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Yerlag von Julius Springer inBerlirxN. 






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Printed by Gustav Schade (Otto Francke) Berlin (Germany). 

Harzburg, June 1889. 

"_Lhe clays of our years are threescore years and 
ten. or even by reason of strength fourscore years*' 
- that is a serious monition to one who is approach- 
ing the mean point between these limits, and who 
has still much to do ! We ma^ indeed, speaking gene- 
rally, console ourselves with the thought that others 
will do what we ourselves have riot been able to 
accomplish, that the world accordingly will be no per- 
manent loser; but there are certain tasks in regard 
to which this consolation is of no avail, since the 
performance of them can devolve upon no other. In 
this category falls the autobiographical narrative which 
I have promised my family and my friends. 

I confess that the proposed undertaking has 
weighed heavily on my mind, being fully conscious of 
possessing the talent neither of the historian nor of 
the man of letters, and having had always a more lively 
interest in the present and the future than in the 
past. Further I have no good memory for names and 
dates, and also not a few events of my tolerably 
changeful existence are utterly beyond recall. On the 
other hand, however, I am desirous of being my own 


chronicler, in order to preclude the possibility of 
future misunderstanding and misinterpretation of my 
endeavours arid actions, arid I have an idea also, that 
it will be instructive and stimulating to the coming 
generation to be shown plainly how a young man. with- 
out inherited resources and influential supporters, nay 
even without proper preliminary culture, may solely 
through his own industry rise, and do something 
useful in the world. I shall not expend much 
thought on literary form, but shall jot down my 
recollections just as they occur to me. being only 
anxious that my statements may be clear and truth- 
ful, and my impressions arid feelings faithfully re- 
produced. I shall, however, at the same time try to 
indicate those inner and outer forces which have 
borne me through weal and woe to the desired goals, 
and which have made my evening of life an easy and 
sunny one. 

Here in my secluded villa at Harzburg I hope to 
find the needful calm for such a retrospect, for amid 
the scenes of my active labours, in Berlin and Char- 
lottenburg, I am too much claimed by the demands of 
the hour to be able without interruption to devote 
any considerable time to reflection on my own past. 




My earliest recollection is of an act of juvenile 
heroism, which perhaps imprinted itself so indelibly 
on my mind on account of its striking effect on the 
development of my character. My parents lived till 

\ my eighth year in Lenthe near Hanover, where I was 
born , and where my father farmed the estate (Ober- 

I gut) of a Herr von Lenthe. I must have been about 
live years of age when, playing one day in my father's 
room, sister Matilda, my senior by three years, was 
led in weeping copiously. She was on her way to 
the parsonage for her knitting lesson, but a dangerous 
gander, she complained, kept barring her entrance into 
the parsonage yard, and had already repeatedly snapped 
at her. Accordingly she stoutly refused, despite all 
her mother's coaxing, to repair to her lesson without 
a companion. My father, too, could not succeed in 
shaking her determination. At last he gave me his stick, 
which was considerably bigger than myself, saying: 
4 'Then Werner shall go with you, who I hope has 
more courage than you have."' At first that appeared 
to me somewhat questionable, for my father dismissed 
me with the injunction: i; If the gander conies, only go 
towards him bravely and hit him well with the stick, 
then he will run away!" And so it turned out. When 


we reached the yard-gate, the gander ran towards 
us with outstretched neck and terrible hissing. My 
sister turned tail shrieking, and I was strongly tempted 
to follow suit, but I trusted the paternal counsel and 
encountered the monster, with eyes shut indeed, but 
hitting out doughtily with the stick right and left. 
And lo, fear came upon the gander, and he returned 
cackling noisily to the flock of geese that had also 
betaken themselves to flight. 

It is curious what a deep and lasting impression 
this first victory made on my childish mind. Even 
now. after well nigh 70 years, all the persons and 
surroundings, associated with this important event, 
stand clearly before my eyes. With it too is connected 
the only remembrance that remains to me of the 
appearance of my parents in their younger years: and 
numberless times in difficult situations of life the 
victory over the gander has unconsciously stimulated 
me, not to yield to threatening dangers, but to over- 
come, by boldly confronting, them. 

| My father came of a family settled since the Thirty 

Years War on the northern declivity of the Harz 
mountains, and engaged for the most part in agri- 
culture and forestry. An old family legend, which it 
is true is rejected as unproven by recent historians, 
runs, that some venerable ancestor came in the Thirty 
Years War to North Germany with the troops of Tilly, 
was present at the storming of Magdeburg, then 
married a citizen's daughter whom he had snatched 
from the flames, and settled in the Harz region. As 


the existence of a reliable genealogical tree, somewhat 
| rare in middle - class families, proves, there has always 
prevailed a certain cohesion in the Siemens family. In 
recent times the gathering taking place every five 
years in some spot of the Harz. as well as an insti- 
tution founded in 1876. have contributed to confirm 
this cohesion of a family now very widely distributed. 
As most of the Siemens my father was very 
proud of his family, and often told us children of 
members of it who had in some way or other distin- 
guished themselves. Of these celebrities, save my 
grandfather with his fifteen children, my father being 
the youngest. I remember only a military councillor, 
who held a position of authority in the council of the 
free town of Goslar at the time when the town lost 
its direct connection with the empire. My grandfather 
had rented the estate of the Baron of the Empire von 
t Grote. consisting of the manors Schauen and Wasserleben 


at the foot of the northern part of the Harz moun- 
tains. Wasserleben was my father's birthplace. Of the 
stories which my father loved to recount to us children, 
two have remained vivid in memory. 

About 120 years ago the petty court (Duodez- 
hof) of the Baron of the Empire von Grote was 
startled by the intimation that King Frederick II of 
Prussia was about to trespass on the imperial-baronial 
domain in his march from Halberstadt to Goslar. The 
old baron of the Empire awaited his powerful neigh- 
bour in befitting manner along with his onlv son, at 

o O f 

the head of his customary contingent to the imperial 


army consisting of two men. arid accompanied by his 
vassals - - my grandfather and his sons, all on horse- 

As old Fritz with his mounted escort approached 
the boundary, the imperial baron rode a few paces 
to meet him. and in due form bade him welcome "in 
his territory". The king, in whose memory perhaps 
the existence of this neighbouring realm had grown 

O o o 

somewhat dim, appeared surprised at the greeting, 
returned however the compliment in proper form, and 
remarked turning to his retinue: "Messieurs, voila deux 
souverains qui se rencontrentP This caricature of old 
imperial glory has always remained in my memory, 
and very early kindled in us children the longing for 
\ future national unity and greatness. 

There was another event of even greater impor- 
tance for the miniature state of Grote than the fore- 
going. My father had four sisters one of whom. 
Sabina. was very amiable and beautiful: excellencies 
which the young baron of the Empire was not slow to 
perceive, who accordingly offered her his heart and 
hand. It is unknown to me what attitude the old 
Freiherr assumed at this crisis; but from my grand- 
father the young gentleman met with a decided rebuff. 
The latter was unwilling that his daughter should enter 
a family where she would not be treated as an equal, 
holding tenaciously to the opinion of his time, that 
bliss and blessing can only spring from a union of 
like and like. He forbade his daughter all further 


intercourse with the vouno* nobleman, and resolved 


to facilitate the same by removing her from the 
parental roof. But the young folk were manifestly 
possessed by the spirit of the new era. for on the 
morning of the arranged departure my grandfather 
received the dire intelligence, that the young baron 
had carried off his daughter the previous night. Where- 
upon great excitement and hot pursuit of the flown 
birds by the grandfather and his five grown-up sons. 
The trail of the fugitives was followed to Blankenburg 

o o 

and there ended in the church. When entrance had 
been effected the young couple were found stationed 
at the altar, where the pastor had just pronounced 
the nuptial benediction! 

How the family drama immediately thereafter 
developed itself it is no longer in my ability to say. 
Unhappily the young husband after a few blissful 
married years died without leaving any progeny. The 
barony of Schauen passed therefore to collateral rela- 
tions, with the annexed burden it is true of the obli- 
gation to pay aunt Sabina for nearly half a century the 
statutory imperial -baronial widow's pension. When a 
* young artillery -officer I often visited the amiable and 
sprightly old lady at Kolleda in Thuringia, whither she 
had retired. "Aunt Grote"' was still beautiful even 
in her old age, and formed at that time the acknow- 
ledged centre of our family. For us young people she 
possessed an almost irresistible charm, and it was a 
real treat to hear her speak of the persons and scenes 
of her to us dimly remote early life. 

My father was a clever, well-educated man. He 

or THE 


had attended the grammar school at Ilfeld in the Harz, 
and afterwards the University of Gottingen. in order to 
prepare himself thoroughly for his chosen vocation as 
agriculturist. He belonged with heart and soul to 
that section of young Germany, which, growing up 
amid the storms of the great French Revolution, was 
enthusiastic for freedom and a united Fatherland. 
Once in Cassel he had almost fallen into the clutches 
of Napoleon's myrmidons, when taking part in the 
weak attempts of certain visionary youths, who still 
strove to offer resistance after the prostration of Prussia. 
On his father's death he went to councillor Deich- 
mann at Poggenhagen near Hanover, for the sake of 
practical training in agriculture. There he speedily 
fell in love with the councillor's eldest daughter, mv 

o / 

beloved mother Eleanor Deichmann. and married her 
his youth notwithstanding - - he had hardly attained 
the age of 25 - - after obtaining the farming of the 
Lenthe estate. 

For twelve years my parents passed a happy life 
in Lenthe. Unfortunately however the political con- 
dition of Germany and especially of Hanover, then 
again under English rule, was very depressing to a 
man like my father. The English princes, who then 
kept court at the Hanoverian capital, troubled them- 
selves but little about the welfare of the country, 
which they chiefly regarded as a hunting-ground. 
The game-laws were in consequence very strict, so 
that it was a common remark that in Hanover to 
kill a stag was more criminal than to kill a man! 


A charge of damaging game, through the use of un- 
lawful means for protecting his property, was the cause 
of his leaving Hanover and seeking a new home in 

The Lenthe estate (Obergut) is situated on a 
wooded ridge, the Benthe mountain, which joins on 
to the extended Deister range. The stags and wild 
boars, preserved for the royal chase and secure in 
their inviolability, visited in large herds the Lenthe 
fields with unmistakeable predilection. Although the 
entire village exerted itself to protect the crops by a 
nocturnal chain of guards, yet the game issuing forth 
in masses often in a few hours annihilated hopes based 
on the work of a whole year. In a severe winter, 
when wood and field failed to afford the animals 
sufficient sustenance, they frequently foraged in com- 
plete herds in the villages themselves. One morning 
the bailiff announced to my father that a herd of deer 
had got within the farm- enclosure: the gate had been 

o o 

shut, and he wanted to know, what should be done with 
the animals. My father gave orders that they should 
be driven into a stable, and sent an express messenger 
to the Royal Supreme Court Hunting Bureau in 
Hanover with a notice of what had happened and 
the inquiry, whether it pleased that the deer should 
be sent to Hanover. That turned out however a 
most unlucky business for him! After a very short 
interval there appeared on the scene an imposing 
commission of investigation, which liberated the stags, 
and after a criminal inquiry of several days arrived 


at the conclusion, that violence had been offered to 
the creatures, inasmuch as they had been driven 
into the stall against their will! And my father 
had to think himself lucky that he got off with a 
heavy fine. 

This is a picture in little of the then condition 
of the "Royal Hanoverian Province of Great Britain"', 
as my dear countrymen were pleased to call their 
country with a certain pride. But even in the other 
German lands the state of things was not overmuch 
better, in spite of French Revolution and the glorious 
War of Liberation. It were \vell if the relatively 
fortunate youth of the present day now and again 
compared their own condition with the woes and often 
hopeless cares of their fathers, as a prophylactic 
against pessimistic ideas and fancies. 

The freeer surroundings, which my father sought, 
he really found in the principality of Ratzeburg 
appertaining to Mecklenburg-Strelitz. where he obtained 
a lease of the grand- ducal domain of Menzendorf for 


a long term of years. In this favoured little terri- 
tory besides domains and peasant villages there was 
only a single nobleman's estate. The peasants it is 
true were still bound on the demesnes to services 
incident to socage tenure, but in the years immediately 
following our settling there these were abolished, and 
the possession of the peasant was freed from all bur- 
dens and even from almost all imposts. 

Those were happy years of childhood which I and 
my brothers and sisters passed in Menzendorf. growing 


up with the village youth tolerably free and unrestrained. 
The first years we older children my sister Ma- 

tilda. I and my younger brothers Hans and Ferdinand 
- roamed at large and unhindered through wood and 
wold. Our instruction was undertaken by my grand- 
mother, who lived with us after her husband's death. 
She taught us reading and writing and exercised our 
memories by compelling us to learn by heart innumer- 
able poems. Father and mother were too occupied 
with their economic cares, and the latter also with 
the rapidly increasing flock of my young brothers 
and sisters, to be able to concern themselves much 
with our education. My father was a thoroughly good- 
hearted but likewise hot-tempered man, who punished 
inexorably, if any of us did not do his duty, was 
untruthful or guilty of a dishonourable action. Fear of 
the father s wrath and affection for the mother, whose 
sorrow we never intentionally occasioned, kept our little 
band, otherwise somewhat unruly, in good order. 
The care of the elder for the [younger children was 
prescribed as primary duty. In fact it reached so far 
that the seniors were punished with their juniors, if the 
latter ever rendered themselves liable to punishment. 
The said burden weighed especially upon me as the 
eldest, and awakened and confirmed in me at a very 
early age the feeling of obligation to care for my more 
youthful brothers and sisters. Accordingly I assumed 
the right to set the penal law in motion in respect of my 
juniors, which not unfrequently led to counter-coalitions 
and violent combats, which however were always fought 


out without invoking the parental intervention. I call 
to mind an incident of that time, which I will relate, 
as it is characteristic of our youthful life. 

My brother Hans and I were wont to assail, and 
not in vain, crows and birds of prey with self-fabri- 
cated cross-bows, in the use of which we attained great 
precision. One day. a dispute arising in connection 
with the chase. I took the liberty of putting in prac- 
tice the right of the stronger. My brother declared 
this to be base, and demanded that the dispute should 
be settled by a duel, in which my superior strength 
would give me no advantage. I found that equitable, 
and we proceeded to a cross-bow duel correct accor- 
ding to the rules, which we had learnt from occasional 
stories of my father of his student life. Ten paces 
were measured off. and at my word of command 
"Now" we both discharged our feathered arrows with 
knitting-needle for head at one another. Brother Hans 
had aimed well. His arrow hit the tip of my nose and 
penetrated under the skin to the root. Our joint outcry 
brought the father on the scene, who pulled out the 
arrow and thereupon prepared for the chastisement of 
the delinquent by taking out his pipe -stem. This con- 
flicted with my sense of right. I stepped with decision 
between father and brother and said: "Father it isn't 
Hans' fault, we have been fighting a duel." I see still 
the puzzled face of my father, who in justice could not 
punish what he had done himself and considered honour- 
able. He quietly replaced the pipe-stem in the bowl 
adding only: "In future leave such nonsense alone." 


When my sister and I outgrew the tuition of 
grandmother Deichmann - - nee vori Scheiter, as she 
never forgot to sign herself my father himself 

undertook our instruction for half a year. The outline 
of universal history arid ethnography, which he dictated 
to us. was spirited and original, and formed the foun- 
dation of my later knowledge. When I had reached 
the age of eleven my sister was sent to a boarding- 
school at Ratzeburg, whilst I attended the grammar- 
school of the neighbouring market -town Schonberg 
from Menzendorf. In fine weather I had to do the 
something like three miles distance on foot. In wet 
weather the footways were impassable, and I rode to 
school on a pony. This, and my habit of always 
being a match for practical jokes, soon led to chronic 
war with the town -scholars, through whose midst 
I had generally to force a way, lance, i. e. bean-stick, 
in rest. This tourney, in which the farmer lads of 
my village sometimes assisted me, continued a w r hole 
year. It certainly contributed a good deal to call 
forth my active powers, yielded however only very 
indifferent scientific results. 

A decided turning-point of my life occurred at 
Easter 1828, when my father engaged a private tutor. 
The choice was an exceedingly fortunate one. Spon- 
holz. candidate of theology, was still a young man. He 
was highly cultured, but in bad odour with his spiritual 
superiors, his theology being too rationalistic, too little 
positive, as one would say now^-a-days. Over us semi- 
savage youths he contrived, even in the first weeks, 


to obtain a power mysterious! to me to this day. He 
never punished us. hardly ever uttered a word of 
blame, shared however frequently in our games, and 
had the knack even through the medium of play of 
evoking our good qualities and repressing our bad 
ones. His teaching was in the highest degree stimu- 
lating and ericoiira<rino\ He understood how to set 


up really attainable goals for our labours, and streng- 
thened our energies and our ambition by his delight 
at the attainment of the proposed goal, which he himself 
frankly shared with us. Thus he succeeded in very 
few weeks in making out of unruly lazy boys the most 
eager and industrious scholars, whom he had not to 
urge to work, but rather to keep from attempting 
too much. 

In me especially he awakened the inextinguishable 
feeling of delight in useful work and the ambitious 

o o 

desire actually to perform it. An important expedient 
employed by him for this purpose was his stories. 
If late in the evening our eyes began to close over 
our work, he would beckon us to him on the leather 
sofa w r here he used to sit beside our work-table, and 
whilst we clung to him paint us pictures of our own 
future. These either represented as at the heights of 
civil life, that we had scaled through industry and 
moral fitness, and which enabled us to lessen the cares 
of our parents very considerable in that time of 
great difficulty for the agriculturist - - or depicted our 
wretched fate, if we relaxed in our efforts, and were 
unable to resist temptation to evil. 


Unfortunately this happiest period of my boyhood 
did not last long, not even a full year. Sponholz 
had often attacks of deep melancholy, which probably 
in part arose from his mistaken theological calling 
and career, in part from causes which were unintel- 
ligible to us children. During one such attack he 
left the house on a dark winter's night, gun in hand, 
and after a prolonged search was found in a remote 
part of the estate with shattered skull. Our grief at 
the loss of the beloved friend and teacher was 
boundless. My own love and gratitude to him I have 
retained to the present day. 

Sponholz's successor was an elderly gentleman, 
who had for years filled the office of private tutor 
in noblemen's families. He was in almost all respects 
the reverse of his predecessor. His educational system 
was of a wholly formal character. He required that 
before all things we should be docile and mannerly. 
Anything boisterous was especially his aversion. We 
had to be attentive and do our tasks at the prescribed 
times, accompany him with decorum in our walks, 
and riot disturb him out of school hours. The poor 
man was sickly and after two years died of con- 
sumption in our house. A stimulating and moulding 
influence he certainly did not exert, and had it not been 
for the previous training of Sponholz, whose effect was 
enduring, the two years would have been pretty well 
thrown away, at least as far as I and my brother 
Hans were concerned. As for me the desire to do my 
duty and to learn thoroughly had, thanks to Sponholz, 


become so engrained, that so far from my ardour 
being damped I rather urged the tutor to my pace. 
In subsequent years the thought has often given 
me a pang, that I so often robbed the poor sick 
man of his needful rest by remaining after the close 
of lessons for hours together at my desk, quietly 
ignoring all the little devices he employed to be 
rid of me. 

On the death of the second tutor my father 
determined to send brother Hans and myself to the 
Lubeck grammar-school, the so-called Catherine 
School, and carried out the plan after my confir- 
mation in the parish church at Liibsee. As a result 
of the entrance examination I was put in the upper, 
and my brother in the lower fourth form. We were 
placed in no regular boarding house , but lodged 
with a Lubeck citizen, who at the same time boarded 
us. My father had such an unbounded faith in my 
trustworthiness that he also gave me the entire 
custody of my somewhat giddy brother, whose law- 
less nature had again come to the surface, as is evi- 
dent from the nickname given him by the school 
"mad Hans". 

St. Catherine's School, Lubeck, consisted of the 
grammar-school proper and the city school, both 
under the same head-master and having similar classes 
as far as the fourth form of the grammar-school. The 
latter at that time enjoyed considerable scholastic 
repute. The instruction was mainly confined to the 
dead languages. The teaching in mathematics was 


extremely defective and did not satisfy me ; in this 
subject I was put into a higher class, although up 
to that time I had only worked at Mathematics by 
myself, as neither of my tutors knew anything of 
it. The ancient languages on the other hand gave me 
a great deal of trouble, through lack of thorough 
grounding. Much as the study of the Classics interested 
and excited me, the acquisition of the grammatical 
rules, which offered no material for thought and 


positive knowledge, was distasteful to me. In the 
two following years I conscientiously worked myself 
up to the highest form, perceived however, that I 
should never find satisfaction in the study of ancient 
languages, and resolved to devote myself to architecture, * 
at that time the only technical branch. Accordingly 
in the fifth form I dropped the study of Greek, and 
took instead private lessons in Mathematics and land- 
surveying, in order to prepare myself for entrance 
into the Academy of Architecture at Berlin. On further 
inquiry, however, it unhappily appeared that the course 
at the Academy was too expensive, (at a time of ever- 
increasing difficulty for the cultivators of the soil, 
when the selling price of wheat was a florin per bushel) 
to allow of my imposing so great a sacrifice upon my 
parents, having regard to the interests of my younger 
brothers and sisters. 

- In these straits I found relief in the advice of 
my preceptor in land-surveying, Freiherr von Billzings- 
lowen, lieutenant in the Li'ibeck contingent, who had 
formerly served in the Prussian artillery. He advised 



me to join the corps of Engineers, where I should 
have the opportunity of acquiring the same know- 
ledge as a student of the Academy of Architecture. 
When I confided this plan to my father he at once 
consented, giving an additional important reason in its 
favour, the truth of which has been clearly demonstrated 
by recent German history. He said "The present 
condition of things in Germany cannot possibly last. 
A time will come when everything will be turned topsy 
turvy. The only fixed point in Germany is however 
the state of Frederick the Great and the Prussian 
Army, and in such times it is always better to be 
hammer than anvil." Accordingly at Easter 1834, in 
my seventeenth year, I quitted the grammar-school, 
and repaired with a very moderate supply of money 
in my pocket to Berlin, in order to place myself among 
the hammers of the future. 

When the painful leave-taking of the old home, 
of the intensely loved but overburdened and ailing 
mother, and the numerous brothers and sisters affec- 
tionately clinging to me, had been gone through. 
my father took me to Schwerin, and from there 
I entered on my pilgrimage. After I had crossed the 
Prussian frontier and found myself on a straight dusty 
road in the midst of a treeless and barren sandy 
plain, the feeling of a terrible loneliness overcame me, 
which was intensified by the melancholy contrast of 
the landscape with the old familiar scenery. Before my 


departure a deputation of the most respected peasants 
of the place had presented itself to my father with the 
petition not to send "so good a lad'' to that famine- 
stricken land Prussia: I should always find plenty to 
eat at home! The peasants would hardly credit my 
father, that beyond the desolate sandy borders lay 
also fertile land in Prussia. Despite my firm resolve 
to seek my advancement in the world through my 
own efforts, it did indeed for a moment seem as 
if the peasants were right and I was wending towards 
a sorry future. It was therefore a consolation when 
I met in my journeying a cheery and cultivated 
young man, who like me was tramping knapsack 
on back Berlinwards. He was no stranger there, and 
proposed that I should go w r ith him to his inn, which 
he greatly praised. 

It was the button-maker's inn in which I took up 
my quarters for the first night in Berlin. The host 
soon perceived that I did not belong to his regular 
patrons, and accorded me his good will. He protected 
me from the tricks of the young button - makers, 
and assisted me on the following day to discover the 
address of a distant relative, Lieutenant von Huet, in 
the Horse Artillery of the Guards. Cousin Huet 
received me kindly, was seized by a mortal terror how- 
ever when he heard I had put up at the button- 
maker's inn. He at once gave orders to his servant 
to fetch my knapsack from the inn and to engage a 
room for me in a small hotel in the new Friedrich- 
strasse, offered also after the needful improvement of 


my toilet to proceed with me to General you Ranch, 
the chief of the corps of Engineers, and to inform 
him of my desire. 

The general strongly dissuaded me. as so many 
cadets were already waiting their call to the artillery 
and engineering school, so that I could not hope to get 
in in less than four or five years. He advised me 
to try the Artillery, whose cadets attended the same 
school as the engineers and had considerably better 
prospects*- I accordingly made up my mind to try my 
luck in the artillery, and as there was no getting into 
the Guards, I obtained an introduction from lieutenant 
von Huet's father, colonel on the retired list, to Colonel 
von Scharnhorst, commander of the 3rd Artillery- 
Brigade, and proceeded blithe of heart to Magdeburg. 

' The colonel - - a son of the celebrated organizer 
of the Prussian army also indeed at first made 

sundry difficulties, remarking that the applications for 
cadetships were very numerous, and that of the 
fifteen young men, who had already offered them- 
selves, he could only take the four \vho should pass 
the best examination* He finally however acceded 
to my request, and promised to admit me to the 
examination, provided his Majesty the King was pleased 
to allow me, although a foreigner, to enter the army 
of Prussia. My frank resolute bearing evidently took 
his fancy; but most influential perhaps was the circum- 
stance, that he saw from my papers that my mother 
was a Deichmann of Poggenhageri, which adjoined his 
father's estate. 


As the entrance examination was not to take 
place till the end of October I had still three months 
for preparation. I therefore moved to Rhoden on 
the northern slope of the Harz, where a brother of 
my father owned some property, and there spent a 
few weeks in familiar intercourse with my relations, 
of whom the two pretty and amiable grown-up daughters 
in particular made a great impression upon me; I 
willingly allowed them to exercise their refining in- 
fluence on the young and still somewhat unpolished 
cousin. Then I went with my cousin Louis Siemens, 
my junior by a few years, to Halberstadt, where I 
prepared myself in good earnest for the entrance 

The programme of the examination placed in my 
hands by Colonel von Scharnhorst caused me however 
a good deal of uneasiness. In addition to Mathematics, 
History Geography and French were especially required, 
and these subjects had been taught at the Ltibeck 
grammar-school only in a very superficial manner. 
I could scarcely hope to make good my deficiences in a 
couple of months. There w r as still wanting my discharge 
from the Mecklenburg military service, which my father 
would have to purchase, and the permission of the 
King to enter the Prussian army. I inarched, therefore, 
towards the middle of October with a heavy heart to 
Magdeburg, where I was disappointed in not finding 
the expected letter from home along with the necessary 
papers. When nevertheless I was just about to start 
for the examination at the prescribed hour, to my 


great and joyful surprise I was met by my father, who 
had himself driven over to Magdeburg in a light con- 
veyance, in order to deliver into my hands the papers 
by the right time, as the post in those days was far 
from expeditious. 

The examination took a favourable course for me 
from the commencement, and beyond my expectation. 
In Mathematics I was decidedly ahead of my fourteen 
competitors. In History I had luck, and got off tolerably 
well. In modern languages I was certainly weaker 
than the others, but my better knowledge of the ancient 
languages made up for it. The outlook was worse in 
Geography; I soon perceived that most of them knew 
more of the subject than I did. But here I was 
favoured by a particularly lucky coincidence. The 
examiner was a certain Captain Meiriicke, who had 
the reputation of being a very learned and at the 
same time original man. He passed for a great con- 
noisseur of Tokay wine, as I afterwards learnt, and 
that was perhaps the reason of his curiosity regarding 
the situation of Tokay. No one knew, whereupon he 
waxed very wrath. When my turn came last of all by 
good hap it occurred to me, that Tokay wine had once 
been prescribed to my invalid mother, and that it had 
also borne the name of Hungarian wine. At my answer 
"In Hungary, Captain!" his face brightened up, and 
with the exclamation "But, gentlemen, you must 
surely know Tokay wine!" he gave me the highest 
mark in Geography. 

So I was one of the fortunate four who had passed 


the best examination, but still had to wait four anxious 
weeks for the royal permission to enter the army, and 
when at the end of November it arrived, I could not 
immediately be admitted, because I had only been 
born on the 13th of December 1816, and so had not 
yet passed my seventeenth year. I, however, was 
allowed a special drill-sergeant, who strenuously drilled 
me in civilian dress in the Cathedral square. 

My performance soon gained the approval of the 
severe bombardier, although there was one point 
which almost drove him to despair. I had extremely 
curly light -brown hair, that absolutely refused to 
conform to the military regulations , which required 
that the hair should lie evenly on the temples. On 
inspection-day the captain had expressed displeasure at 
the disorderly hair of the recruit, and in consequence, 
all conceivable experiments were instituted to conceal 
in a measure this military blemish. The sediment of 
a favourite Magdeburg beer seemed to be most effective. 
I was obliged to order many a bottle for the purpose, 
as unfortunately only the sediment could be of any 
use to me. After repeated applications I succeeded 
in rendering my hair tolerably smooth, but after an 
interval it showed symptoms of revolt, and usually 
on parade to the horror of the bombardier certain 
rebellious locks persisted in protruding from the even 

Despite the great exertions exacted, and the rough 
and apparently harsh treatment at the hand of the drill- 
sergeant. I still look back with pleasure to my time 


when a recruit. The roughness is sheer habit arid 
does not spring from intention to inflict pain. It 
therefore does not go very deep, on the contrary has 
something refreshing and stimulating about it. especially 
if combined with humour, as has almost always been 
the case with the models of military harshness known 
to fame. The service over the incivility is forgotten. 
and the feeling of comradeship is again uppermost. 
The feeling of comradeship, which pervades the entire 
Prussian Army from king to recruit, renders the strict 
discipline, the toils and hardships reaching often to the 
extreme limit of the capacity to undergo them, endu- 
rable, and constitutes its cementing bond in woe and 
weal. It will, accordingly, be often very hard for the 
military veteran to feel comfortable in civil life: he 
misses therein the reckless rudeness on a substructure 
of good fellowship. 

After six months drill came the great event of 
advancement to the post of bombardier. It was an 
elevating feeling to be now the superior of hundreds 
and thousands and to be duly saluted by every private./ 
Then followed the order to the horse artillery, then 
the interesting artillery practice, in which for the 
first time I became aware of my technical abilities, 
since what most found hard to comprehend appeared 
to me matter of course. Lastly, in the autumn of 1835, 
I received the longed-for order to attend the school 
of the united artillery and engineers in Berlin, and 
therewith the fulfilment of my ardent desire to have 
an opportunity to learn something useful. 


The three years, which from the autumn of 1835 
to the summer of 1838 I spent at the Berlin Artillery 
and Engineering School. I reckon to the happiest of 
my life. The sociable life with young people of the 
same age and with the same aims, the common study 
under the guidance of able teachers, of whom I will 
only name the mathematician Ohm. the physicist 
Magnus, and the chemist Erdmann. whose instruction 
opened to me a world new and full of interest, 
made this time one of extraordinary enjoyment. In 
addition to that. I found in one of the comrades 
of my brigade, William Meyer, a real friend, with 
whom till his death I was united by the bond of 
the closest and completest friendship. I had before at 
the Ltibeck grammar-school entered on the first stage 
of such an intimate friendly alliance, and imagined 
I had found in a fellow pupil a genuine friend, but 
on calling upon him one day he gave orders to say he 
was not at home, although I was perfectly sure that 
he was in the house and concealing himself from me. 
That appeared to me such an unpardonable breach of 
proper friendship, that I severed the tie with intense 
pain, and could never again bring myself to treat him 
as a friend. 

William Meyer I got to know when the horse- 
artillery was stationed at Burg, whither he had been 
ordered before me. He had a far from imposing 
figure, was in no respect distinguished or talented, 
possessed however a clear understanding, and pleased 
me from the first by his straightforward unaffected 


nature, and his unimpeachable sincerity and trustworthi- 
ness. We chummed together at the School, lived and 
studied together, had the same quarters then and 
thenceforward, whenever circumstances allowed of 
it. Our notorious friendship and the circumstance 
that I revolted against the "tyranny of the ensigns", 
which led to a duel with the senior of my room, 
in which Meyer acted as my second, had the curious 
result, that in almost all the duels which occurred in 
the first year at the School. Meyer and I were chosen 
as seconds of the opposing parties. 

These duels were only in a few instances followed 
by dangerous consequences, had however so far a very 
useful effect as they tended to preserve a polite tone 
in social intercourse. 

Our year was the first in which the cadets were 
admitted in limited numbers after a pretty stiff entrance 
examination, and were then ordered to the School on 
the completion of their year of service. Before that 
no difference was made between the candidates for 
commissions and others, and it was then often only 
after the lapse of several years of service, which in 
part had to be spent in barracks, that the ablest or 
perhaps the best- recommended were ordered to the 
School. The somewhat unpolished tone, which had 
clung to the young fellows through prolonged inter- 
course with unrefined comrades, was most effectively 
and quickly corrected by means of the duels. 

My three years at the military school passed 
without any important events. Although I suffered much 


from attacks of intermittent fever, and once also was 
obliged to lie several months in hospital on account of 
injury to the shin, yet I contrived to pass successfully 
the three examinations - - the ensign, the army -officer 
and finally the artillery -officer examination, although 
without special distinction. I had with inflexible industry 
crammed the required matter into my head in order 
afterwards to forget it as quickly again, but had de- 
voted all my spare time to my favourite sciences, 
Mathematics. Physics and Chemistry. The fondness 
for these sciences has remained all through my life, 
and has been at the bottom of my after successes. 

Great was the joy when the school course com- 
pleted. I received a four weeks furlough to visit my 
home along with my friend Meyer. My brothers and 
sisters, whose number had risen to ten. and even my 
parents hardly recognized me. 

The whole village rejoiced with them on the return 
of the "Muschu", the traditional title of the sons 
of "the Manor". There were really touching meetings 
with the worthy people of our own and the neighbouring 
villages, who for the rest had great respect for the 
Prussian officers, in whom certainly they perceived no 
signs of Prussia's starving condition. 

My elder sister Matilda was just celebrating her 
wedding with Professor Karl Himly from Gottingen, who 
remained a dear friend of mine until his death. Hans 
and Ferdinand had become farmers. My third younger 
brother, William, was at the school at Liibeck and 
was destined for commerce. The next two, Frederick 


and Charles, likewise attended the Liibeek School, where 
they boarded with a younger brother of my mother, 
Ferdinand Deichmann, merchant. 

That William' was fo be a business -man didn't at 
all please me. At that time I shared the aversion 
of Prussian officers to the mercantile class, and also 
William's somewhat reserved but intelligent nature 
and his clear understanding particularly attracted me. 
I accordingly begged my parents to let him accompany 
me to my future garrison -town Magdeburg, that he 
might attend the highly esteemed school of Trade and 
Commerce of that place. The parents consented, and 
so we took him with us to Magdeburg, where I installed 
him in a small boarding-house, having myself according 
to the regulations to reside the first year in barracks. 

At the expiration of this year, which I had to 
devote entirely to the strict military service, friend 
Meyer and I took up our quarters in the town, and 
I brought William, now sixteen years of age, to reside 
with me. I had a parternal delight in watching his 
rapid development, and helped him with his school tasks 
in my leisure hours. I also induced him to give up 
the unsatisfactory lessons in Mathematics at the school 
and to learn English instead. This turned out very 
important for his future career. I myself gave him 
mathematical instruction every morning from 5 to 7. 
and was rewarded by the particularly good exami- 
nation he afterwards passed in that subject. To my- 
self this tuition was of great utility, and it also made 
it easier for me to resist the temptations of an officer's 


life, as well as stimulated me energetically to continue 
my scientific studies. 

Unhappily this fraternal intercourse was much 
troubled by the increasingly ominous communications 
of my father regarding the health of our beloved 
mother. On the 8th of July 1839 she succumbed to 
her malady, leaving my father, himself ailing, weighed 
down with sorrow and serious material cares, together 
with the numerous children still to be educated, in a 
very doleful condition. I forego the description of the 
poignant grief on the mother's loss. The love for her 
was the strong tie that held the family together, and 
the fear of distressing her always formed for us children 
the most effective guarantee for our good behaviour. 

I received a brief furlough to visit our home and 
my mother's grave. Unhappily the enfeebled health 
of my father inspired me with but little confidence in 
the duration of a regular family life, favourable to the 
prosperity and development of the younger members. 
The correctness of my foreboding was only too soon 
confirmed. In barely half a year, on the 16th January 
1840. we also lost our father. 

On the death of the parents, guardians were ap- 
pointed by the court of ward for the younger children, 
and the management of the domain of Menzendorf 
was entrusted to my brothers Hans arid Ferdinand. 
My youngest sister Sophia was adopted by Uncle 
Deichmann in Ltibeck, whilst the youngest brothers 
Walter and Otto remained for the present under the 
grandmother's care in Menzendorf. - 


The scientific -technical studies, to which I now 
devoted myself with increased ardour, nearly had 
very serious consequences in the following summer. 
I had heard that my cousin, the Hanoverian artillery 
officer A. Siemens, had made some successful experi- 
ments with friction fuses, which were intended to be 
used for the firing of canon in place of the hand fuses 
then exclusively employed. The importance of this 
discovery was evident to me. and I resolved myself 
to make experiments in this direction. As the inflam- 
matory materials employed did not act with sufficient 
certainty, in the absence of better implements I stirred 
up together an aqueous solution of phosphorus and 
chlorate of potash in a pomatum bowl with very thick 
bottom, and placed the bowl, as I had to go to the 
drill ground, carefully covered, in a cool window corner. 

When I returned and looked with some anxiety 
for my dangerous preparation I found it to my satis- 
faction still in the same corner. But on carefully 
taking it up and barely touching the match standing 
in the paste, which had served to stir up the mixture, 
a violent explosion took place, which hurled the shako 
from my head and shattered all the window-panes 
together with their frames. The entire upper part of 
the porcelain bowl was scattered about the room in 
the form of fine powder, whilst its stout bottom was 
wedged firmly into the window sill. 

The cause of this altogether unexpected explosion 
turned out to be this: that my man on cleaning the 
room had placed the vessel in the oven, and let it 


dry there a few hours before putting it back in its 
place. Strange to say I was not visibly wounded, only 
the violent pressure of the air had so contused the 
skin of my left hand, that the forefinger and thumb 
were covered by a large haematocystis. Unfortunately, 
however, the drum of my right ear was fractured, 
which I immediately perceived from the circumstance 
that I was able to blow out the air through both 
ears: the drum of the left ear had been burst the 
year before during artillery practice. I was in con- 
sequence for the moment quite deaf and had heard 
no sound, when suddenly the door of my room opened 
and I saw the whole anteroom full of horror-stricken 
people. The report had immediately spread that one 
of the two officers resident in the lodgings had shot 

In consequence of this mishap I have long suffered 
of difficulty of hearing and still suffer from time to 
time, whenever the closed rents in the tympana chance 
to open. 

In the autumn of 1840 I was transferred to Witten- 
berg, where I had to enjoy for a year the dubious 
pleasures of life in a small garrison -town. All the 
more eagerly did I continue my scientific studies. In 
that year Jacobi's discovery was made known in Ger- 
many of precipitating copper in a metallic form by 
means of the galvanic current from a solution of the 
sulphate. This process interested me in a high degree, 
as it evidently was the key to a whole class of hitherto 
unknown phenomena. As I succeeded well with the 


copper precipitates I tried also to precipitate other 
metals in the same way, but only with moderate success 
owing to my limited means and apparatus. 

My studies were interrupted by an event, which 
in its consequences had an important influence on 
my future career. The frequent squabbles in the 
smaller garrison towns between the members of different 


branches of the service had led to a duel between an 
infantry officer and an artillery officer with whom I 
was on friendly terms. I had to act as the latter" s 
second. Although the duel terminated with only an 

insignificant wound sustained by the infantry officer, 

o / t/ 

it came for certain reasons to be taken notice of and 
to be dealt with by a court-martial. The statutory 
punishments for duelling in Prussia were at that time 
Draconian in their severity, but precisely on that 
account were almost always mitigated by an early 
pardon. In fact by the court-martial held in Magde- 
burg the principals were condemned to ten and the 
seconds to five years imprisonment in the fortress. 

I was condemned to confinement in the citadel 
of Magdeburg and had to report myself there on the 
confirmation of the sentence. The prospect of being 
shut up for at least half a year without occupation was 
not pleasant, but 1 consoled myself with the thought 
that I should have a good deal of leisure time for 
my studies. In order to make good use of this time 
I searched out a chemist's shop on my way to the 
citadel, and provided myself with the necessary means 
for pursuing my experiments in electrolysis. A friendly 


young fellow in the business promised not only to 
smuggle these articles into the citadel, but also to 
execute promptly future orders, and conscientiously 
kept his promise. 

Accordingly I set up a small laboratory in my 
barred but roomy cell and was quite contented with 
my situation. Fortune favoured me in my work. 
I remembered that some time ago I had tried ex- 
periments with my brother-in-law Himly in Gottingen 
for the production of pictures according to the process 
made known a little while before by Daguerre, and 
that hyposulphite of soda employed in these experiments 
had dissolved otherwise insoluble salts of gold and silver. 
I determined therefore to proceed on these lines, and to 
test the applicability of such solutions for electrolysis. 
To my unspeakable joy the experiments succeeded in 
a surprising manner. I believe it was one of the happiest 
moments of my life \vhen a German silver tea-spoon, 
which I had dipped into a beaker filled with a solution 
of hyposulphite of gold and connected with the zinc 
pole of a Daniell battery, whilst the copper pole was 
connected with a louis d'or as anode, changed in a 
few minutes into a golden spoon of the finest and 
purest lustre. 

Galvanic gilding and plating was then, at least 

c5 c5 i c> 7 

in Germany, still quite new and naturally caused a 
sensation in the circle of my comrades and acquain- 
tances. I almost immediately concluded a bargain with 
a Magdeburg jeweller, who had heard of the marvel and 
visited me in the citadel, w r hereby I sold him the right 


of making use of my process for forty louis (For. which 
supplied me with the required means for making further 

In the meantime a month of my confinement had 
elapsed, and I imagined I should have at least a few 
more months quietly to continue my work. I improved 
my apparatus and lodged a petition for a patent, 
whereupon with surprising rapidity a Prussian patent 
for five years was granted me. But the officer of 
the guard unexpectedly appeared and to my great 
terror. I must confess, handed me a royal order-in- 
council announcing my pardon. It was really hard to 
be so suddenly torn from my successful activity. 
According to the regulations I was obliged to leave 
the citadel the same day, and had neither an abode 
into which I could put my effects and apparatus, nor 
any idea whither I should be ordered. 

I therefore drew up a petition to the commander 
of the fortress, in which I begged to be allowed to 
occupy my cell for a few more days, in order that I 
might arrange my affairs and finish my experiments. 
I came off badly by that however! Towards midnight 
I was awakened by the entrance of the officer of the 
guard, who communicated to me that he had received 
orders to turn me at once out of the citadel. The 
commander had regarded it as a sign of ingratitude 
for the royal favour extended to me. that I desired a 
prolongation of my imprisonment. Accordingly about 
midnight I was conducted out of the citadel with my 
effects and had to get a lodging in the town. 


Luckily I was not again sent to Wittenberg, but 

/ O- 

received an order to go to the pyrotechnic factory 
at Spandau. My discovery had in the eyes of my 
superiors doubtless made me appear less qualified for 
active service! The firework factory was a relic of 
the old times when "gunnery*' (Coristablerthum) was 
still an art. of which the manufacture of fireworks was 
held to be the crown. My interest in the activity 
assigned to me was great; in good spirits I repaired 
to Spandau and took possession of the rooms in the 
citadel allotted to the pyrotechnic manufacture. 

My new occupation was in fact very interesting, 
and I devoted myself to it with the greater eagerness 
as a large order had arrived at the pyrotechnic 
department for a quantity of fireworks, which it was 
intended to let off on the birthday of the Russian 
Empress in the park of Prince Charles at Glienicke 
near Potsdam. Owing to the progress of chemistry 
means were afforded at that time for the production 
of very beautiful coloured flames unknown to the old 
gunners. My fireworks on the Havel lake at Glienicke 
brought me therefore much honour and recognition 
especially by the splendour of their colours. I was 
asked to the prince's table, and received an invitation 
to engage the young Prince Frederick Charles in a 

o o / o 

sail ing -match, as the sailing boat in which I had 

c o 

come from Spandau to Glienicke had distinguished 
itself by its excellent speed. I had the honour of 
conquering the future victor of famous battles, who 
even then impressed me in a high degree by his 


resolute energetic character or his "smartness", as 
one now expresses it. 

With the letting off of these fireworks my com- 
mand of the pyrotechnic factory came to an end. and 
to inv delight I was ordered to Berlin for service in 

t/ O 

the ordnance department. Through this transference 
my greatest wish was fulfilled, to obtain time and 
opportunity for further scientific studies and for increa- 
sing my technical knowledge. 

But there were also other reasons which made 
this change welcome to me. After my parents" death 
the duty devolved upon me of providing for my 
younger brothers and sisters, of whom my youngest 
brother Otto was at our mother's death only in his 
third year. The farming of the domains still remained 
it is true for a term of years in the hands of the 
family, but the times continued to be extremely bad 
for agriculture, so that the slight profits, which were 
made by my brothers Hans and Ferdinand by farming, 
did not suffice for the education of the children. I was 
therefore obliged to look out for some way of earning 
money in order to fulfil my obligations as senior of 
the family, and that appeared to me to be easier in 
Berlin than elsewhere. 

My brother William had meanwhile completed 
his course at the Magdeburg School, and at my sug- 
gestion had gone for a year to Gottingen. to sister 
Matilda, in order to prosecute his scientific studies. 
After that he entered as pupil the Count Stolberg 
engineering works in Magdeburg. He there devoted 


himself with great energy to practical engineering, 
which just then was undergoing rapid development 
in Germany in consequence of the introduction of 

I kept up a frequent correspondence with William, 
and got him to communicate to me the problems 
which exercised his constructive faculty. One such 
problem was the precise regulation of steam engines, 
which were assisted by wind or water mills. William's 
plan did not satisfy me. and I proposed to employ 
as regulative principle a heavy freely swinging circular 
pendulum, which, connected with the engine to be 
regulated by a differential mechanism, might effect 
an absolutely uniform rotation, instead of diminishing 
the irregularities by the only means then known, the 
very imperfect regulator of Watt. To this suggestion 
was due the construction of the differential governor, 
to which I shall return in the sequel. 

In Berlin my efforts to earn money by my in- 
ventions were soon attended with success, although I 


was very much hampered by being as military officer 
considerably restricted in the choice of devices for 
initiating business undertakings. I succeeded in con- 
eluding an agreement with the German -silver manu- 
facturer J. Henniger, by which I agreed to set up 
an establishment for him for gilding and plating in 
accordance with my patent in return for a share 
in the profits. Thus arose the first establishment of 
the kind in Germany. In England a Mr. Elkington 
had already started a similar establishment, employing 


another process, now in general use - - viz. depositing 
from gold arid silver cyanides - - which soon obtained 
great success. 

In the negoeiations with regard to the Berlin 

o J~ 

plan and the fitting up of the establishment I was 
materially assisted by my brother William, who had 
paid me a holiday A r isit, and who succeeded at the 
same time in inducing a Berlin engineering firm to 
adopt the differential governor. As he clearly showed 
talent for such negociations and himself wanted to get 
to know England, we agreed that he should try to 
utilize my inventions in that country and for this 
purpose obtain a longer leave of absence from his 
factory. Considerable means I could certainly not afford 
him for his journey, and I have often wondered how 
in spite of this he attained his end. With excellent 
judgment he went straight to our competitor Elkington. 
who at first cut him short with the remark that 
we had no right to use our process in England . as 
his patent gave him the exclusive right to employ 
electric currents, produced by electric batteries or 
by induction, for depositing gold and silver. William 
had sufficient presence of mind to reply that we 
employed thermo-electric currents, therefore did not 
infringe his patent. 1 did in fact at once succeed in 
making a thermo-electric battery, consisting of pairs 
of bars of iron arid German silver, with which we 
could very well precipitate gold and silver from hypo- 
sulphite solutions. As a consequence William succeeded 
in selling our English patent to Elkington for 1 500. 


This in our then circumstances was a colossal sum, 
which put for some time an end to our financial 

On his return from England William re-entered 
his Magdeburg factory, but soon found he had lost 
his relish for such small undertakings, after becoming 
acquainted with the large scale of English industrial 
operations and acquiring a taste for English life. He 
accordingly proposed to settle in England, and as 
I approved of the project, we took out a patent there 
for the jointly elaborated differential-governor, in order 
to facilitate its introduction into England. 

I had meanwhile made two more discoveries 
which William was likewise to try to turn to account 
there. The prosecution of my experiments in electro- 
lysis had led me to attempt to get also good deposits 
of nickel from a solution of the double salt of sulphate 
of nickel and sulphate of ammonia. This nickelizing 
appeared of especial importance for engraved copper- 
plate which, provided with a coating of nickel, allowed 
of a far larger number of impressions, without the 
fineness of the engraving being blunted by the 
nickelizing. To derive benefit from this process I had 
made a compact with a Berlin house, from which 
I expected considerable profit. Unluckily, however, 
soon afterwards the galvanic depositing of iron from 
the corresponding iron solution was discovered, which 
had the great advantage over the nickel coating, that 

O O O' 

it could be easily renewed, when worn out. in that 
the iron could be again liberated by dilute sulphuric 


acid arid the plate then coated afresh with iron. This 
made my nickelizing worthless for this purpose. A few 
years later it was again discovered and made known 
by Professor Bottger. but has only in recent times 
been much employed in industrial operations. 

The second discovery consisted in the application 
of the zinc printing to a rotating fly-press, which process 
had just then come to be known. With the help of a 
skilful mechanician, the watch-maker Leorihardt. I had 
prepared a model of such a press, which very satis- 
factorily executed the necessary operations for producing 
lithographic impressions from a cylindrical zinc plate. 
But it subsequently turned out on its employment on 
the large scale by William in England that zinc printing 
allowed of no rapid repetition of impressions. After 
from 150 to 200 impressions the work had to be 
interrupted for a pretty long time, or else an obliteration 
of the reprint on the cylinder took place. 

When my brother in England met with these 
difficulties I obtained a six week's furlough and visited 
him in London, w r here he had rented a small place 
for our experiments in a narrow lane of the City near 
the Mansion House. Despite the most strenuous efforts 
we could not however succeed in overcoming the diffi- 
culties. We succeeded indeed in obtaining re-impressions 
from even century old prints by a regenerating process 
by continuous heating, if I remember rightly, in a 
solution of salts of barium arid our process, to 
which we had given the grand name "anastatic prin- 
ting", accordingly excited in England much attention 


and contributed to making William known there; but 
it soon became clear to us that speculative inventions 
are a very uncertain affair and only in very rare cases 
lead to good results, unless supported by thorough 
knowledge and ample means. 

To me personally the journey to England proved 
very stimulating, and at the same time gave a more 
earnest and critical direction to my further endeavours, 
leading me to look rather at the solidity of my foun- 
dations than at the hoped for result. This was still 
more confirmed by my return journey through Paris, 
where in the then flourishing time of the rule of Louis 
Philippe the first great French Industrial Exhibition 
was taking place. 

Unfortunately my stay in Paris was disturbed by 
an unpleasant incident. I had intended to decide in 
Brussels whether I should return by way of Paris or 
by direct route, had arranged therefore with William 
that he should send to Paris the money requisite for 
the strengthening of my travelling budget, if I should 
write him to that effect from Brussels. When I deci- 
ded therefore to take the journey to Paris. I sent 
with the request for money my Paris address and 
entrusted the letter to the landlord of my hotel. 

Arriving in Paris . perched on the top of an 
omnibus of the messageries generates after a two days 
journey. I found the city in consequence of the Exhi- 
bition filled to overflowing, and succeeded only with 
difficulty in obtaining a small garret room on the 
eighth floor of the hotel des messageries generates, in 


which it was only possible to stand upright if the 
window which served also for roof were placed hori- 
zontally. As my cash had in consequence of the extra 
travelling been reduced to a minimum I could not 
think of a change of residence until the expected 
remittance had arrived. Almost a fortnight passed 
however. A young Berliner who had come to Paris 
for the Exhibition found himself in the same plight. 
We had very thoroughly to study the art of living 
in Paris without money, and being entirely without 
acquaintances or other sources of assistance found 
ourselves at last in a very uncomfortable position. 
Finally we simultaneously resolved to employ our 
remaining resources in despatching letters to London 
and Berlin, as at that time only prepaid letters were 
accepted. At the post-office it turned out. however, 
that my ready money was not quite sufficient for the 
purpose. The young Berliner - - Sehwarzlose was his 
name - - magnanimously came to my assistance, but was 
then obliged to forego the dispatch of his own missive. 
his funds benw now exhausted. 


This magnanimity found its reward, for on the 
same evening the longed-for money-letter from my 
brother arrived, instead of after the lapse of a week, 
as I had feared. The postage of the Brussels letter 
had been embezzled by the boots of the hotel, the 
Post-Office authorities had therefore not despatched 
the letter, had however written to the addressee that 
if he desired to have it he must remit the postage. 
Only after my brother had done this, and had received 


the letter containing my address, could he let me 
have the truly "needful". 

Our distress was accordingly relieved, but the 
Parisian trip was rendered vain, for my furlough was 
now at an end. As a compensation I got practically 
to know what want of money really means. Of Paris 
itself I saw little but the streets in which I tramped 
away my hunger. 

Returned to Berlin I very seriously reflected on 
the aims I had lately been pursuing, and saw clearly 
that the chase of discoveries, by which 1 had allowed 
myself to be carried away through the facility of a 
first success, would if continued probably be my own 
and my brother's ruin. I accordingly got rid of all my > 
inventions, sold even my share in the manufactory set 
up in Berlin, and devoted myself again with heart 
and soul to serious scientific study. 1 attended courses 
at the Berlin University, soon however perceived to 
my dismay from the lectures of the celebrated mathe- 
matician Jacobi. that my previous training was in- 
sufficient to enable me to follow him to the end. 
This imperfect schooling in scientific study has always 
to my great regret kept me back and crippled my 
efforts. All the more grateful am 1 to some of my 
earlier teachers, among whom I must specially mention 
the physicists Magnus. Dove and Riess. for friendly 
reception into their highly interesting circles. I also 
owe many thanks to the younger Berlin physicists, 
who allowed me to take part in founding the 
Physical Society. That was a wonderfully stimulating 


association of talented young scientists, who subse- 
quently almost without exception became celebrated 
by their achievments. I need mention only the names 
of clu Bois-Reymond. Briicke, Helmholtz. Clausius, 
Wiedemann. Ludwig, Beetz and Knoblauch. Intercourse 
and cooperation with these young men. distinguished 
by talent and earnest endeavour, strengthened my 
preference for scientific study and labours, and kindled 
in me the determination to be in future the votary 
of strict science alone. 

But circumstances were stronger than my will, 
and the native impulse never to let acquired know- 
ledge lie idle, but as far as possible to make some 
use of it, led me ever and again back to technology. 
And so it has been my life long. My affection has 
always been given to pure science as such, but my 
labours and achievments have been for the most part 
in the domain of applied science. 

This technical turn was especially favoured and 
supported by the Polytechnic Society, to which as a 
young officer I zealously devoted myself. I took an 
active part in its proceedings, and in the answering 
of the questions which were deposited in the query- 
box. The answering and discussing of these soon 
formed a part of my regular activity and proved a 
good school for me. My scientific study stood me in 
good stead, and it became clear to me, that technical 
progress is only to be attained by the diffusion of 
scientific knowledge among technologists. 

''At that time there still existed an unbridged 


gulf between pure and applied science. The meri- 
torious Beuth. who is unquestionably to be regarded 
as the founder of the technical science of North Ger- 
many, had indeed in the Berlin Industrial Institute 
erected an institution, which was especially designed 
for the diffusion of scientific knowledge among young 
technologists. The existence of this institute, out of 
which arose the Industrial Academy and finally the 
Technical College in Charlottenburg, was howeyer too 
short for raising the leyel of education of the craftsmen 
of the period. 

Prussia was at that time still a purely military 
and bureaucratic state. In its official class alone was 
culture to be found, and it is doubtless mainly owing 
to this circumstance that even at the present day 
the semblance of an official title is regarded and 
striven for as an external mark of a cultured and 
respected man. Of the industrial body only agricul- * 
turists. from whom the military class as well as the 
bureaucracy was almost without exception recruited, 
had a respectable status in the eyes of the latter. In this 
country, wasted and impoverished by a century of wars, 
there existed no longer a well-to-do bourgeoisie to * 
counterpoise in culture and property the military and 
official class. It must however be added, that this state 
of things was in part attributable to the fact, that the 
representatives of science always highly respected in * 
Prussia under the rule of the far-seeing Hohenzollern 
did not consider it compatible with their dignity to 
manifest a personal interest in technical progress. The 


same may be said in respect of plastic art. whose 
representatives regarded and in part, I believe, still 
regard it beneath their dignity to employ a part of 
their creative power for the elevation of industrial art. 
Through my activity in the Polytechnic Society 
I arrived at the conviction that scientific knowledge 
and scientific methods of investigation are capable 
of developing technology to a degree far beyond 
anything that can be foreseen. It further had the 
advantage of making me personally acquainted with 
Berlin manufacturers, and of affording me personally 
an insight into the achievments and defects of the 


industry of the time. My advice was often sought 
by manufacturers, and I thereby became acquainted 
with the contrivances employed and the modes of 
working. It became clear to me that the industrial 
arts cannot advance by sudden leaps, as has often 
been possible to science through the fruitful ideas of 
a few remarkable men. A technical invention only 
obtains value and importance if technology itself has 
so far progressed, that the invention is a practical 
one and supplies a need. Hence one so often sees 
the most considerable inventions unutilized for decermia, 
until all at once their great importance is recognised, 
their hour having arrived. -~7 

Of the scientific-technical questions which at that 
time especially occupied me, and at the same time 
gave occasion to my first literary labours, the first 
owed its origin to a communication in a letter of 
my brother William with respect to an interesting 


engine, which he had seen at work in Dundee. From 
a rather brief account it appeared that this engine 
was not driven by steam but by heated air. This 
idea interested me exceedingly, since it appeared to 
afford a foundation for an advantageous transformation 
of the whole engine-constructing art. In a paper 
entitled "On the use of heated air as mechanical 
power", contributed in 1845 to Dingier' s Polytechnic 
Journal, I described the theory of such air-eno-ines, 

/ ' C? 

and gave also a sketch of the construction of such 
a one as I conceived to be practicable. 

My theory was based entirely on the principle of 
the conservation of energy, which had been advanced 
by Mayer arid mathematically worked out by Helmholtz 
in his celebrated memoir "On the Conservation of 
Energy"; originally read before the Physical Society. 
Later on my brothers William and Frederick occupied 
themselves a good deal with these engines, and con- 
structed them in various forms. They too however 
unfortunately had to undergo the common experience 
of finding, that engineering had by no means advanced 
far enough to allow of the discovery being utilised with 
advantage. Only small engines could be constructed 
on the basis of the above principle so as to work well 
for a length of time; for large ones the right material 
for the heating apparatus was and is still wanting. 

In the same year I printed in Dingier* s Journal 
ii description of the already mentioned differential 
governor, to which in collaboration with my brother 
\\ illiam I had tried to give the most varied forms. 


Another question, which had already occupied 
me for a long time, was that of an exact measurement 
of the velocity of projectiles. The watchmaker Leon- 
hardt. known as a skilled mechanician and in the 
employ of the Artillery Commission, had constructed 
a clock, which turned an indicator with great velocity, 
when the latter was electro -magnetically connected 
with the clock-work. 

The coupling and uncoupling of the indicator by 
the flying shot was attended however with great 
difficulties, which in spite of our efforts could not be 
quite overcome. 

This led me to the idea of the employement of 
the electric spark for the measurement of velocity. 
In a paper, published in Poggendorffs Annalen "On 
the application of the electric spark to the measure- 
ment of velocity' 7 . I demonstrated the possibility of 
accurately measuring the velocity of projectiles at 
every stage of their progress by means of a rapidly 
rotating polished steel cylinder, on which incident 
electric sparks could leave a distinct mark. This 
paper also contained the plan, only many years sub- 
sequently executed by me. of ascertaining by the 
same method the velocity of electricity itself in its 

My interest in electrical experiments was most 
vividly stimulated by participating in the labours of 
Leonhardt. who was at the same time occupied with 
experiments, which the military staff had caused to 
be instituted, with regard to the substitution of electric 


for optic telegraphy. In the house of Hofrath Solt- 
manri. father of an intimate comrade of mine. I had 
the opportunity of seeing the model of a Wheatstone 
indicator-telegraph, and had taken part in the attempts 
to bring it into operation between the dwelling house 
and the establishment for artificial mineral waters at 
the end of a large garden. This however never 
succeeded, and I soon perceived the cause of these 
failures. It was traceable to the principle on which 
the apparatus was constructed, which required the 
turning of a handle with such regularity that the 
impulses of current produced had always sufficient 
strength to keep the clock-work of the receiving 
apparatus in motion. This was not attainable with 
certainty even if the apparatus worked in the room, 
and was altogether impossible where an important part 
of the current was lost through the imperfect insulation 
of the conductors. 

Leonhardt. trying at the instance of the commission 
to remedy this defect, caused the impulses to be 
produced by clock-work, i. e. in quite regular intervals, 
which was certainly an improvement, but still did 
not suffice with the varying loss of current. This 
made it apparent to me that the problem was most 
completely to be solved by converting the indicator- 
telegraphs into self-acting machines, each of which 
would automatically break and make the circuit. If 
two or more of such electrical machines were connected 
to a single electrical circuit a fresh impulse could 
only be given when all the inserted apparatus had 


OF THE ^ \ 


. y 


completed their stroke, and this had again closed the 
circuit. This proved in the sequel a very fruitful 
principle for innumerable electro-technical applications. 
All the self-acting alarums or bells employed at the 
present time are based on the automatic interruption 
after a completed stroke first introduced as above 

The construction of these self- interrupting dial 
telegraphs I entrusted to a young mechanician, named 
Halske. with whom I had become acquainted through 
the Physical Society, and who at that time managed 
a small mechanical workshop, the business firm being 
known as Bottcher & Halske. As Halske at first 
entertained doubts whether my apparatus would act. 
I myself set up a couple of automatic telegraphs, 
composed of cigar boxes, tin-plate, a few pieces of 
iron, and some insulated copper w r ire, which worked 
with perfect certainty. This unexpected result filled 
Halske with so much enthusiasm for a design capable 
of execution notwithstanding such defective materials, 
that he gave himself up with the greatest eagerness 
to the construction of the first apparatus, and even 
declared himself ready to withdraw from his firm 
and in conjunction with me to devote himself entirely 
to telegraphy.' 

This success, as well as the growing care for 
my younger brothers and sisters, matured my reso- 
lution to quit the military service and through 
telegraphy, whose great importance I clearly perceived, 
create for myself a new vocation, which should also 


afford me the means of fulfilling the duties I had 
undertaken towards my younger brothers. I was 
therefore intent on the preparation of my new telegraph, 
which was to form the bridge to the new career, when 
an event occurred which threatened to throw all my 
plans to the winds. 

It was a time of great religious and political stir 
in all Europe. This first found expression in Germany 
in the free religious movement which ran counter both 
to Catholicism and to the rigid Protestantism then in 
the ascendant. Johannes Ronge had come to Berlin, and 
held public lectures in the Tivoli Gardens, which were 
attended by all the world and excited great enthusiasm. 
The younger officers and officials in particular, then 
almost without exception liberally inclined, raved for 
Johannes Rorige. 

Just as this Ronge -worship was at its height I 
along with all the officers of the Artillery workshop - 
nine in number - happened to take a stroll after 
working-hours in the Thiergarten. "Under the Tents" 
we found many people assembled, listening to vivacious 
speeches, in which all the like-minded were called 
upon to take part for Johannes Ronge and against the 
obscurantists. The speeches were good, and were perhaps 
the more persuasive and captivating as people were not 
then accustomed in Prussia to public speaking. 

When therefore on going away a sheet was 
presented for my signature, which was already almost 
filled with names partly known to me, I did not 
hesitate to add mine. The other officers, some con- 



siclerably my seniors, followed my example without 
exception. No one dreamt for a moment of doing 
anything wrong. Each thought it only common honesty 
openly to avow his conviction. 

But great was my alarm when at breakfast on 
the following morning I happened to glance at the 
Vossische Zeitung, and found a leading article entitled 
"Protest against Reaction and Religious Cant (Mucker- 
thum)'\ and at the head of the subscribed names my 
own followed by those of my comrades. 

When soon after half an hour before the com- 
mencement of work I appeared in the laboratory 
yard I found my comrades all assembled in a state of 
great excitement. We feared we had committed a 
grave military offence. In this supposition we were 
soon strengthened by the appearance of the com- 
mander of the workshops, an excellent and extremely 
amiable man. who declared to us in great excitement 
that we had by this action all ruined ourselves and 
him likewise. 

Some anxious days passed. Then the announce- 
ment arrived that the inspector of the workshops, 
General von Jenichen. had to communicate to us an 
order in council. The order in council reprehended 
us indeed very severely, but was more gracious than 
we had ventured to hope. The general addressed 
us in a long speech, in which he set before us the 
impropriety and blameworthiness of our conduct. 
I was awaiting with some curiosity the conclusion 
of this speech, as I had taken the waters at Kissingen 


for M month with the general, who was a highly 
cultured and very humane man. and as I knew well 
that his opinions were not altogether different from 
those subscribed by us. "You know", said the general 
in conclusion, directing a look towards me, "that I 
am of the opinion, that every man. and particularly 
every officer, should always express his opinion openly, 
you have however not considered that openly and 
publicly are world-wide different things!" 

We soon learnt that as punishment we were all 
to be sent back to our brigade - - or our regiment, 
as it is now again called. For me this was an 
almost insupportably hard blow, disturbing all my 
life -plans, and making it impossible for me to go 
on providing for my younger brothers. The problem 
was to find a way to prevent this removal. That 
was only to be attained by an important military dis- 
covery, which should necessitate my presence in Berlin. 
Telegraphy, in which I was specially interested, could not 
perform this service, for only few then believed in its 
great future, and my projects were still undeveloped. 

By good luck gun-cotton occurred to me, which 
a little while before had been discovered by Professor 
Schonbein in Basle, but had not yet been brought 
into use. It appeared to me indubitable that it could 
be so improved as to be made available for military 
purposes. I therefore went immediately to my old 
teacher Erdmann, professor of chemistry at the Royal 
Veterinary School, told him of my trouble, and begged 
permission to institute experiments with gun-cotton in 


his laboratory. He willingly granted it. and I went 
eagerly to work. 

I had the idea, that by employing stronger nitric 
acid and by more careful washing and neutralizing a 
better and less easily decomposable product could be 
obtained. All the experiments however came to 
nothing, though I used fuming nitric acid extremely 
concentrated: a greasy easily destructible product was 
always the result. My stock of extremely concentrated 
nitric acid having run short I once tried the effect 
of adding some concentrated sulphuric acid in order 
to strengthen it, and to my astonishment got a gun- 
cotton with altogether different properties. After 
washing it became white and firm like the unchanged 

o O 

gun-cotton and exploded very energetically. I was 
overjoyed, made till late in the night a considerable 
quantity of such gun-cotton and placed it in the 
drying-stove of the laboratory. 

When after a brief sleep I went again early in 
the morning to the laboratory I found the professor 
standing mournfully among ruins in the middle of the 
room. On heating the drying-stove the gun-cotton 
had exploded and destroyed the stove. A glance 
made this clear to me and showed the perfect success 
of my experiments. The professor, with whom I in 
my joy tried to waltz round the room, seemed at 
first to think I had gone wrong in the head. It cost 
me some trouble to set his mind at rest, and to induce 
him to resume the experiments at once. About eleven 
o'clock I had packed a goodly quantity of faultless 


gnu-cotton, and sent it with a formal explanatory 
letter to the war-minister. 

The result was glorious. The minister of war 
instituted a shooting -trial in his large gardens, and 
as it went off brilliantly immediately induced the 
heads of the ministry to make a regular trial with 
pistols. On the very same day I received an official 
order direct from the minister to repair to the powder 
manufactory at Spandau, which had already been in- 
structed to place everything requisite at my disposal, 
to institute experiments on a larger scale. It is seldom 
I fancy that a memorial to the war office has been 
so quickly acted upon! Of my returning to the brigade 
there was no more talk. I was soon the only one 
of my brothers in misfortune, who had not been 
obliged to leave Berlin. 

The experiments on the large scale, which were 
made under my direction in the powder factory at 
Spandau. did not lead to the result expected in the 
first glowing moments, viz. that gun-cotton would 
generally supersede gunpowder. It is true the trials 
with small arms as well as with cannon yielded 
excellent results; it appeared, however, that gun- 
cotton was not a sufficiently fixed combination, since it 
gradually decomposed in the dry state, and occasionally 
also would go off of itself. Moreover its effectiveness 
depended on the degree of compression of the gun- 
cotton and on the mode of its ignition. My report 
therefore ran. that the gun-cotton produced according 
to my method by means of a mixture of nitric and 


sulphuric acid possessed excellent properties as a 
blasting material, and seemed well suited to take the 
place of blasting powder for military purposes but that 
it could not in general be substituted for gunpowder, 
as it presented no sufficiently stable chemical com- 
bination, and its action was not constant enough. 

I had already sent in this report when Professor 
Otto in Brunswick discovered anew and published my 
method of preparation of serviceable gun-cotton. My 
earlier action in the matter and my report to the 
war-office remained of course secret, and Otto there- 
fore must rightly be held the discoverer of serviceable 
gun-cotton, since he was the first to make public the 
method of its production. It has often been so with 
me. It appears at first sight hard and unjust that 
any one may by earlier publication appropriate the 
honour of a discovery or invention, which another, 
who has worked at it long with ardour and success, 
would only make known after the most thorough 
testing. On the other hand it must however be admit- 
ted that some definite rule must be established in regard 
to priority, since for science and the world it is not 
the person, but the thing itself and its publication 
that is of importance. 

After the danger of removal from Berlin had 
been in this manner successfully averted I was able 
to devote myself with a tranquil mind to telegraphy. 
I sent general Oetzel. the chief of the optical telegraph 
department under the immediate direction of the 
staff, a memoir on the condition of telegraphy and the 


improvement to be expected therein. In consequence 
of this I was ordered to place myself at the service of 
the commission of the staff, which was deliberating on 
the introduction of electrical instead of optical tele- 
graphs. I succeeded in gaining the confidence of the 
general and his son-in-law, professor Dove, in so high 
a degree, that the commission almost always assented 
to my proposals and entrusted me with their execution. 
It was then regarded as altogether out of the 
question that a telegraph wire easy of access, attached 
to posts, could be really serviceable, since it was 
imagined the public would destroy it. Accordingly, 
wherever on the European continent it was desired 
to introduce electric telegraphs, experiments were first 
made with subterranean conductors. The best known 
were those of Professor Jacobi in St. Petersburg: he 
had tried resin, glass-tubes, and india-rubber as in- 
sulators, but had obtained no permanently satisfactory 

results. The Berlin commission likewise had begun 


such experiments, which however just as little yielded 
a satisfactory durable insulation. 

By chance my brother William in London had 
sent me as curiosity a sample of a substance which 
had recently appeared in the English market, gutta- 
percha. The remarkable properties of this material 
of becoming plastic 'in the heated state, and when 
cooled of being a good insulator of electricity, aroused 
my attention. I covered some pieces of wire with the 
heated material, and found that they were thoroughly 
insulated. At my suggestion the commission gave 


orders for more considerable experiments with such 
wires insulated by gutta-percha, which were begun 
in the summer of 1846 and continued in 1847. la 
samples placed on the track of the Anhalt Railway 
in 1846 the gutta-percha was rolled round the wire. 
It turned out however that the coil got loosened in 
course of time. I accordingly constructed a screw- 
press, by which the heated gutta-percha was cohesively 
pressed round the copper wire under the application 
of a high pressure. The conducting wires, coated by 
the help of a sampler press constructed by Halske, 
proved to be well insulated and permanently retained 
their insulation. 

In the summer of 1847 the first long subterranean 


wire from Berlin to Grossbeeren was laid by me with 
such insulated wires. As it stood the test perfectly 
the question of the insulation of subterranean wires by 
the employment of gutta-percha and my press appeared 
to be now successfully solved. In fact since that time 
not only the subterranean land-lines but also the sub- 
marine cable lines almost without exception have been 
insulated in this manner. 

The commission had under consideration the em- 
ployment, both of the wires coated with gutta-percha by 
pressing and also my dial and printing telegraph, in the 
telegraph -system about to be introduced into Prussia. 

The resolution to devote myself entirely to the 
development of telegraphy was now fixed. Accordingly, 
in the autumn of 1847 I induced the mechanician 
J. Gr. Halske, with whom our common labours had 


bound me closely, to hand over his business to his 
partner and to start a telegraph factory, into which I j 
reserved to myself the right of entry on my discharge. 
As Halske just as little as I had available resources 
we had recourse to my cousin, George Siemens, a 
barrister residing in Berlin, who lent us 6000 thalers 
for the erection of a small workshop on condition of 
a share in the profit for six years. The workshop was 
opened on the 12 th of October 1847 in the back part 
of a house in the Schoneberger Strasse where Halske 
and I also took rooms - and grew rapidly and 
without the aid of outside capital into the world- 
known establishment of Siemens and Halske in Berlin, 
with branches in many of the chief cities of Europe. 

The enticing prospect, in virtue of my dominating 
position in the telegraph commission, of rising to be 
the head of the future Prussian State telegraphs I 
had put aside, as a position of dependence was not < 
congenial to me, and I had the conviction I should 
be of more service to myself and the world if I 
obtained my full independence. But I resolved riot to 
renounce the military service, and therewith my place 
on the military commission, before the latter had com- 
pletely accomplished its task, and a definite settlement 
of the future telegraph-system had been arrived at. 

I urged in the commission that the public should 
also be allowed the use of the telegraph lines, which 
met with considerable opposition in military circles. 
The great celerity and certainty with which my new 
patented dial and printing telegraphs worked on the 


overhead line between Berlin and Potsdam and on 
the underground line between Berlin arid Grossbeeren 
- performances with which those of the old semaphores 
were not to be compared - contributed however in 
no small degree to produce an opinion more favourable 
to the public interest. The report of the astonishingly 
favourable results of these experiments went the round 
of the higher circles in Berlin, arid brought me a 
command from the Princess of Prussia to give a lecture 


in Potsdam on electric telegraphy to her son. after- 
wards Crown Prince Frederick William and Emperor 
Frederick. This lecture, accompanied by experiments 
on the Berlin -Potsdam line, and a memoir connected 
therewith, in which I enlarged upon the great future 
in store for telegraphy, supposing it to be made the 
common property of the people, no doubt considerably 
assisted in gaining over the higher circles. 

At my instigation the commission instituted a public 
competition for March 1848, and settled the conditions 
to be satisfied in regard to the telegraphic communi- 
cations and apparatus. Prizes were assigned to the 
conquerors, who were also to have the reversion of 
consequent orders. I had a pretty safe expectation 
of obtaining the victory with my own proposals at this 
competition, which opened on the 15 th of March 1848, 
when on the 18 th the competition as well as the 
commission itself came to an abrupt end. 

Plunged in my own interesting labours I had 
found little time to give heed to the wild commotion, 
which since the February revolution in Paris was 

THE 18 TH OF MARCH 1848. 61 

spreading over all Germany. With elemental force 
the mighty stream of political excitement rushed onward, 
tearing down all the feeble dikes which the existing 
powers aimlessly and planlessly opposed to it. Dis- 
content with the prevailing state of things, the hopeless 
feeling that they could not be changed without violent 
subversion, penetrated the whole German people and 
extended to the upper strata of the civil and even 
the military administration of Prussia. The political 
and national claptrap, the emptiness of which was 
only revealed by the subsequent events, exerted its 
full effect upon the masses, and its diffusion was 
powerfully helped by the unusually fine summer 
weather, which prevailed throughout Germany at 
this time. 

The streets of Berlin were continually flooded by 
excited crowds, discussing the most exaggerated reports 
of the progress of the movement, and eagerly listening 
to agitators who spread them further and called for 
action. The police seemed to have disappeared 
from the town, and the military, which did its duty 
with thorough fidelity, hardly made itself noticeable. 
Then came the overwhelming news of the victory of 
the revolution in Dresden and Vienna, closely followed 
by the shooting of the sentry at the Bank, and lastly 
the misunderstanding at the Castle Square. This drove 
even the quieter citizens, who had formed themselves 
into a mediating national guard, to the revolutionary 
side. I saw from my windows how a division of this 
citizen-guard came in great excitement from the Castle 


Square and threw their scarves and staves on the 
square before the Anhalt Gate with the cry "Treachery! 
the military have fired upon us!"" In a few hours the 
streets were covered with barricades, the sentries were 
attacked and in part overpowered, and the struggle 
with the garrison, which for the most part confined 
itself to defence, and without exception remained true 
to their flag, quickly extended over a large part of 
the town. 

I myself, owing to my being ordered to a special 
commission, was out of connection with the active 
army and awaited with beating heart the issue of the 
unhappy struggle. Then appeared on the following day 
the royal proclamation, which restored peace. On 
the forenoon of the 1 9 th of March the citizens crowded 
to the Castle Square to thank the King for his procla- 
mation. I could stay no longer at home and accord- 
ingly mingled with them in civil dress. I found the 
whole square filled with a vast throng, which on all 
sides gave lively expression to its joy at the peace 
proclamation. But soon the scene changed. Long- 
processions came, bringing the fallen to the Castle 
Square, in order, as was said, that the King might see 
for himself what havoc his soldiers had wrought. Then 
followed the terrible scene on the balcony of the castle, 
when the Queen fainted away as her eyes caught 
sight of the blood-stained dead heaped at her feet. 
There came fresh processions with corpses, and as 
the King no longer responded to the shout for his 
appearance, the excited throng prepared to burst 


open the castle gates, to make him see these dead 

It was a critical moment, for to a certainty the 
struggle would have been renewed in the Castle Yard, 
where a batallion had been stationed, a struggle 
whose issue would have been exceedingly doubtful as 
the rest of the military had quitted the town by the 
royal order, had not a saviour appeared in the person 
of young Prince Lichnowsky. From a table placed 
in the middle of the Castle Square he addressed the 
crowd in a loud audible voice. He said His Majesty 
the King had in his great goodness and grace put an 
end to the struggle, in that he had withdrawn all the 
military and had entrusted himself entirely to the 
protection of the citizens. All demands would be 
granted, and they should now go quietly home. The 
speech manifestly made an impression. To the question 
from the people whether everything was really granted 
he answered "Yes, everything, gentlemen!" "Smoking 
too?" sounded another voice. "Yes, smoking too" 
was the answer. "In the Thiergarten also?" was 
further enquired. "Yes, you may smoke in the Thier- 
o'arten also, o-eritlemen." That was decisive. "Well 

O ' o 

then we can go home" was the general exclamation, 
and in a short time the cheered-up multitude left the 
square. The presence of mind, with which the young 
prince probably on his own responsibility 

conceded the liberty of smoking in the public streets 
and the Thiergarten, mayhap averted more serious, 


On me this scene in the Schlossplatz produced 
an ineffaceable impression. It showed with such im- 
mistakeable plainness the perilous fickleness of an 
excited multitude and the impossibility of predicting its 
actions. It taught me also that it is not usually the 
large and weighty questions that agitate the masses but 
petty grievances long felt by everybody as oppressive. 
The prohibition of smoking in the streets and parti- 
cularly in the Thiergarten. with the constant petty 
warfare with gendarmes and watch -men connected with 
it. formed in fact about the only hardship really com- 
prehended by the great mass of the Berlin populace, 
and for which it in truth contended. 

With the victory of the Revolution all serious 
activity was put a stop to for a time in Berlin. The 
w r hole governmental machine seemed out of gear. The 

o o 

telegraph commission had simply ceased to do anything 
without being abolished or even only suspended. I owe 
it to the energy of my friend Halske. that our work- 
shop quietly continued its activity during the hard 
times ensuing and manufactured telegraphic apparatus, 
although there was an entire lack of orders. Personally 
I \vas in a difficult position, as my official activity 
had ceased without anv other being assigned me. and 

/ o o 

on the other hand it did not do to request my 
discharge at a time when it was generally assumed 
that a foreign war was imminent. 

Then again, as so often in inv life, an event 

C) v 

occurred, which gave it a new and ultimately favourable 

c? / 



Ju Schleswig-Holstein the rising against the Danes 
had been accomplished with success. A powerful 
impulse was thereby given to the desire for national 
unity, and free corps w T ere formed throughout Germany 
tor ender aid to the brothers contending against foreign 
oppressors in the extreme north. On the other side 
the Danes made preparations for reconquering the land, 
and the Copenhagen newspapers with one accord 
called upon the government to punish the centre of 
the revolutionary movement, the town of Kiel, by a 

My brother-in-law Himly had in the previous 
year been called to Kiel as professor of chemistry, 
and resided close by the harbour. Sister Matilda 
wrote me in great anxiety and almost saw in spirit 
her house in ruins, it being especially exposed to the 
bombs of the Danish men-of-war. The marine battery 
Friedrichsort. as the small fortress at the entrance of 
the Kiel harbour was then called, was still in Danish 
hands: the entrance to the harbour stood therefore 
perfectly open to the Danish fleet. 

This led me to the then entirely novel idea of 
defending the harbour by submarine mines fired by 
electricity. My wires insulated w r ith gutta-percha 
offered a means of exploding such mines at the 
right moment in safety from the shore. I com- 
municated this plan to my brother-in-law, who took 
it up warmly and immediately submitted it to the 
provisional government for the defence of the country. 
The latter approved of it and despatched a special 



66 To KIEL. 

emissary to the Prussian Government, with the request 
to grant me permission to execute the plan. My author- 
ized employment or even mere leave of absence for this 
warlike purpose was howeA^er opposed on the ground that 
peace still reigned between Prussia and Denmark. But 
it was intimated to me that I should receive the desired 
permission if circumstances changed, as was expected. 

I employed this waiting -time in making prepar- 
ations. Large and particularly strong canvas - bags 
rendered watertight by caoutchouc were got ready, each 
capable of holding about five hundred- weight of powder. 
Further, wires insulated in all haste and exploding con- 
trivances were prepared, and the necessary galvanic 
batteries procured for firing. When the departmental 
chief in the war-office. General von Reyher, in whose 
ante-room I daily waited for the decision, at last made 
the communication, that he had just been appointed 
minister and. war having been resolved against Den- 
mark, that he granted mfc the desired furlough as the 
first act of hostilities against Denmark, my prepar- 
ations were almost completed, and on the same even- 
ing I left for Kiel. 

In Altona. where great excitement prevailed, my 
brother-in-law Himly already awaited me; a special 
locomotive took us to Kiel. The news of the decla- 
ration of war by Prussia had already become known, 
but was still considerably doubted. My appearance 
in Prussian uniform was rightly taken as evidence of 
the longed-for fact and excited on the whole way to 

o i/ 

Kiel and in the town itself unbounded joy. 


My brother -in -law in Kiel had meanwhile made 
all the preparations in order to proceed quickly with 
the laying of the mines, as the appearance of the 
Danish fleet was daily expected. A ship-load of powder 
had already arrived from Rendsburg, and a number 
of large casks stood ready well calked and pitched, 
in order to be provisionally used instead of the still 
unfinished caoutchouc-bags. These casks were as quickly 
as possible filled with powder, provided with fuses, 
and anchored in the rather narrow channel in front 
of the bathing-establishment in such a way that they 
were buoyed twenty feet under the surface of the 
water. The firing-wires were carried to two covered 


points on the shore, and the course of the current so 
disposed that a mine must explode if at both points 
simultaneously contact was made. 

At both places of observation upright rods were 
set up and the instruction given, that contact must 
be made, if a hostile ship took up a position in the 
direct line of the rods, and remain made until the 
ship had again completely removed from the right 
line. If contact of both right lines were at any 
moment simultaneously made the ship would be exactly 
over the mines. By experiments with small mines and 
boats it was ascertained that this exploding arrange- 
ment acted with perfect certainty. 

In the meantime the battle of Bau had been 
fought, in which the Schleswig-Holstein gymnasts and 
the German free-lances had been vanquished by the 
Danes and in part made prisoners. It is remarkable 


how quickly and potently the national hatred and the 
bellicose passions of the otherwise peaceful Schleswig- 
Holsteiners now flamed out. This was strikingly ex- 
hibited in the temper of the women. A characteristic 
instance came immediately under my own observation. 
At a social gathering a beautiful and amiable young 
girl made me explain to her the construction of the 
mines laid down for the protection of the town and 
the method of firing them. When she learnt that in 
a succesful case the whole ship would be blown into the 
air and the entire crew destroyed, she excitedly asked 
me if I believed that there were people who could 
perpetrate such an atrocity, and with the pressure of 
a finder annihilate hundreds of human lives. When I 


affirmed this and endeavoured to excuse it by the 
necessity of war. she turned indignantly away and 
obviously avoided me from that moment. When shortly 
after I again met her in society the battle of Bau had 
meanwhile been fought: Wrangel was on the point of 
marching into Schleswig-Holstein with the Prussian 
troops, and the war-fury had vehemently invaded the 
public mind. To my surprise my fair foe came directly 
up to me as soon as she caught sight of me. and asked 
w r h ether my mines were still in order. I said "Yes" 
and added I cherished the hope of soon being able 
to show their effectiveness on an enemy's ship, for it 
was said that a Danish fleet was on the way for the 
bombardment of Kiel. I intended therewith to again 
kindle her wrath, which had shown her to such ad- 
vantage. But to my surprise she said with counte- 


nance charged with hatred: "Oh. it would give me 
infinite pleasure if a couple of hundred of those monsters 
were to be seen sprawling in the air!" Her intended 
had been wounded at Ban and taken prisoner and was 
according to rumour being badly treated by the Danes 
along with the other captives on board the war-ship 
"Droning Maria". Hence this sudden revolution in 
her humane sentiments! 

It was really said at the time that it had been 
resolved in Copenhagen to bombard Kiel, even before 
it was occupied by the German troops. I was indeed 
somewhat anxious about the town, for the channel 
proved on exact investigation to be broader for ships 
of moderate size than was originally supposed. The 
Danish fleet could also quietly drop anchor at Friedrichs- 
ort and effect the bombardment at their leisure by 
means of gun-boats. I considered it therefore of ex- 
treme importance that the Fried richsort fort should 
not remain in Danish hands. It was said to be occupied 
by only a small number of disabled soldiers, its capture 
accordingly did not appear difficult. 

I expressed my opinion to the newly nominated 
commander of Kiel, a Hanoverian major. He entirely 
agreed with me. had also received news that a Danish 
squadron was in fact on the way to occupy Friedrichs- 
ort. lamented however that he was without men, and 
therefore unable to do anything. When I mentioned 
the Kiel civic guard, who certainly would be willing, 
he doubted this indeed, but offered to have the drum 
beat and the civic guard informed of my proposal. 


The latter turned out in respectable numbers, and I 
tried to prove to them that it was absolutely necess- 
ary for the protection of the life and property of the 
citizens of Kiel to occupy Friedrichsort, which to-day 
would be quite easy, but to-morrow perhaps no 
longer so. 

My speech took effect. After a brief consultation 
the civic guard declared itself ready to take possession 
of the fort in the coming night if I would undertake 
the command, to which I of course willingly con- 
sented. Accordingly with the help of the commander 
of the town, who it is true had no men but a tolerably 
well-filled magazine at his disposal, an expeditionary 
corps of 150 men was hastily formed from the civic 
guard, supplemented by a reserve of 50 men. 

Towards midnight we were on the way to Holtenau, 
whence the storming of the fort was to be attempted. 
My troops marched noiselessly and bravely on to the 
draw- bridge, which luckily had been let down, and 
with loud hurrahs we took possession of the fort. 
Resistance of any kind whatever unfortunately was not 
perceptible. I set up my head-quarters in the Com- 
mander's house, and soon the garrison, consisting of 
six old gunners and sergeants, altogether forgotten by 
the Danes as it seemed, was brought captive before 
us. The fellows were placed temporarily under arrest 
and on the following day as the first prisoners of war 
transported to Kiel; they were born Schleswig-Hol- 
steiners. who manifestly were glad enough to obtain 
in this manner their discharge from the Danish army. 


At day -break I received the intelligence that a 
Danish man-of-war was lying in the roads, and soon 
after a spy was brought in, who had been signalling 
to it from the ramparts. It was a trembling old man, 
who was brought before me pinioned by powerful arms. 
On hearing the case it appeared that it was the 
garrison chaplain, who had found it too noisy in the 
otherwise quiet old fort, and who had therefore been 
giving the accustomed signal for a boat to the fisher- 
men of Laboe, a village on the other side of the 



The Danish war-ship remained quietly at anchor, 
sent a boat to Laboe and on its return went again to 
sea. I had hoisted on the fort a huge black red and 
gold flag and manned the walls, so that the ship might 
carry the news to Copenhagen that the marine battery 
Friedrichsort was occupied by German troops, as was 
soon to be read in the Danish papers. 

There now began a right cheery life in the fort. 
My citizen-troops did their duty conscientiously. On 
organising the service I found to my surprise among 
the men members of well-known noble families of 
Schleswig-Holstein and respected citizens of the town 
of Kiel. They all however submitted implicitly to the 
command of a young Prussian artillery officer of their 
own selection. I had the ramparts cleared, the embras- 
ures repaired, and the old cannons placed on such 
platforms as remained. The powder magazine was 
put in order and a stove erected by Kiel artisans for 
making the balls red-hot. I was especially assisted in 


this work by my man Hemp, (who without orders had 
followed me from Berlin.) an intelligent, able fellow, 
who subsequently accompanied me in all my telegraphic 
undertakings and finally became chief engineer of the 
Indo-European telegraph line, which position he occu- 
pied till last year. With his help the men serving 
a gun were hastily trained, so that on the third day 
after the occupation we could essay a first shot, which 
announced far and wide the military occupation of 

On the following days we had many visits from 
Kiel. Not only the commander of the town and even 
a member of the provincial government paid us a visit, 
but a Iso the wives and relations of the civic guard came 

c 1 

in great numbers, in order to be personally assured of 
the welfare of their friends. After the lapse of a week 
however my forces began perceptibly to shrink, as 
the wives in their visitings convincingly proved to their 
husbands that they were indespensable at home. I 
could not shut my eyes to the consideration that it 
would be impossible to retain in Friedrichsort for any 
length of time the citizens, who could only with diffi- 
culty be absent from their private business. On the 
other hand Holstein was still entirely without regular 
troops, and the feeble remnants of the Schleswig-Hol- 
stein force alone opposed the Danes who were again 
advancing into North-Schleswig. 

I had therefore the choice either of abandoning my 
conquest or of procuring an equivalent for the civic 
guard. The peasant youth of the Provostry - - the 


district over against the fort forming the south shore 
of the Kiel harbour - - appeared to me particularly 
adapted for supplying this substitute. Accordingly, 
accompanied by a small body of the guard. I went 
with drum and flag first to Schonberg. the chief place 
of the Provostry. called the elders of the village together, 
arid represented to them that it was altogether essential 
for their own safety that they should offer their grown- 
up sons for the occupation of the fort. Then arose 
a long and difficult negotiation with the farmers and 
their wives, who placed themselves behind their lords 
and took a leading part in the conversation. 

The people were of opinion that if "the gentle- 
men", viz. the government, considered it necessary 
that their sons should march, they could give orders 
to that effect: then one would know what one had 
to do. If the Danes actually invaded their land, the 
Provostry. then they would certainly defend it. even 
without orders, but "in det Butenland up de annere 
Sid det Waters", in the outland on the other side of 
the water, they would not voluntarily go. 

As the peasantry with loud approval of the 
female chorus remained immovable I became angry. 
I declared to them in the Low-German tongue, which 
I had not forgotten since my boyhood, that they were 
stupid asses and craven poltroons, and told them that 
the women in Germany had more courage than the 
men here. In proof thereof I read to them from a 
newspaper the statement that a female company had 
already been formed in Bavaria to protect the land 


against the Danes, as its own men had not the courage 
to do it. I would wait till they came, and defend 
the fort with them! 

That had the desired effect. As I was on the 
point of departing with my little troop there came a 
deputation of the elder peasants and begged me to 
wait a little, they would think the matter over again, 
for they did'nt like the idea that the women should 
defend their country. I declared my willingness, but 
required . that the village should furnish at least 
50 men. otherwise it would be no good. We were 
thereupon well fed. and an hour later there stood in 
fact 50 young men ready to go with us, followed by 
vehicles laden to the utmost with all sorts of provisions, 
"that their youngsters might not have to starve in 
the fort"\ as the mayor's wife explained to me. Thus 
we proceeded from village to village with like result, 
and late in the evening I marched back to the fort 
with 150 stout peasant lads and a whole commissariat 

I thereupon discharged the civic guard with the 
exception of a sprinkling of volunteers, who were 
willing to assist me in the direction and drilling of 
my peasant corps, and I had the pleasure of seeing 
a thoroughly serviceable troop turned out in a short 
space of time. 

Arms, ammunition and military insignia I obtained 
from the ever helpful commander of the town, whose 
name unfortunately has escaped my memory. My 
corps of volunteers was recognised by the provisional 


government, and also received the usual pay. In the 
military training of the folk my before-mentioned man 
Hemp, whom I named chief of the artillery, again 
rendered me signal service. The cannons were cer- 
tainly old and bad. but a short 24 pounder and a 
howitzer were still serviceable: the Danish blockade 
ship, which no longer left the harbour -roads, seemed 
somewhat to respect the red-hot balls, which we 
always sent her when she came within range. 

One morning we were alarmed by the announce- 
ment that three large Danish men-of-war were lying 
in the roads. It seemed indeed as if an attack on 
the fort were intended which, considering its bad con- 
dition and equipment, would have had the chances in 
its favour. The weakest point of the fort was the 
entry-gate opening on the inner harbour. The draw- 
bridge was out of repair, the moat was dry. and the 
ravelin protecting the entry only remained in its out- 
lines. As meanwhile my brother-in-law Hiinly had 
partially replaced the casks temporarily employed for 
the mines by the India-rubber bags that had arrived 
from Berlin, I ordered one of these now superfluous 
casks to be towed to Friedrichsort . in order to be 
there used as fougade for the defence of the fort gate. 
The day before the alarm I had had a deep pit dug 
in the middle of the old ravelin and the cask lowered 
therein. As night had come on before this work was 
finished, the pit remained open and was guarded by 
a sentry. When next morning the alarm occurred, 
I commissioned my brother Frederick who . as 


subsequently my brothers William and Charles, had 
followed me to Kiel and Friedrichsort to prepare 
the firing communication, to enable the mine to be 
exploded in case of an attempted storming of the 

The ships had no\v really approached within 
range. My three serviceable cannons were manned 
and the oven for heating the balls in full activity, 
I prohibited firing, however, before the ships forced 
the entrance. The rest of the men I had collected 
in the fortress-yard to distribute them and exhort 
them to bravery, when suddenly before the fort-gate 
rose a vast fire -sheaf. I felt a violent compression 
succeeded by a violent expansion of the chest: the 
first sensation was accompanied by the clatter of 
broken window-panes, and the second by the elevation 
of the tiles of all the roofs to the height of a foot 
and their subsequent fall with a dreadful din. 

Of course it could only be the mine, whose ex- 
plosion had produced the mischief. I thought at once 
of my poor brother Fritz. I ran to the gate to look 
after him, but before I reached it he met me uninjured. 
He had prepared the mine, set up the battery on the 
terre-plein. connected the one igniting wire with the 
one pole of the battery and fastened the other to the 
branch of a tree to have it ready to hand, and was 
about to announce this when the explosion occurred, 
and the atmospheric pressure hurled him down from 
the rampart into the interior of the fort. The rather 
violent wind had shaken the second firing-wire from 


the tree, causing it to fall just on the other pole of 
the battery and so producing the explosion. 

With the sentry, who was standing on the breast- 
work of the ravelin when the explosion occurred, it 
had fared worse. I found him on the other side of 
the pit lying on the ground apparently dead, beside 
him his gun buried half barrel length in the earth 
bayonet forward. The powerful draught, caused by 
the mine exploding in the open pit. had evidently 
caught the man up and hurled him over the crater 
of the mine. Fortunately however he had clutched his 
gun convulsively, and thereby the blow in falling was 
mitigated. The man came again to his senses after 
the lapse of an hour: he bled indeed from mouth 
nose and ears, and then became blue over the whole 
body, but was otherwise uninjured and after a few 
days again fit for service. The Kiel military doctor, 
who had hurried to Friedrichsort on the announcement 
of the appearance of the Danish squadron, and was 
crossing the drawbridge at the moment of the explosion, 
was more seriously injured. He was thrown with his 
vehicle into the rampart -moat and had received a few 
contusions. The cook too, who was just carrying 
up the steps of the ground -floor a bowl of soup and 
was thrown down by the explosion, was severely 

Extremely remarkable were the mechanical effects 
which the explosion produced in a wide circuit. It 
must be considered as a shot from an open earth- 
formed tube with a charge of five hundred- weight of 


powder. In the entire fort no space of any extent 
remained closed. Either the atmospheric pressure had 
pushed in the doors or walls, or where they resisted 
the ensuing vacuum had burst them asunder. The 
window-panes even in the village of Laboe and in 
Holtenau were broken. The differential pressure must 
in the interior of the fort have amounted to at least 
an atmosphere, otherwise it could not have produced 
such effect at so great a distance. 

When I returned to the place where I had left 
my troop I found it deserted, and feared that the people 
in their first terror had dispersed and crept away. 
I soon however saw to my delight that they had all 
betaken themselves to their assigned places. They had 
imagined that a Danish bomb had struck and the 
attack had begun. 

The Danish ships had however determined to 
proceed no further, returned to the outer roads, and 
soon abandoned these also with the exception of the 
blockade-ship. In the Copenhagen newspapers it was 
shortly afterwards reported that one of the submarine 
mines, with which the harbour of Kiel was paved, 
had accidentally exploded and destroyed the fort. 
Indeed the view from the ships must have been rather 
astonishing. The red tiles of all the buildings of the 
fort protruded over the low ramparts, and rendered 
them particularly conspicuous. Immediately after the 
explosion however all the tiles had fallen down, and 
no houses were any longer visible. 

That the Danes had acquired considerable respect 


for the mines is proved by the fact that in spite of 
the notorious weakness of the artillery defence of the 
Kiel harbour during both Schleswig-Holstein wars no 
Danish ship ventured into it. Although these first 
submarine mines never came into action they none 
the less accordingly played a very important part. 
I may therefore with justice complain that later 
military writers have completely ignored this first 
harbour defence by the help of submarine mines, 
carried out in view of the whole world and at the 
time much talked about. Even German military writers 
have subsequently ascribed the invention to Professor 
Jacobi in St. Petersburg, although his experiments at 
Kronstadt were carried out many years later, and he 
himself never dreamt of disputing my claim to the 
invention and its first employment in war. 

When after conclusion of peace the mines were 
fished up and lifted, the powder in the caoutchouc 
bags was found still dry as dust, despite the two years 
soaking in sea -water. It is thus not doubtful that, 
had occasion offered, the mines would have done 
their duty. 

Soon after the just described explosion in Fried- 
richsort the main body of the Prussian army under 
Wrangel entered Schleswig-Holstein. A little later I 
received a direct despatch from headquarters, in which. 
I was commended for the harbour defence by submarine 
mines and for the occupation of the marine battery 
Friedrichsort. I was therein further apprised that a 
company of one of the recently formed Schleswig- 


Holstein battalions under lieutenant Krolm would under- 
take the permanent occupation of the fort, and was 
charged to march at a precisely appointed time with 
my peasant corps to the mouth of the Schlei. to cross 
it at a suitable place, and urge the population of the 
province of Angeln to seize Danish fugitives, who 
would there show themselves after an intended battle 
near Schleswig. 

After being relieved by the Schles wig-Hoi stein- 
company I marched at the appointed time to Missunde. 
crossed the Schlei at daybreak, and led my briskly 
marching troop towards Flensburg. At that early 
hour we already heard the roaring of the cannons 
near Schleswig. The population comported itself very 
calmly, and did not seem at all inclined to let itself 
be disturbed from its repose. Xo Danes were to be 
seen; we heard however in the evening from villagers 
that the Danish army had been defeated and was 
retreating by way of Flensburg pursued by the 
Prussians. In the neighbourhood of Flensburg this 
report was confirmed: the Prussian advance guard 
had already occupied the town. 

As I had no further orders for my free - corps, 
and did not feel myself warranted in retaining the 
people longer, after the fort, for whose defence they 
had been recruited, was occupied by the military, 
1 dismissed them to their homes , to which they 
hurried with all speed, and went myself to Flensburg, to 
deliver my report. That however proved extremely 
difficult as the greatest confusion still prevailed in 


Flensburg. The streets were completely barricaded 
with all soils of vehicles, and no military or civil 
authority was discoverable. At last I stumbled in the 
throng upon Captain von Zastrow. well-known to me 
in Berlin, to whom I imparted my difficulty. He told 
me that he had received the command of a newly- 
formed Schleswig-Holstein corps, and had orders to 
march with it to Tondern on the following day. He 
was very much in want of officers however, and pro- 
posed that I should join him. and undertake the 
command of the battery. He would set everything 
formally right with the commander-in- chief and also 
take in charge my report to the same. This proposal 
particularly pleased me. as it would have been anything 
but agreeable to me to have been removed just then 
from the seat of war to peace -quarters in Berlin. I 
therefore wrote my report detailing the execution of niy 
orders, and announced that I had discharged the volun- 
teer peasantry and in the absence of further instructions 
was about provisionally to undertake the command that 
had been offered me of a Schleswig-Holstein battery. 
Accordingly I rode on the following day at the 
head of the battery assigned me over the sterile ridges 
of the "sea-girt"' land towards Tondern. The joy 
however was not to last long. Arrived in marching- 
quarters, the commander handed me a despatch from 
head-quarters brought by estafet, according to which 
I was at once to report myself to the commander- 
in- chief. In consequence of this I requisitioned a 

vehicle, arrived towards midnight again in Flensburg. 



and reported myself at once at head -quarters. I was 
shown into a large room of the first hotel in Flensburg 
and there found seated at a long table a number of 
officers of all ranks and of every arm of the service. 
On the sofa at the narrow end of the table sat two 
young princes, whilst General Wrangel occupied the 
first place next the sofa at the end of one of the long 
sides. When I had delivered my report the General 
rose and with him the whole assemblage, as it was 
contrary to etiquette to be seated while the commander- 
in-chief stood. 

The General expressed astonishment at my being 
there, as it was only a few hours since he had 
made out the order for my attendance. When I ex- 
plained that I had turned back immediately at the 
conclusion of the march, he thought I must be very 
tired and should drink a cup of tea. At his express 
order I had to seat myself at his place and take a 
cup of tea. whilst the rest of the company to my great 
embarrassment remained standing. It gave me the 
impression that the commander-in-chief wished to use 
the opportunity, to show that he honoured merit 
without respect of rank, and to give at the same time 
a little exercise in etiquette. In the ensuing conver- 
sation the General expressed his acknowledgments for 
the protection of the Kiel harbour by submarine mines, 
as well as for the occupation of the fort of Friedrichs- 
ort. Further he said, it would now be necessary, to 
make the protection of Kiel harbour as strong as 
possible, and also to secure the harbour of Eckernforde 


by submarine mines, as he had the intention of entering 

f o 

Jutland with his whole army. When I replied that 
the Eckernforde harbour was too open and its channel 
too broad for resting its defence on mines, and that 
a few well-placed batteries could do this with greater 
certainty, a long discussion arose in the company with 
regard to the supposed superiority of marine artillery 
to land-batteries, in which I took leave to observe, 
that a battery of eight 24 pounders well -placed and 
protected by an earth-wall, using red-hot balls, might 
engage the largest man-of-war. I added, the assertion 
that a land -battery might be razed by a few broad- 
sides from a man-of-war had not been proved, and 
no wooden ship could long withstand a fire with 
red-hot balls. 

The final result of this audience was that the 
defence of the harbours of Kiel and Eckernforde was 
formally entrusted to me. I was nominated commander 
of Friedrichsort and received an open order to the 
commander of the fortress of Rendsburg, in which the 
latter was directed to comply with my requisitions of 
guns, ammunition, and men for Friedrichsort and the 
batteries to be set up at the harbour of Eckernforde. 
This order was duly complied with in Rendsburg - 
it is true with some reluctance, as the fortress itself 
was very inadequately equipped for defence. Friedrichs- 
ort was now provided with serviceable cannon, and put 
as far as possible into a state of defence. In Eckern- 
forde I erected a large battery for heavy 12 and short 

24 pounders on the level shore, somewhat eastward 



of the town, and a howitzer-battery on the hilly laud 
on the northern shore of the harbour. 

Neither Friedrichsort nor Eckernforde came into 
serious action in this campaign, but in the following 
year the batteries set up by me at Eckernforde acquired 
renown by their victorious struggle with a Danish 
squadron, in which the line-of-battle ship Christian VIII. 
was set on fire and the frigate Gefion placed hors 
de combat and captured. 

After the completion of the fortification of Fried- 
richsort and the batteries at Eckernforde my activity 
began to be somewhat monotonous. It was mainly 
confined to the watching of the enemy's blockade-ship 
lying before Friedrichsort. and the control of the 
shipping passing the harbour -entrance. The military 
commander of Kiel had forbidden the departure of 
trading- vessels without special permission, and had 
given the marine battery Friedrichsort orders in case 
of need to prevent it by force. This led to a small 
military engagement, which brought a little variety 
into our monotonous life. 

One evening I crossed in the commander's boat 
the entrance of the harbour, to visit the Laboe battery 
which I had erected on the opposite shore, when a 
Dutch bark in full sail came towards me. with the 
manifest intention of leaving the harbour without giving 
the prescribed notification. I called to the captain to 
lie to and report himself, otherwise he would be fired on 
by the fort. The Dutchman and his wife, who appeared 
to compose the whole crew, did not however take my 


warning in earnest, on the contrary declared they were 
not going to trouble themselves about the prohibition. 
Whilst this negotiation was taking place there was a 
flash, however, from the fort-rampart, and a warning 
shot fell into the water close in front of the ship, as 
prescribed by the regulations. Nevertheless, the ship 
continued its course with full sails. Xow followed 
from the fort, as well as from the Laboe battery shot 
on shot, to which was soon added a sharp fire from a 
military sentry, stationed on the shore. But the doughty 
Dutchman was not to be diverted from his object, and 
successfully clearing the harbour-mouth disappeared in 
the darkness of the night, that had meanwhile come on. 

Fishermen who had been sent out found the ship 
on the following morning anchored outside the harbour 
entrance, and the crew busily engaged in making good 
the harm caused in particular by the musket -balls. 
The bravery of the Dutchman was very simply explained 
by the fact, that he had lashed the helm when he 
actually heard the balls whistling, and had prudently 
retired with his wife below the water-line, where both 
were completely protected. I myself with my boat's 
crew w r as entirely at the mercy of the balls, and could 
afterwards at any rate boast that I had once without 
flinching stood an artillery fire! For the rest I must 
confess that the hissing of the balls whizzing past did 
riot excite in me precisely pleasurable sensations. 

The Danish blockade-ship too brought us finally 
in the latter part of summer another interesting inter- 
ruption of the monotonous fort-life. 


I received from head-quarters the communication 
that the free-corps under the command of the Bavarian 
Major von der Tann would attempt a night-attack on 
the blockade-ship, and also the order to support this 
undertaking with all the resources of the fort. Soon 
after von der Tann. with his adjutant, a Count Bern- 
storff, presented himself to me. and took Tip his quarters 
in Friedrichsort. The free-corps collected at Holtenau, 
where also the boat -squadron was organized, which 
was to undertake the night -attack. The day before 
a parade of the free-company took place in the fort- 
yard, which did not inspire me with much confidence 
in the success of the venturesome enterprise. The 
men were not. perhaps, wanting in courage, but in 
discipline and calm resolution. Von der Tann and his 
adjutant endeavoured in vain to convert the wild con- 
fusion into military order. 

The plan of the surprise proceeded from a man 
who had formerly held some subordinate post in the 
Danish marine. He was a Hercules, who had got his 
huge limbs into a gold -embroidered admiral's uniform 
of his own fancy, and incited the men with loud- 
sounding voice to courageous deeds. Thus he asked 
the fellows standing in rank and file, what they would 
do when they had got on board and were confronted 
by the Danes. One declared he would stab the nearest 
man, another found it more fitting to knock him down, 
and so on. The "Admiral" listened quietly, then 
stretched himself to his full height and asked with 
flashing eyes arid gestures appertaining thereto: "Do 


you know what I shall do? I shall take the two 

nearest Danes and grind them on one another to 
powder!" That sort of thing did not exactly excite 
confidence in future heroic deeds. 

The boat - squadron was to pass the fort about 
half past eleven at night in the utmost stillness and 
without lights, and then proceed to the blockade-ship 
for the attack, when a signal given from the fort testi- 
fied that the hostile ship was maintaining its wonted 
quiet. The signal was duly given: it was. however, 
about 1 o'clock before the first boats had reached the 
fort. Then passed nearly two hours without anything 
happening, and at last the whole party returned without 
any order and with loud din. The "Admiral" had 
at first not been able to find the blockade-ship, then 
he declared he had observed that the ship was alarmed, 
and was provided with boarding -nettings, so that 
clearly the planned attack had been betrayed. With 
cries of treachery the expedition returned to Holtenau, 
arid soon afterwards disbanded itself. On the follow- 
ing morning the ship lay in its accustomed place, and 
with the strongest telescopes no special armature 
against the threatened attack was to be observed. 

As von der Tann confided to me, the undertaking 
had collapsed through want of discipline and too free 
stimulating potations, and he himself had lost the 
desire to make a further attempt. I was heartily sorry 
for the able and amiable Bavarian officers in this 
fiasco. Yon der Tann remained for several days my 
guest in the fort, and I have in after years often 


remembered that agreeable time with pleasure, when 
the fame of the deeds of "General von der Tann 1 " has 
reached me. 

With my official appointment as commander of 
Friedrichsort, arid the charge to provide for the defence 
of the harbour of Eckernforde by erection of batteries, 
my position had lost the somewhat adventurous 
character that had thus far clung to it. It had how- 
ever also lost by that a great part of the charm which 
it had hitherto possessed for me. Particularly when 
I had fulfilled my tasks, and the commencement of the 
peace negotiations rendered further war-like activity 
very improbable, the longing took possession of me 
with ever growing strength for the resumption of my 

O o o 1 <J 

scientific-technical activity in Berlin. 

In the meantime great changes had taken place 
there. The military commission for the introduction 
of electric telegraphs had been formally dissolved and 
telegraphy placed under the newly created Ministry 
of Commerce. As head of this department assessor 
Nottebohm had been appointed . who had already 
occupied an administrative post in the telegraph com- 
mission. The resolution was taken to follow the course 
adopted by the late commission, and first to construct 
in all haste a subterranean line from Berlin to Frank- 
fort-on-the-Main. where the German National Assembly 
was holding its sittings. In consequence of this, an 
inquiry was addressed to me whether I was disposed 
to direct the construction of this line according to the 
proposals made by me to the commission. In the event 


of my acceptance my command from the war-office 
would be transferred to the Ministry of Commerce. 
Although a position under assessor Nottebohm was not 
particularly agreeable to me. I nevertheless accepted the 
call, since it set me free from the present monotonous 
military life in the little fort, and gave me an oppor- 
tunity of bringing my proposals into practical execution 
on a large scale. 

In Berlin I found Halske already busily engaged 
in work for the line about to be constructed. It had 
been determined to lay the line altogether underground, 
as it was feared that above-ground wires would be 
destroyed in that time of great political excitement. 
The wires, insulated by a coating of gutta-percha, were 
to be laid without external protection in a trench a 
foot and a half deep in the railway embankment. 
My proposed protection of the communications by 
means of envelopes of iron wires, iron tubes, or clay 
channels was not approved on account of the great 
expense. A contract had already been signed with 
the Berlin india-rubber factory of Fonrobert & Pruckner 
for the further construction of subterranean wires. 
This was the same factory to which I had transferred 
my model for the covering of copper wires with gutta- 
percha, and which had already manufactured the ex- 
perimental line from Berlin to Grossbeeren with a 
press made according to that model. I had to confine 
myself to providing for the best possible insulation 
of the wires. Considerable difficulties stood in the 
way however inasmuch as. owing to the sudden great 


demand for gutta-percha, the best insulating sort was 
soon out of the market. 

To cope with this impediment to the rapid pro- 
gress required of the work it was resolved to make 
use of the recent English invention of vulcanizing the 
gutta-percha, i. e. intimately mixing it with sulphur, 
whereby even with inferior kinds of gutta-percha the 
insulation of the condiictors as well as their power 
of resisting external injuries was increased. Unfortuna- 
tely the vulcanization turned out afterwards a mistake, 
as the sulphur combined with the copper of the con- 
ductor and thereby also the adjacent layers of gutta- 
percha became gradually coppery and capable of con- 
duction. To this circumstance it was mainly ascribable 
that the wires, though perfectly insulated at the time 
of their being laid down, had after a few months 
already lost a part of their insulation. 

Particular care was taken in testing the wires in 
the factory. Halske manufactured for this purpose 
galvanometers which far excelled in sensitiveness all 
known up to that time. In testings with these sensitive 
galvanometers I observed for the first time in the 
year 1847 the surprising phenomenon that, even in a 
perfectly insulated wire lying in water, on interposing 
a battery a short current occurred, which was suc- 
ceeded on removal of the battery by an equally strong 
current in the opposite direction. This was the first 
observation of the electrostatic charge by galvanic 

o / o 

chains. I w r as at first inclined to see in this a phe- 
nomenon of polarisation, since at that time the galvano- 


meter was not considered capable of indicating the 
passage of static electricity. The phenomena on longer 
well insulated lines soon however rendered it quite 
indubitable to me that it was a case of electrostatic 
charge and not of polarisation. 

The first difficulty, the finding defective insulat- 
ing points in a long piece of the conducting wire. I 
was able to overcome in the following manner. The 
dry wire coated with gutta-percha was drawn through 
a vessel filled with water and insulated in respect to 
the earth, whilst the second coil of thin covered 
wire, which surrounded the electro -magnet of a Neef 
hammer, was interposed between the insulated copper 
wire and the earth. If now a workman standing in 
communication with the earth dipped a finger into the 
water of the insulated vessel, he felt electrical shocks 
at the moment at which a defective piece of the wire 
enveloped by gutta - percha was immersed. In this 
wav I succeeded in detecting all the small defects of 


insulation discoverable in no other way, and in obtain- 
ing after their removal conductors with extremely 
good insulation. 

With regard to the modification just described of 
the Xeef hammer the following observation may here 
find a place. I had already made this modification in 
the year 1844 and given it the name of the voltaic 
inductor. It even then afforded me the opportunity of 
observing the therapeutic [effect of the variable currents 
induced in the second coil of such a voltaic inductor. 
My brother Frederick at that time was suffering a 


good deal of rheumatic tooth-ache, which had affected 
his otherwise perfectly sound teeth and refused to yield 
to any prescribed remedy. The experiments with my 
new voltaic inductor led me to hit upon the idea of 
trying, whether the variable currents produced by it 
could not remove the intolerable pain or at least dimi- 
nish it. if conducted through the roots of the teeth. This 
was actually the case with a particularly painful front 
tooth. The pain was at the first moment intense, but 
then suddenly quite ceased. 

With the great force of will which at all times 
characterized my brother Frederick he at once pro- 
ceeded to send alternating currents through all the 
roots, and thereby obtained entire exemption from 
pain, which he had not experienced for Aveeks. Un- 
fortunately however on the second day the pains 
returned. By repeated application of electricity their 
cessation was again effected, but the ensiling painless 

o o 1 

period became shorter, and at last the remedial agency 
altogether failed. This first attempt within my know- 
ledge to employ galvanism for therapeutic purposes 
inspired me with a certain distrust of this particular 
application of the electric current. It appeared as if 
its action were only temporarily, not permanently, 

The ensuing autumn of 1848 was to me an ex- 
ceedingly interesting and exciting one. The line to 
Frankfort on the Main, where the German Parliament 
held its sittings and the vicar-general of the empire had 
his residence, was to be completed for political reasons 


as quickly as possible. This was however rendered 
difficult on the one hand by the disturbed political 
condition of affairs, on the other by altogether unex- 
pected phenomena, which manifested themselves in the 
underground conductors. My friend Halske. to whom 
had been consigned the fitting of the finished parts 
of the line with signalling apparatus, was the first to 
encounter these phenomena whilst I was engaged upon 
the line between Eisenach and Frankfort . which it 
had been resolved to carry above-ground, as the rail- 
way was still in course of construction - the land 
even having been only in part acquired. 

Halske found first of all that with shorter lines 
our self -interrupting indicator telegraphs acted with 
much greater speed than corresponded to the resistance 
of the line. When communication between Berlin and 
Cothen had been established, a distance of about 95 
English miles, the giving apparatus ran with double 
velocity whilst the receiving apparatus stopped alto- 
gether. This at the time inexplicable phenomenon 
occurred the earlier the better the lines were insulated, 
which induced Halske purposely to impair the insulation 
of the line by the addition of artificial watery by- 

The above-ground construction likewise encountered 
unexpected difficulties. Where the land for the future 
railroad had not yet been purchased, the owners would 
not permit the erection of the posts. This opposition 
was encountered especially in the non-Prussian parts, 
Hesse-Cassel and Hesse-Darmstadt, when the antagonism 


between the government of Prussia and the adminis- 
tration of the empire after the restoration of order 
in Berlin had become considerably acuter in conse- 
quence of the entrance of the army returning from 
Schleswig-Holstein. I only succeeded in executing my 
task by obtaining an open order from the vicar-general 
of the empire Archduke John. Technical difficulties 
also made their appearance. The line was constructed 
of copper wire, as suitable iron wires were not then to 
be had in Germany, and moreover were still regarded 
with a certain mistrust. The unfortunate experiences 
which we had had the foregoing year in the case of 
the Berlin-Potsdam line, which despite the application 
of all sorts of insulating media proved so badly insu- 
lated in rainy weather that the proper service of the 
apparatus was constantly disturbed, had led me to 
make use of bell-shaped insulators of porcelain. These 
possessed the great advantage that the inner surface 
of the bell always remained dry even in rainy weather, 
whereby the insulation was secured under all circum- 
stances. In fact I succeeded in this way in producing 
an almost perfect insulation. Unfortunately I did not 
then think it necessary to solder the copper wire, 
close coiling seeming to me sufficient. This afterwards 
turned out to be an error. In calm weather the 
apparatus acted very well, but with a strong wind the 
resistance of the conductor was so remarkably variable 
that the apparatus refused to work. Only subsequent 
soldering of all the joints put an end to this trouble. 
The atmospheric electricity proved also very 


disturbing. In passing from level to high land currents 
of varying direction often traversed the communications 
and impeded the working of the apparatus. A late 
autumn storm caused widespread destruction, which 
led me to construct lightning-conductors for the pro- 
tection of the lines and apparatus. In order to ascertain 
the most efficient form of lightning-conductors 1 set 
up between two parallel wires spikes, balls, and plates 
at equal intervals from one another, and observed the 
sparks, caused by the discharge of a large battery of 
Leyderi jars, which passed between these three adjacent 
lightning - conductors. It appeared that very weak 
discharges took their course solely through the spikes, 
whilst stronger ones passed mainly between the balls, 
and very strong ones were carried off in a large 
number of sparks almost entirely through the plates. 
For actual lightning therefore roughened metallic plates 
placed nearly opposite one another proved particularly 
effective. The influence of the Northern lights also 
made itself frequently perceptible, and at times in a very 
disturbing degree, especially in the underground line 
running mainly from east to west. Thus during the 
great aurora in the autumn of 1848 communication 
was interrupted for days between Berlin and Cothen 
on account of violent rapidly changing currents. This 
was the first observation of the connection between 
earth currents, magnetic disturbance, and the aurora 

When the underground line had been extended 
to Erfurt, Halske's watery by-passes were no longer 


sufficient. But meanwhile I had become convinced 
that the peculiar behaviour of the underground wires 
could only be ascribed to the electrostatic charge 
already observed at the testings in the factory, the wire 
namely forming the inner, the damp soil the outer 
coating of a Leyden jar. Conclusive was the circum- 
stance, that the quantity of electricity contained in a 
perfectly insulated conductor, measured by the deflec- 
tion of a freely oscillating magnetic needle, was defini- 
tely related both to the electro -motive force of the 
interposed galvanic battery and to the length of the 
wire; further that the electric tension of the charge in 
a closed conductor corresponded to the electric tension 
occuring at every point of the circuit according to the 
law of Ohm. Having perceived this, the impediments 
to signalling on long underground lines, could, if not 
be removed entirely, yet be rendered innocuous Im- 
practical purposes by suitable contrivances. These were 
the application of by -passes in the form of metallic 
resistances without self-induction, and automatic trans- 
lation by which several closed pieces of line were 
united into a single large line. 

My theory of the electrostatic charge of closed 
as well as of open circuits found however even in 
scientific circles at first but little acceptance, since it 
was opposed to the ideas prevailing at the time. 
Altogether it is not easy at the present day. when 
one can hardly conceive how a civilized man can live 
without railroads arid telegraphs, to carry oneself back 
in imagination to that time, with the view of under- 


standing the difficulties which we then encountered in 
things now regarded as a matter of course. Concep- 
tions and helps, which are to-day familiar to every 
schoolboy, could at that time often only be obtained 
by effort and hard work. 

I had the satisfaction of seeing this first long 
telegraph line not merely of Germany but of 

Europe already at work in the winter of 1849, 

so that the election of an Emperor, which took place 
in Frankfort, was by its help known the same hour 
in Berlin. This favourable result led to the determina- 
tion of the Prussian Government to construct at once 
a line from Berlin to Cologne and the Prussian frontier 
at Verviers. and after that others to Hamburg and 
Breslau. All these lines were for safety's sake to be 
underground, according to the system of the Berlin- 
Eisenach line, although in this unmistakable defects 
had already made themselves manifest. As these 
defects were mainly owing to the facility with which 
the wires w r ere injured by workmen, and here and 
there also by rats mice and moles, through being- 
deposited only one and a half to two feet below the 
surface in the mostly loose sand of the railway 
embankments, it was determined to bury the wires 
2 1 J 2 to 3 feet deep; but even then there was to be 
no external protection on account of the cost. 

I had declared myself ready to undertake also 
the superintendence of the construction of the line to 
Cologne and Verviers, provided I received further mili- 
tary fourlough and provided my friend William Meyer. 





who had always faithfully aided me in my work in 
his free time, and was therefore thoroughly competent, 
was ordered to assist me. Both were granted, and 
accordingly in the spring of 1849 we began the con- 
struction of the line simultaneously at several points. 
Meyer had considerable organizing talent, and was par- 
ticularly adapted for managing works in which many 
forces had to co-operate harmoniously. 

Difficulties arose at the rivers Elbe and Rhine, 
where the active navigation caused me to fear injuries 
to the wires through dragging anchors. This danger 
was particularly great in crossing the Rhine, as the 
conducting wires were for almost the whole breadth of 


the river threatened by the anchors and fishing-tackle. 

t/ ~ 

An envelope of iron wire, which was employed in 
the case of the Elbe and in crossing smaller livers, 
appeared insufficient for the Rhine, as the tackle of 
the sailors and fishermen provided with sharp points 
could penetrate through the wire covering and injure 
the insulated conductors within, and as a cable could 
not be made strong enough to resist the dragging 
anchors of large ships. I had therefore made specially 
for the Rhine a chain of wrought -iron tubes, in the 
cavities of which the insulated wires were placed, 
whilst a strong chain- cable, supported by a series of 
heavy ships' anchors, was destined to protect the 
tube-chain from the dragging anchors of ships passing 
down the river. This first large subaqueous line with 
its external protection has stood the test very well. 
When many years later, after the building of the 


fixed railway bridge, it was taken up again, a number 
of ships' anchors were found suspended to the pro- 
tecting chain, which the sailors had had to cut in 
order to free their ships. The chain had thus done 
its duty. 

An extremely difficult and instructive piece of 
work was the construction of the line from Cologne 


via Aix-la-Chapelle to Venders in Belgium, where the 
junction with the overhead line from Brussels to Venders, 
which had meanwhile been taken in hand, was to be 
made. Here were several tunnels to be passed through, 
in which the conducting wires had to be protected by 
iron tubes attached to the tunnel walls. In large por- 
tions of the railway embankment the trench for bedding 
the wire had to be made by blasting with powder. 

During the construction of the line I got to know 
the entrepreneur of the pigeon post between Cologne 
and Brussels, a Mr. Reuter, whose useful and profitable 
business appeared to be hopelessly destroyed by the 
laying of the electric telegraph. When Mrs. Reuter, 
who accompanied her husband on his journeys, was 
lamenting over this destruction of their business, I gave 
the couple the advice to go to London, and there set up 
a despatch-forwarding bureau, such as had just been 
etablished in Berlin by a Mr. Wolff, with the co-ope- 
ration of my cousin the before-mentioned law-counsellor 
Siemens. The Reuters followed my advice with re- 
markable success. Renter's telegraph agency in London 
and its founder, the rich Baron Reuter, have to-day 
a world- wide reputation. 


When the junction of the meanwhile completed 
Belgian telegraph-line with the Prussian had been ef- 
fected in Verviers, I received an invitation to Brussels, 
to give a lecture before King Leopold on electric tele- 
graphy. I found the whole royal family assembled in 
the Brussels palace, and delivered a long lecture ac- 
companied by experiments, which they followed with 
close attention and quick understanding, as was evid- 
enced by the discussion which followed. 

The final decision of the question what turn I 
should give to my future life had now to be made. The 
military authorities had only with reluctance accorded 
the prolongation of my order for service with the 
ministry of commerce, and had emphatically declared 
that an extension of the same would not be granted. 
I had the choice either of stepping back into active 
military service, or of going over to government- 
telegraphy, in which my position as managing engineer 
was assured, or lastly of renouncing every position of 
public service, and devoting myself entirely to private 
scientific and technical activity. 

I decided for the last. To return to the military 
garrison service, after the exciting and successfully 
active life which I had behind me, I should have found 
altogether impossible. The civil service did not at 
all content me. There was wanting in it the feeling 
of comradeship, which mitigates arid renders endurable 
the oppressive differences of rank and power, there 
was wanting in it also the plain-spoken candour, which 
reconciles one even with the bluntness, which is tra- 


clitional in the army. My brief experience of the 
civil service gave me sufficient grounds for the form- 
ation of this opinion. As long as my superiors under- 
stood nothing of telegraphy, they let me work entirely 
unchecked, and limited their intervention and instruct- 
ions to questions of financial importance. That soon 
changed in the degree in which my immediate superior 
in office, assessor, afterwards counsellor Nottebohm, 
acquired knowledge of the subject during the progress 
of the work. People were assigned to me of whom I could 
make no use. technical arrangements ordered which I 
knew to be bad. in short frictions and differences 
occurred, which marred the pleasure in my work. 

Again, the weakness of the insulated conducting 
wires, lying unprotected in the loose soil of the rail- 
way embankments, already began to show itself with 
increasing distinctness. Faults in the insulation made 
their appearance, which were only discovered and re- 
moved with difficulty: breaches of continuity in the 
wire without loss of insulation occurred, which often 
only lasted a few hours, and whose position therefore 
it was difficult to determine. The search for and re- 
pairing of these defects were commonly entrusted to 
inexperienced people, who cut the line in numberless 
places to confine the fault within limits, and by unskilful 
diggings and joinings paved the way for new defects, 
which were then again attributed to me and the system. 
Notwithstanding, with an almost blind confidence, new 
undertakings of the same description were entered upon. 
It may perhaps have been the political circumstances 


of the time, which called for the rapid construction of 
a telegraphic network to embrace the whole country, 
even at the risk of its not being of long duration. 
The external protection of the conductors by iron 
tubes proposed by me. as in crossing the Rhine, or 
by sheathing with iron wires, for the manufacture of 
which a Cologne firm had at my instigation already 
made preparations, was declared to be too dear and 
not readily producible; the provisional character of 
the first attempts was maintained. 

On the other hand the factory for telegraphic 
apparatus, which I had founded along with my friend 
Halske. and into which I had reserved the rio*ht of 


entry, had already under his excellent management 
obtained considerable recognition by reason of its re- 
markable achievements. The great importance of 
electric telegraphy for practical life was perceived, 
and the managers of railways in particular began to 
increase the efficiency of the lines and the security of 
their working by laying down telegraph - wires for 
intelligence and signals. In connection with this an 
abundance of interesting scientific and technical problems 
cropped up, which I felt a vocation to solve. My 
choice could therefore not be a matter of doubt. In 
June 1849 I requested my discharge from the military 
service, and soon afterwards also resigned my office 
as technical manager of the Prussian state-telegraphs. 
The latter post was offered at my suggestion to my 
friend William Meyer, who threw up his commission 
at the same time as myself. 


I had in the fourteen years of my military service 
with the then bad arrangements for promotion become 
the senior of rather more than half of the second 
lieutenants, and received therefore according to custom 
my discharge as first lieutenant "with the permission 
to wear officer's uniform with the regulation insignia 

o D 

for those placed on the retired list". I declined the 
pension due to me for my more than twelve years, 
service as officer, as I felt in good health and would 
not hand in the required invalid certificate. 

To the acceptance of my request for dismissal 
was attached a remark of reprehension on a formal 
error in my petition. The political reaction had then 
become so strong that the German sentiments shown 
by me in the Danish war had become a reproach in 
governing circles. 

In spite of the small final result of my military 
service I look back with a certain satisfaction to my 
military period. My most agreeable youthful recollections 
are connected with it, it paved my way through life, 
and gave me through the success I had achieved self- 
confidence for aiming at higher goals. 

O o O 

Although my activity and aims were not materially 
changed by withdrawal from all official duties, yet my 
life acquired in consequence a more settled direction, 
henceforth dependent entirely on my own exertions. It 
lay with me now to raise to the utmost by good work 


the business which already bore my name, and to obtain 
personal regard in the world as a man of science as well 
as technologist. Although my inclinations drew me alto- 
gether to purely scientific investigation, yet I perceived 
that I must first of all turn my whole energies to 
technical work, as its results could alone procure me 
the means and opportunity for scientific work - - and 
did in fact procure them. 

My scientific and inventive activity was prescribed 
to me in this laborious period almost without exception 
by technical needs. Thus the then very surprising 
and disturbing phenomena of electrical charges in the 
underground conductors required thorough study. 
Further it was necessary to establish a system for the 
determination of the situation of faults in the conduction 
and insulation of underground wires by measuring 
currents at the ends of the wires. The uncertainty 
of the measurements of currents led to the necessity 
of replacing them by resistance measurements, and 
thereby to the setting up of fixed reproducible stan- 
dards of resistance and scales of resistance. For this 
purpose the methods and instruments for current and 
resistance measurements had also to be improved and 
adapted for technical use - - in short a whole series 
of scientific problems had cropped up. the solution of 
which was called for by technical needs. 

I devoted myself to these problems, so far as my 
responsibility for the technical undertakings of the 
business allowed, with special predilection, and was 
therein very effectively supported by the constructive 


art and mechanical talent of my partner Halske. This 
is especially true of the numerous improvements of the 
telegraphic contrivances and accessories which date 
from that time, and which, thanks to their solid and 
accurate elaboration in our workshop under Halske's 
guidance, were rapidly adopted in technical telegraphy. 
The great influence, which the firm of Siemens and 
Halske has exercised in the development of telegraphy, 
is mainly to be ascribed to the circumstance, that in 
their work the executing hand has been that of the 
accurate mechanician and no longer as formerly of 
the clock-maker. 

For publication in scientific and technical journals 
there was then no time: even patents were taken out 
only in rare cases. There was then no German 
patent, right, and in Prussia patents, given almost arbi- 
trarily for from three to five years, were therefore 
without practical value. The inventions and improve- 
ments proceeding from us at that time therefore in the 
majority of cases lack the attestation of their origin by 
publication or patent. 

A conspicious illustration of this occurred a few 
years ago. There turned up somebody in the United 
States, who asserted that he was the inventor of under- 
ground conductors, especially of those insulated by 
gutta-percha, and who tried after the lapse of more 
than a quarter of a century to obtain a patent for 
the same, which threatened considerable loss to the 
large American telegraph company. The company 
sent a special commission headed by their director, 


""General" Eckert, to Berlin, to search for verification 
by printed publications that in 1846 I had already 
introduced wires with gutta-percha insulation. To 
their written enquiry I was obliged to reply that 
nothing was to be found in print on the subject, 
but that the official records of the Staff Commission 
and of the subsequent Telegraph Board contained proof 

This however did not suffice for the law - suit. 
The Americans chose another very practical way to 
procure printed information on the matter. They 
advertised in several German papers that they would 
pay a considerable sum for a description, printed in 
1847. of the underground telegraph-lines laid on the 
track of the Anhalt Railway. That succeeded. After 
a few days there arrived from different places in Ger- 
many newspaper-cuttings with the desired description. 
The commission congratulated me as the undoubted 
inventor of the gutta-percha conductors and travelled 

The proposed publication of the results however 
never came off, because, it is said, in the meantime 
a compromise with the reputed inventor had brought 
greater profit to the company. 

In Germany, after the construction of the lines to 
Frankfort -on -the -Main and Cologne, the system of 
underground communications had become the fashion. 
Not only were the government telegraph lines from Berlin 
to Hamburg, Breslau. Konigsberg and Dresden con- 
structed underground with unprotected wires, buried at 


a depth of two feet, but even the railways preferred 
to lay such underground lines, although the indications 
of the speedy destruction of these lines increased 
daily. In particular the destructive action of rats 
and mice became more evident - - especially on the 
first lines , which were laid in the sandy railway 
embankments one and a half to two feet deep. The 
wires laid over two feet deep were indeed at first 
exposed to no such destruction, but subsequently it 
occurred even in them. 

I then believed that a coating of lead would 
completely cope with this evil. To coat the wires 
with lead I proceeded at first in the following manner. 
Leaden tubes were straightened out, then a hempen 
band was blown through them by means of a bellows, 
and with its help the conducting wire insulated by 
gutta-percha was drawn into the tube. Thereupon 
the tube was passed through a draw-plate, in order 
to effect a firm attachment to the insulated layer of 
the conductor. We afterwards succeeded in pressing 
the leaden tube directly round the insulated wire, 
when the lead had exactly acquired a certain tempe- 
rature and permanently retained it. The difficulty of 
continually controlling this temperature I overcame by 
a thermo-electric arrangement. 


Such conductors, surrounded by lead casing, were 
frequently furnished by Halske and me in the beginning 
of the fifties. So among others in the telegraphic 
system, which we set up for the police service and 
the fire-brigade of Berlin. These lead lines acted quite 


satisfactorily for a long series of years. They were 
then gradually replaced by cable conductors, yet lead 
conductors have remained in excellent condition to the 
present day. after the lapse of 40 years. Only where 
the lead has come in contact with decaying matter 
in the soil, whereby the formation of acetate and 
carbonate of lead is facilitated, is it liable to rapid 

The just mentioned police and fire-brigade tele- 
graph was intended to unite fifty stations in different 
parts of Berlin with the central office of the police 
department and the central office of the fire-brigade, 
so that the report of fire might be simultaneously 
communicated to all stations, whilst the police reports 
were only to be received and comprehended at the 
central police bureau. Our arrangement solved this 
interesting problem very satisfactorily and worked for 
over twenty years well and accurately, but then suc- 
cumbed to the simpler Morse system. 

Morse's writing telegraph first became known in 
Germany through a Mr. Robinson who, in the year 
1850, gave exhibitions with it in Hamburg. The 
simplicity of Morse's apparatus, the relative facility of 
acquiring the alphabet, and the pride which fills 
every one, who has learnt to use it, and causes him 
to become an apostle of the system, have in a 
short time ousted all dial and older letter -print ing 

Halske and I at once perceived this superiority 
of the Morse telegraph, resting on manual dexterity. 


and made it therefore our task to improve and perfect 
the system mechanically as far as possible. 

We gave the apparatus good wheel -works with 
automatic regulation of the velocity, a reliable magnetic 
system, sure contacts and commutators, improved the 
relays, and introduced a complete system of translation. 
This consisted in an arrangement, whereby all the 
currents circulating in a telegraphic circuit were auto- 
matically transferred to a neighbouring circuit pro- 
vided with its own battery, so that the whole line 
was divided into several separate closed circuits, but 
yet without the assistance of the telegraph clerks of the 
intermediate stations communication could be directly 
held between the terminal stations. 

Such a system of translation I had elaborated 
as early as 1847 for my dial and printing tele- 
graphs, and had laid before the Staff Commission an 
apparatus constructed by myself for this purpose, 
the so-called go-between (relay). Translation however 
only attained its full importance through the application 
to the Morse apparatus; it came into use for the first 
time on the Berlin- Vienna line, which was provided 
in Breslau and Oderberg with translation stations. It 
may be here mentioned that the contrivance was sub- 
sequently very considerably improved by Professor Dr. 
Steinheil. the then Director of the Austrian telegraphs, 
by fitting an automatic contact to the wheel-work. 

The railway companies remained longest faithful 
to the dial telegraphs with automatic interruption. 
In this system we had however ourselves brought 


a competitor into the field, who subsequently got a 
good deal in our way. Dr. Kramer, school-master 
in Nordhausen, had on his part submitted to the 
Telegraph Commission a small Wheatstorie dial tele- 
graph, which he had had made by a clock- 
maker. The Kramer apparatus did not by a long 
way accomplish as much as my self- interrupting 
dial telegraph, and was therefore rejected by the 

The good-hearted General von Oetzel and I my- 
self felt compassion for the poor man, since he had 
employed all his savings on the construction of the 
apparatus: and as there were no means at the dis- 
posal of the commission for the indulgence of such 
feelings I consented to buy his apparatus for five 
hundred thalers. Half a year later however Kramer 
reappeared with a new apparatus, in which he had 
made use of my system, with the modification that 
he employed a clockwork to keep the pointer in motion 
mechanically. The patent office of that time saw no 
objection in the appropriation of automatic interruption 
to granting him likewise a patent. These Kramer 
dial telegraphs, running automatically like our own, 
despite their light clockmaker-construction worked just 
as well and reliably as ours, and did us therefore 
great harm. - 

My time on entering the business was entirely 
claimed by constructive work for the factory, and by 
the laying down of numerous railway telegraph lines 
undertaken by my firm. Still in the winter of 1849 50 


I found a period of leisure, which I employed in 
putting together for publication my experiences on 
telegraphic communication and apparatus. In April 1850 
I laid my work, with the title "Memoire sur la tele- 
graphie electriqzie" , before the Paris Academy of Sciences. 
This had been rendered possible to me through a 
lucky accident, which enabled me to meet in Paris my 
friend du Bois-Reymond. who intended to present a 
work of his own to the Academy, and gave me his 
friendly assistance for the French remodelling of my 
essay. I still remember with great satisfaction the 
stimulating, and to me extremely interesting and in- 
structive, time of this four weeks sojourn in Paris, the 
living together with friend du Bois, and the intercourse 
with the most celebrated Paris savants. To the members 
of the committee appointed by the Academy for con- 
sidering my work belonged Pouillet and Regnault. 
The report on my memoir was read by Regnault at 
a sitting of the Academy, to which du Bois and I had 
received formal invitations. Leverrier appeared as 
opposer. and defended the electro-chemical telegraph 
of Bain, which had likewise been presented to the 
Academy. The presiding secretaire perpetttel Arago 
however cut short Leverrier 1 s opposition by moving 
the thanks of the Academy for the memoir and its 
reception in the "savants etr anger s" . 

This public testing of my literary firstling in the 
telegraphic domain by famous members of the first 
scientific tribunal in the world produced a deep and 
very stimulating impression upon me. Many reasons 


can be offered against such an official trial of scientific 


and technical performances, which supplies a kind of 
hall mark and may easily be very injurious to the free 
unfolding of science: it is indeed only admissible under 
full control by the publicity of the seances, can then 
however be very useful and stimulative. 

Through the admission of my memoir into the 
"savants Strangers", and another essay published the 
same year in PoggendorfFs Annalen "On electrical lines 
and apparatus", which reproduced entire the contents 
of the memoir so far as they had reference to under- 
ground electrical lines, my priority in respect of various 
scientific and technical achievements has been placed 
beyond dispute. Nevertheless unwarranted claims to 
certain of them were subsequently raised in divers 
quarters. This leads me to make here a few remarks 
on the need of an international literary tribunal, 
which has in recent times come to be felt with in- 
creasing acuteness. It must first of all be granted 
that in the course of the last decennia it has become 
ever more difficult, nay almost impossible, completely 
to survey the vast mass of material contained in scienti- 
fic and technological publications, in many different 
languages moreover. It is also natural that those who- 
are entirely absorbed in their own special work, 
but especially those who actively co-operate in further- 
ing the development of the technical application of 
physical science, find but little leisure to make a 
thorough study of the doings of others working on the 
same or on related lines, even if masters of the several 


languages, and that they in general have also little 
inclination to turn their attention to the past. As 
an example of this I might point to the most highly 
gifted and copiously inventive physicist of any age, 
Faraday. He got to know the insulation with pressed 
gutta-percha only many years after its invention. 
when it began to be employed in England for sub- 
marine cables, the external protection of the insulated 
conductor being secured by surrounding the latter 
with iron wires. The surprising phenomena of electri- 
cal charges, which Faraday observed in these cables, 
induced him to publish an essay on the subject. When 
du Bois-Reymond. however, sent him without further 
comment a copy of my memoir presented to the French 
academy. Faraday did not lose any time in following 
up his first work with another, in which he cited the 
relevant sections of my treatise, and made the decla- 
ration that the priority both of the observation and 
also of the explanation of the phenomena belonged to 
me. Other English writers, as Wheatstone, Jerikin 
and many others, have certainly not troubled them- 
selves about either this declaration of Faraday's or 
any of my other publications. 

In Germany the good custom formerly prevailed 
of always prefacing the description of one's own 
scientific or technical discoveries and inventions by 
a description of the achievements of predecessors in 
the same department, thereby giving the progress about 
to be described its place in the historic evolution - 
a custom, which unfortunately has never been observed 




in other countries with like conscientiousness. Hence 
it has hitherto been the peculiar glory of the Germans 
to recognise more than other nations the services of 
foreigners, and always to connect their own achieve- 
ments with those of their precursors. This has been 
essentially facilitated by the knowledge, more diffused 
in Germany than in other countries, of foreign lan- 
guages; but even apart from that German science has 
always regarded it as a point of honour to practise 
literary justice equally towards natives and foreigners, 
and let us hope that this will be so also in future, 
and that we shall thereby be spared the literary piracy 
which unhappily threatens to become prevalent even 
among ourselves. 

As however the practice has recently come into 
vogue of leaving each individual to settle and defend 
his own real or supposed claims . this being too 
laborious for others. I intend to follow it in these 
pages. At the end of .each period I shall accordingly 
give a summary of technical developments, important 
in my judgment, where the priority of discovery, in- 
vention, or first application demonstrably appertains 
to me. That in so doing I may here and there re- 
peat what has been already adduced in another con- 
nection will certainly be unavoidable. Should I now 
and then make mistakes and pay insufficient regard 
to the claims of others. I must hope for the indulgence 
of the reader. 

I shall be able to review with great brevity the 
period terminating with the publication of my "Memoire 


sur la telegraphic electriqtie" and the corresponding 
paper in PoggendoriFs Annalen, as the most important 
particulars have been interwoven in the general nar- 
rative, and have thus already received detailed con- 

When in the year 1842 I applied for my first 
Prussian patent no process of galvanic gilding or silver- 
ing was known in Germany. 

I had experimented with all the gold and silver 
salts known to me, and besides the hyposulphites had 
also found the cyanides suitable. The patent however 
was only granted me for the former, as in the mean- 
time Elkington's English patent for the employment 
of the cyanide salts had become known. Notwith- 
standing the beautiful gold and silver precipitates ob- 
tainable from hyposulphite salts, the cyanide salts have 
in the long run kept the field, their solutions being 
more constant. 

The problem proposed to my brother William to 
construct a regulator, which should so exactly regulate 
a steam-engine connected with a water-wheel, that the 
water-wheel should always perform its full work, but 
the steam-engine yield the required excess of working 
power, led me to the idea of the so-called differential 
regulation. It consisted in employing a freely- oscil- 
lating circular pendulum for the production of a per- 
fectly uniform rotation, thereby causing the turning of 
a screw, whilst the engine to be regulated turned a 



moveable nut on the screw in the same direction. 
The nut must then move right or left on the screw 
as long as it turns quicker or slower than the screw. 
and can thus perfectly regulate the pace of the engine, 
immediately ceasing to move, when the velocity of the 
engine is precisely equal to that of the circular pen- 
dulum. The differential regulator (or chronometric 
governor, as brother William, who practically elabo- 
rated and mainly perfected it. afterwards called it in 
England), constructed on this principle, has certainly 
not been largely introduced into practical engineering. 
It is neither so simple nor so cheap as the Watt- 
regulator, which in later years has been considerably 
improved, but the differential movement, which we 
carried out in the most varied forms, has proved an 
exceedingly fertile element of construction. 

My occupation with the problem of the exact 
measurement of the velocity of projectiles, imperfectly 
solved by Leonhardt's ingenious clock, caused me to 
perceive that only a method, in which no masses 
had to be set in motion and brought to rest, could 


lead to the goal. Thus I came to employ the electric 
spark for the solution of the problem. My proposal 
consisted in causing electric sparks to pass on to a 
rapidly and uniformly rotating polished steel-cylinder 
from a fine point approximated as far as possible to 
its periphery, and in calculating, from the interval 
between the marks produced by these sparks and the 
known number of revolutions of the cylinder, the 
velocity of the ball, which at particular stages of its 


career produced the sparks. This method of measuring 
velocity by the help of marks, which an electric spark 
brands on polished steel or sprinkles on sooty steel 
surfaces, has maintained its ground, and is still to-day 
employed especially for measuring the velocity of pro- 
jectiles in large and small gun-barrels. 

The suggestion of storing up the unemployed 
heat of one operation for use in the succeeding 
operation, derived from my brother William's descrip- 
tion of the Stirling hot-air engine, which I received 
in the year 1845. interested me in a very high 
degree. It appeared to me to open the way into a 
yet unknown vast domain of technical science. It 
occurred at a time when the idea, pervading and 
governing the physical science of this age , of the 
causal connection of all natural forces unconsciously 
swayed men's minds, until it soon after became through 
Mayer and Helmholtz common scientific property. The 
principle of the circulation of heat in working engines 
arid of the heat - equivalent of work already found 
clear expression in my paper "On the application of 
heated air as motive power", whose publication was 
occasioned by Stirling's engine. I consider the chief 
value of this essay however to have been, that 
it incited my brothers William and Frederick to 
their later pioneer efforts in the province of thermal 

In my first- dial telegraph of 1846 I consequen- 
tially carried out the principle of the automatic inter- 
ruption of the electric current both for the apparatus 


itself and also for the alarum. The principle essen- 
tially consisted in increasing, according to require- 
ment, the stroke of the well-known Neef hammer by 
the insertion of a moveable contact, the so - called 
slide. My dial and type -printing telegraphs, depend- 
ing on this principle, were distinguished from the 
then well-known Wheatstone telegraphs by being auto- 
matic machines, running isochronally with one another, 
until one apparatus was mechanically stopped by the 
depression of a key on the particular letter, where- 
upon all the others likewise stopped at the same letter, 
and this letter was printed off by the type - printer. 
The description of these instruments, as of most of 
my further inventions and improvements of telegraphic 
conductors and apparatus down to the year 1850. is 
contained in my "Memoire sur la tele grap hie electrique" 
communicated to the Paris Academy. I content my- 
self here with a concise summary of the most important 
scientific and technical improvements, the priority of 
which is secured to me by that publication: 

Introduction of the automatic break. of the electric 
current at the end of every moA r ement of the armature 
through a predetermined distance. Or one may put it 
thus: increase of the movement of the Neef hammer 
by a mechanism answering to the slide of the steam- 
engine. All automatic electric alarums without clock 
work and many other constructions rest on this 

Production of the synchronous action of two or 
more electric machines by allowing a fresh impulse to 


take place only when all the automatic contact-breakers 
are again closed, i. e. the armature -movement of all 
the apparatus inserted in the circuit is completed. 

Manufacture of insulated conductors for subter- 
ranean or submarine telegraphs by coating wires with 

Construction of machines, which press the gutta- 
percha without seam round the wires to be insulated. 

Discovery of the phenomena of the charge in in- 
sulated subterranean or submarine conductors, and 
establishment of the law of the charge for open and 
closed circuits. 

Establishment of the methods, measurements, and 
formulae for determining the place of faulty conduction 
and insulation in subterranean circuits. 

The underground wires, both those without external 
protection and those with an armature of lead, had 
meanwhile continued to come into use even beyond 
the confines of Germany; among other states Russia 
had adopted the system and connected St. Petersburg 
and Moscow by a subterranean wire. In Prussia how- 
ever the deterioration, which had occurred in the first 
lines soon after their construction, continued to make 
uninterrupted progress. The causes, which contributed 
to this and finally led to the complete destruction of 
the lines, have been already mentioned. The almost 
morbid endeavour, called forth by political exigencies, 


to set up as quickly as possible and at the least cost 
a subterranean system of communication embracing the 
whole country, had prevented the provision of the wires 
with an armature and a sufficiently deep imbedding, 
to secure them from injury at the hands of workmen 
and from the attacks of rodents. The attempt to re- 
place the wires, thus rendered useless, by others coated 
with lead proved fruitless, as the rodents gnawed to 
pieces even the protecting lead-covering. Further there 
was lacking a properly trained staff to keep the ex- 
tended network of wire in good order, and to remedy 
defects without deranging the whole system. In con- 
sequence of unskilful searches and tinkering of faults 
numerous soldered joints came into existence, which 
were insulated in a very primitive fashion by patching 
with heated gutta-percha, and thus gave rise to new 
faults. It was therefore to be feared that the sub- 
terranean lines would, in a short time, become quite 

This sad state of things moved me to write a 


pamphlet entitled <; A short account of experiences in 
connection with the Prussian subterranean telegraph 
lines" ? , in which I pointed out the existing risks and 
made proposals for improvements in dealing with the 
lines, but at the same time also energetically dis- 
claimed responsibility, which was then on all sides 
sought to be fastened upon me, for the collapse of 
the system which I had suggested. It was only to be 
expected that the publication of this pamphlet would 
lead to differences with the directorate of the Prussian 


state telegraphs. In fact for several years communi- 
cation of any kind whatsoever with myself and with my 
firm entirely ceased. All orders were withdrawn from 
us, and our special constructions handed over to other 
manufacturers as models. This constituted a severe 
crisis for our young establishment, which had rapidly 
risen to be a factory with some hundred workmen. 
Luckily railway telegraphy, which as the railways 
themselves was not then state property, furnished an 
independent market for our manufactures. The breach 
with the government telegraph management however 
had a trood deal to do with turning our attention 

o o 

more abroad, and leading us to seek there a market 
for our products, as well as opportunities for larger 

As in the foreign undertakings of my firm, which 
I shall now have to report, my younger brothers 
played a very important part, it will be as well to 
cast a retrospective glance at the doings of my 
family and especially of my brothers during the 
period of my life just described. 

