Is it the End of the World?

Is it the End of the World?

Captain Edward John Smith—”Absolutely Fearless”

His body was never recovered, and no doubt some of the stories of heroism are embellished—if only because the chaos of Titanic’s final hours would prevent an investigative reporter-type analysis.

Yet we know that Captain Edward John Smith—the Titanic’s only captain, and 38-year veteran of the sea—went down with the ship. Reports of the time, now, incredibly, a century ago, have him telling crew to “Be British.” It sounds like something such a man would say.

A man who lived in the waning years of the Victorian era, and who was born just before so many new inventions changed society forever (including photography), is somewhat remote to us in history. There is little we can truly know about him. Grainy photographs don’t do him justice, this flesh-and-blood man who logged 2 million miles for the fabled White Star Line.

In what must be the last photo taken of the Captain, he is leaning out a window on the bridge, watching passengers board. By all accounts, he was the quintessential ship’s captain, dressed in his whites during evening dinners with important guests, and chatting with crew members during the chilly days as Titanic steamed toward a port she would never reach.

A few years ago, I picked up a reproduction of the “Captain E.J. Smith Memorial” booklet, that detailed the unveiling of a statue of the Captain, in 1913. There is one recollection of the man who captained, at various times, the Majestic, the Baltic, the Adriatic, the Olympic…and her even-more-opulent sister-ship, Titanic.

This account comes from Mr. J.E. Hodder Williams:

“We crossed with him on many ships and in many companies, through seas fair and foul, and to us he was, and will ever be, the perfect sea captain. In the little tea parties in his private state-room we learned to know the genial-warm-hearted family man; his face would light as he recounted the little intimacies of his life ashore, as he told of his wife and the troubles she had with the dogs he loved, of his little girl and her delight with the presents he brought her and the parties he had planned for her. You have read that just before he sank to the deeps he rescued a baby. That was ‘our’ Captain Smith, and surely that was his last message to his own ‘Babs’ and her mother.

“He was amazingly informed on every phase of present-day affairs, and that was hardly to be wondered at, for scarcely a well-known man or woman who crossed the Atlantic during the last twenty years but had at sometime sat at his table. He read widely, but men more than books. He was a good listener, on the whole, although he liked to get in a yarn himself now and again, but he had scant patience with bores or people who ‘gushed.’ I have seen him quell both.

“He had lived his whole life on the sea, and—it seems terribly pathetic to write this now—used to laugh at us for talking as if we knew anything of its terrors in these days of floating hotels. He had served his apprenticeship in a rough school, and knew the sea and ships in their uncounted moods. He had an infinite respect—I think that is the right word—for the sea. Absolutely fearless, he had no illusions as to man’s power in the face of the infinite. He would never prophesy an hour ahead. If you asked him about times of arrival, it was always ‘if all goes well.’ I am sure now that he must have had many terrible secrets of narrowly averted tragedies locked away behind those sailor eyes of his.”

Previous Posts

Rebels Without a Cause
Those who dismiss the late James Dean as merely a brooding, self-absorbed young actor miss the point, I think. Dean, who evidently suffered both from the early loss of his mother and from abuse at the hands of a trusted clergyman, really was Jim Stark in many respects. The Nicholas Ray-directed f

posted 2:08:36pm Feb. 05, 2015 | read full post »

The King of Zionism
Each year, various groups and individuals seek to politicize the memory of Martin Luther King, on the national holiday in his honor. So I will, too. Perhaps a little-known fact about “MLK” is that he was a strong supporter of the Jewish state. In Israel, he saw hope for the future, and a s

posted 10:24:46am Jan. 19, 2015 | read full post »

Kay Wilson—Choosing Life
Today marks the fourth anniversary of the horrific Palestinian terror attack on my friend, Kay Wilson, and her friend, Kristine Luken. Kay survived, somehow; Kristine, a Christian, did not. Their attackers targeted them because they were looking to kill Jews. Ironically, Kristine was a person who

posted 11:49:49am Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Jesus Unmasked
Jesus Christ…the most famous figure in world history. According to the apostle John: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) Yet, for all Hi

posted 11:21:27am Dec. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Rewarding the Innovators
Untold News, an Israel advocacy group based in New York, is making headway explaining the marvelous innovations produced by the Jewish state. To add a fine point to the popularity of the Untold News platform (now with more than 350,000 “likes” on Facebook), founder Marcella Rosen has announced t

posted 4:42:20pm Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.