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Arctic exploration.

During almost four hundred years efforts have been made by European navigators to discover a passage for vessels through the Arctic seas to India. The stories of Marco Polo [196] of the magnificent countries in Eastern Asia and adjacent islands — Cathay and Zipangi, China and Japan--stimulated desires to accomplish such a passage. The Cabots [John Cabot; Sebastian Cabot (q. v.)] went in the direction of the pole, northwestward, at or near the close of the fifteenth century, and penetrated as far north as 67° 30′, or half-way up to (present) Davis Strait. The next explorers were the brothers Cortereal, who made three voyages in that direction, 1500-02. In 1553 Sir Hugh Willoughby set out to find a northwest passage to India, but was driven back from Nova Zembla, and perished on the shore of Lapland. In 1576-78 Martin Frobisher made three voyages to find a northwest passage into the Pacific Ocean, and discovered the entrance to Hudson Bay. Between 1585 and 1587 John Davis discovered the strait that bears his name. The Dutch made strenuous efforts to discover a northeast passage. Willem Barentz (q. v.) made three voyages in that direction in 1594-96, and perished on his third voyage. Henry Hudson tried to round the north of Europe and Asia in 1607-08, but failed, and, pushing for the lower latitudes of the American coast, discovered the river that bears his name. While on an expedition to discover a northwest passage, he found Hudson Bay, and perished (1610) on its bosom. In 1616 Baffin explored the bay called by his name, and entered the mouth of Lancaster Sound. After that, for fifty years, no navigator went so far north in that direction.

In 1720 the Hudson Bay Company sent Captains Knight and Barlow to search for a northwest passage to India. They sailed with a ship and sloop, and were never heard of afterwards. In 1741 Vitus Bering discovered the strait that bears his name, having set sail from a port in Kamtchatka. In that region Bering perished. Russian navigators tried in vain to solve the problem. Between 1769 and 1772 Samuel Hearne made three overland journeys in America to the Arctic Ocean. The British government having, in 1743, offered $100,000 to the crew who should accomplish a northwest passage, stimulated efforts in that direction. Captain Phipps (Lord Mulgrave) attempted to reach the north pole in 1773; and before setting out on his last voyage (1776), Captain Cook was instructed to attempt to penetrate the polar sea by Bering Strait. He went only as far as 70° 45′. In 1817 Captain Ross and Lieutenant Parry sailed for the polar sea from England; and the same year Captain Buchan and Lieutenant (Sir John) Franklin went in an easterly direction on a similar errand, namely, to reach the north pole. At this time the chief object of these explorations was scientific, and not commercial. Buchan and Franklin went by way of Spitzbergen; but they only penetrated to 80° 34′. Ross and Parry entered Lancaster Sound, explored its coasts, and Ross returned with the impression that it was a bay. Parry did not agree with him in this opinion, and he sailed on a further exploration in 1819. He advanced farther in that direction than any mariner before him, and approached the magnetic pole, finding the compass of little use. On Sept. 4, 1819, Parry announced to his crew that they were entitled to $20,000 offered by Parliament for reaching so westerly a point in that region, for they had passed the 110th meridian. There they were frozen in for about a year. Parry sailed again in 1821.

Meanwhile an overland expedition, led by Franklin, had gone to co-operate with Parry. They were absent from home about three years, travelled over 5,000 miles, and accomplished nothing. They had endured great suffering. Parry, also, accomplished nothing, and returned in October, 1823. Other English expeditions followed in the same direction, by land and water. Sir John Franklin and others went overland, and Parry by sea, on a joint expedition, and Captain Beechey was sent around Cape Horn to enter Bering Strait and push eastward to meet Parry. Franklin explored the North American coast, but nothing else was accomplished by these expeditions. Mr. Scoresby, a whaleman. and his son, had penetrated to 81° N. lat, in 1806. His experience led him to advise an expedition with boats fixed on sledges, to be easily dragged on the ice. With an expedition so fitted out. Captain Parry sailed for the polar waters in 1827. This expedition was a failure. Captain Ross was in the polar waters again from May, 1829, until the midsummer of 1833. The party had been given up as [197] lost. Another party had started in search of Ross, explored the north coast of America, and discovered Victoria Land. Other land expeditions followed; and one, under Dr. John Rae, completed a survey of the north coast of the American continent in the spring of 1847.

