« PreviousContinue »
Of the approach to the Pole we read:
'We all were lifted to the paradise of winners as we stepped over the snows of a destiny for which we had risked life and willingly suffered the tortures of an icy hell. The ice under us, the goal for centuries of brave, heroic men, to reach which many had suffered terribly and terribly died, seemed almost sacred. Constantly and carefully I watched my instruments in recording this final reach. Nearer and nearer they recorded our approach. Step by step my heart filled with a strange rapture of conquest. At last we step over coloured fields of sparkle, climbing walls of purple and gold-finally, under skies of crystal blue, with flaming clouds of glory, we touch the mark! The soul awakens to a definite triumph; there is sunrise within us, and all the world of night-darkened trouble fades. We are at the top of the world! The flag is flung to the frigid breezes of the North Pole!' (p. 284).
This is sheer rubbish. No instruments can indicate an approach to the Pole while the observer is walking along. Two photographs of the flag flung to the frigid breezes' from the top of a snow-house show that no wind at all was blowing; in one it is held extended by an Eskimo; in the other it is hanging limp along the staff. Dr Cook says, 'My shadow, a dark purple-blue streak with ill-defined edges, measures twenty-six feet in length'; and again, 'A picture of the snow-house and ourselves taken at the same time and developed a year later gives the same length of shadow.' The photographs, which are published, show no trace of any shadow; they appear to have been taken on a dull day with uniformly diffused light. We leave Dr Cook on the horns of this dilemma. Either the observations of the sun's altitude and his own shadow are inventions, or the photographs published of the snow-house and flag at the North Pole were not taken on the day or at the place alleged. He may impale himself on either horn he pleases. Not one of the pictures in the book which could be of any value as evidence is satisfactory. There is no portrait of either of his faithful Eskimo friends which enables their features to be distinguished; they might very well be a pair of golliwogs from the pictures. The photographed facsimile (p. 312) of a copy of the document left at the Pole-who but Dr Cook would think of publishing the facsimile of a copy?-reads most distinctly in one place, 'I reached at noon
to-day 90 ft. a spot on the pole star 520 miles N. of Svartevoeg'; but the printed copy on p. 313- an exact copy of the original note,' he tells us-runs, ‘I reached at noon to-day 90° N. a spot on the polar sea 520 miles north of Svartevoeg.' How could he give 'pole star' in manuscript and 'polar sea' in print without commenting on the difference? It is of no importance except in showing the carelessness of the author or the editor. We must refer to one other photograph which seems to be of decisive value. It faces p. 256, in the middle of the narrative of the approach to the Pole, and is entitled, Camping to eat and take observations." shows two fur-clad figures, one erect (the upper part of the head cut off by the top of the picture), holding a sextant in a position which indicates a sun at an altitude of 45° at least, certainly impossible within a few degrees of the Pole. The shadow of this individual and that of the cooking-pot are thrown towards the background of the picture, at right angles to the direction of the sun if the sextant is pointed properly; but the shadow of the second figure, which is seated, is thrown forward into the foreground. Here, if the photograph were genuine, we have proof of the sun shining simultaneously in front, behind and on one side; and yet, even in the North Polar region, the sun can only be in one place at one time. The reader may draw his own conclusions.
About the 89th degree of latitude Dr Cook says:
'I observed here also an increasing extension of the range of vision. I seemed to scan longer distances, and the ice along the horizon had a less angular outline . . . the eagerness to find something unusual may have fired my imagination, but since the earth is flattened at the Pole, perhaps a widened horizon would naturally be detected there.'
Anyone who has travelled by sea knows that the horizon may be widened by many miles by going from a lower deck to a higher, and yet look the same to the eye. Polar flattening is imperceptible, but it was by exactly similar reasoning that 'Captain' Loose corrected his polar observations for dip of the horizon due to polar flattening!
Again and again in the work before us Dr Cook implies that his determination of the Pole was less accurate than it might have been on account of his not having correct
time. Time, of course, has nothing whatever to do with finding the latitude. The seven altitudes he published at six hours' intervals (which could be measured easily enough by any ordinary watch) show, what must be the case at the Pole in spring, that the sun was getting progressively higher in the sky as it wheeled round the horizon. This is indeed the only practicable test of being at the Pole-to find that the sun is increasing (or if in the autumn, decreasing) in altitude from hour to hour at the same rate as it is changing its declination as shown in the Nautical Almanac. Dr Cook professes to have measured the length of the shadow of a man or of a pole from hour to hour and to have found it to be of practically the same length at every hour of the twenty-four. This he seems to believe to be a more certain demonstration than sextant altitudes, which is absurd. The determination of latitude by means of shadows was not discovered by Dr Cook. It was the method in use in the earliest days; and Pytheas of Massilia had fixed the latitude of that place very accurately by means of the length of the noon shadow from a gnomon before he started for the first Arctic voyage in the course of which he made the Isles of Britain known to the ancient world somewhere about
300 B.C. The length of the shadow will vary enormously with the slope or irregularities of the ground, and, to be of any value, must be measured on a carefully levelled area. Moreover, far from being of invariable length at all hours at the Pole, it should show a distinct and steady increase in length easily detected in a day.
