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The expedition of 1857, and the two expeditions of 1858, were joint enterprises, in which the Niagara' and 'Susquehanna 'took part with the Agamemnon,' the Leopard,' the Gorgon,' and the Valorous'; and the officers of both navies worked with generous rivalry for the same great object. The capital of the Atlantic Telegraph Company (£350,000) except one-quarter, which was taken by myself— was subscribed wholly in Great Britain. The directors were almost all English bankers and merchants, though among them was one gentleman whom we are proud to call an American-Mr. George Peabody-a name honored in two countries, since he has showered his princely benefactions upon both. With the history of the expedition of 1857-8 you are familiar. On the third trial we gained a brief success. The cable was laid, and for four weeks it worked, though never very brilliantly, never giving forth such rapid and distinct flashes as the cables of to-day.
"It spoke, though only in broken sentences. But while it lasted no less than 400 messages were sent across the Atlantic. You all remember the enthusiasm which it excited. It was a new thing under the sun, and for a few weeks the public went wild over it. Of course, when it stopped, the reaction was very great. People grew dumb and suspicious. Some thought it was all a hoax; and many were quite sure that it never worked at all. That kind of odium we have had to endure for eight years, till now, I trust, we have at last silenced the unbelievers.
After the failure of 1858 came our darkest days. When a thing is dead, it is hard to galvanize it into life. It is more difficult to revive an old enterprise than to start a new one. The freshness and novelty are gone, and the feeling of disappointment discourages further effort.
"Other causes delayed a new attempt. This country had become involved in a tremendous war; and while the nation was struggling for life, it had no time to spend in foreign enterprises.
"But in England the project was still kept alive. The Atlantic Telegraph Company kept up its organization. It had a noble body of directors, who had faith in the enterprise, and looked beyond its present low estate to ultimate success. I cannot name them all, but I must speak of our Chairman, -the Right Hon. James Stuart Wortley,- -a gentleman who did not join us in the hour of victory, but in what seemed the hour of despair, after the failure of 1858, and who has been a steady support through all these years.
"All this time the science of submarine telegraphy was making progress. The British Government appointed a commission to investigate the whole subject. It was composed of eminent scientific men and practical engineers-Galton, Wheatstone, Fairbairn, Bidder, Varley, and Latimer, and Edwin Clark with the Secretary of the Company, Mr. Saward-names to be held in honor in connection with this enterprise, along with those of other English engineers, such as Stephenson, and Brunel, and Whitworth, and Penn, and Lloyd, and Joshua Field, who gave time and thought and labor freely to this enterprise, refusing all com
pensation. This commission sat for nearly two years, and spent many thousands of pounds in experiments. The result was a clear conviction in every mind that it was possible to lay a telegraph across the Atlantic. Science was also being all the while applied to practice. Submarine cables were laid in different seas
in the Mediterranean, in the Red Sea, and in the Persian Gulf. "When the scientific and engineering problems were solved, we took heart again, and began to prepare for a fresh attempt. This was in 1863. In this country- though the war was still raging-I went from city to city, holding meetings and trying to raise capital, but with poor success. Men came and listened, and said 'it was all very fine,' and 'hoped I would succeed,' but did nothing. In one of the cities they gave me a large meeting, and passed some beautiful resolutions, and appointed a committee of 'solid men' to canvass the city, but I did not get a solitary subscriber! In this city I did better, though money came by the hardest. By personal solicitations, encouraged by good friends, I succeeded in raising £70,000. Since not many had faith, I must present one example to the contrary, though it was not till a year later. When almost all deemed it a hopeless scheme, one gentleman came to me and purchased stock of the Atlantic Telegraph Company to the amount of $100,000. That was Mr. Loring Andrews, who is here this evening to see his faith rewarded. But at the time I speak of, it was plain that our main hope must be in England, and I went to London. There, too, it dragged heavily. There was a profound discouragement. Many had lost before, and were not willing to throw more money into the sea. We needed £600,000, and with our utmost efforts we had raised less than half, and there the enterprise stood in a dead lock. It was plain that we must have help from some new quarter. I looked around to find a man who had broad shoulders, and could carry a heavy load, and who would be a giant in the cause. It was at this time I was introduced to a gentleman, whom I would hold up to the American public as a specimen of a great-hearted Englishman, Mr. Thomas Brassey. I went to see him, though with fear and trembling. He received me kindly, but put me through such an examination as I never had before. I thought I was in the witness-box. He asked every possible question, but my answers satisfied him, and he ended by saying it was an enterprise which ought to be carried out, and that he would be one of ten men to furnish the money to do it. This was a pledge of £60,000 sterling! Encouraged by this noble offer, I looked around to find another such man, though it was almost like trying to find two Wellingtons. But he was found in Mr. John Pender, of Manchester. I went to his office one day in London, and we walked together to the House of Commons, and before we got there he said he would take an equal share with Mr. Brassey.
