MEN OF ALL KINDS
WHO ARE MET AT SEA
A SHIP SURGEON'S DIARY
GLIMPSES OF CELEBRITIES

 

During his career as ship's surgeon, first with the Atlantic Transport Company, and later, on the principal White Star Trans-Atlantic liners, Dr. J. C. H. Beaumont has has met many interesting people.  Through all his years at sea he has kept a diary, and this has given him the material for "Ships and People." a most entertaining volume.

A man of wide sympathies and liberal tastes, Dr. Beaumont is able to interest himself and his readers in all sorts and conditions of men and woman, writes "H. S.," in the Melbourne "Argus."  At one end of the scale there are Barnum's "Human Freaks," among them, "Jojo, the Dog-Faced Gentleman," and an unnamed :Human Telescope"; at the other are Lord Kitchener, Ellen Terry, President Roosevelt. Henry Irving Melba, and a score of other acknowledged great ones of the earth-not forgetting the former Kaiser, "who, in 1913," says Dr. Beaumont. "regarded himself as a person of some importance."  If the reader is specially interested in musicians he will find an arresting thumbnail sketch of Pachmann; if in boxers, there is something worth reading about Johnson, Corbett Fitzsimmons, Dempsey and Carpentier.  Dempsey is not the idol of the United States he is sometimes supposed to be.  Dr. Beaumant says that had Carpentier beaten him, the Frenchman's victory would have been enormously popular.  Dr. Beaumont had a great liking for Fitzsimmons.  "Bob was my chum of them all," he says.

"He dearly loved a good play, and many a happy evening we spent together at the theatre.  He was a man of few words, but he made up for it by his terrific hitting in the ring."

 

 

WITH BARNUM'S SHOW AT SEA


One of the most interesting voyages that Dr. Beaumont has made was that on the Atlantic Transport liner, Minneapolis, when she was chartered to take Barnum and Bailey's show from Dunkirk to New York.   He is a lover of animals, and there were 300 and more for him to study, great and small.  Among them was the elephant Mandaring, which had gone mad, poor brute!  To get this immense, insane creature aboard the Minneapolis was an engineering feat:  and it would have been impossible if powerful steam cranes had not been available.  Then there was that extraordinary collection of "Human Freaks," which appealed to him both as a medical man and as a student of human nature in its stranger form.  But perhaps one should not refer to them as "human freaks," for Dr. Beaumont says that before this voyage they had held a meeting to protest against such an insulting classification.  The chairman had moved: "That we be no longer referred to as 'Human Freaks' The motion was agreed to unanimously.  The "Anatomical Wonders: were a happy family, but there were instances of professional jealousy.  Jojo, the Dog-faced Gentleman, simply could not endure The Skeleton, a person of extraordinary emaciation and over-weening vanity.  The Dog-faced Gentleman objected to the Skeleton changing his clothes several times a day and to his flame-colorued ties.  Nor did the Dog-faced Gentleman like Loretta the Snake charming Lady, though she was a handsome creature.  Disgusted with such insensibility, Loretta determined to give him such a lesson as he would never forget.  So one day she sat down close beside him without warning.  The Dog-faced Gentleman abruptly left the table-and, no wonder, for the lady was necklaced, braceleted, and girdled with serpents Dr. Beaumont says that when he was not busy with the human beings he was studying the menagerie.  George Conklyn, with a profound knowledge of animals and devoted to them, was in charge.  Dr Beaumont noted that the animals were all in splendid condition, and that the lions, tigers, and other large carnivora were almost as amiable as household pets.  It was plenty of cooked meat and plenty of milk that had made them amiable, Conklyn explained. The menagerie like the "Anatomical Wonders," was a happy family.  the only exception was Mandarin, who heavily chained to prevent him from doing himself and others injury, was housed in a comfortable compartment by himself, where all day long and far into the night he could be heard rattling his chains and stamping his enormous feet.  When the Minneapolis reached New York, Mr. Bailey regretfully decided that the elephant must be destroyed.  The death-by strangulation-took place on board.  It was mercifully and quickly done, though it makes rather gruesome reading.  But here is a strang thing.  no sooner were the first preparations made than Mandarin ceased from his stampings and stood still as a statue.  "He knows perfectly well what is going to happen, and he is going to die a hero." said Conklyn, who was much affected.  And so he did.  As befitted a royal beast he was buried with some ceremony.  A special barge was brought alongside the Minneapolis, and in the dead of night the great body was lowered into this and the barge was towed out to sea.  About six miles beyond Sandy Hook Mandarin was committed to the deep. "It's all right, he's gone," whispered Conklyn.

