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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

Sir John Pender - Silver Jubilee of the Establishment of
Submarine Telegraphy to the Far East - 1894

Sir John Pender

A Manchester businessman, and an early investor in the Atlantic Cable enterprise, John Pender formed the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Companyin 1864 by merging Glass, Elliot & Co. and the Gutta Percha Company, and became chairman of the new firm. The company made and laid the 1865/66 Atlantic cables and Pender then proceeded to organize and develop companies to serve the Mediterranean, Eastern, (India and China,) Australian, South African, and direct African cable routes. He remained in the forefront of the industry until his death in 1896.

1894 marked the Silver Jubilee of the establishment of submarine telegraphy to the Far East, and this was celebrated by a series of banquets and dinners in London.

First came a banquet, followed by a reception and fête, at the Imperial Institute on Friday 20th July, given by Sir John Pender (Chairman) and the Directors of the Eastern and Eastern Extension, Australasia and China Telegraph Companies. The Electrician published a supplement to its issue of 27 July 1894 with a full description of this event, together with a summary of the 25 years of cable laying and operation of these companies.

Invitation to the Imperial Institute reception
Image courtesy of Moira Hill

To have the honor of meeting
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, K.G.
Sir John Pender (Chairman) and the Directors of
The Eastern and Eastern Extension, Australasia and China Telegraph Companies
request the pleasure of
Mr J Lynas and Lady's
Company at a Reception and Evening Fête on Friday the 20th July 1894 at
The Imperial Institute
to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of Submarine Telegraphy to the Far East

The Reception will commence at 10 p.m.
A special card of admission will be forwarded on receipt of acceptance

Winchester House
Old Broad Street
Londone E.C.
The favor of an early reply is requested to
The Secretary,
Eastern Telegraph Company

The fête commemorating this important event, together with the various incidents of the anniversary, occupied nearly eight hours. At the banquet the Company numbered nearly 500, while the reception was attended by about 5,000 guests; and a party of about 60, including the Royal visitors, was entertained in the Fellows’ dining-room, used on this occasion as the Royal supper-room.

There followed three further celebrations towards the end of that year, of which the first and foremost was a “Banquet and Presentation to Sir John Pender, G.C.M.G., M.P., at the Hotel Metropole, London, on Friday Evening, November the 16th, 1894”.

Next was a “Dinner to the Staffs” of the Eastern Telegraph Company and the Eastern Extension, Australasia & China Telegraph Company on November 23rd (the head office staffs), and finally a “Dinner to the Staff of the London Station” of the Eastern Telegraph Company on December 1st.

A record of the proceedings and presentations at these three later events was published in the form of a privately printed 50-page book titled: “Records of the Proceedings at Festivals Held in Connection with the Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Establishment of Submarine Telegraphic Communication with the Far East”, from which the illustrations and text below are taken.

A highlight of the banquet was the presentation of an immense silver trophy to Sir John Pender. Accompanying the trophy was an illuminated scroll with its own silver and gilt casket in the form of a section of recovered cable with coral and dolphins. Amazingly, although there is no record of the present location of the casket and scroll, the trophy has survived intact for the last 116 years, and is presently in the collection of Mozzafarian Jewellery. The photographs of the trophy on this page were very kindly provided by the company.

It is difficult to realize the scale of the trophy from its photographs—it incorporates almost 1500 ounces of silver and measures nearly 4 feet 6 inches in length by 4 feet in height, and includes every cable motif that the designers could conceive.

Cover and title page of the book

Sir John Pender, G.C.M.G., was entertained at dinner at the Hotel Metropole, on Friday, November 16th, 1894, by the Staff Representatives of the Eastern, Eastern Extension, and Associated Telegraph Companies, on the occasion of their Presentation to him of an Illuminated Address and Silver Trophy, Symbolical of the Triumph of Submarine Telegraphy. The chair was occupied by Mr. George Draper, the Chairman of the Presentation Committee. After the usual loyal toast had been duly honoured,

