Great Scott: Because it’s always fun crying before breakfast

You know a letter addressed “To My Widow” is going to be a tear jerker – and this one didn’t fail to hit that mark. I’m as tough and manly as the next guy, but this letter from Captain Robert Scott, who was beaten to the South Pole by some guy from Norway and died on the way back, to his wife, smashed me in the guts.

Via: Letters of Note (there’s a full transcript there).

“I must write a little letter for the boy if time can be found to be read when he grows up — dearest that you know cherish no sentimental rubbish about remarriage — when the right man comes to help you in life you ought to be your happy self again — I hope I shall be a good memory certainly the end is nothing for you to be ashamed of and I like to think that the boy will have a good start in parentage of which he may be proud…

You see I am anxious for you and the boy’s future — make the boy interested in natural history if you can, it is better than games — they encourage it at some schools — I know you will keep him out in the open air — try and make him believe in a God, it is comforting.

Oh my dear my dear what dreams I have had of his future and yet oh my girl I know you will face it stoically — your portrait and the boy’s will be found in my breast and the one in the little red Morocco case given by Lady Baxter — There is a piece of the Union flag I put up at the South Pole in my private kit bag together with Amundsen’s black flag and other trifles — give a small piece of the Union flag to the King and a small piece to Queen Alexandra and keep the rest a poor trophy for you!”

His son became a famous natural scientist, and television host, and his wife did remarry. So it seems the letter paid off.