LEVICK (GEORGE MURRAY) Autograph manuscript describing the physical and mental challenges posed by the unexpected overwintering of the Northern Party in the ice cave on Inexpresssible Island, and Levick's role in understanding and managing the diet and symptoms suffered by the party
Lot 141
LEVICK (GEORGE MURRAY) Autograph manuscript describing the physical and mental challenges posed by the unexpected overwintering of the Northern Party in the ice cave on Inexpresssible Island, and Levick's role in understanding and managing the diet and symptoms suffered by the party
£5,000 - 7,000
US$ 8,000 - 11,000

Lot Details
LEVICK (GEORGE MURRAY)
Autograph manuscript describing the physical and mental challenges posed by the unexpected overwintering of the Northern Party in the ice cave on Inexpresssible Island, and Levick's role in understanding and managing the diet and symptoms suffered by the party, manuscript on paper, 9 pages closely written in ink, folio, [1912]

Footnotes

  • This manuscript concentrates on the diet of the Northern Party, and how Levick managed this to ameliorate various disagreeable symptoms. The diet was largely sealmeat or blubber, occasionally Adelie penguin, supplemented with a meagre ration of biscuit and rare treats "We had great difficulty in eating the blubber, and as our biscuit ration was reduced to 1 biscuit per day each, we had to eat very large quantities of lean meat to satisfy our hunger. This led to a craving for starchy food that would never be satisfied". Some wretched uric acid symptoms could only be relieved by struggling rapidly out of the sleeping bag, into windproof clothing and going outside. To counter this Levick decided that ideally blubber should be 60% of their diet, and sealmeat only 40%. He describes the making and distribution of the 'hoosh', "When all was ready the cook shouted "mugs ready" Immediately each man passed up his aluminium sledging mug...remaining in their bags to eat it". Each man was fed blubber according to his ability to take it, and Levick describes how each individual went through a cycle of building up to a binge of blubber, followed by a period in which it hardly be tolerated.

    As the salt supply was tiny it was decided to use salt water as a substitute, but Levick established it was this that was causing diarrhoea, and the cure was easilty effected except in the case of Browning who struggled with it for the entire seven months. The men ate their biscuit immediately it was distributed on the morning, while the three officers savoured them and retained half for the evening meal. When earlier symptoms returned, Levick realised that they were not cooking the hoosh sufficiently, and "stove blindness" was an additional affliction--the name given to acute conjunctivitis caused by the fumes. They were nearly asphyxiated when a blizzard sealed the cave and the party could not initially work out why the blubber lamps had gone out and would not relight by the use of precious matches. By the end of the seven months the stove that had sustained them (and of which Levick was justly proud) had itself become a health hazard.

    Levick summarizes simply that in the early period everyone was geared up to being picked up by Terra Nova, (having already overwintered in the hut at Cape Adare), and with only summer clothing and three weeks full ration they could hardly cope with the disappointment, and that their mental state contributed to their weakness and vulnerability. Once they accepted their fate, and had overcome the dietary adjustment, it was a question of seeing it through until the end of winter. Prints of two images by Herbert Ponting, of Levick working on penguin specimens onboard Terra Nova, are included with the lot. See illustration overleaf.

    Provenance: Murray Levick, and by descent; Christies, 18 April 2000.
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