The Chairman said: Sir John Pender, my Lord, and gentlemen,—We meet together to-night on a most interesting occasion—I may say a memorable occasion (cheers)—to do honour to our distinguished guest and chief, Sir John Pender (hear, hear, and cheers). Some time prior to the celebration we had in the summer of this year, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of submarine telegraph communication between the United Kingdom and the great centres of commerce throughout the Eastern world, a unanimous wish had been expressed by the members of the staffs of our Companies—the various Associated Telegraph Companies—that a fitting tribute should be presented to Sir John Pender, who has presided over the affairs of the Companies since their inception, as a token of the sincere esteem in which he is held throughout the service (hear, hear), and as a recognition that it is mainly due to his untiring energy and devotion to the best interests of submarine telegraphy that its influence has been so signally marked, and has become so closely identified with the prosperity of the British Empire during the Victorian era (cheers). In accordance with that unanimous wish, we are gathered here tonight to fulfil a duty so willingly undertaken by one and all of us (hear, hear and cheers). Gentlemen, the submarine cable enterprise, and the achievements it has wrought, will ever rank in the scientific annals of the 19th century as a most important factor in the development of trade industries throughout the civilised world, in drawing together more closely the bonds of union between the nations, in ensuring more cordial relations between the Colonies and Dependencies and this our Mother Country, in strengthening the union of the Empire, and in maintaining the interests of peace, amity, and goodwill amongst all peoples (cheers). I may not dwell on this grand ideal to-night, the “kindred federation” of all States being a theme that calls forth the eloquence of poets; but, gentlemen, the deeds of Sir John Pender, and others like him, speak louder and are more eloquent to this end and aim than the mere words that fall from poets’ lips (cheers). The name of Sir John Pender will be inscribed on the roll of fame as amongst those who have served their country well, and deserved well of their country (hear, hear). History will record this name in the forefront of Britain’s sons as one who has done great things for her honour and welfare. In the great enterprise I am speaking of, his name and doings will tower above others as one who has accomplished designs that must be a lasting benefit to his countrymen (hear, hear). He had the heart to resolve, he had the mind to contrive, and he had the hands to execute those ideas and projects which have proved of such far-reaching and sterling worth. Once having put his hand to this venture, however costly it might be, having set his seal to the work, there was no hesitancy or regretful look behind, as of one whose mind changes on second thoughts. But I cannot think that Sir John Pender, with all his sagacity, experience, and foresight, could ever have estimated, when he with his friends took in hand these schemes so many years ago, the progress of telegraphy as we see it at the present day (hear, hear). There are some in the room who can talk about the Atlantic cable in the earliest years—in the fifties; but I cannot recollect that. But I do remember that meetings had been held in 1868 and 1869 for the consideration of an extension of cable projects to the East. Cable communication across the Atlantic having at last proved successful, it was submitted that a cable could be carried south, via Gibraltar, Malta, Egypt, India, to China and Australia. Sir John’s mind on that point was made up. His thoughts on the subject were convictions. The project was good, one of the best, and it must be carried out. The cable, as you all know, was laid, and laid successfully. At Malta the cable was connected with the Anglo-Mediterranean cable, running from Malta to Alexandria. In those days Lord Tweeddale was the chairman, and the Anglo-Mediterranean Company was a company something like the Eastern, the Extension, and one or two other good companies. It was a company which paid a dividend which some people call “a comfortable dividend”—that is to say, a dividend and security which one could sleep on—a pillow security which you need not worry about. From that point, as you all know, the cables were carried, via the Red Sea, to India and the Far East, and at this day we see the results of the policy adopted by Sir John Pender, and the consummate judgment he displayed on that morning in May, when he said that the thing was possible, must be done, and would be a success when it was done (hear, (hear). If I may be forgiven the temerity of the expression, I should say that Sir John Pender does not seem to be as some of us, unfortunately, are—“swayed by the chances and changes that mar and warp our purposes,” but what he does is done to a completion or, at all events, done to a successful issue. His motto, you know, is Persevero. If you add the words “Industry and Enterprise” you get the key to Sir John’s aspirations, of which his whole life affords ample illustration (hear, hear).

He has been, I would say, ever the strong climber of the mountain side, and where we have seen difficulties and inaccessible heights, our chief has overcome them—he has overcome the obstacles and opposition as one who knew that difficulties were in the way to be encountered and mastered. He can now look back through the years with satisfaction at the work he has accomplished, and we and the whole of our staffs at home and abroad are proud to be the witnesses of his successes (hear, hear). I have, if you will forgive me for referring to it, known Sir John Pender now for over 28 years. At the time when I first knew him Sir John was very busily engaged in the City of Manchester during a great crisis that fell on the city and the county; business was almost paralysed, and business men bewildered; multitudes of poor people suffering intense agony and privation from the effects of cotton famine, which had been brought about by the terrible civil war in America. It is not known to everybody the splendid work that Sir John did in those days; but I know it, and I know that thousands of men remember it with gratitude (cheers). Sir John had a great business there; during this most trying time—when the stream of work was turned out of its channel, he not only kept on his workmen, but was of the foremost in organising relief—in extending the helping hand of charity to all the sufferers. This has to do with Sir John’s record of usefulness and of honourable work (hear, hear). But, having accomplished what I may call giant tasks, does Sir John sit down with folded arms and say, “I must rest, I have done enough, and cannot be expected to do more ?” No. He is as much inclined as ever he was to do the work that his hand finds to do (cheers). You know, in Sir John’s own words, there is, in affairs telegraphic, no such thing as finality. The past has been good and great, but he would say there are discoveries to be made in the future, problems to be solved, difficulties to be worked out, and he would encourage us to be always ready and on the alert for whatever is required of us. I would say here, in the words of the motto on the order which Sir John so worthily wears, the past has been good but it is only “the pledge of better times.” Sir John, as you know, has received many and well-deserved honours in the past, and I have had the pleasure this evening of handing him a decree from Rome, conferring on him the highest decoration of the Order of the Crown of Italy. We have at this feast, to-night, representatives of the Associated Companies from distant lands, from the East, the Far East, from lands of the southern seas; and though our gathering is small it is enthusiastic (hear, hear). We are moved with one impulse, we have one hearty wish, a sincere congratulation on the great work, Sir, you have accomplished, and we give you our best service and our earnest wishes for the future as we drink to the health and welfare of our renowned chief (loud cheers).

