Arctic Exploration 1884

From the Aurora Beacon, 05/14/1884, reprinted from the New York Sun:

The North Pole

It is a misapprehension to suppose the chief purpose of Arctic exploration is to reach the north pole.  The north pole has lingered in the schemes of scientific explorers only as a desirable incident in the carrying out of their work.  Geographers talk of the north pole quest pure and simple as an unscientific and puerile idea.  What explorers are really expected to do is to advance as far as practicable into the unknown region, to study its geography and make important scientific observations.  Captain Nares, nine years ago, had to halt 400 miles this side of the pole.  But his expedition was called a brilliant success, because he entered the great frozen sea north of this continent, explored the coast line for a distance of thirty-five degrees of longitude, and brought home a great mass of interesting scientific data.

The leading geographers assert that Arctic exploration is of immense value to the world, both in its scientific and its commercial aspects.  They say that winds, tides, terrestrial magnetism, meteorology and other important phenomena cannot be thoroughly investigated except under many different conditions of temperature and locality.  Among many triumphs of Arctic research they mention the fixing of the position of the true magnetic pole by Ross, the finding of a simple means of keeping the needle pointing to the true North in high latitudes, the discovery of the commercial mineral cryolite, and of the great whaling and sealing grounds in the Spitzhergen and North Greenland seas.  They assert also that, in spite of the frightful disasters that have befallen some exploring parties, the loss of life has been small.  About three per cent of the Arctic explorers have died in the course of their work – not a large proportion when compared with the mortality among African explorers.