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ANTARCTIC EXPLORATION.

Two events, announced almost simultaneously within the last few days, have imparted a fresh interest to Antarctic research. The Belgian expedition, which had been given up as lost by many people, has just been heard from, and it is know that it has been the means of extending geographical knowledge in the Southern Hemisphere appreciably. And in response to an appeal which the president of the Royal Geographical Society addressed four months ago to his fellow-Britons Llewellyn W. Longstaff has now pledged himself to give £25,000 for another venture of the same kind. The society had already raised £15,000 for the purpose, and although fully £10,000 more is yet needed no doubt is entertained as to the practicability of finding it.

The Belgian expedition sailed in the Belgica, under the command of Lieutenant De Gerlache, in August, 1897, and it was reported from Cape Horn on December 30 the same year. It had been given out that the vessel's destination was Cape Adair, Victoria Land, and that after putting her passengers and their provisions and instruments ashore the ship would proceed to some Australian port, give the world the news and obtain fresh supplies. Her failure to reappear as intended last spring excited grave fears as to her safety. But Dr. Cook, an American member of the Belgian party, has just telegraphed from Montevideo that he has got as far back as that place and is on his way home, although the Belgica has resumed her work of exploration. He also says that instead of going to Victoria Land the party explored Weddell Sea. Whether the change of plan thus revealed was the result of accident or design does not yet appear. But Weddell Sea is to the southeastward of Cape Horn, in longitude 40:45 west from Greenwich, whereas Victoria Land is almost half-way around the globe. The principal scientific facts mentioned by Dr. Cook in his brief telegram are that De Gerlache found land not hitherto known and that he saw volcanoes.

Almost a year after the Belgica left Antwerp there sailed from England an expedition for which Sir George Newnes had provided the means, and which was bound for Victoria Land, almost due south of Australia. This party, led by Captain Borchgrevink, a Norwegian, and embarking in the steam whaler Southern Cross, was not fitted out in a way that inspired the approval of the Royal Geographical Society. And although Sir Clements Markham, who is at the head of that organization, commended the generosity of the publisher of "The Westminster Gazette," and extended his best wishes to Captain Borchgrevink, he has not anticipated satisfactory results from the undertaking. The Southern Cross was reported at Hobart Town last December, and she evidently landed her passengers at Cape Adair about February 1 of this year. She reached a New-Zealand port scarcely more than a fortnight ago. Whatever deficiencies may characterize the management and scientific equipment of Borchgrevink's expedition, therefore, it is clear that he has at least secured a footing on the Antarctic continent. At the present time his is the second party actively engaged in research near the South Pole.

There will now be a sharp race between Germany and England for the distinction of taking the next one there. German enterprise has culminated in a pledge by the Government to aid an expedition which will not sail until 1901, and which will probably be commanded by Dr. Erich von Drygalski. Few details have been decided upon in connections with the scheme. But the general fact is now determined. Mr. Longstaff's subscription to the Royal Geographical Society fund at last insures the dispatch of a party under the special auspices of that organization. It is barely possible that it will be able to get away this summer, and if it does all preparations must be completed inside of three or four months. But owing to the shortness of time left for such preliminaries, and possibly owing to a desire to await results from Borchgrevink, it may be deemed expedient to postpone the departure of the new English expedition for another year.


Reproduced with permission: L.L. Dyche, Explorations (Newspaper Clippings Related to Polar Exploration), Vol. 1 & 2. University Archives, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence, KS.


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Original Source:
  N.Y. Tribune, New York, N.Y, April 6, 1899.  
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Transcriber: 
  Jennifer F. Holvoet, University of Kansas.  
 
  Would you like to do a transcription for us? If so contact us at admin@ku-prism.org.   
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