« VorigeDoorgaan »
If the submarine cables of Great Britain, which extend from her coasts to the adjoining coasts of Europe, to British North America, and to Gibraltar, Malta, India, China, and Australia in a continuous line, were to be purchased by the nation and worked by the Post-office, in connexion with the system of inland telegraphs, it may be estimated that their actual cost has been about 6,960,0001. on the following scale :Viz. Submarine Telegraph Company
260,000 British-Indian Submarine
1,200,000 British-Indian Extension to Singapore 460,000 British-Australian
660,000 China Submarine to Hong Kong
The Admiralty could render efficient service in the maintenance and repairs of cables in all parts, and through such an agency the Post-office department could maintain its cable property at much less cost than the several private companies now owning them can do. We have excluded from our estimate all cables which, like the Marseilles, Algiers, and Malta, and the Chinese-Japan extension of the Great Northern Telegraph Company, are either chiefly for the accommodation of
-British interests, or are entirely out of British jurisdiction. But, on the other hand, as the Government threw the whole risk of these costly and hazardous experiments on private companies, which are now reaping their reward in the shape of a very high rate of interest, the purchase of the Submarine lines by the State would involve an outlay very far exceeding their original cost. In the home lines there was, comparatively speaking, no risk at all.
It was fully apprehended by the officers of the old Telegraph Companies that the transfer of the wires to the Government could not, in the nature of things, fail to produce some temporary inconvenience in the free working of their machinery. The best constructed engine heats in its bearings when started for the first time; what was then to be expected of a machine which had to be transferred from one department to another, and suddenly, without any preliminary trial, set in motion, with the whole community on the look-out for any shortcoming? Small complaints from the public were to be expected, but the fates seemed determined to harass Mr. Scudamore with more
than ordinary perversity, perhaps by way of warning him against over-confidence. Scarcely a week had elapsed after the wires had passed into his hands, when, the first public occasion having arisen in which their use was required, a dead failure occurred. On Friday the 8th of February, just after the Queen's Speech had been transferred to the wires, a sudden paralysis seized those connecting London with Scotland and Ireland and the principal towns in the north-west of England. The country papers were in despair. Those which had received the Royal message were cut suddenly short, without a word of the address, whilst others suddenly arrested her Majesty in the midst of her speech. It was as though she had been struck dumb in the presence of her whole people. Magnetic dis'turbance, the cat of the telegraphic system, which gets the blame of all failings on the part of the wire, was freely debited with the disaster so unauspicious to the Government; but, on examination, a more material explanation of the occurrence was afforded. A workman in the hurry of the transfer of the wires to the new establishment, in some alterations he had to make in one of the local offices, by accident removed a bundle of wires which unfortunately happened to be the channel of communication between the Metropolis and the North and West. The effect was the paralysis, electrically speaking, of three parts of the United Kingdom. The mischief which caused so much surprise was set right immediately upon the discovery of the cause. Since that time the sister country, magnetically true to her old motto · England's adversity is Ireland's opportunity,' has had an excuse for a fling at Imperial management by reason of the breakage of the Port Patrick Cable; this, together with the failure of the Wexford Cable, has afforded ample opportunity for complaints as to the treatment of our fellow-subjects across the water. We think Mr. Scudamore can afford to listen to these indignant outbursts with complacency, as on the whole there can be no doubt that he has managed to take the reins with as little disturbance to the ordinary working of the telegraphic system as could have been expected. For the parting of a cable he cannot be held responsible. The only precaution that can be taken
against its recurrence is to lay down duplicate cables to the different points across the Irish Sea; and this we believe will be done. These short cables, however, will give more trouble than those which traverse the Eastern and Western Oceans.
We cannot close this article without referring to what may be termed the public opening of the submarine cable to India, which was inaugurated at the entertainment given by Mr.
Pender, the Chairman of the Company, at his mansion in Arlington Street, and at which his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was present. It is a new idea, whilst holding high festival, to exchange courtesies, not as of old, with friends across the table, but with great Princes and high personages on the other side of the world. Mr. Cyrus Field has the credit of inventing this startling means of enlivening the ordinary chitchat of the dinner-table, for at the banquet given in 1868 at the Palace Hotel, he induced the Electric and International Telegraph Company to bring into the room the wire in connexion with the Atlantic Cable, and announced to the guests the compliments he was forwarding and receiving from his wife at New York, and the Governor-General of Cuba, and the President of the United States. Mr. Pender, to whose commercial energy and financial aid we owe the laying of the sea-line to our great Indian Empire at so early a date, was not to be outdone, and all England was startled to find by the • Times of June 25th, that during the previous evening the Prince of Wales had been holding converse with the Khedive, the Governor-General of India, and the King of Portugal.
