Sir Arthur Conan Doyle VS George Bernard Shaw


Status
Not open for further replies.

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
5,066
639
213
Funchal. Madeira
Hello everyone! just caught up with the latest posts on this.

Actually I remember GBS very well. Also read quite a lot of Conan Doyle's work - not just the Sherlock Homes series.

For what it's worth, here's what Shaw thought of Doyle:

"Although he once called Sherlock Holmes “a drug addict
without a single amiable trait”, Shaw equally admired Conan Doyle. In
the preface to Man and Superman, Shaw says he borrowed the
character of El Cuchillo in How the Brigadier Held the King for his
character Mendoza: “The theft of the brigand from Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle is deliberate”. Conan Doyle also admired Shaw, describing him
as a man of “the pleasant silky voice and the biting phrase”. He also
praised his “glorious dialogue” but added, “He seems subhuman in
emotion and superhuman in intellect”. He wrote in his memoirs, “I
have known no literary man who was so ruthless to other people’s
feelings. And yet to meet him was always to like him."

Obviously Shaw did not think Doyle was an intellectual 'pigmy'!

My personal recollection of Shaw was of a bad mannered, cantankerous self-opinionated, self righteous, sarcastic, cynical old man who invariably raised the hackles of most of the public when he occasionally appeared on news reels, airing his bubble bursting comments. These seemed to us mere mortals to be designed to illustrate Shaw's intellectual superiority while ensuring that lesser beings who tried to hide from the harsh realities of life were eloquently reminded of such realities.

In the end, ordinary, working class members of the general public did not have Shaw on their 'must read' list because his works were full of examples of social injustice. Most people did not require Bernard Shaw or anyone else for that matter to remind them of their plight - no matter how eloquently put. They read to escape the daily 'no hope' situation.

The general public read much more than they do nowadays. When household lighting was vastly improved,the public thirst for for reading material became almost insatiable. This thirst continued until the time when most households could afford a radio. Thereafter, the numbers of avid readers declined then levelled out until the mid 50s when TV became the preferred media of entertainment.
Significantly, most people read, and probably still do read, to be entertained or informed rather than to compare the merits of individual authors. Doyle wrote to satisfy a thirst whereas, it seems, Shaw wrote because he had a message to deliver.

This thread is full of Sherlock Holms. Actually he was the hero of my father's generation just after WW1. and only became popular again after the 1960s. In fact, in the 1940s, Professor Challenger of 'The Lost World' was my hero. Incidentally, Doyle published 'The Lost World' in 1912. It was serialised in a popular magazine. It later was published in book form and reprinted many times. It was also made into a film and has subsequently gone through several re-makes.

To me the difference between Doyle and Shaw was that the former let loose his imagination - the other was more concerned with social matters and wove the injustices of life into his works. There is no doubt that Shaw was by far the more brilliant author. However what anyone reads is what the individual terms 'a good read'. As the old saying goes 'one man's meat is another man's poison'.

How ever this thread was about the connection between those two and the Titanic.


Perhaps, instead of discussing the merits or otherwise of these gentlemen, we should ask the questions:

Why should two such diametrically opposite individuals publicly debate the Titanic disaster in the popular press?
What was the real purpose of the debate?
Was Doyle actually taking the 'mickey' out of the serious Shaw? After all, Doyle's reputation was built on fantasy and he was in the middle of publishing a tale of fantasy.
Given the public face of those individuals and the diet of 'penny dreadfuls' consumed in great quantities by the public of the day; what was the real reason behind this debate?

What is beyond question is the fact that Shaw started the debate in question by publicly commenting on a subject about which he virtually knew nothing except from reports by the very press he vilified. His article in the Daily News and Leader was published on the 14th of May, 1912 - probably written the day before - exactly 4 weeks to the day after Titanic sank.
In his usual overbearing, self righteous manner, Shaw had jumped the gun. The first official report had not yet been published or delivered to the American President. In fact it wasn't formally presented until - 28th/May, 1912 - 2 weeks after Shaw's article.

In this first article, Shaw lambasts the popular press for publishing inaccurate rubbish. However, where did he get his information concerning the 'officers' of Titanic? From the very same press?

True to form, Shaw was practicing 'cloth cap' politics on one hand and Irish Nationalism on the other. To these ends, he particularly singled-out the 'bosses' owners, Captain and officers and 'British Navigation'.
For such a definitive article to be published before the full findings of the Inquiries were published was wrong and Doyle was right to attempt to defend those who could not defend themselves.

