Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/61

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TOWARDS THE NORTH POLE.
TOWARDS THE NORTH POLE.[1]

THE collapse of Mr. Baldwin's expedition by Franz Josef Land and the return of Commander Peary and Captain Sverdrup from their abortive attempts to reach the Pole from the American side may make it interesting to give a brief account of the various efforts that have been made to push northwards towards this goal during the last 400 years. Mr. Baldwin's richly-equipped expedition was frankly stated to have as its almost sole object a dash at the Pole, and although both the expeditions of Commander Peary and Captain Sverdrup had other and more substantial objects in view, still, in each case, these were to be combined with an attempt to pass all previous records in this direction. We await details of Captain Sverdrup 's proceedings, but it is improbable that he has attained anything like the latitude achieved by Commander Peary.

During the latter half of the sixteenth century and the early years of the seventeenth, when so many stages of the long journey to the North Pole were covered, great progress was made in that section of the north polar area which lies to the north of Europe and includes the extensive land masses of Novaya Zemlya and Spitzbergen. Sir Hugh Willoughby, in the Bona Esperanza, 120 tons, Richard Chancellor, in the Edward Bonaventure, 160 tons, and Cornelius Durfourth, in the Bona Confidentia, 90 tons, first led the way in 1553. The first two vessels reached Kolguev Island, or as some claim even the southwestern shore of Novaya Zemlya, in about 72° N. latitude; but the extent of the voyage is uncertain, as in the following winter all on board, numbering some 62 souls, miserably perished of cold and hunger. There is no doubt, however, that Stephen Burrough in the Searchthrift pinnace reached 70°20' N. latitude in 1556 and sighted the coast of Novaya Zemlya. The next great step northwards in this direction was made by the Dutch mariner, William Barents. Sent by the merchants of Amsterdam in the Mercury, 100 tons, to discover a passage to China round the north of the island, he sighted on July 4, 1594, the west coast of Novaya Zemlya in 73°25' N. latitude. Continuing his journey, he passed the northern limit of the island, finally reaching Orange Island north of the 77th parallel. Two years later another stage in the direction of the Pole was covered. A Dutch expedition comprising two vessels, Barents being chief pilot of the one and Cornelius

  1. From the London Times.