The toast having been drunk with enthusiasm,

The Chairman called on Mr. Hesse to read the address to be presented to Sir John Pender, as follows:—

To Sir JOHN PENDER, G.C.M.G., M.P.,

Chairman of   THE EASTERN TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
    THE EASTERN EXTENSION TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
    THE BRAZILIAN SUBMARINE TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
    THE EASTERN AND S. AFRICAN TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
    THE DIRECT UNITED STATES CABLE COMPANY.
    THE DIRECT SPANISH TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
    THE AFRICAN DIRECT TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
    THE WEST AFRICAN TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
    THE PACIFIC AND EUROPEAN TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
    THE EUROPE AND AZORES TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
    THE GLOBE TELEGRAPH AND TRUST COMPANY.
    THE SUBMARINE CABLES TRUST.
    THE BLACK SEA TELEGRAPH COMPANY.

We the undersigned, representing the Officers and Staffs of the Submarine Telegraph Companies over which you preside, desire to mark the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of Cable Communication with the Far East by placing on record our admiration of your great labours in the cause of Submarine Telegraphy, which have largely contributed to the prosperity of the British Empire, and may justly be regarded as the great scientific achievement of the Victorian Age.

We also desire to express to you our appreciation of your kindness and consideration for all those connected with the Companies, both at home and abroad, and to ask your acceptance of the accompanying Trophy, symbolical of the triumph of Submarine Telegraphy, in the hope that it may in some small degree serve as a tribute to the talents, untiring energy, and perseverance which have enabled you to bring to a successful issue the great enterprise with which your name will for all time be identified, and which must command the admiration of your contemporaries and the gratitude of posterity.

(Signed)

GEORGE DRAPER.     W. HIBBERDINE.
F.E. HESSE.     T.A. BULLOCK.
H.A.C. SAUNDERS.   SIDNEY COLLETT.
W.T. ANSELL.   OSCAR MOLL.
RICHARD COLLETT.   GEO. R. NEILSON.
CH. GERHARDI.   W.R. LYNE.
T. FINNIS.   JNO. CAMBROOK.
A.R. HARDIE.   A. BRODRICK.
W.H. AXWORTHY.   H.E. PLANK.
GEORGE C. JACK.   ALFD. BROWN.

Continuing, Mr. Hesse said: The address is signed by all the members of the Presentation Committee, and as their names appear on the programme it is unnecessary for me to read them; but I should like to mention that a silver casket has been designed for preserving the address, and it is in a somewhat unique form, representing a piece of picked-up cable, with shells, coral, and seaweed upon it. It may also interest you to know that the testimonial has been subscribed for by practically the whole of the associated staffs. The subscriptions have ranged from two guineas down to the small sum of sixpence, so that even the youngest member in the service has had the privilege of participating in the presentation (hear, hear, and cheers).

The Pender Trophy, 2010.
Almost 4'6" wide by 4' high, nearly 1500 ounces of silver
Photographs courtesy of Mozzafarian Jewellery

Detail of the presentation inscription

Amid loud cheers the beautiful silver Trophy, or centrepiece, and the Casket for containing the address were uncovered. Both were manufactured by Messrs. Elkington & Co., of Cheap-side, London. The description of the Trophy is as follows:‑

The design is purely nautical and symbolical in its character, in view of the nature of the business of the Companies in which the staff presenting the Testimonial are employed; the massive architectural plinth being supported by four finely modelled and chased dolphins, additional strength to which is given by two shields, richly framed in seaweed, ornamented by electric symbols, the one in front bearing the Arms of Sir John Pender, and the other a representation in repoussé of a steamship, as used for laying the cables.

Puck and his sprites
Photograph courtesy of
Mozzafarian Jewellery

A moulding of laurel leaves, bound together, is appropriately introduced to symbolise the victory over the great difficulties attending the undertakings of the Companies. Another moulding, surmounting the base, is a representation in miniature of the Submarine Cable; the space between these two mouldings and surrounding the body of the plinth is happily utilised for carrying twelve shields, connected together by laurel wreaths; these shields bearing the Seals of the Associated Companies, whilst in the front centre an oblong panel is introduced, upon which is depicted in repoussé a carefully executed illustration of the celebrated “Great Eastern” S S.

Displayed upon the plinth, borne upon the ocean waves, are four sea horses, guided by Tritons blowing trumpets formed of conch shells, supporting a large terrestrial globe, with the various Continents accurately represented thereon, gracefully reclining upon the upper surface of which are four exquisitely modelled and chased figures, emblematical of the four great quarters Europe, Asia, Africa and America—united by telegraph lines. Busily around the sphere, Puck and his attendant Sprites are realising Shakespeare’s poetical extravagance.

“I'll put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes.”
                                                     Midsummer Night’s Dream

A beautifully embossed portrait of Sir John Pender, in high relief, wreathed in a composition of laurel, seaweed and other nautical emblems, is shown in front, whilst surmounting the whole, Mercury, the god of commerce, bearing the mythical caduceus, is flying around the world, encouraging its commerce and proclaiming the triumph of Ocean Telegraphy.

The whole is executed in Solid Silver, oxydised. Weight approaching 1,500 ounces; and measuring nearly 4ft. 6in. in length, by 4ft. in height.

