This page of the book is from "The New Student's Reference Work: Volume 3" by Chandler B. Beach, Frank Morton McMurry and others.
POLAR BEAR I5I3 POLAR EXPLORATION
280,000 square miles. This extensive tract (now greatly contracted) is crossed only by one range of hills, which rises from the north of the Carpathian Mountains and runs northeastward, forming the watershed between the rivers which flow into the Baltic and Black Seas. Much of the soil is rich pasture-land, and considerable is occupied with forests of pine, birch and oak. There is no real Polish history till the reign of Mieczyslaw, 962-92. He became a convert to Christianity, and Poland took her place as one of the political powers, which she continued to hold till the close of the 18th century, when her independence was destroyed and her territory divided between Austria, Russia and Prussia. The first partition of Poland took place in 1772, when Russia seized 42,000 square miles of her territory, Prussia 13,000 and Austria 27,000. In 1793, after a fruitless resistance to the united forces of Russia and Prussia, Poland suffered another loss of territory, Russia taking possession of 96,000 square miles and Prussia of 22,000. The Poles became desperate, and there was a general uprising of the people against the invaders. The Prussians were compelled to retreat to their own country, and the Russians were several times routed. But Austria engaged in the contest, and fresh Russian troops also arrived. Kosciusko (q.v.) being defeated and taken prisoner at the battle of Maciejowice, the Russians entered Warsaw (1813) and the Polish kingdom came to an end. In the third and last partition of Poland the remainder of the country was divided as follows : Russia, 49,018 square miles (all of Poland she now owns); Prussia, 21,000; Austria, 18,000. King Stanislaus resigned his crown, and died at St. Petersburg in 1798. The main causes of the downfall of Poland, in addition to the greed and selfishness of the European powers, were the want of union and patriotism among the nobles; the want of a national middle-class, the trade of the country being almost entirely in the hands of the Jews and Germans; the intolerance of the Jesuits; the weakness of the kings; and the want of natural frontiers. To-day Poland forms a government department of Russia, embracing ten provinces and a population of 10,774,900. In 1864 it was deprived of its administrative independence. In 1868 it was incorporated as an integral part of the czar's dominions; trial by jury was abolished, and the official use of Polish prohibited. There are two main parties: the Nationalists and the Socialists, both equally opposed to Russian government.
Po'Iar Bear. See Bear.
Polar Circle. See Arctic Circle.
Polar Ex'plora'tion. The original motive of the English in exploring the arctic seacoast was to discover a route to the
wealthy countries of eastern Asia and to share in the traffic formerly monopolized by Spain and Portugal. Thus aiose attempts both to sail eastward along the north of Europe and Asia and westward across the Atlantic. Hence arose the terms, northeast passage and northwest passage. Some have traced the history of arctic exploration to the time of King Alfred, but Cabot's discovery of Labrador and Newfoundland in 1497 may be deemed the first step in the exploration of American polar regions. Frobisher first sailed in 1576, and in 1585-8 the great navigator Davis sailed up the strait bearing his name and coasted the west of Greenland, the " land of desolation." Hudson, who had formerly tried the northeast passage in 1610, discovered the great bay and strait that bear his name. From the size of the bay he thought it was a part of the Pacific Ocean, but this was disproved by Button, the next English explorer, two years later. After the expedition of Fox and James in 1631, which led only to the partial exploration of what was then named Fox Channel, the North American coast was neglected for more than a century. In the reign of George III there was a revival of English zeal in naval adventure and discovery. Captain Phipps (afterwards Lord Mul-grave) sailed in 1773 to Spitzbergen, where the heavy pack-ice kept him for nearly a month from proceeding further north. He finally reached 80° N., but Cook, who made the next attempt could only penetrate to 70° 45'. After these failures there was no further effort until 1806, when Scoresby explored Jan Mayen Island and the eastern coast of Greenland. The famous expedition of Sir John Franklin (g. v.) left England, May 18, 1845, his object being to reach Bering Strait from Lancaster Sound. In 700 N. and 980 W. the ships were beset. Among expeditions in search of Franklin was that of Collinson and McClure, which sailed to Bering Strait in 1850. Fixed in the ice on its voyage eastward, McClure's ship was rescued next spring about 60 miles west of Barrow Strait. Belcher now turned toward the Atlantic, and thus McClure reached England in 1854, after traversing the northwest passage from ocean to ocean. He therefore received the honor of knighthood, and $50,000 was voted by Parliament to him and his crew. Several routes are now completely mapped between Davis Strait and Bering Strait; but the northwest passage has proved valueless for commercial purposes.
More recent explorations north of America added little to geographical knowledge, however interesting their scientific aspects. The expedition of Kane and Hayes in 1853-5 reached Cape Constitution in 820 N., and saw what appeared to be an open polar sea. In 1871 Captain C. F. Hall