THE NORTH POLE

In the sixteenth century religious persecution and civil war drove to the New World the Huguenots and Puritans, who, whilst laying for England the foundations of colonial prosperity, were to bring about a radical change in America. The next century was essentially one of colonization. In America the French, in India the English, and in Oceania the Dutch established counting-houses and offices, whilst missionaries endeavoured to win over to the Christian faith and modern ideas the unchangeable "Empire of the Mean."

The eighteenth century, ushering in our own, rectified received errors, and surveyed minutely alike continents and archipelagoes; in a word brought to perfection the work of its predecessors. The same task has occupied modern explorers, who pride themselves on not passing over in their surveys the smallest corner of the earth, or the tiniest islet. With a similar enthusiasm are imbued the intrepid navigators who penetrate the ice-bound solitudes of the two poles, and tear away the last fragments of the veil which has so long hidden from us the extremities of the globe.

All then is now known, classed, catalogued, and labelled! Will the results of so much toil be buried in some carefully laid down atlas, to be sought only by professionalsavants? No! it is reserved to our use, and to develope the resources of the globe, conquered for us by our fathers at the cost of so much danger and fatigue. Our heritage is too grand to be relinquished. We have at our command all the facilities of modern science for surveying, clearing, and working our property. No more lands lying fallow, no more impassable deserts, no more useless streams, no more unfathomable seas, no more inaccessible mountains!

We suppress the obstacles nature throws in our way. The isthmuses of Panama and Suez are in our way; we cut through them! The Sahara interferes with the connexion of Algeria and Senegal; we will throw a railway across it. The Pas de Calais prevents two nations so well fitted for cordial friendship from shaking each other by the hand; we will pierce it with a railway!

This is our task and that of our contemporaries. Is it less grand than that of our predecessors, that it has not yet succeeded in inspiring any great writer of fiction? To dwell upon it ourselves would be to exceed the limits we laid down for our work. We meant to write the History of the Discovery of the World, and we have written it. Our task therefore is complete.