National Geographic : 1899 Dec
THE WELLMAN POLAR EXPEDITION honor the Norwegian for what he did, and we expect great things of the young Italian prince, the Duke of Abruzzi. Upon meet ing him in Franz Josef Land we went aboard his ship and wel comed him to the region of ice and snow and wished him good luck in a fashion which I feel sure was hearty and sincerely American. We may have differences of opinion as to the value of reaching the Pole. If we apply the utilitarian test, it is of small moment; but so is a poem. And what is polar exploration but an epic of endeavor, in which all sordidness is left behind, and in which a man, knowing the risks and the chances of failure, ventures his life and his all in a combat against the forces of ignorance? For I deem it beneath the dignity of man, having once set out to reach that mathematical point which marks the northern termination of the axis of our earth, which stands as a sign of his failure to dominate those millions of square miles of un known country, to give it up because the night is dark and the road is long. He will not give it up. The polar explorer typifies that outdoor spirit of the race which has led conquering man across all seas and through all lands, of that thirst for knowing all that is to be known which has led him to the depths of the ocean, to the tops of mountains, to dig in musty caves, to analyze the rays of light from distant worlds, to delve in the geologic records of past times. It will carry him to the North Pole, too, and that before many years shall have passed. Any one who supposes anything else of man doesn't know man. His acquaint ance with human nature-with the nature of the adventurous races of our zone and times-is limited. The eyes of the scientific world are turning with more and more eagerness to the Antarctic regions. Little now remains beyond the Pole itself-in the Arctics; but in the far south there is great work to be done in every field of scientific explo ration and investigation. I have here the suggestion to make to the National Geographic Society, and I make it after a care ful study of the situation in all its bearings. It is that this Society institute a movement whose object shall be to gain from Congress an appropriation for an American Antarctic Expedi tion, to work in harmony with the expeditions which are to go into that field from England and Germany. The modest sum of $150,000 would equip a creditable expedition bearing our flag, and it is my belief that even in this utilitarian age the American Congress can be induced to devote such a small sum to such a great purpose.