POLAR EXPEDITIONS

Only by getting wet up to their waists
"Only by getting wet up to their waists."

Yet once more, on the 2nd March in S. lat. 65° and about W. long. 120° 24', land was seen from the deck of the Elizabeth Scott. The vessel was brought to for the night, and the next day an attempt was made to steer in a south-west direction, but it was impossible to get through the ice barrier. Naming the new discovery Sabrina, Balleny resumed his northerly route without being able further to verify his discoveries.

In 1837, just as Wilkes had started on his expedition, Captain Dumont d'Urville proposed to the Minister of Marine a new scheme for a voyage round the world. The services rendered by him in 1819-21 in a hydrographic expedition, in 1822 and 1825 on the Coquille, under Captain Duperrey, and lastly in 1826-29 on the Astrolabe, had given him an amount of experience which justified him in submitting his peculiar views to the government, and to supplement so to speak the mass of information collected by himself and others in these little known latitudes.

The minister at once accepted D'Urville's offer, and exerted himself to find for him enlightened and trustworthy fellow-workers. Two corvettes, the Astrolabe and theZelée, fitted up with everything which French experience had proved to be necessary, were placed at his disposal, and amongst his colleagues were many who were subsequently to rise to the rank of general officers, including Jacquinot, commander of the Zelée, Coupvent Desbois, Du Bouzet, Tardy de Montravel, and Perigot, all well-known names to those interested in the history of the French navy.

The instructions given by Vice-Admiral Rosamel to D'Urville differed from those of his predecessors chiefly in his being ordered to penetrate as near as the ice would permit to the South Pole. He was also ordered to complete the great work he had begun in 1827 on the Viti Islands, to survey the Salomon archipelago, to visit the Swan river of Australia, New Zealand, the Chatham Islands, that part of the Caroline group surveyed by Lütke, Mindanao, Borneo, and Batavia, whence he was to return to France viâ the Cape of Good Hope.

These instructions concluded in terms proving the exalted ideas of the government. "His Majesty," said Admiral de Rosamel, "not only contemplates the progress of hydrography and natural science; but his royal solicitude for the interests of French commerce and the development of the French navy is such as to lead him greatly to extend the terms of your commission and to hope for great results from it. You will visit numerous places, the resources of which you must study with a view to the interests of our whaling-ships, collecting all information likely to be of service to them alike in facilitating their voyages and rendering those voyages as remunerative as possible. You will touch at those ports where commercial relations with us are already opened, and where the visit of a state vessel will have salutary effects, and at others hitherto closed to our produce and about which you may on your return give us some valuable details."

In addition to the personal good wishes of Louis Philippe, D'Urville received many marks of the most lively interest taken in his work by the Académie des Sciences morales and the Geographical Society, but not unfortunately from the Académie des Sciences, although he had for twenty years been working hard to increase the riches of the Museum of Natural History.

"Whether from prejudice or from whatever cause," says D'Urville, "they (the members of the Académie des Sciences) showed very little enthusiasm for the contemplated expedition and their instructions to me were as formal as they would have been to a complete stranger."

It is matter of regret that the celebrated Arago, the declared enemy of Polar researches, was one of the bitterest opponents of the new expedition. This was not, however, the case with various scholars of other nationalities, such as Humboldt and Kruzenstern, who wrote to congratulate D'Urville on his approaching voyage and on the important results to science which might be hoped for.

After numerous delays, resulting from the fitting up of two vessels which were to take the Prince de Joinville to Brazil, the Astrolabe and Zelée at last left Toulon on the 7th September, 1837. The last day of the same month they cast anchor off Santa Cruz de Teneriffe which D'Urville chose as a halting-place in preference to one of the Cape Verd Islands, in the hope of laying in a stock of wine and also of being able to take some magnetic observations which he had been blamed for neglecting in 1826, although it was well known that he was not then in a fit state to attend to such things.