Captain Hamilton Perry
HAMILTON PERRY—(WHITE STAR: " BRITANNIC"). From a photograph by Mora, New York. GGA Image ID # 12e977c92f
The sea-captains, for the most part, are either one thing or the other—either of the jolly, genial type, or of the silent, retiring (I had almost said unsociable) sort. Occasionally one happens to be a little of both and not a great deal of either pattern of man. Such a one is Captain Hamilton Perry, who commands the White Star steamer Britannic.
He looks like a mariner, and ought to, for he comes of a race of sailors. There have been and are several sea-wanderers among the family. The elder brother of the gallant commander of the Britannic is a captain in her Majesty's Royal Navy, and perhaps the brave Perry who will always be remembered as one of America's greatest marine chieftains came from the same family of Neptunes.
He is Commodore of the White Star fleet, though he looks by no means the oldest. He is about fifty years of age, the greater part of which was passed upon the bounding deep.
He chose the sea as the sphere of his life, and was reared accordingly. He was educated at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, England, and almost before his boyhood days were over began the practical part of existence for which, it might almost be said, he was born and bred.
Captain Perry impresses different people differently. "It depends upon how you take him," some one once said. Yes, to a certain extent, it does. If you approach him upon the deck of his ship with one of the silly questions with which, unfortunately, too many ocean travelers are prone to harass the commanders, you will leave him presently with the notion that Captain Perry is not an agreeable man.
Don't insist upon his conversing with you when there are duties calling him elsewhere, but wait until he strolls leisurely about the deck, or lolls, when the sea is calm, over the rail beneath the bridge. Then speak to him as you would to any gentleman, and you will find the Britannic's commander a pleasant man.
He is, indeed, an agreeable man, and one who talks intelligently upon any subject, but "gushes" upon none. He has been in the service 'of the White Star Line for about fifteen years, but back as far as 1853 he began his transatlantic voyages, and has been crossing back and forth ever since.
Of course he has witnessed many strange sights and figured in not a few thrilling scenes during this long period, but even he has forgotten many of them, for it must needs be something startling and wonderful seen on the sea to impress itself upon the old mariner's mind.
Souvenirs of the time, such as testimonials, medals, etc., alone recall such incidents. The British government presented him with a handsome pair of binoculars, and the Shipwrecking. Humane Society of Great Britain gave him a medal for rescuing the shipwrecked crew of a vessel called the Allen in 1872.
He found her in the dead of night, waterlogged and with a shattered rudder, in mid-ocean. The medal was "clasped" by the society for a similar act in April, 1876, when the crew of the Norwegian bark Augusta were saved by him.