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The success of the Gerlache expedition will give a great impetus to Antarctic exploration, just as the brilliant achievements of Lieutenant Peary, in North Greenland, did in Polar research in 1891. There are three expeditions now in contemplation, and there is little doubt that all will, as a result of the news received, be the sooner accomplished facts. The despatch sent by Dr. Cook, the only American with Gerlache, regarding the nineteen months cruise of the Belgica, is very meagre, but is is quite clear that the discoveries made are of the greatest value to geographical science. How far south the party succeeded in getting is not stated, but there is ground for believing that it was somewhat further than the point reached by Weddell in 1823, because the new land discovered would otherwise almost certainly have been reported by him then and by Ross in 1843.

One significant feature of Dr. Cook's despatch is the statement that there was open water seen to the far south. The same report was made by Weddell, and at that time that intrepid adventurer only refrained from sailing over this iceless sea because of the lateness of the season. The discovery of much new land in the Antarctics (sic) by Gerlache is the first made by any explorer in that region for fifty-eight years, since Ross made his wonderful southern voyage. He has reached a point farther south than any other explorer, except perhaps Captain Ross and Borchgrevink, and only Weddell and Ross were ever before in that part of the Antarctics which lies south of the Atlantic Ocean below Cape Horn. To reach a short distance beyond the 74th degree south latitude may not see at first thought a very great achievement, in view of the fact that to attain the 80th degree north latitude is not regarded as a great feat nowadays, but a different aspect is presented when it is remembered that the zone of perpetual ice extends to a much lower latitude in the Antarctics than it does in the Arctics (sic), and that the 74th degree is after all fully 1200 miles south of Cape Horn.

Apart from the discoveries which have been made by Gerlache in the almost unknown Antarctics, the fact that the expedition has returned to civilization in safety is a matter for sincere rejoicing. To some it will seem almost like a party risen from the dead, because they believed the expedition to have been wrecked and the members lost, on account of the vessel not reporting at Melbourne last year as expected and scheduled. But there will be regret for the deaths of two members of the party through sickness, and sympathy felt for Dr. Cook for the loss which, he must now learn for the first time, befell him a year since through the death of his fiancee.

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:
  Philadelphia Public Ledger, Philadelphia, PA. April 6, 1899.  
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  Jennifer F. Holvoet, University of Kansas.  
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