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Title: A Story of the Telegraph
Author: Murray, John
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: A STORY








Printed by John Lovell & Son, Ltd.

Entered according to Act of Parliament, in the year one thousand
nine hundred and five, by JOHN MURRAY, in the office of the
Minister of Agriculture and Statistics, at Ottawa.


The compiler of this little compendium of Telegraph History places it
in the hands of the public in the hope that it may be received with

The historical data is taken from leading standard authorities.

The biographical sketches of eminent scientists and inventors will
enable the reader to form his own conclusions as to the merits of each.

The sketches of prominent pioneer telegraph men in Canada should be
especially interesting to Canadians.

Many names worthy of mention have been reluctantly omitted, as it was
thought desirable to confine this initial work into as narrow a compass
as possible. A more extended edition may be forthcoming later should
this venture prove successful.

The few reminiscent incidents in the Canadian section will lend a spice
of variety to the narrative.


The Electric Telegraph is unquestionably one of our most valuable
public utilities.

In commercial life the telegraph has revolutionized business methods.
Transactions are now effected between New York, London and other
financial centres in minutes, which formerly occupied weeks, and even
months, to accomplish. In social life the advantages of telegraph
communication are equally apparent; travel where we may, we are always
within reach of friends or kindred at a distance by means of the
telegraph wires.

The daily Press is now enabled to record the moving accidents on flood
and field in all parts of the world, a few hours or even minutes after
their occurrence.

The dreadful catastrophe at Martinique, with the loss of thousands of
human lives; the fire in a Chicago theatre, and the loss of hundreds
of women and children through culpable negligence; the shocking loss
of life on the excursion steamer “General Slocum” through lack of
life-saving appliances is gruesome reading, but the public demand it;
the more pleasing event of King Edward’s visit to President Loubet,
on his mission of Peace, and the return visit of the latter to London
are a few examples of news carried over the wires, all within the
purview of the humblest reader. There are few who cannot afford the
price of a daily paper, and thus keep in touch with current events,
but no very long time ago a daily newspaper was beyond the reach of
all but the comparatively wealthy. The advent of the telegraph with
its multifarious budget of news from every quarter of the Globe caused
a large increase in circulation, and a decrease in price naturally

During the Crimean war, when telegraph communication had been
established with the army headquarters, the working men of a
manufacturing concern near Glasgow, in which the writer was employed,
clubbed together to defray the cost of a daily newspaper, the price
then being four pence halfpenny, much beyond the means of a single
individual. During the dinner hour he read to an interested and
attentive audience the latest despatches from the seat of war, many
of whom would forego dinner rather than miss the daily pabulum of war
news. Now all this is changed, the poorest laboring man can afford
the price of a daily paper, formerly only enjoyed by his more opulent

Still earlier, Macaulay, in his History of England, tells us of the
news letter, the predecessor of the modern newspaper, wherein he says:
“The news letter within a week after its arrival had been thumbed over
by twenty families, and furnished the neighboring squires with matter
for talk over their October, and the Rector with topics for sharp

The news letters were collated in London, for the benefit of provincial
readers. The price was no doubt high, and the contents probably
consisted of gossip or scandal in high life, details of a cocking
main, an affair between my Lord Tomnoddy and a Captain of the Blues,
or affairs of Church and State. Now the four quarters of the earth is
ransacked daily and news collected at immense labor and enormous cost
by the associated press, and retransmitted to all points of the compass.

Wireless telegraphy, the latest marvel in applied science, is surely
and steadily forging ahead, and will cover areas of land and sea, where
the land and cable wires do not operate.

The writer feels that no apology is necessary in publishing the
following brief outline of telegraph history, a subject which he
believes will interest both the old as well as younger readers.

The data of English telegraph history is largely derived from an early
edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, while that of the American is
taken from a voluminous work published about a quarter of a century
ago, by James D. Reid, a friend and associate of Professor Morse. The
facts relating to Canadian history are taken from original records,
while that of submarine and wireless telegraphy is from numerous
sources of contemporary literature and personal knowledge.

While admitting there is nothing strikingly original in the work, the
writer ventures to hope that the style will commend itself to those who
prefer brevity to wearisome detail.

            _The Telegraph in England._

  EXPLANATORY                                     10
  TELEGRAPH, ELECTRIC                             11
  THE NEEDLE TELEGRAPH                            22
  TELEGRAPH DEVELOPMENT                           36
  SIR WILLIAM FOTHERGILL COOKE                    37
  SIR CHARLES WHEATSTONE                          39

            _The Telegraph in the United States._

                  CONTENTS OF SECTION TWO.

  ORIGIN OF THE TELEGRAPH                         44
  THE MAGNETIC TELEGRAPH CO.                      60
  THE WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH CO.                 61
  THE POSTAL TELEGRAPH & CABLE CO.                74
  PROF. S. F. B. MORSE                            89

            _The Telegraph in Canada._


  REMARKS                                        125
  REMINISCENT STORIES                            126
  SOME PROMINENT TELEGRAPHISTS                   165

            _Submarine Telegraphy._


  ORIGIN DEEP SEA TELEGRAPHY                     198
  FIRST CABLE COMPANY                            207
  FIRST ATLANTIC CABLE                           210
  CABLE REPAIRS                                  213
  CABLE INSTRUMENTS                              218
  CYRUS W. FIELD                                 223
  MICHAEL FARADAY                                228
  LORD KELVIN                                    229
  JOHN W. BRETT                                  232

            _Wireless Telegraphy._


  THE MARCONI TELEGRAPH COMPANY                  239
  WIRELESS TELEGRAPH APPARATUS                   243
  OPINION OF THOS. A. EDISON                     245
  A CABLE MANAGER’S VIEWS                        246
  AN INTERVIEW WITH MARCONI                      248
  TRIP OF SS. “MINNEAPOLIS”                      252
  THE DISABLED SS. “KROONLAND”                   253
  USES OF WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY                    255
  A NEWSPAPER OPINION                            256
  FUTURE OF WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY                  264


  FRONTISPIECE                                     1
  PROF S. F. B. MORSE                             89
  O. S. WOOD                                     165
  SIR HUGH ALLAN                                 167
  JAMES DAKERS                                   169
  H. P. DWIGHT                                   172
  WM. CASSILS                                    174
  JAMES POUSTIE                                  176
  CHARLES R. HOSMER                              178
  HON. GEO. A. COX                               180
  SIR W. C. VAN HORNE                            182
  ANDREW CARNEGIE                                184
  SIR SANDFORD FLEMING                           186
  F. N. GISBORNE                                 190
  THOS. A. EDISON                                192
  ISAAC D. PURKIS                                195
  CYRUS W. FIELD                                 223
  MICHAEL FARADAY                                226
  LORD KELVIN                                    229
  SIGNOR MARCONI                                 233
  SS. PARISIAN                                   260

A Story of

The Telegraph

_Telegraph History_

Telegraph, a machine for communicating intelligence to a distance,
usually by means of preconcerted signals to which some convenient
meaning is attached.

The name Semiphore was also applied to some of the machines used for
effecting telegraphic communication, which in an extended sense may be
considered to embrace every means of conveying intelligence by gestures
and visible signs, as flags, lanterns, rockets, blue lights, beacon
fires, etc., or by audible signals as the firing of guns, the blowing
of trumpets, the beating of drums or gongs, as well as by the machine
specially provided for the purpose.

Although telegraph communication as a means of conveying any required
intelligence is an invention of recent date, the use of signals for
the speedy transmission of messages as might be previously arranged
between persons is a practice derived from the most remote antiquity.
The use of beacon fires for example, as a means of giving warning of
the approach of an enemy, is alluded to by the Prophet Jeremiah, who
wrote about six centuries before the Christian era, and who warns
the Benjamites to set up a sign of fire in Beth-Haccerem, for evil
appeareth out of the north and great destruction (_Jeremiah_ VI., 1).

The fine description given by Acchylus in his Agamemnon, of the
application of a line of fire signals to communicate the intelligence
of the fall of Troy is often referred to as an early instance of this
kind of telegraphic dispatch.

This simple means of spreading an alarm, or communicating intelligence,
is described by Scott in the “Lay of the Last Minstrel,” and in a note
he refers to an act of the Scottish Parliament in 1455, c. 48, which
directs that one bale or faggot shall be the warning of the approach of
the English in any manner, two bales, that they are coming indeed, and
four bales blazing beside each other that the enemy are in great force.

Such signals though best adapted to give information by night, were
also available in day time, when they appeared as dense columns of

Torches held in the hand and moved in any particular manner, or
alternately displayed and hidden behind a screen, were also used in
ancient times as signals.

A night telegraph contrived by the Rev. James Bremner, of the Shetland
Islands, and rewarded by the Society of Arts in 1816.

A single light constitutes the whole apparatus and the whole operation
consists in its alternate exhibition and concealment. This plan had
been found suitable for distances of twenty miles and upwards, and had
been successfully put in operation between the light-house on Copeland
Island and Port Patrick, on the opposite side of the Irish Channel.

_Telegraph Electric_

The attempts to render one or other of the phenomena of electricity
subservient to the purposes of telegraphy have been numerous. From the
earliest date, which we can assign to the existence of an electric
telegraph, its essential parts have been the same. There are: 1st, the
source of electrical power; 2nd, the conducting material by which this
power is enabled to travel to the required locality; and, 3rd, the
apparatus by which at the distant end of the line the existence of this
power, its amount or the direction of its action is made known to the

In the earlier stages of the invention, the investigations of its
promoters were confined to the last of these three essentials, and, so
long as the illustration of the idea was confined to the lecture table,
this part claimed pre-eminence, but with the proposed application to
purposes of general utility there arose the necessity for an equal
degree of attention to the two former requisites.

The experiments of Dr. Watson, in England, in 1747, and of Franklin,
in 1748, on the banks of the Schuylkill river may have suggested the
conveyance of information by means of electricity.

The earliest authenticated instance of any attempt to reduce this to
practice appears to have been that of Lesage, of Geneva, in 1774, and
of Lomond, in France, in 1787, they employed as an indicator a pair
of pith balls suspended from one end of an insulated wire, and at the
other end of which was the operator provided with an electric machine,
on charging the wire with electricity, the pith balls would exercise
mutual repulsion and divergence from one another, but on removing the
electrical charge from the wire by the contact of some conductor the
balls would collapse.

It is evident that certain numbers of successive divergences might be
made to denote particular preconcerted signals.

Subsequently to this the phenomena of the spark, as seen on the passage
of electricity through an uninterrupted conductor, was used for the
transmission of signals, were the various letters of the alphabet
formed in this manner upon a table and connected with each one with a
distinct and insulated wire and a particular letter might be rendered
visible in a darkened room by passing an electric charge through the
appropriate wire, this in fact constituted the telegraph of Reusser or
Reiser invented in 1794.

Retancourt and Dr. Salva, in 1798, appear to have made experiments on
the transmission of the charge through wires of great length.

A somewhat similar form of apparatus involving the same principle
was constructed by arranging the several wires in succession with a
single break in each. The various wires bore the names of the different
letters or figures, and any required signal was indicated by passing
the charge through the proper wire, when the spark visible at the
interruption of the circuit would denote the letter to the observer at
the farther end. This was the point to which invention had advanced at
the commencement of the nineteenth century.

The discovery of Volta in 1800, of the Pile, which bears his name forms
the commencement of a new era in electric telegraphs. Although there
was no immediate application of the phenomena of the galvanic current
to the purpose, indeed several important discoveries had to be made
before an electric telegraph of any value was possible.

In 1807 Sommering, at Munich, proposed to construct an electric
telegraph on the principle of the decomposition of water, by the
Voltaic current discovered in 1800, by Nicholson and Carlisle. The form
of apparatus was the following:

In a glass trough containing water, thirty-five gold pegs or pins
were arranged vertically, this number of pegs corresponding to the
letters of the alphabet together with the nine digits; each of those
pins was connected by a wire which extended to the place whence the
signal was to be transmitted; at this point they terminated in brass
strips arranged in a frame side by side, but like the wires and pins
insulated from each other, each brass strip bore the name of the letter
or figure which belonged to the pin to which it was connected. The
operator, when wishing to send any communication, connected the two
poles of the battery with the brass strips bearing the names of the two
first letters required--decomposition of the water in the trough at the
distant end was instantly indicated by the evolution of bubbles of gas
from the two gold pins which thus became the two electrodes or poles of
the battery. The letters forming any communication were to be in this
manner denoted in pairs, the inventor ingeniously availing himself of
the different quantities of the two gases, evolved to point out the
relative position of the letters in each pair, the hydrogen being
employed to indicate the first letter.

Schweigger proposed to add to this system a plan for calling the
attention of the correspondent at the distant station by the discharge
by the current of a pistol charged with the mixed gases.

In 1816 Mr. Ronalds, of Hammersmith, invented an electric telegraph in
which the use of frictional electricity was recurred to.

This telegraph, which was shown to several scientific men at the date
above given, was fully described by the inventor by a work published by
him in 1823.

Mr. Ronalds employed the divergence and collapse of a pair of pith
balls as the telegraphic indication in which respect the principle was
the same as that adopted by Mr. Lomond, but to this simple apparatus a
distinct contrivance was appended in order to render the communication
more rapid and easy.

A single wire, perfectly insulated by being suspended by silken
strings, or buried in glass tubes, surrounded by pitch and protected
by wooden troughs, was extended between the stations; from the end of
this wire was suspended in front of the dial of a clock, a pair of
pith balls so that whilst the wire was charged the balls would remain
divergent, but would instantly collapse when the wire by contact with
the earth, or with the hand of the operator was discharged.

A person at one end having, therefore, an electrical machine, by which
he could maintain the wire in an electrified state and the pith balls
at the other extremity, consequently, in a state of divergence, had
it, of course, in his power to give an instantaneous indication to
the observer at that farther extremity by touching the wire with the
hand, which, discharging the electricity, would allow the balls to
collapse for an instant; but instead of merely employing the successive
movements of the pith balls to denote the various signals, Mr. Ronalds
added another apparatus for the purpose.

Two clocks, very accurately adjusted to the same rate of going,
carried, instead of the ordinary seconds hands, light discs, on which
the various letters of the alphabet, the figures and other required
signals were engraved. These discs turned with a regular step-by-step
movement behind a screen of metal in which was made a small opening,
sufficient to allow one letter at a time being seen. As the discs
turned round each letter in succession would be visible through this
space, and it is evident that if the clocks started with the same
signal visible, the movement of the discs would bring similar signals
into view at the same time.

One of these instruments was situated at each end of the communicating

The operator who was about to transmit any communication watched the
dial of his clock until the letter he required was visible and at that
instant discharged the wire; the momentary collapse of the balls at the
distant end would then warn the observer to note the letter visible
on his instrument which would form a part of the intelligence to be
received, the successive letters or signals constituting any messages
were denoted in this manner, as the clock dials continued to turn round.

In order to avoid the constant attention on the part of the observer an
arrangement was adopted by which a pistol could be fired by the spark
of the further end to summon the attendant to his instrument.

Various signals were also concerted before hand, by the use of which
the time necessary for the transmission of any intelligence was

These experiments of Mr. Ronalds were made with the intervention of
several miles of wire carried backward and forward across his grounds.

In 1819 Professor Oersted, of Copenhagen, made his great discovery of
the action of the galvanic current upon a magnetic needle; he observed
that when a current is passed along a wire placed parallel and near a
magnetic needle free to turn on its centre, the needle is deflected to
one side or the other according to the direction in which the current
is transmitted.

He further noticed that the position of the wire, whether above or
below the needle, had an equal influence with the direction of the
current in determining the side to which the deflection took place.
The power of a single wire in causing this deviation of a needle is
but small, but this was remedied by the invention of the multiplier or
galvanometer by Prof. Schweigger, in which the needle being surrounded
with many successive coils of insulated wire, is acted upon by the
joint force of all. Under a somewhat different form this discovery now
forms the basis of the needle electric telegraph.

Very shortly after this important discovery had been made, Arago and
Ampère, in France, and Seebeck, in Berlin, succeeded in rendering
iron magnetic by the passage of a galvanic current through a wire
coiled around the iron, and Sturgeon, in England, produced the first
electro-magnet. It was found that provided the iron to be magnetized
were perfectly soft and pure, the magnetic property remained only
during the actual transmission of the electricity, and was lost
immediately on the interruption of the electric current.

If the iron which was exposed to the influence of the galvanic current
were combined with sulphur, carbon or phosphorus, the magnetic power
became to a greater or less extent permanent in it.

The invention of the Voltaic battery, of the deflection of the needle,
and of the magnetization of soft iron, formed the three great steps in
the history of the electric telegraph.

M. Ampère suggested the employment of the discovery of Oersted as early
as 1830, and this suggestion was acted upon by Prof. Ritchie, in a
model telegraph exhibited by him at the Royal Institution.

Ampère’s plan, however, was far from possessing the simplicity so
essential to an instrument designed for practical use; not less than
thirty pairs of conducting wires were necessary according to his scheme
for maintaining a telegraph communication.

Baron Schilling in 1832 and 1833, following the idea originated by
Ampère, proposed a similar form of telegraph in which there were as
many of these galvanometers, each with its appropriate circuit, as
there were letters or signs to be used in the various communications,
in fact, there were 30 needles and 72 wires.

In 1833 Gauss and Weber proposed to employ the separate movements of
a suspended bar as signals, but its indication must have been feeble
as they had to be observed through a telescope placed at some distance
from the oscillating bar.

In 1837 M. Alexander exhibited a model of a proposed form of telegraph
containing twenty-five needles to be acted upon as in Ampère’s

In this instrument a distinct needle was employed for the indication of
each letter, these needles bearing at one end light screens of paper
which concealed from view a letter or figure until by the deflection of
the needle the screen was removed, and the letter brought into sight.

M. Alexander, however, effected one great improvement in substituting
a single wire to which one end of all the coils was joined for the
several return wires existing in the previous invention of M. Schilling.

At a later period this gentleman undertook a series of experiments with
a view to the establishment of a communication by means of a single
wire, but some mechanical difficulties appear to have arrested his

In both of these telegraphs, all that was required in addition to the
indicating apparatus and conducting wires, was a contrivance by which
the connection of the Voltaic batteries could be made with any pair of
wires, in the former, and with any single wire and the return conductor
in the latter of the two inventions. One pole of the battery being
connected to the return or common wire, the other pole of the battery
was joined to a plate of metal, or to a trough of mercury, extending
beneath all the keys. On depressing any key the wire belonging to
it, which was continued to the end over the battery connection,
was brought into contact with this bar or trough. The current would
then flow along the conducting wire, around the multiplier coil in
the distant instrument, and return by the common wire to the Voltaic
battery. The keys bore the same letters as the needles to which they
were connected, so that the operator communicated any letter by
pressing down the corresponding key.

In these two instruments, no use was made of the power which exists
of determining the deflection of the needle to either side by merely
reversing the connections of the battery.

We have thus traced the history of the telegraph up to the point at
which it first assumed the practical form of Cooke and Wheatstone’s
inventions, but what had been accomplished remained either unknown, or
was known only to a few leading men of science, until the unexpected
development of the electric telegraph in the hands of these gentlemen
led each one who was in possession of any title to the merit of having
believed in and experimented upon the possibility to produce his title,
or to have it eagerly put forward by his friends and fellow countrymen.

Although the principal facts necessary to the construction of an
electric telegraph had been known ever since 1821, yet it was not until
the general establishment of railways that telegraph wires could be
safely carried to any great distance.

Moreover, the importance of the invention was by no means understood.

In 1837 the experiments of Cooke and Wheatstone, which had been
progressing for more than a twelvemonth, appeared so far successful as
to induce them to apply for a patent for their inventions.

The instrument which was brought into use on the Great Western Railway
shortly after the date of the patent, contained five needles, arranged
with their axis in a horizontal line. The needles when at rest hung
vertically, by reason of a slight preponderence given to the lower
ends, each coil was connected with one of the long conducting wires at
one end, and was united at the other, with a rod of metal, which joined
together the similar ends of all the coils.

The current was transmitted from the opposite end of the wires where
a set of five pair of finger keys for making the connections with the
battery was placed through two of the wires at once, that is to say,
of the wire of which one key was pressed down, served to convey the
current from one pole of the battery to the distant instrument, while
the key of a second wire being brought into contact with the other
pole, the current returned by the rod of metal connecting the coils,
and the second wire to the battery again.

Two needles were in this manner deflected at once, and it will be
obvious, that the current would pass in opposite directions around
their coils, and, consequently, that the deflection must be in contrary
directions. The needles would, therefore, converge either above
or below their line of centre as one or other of the pair of keys
belonging to each wire was depressed, fixed stops were so placed on
each side of the needles, as to limit their motion and when resting
against them the needles were parallel to two converging lines, at the
point of intersection of movement of the needles.

In a similar manner as lines were drawn diverging from the centre
of each axis mutually crossing one another, a number of points of
intersection were formed at each of which was a letter or signal. Any
of these letters could be indicated by the simultaneous movement of two
needles, so that a communication could be carried on with certainty and
tolerable rapidity, at the same time a plan was recognized by which
the number of wires requisite for maintaining a communication might
be reduced by using one of them at times as a return wire only, there
being no needle in connection with this one.

One needle could, by the use of this wire, be deflected by itself,
either to the right, or to the left, and thus, of course, each would
furnish two signals in addition to those formed by its simultaneous
deflection by any other. The instruments at the two stations were
always rendered reciprocating; that is, at each end of the line were
placed at each instrument a set of finger keys and a Voltaic battery,
so that either station could transmit, or receive a signal by an
ingenious arrangement. The keys on being released after depression,
were made to resume by themselves the position necessary to enable that
which had been the signalling station to become the recipient; by this
means messages and answers or words and their acknowledgment could
follow one another without the necessity for any intervening adjustment
of the instruments.

The bell or alarum which was to be rung, when the attention of the
clerk at the distant end was required, was either direct or indirect in
its action.

In the first case, the attraction exercised by a horseshoe-shaped piece
of soft iron, rendered temporarily magnetic by the galvanic current,
was made to draw an armature likewise of soft iron towards it, and by
this action impel a small hammer against a bell.

In the second form of alarum the movement of the armature merely
released a detent or catch from a train of clock work driven by a
spring or weight. This clock work by the intervention of a scape wheel
and pallets rang the bell as in a common alarum.

In April, 1838, Mr. Cooke obtained a patent for some further
improvements in this apparatus.

The electric telegraph invented by Prof. Morse, of the United States,
has led to a large amount of controversy, a claim having been put in
for him as the first actual invention of a practical electric telegraph
in 1832, while on board the packetship “Sully.”

The Abbe Moigne states that a Mr. Jackson wrote to the Academie
Française, affirming that he had in 1832 communicated the plan to Mr.
Morse while returning together from Europe to America on board the

Even admitting, however, the claim of either party, it would only show
that they did not think sufficiently well of their scheme to enter upon
it until nearly three months after the first English patent for an
electric telegraph had been sealed and the practicability of such an
apparatus had been demonstrated in England.

The first really official letter on the subject from Prof. Morse is
dated September 27, 1837.

Cooke and Wheatstone’s first patent for an electric telegraph was
sealed three months before this, namely, on June 12, 1837.

The difference between this telegraph and the preceding, in suggestions
and contrivances, was very great. The experiments of these gentlemen
had been proceeding for a long time previously, so that when in
June, 1837, their patent was obtained, it was not for an arrangement
of doubtful practicability, or of a form to be perfected only after
repeated trial; on the contrary, it was within a few months after the
date of the patent put up and brought into actual and daily use.

Some of its details have since been simplified, and the modes in which
the electric needles are made to give the required indications have
been greatly varied, but the great features and principles of their
first invention remain unchanged, and not only so, but they form an
essential part of nearly, if not quite all, the later telegraphs of
other inventors.

The invention of an electric telegraph should have attracted the
immediate attention of railway managers, one would naturally suppose;
on the contrary, railway directors looked upon it as a new-fangled
invention, and the public was not yet alive to its innumerable
advantages. One fact, however, must be insisted on and is now a
matter of history--that to England belongs the honor of this great
invention; that in the year 1837, a needle telegraph had been invented
so complete, and at the same time so simple in its operations, that it
could be worked by any one who knew how to read; that in June of that
year the patent for this telegraph had been sealed, and a month later
the wires were laid down between Euston Square and Camdentown Stations
of the North Western Railway, a distance of a mile and a quarter, and
that on the 25th of July messages were actually sent between these two
stations, Prof. Wheatstone being in the Euston Square Station, and Mr.
Cooke being in that at Camdentown, the witnesses being the engineers,
Messrs. Fox and Stephenson.

Now, it is quite true that Arago claimed before the French Academy of
Sciences for Mr. Steinheil the precedence in this matter, inasmuch as
he had his telegraph in operation on the 19th of July, 1837; but it
must be remembered that Wheatstone’s patent was taken out in June of
that year, and was publicly shown on numerous previous experiments,
all of which were successful, whereas Mr. Steinheil published no
description of his instrument until August, 1838, and it is admitted
that in the interval he had altered and amended his instrument and soon
after abandoned it for a modification of one by Morse.

In September, 1837, he exhibited an imperfect instrument, although he
afterwards succeeded in producing one of first rate excellence, which
is still largely used in the United States.

Cooke and Wheatstone received notice to quit the London and Birmingham
line, but Mr. Brunel gave them permission, in 1839, to lay it down on
the Great Western Railway. This was first done as far as West Drayton,
13 miles, and afterwards extended to Slough, 18 miles, the wires in
both of these preliminary trials being enclosed in iron tubes laid on
the ground.

On proposing to extend this line to Bristol much opposition was offered
by the directors, and the telegraph again had notice to quit, but on
the proposal of Mr. Cooke to retain the wires at his own expense, he
was permitted to do so on condition of transmitting the Railway signals
free of charge, and of extending the line to Slough. In return for this
favor, he was allowed to transmit messages for the public, which was
accordingly done, one shilling being charged for a message, but the
public did not avail themselves of the new instrument, and its value
was scarcely appreciated until the 3rd of January, 1845, when it was
used to convey a message to London police, directing them to arrest one
Towell, on a charge of murder. The message flashed past the criminal
while he was travelling express to escape the consequence of his crime.

By the end of 1845 upwards of 500 miles of line were in operation in

In 1846 the Electric Telegraph Company commenced its operations with
a considerable capital, a large portion of which was expended in the
purchase of Wheatstone and Cooke’s patents, and the system which they
had introduced became rapidly extended.

In due time other telegraph companies were competing with the original
company, namely, the Electric & International Telegraph Company, and
the London & Provincial Telegraph Co. The system spread over Europe and
soon no railway was deemed complete without its telegraph wires.

On the 5th of February, 1870, the Monopoly conferred upon the
postmaster general, by the telegraph act of the previous year, took
effect when the Post-Office assumed control of telegraph communication
within the United Kingdom, and it then became possible to send
telegrams throughout the country at a uniform charge irrespective of
locality or distance.

The purchase money paid to the telegraph companies, compensation to
railway companies for their interest in the telegraph business and the
expense of new lines amounted to upwards of ten millions sterling.

On the day of the transfer a thousand post-offices and nineteen hundred
railway stations were opened as telegraph offices. The public at once
showed their appreciation of the change.

In the year 1869 but seven millions of telegrams passed on the
companies wires; in 1870 the postmaster general transmitted ten

In 1885 the sixpenny telegrams were introduced. The charge for a
written telegram, which came into force in 1870, was one shilling for
the first twenty words, and threepence for every additional five words,
the addresses of sender and receiver being sent free.

In 1885 the charge was reduced to a half-penny a word throughout
including addresses (a system of abbreviated addresses, which could
be registered on payment of a guinea a year, was introduced), with a
minimum charge of sixpence; the effect of this reduction was to run the
number of telegrams in two years from thirty-three to fifty millions.

During the first six months the number of telegrams increased by 48
per cent., while the gross telegraph revenue fell off to the extent
of £40,233 though £18,124 had been received in respect to abbreviated

In April, 1886, the telegrams in excess of 1885 amounted to 40 per
cent., but the revenue was £11,800 less. In May the increase in
telegrams was 51 per cent. and the revenue £4,100 less than the
previous May.

In June the increase was 61 per cent. and the revenue £2,800 less.
The working expenses were thus increased, while the receipts were
diminished. In London alone the receipts fell off by as much as 74 per
cent. The principal reasons for the unfavorable financial results of
the working of the telegraph are: the large price £10,130,000 expended
as purchase money, an argument of little weight so long as working
expenses are not paid; the right accorded to railway companies at the
time of the transfer of sending postal telegrams free of all charge.
The number of these telegrams, at first insignificant, reached a total
of 1,600,000 in 1891, with an average length of 25 words, representing
a value of £80,000 a year. Arrangements were afterwards made under
which the companies would surrender this privilege in return for
permission to send a fixed number of free telegrams in the course of
the year.

The loss on press telegrams, to quote the forty-first report of the
postmaster general: “A still more serious burden is caused by the loss
on press telegrams.”

The charge specified in the Telegraph Act of 1868 for press telegrams
is one shilling for 75 words during the day, or one hundred words
at night, but a proviso was added that for copies only 2_d_ per 75
words in the day or 100 at night, and no condition was laid down as
to the copy being for the same town as the original; the newspaper,
accordingly, combined to receive from the news associations messages in
identical terms, and by dividing the cost they are enabled to get the
benefit of a rate which comes nearer 2_d_ than a shilling, the average
charge being in fact about four pence half-penny per 100 words.

Notwithstanding the economical arrangements which have been made for
the transmission of press telegrams, 5,400,000 in number containing
650,000,000 words, the loss incurred by the Post-Office in dealing with
them is estimated to amount to £300,000 per annum.

The reductions in the tariff, especially in 1885 and 1897, and the
competition of the telephone (upwards of 450,000,000 messages a
year, transmitted by the National Telephone Company alone), though
it must be remembered that the Royalties of the companies exceeded
£100,000 per annum, which figure among the receipts of the Post-Office
telegraph service. The increased wages paid to telegraphists in 1880
and 1881, the wages and salaries represented 44 per cent. of the total
revenue; they now exceed 66 per cent. The real success of the state
administration of the telegraph lies not in any contribution to the
revenue, but in cheap telegrams and a large use of the service.

The average price of the ordinary inland telegram is sevenpence, three
farthings, and there are more telegrams sent in the United Kingdom,
both positively and relatively than in any other country, with the
possible exception of the United States.

For every 100 persons there are sent in the United Kingdom 184
telegrams, while in France there are but 108 and in Germany 66.

In 1901 the gross revenue was £3,380,589. The pay of a telegraphist in
London rises to £160 a year, with the prospect of promotion to higher

The number of telegrams transmitted in 1900-1 was 89,576,000.