As I see it, Shaw was wrong to jump the gun and Doyle was right to point this out.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
57
208
UK
The real reason? I'd say that these exchanges were just basically what we're doing here. As far as I can see there's no "definitive article" involved, just a few brief letters to a newspaper. Shaw and Doyle no doubt had similar arguments in private too, about many things. But remained friends nonetheless. Eccentrics both - the odd couple. And I daresay they enjoyed scoring points off one another - as indeed do some here!

Given time the formal inquests and inquiries would deliver their verdicts, but in the meantime the Press had a field day and it's inevitable that opinions would be formed and expressed in pubs, clubs and correspondence columns. In some cases (not this one) it's the concerns generated during that phase that generate a demand for formal public inquiries which might not otherwise take place.

Good appraisal from you, Jim, of the relative merits and differing appeal of these two writers. Point taken that crusading writers like Shaw and Dickens could tell the lower orders nothing they didn't already know about their own situation, but they did a good job in opening the eyes of others less disadvantaged, especially those who had the means to do something about it. Karl Marx praised "that splendid brotherhood of fiction-writers in England, whose graphic and eloquent pages have issued to the world more political and social truths than have been uttered by all the professional politicians, publicists and moralists put together.”￾

The hero of my youth, by the way, was Spike Milligan. Which maybe explains a lot.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,590
381
283
Easley South Carolina
>>I am aware of this, and technically what you say is correct<<

It's more then just technically. Notice the part about it being a matter of law.

This doesn't in any way take away from the accountability of any officers and crew for their individual mistakes, but ultimately, the skipper answers for all of it.

>>Smith wasn't and isn't responsible for Murdoch's decision to try and avoid the iceberg. I believe that if he had reversed the engines and allowed the ship to hit the iceberg head on, it may well not have sunk. But I won't blame Murdoch for that because it's merely hindsight and speculation. <<

Actually, he is. However, before we start criticising Murdoch's helm orders, it might be helpful if we could be certain that he in fact gave the orders history attributes to him. There is reason to believe that he didn't or at the very least he was misunderstood.

Hitting the iceberg dead on certainly wasn't an acceptable option and this much was established in the inquiries. So long as there was a possibility to avoid hitting it, he had to make the attempt.

>>As for your other points, again you mis-read my posts, I never said those factors contributed directly to the sinking, what I said was that the ship was plagued by a series of misfortunes that culminated in the sinking. Bad omens, you might say.<<

The whole of what you said was;
I don't believe any single person can have the finger of blame pointed at them for the sinking of the Titanic, rather it was a culmination of unfortunate events which led to its demise, starting from before it had even left the dock.
The catch is that a lot of this is simply distraction. The bottom line is that Captain Smith had the benefit of the ice warnings, had a good general picture of where the ice was, had enough available that he could have avoided the area...other ships such as the Carpathia and Mount Temple did exactly that...and instead chose to not to.

He doesn't get off the hook for that.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
57
208
UK
Zapristie! Yep, Spike was the definitive Moriarty. But Sellers could do any of the voices if necessary, as he did on occasion when they were shorthanded for a recording session.
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
7
168
Jim:

A fantastic post, you sum it up very well and i'm entirely in agreement with you on Shaw.

The thing to remember, as you allude to, is that all of this was going on in the days before television, internet, etc and voices of those who were most well known in society bore a lot of weight in the letters they wrote to the newspaper columns. The most famous authors of the day could be found writing letters to the press. The problem is, a lot of the time, they didn't know what they were talking about, were being, as I said before, "armchair critics", without being qualified to give such remarks, and in turn created more problems because essentially what they did, and specifically what Shaw did in this case, was to use his status to try and enforce his beliefs upon others. Doyle was not the one who started the debate and he was indeed right to respond in the way he did.

Again, excellent post, thanks for that.

Michael:

Well, using your same line of logic, if i'm driving along in my car, I should be accepting entire responsibility for the car. Then if the car in front of me pulls up suddenly and I have a crash, is it my fault? Technically and to the letter of the law, probably. Realistically, no. Likewise, if a pilot is flying an aeroplane and the electrics fail and the plane goes down, is it the pilot's fault? Technically and to the letter of the law, probably. Realistically, no.