The following is a description of the Casket:

This is of an exceedingly novel and quaint design, the body being an enlarged model of a part of the Submarine Cable, an opening being made at one end to receive the address. Four dolphins support the casket, and two escallop shells, reposing on groups of coral, form shields at back and front to carry the inscription and armorial bearings. Gracefully reclining upon the top and nearly covering it is a charmingly arranged cluster of shells, seaweeds, etc., such as are usually found adhering to submarine cables, this cluster, as well as the dolphins and shells, is very richly gilt, whilst the casket proper is oxydised. The effect is very beautiful, and it is further enhanced by the deep black of the polished ebony pedestal on which it rests, forming a decided contrast to the gold.

Photographs of the illuminated address and its casket, from the book

Sir John Pender:My Lord and gentlemen, if I use an old phrase it is because it describes really my feelings when I say that my breath seems really to have been taken away. I came here to-night with feelings mixed—with an idea that I was going to meet many men who had been associated with me for so long, and to have right and left of me friends associated with me in my career of submarine telegraphy. But I have heard what I call the very beautiful and eloquent address of your Chairman (cheers), and it has made me more solemn than I intended or expected to be. It has brought to my memory times gone by, and it has reminded me that I have had a life which I might fairly divide into three parts. Before saying anything further, however, I must tell you that I have come here to-night without a note—no preparation for a speech in any shape or form, excepting a few figures and a few names of those who have been associated with my career, which I thought I ought to have handy in case I might require to use them. I came here under the impression that it would be a very jolly evening, to meet so many who had been associated with me during the last 25 years, and that that had been a period so prosperous that we could look back on it with the greatest possible pleasure and satisfaction. I was pleased at the idea of having seated beside me men who more or less took a very prominent part in the great work with which I have been associated; but I am bound now to say something more than I originally intended. You have given me—the world has given me—great credit for the work that has been done. It is true that the work is great. I think that the establishment of submarine telegraphy is probably one of the greatest achievements of the Victorian Age. It is no use regarding that view as egotistic (hear, hear). It is a great fact—a fact which the whole world recognises, and those associated with me in the establishment of this undertaking ought to be proud of it. I will now give some reason why I should be so prominently placed at the head of this great movement; and I will give you, if you will allow me, in the shortest space of time that I can do it, a little history of a commercial man’s life (cheers).

I will divide my life into three parts, giving to each part 25 years. That brings me to-day to 75 years of age, though I do not mean to say that I am less energetic to-day than I was. My first 25 years’ life was spent in Scotland. I am proud of Scotland and of the energy that belongs to the Scottish people. I may state that from the time I was 14 years of age I never cost my people one penny. By the time I was 21 I entered into matrimony, and a happier period of my life there could not have been. Looking back in this way sometimes brings sad thoughts to us. On the 1st of January, 1844, began the second period of my life. There are those present—your Chairman among them—who know very well the position I took there. For ten years I worked hard—aye, very hard indeed—but in ten years, I think, I took a position which I am proud of to-day. During that period of my life in Manchester, however, I became associated with telegraphs. They were land lines; but I was there to welcome Cyrus Field when he came over to this country with his project for submarine telegraphy. I gave him a hearty welcome, and in referring to this time I was the representative in Manchester of the submarine cables, my associate then being James Dugdale, who is now dead and gone, but who was then a very prominent member of the manufacturing industry of Manchester. We give all credit to Cyrus Field—I give him great credit—for the part he played in the establishment of submarine cables; but, although I do not say it with any disrespect to either Cyrus Field or the American people, they did nothing practical—England had to take the question up, and it was taken up in this country. But even then it was more or less a failure in the earlier days. I, however, felt that this was an enterprise that ought to succeed, and one which ought to be carried out. Cyrus Field came to me and said, “We can get no money in America, and I do not see how we can get any money in England unless some change in policy takes place.” Well, he and I considered the question of policy. The policy I laid down was that the work ought to be done, and that we must by some means or other obtain the power—the industry—that existed for making the cable. It was too big an undertaking for the company that was in existence, and it was resolved that we should buy not only Glass, Elliot and Company’s business, but also that of the Gutta Percha Company, which was a very great undertaking at that time. The result was that we took over these two companies, and formed the Telegraph Construction Company. That company’s first Directors were Henry Ford Barclay, Thomas Brassey, Alexander Henry Campbell, George Elliot, Alexander S. Finlay, M.P., Richard A. Glass, Daniel Gooch, Samuel Gurney, John Pender, M.P., and John Smith. Nearly all these gentlemen were brought together by myself, the only two who were not introduced by me being George Elliot and Richard Glass, because they were then the manufacturers of cables, not cables for submarine purposes alone, but also cables for other purposes. I formed that company and became chairman of it, and we found the money to make the cables.

We sent out the “Great Eastern,” and let me remark, in dealing with the big ship, that I wrote to Mr. MacIver at Liverpool, and asked him to give us the use, or the great privilege, of a month or two months’ services of the very best captain he had for the purpose of commanding the “Great Eastern” to carry out the work. I am passing over the first cable that was laid, and coming to the practical part of the business. Mr. MacIver gave us the services of James Anderson, and that was Sir James Anderson’s introduction to submarine telegraphy. You know the part—the important part—he played in it; and I have always said, and now repeat it, that the fact which Sir James Anderson proved—namely, that a cable could be picked up in mid-ocean—gave a character to submarine telegraphy which was an enormous help in carrying it to a successful issue (cheers).