The services rendered by Mr. Pender to international telegraphy are not of a scientific nature, and there is, therefore, some danger that they may be overlooked; but they are nevertheless of so vital a character, that without them we believe the great submarine lines would probably not yet be in existence. It is, therefore, worth while to record them. After the failure of the Atlantic experiment of 1858, it became apparent that the cable had been ill-made and ill-laid. The public lost heart after the loss (as it was supposed) of 600,0001.; no more capital could be raised. Mr. Pender and a few of his friends persevered. They first bought up the two existing establishments for the manufacture of submarine cables, so as to insure the perfect construction of the article, and for this purpose Mr. Pender gave a personal guarantee of 250,0001. This was in fact the turning-point in the operation. The Company which was then formed to manufacture the cables also undertook to lay them; and thus, in conjunction with the new AngloAmerican Company, a further sum of 200,0001. was raised, and the line of 1866 was successfully laid by the Great Eastern, which they chartered for the purpose.
The Indian Government, under successive Ministers, refused to co-operate in the work of laying a direct submarine line to India. In 1869, it was resolved, by the same persons who had so powerfully aided the Atlantic lines, to raise the capital to do the work to India, without any further appeal to the Government. The British Indian Submarine Company was formed. Again Mr. Pender took the largest share of the risk; but he has been rewarded by a prompt and complete success.
The wires are already laid, and on the 23rd June, Calcutta was in magnetic communication with his house in Arlington Street. The work will have been carried out at a cost of nearly four millions, when it is extended to Eastern Asia and Australia.
We had finished our task, and this article was already in type, when we received a volume which we should have been happy to use if it had reached us a few days sooner, for it contains a complete narrative by Mr. J. C. Parkinson of the creation of the Ocean Telegraph to India. It is a volume of the highest interest, and it shows in conclusion that we are within a few months of completing the most extraordinary scientific and mechanical operation ever undertaken by man. The cable of the British Indian line, passing from Falmouth to Lisbon, Gibraltar, and Malta, has already placed England in direct communication with those harbours and with India. To this Mr. Parkinson adds, that
the British Indian Extension, the China Submarine, and the British Australian Telegraph Cables now in course of manufacture will next be laid in succession. From Madras a cable will be carried to Singapore, touching at Penang. From Singapore one line will proceed north to Hong Kong, Amory, and Shanghai, and another south to Batavia and through Java to Port Darwin at the north of Australia. Thence a coast line will be taken round the north side of the Australian continent to Burketown, whence lines exist to Cardwell, Rockhampton, Brisbane, and Sydney, uniting with the telegraph from Sydney to Melbourne and Adelaide, and with that from Melbourne to Launceston and Hobart Town. From Hobart Town a cable is projected to New Zealand; and to complete the circle round the world, Mr. Cyrus Field and some American capitalists have been negotiating for another across the Pacific, from China to California, by way of Japan and Alaska. It may be assumed that by Christmas of this year we shall be in perfect telegraphic communication with Singapore and Batavia ; in 1871, with Australia, Tasmania, and China ; and that by the end of 1874, England will be supplied with news not twelve hours old from every part of the civilised globe. (Parkinson's Ocean Telegraph, p. 299.)
Art. IX.- The Life and Adventures of John James Audubon,
the Naturalist. Edited, from Materials supplied by his
it had been to hunt in black satin breeches, to shoot in dancing • pumps,' to dress, whilst on his woodland expeditions, in the finest ruffled shirts he could obtain from France; at one time eschewing all butcher's meat, living chiefly on fruit, vegetables, and fish, and never drinking a glass of wine or spirits until his wedding-day. Of his own personal appearance he thus writes :- I measured five feet ten and a half inches, * was of fair mien, and quite a handsome figure; large, dark, and rather sunken eyes, light-coloured eyebrows, aquiline nose, and a fine set of teeth; hair, fine texture and luxuriant, • divided and passing down each ear in luxuriant ringlets as * far as the shoulders.' An English reader is inclined to accuse such a man of effeminacy and conceit; probably half the accusation is true. But the person in question was an undaunted backwoodsman, an excellent shot, one whose spirit neither misfortunes nor disappointments could conquer; moreover he lived to produce a work on American Ornithology which Cuvier described as the most gigantic enterprise of the kind ever undertaken by a single individual. The name of this queer compound of Actæon and Narcissus '—to use the happy expression of his biographer-holding a gun in one hand and a looking-glass in the other, was John James Audubon, the celebrated naturalist of America.
It is somewhat curious to remark that no less than three naturalists-all working at the same time, and for a considerable period unknown to each other-acquired fame by making the birds of America known to Europe; these were a French prince, a Scotch weaver and poet, and an American trader in cambric lace-Charles Lucien Bonaparte, Alexander Wilson, and John James Audubon. In scientific merit Bonaparte was far the superior; neither Wilson nor Audubon can properly be regarded as men of science, in the technical sense of the term ; but as a drawer of birds Audubon must hold the first place.
Audubon was born in Louisiana the 4th of May, 1780, we believe, but Mr. Robert Buchanan gives no information on this point. His father was a Frenchman, his mother of Spanish extraction, • His earliest recollections are associated with