endured on that lonely and trying sledge journey."

"On 14th March, 1895 they left the Fram, and on 17th June, 1896, we found them on the ice floes off Cape Flora fifteen months during which they had travelled about seven hundred miles. It does not sound a terrible undertaking; but to us here, with our experience of Arctic sledging, it appeals with grave significance."

"Nansen repeatedly remarks that nothing will ever induce him to undertake such a journey again; and I feel with him, and for him, that one such sledging expedition may well suffice for one life-time."

26th July, Sunday

"112 years ago to the day! - Jacksons ship the Windward returns to Cape Flora, Franz-Josef Land, to resupply the English expedition for a further two years in the Arctic ice. When she sailed away, The Windward carried a grateful Nansen back to a heros welcome in Norway."

7th August, Friday

"Nansen, Johansen and I have been capital friends, and I part from them with regret. Nansen has offered to send my wire to Mr. Harmsworth from Vardo, and, as I wish to avoid any possibility of clashing with his telegrams, I have handed it to him to do so"

"The ship left about 6.30 a.m. with repeated cheers both from the ship and the boats crew, and responding cheers from ourselves on the ice. We regretfully watched her slowly depart, and wished that we had finished our work and could go with her. This will take another two years, as I intend, after completely mapping in Franz-Josef Land, to try a shot over the floes to attain as high a northern latitude as I can to the west of Nansens route, as that was part of my original plan."

Extracts from Frederick George Jacksons book, A Thousand Days in the Arctic. These extracts originally appeared as Chapter XXV in Jacksons original work. Published in 1899, this rare volume is about to be reissued by The Long Riders Guild Press in its Classic Travel Books collection, and will feature an Introduction by Professor Ronald Savitt, who has spent years documenting Jacksons amazing exploration career.

Basha and CuChullaine OReilly are Founder Members of The Long Riders Guild, the worlds first international association of equestrian explorers and Fellows of the Royal Geographical Society.

Their equestrian research has uncovered how British Antarctic exploration has Russian roots, including Frederick Jackson use of meat-eating horses to explore Franz Josef Land. This information will be included in the forthcoming book being published by The Long Riders Guild in the Classic Travel Books collection which will be the first in-depth study of equestrian exploration travel practices used to reach the North and South Poles.


"Nansen went on with his map...on reading his book, Farthest North, I find that he has only availed himself of my offer so far as naming one of these spots Frederick Jackson Island after me, which I should never have consented to had I known of his intentions to reject the rest." Image of Nansen in Jackson's hut, courtesy of the Long Riders Guild (click to enlarge).

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