National Geographic : 1896 Mar
96 THE SO-CALLED "JEANNETTE RELICS" which was sent some time before the starting of Nansen's latest expedition. Baron Nordenskiild was also informed some time before Nansen sailed, so that there is no doubt that Nansen was cognizant of the fact that the authenticity of the relics was seri ously questioned. He had previously admitted as much in his paper above cited, but did not on that account relax his faith in them. Conclusions.-Itis evident that the proof that the relics were the result of a hoax is not complete, and, in the nature of things, unless the parties actually concerned shall admit it, is never likely to be completed. Each person will form his own opinion from the data submitted. I have spent some ten years of my life at sea, nearly half of the time in command of a United States surveying vessel, and I am quite aware of the nature of sailor men and sailors' evidence. Dr Bessels was for years my inti mate and valued friend and associate, and in all our intercourse nothing ever occurred to lead me to doubt his earnest endeavor to get at the truth of this matter. My own conclusions are, first, that the relics were not authentic, and, second, that they were probably due to a hoax, as stated above. In support of the first conclusion, beside the data given, the probability that De Long himself would be writing out receipts for stores is very small. There has been since 1848 an average of two or three ships a year lost in the ice north of Bering strait, and in the vicinity of the point where the Jeannette entered the pack. Not a single relic of all the enormous fleet of over one hundred wrecks has ever been identified on the Greenland coast, where wood has always been of the greatest value. Driftwood from northern rivers is cast up on the Greenland coast more or less every year, but there is no evidence that it comes from points east of Nova Zembla. It is not impossible that some of it does, but it cannot be proved. Some twenty-odd years ago a throwing-stick, of the pattern used at Port Clarence, near Bering strait, came ashore on the coast of Greenland, near Godhaab, and was presented to the museum at Christiania by Dr Rink.* When one remembers how the crews of whaleships collect curios which they carry to all parts of the world, and which are often thrown away or lost in the most un expected places, the certainty that this stick drifted from Port Clarence, a distance of not less than 4,000 miles, is evidently not to be taken for granted. I have received from lagoons on the * Cf. Geog. Tidskr., ix, No. 4, pp. 75-6, Copenhagen, 1887.