Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/127

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109
EDITOR'S TABLE.

is, that the English and German geographers have abandoned the routes they formerly advocated, and have, with great unanimity, united in recommending that the English expedition which left last June, under the command of Captain Nares, should go through Smith's Sound, following up the track of Kane, Hayes, and Hall—the route that has been uniformly urged by the American Geographical Society as the best. At a crowded meeting of the Royal Geographical Society, at which the officers of the expedition and most of the distinguished arctic explorers were present, the American theory of polar approach was heartily commended:

"Admiral Ommanny, formerly a prominent opponent of the route now adopted, also said that England must be grateful to her American cousins, who had cleared the way by successful operations through Smith Sound. When it is remembered that our early efforts in this direction were ignored, that the name of Grinnell Land, in Wellington Channel, was at first omitted upon English maps, and the name of a subsequent English explorer substituted, that our route by the way of Smith Sound received little support except from Admiral Sherard Osborn, Admiral Inglefield, and Mr. Clements E. Markham, this change of opinion and hearty recognition now are very gratifying, especially to our member, Dr. Hayes, the only one of our exploring commanders in the Arctic who is now alive."

To show that, in this boasted scientific age, geographical notions are still entertained as crude as those held five hundred years ago, Judge Daly gives an account of some of the theories that are still seriously advocated. One of these is described as follows:

"About the year 1819, Captain J. C. Symmes, an officer of the regular Army of the United States, advanced a theory, to the propagation of which he devoted the remainder of his life, that the earth was hollow, was inhabited within, and had an opening at the pole, which became known throughout the country as ' Symmes' s Hole.' He pressed the subject upon Congress, urged an expedition to the pole to test bis theory, and a Russian gentleman is said to have offered to fit one out if Symmes would conduct it under the auspices of Russia, which the captain declined, on the ground that the honor of establishing the theory should belong to the United States. He went over the country, delivering lectures in support of this theory, in which he firmly believed to the day of his death. His son, now an old man, has revived it, and is advocating it, as his father did, by delivering public lectures. The father's theory was, that this hole or opening in the Arctic was about one thousand miles in diameter, and somewhat wider at the Antarctic; and now that we have reached within five hundred miles of the arctic pole, about half of the assumed diameter of the supposed hole, without any indication so far of its existence, the son believes that if Captain Hall had got several degrees farther north he would have found evidence of the truth of the theory.
"Captain Hall startled us at the reception given to him and his officers by this Society, before the departure of the Polaris, by announcing publicly to us bis belief in the existence of this hole, and of his determination to go in pursuit of it; a belief which, being an uneducated man, and but little acquainted with the geography of the Arctic, was firmly fixed in his mind. It was in pursuit of this supposed hole that he meant to attempt the passage to the pole by the way of Jones's Sound. I pointed out to him the impracticability of an attempt through Jones's Sound, and urged him to go as Kane and Hayes had done, by the way of Smith Sound, which course he ultimately adopted when advised to the same effect by Baron van Otten of the Swedish Expedition, whom he met during his voyage at Holsteinberg in Davis Strait.
"In a letter put forth last February, by Mr. Symmes, he not only argues that the earth is hollow, but that it has as much inhabitable surface within as without. He imagines that the inside is inhabited by human beings who are the progenitors of the white race, now upon the outer surface, and that there are apertures at the poles four or more hundred miles in diameter. This recalls the belief as to the cause of the earth's motion in the middle ages, when it became apparent from the researches of Copernicus and Galileo that it revolved upon its axis, which accounted for the motion by supposing that the interior of the earth was hollow, and was the place to which the damned were condemned, who produced the motion by their continual attempts to climb up the inside of this hollow ball in their fruitless