But, gentlemen, do not let me allow you to believe that all this was done by myself. Lord Tweeddale, who is sitting here (cheers), has been a loyal and true man to submarine telegraphy. I do not believe that we have ever had a difference of opinion regarding the policy which we ought to establish and carry out. I will also mention another gentleman who is here to-night, and the encouragement I had from him was very great indeed. You know what power Governments wield in these matters. You know that they do not always take a generous, bold, and liberal view of progress. They want to save money in every possible way, and the usual policy of the Treasury of a Government is to say “No” to everything. I went to the Colonial Office, of which Sir Robert Herbert was the permanent secretary, and he encouraged me in every possible way. I had no fault to find with his action. I do not mean to say that he said to me certain things should be done, but whenever I went to the Colonial Office to see him he sent me away, somehow or other, with “a pleasant taste in my mouth” (laughter), and I had a sort of idea that if we persevered we should not be far out in the end so far as he was concerned. The times I refer to were very anxious times, but I always had right and left of me men I esteemed, men whose advice I was encouraged by. Having achieved a position in Manchester and given my business up there, I came to London, and threw my whole heart and energy into the carrying forward of submarine telegraphy, and I am here to-day to receive and acknowledge the honour you are conferring on me (cheers). Fifty years ago, on the 1st of January, 1844, I left Scotland. At that time I was presented by a body of artisans and working men whom I had served well, and of whom I became the superintendent, with my first present of plate. I have used it from that day to this, and I never look at it without feeling that it was an act of great kindness on the part of those men.

This brought me on to the second period of my life; and in connection with the cotton famine in Lancashire, to which your Chairman has referred so well to-night, I received an illuminated address from about 3,000 people in acknowledgement of the services I had rendered in ameliorating the distress which was at that time so prevalent in Manchester. I look upon that memorial as marking a red-letter day in my life. I have therefore had two presentations—one in each 25 years of my life, and I have now come to the last (no). Ah, gentlemen, time will roll on, but I feel that as time has rolled on we have established this great system with which we are identified; and I say “we” because all the men round this table have more or less been associated with its progress. We have established a great system; we have attached the commercial to the scientific element, and have thus carried out that which has benefited the whole civilised world (cheers). In receiving this testimonial to-night I receive it not as a compliment to myself alone, but as a compliment to those who have worked with me, who have shown me that they were always ready and able to work. They have helped successfully and efficiently, and I wish to-night to recognise their work. I look upon this ceremony as an evidence of united action on the part of those who have accomplished that which will probably be regarded, when the records of the Victorian Age are written, as the greatest achievement probably in the history of the world (cheers). I could go on and talk longer if it were prudent for me to do so, but I will simply add this—that while I acknowledge, and most heartily acknowledge, the great compliment that has been paid to me, I must say that that compliment must be shared by those who have been associated with me.

I have given you a brief outline of an active life. I say to all of you around this table who have contributed to this magnificent trophy that while you are complimenting me you are complimenting yourselves also; but you are at the same time taking upon yourselves a responsibility which I hope you will carefully fulfil (hear, hear). I have done my part, and other men who are sitting here have done their part, in carrying out this great enterprise; but it is younger blood that will have to carry it forward in the future. Let me say to that younger life, do not forget the past, do not forget the responsibility you have taken upon your shoulders. We stand in a very proud position to-day; carry that position still higher (cheers). It rests with you. We have endeavoured to establish this submarine telegraph system as one which men may be proud to join. Those who have so far been associated with it know its value, its importance, and that there is still a great work to do. I believe that the full power of electricity is yet unknown. We understand it up to a certain point, but we know that there is a vast deal more to be done. Economies have to be effected, and the very remarkable position that we have established will have to be maintained. During the 25 years that I am now speaking of, I may say that we have never had an instance of tampering with messages on the part of our staff (cheers). Looking at the enormous power of thought which passes over our cables, and the great temptations held out often to disclose some of these telegrams, I am bound to say, and I do so with the greatest possible pleasure, that our staff have been true and loyal to their trust. But I want you to remember that if the position which we occupy now is to be maintained, that same course must be faithfully and honourably pursued. We who sit, as you know, at the Board tables know perfectly well what the responsibility is; but we also know, in all our endeavours to raise the condition of the staff, that every man cannot come on the Board and take the position that some of us hold, though you can all aim at it. After all, ambition is laudable, and I say to you, be ambitious to maintain this great system with honour in the future as in the past. I ask you to-night to give me your pledge that that will be the course followed by you in the future (a voice “We do”), and in giving me that pledge you may be assured that it is to me an immense comfort and gratification, because I feel very proud indeed of the position which we occupy. If God gives me health, as long as I live it will be maintained, but it can only be maintained by the active co-operation of the staff. I think I have now said as much as it is necessary for me to say. I told you that I came here to-night without any prepared speech. I have spoken to you from my heart, and I beg that you will take it as a truthful but very imperfect evidence of my great interest in this system, and my great desire to carry on the work in the future as it has been carried on in the past. I desire also to acknowledge to you that I am grateful to you all, individually and collectively, for the important part which you have played in this work. I am also deeply grateful to you for the special compliment which you have paid me in presenting me with this magnificent trophy, and I am deeply gratified to become the possessor of it, because I believe it has come spontaneously from your hearts (loud cheers). I say to my sons who are sitting here to-night that I hope they will cherish with the same feeling that I do this evidence of your goodwill, and that they will carry it down as an heirloom in the family, and that they will endeavour, perhaps more efficiently and I hope better than I have done, to carry on the traditions of a name which has been associated so prominently with telegraphy. I want also to say that while I have not mentioned all the names who have been identified with this system I have mentioned names of gentlemen that I am proud to have had as my associates. I thank them with the greatest possible heartiness, and I sincerely hope that I may be spared a few years longer to carry the enterprise of submarine telegraphy still higher. We have battles to fight, important battles; but we have such a footing, such a grip of the whole thing that we should not be what I believe we are if we allow ourselves to be beaten in anything. I thank you again, gentlemen, and most sincerely, for the great honour you have done me to-night, and to those associated with me, and I assure you of my belief that if we continue to work together and in union—for I believe that union is power—we shall thus strengthen the position which we are all so anxious to maintain with honour and dignity (prolonged cheers).

Photograph of the trophy, from the book

The Marquis of Tweeddale proposed the next toast: “Success to Submarine Telegraphy.” He said: Mr. Chairman, Sir John Pender, and gentlemen, I have a toast to propose which I am sure will be received, in this room at any rate, with the greatest pleasure. I believe it will be received with equal pleasure by almost every English-speaking community throughout the civilised world—always excepting perhaps, Cabinet Ministers presided over by our present Prime Minister, who does not seem to have shown that extreme interest in submarine telegraphy that the world in general has done (laughter). I am very much obliged to our Chairman for giving me this opportunity of saying a few words. They must be few, because I am sorry to say I have to leave very shortly. I am glad of the opportunity because it enables me to add to my testimony—and my testimony is valuable—to the energy, skill, and perseverance displayed by the gentleman in whose honour we are here to-night, in connection with the development of submarine telegraphy. I have been associated with him, as I daresay you know, from the very commencement, and am able, perhaps, better than almost anyone to speak of the manner in which he has conducted the deliberations for the advancement of submarine telegraphy. If I had to express in the very fewest possible words what I should hope for the future of submarine telegraphy, it is that it may be as prosperous in the future as it has been in the past. We all know, here especially, and we have heard to-night in the eloquent language of Sir John Pender, what has been done towards the extension of submarine telegraphy throughout the world. We know that the four, or rather five, quarters of the globe have been connected in such a way that we can speak to each other almost as rapidly as we are speaking to each other to-night; and if I and you were asked to whom we aero most indebted for this result, I think you would all agree with me that it is to Sir John Pender. There is no one who is more ready to acknowledge the valuable assistance he has received from all quarters and from many individuals; but it is only fair to Sir John to say that the establishment of submarine telegraphy as it exists at this moment is due to his foresight. Many of us can see what is going to happen in connection with a great enterprise, but it is not all of us who have the power to foresee it and also the power to carry it out; and I think, therefore, that I am entitled to claim for Sir John Pender the credit of having more than any other individual carried out this remarkable achievement of submarine telegraphy. He has been, in short, what has been described as “the predominant partner” in submarine telegraphy (cheers). So much for the past; and now with respect to the future. Submarine telegraphy, as you know, has been carried out up to this time almost exclusively by private enterprise, conducted by Directors of whom Sir John has been the chief. Well, what has happened ? A taste has been created in the public mind for the rapid, regular transmission of intelligence of all kinds, and the public insist not only on what they have already got, but on a great deal more. They insist on cables being laid in every direction, and the question arises whether that should be done by private enterprise or through the assistance of Governments. I must confess, and I believe most of you will agree with me, that I think it would be far better if it were left in the future to private enterprise as it has been in the past, and that Governments should confine themselves to looking after terrestrial telegraphy and leave submarine telegraphy to private enterprise (cheers). Whether that will be the case or not there is one thing quite certain, that we have not seen the end of submarine telegraphy, and I can only express this hope, that even if it is conducted and developed by Governments, it will be done with consideration to those who have established submarine telegraphy up to this time (cheers). It will be an extreme injustice to those who have spent their money, their time, and their energy in carrying out the most remarkable system of communication between the different quarters of the world if they were to be, I will not say robbed, but injured seriously, through Governments taking up the work in competition with them. But whatever may happen, I think we may believe that we shall hold our own, even against Governments (cheers). One thing is certain—namely, that we need be under no apprehension as to the future of submarine telegraphy. The public insist upon having intelligence brought from all parts of the world, and whether it is done by private enterprise or through Government instrumentality, the future of submarine telegraphy is assured (hear, hear).

