"News" from 1909: Versatility of Captain Haddock

Mark Baber

Staff member
MAB Note: This is an excerpt from a longer article entitled "Princes of
the Atlantic"

Sunday Magazine Of the New-York Tribune, 26 December 1909
Original article digitized by the Library of Congress
Retrieved from the Library of Congress' Chronicling America web site,

Versatility of Captain Haddock

NAVIGATION is always a science Cold, exact figures, astronomical and
meteorological observations, experience and common sense, are the things
that count when taking a liner across the Atlantic; but, notwithstanding the
uselessness of the fine arts in piloting great steam carriers, there is much
artistic temperament manifested in the hard, practical make-up of the

Nearly all have mastered some art of accomplishment entirely apart from
navigation; but the laurels for versatility, according to his associates, go
easily to Captain Haddock of the Oceanic, who is author, painter, linguist,
athlete, and and engineer. Captain Roberts of the Georgic explains this
versatility by declaring that Haddock has two brains.

This story will serve as an illustration of Haddock's all round cleverness.
A dispute arose late one afternoon in the ship news office at the Battery
over the exact latitude and longitude in which the Oceanic had passed a
dangerous derelict. There was no way of settling it except by consulting
the logbook in the steamer's chartroom. The Oceanic had docked early that
morning, and one of the reporters volunteered to go up to the ship and verify
the derelict's position. At the gangplank he asked a quartermaster where the
Captain might be found.

"On the after deck, sir," said the quartermaster. "He was there a half an
hour ago, sir, painting a picture of the sunset.'"

A search of the after deck revealed no sign of Haddock. The third officer
said he thought the master should be somewhere around, as he and the purser
were having a fencing bout on the promenade deck a short time before. A
steward who happened along averred that the Captain was in the dining saloon
translating a German [receipt?] into French for the Oceanic's chef. The
dining saloon was deserted, and at last Haddock was found in his room under
the bridge. As he entered, the reporter heard the sharp [crackling?] of a
wireless instrument, and a man with his back toward the door sat at the
skipper's desk sending a message.

At last the sound ceased and the man in the chair turned. It was Haddock.

"For Heaven's sake, Captain!" said the reporter. "Are you a wireless
operator, too? What is there on this ship you can't do?"

"Oh, it's easy," replied Haddock. "I've [studied?] telegraphy many years. I
had this wireless installed to keep myself in practice."

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Mark Baber

Staff member
Quite right, Dave.

The "?" after that and a couple of other words in this article and its companions indicate that the digitized version I was working from has some faint spots in it. I think I have the right words in the the transcriptions, but am not 100% certain.