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ADDRESS

TO THE

ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY.

Delivered at the Anniversary Meeting on the 31st May, 1880. By the Right Hon. the EARL OF NORTHBROOK, First Lord of the Admiralty, PRESIDENT.

THE PRESIDENT addressed the Meeting as follows:

I have on the present occasion to solicit your indulgence because, having been much occupied lately in other affairs, I have not been able to give all the attention I could have wished to the preparation of the Address on the progress of geographical discovery during the year which is customarily given by the President at the Anniversary Meeting. I will proceed, however, without further preface, to lay before you such observations as I have been able to put together, on the subjects that appear to me to be of chief interest.

The general progress of the Society during the past year has been described in the Report of the Council, but I may briefly notice, with satisfaction, the promise of success which attends a measure that was adopted soon after I became President. I allude to the scheme for giving practical instruction to intending travellers in the use of instruments and in surveying. The result of this attempt to improve the scientific training of travellers is encouraging, and several pupils have received instruction before undertaking journeys to unknown or little-known parts of the world. There is every reason to expect that the system will bear valuable fruit hereafter, and that many travellers will receive suitable training for their work, and thus very materially increase its value.

It has been, as you are aware, the custom in these Addresses to embody notices of the deaths of distinguished Fellows of the

Society. This year and last, in accordance I think with a general desire on the part of the Fellows, the Address of the President has been much shortened, and a large part which used to be included in the Address itself is now added in the form of appendices. It has been thus with regard to the Obituary. A record of the Fellows who have died during the past year, prepared by the Assistant Secretary, will appear as an appendix to my Address. But some of our deceased Fellows were so eminently distinguished by their services, in one department or another, that it would not be right for me to omit special notice of them on the present occasion. Two of these were well-known geographers connected with the Society. One, Mr. R. B. SHAW, was a Gold Medallist, whose travels in Kashgar and the neighbouring countries obtained for him a wide reputation, and who served the Government of India, when I had the honour of being connected with that country, in posts of great responsibility, losing his life at last in the performance of his duty as Resident at the Court of Mandalay. His career was described by me at some length at one of our Evening Meetings; but I cannot avoid on this occasion renewing my testimony to his high merits both as a geographer and as a public servant. The second was one of the most distinguished young geographers of the present day, Mr. KEITH JOHNSTON, who as you know died in charge of the expedition which had been sent by the Royal Geographical Society to Lakes Nyassa and Tanganyika. Mr. Keith Johnston was commencing his practical work of exploration; but although he has lost his life in the service of geographical discovery, he has left behind him, as many of you are aware, works of the highest interest and importance, which have been recently given to the world. His volume upon Africa, and his general work on Geography, which have been recently published by Stanford, are, I believe, some of the best geographical works that have been produced for many years. Turning from those whom we lament as being more especially connected with geographical exploration, to others whom we have seen among us as Fellows of the Society, there are some that I am bound to mention. On the list is the name of one who was well known in the political world before the Reform Bill of the year 1832, as a man of great promise and distinction, and of high honour and integrity-I mean Sir RICHARD VYVYAN-who, besides his eminence in the political world, had a high scientific reputation. Although he had not made his appearance in the metropolis during the latter

part of his life, living as he did in retirement in Cornwall, he has left among those who knew him-and I have met several of thema reputation for great ability. Another man of eminence has passed away, whom we have seen among us in London constantly -Sir JOHN SHAW LEFEVRE-a distinguished mathematician, Senior Wrangler at Cambridge, one of those men who, though not very prominently before the public, have often done more real service to their country than those whose names are more bruited in the arena of political strife. For many years he was one of the permanent Secretaries of the Board of Trade, and his well-known face was seen afterwards at the table of the House of Lords, where he was Clerk of Parliaments. He was much beloved in private life, and a man of high literary and scientific knowledge. There has passed from among us also another man of considerable political distinction-Lord HAMPTON-who was known so long in the House of Commons as Sir John Pakington, filling with credit and ability high offices of State, and taking a leading part in every matter in which the welfare of his fellow-countrymen was concerned, and particularly in the encouragement of education. We have, lastly, lost a man who had a still wider reputation in Lord LAWRENCE, who showed throughout all his career to what high distinction the simple, honest, energetic performance of duty will lead a man. Having occupied the highest positions in the Civil Service of India, having been one of the foremost to restore the Empire at the time of its greatest peril, he filled for five years with great advantage to India the office of Governor-General, and on his return to this country showed, by his [acceptance of the Chairmanship of the London School Board, and other duties of a similar character, that he was desirous to the best of his ability, and to the end of his life, to continue that simple life of duty which was his distinguishing characteristic.

