Ernest Shackleton

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We had pierced the veneer of outside things.

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton CVO OBE (15 February 18745 January 1922) was an Anglo-Irish explorer, now chiefly remembered for his Antarctic expedition of 19141917 in the ship Endurance.


We had reached the naked soul of man.
  • The outstanding feature of today’s march is that we have seen new land to the South never seen by human eyes before great snow clad heights [which] we did not see on our journey South on the last Expedition for we were too close to the land or rather foothills and now at the great distance we are out they can plainly be seen.
  • That was all of tangible things; but in memories we were rich. We had pierced the veneer of outside things. We had "suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down yet grasped at glory, grown bigger in the bigness of the whole. We had seen God in His splendours, heard the text that Nature renders." We had reached the naked soul of man.
    • South (1919). In this extract, Shackleton was paraphrasing the poem "The Call of the Wild" by Robert Service, published in 1907.


  • Optimism is true moral courage.
    • Widely attributed.
  • Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.
    • Attributed. Supposedly from a 1901 newspaper advertisement in the Times of London calling for volunteers for an Antarctic expedition. May be apocryphal (see external links below).
  • By endurance we conquer.
    • Family motto.

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