And on it goes. The same applies to Captain Smith - it probably wouldn't have mattered if the ship was doing 10 knots, it could still have hit the iceberg.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
57
208
UK
"the car in front of me pulls up suddenly and I have a crash, is it my fault? ... Realistically, no."

Tell me you're kidding, Adam. The reason why you would be at fault in this situation is because you didn't allow enough space between your car and the car in front to brake safely in the event of an emergency stop. That's so important that driving instructors generally cover it in lesson 1. It's all about risk assessment. An experienced driver is generally a good assessor, and a professional driver is (or ought to be) a very good assessor.

The Titanic didn't hit the car in front, it hit an iceberg. How would you rate Captain Smith for risk assessment? Factors to consider: Known ice hazard directly ahead, dark night with no moon, huge ship that takes a long time to respond to the helm. No extra lookouts posted, no change in course or speed. Marks out of 10?
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
7
168
Bob:

The instinct reaction in such a scenario is to slam on the brakes, which can be equally as dangerous, especially if the road is narrow, wet, icy, or whatever. It doesn't have to be because you're too close to the car in front. In any case, I was merely using that as an example, it could refer to any other scenario - if you're American, I wouldn't be commenting if I were you, because you already drive on the wrong side of the road and in the wrong side of the car. ;-)

"The Titanic didn't hit the car in front, it hit an iceberg. How would you rate Captain Smith for risk assessment? Factors to consider: Known ice hazard directly ahead, dark night with no moon, huge ship that takes a long time to respond to the helm. No extra lookouts posted, no change in course or speed. Marks out of 10?"

Depends whether you believe it was Smith that was really at the helm - or Ismay. The ship is going to take ages to respond to the helm whether it's doing 10 knots or 30 knots, as I said before. Extra lookouts wouldn't have helped.

I'm not saying Smith is not at fault at all, he certainly does have to share a chunk of the responsibility, but I just think it's the easy way out to blame the guy who didn't survive to tell his side of the story and it's probably not entirely accurate or fair to do so.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,590
381
283
Easley South Carolina
>>Well, using your same line of logic, if i'm driving along in my car, I should be accepting entire responsibility for the car. Then if the car in front of me pulls up suddenly and I have a crash, is it my fault?<<

A very poor analogy since the driver of the other car would be in control of his vehical, and struck without warning.

The iceberg was not in control. It was just along for the ride on the currents and...this is the crucial point...Captain Smith knew what he was heading into. Cut it any way you like, he had the important information well in advance of the accident and could have easily avoided the area of known ice.

The dangers of ice were hardly an unknown either since the Grand Banks has been killing ships for centuries, and ice was a notorious culprit. That was the reason why some lines...notably Canadian Pacific...had it in their company rules that their ships were not to go into icefields for any reason.

>>And on it goes. The same applies to Captain Smith <<

No it doesn't. Not as a matter of practicality or as a matter of black letter law. He had the knowladge, the training, the experience, and above all, the authority.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
57
208
UK
Me an American? Adam, no American would make reference to the Goon Show!
grin.gif


Ismay could claim no authority at sea. If Smith had responded to influence from that quarter against his better judgement then he loses another mark.

You say that extra lookouts wouldn't have helped. Lightoller recalled that the men in the crow's nest were told to "keep a sharp lookout for ice". Would it not have helped to put some extra eyes on the job? Obviously not in the crow's nest, but there are other possibilities. Captain Rostron of the Carpathia, knowing that he was heading towards an ice hazard at speed, "took extra precautions and exerted extra vigilance" which included posting an extra man at the bow and an extra officer on the bridge for that purpose.

Smith's chunk of the responsibility is a very big chunk. If he'd survived he would have been roasted, no matter what story he had to tell. If we concentrate (as did the Press at the time) on heroic deeds and noble deaths after the collision and don't take a long hard look at errors of judgement before the collision then everything starts to look more positive. But with an eye to the future it's more useful to examine not what went right, but what went wrong.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,590
381
283
Easley South Carolina
>>But with an eye to the future it's more useful to examine not what went right, but what went wrong.<<

And more to the point, to be brutally honest about it and without the romantic blinders. In the end, it's the only way we can really learn the lessons and...hopefully...make them stick.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
14
198
>>Well, using your same line of logic, if i'm driving along in my car, I should be accepting entire responsibility for the car. Then if the car in front of me pulls up suddenly and I have a crash, is it my fault?<<

A tortured analogy, Adam. The iceberg was not cruising along ahead of the Titanic at highway speed and then suddenly slammed on the brakes while attempting to change a CD.

