Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

11

Swainston on the morning of his friend's funeral that 'Tennyson composed the sonnet which shall end this paper. The sonnet is well known, but I shall surely be pardoned for quoting it at length :

J. S.
Nightingales warbled without,
Within was weeping for thee :
Shadows of three dead men
Walk'd in the walks with me,
Shadows of three dead men and thou
Wast one of the three.

[blocks in formation]

At the foot of the sheet of manuscript, now my most precious possession, Lord Tennyson wrote : 'Made on the morning of the burial while I was walking in the garden.'

DOROTHEA GROSVENOR.

14 The writer is enabled to do this by the kind permission of Messrs. Macmillan.

16 Arthur Hallam, Henry Lushington, and John Simeon.

38:

[ocr errors][merged small]

1

ACCORDING to the news received from Captain Amundsen it appears that he attained the South Pole between the 14th and the 17th of December 1911.' I am not going to pass any comments on his attainment of the Pole, but it would be well for my readers to bear in mind the circumstances which have led up to this achievement, and thus to judge for themselves what motives he had in view.

In December 1908 a cordial invitation appeared in the Royal Geographical Society's Journal inviting Captain Amundsen to this country, and it was followed by a gift of 1001.” This was the first step towards funds for his projected expedition into the Arctic Ocean. It enabled him to go back to his own country and report to the Storthing in Christiania what the English Geographical Society thought of him and his project. Furthermore, on the strength of his representations he received a substantial sum from his own Government, and eventually collected sufficient money to enable him to start—as was supposedinto the Arctic Ocean.

The first news of his change of plans was sent from Madeira in August 1910, and it was announced in the following April that he intended to sail south instead of north. The first news of his presence in the Antarctic regions came

came from Captain Scott, who found the Fram in the Bay of Whales (or as marked on the maps, Balloon Bight) in February 1911. The preparations for his journey were evidently made before leaving Norway, and the secrecy which surrounded them, in these circumstances, to say the least of it, was not in keeping with the best sporting traditions of this country. It appears from a letter published in the Times that Captain Amundsen had the intention of going south instead of north as far back as September 1909. In that same letter he gives his reasons for his action, which are that he had not enough money for the North Polar Expedition, and that if he could attain the South Pole his Government and people would give him enough for his projected journey north.

i The Daily Chronicle, March 8, 1912.
Geographical Journal, December 1908.
• The Times, April 26, 1911.

Ibid.

[ocr errors]

Looking at the Antarctic regions on the map, one is impressed by the blank appearance of this supposed great continent. Here and there appears the name of some great explorer, who has penetrated into the unknown, and either sighted land or landed upon the shore. In one place in particular there is a little cluster of names, all English, and two, especially dear to the heart of an Englishman-namely, Victoria Land and King Edward the Seventh's Land.

When we come to read the account of Captain Amundsen's journey to the Pole, as it appeared in the Daily Chronicle, we are struck by the ease with which he appears to have accomplished his journey. There is no doubt that he has added much to our knowledge of that region, but it is only what we expected to find from the journey already made by Sir Ernest Shackleton. It might have benefited our geographical knowledge more if Captain Amundsen had landed upon some unknown part of the Antarctic Continent, and we may safely conclude that there is land in 16° east longitude. I pick out this spot because it would be directly opposite and on the same meridian as 164° west longitude. Judging from the magnificent journey he made, one is led to think he could have cut out a route for himself, from the seaboard to the Pole, and gained credit for a genuine piece of original work.

The results of Captain Amundsen's journey may be summarised by saying that he has determined the extent of the Great Ice Barrier, and explored the area between the Great Ice Barrier and the Pole, a distance of 870 statute miles from his winter quarters. It will be remembered that his winter quarters were built in latitude 78° 40' south and longitude 164° west.

It appears, however, that Captain Amundsen has not yet achieved his chief object. If reports be true, he intends to drift the Fram across the Arctic Ocean. On this subject I was allowed to express my views in this Review in April 1909.

The object of the present article is to show that Great Britain ha's been left behind the rest of the world in Polar research, and to put before the public the reasons for such a statement.

British exploration work is mostly the result of private enterprise, but, even so, it is better that there should be at the back of the movement either an organisation under the control of a body of individuals grouped together for the special object, or one of the societies established for the purpose. In England we are accustomed to look to the Royal Geographical Society to take the lead in such matters. It has a large revenue out of which payments are made in furthering the cause of geographical research and in awards for services rendered to science, and, owing to its opportunities and connexion, it is eminently fitted for the work.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I believe that I am correct in saying that the present expert advisers of the Council in Polar matters are Sir Clements Markham, who served in the Franklin Relief Expedition in 1850-51, and the surviving members of the Nares Expedition, which was despatched to the Arctic in 1875 and returned in 1876, since which date the majority of these explorers have had no practical experience of Polar travelling. The control of the country's Polar policy may be said, therefore, to rest with a body of explorers who for over thirty years have not seen an icefield, and this body is sufficiently influential to enforce its opinions with the authority of the laws of the Medes and Persians. To leave our national interests in Polar research in the hands of such a body is much the same as if we were to place the command of our army at the present time in the hands of a man who had been distinguished as a General over thirty years ago, but has since had no practical, but only theoretical, experience. This comparison seems to me to be apt, as the last thirty years show a proportionate improvement both in Polar and military equipment and methods.

I gladly give the members of the Nares Expedition full credit for what was at that time a fine achievement, as they reached latitude 83° 20', a distance from the North Pole of just inside 400 miles. This was done in spite of severe hardships and illness, but it is doubtful whether, even though there had been no sickness among the members of the sledge party who reached the above point, the equipment of the party was sufficient to lead one to think that it could ever have reached the Pole. Admiral Sir A. H. Markham, the Commander of the Alert, one of the ships engaged on that expedition, reported on his return, as follows:

I am convinced that with the very lightest equipped sledges, carrying no boats, and with all the resources of the ship concentrated in the one direction, and also supposing that perfect health might be maintained, the latitude attained by the party I had the honour and pleasure of commanding would not be exceeded by many miles, certainly not by a degree. This view was supported by Captain Nares, and presumably it was the general opinion of the responsible members of the Expedition. Captain Nares says :

Markham's journey ... proves that a lengthened journey over the Polar pack-ice with a sledge party equipped with a boat fit for navigable purposes is impracticable at any season of the year.

The Nares Expedition left with Great Britain the record for the Farthest North, which she had held for three centuries, having during that period continually improved her own record. As we 5 Voyage to the Polar Sea, Vol. i. p. 395.

6 Ibid.

6

were within so short a distance of the Pole, it was only natural that other countries with an Arctic record should struggle to reach it first, but it seems unintelligible that we, as a nation, should suddenly have dropped out entirely from the contest and have taken no steps to regain our position, especially when the experiences of first one and then another of our rivals showed that the opinion formed by the leaders of the Nares Expedition was wrong. As a fact, the record established by the Nares Expedition has been beaten not less than five times in the space of less than a quarter of a century. The following table makes this clear :

[blocks in formation]

In spite of all the successive achievements mentioned above, the Royal Geographical Society has taken no steps to put a British Arctic Expedition into the field.

It is impossible to believe that the survivors of the Nares Expedition were lacking in patriotic desire that their successors should accomplish what they themselves had failed to do, or that the North Pole had suddenly lost its fascination after so many centuries, or that there had arisen in the country a feeling, whether induced by modesty or generosity, that we no longer wished to monopolise the record for the Farthest North ; but at any rate there was a sudden termination of all British Arctic exploration, the chief reason for which appears to have been that the body of experts which ruled the Council of the Society did not or would not realise that there were other ways of attacking the Pole than along a route which they had found impracticable. The actual personal experience of the Arctic authorities in the Society formed an argument which might have carried weight with the Council until the return of Nansen's Expedition, as neither the De Long Expedition in the Jeanette nor the Greely Expedition (the only two of any importance between the Nares Expedition and Nansen's) gave any indication that the opinion formed by the leaders of the Nares Expedition was not justified.

Nansen's Expedition marked a new era in Polar exploration. His scheme did not find favour with the experts of the Society.

? Voyage to the Polar Sea, vol. i. p. 377.
8 Handbook of Polar Discoveries, by Greely, p. 231.
• Nansen's Farthest North, vol. ii. p. 142.
10 On the Pole Star in the Arctic Sea, p. 492.
11 Nearest the Pole, by Peary, p. 134.
12 The North Pole, by Peary, p. 257.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »