British Brains – the Best, by Arnold White
Arnold White (1848-1925) was an English journalist who sat on the council for the Eugenics Education Society. This article, in which smoking chimneys and warships are among the cited signs of the superiority of “British brains”, was published in The London Magazine in 1911. Note that this “superiority” is attri-
buted to “racial and climatic causes”. No doubt White was also into phrenology — one of the prevalent idiocies of the day. To read the article, and to see what passed for profound wisdom in the early 20th century, click here.
Pencil sketch of the sinking of the Titanic, 1912
Steward Leo James Hyland, one of the survivors, later produced this sketch of the liner as it went down. The picture is from A Night to Remember, by Walter Lord, Longmans, Green and Co, 1956. Note the absence of steam from the dummy funnel. For The Evening Sun’s erroneous first report of the tragedy, click here.
Overriding everything else, the Titanic also marked the end of a general feeling of confidence. Until then men felt they had found the answer to a steady, orderly, civilized life. For 100 years the Western world had been at peace. For 100 years technology had steadily improved. For 100 years the benefits of peace and industry seemed to be filtering satisfactorialy through society. In retrospect, there may seem less grounds for confidence, but at the time most articulate people felt life was all right.
The Titanic woke them up. Never again would they be quite so sure of themselves. In technology especially, the disaster was a terrible blow. Here was the “unsinkable ship” — perhaps man’s greatest engineering achievement — going down the first time it sailed.
But it went beyond that. If this supreme achievement was so terribly fragile, what about everything else? If wealth meant so little on this cold April night, did it mean so much the rest of the year? Scores of ministers preached that the Titanic was a heaven-sent lesson to awaken people from their complacency, to punish them for top-heavy faith in material progress. If it was a lesson, it worked — people have never been sure of anything since.
The unending sequence of disillusionment that has followed can’t be blamed on the Titanic, but she was the first jar. Before the Titanic, all was quiet. Afterwards, all was tumult. That is why, to anybody who lived at the time, the Titanic more than any other single event marks the end of the old days, and the beginning of a new, uneasy era. — Extract from A Night to Remember, by Walter Lord
Last minutes in the life of the Schutte-Lanz 11, Sept 3, 1916
|The fragment is, indeed, from the German Navy airship L15. But contrary to the statement on it, the concertina series of photographs is of the final moments in the life of the airship Schutte-Lanz 11.|
The German Navy L15, commanded by Joachim Breithaupt, came down in the sea off Margate, largely intact, on March 31, 1916. One crew member, Willy Albrecht, drowned, but the remaining 16 men were rescued. The German Army SL11, commanded by Hauptmann Wilhelm Schramm, became the first German airship to be shot down over England when it crashed in flames at Cuffley, Hertfordshire, on September 3, 1916. Schramm, who had often been asked whether he would “jump or burn” in such an eventuality, wrapped his wife’s scarf around himself and leapt to his death. There were no survivors. To view the photos, click here.
The human sandwich: A Victorian mental patient
Cruel treatment: If you weren’t insane when they put you into this contraption, you soon would be.
The straitjacket at left is from a surgical instruments catalog published in London in 1930. The text on the page, which is headed Restraint Apparatus, says the straitjacket is “made in stout sailcloth, to lace in front or at the back”. It cost £1.17s.6d. For no additional cost, it was also available with strong “leather straps and buckles” (presumably for tougher customers).
In The Anxiety Makers (1967), Dr Alex Comfort reports that restraint, as a means of dealing with “self-abuse”, was advocated in 37.2% of cases in England and the United States, compared with 21.2% of cases in France. The figures for surgical intervention were 19.2% and 10.6% of cases, respectively. These harmful, totally unnecessary procedures continued until World War II.