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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
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 reached 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 there is easy communication between Spitzbergen and England for many months in the year, or from about May to September or October. A ship can easily find a winter harbour as far north as 80° or even 80° 30' N. Ships have reached 81° 42' N., and men have reached 82° 30' N. If past efforts have resulted in the greatest advance north by this route, it seems probable that future attempts will also be more successful by this route than by the others. The failures to reach the Pole by this route have frequently been brought forward as an objection ; but this objection equally applies to the Smith Sound route. The special advantage attached to this route is that, owing to its being the broadest gateway to the Pole, the Polar ice flows outwardly in greater quantity than by the others. This renders it probable that the ice zone is narrowest on this side, since more of it is able to escape to the southern seas to be melted, whereas, on the other side, much ice is arrested by land. The warm flow from the Atlantic also has an influence in lessening the formation and accumulation of ice within the Arctic circle. The flow of warm water from the Pole may conjecturally be inferred to be more voluminous in this direction than any other, which would have the double effect of narrowing the ice-band and of rendering it brittle in structure and more easily penetrable.
“Fond men ! if we believe that men do live
Under the zenith of both frozen poles,
Sir John Davis's “ Nosce te ipsum,” 1596.
An invitation from a friend, casually given, to join him in two days' time, at the Port of Hull, from whence he intended to sail on a summer cruise to the far north in his schooner-yacht, left but little time to make the necessary arrangements for an undertaking of this kind ; but the desire to see for ourselves such wonders of the Arctic seas as fill all books of Arctic enterprise so far out of the beaten track of modern travel,-made peculiarly interesting at the present time, when the question of Arctic exploration is uppermost in the minds of men all over Europe, now that the question has been rendered doubly important by the general inquiry respecting the action and influence of the Gulf Stream in the higher latitudes,—overcame all our scruples on the score of shortness of notice, and we accepted the offer without much hesitation. All our available time was, therefore, devoted to the selection of a suitable outfit, such as our then limited knowledge of these seas suggested. We calculated on a journey of some months' duration, with a lurking apprehension of a possibility of having to winter somewhere in theby all accounts-inhospitable region, where, if people are once “beset,” they must prepare to endure unspeakable privations. We laid in, on this account, many sea stores, which in our haste seemed to us absolutely essential for such a contingency, and others besides, that, had we more time at our disposal, might fairly have been dispensed with.
We hastened to say good-bye to such of our friends. as we considered might take some slight interest in our welfare, and from them we received in turn hearty assurance of good wishes, with predictions that the voyage we were about to enter upon could not fail to: be full of pleasurable enjoyment of every kind.
We were at Hull at the time appointed, and there we found the splendid schooner-yacht, in the care of the worthy harbour-master of that busy place, at whose hands our good ship was receiving the last finishing touches previous to starting on her voyage. To him had been confided the overlooking of all the manifold requirements of the undertaking, and Captain Wells, an old whaling captain, who had gathered experience