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IN SEARCH OF GREAT SECRETS.
A Hardy Explorer of International Fame will Lead an Expedition to the South.
Starts in July from London.
Attempt to Solve Problems Which Have Been Recognized to Be of Greatest Importance.
Sir George Newnes' Generosity.
[Special Letter to The Dispatch]
London, April 28. -- With the assistance of that ever-ready friend to Arctic explorers, Sir George Newnes, an expedition will shortly leave Britain's shores, bound southward, and bent on making discoveries in the ice-fettered regions of the Southern Pole. There is plenty to be learned concerning the frozen South. To be convinced of this, look at a chart of the South Pole, and see how little of its territory has been explored. Of North Polar expeditions there have been many; of South Polar few. But there await the explorer of the South discoveries fully as important to the world as at the North Pole. So at least, thinks C. E. Borchgrevink, F. R. G. S., F. R. M. S., who will lead this expedition in search of the secrets of the frozen South.
Here is Mr. Borchgrevink's own story, as he related it to me:
"Since I was a boy I have longed for Arctic explorations. Early in life I became inured to the hardships that are a necessary accompaniment of such travel by my wanderings in the forests of Norway. But circumstances led me to emigrate south to Australia, and there my thoughts turned from the North to the South Pole regions. To organize an expedition to Antarctica was impossible; my only means for exploration was to take a place before the mast in a whaling ship. This I did, working as an ordinary seaman, but my object was purely scientific.
Found New Fields.
"All went well till we reached Emerald Isle in latitude 58 degrees. There the propellor of the little steamer broke down, and we had to put back to Port Chalmers in New Zealand. Once more the vessel started for the shoals of whales.
"The whaler took the same course as Sir James Clarke Ross in his famous expedition of 1841; but I was the first to step on the shore of Victoria Land. It was one of the proudest moments in my life. A feeling of fascination and awe crept over us on landing on that unknown shore. It was a strange thought that we were the first human beings to set foot on the mysterious mainland that lies around the South Pole.
"The scenery was suggestive of my native Norway. Immense, precipitous cliffs ... missing material... exact position of the magnetic pole, and this discovery which he declares, have the most important scientific results, especially as magnetic observations within the Antarctic circle form a missing link in our knowledge about terrestrial magnetism. His expedition will be one for observation and exploration, and, besides the scientific results, he is convinced that the commercial possibilities of the coast are worthy of investigation.
The new South Pole expedition will start from London in July, 1898. Mr. Borchgrevink has bought an ice-vessel, fitted with an auxiliary (sic) screw.
The expedition vessel, the Southern Cross, which is designed by the Scotchman, Mr. Colin Archer, who built the Fram, is 480 tons; she is being fitted with a triple expansion engine, to drive her forward with nine knots. She is bark-rigged.
Her length is 146.5 feet, 30.7 feet broad, 17.6 feet depth. Her bows are nine feet through of solid oak; her sides are 36 inches of solid wood. The whole of the vessel is covered with a thick ice-hide of greenheart. Besides the Fram there is not a stronger wooden vessel afloat. The vessel has a 'well," that is to say, she has an opening through which the propellers can be hoisted on the deck and again coupled to the propeller-shaft without docking. This is, of course, of the utmost importance for ice navigation. The crew will consist of 24 men, all of them experienced in ice navigation. With him will also go a staff of five scientific experts to make special observations and reports.
Doesn't Mind The Cold.
Mr. Borchgrevink and his scientific friends will be landed at Cape Adare(sic), where they will pitch their camp in December, 1898, to stay through summer and winter, while the vessel and its crew will go on a special mission, returning to fetch them away the succeeding spring. Their provisions will be of much the same kind as Nansen took, and they look to the seal, penguin, and fish to afford a valuable auxiliary to the tinned meats. Their huts will be of the Eskimo type, and their sledges of the Norwegian pattern. Seventy Siberian dogs will drag the sledges on their expeditions. "The cold," said Mr. Borchgrevink, "is comparatively worse that that at the North Pole regions. But I am quite inured to cold myself, I mind it no more than heat." And, indeed, Mr. Borchgrevink looks hard enough. His features are of the Norse type -- blue eyes, light hair, and a strong mouth, and he has the same characteristic determination to overcome all obstacles which was so remarkable in Nansen. His expedition will be watched with great interest from Australia, for the exploration of the great continent that lies to the south may prove of national importance to the Australians, scientifically and commercially. The Premiers have long been interested in Mr. Borchgrevink's plans, and no doubt the Australians will appreciate Sir George Newnes' spirit of enterprise.
By giving Mr. Borchgrevink the means of carrying out his scheme Sir George Newnes has realized an idea the importance of which all the world has recognized for more than 53 years.
In fact, the resolution was unanimously carried at the International Congress in 1895, after Mr. Borchgrevink's speech in the Imperial Institute, that the further exploration of the South Victoria Continent is the greatest geographical work yet to be undertaken in our century.
Mr. Borchgrevink, who is 38 years of age, is half a Briton, his mother being an English lady, and he is also married to an English lady. He went to sea when he was 14 years of age. Later on he studied in Norway and in Saxony. In 1888 he emigrated to Australia, where he roughed it as a surveyor for several years. Later he was appointed teacher in natural science at Coverwull College, Sydney University.
He is an accomplished ski-runner (snowshoe runner), a quality which is essential for a successful journey into South Victoria Land.
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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