This, however, is not the point on which we lay stress. We venture to say that, if Dr Cook had, as he alleges, made such close and frequent measurements of shadows, he would never have remained silent about it, but would have insisted from the first on this simple and striking proof of his position to all objectors. We cannot overcome the feeling that the whole thing was an afterthought suggested by someone else, and we find it difficult to believe this statement on p. 307:
'Although I had measured our shadows at times on the northward march, at the Pole these shadow notations were observed with the same care as the measured altitude of the sun by the sextant. A series was made on April 22, after E-tuk-i-shook and I had left Ah-we-lah in charge of our first
camp at the Pole. We made a little circle for our feet in the snow. E-tuk-i-shook stood in the foot circle. At midnight the first line was cut in the snow to the end of his shadow, and then I struck a deep hole with the ice-axe. Every hour a similar line was drawn out from his foot. At the end of twenty-four hours, with the help of Ah-we-lah, a circle was circumscribed along the points, which marked the end of the shadow for each hour. The result is represented in the snowdiagram on the next page. (The italics are ours.)
That diagram shows the shadow coming back to the same position after twelve hours, not twenty-four. The man was so supremely careless in preparing the book by which he desired to be judged that he actually allowed a blunder of this sort to pass. We can hardly believe that he could have allowed it to pass if the shadow game had ever been played. Had he really wished to measure shadows at every hour, surely he would have used the six-foot pole employed on other alleged occasions, and left poor E-tuk-i-shook to his usual sleeptime, though perhaps that noble savage insisted upon it, since to him, says Dr Cook, 'the thing had a spiritual interest.'
Our deliberate conclusion is that Dr Cook's mental equilibrium was disturbed at the time of this journey, and that he was not in a fit state to know where he was. It is impossible, except on the hypothesis of a rapid breaking-down of his faculties, to reconcile his clear scientific description of the Antarctic voyage of 1898 with the wordy rubbish to which he has put his name for the Arctic journey of 1908. The hyper-sensitiveness to colour suggests some special disturbance of the optical centres. The vagueness as to dates and times convinces us that there can have been no systematic diary. The voluntary separation from instruments and notes on the author's return was not the action of a sane explorer; and the failure to take any steps to recover them is inexplicable if they existed. The efforts in this book, published long after the events, to make out a plausible case, have failed, and so egregiously as to inspire a doubt whether they are actually the work of the man who figures as the explorer and author.
Art. 10. GARDEN CITIES, HOUSING AND TOWNPLANNING.
1. Garden Cities of To-morrow. By Ebenezer Howard. Garden Cities and Town Planning Association, 1898. 2. Garden Cities in Theory and Practice. By A. R. Sennett. Two vols. London: Bemrose, 1905.
3. Practical Housing.
By J. S. Nettlefold. Letchworth :
Garden City Press, 1908.
4. Town Planning in Practice. By Raymond Unwin. London: Unwin, 1909.
5. Co-partnership in Housing. By E. B. London: Copartnership Publishers, 1910.
6. Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, London, 1910. The Royal Institute of British Architects, 1911. 7. Proceedings of the Third National Conference on City Planning, Philadelphia, 1911.
8. Garden Suburbs, Villages and Homes. New edition. Co-partnership Publishers, Ltd, 1912.
FEW movements in this country have taken such a hold on public opinion in so short a time as that in favour of better Housing and Town-planning. It is not many years ago that we only had a few voices crying in the wilderness; and these were regarded by the so-called practical man as Utopians and dreamers. The ideal of the average man in regard to housing our working town population did not soar beyond the building of huge blocks of tenements, one of the most hideous devices for rearing human beings that ingenuity could suggest. Wealthy men who genuinely believed themselves to be public benefactors, and 'progressive' public bodies, spent huge sums in our great cities in the erection of these monstrosities. In less than twenty years, opinion on this as well as other aspects of the question has been quite transformed by the new movement. The imagination has been stimulated, and a science of town development is gradually taking the place of the happy-go-lucky methods of previous generations. The time has, in fact, come when, on this question, we have to insist that, in the interest of race-preservation, private gain must harmonise with the public good.
It is not the first time that the public interest has had