Turning to the main subject of this Address, the most important geographical achievement of the year is undoubtedly the completion of the North-East Passage by Professor (now Baron) Nordenskiöld. The great merit of this feat is the far-seeing sagacity with which the plan of action was carefully thought out in every detail. So admirably were all the preparations made, and the best way of meeting difficulties considered, that chance scarcely entered into the calculations of the great Swedish explorer. The Vega did not sail until her leader made two personal reconnaissances, and had carefully weighed the bearings of all existing information. It was

the merest accident that prevented the North-East Passage being effected in one year, instead of the ship being detained, as it was, till the beginning of the next year.

No explorer more fully deserved the great success which has attended his efforts; and he and his gallant followers have received the warmest congratulations from the geographers of all civilised nations. Professor Nordenskiöld and his gallant companions have been received with acclamation wherever they have appeared, and the only thing I have to regret is that his visit to this country happened at a time when it was impossible for us to do him the honour that we had intended and prepared for him. As soon as I heard of his expected arrival, I thought, on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society, that I'was right in asking His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to be so kind as to take the chair at a banquet which we proposed to give him. His Royal Highness at once, and with the greatest cordiality, acceded to my request, and every preparation was made for the dinner, when unfortunately that great annual annoyance in this country, the east wind, which prevailed at that time, prevented the Vega coming up the Channel, thus delaying the arrival of Professor Nordenskiöld for a week, and upsetting all our arrangements. One of our other periodical epidemics, the General Election, took place at the same time, and it was, in consequence, absolutely impossible to bring together a number of people sufficient to make it worth while to ask Professor Nordenskiöld to a banquet, when his arrival, on Good Friday, was at length announced. But however much we may regret that we were unable then to entertain the explorers, some delay may not ultimately be a disadvantage to the interests of geography, because, putting aside our desire to compliment a great explorer, it would not have been easy for Professor Nordenskiöld at that time to have entered as fully as he would have wished into what is really the important matter for the interests of geography, namely, the commercial results which may be expected to follow from the voyage of the Vega, and the lessons which may be gained from it in respect to the application of further exploration and discovery in those quarters. Professor Nordenskiöld, with whom I was in communication when he was in England, thought that some time had better elapse before he addressed a Meeting of the Society, so that he might be able to bring together carefully his views of the results of the expedition, and invite a discussion in the place, which I, without presumption, may say is almost the centre of the geographical world.

I had a letter from Professor Nordenskiöld the other day, in which he expressed his great regret at not being able to attend our Anniversary Meeting, part of which I should like to read to you. He says:-"Unfortunately I am at present so engaged in arranging the collections brought home by the Vega expedition, in preparing the publications, in private business, in practical consultations for opening up trade on the Siberian rivers, and, worst of all, in answering hundreds of letters arrived during an absence of nearly two years, that it is impossible for me to leave Stockholm during several months. I especially regret not to be able to partake in the discussion which it seems to be the intention of the Royal Geographical Society to propose. Would it not be advisable to postpone this discussion to the next autumn, when we shall know the results of the several enterprises of this summer?

"The steamer Nordenskiöld is re-equipped by Mr. Sibiriakoff in Yokohama for a voyage from Japan along the northern shores of Siberia to the Atlantic, and I am quite persuaded that my namesake's anchor will next October be safely dropped at Tromsö or Hammerfest. Several Scandinavian shipowners have the intention to send ships this summer to the Obi or the Yenisei, &c. &c."

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, it appears to me probable that Professor Nordenskiöld will be able to accept the invitation which my successor will, I have no doubt, give him to attend one of the Meetings of this Society in the course of the autumn. Up to the present time, from an able memorandum which Professor Nordenskiöld addressed to the King of Sweden, and of which he was good enough to give me a copy, it appears that he has arrived at the following conclusions, which I will venture to read to you. He sums up his opinion in four short sentences. He says:—

"1. The route by sea from the Atlantic to the Pacific on the northern coast of Siberia may be frequently traversed in a few weeks by a suitable steam-vessel, manned by experienced sailors, but it is not likely from the acquaintance which we now have with the glacial sea of Siberia that this route will become in its entirety of substantial importance to trade.

"We may now assume that no difficulty exists for the utilisation as a commercial route of the sea voyage between Europe and the mouths of the Obi and Yenisei.

“3. In all probability the sea route between the Yenisei and the Lena, and between the Lena and Europe, may be also used as a commercial route, but it will not be poss go to the Lena and

to return to Europe in the same sun

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