A better analogy would be if you were driving a commercial bus, drove past seven bridge out signs, ACKNOWLEDGED the bridge out signs, put on your high beams so that you could spot the downed bridge in time, and then kept driving at highway speed and drove over the edge of the bridge. If 40% of the people on the bus survived, and spoke well of the staff members who helped them escape, would that alter the fact that you were an irresponsible idiot who ignored seven specific warnings and drove over the edge of a bridge you knew to be missing?

>In this first article, Shaw lambasts the popular press for publishing inaccurate rubbish. However, where did he get his information concerning the 'officers' of Titanic? From the very same press?

Ah yes, but he was not condemning the press in general. What he was condemning was, specifically, the romantic lies which began appearing in the press April 15-18, 1912, at a point where there WAS no news about the ship good, bad, or indifferent, beyond what little the Carpathia sent out.

Shaw, like most of us (save for those who believe in cardboard fairies) had the power of discernment. He, no doubt, had the ability to read multiple articles covering the American hearings and think "the information herein remains more or less consistent, despite the various editorial spins put forth by the papers." Having read the full run of London and NYC press coverage from the relevant period, I can say first hand that there was a lot of good journalism sandwiched in between the excrement. The newspaper material from which Shaw was making his judgment was fairly sound.

The material from which Conan-Doyle was making his judgment was of the "Captain Smith stood resolute, like a great oak. There was not a man whose blood was not stirred to hear him cry 'Be British'...." variety.

There was/is a world of difference between how the testimony was covered, and the romantic nonsense. Even if the papers were decrying Senator Smith as a clown, the facts as presented were not far off.

>To these ends, he particularly singled-out the 'bosses' owners, Captain and officers and 'British Navigation'.

Tortured argument, Jim. Who else would he single out? The iceberg? The calm sea? The negligently absent moon? He had every right to single those figures out. There was no ambiguity in this case. There WAS no one else to blame, and even if the Inquiries were not complete, so what? Could one realistically expect that sudden evidence of sabotage, or perhaps proof that the evil machinations of a Cottingley Fairy destroyed the ship, would surface and send the hearings a-spin?

In many disasters, the popular Limousine Socialist "Its always the power system, baby" outlook is indeed improper. In this case, it is accurate. You can't blame the iceberg. In the case of, say, a high fatality hotel fire, it IS irresponsible to adapt a BLAME THE POWER SYSTEM editorial slant immediately, for there are NUMEROUS other factors which can come in to play. In this case, there can be no additional factors, and pointing the finger of blame is acceptible.

>For such a definitive article to be published before the full findings of the Inquiries were published was wrong and Doyle was right to attempt to defend those who could not defend themselves.

What defense is there for a captain who disregarded ice warnings and collided with ice in a place where he knew it could be found? What defense was there for the loss of life that was almost half more than it had to be, on a calm sea? As Shaw pointed out, correctly, had this been a military vessel, there would have been a court martial. What defense was there for a press which started the "Another Glorious Incident in Anglo-American History" masturbatory mania before there was a SINGLE fact to go on, other than that around 1500 people were dead? The reading public knew all about stalwart men, noble women, collisions like thunder, and cowering foreigners within 24 ours of the last pulse slowing and flickering out. The garbage which was printed AFTER the Carpathia's arrival is remarkably close the the garbage spewed out before hand... the romantic myth was created out of thin air, and sustained even after there were people underfoot to contradict it. That WAS inexcusable, and Shaw was correct in exposing it.

> I said before, "armchair critics", without being qualified to give such remarks, and in turn created more problems

Okay, Adam. What mitigating factors could there have been? And what problems did Shaw create? Be specific and take as many words as you like. When a captain knows where the ice is located, and approximately when it will be reached, and still manages to destroy his ship and kill 1500 people by ramming into it, what possible evidence could have surfaced to render Shaw's judgment premature? A Cottingley Fairy giving the wheel a malicious spin?

>The instinct reaction in such a scenario is to slam on the brakes, which can be equally as dangerous, especially if the road is narrow, wet, icy, or whatever.

