to Europe, and that the dignitaries of the Church were thankful for the
contributions which the Greenlanders made in those articles towards the support
of the Crusades.
The early fur traders who sailed from England and France to Hudson
Bay may have related a tall story now and then, but in the main they described
the profits in furs and the feasibility of making money. It was probably the
canny directors of the companies who sat in European offices who first devised
the policy by which the later fur traders represented the country they were
exploiting as a frozen wilderness - the directors knew that if farmers were to
throng in, the fur animals would disappear. The early seventeenth century voyage
of Hudson to Spitsbergen began a gigantic whale-fishing industry which prospered
for more than two hundred years, and again profits and the rosy aspect were on
The northwest passage was discovered by Sir John Franklin’s expedition
seventy-five years ago and the northeast passage by the expedition of Baron
Nordenskiold about thirty years later. Various commercial companies are gradually
developing these waters although the northeast and northwest passages in their
entirety are seldom used.
With the Franklin tragedy a change came over the spirit and motives
of polar exploration. The explorers were thereafter no longer pioneers of
commerce and began to compete with each other not as men do in business but rather
as athletes in a race or sportsmen eager to be first to scale a mountain. This
tended to revive the ancient and mediaeval general conception that the Arctic
was ferocious and barren.
With a passion for symmetry and simplicity, all but a few scholars
now assumed that the "Frozen Region" was approximately circular with a "North Pole"
for center that corresponded to the top of a mountain. On this idea was based
the struggle to reach the North Pole, it being assumed that he who got there
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