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In the news of this morning will be found the story of the fabrication of relics of the Jeannette polar expedition, which was one of the most tragic and terrible recorded since Sir John Franklin set out to search for the northwest passage. It was a heartless joke that the men of the Yantic played upon the world, and they have their share of responsibility for the expedition of Dr. Frithiof (sic) Nansen. For it is impossible to believe the assertion of Dr. Dall that Nansen learned the truth about those alleged relics, picked up on the Greenland coast in 1894, three years after the Jeannette foundered. Dr. Dall must have been mistaken. Had Nansen known that these articles had been thrown overboard from the Yantic, a few miles from where they were found, he would not have cited them as proof of the across-pole current, in which he believed, in public addresses and in print over his signature, as he did several times shortly before he sailed in the Fram. One of the latest of his references to these supposed relics was in an article in the Strand magazine, published only a little while before he sailed, in which he cites these relics and other articles picked up on the Greenland coast as sufficient proof that the currents on which he relied to carry the Fram across the Polar sea existed and were constantly operative. It is not true that these relics were the only reasons Nansen had for believing in these currents, nor is it probable that his expedition would not have been undertaken had they not been found, but it is true that the jokers of the Yantic are to a large degree responsible for this expedition, however tragic may be its fate.

It must be said that the reports from various parts of Russia recently received, telling of news of Nansen's return after reaching the pole, are not believed by those whose opinion on matters relating to Arctic exploration are most worthy of acceptance. The consensus of such opinion, after delay enough to weigh the report and compare with known facts and conditions, is that it is only remotely possible that Nansen has been heard from; that if he has been, the intelligence must be months old, probably dating back to last summer, and that news of him in the quarter where he is said to have been implies the failure and not the success of his undertaking. It is agreed that it is practically impossible that he should have made his way back to the Siberian coast in the Fram after winter set in, while he may possibly have done so over the ice in sledges, but only here and there one ventures this suggestion as a possible hypothesis. The undercurrent of opinion is almost against ever hearing anything further from the Fram and her heroic company, or if not so positively discouraging as this, at least the fear is common lest the fate of so many other explorers in the region of ice, has overtaken Nansen.

Those who believe in him and his theories and plans still look upon these reports of his return as premature, and do not expect to hear from him before next summer and maybe not for a year, or even two, longer. His own time for the expedition was five years, which will not expire until June, 1898.

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:
  Unknown, Springfield, Mass, Feb. 19, 1896.  
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  Jennifer F. Holvoet, Ph.D.  
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