Farthest North.

On Nansen’s 1893-96 Fram expedition and the first wintering over.

p. 105-06: Afterwards there was again smoking in the galley, while the saloon was transformed into a silent reading-room. Good use was made of the valuable library presented to the expedition by generous publishers and other friends. If the kind donors could have seen us away up there, sitting around the table at night with heads buried in books or collections of illustrations, and could have understood how invaluable these companions were to us, they would have felt rewarded by the knowledge that they had conferred a real boon—that they had materially assisted in making the Fram the little oasis that it was in this vast desert.

p. 126-27, diary entry for Nov. 28: However anxious one is to take things philosophically, one can’t help feeling a little depressed. I try to find solace in a book; absorb myself in the learning of the Indians—their happy faith in transcendental powers, in the supernatural faculties of the soul, and in a future life. Oh, if one could only get hold of a little supernatural power now, and oblige the winds always to blow from the south.

p. 143-44, diary entry for Dec. 27: I am reading the story of Kane’s expedition just now. Unfortunate man, his preparations were miserably inadequate; it seems to me to have been a reckless, unjustifiable proceeding to set out with such equipments.… He learned a wholesome awe of the Arctic night, and one can hardly wonder at it.

[By contrast Nansen is]: almost ashamed of the life we lead…. With the best of food of every kind, as much of it as we want, and constant variety, so that even the most fastidious cannot tire of it, good shelter, good clothing, good ventilation, exercise in the open air ad libitum, no over-exertion in the way of work, instructive and amusing books of every kind, relaxation in the shape of cards, chess, dominoes, halma, music, and story-telling—how should any one be ill?

p. 176, March 29, 1894: Our doctor, too, for lack of patients, has set up a bookbinding establishment which is greatly patronized by the Fram’s library, whereof several books that are in constant circulation are in a very bad state. In fine, there is nothing between heaven and earth that we cannot turn out—excepting constant fair winds.

p. 241, Dec. 2, 1894: I am now reading the various English stories of the polar expeditions during the Franklin period, and the search for him, and I must admit I am filled with admiration for these men and the amount of labor they expended. The English nation, truly, has cause to be proud of them. I remember reading these stories as a lad, and all my boyish fancies were strangely thrilled with longing for the scenery and the scenes which were displayed before me. I am reading them now as a man, after having a little experience myself; and now, when my mind is uninfluenced by romance, I bow in admiration. There was grit in men like Parry. Franklin, James Ross, Richardson, and last, but not least, in M’Clintock, and, indeed in all the rest.