Sir John Franklin yet believed a northwest passage possible. With two vessels — the Erebus and Terror--each fitted with a small steam-engine and screw-propeller, he sailed from England May 19, 1845. They were seen by a whale-ship, in July, about to enter Lancaster Sound, and were never heard of afterwards. The British government despatched three expeditions in search of them in 1848. One of them was an overland expedition under Sir John Richardson, who traversed the northern coast of America 800 miles, in 1848, without finding Franklin. The sea expedition was equally unfortunate. Dr. Rae failed in an overland search in 1850. Three more expeditions were sent out by the British government in search in 1850; and from Great Britain five others were fitted out by private means. One was also sent by the United States government, chiefly at the cost of Henry Grinnell, a New York merchant. It was commanded by Lieutenant De Haven, of the navy. There were two ships, the Advance and Rescue. Dr. E. K. Kane was surgeon and naturalist of the expedition. It was unsuccessful, and returned in 1851. Lady Franklin, meanwhile, had been sending out expeditions in search of her husband, and the British government and British navigators made untiring efforts to find the lost explorers, but in vain. Another American expedition, under Dr. Kane, made an unsuccessful search.

In a scientific point of view, Dr. Kane's expedition obtained the most important results. It is believed that he saw an open polar sea; and to find that sea other American expeditions sailed under Dr. I. I. Hayes, a member of Kane's expedition, and Capt. Chas. F. Hall. The latter returned to the United States in 1860, and Dr. Haves in 1861. Hall sailed again in 1864, and returned in 1869. The Germans and Swedes now sent expeditions in that direction. In 1869 Dr. Haves again visited the polar waters. The same year. and for some time afterwards, several expeditions were sent out from the continent of Europe. Finally, by the help of Congress, Captain Hall was enabled to sail, with a well-furnished company, in the ship Polaris, for the polar seas, in June, 1871. In October Hall left the vessel, and started northward on a sledge expedition. On his return he suddenly sickened and died, and the Polaris returned without accomplishing much. The passage from the coast of western Europe, around the north of that continent and of Asia, into the Pacific Ocean, was first accomplished in the summer of 1879, by Professor Nordenskjold, an accomplished Swedish explorer, in the steamship Vega. She passed through Bering Strait into the Pacific Ocean, and reached Japan in the first week in September. Thus the great problem has been solved. the Jeannette, Lieutenant De Long, an American exploring vessel, was lost on the coast of Siberia, in 1881.

The most important of the recent expeditions into Arctic legions by Americans are those of Lieut. (now Brig.-Gen.) Adolphus W. Greely and of Lieut. Robert E. Peary (qq. v.), who has made several voyages into northern waters, and in 1900 was still there. Lieutenant Greely was sent from the United States in 1881, by the government, charged with establishing a series of stations about the pole for the purpose of observation. Lieutenants Lockwood and Brainard, of his force, succeeded in establishing a station on a small island in 83° 24′ N., and until 1896 this was the most northern point ever reached by an explorer. Greely's vessel became icebound, and for two years the members of the expedition passed a miserable existence. Many died. The survivors were rescued just as the last six of the expedition were dying of hunger, by Lieutenant Peary, in charge of two government vessels, sent by the United States to the relief of Greely in 1882. Lieutenant Peary made other voyages to the Arctic waters in 1895 and 1897. Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, of Norway, in 1896, succeeded in getting within 200 miles of the north pole, and returned in safety with all of his companions. He sailed from Christiania in 1893, and his plan differed much from that of others. He thought that if he could get his vessel caught in the ice the [198] current would carry him to the pole. He reached lat, 86° 15′ N. In 1896 a Swedish explorer, Major Andree, planned to reach the pole in a balloon, but after making elaborate plans gave up the venture. On July 12, 1897, however, he embarked again on his enterprise, all conditions being favorable for his success; but up to the end of 1900 nothing reliable had been heard of the expedition, and it was generally believed that the bold voyager had been lost. In 1889-1900 the Duke of Abruzzi reached lat, 86° 33′ N.

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