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In the Lena Delta; a Narrative of the Search for Lieut.- Commander De Long and his Companions, followed by an Account of the Greely Relief Expedition and a Proposed Method of Reaching the North Pole

Nature volume 31, page 287 | Download Citation



THE sad story of the Jeannette Expedition has already been very fully told in the two volumes of journals left by Capt. De Long. Still, we do not object to this more detailed narrative of the experiences in the Lena Delta of those who managed to reach it, by the one most qualified to speak of them. It was by the strenuous exertions of Engineer Melville that the bodies of Capt. De Long and his companions were discovered, and that the few survivors were rescued. Concerning the physical and biological conditions of the great swamp formed about the mouths of the Lena, Mr. Melville does not tell us much more than we knew already; but his continual journeys to and from between the delta and such towns as Yakutsk, Tiumen,and others in this part of Siberia necessarily furnish us with many details of interest. As a story of remarkable adventures the book is certainly interesting. Mr. Melville's arctic enthusiasm was not in the least damped by the Jeannette misfortunes. Not only does he describe in the present volume his experiences as a member of the Greely Relief Expedition, but he means evidently to attempt to reach the Pole, if for no other reason but that it “may prevent other fools from going there.” Mr. Melville's plan takes for granted that Franz Josef Land reaches to 85° N., which is probable enough; and he would therefore propose to utilise this as a basis of operations; around the Pole he supposes that a partial “vacuum” exists, and that partly as a consequence the ice-cap there is immovable, held in its place by the islands which he believes surround it. As to getting back when the Pole is reached, Mr. Melville believes that this could easily be effected either by Nova Zembla or Spitzbergen. Of course, the retreat would be secured by the establishment of carefully-selected depots. “Finally, I propose to prove this theory of reaching the North Pole by going there myself.” Every one will wish him God speed; and there can be no doubt that the best arctic authorities are agreed that the next expedition should seriously try the Franz Josef Land route.

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