Notes on Life and Letters by Joseph Conrad: The Titanic
More than two-thirds of the people on the Titanic lost their lives, still one of the advertises that day's dramatic headline, “Titanic Disaster Great Loss Of Life”, . why not read about the sinking of the ship, find out about the gruesome task of. As a result of the Titanic disaster, changes were made in ship design, such .. nearby ships to reach the Titanic's location so all of her passengers and crew . Ice fields, large expanses of floating ice that are more than five miles in their greatest Because of the terrible loss of life and the demise of what everyone believed. What more can they find out from the unfair badgering of the unhappy “Yamsi,” or the ruffianly Is it indignation at the loss of so many lives which is at work here? I have the greatest respect for our established authorities.
Conflicting news, alarming and reassuring, was current yesterday. Even after midnight it was said all the passengers were safe.
All reports, of course, depended on wireless telegrams over great distances. Late last night the White Star officials in New York announced that a message had been received stating that the Titanic sank at 2. Later they admitted that many lives had been lost. An unofficial message from Cape Race, Newfoundland, stated that only have been saved out of 2, to 2, persons on board.
The dead came up holding children in their arms. The poor people never had a chance. How many children died on the Titanic? Of the children travelling on the Titanic, almost half were killed when the ship sank — 50 children in total.
Titanic victims — Crew — the number of crew members who perished. To my poor fellow-sufferers: My heart overflows with grief for you all and is laden with sorrow that you are weighed down with this terrible burden that has been thrust upon us. May God be with us and comfort us all. I only object to the attitude of the people, who, having called her into being and having romanced to speak politely about her, assume a detached sort of superiority, goodness only knows why, and raise difficulties in the way of every suggestion--difficulties about boats, about bulkheads, about discipline, about davits, all sorts of difficulties.
The Titanic is sunk, with great loss of life
To most of them the only answer would be: But some of these objections are really too stupid for anything. I shall try to give an instance of what I mean.
This Inquiry is admirably conducted. I am not alluding to the lawyers representing "various interests," who are trying to earn their fees by casting all sorts of mean aspersions on the characters of all sorts of people not a bit worse than themselves.
It is honest to give value for your wages; and the "bravos" of ancient Venice who kept their stilettos in good order and never failed to deliver the stab bargained for with their employers, considered themselves an honest body of professional men, no doubt.
But they don't compel my admiration, whereas the conduct of this Inquiry does. And as it is pretty certain to be attacked, I take this opportunity to deposit here my nickel of appreciation. Well, lately, there came before it witnesses responsible for the designing of the ship. One of them was asked whether it would not be advisable to make each coal-bunker of the ship a water-tight compartment by means of a suitable door.
The answer to such a question should have been, "Certainly," for it is obvious to the simplest intelligence that the more water-tight spaces you provide in a ship consistently with having her workable the nearer you approach safety.
But instead of admitting the expediency of the suggestion, this witness at once raised an objection as to the possibility of closing tightly the door of a bunker on account of the slope of coal.
This with the true expert's attitude of "My dear man, you don't know what you are talking about. I don't know whether the distinguished President of the Court perceived this. Very likely he did, though I don't suppose he was ever on terms of familiarity with a ship's bunker.
I have been inside; and you may take it that what I say of them is correct. I don't wish to be wearisome to the benevolent reader, but I want to put his finger, so to speak, on the inanity of the objection raised by the expert. A bunker is an enclosed space for holding coals, generally located against the ship's side, and having an opening, a doorway in fact, into the stokehold. Men called trimmers go in there, and by means of implements called slices make the coal run through that opening on to the floor of the stokehold, where it is within reach of the stokers' firemen's shovels.
This being so, you will easily understand that there is constantly a more or less thick layer of coal generally shaped in a slope lying in that doorway. And the objection of the expert was: And that objection was inane.
A water-tight door in a bulkhead may be defined as a metal plate which is made to close a given opening by some mechanical means. And if there were a law of Medes and Persians that a water-tight door should always slide downwards and never otherwise, the objection would be to a great extent valid.
But what is there to prevent those doors to be fitted so as to move upwards, or horizontally, or slantwise? In which case they would go through the obstructing layer of coal as easily as a knife goes through butter. Anyone may convince himself of it by experimenting with a light piece of board and a heap of stones anywhere along our roads. Probably the joint of such a door would weep a little--and there is no necessity for its being hermetically tight--but the object of converting bunkers into spaces of safety would be attained.
You may take my word for it that this could be done without any great effort of ingenuity. And that is why I have qualified the expert's objection as inane. Of course, these doors must not be operated from the bridge because of the risk of trapping the coal-trimmers inside the bunker; but on the signal of all other water-tight doors in the ship being closed as would be done in case of a collision they too could be closed on the order of the engineer of the watch, who would see to the safety of the trimmers.