Sir John Pender, in acknowledging the toast, said: The willing horse always gets his fair share of the work—a greater share sometimes than the old horse desires (laughter). At all events, I never shrink from work. Lord Tweeddale has been obliged to go. To-morrow, at his home in Scotland, his eldest son’s birthday is to be celebrated, as is also his second son’s birthday; and I think you must admire the man who makes a very great sacrifice to leave a very pleasant evening like this to travel all night in order to reach his home so as to be present on such an occasion (hear, hear). Lord Tweeddale has made a very ready speech, and has very truly recognised the work which has been done, with which he has been associated. With reference to the toast, I think I might, without troubling you too much, show you that the promoters of submarine telegraphy from its inception have not been unknown men, and not men who have come forward for the purpose of personal aggrandisement. They have all been men of mark in their day, and men that were above any notion such as aggrandisement. In the earlier days of submarine telegraphy, when Mr. Cyrus Field came to this country first, there was a provisional committee formed, consisting of G.B. Carr, Esq., who was the chairman, C.W. Field, Esq., J.W. Brett, Esq., who was a man honourably associated with submarine telegraphy; Samuel Statham, Esq., who was connected with the Gutta Percha Manufacturing Company, a man of very good position, who did his work remarkably well; J.S. Walker, Esq., and C.W. Tupper, Esq. The first permanent Directors were as follows: In London:—George Peabody, Esq., who is known to everyone; Samuel Gurney, Esq., a man very well known in my early days in the City, and a man of great wealth and great probity; Thomas Alers Hankey, Esq., another banker equally well known; C.M. Lampson, Esq., an American connected with the Hudson’s Bay Company, and a great fur merchant, who received honours on the occasion of the first laying of submarine telegraphy; Thomas H. Brooking, Esq., also a good man; G.B. Carr, Esq., and J.W. Brett. In Liverpool the company acting in concert with the London company consisted of W. Brown, Esq., a great Liverpool financier and banker connected with America; G. Maxwell, Esq., Robert Crosbie, Esq., Edward Johnston, Esq., Henry Harrison, Esq., and C.W.H. Pickering, Esq. As regards Manchester, the parties who were associated in the undertaking were myself, and James Dugdale, Esq.; while in Glasgow we had Sir James Anderson, M.P. (not our Sir James Anderson), W. Logie, Esq., and Professor W. Thomson (now Lord Kelvin). You therefore see that in the early days of submarine telegraphy those connected with it were all intelligent, intellectual, and what one would call very well-to-do citizens of this great Empire.

This leads me up to the point of remarking that what was begun so well ought really to be continued in the same way, and that the same feeling which has existed in the past should continue in the future (hear, hear, and cheers). I am told that our Boards stand very high—at all events the Boards over whom I have the honour to preside are all men of worth, who are there for the knowledge they have and the position they hold. I must say that I am proud to have such associates (hear, hear), but let me say one thing of which I am very proud and which I have never failed to mention with gratification whenever I have had an opportunity like the present of doing so; I have never had at one of my Boards during the last 25 years a division or a show of hands upon any question (cheers). If that does not show harmony and unity of action I do not know what does (cheers). It is that unity of action, that perfect co-operation, which I desire so much to see continued which has been the main cause of our success. If we had had to do with men without any heart in the business they were representing, and if we had had differences of opinion every Board day, I can only tell you that I would not have continued to be associated with the system; but it is the hearty co-operation of all these men that has enabled us to be so successful in the past. There may be great differences of opinion in the future; Governments are open to be impressed—they are often influenced even against their own convictions—but I hold that our position is so strong and so good, that we have managed so well in the past 25 years, and that even those who may be most opposed to us to-day tell us that we have done our work well, although they are going to bring against us opposition in favour of lower rates. I am in favour of low rates if the telegraphing public will only come forward in such numbers as will enable us to establish those rates (hear, hear); but I do not believe in any enterprise being practically useful if those conducting it are working at a loss or making comparatively insignificant profits (hear, hear, and cheers).

Every labourer is entitled to a fair reward for his work, and if we can maintain in the future such a service as we have done in the past, those men who are coming forward now and those Governments who are coming forward now to establish systems in opposition to those already existing may be led to see—as I would have them to see—that it may be wise not to destroy that which has been so useful in the past, but that, on the contrary, it will be wisest to try and make that which has been so useful in the past equally useful in the future (cheers). That is my policy now—that in the future we shall be able to associate ourselves in every way with those who desire to have additional cables, that we shall associate ourselves with those Governments who desire such cables to be laid in carrying out the work--always, however, having under our view not to destroy that from which so much benefit has been derived in the past (hear, hear).

I do not think I can say anything more with respect to submarine telegraphy. We have a good deal to contend against. There are a good many competitors in the field, but what with our experience and the high sense of honour which we have established, and which I am so anxious to maintain, and ask all of you around this table to endorse—I say with what we have done and with our present high position, we have before us a future so fair, so practical, that 1 think we shall be able to stand against any competition that may be brought against us (cheers).

