Once in a while something outside our own little lives happens which gives the whole thinking world a shock. Such is the loss of the Titanic (passenger liner which sank with the loss of 1500 lives on April 14).
We boast of the wonderful command over nature achieved by the scientific knowledge and skill of man and then a ledge of ice slides silently down from the Polar Sea and crushes into nothingness the pride and wealth of two continents. In the presence of such a disaster, there would seem at first to be no room for anything but an overwhelming sense of sorrow and pity and humiliation before the power of the Almighty and yet in one day — last Sunday — I heard three jarring notes.
The first came from the preacher who made no allusion to the calamity in his prayers nor in his sermon. It jarred to listen to his thanks that we had escaped the dangers of the night. I could not be thankful, thinking of the thousands of anguished homes and horror stricken hearts.
Later, I was obliged to listen to a virtuous man pointing out that it was quite clear to him that the iceberg was God’s instrument of vengeance for the sins of those on board. I did not listen long but took him metaphorically between my teeth and gave him a good shaking, shook all the smug, sham virtue out of him — for the moment at any rate. To be throwing pious stones at those poor creatures lying two miles deep? How could any decent man have the heart to do it?
And again, the rebellious and vindictive spirit of the times showed in the remark of a working man who asked me if I had noticed the small proportion of steerage passengers who were saved. He had the figures all pat. They were the pure invention of some popular half penny paper for no particulars were known but it gave him the text for inveighing against millionaires and leaders and captains and masters and prophesying the reign of the working man. He was inclined to favour the stokers having equal authority with the captain. Such is the new reign dawning.