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Echoes of the Week

The Illustrated London News, vol. 46, no. 1320, p. 590.

June 17, 1865


...This column of June 3 having, it would seem, unduly reflected on Mr. Cyrus W. Field, I subjoin a letter from Professor Thomson, who was associated with Mr. Field in the first great, and temporarily successful, enterprise; and also add a paragraph from Mr. Varley, the celebrated electrician. It would seem that "Mr. Field and his associates in America, having obtained the sole privilege, for fifty years, of placing a telegraph cable on the shores of Newfoundland, actually laid the line connecting that island with the United States. They next induced the United States Government to take soundings across the Atlantic, after which Mr. Field came to England; and, joining himself to Mr. J. W. Brett, Mr. C. T. Bright, and Mr. Whitehouse, promoted the formation of the Atlantic Telegraph Company. The capital of £350,000 was raised in twenty weeks, Mr. Field himself taking shares to the amount of £88,000. He has crossed the Atlantic, at his own expense, thirty-three times on this business. In 1858 he refused a present of £1000 offered him by the directors as a reward for his services. So much for Mr. Cyrus Field's part in the undertaking. With regard to the naval officers and engineers, it is not denied that those belonging to this country received in America the same medals and other honorary rewards as were bestowed upon their American colleagues." I give Professor Thomson's letter entire:--

I remarked with surprise a statement in your Number of June 3 to the effect that Mr. Cyrus Field and the Americans had "taken all the credit" of the temporary success of the first Atlantic cable. Having been cognisant of the main facts of the case from the commencement, I can confidently express the opinion that injustice has been done to both the Americans and Mr. Field in that remark. In answering congratulatory addresses which, immediately after his landing with the end of the cable were very naturally given to him both by his countrymen and our own people of our North American colonies, he most fully and handsomely gave credit to English directors and executive officers of the company, and on no occasion claimed or admitted more than the most moderate statements of credit for his own very large share in the great work. I believe also that, to the utmost of their knowledge, the American press gave credit to all our countrymen who in any way promoted or assisted the undertakings. The rapid and lamentable change from exultation in a supposed success to painful disappointment did, however, prevent, on both sides of the Atlantic, a final and well-balanced judgment of the claims of all concerned, which no doubt would have done effective justice to all. I am, &c., Willliam Thomson.

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