Mahan: The Life and Work of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S.N.

By W. D. Puleston | Go to book overview

Chapter XX Commanding the Chicago

THE Chicago arrived at Queenstown on July 1, and her company immediately plunged into a gay social life. Mahan enjoyed the interesting people he met, but found the dinners something of a trial. Nevertheless, he received innumerable compliments on his books and improved the opportunity to discuss their content with his British admirers. He was soon invited to London for a dinner to meet the American Ambassadors ( Bayard was just relieving Robert T. Lincoln) and the First Lord of the Admiralty. He accepted, but when he calculated the expense of the trip telegraphed a refusal. This brought a friendly admonition from Lieutenant Commander W. S. Cowles, the Americal Naval Attaché, who wrote: "Pardon my insistence you really owe it to yourself to leave Dublin and come here if you possibly can." But by that time the condition of Mahan's leg made it impossible for him to leave the ship.

During the early part of the cruise, through a misunderstanding about his address, letters from his family were much delayed. Mahan became first alarmed and then exasperated; he scolded "Elly" very bitterly about her apparent neglect of her absent husband. In many places he has testified to his love for his wife, but nowhere is it more convincingly revealed than in his great anxiety and impatience during this separation.

One of the pleasant features of this European cruise was its comparative leisureliness; there was none of the hurried rush into port and out again that characterizes present-day naval schedules, but to Mahan, accustomed to the still more leisurely cruises of the 'seventies and

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