Elbert Hubbard was an American writer and philosopher, publisher and artist, born in 1856. He was maybe a bit of a rascal and maybe he enjoyed it. His life with his second wife included evolving political beliefs and meetings described as sites for radicals, freethinkers, reformers, and suffragists.
Fascinating guy and what an interesting time to be alive. But of course I headed for the love story. He once wrote of the Titanic disaster, and in particular the story of Ida Straus, who could have boarded a lifeboat but would not leave her husband. He wrote in part, “Mr. and Mrs. Straus, I envy you that legacy of love and loyalty left to your children and grandchildren.”
On May 1, 1915, Hubbard left with his wife on his own voyage to Europe. They boarded the RMS Lusitania. The couple perished together after the ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German u-boat. The following year a passenger who did survive wrote to Hubbard’s son, saying: “I cannot say specifically where your father and Mrs. Hubbard were when the torpedoes hit, but I can tell you just what happened after that. They emerged from their room, which was on the port side of the vessel, and came onto the boat-deck.” He goes on to describe how he watched the couple assess the situation, and then link arms as they did when
walking the deck. As the writer moved to the side of the ship hoping for an opportunity to jump at the right time, he called out to the Hubbard’s, asking what they were going to do. He recalls that Mrs. Hubbard smiled and replied, “There does not seem to be anything to do.” The letter writer then continues…”your father…then did one of the most dramatic things I ever saw done. He simply turned with Mrs. Hubbard and entered a room on the top deck…and closed the door behind him. It was apparent that his idea was that they should die together, and not risk being parted on going into the water.”
I found Elbert Hubbard only because I was trying to track down a quote I heard today. The two quoted sentences grabbed me and I thought they might grab you too. Then I got interested in Hubbard’s story as told by Wikipedia and other spots online. And when I read about him and the Titanic and the Lusitania, I thought, wow, he wrote serious words and then he lived them – or died them - and that’s
enough to ponder for one blog. I’ll share the quote with you next time.