National Geographic : 1896 Jan
32 SCOPE AND VALUE OF ARCTIC EXPLORATIONS THE SCOPE AND VALUE OF ARCTIC EXPLORATIONS* By GENERAL A. W. GREELY In a brief twenty minutes one can touch only in a desultory way on this great topic that engages the thought and attention of so many famous members of the Geographical Congress, yet a somewhat general outline of the scope and value of Arctic ex ploration may not be amiss. This, however, is neither time nor place to present in detail those phases of Arctic exploration that appeal so strongly to the popular fancy. If one would gain an adequate idea of the true aspects of such voyaging, he must turn to the original journals, penned in the great White North by brave men whose " purpose held to sail beyond the sunset." In these volumes will be found tales of ships beset not only months, but years; of ice packs and ice fields of extent, thick ness, and mass so enormous that description conveys no just idea; of boat journeys where constant watchfulness alone pre vented instant death by drifting bergs or commingling ice floes; of land marches when exhausted humanity staggered along, leaving traces of blood on snow or rock; of sledge journeys over chaotic masses of ice, when humble heroes, straining at the drag ropes, struggled on because the failure of one compromised the safety of all; of solitude and monotony, terrible in the weeks of constant polar sunlight, but almost unsettling the reason in the months of continuous Arctic darkness; of silence awful at all times, but made yet more startling by astounding phenomena that appeal noiselessly to the eye; of darkness so continuous and intense that the unsettled mind is driven to wonder whether the ordinary course of nature will bring back the sun, or whether the world has been cast out of its orbit in the planetary universe into new conditions; of cold so intense that any exposure is fol lowed by instant freezing; of monotonous surroundings that threaten with time to unsettle the reason; of deprivations wast * Address delivered before the Sixth International Geographical Con gress, London, at the Polar Session, July 29, 1895.
1895 Oct 31