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IN SEARCH OF THE SOUTH POLE.
To most persons polar exploration has no charms outside of the descriptions and illustrations to be found on the printed page.
We are all glad to have the poles, one or both, discovered, together with all territory -- land or water -- adjoining or contiguous thereto, but the majority of folks are so made that they can neither brave the rigors of arctic invasion themselves nor suffer any considerable abatement of pleasure by their own firesides or under the temperate smiles of their native skies, because some score of adventurous souls are constantly rushing into the perils of the frigid unknown.
The passion for polar adventure is something almost ludicrous to the lay mind, for it is certain that nothing more than technical geographic knowledge can ever result from it. Just now an antarctic exploring party has come back, after an absence of eighteen months. Dr. Frederick A. Cook, surgeon of the expedition, in a kind of joyous salutation, sends a dispatch from Montevideo, announcing their safe return; and here is what they have found in bleak antarctica: "Much new land in Weddell Sea, and open water to far south; also saw some volcanoes!" And yet Belgium equipped this expedition at a cost of 250,000 francs, and Llewellyn W. Longstaff, a Briton, has pledged £25,000 for another venture of the same kind.
But polar adventure has established a truth that is moral rather than geographical, and perhaps more valuable, and that is the eager desire of mortal man to find out about things at any cost and in sheer disregard of the question whether his knowledge will be useful to him or not.
And surely that is a proof of greatness.
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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