[CICELY FOX SMITH] SPADACCINI, Henry
[ROBERT FALCON SCOTT] Manuscript poem and letter written by Henry Spadaccini
Single folio sheet of ruled paper, folded, the first and third sides with a transcription of a poem by Cicely Fox Smith titled “Ships that Pass”, describing a sailing voyage in sub-Arctic waters, the fourth side with a letter addressed to a Captain Wade, dated March 26 1922, explaining the writer’s love and respect for Fox Smith’s poetry, and that ‘next time I’m in Cork St. I’ll ask at Elkin Mathews if they have a photograph of the lady who has afforded so much pleasure to so many‘, signed Hy. Spadaccini, foxing and old folds, modern annotation in pen to lower margin of third side, but stable, complete and legible.
Cicely Fox Smith (1882-1954) was an English poet who spent the years 1905-1913 in Vancouver, Canada. Her maritime poems were inspired by the Great Age of Sail. Henry Spadaccini, born in Ireland of Italian parents in 1853, worked as a food inspector at the London docks, and in his professional capacity had an important association with the Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott: Spadaccini played a vital role in the preparations for Scott’s last expedition, as it was he who was appointed to examine and approve the expedition’s provisions. Several letters from Spadaccini to Scott are known from Scott’s correspondence.
‘A colossal amount of work and responsibility fell upon the shoulders of Captain Scott. Fortunately we had, in the person of Mr Cyril Longhurst, an admirable hard working and conscientious secretary, though he was then very young. Close attention was given to the supply of provisions, as one of the most important considerations. The food for the sledge travellers was mainly pemmican. It used to be made at Clarence Yard of the very best quality, but the art was lost. Scott had to fall back upon the very inferior article made at Chicago, and a better kind manufactured by Beauvais at Copenhagen. He himself visited the Beauvais factory, and ultimately took 500 lb. of American and 1500 lb. of Beauvais’ pemmican. Extreme care was taken in the examination of the preserved meats, soups, vegetables, and fruits. Dr Collingridge, medical officer for the city of London, appointed Mr Spadaccini for this duty, and 10,250 lb. in 1542 packages of other provisions were accepted, and 231 lb. rejected. But Captain Scott was deeply impressed with the urgency of supplying fresh meat to his people whenever it was possible’. (Markham, C.R. The lands of silence, a history of Arctic and Antarctic exploration. Cambridge : C.U.P., 1921, p. 450).