If the rent in the ship's side were within the bunker itself, that would become manifest enough without any signal, and the rush of water into the stokehold could be cut off directly the doorplate came into its place.
Say a minute at the very outside. Naturally, if the blow of a right-angled collision, for instance, were heavy enough to smash through the inner bulkhead of the bunker, why, there would be then nothing to do but for the stokers and trimmers and everybody in there to clear out of the stoke-room.
But that does not mean that the precaution of having water-tight doors to the bunkers is useless, superfluous, or impossible. The disappearance of the marine boiler will be a real progress, which anybody in sympathy with his kind must welcome. One lives and learns and hears very surprising things--things that one hardly knows how to take, whether seriously or jocularly, how to meet--with indignation or with contempt?
Things said by solemn experts, by exalted directors, by glorified ticket-sellers, by officials of all sorts. I suppose that one of the uses of such an inquiry is to give such people enough rope to hang themselves with. And I hope that some of them won't neglect to do so. No; I am not joking. If you don't believe me, pray look back through the reports and you will find it all there. I don't recollect the official's name, but it ought to have been Pooh-Bah.
Well, Pooh-Bah said all these things, and when asked whether he really meant it, intimated his readiness to give the subject more of "his best consideration"--for another ten years or so apparently--but he believed, oh yes! Yes, rather grim--but the comic treatment never fails. I thought that, as a small boy of my acquaintance says, I was "doing a sarcasm," and regarded it as a rather wild sort of sarcasm at that.
Well, I am blessed excuse the vulgarism if a witness has not turned up who seems to have been inspired by the same thought, and evidently longs in his heart for the advent of the new seamanship. He is an expert, of course, and I rather believe he's the same gentleman who did not see his way to fit water-tight doors to bunkers.
And in the whole tone of his insistent statement there was suggested the regret that the officer in charge who is dead now, and mercifully outside the comic scope of this inquiry was so ill-advised as to try to pass clear of the ice.
Thus my sarcastic prophecy, that such a suggestion was sure to turn up, receives an unexpected fulfilment. You will see yet that in deference to the demands of "progress" the theory of the new seamanship will become established: Looks simple, doesn't it? But it will be a very exact art indeed. The proper handling of an unsinkable ship, you see, will demand that she should be made to hit the iceberg very accurately with her nose, because should you perchance scrape the bluff of the bow instead, she may, without ceasing to be as unsinkable as before, find her way to the bottom.
I congratulate the future Transatlantic passengers on the new and vigorous sensations in store for them. They shall go bounding across from iceberg to iceberg at twenty-five knots with precision and safety, and a "cheerful bumpy sound"--as the immortal poem has it.
It will be a teeth-loosening, exhilarating experience. The decorations will be Louis-Quinze, of course, and the cafe shall remain open all night.
But what about the priceless Sevres porcelain and the Venetian glass provided for the service of Transatlantic passengers? Well, I am afraid all that will have to be replaced by silver goblets and plates. Nasty, common, cheap silver. And there shall be no boats. Why should there be no boats? Because Pooh- Bah has said that the fewer the boats, the more people can be saved; and therefore with no boats at all, no one need be lost.
But even if there was a flaw in this argument, pray look at the other advantages the absence of boats gives you. There can't be the annoyance of having to go into them in the middle of the night, and the unpleasantness, after saving your life by the skin of your teeth, of being hauled over the coals by irreproachable members of the Bar with hints that you are no better than a cowardly scoundrel and your wife a heartless monster.
Great should be the gratitude of passage-selling Combines to Pooh-Bah; and they ought to cherish his memory when he dies. But no fear of that. His kind never dies. All you have to do, O Combine, is to knock at the door of the Marine Department, look in, and beckon to the first man you see.
That will be he, very much at your service--prepared to affirm after "ten years of my best consideration" and a bundle of statistics in hand, that: A mighty official of the White Star Line. The impression of his testimony which the Report gave is of an almost scornful impatience with all this fuss and pother. Of course we have crowded our decks with them in answer to this ignorant clamour. How can we handle so many boats with our davits?
Your people don't know the conditions of the problem. We have given these matters our best consideration, and we have done what we thought reasonable.
We have done more than our duty. We are wise, and good, and impeccable. And whoever says otherwise is either ignorant or wicked. This is the gist of these scornful answers which disclose the psychology of commercial undertakings.
It is the same psychology which fifty or so years ago, before Samuel Plimsoll uplifted his voice, sent overloaded ships to sea. Look how few, how very few of them get lost, after all. And the only answer to be given to this manager who came out, impatient and indignant, from behind the plate- glass windows of his shop to be discovered by this inquiry, and to tell us that he, they, the whole three million or thirty million, for all I know capital Organisation for selling passages has considered the problem of boats--the only answer to give him is: It is the problem of decent behaviour.
