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ferino. English public instructors were for the most part as completely agreed about the utter incapacity of the Prussians for the business of war as if nobody had ever heard of Frederick the Great. Not many days before Sadowa, a leading London newspaper had a description, half pitiful, half contemptuous, of the unfortunate shop-boys and young mechanics of whom the Prussian army was understood to be composed, being hurried and driven along to the front to make food for powder for the well-trained legions of Austria under the command of the irresistible Benedek.
Just before the adjournment of Parliament for the recess, a great work of peace was accomplished; perhaps the only work of peace then possible which could be mentioned after the warlike business of Sadowa without producing the effect of an anti-climax. This was the completion of the Atlantic Cable. On the evening of July 27th, 1866, the cable was laid between Europe and America. Next day Lord Stan. ley, as Foreign Minister, was informed that perfect communication existed between England and the United States by means of the thread of wire that lay beneath the Atlantic. Words of friendly congratulation and greeting were interchanged between the Queen and the President of the United States. Ten years all but a month or two had gone by since Mr. Cyrus W. Field, the American promoter of the Atlantic telegraph project, had first tried to inspire cool and calculating men in London, Liverpool, and Manchester, with some faith in his project. He was not a scientific man; he was not the inventor of the principle of interoceanic telegraphy; he was not even the first man to pru. pose that a company should be formed for the purpose of laying a cable beneath the Atlantic. So long before as 1848, an attempt had been made by the Messrs. Brett to induce the English government to assist them in a scheme for laying an electric wire to connect Europe with America. A plan for the purpose was actually registered; but the government took no interest in the project, probably regarding it as on a par with the frequent applications which are made for the countenance and help of the Treasury in the promotion of flying machines and of projectiles to destroy an enemy's fleet at a thousand miles' distance. But the achievement of the Atlantic Cable was none the less as distinctly the work of Mr. Cyrus Field as the discovery of America was that of Columbus. It was not he who first thought of doing the thing; but it was he who first made up his mind that it could be done, and showed the world how to do it, and did it in the end. The history of human invention has not a more inspiring example of patience living down discouragement, and perseverance triumphing over defeat. The first attempt to lay the cable was made in 1857; but the vessels engaged in the expedition had only got about three hundred miles from the west coast of Ireland when the cable broke, and the effort had to be given up for that year. Next year the enterprise was renewed upon a different principle. Two ships of war, the Agamemnon, English, and the Niag. ara, American, sailed out together for the mid-Atlantic, where they were to part company, having previously joined their cables, and were each to make for their own shore, each laying the line of wire as she went. Stormy weather arose suddenly and prevented the vessels from doing any. thing. The cable was broken several times in the effort to lay it, and at last the expedition returned. Another effort, however, was made that summer. The cable was actually laid. It did for a few days unite Europe and America. Messages of congratulation passed along between the Queen and the President of the United States. The Queen con. gratulated the President upon " the successful completion of the great international work," and was convinced that "the President will unite with her in fervently hoping that the electric cable which now connects Great Britain with the United States will prove an additional link between the na tions whose friendship is founded in their common interest and reciprocal esteem. The rejoicings in America were exuberant. Suddenly, however, the signals became faint; the messages grew inarticulate, and before long the power of communication ceased altogether. The cable became a mere cable again; the wire that spoke with such a miracul. ous eloquence had became silent. The construction of the cable had proven to be defective, and a new principle had to be devised by science. Yet something definite had been accomlished. It had been shown that a cable could be stretched and maintained under the ocean more than two miles deep and two thousand miles across. Another attempt was made in 1865, but it proved again a failure, and the shivered cable had to be left for the time in the bed of the Atlantic. At last, in 1866, the feat was accomplished, and the Atlantic telegraph was added to the realities of life. It has now become a dis. tinct part of our civilized system. We have ceased to won. der at it. We accept it and its consequent facts with as much composure as we take the existence of the inland telegraph or the penny post. It seems hard now to understand how people got on when it took a fortnight to receive news from the United States. Since the success of the Atlantic Cable many telegraphic wires have been laid in the beds of the oceans. All England chafed as at an insuffer able piece of negligence on the part of somebody the other day, when it was found in a moment of national emergency that there was a lack of direct telegraphic communication between this country and the Cape of Good Hope, and that we could not ask a question of South Africa and have an answer within a few minutes. Perhaps it may encourage future projectors and inventors to know, that in the case of the Atlantic Cable, as in that of the Suez Canal, some of the highest scientific authority was given to proclaim the actual hopelessness, the wild impracticability, the sheer physical impossibility of such an enterprise having any success.
.. Before the ships left this country with the cable," wrote Robert Stephenson in 1857, “I very publicly predicted as soon as they got into deep water a signal failure. It was in fact inevitable.” Nine years after, the inevitable had been avoided; the failure turned to success.
HE autumn and winter of agiation passed away, and THE
the time was at hand when the new ministry must meet a new session of Parliament. The country looked with keen interest, and also with a certain amused curiosity, to see what the government would do with reform in the ses. sion of 1867. When Lord Derby took office he had not in any vay committed himself and his colleagues against a Reform Bill. On the contrary, he had announced that nothing would give him greater pleasure than to see a very considerable proportion of the now excluded class admitted to the franchise; but he had qualified this announcement by the expression of a doubt whether any measure of reform on which the two great political parties could agree would be likely to satisfy the extreme Reformers, or to put a stop to agitation. More than once Lord Derby had intimated plainly enough that he was willing to make one other effort at a settlement of the question, but if that effort should not succeed he would have nothing more to do with the matter. de was well known to have taken office reluctantly, and he gave it to be clearly understood that he did not by any means propose to devote the remainder of his life to the business of rolling Reform Bills a little way up the parlia. inentary hill merely in order to see them rolled down again, Most persons assumed, however, that Mr. Disraeli would look at the whole question from a different point of view: