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INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER,

tribution of the vegetation by transporting the seeds. Such facts as those of the existence of ancient forests in what are now Arctic regions, and of the migration of existing flora over lands now bound fast in perpetual ice, appear to some naturalists to call for vaster changes than can be brought about by a redisposition of the geographical limits of land and sea, and to afford evidence of changes in the direction of the earth's axis to the plane of its orbit, and perhaps of variations in the ellipticity of the orbit itself.”

In mineralogy perhaps the most interesting discovery has been the masses of iron found at Ovifath. They have all the characteristics regarded as distinctive of meteoric iron, and, by most authorities, they are regarded as such. If this view is right, these masses of iron constitute the heaviest and oldest collection yet discovered of the actual matter of extratelluric worlds. They are remarkable amongst meteoric irons for the large proportion of carbonaceous matter associated with it. From the position in which these masses occurred, it seems probable that they formed part of a large fall of meteoric iron during the miocene period. In 1872 the Swedish government sent a ship out to convey these masses to Sweden. The largest weighed twenty-one, eight, and four tons respectively. Meteoric iron had been previously found

near Upernavik, at Niakornik, Fortune Bay, Fiskernars, and Jakobshavn.

The present knowledge we have of the anthropology of the Arctic regions is a warranty that further researches there would lead to a considerable increase of that knowledge. There are indications of human beings or of human habitations in the most northern lands yet visited; and probably they live or have lived in the undiscovered lands to the north. People live in 80° N. on the west coast of Greenland, and they formerly did at 76° N. on the east coast. These two points are 600 miles apart. On the west coast there is a tribe, commonly called the Arctic Highlanders, which occupies about 600 miles of sea coast. They are unable to advance farther south or north, in consequence of two large glaciers entering the sea, which prove to be impassable barriers to them. And they cannot pass far into the interior owing to the Sernik Soak, or Great Ice wall. They asserted that Ross's ship could not have come from the south because there was nothing but ice in that direction; and although they also told Kane that no people existed farther north, they had a tradition that there were herds of musk oxen far to the north on an island in an iceless sea. That natives have been to the north of the Humboldt glacier is proved by the bone sledge-runner

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found by Morton. On the east side the natives seen in 76° N., in 1823, would find the icy shore and lands to the south an impassable barrier in that direction. In 1869 the natives could not be found, although their deserted habitations were visible, and musk oxen, &c., abounded. These facts render it probable that these natives, or rather their descendants, have gone north of 76', while the musk oxen and other animals have come from the north. Probably, too, there is a tract of habitable land between the district north of the Humboldt glacier and the east coast of Greenland, in 76° N. And probably also there are natives in these high northern regions who have been isolated from other tribes for many centuries. On the Parry Islands every bay and cape yields evidences of a large population where now the region is deserted.

The following summary will suffice to show that the exploration of the Polar regions cannot fail to have a most important influence in advancing almost every science. What man is bold enough to assert that science is absolutely useless ? What man, even the most utilitarian, would advocate the abolition of all science as the best means to increase wealth, or to promote the welfare of nations ? Let us hope there are few such men. Let us also hope there are many who will lend a hand to removing the obstructions,

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official and national, which impede the pursuit of Arctic researches by Britons. Whilst we maintain that the Spitzbergen route is by far the easiest, we are by no means blind to the fact that there are several routes to the Pole, and something may be said in favour of each, and there is no reason why exploration should not be conducted along all. Next to investigating the lands which have already been discovered, the most important thing to be done is to acquire a general knowledge of the Polar region itself. This can best be accomplished by simply attempting to reach the Pole by the easiest route, leaving the more leisurely and time-absorbing scientific explorations to future expeditions. There are three ways into the Arctic Ocean, viz., through Behring Strait, through Baffin Bay, and through the Spitzbergen Gap. The objections to Behring Straits are that the distance from England is so great, that the expense and time required would be greater by that route than the others; that the ice presents greater difficulties there ; and that ships which have gone by this route have not been able to advance so far north as by the others. Similar objections may be made to the Baffin Bay and Smith Sound route as compared with that by Spitzbergen. It would involve a greater expenditure of time and money. The ships would have more diffi

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culty in reaching Smith Sound than in reaching Spitzbergen ; and when there they would not only be farther away from home, but would have far more difficulty in communicating with the mother country. No ship has ever harboured through the winter farther north than 78° 38' N., and only one has reached beyond 80°. The most northerly point reaches is 81° 35". There is a probability that land occurs farther north, and hence that the ice will present difficulties in consequence of being piled and accumulated against the northern coast. If the ships cannot gain the open water of Kennedy Channel, recourse must be had to foot and sledge travelling. There is no proof that the land extends to the Pole, nor that the ice does so. If there is a discontinuity of ice and land the sledge parties will have a special difficulty in reaching the point they aim for. The absence or rarity of icebergs in Kennedy Channel may be due either to a small development of land in the Polar sea, or, if there are lands, to the fact that they do not develop glaciers, which can only be formed in regions of perennial ice. The Spitzbergen route certainly must be the best of all for the purpose mentioned; but, in addition to this, it has, like the Smith Sound route, special attractions to a scientific expedition. In * favour of this route it may be said that it is the direct and nearest way to the Pole from England; that

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