The news was received at first with some incredulity, but on being confirmed it caused a universal joy. On August 16 Queen Victoria sent a telegram of congratulation to President Buchanan through the line, and expressed a hope that it would prove 'an additional link between the nations whose friendship is founded on their common interest and reciprocal esteem.' The President responded that, 'it is a triumph more glorious, because far more useful to mankind, than was ever won by conqueror on the field of battle. May the Atlantic telegraph, under the blessing of heaven, prove to be a bond of perpetual peace and friendship between the kindred nations, and an instrument destined by Divine Providence to diffuse religion, civilisation, liberty, and law throughout the world.'
These messages were the signal for a fresh outburst of enthusiasm. Next morning a grand salute of 100 guns resounded in New York, the streets were decorated with flags, the bells of the churches rung, and at night the city was illuminated.
The Atlantic cable was a theme of inspiration for innumerable sermons and a prodigious quantity of doggerel. Among the happier lines were these :-
''Tis done! the angry sea consents, The nations stand no more apart; With clasped hands the continents Feel throbbings of each other's heart.
Speed! speed the cable! let it run A loving girdle round the earth, Till all the nations 'neath the sun Shall be as brothers of one hearth.
As brothers pledging, hand in hand, One freedom for the world abroad, One commerce over every land, One language, and one God.'
The rejoicing reached a climax in September, when a public service was held in Trinity Church, and Mr. Field, the hero of the hour, as head and mainspring of the expedition, received an ovation in the Crystal Palace at New York. The mayor presented him with a golden casket as a souvenir of 'the grandest enterprise of our day and generation.' The band played 'God save the Queen,' and the whole audience rose to their feet. In the evening there was a magnificent torchlight procession of the city firemen.
That very day the cable breathed its last. Its insulation had been failing for some days, and the only signals which could be read were those given by the mirror galvanometer.[It is said to have broken down while Newfoundland was vainly attempting to inform Valentia that it was sending with THREE HUNDRED AND TWELVE CELLS!] The reaction at this news was tremendous. Some writers even hinted that the line was a mere hoax, and others pronounced it a stock exchange speculation. Sensible men doubted whether the cable had ever 'spoken;' but in addition to the royal despatch, items of daily news had passed through the wire; for instance, the announcement of a collision between two ships, the Arabia and the Europa, off Cape Race, Newfoundland, and an order from London, countermanding the departure of a regiment in Canada for the seat of the Indian Mutiny, which had come to an end.