In small towns and villages where the traffic is light, and a skilled
telegraphist is unnecessary, the Wheatstone A. B. C. instrument is
used; in this apparatus electric currents are generated by turning a
handle (placed in front of the instrument) which is geared to a Siemens
shuttle armature placed between the two arms of a powerful horseshoe
magnet; when one of a series of keys (each corresponding to a letter),
arranged around a pointer, is depressed, motion of the pointer which
is geared to the shuttle armature is arrested on coming opposite that
particular key and the transmission of the currents to line is stopped,
though the armature itself can continue to rotate. The depression of a
second key causes the first key to be raised, the currents actuate a
ratchet wheel mechanism at the receiving station, whereby the hand on a
small dial is moved on letter by letter.

At offices where the work is heavier than can be dealt with by the
A.B.C. apparatus, the single needle instrument is very largely used.

It has the advantage of slight liability to derangement and of
requiring very little adjustment. A fairly skilled operator can signal
with it at the rate of twenty words a minute.

The needle (in the modern pattern) is of soft iron and is kept
magnetized inductively by the action of two permanent steel magnets.
The coils are wound with copper wire (covered with silk) to a total
resistance of 200 ohms. The actual current required to work the
instrument is 3-3 milliampères equivalent approximately to the current
given by one Daniel cell through 3,300 ohms, but in practice a current
of 10 milliampères is allowed.

A single but important addition to enable the reading from the
instrument to be effected by sound, in this arrangement the needle
strikes against small tubes formed of tin plate and by this means the
movement of the needle to the right or left is quite audible.

The Wheatstone automatic apparatus is largely used, especially for
press matter; through it a speed of 600 letters per minute can be

In the Rowland multiple method, the transmitter consists of a
mechanical key board, provided with a series of levers which effect
certain combinations of positive and negative currents for each letter:
these currents are furnished by an alternator, which transmits sine
currents over the line, both machines running in synchronism.

At the receiving end of the circuit a shaft is coupled to the motor;
this is provided with gearing which rotates four combining commutators
and four type wheels, which print the letters on the band of paper.
There are four transmitters and four receivers, which are operated
independently by means of an adaptation of the multiplex system of
working, and each circuit is provided with a number of segments set
apart for its own use. Each transmitter is, therefore, able to transmit
a separate series of positive and negative currents in different
combinations; these are distributed by suitably arranged distributors
and relays at the receiving end of the line into their respective
receivers. The function of the “combiner” in each receiving instrument
is to group the received combinations of positive and negative currents
that they operate polarized relays in such a manner that the position
of the tongues corresponds with the operation of the levers in the
transmitter, since each letter is represented by a specific combination
of positive and negative currents.

It is possible by means of the combinations to close a local circuit
at any given interval and so cause the paper to be pressed against the
periphery of the type wheel at the time when the letter required is

The paper is also caused to advance automatically for each letter,
start a first line, and also to commence a fresh form at the
completion of each message.

The Delaney Multiples System, which has been adopted to a limited
extent in Great Britain, enables a large amount of work to be done on
one wire.

Between London and Manchester four sets of the apparatus can be worked,
but between London and Birmingham, a shorter distance, six sets (the
maximum for which the system is adopted) may be used.

_Sir William Fothergill Cooke_,


Son of William Cooke, M.D., Durham, was born at Ealing, Middlesex, and
having received his education at Durham, was appointed in 1826 to the
East Indian army, in which he held various staff appointments till 1831.

On his return home he devoted his time to the study of anatomy and
physiology at Paris and Heidleberg and to modelling anatomical
dissections for the illustration of his father’s lectures at Durham

In March, 1836, he began to direct his attention to the electric
telegraph, with which he occupied himself exclusively for many years.

He entered into partnership with Prof. Wheatstone, and formed in
conjunction with Mr. Ricardo, M.P., the first telegraph company of
which he became a director.

The first telegraph line in England was constructed by Mr. Cooke, from
Paddington to West Drayton, on the Great Western Railway in 1837.

In 1840 he established the telegraph on the Blackwall Railway, and in
1841 a short line from the Queen Street station, at Glasgow, through
the tunnel to the engine house at Cowlairs on the railway to Edinburgh.

In 1842 the line from West Drayton was continued to Slough, and in
1843 two short lines were made in Ireland and in England, one of
considerable length from London to Portsmouth for Government.

In 1867 he received the fourth Royal Albert medal, his name being
preceded by Faraday’s, for the first introduction of a practical
electric telegraph.

Her Majesty conferred on him the honor of Knighthood, November 11,
1869, as a recognition of his great and special services in connection
with the electric telegraph, and on July 25, 1871, conferred on him a
civil pension of £100.

_Sir Charles Wheatstone, F.R.S., D.C.L., LL.D._


Who, together with Sir W. F. Cooke, introduced and carried out
practical electric telegraphy, was the son of Mr. Wheatstone, of
Gloucester, at which place he was born.

He was educated at a private school and brought up to the business of
making musical instruments, which turned his attention to acoustics.

He published his first work in 1823, “New Experiments in Sound,”
and having studied Young’s theory of light, the results of his
investigations were communicated to the Royal Society through Faraday,
in 1833.

In the following year he was appointed Professor of Experimental
Philosophy, at King’s College, London.

He was made F. R. S. in 1836, and two years later described the
stereoscope, which he had invented, in a paper which he read before the

Mr. Cooke (later Sir W. F. Cooke), was introduced to Professor
Wheatstone, and they decided to unite their efforts to introduce the
use of the telegraph on a large scale in England.

They took out their first patent for the electric telegraph laid on the
Blackwall Railway in 1837.

Wheatstone received the Royal Medal in 1840, the Copley Medal in 1843,
was one of the Jurors at the Paris Exhibition (1855), when he received
the decoration of the Legion of Honor, and was knighted in 1868.

He was corresponding member of the principal academies of science in

It was by his skill in turning knowledge to practical account that
Wheatstone gave the electric telegraph the character which it now
possesses. Though his inventions in other branches of science are as
numerous as they are various, yet it is in connection with the electric
telegraph that the name of Wheatstone will live.

He was the inventor of the telegraph, indeed. No one else can lay claim
to that title.

Stephen Gray, in 1827, suspended a wire, seven hundred feet long,
on silk threads, and on applying an excited glass tube to one end,
electrification was observed at the other, but he did not send
messages. Advances were made from that time by many men of science, who
saw more or less clearly the great possibilities before them.

Omitting the pioneer claims of Sommering, Lomond and others of the
last century, the names connected with the early development of the
practical telegraph are Froment in France, Gauss, Weber and Steinheil,
in Germany, Sir Francis Ronalds and Edward Davy, in England, Morse
and Vail, in America. But to Wheatstone and his co-adjutor Sir William
Fothergill Cooke is due the merit of having been the first to render it
available for the public transmission of messages.

In 1834, shortly after being appointed Professor of Experimental
Physics at King’s College, London, Wheatstone began experimenting on
rate of transmission electricity along wires. For this purpose about
half a mile of copper wire was insulated by suspension in the vaults
under the college, and three interruptions of this circuit was made by
three parts of brass knobs with a small interval between them, one of
these interruptions was in the middle point of the conductor and the
other two near the ends.

A leyden jar was discharged through the wire and the interval of time
between the occurrence of the sparks at the ends and occurrence of the
spark at the middle was measured by noting the displacement of the
image of the middle spark in a mirror revolving at a known speed. It
was calculated from results of this experiment that the velocity of
an electric disturbance along a wire was about two hundred and fifty
thousand miles per second, a result differing from the true speed of
one hundred and eighty-six thousand miles per second; not very widely,
considering the difficulties of observation in an experiment of this
kind. From this research he passed on to the transmission of messages
by electricity, and in conjunction with Cooke he elaborated the five
needle telegraph, the first that came into general use.

Wheatstone’s fertility of scientific resource led the partners on to
many new developments.

The letter showing dial telegraph in 1841 and the magneto-electro dial
telegraph, a subsequent extension of the same to type embossing, and
lastly the automatic transmitting and receiving instruments by which
messages are sent with such great rapidity.

He was the first to appreciate the importance of reducing to a minimum
the amount of work to be done by the current at the receiving station
by diminishing as far as practicable the mass and therefore the inertia
of the moving parts.

This was beautifully exemplified in that marvel of ingenuity, the
magneto-electro letter showing telegraph, which was particularly
applicable for private telegraph uses.

From 1837 Wheatstone appears to have devoted a good deal of time to
submarine telegraphy, and in 1844 experiments were made in Swansea bay
with the assistance of Mr. J. D. Llewellyn.

Wheatstone also had a share in the perfecting of the magneto-electric
machines which have culminated in the modern dynamo.

In 1837 he devised a method of combining several armatures on one
shaft so as to generate currents which were continuous instead of
intermittent, and in 1867 he described to the Royal Society a method of
making such machines self-exciting as to their magnetism by the use of
a shunt circuit.

The use of a main circuit for the purpose had been described by Werner
Siemens one month earlier, but the machine described by Wheatstone had
been constructed for him by Mr. Stroh in the preceding summer.

Wheatstone was also the inventor of electro-magnetic clocks for
indicating time at any number of different places united on a circuit.

It was he who called attention to Christy’s combination of wires, now
commonly known as Wheatstone’s bridge--in which an electric balancing
of the currents is obtained and worked out in its applications to
electrical measurements.

He was one of the first in Great Britain to appreciate the importance
of ohms simple law of the relation between electro-motive force
resistance of conductors and resulting current--the law which is to-day
the foundation of all electrical engineering.

Wheatstone contributed to numerous scientific journals and publications.

All his published papers were collected in 1879 by the Physical Society
of London.

_The Telegraph in America_

Mr. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph system which bears his name,
first conceived the idea on board the packet ship “Sully” on which he
was a passenger. He sailed from Havre for New York on the first day
of October, 1832. He was accompanied by a number of others, the whole
company being unusually intelligent and agreeable. There was a long
voyage before them, and each amiably undertook to relieve the tedium of
the journey by the many pleasant devices indulged in by companionable

At an early period of the voyage, the conversation around the evening
table turned upon the subject of electricity and magnetism which was
then a popular topic of discussion and general interest.

One of the passengers (a Doctor Jackson) introduced the subject by
reference to lectures to which he had recently attended while in Paris,
in which interesting illustrations of the more recent discoveries in
electro-magnetism had been given.

He also referred to the experiments of Ampère with the electro magnet;
the subject excited very general interest into which Morse entered
with great spirit. Hitherto he had felt no other concern in electrical
matters than that of a lively and attentive curiosity.

Dr. Jackson had in his trunk an electro-magnet, which he described, and
during the conversation alluded to the length of the wire in the coils.
This led one of the company to enquire “if the velocity of the current
was retarded by the length of the wire?”

Dr. Jackson replied that electricity passed instantaneously over any
known length of wire. This aroused the interest of Morse who was struck
with the idea that electricity might be made the medium of conveying

The conversation went on but he left them. As he paced the deck the
idea rapidly took form in his mind that, either by electro-chemical
or electro-magnetic effects of a current, marks might be made at
distances so great and in such variety as to render possible the easy
communication of and record of an intelligible language.

This was, so far as he knew at the time, a new thought. Gradually the
conception took shape and system until at last it had assumed such a
form that next morning, at the breakfast table, he communicated the
plan by which he believed a recording telegraph could be serviceable.

Later on as the voyage was nearing its end, Mr. Morse, addressing the
Captain, said “Well, Captain, should you hear of the telegraph one of
these days as the wonder of the world, remember the discovery was made
on board the good ship “Sully.”

He would now have devoted himself entirely to the elaboration of this
new thought, but he had to betake himself to his work as an artist.
He was poor and for three or four years following his return he had
to travel much of the time to meet engagements in connection with his
profession. Meanwhile, he devoted every spare moment to the perfecting
of his apparatus.

In a letter to a friend Mr. Morse wrote: “Up to the autumn of 1837, my
telegraphic apparatus existed in so crude a form that I felt reluctant
to have it seen. My means were very limited--so limited as to preclude
the possibility of constructing an apparatus of such mechanical finish
as to warrant my success in venturing upon its public exhibition. I
had no wish to expose to ridicule the representative of so many hours
of laborious thought. Prior to the summer of 1837, at which time Mr.
Alfred Vail’s attention became attracted to my telegraph, I depended
upon my pencil for my subsistence. Indeed, so straightened were my
circumstances, that in order to save time to carry out my invention,
and to economize my scanty means, I had for months lodged and eaten in
my studio, procuring my food in small quantities from some grocery, and
preparing it myself to conceal from my friends the stinted manner in
which I lived. I was in the habit of bringing my food to my room in the
evenings, and this was my mode of life for many years.”

Under these distressing circumstances, Mr. Morse labored in perfecting
his apparatus in which he finally succeeded. His caveat was filed in
the patent office in Washington on October 6, 1837, but a patent was
not obtained until 1840.

On the 8th of February, 1838, in response to an invitation from the
Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, Prof. Morse exhibited the new
telegraph before the Committee of Science and Arts of that institution,
who reported their gratification and expressed their desire that
government would give the means of testing it on an extensive scale.

Mr. Morse, shortly after this, exhibited his apparatus before the
President and his cabinet, and which gave great satisfaction, in
reference to which he wrote his friend and partner Mr. Alfred Vail,
as follows: “Everything looks encouraging, but I need not say to you
that in this world a continued course of prosperity is not a rational
expectation. We shall doubtless find troubles and difficulties in store
for us, and it is part of true wisdom to be prepared for whatever may
await us. If our hearts are right, we shall not be taken by surprise.
I see nothing now but an unclouded prospect, for which let us pay to
Him who shows it to us, the homage of grateful and obedient hearts,
with most earnest prayers for grace to use prosperity aright.”

Morse now determined to ask Congress for aid to make a thorough
test of his apparatus on an actual line to show its capacity and
practicability; in this he was encouraged by his friends. On December
6, 1842, he wrote an exhaustive letter to the Hon. C. G. Ferris, an
influential member of the House Committee on Commerce, in which he gave
a minute history of the invention, stated fully the basis of his claims
as the inventor, and asked that through his committee an appeal might
be made to Congress for the means to erect an experimental line to
prove its value. In response to this the Hon. John P. Kennedy, February
23, 1843, offered a resolution “That the Bill appropriating thirty
thousand dollars to be expended under the direction of the Secretary of
the Treasury, in a series of experiments to test the expediency of the
telegraph projected by Professor Morse should be passed.”

Mr. Morse sat in the gallery during the discussion which followed, a
quiet but intensively anxious observer. For a time the project was made
the subject of ridicule.

Irritated perhaps because the committee passed him in the control
of the experiment, the Postmaster proposed to give half the sum
appropriated by the bill to mesmeric experiments.

Another proposed that millerism have a share. The bill seemed doomed to
failure by their ridicule. The debate became sharp and vigorous when,
at length, the vote was taken with the result that the Bill passed by a
majority of eight.

The bill, however, had yet to pass the Senate, and its temper
respecting it was unknown. It had much unfinished business. Day after
day passed, but the bill had not been reached. Finally the last hours
of the session arrived.

Morse watched them as they passed with an anxious solicitude. It was
getting late, ten o’clock had already struck, two hours only remained
before the final adjournment. Just then the Hon. Fernando Wood, one
of the Senators, came to Mr. Morse and advised him to go home. “The
Senate is not in sympathy with your project. I advise you to give it
up. Return home and think no more of it.” Morse, feeling it useless to
remain longer, with a heavy heart went to his hotel, paid his bill,
procured a ticket for New York and retired to his room for the night.
He there knelt down, opened his heart to God and committed his affairs
to Him. He had done all that he could and could do more.

He counted his money and found after paying his bill and ticket he had
thirty-seven and a half cents left.

In the morning, refreshed by rest yet grave and thoughtful, he came
down to breakfast. While seated at the table a visitor was announced.
The early visitant proved to be a young lady friend, Miss Ellsworth,
the daughter of the Commissioner of Patents, who taking him warmly by
the hand, exclaimed with a voice of unconcealed joy, “Professor, I have
come on purpose to congratulate you.” “Congratulate me! For what, my
dear friend, can you offer me congratulations?” “Why,” she said gaily
(as she enjoyed the Professor’s wondering surprise, and who was at the
time not in the fittest mood for pleasantry), “on the passage of your
bill. The Senate, last night, voted you your money, $30,000.”

She then informed him that her father remained in the Senate until
the close of the session, and that in the very closing moments the
telegraph bill was passed without division or debate. On reaching home,
Ellsworth had communicated the news to his family, all of whom were
much attached to the Professor, and his daughter begged the favor of
being allowed to go to the hotel to communicate the good news.

It was the desire of a good warm-hearted woman. So she had hastened on
her pleasant errand, and now, having told her story, she asked, “Am I
really the first to communicate this to you?”

The tidings were so unexpected that for some moments he could make no
reply. At length he said, “Yes, Annie, you are the first to inform me.
I was until now utterly unconscious of the fact, and now I am going
to make you a promise. When the line is completed, the first despatch
sent upon it from Washington to Baltimore shall be yours.” “Well,” she
replied, “I will hold you to your promise.”

All details having been arranged between the Government and Mr. Morse,
the construction of the line was proceeded with. He was allowed a
salary of $2,500 per annum during the test. Mr. Alfred Vail took charge
of the machinery while Mr. Ezra Cornell was made Superintendent of

It was most unfortunate for Mr. Morse that his mind from the very
first seemed prepossessed in favor of underground lines which had been
adopted in England. They gave to him the general impression of safety
and permanence, and he selected the plan without experiment.

He had ordered to be made in New York forty miles of a five wire cable
enclosed in lead, and Mr. Cornell invented a plow to make the trench
for its reception.

This cable was laid from Baltimore to the Relay House, seven miles
away, but on testing it the escape was found so great that the
necessity of abandoning it became evident. More than half the
appropriation had been expended. After much anxious thought, it was
decided to place the wires on poles, and the line was finished in
this way with two copper wires of size number 14, covered with cotton
saturated with gum shellac.

The first insulation of the government line shows how crude and
rudimentary was the conception held at that period. It was simply two
plates of glass, between which the wire, after wrapping well with cloth
saturated with gum shellac, was placed and over which a wooden cover
to protect from rain and press the glass upon the wire and keep it in
place was nailed.

These were afterwards removed and the Bureau Knob pattern substituted.

In about one year after the appropriation had been made, the line was

The first telegraph office in Washington was in a small room on the
east front of the Capitol, and afterwards in a room over the city
post-office. The relays were of number 16 cotton covered copper wire
saturated in gum shellac, each weighing about 510 pounds, and so
coarsely constructed that Mr. Vail kept the ones in use in a back room
where the operator had to run when it needed adjustment.

The battery consisted of 100 cells of Grove, which was renewed three
times a week. The circuits were left open when the line was not in
use, and the instruments were so connected that each operator started
and stopped the instrument at the distant station by the dropping of
a break upon the fly wheel when the manipulations of the keys were

The magnets were soon after greatly improved, reduced in size, and
increased in power.

True to the promise he had made to his friend, Miss Ellsworth, Prof.
Morse now sent for her and to which she at once responded.

She was invited to indicate a message for transmission. It was promptly
done in language now historic and in consonance with the inventor’s
own often expressed thoughts respecting the origin of his invention,
indeed, he may have suggested the words “What hath God wrought.” This
message was passed over the wires, and the strip of paper on which
it was imprinted was given to Governor Seymour of Connecticut, as a
souvenir in honor of the young woman who was a native of his State, and
of the inventor who received therein his collegiate training.

An incident now brought the usefulness of the telegraph into public

The National Convention to nominate a President was in session at
Baltimore. James K. Polk had been nominated President, and Silas
Wright, then in the Senate, and in Washington at the time, as
Vice-President. This was communicated over the wires. In a few minutes
the convention was astonished to receive a message from Mr. Wright
respectfully declining the nomination. The presiding officer read
the despatch, but the convention could not or would not believe its
authenticity, and adjourned to await the report of a committee sent to
Washington to confer with that gentleman. The committee confirmed the
telegraphic message. This fact soon became known when the fame of the
telegraph at once took wing.

It is related that about this time that a prominent functionary asked
an assistant “how large a bundle could be sent over the wires, and if
the United States mails could not be sent in the same way!”

Some wag did straddle a pair of dirty boots over the wires and very
seriously told an astonished citizen that they got dirty by coming so
rapidly from Baltimore!

On the opening of the government line, Mr. O. E. Wood, at that time
connected with the engineering department of the State of New York, was
induced by his brother-in-law, Ezra Cornell, to give up his profession
and join Mr. Morse at Washington. He then became Mr. Morse’s first

In November, 1844, he received over the wires from Baltimore the result
of the Presidential elections in Northern and Eastern States, and
with Mr. Vail spent the winter of 1844-45 in exhibiting the working
of the telegraph to members of Congress, diplomatic representatives
and to visitors attracted thither from all parts of the globe. He also
transmitted to the Baltimore press a report of the proceedings of
Congress for publication.

On April 1, 1845, the line, which had been worked as a curiosity, was
thrown open for public business.

The operators appointed were Mr. Vail at Washington and Mr. Henry J.
Rogers at Baltimore.

During the first four days the receipts amounted to one cent. This
was obtained from an office seeker who said he had nothing less than
a twenty dollar bill and one cent, and with the modesty of his class,
wanted to witness the operations of the telegraph free, this was
refused because against orders. He was told he could have a cent’s
worth of telegraphy, to which he agreed, and he was gratified in the
following manner:

Washington asked Baltimore “4” which meant in the list of signals “what
time is it?” Baltimore replied “1,” which meant “one o’clock.” This
was one character each way which would amount to half a cent. The man
paid his one cent, magnanimously declined the change, and went his way

This was the total revenue of four days.

On the 5th, twelve and a half cents; the sixth was the Sabbath; on the
seventh the receipts ran up to sixty cents; on the eighth, to a dollar
and thirty-two cents, and on the ninth, to a dollar and four cents. Not
a very dazzling prospect certainly, yet watchful eyes saw its future

It is recorded that about this time a certain good dame, whose ideas of
discipline were somewhat stern and fundamental, after surveying a pole
recently planted near her door, placing her hands on her haunches, and
looking critically at the pole, exclaimed, “Now I s’pose no one can
spank their brats without bein’ known to the hull cree-a-tion!”

The telegraph was fairly under weigh. Prof. Morse offered to sell his
rights to the Government for one hundred thousand dollars, but the
Postmaster General was not satisfied. The operations of the telegraph
between Washington and Baltimore had not shown him that, under any
rate of postage that could be devised, its revenue could be made equal
to its expenditure. The offer was therefore declined. This refusal was
fortunate both for the inventor and the country.

The next move was to enlist private capital, and this was soon

The first telegraph company in the United States, the “Magnetic
Telegraph Company,” was formed, but this was not attained without

Early in 1845 Mr. Kendall, formerly Postmaster General in President
Jackson’s administration, was induced, after much deliberation and
consultation, to take a leading part in organizing the Company.

It was thought expedient to make the first attempt to construct a line
between New York and Philadelphia, and to limit the capital to the
probable cost of that section, the traffic between these large cities
being extensive, and likely to prove remunerative.

To aid in securing capital. Mr. Ezra Cornell and Mr. O. S. Wood went to
New York to exhibit the telegraphic apparatus upon a short experimental
line strung on the tops of buildings.

Offices were opened, one at 112 Broadway, and the other in a building
near where the Metropolitan Hotel now stands. Permission to allow the
connecting wires to be erected on the tops of houses was obtained with
much trouble, and only after paying Prof. Silliman, Jr., a fee of fifty
dollars for an expert opinion respecting its safety before the property
owners would consent to the wires being erected.

The price of admission to witness the operation of the telegraph was
twenty-five cents. This seemed a novel way to secure capital in a great
city like New York.

With this embargo, notwithstanding the wonderful character of the
invention, there was not visitors enough to pay expenses; everything
indicated poverty. The exhibitors were so poor that one of them was
glad to use a couple of common chairs for his nightly rest.

It was certainly a strange experience for the future princely founder
of Cornell University, making his breakfast out of the proceeds of a
shilling picked up, as it were, from the sidewalks of Broadway, and
which, he said, were the best meals he had ever enjoyed.

The estimated cost of a line from Fort Lee on the Hudson to
Philadelphia was $15,000--a modest sum to ask of the great city of New
York, but the men of capital looked over their immaculate collars at
the ticking machinery, and into the faces of the hungry exhibitors, and
up at the wire straggling among the chimney pots, and then down at the
meagre furniture, and said “No;” each man feared to be the first fool.
But what capitalists would not do, humbler men did.

One of the first men in New York to invest his money in the new device
was the keeper of an eating-house on Nassau Street, and who afterward
became one of the directors.

The money needed was finally raised, but chiefly outside of New York.
It was provided in this original subscription that the payment of fifty
dollars should entitle the subscribers to two shares of fifty dollars

A payment of fifteen thousand dollars, therefore, required an issue of
$30,000 stock. To the patentees was issued an additional $30,000 stock,
or half of the capital, as a consideration of the patent; the capital
was, therefore, $60,000 for the first link.

Trustees were appointed to hold the patent rights and property until
the organization was effected.

The incorporators were:--

  S. F. B. MORSE,
  W. M. SWAIN,


Early in November, 1845, the line was first opened between Philadelphia
and Norristown, Pa. distant 14 miles, so as to gratify public
curiosity, while the building was going on beyond. This was completed
to Fort Lee on January 20, 1846, and from Baltimore to Philadelphia,
June 5, the same year.

No attempt was made for a long time to cross the Hudson.

In April, 1850, two gutta percha covered wires were submerged at Fort
Lee, which for a time did good service. Shortly after the formation
of the Magnetic Telegraph Company (the Pioneer Telegraph Company
in America), numerous organizations followed. In 1859, the company
amalgamated with the American Telegraph Company.


In April, 1854, a combination was agreed upon between the Erie and
Michigan Telegraph Company and the New York and Mississippi Valley
Printing Telegraph Company. The united capital being $500,000 under
the name of the Western Union Telegraph Company, by an act of the
legislature of Wisconsin, dated March 4, 1856, and of the State of New
York, of April 4, 1856.

The following year the Michigan Southern Telegraph Company was added to
this combination.

The headquarters of the Company were at Rochester, N.Y. Other companies
joined the united companies and the Western Union found it necessary to
transfer its headquarters to New York, but the most notable of these
consolidations took place in 1866, when the United States Telegraph
Company, as well as the American Telegraph Company, joined forces
with the Western Union, thus virtually embracing the entire telegraph
business of the country.

In this year the capital was readjusted and appointed to the various
interests forming the Western Union combination.

Soon after the union of the many conflicting telegraph interests
had been effected, and through fear of a burdensome monopoly, a move
was made towards the nationalization of the telegraphs. As a matter
of course, this was strenuously opposed by the telegraph company’s
representatives, and public sentiment was with the company.

Although politicians as a rule were favourably inclined to such a step,
the majority of the people were against it, or indifferent, with the
result that the movement dropped out of view, and has so far as known
never been revived up to this period.

In telegraph operations little attention had been given to electricity
as a science in America. Any improvements which had been made in
connection with telegraphic appliances, except in repeating appliances,
were of a comparatively trifling and unscientific character.

Marshall Lefferts had done much to show the value of statistics, and
had laid down important ground work for systematized and scientific
methods; he had even introduced some of the electric tests by which the
telegraph wires afterward became so potential, but no clearly defined
system had been in practice.

The battery man still multiplied his cells, emptied his carboys of
nitric or sulphuric acid, and bathed his zincs in mercury, to raise the
telegraphic steam; the patient operator turned and returned during the
long hours of the weary nights the spring of his relay, to catch the
erratic movements of the armature as it vibrated before the changing
currents on the line.

Cromwell Varley, a well-known electrician whose accomplishments as
a gentleman of education as well as a scientist had preceded him in
the frequent appearance of his name in the records of scientific
investigation, had arrived in New York. Mr. Orton, at this time the
President of the Western Union Company, invited Mr. Varley to make a
thorough investigation into the condition of the lines and apparatus
owned by the Company.

The report made by Mr. Varley, minute and exhaustive, revealed a
startling condition of things--half of the wires were found to be
practically unavailable.

The best wires in the service showed a resistance far above the proper

A popular relay was found to have a resistance equal to one hundred
miles of number 8 wire, the use of which was choking the most important

The chief value of Mr. Varley’s report, indeed was in giving a
practical illustration of the immense value of a scientific electrical

The electrician now came to be an important factor in American
telegraphic work.

To this report also may be fairly traced the beginning of a series of
improvements and inventions which have made famous the American name.

By removing the obstructions to the electric current and reducing
resistances in wires, magnets and batteries to a minimum, the great
possibilities of the wires were discovered in accomplishments which
were never dreamed of.

The duplex and quadruplex are great advances on the old condition, and
would have been inoperative had they continued.

The visit of Mr. Varley had another result--the consolidation of
so many important organizations under a single administration had
unavoidably brought together more or less discordant elements;
each company had its own peculiar methods, ideas of management,
limitations of authority, rules of order, etc., as well as of tariffs
and compensation. It was of the utmost importance that, in order to
unity of management, distinct and clearly defined ideas of duty should
be made to permeate the entire working force so as to make conflict
impossible, and work quick, certain, harmonious.

It was scarcely less desirable also, now that the value of electric
knowledge had been demonstrated, that by some means its attainment
might be rendered easy and general, and a stimulus given to its
acquisition. Under these circumstances Mr. Orton established the
journal of the telegraph, and its usefulness soon became apparent; its
clippings from the scientific journals of European and Home papers on
electric art soon came to be the theme of almost universal interest.

A copy of this paper was mailed to every office of the Company as
soon as issued. It became not only the vehicle for executive orders
for the announcement of new offices and of changes in the tariff, but
imperceptibly, yet markedly, the means of infusing an “esprit de corps”
and sense of brotherhood throughout the telegraph service.

At the solicitation of Mr. Orton, Mr. James D. Reid accepted the
management of the journal of the telegraph, by whom it was admirably
conducted for a number of years, with the praiseworthy results
previously noted.

In view of the recent boundary arbitration between the United States
and Great Britain, it may be interesting to recall the circumstances
which led the American Government to become interested in Alaska as a
connecting link in a telegraph project, to connect Europe and America
by land wires.

When, in 1858, the Atlantic Cable proved a failure, and was looked upon
as an utter impossibility, a Mr. Collins, the American commercial agent
resident at St. Petersburg, proposed to construct a line of telegraph
overland from the United States (via) Behring Strait and Asiatic Russia
to Europe.

Perceiving the importance of the project, Mr. J. Cochrane, a member
of Congress and of the Committee on Commerce, reported to that body
on Feb. 18, 1861, a bill appropriating $50,000 for “The Survey of the
Northern Waters, Coasts and Islands of the Pacific Ocean and Behring
Strait, having reference to telegraphic connection with Russia,” and
expressing full faith in its possibility.

In the United States Senate, Feb. 17, 1862, Mr. Latham also made an
elaborate report, revealing the vast progress of telegraphs in Europe
and the enthusiastic and enlightened action of the Russian Government
in the proposed extension of her telegraph system to the Pacific.

