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

1872: Cyrus Field Banquet, London



The Banquet

given by

Mr. Cyrus W. Field,


The Palace Hotel, Buckingham Gate, London,

On Thursday the 28th November, 1872,

The day appointed by the President of the United States for the
Annual Thanksgiving.








Oct. 11th, 1872.



Whereas, the revolution of another year has again brought the time when it is usual to look back upon the past, and publicly thank the Almighty for His mercies and His blessings; and

WHEREAS, If any people has more occasion than another for such thankfulness, it is the citizens of the United States, whose Government is their creature, subject to their behests; who have reserved to themselves ample civil and religious freedom, and equality before the law; who, during the last twelve months, have enjoyed exemption from any grievous or general calamity, and to whom prosperity in agriculture, manufactures, and commerce has been vouchsafed;

THEREFORE, by these considerations, I recommend that on Thursday, the 28th of November next, the people meet in their respective places of worship, and there make their acknowledgments to God for His kindness and bounty.

In witness whereof I hereunto set my hand, and cause the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington this 11th day of October, in the Year of our Lord 1872, and of the Independence of the United States the 97th. By the President,

U. S. GRANT.        

Secretary of State.





AFTER the guests had assembled, Mr. Field called upon the Rev. Mr. Parson, of the United States, to invoke the Divine blessing, which was done in a few well-chosen words.

After dinner Mr. FIELD said: My lords and gentlemen, the first toast I have the honour to propose to you has often been received with great enthusiasm in America; and I am quite sure it will be so received here. I give you “The health of her Majesty the Queen.”

The toast was warmly honoured.

Mr. FIELD: Will you now join me in drinking “The health of his Excellency the President of the United States.”

The toast was enthusiastically received.

Mr. FIELD: The next toast I have to propose to you is one I am sure every gentleman will join in most cordially, and I have great pleasure in stating that it will be responded to by one whose name is a household word throughout the world. I give you, gentlemen, “Great Britain and the United States of America: two countries destined to be united in friendship as closely as they are in kinship.” Coupled with this toast I ask you to drink the health of the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, M.P. (Loud cheers.)

The RIGHT HON. W. E. GLADSTONE: Mr. Cyrus Field and gentlemen, I do not know, Sir, whether you have been fortunate in the choice of the individual whom you have honoured by requesting him to answer to this toast, but I feel quite sure that you have been fortunate in the occasion on which it is given. It is given upon a day when, in full concert with the Christian feeling of your country, you render thanks to the Giver of all good for the bounty which He has poured out upon it: and it is given upon a day when you have gathered around this hospitable board a body of gentlemen united with yourself in a great work which at once constitutes one of the most signal triumphs of modern science and one of the new guarantees of the peace and amity of the world.

I therefore feel, Sir, it is an occasion eminently suited for the expression of the sentiments which you have embodied in this toast. You say that Great Britain and the United States are destined to be as closely united in friendship as they are in kinship. I hope, Sir, that that is the case, and I firmly believe your toast speaks no more than is the truth.

I am afraid, Mr. Field, it often happens that when special friendship between two countries is boasted of, it does not so much mean the affection which they entertain for one another, as some kind or degree of antipathy towards somebody else. (Laughter.) The meetings of the representatives of countries are not unfrequently considered to betoken something that is formidable to their neighbours. But if there be, as I think there is, a special relation of friendship between England and America, it is a friendship that implies nothing hurtful and nothing disparaging to any other country in the world. It is not founded upon any views of aggression entertained in common, for it is hardly conceivable that there ever should be any object which was dear at once to England and to America, if it were an object otherwise than beneficial to any other country in the world. (Cheers.) It is a specialty of friendship founded upon the close relation of our race: upon unity of language: upon sympathy at least, if not identity of institutions: upon that love of freedom, and of rational, ordered self-government, which distinguishes alike these two great countries.

And if, Mr. Field and gentlemen, we found the specialty of our friendship upon considerations such as these, we found it upon a basis which we desire not to be peculiar to ourselves, but which we shall rejoice to see occupied in common with us by every other people upon the face of the globe.

It is quite true, Sir, that the relations of England and America have been marked by features that I believe are without parallel in history. It is not often that history has given us the example of a colony which, like the United States, though constituted as a colony, or combination of colonies, yet was from the first so vigorous, so full of promise and power, so different from many of the colonial establishments that were founded from other European countries. When the day of separation came, it came attended by circumstances of pain and exasperation. But, happily, from both sides of the water we can now look back upon it without either exasperation or pain. (Cheers.) You on your part, I am quite sure, are ready to feel and to make allowance for a gallant people who believed, though erroneously, that they were struggling for national life, and that upon the unity of the empire depended the happiness of their country. We on our part are now able to see that, with motives in themselves honourable, we were in error; that we were struggling against nature—struggling, I will venture to say, even against Providence. The Americans themselves do not more rejoice in the day of their emancipation and their independence than we English, who give them the full tribute of our sympathy, and who would not, if we could, undo or reverse the actual course of events. (Cheers.)

But, Mr. Field, the relations of the two countries, close as they had been, and severed as they were by so severe a process, were distinguished in another most important particular from every other case that has been known in the history of the world. We were severed politically the one from the other; but the severance was not what, to use a homely expression, I may term a clean severance. It was not, as in the case, for example, of the two countries of the Peninsula, which, when they separated from their colonial possessions in South America, had no longer any special relations or special controversies subsisting between them. After the independence of the United States, Great Britain still continued to be an American power; and both from that circumstance and from many other circumstances, it happened that while upon the one hand there never had been a mother and a daughter country that had such strong reasons for friendship and affection, neither ever had there been a mother and daughter country who, at a time of independence were menaced with so many subjects of controversy and of possible difference and discord. And consequently, Mr. Field, there has been all along this singular contrast in the feelings of the people of the two countries towards one another, that while we have been powerfully attracted by all those causes to which I have referred; while we have felt how the seal of brotherhood had been stamped upon us by the hand of the Almighty Himself, and how every noble motive that tended to produce a true union of feeling was further quickened by a vast and extraordinary community of interests between us; yet, on the other hand, on almost every point of your wide circumference, there were questions of controversy which have from time to time divided us, and which it has been a work of time and difficulty to settle. Until this present day it would hardly have been practicable to point to a time at which there has not been some one or other subject of correspondence, and even of dispute, remaining unadjusted between England and the United States.

But, Mr. Field, there is this happy distinction to be observed. I have said that we have had the most powerful impulses to union and to concord. I have said we have had many occasions of difficulty and of controversy; but those occasions’ of difference and controversy were in their nature temporary; they were every one capable of being settled by intelligent good sense, and by a friendly temper. The time of that settlement has now happily arrived, when we can speak of it, not as a thing to be desired, but as a consummation which has happily been accomplished. (Loud cheers.) Those temporary differences have passed away: the motives for union remain. They are not, like other controversies, marked with a fugitive and transitory character: every one of them is profoundly rooted in the circumstances of the two countries, and in the characters of the peoples by which they are inhabited; so that, although there have been in other times strong sentiments—I might almost say unconquerable sentiments—tending towards fraternal union, yet those sentiments have heretofore been liable to be checked by opposite and contending currents, but now they may move in full and even flow, with nothing to break or fret them, and nothing to fix a term to the duration of the feelings which we rejoice to know do exist between us. (Loud cheers.)

