The Story of the Atlantic Telegraph
Around each of these flat wheels was a brake formed by a fillet of wood attached to an external circle of iron, and the the ends of these brakes were so arranged that they could be loaded so as to produce such a pressure and no more as the engineer in charge of the ship might desire. The pressure was produced by weighting the extremities of the brake apparatus with small flat pieces of iron. In the latter part of May, when the cable lay securely coiled in the holds of the vessels, a series of experimental trips were made, extending through three days and nights, and resulting in some minor modifications of the splicing apparatus, after which, on Thursday, June 10, the expedition started.
The ships met in mid-ocean, spliced and started; the cable broke, and the ships returned to the rendezvous. Again they spliced and started, again the cable parted, and the rendezvous was sought a third time. The same result attended the third splice, which was made in the evening of the 28th of June.
A terrible storm arose, and, as if old Neptune desired to resent his attempted bondage, the sea lashed furiously the storm-driven ships, and disaster of the direst nature threatened them. Disheartened, they all returned to Queenstown laden with the cable and sad experiences. Then succeeded. The expedition sailed from Queenstown on the 18th of July, and on Thursday, Aug. A dispatch from Mr. FIELD, a gentleman who had borne the brunt of the labor of this enterprise from the beginning, set all doubt at rest as to the probability of this unexpected piece of good news.
The arrival of the Niagara and Gorgon at Newfoundland, and the safe landing of the American end of the cable, was positive intelligence -- not idle rumor. The enterprise was accomplished. It was no wonder that the unexpectedly speedy fulfillment of deferred hopes elevated popular enthusiasm to fever-heat. The TIMES teemed with dispatches from all parts of the country, descriptive of the universal joy which the tidings inspired; and the confirmatory accounts published the next morning left little doubt that, unless some unforeseen disaster should occur, the Old and New Worlds would be at once within the reach of instant communication.
Such a week of excitement, such days of wondering, such hours of prayerful thanksgiving, such never-ending transports as our people indulged in, we hope never to see again. Even the names of the humble sailors who shipped for the voyage were printed in the newspapers and graven on the tablet of municipal memory. Then, too, the Queen sent a message to the President, and the President answered her, and the directors in Europe congratulated the directors in America.
An enterprising dry goods house secured a big advertisement by paying for the first message, and others followed suit. Things changed. The cable no longer afforded connection for Queen or President; drygoods men could no more send their little puffs; De Sauty-like, the current was played out, our demigods became demireps; the whole thing was voted a humbug, and every man was loud-mouthed in asserting that for his part he never believed a bit of it, and knew that those messages were not bona fide.
We need not discuss these points, the great success was a great fizzle. A new company was formed with the following. The Right Hon. James Stuart Wortley, Chairman.
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