If you can't carry or handle so many boats, then don't cram quite so many people on board. It is as simple as that--this problem of right feeling and right conduct, the real nature of which seems beyond the comprehension of ticket-providers. Don't sell so many tickets, my virtuous dignitary. After all, men and women unless considered from a purely commercial point of view are not exactly the cattle of the Western-ocean trade, that used some twenty years ago to be thrown overboard on an emergency and left to swim round and round before they sank.
If you can't get more boats, then sell less tickets. Don't drown so many people on the finest, calmest night that was ever known in the North Atlantic--even if you have provided them with a little music to get drowned by.
That's the solution of the problem, your Mercantile Highness. But there would be a cry, "Oh! This does not require consideration. This is the very first thing to do. Limit the number of people by the boats you can handle. And then you may go on fumbling for years about these precious davits which are such a stumbling-block to your humanity.
These fascinating patent davits. These davits that refuse to do three times as much work as they were meant to do.
The wickedness of these davits! One of the great discoveries of this admirable Inquiry is the fascination of the davits.
- Why the Titanic Still Fascinates Us
- Titanic in collision with iceberg - No loss of life ... Over 2,000 souls on board
- The Titanic
All these people positively can't get away from them. They shuffle about and groan around their davits.
Whereas the obvious thing to do is to eliminate the man-handled davits altogether. Don't you think that with all the mechanical contrivances, with all the generated power on board these ships, it is about time to get rid of the hundred- years-old, man-power appliances?
Cranes are what is wanted; low, compact cranes with adjustable heads, one to each set of six or nine boats. And if people tell you of insuperable difficulties, if they tell you of the swing and spin of spanned boats, don't you believe them. The heads of the cranes need not be any higher than the heads of the davits. The lift required would be only a couple of inches. As to the spin, there is a way to prevent that if you have in each boat two men who know what they are about.
I have taken up on board a heavy ship's boat, in the open sea the ship rolling heavilywith a common cargo derrick. We must remember that the loss of this ship has altered the moral atmosphere. The boats could be lowered with sufficient dispatch. One does not want to let rip one's boats by the run all at the same time. With six boat-cranes, six boats would be simultaneously swung, filled, and got away from the side; and if any sort of order is kept, the ship could be cleared of the passengers in a quite short time.
Titanic Victims • Titanic Facts
For there must be boats enough for the passengers and crew, whether you increase the number of boats or limit the number of passengers, irrespective of the size of the ship.
That is the only honest course. Any other would be rather worse than putting sand in the sugar, for which a tradesman gets fined or imprisoned. Do not let us take a romantic view of the so-called progress. A company selling passages is a tradesman; though from the way these people talk and behave you would think they are benefactors of mankind in some mysterious way, engaged in some lofty and amazing enterprise.
All these boats should have a motor-engine in them. And, of course, the glorified tradesman, the mummified official, the technicians, and all these secretly disconcerted hangers-on to the enormous ticket-selling enterprise, will raise objections to it with every air of superiority. But don't believe them. Doesn't it strike you as absurd that in this age of mechanical propulsion, of generated power, the boats of such ultra- modern ships are fitted with oars and sails, implements more than three thousand years old?
Old as the siege of Troy. And I know what I am talking about. Only six weeks ago I was on the river in an ancient, rough, ship's boat, fitted with a two-cylinder motor-engine of 7. Just a common ship's boat, which the man who owns her uses for taking the workmen and stevedores to and from the ships loading at the buoys off Greenhithe. She would have carried some thirty people. No doubt has carried as many daily for many months.
And she can tow a twenty-five ton water barge--which is also part of that man's business. It was a boisterous day, half a gale of wind against the flood tide.
Two fellows managed her. A youngster of seventeen was cox and a first-rate cox he was too ; a fellow in a torn blue jersey, not much older, of the usual riverside type, looked after the engine. I spent an hour and a half in her, running up and down and across that reach. With eight or twelve oars out she could not have done anything like as well. These two youngsters at my request kept her stationary for ten minutes, with a touch of engine and helm now and then, within three feet of a big, ugly mooring buoy over which the water broke and the spray flew in sheets, and which would have holed her if she had bumped against it.
But she kept her position, it seemed to me, to an inch, without apparently any trouble to these boys. You could not have done it with oars.
And her engine did not take up the space of three men, even on the assumption that you would pack people as tight as sardines in a box.
Not the room of three people, I tell you! But no one would want to pack a boat like a sardine-box. There must be room enough to handle the oars.