The life of my brother William has been narrated 
at considerable length, and with the conscientious use 
of all the sources accessible to him. by a well-known 
English writer. Dr. William Pole. In what follows I 
need therefore only touch upon such events of his life 
as had immediate relation to my own. First I will 
here remark, that I stood during the whole of his life 



in active correspondence and lively personal intercourse 
with William, to our great mutual gain. We com- 
municated to each other all the more important events 
of our lives, as well as new plans and aims: discussed 
our diverging views, and almost always, if not in our 
letters, yet at our next meeting, which usually happened 
twice a year, came to a friendly understanding. The 
circumstance, that I had paid more attention to pure 
science, and William to technology and practical engi- 
neering, led to each allowing to the other a certain 
authority in his own subjects, whereby our collaboration 
was considerably facilitated. That we were not jealous 
of one another, but rather rejoiced, when the one could 
further the recognition of the other in his respective 
country, strengthened and assured our good under- 

After the dissolution of our commercial partner- 
ship for carrying out our inventions in the year 1846 
William had entered an English machine factory of 
repute as engineer, with the object in the first place 
of securing a maintenance. But "the cat can't give up 
mousing'', as a German proverb says: it was not long 
before he too was again buried in his inventions. The 
difference between us however was that I confined 
myself to the solution of the numerous problems, which 
telegraphy and in general the application of electrical 
theory to practical life brought me, William on the 
other hand tried by preference to solve difficult problems 
of thermo- dynamics. In particular he had set himself 
the task of overcoming the difficulties, which Stirling 


had encountered at Dundee in elaborating his hot-air 
engine . by introducing the heat - regenerator for the 

O i/ O 

steam-engine. The experiments with these regenerating 
steam-engines, regenerating evaporators, and condensers 
claimed for years his time and means, without pro- 
curing for his constructions general introduction into 
technical practice. On the other hand he succeeded 
in practically solving a problem on which I had also 
long worked in Berlin with incomplete success, namely 
the water-meter question. The patented Siemens- 
A damson reaction water-meters for many years com- 
manded the market and brought William good profits. 
Then they were superseded by the Berlin construction 
of the stroke or whirlpool meter, which was at once 
adopted by William himself. 

The excellent progress which the manufacture of 
telegraphic and other electrical apparatus made in our 
Berlin factory, and the great recognition which our 
-constructions on all sides enjoyed, suggested the open- 
ing of a business connection between William and the 
firm of Siemens & Halske. He undertook at first to 
act as an agent for obtaining orders in England, and 
very cleverly contrived to turn the attention of English 
technologists to the achievements of the Berlin firm. 
This was especially furthered by the first Great Exhi- 
bition, which took place in London in the summer of 
1851. Siemens & Halske sent specimens in abundance; 
their exhibits found universal approval and procured for 
the firm the highest distinction - - the Council medal. 

My brothers Hans and Ferdinand had remained 


faithful to their agricultural calling. After giving up 
the farming of the Menzendorf demesne they had come 
to Berlin, whither all the brothers with the exception 
of William had betaken themselves, and the two soon 
succeeded in obtaining suitable positions on East 
Prussian estates. 

Frederick had at a very early age gone from Ltibeck 
to sea. and had for some years made a number of 
long voyages in Liibeck sailing-ships. This had indeed 
somewhat cooled his originally invincible inclination for 
seafaring, and he wrote me one day that he would 
like to learn something. I bade him therefore come 
to Berlin, to prepare him by private instruction for 
attending a naval school. He devoted himself to his 
studies with great eagerness and success, and soon 

O o 

showed great interest in my own aims and experiments. 
The new mental life finally interested him in such a 
degree that the inclination for a sailor's life, whose 
seamy side he had got well to know, was incapable of 
withstanding the new impressions. Add to this, that the 
total change in dress, living, and climate, had brought 
on rheumatic sufferings, which he only slowly got the 
better of. Henceforth he assisted me in my technical 
work, and was strenuously bent on filling the great gaps 
which the seaman's life had made in his knowledge. 
The next in order, brother Charles, had, like 
Frederick, spent the first years after the death of the 
parents with uncle Deichmann in Liibeck, and had then 
completed his schooling in Berlin. There he early 
took part in my work, and became my faithful ever 


reliable assistant in my first technical undertakings, in 
particular helping me in laying down the first under- 
ground wires. 


I have already related that my brothers William, 
Frederick, and Charles, followed me in 1848 to Kiel 
and Friedrichsort. The powerful national feeling, that 
had everywhere been aroused in Germany, left them 
no peace at home. To William I entrusted the con- 
struction and command of the battery, which I had 
caused to be erected in Laboe opposite the Friedrichs- 
ort fort, whilst Frederick and Charles entered the 
service of the newly formed Schleswig-Holstein army 
as volunteers, and remained in the service till the con- 
clusion of the armistice. On this occasion we arranged 
that Frederick should continue his technical education 
in England under William's guidance. Charles entered 
a chemical factory in Berlin, which he however soon 
quitted in order to assist me in laying down and re- 
pairing the telegraph lines. In the year 1851 he was 
together with Frederick the representative of the Berlin 
factory at the London Universal Exhibition, and carried 
on with ability the business negotiations which resulted 

/ o 

therefrom. A branch in Paris, which we next founded 
under his management, did not bring indeed the hoped- 
for fruits, but contributed much to his social arid 
business training. 


Of the two youngest brothers Walter had come 
at the same time as Charles from Ltibeck to Berlin 
and attended school there. Otto I placed in a 
grammar-school at Halle, as my time was too much 


taken up to allow of my personally superintending his 

Of our two sisters the elder Matilda, married 
to Professor Himly in Kiel, was already the happy 
mother of a troop of pretty children. She has always 
honestly shared with me the care of the younger 
brothers and sister, and sought as far as possible to 
compensate them for the maternal love so early with- 
drawn from them. My youngest sister Sophia had 
been, as already mentioned, adopted on the death of 
our parents by uncle Deichmann in Lubeck. At the 
beginning of the fifties Deichmann took the resolution 
of emigrating with his family to North America. They 
were chiefly political reasons, which had occasioned this 
resolution. After the suppression of the revolution in 
Germany and Austria, after the surrender of Schleswig- 
Holstein and the deep humiliation of Prussia a feeling 
of despair rapidly spread in Germany. 

The power of Russia appeared then so gigantic, 
that the prophecy of Napoleon at St. Helena, in fifty 
years Europe would become either republican or Cos- 
sack, seemed already practically fulfilled. Although 
I myself was also deeply depressed by the turn things 
were taking in the political world, I could not sub- 
scribe to so pessimistic a view. I not only therefore 
rejected the pressing invitation of the uncle to accom- 
pany him to America, but also tried to prevent any 
of my brothers and sisters from participating in the 
emigration. In particular I refused my consent to the 
departure of my sister Sophia, in which I was strongly 


supported by her legal guardian Herr Ekengreen. Un- 
fortunately however we had no power to detain Sophia, 
as she had been formally adopted by the uncle. 

In these straits Cupid came to our help. A young 
lawyer in Llibeck. Dr. jur. Crome, had observed with 
pleasure the young girl growing up near him, and was 
only awaiting the dawn of womanhood to present him- 
self as a suitor. The dire news of the intended emi- 
gration prematurely ripened his resolution. He begged 
the hand of the maiden of sixteen, and shortly before 
the departure of the adoptive parents the wedding was 
celebrated. We older members of the family have 
not repented having favoured this step. The young 
husband is said indeed, in his first married days, to 
have been terribly tormented by jealousy, because the 
young wife kept carefully locked certain drawers of her 
cabinet, even eagerly endeavouring on his unlooked- 
for entrance to conceal certain articles on which her 
attention was engaged. But then, on his impetuous 
demand, she tearfully confessed to him, it was the 
new dress of her favourite doll, for the completion of 
which the hasty wedding had left her no time! 

It deserves to be remarked that the native charac- 
teristics of my brothers, as revealed in their earliest 
youth, have been faithfully preserved to an advanced 
age, and have given a well-defined direction to their 
career. This holds good especially of my three brothers, 
with whom a common life and aims have most united 
me, of William, Frederick, and Charles. 

William had even as a child an abstracted, perhaps- 


somewhat reserved nature. He clung with great affection 
to his relatives, but would never let them see it. From 
earliest youth he was ambitious and a little inclined 
to jealousy. When the tenderness of mother, grand- 
mother, brothers and sisters was disputed by his next 
brother Frederick, a deep resentment against the little 
rival manifested itself - - a feeling which I fancy was 
never wholly extinguished in him. in spite of all the 
fraternal affection and help bestowed so abundantly in 
later years. He possessed an extremely clear under- 
standing and a quick power of apprehension, could 
always follow with great ease the train of thought of 
others, as well as grasp and give life to the spirit of 
what he had acquired. The good pupil developed with 
perfect consistency into the logical, methodical thinker, 
the able engineer and man of business. His great 
success in England he owes chiefly to his peculiar power 
of appropriating easily and quickly from the store- 
house of German science what was of practical value 
for the moment, as well as to the further gift of 
having this scientific knowledge ever ready, and of 
always immediately discovering in the technical ques- 
tions he met with the fulcrum, where the scientific lever 
should be applied for their furtherance or solution. No 
doubt he was essentially assisted by the circumstance 
that he came to England at a time when scientific 
culture was only represented there sporadically, 
although then in a remarkable degree, and when 
active co-operation between science and practice was 
as rare as in Germany. So he succeeded, not only 


in accomplishing good work himself, but also, by taking 
an active and energetic part in the highly developed life 
of scientific and technical institutions in England, in 
deserving well of the world of science, and at the same 
time in rendering a lasting service to English industry. 
Almost diametrically opposite were the mental 
qualities of his successor in the series of surviving 
members of the family. Frederick was not a good 
learner. It has always been difficult for him to follow 
another's train of thought to the end. On the other 
hand he was from childhood a remarkably good ob- 
server, and had the gift of stringing his observations 
well together, and of making himself intelligible. Really 
to understand arid appropriate the thoughts of others, 
he had to discover them or think them out for himself 
afterwards. This characteristic of steady, spontaneous, 
uninfluenced thinking and self- training gave him a 
peculiarly meditative air and his performances a pro- 
nounced originality. Frederick is the born inventor, 
to whose brooding mind the novel conception first 
presents itself in obscure nebulous form, and who 
thereupon with restless energy and untiring industry 
tests the foundation of the conception, filling up at 
the same time any gaps in his knowledge, and finally 
either rejects his idea as false or impracticable, or 
elaborates it into a serviceable and then almost always 
original invention. At the same time Frederick was 
never a diplomatist, arid just as little a man of business 
carefully weighing his words and actions. He went and 
is still going everywhere his straight road, biased only 

f OFTHE x. 


\ OF / 


by his innate friendly and benevolent disposition, a road 
which usually leads him to the desired goal, since he 
always well considers it and follows it with the greatest 
energy to the end. 

I should call the next brother Charles the most 
normally constituted of us all. He was always to be 
depended upon, faithful and conscientious, a good pupil, 
an affectionate, attached brother. His clear eye and 
generally cultivated understanding made him an excellent 
man of business and, with his large technical knowledge 
and excellent tact, an admirable conductor of business 
undertakings. Charles was the true connecting link bet- 
ween us four brothers, who differed indeed radically 
from one another, but were bound together for life-long 
common work by all-subduing fraternal love. 

Not to leave myself out in this family characteri- 
zation I will only remark that I possessed a fair share 
of the good and bad qualities just described of my 
three brothers, but that these qualities were much 
repressed in outward manifestation through my parti- 
cular line of life. To perform my duty and do good 
work has always been my strenuous endeavour. To 
find recognition has been indeed grateful to me. but 
it has always been repulsive to me to push myself in 
any way, or be made the subject of an ovation. 
Perhaps my constant endeavour "to be. rather than 
to seem'', and to have my merits first discovered by 
others, was only a peculiar form of vanity. I shall 
try as far as possible to avoid it in these pages. 


The year 1852 formed a decided turning -point 
in my personal as well as in my business life. 

At the beginning of that year I made my first 
journey to Russia. The business connection of my 
firm with the Russian government had been opened 
as early as 1849 through the medium of Captain 
von Ltklers. who was making a circular tour through 
Europe, having been entrusted by his government with 
the task of ascertaining the best system of electric 
telegraphs. He then proposed our system for the line 
to be constructed from St. Petersburg to Moscow. 
Orders were given to Siemens Halske only for 
apparatus dial telegraphs and measuring instru- 

ments - - as the Russian Government took upon itself 
the construction of the underground wires. Negotiations 
having reference to further orders now required my 
presence in St. Petersburg. 

My journey lay by way of Konigsberg. which 
I had long ardently desired to visit, without having 
been able to make up my mind to undertake the 
journey. It was there that Drumann, the well-known 
historian, resided, who had married a daughter of my 
uncle Mehlis in Clausthal, and was accordingly my 
kinsman by marriage. In the year 1844 Frau Dru- 
mann had, on a journey to Clausthal, looked me up 
in Berlin, and spent a few days there with her youngest 
daughter Matilda. I made myself useful to the ladies 
during the time as cicerone, and passed some very 
.agreeable and exhilarating days in their company. 
The return journey was to have been also by way of 


Berlin . and I was looking forward to the renewed 
meeting with my amiable cousin and her handsome and 
clever daughter. The pleasure was unfortunately 
destined to be marred by a very sad event. 

Frau Drumann arrived ill in Berlin, and died in 
the hotel a few days after, of inflammation of the 
lungs. I was the only relative, even the only acquain- 
tance of the family in Berlin, and had therefore to 
fulfil all the duties of the family head. My compassion 
was put to a hard test by the intense grief of the 
poor lonely girl. The speedy arrival of the deceased's 
brother, councillor Mehlis of Hanover, and of his wife 
made indeed easier for me the difficult and alto- 
gether unwonted task which had fallen to my lot, 
yet the image of the sorrow-laden girl, helplessly 
clinging to me. would not leave my mind. Eight 
years had since passed, in which our correspondence 
lively at first had gradually ceased. My brother Fer- 
dinand had meanwhile become engaged to Matilda's 
elder sister, and with the assistance of Professor Dru- 
mann had purchased the manor of Piontken in East 
Prussia. But when he was on the point of bringing 
home his bride, she fell ill of a chronic lung disease, 
to which, notwithstanding the excellent nursing of her 
only sister, she succumbed after several years of severe 
suffering. The time had now come for me to fulfil 
a long cherished wish, without departing from an early- 
formed resolution , to -marry only when my own 
resources permitted it. Halske had managed well. 
We had bought in Berlin extensive premises, 94 Mark- 


grafenstrasse . at the back of which a fine room} 7 
workshop had been erected, whilst the front part, 
recently enlarged, yielded us excellent dwelling accom- 
modation. For the wedding then there was only lacking 
the bride, and I was able soon after my arrival in 
Konigsberg. on my mother's birthday - - the llth of 
January 1852 - - to put the long deferred question 
to Matilda Drumann. whose reply made me an accepted 
and happy lover. 

My business affairs did not allow of a long stay 

J O J 

in Konigsberg, as I was expected on the 20th of 
January in Riga, where we had to establish telegraphic 
communication with the port-town Boldera. which was 
to be effected by means of a steel -wire cable spanning 
the broad Duna. 

At that time posting was the only mode of 
travelling in Russia. This was very well organized 
on the main roads, that is to say considering the 

/ o 

circumstances. At a distance on an average of from 
twenty to thirty versts --a verst is a little more than 
a kilometer - - substantial houses with stabling were 
erected on the post-roads, in which shelter and horses 
were to be had. if not already engaged, and the tra- 
veller was in possession of a government order to the 
post-masters, directing them to furnish horses for a 
prescribed journey on payment of the regulation fare. 
If possessed of such an order -- called Podaroshna - 
the traveller, supposing he had no private carriage, 
obtained a small four-wheeled peasant's cart, without 
springs covering or other luxury, drawn by three 


usually not bad horses, of which the middle one was 
harnessed in shafts, and the two outside ones yoked 
so as to face respectively right or left. In a proper 
i; troika" the stronger middle horse has to trot, whilst 
the side - horses keep pace with a galop to right or 
left. The traveller has usually for seat his travelling 
trunk or a bundle of straw - - and then, good speed, 
and away at a galop, which only ceases at the next 
station, if flying report has vaunted the traveller's 
liberality in the matter of tips. 

Such a post journey requires experience. It is 
necessary to sit on the trunk quite loosely and bent 
well forward, so that one's own spine may form a spring 
to protect the brain from the violent jolts of the w r heels 
on the usually indifferent roads. If this precaution 
be omitted, violent headaches are the infallible result. 
However one pretty quickly accustoms oneself to this 
mode of travelling, which also has its charms, even 
soon learns to sleep quite soundly in the rocking po- 
sition, coping instinctively with all the unevenness of 
the road by judicious counter-movements. When two 
travellers make use of such a "telega" they usually 
lash themselves together by a girdle, in order that their 
oscillations may be so regulated as to prevent their 
knocking their heads together. For the rest I have 
found that "telega" travelling can be very well borne, 
if it is not overdone. Certainly it is said that these 
journeys have often been fatal to couriers, who have 
had to sit day and night for weeks together in their 
"telegas' 1 . 


The telega journey was agreeable and interesting 
e noil o-h as far as Riga. But there regular winter 

O o O 

weather had set in, and the further journey could 
only be made in sledges. The Russian "kibitkas' are 
low and rather short sledges, which for longer journeys 
are completely closed with matting. The inner space 
is separated from the driver's box by a wall of mat- 
ting, in which two small windows are fixed, which 
admit light sparingly to the interior. A mat -flap at 
each side of the sledge renders possible the rather 
difficult getting out and in. 

As I travelled for the first time into Russia proper, 
knowing no Russian, I had to look about in Riga for 
a travelling companion. In a newspaper advertisement 
such a person turned up, who possessed a kibitka and 
spoke German and Russian perfectly. As appeared 
when we were already on the road, this was an elderly 
merchant's wife of Riga, who sought in this way to 
cheapen her annual business trip to St. Petersburg. 
She had packed the sledge so full of straw and bed- 
ding that one could only lie down in it, and then had 
the mat-covering close over one's face. It had become 
bitterly cold, and the nearer we got to our goal the 
stronger became the dry keen north-east wind, which 
with 18 below zero Reaumur mocked at the warmest 
wrapping. Then I learnt in Russian fashion to drink hot 
tea in great quantities, as soon as a station was reached, 
for only in that way could any warmth be obtained. 

When on the third morning we had reached the 
Narva station we fell victims to a little stratagem, which 


was often and in the most varied forms practised by 
the post-masters. The post-master declared with the. 
greatest assurance that it was of no use to travel 
further, as at the stations before St. Petersburg all the 
horses had been appropriated for a great imperial bear 
hunt. Apparently touched by the loud lamentations 
of my Russian companion he finally offered to give us a 
pair of particularly powerful horses, which would bring 

us the same evening to St. Petersburg. The bargain was 
struck, and the crafty Russian imagined that he had 
by the fiction of the bear hunt secured the whole fare 
to St. Petersburg. Our subsequent adventures however 
foiled his scheme. 

Our driver was a young fellow without fur and 
warm foot -rug. That he often stopped seemed to us 
intelligible, as he evidently needed a warm drink to 
avoid being frozen. At last however he never returned 
at all. I had to struggle out of the kibitka which, 
owing to my double furs, that yet did not prevent a 
rather severe numbness, was attended with difficulty. 
I then found our "Iswoshtchik" in a hut hard by, 
brandy glass in hand, which the rather suspicious- 
looking Jewish proprietor of the hut kept eagerly 
filling. When I drove the man back to the sledge 
with the necessary sensible admonitions. I observed 
unmistakable signs of a deeper understanding between 
him and the tavern-keeper who accompanied us. It 
came to me therefore by no means as a surprise 
when, soon after resuming the journey, my travelling 
companion suddenly uttered a loud cry. and called to 


me that her travelling trunk had just fallen from the 
sledge. She had immediately noticed the loss, as the 
trunk was fastened beside the driver on the box in 
such a way as to block the one small window. It 
was very difficult in our confined position to make the 
driver stop. At last I achieved this by breaking the 
second small window, laid hold of him and threw him 
down from his seat. The trunk was luckily found 
again: the rope, which served to fasten it. had undoub- 
tedly been cut. 

It soon became pretty clear that the driver was 
dead-drunk, as he repeatedly drove us into the road- 
side ditches. At last there remained nothing else for 
me to do but to mount the box. and take the reins 
from the driver's hands. He very soon after fell soundly 
asleep, and neither scolding nor cuffing availed to 
revive him. I for my part soon felt my feet becoming 
benumbed, and when I tried to change the reins found 
that both my hands had become quite frozen and 
immovable. It was still possible for me to drive the 
sledge again into the ditch, and to pull off my gloves 
with my teeth. With the sudden stoppage the driver 
had fallen from the box, and lay like a corpse at my 
feet. I could therefore quite easily perform two useful 
actions, viz. wash his head with snow and thereby also 
thaw my own hands. It lasted a good while before 
I felt the life return into them. Soon after the driver 
also began to show signs of life, in that he made 
grimaces and presently began to wail and implore for- 
giveness. So in the darkness of the night we were 


able to continue our way by walking beside the sledge, 
and finally reached Krasnoye-Selo, where we took up 
our quarters with the post- master. Our complaint 
against the post-keeper in Narva and in respect of the 
Iswoshtchik he settled next morning in a very curt 
fashion. He required from us the stipulated fare to 
St. Petersburg, then gave the Iswoshtchik a sound 
thrashing with his own hands until his strength was 

O " t? 

exhausted, and sent him back with this in lieu of 
any payment to his master, whilst he drove us him- 
self with his own horses on to St. Petersburg. 

In St. Petersburg I was received in a very friendly 
manner by the merchant Heyse. an uncle of the poet 
Paul Heyse. I had first made the acquaintance of the 
Heyse family in Magdeburg, where, during my period 
of service as recruit. I had received much maternal 
sympathy and kindliness in the house of the widow of 
school-director Heyse, distinguished as pedagogue and 
as author of a German grammar. The Petersburg Heyse, 
a son of the school-director, had in his younger years 
gone to Russia, and had there raised himself to be a 
partner in one of the most respected commercial houses. 
The intercourse with the amiable, and still thoroughly 
German, family was made easy by Heyse's procuring 
a lodging for me in a hotel near his own residence on 
the island Wasili-Ostrow. 

St. Petersburg with its grand site, its broad streets 
and large squares, and especially with its mighty river, 
the many -armed Xeva, made a powerful impression 
on me. This was strengthened by the strangeness of 


the life of the people and the peculiar mixture of 
large palaces with small houses, for the most part 
entirely built of wood, in the broad interminable 
streets. Also the active sleighing, which in winter 
takes up the streets and almost entirely excludes the 
carriage traffic, produces a peculiar effect on the 
foreigner seeing St. Petersburg for the first time. The 
inability to understand the language, and to decipher 
a single inscription on street corners and shops, gives 
one also a feeling of forlornness and dependence, 
which it is difficult to shake off. All the more 
cheering on the other hand is the intercourse with 
one's compatriots, the extremely developed hospitable 
family life in the large foreign colony of St. Peters- 
burg, especially the German, to which it is no mean 
advantage that the Baltic provinces of Russia have 
completely preserved their German nationality in the 
cultivated classes. The higher government posts were 
at that time for the most part filled by Germans 
from the Baltic provinces. This extremely facilitated 
the getting on both socially and commercially of a 
German coming to St. Petersburg. It was much in 
my favour that owing to Berlin introductions the 
scientific circles were thrown open to me. I received 
a cordial welcome from the most celebrated represen- 
tatives of Russo- German science, of whom I will only 
mention the academicians Kupffer, Lenz, Jacobi and 
von Baer. 

Unfortunately the agreeable, and for my business 
undertakings advantageous, intercourse was seriously 


interrupted. One day I felt extremely unwell. In vain 
I sought recovery by Russian baths and similar self- 
prescribed remedies, and finally by an emetic which I 
w r as able to procure. After the unspeakably painful 
night which ensued I fortunately received a visit from 
friend Heyse. who perceived the seriousness of my ill- 
ness and sent his doctor to me. I had caught the 
measles, which w^ere then raging in St. Petersburg. 
Severe inflammation of the kidneys followed, which 
chained me for some months to a sick bed. and from 
the consequences of which I had long to suffer. 

Apart from this personal mishap the results of 
my journey were very favourable for the development 
of our business relations. We obtained the commission 
to lay an underground line from St. Petersburg to 
Oranienbaum with a cable junction to Kronstadt. 

The construction of the Kronstadt line, and the 
necessity of organizing another representation of our 
firm in Russia, led me again to St. Petersburg in the 
summer of 1852. I found there in a German merchant 
of the first guild. Mr. Kapherr. a very suitable re- 
presentative, who has contributed much by his activity 
and adroitness to the favourable results of our Russian 
undertakings: and I was able to come into closer 


connection with the department of public ways and 
communications, to which the construction and manage- 
ment of telegraph lines appertained. 

My marriage with Matilda Drumann w r as celebrated 
on the first of October 1852 in Konigsberg. After a 
short stav in Berlin we travelled to the Rhine and then 


to Paris, where my brothers William and Charles also 
just then happened to be. After the years passed in 
anxiety and severe work I there enjoyed in full measure 
my young married happiness, enhanced by the familiar 
intercourse with the brothers. The sorrowful years 
by the sick couch of her beloved sister had much 
tried my wife. All the more delightful was it to me 
to perceive how the new happiness from day to day 
restored her earlier youthful freshness. That made me 
also young again, and obliterated the traces of ex- 
cessive labour and prolonged sickness. 

Alas this sunshine in my life did not last Ion 

Soon after her second confinement Matilda began to 


ail. The germs of the terrible disease of which her 
sister had died, and which she had probably received 
during the long self-sacrificing period of nursing, now 
began to mature. A year and a half's residence in 
Ixeichenhall, Me ran, and other spas appeared to have 
restored her, but it was not for long. After a union 
of thirteen years, in which she bore me two sons 
and two daughters, she died after long and painful 

When in the spring of 1853 the construction of 
a railway telegraph from Warsaw to the Prussian 
frontier was entrusted to us, we made my brother 
Charles, who had returned to London at the beginning 
of that year after the shipwreck of our Paris plans, 
the offer to undertake the direction both of this con- 
struction and also of the further expected works in 
Russia. Charles declared himself ready, and subse- 


quently executed these in part very difficult tasks so 
satisfactorily, that we considered our resolution to 
entrust him. despite his youth, with such important 
works as a very happy one. We owe it mainly to 
his energy and ability that the Russian business now 
grew so rapidly and to such proportions. 

The emperor Nicolas was then on the throne, and 
under him the most powerful man in the empire was 
Count Kleinmichel, chief of the ministry of public ways 
and communications. I had up till then come into no 
personal contact with this man so feared throughout 
Russia, as the negotiations had been carried on through 
the above mentioned Colonel von Luders. with whom I 
was on personally friendly terms. When however the 
latter was taken ill and obliged to try the restorative 
efficacy of German watering-places in the spring of 
1853, I was summoned by Count Kleinmichel to St. 
Petersburg for a conference on telegraph matters, just 
when I was expecting my brother Charles, to accom- 
pany him to Warsaw. I accordingly applied as usual 
at the Russian embassy for the visa of my passport. 
To my astonishment, in spite of repeated reminders. 
I failed to obtain the visa. When I complained of 
this to the ambassador himself, he told me that by 
order of the St. Petersburg secret police the visa 
could not be given. As no reason was given for the 
refusal, nothing was left to me but to write to Count 
Kleinmichel that I could not comply with his request, 
the visa of my passport having been refused. It then 
lasted no longer than the exchange of couriers bet- 


ween Berlin and St. Petersburg . before an official 
from the Embassy handed me the vise passport with 
many excuses, and the explanation that a misunder- 
standing had occurred. 


When however a few days later on the journey 
to Warsaw I had reached the Russian frontier station. 
I soon found that despite the alleged misunderstanding 
I still belonged to the class of suspects. My effects 
were searched, after all the other travellers had been 
passed, with a minuteness which far exceeded all ex- 
pectation. Every written and unwritten piece of paper 
was retained, and it was finally declared to me that, 
in consideration of the excellent result of the search 
so far. I should be spared an equally thorough per- 
sonal visitation if I handed up all my letters and gave 
my word of honour, that I carried nothing else about 
me printed or written. On my declaring that I should 
return, as such a treatment did not suit me. it was 
signified to me. that I must now go on with my luggage 
to Warsaw and there await a further decision. I was 
in fact a Russian state prisoner! 

Arrived at Warsaw I complained bitterly of the 
treatment to which I had been subjected to General 
Aureggio . who as director of the Warsaw- Vienna 
Railway had concluded the contract for the construction 
of the railway telegraphs with my firm. The General 
promised to lay my case before the then Governor of 
Poland. Prince Paskewich. To his question whether I 
had done, written, or said anything, which could have 
rendered me politically suspected. I could only answer 


that I had once replied to a Russian state-counsellor, 
on his repeated offer to procure me a decoration for 
my services to Russia, that this would afford me less 
satisfaction than an order to construct further telegraph 
lines for Russia. The Governor had laughed heartily, 
when the General communicated to him the confession 
of my sin, and bade him tell me. he would in my 
place have thought just the same. I at once received 
all my things back and a passport to St. Petersburg. 
After being a short time with my brother Charles, 
who had meanwhile followed me to Warsaw. I accor- 
dingly continued my journey. 

Arrived in St. Petersburg after a six days" journey 
in an extremely uncomfortable stage-coach, I immedi- 
ately repaired to Count Kleinmichel, who, as I had 
already heard in Warsaw, had himself issued the order 
on his own responsibility to give me the passport. The 
Count listened to my report in a quite friendly manner, 
and took a look at the testimonials in regard to the 
works hitherto executed by us which I laid before him. 
At the treatment which I had suffered he was manifestly 
very indignant. When, in a very favourable testimonial 
of the president of the Berlin police Hinkeldey in regard 
to the police telegraphs laid down by us. he found the 
concluding remark, that politically I was altogether 
free from suspicion, he bade me go with this testimonial 
to the chief of the secret police, General Dubbelt. 
"Tell the General" were his words, "I command him 
to read the testimonial, and then bring it back to 
me immediately, I shall show it to the Emperor!" 


This injunction placed me in rather an awkward 
predicament. Fortunately a Warsaw business - friend 
had given me an introduction to one of the higher 
officials of the dreaded department of the St. Petersburg 
secret police. I therefore went first to this gentleman, 
and requested to be advised how I should proceed, 
in order to do the count's bidding, and yet not give 
offence. From him I learnt . that a report from 
Copenhagen, in which I was described as a dangerous 
character, on terms of intimacy with the democratic 
professors of Kiel, had occasioned the refusal of the 
passport. Evidently it was Danish gratitude for the 
torpedoes in the Kiel harbour and the construction 
of the Eckernforde batteries, which had certainly ren- 
dered the Danes rather uncomfortable. Both the chief 
of the police, who in solemn audience received my 
testimonial and thereupon assured me of his special 
satisfaction and his constant readiness to help me in 
my undertakings, and also Count Kleinmichel himself 
were perfectly satisfied by these explanations. 

I have related this interesting episode of my life 
in Russia at such length, because it gives a good 
picture of the state of things and official relations in 
the realm of the Czar at that time , and because it 
has been of great service to our business transactions. 
Count Kleinmichel's power was then so great, that, as 
long as the Emperor Nicholas lived, no one ventured 
to resist it. The count had acquired confidence in me, 
and afterwards bestowed the same in a very marked 
degree on my brother Charles. To his powerful 




protection alone did we owe it, that we were enabled 
successfully to execute the great works, which he 
entrusted to us. 

Count Kleinmichel did not conceal from me, that 
he would have liked to have retained me altogether 
in Russia for the execution of his further plans. As 
I could not accede to that. I announced to him, when 
at the end of July I took my leave, the approaching 
arrival of my brother, who had great experience in 
the construction of lines and would be able to execute 
his orders better than I could myself. A few days 
after my departure Charles arrived in St. Petersburg. 
When he presented himself to the count, the latter 
was surprised at his youthful appearance. He evinced 
in consequence much annoyance, gave him however 
the order to propose an arrangement, whereby the 
wire of the telegraph in course of construction between 
Oranienbaum and Kronstadt might be conducted into 
the turret-room of the imperial winter palace, hitherto 
the terminal station of the optical telegraph to War- 
saw, without disturbing the Emperor's dwelling house. 

When brother Charles looked attentively at the 
proud palace with the turreted projection, wherein the 
bureau of the optical telegraph was placed, it struck 
him that in one of the corners of the tower no 
gutter ran down, as was the case in the others. On 
perceiving this he immediately returned to the count, 
who, annoyed at his supposed fussiness, inquired rather 
roughly what else he wanted. Charles at once commu- 
nicated the plan of placing in the vacant corner of the 


tower a similar tube to that which existed in the others, 
and of carrying up therein the insulated telegraph wires. 
That made an impression on the count. He inveighed 
against his officers, who could suggest nothing better 
than knocking out grooves in the masonry, "and now", 
so he expressed himself, "there comes a beardless young 
man, and sees at the first glance how easily the thing- 
is to be done." Thus Charles succeeded on his 
very first appearance in gaining the favour of the 
count, who from this moment onwards accorded 
him an authority, in which he placed as implicit 
a confidence as in my own. In this he was not dis- 

In the autumn of 1853 Charles completed the 
Kronstadt cable-line to Count KleinmicheFs perfect 
satisfaction. This was the first submarine telegraph 
line in the world which has remained permanently 
serviceable. The gutta-percha conductors, protected 
by iron wires, employed for it have stood the test 
admirably. At the same time as the laying down of 
the line its maintenance, the so-called remount, was 
also contracted for by us for a period of six years. 
During the whole of this time the wire was only once 
seriously injured by ships' anchors, and after the lapse 
of the six years was handed over to the government 
in a faultless condition. It has remained in active use 
to the present time, and affords therefore a good proof 
of the durability of well-constructed submarine cables. 

In the spring of 1854 the Crimean war broke 

out. We received in consequence the commission, to 



construct as quickly as possible an overhead telegraph 
line along the high road from Warsaw to St. Peters- 
burg or rather to Gatshina. which was already connected 
with St. Petersburg by an underground wire. Accor- 
dingly in April 1854 I travelled to Warsaw and there 
organised a working column , which began the con- 
struction of the line from Warsaw under the command 
of captain Beelitz, a former comrade of mine, who 
had entered the service of our firm. I then went to 
St. Petersburg and there together with Charles organised 

O o c 1 

a second column, which under his command worked 
towards that of Beelitz from Gatshina. Thus the line 
about 1,100 versts long was completed in a few months, 
to the great astonishment of the Russians, who were 
unaccustomed to quick and well-organised work. When 
the two columns met half way at Dunaburg, and the 
translation-station of that place correctly performed 
its functions after the surmounting of a few difficulties, 
Charles was able to announce to Count Kleinmichel 
the completion of the line at the promised time. The 
count was much astonished at this intelligence . and 
would not quite believe in its correctness. He at 
once repaired to the station in the telegraph -tower of 
the Winter Palace, and himself addressed a question 
to the chief of the Warsaw station. His doubts were 
only removed when he had received an instantaneous 
reply, and astonished in the highest degree he an- 
nounced the happy event to the Emperor. 

The success of the Warsaw - Petersburg line 
strengthened the Russian Government in its resolve to 


cover the whole Empire with a network of electric 
telegraphs. The speedy construction of a line from 
Moscow to Kiev, between the former of which towns 
and St. Petersburg an underground line was already in 
operation as mentioned before, was entrusted to us. 
Then in quick succession lines from Kiev to Odessa, 
from St. Petersburg to Reval, from Kowno to the 
Prussian frontier, from St. Petersburg to Helsingfors, 
were ordered; which were all completed after over- 
coming infinite difficulties in the years 1854 and 1855, 
and were of great utility to the Russian empire in the 
Crimean war raging at the time. 

o o 

By means of the telegraphs Russia was put in 
speedy communication with Berlin and the west of 
Europe; in the interior of the empire the movement 
of troops and material could be regulated with their 
help, and the central government could everywhere 
promptly make and improve its arrangements. 

Of the difficulties which beset the construction of 
these lines one may form an idea, when it is borne 
in mind that all the materials, with the sole excep- 
tion of the wooden telegraph poles which were pro- 
curable in Russia, had to be obtained from Berlin 
and western Germany, that there were then no other 
railways in Russia than those from the Prussian fron- 
tier to Warsaw and from St. Petersburg to Moscow, 
and that all the roads and means of transport were 
occupied in an unusual degree by the war transports. 
In addition to this the marine transport of heavy 
materials from German to Russian ports was impeded 


by the blockade of the latter. With great difficulty 
two ships from Ltibeck , loaded with iron wire for 
Russian ports, escaped capture through English cruisers, 
by taking refuge in Memel, whence their cargo was 
forwarded overland. 

The Berlin firm had enough to do with procuring 
the materials, preparing the apparatus, and organising 
the transports, and was therefore only in a slight 
degree enabled directly to assist my brother Charles, 
on whose shoulders the whole burden of the con- 
struction of the line rested. Charles's chief assistants 
in the execution of these works were my former 
serving-man Hemp, who had rendered such effective 
aid in Schleswig-Holstein, and the half- pay captain 
Beelitz alluded to above. I myself was indespensable 
in Berlin, where meanwhile the construction of rail- 
way lines uninterruptedly continued, and was obliged 
to content myself with repeatedly journeying to 
St. Petersburg, to superintend organizing work and 
maintain the connection between the centres of our 

In the spring of 1855 I repaired to St. Petersburg 
for a somewhat longer stay in company with my friend 
William Meyer -- who meanwhile had resigned his post 
in the Prussian government telegraph department, and 
had become chief engineer and confidential clerk of 
the firm of Siemens & Halske - - in order to introduce 
in our office there an organization answering the ra- 
pidly growing requirements. We had already nearly 
finished our work and were thinking seriously of our 


return, when I was suddenly called up at midnight 
and taken almost by force to Count Kleinmichers 
assistant, General von Guerhardt. The latter imparted 
to me, that the Emperor had ordered the immediate 
construction of a telegraph line to the Crimea up to 
the fortress of Sebastopol, and the Count wished to 
have an estimate and the date of completion by 7 
o'clock the next morning. My doubts in regard to the 
difficulty of procuring and transporting the materials on 
the only open road from Berlin to Perekop and Sebasto- 
pol, as well as to the impossibility of constructing 
a line to the seat of war itself, when all the ways 
and means of transport were required by the military, 
were overborne by that all -conquering word in Russia 
4 'The Emperor wills it!" And in fact the magic word 
held good also in this case. The line was made. 

When after working the whole night I came to 
the General punctually at 7 o'clock, I learnt that the 
latter had been already summoned to the count two 
hours before, and had not yet returned. Soon after 
8 o'clock he came and communicated to me, that 
Count Kleinmichel had told the Emperor, who had 
ordered the report by 6 o'clock, that I would execute 
the construction from Nikolaiev to Perekop in six 
weeks, that from Perekop to Sebastopol in ten weeks, 
and at the same price as the line from Kiev to Odessa. 
I declared both to be impossible. The transport of 
the wire and apparatus alone from Berlin to Nikolaiev 
on roads destroyed by the military transport would 
take at least two months. The expenses would also 


as a matter of course be much higher, and at the 
seat of war the work would be almost impossible for 
civilians and especially for foreigners. All that how- 
ever was of no avail and was hardly listened to. The 
Emperor had spoken! In the course of the day 
I received an official letter, communicating that the 

' O 

Emperor desired to express his thanks to us for the 
services hitherto performed for Russia in its difficult 
situation, and for the offer of a rapid construction 
of the required line to the seat of war, but that he 
trusted we should, in consideration of the hard war 
times, construct the new line more cheaply than the 
previous ones. 

That was an extremely difficult situation for us. 
The summer was already half gone, and before the 
end of it new material was in no manner of way to 
be got to the spot. Moreover without a heavy river- 
cable it was impossible to cross the broad and swampy 
Dnieper. And yet the imperial order had to be com- 
plied with, so far as in any way possible. The only 
possibility of effecting a telegraphic communication at 
least to Perekop, situated on the isthmus uniting the 
Crimea with the continent, consisted in collecting all the 
materials remaining over from the construction of the 
hitherto completed lines, sending them to Nikolaiev, and 
carrying the line in a circuit of about thirty versts by 
way of Bereslaw, where a bridge crossed the Dnieper, 
and made the passage practicable without a river- 
cable. The same night, in which the communication 
was made to me, we had accordingly corresponded 


by telegraph with all the Russian stations and had 
summoned to the station captain Beelitz, who luckily 
was just then in Nikolaiev, to settle the possibility 
of obtaining telegraph posts. Beelitz answered that 
he must first consult the Jewish timber - merchants, 
and had sent out messengers to summon them imme- 
diately to the station. Then arose a peculiar telegraphic 
negotiation. Beelitz announces a Jew would undertake 
the delivery of the poles, but must have fifteen roubles 
per pole. Answer: "Out with him!*' Reply: "Done!'' 
Another offers to do it for ten roubles. Answer: 
"Out with him too!" Reply: "Done!'' A set of 
others ask six roubles; with these, negotiations are 
carried on and finally an acceptable offer is obtained, 
securing timely delivery of the poles. 

Further it turned out that there was a reserve 
of materials in almost sufficient quantity for the line 
as far as Perekop, and that there was a prospect of 
obtaining in Odessa thin iron wires for a provisional 
line. There seemed therefore a possibility of satisfying 
the imperial will at any rate in essential points. With 
the request, to lower the price fi in consideration of 
the present distressed state of Russia", we so far 
complied, that we offered to execute the necessary 
circuit by way of Bereslaw at our own expense. In 
short the omnipotence of the imperial command again 
prevailed. The line to Perekop was finished by the 
required time, and the line to Sebastopol was at least 
completed early enough for a message to St. Peters- 
burg announcing the probable fall of the fortress. 


This construction of a line of about a hundred and 
forty miles on a road occupied and rendered impassable 
by marching troops and transports of war - material 
and into a beleaguered fortress was a difficult work, 
which did great credit to my brother Charles, who 
conducted it, and to his assistants. Financially it 
certainly ran away with a considerable part of the 
profits obtained through the construction of the other 
Russian telegraph lines. 

I myself, after I had as far as possible made all 
the preparations for the construction of the line to the 
seat of war as ordered by the Emperor, and had become 
convinced that it was practicable, desired in July to 
return to Berlin, where my wife was expecting her 
second confinement. To my great astonishment I could 
however not get back my passport from the police, 
despite repeated applications. When I complained of 
this to Count Kleinmichel, he declared that I could 
not be allowed to depart before the lines in course 
of construction, and particularly that to Sebastopol, 
were completed. All my remonstrances were in vain. 
The count would not withdraw the order once given, 
to withhold the visa of my passport, and I was thus 
for an indefinite time "interned" - as it is called - 
in St. Petersburg. 

Then, luckily for me, the prince of Prussia came 
to St. Petersburg to negotiate, as it was said, con- 
cerning the neutrality of Prussia in the Crimean war. 
I determined to use this fortunate circumstance to slip 
from the semi-imprisonment into which I had fallen. 


I called at Peterhof, where the prince had taken up 
his residence, on his first adjutant Count Goltz, ex- 
plained to him my difficult situation, and begged that 
the prince would when convenient give me an audience, 
so that the Eussian officials might see that I enjoyed 
his protection. In his great goodness of heart and 
affability the prince acceded to my request, and on 
the very next day I received the official summons of 
the Prussian embassy to repair to an audience at the 
Winter Palace. 

I was awaited by the ambassador, and conducted 
through a series of ante-rooms, filled with generals and 
officials of high standing, to the prince, who was sur- 
rounded by several Grand Dukes and highest digni- 
taries. The prince addressed a few very friendly words 
to ine^ mainly to the effect that the posts of the tele- 
graph line we had constructed along the whole way 
from the Prussian frontier to St. Petersburg had given 
him the joyful assurance of remaining in constant con- 
nection with home, and that he desired to express to 
me his thanks in person. The result of this audience 
was more brilliant than I had expected. On the very 
same day a police official came and handed me my 
passport with excuses for the over- sight that had 
been committed. - 

The Russian Government had simultaneously with 
the contracts for the construction of the lines also 
concluded remount - agreements with us for six to 
twelve years , which required a large administrative 
apparatus. We therefore converted our St. Petersburg 


office into an independent branch-establishment under 
the direction of my brother Charles, whom we at the 
same time took as a partner into the head firm. 

We obtained a large building on the island of 
Wasili-Ostrow, in which the large offices of the ad- 
ministration of the remount were established, and at 
the same time a work- shop was erected for the speedy 
execution of all repairs. 

Charles took up his residence there towards the 
end of 1855 after his marriage with the clever and 
charming daughter of our previous representative in 
St. Petersburg, the above-mentioned Mr. Kapherr. 

Like his father-in-law, Charles now became a 
Finnish subject, in order to be able to become a 
merchant of the first guild, and as such to have the 
right of carrying on any kind of business in Russia. 

I must mention one other circumstance, which was 
very important for our new St. Petersburg business 
and rendered it particularly remunerative. Count Kleiri- 
michel had in the beginning entrusted the watching of 

~ o o 

the telegraph lines to the contractors of the turnpike 
roads, in consideration of a large payment reckoned 
by the verst. The result however was that no, or 
only a very lax, watch was kept. Accidental or in- 
tentional injuries to the lines were generally discovered 
only after the lapse of several days, and the repairing 
usually took place only after a long time and often 
so defectively, that a reliable service of the telegraphs 
was never to be reckoned upon. At last the count 
requested us to undertake also the watching of the 


lines, he would pay us for the service the hundred 
roubles per verst. which he had hitherto given to the 
road contractors. In reality a successful watch could 
not be carried out by us, it could only be done by 
natives, who would certainly not have kept a better 
look out on our behalf than for the Government, 
Nevertheless we accepted the count's offer on the 
condition, that we might carry out the surveillance and 
the necessary repairs entirely in our own fashion. 

As this was accorded, we gave up altogether 
keeping a guard properly so called, contrived instead 
a mechanical system of control, which was relatively 
cheap and yet fully answered the purpose. At every 
fifty versts we erected a guard -hut. into which the 
wires were conducted. In the hut was placed an 
alarum and a galvanometer, which were intercalated 
into the course of the current in such a way, that the 
watcher of the movement of the galvanometer-needle 
could always see if an electric current was traversing 
the wire. If the needle stood still for half an hour, 
he had with the help of a simple mechanism to tele- 
graph the number of his hut by repeatedly connecting 
to earth. The telegraph stations, between which the 
connection was interrupted, had orders to insert their 
battery between the conductor and the earth, and 
received accordingly the reports of all the guard-huts 
on the hither side of the place of interruption, thus 
learning its situation. To every telegraph station was 
assigned a mechanician, whose duty it was, immediately 
on the report of an interruption, to take post-horses 




and travel to the fault. As the order was given to 
supply our mechanicians with post-horses at once and 
before all other travellers, the fault was nearly always 
removed in the course of a few hours. 

In consequence of this arrangement the Russian 
telegraph lines acted with great accuracy during the 
period of our management, and interruptions of the 
service rarely occurred for more than a day. in spite 
of the enormous length of the lines, and in spite of 
the desert steppes through which they mostly passed. 
x The contract, almost forced upon us, for the watching 
of the telegraph lines soon proved very profitable, and 
amply compensated us for the losses which we had 
suffered in the construction of many of the lines. 

Through the management of the remounts en- 
trusted to us and the continued further constructions 
of lines our St. Petersburg business obtained great im- 
portance and a unique position in the Russian Empire. 
We received the official title " Contractors for the con- 
struction and remount of the Imperial Russian telegraph 
lines", and obtained for our superior servants the right 
to wear uniforms with badges of rank. The latter was 
absolutely necessary for the thorough performance of 
our tasks, for the Russian public only respects the 
wearers of uniforms. To obtain this right I had a 
number of handsome uniforms designed in Berlin. In- 
stead of the epaulets, which in Russia were reserved for 
officers, golden chenille of varying thickness, increasing 
with the rank, was attached to the shoulders. Excellent 
artists then painted various groups arrayed in such 


uniforms. The pictures, enclosed in a handsome port- 
folio, made the heart of every admirer and connoisseur 
of uniforms beat quicker. Armed with this portfolio, 
brother Charles repaired to Count Kleinmichel, explained 
to him our difficulty, and begged permission for the 
wearing of a uniform by our officials. The sight of 
the fine pictures conquered the resistance offered at 
first by the count; he retained the portfolio to show 
it to the Emperor, who immediately granted the per- 
mission for the proposed uniform. 

I consider it my duty to meet in this place the 
often expressed opinion, that we could only have con- 
cluded these great and generally speaking profitable 
undertakings in Russia by the help of bribes. I can 
asseverate that this was never the case. The expla- 
nation may perhaps be that the negotiations were 
always conducted and concluded directly with the 
supreme government authorities, and that the state 
of political affairs urgently demanded the speedy con- 
struction of the needed telegraphic communications. 
This however does not imply that we have never 
recompensed the lower officials in the customary 
fashion of the country for services rendered during 
the construction the lines. 

Harzburg, June 1890. 