A line had already been mapped out from Kazan, through Circassia.

From Omsk a line was traced out with the design of reaching India
through the Northern Central gate of Asia. Still another was projected
from the Amoor line to Pekin, Shanghai, Amoy and Hong Kong--thus,
to reach the trade of China, these projects showed the value of the
telegraph to commerce.

Mr. Latham asked an appropriation of $100,000 for a survey of the route
from California to the Amoor.

Russia offered her aid and a rebate of forty per cent. on American
messages when communication was established.

Russia had already assured the construction of the line 7,000 miles
from Moscow to the Pacific.

Secretary Seward took a deep interest in the enterprise, in a report to
the Senate, May 4, 1864.

On the proposition of Mr. Collins, he said: “I think it may be regarded
as settled that the United States cannot neglect to employ telegraphic
communication with foreign countries, and yet expect to maintain a
healthful commerce with them; that the United States cannot hope to
inspire respect, confidence and good will abroad, and to secure peace
with foreign States, without using the magnetic telegraph when it
is possible. I do not know any one object lying within the scope of
our foreign relations more directly important than the preservation
of peace and friendship with Great Britain and Russia; nor can I
conceive of any measure of nationality that would more effectually tend
to secure that great object than the construction of this proposed
international telegraph.”

The sentiments thus officially expressed by Mr. Seward were responded
to by all intelligent men, and the Russian line was the most popular of
the enterprises of the period.

The proposition to construct the Russian American line was first
formally submitted by Mr. Collins to the Western Union Telegraph
Company, Sept. 28, 1863, and again at a meeting of the board of that
company in Rochester, N.Y., March 16, 1864.

It was in the form of a letter from Mr. Collins, requesting the
acceptance of his project to connect Europe and America by way of
the Behring Strait, and offering, if accepted within twenty days, to
transfer his rights and privileges under certain conditions.

The terms offered by him were accepted by the board of directors.

Soon after this construction commenced, beginning at New Westminster,
B.C., the terminus of the California State Telegraph Company. The line
in a few months was carried to the Skeena river. Meanwhile Mr. Serge
Abasa, a Russian gentleman who had entered the service of the Western
Union Company, was despatched to the Asiatic coast between the mouth of
the Amoor and Behring Strait.

Mr. Abasa reported, January 18, 1866:--“Inform the directors, the
entire extent between Anadyr and Okhotsk district has been surveyed,
but the route of the line has been determined by me in person, and
notwithstanding the scarcity of laborers in the country, I have
commenced preparatory works in Anudirsk, Jijiginsk, Yamsk, Taousk and

In the midst of all this enthusiasm, however, the Great Eastern, at the
docks of an English harbor was having a cable coiled in her immense
hold for another attempt to lay a submarine line between Europe and

When it was announced that at last victory had come, and that the
continents were speaking to each other with easy garrulity, the
overland line was abandoned.

It was a question of two thousand miles of cable against sixteen
thousand miles of land line, half of which was along an uninhabited
coast. The advantage of the cable was too palpable; orders were,
therefore, issued recalling the men.

Already some eight hundred and fifty miles of line had been built, and
was in operation between New Westminster, B.C., and the Skeena River.

The United States Government were duly notified of the stoppage of the
work by the Western Union Telegraph Company, to which the Secretary of
State wrote the following reply:--

    I am not one of those who have been disappointed by the complete
    and magnificent success of the International Atlantic Telegraph.

    I regard it as tributary to an expansion of our national
    commerce, and ultimately to our political institutions, both of
    which are important forces in the progress of civilization.

    I would not have the Atlantic become dumb again if thereby I
    could immediately secure the success of the Inter-Continental
    Pacific enterprise which was committed into your hands.
    Nevertheless, I confess to a profound disappointment in the
    suspension of the latter enterprise.

    I admit that the reasons you have assigned for the suspension
    seem to be irresistible. On the other hand, I abate no jot of
    my former estimate of the importance of the Inter-Continental
    Pacific Telegraph.

    I do not believe that the United States and Russia have given
    their faith to each other and to the world for the prosecution of
    that great enterprise in vain.

            W. H. SEWARD.

The loss was very great to the enterprising company who had undertaken
the responsibility, but everything was paid up without a murmur. The
sum expended amounted to $3,170,292.

That the Western Union was enabled to defray this enormous expenditure
without in any way impairing its stock value or credit proved the
solidity of the Company even at that period of its history.

The friendly intercourse between the American and Russian authorities
in connection with their telegraph project was, no doubt, the direct
cause of the subsequent negotiations between the two Governments
for the sale and purchase of Alaska, the advantages of which the
astute Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, became cognizant, and finally
consummated the transfer of that territory from Russia to the great

In the early days of telegraph enterprise the necessity soon became
evident that, in order to provide the requisite facilities for
public convenience and for the economical employment of capital, the
consolidation of the many struggling companies was self-evident. This
policy has been carried out effectually by the Western Union Telegraph
Company, which gradually absorbed by lease or purchase upwards of fifty
concerns from the date of its organization at Rochester, N.Y., to the
removal of its offices to New York. In 1866 this Company had virtually
absorbed all rival and opposing companies of any importance.

The commanding position reached by the Western Union in 1866, with its
growing ramifications covered by 75,000 miles of wire, has steadily
advanced until the present. It embraces in its great system over
1,000,000 miles of wire, over 23,500 separate offices, two atlantic
cables, a cable to Cuba with connections throughout the West Indies,
and close direct connections with all parts of South America. In Canada
the Great Northwestern Telegraph Company, which leased the Montreal
and Dominion Telegraph Companies, is controlled by the Western Union
Telegraph Company. So also is the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
Telegraph Companies.

In 1872, six years after its reorganization, the Western Union owned in

                             Pole mileage.   Wire mileage.
                               62,033           137,190
  In 1882                     131,060           374,368
   ” 1892                     189,576           739,105
   ” 1902                     196,115         1,029,984

  In 1872 it had                              5,237 offices
   ” 1882   ”                                12,068   ”
   ” 1892   ”                                20,700   ”
   ” 1902   ”                                23,567   ”

  In 1872 it transmitted              12,444,497 messages
   ” 1882  ”     ”                    38,842,247    ”
   ” 1892  ”     ”                    62,387,298    ”
   ” 1902  ”     ”                    69,373,095    ”

  In 1872 its receipts were               $ 8,457,095 77
   ” 1882    ”          ”                  17,114,165 92
   ” 1892    ”          ”                  23,706,404 72
   ” 1902    ”          ”                  28,073,095 10

In 1902, 2,506 miles of poles and 57,218 miles of wires (of which
28,767 miles were copper) and 329 offices have been added to its system.

The increase in the number of messages transmitted in 1902 over 1901
was 3,717,834.

This increase does not include messages sent by brokers, press
association and others over wires they lease from the Company, nor
railway messages under contracts.

The receipts for the transmission of regular commercial messages
increased in 1902 over the previous year $1,348,531.34 and from leased
wires $451,749.64.

The maintenance and reconstruction of this enormous system cost the
Company in 1902 $3,591,069.17, and $2,188,101.03 were expended in the
construction of new lines during the same year.

Through the re-arrangement of the operating forces and substitution of
direct working circuits for repeating or relay offices a reduction of
$388,746 has been effected and the service besides greatly improved.

In 1903 contracts were made early in that year with various railway
companies for the building of 16,800 miles of line.

The capital stock of the Company is $100,000,000, on which a dividend
of 5 per cent. per annum is paid, payable quarterly.

The Company has had the good fortune to have secured men of conspicuous
ability to direct its affairs from its inception to the present time.


This Company was organized in 1881. Its original promoters expected by
the use of compound steel and copper wire of large size and the use of
the Leggo-automatic and Gray-harmonic apparatus to transmit a large
volume of business by the use of so few wires and at such a speed that
a uniform and low rate would produce a revenue sufficient to justify a
capitalization largely in excess of the cost of the plant.

The name postal was chosen upon the theory that the new plan of
construction and method of transmission would bring the property into
extensive use in competition with or perhaps as an auxiliary of the
Post-Office department.

How far the purpose of the founders was speculative need not now be
considered. Probably some of them were sincere in their beliefs, but
they were ignorant of the telegraph business, and the fallacy of their
plan was soon demonstrated.

In order to help a friend, who had become largely involved in the
bonds of the Company, Mr. John W. Mackay found himself in control of
the property in 1884. He had in the meantime been induced to interest
himself in the organization of a new cable service between Great
Britain, France and the United States, of which, through the failure
of some of those who were to join in the enterprise, he also came into
control. Having “put his hand to the plow,” so to speak, although the
business was wholly new to him, he was not the man to turn back, and
the more he examined the merit of the business itself, the better
satisfied he became that, if it could be properly conducted in its
details and the complicated and chaotic condition of the numerous
comparatively small, but ruinously competing land line companies could
be brought into right form and order, a successful and in every way
creditable business worthy of the employment of his ample resources
could be built up.

When the Western Union Company, early in 1881, under the leadership of
Mr. Jay Gould, acquired control of the Atlantic & Pacific, the American
Union and the combined Canadian telegraphs, and formed an alliance with
the cable companies, it then seemed as if competition in the telegraph
business had come to an end, and many of its ablest men were of that
opinion, but by the end of 1884 more extensive and more injurious
competition had been built up in the United States than had ever
existed before, and the possibility of bringing order out of such chaos
seemed remote, but Mr. Mackay was not discouraged.

Early in 1884 he secured the services of Mr. George G. Ward, who had
been brought up in the business of the telegraph in England, and
had been in the service of the cable companies almost from their
inception, and was Superintendent of the Direct United States Cable
Company from 1875 to 1883. Under his direction the first of the
Commercial Cable Company’s cables was completed in December, 1884.

Early in that month Mr. Albert B. Chandler entered Mr. Mackay’s
personal service, having been assured of his purpose to permanently
establish a telegraph system upon sound and just principles respecting
which they were in full accord.

Mr. Chandler had served in almost every capacity known to the telegraph
business, from operator in 1858 to President in 1879, and had won the
confidence of proprietors of telegraph property, of their officials and
employees, and the public as a practical, energetic and conservative
manager. Under his guidance as receiver, the mortgage which had been
placed upon the property of the Postal Telegraph Company under complete
misapprehension of its earning power, was foreclosed.

The Postal Telegraph Cable Company, of which he became President and
General Manager early in 1886, was organized. Extremely complicated
and vexatious litigation, chiefly a legacy from the smaller companies,
was gradually removed, and when, near the close of 1887, the various
fragmentary companies had been acquired by either the Western Union
or the Postal Companies, competition, based upon the cutting of
rates, rebates and other wasteful practices which could only end in
destruction, was promptly terminated by the competing companies.

Since then the telegraph business has been carried on in the United
States in a more business-like and progressive manner than ever before.

There is so little friction between the two companies apparent to the
public, that it is sometimes charged, or at least suspected, they
are in actual alliance, but such is not the case. Competition for
patronage was never so sharp as now, but it is based upon excellence of
facilities and service and treatment of patrons, and not upon any form
of buying patronage with money, which has proven the ruin of so many
companies whose chief purpose seemed to be to do the most harm in the
shortest time, in order to sell or lease their property for more than
it was fairly worth.

Probably no two men ever had more complete control of large interests
not their own during their formative period than has been the case
of Mr. Chandler and Mr. Ward in their respective positions, and to
Mr. Mackay’s implicit confidence in them may be attributed much of
the success that has been attained by the Commercial Cable and Postal
Telegraph Companies, which are now practically one property.

Most of the principal officers of these companies have been brought
to their present positions by these gentlemen, and the business is
conducted with singular harmony and efficiency.

Mr. Mackay, who was from its inception President of the Commercial
Cable Company, assumed also the Presidency of the Postal Company early
in 1901 at the earnest request of Mr. Chandler, who desired to be
relieved, partly by reason of somewhat impaired health, and partly
because of his preference to spend much of his time in his Vermont
home. Upon his retirement from active charge, he was made Chairman
of the Board of Directors, and in this capacity renders a variety of
services and exercises as a useful influence. He is still, as he has
been for many years, a Vice-President of the Commercial Cable Company,
of which Mr. Ward continues as first Vice-President and General Manager.

Mr. Clarence H. Mackay has succeeded his father as President of the
Commercial Cable and Postal Telegraph Companies, and entered with great
pride and energy into the project of laying a cable to Hawaii and the
Philippine Islands as projected by his father.

These very important links in the circuit round the globe adds further
power and opportunity to the Postal Company, whose activity seems now
to have fairly begun, and being laid upon sound foundations of finance,
construction and methods of business is evidently destined to continue
an increasing success.

The following figures show the pole and wire mileage, number of
offices operated or reached, and number of messages handled in 1903 by
the Postal Telegraph Cable Company, its subsidiary companies and direct
connections in North America:

  Pole mileage                               48,801
  Wire    ”                                 276,244
  Points reached                             19,977[A]
  Messages handled                       21,600,577
  Number of new offices added in 1903         3,729

      [A] 1,782 of these are reached by no other company.

The properties in the United States owned and controlled by the Postal
Company represent an investment in lines and equipment aggregating
about $25,000,000.

In order to perpetuate the name of his father, the virtual founder
of the Commercial Cable and Postal Telegraph Companies, Mr. Clarence
H. Mackay, President of the United Companies, recently addressed a
circular letter to the stockholders inviting the deposit of their
stock for exchange for shares in a trusteeship created under the
Massachusetts laws with the name of “The Mackay Companies.”

The capitalization of the Commercial Cable Company, which also owns the
Postal Telegraph and Cable Company, is $15,000,000, upon which 8 per
cent. dividends are paid.

“The Mackay Companies” has authorized for exchange for this stock
$30,000,000 par value of its own 4 per cent. cumulative preferred
shares and a like amount of common shares, so that each stockholder in
the Cable Company will receive for his holdings 200 per cent. in the
common shares of the new concern.

The Trustees are Clarence H. Mackay, John I. Waterbury, President of
the Manhattan Trust Company of New York; T. Jefferson Coolidge, jun.,
President of the Old Colony Trust Company of Boston, both directors of
the Commercial Cable Company, and Mr. W. Cook, Counsel to the Company.

The plan is practically consummated.

Mr. Mackay said in reply to an enquiry that this action on his part was
the outcome of his desire to put on a permanent basis the properties
created by his father, and to provide for all contingencies that might
arise from death or changes in commercial conditions. He will continue
to devote his entire time to the active management of the Company.

The Commercial Cable Company owns and operates four transatlantic
cable lines and its connecting lines between Nova Scotia and New York,
and Ireland and France, in all some fourteen thousand miles of cable,
with also the cable from San Francisco to Honolulu and thence to the

The Mackay system has an exclusive connection with the Canadian Pacific
telegraphs and with the all red cable line to Australia and New


(_London Daily Express._)

With the evolution of the United States into a world power there has
grown up across the Atlantic the greatest news-gathering agency ever
imagined or created, whose despatches are momentarily being read by
nearly half a hundred million people, and upon which Europe itself is
sometimes dependent for the first word or whisper of what has happened
within her own gates. The name of the agency which supplies America
with its news is the Associated Press.

Startling in its scope, romantic in its history, the Associated Press
has now, probably, more influence upon daily international events than
any other agent, except the will of the peoples, which it helps to form.

Sixty years ago, when America was in industrial and political
childhood, its papers depended for news upon Associated Press
post-boys, who, after meeting incoming schooners at New York, rode hot
haste, or leisurely, according to the character of the rider and nature
of the beast, to the various papers inland.

To-day the Associated Press sends over 31,000 miles of private
telegraph lines, which form a network across the continent of America,
thousands and thousands of columns, supplying about 3,000 American
papers with news of what is happening from minute to minute in America
and abroad.


In addition, the Associated Press keeps Europe and the rest of the
world informed of the news of the great Republic, gathered and
distributed by over 2,000 employees, who are supported on an annual
revenue of over half a million sterling.

The Associated Press was started about 1840, when seven of the New York
daily papers combined to reduce the expense of news by post-boys.

The organization at present consists of over 700 of the leading
American daily papers. Each paper has a vote whereby fifteen directors
are elected. These in turn elect officers. Through contract relations
2,300 other papers are granted the Associated Press News service,
making a total of 3,000 out of the 3,200 daily papers published in

These 3,000 papers have a daily issue of 15,000,000, and each paper is
estimated by an impartial statistician to pass through the hands of
three persons; hence it is estimated that every despatch sent by the
Associated Press reaches 45,000 pairs of eyes.

The Associated Press is not in itself a profit-making concern,
being purely co-operative, and has nothing whatever to do with any
advertising. Its papers, which include those of all languages, creeds
and politics, are assessed according to the expenditure involved in
gathering and distributing the home and foreign news.

Over its own telegraph wires the Associated Press sends through its
own telegraph operators, east, west, north and south, the news of the


This is received in its branch offices in all the important towns
throughout the United States, and transmitted to the papers. The result
of last year’s Derby was in the New York office of the Associated
Press, nearly 3,000 miles away, twenty-five seconds after “Rock Sand”
had passed the winning post, and was published in San Francisco, about
7,000 miles from Epsom, two minutes afterwards.

Interesting as is this system whereby the news of America and the
outside world is simultaneously distributed to the American papers--a
system of mechanical ingenuity and organization that would require
several columns to describe adequately--it must be almost of secondary
importance to English readers compared with the influence wielded by
this American news agency over matters British and European.

The Associated Press has treaty relations with the three great European
news agencies, viz., Reuter’s, which supplies Great Britain, Greater
Britain, all the British possessions, Egypt and the Far East, except
Tonquin, with their news. Havas, which covers the newsfield of France,
and through its subsidiary agencies all the Latin countries, including
South America; and Wolff’s, which from Berlin controls and distributes
the news of Germany and all the Teutonic countries, and, through
allies, the news of Russia, Austria-Hungary, the Slav countries,
Scandinavia and Danish territory.

These three European agencies in turn rely upon tributary agencies such
as the Telbureau, in St. Petersburg; the Stefani, in Rome; the Fabrin,
in Madrid, and the Corresponz, in Vienna--all official voices of
Government opinion.


These European agencies and their tributaries constitute one great
clearing-house of news. Havas gathers the news of France primarily into
Paris; thence it radiates throughout the world: to Reuter for England,
to the Associated Press for America, to Stefani for Italy, and so on.
In this way a budget comprising the news of the world appears day by

Not content with receiving for its papers the news of Europe through
the agencies already mentioned, the Associated Press has established in
practically all the European capitals, bureaus of its own. In London
the Associated Press keeps a large staff, though no attempt is made
to sell a single item of news to English papers. All their work is to
gather news and send it to America.

In London the staff of the Associated Press, as it is familiarly
called, is under the direct supervision of Mr. Walter Neef, who is in
charge of the entire European service.

The correspondents resident on the continent are in close touch with
the Chancelleries, and are welcomed at their respective Foreign Offices
with a kindness that speaks eloquently for the friendship these
European nations are willing to offer to America.

The first news of the arbitration treaty that sealed the Anglo-French
“entente” was cabled to New York by the Associated Press from Paris,
and re-cabled to London, where it was promptly denied by no less an
authority than the _Times_. The first news of the recent Anglo-Spanish
treaty came to England from the Associated Press in New York, having
been cabled from its London office.

When Martinique was devastated by a volcanic eruption, which included
among its victims the correspondent of the Associated Press at St.
Pierre, the Fort de France representative called on Mr. Melville E.
Stone, the General Manager, then in New York, for assistance.

Mr. Stone promptly placed a steamer at his service, and the other
correspondents of the Associated Press in places of danger were
rescued, and lived to tell to the world the story of that hideous

This cost the Associated Press about £5,000, and that is the sum it
usually expends on the international yacht races for the America Cup,
which are reported for England and America by correspondents and half a
dozen special boats equipped with wireless telegraphic instruments.

When Pope Leo died, London, Paris, Berlin and other European capitals
got the first intimation of his death from New York. The Associated
Press correspondent in Rome had telegraphed the news on which all the
world waited, and it had arrived in America exactly nine minutes after
having been sent out from the Vatican, which is nearly two miles from
the central telegraphic office in Rome.

This gave the Associated Press time to re-cable the news to Europe
before it had arrived from another source. On that day the Associated
Press published in its American papers over one page of closely printed
description of the events centering round the Vatican, all of which was
cabled from Rome after 4 o’clock on the preceding afternoon.

When Cardinal Sarto was elected Pope, the news again came to Europe
in the same way--from the Associated Press office in New York. The
decision of the Alaska Boundary Commission was cabled by the Associated
Press to New York and Canada on a Saturday, and re-cabled back to
England for the Sunday papers, though it was not officially announced
in London until the following Tuesday.

To come to still more recent events, the news of the transmission
of Russia’s final note to Japan was received in London from the St.
Petersburg correspondent of the Associated Press via New York, while
despatches from the same agency announced in America the rupture of
diplomatic relations and the practical outbreak of war as early as
Saturday afternoon on February 6.


Mr. Melville E. Stone, the General Manager and presiding genius of the
Associated Press, whose indomitable “grit”--as they say in America--was
the chief factor in the victory won when the Associated Press fought
for five years for supremacy in America, has recently paid a flying
visit to England, after being received by the Czar in St. Petersburg
and by the Kaiser in Berlin.

Several other crowned heads have been pleased to consult with Mr.
Stone, who naturally is one of the most prominent of Americans. He
has been decorated by the King of Italy, the President of the French
Republic, and the Kaiser.

As a result of Mr. Stone’s personal suggestion, the Czar has removed
the censorship on all news that leaves Russia for abroad.

In a few hours the head of the American news agency was able to
convince the Ruler of All the Russias that the censorship was not
only useless, but absolutely harmful to the Empire. The tradition of
centuries has been swept away, and, on the word of the Czar, all the
world will be free to have the individual opinions of correspondents
who may care to come into Russian domain.

No country is likely to benefit more by this decision of the Czar
than Russia itself; no public is likely to be more slow to realize
the genuineness of the change than that of Europe. The extent of the
revolution effected can scarcely be gauged except by those who know
Russia well.

When asked the other day to what principles this American news agency
owed its ascendancy in the world, Mr. Stone laconically replied:
“Accuracy of statement and speed in transmission.”

Of such is the Associated Press of America.

[Illustration: S. F. B. MORSE.]


Born April 27, 1791, at Charleston, Mass. His father, the Rev. Jedediah
Morse, author of the well-known book entitled “American Geography”
and compiler of the “Universal Gazette.” His mother was Elizabeth Ann

At seven years of age young Morse entered the preparatory school at
Andover, Mass., and at 14 the Freshman Class at Yale, graduating in

The faculty which first developed in him was the artistic. He provided
himself with brush and paint and commenced taking on ivory the
portraits of his more opulent companions. He found in painting an
inspiration, and selected it as his chosen profession.

He placed himself under the tutelage of Washington Allston, one of
America’s famous artists, who encouraged him in the choice he had made.
He accompanied Allston to Europe in 1811, bearing introductions to some
of England’s most distinguished men.

Benjamin West was then in the zenith of his fame. It was a proud day
for Morse when he met West and was welcomed to his studio. A mutual
attachment sprang up between them, and West became thereafter his
friend and counsellor.

Meanwhile West’s friendship and the introductory letters he had brought
with him introduced him to men of influence and reputation.

Some of their names are historic. It was something for a young man to
meet such men as William Wilberforce and Henry Thornton, Zacharias
MacCauley, father of the great historian, Lord Glenelg and many others,
all of whom gave a warm and cordial welcome.

Mr. Morse’s instincts were refined and his companionships choice. He
had for his room-mate in London the gifted Leslie, then, like himself,
struggling for fame in a sublime art. For companions he had such men
as Benjamin West, Copley, Allston, Coleridge, Rogers, Charles Lamb and
others famous in art and literature.

He wrote thus to his mother in 1812:

“My passion for my art is firmly rooted, that I am confident; no human
power could destroy it. The more I study the greater I think is its
claim to the appellation of divine. I am going to begin a picture of
the death of Hercules. The figure is to be large as life.”

The picture when finished was shown to West who warmly praised it, and
in May, 1813, it was accepted for exhibition in the rooms of the Royal
Academy, at Somerset House, then regarded as a very marked token of

A new and unexpected triumph grew out of this painting. In executing
it he pursued the plan of conscientious artists who first model in
clay the figure to be painted in order to ensure strict anatomical
proportions and accuracy.

This cast, to which he attached no special value, was seen by West,
and was induced through his kind criticism to send this model to the
Society of Arts in competition for a prize in sculpture.

This venture proved successful, and was publicly presented with the
annual prize and a gold medal by the Duke of Norfolk.

In the British Art Reports the “Dying Hercules” is placed among the
nine best paintings in a gallery of nearly one thousand, and among them
the works of Turner, Northcote, Lawrence and Wilkie.

When young Morse went to Europe he was dependent to some extent upon
his father for his resources. He was to be away three years. It was now
1815, one year longer than his limit, but he was ambitious and felt he
had the power within him. He determined to compete for the chief prize
offered by the Royal Academy for a subject he had chosen, “The Judgment
of Jupiter in the case of Apollo, Marpessa and Idas.” The prize was a
gold medal and fifty guineas.

The picture was completed, and hoping he would be allowed to compete in
his absence, he offered it for that purpose to West, who, struck with
its merits, advised him to stay, but this he could not do, and the
rules cut him off. The premium had to be delivered to the successful
artist in person.

A petition to make his case an exception was declined, and “Jupiter”
went with its author to America.

He arrived in Boston, Oct. 18, and, without delay, rented a studio. He
had his “Jupiter” on exhibition, and his own fame had preceded him.
Many crowded the studio to see both the artist and the painting.

Society opened its doors, but this was all. No one offered to buy his
picture or give him an order in the line of high art he had marked out
for himself.

After various experiences Mr. Morse settled in New York, founding the
National Academy of the Arts of Design, of which in 1827 he became
President, and to which office he was annually elected until 1845. He
delivered the first course of lectures on the fine arts ever delivered
in America, and they were notable for suggestiveness and learning.

As an historical painter Morse stood next to Allston. Had the country
demanded art of a very high order it is probable that Morse would have
engaged his attention as an historical painter, but the nation was too
young, knew little of art and cared less. Morse was honored, but his
art kept him poor. He longed, however, too, for the opportunity to try
his power on some national work.

He conceived the idea of painting the interior of Representatives
Chamber in the Capital at Washington, and devoted eighteen months to
this. The picture measured eight feet by nine, and contained a great
variety of figures. Its exhibition, however, caused him serious loss.
The painting is in the possession of the President of the Arts of
Design in New York.

He painted a picture of General Lafayette, who was at the time in the
United States, and with whom he by this means formed a warm friendship.

In 1829 he again visited Europe, spending three years among artists and
collectors of art in England, Italy and France.

In Paris he painted the interior of the Louvre, copying in miniature
the chief pictures hanging on its walls. In the fall of 1832 he
returned to America and resumed the Presidency of the Academy of
Design, to which he was regularly elected annually during his absence.

When an artist was employed to fill with a picture one of the vacant
panels in the rotunda of the Capitol, American artists, without
exception, considered Morse best entitled to the honor, but great
disappointment was felt when another was selected.

It was on his return from Europe on board the packet-ship “Sully” the
idea of the electric telegraph engaged his attention, but it occupied
many years of his time to bring it to practical shape. He would have
accomplished this much earlier had he not been hampered from lack of

When his invention was matured and its usefulness perceived and
applied, he was fortunate enough at last to reap the reward of many
years of struggle and anxiety he had undergone.

On June 5, 1856, with the telegraph established in America, he again
left for Europe. In London he met with great joy his artist friends:
West, Landsear, Leslie and many others distinguished in science and
art, all of whom warmly congratulated him on the brilliant career which
had been opened up to him. In their estimation he had honored in this
new realm the old art which he loved and elevated.

Morse’s development from an artist into an inventor was to them no
marvel. He was still giving utterance to natural forces as when a
few years before he combined his colors on canvass and produced his

After enjoying for a time this pleasant reunion with his old friends in
London, he also met and consulted with the English electricians, Glass,
Bright, Whitehouse and others in respect to the proposed Atlantic cable
in which experiments were then being made as to its possibility.

He then left for the continent. On his arrival at Copenhagen, whither
he first directed his course, he was introduced to Frederick VII. King
of Denmark, who, with his Court, received him with every mark of
honor. There he visited the study chamber of Oersted, whose discovery
of the reflection of a needle by a galvanic current was the dawning
fact which eventually made his invention possible.

Continuing his journey to Russia, he found on arriving at the quay at
Peterhoff the Imperial carriages with their usual retinue of footmen
wearing the Royal livery in waiting. By these he and his party were
driven to the Imperial Palace, where, with every demonstration of
respect, he was received by the Emperor Alexander II., by whom he was
most kindly congratulated as one of the world’s benefactors.

He next proceeded to Berlin. Here he was received with great cordiality
by Humboldt, who welcomed him to his house and treated him during his
stay with every mark of respect.

At his departure the great author of Cosmos presented him with an
Imperial photograph of himself, on the margin of which he wrote:

    “To Mr. S. F. B. Morse, whose philosophic and useful labors have
    rendered his name illustrious in two worlds. The homage of the
    high and affectionate esteem of


This memorial of one so great and gifted he greatly valued and
carefully preserved.

Prussia, about the same time, presented to him the Prussian golden
medal for scientific merit.

After passing through many places of interest in Europe, in all of
which he was received with distinguished honor, Professor Morse
returned to London the latter part of September, 1856.

The public at that time were much interested in the subject of the
proposed submarine telegraph connection with America.

A plateau extending across the bed of the ocean between the two
continents had been discovered under a survey conducted by Lieutenant
Maury for the United States Government, and which was regarded as
extremely favorable for the projected enterprise.

Professor Morse, in concert with Mr. Whitehouse and Mr. Bright, the
English electricians, conducted a series of experiments and sent
signals through 2,000 miles of insulated wire.

These experiments removed any apprehension respecting the retardation
of the electric current over this long length of wire.

It now became a question of capital and nautical engineering. The first
was quickly pledged, the latter was not doubted.

While in London thus occupied, Professor Morse was tendered a banquet,
which he promptly accepted.

The dinner was given Oct. 9, 1856. The Chairman was Mr. Fothergill
Cooke, who, in presenting the guest of the evening, used the following

“Gentlemen, I was consulted only a few months ago on the subject of a
telegraph for a country in which no telegraph at present exists.

“I recommended the system of Professor Morse. I believe that system to
be one of the simplest in the world, and in that lies its permanence
and certainty. (Cheers.) It is a great thing to say, and I do so after
twenty years’ experience, that Professor Morse’s system is one of the
simplest that has ever been, and I think ever will be, conceived.
(Cheers.) He stands alone in America as the original and carrier-out of
a grand conception.

“We know that America is an enormous country, but I think we have a
right to quarrel with Mr. Morse for not being content with giving the
benefit of it to his country, but that he extended it to Canada and
Newfoundland, and even beyond there. His system has been adopted over
all Europe.

“The nuisance is that we in England are obliged to communicate by means
of his system, and he threatens to go further still, and promises,
if we do not, he will carry out a communication between England and
Newfoundland across the Atlantic.

“I almost envy Professor Morse for having forced from an unwilling
rival a willing acknowledgment of his services.

“May he long live to enjoy the high reputation he has attained
throughout the world.” (Long continued cheers.)

Other speeches equally complimentary followed.

It was on the day of this banquet Mr. Morse received from Paris the
announcement that the Emperor Napoleon III. had made him a Chevalier of
the Legion of Honor.

Martin Farquhar Tupper sent him a few days afterwards the following
lines referring to the banquet:

    “A good and generous spirit ruled the hour,
      Old jealousies were drowned in brotherhood,
    Philanthropy rejoiced that skill and power,
      Servants to science, compass all men’s good.

    “And over all religions banner stood
      Upheld by thee, true patriarch of the plans
    Which in two hemispheres was chimed, to shower
      Mercies from God on universal man.

    “Yes, the electric chain from East to West,
      More than mere metal, more than mammon, can
    Binds us together, kinsmen in the best
      As most affectionate and frankest bond,
      Brothers as one, and looking far beyond,
    The world in an electric union blest.”

Although the Morse telegraph had been generally adopted in continental
Europe, no compensation had hitherto been paid to the inventor.

Professor Morse, therefore, was much gratified in receiving the
following letter while in Paris:

  “PARIS, September 1, 1858.

    “Sir,--It is with a lively satisfaction that I have the honor to
    announce to you that a sum of 400,000 francs will be remitted
    to you in four annuities in the name of France, of Austria, of
    Belgium, of the Netherlands, of Piedmont, of Russia, of the
    Holy See, of Sweden, of Tuscany and of Turkey, as an honorary
    gratuity, and as a reward altogether personal of your useful

    “Nothing can better mark, than this collective act of reward, the
    sentiment of public gratitude which your invention has justly

    “The Emperor has already given you a testimonial of his high
    esteem, when he conferred on you, more than a year ago, the
    decoration of a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.

    “You will find a new mark of it in the initiative, which His
    Majesty wished that his Government should take in conjunction,
    and the decision that I charge myself to bring to your knowledge,
    is a brilliant proof of the eager and sympathetic adhesion
    that his proposition has met with from the States I have just

    “I pray you to accept on this occasion, sir, my personal
    congratulations as well as the assurance of my sentiments of the
    most distinguished consideration.

            S. WALEWSKI.”

Professor Morse, in addition to this handsome gratuity, received tokens
of honor from each of the contributing nationalities:--

From France, the Legion of Honor; Prussia, the Gold Medal of Scientific
Merit; Austria, a gold medal; Spain, Knight Commander de Numero of
the Order of Isabella the Catholic; Portugal, Knight of the Tower
and Sword; Italy, Saints Lazaro and Mauritis; Denmark, Knight of the
Danneborg; Turkey, decoration in diamonds of the “Nisham Iftichar,” or
Order of Glory.

He was also the recipient of many other marks of honor of a more
private character.

As early as 1835 Mr. Morse was elected a corresponding member of the
Historical Institute of France.

In 1837 he was made a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of

July 15, 1839, the Silver Medal of the Academy of Industry was voted to
him for the invention of the telegraph.

The National Institute for the promotion of science, established at
Washington, made him a corresponding member in 1841, and in 1842 the
Gold Medal of the American Institute was awarded him for successful
experiments in subaqueous telegraphy.

In 1845 he was made a corresponding member of the Archeological
Society in Belgium, and in 1848 he became a member of the American
Philosophical Society of Philadelphia. The following year he was
elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Boston.

Many other tokens of honor was accorded him from time to time.

While in Paris in 1867, the year of the International Exposition,
Professor Morse served on the Committee of Telegraphic Appliances, and
wrote an exhaustive report on the merits of telegraphic contrivances.

He also prepared with great minuteness a complete narrative of his own

Covered with honors, and having long overstepped the three score years
and ten, Professor Morse returned to America and arrived at his rural
home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he was affectionately welcomed by
friends and neighbors.

Shortly after his return a number of influential and representative
gentlemen of New York felt that something should be done by his fellow
countrymen to honor the distinguished inventor and welcome him home.

He was tendered a banquet, which was held at Delmonico’s on Dec. 30,

The banqueting room was beautifully decorated the chair being occupied
by the Hon. Salmon P. Chase. After the dinner the toasts to the Queen
of Great Britain and the Army and Navy had been responded to by Mr.
Thornton, the British Minister, and General McDowell, the Chairman,

“Gentlemen, you will now allow me to invite your attention to the next
regular toast. God has given understanding to man to be employed for
His glory in promoting the happiness of His creatures and in nothing
that belongs to earth can the human understanding be more worthily
employed than in the researches of science and in the works of

“Science and invention may be called, perhaps not unfitly, the creators
and servants of civilization. Sometimes invention by a sort of
intuition of principles has grasped results and seemed to anticipate

“More usually science by the patient investigation of truth and the
discovery of principles has prepared the way for the triumph of
invention. All invention is realized science, and this is especially
true of the telegraph.

“I will not fatigue your attention with ancient and modern devices for
communicating intelligence at a distance, but it seems proper to notice
here how many men of science, and of what various nationalities have
contributed to that wonderful art and instrument by which the world is
now bound in electric chains.

“Many shining names will occur to any one familiar with the history of
the telegraph. Among them I can pause to mention only those of Volta,
the Italian, to whose discoveries the battery is due; Oersted, the
Dane, who first discovered the magnetic properties of the electric
current; Ampère and Arago, the Frenchmen who prosecuted still further
and most successfully similar researches.

“Then Sturgeon, the Englishman, who may be said to have made the
first electric magnet, next, and not least, illustrious. Among
these illustrious men, our countryman, Henry, who first showed the
practicability of producing electro-magnetic effects by means of
the galvanic current at distances indefinitely great, and finally
Steinheil, the German, who, after the invention of the telegraph in all
material parts was complete, taught, in 1837, the use of the ground as
part of the circuit.

“These are some of those searchers for truth whose names will be long
held in grateful memory, and not among the least of their titles to
gratitude and remembrance will be the discoveries which contributed to
the possibility of the modern telegraph. But these discoveries only
made the telegraph possible, they offered the brilliant opportunity.
There was needed a man to bring into being the new art and the new
interest to which they pointed. And it is the providential distinction
and splendid honor of the eminent American who is our guest to-night,
that happily prepared by previous acquirements and pursuits. He
was quick to seize the opportunity and give to the world the first
recording telegraph; fortunate man, thus to link his name forever with
the greatest wonder and the greatest benefit of the age.

“But his work was not done when in 1832 he conceived the idea and
devised the plan of the first telegraph.

“Long years of patient labor and constant perseverance were needed to
bring the telegraph into use. Its first message was not transmitted
until 1844. Even then, and indeed before that year with something
like prophetic inspiration, he grasped the future and predicted that
telegraphic connection between Europe and America, which it was
reserved for another distinguished American, kindred in spirit and
kindred in renown and illustrious, to accomplish. Here I must pause,
not, however, without uniting all your aspirations in the fervent wish
that our honored guest may live long and happily to enjoy the applause,
the gratitude and the reverence of mankind, which he has so honorably

“Gentlemen, I now give you ‘Our Guest,’ Prof. S. F. B. Morse, the man
of science who explored the laws of nature, wrested electricity from
her embrace and made it a missionary in the cause of human progress.”

The venerable Professor then arose amid tumultuous applause. He was
laboring under deep feeling, too strong to be concealed.

As he did so the whole company made cheer follow cheer in testimony of
their admiration and respect. At last in a clear voice he addressed the
company at considerable length, reciting the history of the telegraph,
and concluding as follows:

“In casting my eyes around I am most agreeably greeted by faces that
carry me back in memory to the days of my art struggles in this city,
the early days of the National Academy of Design.

“Brothers (for you are yet brothers if I have left your ranks), you
well know it cost me many a pang. I did not leave you until I saw you
well established and entering on that career of prosperity due to
your own just appreciation of the important duties belonging to your

“You have an institution which now holds, and (if true to yourselves)
will continue to hold, a high position in the estimation of this
appreciative community.

“If I have stepped aside from art to tread what seems another path,
there is a good precedent for it in the lives of artists. Science and
art are not opposed.

“Leonardo da Vinci could find congenial relaxation in scientific
researches and invention, and our own Fulton was a painter, whose
scientific studies resulted in steam navigation.

“It may not be generally known that the important invention of the
percussion cap is due to the scientific recreations of the English
painter, Shaw; but I must not further detain you from more instructive
speech. One word only in closing.

“I have claimed for America the origination of the modern telegraph
system of the world; impartial history, I think, will support that

    “‘Not unto us, not unto us,
      But to God be the glory
    What hath God wrought.’”

Mr. Morse’s address was listened to with deep attention, and greeted at
the close with great and continued applause.

Among the last, but not the least, of the honors paid Professor Morse,
was the erection of his statue in Central Park, New York, by the
telegraph operators of the United States and the British provinces. The
ceremony of unveiling the monument took place on June 10, 1871.

Many delegates were present from all parts of the country to witness
the function.

In the evening a reception was held in the Academy of Music, at which
the aged inventor was present, when he bade farewell to “his children
of the telegraph.”

He did not long survive this event. He passed away full of years and
honors on April 2, 1872.

_The Telegraph in Canada_

Although the electric telegraph system of Cooke and Wheatstone had been
established as early as 1837 in England, yet no move was made to adopt
it in Canada.

After the Morse experimental line between Baltimore and Washington had
proved a success and was thrown open for public business and wires were
being carried to the leading business centres in the United States
and a line of telegraph was projected connecting New York City with
Buffalo, public interest was aroused in Canada, more especially in the
Western section.

Mr. Morse had failed, or probably thought Canada at that time not
important enough, to take out a patent for his invention, hence it was
open to any or all who chose to use it.

In 1846 the first Canadian Telegraph Company was formed with a capital
of $16,000; its object was to connect Toronto and Hamilton with the
American lines at Buffalo. The corporate name of the Company was the
“Toronto, Hamilton, Niagara & St. Catharines Electro-Magnetic Company.”

A line was speedily erected and the desired connection made.

At the end of this year action was taken at Montreal to organize a
telegraph company.

_The Origin of the Montreal Telegraph Company_

At a meeting of the Council of the Montreal Board of Trade, held on
Dec. 26, 1846, a Committee was appointed to enquire into the best means
of extending the use of the electric telegraph system into Canada. The
Committee reported favorably of the project.

After giving the subject full and earnest consideration, on December
29, three days afterwards, a general meeting was convened for the
purpose of forming a company to connect Montreal and Toronto by a line
of electro-magnetic telegraph, the capital to be £12,500 in 1,250
shares of £10 each.

Among those present were L. H. Holton, D. L. Macpherson, Fred A.
Wilson, John Glass, T. W. Middleton, Thos. Tait, Henry Starnes, John
Young, Henry Joseph, I. Taylor, William Murray, Andrew Shaw, George
Elder, jun., and Henry Chapman.

On motion of L. H. Holton, seconded by D. L. Macpherson, Mr. Young took
the chair.

The Chairman stated the object of the meeting to be the organization
of a company by parties in favor of connecting Montreal and Toronto
by electro-magnetic telegraph, and who had proposed to take stock
in the company to be formed for that purpose in accordance with the
recommendation of the Board of Trade.

It was moved by Mr. Elder and seconded by Mr. Starnes, that the meeting
do organize itself into a company to be entitled the Montreal & Toronto
Magnetic Telegraph Company. This was carried.

It was then moved by Mr. Chapman, seconded by Mr. Tait, that Messrs.
Shaw, Glass, Elder and Young be a Provisional Committee to conduct the
affairs of the Company.

Moved by Mr. Holton, seconded by Mr. Macpherson, that the Provisional
Committee be empowered to enter into all necessary arrangements for the
early construction of the proposed line of telegraph, the whole of the
shares having been taken up.

At a meeting held on January 22, 1847, it was moved by Mr. Lindsay that
Andrew Shaw, John Young, John Glass, George Elder, jun., and Henry
Chapman be directors for the ensuing year--Carried.

On the 6th of March, 1847, Mr. O. S. Wood was appointed Superintendent
of the Company, and immediately took charge of the Company’s operations.

The charter was obtained on July 28, 1847, under the amended title of
the Montreal Telegraph Company.

Andrew Shaw was elected its first President, Mr. James Dakers,

In securing the services of Mr. Wood the new Company was exceedingly
fortunate. He had been associated with Professor Morse, was his first
pupil, and undoubtedly the most experienced telegraph man of that
day in America, a man of great ability and of the highest personal

Proceedings were immediately begun in construction work.

The construction of the line between Montreal and Toronto and Montreal
and Quebec was awarded to Livingston & Wells, the well-known express
forwarders, and by them pushed on with the utmost vigor under Mr.
Wood’s supervision and direction. When the work was completed it was
found to be satisfactory in every particular, both in material and
workmanship, and became a model for future work of the kind.

At the close of 1847, 540 miles of line had been erected, 9 offices
opened and 33,000 messages transmitted.

In 1851 Sir Hugh Allan, who had early interested himself in the
fortunes of the Montreal Telegraph Company, became its President. This
office he held uninterruptedly until his death in 1882.

Immediately on assuming office, Sir Hugh Allan, in concert with Mr.
Wood, projected important extensions of the lines of the Company, and
in a short time the most remote towns and villages were placed in
telegraphic connection with the chief business centres of the country.

The Montreal Telegraph Company became one of the leading institutions
in Canada. Many companies were started to compete in the same line
of business, but in no long time were doomed to failure, as they
neither had the skill, the men nor the money to enable them to succeed
in opposing their more formidable rival. After placing the Company
on a high pedestal of efficiency, and after 18 years of strenuous
exertions on its behalf, Mr. O. S. Wood retired from the management in
1865, carrying with him the esteem and respect of the Company and the
business community generally.

Mr. James Dakers was then placed in charge of the eastern, and Mr.
Dwight of the western section of the Company’s territory.

The advance and prosperity of the Company continued, as the foundation
had been well and truly laid by a capable workman.

In 1875 it had in operation 20,000 miles of wire, 1,400 offices and
2,000 employees.

During the preceding year some 2,000,000 messages were transmitted in
addition to millions of words in press despatches, and the capital
increased to $2,000,000, at which figure it still remains.

In 1881 this splendid old Company was forced by circumstances which
confronted them to lease their business to another company.

The names of Sir Hugh Allan, O. S. Wood and James Dakers will always
be inseparably associated with the history of the Montreal Telegraph

The first company to compete against the Montreal Telegraph Company
was the Grand Trunk Telegraph Company in 1852-3, lines were erected
from Buffalo to Quebec, following the lines of the older Company.

After some years of an unprofitable business they sold out lock, stock
and barrel to the Montreal Telegraph Company for $11,000.

The next venture was by the Provincial Telegraph Company, the Canadian
ally of the United States Telegraph Company, which was then spreading
its lines over the United States; but was in 1866 absorbed by the
Western Union; this ended the career of the Provincial, and its plant
was purchased and transferred to the Montreal Company for a nominal sum.

Some two years later the Dominion Telegraph Company took form with a
capital of $700,000. This Company proved the most serious opponent of
the Montreal Telegraph Company, but was never a financial success.
In 1878 it was leased by the American Union Telegraph Company, an
opponent of the Western Union. Both Companies were acquired by the
latter Company, which was busily occupied in securing a monopoly of the
telegraph business, and succeeded, in a great measure, in accomplishing
its object.

The Dominion Telegraph Company was transferred to the Great North
Western Telegraph Company of Canada, a subsidiary concern of the
American Company in 1881.

In the lower provinces a move for telegraphic facilities were made
almost concurrent with those of Western Canada.

During 1847-48 the Press Association ran a steamer between Digby, N.S.,
and Portland, Me., to carry news received by the steamships touching
at Halifax, and from thence sent overland by express riders to Digby,
149 miles, and was sometimes accomplished in less than eight hours and
a half, or at the rate of 17½ miles an hour, to be despatched from
thence by steamer to Portland and telegraphed to New York from there in
advance of the Cunard steamers at Boston.

This service was managed with great vigor. The express rider was the
great event of the day as he flew past Annapolis, his horse white with
foam and the whole population lining the road. A gun was fired to
announce his arrival to the captain of the steamer immediately anchors
were weighed. Steam raised, the pilot took his place at the wheel and
the small boat manned by athletic seamen was sent ashore to receive the
bag of the express rider, as at full speed he arrived at the dock.

This process, though full of éclat and splendidly performed, was
expensive, and the Associated Express agents, offered to guarantee the
payment of a liberal subsidy to any company who would construct a line
of telegraph between Calais, Me., and Halifax, which could be available
for press matter.

The Nova Scotia Government came to the rescue and erected a line of 125
miles in length from Halifax to Amherst to meet the American and New
Brunswick lines. This line was completed on Nov. 9, 1849, and Halifax
was for the first time connected telegraphically with New York.

On Oct. 4, 1847, a telegraph company was formed in New Brunswick with
$40,000 capital. Lines connecting St. John and intervening points with
Calais and Portland were completed Jan. 1, 1849, and connection with
the Nova Scotian Government line at Amherst was made.

The lines in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were acquired by the
American Telegraph Company and later by the Western Union Telegraph
Company, by whom they are now operated.

In 1847 the British North American Telegraph Company was organized for
the purpose of connecting Quebec and the lower provinces by wire, but
the wire got no further than River du Loup, where it terminated for a

A second company, bearing a similar name, erected a line between
Montreal and Quebec; both properties were afterwards transferred to the
Montreal Telegraph Company.

In 1849 the Montreal & Troy Company built a line from Montreal to the
Canadian frontier, and thence to Whitehall, and Troy, after working
independently for a couple years, were purchased by the Montreal

In 1850 a line from Bytown (now Ottawa) by a company organized by
Joseph Aumond; it also after a few years became the property of the
Montreal Company.

In the West about the same period the Hon. Malcolm Cameron interested
himself in a telegraph line to connect Hamilton and London, but, after
some 18 months of unprofitable labor, was abandoned.

Coming down to a later date the People’s Telegraph Company was
organized and a line erected between Montreal and Quebec, which proved
a financial failure to the promoters, and served as a warning to others
to avoid going into isolated telegraph ventures.

In 1881 the Canada Mutual and the Union Mutual Telegraph Companies
worked in conjunction for a short period in the States and Canada; both
were eventually absorbed by the Western Union.

_The Great North-Western Telegraph Company_

This Company was incorporated on May 7, 1880, for the purpose of
establishing and working telegraph lines in the Northwest Territory in
the district of Keewatin, Manitoba, and to connect with lines in the
Province of Ontario.

The capital stock, $400,000 in shares of $100 each, with power to
increase the capital from time to time as necessity required, by a
resolution of the Directors, with authority to establish, construct,
purchase, lease or work lines in the Dominion of Canada by land or
water, etc. The head office at the City of Winnipeg.

At a meeting of the Company held on June 10, 1881, Mr. Erastus Wiman
was elected President.

At this meeting Mr. Wiman as President was empowered to enter into
negotiation with the Montreal, Dominion and Western Union Telegraph
Companies as shall harmonize the interest of the several named
companies subject to confirmation of the Directors.

Mr. Wiman thus empowered lost no time in effecting his object.

The resolution quoted is amusing. The Western Union owned the Dominion
Telegraph Company, or at least controlled it. There was no discord
between the Western Union and the Montreal Telegraph Company.

A close and intimate business relationship had been maintained between
these companies for years and nothing had arisen hitherto to disturb
this good understanding. The Dominion Telegraph Company had been
acquired as an asset of the American Union Telegraph Company which had
been purchased by the Western Union and was a white elephant on its
hands and of which they naturally enough were anxious to get rid of.

It was offered to the Montreal Company, but the offer was not
entertained as the wires of the Dominion Company merely paralleled its
own, and its own wires were sufficient for its own business at that
time. Mr. Wiman, being familiar with the position of affairs, saw a
chance for a deal and the future monopoly of the telegraph business of

He got the refusal of the lease of the Dominion Company and to some
extent his plans were approved by the Western Union and of which
they were more or less informed. He then made his purpose known to
the Directorate of the Montreal Telegraph Company, that they should
hand over their business to his company on a 99 years’ lease and a
compensation of 8 per cent. per annum on the paid-up capital stock of
$2,000,000 would be paid, guaranteed by the Western Union Telegraph

The Directors, as a matter of course, were aghast with astonishment at
the audacity of the proposal.

A company with a nominal capital, recently formed, with no one of
standing in its make up to suggest the idea, was too preposterous.
However, Mr. Wiman coolly told them they had better think it over,
that unless his terms were accepted his Company, the Dominion and the
Western Union, behind them, would go into competition with them for
Canadian business. A meeting of shareholders decided, after a stormy
and exciting discussion, to accept the terms offered.

The transfer was made on July 1, 1881.

The big fish swallow the smaller usually, but in this case it was the
extraordinary feat of a small fish swallowing a bigger one.

When the agreement took effect Mr. James Dakers resigned and was
succeeded as Secretary by Mr. D. Ross Ross.

Mr. Dwight was appointed General Manager of the Great North-Western
Company and most of the officials and employees of the Montreal
Telegraph Company were retained by him. Owing to his able management
the Company has been successful in every way; all its obligations have
been met with punctuality and regularity.

Mr. Wiman resigned the Presidency some ten years ago and Mr. Dwight
succeeded him.

In 1902 it had 17,838 miles of line, 35,721 miles of wire, over 2,000
offices and transmitted 2,795,278 messages, not including press

Recently Mr. Dwight resigned the management and was succeeded by Mr. I.

_Canadian Pacific Railway Telegraph_

In the charter of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company it had power to
carry on a commercial telegraph business throughout the Dominion of

The telegraph lines of this company were constructed concurrently with
the railway which was begun in 1880 and completed in 1885.

The following year the company inaugurated the commercial telegraph
business and Mr. C. R. Hosmer was appointed General Manager of this
branch of the company’s business; this selection was recognized as a
fortunate one for the company; no better qualified man could have been
found in Canada than he to properly fill this important position. It
was no light task he had undertaken, to equip and man the numerous
stations as they were opened up for business, covering such a vast
extent of territory as well as to enter into competition with a long
established telegraph system through the more populous sections in
the East. About this time the Postal Telegraph Cable Company was
reorganized in the United States, and the Commercial Cable established,
and a working arrangement made between these companies and the Canadian
Pacific Telegraph for interchange of traffic, which has proven
mutually beneficial to each company concerned.

The lines of the Canadian Pacific System traverse from Halifax to
Vancouver, including numerous branch lines.

The Postal Telegraph Cable Company cover nearly every state and
territory in the United States. A direct connection is made with the
Government Cable to Australia at Vancouver and with the Commercial
Cable Company at Canso, N.S.

In 1902 the Canadian Pacific Telegraph System had in operation 9,736
miles of line and 41,354 miles of wire, 1,022 offices and transmitted
during that year 2,053,000 messages, not including press matter or
railway messages.

The Company has two number six copper wires extending from Montreal to

About four years ago Mr. Hosmer resigned; he was succeeded by Mr. James
Kent, formerly Superintendent of the Eastern division. Under him there
are five divisional Superintendents, namely:--

  James Wilson,        Vancouver.
  B. S. Jenkins,       Winnipeg.
  A. W. Barber,        Toronto.
  P. W. Snider,        St. John.
  J. F. Richardson,    Montreal.

W. J. Camp is electrician and Joseph Townsley Construction

Recently the Company erected on the former site of its Head Offices
in Montreal a handsome fire-proof structure of white brick with Ohio
stone facings, seven stories in height, combining in its interior every
comfort and convenience for the large staff of employees.

The operating room is spacious, well lighted from three sides, and
furnished with the latest designs of office fittings and electrical

The telegraph service of the Company is admirably conducted and
doubtless is not the least profitable of the many enterprises in which
it has engaged in.

_The Government Telegraphs._

It was through the continued and persistent urging of the late Capt.
Fortin, member for Gaspé, that the Dominion Government was at length
aroused to the necessity of providing efficient telegraph facilities in
the Gulf and the lower St. Lawrence.

The splendid telegraph system, now in operation, forms a fitting
monument to his memory and is alike creditable to the Government which
created it and carried it out.

During the past twenty years since it was first initiated, there has
been erected 5,481 miles of land wire lines, and 225 miles of submarine
cables laid.

One line on the north shore from Murray Bay to Belle Isle is over 1,000
miles in length and there are over 200 miles on the Island of Anticosti
connecting the various lighthouses. Extensions are constantly being
made as necessity arises.

In the Northwest territory 607 miles of line connect Selkirk with
Edmonton with intermediate stations and from Ashcroft to Dawson 1,826
miles, from Hazleton to Port Sampson, B.C., 200 miles.

At the end of 1902 there were 222 Government Telegraph Stations, 89,400
messages transmitted and a revenue of $114,266 derived. The expenditure
was $208,968.

All signal and meteorological messages are sent without charge.

The Government Telegraph System is under the jurisdiction of the
Department of Public Works.


The commercial telegraph business of the Dominion is carried on, and
has been for many years, by the Great North-Western, the Canadian
Pacific and the Western Union Telegraph Companies--the latter in New
Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The Anglo-American Telegraph Company has the monopoly in Prince Edward
Island and Newfoundland.

The Canadian Government Telegraphs operate in territory where it would
not be profitable for commercial telegraph companies to enter. The
competing companies each get a fair share of patronage by exercising
care and promptitude in handling the business placed in their hands.
The Canadian public have every reason to feel satisfied with the
telegraphic facilities provided by these companies and can take pride
in the fact that no better exists anywhere, or in any country.

The rates are reasonable when the great distances covered are taken
into account.

It is gratifying to know that they are doing a thriving business, every
year showing better results, all sharing in the universal prosperity
felt throughout the country now and for years gone by.

The following sketches of prominent and well-known telegraph men,
some of whom are living, and others who have passed away, will be of
interest to many Canadian readers.

Preceding these brief portraitures are a few reminiscent tales recalled
at random, chiefly Canadian incidents of “days that are gone.”

_The Fall of Sebastopol._

I was in the service of the Montreal Telegraph Company at the head
office in Montreal. One day the Superintendent summoned me to his
presence. He directed me to proceed at once to Sherbrooke as the
operator in charge there was very sick and unable to discharge his

I left by the first train and reached my destination the same evening.
On arrival I noticed a great crowd of people awaiting the train.
Something unusual must have happened surely.

I immediately reported myself to the station master, and was
considerably astonished when he seized me by the shoulder, rushed me
across the passage to the telegraph office, ordered me to call up
Montreal and enquire if the rumored fall of Sebastopol was true. This
I did and found the report confirmed. This was on the 20th day of
September, 1855. A Cunard steamer arrived at Halifax that afternoon
bringing the news which was flashed over the wires by the Associated

Montreal sent a full report, which came in on the old style recording
instrument. A newspaper man came in and volunteered to write it down as
I read it off the paper reel. Each sheet when finished was read aloud
to the crowd outside. The despatch ended and the people dispersed.

Next evening the event was celebrated by illuminations, bonfires, _feu
de joies_, etc. The local militia turned out _en masse_, headed by
Captain Ibbotson, loyal and patriotic songs sung, and universal joy was
manifested by all.

At that period the town was largely populated by English railway men
and mechanics who had been brought here by the Grand Trunk Railway
Company when the road opened up a short time before. There was also a
considerable number of retired naval and military veterans in the town
and neighborhood, some of whom had fought under Nelson and Wellington.
All of these took a keen interest in the fate of the British army in
the Crimea, and were naturally overjoyed at the defeat of the enemy and
of the victory achieved.

Sebastopol fell on Sept. 8, 1855, and the war was virtually ended.

Montreal, Toronto and every town and village in Canada celebrated the
event with the greatest delight, but it is safe to say that nowhere was
there more hearty rejoicing than in the capital city of the Eastern
Townships on the occasion referred to.

_How a Duel was Prevented._

One day during the winter 1856 I received a telegram from Richmond, a
station on the Grand Trunk Railway, about 25 miles distant, addressed
to the High Constable at Sherbrooke to the effect that a party of
gentlemen were on the southbound train with the object of fighting
a duel when the American frontier was reached, the party consisting
of the principals, seconds and surgeons, and to have the whole party

Seeing the importance of the message due measures were taken to have
it delivered promptly. The minions of the law were duly on hand and
secured their prey on the arrival of the train. The party were much
surprised, as they had taken every precaution to keep the affair a
profound secret and were ignorant as to how the matter had leaked out.
All were placed under arrest and escorted to the Magog House. They had
come from Quebec. The nature of the quarrel I am unable to say.

They were brought before a magistrate and admitted the object of
their journey, when each and severally were released on their own
recognances. All promised to abandon their evil intentions and return
to the ancient capital forthwith.

Having nothing special to interest them for a time they adjourned to
the bar-room of that famous hostlery, then carried on by Mr. Cheney,
the flowing bowl passed round with the result that a reconcilation was
effected, and the rest of the evening spent in harmony and good feeling.

The only one who refused to come to terms of amity was one of the
sawbones of the party! He would have none of it.

They departed from Sherbrooke the following day, if not sadder, at
least, wiser men.

_Reading by Sound._

In the early days of telegraphy I was employed at an important station
on the Grand Trunk Railway as commercial and railway operator. One
night, after a busy day’s labor, I was preparing to leave when I
overheard the office call sounded from the relay, the local battery
having been disconnected, as was then the custom when leaving for the
night, for economical reasons. I answered the call and ventured to
receive the message from the sound of the relay, and in this found no
difficulty whatever.

Whilst thus engaged the locomotive foreman stepped in. Singular enough,
the communication was for him. He was rather astonished at my receiving
a message in this fashion and expressed his surprise. He spoke to
others about it, and the affair in time reached the ears of the Railway
Telegraph Superintendent, who, thereupon, called me up on the wire and
gave me a severe reprimand. A “23” or circular was sent immediately
thereafter to the effect that it had come to his knowledge that certain
operators were in the habit of reading by sound instead of from the
register, with which all stations were provided, and warning all to
desist from this dangerous practice.

The modern operator will be inclined to smile at this bit of ancient

In no very long time, after the custom became general in both railway
and commercial telegraphy, the Recording instrument, upon the
perfecting of which Professor Morse had spent so much time and labor,
was abandoned, and the more convenient method of reading by sound

_A Cheeky Operator._

My predecessor at a certain station on the Grand Trunk Railway vacated
his position rather suddenly by reason of the following colloquy, and
against whom many and frequent complaints had been made.

On one occasion the General Manager happened to step off the train to
interview the station master. Amongst other subjects spoken of was the
troublesome operator. He immediately stepped across the passage to have
audience with the obnoxious telegrapher.

In a very impressive tone he said, “Young man, I hear a great many
complaints against you. You had better be careful or I shall have you

The operator not knowing the General Manager from Adam, never having
seen him before, looked at him in surprise, and said, “Who in the blank
are you, anyway?”

“I am Mr. Bidder. Be careful, sir.”

“I don’t care a blank whether you are Mr. Bidder or Mr. Auctioneer,”
turned on his heel and walked away.

It may be explained that, although doing railway telegraph work, he was
actually employed by the telegraph company, and believed the railway
company had nothing to do with him, in this he was mistaken. This
interview more than confirmed the numerous complaints, and the services
of the youth were immediately dispensed with.

Mr. S. P. Bidder was the first General Manager of the Grand Trunk
Railway of Canada.

_All Fools’ Day Incident._

In the year 1855, when the Government of Canada was located at Quebec,
a Militia Bill was passed, dividing the militia into active and
sedentary, the first to consist of volunteer troops of various grades
and classes. Provision was made for dividing the country into military
districts, regimental divisions and battalion divisions, with officers
for each. This was the first step towards the organization of a regular
volunteer force in Canada.

At Sherbrooke there was considerable political wire-pulling on behalf
of those who were ambitious of being appointed as officers of the
company to be raised at that place. One individual claimed that he was
certain of getting command of the new company and ridiculed the idea of
any one else having the slightest chance of getting the appointment.
This rather nettled one or two who were equally ambitious for the
honor, and a conspiracy was entered into to perpetrate a practical joke
at his expense.

A certain gentleman called at the telegraph office and requested the
favor of a telegraph blank and envelope, explaining the purpose for
which they were intended. I hesitated over the matter, but was assured
he would be responsible should any trouble arise. I reluctantly
consented. The result was a message was concocted as coming from the
Militia Department at Quebec to the effect that the Department were
pleased to inform the recipient that he had been appointed to the
command of the company at Sherbrooke and that his commission for same
would be duly forwarded by mail.

The victim was elated over the psuedo despatch and took special pains
to show it to those who doubted his success.

One person, to whom he confided the contents to and who was one of
the conspirators, doubted its being genuine, remarking, the Militia
Department was not likely to inform appointees by telegraph. He thought
it a joke, and come to think of it, this was April Fool Day. This led
the irate individual to me, when he desired to be informed, when the
message was received, handing to me the bogus telegram. I, of course,
felt in a very awkward position. I scanned it over for a minute and
told him the message had not come through my office. He thereupon went
off like a shot in a very dangerous mood.

He wrote the Superintendent enclosing the alleged telegram and
threatened an immediate action against the Company for allowing its
property to be the medium of such a trick as was the one complained of.

I was in a rather bad fix. I explained the whole matter as it
occurred. The instigator of the hoax came to my rescue and assumed all
responsibility; the threatened action was not taken and the matter
was soon forgotten, but a new rule was embodied in the Company’s
instruction book to agents and operators forbidding inside blanks to be
allowed to go out of the office under any pretense whatever, except on
the business of the Company. This rule is still in force.

The one actually appointed to command the Company was the originator of
the joke herein related.

_An Angry Frenchman._

One day the hired man of the village curé handed me a sealed letter and
twenty-five cents, upon receiving which I tore open the envelope in
order to count the words in the message before transmission.

I had no sooner done this when an angry cry proceeded from the throat
of Jean Baptiste, who held up his hands, and, with a look of terror in
his face, told me in broken English that it was not for me, but for the
priest at St. Hyacinthe. Had there not been a high counter between us,
it might have gone hard with me.

I took in the situation, however, politely begged pardon, I had made a
mistake, and put the contents in a fresh envelope, readdressed it and
thrust the missive into a box under the counter, the receptacle for the
paper from the recording instrument on which messages were received,
and then gave the key a few taps, all this being within the purview of
the anxious messenger.

I now told him it was all right, the message had gone. He then departed
with a smile of satisfaction on his face and a courteous _remerci

Shortly after I resurrected the message and sent it over the wire in
the orthodox fashion.

The little trick practiced and the ignorance shown may seem like
romancing, but at that date even many well-informed persons on other
subjects were quite as ignorant as this simple servant man of the
_modus operandi_ of electric telegraphy at that period.

_Pirating a Press Despatch._

A certain well-known colonel of militia in Montreal, now deceased,
who had been in the telegraph service in his boyhood and an expert
operator, told me the story I am about to relate illustrative of
primitive telegraph days.

We were swapping old-time telegraph stories when he exchanged
the following: He was in the employ of the old British American
Telegraph Company. One day, the wires down, which happened too often,
unfortunately, Bob having nothing to occupy his time, sauntered over
to the vicinity of the Montreal Telegraph Company, on St. Sacrament
Street. It was with a feeling of envy he heard the busy ticking of the
instruments there when those of his Company were dead as a door nail.
He lingered for a moment or two beneath the office window, which was
only a few feet above; it was in summer and the windows were all open
and he could plainly deciper everything passing over the wire. One item
of some importance attracted his attention when the idea struck him
he had better take it down. He took his pencil and note-book, copied
the item, went back to his office, had it manifolded and distributed
to the press. Later on the same was sent out by the other Company,
but in a more leisurely fashion; this was refused, on the ground that
it was already received over the wires of the British American; this
caused much mortification to the older Company to be beaten by their
insignificant rival.

Reading by sound of the instrument was not a common occurrence then,
and especially on the public highway.

The Montreal Company never became aware of the trick that was played
upon them.

_The Queen’s Message._

When in August, 1858, the Atlantic cable had been successfully laid,
uniting two continents telegraphically, there was universal rejoicing.
The Queen sent a congratulatory message to “Her Good Friend,” the
President of the United States, to which a suitable reply was returned.

The brevity of the Queen’s message was somewhat disappointing compared
with the more lengthy reply of the President, and many unfavorable
comments were made in the press and in conversation.

However, it was afterwards learned that only a portion of the
communication had been received owing to a temporary interruption of
the cable. When at last the completed message came there was no reason
for disappointment, and general satisfaction was evinced.

Small pieces of the unused cable of about an inch to two or three
inches in length mounted with brass or silver ferrules were sold on the
street by speculators from 25 cents to a dollar each. The event was
celebrated with great éclat on both sides of the Atlantic.

Banners were displayed with numerous devices and quotations from
Scripture such as, “Their line is gone out through all the earth and
their words to the end of the world,” and from Shakespeare, “I will put
a girdle round the earth in forty minutes.”

There were torchlight processions, displays of fireworks,
illuminations, etc., etc., together with addresses by distinguished men
in honor of the event. I refer more particularly to Ogdensburg, N.Y.,
where I was then situated as operator and received the Queen’s message
over the wire.

The rejoicing unfortunately was somewhat premature.

After working more or less imperfectly for three weeks, the cable gave
out completely on the 1st of September after the transmission of 730
messages had been effected.

The cable operator at Heart’s Content, Newfoundland, named De Sauty,
sent daily bulletins to the press holding out strong hopes for the
restoration of the interrupted communication, but these hopes were not
realized. The bulletins ceased and he disappeared and was never heard
of again, at least by the public.

It is in allusion to this mysterious individual that Dr. Oliver Wendell
Holmes wrote the following humorous lines, and in fine satirical vein
thought that with a Latin tutor and a professor of chemistry the
educated classes would understand it.


An Electro-Chemical Eclogue.

  _Professor._    _Blue Nose._


    “Tell me, O Provincial! speak ceruleo Nasal,
    Lives there one De Sauty, extant now among you
    Whispering Boanerges, son of silent thunder
            Holding talk with nations.

    “Is there a De Sauty, ambulant on Tellus
    Bifed cleft-like mortals dormient in nightcap
    Having sight, smell, hearing, food receiving feature
            Three times daily patent.

    “Breathes there such a being, O ceruleo Nasal
    Or is he a mythus, ancient name for humbug
    Such as Livy told about the wolf that wet-nursed
            Romulus and Remus.

    “Was he born of woman, this alleged De Sauty,
    Or a living product of galvanic action
    Like the _Acarus_ bred in Crosse’s flint solution
            Speak thou Cyano Rhynal.”


    “Many things thou askest, Jacknife-bearing stranger,
    Much conjecturing mortal, pork and treacle waster
    Pretermit thy whitling wheel thine earflap towards me
            Thou shalt hear them answered.

    “When the charge galvanic tingled through the cable
    At the polar focus of the wire electric,
    Suddenly appeared, a white faced man among us,
            Called himself De Sauty.

    “As the small opossum held in pouch maternal
    Grasps the nutrient organ whence the term mammalia,
    So the unknown stranger held the wire electric
            Sucking in the current.

    “When the current strengthened, bloomed the pale-faced stranger,
    Took no food or victual, yet grew fat and rosy,
    And, from time to time in sharp articulation
            Said, ‘_All right_,’ De Sauty.

    “From the lonely station passed the utterance spreading
    Through the pines and hemlocks to the grove of steeples,
    Till the land was filled with loud reverberations
            Of ‘_All right_,’ De Sauty.

    “When the current slackened drooped the mystic stranger,
    Faded, Faded, Faded as the stream grew weaker
    Wasted to a shadow with a hartshorn odor
            Of disintegration.

    “Drops of deliquescence glistened from his forehead
    Whitened round his feet the dust of efflorescence,
    Till one Monday morning when the flow suspended
            There was no De Sauty.

    “Nothing but a cloud of elements organic
    C. O. H. N. Ferrum, Chor, Flu. Sil. Potassa
    calc. Sod. Phosh mag. Sulphur Mang.? Alumin caprum
            Such as man is made of.

    “Born of stream galvanic with it he had perished
    There is no De Sauty. Now there is no current
    Give us a new cable, then again we’ll hear his cry,
            ‘_All right_,’ De Sauty.”

After a lapse of eight years another cable was laid in 1866 and
communication across the Atlantic permanently established, but the
mysterious De Sauty never appeared.

_Testing the Cable._

In the fall of 1856 the Montreal Telegraph Company laid a subaqueous
cable across the St. Lawrence connecting Ogdensburg, N.Y., with its
Canadian lines. Everything went well till the breaking up of the ice in
the spring, when the American end of the cable was carried away from
its moorings.

A man was sent from Montreal to effect the necessary repairs. When
he arrived, I, then being in charge of the office there, decided to
accompany him and render any assistance I could. A boat was hired
to row over to the lighthouse where the cable terminated. The craft
engaged was rather frail and shaky, with quite a heavy sea running. The
Montreal man got safely seated, clutching the side of the boat with
one hand and the testing instrument in the other. It was a cold day in
March, a stiff north-wester was blowing. When all was ready the painter
was untied, when I jumped, and in doing so lost my balance and went in
headforemost. As I bobbed up the heels of my friend were just visible
above the water. We succeeded in getting ashore safely, but the testing
instrument had gone to the bottom, which we tried to recover, but
failed, and the trip for the time was given up.

My companion in this adventure was the late Mr. Bowman, for many years
the respected storekeeper for the Montreal Telegraph Company.

In meeting we often reverted to this episode in our telegraph
experience and of our involuntary bath in the icy St. Lawrence.

_Cutting Down the Liberty Pole._

In 1857 the following amusing incident occurred and will be remembered
by some of the older inhabitants of the pretty American city on the
south bank of the St. Lawrence where I was then the agent of the
Montreal Telegraph Company.

The villagers (it was a village at that period) had made every
preparation for the due celebration of Independence Day with more
than ordinary care, and all were looking forward to the event with
eagerness, especially the more youthful element of the population.
The first ceremony observed at sunrise was to raise old glory to the
apex of the liberty pole, which stood at the corner of Ford and Water
Streets, but, to the amazement of the party to whom this duty was
assigned, there was no pole to be seen. On a close examination they
found nothing remaining but the stump of the flag-staff. The question
was: Who were the ruffians that dared to perpetuate the outrage? None
other surely that some scoundrels from the opposite side of the river.
In this surmise they were not far from the truth. After indulging in
language more forcible than elegant, like practical Americans, they set
to work, erected a temporary flag-staff and the ceremonies of the day
were carried out without further incident. It was discovered to be
a case of _lex talionis_ on the part of some young men from Prescott
who rowed across the river during the night and performed this piece
of vandalism in revenge for a foray made by some young fellows from
Ogdensburg on the previous 24th of May (the Queen’s Birthday), when
they removed the British flag flying on the old Windmill at Prescott,
and substituted the Stars and Stripes. When this fact became known the
Ogdensburg people had to acknowledge it was a case of tit for tat and
served them right.

Fortunately these youthful pranks were condemned by all right thinking
people on both sides of the border and were not repeated.

_The Burns Centenary._

On the 25th day of January, 1859, the birthday centenary of Robert
Burns, the Scottish poet, was enthusiastically commemorated by his
admirers on both sides of the Atlantic, and, in fact, everywhere
throughout the Globe where Scotchmen were to the fore.

It was generally observed in the form of a banquet at which eminent
literary and public men were the speakers who paid glowing tributes to
the merits and genius of the peasant poet. Many of these addresses are
still preserved.

In the town of Brockville, where I was located, a musical and literary
entertainment was held in the Metropolitan Hall, the chairman being
the Hon. James Morris. It was well attended by the leading people
of the town. During the progress of the entertainment telegraphic
congratulatory messages were interchanged between the chairmen of the
different meetings then being held in Canada, and the United States,
generally couched in lines and phrases from the poet’s works. The
chairman gave an eloquent address; other speakers also contributed and
the musical programme was excellent, but one gentleman had prepared
with much care a paper on the Life and Character of Burns, which
was admitted to be the gem of the evening by all who heard it, but
unfortunately very few did.

The person referred to was a well-known M.D. who was afflicted with
deafness; he spoke in a very low tone of voice, like many who suffer
from a similar infirmity. The paper was long, the night was getting
late; before he was through, the audience showed signs of weariness,
which the chairman noticed, when he rose and begged the Doctor to
kindly curtail his paper as the night was advancing and he had several
other items on the programme but the chairman’s request was unheard
and unconsciously ignored. The audience had to patiently endure the
martyrdom to the end, a few meanwhile retiring in disgust.

When the end did come the people were so delighted at being relieved of
the infliction that he was generously applauded, when with an amiable
smile, and bowing right and left in acknowledgment, resumed his seat in
happy ignorance that he had been a very tiresome bore indeed.

_The Prince of Wales at Brockville._

When in August, 1860, H. R. H. The Prince of Wales (now King Edward)
and party had arranged to visit Brockville, the event was looked
forward to with every manifestation of delight, and arrangements made
to give them a hearty reception.

The route of the Royal party was from Ottawa, where a visit had been
made, and recently named the capital city of Canada by Queen Victoria;
there they embarked, sailing up the Ottawa River to Arnprior and thence
by carriages to Almonte, and there entrained for Brockville. All the
villages and hamlets passed were prettily decorated for the occasion,
here and there evergreen arches were erected where the loyal denizens
assembled and heartily cheered his Royal Highness in passing.

Brockville was reached about nine p.m. The Royal party was received by
the Mayor, Warden of Leeds and Grenville and other officials. Addresses
were presented and replied to by H.R.H. Carriages were in waiting to
convey them to the steamer at the dock, by which they were to leave at
daybreak for Kingston.

The Royal party were escorted from the railway station to the steamboat
wharf by a guard of honour, followed by a procession of firemen and
citizens carrying torches. All the buildings on the way were brightly
illuminated, the church bells merrily ringing with a fine display of
fireworks and the loud ovation of the people made it a memorable scene.

Instead of departing at daybreak, as had been arranged, it was about
three in the afternoon before the steamer left. The detention was
caused by difficulties which had arisen at Kingston. The Orange body
there had erected an arch decorated with emblems of the order and which
the Royal party would necessarily have to pass under. An address by
the Orangemen was to be presented, to which the Duke of Newcastle was
unable to assent. While the settlement of this was being arranged by
telegraph wire, the Mayor, accompanied by many prominent citizens,
waited on the Duke and invited the Royal party to a drive through
the town, which was graciously accepted, thus giving the people an
opportunity of seeing H. R. H. to better advantage. In appearance he
was of medium height, pale complexion, modest in demeanor and dignified
in manner.

He wore a tall white hat, a dark morning coat, light tweed trousers,
patent leather boots and light tan coloured gloves. He bowed in
acknowledgment to the cheers which greeted him and seemed to enjoy the

It was said the Duke remarked he was not sorry at the detention as it
had given the party the pleasure of seeing the pretty town by daylight.

There was a large entourage of pressmen reporting the Royal progress;
one American correspondent when writing up his report asked me among
other questions how many people were in the torchlight procession. I
told him 500, that being the number of torches purchased by the town
council. Oh! he said, I’ll make it 5,000, and sure enough he did and I
sent this over the wire.

The whole population, men, women and children, at that period was a
trifle over 4,000. This man afterwards became a famous correspondent
during the American Civil War.

The fearful and wonderful reports received from the seat of war as to
the extraordinary numbers of killed, wounded and captured, especially
during the early stages of the trouble were something incredible; the
experience narrated showed the need of a large discount being made.

The carriage the Prince of Wales drove through Brockville, and owned by
a private gentlemen until his death, is now, or was until lately, doing
duty as a public conveyance.

Should this meet the eye of some wealthy American, it might be a good
thing for the cabby.

_The Trent Affair._

It was on November 8, 1861, that Admiral Wilkes, in command of the
United States frigate _San Jacinto_ intercepted the British R. M.
Steamer _Trent_ on her way from the West Indies to England and forcibly
removed therefrom the two confederate States Commissioners Mason and
Slidell. When the outrage became known there was a universal burst of
indignation felt at the affront in Great Britain and all the British
possessions. Every one believed that unless the men were given up and
the act disavowed war between the two countries was inevitable. A
large military contingent was despatched from England on the Steamship
_Persia_ which arrived at Rimouski on Christmas day, Dec. 25, 1861. A
Queen’s messenger was sent to Washington bearing an ultimatum from the
British Government demanding that the men be at once released.

The American Government were in a dilemma. Several members of the
Cabinet were in favor of resisting this demand, but President Lincoln,
with his characteristic common sense said “One war at a time,
gentlemen, one war at a time,” and the commissioners were surrendered
and transferred to a British man-of-war at New York on January 1st,
1862, and _amende honorable_ made.

While the negotiations between the American and British Governments
were in progress, the government and people of Canada were watching the
trend of events with the keenest interest, and preparations were made
for possible eventualities, flank companies at the respective military
districts were ordered to prepare for active service.

When this order came by telegraph to the colonel of Brockville
District, I delivered it personally and took occasion to inform him
that if he would give me a commission in the company going on active
service I was prepared to join at a moment’s notice. This request
pleased the veteran (he was out in the rebellion) giving me a hearty
grip. “You’re the right sort. I accept your services and shall have a
commission for you within a week.”

A few days after I was much gratified when I received a large envelope
containing my promised commission, the same being initialled by the
Hon. James Morris, the speaker of the Legislative Council and resident
of Brockville; a short time thereafter while visiting his home he
entered the telegraph office to send a message. I took this opportunity
of thanking him for the commission he sent me. He glared at me for
a second or two and said, “The commission is not for you; it is for
John Murray the butcher.” “Oh! indeed, I beg pardon. I was under the
impression it was for J. M.---- gentleman.” I did not get this off in a
resentful mood; it was merely repeating the language of the document.
Of course I handed it over to my namesake, the rightful owner, a very
respectable man of the town, when my military ambitions came to an end.

The services of the flank companies were not required after the _causes
belle_ had been removed and Canada once more resumed her usual peace

_The Old Soldier and the Parson._

About forty odd years ago when I was acting in the capacity of
telegraph, express and steamship agent at Brockville, the following
incident happened, which may be worth recalling: One day an old
gentleman entered the office and desired me to furnish a steamship
ticket to Liverpool. He informed me he was on his way to revisit his
native land which he had not seen for many years. He was in the army
previous to settling in one of the back townships. Although well on in
years he looked hale and hearty, straight as an arrow and a remarkably
handsome old fellow.

After completing his purchase and about to depart, he observed a pair
of Fairbanks scales and requested me to weigh him, as he would like to
see whether he lost or gained on the voyage. Whilst occupied in this,
another old gentleman walked in attentively watching the operation;
he also requested me to do a similar favor for him. He proved very
much lighter and somewhat disappointed, and remarked: “Well, you are
heavier than I, but I think I can beat you in length of years.” “How
old are you?” brusquely querried the old soldier. “I am 84,” looking
triumphantly at his questioner. “My young friend I am 85. I am heavier
than you, older than you and (whispering in his ear) can look at the
girls yet!”

Singular enough, the name of the latter was Mr. Young, the former the
Rev. Wm. Smart, a well-known and respected clergyman, whose chief
weakness was a certain vanity in his length of years, coupled with
activity and good health on which he greatly prided himself. He was
therefore, considerably humiliated at being thus so badly taken down
and his dignity ruffled by the above remark.

_The Fenian Scare._

When in the summer of 1866 the Fenians invaded Canada and encountered
the Canadian militia at Ridgeway, considerable alarm was felt all
along the frontier. Cornwall, Prescott, Brockville and Kingston were
strengthened with bodies of militia as being probable points of

For a time the Government took possession of the telegraph lines until
all danger had passed.

Telegraph offices were kept open day and night by orders from Ottawa;
this continued in force for several weeks. I was then at Brockville and
found the long hours very irksome. No one believed in the likelihood
of an attack here, but one night this belief was rather disturbed when
a communication was received by the officer in command warning him to
be on the alert as a body of Fenians had seized a steamer at Clayton,
on the American side of the river, with the probability of attacking
Brockville or Prescott.

Very soon the sound of the bugle was heard and the men formed in
readiness to meet the enemy. They had been drilling for several weeks
and were in splendid fighting trim, and under the command of an
experienced officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Atcherley, D.A.G., who had
seen service in the Crimea and India, in whom officers and men had
the utmost confidence. A home guard was hastily organized to watch the
river front and give timely notice should any suspicious craft appear.
During the prevailing excitement some one rang the town alarm bell,
when the citizens were aroused from their beds, and the streets were
soon crowded with men, women and children eager to learn what was the
cause of the alarm. Many amusing scenes were witnessed. A few timid
souls procured teams, loaded them with household effects, and with
their families started for safer quarters in the back country. Many
old veterans of the Canadian rebellion were seen carrying weapons of
defense, but appeared more likely to be offensive only to themselves.

One aged gentleman carried a sword with a rope in lieu of belt
and minus the scabbard; he refused to waste time looking for such
appendages at such a time; the naked sword was good enough for him.
The night was dark and ominous; every one awaited coming events with
anxiety and more or less nervousness, and dawn began to appear, but no
signs of the enemy. Meanwhile some of the home guard got tired waiting
for the Fenians, who declined to come, and they one by one segregated
to enjoy the comforts of their own firesides or seek repose on their
downy beds at home. In this action the officer commanding the home
guard preceded his men and was the first to retire, but one of their
number a sturdy Scot, having been placed on an eminence favorable to
scan the movements of the craft on the river, he held on to his post,
however. His family hunted him up and had much difficulty on prevailing
upon him to come home.

The only fatality that occurred was the death of an old lady, who,
nearing the end, collapsed suddenly when hearing the alarm bell and
told the reason for its being rung.

Shortly after the Fenian fiasco became a thing of the past.

_Professor Morse’s Valedictory Message._

In 1870, when Mr. Morse had entered his eightieth year, it was felt by
many telegraph men that some fitting recognition should be paid to the
illustrious inventor before the close of his valuable life, which was
now nearing the end.

In accordance with this general feeling action was taken and a
committee formed, when after much thought had been given to the
subject, it was at last decided the most appropriate memorial in its
opinion would be to erect a statue and place it in Central Park,
New York. This suggestion had the general approval of the telegraph
fraternity. To carry this out subscriptions were invited; one of the
first to contribute to the fund was Mr. John Horn, of Montreal, then in
New York, and to complete the sum required Sir Hugh Allan was appealed
to and promptly sent the desired amount.

The ceremony of unveiling the statue took place on June 10, 1871.
Representative telegraph men from every State and territory, as well as
the Dominion of Canada, were present, including many civic and State
officials, and addresses were delivered by Governor Hoffman, Mayor
Hall, the venerable poet, William Cullen Bryant and others.

In the evening a public reception of the delegates was held at the
Academy of Music, which was filled to overflowing, the Hon. William
Orton, President of the Western Union, presiding, by whom the delegates
were cordially welcomed. On the platform was a table and a set of
telegraph instruments connected with the main office of the Western
Union Company. Punctually at 9 p.m., as previously arranged, Professor
Morse, who was present, indited the following valedictory:

    “Greeting and thanks to the telegraph fraternity throughout the
    world. Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good-will
    to men.”

            S. F. B. MORSE.

The message was sent over the wires by a young lady operator and Mr.
Morse transmitted the signature.

The writer was at Brockville, Ont., at the time and received this now
historic message simultaneously with hundreds, perhaps thousands of

Mr. Morse did not long survive this dramatic event. It was his last
public appearance but one previous to his death.

[Illustration: O. S. WOOD.]

_O. S. Wood, Esq._

One of the most notable telegraph men in America, the first pupil of
Professor Morse and the first to inaugurate an electric telegraph
system in Canada on an extensive scale.

Born in 1817, near Ithaca, N.Y., after a grammar school and collegiate
course, he studied and became a civil engineer, and was for some time
employed in that capacity by the New York State Government.

When Mr. Morse was exhibiting his telegraph at Washington, in 1844,
Mr. Wood was induced to join the inventor, and became his associate in
constructing and working the experimental line between Washington and
Baltimore, and the first to operate the line when opened for public
business and afterwards engaged in constructing telegraph lines in
other directions.

Early in 1847, when the Montreal Telegraph Company was formed, his
services were sought, and he was appointed its first General Manager.
By the end of this year a telegraph line was in operation between
Montreal and Toronto, and to Quebec the following year, and in time
extended throughout the whole country.

Owing to Mr. Wood’s able administration the Company became one of the
most important institutions in Canada.

After a long and successful career Mr. Wood retired in 1865, carrying
with him the good will of the public and the respect and esteem of the
directors and employees of the Company.

He subsequently engaged in other telegraphic enterprises in the United
States, in all of which he was equally fortunate.

After amassing a considerable fortune he retired from active business
pursuits many years ago, and is now spending the evening of his days at
a quiet suburb of New York.

He is a man of commanding presence, tall, dignified and face bearing a
very striking resemblance to Washington.

He possesses a highly cultured mind, a humane and benevolent
disposition, coupled with an agreeable and attractive manner.

He is, and was always, a patriotic American citizen. During his sojourn
in Canada he never relinquished his birthright.

The name of Orrin S. Wood will be long remembered by telegraph men
as the first telegraphist on the continent of America, a distinction
worthy of record in the annals of telegraphy, and is the oldest
telegraph man living at the present time in America.

Long may he be spared is the fervent hope of the telegraph

[Illustration: SIR HUGH ALLAN.]

_Sir Hugh Allan._

The name of this gentleman will be remembered in connection with the
Montreal Telegraph Company. He was its President from 1851 until the
day of his death.

It was largely through his efforts in conjunction with Mr. Wood that
the telegraph system was extended to the most remote points in Canada.

It may not be generally known that, although a very busy man, he
acquired a knowledge of telegraphy and became an expert telegraphist.

He had a private wire erected from his palatial residence, Ravenscrag,
and connected with the general telegraph office, and by this means kept
in constant touch with the inward and outward movements of his large
steamship fleet.

He was for many years a director of the Western Union Telegraph
Company, and one of the early contributors to the first Atlantic cable,
and for a time one of its directors, but Sir Hugh Allan will be better
known as the originator of the Montreal Ocean Steamship Company (now
known as the Allan Line.)

There was no limit to his superabundant energy; no important enterprise
was thought of unless his name and influence was sought. He was
president or director in nearly every financial or industrial company
in Montreal. No one before or since has occupied such a commanding
position in business life in Canada.

He received the honor of knighthood from the late Queen personally in
recognition of his great public services; this honor was never more
worthily bestowed.

Sir Hugh Allan was a native of Scotland, born at Saltcoats, Ayrshire,
Sept. 29, 1810. His death took place in Edinburgh while there on a
visit Dec. 9, 1882.

The wonder is that some enduring mark of public appreciation has not
been formulated to perpetuate the name of one who has done so much for
the land of his adoption.

A statue on Dominion Square would be a fitting momento.

    “Lives of great men all remind us
      We can make our lives sublime,
    And departing leave behind us
      Footprints on the sands of time.”

[Illustration: JAMES DAKERS.]

_James Dakers, Esq._

Born in Forfar, Scotland, in 1811, on completing his studies at the
parochial school, he served his apprenticeship in an attorney’s office
in his native town, and came to Canada in 1840.

He entered the service of the Montreal Telegraph Company shortly after
its organization as Secretary. When Mr. Wood separated from the Company
in 1865, Mr. Dakers was appointed Manager of the Eastern division,
acting as Secretary in addition. Owing to his faithful and energetic
services the success of the company was greatly enhanced.

“Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might,” seemed
to be his guiding principle. Like the restless sea, always moving, if
not engaged at his own special work, he would repair to the operating
department and give a helping hand, here and there, where most needed,
then to the receiving counter attending to customers.

In the early telegraph days during a pressure of business, he not
infrequently would take a handful of messages and deliver on his way
to meals, and kept a vigilant eye on every department of the company’s

When the Montreal Telegraph Company leased its business to the Great
North Western Company, in 1881, he was not in accord with the
directors in this move, and resigned, retaining, however, the good will
of the shareholders, many of whom shared his views, and the respect of
the business community by whom he was long and favourably known.

The following tribute to his worth by the late Rev. Dr. Ormiston in a
letter to a friend is deserving a place here:

“James Dakers is in many respects a remarkable man. Notwithstanding
many disadvantages, he has fairly earned the high position of
influence, independence and usefulness which he now occupies. He
is characterized by indomitable energy, great force of character,
unyielding tenacity of purpose, his intellect is of a high order,
and eminently practical, inflexibly upright in all his dealings,
conscientiously faithful to all his obligations, punctual and thorough
in the performance of all his duties, incapable of meanness, his word
as good as his bond, he is a man universally trusted; his sympathies
with the suffering and the struggling are wide and tender.

“Many bless him for his wise counsels and efficient aid; the extent
and genuineness of his Christian charity is as manifest as the
steadfastness of his religious life; as a true friend, he is one among
a thousand.

“Were I asked by a young man for a model of a man, earnest and
indefatigable, pure and firm in principle, exemplary and consistent in
character, desirable and valuable in friendship, I would not hesitate
to point him to James Dakers, of Montreal.”

This was a very high testimonial of the character of Mr. Dakers by one
who knew him intimately for many years.

After giving up his connection with telegraph interests, with which he
had been so long associated, he lived in retirement until his death,
which occurred on April 15, 1887.

[Illustration: H. P. DWIGHT.]

_H. P. Dwight, Esq._

For the long period of fifty-six years Mr. Dwight has been continuously
engaged in the telegraph service, and only quite recently retired from
the more active duties of his calling.

Born on December 23, 1828, at Belleville, Jefferson County, N.Y., he
entered the service of the Montreal Telegraph Company in 1847, the
year of its organization, and placed in charge of the Belleville,
Ontario, Office, where he remained for a time, and afterwards employed
at the Head Office, Montreal. When the wires connected Toronto he was
appointed agent there and soon made superintendent of the Western
Section. In 1881, when the Montreal Telegraph Company leased its
business to the Great North Western Telegraph Company he was appointed
general manager of the latter.

When Mr. Wiman resigned the presidency of that company, Mr. Dwight
succeeded him and filled the dual positions until a few months ago,
when he resigned the general managership, the duties being too onerous
and exacting for one at his time of life.

Mr. Dwight is associated with many other enterprises. He is president
of the Canadian General Electric Company and a director of the Toronto
and London Electric Company, president of Birkbeck Investment
Company and chairman of the Governors of the Royal Humane Society. He
is a man of fine physique, has lived a regular and careful life, which
accounts for the vigorous and evergreen appearance at his time of life.

He is a keen sportsman and a devoted disciple of Isaac Walton. Every
year he finds time to spend a few weeks in the happy summer-time, in
the wilds of Northern Ontario, in quest of the speckled beauties of
that region, or in the lower St. Lawrence, seeking the haunts of the
lordly salmon in the Restigouche or other famous streams. In closing
we wish him long life and many years to indulge in this his favorite

[Illustration: WILLIAM CASSILS.]

_William Cassils, Esq._

Born in the village of Renton, Dunbartonshire, on June 25, 1832,
after acquiring a rudimentary training in the parochial school, and
equipped for a business career, he engaged in a commercial house for
a time, but his prospects were not equal to his youthful ambition,
and his attention was directed to Canada wherein he had relatives and
was encouraged to join them. He arrived at Montreal in 1852. Shortly
after his arrival he entered the service of the Montreal Telegraph
Company; his abilities were soon recognized--within a short time he was
appointed manager of the Quebec Office, the second in importance to
Montreal, and later was made superintendent of the Eastern Division;
while in this position he had the wires extended to Father Point, the
extreme eastern limit of the Company’s system at that time.

In 1865 he left the telegraph service to engage in a wholesale business
in Montreal, but his heart was never quite divorced from his first

In 1876 he organized the Canadian District Telegraph Company and became
its president.

When the telephone first made its appearance he foresaw its great
possibilities, when he, in association with others, established in 1878
the first telephone exchange in Canada, which was afterwards merged
with the Bell Telephone System.

He was a Director of the Montreal Telephone Company, President of
the Canada Central Railway and administrator of the St. Lawrence and
Ottawa Railway, both of which are now linked to the Canadian Pacific
Railway; he was also President of the Dominion Transport Company, but
his interest and sympathies were always keenly directed to the progress
and development of telegraphy. He himself was an expert telegraphist
and always took a lively interest in the welfare and success of the
telegraph fraternity. He was amiable in manner, kind in disposition
and generous to a fault; his purse was ever open to the needy or

He possessed a fine tenor voice in his young days. When at social
gatherings he rendered the songs of his native land with a sweetness
and pathos few could equal. He took a great interest in young men, and
many were indebted to him for advice and assistance in beginning the
battle of life.

He passed away at a comparatively early age (in his fifty-ninth year)
on December 25, 1891.

    “Howe’er it be, it seems to me
    ’Tis only noble to be good
    Kind hearts are more than coronets,
    And simple faith than Norman blood.”

[Illustration: JAMES POUSTIE.]

_James Poustie, Esq._

Born at Montrose, Scotland, in 1830. While yet an infant, his parents
came to Canada in the historic brig “Favorite,” owned and commanded by
the father of the late Sir Hugh Allan.

Mr. Poustie is the pioneer telegraph line builder of Canada. He
was engaged by the Montreal Telegraph Company shortly after its

After the contractors had finished the line between Montreal and
Toronto, all line extensions thereafter were under his personal

He would start early in the spring with gangs of linemen, equipped with
tools and provisions, live under canvas during the building season and
return in the fall to prepare for the next year’s operations. This
continued on from one year to another until the whole country was
covered with a network of wires.

In purchasing material Mr. Poustie was a shrewd and careful buyer,
getting the very best to be had at the lowest figure. In hiring labor,
while paying liberal wages, he took good care to receive in return a
fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage from his men. Though stern and
exacting, he was not unkind. His gangs of men were chiefly French
Canadians; he knew their language and could apply it forcibly, if
not elegantly, when circumstances required it.

His men were devoted to him and worked like beavers. It is no
exaggeration to say that owing to inherent shrewdness in handling his
men and purchasing supplies the lines were constructed at half the cost
of similar work in the United States; this fact the Company soon became
cognizant of.

Finally the system became so extensive as to demand a division of
labor and responsibility when foremen were placed in charge of
important sections of the line, and Mr. Poustie directed operations
from headquarters at Montreal and became General Superintendent of

This position he held for many years. At length he resigned to rest
for a while. He is at present associated with R. G. Reid & Co., of
Newfoundland, in their Montreal office.

Mr. Poustie is a man liberally endowed with good common sense, dislikes
humbug or insincerity, a keen observer of men and possesses a retentive
memory and a happy vein of dry caustic humor with a merry twinkle in
his clear penetrating greyish blue eyes. He can relate many interesting
tales generally, from a humorous point of view, in reference to his
own varied experience, all of which are well worth listening to. He is
still vigorous and hearty, and we hope has many years before him. Like
Yorick, “A man of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.”

[Illustration: CHAS. R. HOSMER.]

_Charles R. Hosmer, Esq._

“Some are born great. Some achieve greatness. Some have greatness
thrust upon them.” It is no difficult task to determine to which class
Mr. Hosmer belongs.

Born some fifty years ago in the little French Canadian village, Coteau
Landing. On receiving an elementary training at the village school he
turned his attention to telegraphy, and, instructed in its mysteries by
the operator and agent at the railway station there, qualifying as an
operator he secured a position with the Montreal Telegraph Company and
was in its employ for some years.

When the Dominion Telegraph Company came into being he entered the
service and rose step by step to the highest position attainable.
When that Company merged with the Great North Western, Mr. Hosmer was
offered and accepted the offices of President and General Manager of
the Canada Mutual Telegraph Company, then recently organized. A few
years later when the Canadian Pacific Railway Company were about to
establish a commercial telegraph business, he was made General Manager,
and held this for some thirteen or fourteen years, during which period
he was very successful in organizing and carrying on this branch of
the Company’s business. He was also a leading factor in exploiting
the Commercial Cable and the Postal Telegraph Cable Companies; he is
a Vice-President of the former and a director of the Canadian Pacific
Railway, director of the Merchants’ Bank and many other financial
concerns; President of the Ogilvie Milling Company, said to be the
largest of the kind existing; a member of St. James’ Club and at
one time President; he is also a member of Mount Royal (yclept the
millionaires’ club).

Mr. Hosmer is a recognized leader in financial circles in Montreal; he
is possessed of a cheery, bright and winning personality, affects no
airs, gracious in manner with a pleasant word for all.

Although not actively connected with the Canadian Pacific Telegraph
System, his guiding hand is always reached.

He is yet a young man, full of life and energy, there is no saying the
number and kind of activities may further engage his busy and restless

His motto seems to be:

    “Still achieving, still pursuing,
    And a heart for any fate.”

[Illustration: HON. GEO. A. COX.]

_Hon. George Albertus Cox._

Born at Colborne, Ont., May 7, 1840, he commenced business life there
as an operator in the service of the Montreal Telegraph Company.

After two years spent in the office of his native town he was in May,
1858, placed in charge of the Peterboro office of the Company and in
addition a few years later was made agent of the Canadian Express

He took an active part in the municipal, educational and commercial
interests of the town and was for seven years its mayor.

In 1888 he left Peterboro, and from that time has resided in Toronto
where there is a wider scope for his energies.

He was appointed to the Senate in 1896 by Lord Aberdeen.

Mr. Cox is a strong temperance man and a warm supporter of the
Methodist Church, of which he is a member; is Bursar of Victoria
University and President of the Ladies’ College, Whitby; President of
the Bank of Commerce, the Canada Life Insurance Company, the Western
Fire Insurance and on the directorate of many other companies; is one
of the leading financiers in the Dominion.

His name has been publicly mentioned as one likely to receive honors
at the hands of the King at no distant date. As “coming events cast
their shadows before,” this is not at all improbable.

Senator Cox was one of a syndicate to build the Canadian Pacific
Railway in opposition to the syndicate formed at Montreal. His name is
now prominently connected with the Grand Trunk Pacific project.

His success in life has been phenomenal when his humble beginning
is considered, and is a tolerably fair model for young Canadians to
imitate in the battle of life.

[Illustration: SIR WILLIAM VAN HORNE.]

_Sir William Cornelius Van Horne._

Born near Joliette, Ill., February 3, 1843. On quitting school he began
life as an office boy at the Railway Station there, and later became
telegraph operator on the Illinois Central Railway. He was afterwards
despatcher then superintendent of telegraph, and in a short time was
made divisional superintendent of the Chicago and Alton Railway,
and in 1872 general superintendent of the St. Louis and Kansas City
and Northern Railway; from there he went, in 1874, to the Southern
Minnesota Railway as its general manager.

In 1878 he returned to the Chicago and Alton Railway as general
superintendent, but two years later he was called to the position of
general superintendent of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway,
and in 1881 he was asked to take control of the Canadian Pacific
Railway, then in process of construction. Under his vigorous and
energetic direction the line was built in one-half of the time required
by the contract between the government and the Company.

He has been successively Vice-President and President of the Company
and is now Chairman of the Board of Directors.

The construction and successful management for years of this great
enterprise has not impaired his wonderful energies. He has built a
railway in the Island of Cuba some four hundred miles in length in the
usual expeditious manner. This work being completed, he is now, it is
said, turning his attention to the distant Philippines in order to
provide Railway facilities for the people of that country.

He is a director of many companies, including the Postal Telegraph and
Commercial Cable Company, and a member of St. James and Mount Royal

Sir William Van Horne is not only a famous railway man, but possesses
artistic talents of a high order. Had he followed art as a profession
he would have taken high rank. He is looked upon as one of the best art
connoisseurs in Canada.

He was created a K. C. M. G. by the late Queen in acknowledgment of his
public services in connection with the Great Transcontinental Railway
and Imperial Highway.

Sir William is a man of fine presence, wears his honors with ease and
dignity, affable and courteous in manner, and approachable to all.

    “Honour and shame, from no condition rise,
    Act well your part, there all the honor lies.”

[Illustration: ANDREW CARNEGIE.]

_Andrew Carnegie._

Born in the ancient Royal Burgh Dumfermline, Fifeshire, in 1837. His
father and mother emigrated to the United States in 1848, settling in
Alleghany, Pa.

The senior Carnegie was a master weaver and a man of exceptional
intelligence, who was obliged to relinquish his business owing to the
development of steam mills with which the handicraftsmen could not hope
to compete.

At the age of fourteen young Carnegie began work as a messenger in the
office of the Ohio telegraph company; in a short time he became an

When the Pennsylvania Railway was carried to Pittsburgh he received an
appointment as train despatcher and rose to be superintendent of the
Pittsburgh division of the system.

At the outbreak of the American civil war Carnegie was made
Superintendent of military roads.

After the war he went into numerous ventures, in all of which he was
eminently successful.

His first big manufacturing venture was the organization of the
Keystone Bridge Company. Iron bridges were coming into fashion, and he
got the lead everywhere. He soon acquired other manufacturing plants in
the iron line.

By 1888 he had control of the Homestead Steel Works and many other
plants which were capitalized at about one hundred million dollars.

Some ten or fifteen years ago Mr. Carnegie began to feel the oppression
of wealth and its responsibilities and made arrangements by which his
employees became sharers in his profits. After getting free of the
greater part of the personal care of the properties in which he was the
chief owner, Mr. Carnegie has devoted himself largely to philanthropic
objects, his gifts being chiefly in the line of building public

He takes a warm interest in everything relating to telegraphy and
telegraph men, and is rather pleased to be remembered as an old-time

His chief place of residence is Skibo Castle, Scotland, but he pays
frequent visits to the United States.

    “Ring in the valiant man and free
    The larger heart, the kindlier hand.
    Ring out the darkness of the land,
    Ring in the Christ that is to be.”


_Sir Sandford Fleming, C.E., LL.D._

Was born at Kircaldy, Fifeshire, Scotland, on the 7th day of January,
1827. He left school at the age of 14, and was immediately articled as
a student of surveying and engineering. At the age of 18 he came to

In 1852 he was appointed one of the engineering staff of the Northern
Railway then known as the Ontario and Lake Huron road.

In 1863 he went to England as a representative of the Red River
settlement to invoke the aid of the Imperial Government toward the
construction of a railway to connect with the Canadian railways, but
the scheme was not carried out.

When the Intercolonial Railway was projected he was made Chief of
Surveys and Construction. When nearing its completion he was called
upon by the Government to undertake the survey of the proposed route to
the Pacific.

After exhaustive surveys had been made and the construction of the
Canadian Pacific had been well advanced and some six or eight hundred
miles of the heaviest sections built, political exigencies arose, and
in 1880 he resigned. In that year he was elected Chancellor of Queen’s
University, and in 1882, while on a visit to Scotland, was presented
with the freedom of Kircaldy Burghs, and in 1884 received the honorary
degree of LL.D., from St. Andrew’s University.

In 1881 he went as a delegate from the Canadian Institute and the
American Meteorological Society to the International Geographical
Congress at Venice, and in 1884 he was appointed a delegate of Great
Britain to represent the Dominion of Canada at the International Prime
Meridian Conference at Washington, where he had the pleasure of finding
his views which he had been pressing on the public for years with
regard to Cosmic time and a prime meridian for all nations, accepted by
the representatives of the civilized world.

As early as 1879 Sir Sandford submitted to the Canadian Government a
scheme for spanning the Pacific Ocean by electric cables which would,
in connection with existing land and cable wires, complete the electric
girdle of the globe, and bring Great Britain, Canada, Australia and
New Zealand in unbroken electric touch with each other without passing
over foreign territory. The proposition was given due consideration and
the subject was laid before successive parliaments, but, while much
interest had been awakened, nothing practical was accomplished, owing
to the many obstacles in the way, and the matter was, for a time, held
in abeyance. Meanwhile its energetic projector did not despair. Year
after year he took every favorable opportunity to bring it before the
public men of Great Britain and the Colonies, travelling thousands of
miles to attend Conferences at London, Brisbane, Ottawa and elsewhere,
wherever the subject was under review. At length the reasons and
arguments adduced on all these occasions in support of this scheme were
found to be convincing, and its feasibility so apparent that it was
finally accepted and practically applied.

On the 31st day of December, 1900, the Imperial and five Colonial
governments joined in an interstate partnership to carry out the
work so long and ably advocated by its originator and promoter.
Exactly twenty-two months after the agreement, 8,272 miles of cable
had been manufactured and safely embedded in the vast depths of
the Pacific, nearly a third of the earth’s circumference, on the
31st day of October, 1902, electric communication was successfully
established between Canada, New Zealand, Fiji and Australia, and has
been uninterruptedly maintained ever since. The success of this great
telegraph enterprise, the most stupendous ever taken, was a fitting
prelude to the dawn of the new century and a splendid triumph to the
genius and foresight of Sir Sandford Fleming.

During nearly a quarter of a century he had given his time and talents,
as well as his private means, to accomplish the end he had in view, and
it must have been peculiarly gratifying to him that his labors all
these years had not been in vain. His patriotic and self-sacrificing
efforts should receive some suitable public acknowledgment in some
substantial form.

In 1877 he was made a Companion of St. Michael and St. George, and in
1897 he was promoted to be a commander of the same distinguished order
on the occasion of the sixtieth year of Her Majesty’s reign.

    “Peace hath her victories,
     No less renowned than war.”

[Illustration: FRED. N. GISBORNE.]

_Frederick N. Gisborne_

Was born at Broughton, Lancashire, England, March 8, 1824, and came to
Canada in 1845.

When the Montreal Company was organized he was employed as one of its
first operators, opening the first office of the Company at Quebec.

He was afterwards engaged in various telegraph enterprises in the
Maritime Provinces.

In 1851 he laid the cable connecting New Brunswick and Prince Edward
Island, the first submarine cable in America.

In 1856 he laid the cable connecting Cape Breton and Newfoundland (85
miles in length), this being an important link in the Atlantic cable

Previous to this he had secured a charter from the Newfoundland
Government to construct a telegraph line across the Island, which,
with the projected cable crossing the Gulf of St. Lawrence connecting
with the land telegraphs, would provide the quickest news on the
arrival of steamers from Europe. In this project he was associated
with several American capitalists, but financial difficulties arose,
and in the winter of 1853-4 Mr. Gisborne visited New York to secure
further capital, and there met Mr. Cyrus W. Field, with the result
that Mr. Field returned with him to Newfoundland. The Legislature,
at Mr. Gisborne’s request, cancelled the original thirty years’
charter granted to himself and associates, for a new charter for a
term of fifty years to the New York, Newfoundland and London Company.
The object of this Company was to complete the land lines begun by
Gisborne, lay the cable in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and to lay a cable
across the Atlantic. The latter attempt, however, proved a failure,
and the franchise of this Company was subsequently acquired by the
Anglo-American Telegraph and Cable Company.

Meanwhile Mr. Gisborne dropped out of the enterprise, probably losing
all the interest in it he possessed. Some years later he was appointed
Superintendent of the Canadian Government Telegraph and Signal Service,
which he filled until his death, which occurred on Aug. 30, 1892.

[Illustration: THOS. A. EDISON.]

_Thomas A. Edison._

Born in Milan, Erie county, Ohio, February 11, 1847, he attended school
for a few months only, being educated at home by his mother, a woman of
superior ability and attainments.

The boy was an apt scholar, showing preference for historical and
scientific subjects.

In 1854 his father removed to Port Huron, Mich., where, at the age
of twelve, he was engaged as a newsboy on the Grand Trunk Railway.
While thus employed he took every occasion to watch the operations of
the telegraph at the various stations on the line. He erected a wire
between his father’s house and that of a neighbour, himself making the
instruments to save the cost of battery material; he experimented with
a tom-cat, using the fore and hind feet as electrodes. The connections
having been duly made he tried to start an induced current by rubbing
the back of the feline. This amusing experiment was not a success,
however, and was abandoned; later on he was rewarded for bravery in
rescuing the child of the station master from the front of a moving
train by receiving lessons in telegraphy, which he soon mastered, and
was employed as telegraph operator on the Grand Trunk Railway for a
time, leaving thereafter for the United States, where he worked in
various cities, meanwhile devoting himself to the study of electrical
science then little understood in America.

While working as operator in New Orleans, La., he invented the
automatic repeater. In 1864 he conceived the idea, which he afterwards
perfected, of duplex telegraphy, but it was not put into practical
operation until 1872. His next important inventions were the quadruplex
and the printing telegraph for stock quotations.

In time his inventions were numerous and varied. On the lists of
inventions at the patent office, Washington, in 1895, no less than
600 were credited to his name. The most notable amongst these are the
quadruplex, the phonograph and the incandescent light.

Although Edison had acquired considerable wealth, yet in 1896 he
publicly declared that he would have been at least $600,000 better off
if he had never taken out a patent or defended one, and that all the
money he ever made was made by manufacturing his inventions or in their
practical use.

In 1896 he established the village of Edison, N. J., in the very centre
of an iron ore deposit, a plant for the magnetic separation of iron
from the rock in which it is embedded in the mine, the process being
purely automatic. He first invented a crusher capable of reducing ten
tons of rock to dust every minute; he then invented apparatus whereby
the iron ore was separated from the dust by means of a magnet, the
extracted ore being made into briquettes and easily handled for
transport to the blast furnace.

Mr. Edison is one of the simplest and unostentatious of men, careless
in his costume, abstemious and simple in his habits, unselfish and
generous in dispositions.

He married in 1874, and has four sons and one daughter.

[Illustration: ISAAC D. PURKIS.]

_Isaac D. Purkis, Esq._

Was born in Laprairie, Que., in 1827. He was son of the Rev. Isaac
Purkis, who came from England in 1821, and was a lineal descendant of
the Purkis who carried the body of King William Rufus from the New
Forest to Winchester in Hampshire, when shot by Sir Walter Tyrell,
while hunting in the New Forest.

Mr. Purkis learned telegraphy under Mr. O. S. Wood and was located
at Prescott, Ont., from 1849 to 1851, in the employ of the Montreal
Telegraph Company. In 1851, on the very flattering recommendation
of Mr. Wood, he entered the service of the British North American
Telegraph Association and was appointed Superintendent (equivalent to
General Manager at the present date). This company had a line from
Quebec city east, to Rivière du Loup, thence southerly to St. John,
N.B., etc. In 1853, on the recommendation of Mr. Purkis, the line was
extended to Montreal, along the north shore of the river, and thus
entered into competition with the Montreal Telegraph Company, whose
line was from Point Levi, along the south shore to Montreal and thence
westward. Connection was first made between Quebec and Point Levi by a
long span of wire on masts, in the spring when the ice was breaking
up. None of the linemen would attempt to cross on the floating, broken
ice. Mr. Purkis then got a ladder, and placing himself in the centre
with the coil of wire over his shoulder succeeded in making the
passage, at the same time paying out the wire over the edges of the
ice. His exertions were so great that he was completely exhausted when
he finally got across.

This company established at Rivière du Loup, Que., a signal office
under the Lloyd code, whereby all vessels passing were signalled and
information at once telegraphed to the owner or agent and to the press.
In addition to this a boat manned with capable oarsmen, swivel gun on
bow to signal the approaching steamer, more particularly at night, was
used to intercept and receive from the inward steamer the despatches
and latest newspapers from Europe. The method was to throw a tin
cylinder in which were enclosed the despatches and newspapers with a
small flag attached to the end; this was attached to a lanyard, and
when secured by the Telegraph boat, the steamer was given a signal and
she proceeded on her way, the despatches being promptly brought ashore
and delivered to the telegraph and signal officer in charge.

In December 29, 1854, the British North American Telegraph Association
and the Canada Grand Trunk Telegraph Company (whose lines extended
from Montreal westward) entered into an agreement for the mutual
interchange of business, and Mr. Purkis was appointed Superintendent
of both companies. This position he held until both companies were
amalgamated with the Montreal Telegraph Company in the latter part of
1856. When he left the telegraph business in August of that year his
subordinates presented him with a signet ring, which he wore to the day
of his death.

He engaged in the forwarding and ferry business at Prescott until
1870, when he was appointed General Manager of the Dominion Telegraph
Company, with headquarters at Toronto. He resigned from this position
in 1874 and again returned to Prescott taking up his former business.
Besides himself he had three brothers engaged in the telegraph service,
George, Arthur and William, all of whom predeceased him many years

Mr. Purkis was a citizen of the highest type, always eager for the
welfare of the town and its inhabitants.

Personally, he was of a most genial and kindly disposition, a true and
sincere friend to all who shared his confidence.

He passed away recently at his home at Prescott after a brief illness,
in his 78th year.

_Submarine Telegraphy._

When the electric telegraph had been successfully established in Great
Britain, the public soon became alive to the necessity of extending its
operations beyond the confines of the United Kingdom.

As early as 1840 Professor Charles Wheatstone, of England, suggested
the practicability of connecting Dover and Calais, in France, by an
electric wire, but it was ten years later before a submarine line was
laid. This first attempt proved a failure, owing to the wires being
imperfectly insulated.

In 1851 a second cable, containing four copper wires insulated with
gutta percha and surrounded by tarred hemp and protected by ten
galvanized iron wires wound round spirally, was laid connecting England
and France. This proved successful. All submarine cables thereafter
were made on this pattern.

It was now evident that the sea offered no barrier to international
telegraphic communication.

In the same year (1851) a submarine cable ten miles in length was laid
connecting Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

In 1852 six submarine lines were laid connecting England with Ireland,
Scotland and the continent, the longest of which was one about one
hundred nautical miles, and in 1854 five additional cables were laid
in European waters.

In 1856 Newfoundland and Cape Breton was connected by submarine wire,
the distances being some eighty-five miles. The successful laying of
this cable led to the more gigantic undertaking, viz., to connecting
the old and the new worlds electrically. There are three names
prominently connected with the origination of the idea, Bishop Mulock,
of Newfoundland, Frederick Gisborne and Cyrus W. Field.

The following interesting remarks of Mr. Mackay, of Newfoundland, is
worth producing.

In a speech he made at a banquet given by the old-time Telegraphers’
Association, held at the Windsor Hotel in the summer of 1901, he said;
“If you please, I shall now refer to a matter that I think may be far
more interesting to you all than anything I have said thus far. I mean
to refer to the matter of the Atlantic telegraph, as it is a subject
that must always occupy a large share of the attention of the telegraph
world, because at the present time telegraphing by cable is one of the
most important factors in the whole service that makes the telegraphy
of the world as valuable as it is. The subject that I wanted to mention
to you is the question as to who was the person that initiated or gave
birth to the idea of an Atlantic telegraph, which, of course, gave
birth to all deep-sea and long-distance telegraphy.

“As a matter of fact, in Newfoundland, where this subject has been
given considerable attention, it is stated that the Right Rev. Dr.
Mulock, Roman Catholic Bishop of Newfoundland, was one of the parties.
Others contend that the late F. N. Gisborne is the person, others that
Cyrus W. Field is the person.

“I would like to refer to those gentlemen, beginning first with Dr.

“I trust you will pardon me for saying that I consider my opinion on
the matter is worth something, inasmuch as I think I am the only man
of those that were connected with the Atlantic telegraph at the time
of its inception, in an executive capacity, all the others having gone
before, as far as I know.

“Now with regard to Dr. Mulock, I think there is not the least doubt
he got his information from Mr. Gisborne in regard to the Atlantic
telegraph, and that his only connection with it was the expression of
his belief in the possibility of its establishment, just as a man might
say, for instance, we will in the next generation fly in the air; but
he contributed nothing towards the direct accomplishment of the object.
There is not the least doubt in my mind, therefore, that it lies
between Mr. F. N. Gisborne and Cyrus W. Field.

“Mr. Gisborne’s friends contend now that he was unjustly treated by
Field, and that he really had advised Mr. Field of the possibility
of accomplishing this great work. Mr. Gisborne did not make this
contention in his lifetime.

“I had the privilege of seeing him some years before he died, long
subsequent to the establishment of the Atlantic telegraph, and he
said that on his meeting Cyrus W. Field, in the month of January,
1854, whilst foreshadowing the possibility and the desirability of
establishing Atlantic communication between Newfoundland and the
Continent of America, he did not refer to the possibility of a cable
to England, but only relied on the success of that enterprise by
contributing to its coffers messages obtained from steamers arriving
in Newfoundland and transmitted from thence by carrier pigeons, and
ultimately by telegraphic cable.

“Mr. Gisborne made that statement, and he admitted that he did not, in
his first interview with Cyrus W. Field, foreshadow the possibility of
the Atlantic telegraph.

“Now Mr. Field on being questioned in regard to that interview which
took place in Mr. Field’s house in January, 1854, said exactly the same

“He only contended for the pigeons in the first place and the
possibility of a cable to Cape Breton in the second place, and the
clever far-seeing commercial man, as he was considered, said that
there was no possibility of such a scheme ever paying, and, therefore,
he would not have anything to do with it; but on seeing Gisborne, he
turned over the Globe, and, in turning it over, seeing that Cape
Breton was only an inch or two on the Globe from Newfoundland, and that
Ireland was only six inches, with his shrewdness and cleverness he
said at once, ‘If a cable can be laid to Cape Breton, why can’t it be
laid to Ireland?’ and the next morning he wrote a letter to Professor
Morse and asked him if a cable could be laid to Ireland and whether it
could be worked. He also wrote a letter to Lieutenant Maury, of the
United States Navy, and asked him whether it would be possible to lay
a cable to Ireland. Satisfactory answers being obtained to these two
questions, he at once embarked in the enterprise and threw his whole
influence (rich man that he was at that time) into the work of laying
the Atlantic cable. You will see, therefore, that Mr. Gisborne did not
communicate the idea of the Atlantic cable, but he communicated _the
idea of a cable_ that was quite enough for a man of Cyrus W. Field’s
foresight and ingenuity to suggest the possibility of an Atlantic
cable, so that there is really no difference as to credit due these
two gentlemen for the initiation of the project, and I can assure you
it is most satisfactory to me because I have always been a warm friend
of both gentlemen (applause). I think I am the only living witness to
these facts I have related, and I am glad to have this opportunity to
state it publicly. I know it is a matter of interest to all telegraph
men. Now the question comes to my mind, Who then was the author of the
first idea of the Atlantic cable.

“In this connection I will go back to the year 1850. In 1854 the New
York, Newfoundland and London Telegraph Company obtained a charter
which gave them exclusive rights to land a cable in Newfoundland for
fifty years. This charter terminates in 1904, and I hope to live to
see that charter expire. I am confident it will never be renewed,
because the British Government would never consent, now that deep-sea
telegraphy is an assured fact, to exclusive rights, of that nature
being conferred on anybody or corporation. (Applause.)

“We will now go back to, Who was the first man that started the idea of
the Atlantic cable? and I find no difficulty in naming the man, as far
as my opinion goes.

“In 1850, whilst studying telegraphy with Mr. Gisborne in Halifax, he
was very communicative in all his methods and actions, and he showed
me letters at that time from Mr. Brett. There were two Bretts. I think
the first was John and the second Jacob, but it was the elder Brett who
was in communication with him then by letter, and he had given birth to
the idea of a cable. He not only gave birth to it in 1850, but in 1852
he laid the cable from Dover in England to France, and that cable was
working until within a few years of the present time. He, therefore,
not only gave birth to the idea, but he gave actual presence to the
cable, and I think it is not unlikely, and I find it easy for me to
say, that there never was an inventor who was wont to appreciate his
own invention. I think it is not unlikely that Brett, when he had the
idea of a cable at all, although only twenty-one miles in length, that
he had within his vision thousands of miles, covering all bays, all
waters and all seas (applause); that is my idea that John Brett was the
originator and inventor of the submarine cable.”

Mr. Mackay, whose testimony we have given, was the superintendent of
telegraphs for the Anglo-American Telegraph and Cable Company for the
Island of Newfoundland and held this position for many years.

The circumstances which brought Gisborne and Field together was as
follows: The former had planned a line of telegraph from St. John’s,
Nfld., through four hundred miles of dense wilderness and forest to
Cape Ray, there to connect by steamers or by carrier pigeons or by

To enable him to carry out this project the Legislature of Newfoundland
granted £500 for a survey of the route.

An Act was also passed incorporating the Newfoundland Telegraph Company
with an exclusive right of way for thirty years, including amongst
other privileges valuable concessions of public lands. Having thus laid
the groundwork of his scheme Gisborne immediately left for New York to
raise capital; in this he was successful. Horace B. Tebbets and D. H.
Holbrook were among the more prominent to join him, and a company was
organized under the charter which had been granted. Soon after the
formation of the Company Mr. Gisborne left for England, to purchase a
submarine cable to connect Cape Ray and Cape Breton.

In 1852 thirty miles of the land line had been completed, and Mr.
Gisborne had skilfully and successfully laid the first submarine cable
of any considerable length in America between Cape Ray and Cape Breton
and Cape Tormentine and Cape Traverse in Northumberland Straits.

In 1853, however, the cable gave out, about the same time the New
York stockholders withheld their support; this caused the work to
be suspended and the Company became bankrupt. Mr. Gisborne, finding
himself unable to proceed, gave up all he possessed to pay the accrued
debts, and for a time abandoned the enterprise.

Under such circumstances and with renewed courage Mr. Gisborne in 1854
returned to New York, to try, if possible, to resuscitate interest in
his work. Among others to whom he now found access was Mr. Matthew D.
Field, a New York Engineer, to whom he communicated his position and
plans. Mr. Field, however, declined to interest himself, but politely
offered to introduce him to his brother, Cyrus W. Field, at that time
retired from active business. This led to several interviews, which
had the effect of exciting a general interest in telegraph affairs in
Mr. Field’s mind. Standing one evening over a large globe after one
of these interviews with Mr. Gisborne, and tracing the lines overland
to St. John’s, Nfld., an idea dawned on his mind which gradually
strengthened its hold upon his imagination and soon absorbed his whole
heart and life.

While following with his finger the track of the inland lines to the
ocean, it was natural to traverse also the course of the steamships
across the Northern Atlantic. It was but a step further to plant his
finger on London and to feel that to reach the centre of English
commercial life by telegraph, were this practicable, would be an
achievement worth striving for.

Mr. Field, thus aroused to a comprehension of a possible opportunity to
embark in a grand enterprise worthy of the age, began to make enquiry
respecting the project of laying a cable on the bed of the Atlantic.
He found that a recent survey of the Northern Atlantic, under the
direction of Lieutenant Maury, had been made, and a plateau extending
from Newfoundland to Ireland had been discovered, forming a safe and
easy pathway for a submarine wire.

Professor Morse also assured Mr. Field that the project was entirely
feasible, and warmly encouraged him in it, and asserted the certainty
of its ultimate accomplishment.

Being now thoroughly convinced Mr. Field communicated with some of
his intimate friends, amongst whom were Peter Cooper, Moses Taylor,
Marshall O. Roberts and Chandler White, names familiar in the history
of American enterprise. The scheme met with earnest attention and ready
response. Mutual consultations resulted soon after in the organization
of a company with a capital of one million and a half dollars to carry
out the project and the immediate purchase of the Gisborne charter, it
resulted also in the generous enlargement of the franchises granted by
the colony of Newfoundland, the exclusive right to land ocean cables
during fifty years, £50,000 to aid the work and fifty square miles of
land when the cable was successfully laid was granted.

The Government of Prince Edward Island also made liberal grants of
money and land. With these important arrangements completed on May 6,
1854, a company was formally organized under the corporate name of the
New York, Newfoundland and London Electric Telegraph Company.

Peter Cooper was elected President.

Chandler White, Vice-President.

Moses Taylor, Treasurer.

Professor Morse, Electrician.

Matthew D. Field, Engineer.

The latter immediately proceeded to Newfoundland to begin operations,
first honorably paying the debts due to workmen under Mr. Gisborne.

Mr. Field, with six hundred men, pushed the work of construction
through the vast forests of Newfoundland until the wires were erected
between St. John’s and Cape Ray. Meanwhile, Cyrus W. Field made
his first voyage to England to contract for a new cable to connect
Newfoundland with Nova Scotia, and to continue his enquiries into the
scientific obstacles to the laying and operating a cable between the
shores of the Old World and the New.

In England Mr. Field met Mr. John W. Brett, the originator and inventor
of submarine cables, who gave every encouragement to Mr. Field in the
Atlantic cable project, and to show his faith in its success Mr. Brett
purchased a considerable number of shares in the concern.

In 1855 the cable for Cape Ray was shipped from England. It weighed 400
tons, and was manufactured by W. Kupert & Co., London. The steamer,
“James Adger,” was chartered by Mr. Field, to convey a large party to
Newfoundland to witness the submergence.

Among these were Peter Cooper, Robert W. Lowber, Professor Morse, Rev.
H. M. Field, Rev. Gardiner Spring, Rev. J. M. Sherwood, Dr. James A.
Sayre, Bayard Taylor, Fitzjames O’Brien and John Mullarky.

The cable had arrived in an English brig, which had to be towed by the
steamer from shore to shore. Everything seemed favorable. A hawser
was thrown from the steamer to the brig and the cable began to find
its way to its appointed bed. Unfortunately, while yet in mid-channel,
a furious gale set in when the overloaded brig became unmanageable,
and, fearing destruction, the cable was cut and the work for the time

In 1856 a steamer amply provided for the purpose was chartered, by
which after lading the cable it was easily and successfully submerged
without a hitch.

The line was now finished. Although it had to wait during many years
for the completion of the great work for which it was a link, it
ultimately showed the wisdom of its construction and became of much
value to its projectors; it had cost so far $1,000,000.

On the formation of the Atlantic Telegraph Company, the charter of
the New York, Newfoundland and London Telegraph Company, conferring
the exclusive right for fifty years to land cables on the Island of
Newfoundland, was made over to the new Company.

In 1855 Chandler White died; on his death, Wilson G. Hunt, a name
well-known among merchant princes of New York, took his place as
director, and gave the company during its existence the benefit of his
able counsel and active and intelligent support. Mr. Cyrus W. Field was
at the same time elected vice-president and Robt. W. Lowder, secretary.

In 1857 the first attempt was made to lay a cable across the Atlantic,
the length of which was 2,500 miles. After paying out 255 miles the
cable broke, and the work was given up for that year.

In 1858 another attempt was made, the British naval ship “Agamemnon”
and the United States frigate “Niagara,” each carrying one-half of the
cable, proceeded to mid-ocean, spliced the ends, and going in opposite
directions reached Newfoundland and Ireland the same day, August 5,
after each having successfully accomplished the submergence. There
was great rejoicing on both sides of the Atlantic over the event, but
disappointment soon followed. On the 1st of September, the cable ceased
working and the project for a time was abandoned. Seven years after
another attempt was made, a new cable had been prepared and stowed in
the hold of the “Great Eastern.” The big ship, lightly carrying her
great burden, steamed out to sea paying out the cable as she proceeded.
Half the Atlantic was passed over in safety when the cable broke and
the “Great Eastern” returned to her moorings. Such, however, had been
the indications of success in laying the cable in 1865, that in 1866
the Anglo-American Telegraph Company was organized with a new capital,
and the “Great Eastern” once more started across the deep, when the
great work was at last accomplished. Universal joy followed the
announcement that the cable was successfully laid, not only so, but
the lost cable of the previous year was, to the general wonder, found,
picked up and spliced and continued to the American shore.

The cable was thrown open for public traffic August 26, 1866. A large
and remunerative business followed, which has continued unbroken ever

There are now fourteen cables spanning the bed of the Atlantic between
Europe and America, the total length of these being 40,000 miles.

In the present year (1902) the total length of submarine cables in the
world is about 200,000 miles, all but 20,000 of which are owned by
commercial concerns and the remainder by different Governments.

The amount of capital invested in cables is estimated at about

The cost of the cable before laying depends upon the dimensions of
the cars, or conducting wire, which is copper; gutta percha, which
still forms the only trustworthy insulating material, constituting the
principal item of expense.

For an Atlantic cable of the most recent construction, the cost may be
taken at £250 to £300 per nautical mile.

The system of submarine cables originating in Great Britain has
continued to develop in her hands, until the world has been covered
with a veritable network of cables, which has hitherto done much to
prevent the decline of her commercial supremacy. During the last few
years, however, other maritime nations in Europe have begun to realize
the importance of submarine cable enterprise in this respect, and
France and Germany have made some progress towards freeing themselves
from British monopoly; both are now connected with America by cables
which are owned in their respective countries, though their manufacture
and submergence was effected by an English Company.

This spread of the cable system has naturally followed trade routes,
and thus, with the exception of the cables to America, their trend has
been eastwards as far as Australia and Japan. During the year 1902
the Dominion of Canada was connected by cable with New Zealand and
Australia, the total length of cable, 8,272 miles, and cost £1,795,000.

An agreement was entered into between the Imperial Government and the
Governments of Canada, Victoria, New South Wales, New Zealand and
Queensland, and it was through the persistent efforts and advocacy of
Sir Sandford Fleming that this great work was accomplished.

Owing to the experience gained with many thousand miles in all depths
and under varying conditions of weather and climate, the risks, and,
consequently, the cost of laying, has been greatly reduced, but the
cost of effecting a repair still remains a very uncertain quantity,
success being dependent on quiet conditions of sea and weather.

The _modus operandi_ is briefly as follows: The position of the
fracture is determined by electrical tests from both ends with more
or less accuracy depending on the nature of the fault, but it can
be located within a few miles. The repair steamer, on reaching the
given position, lowers one or perhaps two mark buoys, mooring them
by mushroom anchors, chain and rope, using these buoys to guide the
direction of tow. Grapnel, a species of five pronged anchors attached
to a strong compound rope formed of strands of steel and manilla, is
lowered to the bottom and dragged at a slow speed, as it were ploughing
a furrow in the sea-bottom in a line at right angles to the cable route
until the behavior of the dynamometer shows that the cable is hooked.
The ship is then stopped and the cable gradually hove up towards the
surface; but in deep water, unless it has been caught near a loose end,
the cable will break on the grapnel before it reaches the surface, as
the catenary strain on the bight will be greater than it will stand.
Another buoy is put down marking this position, fixing at the same
time the actual line of the cable. Grappling will then be recommenced
so as to hook the cable near enough to the end to allow of its being
hove to the surface. When this has been done an electrical test is
applied, and, if the original fracture is between the ship and shore,
the heaving in of the cable will continue until the end comes on board.
Another buoy is then lowered to mark the spot, and the cable on the
other side of the fracture grappled for brought to the surface, and, if
communication is found perfect with the shore, buoyed with sufficient
chain and rope attached to allow of the cable itself reaching the
bottom. The ship now returns to the position of original attack and by
similar operations brings on board the end which secures communication
with the shore. The gap between the two ends has now been closed by
splicing on new cable and paying out until the buoyed end is reached,
which is then hove up and brought on board. After the “final splice,”
as it is termed, between these ends has been made, the bight made fast
to a rope is lowered overboard, the slip rope cut and the cable allowed
to sink by its own weight to its resting place on the sea-bed. The
repairs being thus completed the various mark buoys are picked up and
the ship returns to her usual station.

The grappling of the cable and raising it to the surface from a depth
of 2,000 fathoms seldom occupies less than twenty-four hours, and,
since any extra strain due to the pitching of the vessel must be
avoided, it is clear that the state of the sea and weather is the
predominating factor in the time necessary for effecting the long
series of operations which, under the most favorable circumstances,
are required for a repair. In addition the intervention of heavy
weather may mar all the work already accomplished and require the whole
series of operations to be undertaken _de novo_.

As to cost, one transatlantic cable repair cost £75,000.

The repair of the Aden Bombay cable, broken in a depth of 1,900
fathoms, was effected with the expenditure of 176 miles of new cable,
and, after a lapse of 251 days, 103 being spent in actual work, which
for the remainder of the time was interrupted by the monsoon. A repair
of the Lisbon Porthcarrow cable broken in the Bay of Biscay in 2,700
fathoms, eleven years after the cable was laid, took 215 days with an
expenditure of three hundred miles of cable.

All interruptions are not so costly, for in shallow waters, with
favorable conditions of weather, a repair may be only a matter of a few
hours, and it is in such waters that the majority of breaks occur, but
still a large reserve fund must be laid aside for the purpose.

As an ordinary instance it has been stated that the cost of repairing
the direct United States cable up to 1900 from its submergence in 1874
averages £8,000 per annum.

Nearly all the cable companies possess their own steamers of sufficient
dimensions, and specially equipped for making ordinary repairs, but for
exceptional cases where a considerable quantity of new cable may have
to be inserted, it may be necessary to charter the service of one of
the larger vessels owned by a cable manufacturing company at a certain
sum per day, which may well reach £200 to £300.

This fleet of cable ships now number forty, ranging in size from
vessels of 300 tons to 10,000 tons’ carrying capacity.

The life of a cable is usually considered to continue until it is
no longer capable of being lifted for repair, but, in some cases
the duration and frequency of interruptions as affecting public
convenience with the loss of revenue and cost of repairs, must together
decide the question of either making very extensive renewals or
even abandoning the whole cable. It is a well ascertained fact that
the insulator--gutta percha--is, when kept under water, practically
imperishable, so that it is only the original strength of the sheathing
wires and the deterioration allowable in them that have to be

Cables have frequently been picked up, showing after many years of
submergences, no appreciable deterioration in this respect, while in
other cases ends have been picked up which in the course of twelve
years had been corroded to needle points, the result, no doubt, of
metalliferous deposits in the locality.

The experience gained in the earlier days of ocean telegraphy from the
failure and abandonment of nearly 50 per cent. of the deep-sea cables
within the first twelve years, placed the probable life of a cable
as low as fifteen years, but the weeding out of unserviceable types
of construction and the general improvement in materials, have, by
degrees, extended that first estimate until now the limit may be safely
placed at not less than forty years.

In depths beyond the reach of wave motion and apart from the suspension
across a submarine gully which will sooner or later result in a rupture
of the cable, the most frequent cause of interruption is seismic or
other shifting of the ocean bed, while in shallower waters and near
the shore the dragging of anchors or fishing trawls have been mostly

Since by international agreement the wilful damage of a cable has been
constituted a criminal offence and the cables have avoided crossing the
fishing banks or have adopted the wise policy of refunding the value of
anchors lost on their cables, the number of such fractures have been
greatly diminished.

_Cable Instruments._

The apparatus in use on land lines are not adapted for cables except
for comparatively short distances not exceeding four or five hundred

When the Atlantic cable was laid a special instrument had to be devised
to transmit signals to the distant end. The man to accomplish this was
Professor Thomson (now Lord Kelvin), who invented the mirror system.
A beam of light was thrown on a minute mirror an eighth of an inch
in diameter and the light reflected on to a scale by means of which
the signal was interpreted into letters. This necessitated one person
constantly scanning the spot of light as it moved to the right and to
the left of the scale and calling out the individual letters, which
were taken down by another person. This tedious and trying method of
receiving signals was superceded by another device of Lord Kelvin, the
siphon recorder.

The siphon, by which the cable signals are automatically recorded, is
a thin glass tube, about the thickness of a strong linen thread, and
quite flexible. It is suspended in a frame and attached by a single
silk fibre to one side of a rectangular coil of fine insulated wire,
moving about a soft iron bar fixed in the magnetic field of two large
permanent magnets. The coil is held down at the lower end by a silk
thread, fastened to an adjustable spring, to regulate or confine the
lateral motion of the siphon, the magnets are placed vertically and
are two inches apart, one end of the siphon is twice bent at right
angles, and dips into an ink well filled with filtered aniline ink.
The other end has a minute thread or short piece of soft iron cemented
longitudinally to it, and sways in close proximity to a narrow fillet
of paper five-eighths of an inch wide, which is drawn along by a small
motor. The small motors by which the paper is drawn along receive
their current generally from lead-lined trays, 18 by 20 inches, at the
bottom of which is placed a copper sheet, the zinc is wrapped in stout
manilla paper which serves the purpose of a porous cup for the sulphate
of copper. The cable current passes through the small rectangular
coil, which is about two inches long, as both positive and negative
currents are sent into the condensers, and thereby disturb the static
electricity of the cable. The coil is deflected to the right and left
respectively, tending to place itself at right angles to the lines
of magnetic force between the fixed bar magnets and which lines of
force are concentrated by the small bar above mentioned of the best
soft iron within the coil. The siphon has, therefore, a corresponding
motion to the coil. As the mechanical force of the suspended coil is
very small in deflecting, it is necessary that the siphon be not in
continuous contact with the fillet of paper otherwise its motion would
cease. The difficulty of obtaining a record is overcome in an ingenious
manner. The siphon is made to vibrate by means of a local battery
on the principle of the push button electric bell by the breaking
of the circuit--the vibration is communicated to the siphon by the
interposition of another electro-magnet in the local circuit and placed
underneath the fillet of paper, the small thread of iron on the tip
of the siphon acts as the armature to the latter electro-magnet. The
number of vibrations made in a second depends on the siphon, different
siphons having different periods or inherent notes, but 55 is about the
number of vibrations a second, every pulsation of the siphon deposits
a drop of ink on the paper, and, as the paper is moving at the rate of
over half an inch a second, an apparently continuous line is drawn.

From the description of the working of the siphon--of its lateral
movements--it will be evident that the cablegram, as shown on the
fillet of paper, will look like the contour line across the Rocky
Mountains. The undulations made by the siphon correspond to the
clicking we hear in the ordinary telegraph instruments. A cable office
is very quiet compared to the bewildering clatter in a large telegraph

It was found that on the Atlantic (and shorter cables) a greater speed
of signals was possible than could be sent through by hand with the
double key. This called forth the invention of the so-called automatic

For this purpose the messages are in the first place punched into a
strip of oiled and prepared paper, the characters on the strip are
represented by holes at varying distances on each side of a central
line. This strip of continuous paper is then fed into the transmitter,
in which metallic points slide along the under side of the strip.
Wherever a hole is encountered electric contact is made and a signal
sent. The speed of running the strip through the transmitter can be
regulated as desired.

The “auto” can easily keep two men busy punching.

Within recent years an improvement has been effected for transmitting
signals or messages automatically from one cable to another. Formerly
it was necessary after receiving the signals from one cable to transmit
them by hand to the connecting cable at the station. Now, however, this
can be done automatically by means of Taylor, Brown and Dearlove’s
Translator. The siphon in it instead of carrying ink contains a
metallic thread which rests, instead of on the fillet of paper, on
a rapidly, revolving, perfectly, smooth, small wheel, in which the
surface of the circumference is divided into three parts, the central
one known as “no man’s land” being a non-conductor such as glass, while
the outer ones are of silver. As the siphon sways to one side or the
other it makes metallic contact, which is communicated by means of
“brushes” which press against each side of the wheel to the outgoing

This translator simplifies the work and reduces the office staff which
would be otherwise necessary.

At the present time nearly all cables use the duplex system, that is,
messages can be sent and received at the same time on one wire.

The speed of a cable is given in words per minute, the conventional
number of five letters per word being understood, though in actual
practice, owing to the extensive use of special codes, the number of
letters per word is really between eight and nine, and this forms a
considerable factor in the earning capacity of the cable, but the
speed depends upon the length of the cable and the experience of the
operator. Tests made over the Vancouver and Fanning Island section of
the Pacific cable give 85 letters per minute with hand working and 100
letters a minute with automatic curb working, and approximately 168
letters a minute (84 letters each way) with duplex and curbed automatic
working. This section of the cable is 3,455 nautical miles in length,
the longest cable that has ever been laid, and about twice the length
of the Atlantic cables. On shorter cables a greater speed can be

[Illustration: CYRUS W. FIELD.]

_Cyrus W. Field._

Born in 1819, at Stockbridge, Mass., at the age of fifteen, he left
home and became a clerk in a leading house in New York. At twenty-one
he married and settled down in life as a wholesale paper merchant.
Having been very successful he wished to retire, but yielded to the
wishes of his junior partner and allowed his name to remain as the head
of the firm. He withdrew, however, so far as to make a six months’ tour
to South America, returning in 1853.

He was led to turn his attention to ocean telegraphy through an
interview with Mr. Gisborne, who was then engaged in constructing
a telegraph line across the Island of Newfoundland, and laying a
submarine cable from there to Nova Scotia, in connection with a
projected line of steamships to Ireland. It struck him that if a cable
of such length could be laid there was nothing to hinder a still longer
being carried from one side of the Atlantic to the other. Turning
over this thought in his mind he consulted with Professor Morse and
Lieutenant Maury, and receiving encouragement from them he devoted his
energies in the enterprise in conjunction with his brother Dudley.

Other friends joined him, and the first Atlantic Telegraph Company was
organized with a favorable charter, granting them the sole right for
fifty years of landing a telegraph cable on Newfoundland and with a
subsidy as soon as the line was completed.

The first thing was to connect the Continent with Newfoundland. This
part of the scheme was successfully accomplished in 1856.

The next step was the formation of the Atlantic Telegraph Company and
the sounding the way for the cable which was undertaken by both the
British and American Governments separately. The British Government
gave every encouragement to the projectors by promising £14,000 a year
for the transmission of its messages and the use of the ships of its
navy to lay the cable.

£350,000 was asked for and in a short time subscribed, Mr. Field taking
80 shares of £1,000 each.

In 1857 the first attempt to lay the cable proved a failure, but in the
following year (1858) a second attempt was made, but a terrific storm
met the vessels in the middle of the Atlantic, the cable broke again
and the expedition returned to England once more. A third effort met
with better success, and on the 5th of August, 1858, the two ends were
safely landed, one in Valentia Bay, Ireland, the other in Trinity Bay,

The first message sent from the Old World to the New was worthy the

“Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good-will to men.”

A few weeks later the cable ceased to act, but a new cable was prepared
and the “Great Eastern” was sent out with it, only, however, to lose it
also when 1,200 miles from Ireland.

It seemed a hopeless dream to bind the two worlds by electric wire, but
Mr. Field did not despair. A better cable was once more made; another
company was formed with a capital of £600,000.

In 1866 the “Great Eastern” again sailed, and this time carried the
thin thread triumphantly from shore to shore, not only so, but fished
up the broken cable from the abysses of the ocean, united it and joined
England and America by two telegraphic wires.

The moving spirit throughout was Mr. Field, who spent some thirteen
years of his life and made forty trips across the Atlantic, imperilling
his health and means in pursuit of this great enterprise before his
efforts were crowned with success.

He died on the 12th day of July, 1892.

[Illustration: MICHAEL FARADAY.]

_Michael Farady._

The pupil of Sir Humphrey Davy, and himself the greatest philosophical
chemist of his time, was born on the 22nd of September, 1791. The
son of a smith, who was unable to give him any better education than
that afforded by a common day-school in the neighborhood, reading,
writing and arithmetic embraced all his training for life, so far as
schools were concerned; but he had that within him which from these
poor beginnings made a magnificent end. A fondness for reading filled
his mind with miscellaneous knowledge and paved the way for all that

At thirteen he was apprenticed to a bookseller and binder, but his
heart was even thus early in science rather than trade, and he paid
more attention to rude experiments than to his immediate calling. A
gentleman having taken him to hear some of Sir Humphrey Davy’s last
lectures at the Royal Institution, Faraday wrote out the notes he had
taken in a quarto volume, and sent them to Sir Humphrey Davy, with a
letter asking that, if he could, would he give him a chance of escaping
from trade to philosophy. The result was his employment as an assistant
in the laboratory of the Royal Institution in 1813, at the age of
22, after he had been a bookseller for nine years.

From this time Faraday’s progress was rapid. In 1820 his name was first
made prominent for chemical discoveries, and from that date every year
recorded some new research and new triumph, till in 1832 his eminence
was so thoroughly felt that the University of Oxford made him a
D. C. L., and in 1835 Lord Melbourne’s Government gave him a pension of
£300 a year. Honours meanwhile were showered upon him; he became one of
eight foreign associates of the Imperial Academy of Science at Paris,
a commander of the Legion of Honour, a knight of the Prussian Order of
Merit and member of numerous scientific bodies in Europe and America.

The secret of his success, apart from his genius, lay in his wonderful
industry and calm and careful attention to every detail of what he

In electricity and magnetism his researches made him one of the
foremost; his language in lecturing was always simple; his experiments
convincing, and his enthusiasms so catching, that every one felt
engrossed by subjects which so absorbed the lecturer.

He was a true philosopher, taking nothing for granted, and thinking
nothing too insignificant to follow out to the utmost. Many books have
been written on his discoveries, and several on his life and character,
but it is felt that no one who did not know him could realize the man
as he was.

With a European fame his was modest as a child. The greatest authority
in his day on natural science, he was a humble Christian.

Faraday never married. When he died in 1867 his pension was continued
to his maiden sister, who survived him.

In Faraday, as in others, genius seemed largely to be what Carlyle
calls it, only a faculty of infinite labor.

[Illustration: LORD KELVIN.]

_Lord Kelvin._

Born at Belfast, Ireland, 26th June, 1824, his father being then
teacher of mathematics in the Royal Academical Institution. In 1832
James Thomson accepted the chair of mathematics at Glasgow and migrated
there with his two sons, James and William, who in 1834 matriculated in
that University, William being little more than ten years of age, and
having acquired all his education through his father’s instruction.

In 1841 William Thomson entered Cambridge; in 1845 took his degrees,
second wrangler, to which honour he added that of the first Smith’s

At that time there was few facilities for the study of experimental
science in Great Britain. At the Royal Institution Faraday held a
unique position, and was feeling his way almost alone.

In Cambridge science had progressed little since the days of Newton.
Thomson, therefore had recourse to Paris and for a year worked in the
laboratory of Regnault, who was engaged in his classical researches
on the thermal properties of steam; but his stay in Paris was
comparatively short, for in 1846, when only twenty-two years of age, he
accepted the chair of Natural Philosophy in the University of Glasgow,
which he filled for fifty-three years, attaining universal recognition
as one of the greatest physicists of his time.

The Glasgow chair was a source of inspiration to scientific men for
half a century, and many of the most advanced researches grew out of
the suggestions which Thomson scattered as sparks from the anvil.

Although his contributions to thermo-dynamics may properly be regarded
as his most scientific work, it is in the field of electricity,
especially in its application to submarine telegraphy, that Lord Kelvin
is best known.

From 1854 he is most prominent among telegraphists. The stranded
form of the conductor was due to his suggestion, but it was in the
letters which he addressed in November and December of that year to
Prof. Stokes, and which were published in the proceedings of the
Royal Society for 1855 that he discussed the mathematical theory of
signalling through submarine cables, and enunciated the conclusion that
in long cables retardation due to capacity must render the speed of
signalling inversely proportional to the square of the cable’s length.

Some held that if this were true ocean telegraphy would be impossible,
and sought in consequence to disprove Thomson’s conclusions. Thomson on
the other hand set to work to overcome the difficulty by improvement
in the manufacture of the cables, and first of all the production of
copper of high conductivity, and the construction of apparatus which
would readily respond to the slightest variation of the current in the

The mirror galvanometer and the siphon recorder, which was patented in
1867, were the outcome of these researches, but the scientific value of
the mirror galvanometer is independent of its use in telegraphy, and
the siphon recorder is the direct precursor of one form of galvanometer
(d’arsnovals), now commonly used in electric laboratories.

Thomson’s work in connection with telegraphy led to the production in
rapid succession of instruments adapted to the requirements of the
time, for measurements of every electrical quantity, and when electric
lighting came to the front, a new set of instruments was produced to
meet the needs of the electrical engineer.

His industry is universal, and he seems to take rest by turning from
one difficulty to another, difficulties that would appal most men, and
be taken as an enjoyment by no one else.

This life of unwearied industry and of universal honour has left Lord
Kelvin with a lovable nature, and charms all with whom he comes in

In 1866 he received the honour of knighthood in acknowledgment of his
services to transatlantic telegraphy, and in 1892 he was raised to the
peerage, with the title of Baron Kelvin of Largs.

_John Watkins Brett._

Telegraph engineer, was the son of a cabinet-maker, William Brett, of
Bristol, England, and was born in that city in 1805.

Brett has been styled, and with apparent justice, the founder of
submarine telegraphy.

The idea of sending electricity through submerged cables originated
with him and his brother; after some years in perfecting his plans, he
sought and obtained permission from Louis Phillipe in 1847 to establish
telegraphic communication with France and England, but the project
did not receive public attention, being regarded as too hazardous for
general support.

The attempt was, however, made in 1850, and met with success, and the
construction of numerous other submarine lines followed.

Brett always expressed confidence in the ultimate union of England and
America by means of electricity, but did not live to see its final

He died on 3rd December, 1863, at the age of 58.

Brett published a book of 104 pages on the origin and progress of
oceanic telegraphy. He also contributed several papers on the same
subject to the Institute of Civil Engineers, of which he was a member.

A list of these contributions will be found in the index of the
Proceedings of the Society.


_Signor Guiglielmo Marconi._

Born at Marzabotta, near Bologna, Italy, in April, 1875. His father
was a native of Italy and a man of substance, his mother was a Miss
Jamieson, born in Ireland, but of Scottish lineage.

Young Marconi early turned his attention to the wonders of electricity
and began his experiments in wireless telegraphy in 1891. While yet
a mere lad he came to England in 1896, and in co-operation with Sir
William Preece, then the head of the telegraph department in England,
began further experiments.

On March 27, 1899, he succeeded in sending messages across the British
channel from Boulogne to the south foreland.

The next and greatest achievement of all, on December 12, 1901, he
received a signal at St. John’s, Nfld., from Poldhu, Cornwall, nearly
2,000 miles distant.

On February 26, 1902, he received messages aboardship on the Atlantic
ocean from Poldhu, 2,099 miles away.

He is now engaged in further experiments and hopes to establish
permanent communication between England and America within a very
short time, and later extend the system over the entire globe.

At the present time all the leading steamship lines crossing the
Atlantic, and many ships of the British navy, are equipped with
wireless telegraph apparatus, by means of which vessels at sea are in
constant touch with Europe and America; thus each ship has become a
floating telegraph office.

The inventor is somewhat above medium height and of a highly strung
temperament. He is quiet and deliberate in his movements; he talks
little; is straightforward, unassuming, and has accepted his success
with calmness, almost with unconcern.

He is undoubtedly the most prominent man of the day and the wonder of
the age.

_Genesis of Wireless Telegraphy._

Professor McBride, M.A., D.Sc., of McGill University, in his inaugural
address as President of the Natural History Society of Montreal in
October, 1901, referred to wireless telegraphy as follows:--

“Take a discovery that is exciting the greatest interest at the present
time, and promises results of the most far-reaching importance, namely,
wireless telegraphy. Let us trace the apostolical succession, to borrow
a term from theology, of the idea which underlies the discovery.

