It was all over in a breathless flash. It was not one lucky blow that did it, but a sequence of business-like crushing strokes. We shall not soon forget that picture before the gong rang: Carpentier, still the White Knight of legend and glory, with his charming upward smile and easy unconcern; and Dempsey’s dark cropped head, bent and glowering over his chest. There was in Dempsey’s inscrutable, darkling mien a cold, simmering anger, as of a man unfairly hounded, he hardly knew why. And probably, we think, unjustly. You will say that we import a symbolism into a field where it scarcely thrives. But Carpentier’s engaging merriment in the eye of oncoming downfall seemed to us almost a parable of those who have smiled too confidingly upon the dark faces of the gods.
You are the most modest of men, but even at the risk of arousing your displeasure we have it on our mind to say something about you. We shall try not to be offensively personal, for indeed we are thinking not merely of yourself but also of the many others of your seafaring art who have always been such steadfast servants of the public, the greatness of whose service has not always been well enough understood. But perhaps it is only fair that the sea captain, so unquestionable an autocrat in his own world, should be called upon to submit to that purging and erratic discipline which is so notable a feature of our American life—publicity!
It is not enough understood, we repeat, how valuable and charming the sea captain is as an agent and private ambassador of international friendship. Perhaps we do not know you until we have seen you at sea (may the opportunity serve anon!). We have only known you with your majesty laid aside, your severity relaxed. But who else so completely and humorously understands both sides of the water, and in his regular movements from side to side acts so shrewd a commentator on Anglo-American affairs? Who takes more keen delight in our American ways, in the beauty of this New York of which we are so proud, who has done so much to endear each nation to the other? Yours, true to your blood (for you are Scot Scotorum), is the humorist’s way: how many passengers you have warmed and tickled with your genial chaff, hiding constant kindness under a jocose word, perhaps teasing us Americans on our curious conduct of knives and forks, or (for a change) taking the cisatlantic side of the jape, esteeming no less highly a sound poke at British foibles.