J_he successful use of copper wires coated with 
gutta-percha as underground conductors suggested their 
employment also for submarine telegraphic communi- 
cation. That sea -water was not in any way injurious 
to the gutta-percha had been proved in the case of 
the insulated wires connected with the torpedoes in 
Kiel harbour, which were quite unchanged after the 
lapse of two years. 

The first attempt to connect two sea -coasts by 
means of gutta-percha conductors had been made as 
early as 1850 by Mr. Brett, who had obtained a con- 
cession for a submarine telegraphic communication 
between Dover and Calais. The unprotected wire 
laid by him retained its efficiency, as was to be ex- 
pected, not much longer than the time of the actual 
laying, if indeed it was ever really serviceable. It- 
was replaced in the following year through Messrs. 
Newall & Gordon by a conductor armed with iron 
wires, which acted well for some time. This was 
the commencement of submarine telegraphy, destined 
speedily to become one of the most important media 
of communication. 


With the perseverance characteristic of the English 
in prosecuting their undertakings, the laying of a large 
number of other cables was, after this first success, at 
once planned and attempted, before the problem was 
ripe for a scientific and technical solution. Failures ac- 
cordingly could not but occur. The laying itself present- 
ed no difficulty in the shallow water of the North Sea. 
The preparation of insulated conductors was undertaken 
in England by a gutta-percha company, which could not 
be prevented from employing my coating process, since 
I had not protected my inventions by a patent. As this 
company could always make use of the best quality of 
gutta-percha, owing to its command of the English 
market, it would have been in a position to turn out 
remarkably well -insulated conductors, if the electrical 
testing and control of the workmanship had been carried 
out with as much care as we had taken. Scientific know- 
ledge and methods were however at that time as little 
appreciated in English industry as in our own. It was 
thought enough to make sure that a current traversed 
the wire, and that the instruments worked satisfactorily. 
Even much later my methods for a systematic testing 
of the conducting wires were characterizedby English 
engineers as "scientific humbug!" Nevertheless the firm 
of Newall & Co. succeeded in the year 1854 during 
the Crimean war in laying an unarmed conducting 
wire, insulated only by a coating of gutta-percha, from 
Varna to Balaclava in the Crimea, and with the good 
fortune that it remained serviceable till the capture of 

Sebastopol in September 1855, i. e. for about a year. 



In this long line of about 400 miles difficulties in 
the matter of signalling occurred through the electrical 
capacity of the line, which in spite of my publications 
in 1850 remained entirely unknown to the English. 
When the needle telegraphs employed in England re- 
fused to do their duty on the line, Newall & Co. 
ordered signalling apparatus from my firm, with which 
operations could very well be carried on. It was a 
singular coincidence that in the two hostile camps of 
Sebastopol and Balaclava Berlin apparatus with con- 
secutive numbers of manufactur weere at work. 

Meanwhile in September 1855 Mr. Brett, com- 
missioned by the Mediterranean Extension Telegraph 
Company, had made the attempt to lay a heavy cable 
with four conductors between the island of Sardinia 
and the town of Bona in Algeria. He employed for 
the purpose the same contrivances as in the North Sea, 
but unfortunately his brake apparatus did not suffice 
on reaching deep water, and in consequence the whole 
cable rolled to the bottom without the possibility of 
detaining it. When a second attempt in 1856 also 
miscarried, he retired from the undertaking, which was 
then taken up by Newall & Co. The latter contracted 
with my firm for the delivery of the electric apparatus, 
and requested me to undertake the electrical testing 
on and after the laying. 

This first laying of a deep sea cable was both 
interesting and instructive to me. At the beginning 
of September 1857 I went at Genoa with an assistant 
and the necessary electrical apparatus on board a 


Sardinian corvette, which was to accompany the expe- 
dition and take us to Bona , where the steam - ship 
laden with the cable awaited us. It was an interesting 


company which met on board the war-ship. Besides 
the English contractors and cable manufacturers. Mr. 
Newall and Mr. Liddell, there were on board several 
Italian savants, telegraph officials, and naval officers, 
among them the learned admiral Lamarmora, a very 
amiable and well - instructed officer, brother of the 
well-known General Lamarmora: further several French 
telegraph officials, who were commissioned by their 
government to be present at the laying of the cable, 
in particular the well-known engineer Delamarche. 

Already on the passage to the island of Sardinia, 
which was favoured by gloriously calm weather, the 
party discussed the methods which should be adopted 
in laying the cable, in order to avoid the failure of 
previous attempts. Messrs. Newall and Liddell declared 
that in laying their wire to the Crimea they had 
found it best to proceed quickly, and let the cable 
run out without check, when it would sink slowly to 
the bottom without any strain. They had indeed for 
precaution's sake provided a powerful brake-wheel, to 
regulate the speed of the cable, but that would hardly 
be necessary if the ship was going fast. This theory 
of Mr. Liddell was strongly opposed by M. Delamarche, 
who had been present at the unfortunate attempts of 
Mr. Brett, and had now adopted the theory, that the 
cable must perforce assume the form of a catenary curve 

in deep water, and under any circumstances break. 



I had originally intended to abstain from interfering 
in the mechanical part of the proceedings, but it 
appeared to me so utterly impossible to lay a heavy 
cable, having a weight in water of at least 4 Ibs. per 
yard, at a depth of more than 1500 fathoms (as was 
the case between Sardinia and Bona), in the manner 
intended by Messrs. Newall & Liddell, that I spoke 
very earnestly against the proposal. On the other 
hand I could not share the fears of M. Delamarche, 
and there ensued a warm discussion between Mr. Lid- 
dell, M. Delamarche, and myself, in which I expounded 
the theory, which was subsequently universally adopted. 
It consists in holding back the cable by brake-apparatus 
with a force which corresponds to the weight of a 
piece of cable in water reaching perpendicularly to 
the bottom. With a uniform motion of the ship the 
cable then sinks in a straight line, the inclination of 


which depends on the ship's speed and the velocity 
of subsidence of a horizontal piece of cable in the 
water. If the sinking portion of the cable is not per- 
fectly balanced by the force of the brake, a sliding 
down of the cable takes place at the same time on 
the inclined plane which it itself forms ; it is therefore 
possible to regulate by the brake the extra amount 
of cable that is required to lay the cable without strain 
over the unevenness of the bottom. 

This simple theory met with the universal approval 
of the company. Mr. Newall too came over at last 
to my view, and requested me to assist him in the 
preparations for laying the cable in accordance with 


my theory. It was however difficult to do this on 
the spur of the moment. The brake, which we found 
on arriving at Bona on the cable -ship that already 
awaited us, proved much too weak for balancing the 
weight of the cable at great depths. Moreover the 
steam-power of the ship was too small to overcome 
the great force with which the cable would endeavour 
to slide down the inclined plane. Finally there was 
no contrivance for measuring this force, and for deter- 
mining accordingly the amount of the brake action 
required. I first had a simple dynamometer constructed 
by the carpenter, which rendered it possible to ascertain 
the extent of the actual strain on the cable while it is 
paid out by the amount of flexion of .a length of the 
cable stretched over two rollers, between which a third 
weighted roller rides on the cable. Furthermore I had 
the brake -wheel strengthened as far as possible, and 
furnished with strong water- boxes. Lastly I caused 
the captain of the war- ship to pass a tow-rope from 
his vessel to the bows of the cable -ship, in order to 
obtain the requisite force for overcoming the back- 
ward drag exerted by the cable. 

Thus barely provided, we began in the evening 
the laying of the cable from Bona. As long as the 
water was shallow all went well, and my precautions 
were soon deemed superfluous. After a few hours, when 
we got into much deeper water, it appeared however 
that the attainable brake force was not sufficient. We 
paid out too much cable and, when morning dawned, 
had already used more than a third of the cable. 


although a fifth of the distance had not been traversed. 
It was still just possible to reach with the cable -end 
a shallow spot near the island of Sardinia, if the cable 
could from now be paid out without any excess what- 
ever. At the request of Mr. Newall I undertook to 
try this, on condition that the management was entirely 
.left to me. I now loaded the brake with all the 
weights which were to be found on the ship. Even 
filled water tubs from the galley were requisitioned. 
At last the load sufficed, without the brake giving way. 
We now laid according to the statement of the measure- 
ments without "slack", i. e. without using more cable 
than exactly answered to the length of the sea-bottom. 
The cable was always pretty near the breaking point, 
as was proved by the fact that frequently one of the 
thick sheathing wires snapped, whereby the cable ran 
considerable risk. But by the adoption of prompt 
measures a fracture of the cable was averted , and 
when the sun set, and the cable -end in the ship was 
almost reached, my dynamometer luckily indicated 
shallow water, and w^e were at the goal. 9 

The joy was general and intense, and even Mr. 
Liddell congratulated me on the success achieved. 

This was the first cable which was successfully 
laid in deep water, i. e. at a depth of more than 1000 
fathoms. The laying of such heavy cables with many 
conductors has since been abandoned for long cable 


lines in deep water, because the difficulty of laying 
is too great, and because adjacent conducting wires 
interfere with one another by induction. This cable- 


laying was for me therefore all the more instructive, 
and certainly also the more exciting and straining. 

The cable must pass out of the ship's hold, in 
which it is carefully coiled round a cone, over the 
brake-wheel and under the roller of the dynamometer, 
day and night without any stoppage, which is always 
dangerous in deep water. Every stoppage is a source 
of great danger, since the progress of the ship cannot 
be checked with sufficient celerity. At the same time 
the brake-force must be carefully regulated in proportion 
to the depth of water, and to the velocity with which 
the ship is moving, otherwise the cable is either 
needlessly wasted, or it is strained at the bottom. 
Furthermore the electrical quality of the insulated 
core must be unceasingly tested, in order that the 
occurrence of a fault in the freshly immerged parts of 
the cable may be immediately detected. In such a 
case the laying must be at once suspended, and the 
last laid portion of the cable taken back again to repair 
the defect. 

The continuous mental strain, and the conscious- 
ness that any error committed may occasion the loss of 
the whole cable, makes the laying of a deep-sea cable 
a very anxious, and for a length of time thoroughly 
exhausting affair for all concerned, and especially for 
the leader of the undertaking. Towards the end of 
the foregoing work, in which I would not allow myself 
a moment's rest and refreshment, I could only keep 
myself up by frequently taking strong black coffee, 
and required several days for recovering my strength. 


This cable-laying took me for the first time into 
southern regions. During the whole time we had 
splendid weather , and I enjoyed to the utmost the 
charms of the Mediterranean, with its deep blue water, 
its dazzling white wave- crests, and its refreshing air, 
of which we could never inhale enough, on the beautiful 
voyage from Genoa to Cagliari , and from there to 
Bona in Algeria. A surprising sight was afforded by 
the loftily situated solid castle of Cagliari, which was 
entirely engirdled by high -grown aloe bushes in full 
bloom. On the advice of the friendly captain of 
the corvette we did not remain in the harbour on 
account of the fever, but passed the night in the 
court of the castle ruins. This glorious night under 
the starry sky of Italy, high above the sea breaking 
upon the rocky coast in the moonshine, has never 
faded from my memory. 

The electrical testings carried on during the 
laying showed that the insulation of all the conductors 
of the cable was imperfect, but on the completion of 
the line in the following year it satisfied in the case 
of three of them the conditions of the contract, which 
only required that the loss of current should not 
exceed a certain percentage. The fourth conductor 
contained a more serious fault, and the taking over 
of the cable was therefore refused. However it was 
possible by a suitable electrical manipulation - - con- 
tinuous treatment with an exclusively positive current 
- so far to lessen the defect, that the cable had to 
be taken over. 


The theory of cable -laying expounded on the 
above occasion I only made public in the year 1874 
through the medium of a paper entitled "Contributions 
to the theory of laying and testing submarine telegraph 
cables" submitted to the Berlin Academy of Sciences. 
I have preserved among my papers the copy of a letter, 
in which on my return I explained my theory to the 
before -mentioned Mr. Gordon, partner in the firm of 
Newall & Co. I shall insert this letter here, as it 
forms the first detailed communication on my theory 
of cable -lay ing. 

Berlin, 26 th September 1857. 
Dear Gordon, 

Returning yesterday from my journey I found your letter 
of the 17th. 

First I will give you some particulars from the report made 
by engineer Viechelmann, who has to-day returned from Bona. 

There is no doubt that wire No. 1 is injured, and that 
the injury lies in the neighbourhood of the African coast, and 
consists in the wire being in conducting connection with the 
water. It is not improbable that the defect exists where the 
shore-end is joined to the thinner cable. It has not been 
possible to determine the precise place, as it is uncertain how 
much resistance the connection has between the conductor and 
the water. The place can however lie no farther than four 
German miles (19 English) from the land, but is probably much 

Through the amount of the charge and by determinations 
of the resistance in the metallic circuit according to the 
accompanying sketch (Figure 1) the situation of the fault may 
be more precisely determined, if you will make the attempt 
to take up the wire again from Bona. m and n are the two 
coils of a differential galvanometer, and w a rheostat. By its 
means resistance is interposed, until the currents through the 



two coils m and n are of equal strength and the needle stands 
at zero. Then the fault / lies midway, and the distance from 
the coast can be calculated. 



VMX earth 

Fig. 1. 

With well -insulated wires this can be done with perfect 
exactitude, with badly insulated ones, such as the Bona cable, 
at any rate approximately correctly. - - Mr. Viechelniann has 
left the apparatus in the custom-house of Marseilles at your 
disposal. In the telegraph office there lies a letter from Viechel- 
mann to Newall, in which the authority for its delivery is 

As regards the cable theory the following is my view. 

If A B (Figure 2) represents a flexible piece of cable, 
which is attached to the sky by a weightless wire B C, the 
cable will fall to the ground, without being able to deviate 
from the straight line in the suspended part, as at every point 
it falls with equal velocity, m n, op are of equal length. 

Fig. 2. 

Every point falls with equal velocity, and the new connecting 
line n p must again be a straight one. The active force 
pulling upon the wire B C during the fall is K = Q . sin a, 


if Q is the weight of the suspended cable in the water, or the 
weight of a piece of cable B D, hanging vertically downwards, 
since A B . sin a = B D. 

If the force K is less than is necessary for equilibrium, 
the cable slides back towards A, and the terminal velocity is 
reached, when the friction in the water is equal to the lacking- 
force. If on the contrary K is greater than necessary, the cable 
acquires a velocity towards B, consequently the loss, i. e. the 
difference of the lengths A B and A D is picked up again, and 
the cable places itself in a straight line, thus without loss, on 
the ground. The angle a is accordingly quite independent of 
the amount of the force K. It simply indicates the proportion 
of the velocity of sinking to the progressive motion of the ship. 
For if the cable end B instead of being attached to the 
weightless wire B C is carried over a pulley, and the pulley 
moves with the ship from B to E, whilst the cable falls the 
distance m T?, and finally if the cable is kept back with the 
force K, there is no change at all in the conditions of equili- 
brium. If the brake, which detains the cable, is so applied that 
equilibrium is just attained, thus K=Q . sin , the cable has 
no axial velocity whatever; it falls perpendicularly, and there 
is the loss corresponding to the angle. If K is greater, the 
cable is laid with little or no loss, if K is smaller, the loss may 
be very great. The quicker in the latter case the motion of 
the ship, the longer does A B become, the greater conse- 
quently the friction in the water and the smaller the loss. If 
on the other hand the force A' becomes greater than is ne- 
cessary for equilibrium, the loss can easily be made up, and 
the cable then forms a catenary curve. If the transitions are 
rapid, the whole velocity, which the cable has acquired after 
applying the brake on disturbance of the equilibrium, acts in 
the direction A B, and tends to strain the cable. When one con- 
siders the great mass of the suspended cable, it is clear that 
these axial velocities of the cable may easily cause a fracture. 
The only safe guide is the proportion of the ship's velocity to 
the velocity of the cable. Moreover the ocean currents must 
be taken into account, especially if they flow in various direc- 
tions. If the current is everywhere equable, and extends to 


the bed of the sea, it only produces an additional expenditure 
of cable. With equilibrium of the force K the cable settles 
down in the diagonal of the parellelopiped, instead of in the 
diagonal of the parallelogram, and the cable -length bears the 
same proportion to the distance traversed as the -diagonal of 
the parallelepiped, whose sides are the ship's motion, the depth 
of water, and the simultaneous velocity of current, bears to the 
ship's motion. Very violent action on a tightly laid cable may 
however be exerted by variable currents, as the cable has 
then to resist the pressure of the water in the form of the 
catenary curve. Lastly the rising and falling, as well as the 
lateral movements of the ship, form forces of importance, 
threatening the fracture of the cable, unless the uncoiling 
apparatus is very light, or a compensation can be effected, 
whereby the cable may be lengthened or shortened behind 
the brake, so that no acceleration of the mass takes place. 
The mechanism which I propose for determining and regulating 
the tractive force exerted on the cable is easily calculated 
as under. (Figure 3.) 

A r -sin= ; K=^ -. 
? sm 


sin = ; 

Fig. 3. 

I have asked Loffler to calculate a table in accordance 
with this formula, of which however I am not yet in possession, 
as L. is still in Cologne, e was, as you state, 25 feet, i. e. 
842 metres. The weight Q was 160 kilograms, according to 
the statement of Newall's people, who weighed it. You seem 
in your approximative formula to have taken pounds instead, 
your values are therefore only about half those I have in my 
memory. The apparatus was constructed of wood the evening 
before the laying. Previously Mr. Liddel seemed not to be in 
favour of it, and I did not wish to obtrude myself after having 


made my proposal. In the first night the frame had become 
warped through the wet, and the place where the height was 
measured was about 2 feet lower than the other. A trustworthy 
measurement with an apparatus so crudely and hurriedly made 
and calculated is therefore out of the question. 

That soon after the commencement of the laying much 
cable was wasted was clear. I therefore at once proposed a 
stronger loading of the brake, but could not have my way. 
Undoubtedly there were moments when the cable -line was 
almost straight, although in the ordinary course there was a 
depression of from 4 to 5 inches, and one such moment might 
have sufficed to break the cable. The brake was also too 
weak, and I was always in mortal terror lest, with the load 
of at least 5 hundredweight, which subsequently, when Newall 
left the matter in my hands, was applied, it should give 
way. As the cable would have been irrecoverably lost if 
the brake had given way, it certainly required a prodigious 
resolution to justify loading it in this manner. It is certain 
that we strained the cable too severely on the following day. 
We certainly laid it without any loss whatever, and perhaps 
already had some catenary curve force in the cable. This was 
owing to the circumstance that nobody knew how fast the 
vessel was going. Newall and Liddell thought we were not 
making 5 knots an hour, whereas in fact we had made 7 l /. 2 . 
As the cable ran off with the velocity of 7 y a knots, I could 
only conclude that the waste was still too great for reaching 
shallow water, was obliged therefore to continue the loading. 
Thus there were moments, when the loading reached quite 6 
tons, and the fluctuations were even greater. 

That there was no regular log in the ship was a serious 
misfortune, and might easily have had for its consequence the 
loss of the cable. The greatest danger in cable-laying always 
consists in the snapping of single wires. That under the 
circumstances we came off as we did is a real marvel. I 
should not advise attempting a cable-laying in deep water 
without having previously subjected the wire in its whole 
length to a maximum strain, never to be exceeded in the actual 




I have communicated a plan to Newall how this is very 
easily to be done. Then faulty weldings will be disclosed by 
rupture, and one may feel pretty safe afterwards. Furthermore 
a dynamometer of solid iron must be constructed with an 
accurate scale, and in such a way that with the maximum 
loading there still remains a deflection of at least one foot. It 
is better to make use of a well-made spring than a weight, so 
that the fluctuations of the apparatus may be as small as pos- 
sible. It would also be very advisable to carry the wire behind 
the brake over two fixed and one moveable pulley, the latter 
being pulled doAvii by a weight or still better by a very 
strong spiral spring. The up and down movements of the 
ship are thereby rendered innocuous. 


As Loffler has not yet returned, I can communicate to 
you nothing definite in regard to the calculated forces. You 
are quite right that the assumed forces are not justified by the 
depths alone. I believe we may go to half the depth for which 
a cable can support itself, with tolerable safety and to a third 
with great safety. Up to a fifth of the depth 5 to 10%, to a third 
10 to 15% slack may give sufficient safety, if the weather is 
favourable. At greater depths the loss must be considerably 
more. Newall's plan of retarding the sinking of the cable 
by shields is wrong in principle. The cable must sink as 
quickly as possible on account of the currents. With moderate 
depths it is more advantageous to take back the slack by 
somewhat greater loading of the brake. If the depth is greater 
than y 3 to l / 2 of the minimum strength of the cable, the sliding 
back of the cable must be slackened as far as possible by 
disks attached at right angles to the cable. I believe these 
are best made of sheet-iron. A few large ones are far more 
effective than many small ones. The attachment can be effect- 
ed in many ways. One must then proceed as quickly as 
possible, in order to keep the angle acute. For the measure- 
ment of velocity I am now having made an electrical apparatus, 
which turns a large indicator by the side of the brake. The 
brake-wheel must indicate in the same way, so that at any 
moment the proportion of the velocity and of the exerted force 


may be known. The vessel must be well lighted, and the 
breaking of the wires must especially be kept in view. That 
the two wire - fractures did not entail the loss of the cable 
was a piece of luck such as seldom occurs. -- Altogether I 
think you have all reason to be satisfied with the result. I 
do not consider it difficult to recover the cable-end. I like- 
wise consider the repairing of the fourth injured wire feasible, 
if it is of importance to you. This granted, you have bought 
the experience and a right theory of laying cheap enough. If 
you choose to avail yourself of my proposals, you will in future 
be able to undertake a laying in perfect peace of mind and 
soon recoup yourself for past losses. With your new brake 
you should however make the experiment of severing the cable 
with a maximum strain. Mr. Newall told me before the arrival 
of the Elba that he could fracture the cable with his brake, 
but although on the day of laying we had lengthened the 
lever of the brake by a half, and had suspended at least twice 
as many weights as the lever and iron band could reasonably 
be supposed to stand, yet we had not reached such a force 
by a long way, apart from the great forces which were exerted 
during fluctuations and in the first mishap. With my own 
experiments I have unfortunately not succeeded much better 
than in England. I see however that one can certainly signal 
better in a metallic than in a semi-metallic circuit, and that 
it is impossible with long lines to signal through more than a 
single wire. The future belongs therefore to the metallic 
circuit, and the patent will be remunerative. I see further 
that our present construction of the induction telegraph acts 
remarkably well and accurately, and that several submarine 
translation stations may at pleasure be set up with absolute 
certainty, that thus e. g. there may be direct communication 
between England and India. Your apparatus for Malta- Corfu 
are despatched to-day. I am quite sure that they will do their 
work well. According to my present experience the inductors 
might have been smaller and therefore cheaper, but it is better 
to err on the safe side. Such fine and solid apparatus have 
never before been turned out in our workshops. The contacts 
have given the greatest trouble. Platinum burns too quickly 


with strong primary currents, we were therefore obliged to 
use everywhere an alloy of gold and platinum, which with 
thick pieces has its difficulties. Perhaps you will get along 
with half the inductors on the Malta line (one coil). You will 
thereby effect a considerable saving, as the great quantity of 
silk -covered wire is expensive. 

I beg you to let me know in good time when and where 
you wish to have the mechanician, and whether you think 
one enough. I think you should have plenty of intelligent 
assistants at your disposal, for any error may be very dangerous 
even with the best preparation. 

I send this letter direct to Birkenhead, where I imagine 
you still to be, and where William intended to visit you; may 
I ask you to let William have a look at it? 

Would it not be better do defer your Malta line to the 
winter, when you can more certainly reckon on calm weather? 
October is said to be a very dangerous month there, and 
the atmosphere does not become quieter before December. 

With sincere regards 

W. Siemens. 

The experience I acquired in the laying of the 
cable between Cagliari and Bona really convinced me, 
as expressed in the foregoing letter, that submarine 
cables of the right construction and carefully made 
ould be laid at any depth of water, and then also 
promised long and certain service. I therefore took 
especial pains to overcome the existing difficulties. 
For that purpose it was necessary to establish a 
systematic supervision of the manufacture of the cable, 
in order to obtain the certainty that no defect existed 
in the whole cable stored in the ship's hold. This 
.could only be effected by making the testing instruments 


sufficiently sensitive for measuring the insulating quality 
of the gutta-percha itself employed and indicating the 
same in figures. 

When the insulation -resistance of the conducting 
wires coated with this gutta-percha had then in a 
similar manner been determined numerically they were 
faultlessly insulated, provided the measured result 
agreed with the calculated. If the resistance of the 
conductor of the complete cable was not greater, and 
the resistance of the insulator of the same not less, 
than that ascertained by calculation, the cable might 
be regarded as faultless. 

It was not to be expected that such exact testings 
could be carried out by measuring currents. For deter- 
mining the position of faults, for which I had as early 
as 1850 found and published the necessary formulae, 
the inexact current-measurements were also insufficient. 

It was necessary therefore to have recourse to 
measurements of resistance, but for that there were 
still wanting good practical methods of measurement, 
and especially a fixed standard of resistance. Finally 
the knowledge of the physical properties of the jar 
wires, as I had termed the underground conductors 
on account of their property of acting as large Leyden 
jars, was still too undeveloped for planning long sub- 
marine lines without risk of failure. 

I had been intently occupied with the study of 
these questions since 1850. My labours belonged to 
the time when the great investigator Faraday astonished 

the scientific world with his fundamental discoveries. 



In Germany however many of the views of Faraday, 
particularly those of electrical distribution by molecular 
induction, being incompatible with prevailing theories, 
obtained but little credence. This induced me to study, 
without regard to existing theories, the question of 
electro-static induction, which was of extreme impor- 
tance for telegraphy according to my earlier experience. 
I finally obtained a complete confirmation of the views 
of Faraday, for the correctness of which I was fortunate 
enough to find new proofs. Unhappily being oftentimes 
interrupted in my labours by my strenuous technical 
activity I could not conclude my experiments before the 
spring of 1857, when I summarised their results in a 
paper published in Poggendorff's Annalen >k '0n electro- 
static induction and the retardation of the current in 
jar wires". 

It became clear to me from these experiments, 
that only by employing short intermittent currents was 
there any prospect of corresponding quickly on longer 
cable-lines. In a paper "The induction writing-telegraph 
of Siemens and Halske'' published in 1857 I described 
the mechanical expedients for accomplishing this task. 
They consisted essentially of a magnetically polarized 
relay, which was so constructed that its armature, when 
moved by a short impulse of current to the contact, 
remained attached to this, until a short current in the 
opposite direction carried it back to the insulated stop. 
The short intermittent currents were generated in the 
secondary coil of an inductor by the telegraphic cur- 
rents being sent through the primary coils of the same. 


When in the same year -- 1857 - - Messrs. Newall 
& Co. laid a cable -line from Cagliari to Malta and 
Corfu, I furnished the stations of this line with such 
induction writing telegraphs. A translation station was 
erected on the island of Malta, which made it possible 
to correspond by the thin cable direct between Cagliari 
and Corfu with satisfactory speed. In order to secure 
the good insulation of this as well as of other lines, 
which were to be laid in the eastern part of the Medi- 
terranean, my firm undertook the electrical testing of 
the insulated conductors in the cable-works of Messrs. 
Newall & Co. at Birkenhead. A talented young man, 
Mr. F. Jenkin, who afterwards made a name as an 
electrician, was assigned me as assistant. 

The cable-line through the Red Sea and Indian 
Ocean from Suez to Kurrachee in India, the execution of 
which had been intrusted to the firm of Newall & Co., 
brought me a very interesting task. My firm under- 
took for the latter the electrical supervision of the 
laying of this cable, as well as the furnishing and 
setting up of the necessary instruments. The most 
important of the cable-lines laid up to that time, that 
from Sardinia to Corfu, about 700 nautical miles long, 
hardly afforded a standard for the construction and 
working of a line of 3500 nautical miles in length, 
such as the proposed cable-line to India. According 
to previous experience it was possible by intermittent 
currents to work lines 700 nautical miles in length 
with safety and sufficient power. 

There were accordingly four or five intermediate 



stations to be set up between Suez and Kurrachee, 
which had to be provided with automatic translation, 
so as to be able to work without troublesome and 
embarrassing manual transferring of signals. The 
fitting up of these translation stations was however 
attended with peculiar difficulties in the case of long 
submarine lines, as the charge left in the cable produced 
disturbances, when as on the Corfu line it was un- 
desirable to telegraph with secondary currents. There 
were practical reasons moreover against the latter 
mode of operating, which especially consisted in the 
greater complexity of the whole arrangement. I accor- 
dingly constructed a new system of signalling apparatus, 
which was afterwards designated the "Red Sea system". 
In this, not intermitting currents produced by induction, 
but battery currents of varying direction, were employed. 
The effect of this was that after every word an inter- 
ruption of the second demagnetising battery, and a 
discharge of the cable, must occur, before the latter 
was again connected with the relay. For this purpose 
special simple contrivances were made use of, which 
were described at length in the account of the system, 
which I published in 1859 in the German - Austrian 
Telegraphic Journal, with the title "Apparatus for 
w r orking long submarine lines". In the first part of 
the line between Suez and Aden, which was laid in 
the spring of 1859, such translation stations were 
established at Cosseir and Suakim. They acted in a 
very reliable and satisfactory manner, so that it was 
possible to correspond with the Morse key provided 


with discharging contact as quickly as on land lines, 
whilst by excluding translation stations it w r as only 
possible to make oneself understood very slowly on 
the line of 1400 nautical miles in length. 

During my stay in Aden, however, I succeeded 
by a peculiar expedient in communicating quickly and 
certainly by the direct line also, and in rendering the 
intermediate translation stations superfluous. Through 
the study of the electric properties of underground 
conductors it had become clear to me that all the 
secondary currents, which confuse the telegraph signals, 
could best be avoided, if definite amounts of positive 
and negative electricity in proportion to the capacity 
of the cable were suddenly sent to the delivering end 
of the cable, and likewise at the receiving station only 
definite quantities of electricity were allowed to leave 
the cable. At first I thought to be able to attain 
this by the intercalation of a polarizing battery, 
possessing so large a number of elements and so small 
a surface of electrodes that the quantity of electricity 
necessary for reversing the battery just siifficed for 
moving the relay-bar. I had brought with me such a 
polarizing battery of 150 platinum elements, but found 
that the resistance of the battery did almost as much 
harm as the polarizing action did good. The fortunate 
circumstance however came to my assistance that the 
remnant of the cable of 150 nautical miles, or so, had 
been submerged from Aden, to be subsequently utilized 
for the further extension of the line. This was an 
electric condenser, which could not but accomplish, 


without the injurious resistance of the polarizing battery, 
what I had expected of the latter. I therefore had 
the more remote end of the cable insulated , when 
the laying was completed, and used the cable as an 
earth connection. The result was brilliant beyond 
expectation. The Morse writing could now not only 
be received direct from Suez without any difficulty, 
but to my surprise could also be sent there without 
lessening the speed of the signalling. 

This was the first employment of the condenser 
in submarine telegraphy, without which it would not 
have been possible to communicate on the long Atlantic 
lines with the speed and certainty now permitted by 
Thomson's mirror galvanometers. Instead of insulated 
lengths of cable, paper or mica condensers are now 
made use of, which we did not possess at that time. 

As regards the laying itself, I had introduced a 
systematic method for the control of the electric 
properties of the cable, which excluded all uncertainties 
and misunderstandings. A clock was set up at the 
starting point, which automatically insulated the end 
of the cable at definite intervals of time, then connected 
it with the earth, and finally with the telegraphic 
apparatus. The ship could therefore carry out all the 
measurements without the co-operation of the land 
station, and the like held good of the land station, 
which continuously telegraphed its measuring results to 
the vessel, so that the latter possessed the requisite data 
for calculating according to my formulae the situation 
of any suddenly occurring fault. This supervising 


method turned out to be extremely necessary, for the 
notoriously high temperature of the Red Sea softened 
the gutta-percha and thereby produced numerous faults. 
In spite of all the care that had been taken for their 
removal, it appeared on arriving in Aden that a - 
fortunately considerable, and therefore easily disco- 
verable defect existed in the cable, which rendered 
communication with the preceding station Suakim im- 
possible. The determination of the fault from Aden 
yielded the result that the defect was somewhere in 
the vicinity, i. e. in the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. 
Although Mr. Newall and his engineers had not much 

o O 

confidence in my determination of the position of the 
fault, yet the cable was fished up and cut close behind 
the place I had indicated, whereupon to the general 
surprise and joy it appeared that the part of the cable 
connected with Suakim was sound. The fault was situ- 
ated almost exactly at the calculated place, and was 
removed after inserting a short piece of new cable. 

Through this successful incident the "scientific 
humbug" had come all at once to honour. Success 
was rendered possible by my having entirely substituted 
resistance measurements for current measurements. A 
fixed standard of the resistance to electrical conductions 
did not then exist. Jacobi had tried indeed to introduce 
a purely empirical standard as general measure of 
resistance by sending to scientists and mechanicians 
pieces of copper wire of equal resistance, recommending 
them to take this resistance generally as unit. But it 
soon appeared that the resistances varied, and repeated 


copying magnified the variations by a large percentage. 
My firm had up to that time taken the resistance of 
a German mile (4 3 | 4 miles English) of copper wire of 
1 millimetre diameter as unit, and produced graduated 
scales of resistance on the basis of this unit. It 
appeared however that the copper itself with the 
utmost possible purity had essentially different specific 
resistance, and changed its resistance in the course of 
time. To adopt the absolute unit of Weber as funda- 
mental standard was rendered impossible by the then 
state of electrical measuring, which at the time made 
an agreement of the various productions of this unit 
unattainable. Under these circumstances I resolved 
to make pure mercury the basis of a reproducible 
standard of resistance , and proposed to take the 
resistance of a mercurial prism of 1 square millimetre 
in cross section and 1 metre in length at the freezing 
point of water as the unit of resistance. I shall return 
to this standard of resistance in the description of my 
papers on this subject , and shall only remark here 
that the scales of resistance with the mercury unit, 
regulated according to the weight system, prepared by 
my firm, proved extremely useful in laying the cable 
from Suez to Aden, and for the first time made reliable 
determinations of faults possible. - 

The cable -laying in the Red Sea was also rich 
in interesting personal experiences for myself. The very 
day after embarking at Trieste in the beginning of 
April, I was so fortunate as to witness a splendid 
zodiacal light in the evening sky. Scientists contended 


then, and still contend, concerning the cause of this 
phenomenon. I believe those to be in the right, who 
see in the zodiacal light a proof, that the air charged 
with aqueous vapour, rising in the equatorial zone with 
increased velocity, forms a high ring above this zone, 
which is further enhanced by the effect of centrifugal 
force. The appearance answered to the pictures one 
sees in manuals of physics, and lasted about an hour 
before it became quite extinct. 

After an agreeable, calm passage we arrived in 
splendid weather at Corfu, where we stopped several 
hours, and had time to make acquaintance with the 
interesting town and its splendid environment. At that 
time the Ionian islands belonged to England. When 
after a number of years I again visited Corfu it had 
meanwhile passed into the hands of the Greeks, and 
the town appeared to me considerably decayed and 
poverty-stricken compared with its former appearance. 

In the finest weather we sailed through the Adri- 
atic and Mediterranean, so rich in historical associa- 
tions, disembarked at Alexandria and travelled by the 
just opened railway to Cairo, where we stopped a few 
days to give the ship Agamemnon, laden with the cable, 
and which made the journey round the Cape of Good 
Hope, the necessary time for arriving in Suez. I used 
this opportunity for an inspection of the town, which 
interested me and my engineers in the highest degree 
by its rich historical memorials and as the point of 
junction of the civilizations of Europe and Asia. When 
on the 14th of April we visited the pyramid of Cheops 


we had the good fortune to observe on its apex an 
interesting physical phenomenon, of which I subse- 
quently gave an account in PoggendorfF s Annalen 
under the title, "Description of unusually strong elec- 
trical phenomena on the Cheops Pyramid near Cairo 
during the blowing of the Chamsin." 

During our donkey ride from Cairo to the pyramid 
there arose an unusually cold desert wind, which was 
accompanied by a peculiar ruddy colour of the horizon. 
During our ascent or rather our transport by the Arabs, 
who always encamp by the Gizeh pyramids, and do 
not allow the office to be taken from them of carry- 
ing or rather throwing the visitors up the steps, each 
a yard high, the wind assumed a tempest-like force, 
so that it was to a certain extent difficult to keep 
oneself upright on the flattened apex of the pyramid. 
The raised desert dust had now become so thick that 
it appeared like a white mist, and altogether obscured 
the view of the ground. It gradually rose higher and 
higher, and after some time wrapped even the summit 
on which I with my ten engineers was standing. Then 
a remarkable hissing noise was heard, which could not 
have been caused by the wind itself. One of the 
Arabs called my attention to the fact that by raising 
his outstretched finger above his head a sharp singing 
sound arose, which ceased as soon as he lowered his 
hand. I found this confirmed when I myself raised a 
finger above my head; at the same time I noticed a 
prickling sensation in my finger. That we had to do 
with an electrical phenomenon appeared from the 


circumstance that a slight electrical shock was felt 
when one tried to drink out of a wine bottle. By 
wrapping a piece of damp paper round it. I trans- 
formed such a filled bottle, having a metallically coated 
neck, into a Leyden jar. which was strongly charged 
when one held it high above one's head. It was then 
possible to obtain loud cracking sparks, of about 
1 centimetre range. This established in an unequivocal 
manner the electrical properties of the desert wind 
which had been already before observed by travellers. 

In the further course of our experiments I had 
occasion to prove that electricity can also be service- 
able as an effective defensive weapon. The Arabs 
had at once observed with manifest distrust the flashes 
darting from our wine bottles. They then held a brief 
council, and at a signal every one of my companions 
was laid hold of, to be forcibly transported down again, 
by the three men who had brought him there. I was 
standing just on the highest point of the pyramid, a 
large stone cube in the centre of the flattened summit, 
when the sheik of the tribe approached, and communi- 
cated to me through our interpreter that the tribe had 
resolved we should immediately leave the pyramid. On 
being asked the reason, he replied that we manifestly 
practised magic, and that might injure the source of 
their livelihood, the pyramid. 

When I refused to comply with his request, he 
made a dash at my left hand, whilst I held the right 
with the well -coated bottle in a manifestly conjur- 
ing attitude - high above my head. I had waited 


for this moment and now lowered the neck of the 
bottle slowly towards his nose. When I touched it I 
myself felt a strong concussion, to judge from which 
the sheik must have received a violent shock. He fell 
speechless to the ground, and several seconds elapsed, 
making me somewhat anxious, before with a sudden 
cry he raised himself, and sprang howling down the 
steps of the pyramid with giant leaps. When the Arabs 
perceived this, and heard the sheik's continuous cry 
of "magic", they one and all abandoned their prey and 
plunged after him. In a few minutes the battle was 
over, and we were absolute masters of the pyramid. 
Anyhow Napoleon had not such an easy "victory at 
the foot of the pyramids" as I had at their summit! 

As the blowing of the Chamsin soon ceased, and 
the sun again brightly illuminated the imperilled pyra- 
mid, the Arabs recovered from their terror, and 
clambered up again so as not to lose the expected 
"backsheesh". Even at our peaceful leave-taking 
however they evidently still regarded us with sus- 
picion on account of our magical powers. 

Nor were there wanting some small adventures 
by sea during this cable - laying. The weather was 
thoroughly calm and fine, as is always the case in the 
Red Sea, where a rain-fall is a great rarity; only the 
enervating heat was inconvenient. My travelling thermo- 
meter indicated by day nearly always 100 and by 
night 102 Fahr. , a temperature, which with our nor- 
thern strength is indeed borne tolerably long without 
difficulty, but which in the long run becomes extremely 


troublesome. By day one lives in a perpetual conflict 
with the sun, from whose rays head and back must 
be carefully protected. By night the hoped for cool- 
ing is entirely wanting. The splendour of the starry 
southern heavens with the truly Egyptian darkness of 
the nights is indeed imposing, but it does not make 
up for the desired refreshing breeze. 

One night, as I was in my test -room supervising 
the insulation of the cable between Cosseir and Suakim, 
I suddenly heard loud shouting and violent commotion 
on board. The man at the ship's head, entrusted with 
the continuous soundings, had fallen overboard. As 
the whole deck was well lighted with gas, many 
of the people busy there could see the man calling 
lustily for help in the water and throw him life -belts, 
kept ready everywhere on board. The vessel was 
stopped and boats put out, which disappeared for an 
uncomfortably long time in the darkness of the night. 
At last they returned triumphant. The man had kept 
himself afloat by swimming, and had been lucky enough 
not to be seized by any of the numerous sharks, which 
disport themselves in the Red Sea, and are said to 
have an especial appetite for white people, whilst they 
rarely molest the black. He was trembling violently 
when brought on board, and had his knife still open 
in his hand. Questioned as to what had befallen him, 
he related that he had been surrounded by a number 
of sharks, but luckily had been able to draw his knife, 
and defend himself till the boats arrived. We all felt 
a cold shiver at the vivid description of his perils 


and combats. The boatswain just then stepped into 
the ring, which had been formed round the man, and 
announced to the captain that some of the life -belts, 
which had been thrown to the unfortunate man. had 
been recovered, and that several of them curiously 
showed signs of having been pierced with a knife. 
The man in his terror had taken the white rings for 
sharks' bellies - - the shark, as is well known, turning 
on his back when preparing to snap. 

The shark plays an important part in the sailor's 
life in the torrid zone, as he spoils the mariner's re- 
freshing bath. The sailor therefore passionately hates 
him and tortures the animal with glee, if he succeeds 
in getting hold of one. I was witness when two 
powerful sharks, at least twelve feet long, were 
caught on a small flesh -baited anchor, and brought 
on board. It was rather dangerous to approach them. 
They had immense strength and so tough a life, that 
even after having been disembowelled they still lashed 
about with their tails. 

When we lay at anchor in the harbour of Suakim 
it was strictly forbidden to bathe, as very many sharks 
were disporting themselves in the neighbourhood. One 
evening after sunset, which is there quickly succeeded 
by perfect darkness, we were sitting as usual at dinner 
on deck, when suddenly "shark" was called by several 
voices, and at the same time the cry of a man for 
help resounded. The boats were lowered, and in the 
light streaming from the ship something could be 
clearly discerned moving in the water, which was taken 


for a shark. Several ran for their revolvers, which 
lay always ready, as it was a common sport to shoot 
at empty soda water bottles thrown into the water 
during the progress of the vessel. Luckily before the 
commencement of the cannonade it became apparent 
that the supposed shark was a sailor who, contrary 
to the prohibition, was taking a bath, and had been 
alarmed by his comrades' cry of "shark!" 

Arrived at Suakim we soon received a visit from 
the highest officials , the Turkish pasha and the 
governor of the place. They were both extremely 
dignified figures, who moved with oriental gravity, and 
carefully avoided all appearance of being astonished at 
anything. A carpet was spread for them, and tchi- 
bouk and coffee served. They smoked and drank 
with dignity, without regarding us, who were standing- 
round them. My friend William Meyer, who accom- 
panied the expedition, said "Look Werner, what a 
splendid fellow that is with the fine white beard; he 
might be exhibited in Berlin for money!" To our 
astonishment the individual in question turned slowly 
towards us and said in the purest Berlin dialect: "Oh, 
you speak German?" On our replying that we were 
Germans, but were surprised that he could speak 
German, he answered: "I 'm also from Berlin. Call 
upon me!" Then he turned his head back in a digni- 
fied manner, and took no further notice of us. Meyer 
called upon him next day, and made the acquaintance 
of a thoroughly sociable man when not in Turkish 
company. He had left Berlin as journeyman tailor and 


gone out into the world fifty years ago, was making 
for India when he was wrecked in the Red Sea off 
Suakim, stayed there, became a Mohammedan and finally 
chief of the town. At the same time he had become 
a rich man. He showed my friend all his possessions, 
he was only unwilling in spite of all requests to show 
him his harem, and at last earnestly forbade him to 
speak about his wives. 

When we had finished our business in Aden I 
wished to return with Meyer to Europe as quickly as 
possible by the next steamer of the Peninsular and 
Oriental Company, the Alma. Messrs. Newall and Gordon 
contemplated doing the same. When the steamer ar- 
rived it was however quite full, and they refused 
to take us. Only through an order of the Governor 
of Aden, procured by Mr. Newall, were we able to 
carry out our purpose, though but as deck passengers, 
no cabins being vacant. We had no objection to this, 
as during our several months' stay on the Red Sea 
we had always slept in our clothes on deck, as the 
heat below was insufferable. 

On board we found arrangements of a really 
luxurious character, and an elegant social life almost 
to be styled epicurean, which contrasted strongly with 
our recent existence. Ladies and gentlemen changed 
often in the day their elegant toilets, and two bands 
of music took it in turns to lessen the tedium of 
the voyage. We appeared very much out of place 
in our ragged garments in this fine circle, and the 
glances of the ladies that fell upon us betrayed indeed 


intense astonishment at such an unseemly addition to 
the ship's company. Nevertheless we were presented 
by the first lieutenant to the highest in rank of the 
company, the English Ambassador to China, who had 
just happily succeeded in bringing on the Anglo-French 
war with China. He graciously gave us an audience, 
and exchanged a few words with each of us in his 
mother tongue, being rather proud of his own extensive 
linguistic acquirements and delighting to display them. 
At the approach of night each sought his camping 
place on deck, but our rest was long disturbed by 
the ladies, who could not make up their minds to 
return to the stifling cabins. 

We had slept only a few hours, when we were 
rudely awakened from our dreams. A violent shock 
caused the ship to tremble, two others followed still 
more violent, and when we had sprung up in alarm 
we felt the ship heeling over. I had luckily not taken 
off my boots, only laid aside hat and spectacles. When 
I looked round for these, I perceived my hat already 
on the way to the sinking ship's side, and involun- 
tarily followed it in the same direction. Wild, terri- 
fied, ear-piercing shrieks resounded on all sides, then 
a general clatter, as everything on deck was taking its 
course to the deep. Everybody instinctively made for the 
higher part of the ship, most were able to reach it. I came 
off worse, having lost time in my search for hat and 
spectacles. Already the water streamed over the ship's 
side, and warned me to think of my own safety. The 

deck had in a few seconds assumed so oblique a po- 



sition that it was no longer possible to clamber up it. 
But necessity gives giant strength. Piling up chairs 
and tables I managed to reach a rope, visible in 
the bright moonshine, which hung down from the 
elevated part of the ship, and climb up by its assi- 

Above I found almost the whole ship's company 
already assembled, and awaiting with admirable com- 
posure the development of the drama. Then faint 
cries of women for help broke the stillness of the 
night, and some one called out that there were 
still many ladies in the already half -flooded cabins. 
Everybody was ready to assist in rescuing them, 
but this was very difficult to accomplish, as the 
smooth deck, lying already at an angle of more 
than 30, offered no longer a foot-hold. My rope 
now did good service. A seaman, familiar with the 
ship's structure, let himself down to the entrance of 
the cabin, and fastened a lady to it, whom we then 
pulled up. That proceeded however too slowly, for a 
large number still waited to be rescued. Accordingly 
with the help of further ropes a living chain was 
soon formed, by which the poor trembling ladies, for 
the most part surprised in their beds by the water 
streaming through the opened cabin windows, were 
lifted up from hand to hand. If an impediment occurred 
anywhere the word "stop!" was given, and then every- 
body had to sustain his burden until the furthering 
process could be continued. At one of these pauses I 
beheld by the moonshine in the dripping lady, anxiously 


clinging to me, the proud young Creole, whom we 
had admired at a modest distance, a few hours be- 
fore, surrounded by a crowd of adorers which her 
beauty had attracted. 

The rapid sinking of the ship, after striking upon 
a concealed coral rock, was explained by the circum- 
stance already mentioned that the cabin windows had 
all been open, and the water therefore found unimpeded 
access into the hold. The vessel soon lay entirely on 
her side, and the great question, on which now the 
life or death of every living being on it depended, was 
whether it would assume a position of rest, or cap- 
size, and hurl us one and all into the deep. 

I erected for myself a little observatory, with the 
help of which I could note the further inclination of 
the ship by the position of a particularly brilliant 
star, and proclaimed from minute to minute the result 
of my observations. These communications were awaited 
with great anxiety. The cry "stand -still!" was greeted 
with short joyful murmurs, that of "sunk further!" 
answered by various doleful exclamations. At last no 
further sinking was observable, and the paralysing fear 
of death gave place to energetic efforts for effecting 
our safety. 

By the light of the moon and the glittering starry 
sky we could distinctly perceive that we had run 
upon a large rock, rising at one point tolerably high 
above the water, and now only a few hundred yards 
from us. The life -boats fastened on the lee -side 

could be lowered without much difficulty, and then in 



conformity with traditional English sea-faring practice 
the women and children were first put on shore. That 
was in truth extremely unpractical, as on the land the 
poor creatures were in a desperately helpless condition, 
but the principle had to be rigorously observed. 

When at day -break the turn of William Meyer 
and myself came, we found the ladies almost without 
exception in an extremely lamentable plight, as they 
were very sparingly clad, and for the most part 
shoeless. The rock, perhaps never before trodden by 
human foot, was everywhere covered by jagged coral, 
which drew blood from the unprotected feet. Here 
help was most needed. I belonged to the lucky ones 
who possessed boots, and had also saved my pocket 
knife. I accordingly returned with the next boat to 
the wreck, and fished out a thick mat of linoleum and 
another of finer material, with which I then opened a 
sandal workshop on shore. My friend, who had not 
been so fortunate as to have saved his boots, was the 
first to receive a pair of sandals, and then in gratitude 
undertook to fit the ladies crouching motionless on the 
ground with similar articles. He still remembered years 
after with delight the grateful glances from beautiful 
eyes, which this Samaritan service procured him. 

But what next? On Whitsunday morning about 
five hundred persons were sitting on a bare coral rock 
a couple of acres or so in extent, and about eight 
leagues out of the usual ships' course. We had in 
the fine calm night, in which probably helmsman and 
look-out had fallen quietly to sleep, run on the notorious 


coral bank lying to the south of the Harnish islands, 
and which is given a wide berth by all ships. We 
could the less depend on a chance rescue, as the total 
absence of drinking water rendered long waiting for 
help impossible. The vessel indeed had not sunk 
entirely, and we could save provisions of all kinds in 
sufficient quantity , but the water -tank had become 
filled with sea-water, and the distilling apparatus, which 
was used for producing the needful fresh water, could 
not be lifted out of its place. The water still found 
in the cabins formed therefore our sole supply, on 
whose sparing use it depended how long we should 
be able to continue the struggle for existence. 

