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Franklin Knight Lane
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 419 pages of information about Letters of Franklin K. Lane.

The Leenalaw case shows that Germany can do exactly what we have been asking her to do; namely, give people a chance to get off the ship before they blow her up.  This is good sense and good morals; and the whole neutral world is behind us.  If, in response to our note, Germany had said, “We regret the destruction of American lives, and are willing to make reparation, and have directed our submarines that they shall not torpedo any ships until the ship has been given an opportunity to halt,” there would have been no trouble; but Germany evidently did not take us seriously.  Our English was a bit too diplomatic.

I am writing you thus frankly, and in confidence, of course, because I respect your opinion greatly.  Cordially yours,

FRANKLIN K. LANE

In the middle of August, Lane joined his family at Essex-on-Champlain, New York, for a few days.  While there he went with Mr. and Mrs. James S. Harlan to Westport, some miles further south on the lake, to see the summer boat races and water sports.  Mr. Harlan’s motor-boat, the Gladwater, which had been built on his dock by Dick Mead, won the race, and that evening on their return Lane gave the following letter to the successful builder:—­

August 21, 1915

To “Dick” Mead on winning the race at Westport in the Gladwater.

We wonder sometimes why man was made, so full is life of things that terrorize, that sadden and embitter.  This life is a sea; tranquil sometimes but so often fierce and cruel.  And you and I are conscript sailors.  Whether we will or no we must sail the sea of life, and in a ship that each must build for himself.  To each is given iron and unhewn timber, to some more and to some less, with which to fashion his craft.  Then the race really starts.

Some of us build ships that are no more than rafts, formless, lazy things that float.  Fair weather things for moonlight nights.  But others, high-hearted men of vision, will not be satisfied to drift with the current or accept the easy way.  They know that they can do better than drift, and they must!  The timber and the iron become plastic under their touch.  The dreams of the long night they test in the too-short day.  They make and they unmake; they drop their tools perhaps for a time and drift; they despair and curse their impatient and unsatisfied souls.  But rising, they set to work again, and one day comes the reward, the planks fit together, and feeling the purpose of the builder, clasp each other in firm and beautiful lines; the unwilling metal at last melts into form and place and becomes the harmonious heart of the whole —­and so a ship is born that masters the cruel sea, that cuts the fierce waves with a knife of courage.

To dream and model, to join and file, to melt and carve, to balance and adjust, to test and to toil—­these are the making of the ship.  And to a few like yourself comes the vision of the true line and the glory of the victory.  Sincerely yours,

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