The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 57
Melville, George W.—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. Edited by Melville Philips. London, Longmans, Green, & Co.: 1885, 8vo., pp. xiii. and 497, maps and illustrations. Price 14s.
The first four chapters of this book are devoted to the voyage and drift of the Jeannette, and the retreat of her crew, up to the separation of the three boat page 262 in the fatal gale of September 12, 1881, and the next twenty-four contain a popular account of the landing of the whaleboat and the subsequent searches for the crews of the first and second cutters, the official account of which was noticed in our 'Proceedings' for April 1883, p. 241. The present work, therefore, calls for no special mention, beyond observing that the detailed account given of the exploits in the Lena Delta in which Chief-Engineer Melville was the prime mover and central figure, enable us to realise more fully than ever the nature of his heroic efforts, and clearly shows that he did all that a brave and steadfast man could do to find and rescue his missing shipmates.
Undaunted by his previous Arctic experiences, Mr. Melville sailed again last May in the Thetis to the relief of Lieutenant Greely, and a brief sketch of the object and results of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, and of the measures which led to the rescue of the leader and five members of his party, is given as forming "an appropriate epilogue to the tragic tale of the Jeannette." The details which have already appeared in American newspapers regarding this expedition, as well as the paper read by Lieutenant Greely himself at the Montreal meeting of the British Association, have also been noticed in our 'Proceedings,' vol. vi., pp. 465, 537, 679, &c., and as the official account may be shortly expected, it would be superfluous to discuss the particulars now given by Mr. Melville.
The concluding chapter of the volume contains the author's proposed method for reaching the North Pole by the Franz-Josef Land route, which he is anxious to test personally; and the Appendix includes a description of the Melville sledge, and some notes on the equipment and provisioning of Arctic expeditions, with illustrations.
The book is illustrated by a portrait of the author, and numerous wood engravings, and a chart of the Lena Delta shows all the localities mentioned in the text, as well as the routes taken by De Long and Melville after landing, and the routes of the search parties. There is also a map showing the course and drift of the Jeannette from the Vega's winter quarters to the position where she went down, and the subsequent route of her crew over the ice; also a map of the channels north of Baffin's Bay showing the line of Lieutenant Greely's retreat from Lady Franklin Bay, the Neptune's highest point in 1882, &c., and a circumpolar map showing Mr. Melville's proposed route to the Pole, the probable drift of the Jeannette if she had not sunk, and the highest points reached by different navigators.
Nordenskjöld, Adolf Erik [Freiherr von].—Studien und Forschungen veranlasst durch meine Reisen im hohen Norden. Herausgegeben von Adolf Erik Freiherrn von Nordenskjöld. Ein populär-wissenschaftliches Supplement zu Die Umsegelung Asiens und Europas auf der Vega. Autorisirte Deutsche Ausgabe. Mit über 200 Abbildungen, 8 Tafeln und Karten. Leipzig, Brockhaus; London, Dulau: 1885, 8vo., pp. ix. and 521.
The seven memoirs which make up this volume were originally intended to form part of Baron Nordenskjöld's account of his circumnavigation of Europe and Asia in the Vega. It will be remembered that in that work the Baron introduced several special chapters of much scientific value, on the progress of exploration in the seas north of Europe and Asia, on the Arctic fauna, and other subjects; and he has been well-advised to publish the present volume as a separate work, though supplementary to the previous one. We believe that several of these papers have, at least in part, appeared in the Transactions of the Swedish Academy, and been abstracted in English scientific journals. The first of the memoirs will probably be already familiar to our readers; it is by Baron Nordenskjöld himself, dealing with the voyages of the brothers Zeni, and was noticed in its original Swedish form in the 'Proceedings,' 1883, p. 372. The second paper, by Professor Wittrock, is on Snow and Ice Flora, with special reference to the Arctic regions, with an appendix on Snow and Ice Fauna. The third paper, by Baron Nordenskjöld himself, deals in considerable detail with his hypothesis, which has been so much criticised, as to the fall of cosmical matter on the earth, with special reference to the Kant-Laplace theory. The Baron aims to prove, from the results of his own observations and those of other page 263 geologists, from a comparison of the mineralogical and chemical composition of rocks, and other data, that besides the myriads of meteors that have fallen upon the surface of our globe, a continuous dust-cloud is depositing its contents to an appreciable thickness annually. Hence, he contends that at least a large part of the volume of the earth is of meteoric origin. Whatever may be thought of the value of the theory, the wealth of data adduced by the writer, and the interesting maps and illustrations form a valuable contribution to geological and geographical science. The next paper is by Dr. Nathorst, and points out in detail the contributions made by Arctic exploration to a knowledge of the botanical geography of early geological times. Dr. Hans Hildebrand devotes nearly 100 pages to a memoir of much ethnological interest on the knowledge of art possessed by uncivilised peoples. Here the researches of the Vega staff among the Chukches during their year's detention on the Siberian coast, prove of great service. Some of the artistic efforts of this interesting people have already been given in the 'Voyage of the Vega.' Next Dr. Christopher Aurivillius devotes about fifty pages to the Insect Life of Arctic lands; while the concluding paper, of about eighty pages, by Dr. Kjellman, deals in the same way with Arctic Plant Life. The many woodcuts, coloured plates and maps, add greatly to the scientific value of this varied volume.