But yet another serious danger threatened us. 
The crews of the fine large steamers of the Peninsular 
and Oriental Company, which then worked the service 
between Suez and India, consisted almost wholly of 
natives, as Europeans are not able to stand the climate 
of the Red Sea for any length of time. Among the 
150 persons or thereabouts, who formed the Alma's 
crew, there w r ere thus, with the exception of the 
ship's officers, only three or four Europeans. The 
captain was ill, and is said to have died from the effects 
of the excitement soon after the shipwreck. The 
officers had by their bad management of the vessel 
lost the men's respect, and could no longer maintain 
discipline among them. The latter began therefore to 
mutiny, refused obedience, broke open the travellers' 
trunks, and behaved rudely to the ladies. In these 
straits a sort of government came spontaneously into 


existence. The most active of the younger men, in- 
cluding a number of English officers on their way 
home from India, took possession of the old muskets with 
bayonets, which were rather for ornament than for real 
use in the vessel, and proclaimed martial law. A recal- 
citrant drunken sailor was knocked down, and on the 
summit of the rocky eminence a gallows was erected as 
a sign of our authority. Thither, too, all the recovered 
provisions were taken, and a guard-tent was set up, 
before which a sentinel patrolled. This had a calming 
effect and reduced the crew to submission. 

It was above all things necessary to obtain 
protection from the sun, which at this time of year 
shone vertically down on the island at mid-day. 
Accordingly a certain number began busily to occupy 
themselves in erecting tents with the help of sails and 
yards. Further a kitchen was contrived, and the pro- 
visions , especially the water and the stock of beer 
and wine, were stored safely. In these operations 
Mr. Gisborne, the leading engineer of the cable-laying, 
was especially prominent, and exercised a sort of 
dictatorship on the island. Mr. Newall had at break 
of day immediately gone with one of the three boats, 
which were at our disposal, to Mokka, the nearest 
place on the Arabian coast, to seek assistance. He 
did not find any there however - perhaps because 
the recent bombardment of Djedda by the English had 
caused a very unfavourable feeling towards Europeans 
- and therefore proceeded further towards the Straits 
of Bab-el-Mandeb in the hope of falling in with a vessel. 


This voyage in a frail open boat was a bold enterprise, 
but our only hope depended on it. And in reality it 
succeeded, thanks to a splendid telescope, which I had 
had made for my journey by Steinheil in Munich. 

For when the English man-of-war, which had left 
Aden a few days after us to visit the intermediate 
stations, and take off our engineers, had passed in 
the early morning the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb , our 
engineer Dr. Esselbach was standing on deck, searching 
with my telescope the vast unbroken expanse. He 
descried a white point, which he took to be the 
sail of a European boat, as the natives only use 
brown sails. He called the attention of the ship's 
officers, and lastly of the captain himself, to it, 
who with my telescope convinced himself of the 
correctness of the observation, and at once directed 
his course to the white point. To the great surprise 
of everybody this soon developed into the boat of the 
passenger steamer well known to the seamen, and al- 
ready in the far distance Mr. Newall was recognised 
by his striking long white beard. 

Meanwhile the life on the coral rock had rolled 
on as might have been expected. From 9 o'clock in 
the morning to 4 o'clock in the afternoon we were 
obliged to lie quietly under the roofs of our tents, to 
enable us the better to resist the glare of the sun and 
not to excite too great a craving for drink. Then 

O O 

the cooking began, and we dined as well as we could, 
each of us getting on the first days a . small bottle of 
pale ale, as the water was reserved for the women and 


children. Wine, which was also to be had, no one could 
stand; it heated the blood to such a degree that those 
who tried to drink it got ill. The first two days all went 
passably well, but then great lassitude and despondency 
began to set in. Faithful old servants refused to 
perform small services, even though gold pieces were 
offered them. Even the sheep and dogs, which had 
been brought to land, lost all vitality. They pushed 
with resistless force under the tent-covers, and chose 
rather to be killed than subjected to the pitiless rays 
of the sun. The pigs alone excelled even the human 
beings in endurance; they kept incessantly exploring 
the island, until they dropt dead in their struggle for 

On the third day a small number of us , who 
still possessed sufficient force and self-control to per- 
form work when the sun was low, succeeded in 
breaking through the outer wall of the ship and 
obtaining access to the ice-room. Certainly there was 
no longer any ice to be found there, but a moderate 
quantity still of cold water. This was likewise reserved 
for the numerous women and children, but every one 
who had assisted in the work received as reward a 
glass of cold fresh water. Many years after I have 
often gratefully remembered that refreshing draught 
when tormented and parched with thirst. 

When the fourth day passed without prospect of 
release , dull despair took possession of even the 
stoutest hearted. A steamship , whose smoke we 
descried in the far distance had gone its way without 


discovering us. On the following morning the cry 
was again raised "steamer in sight!" but the cry this 
time only awakened feeble hope. Still the smoke came 
nearer, and the already slumbering vital spirits awoke 
anew. The ship now approached, now moved off 
again; hope began to spring up that it was seeking us. 
Then at last it seemed to perceive our signals, it steered 
its course straight for the island. No more doubting! 
Rescue was at hand, and its certainty made the almost 
dead alive again. We recognised our companion ship 
in the cable-laying and Newall, our saviour, on board. 
The scenes, that were now enacted, are never to be 
forgotten. On the ship all was astir for effecting the 
landing. Nobody appeared to notice the many-hundred- 
voiced jubilation that greeted the ship's crew. The 
anchor rattled down, and the boats shot into the water. 
They brought casks full of water, and flat wooden 
vessels, which were then placed on land and filled 
by stout sailors hands. Mr. Newall had informed 
them that we were in want of water, and their 
first thought was' to quench our thirst. Every 
one made a rush for the large wooden vessels and 
tried with hollow hand to scoop up the water. 
But that was a slow affair, and others kept pres- 
sing forward. Accordingly the head was simply lowered 
and the delicious fluid swallowed in greedy draughts. 
The beasts too had scented the water and pressed 
forward with irresistible energy, although they had 
been lying for whole days as dead under the tent- 
covers. A huge wether pushed everybody aside, and 


plunged its own head into the vessel between that of 
a fair blonde and a negro, without the latter being 
at all disturbed. Pictures, assuredly never to be for- 
gotten by those who gazed upon them. 

As the number of about five hundred passengers 
and ship -folk was too large to be transported by the 
small man-of-war, the captain determined to leave the 
crew on the island under a guard of sailors from the 
war-ship, to be kept under strict discipline on account 
of their mutinous behaviour , but to take all the 
passengers on board and convey them to Aden. So 
we arrived, packed in fearfully close quarters on the 
deck of the little ship, again in Aden, where the 
telegraphic news of our arrival in Suez had already 
been anxiously awaited. By order of the governor of 
Aden the next homeward-bound passenger steamer had 
to take up almost the entire number of the shipwrecked, 
in spite of its being already overcrowded. But we 
gladly bore the inconveniences of this passage, and of 
the further one from Alexandria to Marseilles , and 
thanked God that we had not met with a tragic end 
on the lone coral rocks of the Harnish Islands. 

Neither in Cairo nor in Alexandria had we leisure 
to improve our very defective external appearance. 
Nearly all had lost their whole baggage in the ship- 
wreck, and most of us were without funds. Not be- 
fore Paris, whither we travelled without stopping, was 
an opportunity afforded for a fresh outfit. We were 
all obliged to travel by way of Marseilles, as the har- 
bour of Trieste was blockaded by the French, and the 


journey through Italy was impossible on account of 
the war in Lombardy. The news of the declaration 
of war by France and of the death of Alexander 
von Humboldt I had received in the Red Sea during 
the cable -laying. The subsequent great political events 
had also been communicated to us through the cable, 
so that we had remained well-informed of the events 
of the world. 

For the rest Meyer and I narrowly escaped being- 
left behind in Malta. The captain of the French 
passenger steamer emphatically declared that he could 
take no passengers to Marseilles without passports, that 
we must therefore provide ourselves with passports in 
Malta, if we had lost our own in the shipwreck. When 
the captain presented us to the respective consuls as 
shipwrecked persons handed over to him in Alexandria, 
all the rest received consular passports without any 
difficulty; the Prussian consul alone, a commercial man 
who had settled there and been entrusted with this 
office, declared that he possessed no authorization, 
as we could produce no regular evidence of identity. 
Only after some stormy scenes did he give in, and 
we were able to reach the ship just before its de- 

The Indian line was extended in the following 
year from Aden to Kurrachee, William Meyer super- 
intending the electrical arrangements. Unfortunately 
the line did not long remain in a serviceable con- 
dition. Defects of insulation, which impeded corre- 
spondence, showed themselves already in the Ked Sea 


cable in the course of the extension of the line to 
India. Our electricians attempted repairs indeed, where- 
by all the more serious faults were removed, but new 
ones constantly made their appearance, which already 
in the following year rendered the whole line unservi- 
ceable, since the cable in the Red Sea was held fast 
at the bottom by coral formations and therefore could 
not be raised and repaired. The reason of this un- 
fortunate failure was mainly owing to the circumstance 
that the contractors had laid the cable, not in deep 
water in the middle of the sea, but near the Nubian 
coast, in the proximity of the intermediate stations, 
in shallow water, where the formation of coral pro- 
ceeds very rapidly at the sea -bottom. People had 
not yet come to see that with submarine cables not 
cheapness but excellence is in the first place to be 
aimed at. It was apt to be forgotten that a single 
defect, if it cannot be repaired, spoils the whole cable, 
and that from any defect of insulation, however small 
a greater one is sure to arise in course of time. Al- 
most all the submarine cables laid in early days by 
the English both those in the Channel, in the 

Mediterranean and Red Sea, and also the first Atlantic 
cable, which was laid in the summer of 1858 by the 
engineer Whitehouse after an unsuccessful attempt in 
the preceding year - - came to grief, because in the 
construction and fittings, as well as in the testings and 
laying, correct principles had not been followed. 

It was the perception of this fact that led the 
English Government in the year 1859 to entrust the 


control of the preparation and the testing of cables, 
which it contemplated laying, to our London firm. In 
these testings for the first time a consistent rational 
system was adopted, which afforded assurance that 
the completed cable was faultless, if the conductivity 
of the copper conductor and the resistance of the in- 
sulating covering entirely corresponded to the specific 
resistances of the materials employed. The result was 
that the insulation of these new cables was more than 
ten times as great as had been the case in previous 
submarine cables. 

My brother William and I communicated in July 
1860 to the British Association the substance of the 
report delivered to the English Government on the 
performance of these testings and the methods and 
formulae employed in a paper read by William, entitled 
"Outline of the principles and practice involved in 
testing the electrical conditions of submarine cables", 
and in this way we made our experiences public 

Since then no cables with defective insulation 
have been laid, and their durability has proved satis- 
factory wherever mischief has not been wrought by 
local causes or external violence. In cables laid in 
shallow water - - both in the Mediterranean and also 
in the Black Sea - - such a destructive agency presented 
itself in the shape of a small beetle belonging to a 
group particularly dangerous to wooden ships (Xylo- 
phaga). In the cables without iron sheathing laid by the 
firm of Newall & Co. in the eastern part of the Medi- 


terranean a large part of the hemp covering the con- 
ductor insulated by gutta-percha was eaten away 
before the end of the year. Moreover the little 
animals had frequently attacked the gutta-percha itself, 
and there were numerous places where they had bored 
right through to the copper, and thereby entirely 
destroyed the insulation. Even an iron sheathing does 
not completely prevent destruction by the wood-worm 
of a cable laid in shallow water, as places at which 
an outer wire has been fractured afford it access, and 
as the young brood can make their way through the 
interstices of the protecting wires and then grow to a 
dangerous size within the protecting covering. To 
obviate this danger brother William had constructed 
a special cable for shallow water, in which strands 
of the best hemp twisted round the conductors, insu- 
lated by gutta-percha or caoutchouc, gave the cable 
the necessary support, whilst a layer of strips of 
copper - sheathing placed over one another in the 
manner of scales was destined to protect the core of 
the cable from the wood -worm. Our London firm, 
which meanwhile had set up a good-sized mechanical 
workshop and a cable factory of its own at Charlton 
near Woolwich, received an order for such a cable 
from the French government for a line between Car- 
tagena and Oran. The then director-general of the 
French telegraphs, M. de Vougie, had already expended 
much money in attempts to lay a cable from the French 
to the Algerian coast, without having obtained a satis- 
factory telegraphic communication. He now wished to 


effect this in the cheapest way by a very light cable 
via Spain, and entrusted us with the preparation and 
laying of a copper -sheathed cable between Cartagena 
and Oran. 

The French Government had stipulated for the 
procuring of the steamer as well as for its manning and 
officering by members of the imperial marine. The 
director-general, who was well known to me, as we had 
both served on the jury of the Paris Exhibition of 
1855, intended to be present at the laying. William 
and I desired jointly to supervise the proceedings, and 
we accordingly met in December 1863 in Madrid. 
I travelled from Moscow, where I had happened to be 
detained, via St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Paris, almost 
without break of journey in five days. 

My brother had meanwhile --in 1859 -- married 
the sister of the before -mentioned Mr. Gordon, a clever 
and charming lady. He brought his wife with him to 
Madrid, as she insisted on sharing the toils and the 
possible dangers of the enterprise. In Madrid it was 
unpleasantly cold and windy, so that I could not per- 
ceive that the climate had much improved since my 
leaving Moscow. We soon continued our journey to Aran- 
juez, Valencia, and Alicante, without even there finding 
a more genial temperature. The winter was unusually 
cold for Spain, and it was a curious sight to see on 
the whole way from Alicante to Cartagena date-palms 
and orange -trees abundantly laden with golden fruit 
covered with snow. Even in Cartagena, where we 
had to wait some days for the cable -ship, it was so 


bitterly cold in the houses destitute of fireplaces or 
stoves, that my sister-in-law often afterwards declared, 
that my fur brought from Russia had prevented her 
from freezing in Spain. It was not before Oran that 
we thawed again. The necessary preparations were 
soon made, and we rejoiced in the hope that the 
whole laying would be over in a few days. But "there's 
many a slip between the cup and the lip'' - after four 
weeks' toil and undergoing of grave dangers we had 
lost the cable, and had to congratulate ourselves that 
we had not also sustained loss of health or life. 

Judged from the cool standpoint of advanced age 
this cable-laying was an egregious piece of folly, since 
cable, ship, and mode of laying were utterly inade- 
quate. As an excuse for our nevertheless undertaking 
it only the following reasons can be offered. We 
desired under any circumstances to lay a cable of our 
own, because we saw that our inventions and expe- 
riences were being turned to account by English con- 
tractors without any regard for us, and even without 
our undoubted services in the development of sub- 
marine telegraphy being so much as mentioned: and 
further, and perhaps mainly, because the cable- construc- 
tion and paying-out arrangements devised by brother 
William were so well conceived and interesting, that 
we had not the heart to leave them unused. 

The cable would have been excellent in every 
respect if it had remained in the condition in which 
it left the factory. We were however unfortunately 
soon convinced that its proper breaking strain had been 


much impaired, although the hempen strands were 
supposed to be prevented from "dry rot" by being 
impregnated with a solution of tannin. In spite of its 
light weight it was hardly strong enough any longer 
to be laid with safety in the considerable depths be- 
tween the Algerian and Spanish coasts. Still worse 
almost was it that my brother had invented for the 
laying a new mechanism, which was now to be tried 
for the first time. It consisted in the cable being coiled 
round a large drum with stationary axis, which was to 
be turned for the winding and unwinding of the cable 
by a specially constructed small steam-engine. This con- 
trivance, though carried out in a very ingenious manner 
by my brother, yet appeared to me very dubious, for 
the uniform rotation of so heavy a drum, especially 
in a rough sea, was connected with difficulties, whose 
extent could not be foreseen, and the portion of cable 
unrolled by the revolving drum could only be properly 
estimated when the ship's velocity, the ocean- depth, 
and the currents were at all times exactly known. 
But as the weather was calm and fair, and I had 
moreover constructed an electrically worked velocity- 
meter, which I desired to test, and which, as I hoped, 
would always accurately indicate the ship's speed, we 
resolved to make the attempt in spite of the decreased 
strength of the cable. 

Unfortunately my fears proved to be justified. 
After the heavy shore -cable had been laid, and the 
laying of the light copper cable , connected with it, 
had proceeded for perhaps an hour without disturbance, 




so that my hope of success already noticeably rose. 
the cable suddenly broke and sank in the rather deep 
water, without any apparent reason. It was impossible 
to pick up again the cable already laid, as it was 
held fast at the sea -bottom by huge boulders. We 
had in consequence not sufficient cable left to under- 
take a laying to Cartagena, determined therefore to 
take the shorter course to Almeria, and in the first 
place to run across, with the object of searching for 
a suitable landing place. 

The trip to Almeria with glorious weather and 
mirror-like sea was enchanting. The town is masked 
by a hilly neck of land, which stretches far into the 
sea. For our purpose this fine situation was certainly 
rather unfavourable, for it compelled us to make so 
wide a circuit round the promontory that the smaller 
linear distance from Oran was thereby almost neutralised. 
We landed however in order to take in stores, and 
enjoyed the hospitality of the inhabitants, who would 
not be denied giving us a festive reception and im- 
provising in our honour an entertainment in the theatre. 
What most surprised us at this entertainment was the 
classical beauty of the women, whose features were 
undoubtedly of Moorish type. One young girl in par- 
ticular struck us, who by the unanimous vote of our 
ship's company, composed of all nationalities of western 
Europe, was pronounced the ideal of female beauty. 

We did not dream on that enjoyable evening that 
the next day would bring us dangers, the surmounting 
of which still appears to me little short of miraculous. 


Rightly to understand what followed it must be 
borne in mind that our ship had not been built for 
cable-laying, but had only been procured in the 
English market ad hoc by the French government. 
It was an English coasting-vessel, whose former function 
had been to tow colliers to London. These ships 
are not built for the open sea; they have a flat bottom, 
no keel, and no high prow for breaking the waves. 
The hold of this unfavourably constructed ship was 
for the most part occupied by a huge wooden drum, 
with fixed iron axis, on which the whole cable was 
wound ; the load was therefore very unfavourably 
distributed for the open sea. But the weather was 
uninterruptedly fine, and the sea calm. This changed 
somewhat when, after leaving Almeria, we had rounded 
the promontory, and saw the open sea before us. 
A moderate breeze was blowing from the south-west, 
and masses of black clouds hung behind the neck of 
land along the coast. Then it struck us that the 
nearest of these dark lowering clouds was continued 
to the sea -level by a long prolongation, and that the 
sea beneath was in wild commotion, so that it appeared 
in the unbroken sunshine as a dazzling and jagged ice- 
field. Our vessel passed, according to our reckoning, 
about two leagues off this high foaming field, which 
was perhaps half a league broad, whilst the length 
could not be estimated. It was surprising that the 
prolongation, coalescing bluntly with the cloud above 
and then tapering quickly, did not come quite in 

contact with the heaving surface of the water, but 



remained separated from it by a clearly discernible 
interval. There was also no special elevation to be 
perceived of the foaming surface beneath , but the 
whole surface appeared to be raised uniformly as high 
as a house above the level of the sea. The end of 
the protuberance at the same time executed an un- 
doubted circular movement above the white part of 
the sea, so that it returned about every ten or twenty 
minutes to the same point. 

Unfortunately we could not long continue the 
observation of this interesting spectacle , a so - called 
water-spout, as it rather quickly drew off along the 
coast in an easterly direction, and we were also diverted 
from it by another remarkable phenomenon. For the 
ship began of a sudden to rock with such violence 
that we could only with difficulty maintain an upright 
position. They were short high waves , so - called 
dead sea, over which we were being borne. Clearly 
we were following in the wake of the water -spout. 
The violent rockings of the ship made the captain, 
who was well acquainted with its construction, very 
anxious indeed ; he kept however his course in the 
direction of the troughs of the waves, in the hope of 
soon coming again into calmer water. Then dull short 
blows struck upon my ears, which made the ship 
tremble at every oscillation. The thought flashed 
through me like lightning, "the drum has got loose 
and will soon with irresistible blows knock the ship 
to pieces." I rushed into the cabin to my brother, who 
was already contending with sea-sickness; no one else 


knew precisely the construction of the drum and the 
mode of its attachment, he alone therefore could per- 
haps still save us. I found him already on his feet - 
deadly pale, but composed. He too had immediately 
understood the cause of the threatening blows, and that 
had sufficed to dispel every trace of sea-sickness. In 
the hold he in fact saw that the axis of the drum had 
got loosened from its upper frame, and that the blocks 
of especially hard wood, which had been carefully 
prepared and fitted for the protection of the frame, 
were wanting. The French ship's carpenters at first 
pretended not to know what had become of them, but 
when the blows increased in strength, and my brother 
called out that we should all be lost, if the wood 
was not immediately brought, their memory returned, 
and the blocks were produced. The fellows had ad- 
mired the unfamiliar solid wood and had regarded the 
pieces as superfluous. 

With the violent rocking, we could not however 


succeed in placing the blocks in their proper places. 
Meanwhile the blows had increased to such a degree 
that everybody was seized with fear lest the vessel 
should no longer resist them. Then my brother called 
to us through the open hatch- way, "The oscillation is 
too great, steer against the wind!" The captain at 
once gave the necessary order, and the ship turned 
to meet the waves. A moment after to my astonish- 
ment I beheld the prow plunged under water, and the 
waves already washing over the fore-part of the deck. 
I perceived at once the cause of the phenomenon. 


The ship with its full velocity had turned too suddenly 
against the wind, and when a wave had once washed 
over and depressed the prow, it retained the inclined 
position and was driven down by its velocity on the 
incline. At this critical moment I involuntarily assumed 
the command, and called loudly into the engine room 
hard by "Stop!", as the captain was wont to do. 
Luckily the engine-men instantly obeyed. But the 
ship's velocity could only be slowly reduced. We all 
stood on the raised poop, and saw the fore -deck 
becoming continually shorter and the sea more and 
more approaching our standing place. Then the sea 
broke over the after -deck, and a mighty whirlpool 
was formed, the water pouring through the open 
hatch into the ship's hold. Our end seemed at hand. 
Then the swirl became weaker, and after some further 
anxious moments the prow once more appeared above 
the water, and we breathed fresh hope, for the violent 
rocking and the ominous blows had now ceased. 

My brother, who in the hold had not been able 
to observe the approach of danger, was completely 
surprised by the sea-water suddenly deluging himself 
and the drum. All the greater was his delight when 
the rush of sea-water ceased, and it soon after became 
possible for him to adjust the wooden supports, and 
thereby prevent the dangerous blows of the axis of 
the drum. The captain now cautiously resumed the 
course to Oran. The vessel continued indeed still to 
rock disagreeably, but we got accustomed to it, and 
rejoiced that the drum did not stir again. The great 


excitement had dispelled all sea-sickness, and when it 
became dark every one sought his berth, and soon 
all was tranquil. 

I had not been long asleep when loud orders and 
cries of alarm on deck awoke me suddenly. Imme- 
diately afterwards the ship laid itself on its side in a 
manner I have never since experienced, and can even 
now scarcely consider possible. People were thrown 
from their beds and rolled on the steeply inclined 
floor of the large cabin into the opposite cabins. 
They were followed by everything moveable on the 
ship, and at the same time all the lights were ex- 
tinguished, as the hanging lamps were hurled against 
the cabin deck and shattered. Then followed after a 
brief anxious pause a recoil, and a few repetitions of 
nearly the same intensity. Immediately after the first 
shocks I succeeded in gaining the deck. I descried 
in the half-light the captain, who in answer to my call 
only pointed to the stern, exclaiming "voila la terre!". 
Indeed a high rocky wall, feebly shining in the dark- 
ness, seemed to be standing behind the ship. On 
seeing it, the captain had suddenly brought the ship 
round, and thereby caused the violent oscillations. 
He thought we must have drifted, and were close on 
the rocks of Cap des lions. Suddenly a voice called 
in the darkness "La terre avance!", and actually the 
high uncanny gleaming wall now rose close behind 
the ship, and was advancing with a strange roaring 
voice. Then came a moment so awful and overpowering 
that it baffles description. Tremendous floods, which 


seemed to burst in on all sides, poured over the ship 
with a force which I could only withstand by con- 
vulsively grasping the iron rail of the upper deck. 
I felt how the whole ship was tossed hither and 
thither with tremendous force by violent short blows 
of the waves. Whether we were above or under 
water was hardly to be distinguished. It seemed to 
be foam, which we breathed with difficulty. How long 
this state of things lasted no one was afterwards able 
to say. Those also who had remained in the cabin 
had to contend with the violent shocks, which threw 
them hither and thither, and were terrified to death 
by the roaring noise of the mass of water falling down 
on the deck. The statements of time varied between 
two and five minutes. Then all was over as suddenly 
as it had begun, but the gleaming wall now stood 
before the ship, and slowly moved away from it. 

When after a short time the whole ship's company 
collected with revived spirits on the deck, and talked 
over all the terrors and wonders, the French officers 
were of opinion that the most incredible wonder of 
all had been that our lady had not once screamed. 
The thoroughly English composure of my sister-in-law, 
growing with the rising danger, appeared altogether 
incomprehensible to the lively Frenchmen. 

As we heard afterwards, the water-spout, which 
we had observed at Almeria, had moved eastwards 
down the Spanish coast, had then passed over to the 
African side, and we had manifestly crossed its path. 
That with our craft, so little sea-worthy, and so in- 


judiciously loaded , we had fortunately stood the 
dangerous experiment, is perfectly incomprehensible to 
me. When the water- spout had passed over us the sea 
still remained for some time in wild commotion, and, 
so far as we could observe, was covered with foaming 
crests. Then we beheld a natural phenomenon of a 
splendour and grandeur such as the most daring fancy 
could hardly paint. As far as the eye could reach 
the whole sea glowed with a dark red light. It 
looked as if it were composed of molten red-hot metal, 
and the foam- crests in particular of the procession 
of waves radiated so bright a light that all objects 
could be distinctly seen, and even the smallest writing 
could be read. It was a beautiful eerie sight, which 
stands even to-day, although more than a quarter of 
a century has passed, with perfect distinctness before 
my mental vision! We were at a point of the sea, 
which was densely peopled by phosphorescent animal- 
culae. A tumbler , which I filled with sea - water, 
shone brightly in the dark when the water was 
violently shaken. The wild swirling motion produced 
by the water -spout had excited the whole mass of 
phosphorescent animalculae, visible even to the naked 
eye, and to their universal simultaneous phosphorescence 
we owe the marvellous sight of the glowing sea. 

In Oran, where a few hours later we landed 
without our journey being further disturbed, we had 
to consider what was next to be done. According to 
an accurate estimate we had still cable enough to reach- 
Cartagena, if it were paid out with the least slack 


that was necessary for laying it without strain on the 
not quite level sea -bottom. My brother had become 
bolder through the luckily surmounted dangers and 
wanted once more to attempt the laying without more 
ado with the present contrivances. I opposed this, 
however, since I had lost all confidence in the drum, 
and the ship freighted with it. Finally we came to the 
determination to coil the cable over, and carry out the 
laying in the usual way with cone and dynamometer. 
When the troublesome and tedious coiling of the 
cable was finished and the fatal drum laid aside, we 
proceeded to our second attempt. The weather was 
again splendid, and the laying went forward without 
any difficulty. The depth of the sea however proved 
to be greater than was given in the French charts, 
and we w r ere obliged to load the dynamometer to a 
hazardous degree, in order not to pay out too much 
cable. I controlled the expenditure of cable by my 
electric log. which hitherto had always done good 
service. Thus things went without disturbance, until 
we had already clearly in sight the high coast near 
Cartagena. Suddenly my log refused to act - - as it 
subsequently appeared because its screw had got 
entangled in sea-weed. As my last reckoning had 
shown that we had cable to spare, and should arrive 
in Cartagena with a surplus. I went to my brother 
and requested him to unload the dynamometer some- 
what, in order to be secured against the fracture 
of the cable. He was greatly delighted, and was 
about to show me first how beautifully and equably 


the cable was running out with the present loading, 
when all at once we saw the cable quite gently come 
asunder. The brake -wheel stood instantly still, the 
torn-off end disappeared in the deep, and therewith, 
for our then circumstances , a considerable sum of 
money, as we had undertaken the laying at our own 
risk. But what for the moment aggravated us still 
more than the money loss was the technical fiasco. 
The labour of months, all the toils and dangers, which 
not we alone, but also all our companions had under- 
gone on account of this cable, were in a moment 
irrecoverably lost on account of a few rotten strands 
of hemp. In addition there was the unpleasant feeling 
of being the object of commiseration of the whole 
ship's company. It was a severe punishment for our 

When a few hours after the breaking of the cable 
we landed in Cartagena, we had been over a month 
without news from Europe. In Almeria we had also 
not heard much in our flying visit, except that war 
had broken out with Denmark on account of the 
Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. In the hotel at 
Cartagena we found French and English newspapers, 
and all the great political news of the last month 
from the Fatherland poured in upon us. An altogether 
remarkable revolution had taken place in the news- 
paper articles on Germany since the declaration of 
war and the defeat of Denmark, which enjoyed the 
favour of England. We had hitherto been accustomed 
to read in English and French newspapers much well- 


meant praise of German science, German music, and 
German song, as well as compassionate utterances on 
the good-natured, dreamy and unpractical Germans. 
Now there were furious articles on the conquest- 
seeking, the war-loving, nay, the blood-thirsty Germans ! 
I must confess that all this gave me no annoyance, 
but considerable pleasure. My self-respect as a German 
rose higher with each of these expressions. The 
Germans had for so long been only passive material 
for the world's history. Now one might read for the 
first time in black and white in the Times, that they 
had of their own accord entered into its course, and 
thereby excited the wrath of those who hitherto had 
considered themselves alone entitled to the honour. In 
my intercourse with Englishmen and Frenchmen during 
the cable -layings I had often had painful occasion to be 
convinced in what slight esteem the Germans were held 
as a nation by other peoples. I had long political de- 
bates, which always came to this, that the Germans had 
neither the right nor the ability to form an independent 
and united state of their own. "Well, what then do 
the Germans exactly want?'' asked the highly respected 
director- general of the French telegraphs, and former 
companion in exile of the Emperor Napoleon, M. de 
Vougie, after a long conversation on the reviving na- 
tional aspirations in Germany at the close of the Franco- 
Austrian war. - - "A united German Empire"', was my 
answer. "And do you think," he replied, "that France 
would suffer a state united and superior in numbers 
to itself as next-door neighbour?'' - "No."' was my 


answer, "we are convinced that we shall have to defend 
our unity against France." "What an idea," he said, 
"that a united Germany would fight us. Bavaria, 
Wurtemberg, all South Germany will fight with us 
against Prussia." "Not this time," I answered, "the 
first French cannon-shot will make Germany one; we 
have no fear therefore of a French attack, but await 
it cheerfully." M. de Vougie shook his head; yet 
the idea seemed to dawn upon him that the Pandora 
box of the nationality question, which his ruler had 
opened in the war with Austria on behalf of Italy, 
might finally be turned against France. Three years 
later, when the question of the annexation of Lauen- 
burg by Prussia was occupying people's minds, I paid 
a visit to the director -general in Paris. Remembering 

o ~ 

our political conversations he called out to me on 
entering the room: "Eh bien, Monsieur, vous voulez 
manger le Lauenbourg?" "Oui, Monsieur," I returned 
in answer, "et j'espere que Fappetit viendra en man- 
geant!" It has truly grown, this appetite, and been 
also appeased, and M. de Vougie will have thought 
of my prophecy when with his Emperor he had to 
retire before German troops entering France in triumph. 
The first French cannon-shot had in fact made all 
Germany one. 

The Cartagena -Oran cable was an unlucky one 
for us. When the lost cable had been replaced by 
a new and somewhat stronger one, my brother repaired 
again in the same year to Oran. All the arrangements 
were excellently made, the experience gained in former 


expeditions being fully utilized. The cable was new 
and strong , the employes practised , the weather 
favourable in short, a failure was this time not to 
be thought of. I received indeed at the expected time 
the hoped-for despatch from Cartagena, announcing 
that the cable had been successfully laid and mes- 
sages already exchanged between Oran and Paris. 
Unhappily this despatch was followed only a few hours 
later by another, stating that the cable for unknown 
reasons had snapped near the Spanish coast. Closer 
enquiry showed that the fracture had occurred at a 
point where the Spanish coast slopes down abruptly 
to an unusual depth of water. The crossing of such 
submerged ravines, as in general of extremely uneven 
sea-bottoms, is always very dangerous. If the cable 
is laid in such a way that it rests on two rocks, 
which are so far elevated above the sea- bottom that 
it remains suspended on them without touching ground, 
it assumes the form of a catenary curve, whose tension 
may become so great that it snaps. Such a catenary 
curve the cable must at all events have formed at 
the foot of the abrupt declivity just mentioned, for 
the fracture occurred only a few hours after the 
cable firmly settled itself there. 

The picking up of the cable was attempted, 
without success however , as the ground was rocky, 
the sea deep , and the cable not strong enough for 
such a depth. In short, we had also lost the second 
cable for good and all, and had no other satisfaction 
than the feeling of relief at being dispensed from the 


obligation of making another attempt by the circum- 
stance that official despatches were actually exchanged 
between Oran and Paris. 

The great losses, which these cable-layings brought 
us. caused a small crisis in our business relations. My 
partner Halske did not relish such undertakings attended 
with risks and serious losses, and feared also that the 
venturesome spirit of my brother William might entangle 
us in enterprises suited to the large scale of English 
commercial life, but to which our resources were 
unequal. He therefore proposed the giving up of our 
English house. William Meyer as business manager of 
the firm ranged himself on Halske's side. Although 
I could not but admit the weightiness of the reasons 
adduced, I still could not bring myself to leave my 
brother William in the lurch at so critical a juncture. 
We accordingly agreed that the London business 
should be entirely dissociated from the Berlin house, 
it being taken over by me (at my private risk) and 
William. This was carried out, and the London business 
now became the firm of Siemens Brothers. Brother 
Charles in St. Petersburg likewise entered as partner. 
Between the three now independent firms in Berlin, 
St. Petersburg, and London, agreements were drawn 
up to govern the mutual relations. 

I may as well remark here that the copper-armed 
cable laid by the London firm in the Black Sea in 1869, 
of similar construction to the Cartagena - Oran cable, 
likewise did not prove durable. It was laid by my 
brother William with complete success as part of the 


Indo-European line, which I shall speak of later on, 
between Kertch and Poti parallel to the shore, but 
the very next year was destroyed by an earthquake 
simultaneously at many points. On attempting to take 
it up again it appeared that this was not possible, as it 
was covered for the most part with rubble and earth. 
This, and the circumstance that the interruption of 
the telegraph service took place just at the moment, 
when a severe shock was felt at the coast station. 
Suchum-Kale, proved that the breaking of the cable 
had actually been caused by the earthquake. This is 
moreover quite intelligible, since soil and rubble, de- 
posited on the shelving shore, are carried down to the 
sea by numerous water-courses. From time to time 
these masses must slip further, when a cable imbedded 
in them will of necessity be torn. The movement 
alluded to could not but be initiated by an earthquake 
simultaneously at all places where the equilibrium had 
been rendered unstable by recent deposits. 

Through these and similar occurrences we have 
learnt the lesson that submarine cables should never 
be laid on the slope of steep declivities, and especially 
not where soil and rubble are carried to a deep or 
inland sea by rivers discharging into them. 

We may regard the period of the cable -layings 
described in the foregoing as our proper apprentice- 
ship for such undertakings. Instead of the anticipated 
profit they brought us many anxieties, personal dangers, 
and serious losses, but they paved the way for the 
successes, which subsequently fell to the lot of our 


London firm in its important and well-executed cable 
undertakings. I shall hereafter return to this second 
period of our cable - layings , but only briefly review 
it, as I personally had less share in the labours con- 
nected with them. 

I now turn to continue the short summary of my 
scientific and technical labours already brought down 
to the year 1850. 

In the years 1850 to 1856 I was busily en- 
gaged with Halske in improving telegraphic apparatus, 
electrical appliances, and measuring instruments for 
scientific and technical purposes. It was still a 
tolerably unploughed field which we worked over, 
and our activity was accordingly extremely fertile. 
Our constructions, which were rapidly made known, 
especially through the Universal Exhibitions in London 
and Paris, have almost everywhere formed the basis 
of later contrivances. As already remarked, only a 
few of these innovations were patented, the majority 
of them were either not at all, or only in later years, 
described in journals. This facilitated indeed their 
general introduction and brought us many orders, but 
at the same time we lost in many ways the universal 
acknowledgement of their origination. I shall here 
only instance a few of the directions which our con- 
structive activity took. 

Besides the practical development of the Morse 

telegraph for hand use, we were occupied in this 





period with the elaboration of that apparatus into an 
express -writer for our automatic telegraph system, 
which was originally destined for the great Russian 
lines, and came first into operation on the Warsaw- 
St. Petersburg line in 1854. In this system the 
messages were prepared by the so-called three -key- 
puncher, whose object was to impress the Morse signs 
on a paper ribbon, in which ./ by depressing the first 
key a single round hole, by depressing the second 
key a double hole, was cut out in the ribbon. The 
necessary pushing forward of the ribbon took place 
automatically, whilst the greater interval required for 
the separation of the words was produced by the 
depression of the third key. When in this manner 
a message had been punched into the paper slip, the 
latter was drawn along in the so - called express- 
writing-transmitter by help of wheel -work between a 
roller coated with platinum and a contact -spring or 
brush. By this means the single holes produced a 
dot, the double holes a dash at the receiving station. 
As it turned out that ordinary magnets with iron 
armature did not work quickly enough, we employed 
for the relays as well as for the inkers light cores, 
capable of turning in the stationary coils of the magnets, 
which were formed of bundles of wires or of thin split 
iron tubes, whereby the desired velocity could be 
attained with certainty. 

Bain had as early as 1850 employed a perforated 
slip of paper for his electro -chemical telegraph, but 
he had no suitable mechanism for rapid punching of 


the slips. Wheatstone made good use of my three- 
key-puncher in 1858 for his electro-magnetic express- 
writer, without however naming the source whence 
he derived it. 

The signalling service of the railways, with which 
our firm had from the first been particularly occupied, 
brought further problems. On all the German railway- 
lines ringing -apparatus had to be set up, which on 
the departure of a train from a station should give 
audible bell - signals for the whole distance. The 
mechanician Leonhardt had already provided such 
gong -apparatus for the Thuringian line, but they acted 
imperfectly, as it was difficult to maintain in good 
condition the large galvanic batteries, which were 
required at the stations for setting the apparatus to 
work. It was an obvious idea to employ magnetic 
inductors instead of batteries, but the magneto-induction 
machines, known up to that time, of Saxton and Stohrer 
were not suited for the purpose. We now constructed 
a new kind of such inductors, which worked admi- 
rably, and afterwards entirely superseded all other 
constructions. The essential feature of our inductor 
was the employment as a rotating bar of an iron cylin- 
der, which was provided with deep opposite grooves, 
forming a channel for the reception of the coil of 
copper wire. From the form of its iron cross -section 
this bar received the name of the double T arma- 
ture; in England it is known as the Siemens' arma- 
ture. The steel magnets, hollowed out at the end, 
which surrounded the rotating cylinder, could be set 



up along it apart from one another, accordingly exert 
a more powerful magnetizing effect and less impair 
each other's action. Inductors of this kind are to-day 
exclusively employed wherever it is desired to procure 
powerful currents by permanent magnetism. 

My cylindrical bars with transverse coil possessed 
the great advantage over the older constructions that 
they had with powerful action less mass, and especially 
with quick rotation little inertia. I employed them 
therefore also for the construction of a very simple 
and surely acting magneto -electric dial -telegraph, in 
which the cylindrical inductor was quickly turned by 
a handle with wheel-translation, whilst each semi-revo- 
lution sent an alternating positive and negative current 
through the line, each causing the pointer of the re- 
ceiving apparatus to advance by one letter on the dial- 
plate. It was enough to place the handle successively 
on the letters to be telegraphed, to make them visible 
in like order at the receiving station. The electro- 
magnet of the receiving apparatus consisted of an iron 
cylinder with polar extensions revolving on its axis, 
which oscillated between the poles of two powerful 
horse-shoe steel magnets. Therefore, according as a 
positive or negative current traversed the fixed coils 
of the electro-magnet, one or the other magnet attracted 
the rotating armature, and thereby kept in motion the 
hands of the receiving apparatus. This quickly and 
surely acting magneto -electric dial -apparatus was in 
great requisition especially for the railway service, and 
is even now frequently used. 


The arrangement just described of polarized 
magnets - - i. e. those in which the oscillating bar or 
magnet has two resting places, according as a positive 
or negative current has last traversed the electro- 
magnetic coils - - has obtained more considerable and 
general importance through their being used for relays. 
On the employment of polarized relays depends the 
possibility of telegraphing the Morse alphabet with 
short induced currents, the one direction of the current 
initiating a dash on the paper strip, while the other 
completes it. The length of the produced dash ac- 
cordingly does not depend on the duration of the 
current, but on the duration of the interval between 
two short successive currents of alternate direction. 

On this principle depend several of our telegraphic 
constructions, of which only the induction writing-tele- 
graph need be mentioned here. In this the short 
currents of alternate direction required for its working 
were produced by a well-closed electro-magnet, round 
which was wound a primary coil of short thick 
wire and a secondary of long thin wire. In the 
primary coil the currents required for telegraphing 
the Morse alphabet were produced in the usual way. 
In the secondary coils connected with line and earth 
there then occurred, at the beginning and close of 
the currents circulating in the primary conductor, 
powerful induced currents of alternate direction, which 
produced the required Morse signs in the telegraphic 
apparatus at the receiving station. For the magnetic 
inductors magnetically closed electro - magnets with 


massive iron cores were employed , to* make the 
tension of the closing and opening currents equal as 
far as possible. 

With siich inductive writing - telegraphs it was 
possible by means of a single Daniell battery to tele- 
graph with certainty at the greatest distance on over- 
head lines. For underground and submarine lines also 
the induced electric currents proved highly advantageous, 
for they made it possible to signal to greater distances 
and with greater speed. As already mentioned the 
Sardinia-Malta-Corfu line was fitted in 1857 with our 
induction writing-telegraphs. For the working also of 
the first Atlantic cable laid in the following year by 
the managing electrician, Mr. Whitehouse. induced 

O c? 

currents were made use of, until the destruction of 
the insulation, which unfortunately occurred soon after 
the laying, prevented their further employment. Sub- 
sequently recourse was again generally had on long 
submarine lines to Thomson's mirror -galvanometer with 
battery currents. 

For land lines also there was this drawback to 
the use of short induced currents, that they had to 
be very powerful to be able to produce the necessary 
mechanical movements at the end of the line. But 
since the keeping in condition of very large batteries, 
such as the working of long lines with uniform current 
or intermitting battery current requires, was trouble- 
some and costly, Halske and I tried to transform 
mechanically battery currents of low tension into uni- 
form currents of higher tension. We exhibited, at the 


Universal Exhibitions of London and Paris, several 
mechanical arrangements constructed by us for this 
purpose, but they had at first the drawback that the 
currents of high tension obtained were not of uniform 


intensity. It was only through the construction of my 
so-called "plate" machine that the problem of the pro- 
duction of uniform currents of nearly constant tension 
by voltaic induction was actually solved. 

This "'plate " machine consists essentially of a 
large number of electro -magnets, which are grouped 
in a circle, and the so-called "plate", a conical piece 
of iron, whose apex lies in the centre of the circle 
of magnets, is set rotating above their poles. The 
magnets are furnished with double coils, of which one 
half of the inner ones are always inserted in the circuit 
of a battery composed of a few large elements and 
by a suitable contact arrangement the contact being 
always a fourth of a revolution in advance of the rolling 
"plate" - cause the rotation of the plate, whilst the 
outer ones are collectively united into a closed con- 
ducting circuit. The iron cone by rolling over the 
magnetic poles produces in the secondary coils of the 
magnets inserted in the battery circuit an induced 
current in one direction, but on the other hand in 
those of the magnets outside the battery circuit an 
induced current in the opposite direction. The two 
induction currents would neutralise one another, and 
no current could at all arise in the secondary circuit, 
unless at two oppositely situated points of this circuit 
there was a continuous contact, by which the opposed 


currents of both halves were taken up and united into 
a continuous current. This contact is effected by means 
of brushes, which are moved round by the prolonged 
axis of the iron cone. 

The i 'plate" machine was constructed by me in 
1854 and shown at several Universal Exhibitions, first 
at the one held in Paris in the year 1855. One of 
them together with other apparatus of our construc- 
tion is preserved in the museum of the Berlin Post 
Office, which probably possesses the most complete 
collection of old telegraphic apparatus anywhere to be 
found. The <; plate"' machine is interesting, because it 
represents the first solution of the problem, how to 
generate by induction continuous currents in one 
direction, and follows precisely the same course as 
that taken by Professor Pacinotti ten years later in 
constructing his famous magneto-inductor: the principle 
of current ramification, which is carried out in the 
ring of Pacinotti, being already contained in it. My 
machine is thus the precursor of the modern dynamo 
machine with continuous current and at the same 
time of the transformer. Had the self-motion of the 
plate not been made a point of, and had it been 
effected by mechanical revolution of the axis together 
with the brushes, an effective dynamo-electric machine 
would even then have been obtained, and the inter- 
vening period of the employment of the Siemens" 
armature would have been skipped. This may serve 
as an instance of the difficulty which is often ex- 
perienced in first apprehending the most obvious 


truths. Indeed I can only think with a certain sense 
of shame of the circumstance that, after establishing 
the principle of the dynamo machine. I did not at 
once hit upon the parallel connection of the two 
halves of the coils with opposed induction, employed 
in the "plate" machine, but was only led to it several 
years later by Pacinotti's example. 

In the year 1854 telegraph engineers were greatly 
excited by a statement which appeared in the Leipzig 
Polytechnic Centralblatt. The statement was to the 
effect that the Austrian telegraph official Dr. Gintl had 
succeeded in telegraphing between Prague and Vienna 
by means of the Morse apparatus simultaneously in 
opposite directions through the same conducting wire. 
This was said to have been accomplished by providing 
the relays with two coils, through one of which the 
main current passed, while at the same time an equally 
strong local current passed through in the opposite 
direction. This second circuit had to be closed by a 
separate contact at the same moment as the main 
current. Dr. Grintl however soon found that this path 
did not lead to the desired end. because it was im- 
possible to let two contacts actually occur at the same 
moment, and because the interruption of the main cur- 
rent taking place at the end of each signal could not 
but disturb the current coming from the other side. 


Gintl therefore abandoned this method and tried to 
solve the problem by making use of Bain's electro- 
chemical telegraph. His experiments then yielded a 
better result, and betrayed him into the belief that two 


currents with opposite directions could traverse the 
same conductor without mutual interference. In an 
article "On the forwarding of simultaneous messages 
through one telegraphic conductor"', which I contributed 
to PoggendorfFs Annalen, I demonstrated the inadmis- 
sibility of this view, and expounded the theory of 
electro -chemical duplex telegraphy, but also showed 
that this method was not capable of practical appli- 
cation. At the same time I described a method of 
duplex telegraphy with electro - magnetic apparatus, 
which completely accomplished the desired result. The 
same method was also independently discovered by 
the subsequent chief engineer of our firm . Herr 
C. Frischen in Hanover. It is known at the present 
day by the name of i 'Duplex signalling method of 
Frischen and Siemens" and is still frequently employed. 
At the close of the above-mentioned article I dealt 
with the theory of signalling with two apparatus in 
the same direction along the same wire and with that 
of simultaneous transmission in the same and in oppo- 
site direction, described also the current ramifications 
whereby these problems can be solved. 

In the year 1857 I published in Poggendorff's 
Annalen a longer article "On electro -static induction 
and the retardation .of the current in jar- wires", which 
gives the final result of several years' experiments on 
the physical properties of underground conductors. 
In this I took up again and developed further the 
theory of the electro-static charge of underground con- 
ductors broached by me as early as 1850. This theory 


obtained at first but little credit in scientific circles; 
even William Weber trying to explain the disturbances 
occurring in the Prussian underground conductors by 
self-induction. Faraday's ingenious theory likewise, 
according to which the electro -static induction is not 
effected by direct electric action at a distance, but by 
the induction proceeding from molecule to molecule of 
the dielectric, was unable to obtain acceptance with 
most physicists of the old school. The actual influence 
of the matter between two conductors on the extent 
of the electric charge was explained by a more or 
less profound penetration of the electricity into the 
insulator and the diminution of the distance thereby 
caused between the effective quantities of electricity 
in the two conductors. I determined therefore to 
carry out an experimental investigation, in order to 
establish the actual state of things without connecting 
it with any of the existing theories. My investigation, 
which was made considerably more difficult by the 
then very imperfect development of the means and 
methods of investigation, led to a complete confirma- 
tion of Faraday's molecular distribution theory. The 
result arrived at was, that the laws of the motion of 
heat and electricity in conductors also applied to elec- 
tro-static induction, and that consequently the form of 
Ohm's law for the electric current is applicable to it 
likewise. I obtained in this way with the help of 
Faraday's theory Poisson's formulae for the density 
of electricity at the surface of bodies, and was able 
to furnish an experimental proof that in all cases the 


theory of Faraday suffices for the explanation of the 
phenomena. I then carried this theory further in 
several directions and solved problems by the help 
of it. as e. g. the calculation of the capacity of a 
battery formed of any number of Leyden jars of diffe- 
rent capacity placed one behind another, a problem 
which up to that time had not been solved. Unfor- 
tunately I did not find the necessary leisure before 
the spring of 1857 to prepare my work for the press. 
Meanwhile eminent English physicists, like Sir William 
Thomson and Maxwell, had anticipated sundry of my 
scientific results; in particular the formulae, given by 
Thomson, for the capacity of jar wires and the retar- 
dation of the current were the same as those which I 
had arrived at in a quite different and more elemen- 
tary way. Maxwell has in his masterly works ela- 
borated Faraday's theory in strict mathematical fashion, 
and proved that it is everywhere in complete harmony 
with the theory of potentials. We are therefore com- 
pletely warranted in regarding with Faraday electric 
distribution as an action propagated from molecule to 
molecule, but not combined with a direct action at a 
distance, for only one of these processes can actually 
take place. 

