One of the most prominent writers in England, a man, too, who had had a scientific education, was given a sketch of the main arguments in support of our theory, and he replied that our presentation of the facts would have absolutely convinced him if it were not for one thing--that the poles had actually been discovered. Perhaps this is the objection which is most often heard on the lips of people to whom our theory has been presented, and who do not agree with it. But that objection is fully considered and answered in the pages that will follow. What has actually been discovered by polar explorers? That is the question we shall ask of them, and the answers will always be in their own words, the records of their own observations, the findings of their own instruments and calculations.
We shall follow the history of polar exploration from the earliest days in which real progress was made right through to the discoveries of Peary--and we shall see that what Peary discovered was not an actual polar point of solid ice at the apex of the world, but rather a point which he identified by the
compass needle--which it should be remembered points to the magnetic and not to the geographical pole--and we shall further prove, from Peary's own recorded observations, from the statements he has made over his own signature, that in the actual polar regions there is every evidence of warm currents coming up from the interior, and that there is even stronger evidence than warm currents that the interior is open to the exterior in that region, and that the opening is what we have said it is and leads to what we have claimed it leads to. But that is to anticipate more than one of the chapters that follow. For the present we will follow the Arctic explorers, and, distinguishing between what they actually observe--which is dependable--and what they merely think--which is subject to error--we shall see all their testimony converging toward the establishment of what we have already set forth.
It is of course obvious that if our theory be true, the actual region of each pole will be warmed by the seas of the inner surface of the earth, and that these, warmed by the interior sun, will cause the climate around the polar openings to be a very mild one. The sea around the polar opening will be an open one. At some point on the arctic voyage the ice barriers will be passed and the voyagers will enter
a region that grows warmer and warmer as they sail up to the polar opening and then over it and on into the interior of the earth. They would only know that they had actually passed over the lip by the peculiar behavior of the magnetic needle and by the fact that they would see above them as above would then mean toward the actual center of the earth--the interior sun which of course would be shining whether the voyagers came under its influence during the day or during the arctic night.
That is what would happen if our theory were true. The question is, then, has anything like that been actually observed? The answer is that every arctic navigator from the beginning has made observations which more and more agree with that view the further north the observers go. To show how unanimous this testimony is let us go back a good distance.
In 1818 there was published in New York an American edition of a book entitled, "The Possibility of Approaching the North Pole Asserted," by the Hon. D. Barrington: A new edition with an appendix containing Papers on the same Subject and on a North-west Passage, by Colonel Beaufoy, F. R. S. Barrington, as well as Beaufoy, was a Fellow of the Royal Society, the greatest English scientific body, and he was convinced that the voyage to the North Pole was a possibility. In order to convince
his colleagues in the Royal Society of this, he read a number of papers containing information that he had gathered from whalers and other voyagers in the Arctic. Here are some of the facts he deduced. In 17S1 a Captain Mac-Callam, commanding a whaler, during a lull in the usual business of the voyage, thought he would make a dash for the North Pole. He reached a latitude of 83½ degrees and he found in front of him no further ice, but clear water. In fact "they had not seen a speck of ice for the last three degrees." But he had to abandon his voyage as he did not wish to incur the displeasure of his owners. The author then cites another voyage, described to him by a Dr. Dallie of Holland who made a voyage on a Dutch war-ship in supervision of the Greenland fisheries, on which voyage a latitude of 88 degrees was reached: "when the weather was warm, the sea perfectly free from ice, and rolling like the Bay of Biscay. Dallie now pressed the captain to proceed; but he answered that he had already gone too far by having neglected his station . . ."
Before citing further from Barrington let us remind the reader that he is not arguing in support of our theory. He is simply calling to the attention of his contemporaries actual facts which he has collected and which seem to him to make the voyage to the pole more feasible than it was thought to be
at the time--when of course the means of navigation were so much poorer than they are at present. At that time, too, it was the generally received notion that there was a perpetual barrier of ice whose boundaries corresponded more or less with a latitude of 80½ and that any discovery of the regions north of that would have to be made by a sort of wind-propelled sled, a mechanism actually used for traveling over the ice by the Dutch.
This idea Barrington combated. He recalled to the Royal Society that as early as 1663 its secretary at that time had examined a traveler lately returned from Greenland, and that this traveler had told of a Hollander captain who claimed that he had come within half a degree of the pole, and corroborated it by showing his journal, the entries being attested by his mate. Now in view of later explorations it does not matter just how accurate that sailor was--the point is simply that even in those early days it was possible to get much nearer the pole than was supposed at the time, and simply for the reason that the water was open as one went north.
But Barrington has instance after instance of the same kind. He mentions in particular two Hollander whalers who in the seventeenth century--sailed to 89 degrees and found no ice but "a free and open sea."
It is also interesting to note that Barrington quotes a passage from the Philosophical Transactions for 1675 which says:
"For it is well known to all that sail Northward, that most of the Northern coasts are frozen up many leagues, though in the open sea it is not so, no, nor under the Pole itself, unless by accident."