And now, Sir, these may be said to be generalities. And with the permission which I dare not ask from you, but which I am quite sure I may assume myself to have received from this company, I will endeavour to, give them a particular application. The union of the two countries means, after all, the union of the men by whom they are inhabited; and among the men by whom they are inhabited there are some whose happy lot it has been to contribute more than others to the accomplishment of what I will venture to call that sacred work. And who is there, gentlemen, of them all that has been more marked, either by energetic motive or by happy success in that great undertaking, than your chairman, who has gathered us around his hospitable board to-night? (Loud cheers.)

His business has been to unite these two countries by a telegraphic wire; but, gentlemen, he is almost a telegraphic wire himself. (Loud laughter.) With the exception of the telegraphic wire, there is not, I believe, anyone who has so frequently passed anything between the two countries. I am quite certain there is no man who, often as he has crossed the ocean, has more weightily been charged upon every voyage with sentiments of kindness and good-will, of which he has been the messenger, between the one and the other people. (Loud cheers.)

Therefore, gentlemen, I ask you to join me in giving a more formal expression to those sentiments by which I know every breast in this room is animated, and to mark at once our sense of the personal virtues of Mr. Field, and of his great public services, by drinking unanimously and enthusiastically to his health. (Loud cheers.

Mr. FIELD: Mr. Gladstone, my lords and gentlemen, I thank you with all my heart for this unexpected honour; for the kind words, Sir, you have spoken, and you, gentlemen, for the cordial manner in which you have received them. Gentlemen, of the past I have not a word to say. Let us look forward; let us remember what is before us. A cable is about to be laid connecting England with Brazil; another from Panama down the south coast of the Pacific to Peru and Chili; another from California to Japan and China; another from Australia to New Zealand; and still another to connect us with the Cape of Good Hope. Gentlemen, we are a telegraph family, and when all this work is accomplished I pray God that I may be permitted to live to meet you, and rejoice with you—rejoice that we have done something to unite the different nations of the world. (Cheers.) And, gentlemen, I trust we shall then be permitted to gather up the crumbs that will fall from the tables of our rich commercial friends in all parts of the world. (Laughter and cheers.)

Mr. FIELD: Eighteen months ago there was signed in the city of Washington a Treaty which I venture to say will hereafter be looked upon as the greatest triumph of diplomacy in this century. Great honour is due to the distinguished gentlemen who negotiated that Treaty, and to the able statesmen on both sides of the Atlantic who, when it was in peril, used every effort to prevent such a blot on the civilization of the nineteenth century as its failure would have been. Without another word of comment I give you “ The Treaty of Washington,” and call upon the Hon. Hugh M’Culloch, who, during a large part of Mr. Lincoln’s administration, and the whole of Mr. Johnson’s, was Secretary of the United States Treasury. (Loud cheers.)

The HON. HUGH M’CULLOCH: Mr. Field and gentlemen, in the United States, or at least in New England, when I was a boy we had but two holidays. The Pilgrim Fathers, as we were in the habit of calling them, considered all observances of Saints’ days, and days that savoured of Masses, as having been instituted by the Prince of Darkness; and as they had the control of such matters, very little was done in the direction of holidays. We had, it is true, a day which was sometimes called a holiday, but which should more properly have been called a holy day—an annual fast day. But as this was a day of long sermons and short commons, its return was never hailed with much satisfaction by that large class in the community who had good appetites and little faith in the mortification of the flesh, as a means of propitiating the Deity and securing good crops. (Laughter.) We had, therefore, but two holidays, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving Day. The Fourth, as you well know, was rather a political than a social holiday. It was a day or which everybody was expected to be especially patriotic, or which the younger portion of the community were in the habit of burning powder freely, no matter how hot might be the weather, and of singing hosannas to the Goddess of Liberty, by whose intervention it was supposed the American Eagle had escaped the clutches of the British Lion (Laughter.) But the day of days, the day of short sermon: and good dinners, the day of family reunions, the day 01 universal good feeling; the day, I am happy to say, or which every board, however humble it might be, was generously supplied with the good things which the country so abundantly produced, was Thanksgiving Day It was a day which all New Englanders especially re- member with the liveliest affection; and we feel greatly indebted to Mr. Field that we are permitted to enjoy it together in this place. This celebration will add a new charm to the day of which we always have the most pleasant recollections. I may say further, that it is a day in the celebration of which Englishmen can heartily join with Americans; for you recollect that the Thanksgiving Day of .the Pilgrims was an English institution. It was ordained by Englishmen—on American soil, it is true—but by Englishmen thoroughly loyal to the English Throne, and as thoroughly imbued with that spirit of civil and religion: liberty which, although it has been subject to temporary obscurations, is the very foundation of the ecclesiastical and political institutions of this great country. (Cheers.)

The day is a pleasant one in another respect; and Englishmen and Americans can join in the celebration, especially at the present time, because there never has been a period when such agencies were at work to establish good relations between the two countries. The influences of a common ancestry, of a common literature, of a common language, and, to a considerable extent, a common law, and of a mutually profitable trade, have of late been vastly strengthened by the increased facilities of intercourse and communications.

It is a trite remark, but a true one, that steam and electricity have annihilated distance. Steamships are bringing every year from the United States to this country thousands of Americans, very few of whom would have thought of crossing the Atlantic had it not been for steamships; most of whom—all of whom I may say—return with increased respect and increased affection for the mother country. A large, though smaller number of English people are constantly visiting the United States, and are as constantly returning with similar sentiments in regard to the great Republic. (Cheers.) Not only so, but these two nations, so strongly united as they are, and still more strongly united as they are destined to be—these two nations, thanks to our honourable chairman, to whose energy and faith we are, in my judgment, indebted for the Atlantic Cable—(cheers) —can now, as it were, speak face to face; and I have no question that the eloquent words uttered by the right honourable gentleman who has just sat down have ere this been flashed to the United States, and that before the sun hides his face in the Pacific Ocean they will have been read with delight from one end of the country to the other. This is a time also of peculiar interest, because we have at last reached a point at which all differences between the two nations have been definitely and honourably settled. (Cheers.) The right honourable gentleman who has spoken with so much eloquence—I verily believe he could not help being eloquent if he tried—when the Alabama or Washington Treaty was somewhat more unpopular than it now is, certainly more unpopular than it is likely hereafter to be, assumed the full responsibility of it The right honourable gentleman has acquired a reputation which has placed him in the front rank of the most distinguished of his countrymen; but I incline to the opinion that, brilliant as his career has been, there is no part of it that he will reflect upon with more satisfaction than upon his connection with this Treaty. It will be the most lasting and the most honourable monument to his fame. In regard to the Treaty itself I have very little to say. It is well understood: it has been read, at all events, by all who care for the relations between the two countries. It tells its own story. It is a simple agreement between two great nations to adjust their controversies by arbitration instead of the sword. It settles most important principles of international law. It defines clearly the duties and responsibilities of neutrals. In my judgment, and almost in the language of Mr. Field, it is the greatest achievement of Christian civilization during the present century. (Loud cheers.)

Mr. FIELD: I have now to call upon Captain Hamilton, chairman of the Anglo-American Company which laid the first long deep-sea cable; on Mr. Pender, chairman of the Company that has lines extending to India; on Sir James Anderson, who so ably commanded the Great Eastern; and on my friend Captain Sherard Osborn, who should be thankful that the Company to which he belongs has laid over 25,000 miles of submarine lines in different parts of the world, and that every single mile of those lines is working at this moment (Cheers.) Gentlemen, I give you “The World System of Telegraphy,” to which the gentlemen I have mentioned will respond. (Loud cheers.)

CAPTAIN HAMILTON: Mr. Field and gentlemen, it is with great diffidence I rise to say even a very few words after the eloquent addresses we have heard to-night. I only wish that the chairman of the French Company, Lord Monck, had been present to-night. He would have performed this task much better than I can, but he is in Ireland attending to other duties. However, I am not sorry that I should have the opportunity of addressing you in a few words, and of telling you how the three Companies which I now stand up to respond for are united, I might almost say body and soul. Perhaps it is only in soul, however; but we are at all events so united together, that we work under an agreement, in perfect unity and concord—an agreement which I am afraid none of us here will live long enough to see the end of, fifty years from 1870 being the term—an agreement under which we work together for our mutual benefit.

I will say very little to you, but there are one or two facts which I think it may be interesting for you to know. Since the first cable across the Atlantic was laid, the average number of messages has increased twenty-fold. The tariff has been reduced from £20 per message to four shillings per word; and, though I scarcely know what time exactly it took in those early days to transmit a message from London to New York and receive an answer, I do not think I am far wrong in saying it was one or two days. I can tell you that, taking every message sent in August, September, and October last, the average delay from New York to London, and from. London to New York, was only 17 minutes 40 seconds. (Cheers.) I think this will show that our Company, as it this day exists, is doing tolerably well, and I believe that the work is done satisfactorily to our customers.

Early next year, I believe, the fourth cable will be laid in connection with us, and that will, I hope, enable us even to shorten the time which on an average is taken to send a message across the Atlantic. You must recollect we can send a message in a very much shorter time than that. It can be sent over in one or two minutes, but you must consider the number of messages which are often given to us together. Very often they come in large batches. The manner in which we can tell that the whole system works well is by taking the average, and, as I have told you; the average in three months was 17 minutes 40 seconds, and I believe by and by we shall improve upon that. We are told that we may have to compete next year with other Companies and other lines, but as long as we have four cables in working order, and do the work as we do now, I have no fear of competition. I must not forget there are other gentlemen who are going to answer to this toast, and I will only conclude by thanking you on the part of the three Companies—the French Atlantic Company, the Anglo-American Company, and the Newfoundland Company—for the manner in which this toast has been received and honoured. (Cheers.)

J. PENDER, ESQ., M.P.: I consider this one of the red-letter days of those who are connected with submarine telegraphy. When I look round this table and see the men who have played such an important part in connection with the telegraphic projects which have been so successfully carried out, I feel sure, Sir, you will all join with me in hearty congratulations on the expressions of opinion which have been used so freely and so effectively by such a distinguished man as Mr. Gladstone, in favour of the work which you yourself have laboured so long and so hard to achieve. Gentlemen, no one knows better than Mr. Field what dark days we had to pass through before we could bring submarine telegraphy to the position which it now occupies; and there is no man—I have often said this before, and I repeat it now—there is no man living to whom we are more indebted than we are to Mr. Field, for the energy and perseverance with which the great idea has been pursued. (Cheers.) He came over from America with but one object in view. He came amongst us, who were busy with our usual occupations; but he had a power within him which inspired other men (there are many men who were inspired by him), and it was through that inspiration that a work has been done, the vast importance of which has been recognised by some of the first and most eminent men of England and America. With regard to the humble part which I have taken in connection with Mr. Field and other gentlemen in bringing scientific and commercial men together, I would remark that I believe scientific men will admit that commercial enterprise has been the means of carrying out their inventions to such a successful issue. I trust that they will always go together hand in hand, and in that case the result, so far as we have gone, will prove but small compared with what we shall witness hereafter. (Cheers.) I listened to-night with an immense amount of satisfaction to the Prime Minister of England when he said that he thought scientific telegraphy was likely to be a means of carrying out most effectually the beneficent policy, of which I may call him at the present moment the head, in England and America—the the policy, I mean, of settling international disputes by arbitration instead of the sword. (Cheers.) I trust that the right hon. gentleman will live to see that policy established, and that the nations of the world will rejoice at having such a mode of settling their differences, in place of that which has been such a reflection on humanity. (Loud cheers.) I will not enter into the business part of submarine telegraphy, although that is more especially the one with which I have had to do. But I will say this—that a few years ago I remarked to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that no better transaction could be performed by a Government than that of connecting the telegraphs of England with the postal system. That has since been carried out successfully. And let me here hazard an idea in connection with the further development of the telegraphic system. I believe that in carrying out successfully the policy of binding nations together, submarine telegraphy will play a most important part. No one can deny that it will connect England and her colonies more intimately together, bringing the colonies as it will into daily communication with the mother country; I believe it will also give England a much longer lease of India than she would otherwise possess; and, looking to the advantages which have already been realized, I am satisfied that the more submarine telegraphy is carried out, so as to make it an international system, the more likely through that kind of internationality is peace to be established throughout the length and breadth of the world. (Cheers.) So far as the telegraphic Companies are concerned, we have but one object in view, and that is to benefit the public at large—(laughter)—I mean after repaying those who have gone into the enterprise; and, gentlemen, having borne the brunt, they are surely entitled to that. (Cheers.) But, apart from that consideration, great benefits must accrue, as great benefits have already accrued, to the public at large from the energy with which the work is carried out, even in a pecuniary point of view; while the cause of human progress cannot fail to be advanced to a far greater extent than it possibly could be by any other means. (Cheers.)

SIR JAMES ANDERSON: Mr. Chairman, my lords and gentlemen, an arrangement under which four speakers have to respond for one toast, does not leave very much for him who comes almost last to dwell upon. We have heard statistical facts; we have heard facts in relation to the wide scope of telegraphic enterprise in its bearing upon the commerce of the present day; but I confess I think that, apart from the hard and dry and dusty facts with which we have to deal every day in negotiating about amalgamations and extensions and reductions of tariff, and all the features connected with them which we are bound as trustees of a large capital to consider—I confess it seems to me that there is also a romantic side of the subject; it appears to me that we are beginning, as it were, a new era in commercial enterprise which none of us are sanguine enough to contemplate and realize. Gentlemen, we see railways climbing over and tunnelling under the Alps, and crossing the continent of America. We hear of railways to go from England to India, through all sorts of hitherto unknown deserts; for whatever the -results may be, there are at all events projectors enough to design and advocate these wonderful schemes. All this may well make even statesmen stop to consider what it means. For my own part, I think it means more than almost anyone of us can conceive. The world is, I think, being united by a wonderful commercial chain. We have railways underground, we have telegraphs running above ground, and under the great oceans, uniting continents and islands, penetrating under classic seas, away into the almost mythical waters of the antipodes; so that we might now, if we liked, ask the people at the antipodes with perfect propriety how they are doing to-morrow. (Laughter.) All this, with its joke and its romance, is the beginning of a great new commercial era. This is a subject which statesmen and others must contemplate with more seriousness than they have hitherto done; and I hope that that great educational measure which Mr. Gladstone succeeded in passing last session will help to bring future generations, as well as the present one, to reflect that they have a great mission to perform in relation to this matter. I do not care to enter into details, as it is the romance of the thing that now dwells especially upon my mind; but I think no one can fail to join in according to our worthy chairman due thanks for the wonderful and singular energy with which he has marshalled the whole thing from first to last, until he has wound up with the project of uniting into one all the members of the great human family, all the telegraph interests and systems of the world, and ultimately establishing one grand universal channel of thought and sentiment. (Cheers.)