My next duty is to propose “The Health of the Associated Staffs.” Nothing probably would give me greater pleasure than to propose that toast. You are all here representing the different Submarine Telegraph Companies of which I am, I presume, the President (hear, hear). I have to thank the different staffs for their hearty co-operation, and you, gentlemen, for the ready way in which you have met all that I have brought before you. My views may not always have been wise, but they have always been honest and straight, and I think if we may judge from the result they have not been foolish (hear, hear). I say to the staff, looking forward, that if the system is to be maintained in the future as it has been in the past the staff must do something even better than they have done. We have had no opposition, but now we have to contend against it, and in every way more brains and more loyalty are required—loyalty being a very important element in holding things together; and the value of energy and enthusiasm cannot be overrated. With reference to the Pacific cable it is not our business to oppose progress in that direction; it is our business to promote in every possible way submarine telegraphy wherever submarine telegraphy is wanted. It is, however, our business and our policy, as honourable men, not to encourage the laying of cables simply for the purpose of getting Governments to spend money where cables are not wanted. We ought to go on the broad principle of only expending money where such expenditure will bring about not only a return upon the outlay, but will develop material interests where the cable is laid (cheers). Gentlemen, you have done me great honour in coming here this evening. I wish to thank all who are present, and that my thanks may be conveyed to every member of the staffs not only at home but abroad (cheers). Nothing gives me more pleasure than the trips which I make to visit our stations in the Mediterranean, because in visiting them I see that the English element is at the head of everything. I have been told by Ministers who have had the privilege of visiting those stations and of seeing the facilities of communication afforded that they were proud of going into an office of the Eastern Telegraph Company because they regarded it as being a part of well-regulated, efficiently-worked service (cheers). I want that to be conveyed to all our men abroad. I want that spirit of esprit de corps to be implanted in the breast of every member of the staff. Now that we have established what may be called a real and effective service, I want you to help by will, by hand, by hearty co-operation in the maintenance of that service in an honourable and dignified position (cheers). It is a position of great responsibility—very great responsibility, and it can only be fulfilled by honest and earnest men (cheers).

The toast was responded to by Messrs. W.T. Ansell, Richard Collett, and Ch. Gerhardi.

Mr. Ansell said he had had the privilege of serving under Sir John Pender, and he trusted that he had contributed in his way, as “one of the bundles of sticks,” to the success which had attended the efforts, the genius, and the enterprise of Sir John. On behalf of his colleagues in all parts of the world he thanked Sir John Pender for the honour which had been conferred on them in being permitted to offer a small tribute of their esteem and high regard to their chief. He sincerely hoped that Sir John would be spared for many years to continue to conduct them to further victories. They had marched on without let or hindrance in that field which had carried civilisation to the extreme ends of the earth, and he trusted that Sir John Pender would be spared to lead them in the same way for a long time to come. On the part of the staff he desired to assure Sir John Pender of their continued loyal support (cheers).

Mr. Richard Collett said he desired to bear testimony to the cordiality which existed among the officers and staffs of the various Associated Companies. As this must be a great advantage to those Companies, he thought it must be a satisfaction to Sir John Pender, in whose honour they had had the pleasure of assembling that evening.

Mr. Gerhardi observed that the Company he represented (the Direct Spanish Company) was most proud to have Sir John Pender as its Chairman, and had manifested the greatest satisfaction in having been allowed to take part in the ceremony of that evening in order that they might be allowed to testify their admiration of his services to submarine telegraphy.

Sir Robert Herbert said he had to propose a toast which might not be improperly proposed by one of their guests. In company with his valued friend Sir John Pender he had had the advantage of visiting a great many of the foreign stations of the Company, and of making the acquaintance of the able and excellent men in charge of them. Sir John Pender had alluded in kind words to the relations which he (the speaker) had had the satisfaction of having with him when he was at the Colonial Office. He was, however, connected with Colonial affairs long before the anniversary which they recently commemorated, because as Prime Minister of Queensland he had to conduct the relations of that Colony with the Empire and with foreign parts when they had no cable. Their lot in Queensland might be imagined when they had to receive every month, by a ten-knot steamer, the stale news of the world (laughter). All this had been changed since then, and it was owing to this change—which was due so much to Sir John Pender—that the relations between the Mother Country and her Colonies were on a much better footing than they were before. The gentleman who occupied the chair that night had shown great ability. He had known Mr. Draper as a most able business man; but—if the Chairman would allow him to make such a remark—he had been agreeably surprised at the admirable manner in which he had discharged the duties of Chairman, and his speech had completely covered the ground that had to be covered (cheers). Not only he as a guest, but all who were present were very much indebted to the Chairman and the committee for the admirable manner in which the proceedings of the evening had been carried out, and he begged to propose the health of the committee and of the Chairman, Mr. George Draper (cheers).

Sir John Pender said he desired to add a word of recognition to the admirable way in which the arrangements had been carried out. He had rarely attended anything that had been so well done, and he was very proud of having men of such organising powers serving under him (cheers).

The Chairman, in acknowledging the toast, thanked Sir Robert Herbert for his very kind expressions towards his colleagues of the committee and himself, and he also desired to thank Sir John Pender for his commendation.

During the evening, between the toasts, a selection of vocal music was performed by Miss Emily Davies, Miss Edith Hands, and Mr. Trefelyn David, the accompanist being Mr. Arthur Briscoe.

Plan of Table
November 16th, 1894

Cover detail from the book, showing the shields
of the Eastern Telegraph Company and the
Eastern Extension Telegraph Company

Last revised: 31 August, 2012

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