Punch,  49 (1865), 59.

Messages from the Great Eastern  [3/4]



Serial, Diary, Spoof


Telegraphy, Technology, Steamships, Travel, Electricity, Experiment, Instruments, Navigation, Engineering, Accidents, Zoology, Comparative Philology

    Mr Punch's representative explains the reasons for the week-long delay in his message, and then describes aspects of the week aboard the Great Eastern. He notes how the 'paying out' is proceeding 'merrily', and then explains how a 'large piece of metal ran into the cable and immediately began letting off the electricity into the sea', a event leading to an explosion in the water and 'bitter reproaches' from the British public. The following day he describes how he has been told not to 'let our line become entangled with the Equinoctial line' and then attempted electrical experiments with rudimentary apparatus. On the Sunday, he reports that the sermon was banned owing to the claim by the electricians that 'the monotony of a single voice, for a long period, has some disturbing effect on the electric current, which they cannot exactly explain'. The next day he worries about the kraken (a creature that he does not regard as 'fabulous') being enraged by the sight of the Great Eastern, and thinks that it should have kept its former name, Leviathan. Later he reads Hobbes 1651 for the 'latest zoological information' and notes that compasses are rendered useless by 'the pressure of so much electrical matter'. Later in the voyage he is shown the new kink in the cable. A 'Deputation from the Company, the Electricians, and the Captain and the Crew' then told him that the telegraph 'was really a private affair' and that he should not report 'dreadful' occurrences until his return to England.

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