AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT HEADED 'ACROSTIC', 12 lines in one four-line and four two-line stanzas, with the answer to the riddle contained in the verses in a square formation at the foot, stamped 'Shackleton Collection', 1 page, folio, some strengthening, not dated [but Antarctic, June 1902]
All things the sea doth flavour
With its faith pervading Saviour
As, with its briny touch it treats
The sailorman and what he eats...
This is the manuscript, written on the Antarctic, of a contribution by Scott to 'The South Polar Times', edited each month by Shackleton on the Discovery Expedition of 1902-1904, each issue produced in only one typewritten copy. The manuscript would have been preserved by Shackleton (see stamp at foot), who would have received it in his role as editor, making it certain that it was written on the Antarctic. Scott is known to have had the nickname 'Acrostic' on that expedition. Scott made regular contributions to the 'Times' under the sobriquet 'Acrostic', often in verse. He recorded in his account of the voyage: 'It was decided that each number should contain, besides the editorial, a summary of the events and meteorological conditions...certain scientifically instructive articles...and certain others written in a lighter vein. As the scheme developed it was found that other features, such as full-page caricatures, acrostics, and puzzles, could be added.' In the beginning it was decided that contributions need not be signed and were dropped into the editor's box. Scott also noted: 'The anonymity of articles could not long be observed in such a small community...but even the later numbers have contained some articles concerning the authorship of which there has been much erratic guessing.' The present verses appeared in 'The South Polar Times' for June 1902.
RARE: no other poetical manuscripts by Scott have appeared for sale at auction in the last forty years at least. The only other known 'Acrostic' poems are at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, MS. 1456. No independent reference to Scott writing verse has been found outside his contributions to 'The South Polar Times.'
PROVENANCE: Stamped at foot 'Shackleton Collection'.
REFERENCES: Robert F. Scott, The Voyage of the 'Discovery', 1953; The South Polar Times, Centenary Edition, 3 volumes, Orsky, John Bonham and Nine, 3 volumes, 2002, this item volume I, Book 3, June 1902, p. 29 (information kindly provided by John Bonham); on-line 'Some Antarctic Nicknames', www.antarctic-circle.org. Other information supplied by Naomi Boneham [sic] of the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge.