Punch,  51 (1866), 109–10.

Punch on the Low Wire, and Glass on the High Ropes



Poetry, Drollery


Telegraphy, Technology, Accidents, Electricity, Steamships, Engineering, Commerce, Engineers, Heroism, Physics

    Begins by recounting a story of an Irish steward who dropped a teapot over the side of a boat and thus lost it because it lay at the bottom of the sea. Proceeds to explain how objects that lie on the ocean floor are 'Henceforward [...] not lost'. Describes the scepticism with which 'the world' greeted Richard A Glass's proposal to catch the telegraph 'wire of sixty-five' laying on the ocean floor, a response based partly on the belief that it would be impossible to 'lift that weight / From that depth perpendicular'. Explains how 'three ships, with three-mile lines [...] went fishing' for the cable and found it an 'easy business'. Having been raised, 'Spliced' and 'Sheathed', the telegraph was 'Proved neither dead nor dumb!' and the poem explains how for its observers at Valencia Bay, the telegraph's utterance of 'sense' contrasted with the 'unmeaning sounds' that it emitted whilst asleep. (109) Notes that Atlantic 'shares' and 'engineers' have now 'picked up' and hopes that 'all this "paying out"' brings rewards for Glass and Samuel Canning. Confident that the cable will succeed owing to the ways it has been 'brought up', and concludes by upholding the efforts of Canning, William Thomson and above all, Glass, to whose health Punch drinks. (109–10)

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