Or if you live in an era where angry muckrakers like Shaw are out of style and viewed as a threat...
happy.gif


When the horsepower race broke out in earnest, ca 1953, you saw a sudden jump from 100 HP and 80MPH, to 300 horsepower or more and cruise speeds of 120MPH. What you did NOT see was radically improved brakes and suspension. Check out this film made by Chrysler in 1958 :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IR6N81VqKYw

(Jump ahead to 2:33, where it gets scary and depressing)

Chrysler had come out with very stiff suspension and excellent brakes the previous year. And knew the weak spots of the competition. The film shows things like a Lincoln veering off the road in what matches a high speed merge situation, an Oldsmobile with imnadequate breaks slamming thru a farm cart and a Cadillac in a spinout in the same brake test. No unfair trick driving needed to be done...Chrysler knew what it took to highlight the competitors' dangerous flaws. The cars were too big and too fast and too heavy for their brakes and suspension.

The thing is, the public never saw these films, which all four car companies made. These were made for in-house use, and when a Cadillac
cruising at 90MPH suddenly spun out and killed 8 people, the party line was IT IS THE NUT BEHIND THE WHEEL. And, until 1966, there was no latter day George Bernard Shaw to say "But, you sold the nut a car that could cruise at 120 miles an hour equipped with brakes meant for a car that cruised at 90."

The 4 companies spent a fortune on self-serving safety promotions, all of which drove home IT IS THE NUT BEHIND THE WHEEL. and there was no one who spoke up to say "But, you claim that the car 'hugs the road on lane changes like it is in love with it' while you've equipped the car with suspension which assures that the vehicle is going to launch itself off the road it professes to love, and then flip over, if anyone tries that manouver."

In effect these cars were rolling Titanics. Large and modern on the surface, but dangerously antiquated where it mattered. BUT, the NUT BEHIND THE WHEEL in 1958 truly WAS a hapless dolt in many cases, while the Titanic's archaic features cannot shift any of the blame away from Smith.

Better to have a Shaw or a Ralph Nader who speaks up. Because as soon as muckraking becomes unfashionable and people start forgetting, things like the above will happen again.
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
7
168
Michael:

Well I can tell you right now in regards to the car analogy, that the insurance company would be disagreeing with you.

Bob:

You know what, I know it's only a movie, but the portrayal of Ismay to Smith in Titanic is properly quite accurate, trying to convince him to have a glorious final voyage and bow out in style and have the Titanic hailed as the greatest vessel in the world and all of that....if only it had never hit the iceberg....

As for Rostron, yeah I reckon i'd be posting extra lookouts up as well if I knew that an "unsinkable" ship was in the process of being sunk by ice!

Jim:

You've lost your brevity. Regain it, man!

"Okay, Adam. What mitigating factors could there have been? And what problems did Shaw create? Be specific and take as many words as you like. When a captain knows where the ice is located, and approximately when it will be reached, and still manages to destroy his ship and kill 1500 people by ramming into it, what possible evidence could have surfaced to render Shaw's judgment premature? A Cottingley Fairy giving the wheel a malicious spin?"

As already listed above. Not on the bridge at the time, probably under the influence of Ismay, didn't receive all the ice warnings, etc, etc. The only thing he's really guilty of is having too much faith in the ship.

Don't get me wrong, Smith certainly does have to accept his share of responsibility for it as Captain, but I think it's unfair to say that he is solely responsible simply because of his title, especially when he didn't survive to defend his actions. It's easy to blame the one who isn't there to defend himself, atleast Ismay had to live with it for the rest of his life.

Shaw created problems by choosing to put his opinion into the public domain when he really didn't have a clue what he was talking about. Again, as said before, newspaper articles and letters by well-known people like himself carried a lot of weight in the pre-television, pre-internet days, yet he was in no position to write such letters and Doyle was right to fight back.

But then, Doyle always did fight the good fight. ;-)
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,590
381
283
Easley South Carolina
>>Well I can tell you right now in regards to the car analogy, that the insurance company would be disagreeing with you.<<

Maritime law is a bit different. Actually, it's a lot different.

>>As already listed above. Not on the bridge at the time, probably under the influence of Ismay, didn't receive all the ice warnings, etc, etc. The only thing he's really guilty of is having too much faith in the ship.<<

It doesn't matter one little bit. The Captain still bears that complete, total, and final responsibility.
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
7
168
Michael:

"Maritime law is a bit different. Actually, it's a lot different."

Excellent. Except that the analogy you were disagreeing with was in reference to road rules, therefore it's a car insurance company in this instance.

"It doesn't matter one little bit. The Captain still bears that complete, total, and final responsibility."