Barrington, of course, was trying to show that the idea of a perpetually ice-bound pole was simply a bogy to frighten explorers away from the attempt to gain the pole, and so he devotes himself next to a consideration of the actual ice-conditions in the far north, and what he says is so sensible and to the point, that we may as well settle the question as far as the ice is concerned, by quoting from his pages. The popular idea, doubtless, is that it is so cold at the actual pole that the sea water there is frozen. But this is not the case at all. The ice we see in pictures taken in polar regions is not frozen sea-water at all. It is frozen fresh water. Here is a description of the actual character of Arctic ice which Barrington translates from a "Dissertation of Michel Lomonosoff, translated from the Swedish Transactions of 1752, entitled 'De l’Origine des Monts de Glace dans la Mer du Nord':
"There are three kinds of ice in the Northern Seas. The first is like melted snow, which is become
partly hardened, is more easily broken into pieces, less transparent, is seldom more than six inches thick, and, when dissolved, is found to be intermixed with salt. This first sort of ice is the only one which is ever formed from sea water.
"If a certain quantity of water, which contains as much salt as sea water is exposed to the greatest degree of cold, it never becomes firm and pure ice, but resembles tallow or suet, whilst it preserves the taste of salt, so that the sweet transparent ice can never be formed in the sea. If the ice of the sea itself, therefore, confined in a small vessel without any motion, cannot thus become true ice, much less can it do so in a deep and agitated ocean."
And Barrington adds: "The author hence infers that all the floating ice in the Polar Seas comes from the Tartarian Rivers and Greenland."
It would be tedious to recount the many other instances of sailors reaching latitudes from 80 to 89 degrees given by Barrington, but the notable thing about his instances is that they reveal the fact that the sailors of those early days, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, all believed that the way to the pole was more or less open, and they believed it because the further north they actually reached the less ice they met with.
But Barrington has some other very interesting observations. He quotes a memorandum from the Astronomer Royal of England to the effect that a Mr. Stephens, sailing on a Dutch ship in 1754, was driven into latitude 84½ or within 5½ degrees of the pole. They "did not find the cold excessive, and used little more than common clothing; met with but little ice, and the less the farther they went to the Northward. . . It is always clear weather with a North wind, and thick weather with a Southerly wind. . . Says he has often tasted the ice when the sea water has been let to run or dry off it, and always found it fresh."
The author then goes on to cite many instances of warm weather near the poles warmer weather in fact than the observers had experienced at points many degrees further south. He sums up by saying:
"All our accounts agree that in very high latitudes there is less ice."
But although Barrington had no suspicion of the actual shape of the earth as our theory shows it to be, he did suspect that there was a depression of the earth's surface at the polar circle. In fact he cites an experiment of Sir Isaac Newton based on the
swinging of a pendulum at various points on the earth's surface--the time of swing would vary according to the distance of the pendulum from the earth's center--and also the actual measuring of a degree at the Equator and at the Arctic Circle. "This last evidently proved the depression of the earth's surface towards the pole, which no doubt gradually increases."
We have only two more observations to make about Mr. Barrington's examples, before leaving his book for those of later explorers and writers--who will be found to corroborate his observations at every point. Then we shall leave him for the present but return to him in connection with some very interesting observations concerning actual evidence of an unexplored country which are found floating on the arctic seas.
Those two observations are from a Dutch sea captain and an English clergyman, then stationed at Petersburgh, respectively. The Dutch captain makes the remarkable statement that the most open sea to the northward--when in latitude 80, was not in summer as might be expected if the Pole were really solid ice, but "generally happens in the month of September" and this is in spite of the fact that the Arctic night is beginning then--in which surely we should expect the maximum of cold if the outer sun
were the only factor in melting the ice, as the ordinary scientists have assumed it to be. The other observation, made by the English clergyman may be quoted in full as Barrington gives it:
"Mr. Tooke hath been assured by several persons who have passed the winter at Kola in Lapland, that in the severest weather, whenever a Northerly wind blows, the cold diminishes instantly, and that, if it continues, it always brings on a thaw as long as it lasts.
"He hath also been informed . . . that the seamen who go out from Kola upon the whale and morse fisheries early in March (for the sea never freezes there) throw off their winter garments as soon as they are from fifty to a hundred wersts (three wersts make two miles) from land, and continue without them all the time they are upon the fishery, during which they experience no inconvenience from the cold, but that, on their return, (at the end of May) as they approach land, the cold increases to such a severity, that they suffer greatly from it.
"This account agrees with that of Barentz, whilst he wintered in Nova Zembla, and of the Russians in Maloy Brun; the North wind cannot therefore, during the coldest seasons of the year, be supposed to blow over ten degrees of ice.
"Governor Ellis indeed, whose zeal in prosecuting the attempt of discovering the North-west passage
through Hudson's Bay is so well known, hath suggested to me an argument which seems to prove the absolute impossibility of a perpetual barrier of ice from 80½ degrees to the pole.
"If such a tract hath existed for centuries, the increase, in point of height, must be amazing in a course of years, by the snow, which falls during the winter, being changed into ice, and which must have formed consequently a mountain perhaps equal to the Peak of Tenneriffe. Now the ice which sometimes packs to the northward of Spitzbergen, is said commonly not to exceed two yards in height."
The reader may think this is a very old argument to be reproducing a hundred and forty years after it was first made. But we do so because the argument is as good today as when it was first made, and we wish to show that even in those days observations were made which have been corroborated and enlarged right down to the present day--all pointing irresistibly to one conclusion.