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& Co., of Liverpool, the whole to be completed by the first of Jupe following, and ready to be submerged in the sea.
In the meantime the British public had viewed the project with the utmost favor. They had granted an annual subsidy of £14,000, and had promised two of the largest vessels in the navy to aid in laying the cable. Immediately upon his return to America, Mr. Field went to Washington, where he laid the matter before the authorities, seeking their approval. Through Mr. Seward a bill, offering privileges similar to those granted by the British Government, was presented to Congress. Contrary to the expectations of its friends, it met with extreme opposition, and passed by a majority of one. With great difficulty it was worked through the House, and was signed by President Pierce on the day preceding bis political death. An annual subsidy of $70,000 and the use of the two largest vessels in the navy were granted.
Every thing was now satisfactorily arranged. The noble vessels, Niag. ara and Susquehanna, were designated from the American navy ; the Agamemnon and Leopard, from the British navy. Mr. Field was recalled to Europe, where, as general manager of the new company, his services were required. On the 22d day of June, the Niagara and Agamemnon began to stow away the cable, each taking half, and so heartily did the work progress that in about three weeks thirteen hundred miles of the coil were safely stowed in each vessel. The event was duly celebrated by a gigantic festival given to the sailors and workmen, with their wives; while the officers of the vessels were regaled at a banquet prepared by the stockholders.
The labor and feasting being ended, the Niagara and Susquehanna left Liverpool the latter part of July, and steamed down to Queenstown, where they were joined by the Agamemnon and Leopard. Here the cable on the two ships was joined and tested from end to end, and found perfect. This inspired fresh hopes for the success of the expedition, and in high spirits the vessels bore away for the harbor of Valentia. Contrary to the advice of the engineers, it was determined to lay the whole cable in a continnous line from Valentia Bay to Newfoundland. The Niagara was to lay the first half from Ireland to the middle of the ocean, where the end would then be joined to the other half on the Agamemnon, which was to lay on to Newfoundland.
At Valentia, as at Liverpool, there was a time of feasting which continued for several days. On Wednesday, August 5th, the shore end was landed by the American sailors from the Niagara, and was received with the greatest enthusiasm, the Lord-Lieutenant and other nobles seizing the rope and helping to drag it on shore. On the morning of the 7th the vessels set sail, but were checked by an accident which detained them another day. Before they had gone five miles the heavy shore end became entangled in the machinery and parted. It was successfully underrun and spliced, when the vessels again moved. For four days all went well, but on Monday night the cable ceased to work. The electricians gave it up ; the engineers were about to cut it and wind it, when the current returned. Joy again prevailed over the ship, and a few crept to their couches ; but before morning these hopes were finally destroyed. The cable, it seems, was running out too freely, probably because of a powerful undercurrent. To check the waste, the engineer applied the brakes and stopped the machine. A heavy strain upon the cable in the water resulted ; the ship was in the trough of the sea; as she rose the pressure was too great, and the cable parted.
On the following morning a consultation was held. It was found that 300 miles had been paid out, and that only 1,847 miles remained. This was adjudged insufficient to warrant a continuation of the enterprise, and it was abandoned. Mr. Field hastened to London, there to meet the directors. Though disappointed, these men were not disheartened, and they felt no disposition to abandon the scheme. They had learned the defects of their machinery, and also the difficulties of the project. They set themselves to prepare against these, and determined to make a second expedition in the following year.
The lost portion of the cable cost the company £100,000. But, undismayed, the directors gave orders for the construction of seven hundred miles of new cable, that in case of a similar disaster there might be a surplus, and the enterprise need not be again suspended. The American and British governments again promised their assistance, and Mr. Everett, chief-engineer of the Niagara, invented a new paying-out machine, whose brakes were less cumbrous and more regular in their movements than those einployed on the first expedition. The cable was reshipped at Plymouth. This process occupied the whole of April and part of May, the line being much longer than before. The cable was now tested. It was perfect, and Mr. Everett's paying-out apparatus worked admirably.