So therefore, is it your view that the likes of J. Bruce Ismay should have got away with the disaster with his reputation completely unharmed and no questions asked?
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
57
208
UK
Here's a vision of Captain Smith which demonstrates perfectly the kind of romanticism to which Shaw was objecting:

Strong of limb, intent of purpose, pure in character, dauntless as a sailor should be, he walked the deck of his majestic structure as master of her keel. Titanic though she was, his indifference to danger was one of the direct and contributing causes of this unnecessary tragedy, while his own willingness to die was the expiating evidence of his fitness to live. Those of us who knew him well - not in anger, but in sorrow - file one specific charge against him: Overconfidence and neglect to heed the oft-repeated warnings of his friends. But in his horrible dismay, when his brain was afire with honest retribution, we can still see, in his manly bearing and his tender solicitude for the safety of women and little children, some traces of his lofty spirit when dark clouds lowered all about him and angry elements stripped him of his command. His devotion to his craft, even "as it writhed and twisted and struggled" for mastery over its foe, calmed the fears of many of the stricken multitude who hung upon his words, lending dignity to a parting scene as inspiring as it is beautiful to remember.

But that comes from no newspaper. It's part of the concluding speech by Senator William Alden Smith at the US Inquiry. A second concluding speech, by Senator Isador Raynor, was expressed in prose an even deeper shade of purple.

The British Inquiry was an altogether more professional affair. The concluding report found that Captain Smith alone was responsible for the navigational errors of judgment that contributed to disaster in a high-risk situation, but they were reluctant to blame him. Reason being that his mistakes were common practice. Many other ships' masters had been making the same errors of judgement for years and they'd all got away with it until then, so Smith should not be singled out for blame. The compromise verdict was basically that they would let Smith (and therefore all the others) off the hook just this once. Now that it had been demonstrated that if you sail at full tilt into a known icefield you might hit something with disastrous results, any such errors of judgement from now on would be regarded as negligence.

In other words, Smith was a bad judge of risk but so are they all. He's paid the price so we won't be too hard on him but we'll be very hard on the others if these practices continue.
 
May 1, 2010
215
0
46
>>So therefore, is it your view that the likes of J. Bruce Ismay should have got away with the disaster with his reputation completely unharmed and no questions asked?<<
If Ismay had stayed on board and gone down with the ship, (like Captain Turner of the Lusitania) and managed to swim to a boat and save himself, I think history would have treated him much differently.
History has been relatively kind to Smith, considering how much information he had about what was ahead and the decisions he made. I do not believe there was "no one person to blame" at all. Smith SCREWED UP. He was the one person that was ultimately responsible, and he was the one person that could have changed the outcome.
I like all the analogies about driving a car on the road. Would you drive your car at full speed through snow and ice? Probably not. Especially if you had just gotten a weather report about dangerous conditions on the road. Sure the Titanic was a new ship, sure there were unknowns about this new class of large ship, but Smith had a years worth of experience driving Olympic class ships, and 40 years on the Atlantic. He was well aware how his ship handled, how long it took to stop, turn, etc. One could argue further that after the incidents with the "Hawke" and "New York" that Smith might have learned something.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
14
198
>You've lost your brevity. Regain it, man!

Jim raised so many interesting points, and you so many odd ones, that I scarcely knew where to begin, child.

And.
It.
Is.
Simply.
Too.
Tedious.
To.
Address.
You.
In.
The.
Only.
Format.
You.
Seem.
Capable.
Of.
Comprehemding.
However.
If.
You.
Feel.
Comfortable.
With.
One.
Word.
Sentences.
We.
can.
Revert.
To.
That.
Format.



>Shaw created problems by choosing to put his opinion into the public domain when he really didn't have a clue what he was talking about.

You.
Are.
Generalizing.
Wildly.


Of.
COURSE.
He.
Knew.
What.
He.
Was.
Talking.
About.

By.
Your.
Logic.
Conan-Doyle.
Could.
Not.
Have.
Known.
What.
He.
Was.
Talking.
About.
Either.
And.
Therefore.
Had.
No.
Right.
To.
Offer.
Comment.
(All.
Of.
The.
Children.
In.
My.
Family.
Are.
Under.
Ten.
So.
I.
Am.
Quite.
Used.
To.
Rebutting.
This.
Kind.
Of.
Logic.)

As I said, there is no way that any mitigating factors could have surfaced. The captain knew where the ice was, crashed into it, and killed 1500 people. This is not like a hotel fire, where there are so many potential causes that one sounds quite stupid immediately saying "Blame the manager and the owners."

