Congratulations now poured in on him from all sides; and the one he, perhaps, prized the most was from his friend and master, Washington Allston, then living in Boston:—
“March 24, 1843. All your friends here join me in rejoicing at the passing of the act of Congress appropriating thirty thousand dollars toward carrying out your Electro-Magnetic Telegraph. I congratulate you with all my heart. Shakespeare says: ’There is a tide in the affairs of men that, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.’ You are now fairly launched on what I hope will prove to you another Pactolus. I pede fausto!
“This has been but a melancholy year to me. I have been ill with one complaint or another nearly the whole time; the last disorder the erysipelas, but this has now nearly disappeared. I hope this letter will meet you as well in health as I take it you are now in spirits.”
Morse lost no time in replying:—
“I thank you, my dear sir, for your congratulations in regard to my telegraphic enterprise. I hope I shall not disappoint the expectations of my friends. I shall exert all my energies to show a complete and satisfactory result. When I last wrote you from Washington, I wrote under the apprehension that my bill would not be acted upon, and consequently I wrote in very low spirits.
“‘What has become of painting?’ I think I hear you ask. Ah, my dear sir, when I have diligently and perseveringly wooed the coquettish jade for twenty years, and she then jilts me, what can I do? But I do her injustice, she is not to blame, but her guardian for the time being. I shall not give her up yet in despair, but pursue her even with lightning, and so overtake her at last.
“I am now absorbed in my arrangements for fulfilling my designs with the Telegraph in accordance with the act of Congress. I know not that I shall be able to complete my experiment before Congress meets again, but I shall endeavor to show it to them at their next session.”
MARCH 15, 1848—JUNE 13, 1844
Work on first telegraph line begun.—Gale, Fisher, and Vail appointed assistants.—F.O.J. Smith to secure contract for trenching.—Morse not satisfied with contract.—Death of Washington Allston.—Reports to Secretary of the Treasury.—Prophesies Atlantic cable.—Failure of underground wires.—Carelessness of Fisher.—F.O.J. Smith shows cloven hoof.—Ezra Cornell solves a difficult problem.—Cornell’s plan for insulation endorsed by Professor Henry.—Many discouragements.—Work finally progresses favorably.—Frelinghuysen’s nomination as Vice-President reported by telegraph.—Line to Baltimore completed.— First message.—Triumph.—Reports of Democratic Convention.—First long-distance conversation.—Utility of telegraph established.—Offer to sell to Government.
Out of the darkness of despair into which he had been plunged, Morse had at last emerged into the sunlight of success. For a little while he basked in its rays with no cloud to obscure the horizon, but his respite was short, for new difficulties soon arose, and new trials and sorrows soon darkened his path.