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Monday, 7 October 2013

Sailing to America

Monday, October 7th., R.M.S. Lusitania, at sea from Liverpool.

I am on my way to the U.S.A. for a three month visit. My tour has been arranged by George Doran and I am travelling with Edward Knoblock, who is himself an American.

2nd. class crowd afar off. Much waiting and crying for them. None for us.
We left at 5.40, landing stage; then anchored in river to wait for tide.

First Class cabin
Immediately I got on this boat, I was struck by a new sense of my own importance. Seats at the purser's dining table had been reserved for me, & deckchairs also. The Chairman of Cunard had given orders that I was to be looked after, and Mr. Hoblyn, the Liverpool manager, came and showed Knoblock & me over the ship, & offered me another berth if I wanted it. I didn't. My berth is in the steadiest part of the ship. It is quite a small room, but with every convenience, except as I thought at first a writing table. I thought there might be a writing table, among all the trucs that fold up, but I hadn't yet discovered it. I have arranged to take my bath at 7 a.m. each day (if I am not ill). The ship is enormous. The sea is so far down below the promenade deck that it is like a mere incident, in another world. The lifts are continually ascending & descending. But no tea is served until after the boat departs.

The ship is simply magnificent. The only difference between it and a first-class grand hotel is that no first-class grand hotel is so spacious. The night weather is most beautiful. In the drawing-room (which is much larger than the Royalty Theatre) you cannot even feel the vibration of the screw. We had a very good dinner. It is like being in a restaurant where there is nothing to pay. You order whatever you like, and it comes, and the waiters are all English and very polite and quick. Gent at dining table: "I wonder how many souls we have on board?" Strong also on the indecency of the Russian ballets, which however he much admired.

Lusitania Writing Room

I have been to the writing-room and library (my books in it and people reading Hilda!). It is as large as the dining-room of the United Arts Club. When you have walked round the deck you have walked half a kilometre. I like my room because it is full of drawers and hooks and places for putting things away. I have now discovered that the top of the washstand makes a writing desk, and there is a beautiful electric light over the bed. 

There are in fact about 3,000 people on board altogether. 430 first-class passengers. The boat is quite full.

Lusitania charmed everyone who stepped aboard from the first moment. Cunard had gone to great length to make the passenger forget that they were at sea. At least while indoors, obviously. Glorifying European, and in particular British, design, Lucy was adorned with the finest woods, drawn from the oldest forests in England and France. Exquisitely wrought iron rails and bronze work was mixed with the finely carved oak and cedars to reproduce some of the most lavish decor styles, ranging from French Renaissance to English country. Lounges, smoking rooms, libraries, salons, private parlors and a beautiful palm court all treated the traveller to a cross section of European style, culture and atmosphere. Lavish accoutrements were to be found throughout the ship. In First Class, for example, all the bathroom fixtures were silver plated! First Class cabins aboard Lusitania sold for as much as $4,000 for a one-way trip in one of the Regal Suites. This at a time when the average man earned $20 a week! First Class passengers also enjoyed the use of an elevator as well as a covered promenade for outdoor walks in inclement weather. The First Class Dining Room was an elaborate space two decks high and topped by a huge ornate dome. Corinthian columns, potted palms and a menu to tempt even the most discriminating palate made the First Class Dining Room a favourite among its affluent occupants. Competing with the Dining Room in elegance was the First Class Lounge. Heavy oaks and carved plaster joined with an arcing stained-glass ceiling featuring skylights that filled the room with natural light by day while electric lights and chandeliers provided an intimate atmosphere at night. Similar to the Lounge was the First Class Smoking Room. This was an exclusive den of manhood, as was the ship's barbershop. The women had their own room, to be sure, the First Class Reading and Writing Room, a quiet and brightly lit room featuring tables and chairs where one could write a note on Lusitania stationary. 

Additionally for October 7th., see 'George Sturt and me' -

George Sturt wrote to me today as follows:
"If you had read between the lines with any discernment, you'd have been blushingly disowning my implied flattery instead of attacking me with a bludgeon. You have my full permission to go to the Devil."

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