Did someone tamper with the text in

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Oct 23, 2000
I hate to broach this here, be

I hate to broach this here, because I don't want to open any Pandora's box or anything, yet I am compelled to ask: did someone tamper with the text of "Titanic: An Illustrated History", in some places, before it was published? For there are quite a few slanted statements made in Chapter 9, "Questions".
Two examples:

First, on page 188:

'Mersey quickly cut in, "Am I to understand that you do not think it was the Californian?"
"I am sure it was not," Ismay replied. The Californian was owned by the Leyland Line, one of International Mercantile Marine's companies.
"I am rather sorry to hear that," Mersey responded.'

Compare this bit of book text to the following from the BOT inquiry transcript:

"18585. (The Commissioner.) Am I to understand that you do not think it was
the "Californian"? - I am sure it was not.

18586. I am rather sorry to hear that? - This was on the starboard side of the ship. I understand the "Californian" was seen on the port side of the ship - or the ship that was supposed to be the "Californian."
This light I saw was on the starboard side.

18587. Never mind about what side it was at all; have you come to the conclusion that the vessel whose lights were seen for so long a time was not
the "Californian"? - No, Sir."

The "I am rather sorry to hear that" comment was a QUESTION directed at Ismay by Mersey, not a statement.
Mersey said "I am rather sorry to hear that?" because he was confused by Ismay's statements on the lights he saw, and wanted Ismay to clarify what he'd said. It was not a comment that indicated His Lordship had his mind set that the lights were of the Californian, and that was that. This fact is crystal clear in the transcript excerpt quoted here.
Mersey's question was MADE to look like a comment in the book.

Second example, page 188-189:

'From the outset the commissioner showed hostility toward Lord, and very early in his testimony announced, "What is in my brain at the present time is this, that what they saw (from on board the Californian) was the Titanic." '

Again, compare this to what the inquiry transcript has to say:

"The Commissioner: We have heard about the mysterious light that was seen, the imaginary light as it was called, that was seen from the "Titanic," but dismissing that light, was there any light or any vessel seen by any Witness from the "Titanic" at this time?

The Attorney-General: There is some evidence of it certainly.

The Commissioner: Of what?

The Attorney-General: There is some evidence of a light having been seen.

The Commissioner: I know; I say, dismissing that imaginary light, is there any evidence of any ship having been seen at this time or about this time
by the "Titanic"?

The Attorney-General: No, I do not think so.

The Commissioner: What is in my brain at the present time is this, that what they saw was the "Titanic."

The Attorney-General: I know.

The Commissioner: That is in my brain, and I want to see whether I am right or not.

The Attorney-General: It certainly must have been very close.

The Commissioner: Clear it up if you can.

The Attorney-General: I think it will clear up as we go on - at least, as far as it can be cleared up. It is a point your Lordship will probably have to determine on the evidence.

The Commissioner: Yes, and therefore I want the evidence put before me as clearly as possible."

The "what is in my brain" statement was part of a dialogue between Mersey and Rufus Isaacs, not a biased announcement made by Mersey as Captain Lord testified.
Mersey simply wanted the facts placed before him as clearly as possible TO SEE IF HIS THEORY WAS RIGHT OR NOT, thus his sidebar with Isaacs.
These facts are 100% crystal-clear in the excerpt from the transcript quoted here.
In the book, Mersey's comment was MADE to look like a biased announcement.
I am miffed as to why Mr. Don Lynch would do such a shabby thing in his otherwise marvelous book, so I ask again: did some pro-Lord scholar tamper with Lynch's text, or is the sad fact is that Lynch himself did the slanting of the facts?
It pains me to mention all the above about "Titanic: An Illustrated History", and Mr. Lynch, but I do not believe presenting slanted facts in polished blocks of text marching down the page of a history book is right.

Richard K.
Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina
I suppose tampering or editorial licence is always a possibility, but a little cautionary note on the transcripts; they were all recorded by hand by stenographers who acted as court recorders. No typewriters available or recording devices such as what we see today. Typographical mistakes are inevitable. I suspect that question mark is one of them, albit a minor one. That these men recorded all that they did...over 900 pages of testimony...is no small acheivement.

You have, however, demonstrated the value in reading primary sources for oneself. At least then you know the whole what was said in context instead of having to take somebodies word for it. A somebody who may well have an agenda.

Michael H. Standart
Sep 12, 2000
The Gutenberg Printing Press was availbale for Martin Luther to publish his study on the New Testament book of Galatians in his lifetime, but that does not take away from the fact that printing presses of the Gutenberg style were not of the type and ability of those today.

I believe that the point that Michael made is valid, they did not have voice recognition and cut and paste and edit on their lap tops. They took testimony and transcribed it and although these people were trained and very skilled, mistakes could have happened. They may have had typewriters, but they were not of the type we have today.

But also, in regards to Don Lynch, he is also transferring information from resource to final draft copy for the publisher. Lynch too did not have the advantage of sending his total document to the publisher in final format on a computer disk or the use of many of the technical advanantages we have today. Even now, some publishers do not use the writer's disks, but insist on paper copies even for proposals. Any way along the line errors could have happened without it being purposeful.

I think we have seen in some cases that errors happen that are totally out of the control of the author.

Just some thoughts.
Dec 12, 1999
Your approach is one way to look at it, Richard, but in my mind, Lord Mersey's statements are not so innocuous. The transcripts show that Lord Mersey is stating what he believes to be the case, and implicitly asking the legal team before the commission to present evidence and argument to support it. I'm sure that would be the way that the lawyers would take it. In the context of ongoing proceedings, judges offer hints about what they want to hear more about all the time - - if you listen to the recent tapes of the Dec. 1, 2000 arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, there's plenty of it going on. In my mind, a good judge sits there and listens to both sides, then makes a decision - he doesn't try to be so proactive, as Lord Mersey was. But as other members of this Board have pointed out, Lord Mersey and various others had their own agenda. In some instances, this agenda wasn't necessarily focused on arriving at the truth.

Jonathon Jedd

I'd have to side with Richard on this one. I've read portions of Don Lynch's book, and while I find it overall an exceptional work, I do hesitate to embrace Lynch's commentary on the Californian. There he seems to have his own agenda in favor of Captain Lord -- witness for example his feature article therein on the "Mystery Ship" -- which may well have led to conscious or subconscious bias in other tellings.

It's a very good book, but it does seem to have its inaccuracies, particularly as regards the Californian.

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