National Geographic : 1910 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE much ashamed to appear before you at so late an hour as this. But I am com forted and encouraged by the reflection, as I introduce myself, that this is a thing which can never occur again. There will never be another occason in which a speaker will arise to present a medal to a man who has taken part in the discovery of the North Pole. There is just one thought which in the midst of these festivities and congratula tions weighs rather painfully upon me, ladies and gentlemen. For some centu ries, as you have already been told, the discovery of the North Pole has been an object of curiosity, interest, and aspira tion to all the civilized peoples of the world. They have thought about it, they have wondered when and how it would happen. A great German philosopher has observed that the pursuit of truth is even better than the possession of truth. Bold men were excited by the pursuit of the North Pole, and all the world was in terested in following their deeds of dar ing. Now at last that pursuit has come to an end. The pole has been discovered. Commander Peary has found the pole. But the world has lost the pole. We have no longer this achievement to look for ward to. The riddle has been solved, the curtain has been lifted, and was it fair to posterity to take away such an ob ject of aspiration from it? I tremble to think, ladies and gentlemen, of what will happen when all the riddles of the earth have been solved and those countless gen erations that are to follow us have noth ing that they do not know about this habitable globe of ours, a small globe, after all, too small for the restless and eager mind of man. -Now, having relieved my mind by this outburst of sadness, I come to the busi ness which you have entrusted to my charge, and that is to present this medal to Captain Bartlett. It was a graceful and charming thought on your part, gen tlemen of the National Geographic Soci ety, that you should present this medal to Captain Bartlett, and I can assure you that it will be heartily appreciated in the good country to which Captain Bartlett belongs, and by those who, in other lands, on the shores of many seas, live under the British Crown. I thank you and the National Geographic Society for it. But you have already had an acknowledg ment by cable from the President of the Royal Geographical Society-one who bears an honored name, for he is the son of the great Charles Darwin-of the pleasure which it has given to that oldest of the Geographical Societies of the world. Now, Captain Bartlett belongs to an ancient and famous line of Arctic ex plorers who have sailed under the flag of England. That line begins with the ever to be honored name of Henry Hud son, who perished in the great bay that he discovered. And it is illumined by many an illustrious name thereafter, among whom perhaps the most famous is Sir Edward Parry, who made his won derful advance toward the pole, far out stripping any who had gone before him; Sir John Franklin, Captains Ross and McClure, and McClintock, and many an other of whom time would fail me to tell, dauntless spirits who bent their strength and their powers to the work of polar and Arctic exploration. I remember seeing long, long ago, at meetings of the British Association and of the Royal Geographical Society in Britain, some of these ancient weather beaten veterans of polar exploration, and I know how it would rejoice them now to think that that for which they labored had at last been achieved. And if you want to know that the gallantry which ani mated those men and which made them bear cold and hunger and ill-health, and face all the perils of snowy wastes and floating ice in the pursuit of discovery, if you want to know that that spirit lives still with undiminished force in men of British stock, you have only to read the lately published narrative of the gallant effort to reach the South Pole made by Lieutenant Shackleton and his comrades, which brought them within 97 miles of that remote and perious goal. This was done by the courage and hardihood of Lieutenant Shackleton.