CAPT. SHERARD OSBORN, R.N.: There is only one point on which I differ from our worthy host, and that is the necessity of trotting out three men to respond to a toast which one man, without possessing much eloquence, might easily have acknowledged. It can hardly have required four broad shoulders to respond in such a case; but when the apostle of submarine telegraphy makes an appeal, there is nothing that I would not do in response to the call. Although a naval officer, I have found time to labour in the work of telegraphy; and, recurring in mind, Sir, to the period when you yourself came forward to fill the immense gap which had arisen in submarine telegraphy, I feel much indebted to you for having made me a disciple in this important work; and I also feel grateful to Mr. Pender, the member for the Wick Burghs, for having given me my first introduction to the City. I invested a third of my small patrimony in the project of connecting England and America together; and I held on to this project until the object was accomplished. Mine was, indeed, a very trifling part of the work in a financial point of view; but I remember, as I think many of you must—and here is a romantic part of the subject, which is, I think, well worthy of honourable mention in the history of commercial enterprise—that when Sir James Anderson and Sir Samuel Canning came back, and when, their hopes of success not being at all lowered, they went before the Board of the Telegraph Construction Company in the City of London, and told their tale of present failure and their strong belief in ultimate success, there were ten men sitting round the table who, having heard their story, each subscribed their name, until there was made up the sum of £100,000. (Cheers.) The Company which I have the honour to represent subscribed another £100,000; and Mr. Field, in spite of the enormous labour and risk which he had borne for a long series of years, added another £10,000. Thus nearly a quarter of a million was offered at a time when almost everybody seemed to consider the issue very doubtful; and but for the commercial enterprise displayed at that moment, I do not believe the Atlantic cables would have existed at this day. (Cheers.) The first work which the first British manufacturing Company undertook was that of connecting us with our brethren across the Atlantic by means of telegraphy; and I may tell you that the work of to-day is the laying a fourth cable across the Atlantic; and I am not sure that within the next three or four years we shall not see two or three more in addition. You have given us, Sir, 26,000 miles of cable as about the actual length of cable—the exact amount being 25,600 miles —laid by us in the ocean East and West. That represents rather more than the circumference of the globe. Thirty-four thousand odd miles have still to be laid, and we shall even then have got only half the way round the world. I remember visiting, in the year 1868, Lord Stanley—the present Lord Derby—when he was Foreign Secretary, in company with Mr. Pender, Sir Daniel Gooch, and, I think, Sir James Anderson, our object being to lay before him a scheme by which it was intended to unite China, India, and Australia with Great Britain. I had no more confidence personally in those days than I have now in Government aid in such matters, and therefore was not disappointed at the result of our visit. Although Lord Stanley appeared deeply interested in the project, yet I think he regarded us as rather visionary men. A year ago we did connect Australia with this country; a year and a half ago we did unite China with this country; and we only waited a year longer to see that excellent line which has been carried across to the colonies of Australia. (Cheers.) So that I do not think that between 1868 and 1872 we Englishmen and Americans have fallen very far short of the mark. (Cheers.) Let me add, that nearly all the capital for this work has been found in Great Britain. (Cheers.) We have been greatly assisted in carrying out our projects by capitalists belonging to two other great nations—the Baron Emile d’Erlanger and Mr. Julius Beer; but the bulk of the capital has been found in this country. There was, I ’observed, a laugh when Mr. Pender spoke about capitalists being paid for their investments; but as a practical man I would say that without the sinews of war I would have defied all the intelligence, ability, and energy in the world to produce such results as have been produced. Gentlemen, I have to thank you on behalf of the particular element which I represent this evening, for the kind way in which you have received the toast. (Cheers.)

CAPT. A. J. HAMILTON: I have spoken once to-night, but I hope you will not be angry at my having risen again. There is one toast which I am sure you will all be glad to drink. I will not preface it by saying anything further, but at once propose “The health of Mrs. Field.” (Cheers.)

The toast having been drunk very cordially, Mr. FIELD said: The kind words which you have uttered I shall communicate to her who is most dear to me before I retire to rest. You may judge that that lady has had struggles in regard to submarine telegraphy when I tell you that for nearly nineteen years one member of her family has been absent from home about one half of his time; and often have I heard her say, before the Atlantic Cable was laid, “I wish that cable was at the bottom of the Atlantic.” (Laughter.) Within the last week, I have received a letter from her in which she acknowledged the receipt of a telegram which I had sent that morning from the shores of the Mediterranean conveying good news in regard to a sick daughter, and in which she said, “God bless the telegraph On my knees I have blessed God for this instrument of bringing me news from our dear absent one.” To-night I have received telegrams from members of my family who are in the east, and in the west. I believe, as firmly as I do in my own existence, that God has been with us from the commencement of this enterprise; and that He will continue His blessings until all the islands of the sea shall be connected by telegraphy. What reason, I ask, is there, why, when the Dean of Westminster preaches an eloquent sermon in Westminster Abbey, to one or two thousand persons, it should not be spread by the telegraph to every great town on the face of the globe. Is there any good reason why the speeches of our eloquent friend Mr. Gladstone should not be read far and wide, as his speech of to-night will be read to-morrow, by millions in America? His eloquent words have this evening, with the speed of lightning, crossed the Atlantic, passed over the Rocky Mountains, and are being at this moment put in type on the shores of the Pacific. (Cheers.) One of the greatest satisfactions which I have derived from my connection with telegraphy, has been in the persons with whom I have been brought into personal contact. Of the living I shall not speak; nor shall I occupy your time by passing eulogies upon men, who are sitting around this table. I remember with affection the departed Professor Faraday, Mr. Stephenson, Mr. Brunel, Professor Bache, and Professor Morse. Though much of their minds was devoted to this cause, they would never receive one farthing for any service which they rendered towards carrying out telegraphic communication between England and America. Gentlemen, I thank you—in the name of Mrs. Field I thank you; and I hope we shall have many Thanksgivings, and that we shall often be able to meet together rejoicing that we have done some good in our day and generation. (Cheers.)

J. PENDER, ESQ., M.P.: We who belong to the commercial element have taken a great deal of credit to ourselves; but let me just say one word with regard to others. .I have made it a rule in life, when any man has assisted me in any way, to recognise the services of that man on all suitable occasions. We could not have done anything in our telegraphic enterprise without such men as Wheatstone, Siemens, Varley, and other scientific persons. There are many of them here to-night, and I think it would be a very great wrong, and very discourteous, on our part, if we did not recognise now, as we have done on other occasions, the eminent service which these great men have rendered in the great work with which they have been so intimately associated. These scientific men are too eminent for me to say anything in the way of flattery; but I can say, with the most perfect confidence, that the work would never have been done if we had not had their co-operation: and will now give you without another word “The health of the scientific men connected with telegraphy,” connecting with the toast the name of Sir Charles Wheatstone.

The toast was drunk with enthusiasm.

Sir Charles Wheatstone and Mr. Siemens being apparently unwilling to take the task of responding,
Mr. CROMWELL VARLEY rose and said: Mr. Field, my lords and gentlemen, I have been requested to respond to this toast. I am sure Sir Charles Wheatstone and Mr. Siemens will join me in thanking you for the very cordial terms in which you have expressed your approbation of the services which have been rendered to telegraphy by scientific men, and of the manner in which they have assisted capitalists in carrying out your and Mr. Cyrus Field’s great idea of uniting the various portions of the world together by telegraph cables.

