Miscellany | Published:


Nature volume 82, pages 315319 (13 January 1910) | Download Citation



THREE British expeditions are likely to be engaged in the exploration of the Antarctic before long. In April last Dr. W. S. Bruce described his plans for a Scottish Antarctic expedition; in September Captain R. F. Scott appealed for support for an expedition which will leave London in July next; and Sir Ernest Shackleton, who has been presented with the Nachtigall gold medal of the Berlin Geographical Society, announced in a speech at Berlin on January 9 that he proposes to begin the preparations for a new expedition when he has completed his work and lectures relating to the achievements of the last expedition. Captain Scott has just received a letter from the Treasury informing him that Parliament will be asked next session to vote a sum of 20,000l. towards the cost of his expedition to the South Pole. The sum he asked for in appealing for funds was 40,000l., and the total amount now subscribed and promised is 31,000l., so there should be no difficulty in raising the additional 9000l. before the expedition starts. In all probability the amount originally asked for will be considerably exceeded. The expedition will sail in the Terra Nova, and the money already subscribed is sufficient to equip the vessel for her voyage. After departing from London the ship will call at Cardiff for coal, and will then proceed south via the Cape and Australia and New Zealand, and will leave the last-named place for Antarctic regions early in December. Though the undertaking is described by Captain Scott as “an all-British expedition,” it is unfortunate that the announcement of the proposed Government grant of 20,000l. has been received with mixed feelings by geographers in Scotland. A circular letter which has reached us from Mr. J. G. Ferrier, secretary of the Scottish Oceanographical Laboratory, Edinburgh, deplores the fact that last November Dr. Bruce was refused a Government grant toward the equipment of an Antarctic expedition then being organised in Scotland, though in the words of Prof. James Geikie, president of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, “no one is better fitted to carry such an enterprise to a successful conclusion, and the scientific results he has obtained have not been surpassed in interest or importance by the work of any living explorer in high latitudes.” While we gladly acknowledge that Dr. Bruce has done splendid work in Antarctic regions with limited means, and regret that Government support for the proposed Scottish expedition has not been forthcoming, we think that in a matter of this kind it is undesirable to appeal to the Scottish public “to stand up for this and other Scottish rights.” The claims of an expedition to support from the State for Antarctic exploration must surely be scientific and not political. Because we have confidence in Dr. Bruce's scientific ability and experience we trust that the funds will be provided for the expedition he is organising. Three British expeditions approaching the highest southern latitude from different bases would make for national credit and scientific progress.

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