NEW YORK, Sept. 10, 1909 (UP) The great polar controversy is now the unsupported word of one white man against that of another-a question of purely personal veracity between Cook and Peary.
Neither was accompanied by a member of his own race, to the north pole.
The fact that Peary had with him only his old negro body servant, Matt Henson, and four Eskimos on the last stage of his journey, having sent back the last white member of the expedition when he reached latitude 83.8 was not known until his statement Friday.
One of the principal arguments by the Peary supporters against acceptance of Cook's claim was his own admission that aside from his observations the only evidence he could produce would be the testimony of two Eskimos.
Now it appears from Peary's story that he was in a like situation.
Peary says that when he started from Cape Columbia there were seven members of the party, 17 Eskimos and 13 dogs. The members of the expedition were: Peary, Goodsall, MacMillan, Borup, Marvin, Bartlett and Henson. From time to time Peary sent different members back, either in command of so-called supporting parties, or for other reasons. Finally, Peary's sole white companion was Capt. Bartlett, and he, too, was sent back.
Cook supporters claim records of Cook's observations are now just as worthy of credence as those of Peary. They contend that Henson's long employment by the explorer would put him in the prejudiced class, even if his lack of scientific knowledge did not bar him.
None but the most radical Cook followers seek to discredit Peary, but they point with some glee to the statements made by Peary's supporters after Cook's first announcement of his discovery-that no explorer could hope to convince the world unless corroborated by at least one white man.
Who will constitute the court of last resort in the controversy is still problematical. Various suggestions have been made, but it is likely that no definite movement will be set on foot in this direction until the return of the two explorers to this country.
It is believed the two explorers would be willing to submit their quarrel to the adjudication of an international board of scientists to be selected by the Washington National Geographic society.
Peary will beat Cook home, but not any more than Cook can help. Dispatches from Copenhagen say the doctor left Friday for Christiansand to take passage direct for New York, instead of going to Brussels, as he had planned. Cook will arrive in New York Sept. 21. Peary should beat him by a week, inasmuch as the Roosevelt is expected to reach Sydney by Monday morning at the latest.
New York is preparing a hearty welcome for both. And dispatches from Sydney say the scenes of Cook's reception at Copenhagen will be repeated when Peary reaches the Nova Scotian port. Explorer Baldwin's statement at Sydney that he has letters proving Cook three years ago had completed his plans for the dash, which Peary adherents have been contending he borrowed from the naval commander, and the admission of Herbert Bridgeman, secretary of the Peary club, that Peary's own account is the best corroboration Cook's story can receive, have caused a growing belief at Sydney that the Brooklyn doctor has simply beaten Peary to it.
Cook had intended going to Brussels to make some attempt to have someone go north for the Eskimos who accompanied him, or in the event that this plan failed, to go there himself. He wanted to bring them to the United States to support his claims.
Friends advised him to give up his journey north and proceed at once to New York, in order to meet Peary, so he wired to the Danish Greenland administration to arrange for the dispatch of one of their boats north at his expense, but the officials explained that it was too late in the season to start such a journey. He can send for them in the spring.
Cook upon receiving this message asked Gould Brokaw, in Copenhagen with his yacht, to accompany him on a trip with the boat to get the Eskimos, but Brokaw refused.