The Atlantic Telegraph” is an excerpt from a lyceum speech extolling not only the telegraph, but the way that “the blind capital of commerce follows on the glowing trail of ideas springing from the heads of our industrial sovereigns.” This mouthful of a speech was among many appearing in Student and Schoolmate which were intended to be recited from memory with appropriate gestures.
[Declamation] “The Atlantic Telegraph.—Extract from a Lyceum Lecture.” (from The Student and Schoomate, October 1858; pp. 204-205)

[instructions for making the speech]

(1,) (2.) The elements of commercial transactions seem simple enough; but in their complicated development in the rigorous service of an advanced civilization, they furnish scope for the best capacity. It is obvious that the glory of genius is not so much what it (3+) DOES, as what it (3) INDICATES. Because we know that in the first step of any great undertaking lurks the great difficulty; the second is routine. So

p. 205

much nobler is the office of (5+) prophet than of (5) historian. Does it dwarf the achievement of Columbus, that any navigator of Palos could steer his caravel to the lost Atlantis which the Genoese had found again? Do not let us, then, repeat that stolid dullness which finds no capacity in the solution of the capital problems of commerce. You shall find enlisted in commercial interests much of the (10) potential intellect of the age. (3+) Science serves, (3+)art aids, (3+) letters adorn it.

Christendom is yet jubilant that Europe and America have formed an alliance of pulsatory life, stronger than the deepest diplomacy, which (8) tempests can not shiver, and (5) war will not break. The Agamemnon and the Niagara, sailing on a nobler mission than the ship Argo, which bore Jason over the gleaming Mediterranean in search of the Golden Fleece, worked out the problem, which wise men began to despair of, that brings New York as (5) NEAR to London and Paris, as to Brooklyn and Jersey City. Think you Empiricism conducted those exhaustive researches which have mapped the ocean so thoroughly that Commerce has shortened her highways across the Atlantic by whole days, and found in Lieutenant Maury, who pointed out the Atlantic plateau, a coadjutor in its last and greatest work of (16) marrying the hemispheres? Heroic (5) CLINTON, channeling hill and valley from Lake Erie to the sea for the golden harvests of our mediterranean West to flow into the storehouses of New York, gave to the Empire State, with fuller coffers, a corresponding intellectual and physical development, and also sent out a troop of reflex energies, still active in our civilization, as it deploys westward. O, it is a (10) dull sense that sees in such works no (16) nobler spectacle than the coronation of Mammon. No, no! You can not brand wealth gotten of the exchanges of commerce as sordid, as selfish, as mean and stingy.

Observe, again, how the blind capital of commerce follows on the glowing trail of ideas springing from the heads of our industrial sovereigns! Under such leaders as Appleton and Cooper, Lawrence and Field, and Grinnell, it becomes a (16) hundred-handed intelligence, and its vessels seem winged almoners of the divine bounty.

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