No longer ago than 1862 the idea of uniting England and America by submarine cable was considered by the great capitalists of London to be perfectly chimerical. The failure of the first Atlantic cable had so disheartened those who had been bold enough to subscribe their money for that great experiment, that the £1,000 shares were bought and sold for £28 each.

You, Mr. Field, never despaired of success; and I think the Atlantic enterprise may be said to date its reanimation from the year 1862,—when Mr. Gurney gave his mansion for a grand soirée, the Electric and International and Submarine Telegraph Companies lent their wires, and the Governments of Holland, Hanover, Prussia, Russia, Austria, Bavaria, and France gave the use of their wires for this grand national soirée. On that occasion messages were sent from Mr. Gurney’s house in Hyde Park as far as the frontier of China, and answers were received back in less than a minute of time. When the wires were joined from London, through Holland, Prussia, Russia, to St. Petersburg and Moscow, and back through Vienna and Paris to London, it was found that a period of two seconds elapsed between the depressing of the key on the one table and the resulting record or mark from the Morse instrument on the other table, which was connected to this great circuit of nearly 5,000 miles. When Mr. Brassey saw this loss of time, the genuineness of the experiment was rendered evident to his mind: and the possibility of speaking direct over great stretches of telegraph circuit was demonstrated beyond any doubt, notwithstanding that this had been denied both by Englishmen and Americans who were supposed to be authorities on this subject.

This soirée impressed many others who were present, and in less that two years afterwards, by dint of untiring exertion, you, Mr. Field, succeeded in bringing together capitalists with courage enough to make another great effort. The late Mr. Robert Stephenson while he was alive gave his powerful aid gratuitously.

Sir Wm. Fairbairn, Sir Joseph Whitworth, Capt. D. Galton—who is on my left—Sir Wm. Thomson, and Sir Charles Wheatstone formed a scientific committee to experiment and advise the Atlantic Telegraph Company as to the best form of cable to be adopted. I likewise worked gratuitously from the year 185o to 1864 as the Electrician of the Atlantic Telegraph Company.

Numerous experiments were made by Messrs. Whitworth, Fairbairn, and myself, at Manchester, to ascertain the best form for the exterior covering of the cable, and the form recommended to you by us has been adopted for all the subsequent deep-sea cables, and of which Captain Osborn has just told us 26,000 miles have been laid and all are working at this time. So late as 1864 the Directors of the Electric and International Telegraph Company, of which latter I was the Engineer-in-Chief, urgently advised me not to waste any more time or money, nor to jeopardize my reputation, by advocating Atlantic Telegraphy.

It is very gratifying now to see so many gentlemen present who have taken so much interest in the great undertaking to which you, Mr. Field, have devoted your life.

That which was thought to be chimerical eight years ago and the advocates of which were considered visionary enthusiasts, is now an accomplished fact, and there is reason to believe that the Washington Treaty, which has restored perfect harmony between the Anglo-Saxon race in the United States and the Anglo-Saxon race in Great Britain, could not have been arranged but for the powerful aid which the Atlantic Telegraph lent the Commissioners.

At this late hour of the evening I will not detain you any longer; I therefore, in the name of Sir Charles Wheatstone, Mr. Siemens, and also of myself and the other gentlemen who have enabled you to bring to a successful issue the great undertakings to which you subscribed so much capital, thank you, Mr. Pender, for the toast which you have proposed, and you, my lords and gentlemen, for the kindly manner in which you have responded to it.

C. W. SIEMENS, ESQ.: Sir, I feel that I cannot add anything to what my friend Mr. Varley has said in vindication of the part which scientific men have taken in the accomplishment of this work. Telegraphy dates from not very long ago; in fact the very originators exist still among us; and therefore it is a science which has grown with our own advance, which has been drawing us on from point to point, from one success to another, and from a great success to a greater. But while we were working in our laboratories, our studies, and our workshops, we could have done little or nothing without the stimulus which we received and continue to receive from such men as our worthy host and Mr. Pender, through the uniting of different interests and the urging on of the accomplishment of such vast projects as we have celebrated in the completion of the Atlantic cables and of the lines to India. Without such men, I say, all our labours must have been comparatively fruitless; and I am very glad that we have had an opportunity of meeting together this evening in celebration of so great a work. (Cheers.)

Mr. FIELD: As we are now about to separate, I hope you will all join with me in drinking “A long, happy, and prosperous life to the Right Hon. William Ewart Gladstone.”

The toast having been drunk with great cordiality,
Mr. GLADSTONE said: Mr. Field, although I have not yet reached the extreme term allotted by inspired authority to human existence, yet I have already had the enjoyment, or at all events the use, of a life that may be called a long one. At any rate you will not think it a short one when I tell you that I hope within a few days to complete the fortieth year since I entered Parliament; and the greater part of those forty years have been distributed in periods of considerable activity, if without much profit to my fellow-creatures. Now, gentlemen, I have arrived at a time when a desire for rest begins to overpower every other sentiment; and as you have kindly wished me a happy and prosperous life, I may, perhaps, in my own mind be disposed to construe those words in a particular manner. But, whatever may be the true interpretation of them, I am very sensible of the extreme kindness which prompted you, Sir, to utter, and the gentlemen around the table to receive them with so much earnestness and warmth; and I assure you that I deem it a very great privilege to have been allowed to witness and to join in this celebration. (Cheers.) I have seen much, in the course of my life, of the commercial enterprise of my country and of the world; and it has been my good fortune that the greater part of my political responsibility has been in immediate connection with the commercial and trading interests of this kingdom, which are the focus of its energy and its enterprise. But I do not think that in my recollection I could point to any example of novel enterprise so remarkable—pursued under the influence of a confidence which was not rash enthusiasm but solid conviction based on true scientific inquiry, and under circumstances of the extremest outward disadvantage—as the pursuit of oceanic telegraphy. (Cheers.)

The company then immediately afterwards separated, some of them to witness in an adjoining room the transmission of the report of the proceedings to the United States. A full report was sent by cable to New York, including Mr. Gladstone’s and Mr. M’Culloch’s speeches verbatim, and published throughout the United States in the papers of Friday morning.

The following telegrams were despatched and received while the guests were assembled round the table:—


No. I.

  To MRS. CYRUS W. FIELD, Gramercy Park, New York.
November 28th, 1872.
  Warmest congratulations and best wishes. May God bless you and all our dear children. Telegram this evening received from Mentone says: “We affectionately remember you and all those at home to-day.”



From MRS. FIELD, New York, to CYRUS W. FIELD, London.

  Warmest greetings to you and to our friends on this Thanksgiving Day. Mr. Day’s brother and sister have just called. They are all well.



President of the Western Union Telegraph Company.
November 28th, 1872.
  I am surrounded by those who are connected with the Submarine Telegraph Lines to the Continent of Europe, Egypt, India, China, and Australia, and they join with me in sending kindest regards to you, and we trust that the cordial relations which now exist between the great submarine lines of the world and the Western Union Telegraph Company may never be less, but grow stronger, as we increase the cables that are necessary to transmit telegrams to all parts of the world.


  To CYRUS W. FIELD, London.
  Accept for yourself, and convey to your guests, my thanks for your and their kind greetings. It will continue to give the managers of the Western Union Telegraph Company pleasure to contribute to the friendly relations which now exist between the Companies whose minds and cables are circling the globe with bonds, whose strength is measured by friendships they aid to promote, whose duration depends only upon the peace of the world which they assist to perpetuate. May you live long to enjoy the credit so justly your due for the part you have borne in this great work.


