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South Pole Their Quarry.
Two Expeditions Braving Dangers of Antarctic Seas
Borchegrevink's Life Work
He Believes There Is A Continent There Larger Than Australia -- Britons and Belgians Seek It.
Two expeditions are now searching for the South pole. The long period during which the search for the North pole was so actively pushed that its southern brother was entirely neglected seems likely to give place to a period of Antarctic explorations which may develop into the greatest scientific importance, even if the pole itself is not discovered. The location of the South magnetic pole is to be made an especial object of both expeditions, and if its position can be definitely fixed it is thought our knowledge of various terrestrial phenomena will be vastly added to.
The Belgian expedition which sailed under Adrien de Gerlache about a year ago in the ship Belgica is now supposed to be at the Falkland Islands awaiting the return of the Antarctic summer to resume its explorations. The British expedition has been fitted out by Sir George Newnes and has steamed away in the Southern Cross under the leadership of C. E. Borchegrevink (sic).
His Life Work
Borchegrevink is a Norwegian, who has already made a couple of trips to the Antarctic. He went in whaling ships, and, of course, was unable to make anything more than a reconnaissance of the ice-bound lands which he has determined to spend his life in investigating. He believes that the wealth of the Antarctic continent in minerals, guano, etc., is great enough to make it a paying investment for capitalists to put their money into the fitting out of exploring expeditions. The explorer has taken along with him by order of Sir George Newnes several hundred British flags and intends to annex everything which he finds big enough to plant a flag on which has not already be annexed by the Belgian expedition.
The Belgians and the British must be careful, however, not to annex any part of the United States, for in these days of territorial expansion our forgotten outlying possessions are likely to be remembered, and it was as long ago as 1842 that Wilkes, sailing along by the ice-covered shores of the Antarctic continent, gave to the United States new lands by right of discovery and bestowed names on capes and islands. A "member from the South Pole" has not yet been elected to Congress, but -- who knows? -- he may be some time.
Science The Main Thing
In Borchegrevink's expedition are many scientific men, and the leader declares that he will make the scientific work of the party the principal object of the expedition even if he has t sacrifice a good chance to make a dash for the pole. When the Belgian and British expeditions meet in the Antarctic seas, however, it is not at all likely that either one of them will let an opportunity go by to beat the other to the South pole. Borchegrevink has been for three years trying to get an Antarctic exploring expedition started. At one time a commercial company was formed which proposed to take up the matter and send the explorer on his way. But the company was never floated, and Borchegrevink tried to get the British Government to take up the expedition. He also appealed to the Governors of Australia, and H. J. Reid, the Premier of New South Wales, became so much interested in the subject that a year ago it was confidently asserted that the expedition would be fitted out at Sydney. It was not, however, though Mr. Reid invited the explorer to visit Australia and confer with him as to the benefits which that country would receive from a more perfect knowledge of the conditions governing the meteorology of the Southern hemisphere. Borchegrevink is a firm believer in the theory of one big Antarctir (sic) continent. He believes that this continent is twice the size of Australia and that upon it will be found many hitherto unknown forms of animal life. There is an ice-free bay on the coast of Victoria Land which the explorer thinks is due to a warm Antarctic current.
The Plans Proposed.
The expedition will land near Cape Adair (sic) and will make all preparations to winter there. Borchegrevink thinks he can reach the magnetic pole this season. The ship in which the explorers sail will go to Tasmania after landing them, and return with the dawning of the next Antarctic summer with supplies. Then the real assault upon the South pole is to take place, and the leader says he expects to make the attempt in September or October of 1899, and to get back to England safe and successful in 1900.
Sir George Newnes generously pays all the expenses of the expedition, having come to the relief of Borchegrevink when the explorer seemed destined to find no one willing to back his plans. Sir George recently remarked: "We may have a few things up our sleeves, and there may be a financial side to the expedition, but the scientific aspect will be kept in the fore front." There is some fear that the Belgian expedition may be in need of assistance, and it will be one of the duties of Borchegrevink to rescue the Belgians. The fitting out of the expedition has cost about $60,000.
Sir George Is A Wonder.
Sir George Newnes, who has furnished the sinew of war for the South polar expedition, is the proprietor of more publications than any other man, and he makes money out of them all. He began life poor and went into newspaper work. He chased the nimble sixpence, and at last got enough money to start Tid Bits. From that time he has gone on making money until now he is a millionaire and the money is still coming in. He has a wonderful genius of knowing what will pay and what will not. If the South polar expedition does not bring him in a large monetary return it will be his first failure. Besides Tid Bits, Sir George publishes the Navy and Army Illustrated, the Strand Magazine, the Strand Musical Magazine, a series of books on popular science, guide books, the Art Bible and the Oracle Encyclopedia and several other things. He is an enthusiastic yachtsman, has been in Parliament and was knighted by the Queen.
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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