25 NOVEMBER 1905, Page 3

Any disaster to a cross-Channel steamer strikes painfully the British

imagination ; but the disaster which last Satur- day night befell the London and South-Western Railway's passenger steamer Hilda ' would have been terrible any- where. It has cost more than, a hundred and twenty lives, and was a true disaster of the sea, not produced, so far as appears, by any human blunder. The Hilda ' left Southampton for St. Maio on Friday night in very bad weather, having on board twenty English passengers, mostly of the class which lives or works at Dinard or other French watering-places, and about eighty "onion men," worthy Bretons who are accustomed in the late autumn to peddle onions along our Southern coasts. On approaching the dangerous entrance to St: Malo, after a very slow voyage, the 'Hilda' was met three miles from the port by a blinding snowstorm. The captain, a most experienced officer, blinded and bewildered by the violence of the gale, appears to have missed the entrance, and the 'Hilda,' striking a rock, foundered at once. What precisely happened is not yet quite clear; but when on Sunday morning the Ada,' outward bound, passed the wreck, her boats were able to rescue only one English sailor and five or six onion -men, who were clinging to the rigging more than half frozen, and quite despairing of help in time. No one, so far as can be ascertained, was to blame; and both the Com- pany and the naval authorities at St. Maio did their utmost to aid the submerged steamer and the rescued passengers. The lamentable loss of life was, in fact, due to the occurrence of a snowstorm while the 'Hilda' was entangled among rocks which must always be dangerous to steamers making for St Malo.