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The question of Ocean Telegraphy, which has been for some time in abeyance, is undergoing at this time another attempt at solution by British enterprise. Of the principles and manner on which this new effort is being made, we have little information in this blockaded region. It may not be uninteresting, in this connection, to give a brief sketch of ocean telegraphy. In 1850, an unsuccessful attempt was made to connect England and France by a submarine telegraph. A vessel bearing a copper wire inclosed in gutta-percha, intended for this purpose, started from Dover and succeeded in paying out the wire and conveying the other end to the French coast. The printing instrument was attached, and several communications exchanged between England and France; but the next morning communications ceased, and it was evident that the insulation was destroyed. It was found that the wire had been snapped asunder, constructed, as it was, without any power of resistance to the action of the waves. The next year a more substantial cable was laid successfully.--This cable contained four copper wires, each covered with gutta percha, so as to afford four separate conductors. These were twisted into a four-strand rope, served round with tarred hemp and covered with strong galvanized iron wire. In the course of repairs afterwards, it appeared that the outer wires were in places corroded, especially where the cable lay on rocks, and was subject to attrition and exposed to the action of the water. The extent of corrosion in different parts varied very much; for instance, the cable came up for a short length very good where it had lain in sand or mud, and also where it had got covered with shells, which, in some cases, made a coating of a couple of inches thick upon it — in places, on the other hand, where it was exposed to the water, it was almost entirely eaten away. Where the iron wires were loose and untwisted, so that the water could wash through them to the hemp, the yarn was rotten. In other parts, where the hempen case was closely surrounded by the wire, and fully saturated with the tar, it was still in good order. The gutta percha covering the copper wires was in perfect condition. This line, of not quite twenty-six miles in length, was followed by other and more important enterprises. Between 1851 and 1853, lines were laid between England and Ireland, and England and Belgium. In 1853, the Electric and International Telegraph Company laid a submarine telegraph, one hundred and fifty-five miles in length, from Oxfordness to Schevening, in Holland. These lines were all comparatively short and in shallow water, but, in 1855, the requirements of the war in the Crimea led to the construction of a line between Balaklava and Varna, from which may be dated a new era in Ocean Telegraphy. This line was three hundred and ten miles long, and served, to some extent, as a basis for ascertaining the law which governs the retardation of the electric current in long lines of submarine telegraph. Three hundred miles of the cable consisted of a copper wire, covered with gutta percha, entirely unprotected, and ten miles from shore ends had a protecting covering of iron wire. The paying out was effected with great ease, and it remained in working order for some months till the end of the war, when it was broken. But a greater undertaking had been already in contemplation. The leading facts of this most remarkable enterprise are set forth in evidence taken by the Submarine Telegraph Committee. In 1851, a Mr. Tibbet, of New York, and a Mr. Gasbome, an English engineer, devised the plan of shortening the communication between America and Europe by making St. John's, Newfoundland, a port of call for Atlantic steamers, and constructing a telegraph from thence to join the American lines. These gentlemen obtained in 1851 an act of the Legislature of New found land for this purpose, which act also conferred certain exclusive privileges; but having got into difficulties without fulfilling the terms of the act, they induced some American gentlemen to form a new company, called the New York, Newfoundland and London Telegraph Company. The act of incorporation of this company was passed in 1854, and gave them, amongst other privileges, the exclusive right for fifty years of landing cables on the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador, without any conditions as to the time within which this right was to be exercised. This exclusive right of landing cables on the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador was transferred in 1856 to the projectors of the Atlantic Telegraph Company upon the condition that it should be exercised before 1862. The Company obtained from the British Government in 1856, as well as from the American Government, a grant of £14,000, conditional upon success, and pledged themselves that the first attempt to lay the cable should be made in 1857. It is believed that the disasters of the company are traceable to this pledge. The cable was hastily constructed in order to be ready in time, and without the aid of carefully-devised experiments. The break machinery was novel and cumbrous. The whole thing was done in a hurry. The United States ship Niagara and the British ship Agamemnon started together with the cable from Valentia on the 7th of August, 1857, with the intention of laying it across to Newfoundland, in accordance with a plan which necessitated the junction of the two sections of the cable in mid ocean as soon as one vessel had paid out its cargo, whatever the weather might be. After paying out about three hundred and thirty-five miles, the cable broke on the 11th of August in two thousand fathoms of water. The expedition then returned to Plymouth. The vessels started again from Cork on the 17th of July, 1858, and accomplished the laying of the cable between Newfoundland and Valentia on the 5th of August, 1858, with apparently complete success. From the landing of the cable till five days thereafter, mere indications of signals were received, although signals were being regularly sent. On the fifth day, strong induction coils having been applied at Newfoundland, the signals were easily read. The first words were, "Please repeat power."--The Queen's message to the President occupied sixteen hours in transmitting, which is explained by its having been stopped in the middle during some operations in the harbor of Valentia and by the necessity of repeating parts over and over again. The signals continued to be received — sometimes better, sometimes worse. They would suddenly show satisfactory indications for a time, then fail again; but they gradually became weaker. The variations in the strength of the signals appeared to be due to the effect produced by the oxidation of the copper by means of the positive current at the place or places where the faults were situated, which oxidation gives an insulating covering to the wire, and to the clearing off of this covering from the copper when the negative currents were sent. On the 20th of October, a message was entered in the Valentia signal diary as being read thus: "Two hundred and forty tk-- -- (? two) Daniell's now in circuit." That was the reading as entered in the Valentia diary. The message really sent was: "Two hundred and forty trays, and seventy-two liquid Daniell's now in circuit. " So that the word that could not be made out was "trays"; that was the last effort of the cable. Attempts have subsequently been made to repair it, but the decay, from rust, of the outer covering, which consists of strands of very fine wires, has prevented the possibility of raising the cable without breaking it. The failure was believed to be, in a great measure, owing to the absence of a proper preliminary experimental inquiry into the conditions required in the construction of such a cable. But the more immediate causes of failure alleged are: first, the absence of sufficient care in the manufacture of the cable from the limited time allowed for its completion; second, the injury that the cable received by repeated handling between the time when it was constructed and the time it was laid; third, the insufficient protection of the outer covering against corrosion; fourth, the insufficient size of the conductor, and of its insulating covering in proportion to the length of the cable — a want which necessitated the use of high battery power. With the lights thrown upon it by former experiments, the present British enterprise bids fair to be more successful. If so, it will be the crowning triumph of the wonderful mechanical genius of England, which has, within the last eighty years, changed the whole face of society; which perfected the steam engine, and gave to man a motive force that has traversed the waters against winds and tides; buried him over the land at sixty miles an hour, drawn up the treasures of the deepest mine, and helped the power loom and the spinning jenny to clothe the world. How much more glorious these productive triumphs of peace than all the blood-stained laurels which Great Britain has achieved in war!
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