 

LOSS OF THE TITANIC

 

Dr. Beaumont was on the Olympic when a wireless message was received from the Titanic, saying that she had struck an iceberg and was sinking. He gives a vivid description of the effect of this terrible news. The first step was to alter the Olympics course and head for her sister ship. The Olympic was designed to steam at 22 knots, but the engine-room staff drove her desperately, and for 300 miles she maintained a speed of 25 knots. Presently the messages which were being received from the sinking liner ceased. After a long interval came another message,  but this time from the Cunard Company's Carpathia. It said that the Titanic had gone down and that the survivors had been taken aboard the Carpathia. There was nothing more to do, therefore, and it was suggested that the Olympic should resume her original course, as it would not be advisable to let the shaken survivors see a ship that was practically a replica of the one that had foundered. In that disaster 1700 persons perished, including all the officers except those whose duty it was to take charge of the boats. Afterwards the White Star Company- spent a large sum of money in making structural alterations to the Olympic. Chief among these was a "double skin" inside the hull proper. *If the Olympic were to meet with an accident similar to that which caused the Titanic to sink, she would simply take a list and there would be no difficulty in bringing her to port. Dr. Beaumont kept a curious set of statistics regarding the number of passengers that attended-the services held on Sunday on board the Olympic. Before the war this was about 20.per cent. of tho passengers not including Roman Catholics and those of the Jewish communion. At the height of the submarine peril the figure rose to 100 per cent. After the Armistice was declared the attendance fell to 15 per cent. The Majestic, of 56,000 tons, the largest vessel afloat, on which Dr. Beaumont is still serving, was built us tho Bismarck for tho Hamburg-America Lino by Blum and Voss, ami was launched in 1913. "Tho christening ceremony," says Dr. Beaumont, "was performed by the Kaiser, a man who considered himself of some importance in those days. An elegant suite of rooms on cither side of tho ship was named with some pomp, tho 'Kaiser' and the Kaiserin' suites. Those suites were& intended to be occupied by tho Hohenzollern couple when they made their triumphant tour round the world "after Germany had conquered the rest of us." Of Conan Doyle (who took his medical course at Edinburgh just before Dr. Beaumont) the doctor says that though he admired his work very much, he always avoided him after ho had "flown off at a tangent into the spirit world." But he does not think Sir Conan Doyle, is as bad as Sir Oliver Lodge another celebrity who has "flown off at a tangent into . the spirit world," for Lodge's "Raymond," he says, is the "worst drivel to ever read." There is a word or two about Professor Joseph Bell, of the Edinburgh University, famous as a surgeon, but afterwards much more famous as the prototype of Sherlock Holmes. Sir Conan Doyle may have meant tho portrait as a compliment, but Bell regarded it as anything but a compliment. Nor is this to be wondered at if we remember that Holmes, when he had some specially difficult criminal tangle to unravel, would lock himself in his room, sit on the carpet, and after having stimulated, himself with immense doses of cocaine, would smoke a quarter of a pound of shag tobacco.


MODEST DE PACHMANN

 

There is a particular happy sketch of Vladimir de Pachmann, the famous interpreter of Chopin, Whom Dr. Beaumont met recently after a long interval, and who in his 76th year was about to give a series of recitals in the United States. He always has regarded, and still does regard himself as the greatest pianist in the world ?a sort of bright central sun about which other pianists revolve at a a great distance as dim planets. When he reached New York he "frankly admitted" he was the greatest player in the world. During the voyage he had told Dr. Beaumont that after him Godowsky was the greatest "living player." But what about the great English players? asked Dr. Beaumont. "I never heard of them,'' replied Pachmann. '' Well, of the great American players, then?" Lifting his hands in gentle horror, Pachmann declined to discuss the matter. The only player (except himself) to whom he ever gave unstinted praise was Teresa Carreno. KITCHENER AND THE LADIES. Kitchener once made a trip with Dr. Beaumont on, the Oceanic. Usually he took his meals in his stateroom; on the rare occasions when he came to the dining saloon he was as inscrutable as tho Sphinx. Two pretty Englishwomen, who used to sit opposite him, perseveringly attempted by dainty blandishments, to thaw him; but all to no purpose. There was not much time left, so one of them made up her mind at the last meal to risk everything' and wink deliberately at him,"  just to sec how he took it." But he ate on, imperturbably regarding her with his peculiar stare. The lady told Dr. Beaumont that she could have screamed out in the general company, "just to see what he would have done.'' She resist-! Ed the inclination, however. But Kitchener, says Dr. Beaumont, could unbend, and when he did so he was very human. When the steamer reached Southampton, and Bennett Burleigh, war correspondent, came aboard, he and Kitchener walked up and down the deck laughing like a couple of schoolboys. Kitchener had to receive an address of welcome at Southampton, delivered by the Mayor. In replying he used his customary formula. " Gentlemen,'' he said, "I thank you." Then he sought the privacy of his stateroom.
 

Evening Post December 1926

 


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