No. III.


President of the New York, Newfoundland, and London Telegraph Company.

November 28th, 1872.
  I am surrounded by about eighty gentlemen, most of whom are interested in the Telegraph Lines to America, India, China, and Australia, and they join with me in best wishes for your health and happiness.

As ever,                                                 
Very truly your friend,              
CYRUS W. FIELD.        


  To CYRUS W. FIELD, London.
  Let us give thanks for International Telegraphy, and for international arbitration. May their influences secure for our countries a perpetual peace, which is the sincere wish of

No. IV.


To SIR HUGH ALLEN, Montreal, Canada,
President of the Montreal Telegraph Company.


November 28th, 1872.

  The gentlemen around me, who are interested in the Telegraph Lines to India, China, and Australia, join with me in kind remembrances to you, and they wish every prosperity to you and your Telegraph Lines.


  To CYRUS W. FIELD, London.
  I reciprocate most heartily. Kind wishes to yourself and gentlemen with you. I congratulate you on another successful achievement, and I hope and believe that a universal system of telegraphs will soon be introduced, to the great benefit of the world at large.




THE presence of Mr. Gladstone at Mr. Cyrus Field’s dinner in celebration of the American Thanksgiving Day was really worth more, as a proof of kindly feeling towards America, than any words he could utter. After declining the invitation to dine at the Mansion House on Lord Mayor’s Day, the Prime Minister could not be expected to accept any other during the present month, and might well have pleaded the pressure of Cabinet business as an excuse for not joining a private Anglo-American party at the Buckingham Palace Hotel. The motives which prompted him to go are not, difficult to conjecture, and will be appreciated in both countries. Having been disappointed in the result of the Geneva and Berlin awards, Great Britain is the more bound to show that she harbours no feeling of soreness, but, on the contrary, heartily adopts the principle of International Arbitration, by which she has been hitherto the loser. This feeling would have been significantly and gracefully expressed by the mere appearance of Mr. Gladstone as Mr. Cyrus Field’s guest, even if no speeches had been made or no reporters had been allowed to attend. Such a rule, however, could never have been enforced on such an occasion, and Mr. Gladstone was naturally called upon to return thanks for the chief toast” Great Britain and the United States of America—two countries destined to be united in friendship as closely as they are in kinship.” In doing so, he touched happily upon that which distinguishes an entente cordiale between England and America from the special friendships and intimate alliances which are sometimes patched up by treaties between great military nations. These friendships are generally founded on a common hostility to some other Power, and “betoken something that is formidable to their neighbours.” England and America, on the contrary, neither have nor can have, in any conceivable event, common objects which are not also beneficial to mankind. Any special friendship which may subsist or grow up between them is, and must be, “founded upon the close relationship of race, upon an united language, upon sympathy, at least, if not identity of institutions, upon that love of freedom and rational and ordered self-government which distinguishes these two great countries.” All this is true—not the less true because it has been often repeated, or because, as Mr. Gladstone admitted, it savours of generality. It is a fact which cannot be too often or too thoroughly realized, that none of those permanent elements of antagonism out of which national hatreds and wars have arisen can be alleged to justify a sentiment of enmity between Englishmen and Americans. To quarrel now because George III. and Lord North vainly endeavoured to lay a tax on the Boston trade would be an extravagance of pugnacity only to be paralleled by an Irish faction fight; and if we disagree at all from Mr. Gladstone’s remarks on the original causes of separation, we disagree from him in regarding that separation as inevitable. When he says that Great Britain was struggling against nature, and even against Providence, in opposing American Independence, we take leave to doubt whether, if both nations had then known their own interests, American Independence would ever have been proclaimed. Since it is now too late to undo, it is safe to regret, events which passed a century ago, and we hold ourselves perfectly free to believe that, but for George III. and Lord North, these Islands and the United Provinces might have continued under the same Government—modified, no doubt, by the very nature of such an association, yet still embodying the spirit of that Constitution which Burke’s genius would have known how to develop.

But this, after all, is nothing more than an historical speculation, and we have to do with the present and future relations between the severed branches of the Anglo-Saxon family. Mr. Gladstone cautiously alluded to Canada as if it were the only remaining source of discord and divergence between British and American policy. We venture to go a step further, and to question the reality of this supposed difference. Americans must know, as well as we do, that Great Britain has no desire to retain her connection with the North American Provinces one day longer than it is supported by the interests and loyal feelings of their inhabitants, and that while it is thus supported their annexation to the United States would be, if not impossible, yet unprofitable and disastrous in the highest degree. At present, whatever traces of a separatist movement there may be in the Dominion are in the direction of Independence rather than of Annexation, and even those who push the Monroe doctrine to extremes may, perhaps, see reason to doubt whether its triumph would be furthered by the immediate withdrawal of the British flag from the American Continent. In short, whatever reason Canada may have to complain of the sacrifices imposed on her under the Washington Treaty, her allegiance to Queen Victoria constitutes no obstacle to a “fraternal union” of the English and American peoples. As Mr. Gladstone truly observed, there is no longer a single outstanding dispute to be settled between them, and both are as it were bound over by fresh obligations to maintain the amity so happily restored, inasmuch as they have set an example of international Christianity which has been witnessed by all the world.

If there be still a certain jealousy and dislike of Great Britain lurking in the American mind—and there is no breach of friendship in perceiving that it is not yet extinct—we must seek its origin, not in external sources of discord, but in circumstances which Englishmen are too apt to forget. Let it be remembered, in the first place, that Great Britain is the only European country with which the United States have ever been at war. All the bellicose patriotism which English schoolboys used to indulge towards France has been indulged by American schoolboys towards England during three generations, and has been recklessly encouraged by the authors of American school-books. This may be very unjust and unreasonable, but there is nothing very strange in it, especially considering that when the memories of the first American war had just begun to wax faint, our rulers managed to blunder into a second American war by insisting on a most arbitrary right of search. Again, we ought to recollect that although fifty Americans visit England for one Englishman who visits America, yet the vast majority of Americans have never even seen Europe, and that among the American citizens born in the United Kingdom Irish emigrants largely preponderate. Ignorance is the parent of mistrust between nation and nation, as it is between class and class; but the mistrust of England prevalent in America partakes of class antipathy as well as of national antipathy. The American imagination pictures English society to itself as mainly composed of peers and paupers, taking little account of those great middle classes which so nearly resemble the general population of the United States. The influence of this fallacious idea pervades American journalism and literature, and, what is more curious, it is shared to some extent by ill-educated persons in the British Colonies. Very few Americans or Colonists fail to get rid of it after a short residence in England; but the masses in America are possessed by it, and, unfortunately, what they read in their newspapers does not help to disabuse them of it. Here we light upon another consideration, often ignored or misconceived, which goes far to explain the unreasoning dislike of England which English travellers used to notice in America long before the Alabama issued from the Mersey on her ill-omened cruise. Both Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Hugh M’Culloch, formerly Secretary of the United States Treasury, assumed that the use of a common language and telegraphic communication were potent safeguards of peace and goodwill between Great Britain and America. Fully recognizing the infinite benefits which both countries reciprocally derive from these advantages, we cannot accept this assumption without material qualification. It is precisely the community of language between nations whose modes of thought and social organization are so different which gives meaning and point to every harsh word or piquant criticism of English writers or speakers about America and the Americans. It is precisely the extension of the electric telegraph across the Atlantic, largely due to Mr. Cyrus Field’s efforts, which has facilitated the instant publication of all such words and criticisms, generally without their context and not unfrequently with malicious additions, in every city of the United States. The mischief thus occasionally done can hardly be overstated. Only the other day, while Englishmen of all ranks were fêting Mr. Stanley, and the Geographical Society was conferring a special honour on Mr. Bennett, the proprietor of the New York Herald, for having originated and defrayed the expense of his enterprise, the Berlin correspondent of that very journal was fabricating a calumnious statement that Great Britain had intrigued to bias the Emperor William’s judgment on the San Juan question. The result discredited and silenced the calumny; but had the award chanced to be in favour of Great Britain, the effect of it might have been seriously prejudiced by this shameful trick, which the electric telegraph alone rendered possible. Far be it from us to doubt that all which promotes a closer intercourse, by means of commerce, travelling, and correspondence, must in the long run contribute to overcome the unfounded prejudices which are the sole impediment to a friendship such as Mr. Field and Mr. Gladstone would desire to establish. The danger of a rupture was possibly greater, on the whole, when months passed and seas rolled between the despatch and the reception of a pacific overture; but telegraphic communication has its evils too, against which the American Press, which uses it so liberally, ought to be on its guard.



