It is 100 years since the Titanic went down. Even as it happened, there were those who felt it was a metaphor for the end of the Victorian age. The great, self-confident ship, with its rigid social classifications, was clearly an emblem of the Britain that had sent the ship forth in April 1912. GK Chesterton, in The Illustrated London News, saw “our whole civilisation” as being “very like the Titanic” … “There was no sort of sane proportion between the extent of the provision for luxury and levity, and the extent of the provision for need and desperation. The scheme did far too much for prosperity and far too little for distress – just like the modern State.” The statistics for the deaths among the passenger lists seemed to bear out not simply the unfairness of the divisions between rich and poor, but also the differences between national characteristics. The death toll was 1,514, at least. Of these, 1,352 were men and 162 were women and children. Most of those who travelled first class were able to get into the lifeboats. Only four out of the 144 first-class women died, and three of them chose to remain on the ship. In second class, 154 men out of 168 died. In third class, 381 men out of 456 perished, and 89 women out of 165.

more from AN Wilson at the FT here.