At the close of the above-mentioned paper I de- 
scribed the apparatus known by the name of the Siemens' 
ozone tube, and explained the theory of its action. I 
succeeded with its help in converting oxygen into ozone 
by electrolysis. There is still a great future in store for 
this apparatus, as it enables us to subject gases to 


electrolysis. They are put by it into the so-called 
active state, rendering them capable of forming directly 
with other gases chemical compounds, which could 
otherwise only be obtained in a very roundabout way. 

I have already mentioned that even in the middle 
of this century one of the greatest obstacles in the 
way of the development of the physical sciences, and 
especially of physical technology, was the want of fixed 
standards. In scientific writings pretty generally metre 
and gramme were used as measures of length and 
weight, but notwithstanding technology suffered from 
an insupportable looseness and inaccuracy. Metre and 
gramme at any rate always formed fixed points of 
comparison, to which all estimates of measure could 
be referred. Such a fixed point was entirely wanting, 
however, for electric standards. William Weber indeed 
had already, in conjunction with Gauss, theoretically 
developed the admirable system of absolute magnetic 
and electric units, and had also perfected to an ex- 
traordinary degree the methods of exact measurement 
and the requisite instruments, but standard tallies, 
representing the absolute units and accessible to every- 
body, were wanting. It was in consequence usual for 
every physicist to set up his own standard of resistance, 
which was attended by the serious inconvenience that 
the results of his labours w r ere not then comparable 
with those of others. 

Jacobi in St. Petersburg then made the proposal 
to take as general unit of resistance an arbitrarily 
chosen copper wire, which he deposited with a Leipzig 


mechanician. This attempt, however, fell through, 
because the resistance of the wire changed in course 


of time and the copies supplied showed values varying 
as much as ten per cent from one another. The 
resistance of a German mile of copper wire of one 
millimetre diameter at first employed as unit by Halske 
and myself, and pretty generally adopted in Germany 
and other countries for practical telegraphy, proved 
also to be only a makeshift. I soon became convinced 
that it is quite impracticable to set up an empirical 
standard in the manner of Jacobi, as the electrical 
resistance is not such a fixed and controllable property 
of bodies as (say) the dimension and mass of solid 
bodies. There was also no prospect of inducing the 
whole world to accept a standard of resistance de- 
posited in any particular place. 

On these grounds the choice remained between 
the absolute unit of resistance of Weber and an 
empirical unit everywhere reproducible with the greatest 
exactitude. Unfortunately the adoption of the absolute 
unit was not then to be thought of, its reproduction 
being too difficult, so that William Weber himself de- 
clared to me that errors amounting to a considerable 
percentage were unavoidable. I decided therefore to 
take, as the basis of a reproducible standard of re- 
sistance, the only metal fluid at ordinary temperatures, 
mercury, whose resistance cannot be affected by mole- 
cular variations and is influenced less by changes of 
temperature than that of the solid metals available 
for the gauging of resistances. In the year 1860 my 


labours had so far progressed that I was able to come 
before the public with the proposal to adopt as unit 
the resistance of a column of mercury of 1 metre in 
length and 1 square millimetre in cross section at 
C. . and to publish my method of producing this 
mercury unit. The paper, which appeared in Poggen- 
dorff s Annalen, was entitled: "Proposal for a repro- 
ducible standard of resistance." 

Although Mr. Mathiessen in London violently 
opposed the adoption of my unit and recommended 
instead as empirical unit a wire of gold and silver 
alloy with about the same resistance as Weber's unit, 
my proposal was soon generally adopted , and the 
Vienna International Telegraph Conference of the year 
1868 made the mercury unit the legal unit of tele- 
graphy. Nevertheless the English physicists continued 
their efforts to introduce as international standard the 
centimetre-gramme-second-system of resistance proposed 
by Sir William Thomson and adopted by the British 
Association -- the so-called c. g. s. unit a resistance 
ten times as great as that of Weber's absolute unit. 
The British Association appointed a special committee, 
to which Sir William Thomson and also my brother 
William belonged, which carried on a lively agitation 
for the general adoption of the British Association 
unit, although there had as yet been no really exact 
representation of the same. Reliance was placed, 
however, on the expected progress in electrical methods 
of measurements, and it was justly urged that the 
adoption of a theoretically fixed standard of resistance, 


based on a fundamental dynamic standard, would con- 
siderably facilitate calculations with electrical forces. 
Although on the other hand it could be contended 
that the great majority of calculations with electrical 
resistances belonged to the geometrical and not to the 
dynamical domain, and that the reproducible unit with 
a geometrical foundation proposed by me might just 
as well be called an absolute one as the unit of Weber 
resting on a dynamical basis, or the modification of 
the same which was proposed as unit on the English 
side, yet the c. g. s. unit of resistance has been sub- 
sequently adopted in principle as the international stan- 
dard. I shall once again return to this in the sequel. 
The duty, entrusted to my brother William and 
myself by the English Government, of controlling the 
manufacture of cables subsidized by it, caused us to 
make very exhaustive experiments with regard to the 
properties of submarine lines, and especially to elabo- 
rate a rational method for the testing of their electrical 
condition. The Malta-Alexandria cable was the very 
first which was subjected to a systematic testing and 
controlling during its entire preparation, and which in 
consequence proved also perfectly faultless after being 
laid and has remained so. Such a rational testing- 
was rendered possible by the exact standard of re- 
sistance above described, and by our arrangement 
of resistance coils, which allowed the combination of 
any desired resistances in mercury units in the same 
manner as weights are used in scales, furthermore 
by essential improvements, which the methods of in- 


vestigation and the measuring instruments underwent 

O o 

at our hands. For investigating the influence, which 
the high pressure prevailing at great depths exerts 
on the cable, steel tanks that could be closed were 
constructed, and the insulation of the cables measured, 
whilst they were subjected therein to a strong pressure. 
The fact already observed by us during the laying of 
the Red Sea cable was hereby confirmed, that the in- 
sulating capacity of the gutta-percha is increased by 
the pressure of the water, whereby the possibility was 
established of laying submarine lines even at the 
greatest depths. We further drew up tables for cal- 
culating the extent of the diminution, which the insu- 
lating capacity of gutta-percha, india-rubber and other 
insulating materials undergoes through increasing tern- 

O O O C> 

perature, as well as for the diffusive capacity 
specific induction - - of these insulators. Our experi- 
ments showed that in these points india-rubber and 
its compounds are far superior to gutta-percha, a 
circumstance, which caused us to institute extensive 
experiments, to obtain a good insulation of conductors 
by coating with india-rubber, but which did not quite 
lead to the sought-for practical results. 

A paper communicated by us in the year 1860 
to the British Association - - entitled "Outline of the 
principles and practice involved in dealing with the 
electrical conditions of submarine electric telegraphs' 1 
- summarized the main results of our inquiries, and 
forms the foundation of the system of testing cables and 

detecting their faults which was afterwards generally 



adopted. But although this paper was published in 
English and my communication to the Paris Academy 
of 1850, in which my methods of detecting faults 
were likewise in principle contained, in French, yet 
later writers and inventors have only in a few cases 
taken note of them, and have with slight variations 
published as new discoveries the methods therein given. 
I merely call attention to the point here, in order 
that the history of the development of electrical 
technology may not be permanently falsified. A recent 
book, compiled with much industry, bearing the title 
"Traite de telegraphic sousmarine' 7 by E. Wunschen- 
dorff gives occasion for this remark. At the very 
beginning of this work the original inventor of the 
electric telegraph , the German Dr. Soemmering , is 
designated as "Professeur russe", who is said to have 
laid conducting wires under water near St. Petersburg 
and in 1845 near Paris, and to have thereby become 
the inventor of submarine telegraphy. While, for an 
historical work, this is certainly a surprising confusion 
of the German Dr. Soemmering with the German 
Professor Jacobi living much later at St. Petersburg. 
it is to be remarked that this and other projects of 
submarine communication before the year 1847 are 
only to be regarded as freaks of fancy, which could 
not possibly lead to practicable underground communi- 
cation. It was my conductors with a seamless gutta- 
percha coating that first solved the problem of the 
construction of underground and submarine lines, and 
the wires laid by me for the mines in Kiel harbour, 


and the iron -armoured cable -wire across the Rhine at 
Cologne in the spring of 1850, formed the first actual 
basis of submarine telegraphy. The German name of 
the Frenchman Wiinschendorff may perhaps have con- 
tributed to the ignoring of German achievements 
running through the whole work! 

To the last described section of my activity be- 
long two more events, which were of great importance 
to me. 

In the year 1859 I was elected a member of 
the Council of the Berlin Merchants' Company, which 
forms at the same time the Chamber of Commerce 
of the March of Brandenburg. The election takes 
place by a poll of all the trading and commercial firms, 
and is accordingly regarded as a special distinction. 
Through this I gained the advantage of coming into 
closer personal contact with the heads of the Berlin 
industrial world. - When in the year 1860 the Uni- 
versity of Berlin celebrated its jubilee I received the 
degree of Doctor honoris caztsa in the philosophical 
faculty. The granting of this honorary title in my 
chosen home Berlin gave me especial pleasure, because 
I saw in it an acknowledgement of my scientific labours 
and was brought by it into a sort of academic relation 
to my scientific friends. 

I come now to speak somewhat in detail of my 
political activity, to which I devoted myself with much 

ardour in the following years. 



From my earliest youth I had felt keenly the 
want of union and the impotence of the German nation. 
This feeling had been awakened in me and the brothers 
nearest to me in age through our living in the petty 
and middle states of Germany, where a patriotism 
arising from a sense of political unity found no fruit- 
ful soil, as was the case in Prussia, thanks to its 
glorious history. Moreover in our family national and 
liberal views had always prevailed, and my father in 
particular was devoted to them. In spite of the me- 
lancholy political condition into which Prussia and all 
Germany had again sunk after the glorious War of 
Liberation, yet the hope remained that the state of 
Frederick the Great, who by his deeds had awakened 
self-confidence in the Germans, must prove our future 
saviour. It was this hope which had caused my father 
to advise me to enter the Prussian service, and in 
myself also this trust in a future raising of Germany 
through Prussia had always been strong. Hence I was 
carried away by the national movement of 1848 with 
such irresistible force and in spite of opposing private 
interests drawn to Kiel, to fight with Prussia for Ger- 
many's unity and greatness. 

When this movement of youthful enthusiasm, al- 
together overshooting the mark, had collapsed through 
the unfavourable circumstances of the time, when 
Germany again had relapsed into impotent disunion 
and Prussia had been deeply humiliated, a profound 
dejection crept over all German patriots. Our hope 
indeed was still fixed on Prussia, yet no one any longer 


believed that Prussia as a state would secure the union 
of Germany, but our hope rested entirely on the ulti- 
mate victory of liberal sentiments in the German and 
particularly the Prussian people. This revulsion of 
feeling explains the events of the period of conflict, 
which would be scarcely intelligible without it. 

Up to the year 1860 I was so fully occupied 
with scientific and technical labours that I kept entirely 
aloof from politics. Only when under the Regency of 
the Prince of Prussia the political stagnation and the 
pessimism, which had till then almost exclusively pre- 
vailed, had diminished, and freeer political views had 
again ventured to come forth, did I join the National * 
Association formed under the lead of Bennigsen, and 
patronized by Duke Ernest of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. 
I was present at the meeting which constituted it at 
Coburg, and continued to take part in its aims as 
faithful ally. Through this and my lively activity at 
the elections for the Diet I became more intimately 
acquainted with the leading politicians of the liberal 
party. I attended the meetings of the new liberal 
party then in process of formation, and assisted at 
the deliberations concerning its programme and name. 
The majority was inclined to vote for the name of 
"Democratic Party*', whilst Schulze-Delitzsch wished 
to call it the "German Party*'. I proposed the name 
of ' 'Progressive Party*', as it seemed to me more*: 
proper to designate the direction of activity rather 
than the principles by the party name. It was re- 
solved to combine my proposal with that of Schulze- 


Delitzsch and to call the new party "German Pro- 
gressive Party". 

The invitation to allow myself to be elected deputy 
I had repeatedly declined, considered it however my 
duty in the year 1864 to accept the election, which 
had taken place without my intervention, as deputy 
for the district of Solingen-Remscheid. The reorgani- 
sation of the army proposed by the Government formed 
at that time the great question determining party lines. 
The essence of this question consisted in the doubling 
of the Prussian army, already being carried out in 
accordance with the Government plan, and the corre- 
sponding increase of the military budget. The voice 
of the country declared that this increase of the mili- 
tary burdens could not be borne without leading to a 
thorough impoverishment of the people. In fact the 
prosperity of Prussia was considerably behind that of 
the other German states, as the burden of the German 
defences had even after the War of Liberation rested 
chiefly on her shoulders. If this burden was to be 
still further increased in so great a degree without 
the enforcing of a corresponding participation of the 
rest of the German states, it was thought the pro- 
sperity of the country could not but retrograde more 
and more, and the burden would finally become in- 
supportable. It was known indeed that King William 
had already as Prince of Prussia and as Prince Regent 
been convinced of the necessity of raising again the 
state of Frederick the Great to the height consistent 
with its historical position at the head of Germany, 


and no one questioned the sincerity of the personally 
popular and highly esteemed monarch, whose efforts 
were directed to that end, but there was much doubt 
in regard to the practicability of his plan. Faith in the 
historical mission of Prussia for effecting the unification 
of Germany and in Prussia's star had sunk too low. 
Even the most eager enthusiasts for Germany's unity 
and future greatness, nay even preeminently Prussian 
patriots, deemed it therefore incompatible with their 
duty to load Prussia with this new, and as it seemed 
exorbitant, military burden. The representatives of the 
people rejected, in large part certainly with heavy 
heart, the reorganisation plan of the government, and 
after repeated dissolutions the people confirmed this 
vote at the new elections. 

It was especially hard for me personally to vote 
against the proposition of the Government, as in my 
innermost heart I still maintained my old faith in the 
vocation of Prussia, and it might also look like in- 
gratitude if I opposed the desire of a monarch, who 
had once personally shown his good will to me. 
Moreover, from the attitude of the ministers von Bis- 
marck and Roon in the chambers and from their de- 
meanour and utterances in the bitter war of words 
that often took place, I had gained the conviction that 
serious action was before us, for which an increased 
army would be required. But my political friends 
quieted me by saying, that an active movement on 
the part of Prussia for creating a united Germany 
under the guidance of Prussia would necessarily lead 


to a war with Austria, and against this there stood 
as insuperable obstacle the testamentary admonition 
of Frederick William III. to his son: "Hold fast by 

This inward conflict led me, in an anonymous 
pamphlet, published by Julius Springer with the title 
"On the Military Question", to discuss the question, 
whether the doubling of the army in the event of war 
might not be obtained in another way than that pro- 
posed by the government, without the country being 
burdened with the serious expenditure, which the 
government plan rendered necessary. 

Meanwhile the reorganization itself was carried 
through by the minister of war von Roon without any 
regard to parliamentary contests, and fortunately already 
completed when in the spring of 1866 the differences 
in regard to Schleswig-Holstein led to a breach with 
Austria. That this breach would actually occur and 
entail war few believed, despite the warlike prepara- 
tions and threats. All the greater was the universal 
astonishment when early in the morning of the 14th of 
June the news spread, that war had been declared 
against Austria and the German Confederation, and 
that the declaration of war was already posted up on 
the advertising-pillars. In fact after a hasty walk from 
Charlottenburg to Berlin I found the nearest of these 
pillars surrounded by a dense crowd. I was struck 
by the calm earnest demeanour with which the often 
changing crowd received the mighty event. No 
criticizing remark of anv sort was heard when the 


serious and dignified announcement was repeatedly 
read at the request of the bystanders. Everyone, 
workman and privileged citizen alike , felt the im- 
mense gravity of the fact "It is war!", but nobody 
appeared to be depressed by it , everywhere it was 
received with self-conscious calm. It was brought 
strongly home to me. what a power lies in the glorious 
past of a people. In perilous times it enhances self- 
confidence, allows no pusillanimity to spring up, and 
awakens in everybody the resolve to contribute his 
part to overcoming the danger, as his fathers had 
done before him. As in front of this advertising-pillar 
at the Potsdam Gate so did it look in all Berlin, nay 
in the w r hole country, at any rate in the old territories 
of Prussia. All political disputes were forgotten or 
at least postponed. Every man had but one thought: 
to do his duty. That this feeling dominated all 
classes of the people was clearly manifested in a 
meeting, which was called on the very day of the 
declaration of war by some private persons, with 
the object of forming a society for the care of the 
wounded. When a politician began the proceedings 
with complaints against the government, which had 
brought on the war, a brief remark of mine sufficed 
for reply that war was now a fact, and the only 
rjuestion before us was, how to pave the way for 
victory, and assuage as far as possible the sufferings 
of the wounded. This was received with such un- 
animous applause that all further discussion was cut 
short, and the formation of the aid society for the 


army in the field, which afterwards worked with great 
success, was unanimously resolved. 

When after a few weeks the war was ended with 
the prostration of Austria and its allied German states, 
the world looked quite different. The insignificant, 
deeply humbled Prussia now stood in fact as proud 
conqueror without a rival at the head of Germany. 
With a wise understanding of the national mind, which 

O " 

regarded the unavoidable civil war only as a means 
to the attainment of the yearned for German unity, 
King William and his chief minister had imposed only 
extremely mild conditions of peace on the conquered 
states, where they were not entirely incorporated in 
the Prussian state for its necessary security. The 
victorious King and Captain also gave the world a 
probably unique example of self-conquering justice, by 
requesting from the Diet an indemnity for the trans- 
gression of its constitutional rights necessitated by 
state difficulties, and thus restored the country's internal 
peace. It required certainly many more struggles in 
the Chamber of Deputies, before the wisdom and 
magnanimity of this kingly act received full recognition 
and approbation. 

Through the struggles continued for several years 
with the government and the repeated dissolutions a 
sort of fighting organization had been formed in the 
Diet, which gave the leaders a decisive influence on 
the divisions. Waldeck in particular , the leader of 
the extreme democrats, had obtained great power. 
His friends rejected all compromise, and held it to be 


requisite for attaining their ends, as well as befitting 
the dignity of the House, to grant the desired indemnity 
only on very far-reaching conditions. This in the then 
political situation was an extremely dangerous pro- 
ceeding, which seriously threatened the internal peace, 
and might again imperil all the achievements of the 
glorious victories of the Prussian army. I had, soon 
after the conclusion of peace and before the convocation 
of the Diet, stopped some time in Paris, and had 
opportunity to become acquainted with the feeling of 
the masses, as well as of the leading circles. It was 

' O 

there considered as altogether beyond question that 
France could not suffer without very considerable 
compensation the powerful position acquired by Prussia 
at the head of North Germany and as leader of all 
Germany, and must break it down, if necessary, by 
force. From a thoroughly reliable source I learnt 
that the reason, why France had hitherto put a good 
face on a bad business, was merely because the Mexican 
war had disorganized the army and in particular 
exhausted the stores . but that warlike preparations 
were proceeding at a great pace, and in the meantime 
a prolongation of the internal conflict in Prussia was 
being reckoned upon. 

^/ On my return to Berlin I found the Chamber of 
Deputies already assembled and the indemnity question 
being hotly debated within the parties. Unfortunately 
a large number of the parliamentary leaders not be- 
longing to the Waldeck party, in the fixed expectation 
that this group would carry the day at any rate in the 


Progressive party, had announced their secession from 
the latter and declared for the formation of a new 
party, the "National Liberal"'. I myself had on principle 
never delivered long speeches in the House, as I re- 
garded my political activity as only transient, and had 
resolved not again to serve in Parliament. On the 
other hand I had always taken an active share in the 
party meetings and knew the leanings of most of the 
deputies perhaps better than the parliamentary leaders. 
It was my conviction that the great majority of the 
Progressive party were disposed for peace with the 
throne, and that it only required a powerful impulse 
to give expression to this peaceful sentiment. In fact 
my vivid description of the many-sided dangers, which 
were connected with the refusal of the indemnity, fell 
in the party meeting on fruitful ground , and after 
Lasker. who at my request had put off his declaration 
of withdrawal till after the sitting of the party, had 
confirmed my arguments in an eloquent speech, the 
Progressive party by a considerable majority declared 
for the unconditional granting of the indemnity, although 
Waldeck himself pronounced most decidedly for un- 
flinching insistence on the point of right and the 
refusal of the indemnity. When thereupon the granting 
of the indemnity was also resolved by the House it- 
self and thereby internal peace was restored in the 
country, I retired from the political scene and hence- 
forth devoted the leisure time, which the management 
of my firm left me, to my scientific pursuits. 

In the three years of my parliamentary activity 


I took an active part in the sittings of the committee 
and party meetings on the three only bills which ob- 
tained legal force by arrangement with the Government 
and the Upper House. I was special reporter of the 
division "Metals and metal goods" of the Franco- 
German commercial treaty, and believe that I materially 
contributed to its final adoption by a minute report 
which I drew up on this most hotly disputed part of 
the treaty. Unfortunately this report brought me 
into conflict with my constituents. The latter sent a 
special deputation to the Chamber, to protest against 
the article which forbade the marking of manufactures 
with the names of firms and trade-marks of the manu- 
facturers of another country. The Solingen and Rem- 
scheid manufacturers declared that it was a customary 
practice to label the better class of goods, principally 
ordered by English manufacturers and dealers, with 
an English trade-mark, and that their business would 
be seriously injured if this were disallowed; the con- 
sequence of such a prohibition would be that they 
would not only lose the English, but also the German 
market for their superior goods, as even in Germany 
English goods were preferred. 

In spite of long discussions we could not arrive 
at an understanding. The deputation admitted that 
German industry was acting suicidally in representing 
its good wares as foreign and only its inferior wares 
as its own manufacture, it threw the blame, however, 
on the purchasing public which demanded it. We 
accordingly parted in disagreement, and I believe I 


should not have been re-elected if I had', stood again. 
For the rest the prohibition has worked well, although 
unfortunately it has not been carried out in all its 
strictness. Since then in that old and famous seat of 
industry, as in general throughout Germany a manu- 
facturing pride has grown up, which only permits 
the supply of articles of good quality, and it has 
also come to be seen in many ways, that a more 
effective protection is afforded by the good name 
of the manufacturers of a country than by high pro- 
tective duties. 

An effective system of protection , securing the 
consumption of the produce of native industry, can in 
fact only be consistently carried out, if the country, 
as e. g. the Uniteds States of North America, includes 
all climates, and itself produces all the raw materials 
which its industry needs. Such a country can exclude 
all imports, but thereby at the same time diminishes 
its own exports. It must be regarded as a fortunate 
circumstance for Europe that America by its prohibi- 
tively protective system has checked the rapid, and for 
us dangerous, development of its industrial resources, 
and restricted its own exporting power. Europe, 
divided by high tariff barriers, thereby gains time to 
perceive the danger of its situation, which will make 
competition with a free -trading America in the world's 
market impossible, if it does not in good time present 
a united front by a thorough mercantile organization. 
The contest of the old with the new world in all 
departments of life will in all likelihood be the 


great overwhelming question of the coming century, 
and if Europe wishes to maintain its dominant position 
in the world or at least its footing of equality with 
America, it will have to prepare itself betimes for this 
struggle. This can only be attained by the utmost 
possible removal of all inter -European fiscal barriers, 
which limit the market, enhance the expenses of pro- 
duction, and diminish the power of competing in the 
world -emporium. Further, the feeling of the solidarity 
of Europe as against the rest of the world must be 
developed, when the internal European questions of 
political power and class interest cannot fail to be 
turned towards higher ends. 

During the period of my political activity I earnestly 
continued my efforts to develop the large business 
I had called into existence. A change had meanwhile 
occurred in the management of the Prussian government- 
telegraphs, which had brought me and my firm again 
into closer connection with it. In the room of Coun- 
cillor Nottebohm who could never forgive me for 
having in my previously mentioned pamphlet traced 
the entire failure of the Prussian system of underground 
communications to its real cause, the defective organi- 
zation of the technical administration an extremely 
intelligent officer of engineers, Colonel von Chauvin, 
had been named director of the Prussian state tele- 
graphs. The latter renewed the relations with my 


firm, which had been altogether broken off for many 
years, and made use of its great experience in the 
telegraphic department to improve the working arrange- 
ments of the government -telegraph system, which had 
remained almost stationary. As at the same time in 
Russia my old friend and patron. Colonel von Lliders, 
was again after long illness managing director of the 
government telegraphs. I conceived the bold plan of 
calling into existence a special telegraph line between 
England and India by way of Prussia, Russia, and 
Persia the Indo-European line. 

The way had already been paved for this plan 
by the attempts of England to construct a line through 
the Mediterranean, Asia Minor, and Persia, in the 
execution of which my brother William had taken an 
active part. The English Government had in 1862 
laid a cable from Bushire in Persia to Kurrachee in 
India, in the laying of which our electrician Dr. Essel- 
bach had unfortunately met his death. The land line 
through Asia Minor and Persia joining the cable had 
also been constructed under English direction by the 
Turkish and Persian governments, and thus an overland 
telegraph line to India had actually been called into 
existence. But the impossibility of really solving the 
problem in this way soon appeared. The line was 
usually interrupted, and if it was actually in perfect 
order, yet the messages often took weeks in trans- 
mission, and at last reached their destination in an 
altogether unintelligible, mutilated state. Theoretically 
there also existed a second overland connection by 


means of the Prussian and Russian government lines, 
yet for the transmission of government and commercial 
messages in the English language this proved almost 
as unserviceable as the special line through Turkey. 
From these experiences it was certain that the 
great need of a quick and reliable telegraphic communi- 
cation between England and India could only be satis- 
fied by a line through Prussia, Russia, and Persia 
planned as a connected whole, and under an un- 
divided management. After I had thoroughly weighed 
the practicability of such a line with my brothers 
William and Charles, after moreover William had 
through his friend. Colonel Bateman-Champain. the 
constructor of the land line through Asia Minor, se- 
cured the benevolent support of the English govern- 
ment and Colonel von Chauvin had given the like 
assurance on behalf of the Prussian government, our 


three firms in Berlin, London, and St. Petersburg took 
the execution of the plan in hand. 

The greatest difficulty lay in inducing the Russian 
government to give permission to a foreign company 
to construct and work a telegraph line through Russia. 
This succeeded only after lengthy negotiations, in 
which our previous achievements both as engineers 
and as reliable contractors stood us in good stead. 
The concession finally granted gave us the right of 
laying and working a double line from the Prussian 
frontier by way of Kiev, Odessa, Kertch, thence 
partly under water to Suchum-Kale on the Caucasian 
coast, and further via Tiflis to the Persian frontier. 



Prussia herself undertook to construct a double line 
from the Polish frontier via Berlin to Emden, and 
to allow this line to be worked by the company we 
proposed to form. Persia, whither we sent to con- 
clude an agreement our brother Walter and a young 
relative, George Siemens, then assessor, now first di- 
rector of the German Bank in Berlin, gave us a 
concession like Russia for constructing a line of our 
own from the Russian frontier to Teheran. The com- 
pletion of the line, already partially constructed from 
Teheran to India, was undertaken by the English 


We obtained permission to transfer the concessions 
granted us to a company domiciled in England, with 
the condition that the construction and maintenance 
of the whole line should be entrusted to our firms, 
and the further proviso that a fifth of the company's 
shares should always remain in our hands. We there- 
upon formed an Anglo -German company, with its 
offices in London, and cannot but regard it as a 
significant indication of the standing our firm had 
already attained, that the considerable capital required 
was subscribed in London and Berlin at our direct 
invitation without the intervention of a banker. I may 
here mention that the Indo-European line still exists 
as originally constructed and in spite of dangerous 
competition, caused by a new submarine line laid 
down by English companies through the Mediterranean 
and Red Seas, regularly pays a considerable dividend 
to its shareholders. 


The construction of the line was assigned to our 
firms in the following manner. The Berlin undertook 
in conjunction with the St. Petersburg business the 
management of the construction of the land lines, whilst 
the London concern was entrusted with the laying of 
the submarine line in the Black Sea and the delivery 
of the materials for the construction of the lines. To 
the Berlin firm moreover was left the design and 
construction of the necessary telegraphic apparatus. 
In spite of great and unexpected obstacles the line 
was completed by the end of 1869, although un- 
fortunately the already mentioned destruction of the 
cable along the Caucasian coast resulting from an 

O o 

earthquake, and the inevitably slow replacement of 
the same by a land line, rendered a regular telegraph 
service impossible before the following year. 

According to the working programme drawn up 
by us, the messages from London to Calcutta were 
to be forwarded without any manipulation at the inter- 
mediate stations, i. e. by purely mechanical means, in 
order to preclude loss of time and mutilation by 
telegraphists in forwarding. For this purpose I con- 
structed for the Indo-European line a special system 
of apparatus, which completely solved this problem. 
It naturally excited great astonishment in England, 
when at the first official experiments London and 
Calcutta conversed with one another along a line of 
nearly seven thousand miles as quickly and surely as 
two neighbouring English telegraph stations. 

An unexpected difficulty was caused by the 



circumstance that the two wires, especially in dry 
weather, interfered with one another. This showed 
itself first in Persia, where the chief engineer of the 
Berlin firm, Herr Frischen. was occupied in arranging 
the telegraph service. With the very dry weather 
prevailing there the two wires were entirely insulated 
from one another and from the earth, and nevertheless 
correct Morse writing was received on both receiving 
instruments of the distant station, when a message was 
sent on one of the two lines. As the receiving apparatus 
of the second line at the sending station showed 
reversed writing, the cause of the disturbances could 
not but be in the electrostatic charge of the side 
line, for the currents dynamically induced in it should 
have given reversed writing at both ends of the second 
line. This was proved by a series of experiments, 
which Herr Frischen made in Teheran on my wired 
instruction. After the cause of the disturbance was 
ascertained, it could be rendered innocuous by suitable 

This leads me to observe that this double cause 
of the induced currents arising in neighbouring wires 

O o O 

occasions in the working of telephones many dis- 
turbances hitherto not altogether intelligible, and still 
needs thorough investigation. I have subsequently 
had an opportunity, when my firm laid a seven- 
cored land cable, to institute an instructive experi- 
ment in reference to this phenomenon. With the 
permission of the imperial telegraph administration 
one of the seven conductors of the cable from Darm- 


stadt to Strassburg, insulated by gutta-percha, was 
coated with tin-foil, whilst the other six conductors 
were uncoated. It appeared from the experiments 
carried out after the laying, that the tin-foil entirely 
obviated the electrostatic charge between the coated and 
the other wires, whilst the electro-dynamic induction 
between them remained quite unchanged. Unfortunately 
the experiment could not be made with perfectly 
insulated tin-foil, as such an insulation was not to be 

Even before the completion of the Indo-European 
line our St. Petersburg firm had been entrusted by 
the Russian government with the construction and the 
remount of several telegraph lines in the Russian 
Caucasus, and had for this purpose established a branch 
in Tiflis. the management of which was committed to 
my brother Walter. When after the completion of 
the government works no sufficient occupation could 
be found for the latter, he proposed to us the pur- 
chase of a rich copper mine in the Caucasus at Kedabeg 
near Elisabethpol. As mining did not fit into the 
frame of the business activity of our firms , brother 
Charles and I gave him privately the not very con- 
siderable capital required for the purchase and the 
working of the mine. 

The copper mine of Kedabeg is very old: it is 
even asserted that it is one of the oldest mines, from 
which copper was actually extracted in pre- historic 


times. This is rendered probable by its position in 
the neighbourhood of the large Goktcha lake and of 
Mount Ararat rising on its western shore, a region. 

o e 

which has indeed often been regarded as the cradle 


of the human race. A legend even runs that the 
beautiful valley of the Shamkhor river, which belongs 
to the forest district of the mine, was the site of 
the biblical Paradise. At any rate the number of old 
works, which crown the summit of the metalliferous 
mountain, testifies to the antiquity of the working of 
the mine , as does also the occurrence of native 
copper, and finally the circumstance that extensive 
pre- historic burial-grounds exist in the vicinity of 
Kedabeg , in the investigation of which Rudolph 
Virchow has shown such great interest. 

The mine has a beautiful, really paradisiacal en- 
vironment, with a temperate climate. It lies about 
2400 feet above the great Caucasian steppes, which 
extend from the foot of the spur of the little Cau- 
casus - - termed the Goktcha chain - - to the Caspian 
Sea. The working of it, when the primitive pit- 
sinking, subservient to operations on the exposed ore, 
could no longer be continued, came into the hands 
of the Greeks, whose slantingly sunk stair- case like 
shafts, by which they carried up ore and water on 
their backs, were still in use at the time of brother 
Walter's taking possession. Operations in accordance 
with modern principles were commenced by us with 
very sanguine expectations - - as is usually the case 
with such undertakings under the direction of a 


young Prussian miner and metallurgist, Dr. Bernoulli. 
It soon however became apparent that considerable 
difficulties would have to be overcome and large 
sums of money spent, before the working could be 
remunerative. This is intelligible when one considers 
that the mine is situated about 400 miles distant 
from the Black Sea and at that time was connected 
with it neither by railways nor regular roads, that 
all the material required for the mine and the pro- 
jected copper smeltery, even to the fire -proof bricks, 
of which there were then none in the Caucasus, had 
to be brought from Europe, and that for the life of 
a European colony in this paradisiacal waste, in which 
earth -caves served for human habitations, all the 
conditions of civilization had first to be created. 

No wonder that the amount of money which the 
mine swallowed up was great beyond all expectation, 
so that the question soon became urgent for us brothers, 
whether we should continue or give up the under- 
taking. To decide the matter I resolved in the autumn 
of 1865 to journey myself to the Caucasus, and learn 
the state of affairs by actual observation. I count 
this Caucasian journey among the most agreeable 
memories of my life. 1 had always felt a secret 
yearning towards the primitive seats of human cul- 
ture, and Bodenstedt's glowing descriptions of the 
luxuriant Caucasian nature had directed this yearning 
towards the Caucasus and long ago had excited in me 
the wish to know it. There was the further reason for 
the journey that I was mentally and bodily very much 


worn by the death of my beloved wife after severe 
sufferings, and seriously needed a renovating change. 
Accordingly at the beginning of October 1865 
I journeyed by way of Pesth to Basiash. where I 
embarked on one of the fine Danube steamers for 
Tchernawoda, in order to go from there via Kustendji 
to Constantinople. On the ship it was very interesting 
to me to meet the famous Omer Pacha, then com- 
mander-in-chief of the Turkish army. As he exhibited 
a desire for conversation we soon got acquainted; my 
Havannah cigars were to his liking and his chibouk. 

o o 

which he ordered his slave repeatedly to fill for me. 
to mine. Omer Pacha had at one time been a ser- 
geant in the Austrian army, had then gone over to the 
Turks, had adopted their faith and rapidly risen during 
the war with Russia. The conquest of Montenegro, 
which had up to that time been considered impossible, 
finally carried him to the head of the Turkish army. 
He was just returning from a prolonged visit to Vienna 
and Paris. My attempts to get him to relate his war- 
like exploits he unfortunately always evaded. The re- 
collections of the victories, which he had achieved in 
Vienna and Paris over the ladies of the ballet and the 
opera, seemed to him to be more agreeable than those 
of his warlike deeds. Only with regard to the ex- 
pected future war of the East against the West of 
Europe did he express himself, and that in a very 
sanguine manner. A powerful troop of Turkish horse 
would, so he thought, overwhelm the West as in former 
times, and ride down all resistance. For a Turkish 


generalissimo this opinion appeared to me as some- 
what childish. He seemed to feel very dependent on 
public opinion in Turkey, as was manifested on the 
occasion of a small travelling mishap which befel us. 
The engine of our vessel had suffered damage in 
passing the Iron Gate, and we were forced to spend 
the night in Orsova, that it might be repaired. In 
consequence we arrived somewhat late at Kustendji, 
and learnt to our dismay that the steamer, which went 
from there to Constantinople only twice a week, had 
not awaited the arrival of our train. The prospect 
of remaining several days in that dreary place was 
extremely disagreeable to all of us, especially to the 
seraskier. A deputation of the passengers headed by 
me therefore went to him, and begged him to induce 
the steam-ship company to send a small steamer with 
us after the one that had already departed. He 
however declined this for not very intelligible reasons. 
But afterwards he told me privately, he could not do 
it on account of his position, for if the steam-ship 
company had not complied with his request, all the 
Pachas in the whole empire of Turkey would have 
said "Haha! Omer Pacha has given an order, but has 
not been obeyed, haha!'' - to which banter he dared 
not expose himself. 

The Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmora, the Fresh Waters, 
the incomparably beautiful site of Constantinople 
all this has been so well described and is so familiar 
to the reader, that I had better be silent about it. 
In spite of the splendour and grandeur of its situation, 



which betrays at the first glance that Nature meant 
it for the seat of a world-empire, Constantinople with 
the opposite Pera, looked at from the sea, makes no 
cheerful or elevating impression. Nobody would say 
"I have seen Constantinople and can now die!" Pro- 
bably the dark cypresses, with which the Turk adorns 
his bury ing -places, rising everywhere in large groups 
between the houses, give an air of gloom to the 
aspect of the city in spite of its glorious environment. 
It may also be the mental reflex of the melancholy 
history of the place, or the presentiment that the 
struggle for Constantinople will one day set Europe 
in flames - - in short, the sight of Constantinople excites 
our admiration indeed, but it does not delight us 
like that of Naples or many another finely situated 
city. The prominent architectural structures also, such 
as the building of the ancient Seraglio at the Golden 
Horn and even St. Sophia, have nothing stimulating 
or cheering about them, although they are imposing 
by reason of their size. The dome of the ancient 
church of St. Sophia rises mightily indeed above the 
sea of houses, but one perceives only the dome with 
its unornamental pillars, looking ungainly at a distance. 
The external appearance of St. Sophia has been 
sacrificed to the beauty of the interior, which is indeed 
grand and sublime beyond all conception. Never has 
an architectural structure or any work of art, nay 
hardly one of the grandest of Nature's beauties, made 
so overpowering an impression upon me as the dome 
of St. Sophia seen from within. One altogether forgets 

ST. SOPHIA. 267 

in looking at it the heavy weight of the roof, which 
spans the wide square below, and receives an im- 
pression as if the dome, floating weightless over the 
large open space, were a gently curved lace veil, which 
only touches the rounding with the fine points of the 
edging. This illusion is produced by the dome resting 
on a number of short and narrow pillars, between which 
the dazzling light enters, causing the base of the pillars 
to appear like lace. I could only with difficulty free 
myself from the magic, which this floating roof exerted 
on me. and must confess that thereafter the high vaulted 
dome of St. Peter's with its heavy superstructure and 
massive symmetry made no particular impression on me. 
In St. Peter's one wonders that it is so much greater 
than it seems, whilst St. Sophia on the contrary appears 
greater than it is in reality, and thus carries the be- 
holder himself away with admiration of this sublime 
and by no means oppressive grandeur. 

I was pleased during my stay in Constantinople 
to meet several of the officers, who had already been 
sent there by Frederick William III. to re -organise 
the Turkish army, and to find among them some 
with whom I was acquainted in my military period. 
These officers had without exception remained Christians 
and true Germans, whilst the non-commissioned officers 
who had gone with them to Constantinople had in 
part become Mohammedans, and in consequence had 
already risen to higher grades in the army. One such 
renegade I met in Trebizond, whither I proceeded in 
the steamer goino 1 to Poti, after tarrying a few days 

O O J O i/ 


in Constantinople. I there visited the Prussian consul, 
Herr von Herford, who was well known to me in Berlin. 
He considered it proper that I should pay a visit to 
the pacha of the place, who was entrusted with the 
special commission of constructing a high road to 
Persia. To my question, whether the pacha was in- 
clined to receive us, the answer came, that he w r as 
occupied at the moment in his harem inspecting female 
slaves, who were offered for sale, he would however, 
after the lapse of an hour, receive us in his riding- 
ground. When the consul presented me to him there, 
the slender fair-haired man, who was still in his prime 
of life, seemed somewhat familiar to me. The pacha 
must have had the like feeling: he scrutinized my 
face for some time and then asked, if I had been 
formerly a Prussian officer and in garrison in Magde- 
burg. When I answered in the affirmative, he asked 
if I remembered about twenty years ago having had 
the order to inspect the lightning conductor of a powder 
magazine placed in the fortifications: he had been the 
pioneer-sergeant who conducted me there. I had only 
a dim recollection of this, but could not help wondering 
at the pacha's excellent memory for faces. When the 
consul thereupon made mention of the great engineering 
task, which the pacha had in hand, the latter proposed 
our taking a ride w 7 ith him along the new road on some 
Arab horses he had just purchased, a proposal to which 
I assented with pleasure. It was a splendid ride that 
we had on the noble animals at a rapid pace, first on 
the sea-shore, then in a charming valley with luxuriant 


vegetation on the really beautifully made road. When 
about an hour had passed the valley narrowed, and the 
road appeared to make a sharp bend. Then the pacha 
moderated the pace of his steed, and remarked that 
the evening was already far advanced and he must 
return, as he had still some business to attend to. 
Perhaps the purchase of the slaves was not yet com- 
pleted, as the consul whispered to me. I was seized 
however with a great curiosity to see how the country 
would open out beyond the bend of the valley, and 
called to the pacha that I should like to take just 
one glance round the corner, as the beautiful landscape 
took my fancy exceedingly. But when at full gallop 
I reached this corner, I found to my great astonishment 
that the road came to a sudden end. Of course I 
immediately turned back and in a few minutes caught 
up my companions. The pacha evidently regarded me 
with some suspicion, but I was so full of the beautiful 
view, which I had enjoyed round the turning, that he 
was soon at his ease again, and took leave of me in 
very friendly fashion as an old acquaintance. The 
consul however asked me afterwards, if I had also 
seen where the road ended - - the pacha had pocketed 
the continuation! 

Trebizond is magnificently situated at the foot of 
the Armenian table-land, with a rather abrupt and 
broken descent along the entire coast. The beauty 
of its situation is very considerably enhanced by the 
exceeding luxuriance of the trees and shrubs, which 
characterizes the whole region. Perhaps I should 


have been still more enraptured with the town, had 
not Bodenstedt's "enthusiastic descriptions raised my 
expectations to somewhat too high a pitch. My journey 
from Trebizond on the following day, favored by the 
finest weather, lay along the steep beautifully shaped 
shore. We steamed past Kerasoun, the celebrated 
cherry city, from whose heights Xenophon's Ten 
Thousand had beheld the heaving sea and cried 
; 'ThalattaP At Batoum our vessel reached its desti- 
nation; then we were ferried across in a small coast- 
ing steamer to harbourless Poti. 

Batoum has indeed only a small but thoroughly 
safe harbour, easily accessible even in bad weather, 
and a very fine situation, with wooded mountainous 
country in the rear; whereas Poti lies at the mouth 
of the Rion, the Phasis of the ancients, in a wide 
marshy plain, and possesses no harbour at all, but 
only a roadstead, which on account of the shallow 
water must be avoided by vessels in windy weather. 
Thrice has the Russian government made the costly 
attempt to construct a break-water, to afford some 
protection to vessels, but all these attempts have been 
fruitless. The wicked world asserts that the first mole 
made of wood was eaten by the bore-worm, the 
second of cement by the sea-water, and the third built 
of granite by the generals! Although the last assertion 
must be regarded as a bad joke, for in reality the 
immense cost of the stone dike arrested further pro- 
gress, yet these repeated failures illustrate the necessity 
felt by Russia to obtain possession of the only available 


harbour of the coast, Batoum, because thereon depended 
the further development of the whole Caucasian terri- 
tory. The acquisition of Batoum alone would have 
been a sufficient equivalent for the cost of the last 
Turkish war. 

I was met at Poti by my brother Walter, in 
whose company I now continued the journey to Tiflis, 
which both then and also three years later, when I 
made a second journey to Kedabeg, was attended with 
serious inconveniences. One had to go first in a 


river-steamer up the Rion, as far as Orpiri, a place 
which was exclusively inhabited by a Russian sect, 
consisting of beardless men, who had been brought 

O ' O 

thither from all parts of the Russian empire. Apart 
from the interesting omnium-gatherum of the most 
varied nationalities and tongues on board the vessel, 
the only noticeable thing, which presented itself on the 
voyage up the Rion, was the sight of a really impene- 
trable, swampy, primeval forest on both banks of the 

From Orpiri we drove to Kutais, the ancient 
Kolchis, which is situated on the slope of a mountain 
range, connecting the great with the little Caucasus, 
on the border of the Rion valley, in surroundings 
pleasing and beautiful. 

High above Kutais towers a famous monastery 
named Gelati, which is considered to be one of the 
oldest in Christendom, and is said to be built on a 
site regarded as sacred since the grey dawn of time. 
I visited it on my second journey, and found myself 


richly rewarded for the toil of a fatiguing ride, which 
brought me to the monastery situated some thousand 
feet above the level of the sea. The monastery, now 
for the most part fallen into ruin, commanding a splen- 
did prospect, is especially celebrated through a small 
temple, resting on four granite columns, each of which 
belongs to a peculiar architectural style. This temple 
is said to date from an extremely remote period, as 
altogether the age of many architectural remains in 
the Caucasus is not to be reckoned as in Europe by 
centuries, but by thousands of years. Although a certain 
allowance must be made for exaggeration, yet all one 
sees and hears indicates that the Caucasus is one of 
the primeval seats of human civilization. 

Kutais has now a railway station, and Tin 1 is is 
easily reached in a single day from Poti or Batoum. 
At that time one thought oneself lucky to have at 
least a new road over the Suram mountains, by which 
the former very troublesome journey was considerably 
facilitated. As compensation the Suram pass was 
extremely picturesque, and afforded the most enchanting 
views. The underwood of fhe forest and of the more 
open parts consists here entirely of rhododendrons 
and of the arborescent yellow -flowering azaleas of the 
Caucasus, both plants, which present a most charming 
spectacle in the flowering season, and fill the air with 
overpowering perfume. If in addition one imagines 
bluff walls of rock, rising often almost perpendicularly 
to the height of several hundred yards, frequently 
covered from top to bottom with rank old ivy, an 

TIFLIS. 273 

idea may be formed of the charms of this region. 
On the other hand the Georgian table -land, upon 
which one enters after crossing the Suram mountains 
the high road to Tiflis following closely the course 
of the Kur - - has no particular beauty; it is stony, 
often rent by chasms, and poor in vegetation. Still 
one is reconciled to the sterile environment through 


the ever -recurring view of the snowy peaks of the 
great Caucasus, which already from the sea afford a 
glorious spectacle. 

Tiflis, traversed by the river Kur in its deep-cut 
bed, leans to the north against a precipitous mountain- 
wall, which is doubtless the main cause of the in- 
supportable heat felt in the town during summer. 
Hence every inhabitant of Tiflis, who can at all afford 
it, possesses for the hot season a second dwelling placed 
some thousand feet higher , which he only quits to 
attend to business affairs in the town. Properly 
speaking Tiflis is composed of two entirely distinct 
towns, the upper European, and the lower Asiatic, 
town, divided from each other by well-defined boun- 
daries. The European Tiflis delights to style itself 
proudly "The Paris of Asia", or at least claims this 
title of honour immediately after Calcutta. It has in- 
deed a thoroughly European appearance, being mainly 
inhabited by Russians and western Europeans. In this 
part are situated the imperial residence, the theatre, 
and all the government buildings. The adjoining town 

O O J O 

on the other hand is in appearance and population 
purely Asiatic. The reason why Tiflis in very early times 



became a seat of civilization is doubtless to be found in 
the famous hot springs, which possess an even higher im- 
portance for Orientals than for dwellers in the Occident. 
From Tiflis our course lay along a tolerably good 
high -way to Axtapha , where the road to Baku via 
Elizabethpol branches off from that to the Goktcha 
Lake and to Persia, and the vast steppes extending 
to the Caspian Sea begin. On account of the high 
temperature we chose to continue our journey in the 
early morning , and ordered the horses for 3 a. m. 
The postmaster however energetically opposed this, as 
a band of robbers was rendering the country unsafe. 
The Russian government even to the present day has 
not succeeded in entirely suppressing brigandage in 
the Caucasus. The Tartars of the steppes and of the 
neighbouring mountain regions , in spite of severe 
punishments, cannot be weaned from it. Just now, in 
the summer of 1890, when on the point of making 
a third journey with my wife and youngest daughter 
to Kedabeg, I get the news that a band of robbers 
is carrying on its nefarious practices in the neighbour- 
hood of our mining works and has given occasion for 
extreme measures against them. 


The predatory propensity of the Caucasian tribes, 
ever manifesting itself afresh, has its root in the habits 
and sentiments of the population of a country, in which 
the bearing of arms still forms the man's pride. 
Plundering is there considered more as a prohibited 
sport than a crime. As knights in the Middle Ages 
deemed it compatible with their dignity to snatch 


his wares from the pedlar on the high-road, and to 
fleece the citizens, so the Caucasian Tartar yearns to 
roam on his steed as a free man through forests and 
over steppes, and to take by violence whatever conies 
in his way. It often occurred at Kedabeg, where the 
Tartars belong to the best and most reliable work- 
men, that pitmen, who had laboured industriously 
for years, and almost without interruption the 

Moslem sect of the Shiites to which they belong having 
only one feast day in the year and no Sunday - , 
suddenly disappeared, when they had saved enough 
money to buy a horse and weapons. Sometimes they 
returned after a length of time. It was known that in 
the interval they had been practising brigandage, yet 
this did not prevent them from becoming excellent 
workmen again, if they had been unlucky in their 
predatory occupation, or had lost the taste for it. 