On June 10th, 1858, the vessels sailed from Plymouth. For three days the weather was excellent, but on the 13th the wind began to blow. From this time until the 20th the storm steadily increased in fury. On the 20th, the coil on board the Agamemnon shifted, and the vessel was in danger of foundering. But all things have an end, and on Friday, the 25th, the vessels met in mid-ocean, the cable was spliced, and they separated, the Niagara for Europe, the Agamemnon for America. Before the steamers had gone three miles the cable broke, having become entangled in the machinery on the Niagara. A splice was again effected. * Forty miles had gone,” says a writer on the Agamemnon, "when suddenly Prof. Thomson came on deck and announced a total break of continuity : the cable had parted, and, as was believed at the time, from the Niagara.” In a moment a blue light and signal gun from the Valorous, consort of the Niagara, showed a similar belief on that vessel. When the ships rejoined it was found that at nearly the same instant the operator on each vessel discovered a break about ten miles from his ship. There was now no time for inquiries respecting this mysterious event. Once more a splice was made, and the steamers again separated. This was on Monday. Two hundred miles were paid out, when, suddenly, the cable again parted, this time about twenty miles from the Agamemnon. There being no hopes of success, the cable was cut off from the Niagara, and the vessels reluctantly bore away for Queenstown.
The directors met at London. A feeling of the deepest discouragement pervaded the meeting. Some were for selling the cable and totally abandoning the enterprise. But Mr. Field was obdurate. “The ships are still here, and we have cable enough to cross the ocean. Let us make one more attempt.” Prof. Thomson still maintained that the enterprise was feasible. Their views prevailed, and the majority of the directors determined to make one more attempt. The vessels were immediately put in condition for a new expedition, and in five days, on July 17th, the squadron was again under weigh. On July 29th, the steamers met in mid-ocean, effected a splice, and moved in their respective directions. · On August, 5th, the Niagara reached Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, in safety. On the same day the Agamemnon entered Valentia Bay, having børned her masts and all the spare timber on her decks for fuel, her coel having failed.
The previous failures of the enterprise had rendered Mr. Field an object of public derision. The present success made bim an idol. The news of the completion of the cable caused a wild burst of joy throughout our country. New York city held great meetings, had an immense procession of military and the trades during the day, and at night a brillant torchlight procession of firemen, closing the whole with a grand pyrotechnic display. The final scene of this display, though not on the order of exercises, far excelled the rest. The City Hall took fire, and was damaged to the extent of $30,000.
But human hopes are vain. On the very day of this gigantic celebration the Atlantic cable gave its last throb. When this news reached the public the depression was in exact proportion to the elation. Mr. Field was abused on all sides as a deceiver. Many denied that the cable had ever worked, and asserted that the despatches received never passed over the wire ; they maintained that the whole was a stock-jobbing affair to enable Mr. Field to sell his worthless stock. How true this assertion was, Dr. Field shows in his work. Mr. Field sold only one of his eighty-eight shares, preferring to hold the rest. That the cable did work is most satisfactorily proved by Dr. Field, who gives in fall the various telegrams, and by comparison shows that they could never have been compiled by guesswork. It is certain that at least two despatches were transmitted, countermanding orders for transportation of troops, whereby £60,000 were saved to the British treasury.
The failure of this cable was a fearful disaster to the enterprise. Still Mr. Field did not despair. Application was again made to the British Government, but with only partial success. The public were called upon to give means for renewal of the undertaking, but no money was forthcoming. For five years the project seemed dead. Meanwhile, scientific men were applying tests and making improvements; marine cables were being laid in various parts of the world, and public confidence in an Atlantic Telegraph began to revive. Mr. Field still urged his hobby. At length, in August, 1863, the public feeling was so favorable that, although the funds were not in hand, the Board of Directors advertised for a new cable. The contract was given to Messrs. Glass, Elliott & Co. Every thing seemed prosperous, and Mr. Field, in high spirits, was about to return to America, when news came that there was no money, and further prosecution of the enterprise must be deferred.