The banquet which Mr. Cyrus Field gave yesterday evening at the Buckingham Palace Hotel, on the Thanksgiving Day appointed by the President of the United States, was memorable for general good feeling and for many pleasing incidents. But its most notable feature was the presence of the illustrious statesman who occupies the highest position in English politics. If the people of the United States have any quarrel with Mr. Gladstone on account of past differences of opinion with respect to the bearing of the American War, while yet its essential purport and almost inevitable result were misunderstood by many people on this side of the Atlantic and by not a few on the other, his speech of last night ought to wipe out the record. No more eloquent statement has ever been made of the permanent ties of interest and sentiment which unite the two countries; and seldom has the merely temporary and accidental character of the differences which from time to time have divided them been more forcibly set forth. The Prime Minister’s speech was essentially a message of peace and friendship, and through the instrumentality of the wondrous power of which Mr. Cyrus Field is one of the accredited agents and missionaries, it will be read throughout the United States, from their Atlantic to their Pacific borders, simultaneously with its presentation to English readers. In the concluding speech, in which Mr. Gladstone acknowledged the toast which did him special honour, and which a gathering from both nations received with the welcome due to the name of perhaps the greatest living statesman of their common race, he spoke of the need he felt for rest, after forty years of Parliamentary life. Rest and Mr. Gladstone are terms which his countrymen will find it difficult to associate. The German poet’s motto, “Unhasting, unresting,” would the better become him. We do not believe that Mr. Gladstone will rest while there is work to be done and he is conscious of the power to help in it.



International banquets have not often an important bearing on the policy which governs the destinies of peoples; but we make an exception in favour of a gathering last night convened to celebrate on British ground what Mr. M’Culloch called “the day of days” in the United States. Mr. Cyrus Field, who is “almost a telegraphic wire” himself, conceived the happy idea of keeping “Thanksgiving” in Westminster, and Mr. Gladstone was present as a guest of the Stars and Stripes. The banners of the two nations hung side by side, and the sons of the two nations sat beneath the symbol of a common bond of unity. The Queen and the President were toasted with hearty loyalty, and cheered with equal fervour. Nor could it have been more fittingly announced on any other occasion than this, that the last lingering differences arising out of the separation effected nearly a hundred years ago have now been removed, and that henceforth the stream of amity can roll onward with a full and equal flow. The choice of yesterday for a friendly meeting of kinsmen will be appreciated in the United States, where its commemoration is so fondly cherished. Mr. Gladstone broadly and truthfully characterized and emphasized the relations between two States who have set an example of determining:quarrels without drawing the sword, and who have, happily, swept away, we may trust, the causes of future contention. Nor was it without significance of a new time, so remote and so different from the days when Washington fought for Independence, that the cable which stretches under the ocean transmitted cordial greetings between the dwellers in the Old World and its offspring in the New. Beyond all doubt these submarine wires, when they have united the whole world, will not only aid in multiplying commercial transactions, but in preserving a general peace. With the lands on both sides of the St. Lawrence we grow daily more intimately connected; and the two countries, we may reasonably hope, are “destined to be united as closely in friendship as they are in kinship.” The language of Mr. Gladstone has been read by this time throughout English-speaking America, and, delivered on this occasion, will create a deep impression.

For Thanksgiving Day in the United States is an old institution. Local in its origin at first, it has now become fixed and national. It was established by the pious Fathers of New England as an autumnal festival, when the scattered immigrants from a distant land gathered together and praised Heaven for the blessings vouchsafed them during the year, and thus the celebration became to them what Christmas is to ourselves. The fruits of the earth were garnered; one season of labour and harvest was over, another was about to begin; and it seemed meet to the Puritans that they should render thanks and share rejoicings in common. They had no special fancy for Christmas, which was too deeply associated with the ceremonials of those who had compelled them to seek a home in the Western Continent; they preferred a day of their own, and they selected the period when “the fall” had brought its produce into their barns. Gradually the feast became tinged with social hues, and it was customary for the family to assemble under the common roof-tree, just as those who can, amongst ourselves, hasten “home” at Christmas. The usage followed the New Englanders wherever they went; it spread throughout the Eastern States, and took strong root in their collective life. Men, the world over, must have holy days and holidays; and if there are too many among some communities, there are too few among the Teutons, and although we prefer mid-winter for rejoicing, there is a special fitness in this New England November festival. In that same month the Mayflower anchored off the bleak coast, and the Pilgrim Fathers quitted their tiny craft for the shore of a newly-found continent; so that when, in subsequent years, they praised Him from whom all mercies flow, just at the season when the bounteous gifts of earth were safely stored up, they also kept ever fresh and green the memory of an almost unnoticed incident, which, nevertheless, proved to be the foundation-stone of a great empire. Gradually the practice of keeping the last Thursday in November with due religious observance and social rejoicing, extended over wider spaces, and has finally become a general festival. Mr. Lincoln mainly contributed to this end. Twice he proclaimed a Thanksgiving for the last Thursday in November—once in 1863, when the Confederates had their leaguer in front of Chattanooga; again when Sheridan, rallying a defeated host, snatched the palm and fruits of victory from Early at Cedar Creek. Setting forth on the former occasion the bounties vouchsafed by an ever-watchful Providence—”the fruitful fields and healthful skies,” the growth of industry, the expansion of the country, the increase of population, even in that gloomy hour—he said, “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” From that date the last Thursday in November, aforetime the Thanksgiving Day of the Puritan founders, has become and will always be a day of national rejoicing.

But the festival has a deeper signification. It may be called the feast of the family; it brings the scattered members of every household back into its bosom. The frontier farmer, the enterprising merchant, the roaming sailor-boy, strives to be at home, and to eat of “Thanksgiving Pie.” It is a day, moreover, of reconciliation. Friends parted by coldness, indifference, or accident, meet again to shake hands and to bury their grievances in oblivion. The pipe of peace is smoked in a thousand households, the bonds of human brotherhood are re-knit. And yesterday England may be said to have broken bread with her full-grown child at this high feast of friendship and family affection. We have had our quarrels together; we have shed each other’s blood by land and sea; we have spoken over and over again bitter words; but we have also sought of late to repair these errors of omission and commission, and to bind in one bond the interests of the two great English families. We have frankly accepted awards given against us, costing us hard money and cutting a slice off our Empire. The past is, in parts, red and dark and blurred; the future promises to be bright and clear. That common origin, that comradeship in letters and laws, that incessant interchange of products, that ceaseless plying of ships to and fro between us upon the mighty ocean, and the silent interknitting of our families and interests by many a close private tie, force England and America into each other’s arms, despite passion, faction, and even profound formal differences. We both aim at the same goal—order, freedom, progress; and we must use the same means—law, industry, enterprise. It was most fitting, therefore, that the British Premier should sit at meat with his American kindred on Thanksgiving Day, and thereby furnish a proof that England also heartily sympathises with the deep religious and social meaning of the celebration.



