This rather charming account of a voyage with Peary to Greenland in 1905 aboard Erik. Senn was a Professor of Surgery at the University of Chicago, and a veteran medic of the Spanish-American War.
p. 79: Greenland is the largest island in the world. It is an island-continent familiar only to explorers, whalers, and the few white people living there in the service of the Danish government.
The many books written by explorers, who attempted to reach the pole by making Greenland the base of their expedition to the farthest north, have been read by millions of people; but no one can obtain a correct idea of this strange and mysterious icebound and ice-covered land, from the best written and most accurate accounts. To know this, the most northern of all known lands, it must be seen. The complicated topography of the country, the interesting native population, the mighty ice-cap, the countless glaciers, the floating mountains of ice, the resistless, moving fields of floe-ice, the gigantic sea-animals, the scanty but beautiful flora, the long summer day, and the equally long winter night, are things which must be seen to be understood and appreciated. The average layman is impressed with the idea that Greenland is an uninhabitable wilderness of ice and snow, and it is hard to make him believe that the arctic summer, with its midnight sun, even as far north as Etah, the very heart of the arctics, is delightful.
p. 98-99: It was our captain’s intention to set the course of his vessel for Cape York, but as he could not make out our exact position, we drifted lazily along at the rate of less than four miles an hour. It was a monotonous, dreary, and most disagreeable day. Even the sailors lost their customary cheerfulness and the captain’s mind was visibly disturbed. It is bad enough to be lost on land, but it is vastly more so on the trackless ocean in rain and fog, near a dangerous coast, and among icebergs and possibly floating ice. The question, "Where are we?" became a burning one for the third time since we left Sydney. An overcast, weeping sky, mist and fog, a falling barometer, a chilly atmosphere, and wet deck, coupled with the uncertainty of our location, made up a combination of things not congenial to physical comfort, and certainly not conducive to a happy mental state. Forced idleness, under such depressing conditions, is painful, and the loss of a whole day, discouraging. Que faire? I did the utmost in my power to make the best possible use of my time by reading and writing. I envy the people, who, under such circumstances, can while away the burden of time by reading novels or playing cards, some thing out of the question with me.
p. 193: on Eskimo language, etc.: Their only needs are food and clothing. This is a part of the world free from politics, and a place where the value of money is unknown. These Eskimos have no written language, and their thoughts are expressed in not more than 300 words. The tranquillity of these communities is not disturbed by the voice of steam, the ticking of the telegraph, the ringing of the telephone, or the reading of the daily news. The excitement of elections, grafts, insurance scandals, and bank failures have never disturbed the calmness of the Eskimo mind.
The lazy ones enjoy the benefits of the labor of the more active and no complaints are made. As there is no property ownership, stealing is out of the question. They borrow, but they cannot steal. Some of the early explorers accused these Eskimos of stealing, a charge which was undoubtedly well founded at that time; but, on the whole, they are honest. On our entire trip not a single act of dishonesty was discovered. Many times I dealt out little presents, and in almost every instance the recipient, by motions, wanted to know if I intended him to keep it — a very good indication of honesty.
p. 300: Think of a country where there is nothing to read, to which there is no access, and from which there is no escape, except every year or two by a tramp whaler, or an occasional vessel of an explorer, and you will have some idea of the solitude and extent of isolation of the heart of the arctic region.