"The action of these two gentlemen was a turning-point in the history of our enterprise; for it led shortly after to a union of the well-known firm of Glass, Elliot & Co. with the Gutta Percha Company, making of the two one grand concern known as 'The Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company,' which in
cluded not only Mr. Brassey and Mr. Pender, but other men of great wealth, such as Mr. George Elliot, and Mr. Barclay of London, and Mr. Henry Bewley of Dublin, and which, thus reinforced with immense capital, took up the whole enterprise in its strong arms. We needed, I have said, £600,000, and with all our efforts in England and America we raised only £285,000. This new company now came forward, and offered to take the whole remaining £315,000, besides £100,000 of the bonds, and to make its own profits contingent on success. Mr. Richard A. Glass was made Managing Director, and gave energy and vigor to all its departments, being admirably seconded by the Secretary, Mr. Shuter.
"A few days after half a dozen gentlemen joined together and bought the ‘Great Eastern,' to lay the cable; and at the head of this company was placed Mr. Daniel Gooch, a member of Parliament, and Chairman of the Great Western Railway, who was with us in both the expeditions which followed.
"The good fortune which favored us in our ship favored us also in our commander. Many of you know Capt. Anderson, who was for years in the Cunard line. How well he did his part in two expeditions the result has proved.
"Thus organized, the work of making a new Atlantic cable was begun. The core was prepared with infinite care, under the able superintendence of Mr. Chatterton and Mr. Willoughby Smith, and the whole was completed in about eight months. As fast as ready, it was taken on board the Great Eastern' and coiled in three enormous tanks, and on the 15th of July, 1865, the ship started on her memorable voyage.
"I will not stop to tell the story of that expedition. For a week all went well; we had paid out 1,200 miles of cable, and had only 600 miles further to go, when, hauling in the cable to remedy a fault, it parted and went to the bottom. That day I can never forget how men paced the deck in despair, looking out on the broad sea that had swallowed up their hopes; and then how the brave Canning for nine days and nights dragged the bottom of the ocean for our lost treasure, and, though he grappled it three times, failed to bring it to the surface. The story of that expedition, as written by Dr. Russell, who was on board the 'Great Eastern,' is one of the most marvellous chapters in the whole history of modern enterprise. We returned to England defeated, yet full of resolution to begin the battle anew. Measures were at once taken to make a second cable, and fit out a new expedition; and with that assurance I came home last autumn.
"In December I went back again, when lo, all our hopes had sunk to nothing. The Attorney-General of England had given his written opinion that we had no legal right, without a special act of Parliament (which could not be obtained under a year), to issue the new 12 per cent. shares, on which we relied to raise our capital. This was a terrible blow. The works were at once stopped, and the money which had been paid in returned to the subscribers. Such was the state of things only ten months ago. I reached London on the 24th of December, and the next day was
not a merry Christmas' to me. But it was an inexpressible comfort to have the counsel of such men as Sir Daniel Gooch and Sir Richard A. Glass; and to hear stouthearted Mr. Brassey tell us to go ahead, and, if need were, he would put down £60,000 more! It was finally concluded that the best course was to organize a new company, which should assume the work, and so originated the Anglo-American Telegraph Company. It was formed by ten gentlemen who met around a table in London, and put down £10,000 apiece. The great Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company, undaunted by the failure of last year, answered us with a subscription of £100,000. Soon after the books were opened to the public, through the banking-house of J. S. Morgan & Co., and in fourteen days we had raised the whole £600,000. Then the work began again, and went on with speed. Never was greater energy infused into any enterprise. It was only the 1st day of March that the new company was formed, and was registered as a company the next day; and yet such was the vigor and dispatch that in five months from that day the cable had been manufactured, shipped on the 'Great Eastern,' stretched across the Atlantic, and was sending messages, literally swift as lightning, from continent to continent.
