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The Halifax Verdict

The Halifax Verdict image
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Oapt. Williams of the steamship Atlniitic hns been found so far culpable that lus 'lertifieate is suspended for two years by the Government Commission at Halifax. This is all tho result which has been arrived at by tho inquiry set on loot by tho Dominion Government It is sugsrested that his certifícate of license mig;ht bñ taken away altogother, but some regard to the cunrtuct of the Captaiu after tho disaster occurred sooms to have moved the Commission to mercy. Th? verdict will strike almost cverybody s inadequate. It is quite likely that the mnnly grief and genuine reiuorse of the defendant had on the Commission a mollifyins effect which indignant roader?, ontside the rcach of nny such personal influence, cannot feel. Still, it must bo borne in mind that this inquiry is only preliminary. Capt. Williams has vet to face the British board of Trado at Liverpool. It is hkely tlia-t that trial will be moro searching and the judgmcnt less sympathetic than nny which ootild be fiven at Halifax. It may not be fair to discuss the provincial verdict as conclusivo. As far as it goes, however, it is disnppointing. Two questions seem to have engaged the attention oí' the Commission : Was tho snpply of coal short ? Was the ntivigation of the ship defective ? The weipht of the verdict seenis to be thrown on the affirmative answer to the tirst inquiry. In fiict, so much more prominent is the matter of the coal supply made, we are cxpected tofeel that the wrecking of tha Bhip was, nfter all, a comparatively venial offoMisp. Tha Commission, with considurnV)l show of relief, mag-isterially iustify CupK Williams -iu changing Lis courso for Hulifax. We aro reniinded, in read this p;vrt of the findings, of the pitiful plea of the Captain : the passengors were really plo.-isuil wheu they fonnd the vessol was goiiiíí into port for supplies ; it was to be h pleasant episode in their voy6ge. Bricfly, tho oöioial conclusión is that tho ship had 967 tons of mixed coul put on board at Liverpool. Of this Braount 80 tons were consumed before loaviag port ; thus 887 tons were left for the voyage. Supposing the coal to bo of tbe best quality, this amount (which tvouM be used at the rate of 55 or 60 tons A day) would, according to the Commis siön, have lasted foureen days. But, being mixed (and used at the rate of 70 tons n day), it would last less than thirtuen duys. These ealnulations, whieh seem to be all made for this special exigency, would brlng the supply ot eoal to about the point rcached on the eloventh day out. Then the ship was four hundrerl and sixty milos froiu Sandy Hook and had 127 tons of fuel on board. Thorefore, the ship went into Halifnx. The Commission says Uapt. Williams was ju'stified in his course. We will not say that the Commission justify him in wreekiilg the ship thereaitpr ; but what follows his course seems to be considered quite a gocondary matter. Ships have ofton put into port for coal ; fortunatoly, they aro not ot'ten wrecked theruby. As for the fatil blunder and inefficiency of the Captain, though his oonduct 3 dwolt upon with muoh and faithful particularity, the conclusión is thn point for ■which everybody will look. The Conitnission rficall all tUo distrecjing facts ■svhich we already know. Thero are tho inattenti ve watch, the careless navigation, tho st range ignorance of currents, and the guesses and surniises which took the placo of exact knowledge. We seo the cominaiider going tranquilly to s'rop, nmi tho easy-going siibordinatoslounping on the deck. Onco more all the horrible lioslectful misnianagemont in the jaws of death comes up beforo us in tho rapid Biimmary of the findirgs of the ComDiission. Then compi the verdict - " Worthy of severo punishment." How much mnrcy for the iiresponsiblo officer who ■wrecked tho ship aud her freight of life ! How little for the owncrs of tho costly craft, sent to sen by those who had inore interest in her s;'fty thau r.ny other men! We cantiot bcüevo tliat this is all that can come of this inqnest. Justice has not been done totbe immediate cause of tho disaster. Wu must wait tora inoro


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Michigan Argus