Furthermore, the press did lie. There was no news off the ship, except for the survivor list, thru the 18th. So, all the tales of noble Anglo-American bravery (and panicking steerage passengers) that set the stage for the still-present hero worship, which began in earnest on the 16th were outright lies.


> yet he was in no position to write such letters and Doyle was right to fight back.

Of.
Course.
He.
Was.
He.
Was.
Dealing.
With.
Facts.
No.
Further.
Mitigating.
Evidence.
Could.
Possibly.
Have.
Surfaced.
At.
That.
Point.

Had.
He.
Written.
The.
Letter.
On.
April.
17.
He'd.
Be.
As.
Guilty.
As.
The.
Tabloid.
Press.
BUT.
By.
The.
Time.
The.
Debate.
Began.
The.
Ice.
Warnings.
Were.
Well.
Known.
He.
Was.
Not.
Jumping.
The.
Gun.
Unlike.
Those.
Reporters.
He.
Was.
Criticizing.


>But then, Doyle always did fight the good fight. ;-)

Wasnt
Brandon's
Photo.
Of.
Lizzie
Van Zyt's
Corpse.
Absolutely.
Charming?
Yup.
He.
Always.
Fought.
The.
Good.
Fight.

>The compromise verdict was basically that they would let Smith (and therefore all the others) off the hook just this once. Now that it had been demonstrated that if you sail at full tilt into a known icefield you might hit something with disastrous results, any such errors of judgement from now on would be regarded as negligence.


Which.
When.

Oh, sorry, Bob. When you think about it, this is a very bizarre line of thought. As recently as 1901, Canadian Pacific had lost a liner with a proportionately high loss of life (The Islander) when it struck an iceberg and sank in less than an hour. The Victorians, to judge from the sheer number of lurid prints available on the collectors' market, attributed virtually every ship gone missing to collisions with ice and...who knows...they might have been correct. The practice of sailing full speed into ice had been decried as stupid and irresponsible several GENERATIONS before 1912 and wireless, after the Servia struck ice and made it to New York and the Pacific, which left Liverpool the same day, was never seen again. Yet, the segment you posted has an odd "Babes lost in the woods" quality to it, as if this was the very first incident. It wasnt, by a long shot. And, it was WORSE than any other, not because of loss of life, but because unlike, say, the captain of the Servia, THIS idiot knew where the ice was, beginning a day before it was reached. The compromise verdict is puzzling, but hardly surprising, given the historic contect into which it fell.
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
7
168
Bob & Steven:

Well, consider this then: If the Carpathia had also hit an iceberg and sunk while en route at top speed to the Titanic, would Captain Rostron also have been vilified? You can bet your bank account that there would have been people out there at the time as well as now who would have said "the ship was going to sink anyway, Rostron was reckless and caused more lives to be lost than was necessary when he could have used it as an example and taken extra care and gone slowly while steaming towards the ship". Instead, he is generally regarded as one of the hero's of the night. Likewise, Captain Smith would still be regarded as a hero if he had sailed the Titanic into New York in record time on his final voyage and the whole glorious welcome and the rest that would have gone with it.

So it's a very fine line between being a hero and a villain. By the letter of the law, yes, Smith is responsible, but it is entirely unfair to lay it all at his feet and say nothing of those around him who also bore some influence and decision-making on that night and throughout the voyage.

Again, it's somewhat useless to play the blame game once the ship is on the bottom of the ocean.

Jim:

Please, you are dacking yourself in front of the entire world. I actually find it quite amusing that you would deem one word sentences necessary for me, as it was only a few days ago when I was talking amongst Sherlockians that I mentioned that I would simply keep using words that are more than six letters long to baffle certain people contributing to this topic. ;-)

Doyle had a right to defend what he believed in, which he only did AFTER Shaw had already come out with his opinions - would you mind explaining to us how George Bernard Shaw was suitably qualified and experienced to comment on the Titanic sinking in the public domain?
 
May 1, 2010
215
0
46
I LOVE 1 word sentences, they remind me of William Shatners considerable thespian skills, especially when pontificating about some profound pertinent subject on "Star Trek"
But seriously, I think what was suggested was that Shaw had the intuitive ability to separate the aforementioned "excrement" from the real stuff, and have a more educated perspective than the masses that ate that stuff up.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads