Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Titanic Centennial: The Coward

[New series: a month of selections from "The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters," edited by Logan Marshall and first published in 1912. Click on the "Titanic" tag for other selections from the book.]

The Coward 
Somewhere in the shadow of the appalling Titanic disaster slinks--still living by the inexplicable grace of God--a cur in human shape, to-day the most despicable human being in all the world.
In that grim midnight hour, already great in history, he found himself hemmed in by the band of heroes whose watchword and countersign rang out across the deep--"Women and children first!"
What did he do? He scuttled to the stateroom deck, put on a woman's skirt, a woman's hat and a woman's veil, and picked his crafty way back among the brave and chivalric men who guarded the rail of the doomed ship, he filched a seat in one of the life-boats and saved his skin.
His name is on the list of branded rescued men who were neither picked up from the sea when the ship went down nor were in the boats under orders to help get them safe away. His identity is not yet known,* though it will be in good time. So foul an act as that will out like murder.
The eyes of strong men who have read and re-read this crowded record of golden deeds, who read and re-read that deathless roll of honor of the dead, are still wet with tears of pity and of pride. This man still lives. Surely he was born and saved to set for man a new standard by which to measure infamy and shame. 
Snopes debunks the charges against the suspects, one-by-one here

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