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Titanic Premonitions
Morgan Robertson.

One of the most mysterious aspects of the Titanic disaster has to be the amount of tales of coincidence about the sinking that were published a long, long time before Titanic had even been conceived.

Perhaps the most famous of these was the publication, in 1898, of American author Morgan Robertson's novel, 'Futility', sometimes referred to as 'The Wreck Of The Titan'. Robertson had spent his early years at sea, and as a result of these experiences, he wrote over a dozen novels about the sea, one of which was 'Futility'. He claimed that he was psychic, and got his inspiration and ideas from his 'astral writing partner'.

Robertson's claims that he was psychic might be met with scepticism by many, including myself, but a look at the facts does make you wonder how he was so accurate. A full nine years before the Titanic went down, Robertson had written a fictional story about a huge triple-propellered liner that crossed the North Atlantic in April, only to collide with an iceberg, and the lack of sufficient lifeboats resulted in a huge loss of life.

 

 

TITANIC TITANIC!
 
Titan
Titanic
Flag of registry:
British
British
Time of sailing:
April
10th April, 1912
Displacement:
70,000
66,000
Length:
800 feet
882.5 feet
propellers:
3
3
Top speed:
24-25 knots
24-25 knots
Capacity:
Circa 3,000
Circa 3,000
Passengers aboard:
2,000
2,230
Number of lifeboats:
24
20
Lifeboat Capacity:
500
1178
Watertight Bulkheads:
19
15
Engines:
Triple
Triple expansion and turbine
Side damaged:
Starboard
Starboard

The major similarities between the two stories, one total fact, the other total fiction, are reproduced in the table shown here above, and some of the comparisons make for some very interesting reading indeed! You can read the transcription of the whole book here.

TITANIC TITANIC!
From out of the desolation of the North
An iceberg took its way,
From its detaining comrades breaking forth,
And traveling night and day...
At whose command?  Who bade it sail the deep
With that resistless force?
Who made the dread appointment it must keep?
Who traced its awful course?To the warm airs that stir in the sweet South,
A good ship spread her sails;
Stately she passed beyond the harbor's mouth,
Chased by the favoring gales;And on her ample decks a happy crowd
Bade the fair land good-by;
Clear shone the day, with not a single cloud
In all the peaceful sky.Brave men, sweet women, little children bright
For all these she made room,
And with her freight of beauty and delight
She went to meet her doom.Storms buffeted the iceberg, spray was swept
Across its loftiest height;
Guided alike by storm and calm, it kept
Its fatal path aright.Then warmer waves gnawed at its crumbling base,
As if in piteous plea;
The ardent sun sent slow tears down its face
Soft flowing to the sea.Dawn kissed it with her tender rose tints. Eve
Bathed it in violet,
The wistful color o'er it seemed to grieve
With a divine regret.Whether Day clad its clefts in rainbows dim
And shadowy as a dream,
Or Night through lonely spaces saw it swim
White in the moonlight's gleam,Ever Death rode upon its solemn heights,
Ever his watch he kept;
Cold at its heart through changing days and nights
Its changeless purpose slept.And where afar a smiling coast it passed,
Straightway the air grew chill;
Dwellers thereon perceived a bitter blast,
A vague report of ill.Like some imperial creature, moving slow,
Meanwhile, with matchless grace,
The stately ship, unconscious of her foe,
Drew near the trysting place.For still the prosperous breezes followed her,
And half the voyage was o'er;
In many a breast glad thoughts began to stir
Of lands that lay before.And human hearts with longing love were dumb,
That soon should cease to beat,
Thrilled with the hope of meetings soon to come,
And lost in memories sweet.Was not the weltering waste of water wide
Enough for both to sail?
What drew the two together o'er the tide,
Fair ship and iceberg pale?There came a night with neither moon nor star,
Clouds draped the sky in black;
With fluttering canvas reefed at every spar,
And weird fire in her track,The ship swept on; a wild wind gathering fast
Drove her at utmost speed.
Bravely she bent before the fitful blast
That shook her like a reed.O helmsman, turn thy wheel! Will no surmise
Cleave through the midnight drear?
No warning of the horrible surprise
Reach thine unconscious ear?She rushed upon her ruin.  Not a flash
Broke up the waiting dark;
Dully through wind and sea one awful crash
Sounded, with none to mark.Scarcely her crew had time to clutch despair.
So swift the work was done:
Ere their pale lips could frame a speechless prayer,
They perished, every one!

 

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Titanic Premonitions
Celia Thaxter, writer of the poem, 'A Tryst'.

Celia Laighton was born in 1836, and five years later, her father became the keeper of a lighthouse off Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA. Her next few years would be greatly influenced by her surroundings, and when she began to produce works, such as poems and verse, the main topic would be the sea, ships, and the people associated with them.

She married Levi Thaxter, who was a poet himself, and continued to produce works of a nautically-themed nature, which led to the publication, in 1874, of a book of poetry called 'Poems of Celia Thaxter'. The poem in question, 'A Tryst', has been reproduced in the table shown here below left. We should be glad that there were survivors in the real disaster, as Thaxter's poem ends with the line, 'They persished, every one!'.

Celia Thaxter died in August, 1894, never to realise the incredible coincidence between her poem and the disaster that would follow in thirty-eight years time.

Another psychic who would eventually have an even more spectacular coincidence with the Titanic disaster was the British journalist William Thomas Stead. Stead was a crusading journalist, who brought to the public outrages and injustices, and had quite a following. He was such an influence that many of his campaigns would lead to changes in policy by Government. (He had, during a campaign to raise the age of consent, purchased a thirteen year-old girl for £5, to show how easy it was to procure girls for prostition. He was charged with unlawful kidnap, and jailed, along with five others, for three months. But the Government raised the age of consent later the same year, so his actions had influenced the Government to change the law.)

 
Titanic Premonitions
The infuential and prophetic William Thomas Stead, who didn't foresee his own death aboard Titanic .

He had started working for the Pall Mall Gazette as assistant editor, and had then taken over as editor, and it was during this period that he wrote a piece for the Gazette, titled 'How the mail steamer went down in mid-Atlantic, by a survivor'. It tells the story of a steamship that collides with another and many of the crew and passengers are lost because of the lack of sufficient lifeboat capacity. At the end of the piece, he wrote a sidenote; 'This is exactly what might take place and will take place if the liners are sent to the sea short of boats. - Ed.'

Stead left the Pall Mall Gazette, to found the monthly periodical, Review of Reviews, 1890. In another very strange coincidence, as part of its 1892 Christmas Special Edition, he described a fictional Atlantic voyage to Chicago's World Fair in the following year, entitled 'From The Old World To The New.' The piece described crossing the Atlantic aboard the White Star Line's Majestic, one of the finest liners of that period, and during the crossing, a clairvoyant passenger encounters two ghostly survivors from the wreck of the Ann and Jane, which sank after striking an iceberg. The survivors are rescued and Majestic steers south to avoid the ice field.

These two examples of Stead's prophetic powers might be impressive in their own right, but the final twist in his own story would not become apparent until twenty years after the publication of 'From The Old World To The New'. In 1912, at the invitation of his good friend President Taft, Stead was to attend and speak at a rally for world peace at New York's Carnegie Hall.

Stead travelled on Titanic , and was lost in the sinking.



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