“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” Mr. Field was sick. £600,000 were required for the new cable. The old stock company was without vitality ; unless new blood could be infused, the enterprise must fail hopelessly. With characteristic energy he renewed bis efforts. He first applied to Mr. Thomas Brassy, who offered to take one-tenth of the whole. Others followed. The Gutta Percha Company, and Messrs. Glass, Elliott & Co., combined to form the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co. Thus far only £285,000 had been subscribed. This company offered to take the rest, £315,000. They did more : they took £100,000 of the Atlantic Telegraph Company's bónds. The problem was now solved. The Atlantic Telegraph was to be a reality.
A fresh difficulty was now encountered. The new cable was 2,700 statute miles long, and was much more bulky than either of the former cables. Where could it be stowed ? Providence had caused the Great Eastern to be bailt, apparently for this purpose alone, as she is useless for any other. This vessel was then for sale. Her fitness being evident, some of the gentlemen most active in reviving the cable combined to purchase her. She was immediately put at the service of the Atlantic Company. A commander for her was found in Capt. Anderson, of the Cunard steamer China.
The work now went on with speed. Mr. Field, with a light heart, returned to America, but early spring found him again on his way to Europe. At length, on May 29th, the work was finished, and on July 15th the great ship bore away to Foilhommerum Bay, about six miles from Valentia. Here the shore end was fixed, and the Great Eastern set out on the expedition, Sunday, July 23d. For two weeks every thing went well. Within six hundred miles of Newfoundland, and within two days' sail of shallow water, they felt safe. But on Wednesday the signals ceased. Down on the floor of the sea some minute fault had occurred. The men began to wind in the cable ; but while they were thus engaged the steamer drifted and chafed the cable, so that as the injured part touched the wheel it parted, and twelve hundred miles were lost. Canning, engineer-in-chief, declared his intention to grapple for it though it lay two and a half miles below the surface. Three times the cable was secured, but each time the grappling tackle gave way. At last the rope broke, and the expedition was compelled to return.
The expedition for 1865 was over. It did not succeed, yet it was not all a failure. It proved that a cable could be laid ; it proved that if the cable should break, it could be recovered by proper grappling appliances. No one was discouraged. A new attempt was immediately ordered. Encouraged by the partial snccess of 1865, the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company offered to construct and lay the cable, to be paid only in case of success.
Legal difficulties having arisen respecting the issue of preferred stocks by the Atlantic Telegraph Company, it was thought best to organize a new company to share the profits with the old one. The new association was termed the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, capital £600,000. It contracted with the Atlantic Company to construct and lay down a cable in the summer of 1866, for doing which it is to be entitled to a preference dividend of twenty-five per centum. The whole capital of this company was secured in fourteen days, the subscriptions varying in amount from £500 to £100,000.
It was already March 1st, only four months remained in which to manufacture 1660 nautical miles of cable and prepare for sea. But the obstacles were cleared away, and all went to work with great vigor. The cable was similar to that of 1865, the machinery was strengthened, and the grappling rope could bear a strain of thirty tons. The steamer herself was cleaned, for in her many voyages her hull had become fooled and was covered with seaweed, muscles, and barnacles to a thickness of two feet. Her boilers were scraped, her engines inspected and strengthened, so that she might be well prepared. On the last day of June every thing was in readiness, and the great ship sailed for the Irish coast. The shore end was again laid, the fifth time, the splice was effected, and the squadron soon disappeared from the coast. The rest is of yesterday. A voyage of uninterrupted success. On the 29th of July, by that cord we in America learned of peace in Europe.
And this is the history of the cable. A monument to American skill and energy. Morse invented the telegraph, Field laid it on the bed of the ocean.
In this paper we have given but a synoptical narrative. Dr. Field's History," from which we have drawn the facts, is full of thrilling details. It is thoroughly reliable, as the author is brother to Mr. C. W. Field, the projector. It contains much general information concerning the goography of the sea, which, in its connection with the main subject, is of great interest.