National Geographic : 1903 Dec
THE VALUE OF AR Petermann, one of the greatest of geographers, proved conclusively, in a theoretical way, that Greenland was one extremity of a great Arctic continent extending across the Pole, and Wrangel Land the other. Later the Corwin de termined Wrangel " Land" to be an almost insignificant island of contracted dimensions, and we know now that Greenland ends 450 miles short of the Pole. For years Franz Josef Land was sup posed to be the southern extension of an Arctic continent, yet the Fram drifted across its meridian north of it, seeing no land; so the instances could be du plicated. As a matter of fact, there may be land within 30 miles of Nansen's or Abruzzi's farthest, and yet neither of them the wiser for it. Until we reach the Pole no one can say what there is there, whether land or water. In the light of these facts, it appears that one man's views are as good as an other's, assuming the men to be of equal intellectual caliber. I feel, therefore, that the opinions of Assistant Secretary Darling are entitled to as much weight as those of Sir Clem ents or other geographers. To a care ful and enthusiastic study of Arctic voy ages, extending over a number of years, Judge Darling brings deep thought, clear perception, exceptional ability, and the judicial bent of long legal train ing. He is strongly impressed with the great probability of finding land in the central polar basin. For myself, as a practical worker in the field, taking what I find rather than theorizing as to what I ought to find, I recognize fully this probability; and that I have not urged it-in fact, have leaned the other way--is due to the confirmed pessimism which long years of Arctic work and disappointments have taught me-pessimism as to any conditions which will simplify or render easier the work I have laid out for my self. CTIC EXPLORATION 433 The existence of land anywhere be tween the northern shore of Grant Land and the Pole would so greatly simplify my work and reduce its difficulties that I do not let myself dwell upon it. But the possibility is there; an isolated isl and continent, an Arctic Atlantis, with a fauna and flora of its own, with one day and one night in the year, lying there through the blinding days and opaque nights of countless geologic ages, as completely isolated from the world as if it were on Mars. Think of the satisfaction of lifting such a land out of the heart of the polar sea with the Stars and Stripes of "Old Glory." Think of writing upon that land some name to endure indelibly till that day when " the heavens shall wither like a scroll," to show forever that we own the top of the earth. Be lieve me, there is room yet in this pro saic world for a new sensation. NORTH POLE THE LAST GREAT GEO GRAPHICAL PRIZE My statement that the North Pole is the last great geographical prize which the earth has to offer has also been crit icised in some quarters, and it is claimed that it is nonsense to say that the North Pole is a greater prize than the South Pole. I repeat advisedly that the North Pole is the last great geographical prize which the earth has to offer. That the particular mathematical point of the North Pole possesses greater in terest or value than the South Pole is not asserted, but the North Pole is that apex of the earth which is in the center of the hemisphere of civilization. The North Pole has been sought by men for nearly four centuries; the South Pole for less than a century. The North Pole has a striking place in history, in literature, in poetry, in romance. It has been the subject of infinite specula tion, and, finally, when the North Pole has been attained, the attainment of the South Pole will follow naturally and rap idly and will attract much less attention.