The scientific agitation fomented in Germany by the speeches and writings of Dr. Petermann did not delay to bear fruit, although the theory of the eminent geographer has not received the sanction of direct proof, which it still awaits. In 1868 a first expedition, under the command of Captain Koldewey, a sailor, educated at the school for pilots in Bremen, set sail from the port of Bergen. Although imperfectly fitted out, it had for a special mission to take the bearings of the northern prolongation of the east coast of Greenland. In case the explorer could not attain this coast, he must endeavor to refind on the east of Spitzbergen the famous land of Gillis, discovered in 1707 by the Norwegian Gilles, and since then forgotten and lost. The Germania (such was the name of the ship chartered for this purpose) directed her course toward the eastern coast of Greenland; but the agglomeration of ice preventing her approach, she turned toward the west coast of Spitzbergen, and then reascended toward the north a little beyond the eighty-first degree. Although the expedition was obliged to deviate from the path marked out, it was not without interest for the progress of hydrography and physical geography. It discovered that King William's Island, situated in the strait of Henlopen, was really an island, as Scoresby had indicated in 1822; and it corrected the boundary of Northeast Land, one of the largest islands of Spitzbergen. Besides, the year 1868 did not appear to be favorable for an attempt at landing on the east coast of Greenland, for the Swedish steamer Sophia, which made the same attempt under the command of Captain Baron de Otter, could not pass the icebergs, and was obliged to return in October, a month after the Germania.
The impulse once given was not allowed to diminish its force. Thanks to the zeal of Dr. Petermann, seconded by an indefatigable ship-owner of Bremerhaven, Mr. Rosenthal, the next year, 1869, numbered a dozen expeditions, almost all sent forth by the routes recently reopened. In February, the screw-steamer Bienenkorb left the Weser for the purpose of attempting a landing on the east coast of Greenland. The ice once more prevented the success of the enterprise. In May, another steamer, the Albert, commanded by Captain Haasgen and Dr. Bessels, set out to make the tour of Spitzbergen, to explore the sea between this land and Nova Zembla, and to discover, if possible, the land of Gillis. None of these three objects were accomplished, but the expedition determined more exactly the situation of the islands southeast of Spitzbergen, and confirmed the assertions of Dr. Petermann upon the distant extension of the Gulf Stream. The same year the English Captain Palliser, having for an object to sail around the shores of Nova Zembla, penetrated into the Sea of Kara, situated between that island and the Samoiede peninsula, and sailed along the Siberian coast, within a few leagues of White Island, without being at all impeded by the ice. Behind him, the Norwegian Johannesen traversed the same route twice without encountering any difficulty. By this