"Yet this was not a lucky hit '—a fine run across the ocean in calm weather. It was the worst weather I ever knew at that season of the year. We had fogs and storms almost the whole way. Our success was the result of the highest science combined with practical experience. Everything was perfectly organized, to the minutest detail. We had on board an admirable staff of officers; such men as Halpin and Beckwith; and engineers long used to this business, such as Canning, and Clifford, and Temple; and electricians, such as Prof. Thomson, of Glasgow, and Willoughby Smith, and Laws; while Mr. C. F. Varley, our companion of the year before, who stands among the first in knowledge,in practical skill, remained with Sir Richard Glass at Valentia, to keep watch at that end of the line; and Mr. Latimer Clark, who was to test the cable when done. Of these gentlemen, Prof. Thomson, as one of the earliest and most eminent electricians of England, has received the distinction of knighthood. England honors herself when she thus pays honor to science; and it is fit that the government which honored chemistry in Sir Humphry Davy, should honor electrical science in Sir William Thomson.
"But our work was not over. After landing the cable safely at Newfoundland, we had another task-to return to mid-ocean and recover that lost in the expedition of last year. This achievement has perhaps excited more surprise than the other. Many even now don't understand it,' and every day I am asked how it was done?' Well, it does seem rather difficult to fish for a jewel at the bottom of the ocean, two and a half miles deep. But it is not so very difficult-when you know how. You may be sure we did not go a-fishing at random, nor was our success mere luck; it was the triumph of the highest nautical and engineering skill. We had four ships, and on board of them some of the
best seamen in England, men who knew the ocean as a hunter knows every trail in the forest.
"There was Capt. Moriarty, who was in the Agememnon' in 1857-8. He was in the Great Eastern' last year, and saw the cable when it broke; and he and Capt. Anderson at once took their observations so exact that they could go right to the spot. After finding it, they marked the line of the cable by a row of buoys; for fogs would come down, and shut out sun and stars, so that no man could take an observation. These buoys were anchored a few miles apart. They were numbered, and each had a flag-staff on it, so that it could be seen by day; and a lantern by night. Thus having taken our bearings, we stood off three or four miles, so as to come broadside on, and then casting over the grapnel, drifted slowly down upon it, dragging the bottom of the ocean as we went. At first it was a little awkward to fish in such deep water, but our men got used to it, and soon could cast a grapnel almost as straight as an old whaler throws a harpoon. Our fishing-line was of formidable size. It was made of rope, twisted with wires of steel, so as to bear a strain of 30 tons. It took about two hours for the grapnel to reach bottom, but we could tell when it struck. I often went to the bow, and sat on the rope, and could feel by the quiver that the grapnel was dragging on the bottom two miles under us. But it was a very slow business. We had storms and calms and fogs and squalls. Still we worked on, day after day. Once, on the 17th of August, we got the cable up, and had it in full sight for five minutes, a long, slimy monster, fresh from the ooze of the ocean's bed, but our men began to cheer so wildly that it seemed to be frightened, and suddenly broke away, and went down into the sea. This accident kept us at work two weeks longer; but, finally, on the last night of August, we caught it. We had cast the grapnel thirty times. It was a little before midnight on Friday night that we hooked the cable, and it was a little after midnight Sunday morning when we got it on board. What was the anxiety of those twenty-six hours! The strain on every man's life was like the strain on the cable itself. When finally it appeared, it was midnight; the lights of the ship, and in the boats around our bows, as they flashed in the faces of the men, showed them eagerly watching for the cable to appear on the water. At length it was brought to the surface. All who were allowed to approach crowded forward to see it. Yet not a word was spoken; only the voices of the officers in command were heard giving orders. All felt as if life and death hung on the issue. It was only when it was brought over the bow and on to the deck that men dared to breathe. Even then they hardly believed their eyes. Some crept toward it to feel of it, to be sure it was there. Then we carried it along to the electricians' room, to see if our long sought for treasure was alive or dead. A few minutes of suspense, and a flash told of the lightning current again set free. Then did the feeling long pent up burst forth. Some turned away their heads and wept. Others broke into cheers, and the cry ran from man to man, and was heard down in the engine-rooms, deck below deck, and from the