‘Men are not free, tied to cities, protecting their possessions’
they flow; contours of the top of the world; depths to the bottom; ocean salinity and freshness; temperatures of the seas; temperatures of the air, both vastly necessary, if the airship is to penetrate the remote Arctic region.”
Then this veteran, with a boyish enthusiasm of which few sophomores at Harvard are capable, spoke with glowing eyes of the expedition “which will round out all my work.”
Last spring, Captain Bartlett tried to interest the United States government in undertaking the very work of Arctic exploration for which the Graf Zeppelin is now being fitted. Years ago, he tried to enlist for this work the Shenandoah. He was told that was needed for work at the western fairs — and it went to its ruin. Now he chafes, like a schoolboy missing the football game, because as yet his chance of the most important expedition of all is delayed.
“ We have the men — at Annapolis, for instance. We have the money — where is there the money that our country can point to? Why should we let our good friends, the Germans, get ahead of us?
“Last year, I went to Washington to urge such an expedition upon Secretary Adams. Admiral Moffett favoured it. He spoke about it when he made his Roosevelt Day address. Secretary Adams, who is a sportsman and a seagoing man, was all for it, if it had been in his power. He saw the value it would be. But he told me there was no money available; it was not possible under government auspices.”
If anyone wishes to honour the memory of [Robert E.] Peary (1856-1920), De Long, Hall and Elisha Kent Kane, the old whalers of New Bedford and New London, this is the expedition which would do it.
And, the captain adds,“It would be wonderful for young men, the antidote the blasé youth of our city-hugging age need.”
Then some philosophy of a seagoing man.
“We think we are very clever, today, with all our machines. But - sometimes — I wonder if all the modern conveniences are not sapping the virility of our young men. Is the pioneer spirit indeed dead? Have our boys never realized that men are not free, tied to cities, protecting their possessions?
“Isn’t it better to risk all, now and then, on a grand plunge for science, for mastery of the earth, even if the whole thing does blow up, than to hug the sofas and drink tea and add up weary percentages forever? For,” and Captain Bartlett finished with emphasis, “I tell you, these men who went out exploring and planted the flag of Britain in all corners of the world — they were free. We have American men like these who can do more than this for us — and should be wakened to the opportunities. For only the man who can go away and stay away, if he is only a beachcomber — only he is free.
“Only the man who has listened to the urge to see what is on the other side of the rim of the world. I’d like to see American dirigibles taking young Americans to find out this secret. I’d like to be there, too, to put the finish upon the Arctic work which Peary began.”