“Thirty or forty years ago the great Cambridge physicist, Clerk
Maxwell, one of the greatest and most penetrative of the geniuses who
have filled the chairs of that ancient university, was engaged in
determining the value of the electric unit. As many of my hearers are
aware, there are two ways of doing this: we can estimate either the
push that an electric charge exerts on another similar charge, or else
the pull that an electric current effects on a magnetic needle. In this
way two different values for the unit are arrived at, and the relation
between them, or to put it more simply, the number obtained by dividing
the one by the other, gives the velocity of light in centimeters per
second. This remarkable result suggested to Clerk Maxwell that, that
mysterious thing called electricity had something to do with the
ether which fills all space and transmits the vibrations which we
call light, and he thereupon constructed this famous electro-magnetic
theory of light which conceives light to consist of vibrations not on a
comparatively gross material like ordinary matter, but of electricity
itself. This theory received at first little support from the German
physicists, who are inclined to scoff at every idea that is not of
German origin.

“Amongst a crowd of scoffers, however, one open-minded enquirer was
found who said to himself ‘If Clerk Maxwell is right, I ought to find
that if I start artificial electric vibrations they will propagate
themselves like light waves.’ This man’s name was Hertz, and he
promptly set about producing electric waves purely with a view of
testing Clerk Maxwell’s theory.

“He had many difficulties to overcome before he succeeded in
producing them in sufficiently rapid succession, but this was at last
accomplished and Maxwell’s theory triumphantly vindicated.

“The electric vibrations comported themselves like light. It is true
that a stone wall was as transparent for them as a sheet of glass is
for ordinary light, but they were reflected by a metal plate and could
be brought to a focus, etc., etc. Now this invisible light, as we may
call it, is what Marconi and others have employed in their so-called
wireless telegraphy, but, without Maxwell or Hertz, it would have
remained undiscovered to this day.”


Wireless telegraphy, or the transmission of signals through space by
means of electric waves, is of a comparatively recent origin, although
the idea of the existence of electric waves dates back some forty years

In 1868 Clerk Maxwell, then Professor of Physics in Cambridge
University, first published a theory showing that an intimate relation
between electricity and light existed. This theory, which has received
most conclusive substantiation since then by eminent physicists,
is known as the electro-magnetic theory. It tells us that electric
waves and light waves are similar; that they represent a transfer of
energy by means of the all-pervading universal ether; that they differ
radically in their effects on the physical senses in wave length and
period of vibration, and that both possess the same velocity, 186,000
miles per second.

Many of the exponents of the electro-magnetic theory discussed the
properties of electric waves long before they were experimentally

Our experimental knowledge of the existence of electric waves dates
from about 1880.

Hertz, a German physicist, while working under the illustrious
Helmholtz, discovered that small sparks could be made to pass
between the two conductors when held near a circuit in which electric
oscillations were set up. He soon discovered that this was due to the
action of electric waves, and, realizing how fundamental in importance
this was to the thorough knowledge of the electro-magnetic theory, he
commenced a series of experimental researches which were of such a
brilliant and productive nature as to mark them as amongst the most
important investigations in the whole domain of science.

A number of experimenters then followed, amongst them Signor Marconi,
who has since become closely identified with its practical application.

In 1890 the coherer was discovered by Branly, and simultaneously by
Oliver Lodge.

Lodge’s coherer was a very delicate instrument, and by its means the
electric waves could be detected at a much greater distance than was
possible with the conductors used by Hertz.

In 1895, in Cambridge, Mr. Rutherford (now Professor of Physics in
McGill University), first showed that the waves could be observed by a
magnetic detector.

He discovered that a weakly magnetized steel wire becomes
instantaneously demagnetized under the influence of electrical
oscillations, such as electric waves. With his detector he succeeded in
establishing communication at half a mile.

In 1896 Marconi came from Italy to England, and, with the help of a
Government grant, obtained through the instigation of Sir William
Preece, head of the British telegraph department, commenced a series of
experiments in wireless telegraphy. Very rapid strides were made, and
the distance to which signals could be sent was very much increased.

An important development soon followed in regard to the use of a
vertical wire for transmitting the waves, instead of a horizontal one,
which increased the distance still more.

Although Marconi has come to be chiefly associated with the development
of wireless telegraphy, other systems have been established in various
countries which involve slight modifications in the apparatus employed.

In Germany the Arco Slaby system is used with success, and in the
United States the De Forest is being installed in many places.

Then there is the Armstrong, Orling and the Muirhead Lodge system. In
England a wireless telegraph company was organized in 1902.

This company, having secured the Marconi patents, aimed to monopolize
that business in Great Britain, but, as the Government there controls
the telegraphs, this was not permitted.

The company complained as to the attitude of the British Government in
retarding instead of encouraging the enterprise. When the subject was
brought up in the House of Commons on June 8, 1903, Mr. Chamberlain,
the then Postmaster-General, explained that he had no desire to hamper
a new invention, but the Post-Office did not intend to throw away its
right to the monopoly in public communication as it had done in the
early days of the telephone.

He had not been dealing with Mr. Marconi, but with the company owning
Marconi’s invention. The company asked for a permanent exclusive right
to use wireless telegraphy in Great Britain.

This was refused, on the ground that it was not business. When the
company was prepared to talk business, he was prepared to deal with
it. When the company asked for a private wire to Poldhu he (Mr.
Chamberlain) had granted the request immediately.

At the time President Roosevelt sent his wireless message to King
Edward, and the latter replied by cable, the Post-Office had arranged
to convey the message from the nearest office to Poldhu at any hour,
although there was no difference whatever in telegraphing from London
to Poldhu.

The company next asked the Post-Office to act as its agent in
collecting messages in Great Britain for transatlantic marconigraphing,
but he had submitted certain conditions with the view of preventing
interference with the admiralty and for strategic reasons, adding
that when the conditions were accepted and the company satisfied
the Post-Office experts of its ability to send messages across the
Atlantic, the Post-Office would appoint the company as its agent, as it
already had done in the case of the cable companies.

That letter had been sent to the company on March 31, but no reply had
been received.

Mr. Chamberlain contended that the Post-Office was in no way to be
blamed for the delay, but it refused to take the public money for
messages until the company was willing to allow the Post-Office experts
to go to Poldhu and satisfy themselves that the wireless system is
workable. All this shows the company was not at that time in a position
to transact public business, otherwise the Post-Office experts would
have had access to its station at Poldhu. The subsequent failure showed
the contention of the Post-Office was correct.

In the early part of 1903 a transatlantic communication was established
for a short time and then collapsed; the system not having been fully
perfected, the company should hesitate to again make the attempt until
its plans are fully matured. As to the future of the system there
is not the shadow of a doubt of its ultimate success. Meanwhile the
Marconi Company has arranged with the British Government Telegraph
System and also with the leading Telegraph companies in the United
States and Canada to interchange traffic. Now nearly all passenger
steamers crossing the Atlantic are equipped with the Marconi apparatus
and are in a position while at sea to send and receive messages to and
from all parts of the world, and the company are doing a profitable
business even now with its limited area of operations; what must it
be when they shall have established communication over every sea and
continent in the world. This will be accomplished in no very long lapse
of time. The medium of communication provided by nature is ready and
waiting like a willing steed to be harnessed for the uses of man.

The man singled out by providence to perform this superhuman task is
Signor Guiglielmo Marconi.

_Wireless Telegraphy Apparatus._

Electric waves have long been harnessed by the use of wires for sending
communications to a distance, but the ether exists outside of the
wire as well as within; therefore, having the ether everywhere, it
must be possible to produce waves in it which will pass anywhere on
the earth’s surface, and if these waves can be controlled, messages
can be transmitted as easily and certainly as the ether within the
guiding wire. The problem lay in producing suitable instruments to
effect this result. Marconi adopted a device invented by an Italian
named Calzecchi, and improved by a Frenchman, Mr. Branley, called
the coherer, which he greatly improved. This instrument is merely
a small tube of glass about as big around as a lead pencil and two
inches in length; this is plugged at each end with silver. The plugs
almost touching within the tube, the narrow space between is filled
with finely powdered particles of nickel and silver, which possess
the property of being alternately good and very bad conductors of an
electric current or waves. The waves that come from the transmitter,
perhaps a thousand or two thousand miles away, are received, but
are so weak that they could not of themselves actuate any ordinary
telegraph instrument; they do, however, possess strength enough to
draw the little fragments of silver and nickel in the coherer together
in a continuous path; in other words, they make these metal filings
cohere, and the moment they cohere they become a good conductor for
electricity, and a current from a local battery operates the Morse
instruments. Then a little tapper actuated by the same current strikes
against the coherer, the particles of metal are separated or decohered,
becoming instantly a poor conductor and thus stopping the current from
the home battery; another wave comes through space into the coherer
there drawing the particles again together and another dot or dash is
printed. All these processes are continued rapidly until a complete
message is received.

The sending instrument, or transmitter, is called the oscillator, a
device somewhat similar to the familiar Morse telegraph key.

Marconi is now employed in perfecting an instrument by which the
station only with which communication is desired can hear the signal,
and receive the message. Thus the required secrecy will be preserved.

Marconi has patented over a hundred devices in connection with wireless
telegraphy, but the nature and application of these has not been given
to the public as yet.

_Thomas A. Edison’s Opinion of Wireless Telegraphy._

“There is absolutely no reason why Marconi may not develop a speed
of 500 words a minute in the transmission of translantic messages,”
said Thomas A. Edison in course of an interview; “on the other hand,”
continued the inventor, “there are technical, scientific and mechanical
obstacles which make it absolutely impossible to increase the speed of
transmission of ocean cables.

“There is not the least doubt but that the Marconi system is
successful. All this talk about lack of secrecy and interception of
messages is nonsense. At least ten men know the contents of every cable
message, and none of them receive very high salary. Personally I have
no doubt whatever that the Marconi system is both a commercial and
scientific success.”

_A Cable Manager’s Views of Wireless Telegraphy._

At the annual meeting of the Commercial Cable Company on March 3, 1903,
Mr. Ward, the Vice-President and General Manager, referring to wireless
telegraphy, said: “At the last annual meeting some remarks were made
by me in regard to wireless telegraphy and its effects upon submarine
cables. We see no reason to change the opinion expressed at that time.

“Admitting the recent transmission of a message across the Atlantic
without wires, radical improvements would have to be made in its
development before wireless telegraphy could possibly hope to meet the
demands of trade and commerce, and engage in successful competition
with submarine cables.

“A good deal has been said and advertised about the wireless systems
for the past three years. As yet there is nothing to show that messages
can be transmitted without wires even across short distances with
anything of the regularity, reliability, correctness and secrecy at
any time and all time during the day or night demanded of the present
telegraph systems, and necessary for the protection, interests and the
development of the telegraph business.

“Furthermore, the transmission of messages between European
and American coasts of the Atlantic is far from constituting a
transatlantic service as it exists to-day.

“The essential adjunct of an extensive inland system for the
distribution and collection of messages on the North American Continent
must not be lost sight of. A large part of the traffic passing by
the Atlantic cables is destined for places remote from the seaboard.
Messages to and from Chicago, St Louis, San Francisco, Montreal,
Toronto, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Vancouver, etc., require and receive
transmission which are measured by minutes. This important traffic
would be practically extinguished if the sender could not rely on
extremely rapid and accurate service.

“For the benefit of those who do not share my confidence I may say that
the etheric waves will be as obedient to us as to anybody, if it should
ever be found practicable to dispense with cables and wires.

“On the other hand, we have not been standing still in the matter of

“The Commercial Cable Company will maintain its pre-eminence, and has
nothing to dread from the competition of wire or wireless telegraphy.
At the same time we are satisfied it has its limits.”

_An Interview with Signor Marconi._

The following interesting interview had with Signor Marconi by a
representative of the _Montreal Star_, Sept. 10, 1903, is worth

“Seated in the rotunda of the Windsor Hotel to-day was a slightly
built man with a keen expressive face and grey eyes that flashed
incessantly. Probably not one of the guests that thronged the spacious
lobby was aware that the little man sitting there so quietly was Signor
Guiglielmo Marconi, the ‘Wizard of the Wireless.’

“Signor Marconi reached the city early to-day from New York, where he
has been for the past ten days. He is now on his way to Ottawa, where
he is to have an interview with the Government in regard to his future
plans. When approached by a _Star_ reporter Signor Marconi chatted
pleasantly of those plans and gave some interesting information of what
had been done in the past and the prospects of the future.

“He speaks English fluently with a slight accent, and appears to be
more eager to interview than be interviewed.

“‘I am glad to be in Canada once more,’ said the distinguished
inventor. ‘Canadians have always been extremely interested in my work
and I am beginning to feel quite at home when I get here.’

“‘Do you know,’ he said with a smile, ‘that this is my fourth visit to

“‘What is the object of your present visit to Canada?’

“‘I am here partly on a holiday trip and partly on business. I am
leaving for Ottawa to-night, and while there I shall go into a matter
I have long been considering, but which as yet I have not been able
to accomplish, namely, the establishment of Canadian stations for the
transmission of overland messages. These stations will reach from the
Atlantic to the Pacific, and I hope that in a short time the wireless
system of telegraphing communications will be thoroughly tested and
perfected overland.

“‘In case I obtain the permission I desire, I shall begin operations as
soon as possible, and Canada will offer exceptional advantages for the
testing of the system by reason of its tremendous distances.’

“‘It is merely a matter of time, then, before these stations are built
and experiments begun?’

“‘Yes, merely a matter of time. There is one point in regard to
wireless telegraphy that the general public do not seem to grasp
quite, and that point is the length of time that must be taken up by
the incessant private experiments in order that the system may be
perfected. One cannot go at matters of this sort too quickly; each
step has to be thought out carefully, and often weeks are spent in
perfecting some little detail; the progress of the work is, therefore,

“‘Can you tell me anything of the negotiations you are conducting with
the British Admiralty?’

“‘All I can say is that a contract between myself and the British
Admiralty has already been signed and sealed for the adoption of
the Marconi system on all the ships of the navy. Sixty-three of the
battleships are already fitted up with the apparatus and the whole of
the navy is to be equipped.’

“‘The terms of the contract will allow me to use the different stations
of the navy for the erection of my receiving station and my masts;
negotiations have been going on for some time, and now everything
is arranged and the British navy will be equipped with the Marconi
wireless apparatus.’

“The distinguished inventor then gave a very lucid description of the
effectiveness of the wireless agency over marine areas; the unbroken
surface of the ocean enabled great distances to be obtained.

“In regard to the overland service, if the land was low lying, the
same conditions prevailed as at sea. Over tracts, where the usual
diversified topographical features were found, the potency of the
vibrations might be reduced. The vibrations seemed to reach farther in
fogs than in a clear atmosphere, but, as a rule, atmospheric conditions
did not appear to affect the transmission of messages. In regard to the
location of stations Signor Marconi said that proximity to the sea was
desirable for a station, as some geological formations were perverse
and others responsive.

“Before his return to England he would visit Cape Breton and his
Receiving Station at Glace Bay.

“He expected to be in Canada for some weeks.

“Signor Marconi spoke of the voyage he made on the ‘Campania’ a few
days ago. On that trip the ‘Campania’ was in constant touch with Poldhu
until nearing the Coast of America, when she picked up the Narraganset

“Throughout the voyage a daily bulletin was issued of the world’s
leading events, and the result of the yacht races were known on board a
few minutes after the conclusion of the various races.

“A few minutes’ chat with the ‘wizard’ is convincing proof that the
distinguished inventor has implicit faith in the future of his system.

“The great tone of assurance in which he speaks is only equalled by the
modest way in which he refers to the marvellous results that have been
obtained already.”

_The Trip of the SS. “Minneapolis.”_

“Signor Marconi has scored another triumph with his wireless telegraphy.

“The passengers on the Atlantic Transport Company’s steamship
‘Minneapolis,’ which reached London on Tuesday, enjoyed the distinction
of being the first transatlantic travellers to keep in touch with the
rest of the world throughout their voyage from the New to the Old World.

“The ‘Minneapolis’ left New York on January 31, and for five days kept
in touch with the Cape Cod Station; after that the wireless plant began
to respond to the messages at Cornwall.

“The varying phases of the Venezuelan question, the domestic troubles
of European potentates, the definition of true philanthropy by John
E. Rockfeller, jun., King Edward’s illness, the contest for the Fair
millions, the hurricane that destroyed 1,000 inhabitants of the Society
Islands, Sir Thomas’ latest plans, Count Montesquious’ New York debut,
the latest gossip from Washington and St. James’, these were among the
tit-bits of news that varied the monotony to ocean travel.

“When the English pilot picked up the ‘Minneapolis’ his two-day old
newspapers were accepted with disdain, and he was informed of the
latest news that had been flashed to the liner.”

_Valuable Use of Marconi System made by Disabled Steamer._

            Queenstown, Dec. 10, 1903.

The saloon passengers of the steamer “Kroonland” are enthusiastic over
the utility of the Marconi wireless telegraph system, by means of which
news of the accident to that ship was received here yesterday.

The breakdown of the steering apparatus occurred at noon Tuesday,
when the “Kroonland” was 130 miles west of Fastnet. Captain Daxrud
immediately sent to Crookhaven a wireless message to the agents of
the line at Antwerp describing the damage and informing them that the
steamer must abandon her voyage. A reply was received within an hour
and a half. Whereupon Captain Daxrud complied with the instructions
sent to him to return to Queenstown. Meanwhile, three-fourths of the
saloon passengers and a number of those in the second cabin sent
wireless messages to friends in various parts of Great Britain and
Europe, and many of them received replies before Fastnet was sighted
from the steamer.

Some of the wireless messages were cabled to the United States. In some
cases the senders asked friends for money, and the replies authorizing
the purser to advance funds to them, which was done before land was

The “Kroonland’s” twin screws steered the ship easily, the only
difference being steam was reduced.

_Another Use of Wireless Telegraphy._

            New York, Oct. 17, 1903.

Wireless telegraphy was successfully used in tracing lost baggage on
the last outward trip of the Red Star Liner “Finland,” on Oct 10.

A passenger, who discovered some time after the steamer’s departure,
that he left some baggage behind on the dock, communicated with the
officials at the Pier through the Marconi Station at Babylon, L.I., and
in twenty minutes received a reply that the baggage had been found and
would be forwarded by the next steamer.

_A Newspaper’s Opinion of Wireless Telegraphy._

The Montreal _Witness_, in its issue Nov. 18, 1903, says: “Whatever
may be the actual achievement of the Marconi wireless system, so far
as telegraphing across the Atlantic is concerned, that system is now
an assured success in communicating from ship to ship and from ships
to lighthouses on the coasts. In this respect the system has passed
the stage of scientific curiosity and has become a necessity. The
Cunard and Allan Lines now, for instance, are able to communicate with
stations established on the south and northwest coasts of Ireland, so
that their owners as ‘Syren and Shipping’ puts it, are no longer in
a quandary during bad or thick weather as to whether their boats are
calling at Queenstown or at Moville, as the case may be. The Marconi
system was first installed upon the ‘Lucania,’ and so satisfied were
the Cunard people with results that it is now in regular operation on
the ‘Campania,’ ‘Etruria,’ ‘Umbria,’ ‘Ivernia,’ ‘Saxonia,’ ‘Aurania’
and ‘Carpothia.’

“Other shipping lines have similarly found the Marconi system
indispensable, so that now it is quite an ordinary occurrence for a
ship on the North Atlantic to be in electrical communication with
passing steamers or the shore during nearly the whole of the voyage.

“Such remarkable success as already attained is sufficient warrant for
the general belief that this system of aerial telegraphy is but in
its initial stages, and that its commercial success over wider spaces
is only a question of time. Presently the system will be used on the
Canadian Coast line, and then it is hoped that shipwreck caused by want
of knowledge of locality will be largely a thing of the past.”

_Wireless Telegraphy._

There has been no announcement in connection with science of recent
date which has such an important meaning as the very modest statement
recently made by Signor Marconi to the members of the Royal Institute
of London. His discoveries in connection with wireless telegraphy have
exceeded the expectations of many of the greatest scientists of the day
who gave him all credit for the work which he had done, but could not
bring themselves to believe that he could perfect his system within so
brief a time.

One of the principal handicaps which Mr. Marconi has endeavored to
overcome has been that of rapid and reliable transmission of messages.
For a time he found it very difficult to mechanically record messages
which were transmitted with high speed. It necessitated the use of a
telephone receiver which meant that the operator might take down the
message, but there was no mechanical record which would cause a mistake
in receiving it to be instantly detected.

Mr. Marconi says: “I have perfected a receiver which will permit
the transmission and receiving of messages at the rate of 100 words
per minute on an ordinary Wheatstone recorder. This obviates the
difficulty of relying upon the operator to take the message by sound
and permits of a double record of every message received.”

The ability to transmit and correctly receive wireless messages at this
rate means that this latest invention of science is now in a position
whereby it can compete on even terms with the great telegraph and
cable services of the world. Mr. Marconi further stated that his new
invention further combined accuracy with absolute reliability, and it
means that the future development of wireless telegraphy has received
an impetus which will carry it into a broader field than has heretofore
been conservatively looked for, and that this unlimited possibility can
and will be made an actuality in the immediate future.

No more important announcement could be made at this time when Mr.
Marconi is about to install the new, high-powered apparatus which will
allow uninterrupted communication between Glace Bay, Nova Scotia and
Poldhu, England.

[Illustration: SS. PARISIAN.]

_Wireless Telegraphy on the SS. “Parisian.”_

Through the courtesy of Major Fishback, Canadian Manager for the
Marconi Telegraph Company, the writer had permission to visit the
Marconi Cabin on the SS. “Parisian” in order to learn the _modus
operandi_ of wireless telegraph at sea.

On boarding the ship the first object noticeable is a wire leading from
the cabin to the peak of the main mast ending in a triangular form,
connecting the apparatus with the ether and another wire to the ship’s
hold going to earth.

Mr. McGee, the young man in charge, politely pointed out and explained
the uses of the various appliances comprising the Marconi outfit.

First was a large Rumford coil, a glass cylinder through which the
electric spark was discharged and a key or transmitter constituting the
sending apparatus.

Second, on the left was a large oblong box containing the coherer, the
chief instrument in wireless telegraphy, and in the centre an automatic
self-inking Morse register with an alarm bell attachment, these
being the receiving instruments, and underneath the accumulators or
storage batteries and six cells of a home battery to work the Morse
instrument. When the key was depressed for an instant a bright electric
spark emitted from the contact points in the glass cylinder, giving a
hard hissing sound; this imprinted a dot on the register, and a longer
impression marked a line, the two forming the letter “a” of the Morse

The characters or code used by the wireless system is what is known
as the European or Continental Code, that is the spaced letters are
eliminated and dots and lines substituted the same as the cable system.

All the vessels equipped with Marconi apparatus on the St. Lawrence
route have a capacity of eighty miles’ transmission, but a possible one
hundred and twenty, this distance being deemed great enough for all
practical purposes.

On the New York and Liverpool route the steamships have a much more
extensive equipment, which enables them to keep in touch with the one
side of the Atlantic or the other during the entire voyage.

The cost of the Marconi equipment of the former averages £200--or

Five Marconi stations have been erected on the Lower St. Lawrence
during the present summer and a fair, profitable traffic carried on so
far. These stations will be closed during the winter, but a station is
being erected at Cape Race, Nfld., which will be open throughout the

The rates charged is two dollars for ten words and twelve cents for
each additional word plus cable or land line rates.

Mr. McGee informed me the “Parisian” was enveloped in a dense fog when
in the vicinity of Belle Isle on her inward trip. The captain was
surprised at not hearing the fog syren and the Marconi station was
communicated with to learn the reason. A response immediately came that
the fog horn had been and was then blowing since the fog had fallen,
thus showing the ship was out of range and in safety.

Many passengers took occasion to Marconigram friends of their
whereabouts and their probable arrival at Montreal.

Passengers by the St. Lawrence route are now enabled to communicate
with friends three days after departure and before arrival at Montreal
by means of the Marconi telegraph system. All the Marconi stations are
connected with the Canadian telegraphs.

Mr. McGee also stated this was his first trip as operator with the
Marconi Company.

He had attended the company’s Instructive School in London for a period
of three months, at the end of which time he was considered duly
qualified and was appointed to the “Parisian.” This shows the wonderful
and mysterious wireless telegraphy is acquired more rapidly than the
Morse system, which takes from six months to one year to become fairly

The operations of the one is very similar to the other; each ship or
station has an individual call or signal, and should the current affect
any instruments within range, no attention is given unless its own
particular signal is heard.

Many objections have been raised against wireless telegraphy, for the
reason that any one with a wireless outfit could intercept a message.

The very same thing can be done on land by any competent operator if he
feels inclined to gratify his curiosity and incur the penalty for so

Taken altogether, the wireless system on shipboard will prove an
immense convenience to ocean travellers and shipping interests, and
will ensure greater safety to both life and property.

_The Future of Wireless Telegraphy._

When, at the close of 1901, Marconi first announced to the world his
marvellous achievement that he had received a signal from Poldhu at St.
John’s, Nfld., many were incredulous and doubted its possibility, even
many scientific men were sceptical and suggested many reasons why there
might be an error in the experiment made. Amongst these were Edison,
Graham, Bell, Sir Wm. Preece and others but, when the facts became
known, all had to admit the success of the experiment and the accuracy
of Marconi’s statement.

Mr. Edison became a warm believer in wireless telegraphy, and is now
identified with its development. Soon after this triumph of the young
Italian, the voice of the company promoter was heard in the land.

A wireless telegraph company was organized in England. This company
had the audacity to claim an exclusive monopoly to operate the Marconi
system, but this the British authorities refused to grant. Following
this a company was formed for the same purpose in the United States and
one in Canada, these being all more or less co-related.

The principal object being to establish wireless communication between
Europe and America, a wireless station was erected at Glace Bay, Cape
Breton and one at Cape Cod, Mass., early in 1903. When these were
completed communication was for a short time carried on.

A congratulatory message from President Roosevelt to King Edward was
transmitted and a reply returned by the King, but the system broke down
and it has so remained.

Mr. Marconi has been (ever since the mishap) devoting his inventive
genius to the perfecting of his devices, and, it is believed,
transatlantic communication will be once more re-established within a
very short period. Meanwhile, these companies are not standing still,
but are very busily engaged in equipping passenger steamships with
Marconi wireless instruments, enabling vessels to communicate with each
other or with the stations on land on either side of the Atlantic. The
wireless telegraph business is constantly increasing and becoming very
lucrative. Traffic is now interchanged between the British Government
telegraph lines, the American and Canadian telegraph companies and
the wireless companies, so that a message can now be sent from any
telegraph station to a person aboard ship, or _vice versa_, by payment
of the tolls required for each company’s service. This seems to be
naturally the proper sphere for wireless telegraphy.

In time every ship that floats, whether naval or mercantile, will
eventually be installed with Marconi apparatus. This should be made
one of the conditions of insurance, if not compulsory. As far as being
successful competitors with existing land or cable telegraph systems,
it is more than doubtful, except in places where no other telegraph
system can be maintained. Wireless telegraphy for a long time to
come will merely be auxiliary or supplementary to the land and cable
systems, and mutually beneficial to each instead of being antagonistic.

The wireless system of telegraphy will be of immense benefit to
Canadian shipping interests owing to the long stretch of river
navigation from Montreal to the Gulf.

Several minor stations have been erected recently on the Lower St.
Lawrence and are now working satisfactorily.

The Canadian Government recognized the importance of wireless
telegraphy in its inception and granted Marconi a substantial sum to
enable him to build his wireless station at Glace Bay. The public
hardly yet realize its great possibilities.

_Dominion Wireless Telegraph Company, Limited._

      CAPITAL STOCK, $1,200,000. PAR VALUE, $5.

This company proposes to build and operate stations at all important
points in the Dominion of Canada and do a general telegraphic business
between stations in the United States or elsewhere, owned or controlled
by the American DeForest Wireless Telegraph Company or any of their
subsidiary companies. It will also build and operate stations on both
the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts for transmission of messages abroad,
and will work in harmony with like stations built by foreign DeForest
companies, will erect and operate stations along all of the important
rivers, gulfs and lakes, as well as on the sea coast, and will equip
vessels with Wireless Telegraph instruments, keeping them in touch with
their home office until their destination has been reached.

This company proposes to erect and operate stations as follows:


  Fort William
  Niagara Falls
  Owen Sound
  Port Arthur
  Port Hope
  Rat Portage
  Sault Ste. Marie
  Smith’s Falls
  St. Catharines
  St. Thomas


  St. Hyacinthe
  St. Jerome
  St. Johns
  St. Pi’re Montmagny
  Three Rivers


  St. John


  New Glasgow




  Portage La Prairie
  West Selkirk


  Moose Jaw
  Medicine Hat


  Grand Forks
  New Westminster



Thus bringing not only every important point in the Dominion of Canada
in touch by wireless telegraphy, but also Europe, through the station
to be erected at Halifax, and Asia from stations on Vancouver Island.

All doubts of the practicability of wireless telegraphy may now be

These new competitors must be somewhat disconcerting to managers and
shareholders of the older systems of telegraphy, but they will no
doubt prove equal to the problems confronting them and maintain their
ascendency as heretofore.


  Page 3 for employed _read_ enjoyed

   ”  10 for lost _read_ last

   ”  52 second line from foot _read_:

         The first telegraph office in Washington was in a

   ”  54 for young man _read_ young woman

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unpaired
quotation marks were retained. On several lines, the first or last
letter was not printed. Those have been remedied here.

Original text uses both “Sandford Fleming” and “Sanford Fleming”. The
former is correct and is used throughout this eBook.

Original text uses both “Branley” and “Branly”; both retained here.

Original text contains what appear to be numerous spelling errors of
words and names that only occur once. Since they could reflect accepted
practices at the time the book was written, or the author’s way of
spelling them, most of them have been retained in this eBook.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Some of the topics in the Table of Contents do not have corresponding
headings in the main text. The early headings in the main text are not
italicized, while the later headings are italicized. These anamolies
have been retained in this eBook.

Page 16: “if the clocks started” was printed as “blocks”.

Page 37: “Heidleberg” was printed that way.

Page 50: “He had done all that he could and could do more” probably
should be “do no more".

Page 64: “unity of management” was printed that way.

Page 118: “Mr. D. Ross Ross” was printed that way; in other sources,
the last name is hyphenated as “Ross-Ross”.

Page 129: “reconcilation” was printed that way.

Page 139: “deciper” was printed that way.

Page 156: The intent of “J. M.---- gentleman” is unclear, so what
appears to be the printed spacing has been retained here.

Pages 208 and 210: Text refers to both “Robert W. Lowber” and “Robt. W.
Lowder”; both spellings retained here.

Page 224: The word shown here as “projectors” was printed with a letter
missing after “pro”. The Transcriber completed the word as “projectors”
because “projector” and “projectors” occur elsewhere in the original

Page 224: “the sounding the way” was printed that way.

Page 242: “big around” originally was printed as “big  round” with
extra space between the words. Transcriber added what appears to be the
unprinted letter “a”.

Page 252: “John E. Rockfeller” was printed that way.

The Errata at the end of the book have been applied to the text of this

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