Captain Alphonse P. M. Perier d'Hauterive
French Line Captain Alphonse P. M. Perier D'Hauterive—(Compagnie Générale Transatlantique SS Labrador). From a photograph by A. Caccia, Le Havre. GGA Image ID # 12e54440e9
So much for the Germans. Now, what about the French captains? Here is the condensed essence of an old ocean traveler's opinions, as he expressed them recently to me:
"You know that I am not the sort of a man to be deceived by the superficial appearance of anyone, and that surface politeness is a thing I loathe. Moreover, I have crossed this sea as many times as most of the veterans who live upon it. Therefore, my opinion on a line is entitled to some respect.
Well, this I can say for the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique: their ships— Oh! You don't want to hear about the ships; it's only about the captains you want me to talk to. Very well. I have crossed with them all and know them pretty intimately.
Individually, they are all entirely different. Collectively, they are as courteous a set of men as I have ever known. They are as kind-hearted and gentle as schoolgirls, and, despite what you may hear occasionally, they are as good seamen and brave and calm in danger as you will find anywhere. They assure your safety by their constant watchfulness and your comfort and contentment by their polite attention. What more could I say of any man or men ?"
I have found by personal investigation that this statement is true as gospel. In the first place, they have been proven to be skilled navigators. Four out of the six are officers of the French navy, and all but one are Chevaliers of the Legion of Honor.
The single exception, it is thought, will soon be awarded this distinction, for, besides being highly esteemed as a mariner, he (Perier d'Hauterive) bears a name honored in the naval history of France. I have heard numerous incidents from passengers that show that the exuberant, emotional nature of the Frenchman can be as phlegmatic and passionless in times of danger at sea as the coldest Scottish tar.
Captain Alphonse P. M. Perier d'Hauterive of the Labrador is a familiar-looking man. He is rather tall for a Frenchman and wears a full beard. He is of a slight frame, but his eyes make him rather conspicuous.
One is of Italian darkness and the other of the light hue peculiar to the Saxon. As if jealous of each other, each eye renders its owner all the service possible. The consequence is that the Labrador's commander is a marvel as to his wonderful sight.
And if the eyes be the windows of the soul, it is fair to presume that in his nature, Perier d'Hauterive blends the characteristics of the people of sunny skies with those of the land of fog, for he is both genial and calm, as occasions demand. He is the nephew of the late distinguished French admiral who bore the same name.
Charles Algernon Dougherty, "The Transatlantic Captains," Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. LXXIII (73), No. CCCCXXXV (435), August 1886, Pages 375-391. Captain Perier d'Hauterive, p. 389. Captain Perier d'Hauterive, p. 389.