The Prime Minister sat on the right of Mr. Cyrus Field at his banquet, Buckingham Palace Hotel, on Thursday. This was the first occasion taken by Mr. Gladstone to express an opinion on the Washington Treaty. He did not directly allude to it, but the tone of his remarks showed that he held the result in the highest esteem—a result upon which both nations, indeed the world, might be congratulated. The relations between England and America, said Mr. Gladstone, have been marked by features without a parallel in history. A combination of Colonies, vigorous, full of power, differing from any founded by other European nations, were separated from the mother country in pain and exasperation. Yet it was not a clean severance as between the two countries of the Peninsula and their American settlements; for Great Britain continued to be an American Power, while all connection between the others ceased. Thus there never has been a mother country and a daughter country with such strong reasons for friendship and affection, who, when separated, were menaced with so many subjects of controversy, of possible difference and discord. At almost every point of the wide circumference, questions of controversy had from time to time divided the nations; and it has been a work of difficulty to settle these. Up to the present day it would hardly have been practicable to point to a moment at which there had not been some one or other subject of correspondence, and even of dispute, remaining unsettled between England and the United States. True, these were in their nature temporary; all capable of being settled by intelligent good sense and friendly temper.

“The time of that settlement has now happily arrived, when we can speak of it, not as a thing to be hoped, not as a thing to be desired, but as a consummation which has happily been accomplished. Those temporary differences have passed away—the motives to union remain. They are not, like other controversies, marked with a fugitive and transitory character; every one of them is profoundly rooted in the circumstances of the two countries, and in the character of the people by which they are inhabited. So that although there has been in other times a strong, an unconquerable sentiment tending towards fraternal union, and yet that sentiment has heretofore been liable to be checkered by opposite and contending currents, now it can move with a full and equal flow, with nothing to interrupt it, and nothing to fix the term of the duration of the feelings which we rejoice to know exist.”

About the same moment the Marquis of Salisbury was addressing the Bournemouth Conservative Association, 400 of the members having assembled at the Riding School to discuss the good things of life and the bad things of politics. It is curious and instructive to contrast the utterances of the Tory leader with those of England’s Prime Minister. At the Riding School the tone was couched in the high-faluten and buncombe style; full of froth, sound, and fury; pointing proudly to the days when England was the “bully of the world,” when her policy was one of buccaneering, riot, and bloodshed, and contrasting the tame, submissive, feeble men of the present with the swashbucklers of the past. Curiously enough, Lord Salisbury places the great Chatham (!) in that list; who, he said, “would rather, have lost his right hand than have consented to the foreign policy which had been, recently pursued.” His policy was, if anything, too defiant, too bold, too bellicose, yet the last act of that statesman was to be carried from his death-bed into the House of Peers to denounce, with all the eloquence of which he was master, the tyrannical policy of the King’s Government towards the group of colonies which led. to that severance, those differences and controversies it was Gladstone’s happy destiny on the Thanksgiving night to show were finally set at rest. Has the Marquis eaten humble pie? Yes, heaps of it, he asserts. If so, then, it is because of that bullying policy to which he pointed with such pride. That policy lost the Thirteen Colonies, alienated nations, and made England’s name a byword. A more enlightened, a more liberal, and a more just policy is now counteracting the evil influences sown by the other. France continued her aggressive policy, her pursuit of glory, her military domination, and she has reaped her reward. Spain, when the greatest of Powers, was the greatest of bullies—employed those powers cruelly; and she has reaped her reward. But England—thanks to the more Christian sentiments of her people—backed out of the evil system of the past, adopted the policy Lord Salisbury stigmatizes, and has risen to the summit of a power she will long keep.

Mr. Gladstone admitted that the King’s Government was in error in carrying on the war which ended in the separation; that England was struggling against nature—struggling, he ventured to say, even against Providence; and Americans, he added, “do not more honour the day of their emancipation and their independence than we Englishmen, who give them the full tribute of our sympathy, and who would not, if we could, undo or reverse the actual state of things.” We have always frankly expressed our opinion on this subject. Supposing that separation never to have taken place; that America was now associated with Great Britain, as is Canada, it is England who would have begun to fear, to cry out for separation, to anticipate a coming change, which her proud traditions would not tolerate. Were the countries united, the seat of government would pass to America, and Great Britain become the appendage. We have discussed this question before, and we need not here say more than that that would happen in obedience to a law which neither prejudice nor opinion could resist. Where the greater interests are, there will the Government be also. We do, then, agree with. Mr. Gladstone, that England would not reverse the position if she could; indeed it would be for the advantage of the United States, and against that of Great Britain.

We agree also with Mr. Gladstone in the happy way in which he complimented his host when bringing his generalities to bear upon a particular instance. And these remarks were peculiarly applicable, because no one worked harder or more heartily to save the Treaty of Washington than Mr. Cyrus W. Field. The Premier said:—

“The union of the two countries means, after all, the union of the men by whom they are inhabited; and among the men by whom they are inhabited there are some whose happy lot it has been to contribute more than others to the accomplishment of what I will venture to call that sacred work. And who is there, gentlemen, of them all, that has been more marked by energetic motives or by happy success in that great undertaking than your chairman, who has gathered us around his hospitable board to- night? His business has been to unite these two countries by a telegraphic wire; but, gentlemen, he is almost a telegraphic wire himself. With the exception of the telegraphic wire, I do not believe there is anyone who has revolved so often between the two countries. I am quite certain there is no man who, often as he has crossed the ocean, has more uniformly been charged upon every voyage with sentiments of kindness and good-will, of which he has been the messenger between the one and the other people than he.”

Another article in the same paper says:‑

Mr. Cyrus W. Field purposes to embark for the United States on the 14th December in the Cuba, expecting to spend Christmas Day with his family. At his banquet on Thanksgiving Day, he and his guests held a conversation with Mrs. Field in New York; and a gentleman, who was sitting at the table, was told that both his wife and daughter were at that moment chatting with Mrs. Field. They were then in New York paying an afternoon visit, though the streets in London were at the time pitchy dark, in strange contrast to the brilliantly lighted and decorated hall. The Hon. Hugh M’Culloch spoke in response to the toast “The Washington Treaty;” and he eloquently recorded his own belief in that splendid example to nations. Sir Charles Wheatstone was unexpectedly associated with the toast “The Science of Telegraphy,” but he declined to respond, though the call was vociferous. There are people so fond of speaking, and so ready to talk commonplaces, that they cannot understand the repugnance men of proved superiority of intellect may feel. The only jar to the harmony of the entertainment was the sorrowful news that spread through the room of Horace Greeley’s dangerous illness, and a letter was handed about from Mr. Smalley, showing why, under the circumstances, he could not be present, even to reply to the toast of “The Press,” which he would otherwise have willingly done.

[Text courtesy of Special Collections, Smithsonian Institution Libraries]

Last revised: 29 October, 2011

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