The warnings of the postmaster at Axtapha were 
not strong enough to detain us, but we continued our 

O O " 

journey in the cool starry night with fleet horses, and 
trusted to our good revolvers, which for precaution's 
sake we held cocked in our hands. My brother Walter 
however, whom the novelty of the situation did not 
keep awake like myself, was not able to resist fatigue 
very long, and soon slept the sleep of the just. Suddenly 
there rang from the box of our low springiess open 
w r aggon, on which my brother's servant was seated beside 
the driver, a loud cry of "Robbers"! At the same time 
I saw in the gloom a white figure galloping straight 

towards us. My brother awoke in consequence of 



the shout, and without reflection discharged his revolver 
at the figure, now close in front of our horses and 
himself shouting loudly, fortunately without hitting 
him. As it soon appeared, it was no robber but an 
Armenian, who imagined himself pursued by robbers, 
and had dashed towards us in search of protection. 
The Armenians generally pass in the Caucasus for 
very shrewd and smart men of business, who possess 
little courage . and perhaps for this reason like to 
equip themselves in as martial a fashion as possible 
on their journeyings. As it seemed, the gang of robbers, 
which had terrified our Armenian, existed only in his 
imagination. His incautiousness however might easily 
have cost him dear, and the fault would have been 
entirely his own, as according to the custom of the 
country it is an understood rule, that one must never 
approach chance travellers on a journey at a rapid pace. 
Shortly after this exciting incident we were de- 
lighted by a remarkable natural phenomenon. A brilliant 
luminous apparition suddenly arose right before us on 
the horizon of the boundless steppe. It gleamed with 
a magnificent many-coloured light, was distinguishable 
from a meteor however by its remaining immovable 
at the same point of the heavens. We racked our 
brains as to the cause of the phenomenon, which we 
could only compare to a parachute rocket with coloured 
fire. It soon however became weaker, and after a 
short time shrank to the dimensions of a bright star. 
It was the rising Venus, which appeared so remarkably 
magnified and coloured through the mist of the steppes 


and the darkness in which the earth is still veiled in 
those Southern regions even shortly before sunrise. 

We passed the night in the Suabian colony of 
Annenfeld. which lies or rather lay at the foot of a 
steep declivity leading to the Kedabeg mine near the 
Kur. in a very fertile but not salubrious region, for 
the colonists afterwards abandoned the place, and 
built for themselves a new village about five hundred 
feet higher up the slope of the mountain. There exists 
in the Caucasus a certain number of such Suabian 
colonies. I believe six or seven, Tiflis also beino; one 

" o 

of them. They owe their origin to some rigid Luther- 
ans from Suabia , who quitted their fatherland in 
divers groups in the first decennium of our century, 
and were desirous of migrating through Austria and 
Russia to the promised land, where according to the 
belief of their leaders earthly and heavenly joys awaited 
them. The Russian government of the time however 
set great store by the immigration of good German 
husbandmen into the Caucasus, it therefore stopped 
the columns, and induced them to send a delegation 
under escort to Jerusalem, to make previous inquiry 
whether land really suitable for them was to be had 
there. When after a rather long interval the delega- 
tion returned, it could only advise to discontinue the 
march to the promised land , and as the Russian 
government granted the people large and fine tracts 
of land gratuitously, the Suabians settled there, and 
always remained the true Suabians they were at the 
time of the emigration. It comes upon a traveller as 


a great surprise to find in these Suabian settlements 
the pure and unadulterated old Suabian customs and 
language. One fancies oneself suddenly transplanted 
into a village of the Black Forest, such is the appea- 
rance of the houses, the streets, and inhabitants of 
these colonies. It is true I found it difficult to under- 
stand their dialect, as I had not then studied it, as 
is now the case in a measure after twenty years 
marriage with a Suabian lady, but I learnt from a 
genuine Suabian that he too only understood it with 
difficulty, as it was the dialect spoken at the begin- 
ning of the century, and not the present one. essentially 
changed through the influence of time. With the 
language the people have also retained all their customs 
and usages, just as they were at the time of the emi- 
gration. They are as it were fossilized and inflexibly 
resist all changes. 

It looks however as if this immutability of national 
custom and language were a general characteristic of 

Oo O 

the Caucasus, which presents a real mosaic of nations. 
Besides the larger sharply separated tribes there are 
a number of quite small ones, which inhabit secluded 
and almost inaccessible mountain valleys, and have 
faithfully preserved both language and customs, which 
from time immemorial have been altogether different 
from those of all the neighbouring peoples. Further 
there exist in the Caucasus numerous Russian colonies, 
composed of sects which have been transported there 
from all parts of Russia in the endeavour to preserve 
the uniformity of the State religion, and are united in 


separate settlements. These too have after more than 
half a century still retained quite unchanged their 
language, creed, and customs. The most wide-spread 
of these sects are those of the Dukhobortsi and Molokani, 
which like those of the Suabians take their stand on 
definite and peculiar interpretation of biblical passages. 
They are excellent workmen, and orderly people when 
not carried away by fanaticism. 

The Molokani are almost without exception artisans, 
especially cabinet-makers, the Dukhobortsi on the other 
hand good husbandmen and drivers. The vicinity of 
a colony of Dukhobortsi has always been of inesti- 
mable value to Kedabeg. Once only in the year do 
the people refuse to work. viz. when their queen 
proceeds from one colony to another and celebrates 
religious festivals with them, which however seem to 
lay great stress on earthly bliss, perhaps only to give 
the faithful a faint idea of the anticipated and infinitely 
greater joys hereafter. 

From Annenfeld a steep, and not very well-made 
road leads up to Kedabeg. At the height of about 
3000 feet an undulating fertile plain is reached, broken 
by small mountain ranges, formerly covered by fine 
forests of oaks, limes, beeches, and other leaf-bearing 

' " " O 

trees. Since the cessation of the Persian rule, the 
traces of which are especially recognisable in the 
frequent ruins of works of irrigation, the woods here, 
as in most of the elevated plains of the country, have 
been entirely extirpated; the reason being that, in the 
hot season when the grass dries up, and likewise in the 


winter when the steppes are covered with snow, the 
shepherds drive their herds up the mountains to let 
them browse on the young shoots. For this pur- 
pose they simply fell the trees, and let the cattle 
eat the buds and twigs. In this manner a single herd 
often annihilates square versts of luxuriant forest. The 
managers of our foundry have accordingly always 
experienced the greatest difficulty in preventing these 
devastating herds from destroying our woods, on the 
preservation of which smelting is wholly dependent in 
the absence of coal or other combustible material. 

The smelting -works stand by a small mountain 
brook, which below Kedabeg forces its way abruptly 
through the ridge separating Kedabeg from the para- 
disiacally beautiful Shamkhor valley. In the valley 
where it emerges lie the ruins of a small Armenian 
fortress, whilst the Shamkhor valley at about the level 
of Kedabeg conceals an old Armenian monastery, which 
was then still inhabited by a few monks. At present 
the aspect of Kedabeg, seen by anyone ascending from 
the valley, after crossing the last mountain slope and 
passing an old cemetery on the way, is most surprising. 
It is the throughly European spectacle of a small pic- 
turesquely situated manufacturing town, which presents 
itself to view, with huge furnaces and large buildings, 
among them a Christian chapel, a school, and an inn 
fitted up in European fashion. There is also a rail- 
way carried over a lofty viaduct, connecting the branch 
smelting establishment of Kalakent, some twenty miles 
off, with Kedabeg and the neighbouring metalliferous 


mountain. This remarkable spectacle of a modern 
civilized centre in the midst of the wilderness has 
made Kedabeg a regular place of pilgrimage for the 
inhabitants of the country as far as the interior of 
Persia. When I visited it for the first time, the ap- 
pearance of Kedabeg was certainly a very different 
one. Except the wooden dwelling-house of the managers, 
which struck the eye through its position on a com- 
manding height, onlv a few smelting furnaces and 

o o <; O 

administration buildings were visible. The workmen's 
dwellings were only distinguishable by wreaths of 
smoke on the mountain slopes, for they all consisted 
of caves. 

Caves serve in eastern Caucasia almost exclusively 
for dwellings. They are properly speaking wooden 
houses, which are built in a pit, and covered over 
with a layer of earth a yard in thickness, so that the 
whole looks like a mole-hill. In the middle of the 
roof a chimney peeps out, which affords an exit for 
the smoke from the one room, and is at the same 
time the only admitter of light beside the entrance. 
For the rest such caves are sometimes quite elegantly 
made. In a visit, which, in company with my brother 
and the smelting director, I paid to a neighbouring 
"prince" so the larger landed proprietors of the 

district are called we were introduced into a 

tolerably spacious saloon-like room, the floor of which 
was covered, with handsome carpets, whilst the in- 
terior partitions were formed of Persian carpets sus- 
pended after the manner of side-scenes. Opposite 


the divan was the fire-place, above it the aperture in 
the roof. Behind the carpets there was a stir of life, 
and every now and then we heard the voices of 
women and children. The prince received us with 
great ceremony and made us sit on the divan, whilst 
he himself settled in front of it. After a short con- 
versation through the medium of an interpreter, carried 
on with all the forms of Oriental politeness, we were 
desirous of departing, but our intention met with very 
serious resistance. Soon after our entry we had heard 
the bleating of a sheep, and at once surmised that it 
was being slaughtered in our honour. In fact the 
prince signified to us with a very grave countenance, 
that he hoped we should not so offend him as to quit 
his abode without having partaken of his hospitality. 
We were therefore obliged to wait patiently till the 
"skishlik" was ready, which was prepared before our 
very eyes. This preparation took place in the usual 
very primitive fashion. The flesh of the freshly 
slaughtered sheep was cut into cubes of about the 
size of a walnut, which were then arranged on an 

j O 

iron ramrod with disks of fat from the fatty tail of 
the animal interlarded. Meanwhile a wood-fire was 
made between two stones, and when onlv the glowing; 

/ O 

embers remained of it, the prepared ramrods were 
laid across the stones and frequently turned. A few 
minutes after, the meal was ready, and each guest 
took according to his fancy cubes from the garnished 
ramrod presented to him. Such a "shishlik" ', if the 
sheep is not too old and especially is quite recently 


killed, is very tender and savoury; it always forms 
the basis of Tartar and Georgian meals, or what we 
should call in our dinners the "piece de resistance" . 

Precisely in the same way as the underground 
abodes of princes the large underground stables are 
constructed in the Caucasus. I had already made 
their acquaintance during the journey at one of the 
post -stations, where I was reminded by the neighing 
and trampling of horses that I was walking over a 
stable. The coolness of the underground habitations 
in summer and their warmth in winter is extolled, 
and it has cost the directors of the smelting-works in 
Kedabeg much trouble to accustom the Asiatic workmen 
to stone houses. When this at last succeeded with 
the help of the women, the difficult workman's question 
was therewith solved. For as the people there have 
only very few wants there is no reason for their doing 
much work. When they have earned sufficient money 
to secure their maintenance for a few weeks they 
cease to work and take their ease. To cope with 
this there was only one resource, viz. to accustom the 
people to needs, the satisfaction of which could only 
be attained by continuous labour. The handle was 
afforded by the natural inclination of the female sex 
for a pleasant family-life and their easily awakened 
vanity and love of dress. When a few simple workmen's 
houses had been built, and we had succeeded in 
quartering therein a few couples, the women soon 
found pleasure in the greater convenience and comfort 
of the dwellings. The men also found it an advantage 


not to have incessantly to take measures for securing 
their roofs from the rain. Further care was taken 
that the women should be able to procure all sorts 
of small appliances, which made their life in the house 
more comfortable, and themselves more attractive to 
their husbands. They had soon acquired a taste for 
carpets and mirrors, improved their toilet, in short 
they experienced wants, for the satisfaction of which 
the men were now compelled to provide, who in so 
doing were very well pleased with the change. This 
excited the envy of the women still dwelling in their 
caves, and before long there was a general rush for 
the workmen's dwellings, which of course necessitated 
the building of houses for all the permanent workmen. 

I can only urgently advise proceeding on the 
same lines in our present colonial efforts. The man 
without wants is hostile to all improvements of civilized 
life. Only when wants are awakened in him, and he 
is accustomed to work for their satisfaction, does he 
form a promising object for social and religious civilizing 
efforts. To begin with the latter will always only 
yield illusory results. 

When three years later I again visited Kedabeg, 
I found a quite considerable place of European aspect 
already arisen out of the Troglodyte settlement. The 
bulk of the workmen was certainly still nomadic, but this 
has remained the case even to the present day. These 
are people who principally come from Persia after the 
end of the harvest, work industriously in the mine or 
in the smelting-house, but go further when they have 


earned the necessary money, or when they are wanted 
at home. There is however now a regular labouring 
class, which ensures the continuation of the necessary 
work at all times. The officials of the mine were 
nearly almost without exception Germans, among them 
a sprinkling from the Baltic provinces of Russia. The 
business language has therefore always been German. 
It is comical to hear Tartars, Persians, and Russians 
murder the somewhat corrupted German names of 
implements and operations and even the terms of 
abuse common among the miners of the Harz. 

The mountain, rich in sulphurated copper-ore, is 
situated in the neighbourhood of Kedabeg, and is 
connected with it by a so-called haulage-line. More- 
over, as has been already mentioned, a narrow-gauge 
line has been constructed by us, which runs in the 
river valley of the wild Kalakent brook far into the 
forests yielding wood and charcoal to the beautifully 
situated branch smeltery Kalakent, and from there to 
the wood wharves on the Shamkhor. For many years 
this mountain railway ensured a supply of combustible 
material, but carefully as the cleared spaces were 
replanted in accordance with the principles of forest 
management, yet at last want of wood threatened to 
bring the smelting- works to a standstill. However 
necessity itself is usually the best helper in emergencies; 
which also held good in this case. We have recently 
succeeded, I believe for the first time in the world, 
in replacing coals for smelting by the raw material 
of petroleum, naphtha, and by masut, the residuum in 


the distillation of petroleum. These combustibles are 
brought from Baku by the Tiflis line, which has been 
in existence for some years, to the Shamkhor station 
at the foot of the mountain. With their help the 
roasted ore is smelted in large round furnaces, 20 feet 
in diameter, and worked up into copper. An electric 
refining establishment at Kalakent transforms the raw 
copper thus obtained into chemically pure copper, 
whereby the silver contained in it is obtained as a 
secondary product. As however it is difficult in winter 
and during the rainy season to bring masut and naphtha 
up the mountain from the railway - station to Kedabeg 
on the impassable roads, a conduit has been constructed 
of Mannesmann's weldless steel tubes, through which the 

" O 

masut is pumped up the slope about three thousand 
feet from the plain. I hope personally to see this 
contrivance in action this very autumn. Furthermore 
the necessary arrangements have now been completed 
for transforming the poorer ores, hitherto not paying 
for the working up into refined copper, according to 
a new process of my own, by a purely electrical method 
without the employment of combustible materials. 
For this purpose large turbines of over a thousand 
horse-power have to be set up in the neighbouring 
Shamkhor valley for working the dynamos , which 
generate the necessary electric current. This current 
has to be conveyed over the ridge, about 2500 feet 
high, dividing Kedabeg from Shamkhor, in order to 
extract and precipitate by the electric current the 
copper from the powdered ore, at the very foot of 


the metalliferous mountain. When this arrangement, 
already elaborated in detail theoretically and practi- 
cally, is ready, there will exist in the distant Caucasus 
a smeltery, preeminent in a scientific point of view, 
and able to cope successfully with the disadvantages 
of its site. 

It may easily be imagined that the results obtained 
by us in Kedabeg would bring us offers of metalliferous 
property from all sides. Although my brother Charles 
was as little inclined for further undertakings as I 
myself, Kedabeg having already given us cares enough, 
yet we could not always reject the invitation of people 
of influence to take a look at the preferred beds. 
When, after the death of my brother Walter, who 
lost his life very suddenly by a severe fall from his 
horse, I travelled in the autumn of 1868 for the second 
time to Kedabeg, I was in this way induced to make 
two tours in the great Caucasus. One of these from 
Sukhum-Kale to Cibelda in particular was of uncommon 
interest to me. 

The Elbrus, 18000 feet high, the loftiest mountain 
of Europe, if the crest of the high Caucasus range be 
taken as the natural limit of this part of the globe, 
is visible in its full height from a few points only, 
being surrounded by a circle of lofty mountains. The 
interval, which separates it from this circle, is accessible 
at a few places only, and is again cut up into different 
parts by several radial ridges, which render all human 
intercourse impossible. Among these Cibelda is a na- 
tural impregnable fortress, which can be defended by 


a handful of men against whole armies. Long after 
the rest of the Caucasus had fallen into Russian hands, 
and the Circassians who would not bend beneath the 
Russian yoke had emigrated to Turkey, Cibelda re- 
mained still unconquered in the possession of its scanty 
population, forming a tribe by themselves. The Russians 
had conquered all apparently impregnable fortresses 
of the Western Caucasus by the construction of roads, 
which afforded them convenient access into the parts 
to be subjugated. Cibelda however withstood also 
the attack by the military road, but hunger and the 
tempting proposals of the Russian government finally 
induced them to voluntarily evacuate their fortress, 
whereupon they likewise resolved to emigrate to Asia 

About a year had elapsed since this emigration, 
when General Heymann, governor of Sukhum - Kale, 
invited my brother Otto, who had stepped into 
Walter's place in the business and also been appointed 
German consul in his room, to make an examination 
of same deposits of copper and silver ore in Cibelda. 
When with brother Otto and my expert, the recently 
engaged director Dannenberg, whose introduction to 
his new office was the main purpose of my journey. 
I came in September 1868 to Sukhum -Kale, the 
general renewed his request, and promised to make 
our journey to Cibelda as easy and safe as possible. 
I could not resist the temptation to get in this way 
to the very centre of the high Caucasus, which, as 
was said, had never been trodden by the foot of a 


native of Western Europe. A small military expedition 
for the purpose of taking us to the metallic beds was 
therefore equipped, under the command of a young 
Russian captain, who had superintended the exodus 
of the population of Cibelda. 

Sukhum-Kale, i. e. the "Sukhum fortress", lies 
very picturesquely on a small rocky bay at the foot 
of the lofty ring of mountains girding Elbrus. Its 
environment is entrancingly beautiful, above all by its 
vegetation, whose luxuriance defies all description. 
In the place itself my admiration was excited by a 
long avenue of weeping willows, the height of which 
vied with that of our loftiest forest-trees, their massy 
branches hanging down from the dome -like tops to 
the ground. Unfortunately this splendid avenue fell 
in the year 1877 a sacrifice to the Russo -Turkish war. 
The way taken by our well-mounted expedition led 
immediately behind the town up the valley of a small 
mountain stream studded throughout with magnificent 
trees. It struck me that the mighty oaks and chestnuts 
frequently, especially in sunny places, had a perfectly 
brown envelope, which shut out all sight of green leaves. 
This was owing to the wild hops, which covered them 
to the very summits, and gave them this hue through 
their large ripe umbels. As I knew the great value 
of the hop, I proposed to General Heymann on our 
return to have these hops gathered by his soldiers, 
and sent as samples for examination to Germany. The 
general did so, but the trial, as I may as well state 

at once, unfortunately proved unfavourable. It was 



not then known to me that wild hops possess no 
bitter principle; this is only obtained from the fruit 
of the female plants when all the male plants are 
carefully kept apart, which of course is never the case 
with wild hops. 

Our bridle-path took us upwards the whole day 
through equally beautiful scenery, untouched by human 
culture. At the same time we were often refreshed 
by enchanting distant views of the lofty snow-covered 
mountain - chain . rising gradually before us, and the 
glittering mirror of the sea, lying at our feet. Towards 
evening we reached one of the small fortified Russian 
encampments , whose continual advance on the newly 
made military roads was the means whereby the 
Russian forces finally broke the resistance of the brave 

Next morning we continued our ride at sunrise, 
and now approached the lofty chain. We had fre- 
quently occasion to admire the bold construction of 
the roads by the Russians; obstacles were there over- 
come which appeared altogether insurmountable at the 
first glance. We reached without much difficulty the 
border of the district already designated by the name 
of Cibelda, which forms the foreland of the high 
stronghold of that name. To this there was only a 
single entrance along a deep cleft in the mountains, 
at the bottom of which a wild mountain -river took 
its raging course. The cleft was bordered on the 
side whence we came by a rocky wall, certainly more 
than a thousand feet high, almost perpendicular and 


probably over a verst in length. About half way up 
a horizontal shelf had been formed, which was just 
broad enough to serve at need as a bridle-path. This 
path was the only approach to Cibelda; we were 
therefore obliged to pass it. The officer rode forward 
after giving us the advice not to look into the chasm, 
but always at the head of the horse, and let it go 
quite by itself. In profound silence we successfully 
reached about the middle of the defile: at the edge 
of the path some vegetation had settled, whereby the 
view of the yawning gulf was diverted. Then I suddenly 
observed that the forepart of the horse of my front 
man, the officer, was quite low down, and at the same 
time saw the latter swing himself gently from the 
saddle to the side of the rocky wall. The horse too 
did not lose its steadiness, but raised itself again, and 
continued its way by the side of the officer. I in- 
voluntarily considered it advisable to do just as my 
front man, and also glided from my horse to the side 
of the rocky wall. When I had successfully passed 
the dangerous spot, where the officer's horse, misled 
by the vegetation, had made the false step, I looked 
with anxiety after my brother who followed me, but 
perceived to my relief that not only he, but the whole 
column of riders, had already followed our example. 
In this manner we all reached in safety the end of 
the narrow pass, and soon recovered from our toils 
and alarms by the enjoyment of a good meal, partaken 
in an enchantingly beautiful moss-covered grotto, open 

towards the deep and tolerably broad river-valley. 



From this point the path altogether ceased, and 
it was utterly incomprehensible to me how our guide 
could find his way in the splendid primeval forest 
through which we had now to wend. The formation 
of the ground in the next part of the way was very 
peculiar. There were imposing undulating elevations 
with a bend from east to west, perhaps seven hundred 
feet high, which we had repeatedly to cross. Their 
southern 'slopes were adorned with splendid trees, 
mostly oak, chestnut, and walnut, whose summits formed 
so perfect a roof that the plague of lianas and other 
creeping plants was precluded. The trees were of 
enormous dimensions. It is probable that human hand 
had never influenced the natural course of their growth ; 
and accordingly old withered giants stood beside the 
verdant and flourishing, whilst trees of a younger 
generation overshadowed the mighty trunks lying on 
the ground, doubtless felled by storms. It often cost 
a good deal of trouble to evade such a dead tree 
barring the way, for summit and root formed at their 
ends effective abatis. Many of these prostrate trees 
were so thick that a mounted rider was only just 
able to see beyond them. Now and again they were 
luckily lying in such a position, that we could pass 
under them. 

An altogether different picture w r as presented to 
us, when we had crossed the summit of such a ridge, 
and had to come down again on its northern slope. 
Here the sun had not had the power to dry the ground. 
The whole slope was marshy in spite of its steepness, 


so that the horses' hoofs stuck fast in the tenacious 
soil, and we were frequently obliged to dismount and 
assist our horses. Numberless creeping plants also 
throve here, forcing us to make wide circuits; and 
the places sought out by us, which on account of too 
great moisture were free from creepers, bore a vege- 
tation of reed -like plants of such a height that they 
overtopped horse and rider. Once the ground became 
so steep that the horses could not proceed. I could 
then not help admiring the cleverness of our Russians. 
They sought out a particularly steep and slippery 
spot, and cautiously let down the horses one by one 
with ropes attached to their tails, whilst we ourselves 
slid down without any such check. 

At the next ascent I made the discovery that 
the tail of the Caucasian mountain-horse plays a further 
important part in difficult mountain -tours. We were 
obliged to climb up on foot the particularly steep 
height, to spare the already much fatigued animals, 
which had necessarily to bring us to our goal before 
sunset, and I soon found myself at the end of my 
strength. In my distress it occurred to me to grasp 
the tail of the horse clambering quite cheerfully be- 
side me up the stony path. That seemed to be a 
well-known procedure to it; it redoubled its efforts, 
and I attained without difficulty the crest of the hill, 
where the officer received me with the applauding ex- 
clamation ''Caucasian fashion!" When I looked back 
at my hinder-men, I found them all, to my surprise, 
also clinging to the tails of their steeds. 


As the sun was going down we reached at last 
a narrow rocky gate, which forms the entrance into 
the proper natural fortress of Cibelda. When we had 
passed it, there spread before us a spectacle of 
such grandeur and beauty, that it almost over- 
whelmed me at the first moment. Before us in the clear 
evening glow lay the mighty Elbrus, covered far down 
with snow. Right and left beside it a number of 
further snow -mountains was visible, which developed 
into a long chain especially on the right. Far below 
us, partly still illuminated by the sun, lay a rocky 
river-valley, which bordered the foot of Elbrus, whose 
steep treeless slope descended towards it in a broad 
expanse without any visible break. It reminded me 
somewhat of the view one obtains from Grindelwald 
over the sun-illumined Alpine chain; only the mighty 
Elbrus was enthroned in the centre of the picture, as 
if two Jungfraus were piled on one another. 

After we had refreshed ourselves with this asto- 
nishing and incomparably beautiful view, we traversed 
the rather extensive plain, which spread out before us 
and contained the village of the tribe of the Cibeldians, 
who had emigrated the year before. It was not easy 
to advance on the plain, densely overgrown with 
burdock of more than a man's height, and to find 
the way to the village. A w r ay broken by bears 
through the shrubs stood us in good stead. That it 
had been so made could be inferred from the kernels 
of the fruit of the cherry -laurels lying about, which 
form a favourite food for the bears of the region. The 


wooden houses of the large village still stood entire, 
just as their inhabitants had left them a year ago; 
only here and there some destruction had been caused 
by the bears in their search for food. 

When we had quartered ourselves, we had first 
to try to recover a human aspect, for in breaking 
through the dense vegetation, which had made the 
former gardens of the village almost impenetrable, every 
inch of our clothing as of our beards had become 
fringed with a layer of burs, so that we ourselves 
looked more like brown bears than human beings. 
The removal of the burs was an extremely trouble- 
some and in part painful operation. 

After a refreshing night's rest in the abandoned 
dwellings our miner investigated the old copper -pit, 
which he declared not to be worth working: but even 
had it been so in the highest degree, its situation 
would have made any mining operation impossible. 
My brother Otto and I had meanwhile fully enjoyed 
the overpowering grandeur and sublime beauty of the 
environment. By the morning light one perceived still 
better than in the evening the wild ruggedness of the 
exposed surface of Elbrus , with its ice - fields and 
glaciers, to which the lines of the water-courses, rushing 
down the slopes and glittering in the sunshine, lent a 
quite peculiar charm. The plateau, on which we stood, 
descends abruptly to the river-valley, which separates 
it from Elbrus; on the other sides it is surrounded 
by high mountains, which, in contrast with Elbrus, 
presented the most luxuriant green of Caucasian vege- 


tation. A walk round the edge of the plain turned 
towards the river afforded always new views, entirely 
different from all the preceding, and of a sublimity 
and beauty baffling all description. 

The return-journey to Sukhum-Kale we made by 
the same way as the journey to Cibelda, but in con- 
sequence of the previous experience with less difficulty. 
Unfortunately, I had now to pay my tribute to the 
dangerous climate of this incomparably beautiful 
country. Already in the Russian fort, where we again 
passed the night, I felt ill. The young military doctor, 
who accompanied us, at once perceived that I had 
caught the dangerous fever of that region, and applied 
without delay the usual remedy. Before the fever 
had fully developed I received a powerful dose of 
quinine, which caused severe singing in the ears and 
other unpleasant sensations, but brought down the 
fever to a mild form, so that I was able to complete 
the journey. The fever in the district of Sukhum- 
Kale is a tertian ague: on the third day I therefore 
had to take a second, some\vhat weaker dose, with 
the direction to take after further three days a third, 
still weaker one. The fever was thus cut short; I 
often suffered however in aftertimes of intolerable 
pains in the side, as the doctor had prognosticated. 

In former years I had repeatedly suffered of in- 
termittent fever, which obliged me to take small doses 


of quinine for several months, thereby seriously im- 
pairing my health. In the Caucasus . where climatic 
fevers occur often and in the most varied forms, the 

FEVER. 297 

treatment described is always applied with the best 
results. Certainly there are also fevers in this district 
so malignant that they end in death on a first attack. 
The fever - producing regions are indeed as a rule 
marshy and covered with luxuriant vegetation, but 
also highly situated dry grass -land often passes for 
unhealthy. I have in my journeys made the obser- 
vation, that such regions mostly bear the traces of 
an old, highly developed civilization, as is indeed 
also the case in the environment of Rome and in the 
Dobrudja, which in old times was styled the granary 
of Rome. Fever breaks out in those regions with 
special severity, when the soil is stirred up. The 
fever- germs must have been gradually formed in the 
fertile well-manured soil, which was subsequently left 
unworked for centuries, and excluded from the air 
by a covering of grass. Malaria accordingly represents 
nature's penalty for interrupted cultivation of the soil. 
This, in conjunction with the Caucasian treatment of 
fever, led me even then to the opinion that climatic 
fever depends on microscopic organisms, which live in 
the blood, and whose term of life would coincide with 
the interval between the attacks of the fever. By the 
strong dose of quinine shortly before the attack the 
young emerging brood of these organisms is poisoned. 
The remarkable fact also, that people, who have 
long lived in a fever region, are for the most part 
secure from fever, but lose this immunity when they 
have passed several years in regions free from it, 
could. I thought, be explained by the assumption 


that in regions, where the fever-germs are continually 
being introduced into the body, living beings are 
formed therein, which feed on these germs, and there- 
fore perish when the source of nutriment is dried up 
for a long time. - This, of course, was only an un- 
proved hypothesis, which was justly only so regarded 
by my medically trained friends, to whom I communi- 
cated it at the time, such as du Bois-Reymond. I have 
nevertheless been gratified to see the bacteriological 
researches of eminent scientists taking of late the direc- 
tion indicated by me a quarter of a century ago. - 

Our second tour in the great Caucasus had like- 
wise reference to the investigation of a metalliferous 
property, situated in a very inaccessible region, be- 
longing to a princely family of Georgia. We travelled 
from Tiflis to Tsarskie-Kolodzy, where our Tiflis branch 
had petroleum-works, which were again given up after 
the completion of the railway from Tiflis to Baku. 
From there our way lay to the wine country Kakhetia, 
celebrated for the fiery Kakhetian wine. This district 
lies in the valley of the Alasan. and is separated from 
the Kur valley by a ridge stretching far into the steppes. 
From the summit of this ridge we had magnificent 
views of the Caucasus, which from there presents it- 
self as an unbroken chain of white peaks, reaching 
from the Black to the Caspian sea. 

Kakhetia passes for the primitive land of the vine- 
cultivation, and in the chief place of the country pri- 
mitive thanksgiving festivals take place, which recall 
the Roman Saturnalia. High and low then flock to- 


gether from all Georgia to the festive place and offer 
god Bacchus copious libations of Kakhetian wine, 
when universal brotherliness is said to be the order 
of the day. It is also vaunted of Kakhetian wine 
that it exceedingly gladdens the heart of its persistent 
drinkers, and those who know the country profess to 
recognise the inhabitants of Tiflis everywhere by their 

We accomplished the pleasant and interesting ride 
through Kakhetia under the guidance of two sons of 
the princely family, which had invited us to make an 
inspection of the beds. At the foot of the lofty chain 
the old prince with other sons joined us. The an- 
cestral seat of the family, in which we passed the 
ni flit, was remarkable. It consisted of a large wooden 

O " o 

house at the foot of the mountains, but yet situated 
in the plain, which was built on posts some thirteen 
feet high. A convenient ladder, which was lowered, 
offered the only possibility of getting into the house. 
It was a regular pre -historic pile dwelling, the style 
having survived to our own day in the preservative 
Caucasian air. In the interior of the house we found 
a large hall, occupying the whole breadth of the 
building, in which, along the only wall provided with 
many windows, a table, over two yards in width, 
stretched from end to end. This table formed the 
sole furniture visible in the room, and had to fulfil 
the most varied purposes. For dinner a carpet of 
about half the width of the table was laid along its 
edge, on which the viands and flat cakes were placed. 


The large thin flat cakes served not only for food. 
but also for table-covers and napkins, as well as for 
cleaning the table -utensils. For us strangers chairs 
were brought in. When we had seated ourselves upon 
them, the old prince and his sons after him sprang 
upon the table, and crouched opposite us with their 
bread - cloths. Only we guests were provided with 
knives and forks, the princes ate in true oriental 
fashion with their fingers. The meal itself was ex- 
tremely savoury, especially the fillet of shishlik would 
have created a sensation in the finest Berlin restau- 
rant. During the meal Kakhetian wine circulated 
freely in buffalo -horns: it was only rather embar- 
rassing, that custom required the draining of the 
horn in honour of every person, whose health was 
proposed. We Europeans, unaccustomed to such copious 
drinking, could not long stand that. A second 

destination of the large table in the hall we got to 
know at night-time; all the beds, both for us and 
for the princes, were prepared upon it. 

Early in the morning of the following day we set 
out. and ascended the slope of the great Caucasian 
chain. Our horses carried us quickly and indefatigably 
up the rocky way. When it was beginning to get 
dark, we were almost at our destination and bivouacked 
on a splendid ridge, at the junction of two mountain- 
streams. Under the protecting roof of gigantic trees 
we encamped at a spot, which afforded a wide view 
over Kakhetia extended at our feet and the mountain- 
district lying beyond. With surprising skill the prince's 


satellites erected a hut of twigs over our camping- 
place, leaving the view over the plain free, and made 
it so comfortable that it would not have been possible 
to have rested more agreeably. Then the meal was 
rapidly prepared, which we consumed in a recumbent 
position. After that the princes and their attendants 
reclined in front of us. and began a national drinking- 
bout with a kind of mulled wine of generous Kakhetian 
growth. In the course of this each of the princes 
drank my own and my brother's health with some 
doubtless very flattering words, expecting that there- 
upon we should also empty our horns. The princes 
spoke Georgian only, an interpreter translated for us 
into Russian what they said. No one of those present 
understood our German answers, a circumstance of 
which my frolicsome brother Otto took a somewhat 
dangerous advantage by delivering the replies, which 
I left to him, in extremely polite fashion indeed as 
regards voice, tone, and gesture, but with a verbal 
parody of the whole scene, which assuredly would 
have been cut short by dagger-stabs, if his words had 
been understood, and if we had not taken pains to 
give a good colour to them by grave and respectful 

When, on the following morning, we had happily 
slept off our little debauch in the refreshing mountain- 
air, without any unpleasant after-effects, we inspected 
the lode, which was certainly a rich one, but not yet 
opened up, and owing to the troublesome access to 
it offered insuperable obstacles to profitable working. 


After we had arrived at this conclusion, the return- 
journey was immediately commenced. 

At sunset we again arrived at the pile-built palace 
and spent another night under its hospitable roof. 
The next morning we took leave of our princes, and 
rode back through the valley of Kakhetia. with the 
intention of travelling across the steppe direct to 
Kedabeg. As robbers were infesting the neighbourhood, 
the chief of the district gave us a body-guard com- 
posed of men. who themselves were not free from 
suspicion of the robbers' trade. Placed under their 
friendly protection, we travelled with perfect safety 
according to the custom of the country. 

The crossing of the broad and rapidly flowing 
Kur. whose left bank we reached at noon, was attended 
with some difficulty. We found a single small boat 
there, which could only carry a few persons, but 
discovered no oars, which moreover with the rapid 
current would not have been of much use. The mode 
of crossing employed by our guides was very inter- 
esting, and I commend it to the Postmaster General for 

O 7 

his description of the postal service in primitive times. 
The two best horses were driven into the water until 
their feet no longer touched the bottom. Then two 


Tartars in the boat laid hold of their tails and had 
themselves together with the boat and a few passengers 
carried over the stream by the swimming horses. 
When after depositing the passengers the boat had 
been brought back in the same manner, they carried 
over a second batch with other horses, and thus it 


went on. till only the Tartars remained. Finally these 
took their horses into the water and let themselves 
be carried over clinging to their tails. 

O c? 

I and my brother had remained to the last with 
our somewhat dubious escort on the left bank of the 
river. Our protectors squatted suspiciously together, 
and kept throwing glances at us, which we did not 
altogether like. Cigars, which we offered them, they 
proudly refused because, as we found out after- 
wards, being bigoted Shiites they were not allowed to 
take anything from the hands of unbelieving dogs. It 
appeared therefore advisable to show to the fellows 
that we were sufficiently armed for defence. We set 
up a board, that had floated down stream, as mark, 
and shot at it with our revolvers, in the use of which 
we were well practised. Every shot hit the board at 
long range without much aiming. That interested our 
companions very much, who themselves tried with their 
long beautifully polished flintlock guns to hit our mark, 
but did not always succeed. Then came their sheik 
and gave me to understand by signs, that I should 
show him my revolver, and lay it on the ground, as 
he dared not take anything from my own hand. This 
was a critical moment, but on Otto's advice I deter- 
mined to comply with his request and put down the 
revolver. The sheik took it up, looked at it on all 
sides, and showed it with a shake of his head to his 
companions. After that he gave it me back with 
gestures of thanks, and henceforward our friendship 
was sealed. Distrust of the fulfilment of the sacred 


law of hospitality may become very dangerous with 
these people, on the other hand the case is extremely 
rare that the confidence of the guest is betrayed. It 
has certainly occurred that a guest has been hospitably 
entertained and safely escorted to the boundary of the 
district, and then shot down on alien ground, but that 
is not considered to be proper. After crossing the 
Kur we reached Kedabeg without further adventures. 
In all our tours in the mountains we had had 
occasion to admire the cleverness and endurance of the 
small Caucasian mountain - horses. Indefatigably and 
without tripping they clamber with their riders up 
and down the steepest mountain-paths; without them 
the broken and often fissured mountainous country 
could hardly be traversed. It is regarded in the 
Caucasus as safer to make difficult mountain-journeys 
on horseback than on foot. That there are also 
exceptions to this rule I experienced personally on my 
second visit to Kedabeg. The autumn weather, always 
bright and beautiful even up to December, changed 
with unexpected suddenness to rainy weather with a 
slight fall of snow. We were just then proceeding 
to visit the Shamkhor valley, and made use of the 
somewhat troublesome bridle-path thither, which runs 
by the side of the wild Kalakent brook as far as 
Shamkhor. When however it began to snow more 
heavily, we found it advisable to turn back before 
the path had been quite snowed over. It was 
astonishing with what accuracy our horses were able 
to find the mountain-path, already considerably covered 


with snow, which was close beside the deeply cut 
river-bed, and always selected the particular parts 
where there was a sure footing. I was riding imme- 
diately behind my brother Otto, when I noticed, that 
just at a dangerous spot hard by the edge of the 
bank, here descending perpendicularly several yards, 
a stone became loose under the weight of his horse. 
A moment afterwards my horse trod upon the same 
stone, which thereby was entirely loosened and caused 
my fall. I only remember having heard the cry of 
the succeeding riders, and that I was then standing 
upright in the river-bed, my horse beside me. According 
to the statement of my companions the horse fell 
over sideways with me and then came on its feet. 
It was at any rate a marvellously lucky escape. 

Of the homeward journeys, for which both times 
I chose the route via Constantinople, the first in par- 
ticular was rich in singular experiences. The fine 
weather lasted till the middle of December; only after 
we had left Kedabeg did it change, and on the Rion 
we encountered a fearful storm. With great difficulty 
we reached Poti, but there we learnt that the steamship, 
which was to convey us further, had already passed, 
as an embarkation in such weather was impossible. 
We, namely the whole company that had arrived in 
the river -steamer, were thus forced to take refuge 
for a full week in the only so-called hotel of 
the place, a most dreary abode. This, I may 
say, was the most unpleasant week of my whole life. 
A violent storm raged the whole night, not only outside 



but also in my room. I repeatedly got up to examine 
the windows and doors, but found them all closed. 
The next morning however I saw my room full of 
snow-flakes, and discovered that they had penetrated 
through rifts in the floor. On account of the marshy 
ground the houses in Poti are built on piles, which 
explains the marvel of a snow-fall in a closed room. 
The stormy weather lasted without intermission several 
days, and what rendered my stay particularly dis- 
agreeable was, that I had caught a severe inflammation 
of the connective tissue of one of my eyes. This 
painful inflammation, alleviated by no medical aid, the 
confined inn-parlour filled with people of all classes 
and nationalities, moreover bad provisions and a total 
absence of any kind of attendance, made my life there 
simply intolerable. 

At last the eagerly longed-for steamer came in 
sight, and in spite of the heavy sea succeeded in 
taking aboard myself and three other travelling com- 
panions. The passage was very stormy as far as the 
entrance to the Bosphorus, and put our seaworthiness 
to a severe test. All four of us however stood it to 
the great astonishment of the captain. Among the 
party was a Russian general, consul in Messina, and, 
as I discovered later, father of a very charming 
daughter, now the wife of my friend Professor Dohrn 
in Naples; further a young Russian diplomatist, who 
subsequently filled important posts, and finally an 
extremely original Austrian foundry proprietor, who 
never allowed his pipe to go out, except when eating 


or sleeping. As also the captain was a well-instructed 
clever man, the unusually long voyage passed never- 
theless quickly and agreeably for us, in spite of wind 
and waves. 

In Trebizond , where we anchored for a few 
hours, I again met with one of my many small mis- 
haps. I had taken a walk on the plateau above the 
town, to enjoy once again the splendid prospect, and 
was returning by the fine new road, which on the 
side descending abruptly to the sea was entirely un- 
secured by railings , when I met a large drove of 
donkeys laden with sacks of corn. I inconsiderately 
stepped to the unrailed side towards the sea, to let 
the drove pass. That was all right at first, but gra- 
dually the drove became denser, and finally occupied 
the whole width of the road. No pushing and no 
beating availed, the beasts could not, if they had tried, 
make room for me. The attempt to jump on to one 
of the donkeys failed, I was compelled to make way 
for them, and fell down the steep stone-work into 
mud and among bushes, whereby luckily the force 
of the considerable fall was somewhat lessened. After 
I had found that I had got off without serious in- 
juries , I worked myself laboriously out of the thorns 
and nettles, and only after long and many vain endea- 
vours was able to scramble up again to the road. For- 
tunately I found a small pond at the top, in which 
I could wash myself and clothes. The still powerful 
sun effected the drying with tolerable rapidity, and 

thus I could manage to go through the town without 



exciting attention and reach the steamer, which fortu- 
nately had awaited my return. 

On the further journey the strong wind grew into 
a storm, so that the captain began to fear for his old 
ship, and sought refuge in the harbour of Sinope. 
Twice on the following days he attempted to continue 
the voyage, but was each time driven back into the 
safe port. Thus I had the opportunity of experiencing 
by personal observation the correctness of the designation 
of the Black Sea as the "inhospitable" , which the 
ancient Greeks had given it. 

In the harbour of Pera I found an Austrian Lloyd 
steamer just ready to start for Trieste , where we 
landed on New Year's eve safely and without let and 
hindrance. On the way, in Syra and Corfu, we had 
been suspected of being plague - stricken and com- 
pelled to hoist the notorious yellow flag, because the 
cholera was raging in Egypt. 

With these two Caucasian journeys I regard my 
travelling period proper as closed, for the European 
journeys of to-day in comfortable railway-carriages or 
post-chaises are only to be called pleasure trips. Also 
the third journey to Kedabeg, for which I am now 
preparing , to take my final leave of the Caucasus, 
will hardly be anything else. 

Harzburg, June 1891. 

Otill full of the fresh impressions and pleasant 
reminiscences of my third Caucasian journey, which 
I made, as proposed, last autumn with my wife and 
daughter, I shall resume my narrative by giving an 
account of it. This tour, undertaken with all imaginable 
comfort as a pleasure trip, will thus stand out in strong 
relief to my first two journeys to Kedabeg. 

We travelled in the middle of September from 
Berlin to Odessa. There of course I did not omit to 
visit the station of the Indo-European line, and held 
a telegraphic conversation with the manager of the 
company in London, Mr. Andrews. Such a direct 
telegraphic intercommunication after a long journey 
has always something uncommonly interesting, I might 
almost say elevating , about it. The victory of the 
human mind over inert matter is thereby brought 
immediately and forcibly home to us. 

From Odessa we proceeded to the Crimea, my 
acquaintance with which had been hitherto confined 
to the places of call of the steamers running between 
Odessa and Poti. We decided to leave the vessel at 
Sebastopol, and travel by road to Yalta. The drive 


was favoured by splendid weather, and permitted us to 
admire at leisure the magnificent coast-scenery, which 
stretches from the steep slopes of the southern table- 
land of the Crimea to the sea. Much reminded us 
here of the Riviera, indeed there were many points of 
the Crimean coast, whose superiority we were obliged 
to allow. The situation of the country -palaces Livadia 
and Alupka, belonging to the Imperial family, as well 
as that of many another residence of Russian notables, 
is beautiful in the extreme. There was wanting, how- 
ever, the fresh pulsating life of the Riviera, which so 
considerably heightens the charms of its scenery and 
climate. The climate of the southern Crimean coast 
is pleasant and free from fever , and the means of 
communication, becoming continually more rapid and 
convenient, will doubtless therefore soon bring it a 
great accession of tourists. On the other hand it is 
impossible to speak as favourably of the climate of 
the incomparably more beautiful and grander eastern 
side of the high Caucasus, for there almost everywhere 
malignant intermittent fevers prevail, and the prospect 
of medical science overcoming this great plague of 

O o I o 

humanity appears as yet to be very slight. 

It was an interesting coincidence, that the glad 
tidings of the conquest of one of the greatest scourges 
of mankind, consumption, by the discoveries of Koch, 
reached me in this third journey to the Caucasus, in 
the very regions where so many years before the 
theory had obtruded itself upon me of the excitation 
of climatic fever by microscopic life in the blood. 


The cure was said to be effected by introducing 
into the patient's system a poison, produced by the 
phthisis-producing bacteria themselves, in the shape of 
their vital products. The reported results left no 
doubt as to the correctness of the fact, and we 
Germans heard with pride on all sides our countryman 
lauded as a benefactor of humanity. But the assumption 
of Koch, that the vital products of the disease-causing 
bacilli constitute the powerful deadly poison, even 
then excited my doubts. One could well imagine that 
this self-induced poisoning might check the development 
of the bacilli in the parts of the body occupied by them 
- thus affording an explanation of the remarkable 
phenomenon, that not every infectious disease leads to 
the death of the person assailed by it - - but it appeared 
inconceivable to me that an infinitesimal quantity of 
such poisonous vital products of a limited number of 
bacilli should produce in another body the powerful 
effects observed. A vital process alone could accomplish 
this, in which not the substance of the germs intro- 
duced, but the vital conditions maintaining them, and 
the time required for their increase, are the chief 
factors in the case. The question as to the origin of 
these germs, which develop a life hostile to the 
bacilli whence they arise, appears to me only to admit 
of a plausible answer, if one supposes the living beings 
producing the disease to be themselves subject to 
infectious diseases , whereby they on their part are 
checked in their vitality and finally killed. It would 
of course follow that life, animal as well as vegetable^ 


is not restricted to the objects revealed by our mi- 
croscopes, but that there are living beings related as 
regards size to the microbes and bacteria , as these 
are to us. No scientific objection can be raised to 
this hypothesis, for the dimensions of molecules are 
iii any case immeasurably less than living structures 
of even so low an order. The mysterious process of 
spontaneous fission , the succeeding immunity , the 
otherwise inexplicable effect of the introduction of 
vital products of the disease-causing bacilli into the 
circulation of a body affected by the same disease, 
would on this assumption be the obvious consequences 
of the infection of the disease-generators themselves, 
and the problem of the future would be, how to pro- 
duce such an infection, and bring it to the speediest 
issue, since indeed these secondary disease -generators 
themselves might also be subject to rapidly developing 
infectious diseases through microbes of a still lower 
order. If however not the vital products, but the 
secondary disease-carriers, of the bacilli are the curative 
means, the bacilli must first become diseased, before 
their substance can act remedially. Perhaps herein 
lies the reason of the unsatisfactory action of Koch's 
tuberculine , and the present suggestion may be of 
service in the further investigation of this subject, 
which is of such vast importance to all mankind. 

In Tiflis we met my brother Charles, who ac- 
companied us on our further journey to Kedabeg and 
Baku and back to St. Petersburg. Dr. Hammacher, 
member of the Imperial Diet, who had formed one 


of our party from the first, also remained our faithful 
travelling companion as far as St. Petersburg. Tiflis 
appeared to me not to be much altered externally in 
the 23 years, which had expired since my last visit, but 
it had lost its former aristocratic air, and can no longer 
boast to-day of being the Asiatic Paris. The town was 
formerly not only a grand-ducal residence, but also the 
seat of the native Georgian nobility, which especially 
in winter took the lead in the social gatherings of 
Tiflis. All that is now changed. No Grand-Duke resides 
any longer in Tiflis, and even the Georgian aristocracy 
has almost entirely disappeared. A quarter of a cen- 
tury ago the town was still Georgian, and the best 
houses as well as the administration of the town were 
in Georgian hands. But even then the Armenian 
nationality began to spread, and gradually the land 
and landed property passed into Armenian hands. In 
earlier, warlike times, the brave and vigorous Georgians 
maintained their possessions and their social position 
against the crafty and pushing Armenians. That ceased 
however, when under Russian rule permanent peace 
and an orderly state of affairs were established. From 
that time the Armenian element came to the front, and 
the Georgian was compelled to make way for it. Now 
well-nigh the whole property of the town is in Ar- 
menian hands. The proud figures of the Georgians 
in their dazzling accoutrements have disappeared from* 
the streets of Tiflis, the Armenian dwells in their 
palaces and is master of the situation. 

The intermixture of nationalities in the Cauca- 


sus offers excellent material for studying the influence 
of the intercourse of specifically different races of men 
in warlike as in peaceful times. It is surprising that 
in the Caucasus the Jewish element has not proved 
capable of coping with the Armenian. It is true Jews 
are to be found there in tolerable numbers, but they 
are all drivers, and have the reputation of being rough 
fellows, always on the look-out for an opportunity of 
displaying their superior physical strength. Trading 
they have altogether renounced. The Russians are 
mostly clever and shrewd men of business, can how- 
ever, as they themselves admit, not hold their own 
against Armenians and Greeks. The reputation for 
greatest longheadedness in all business-relations in the 
Caucasus as in the whole East is enjoyed by the Greek, 
yet the Armenians, when they are banded together, 
carry off the palm from the Greek, who always traf- 
ficks on his own account. 

When after a few days we continued our journey 
by railway, we found at the foot of the Kedabeg table- 
land a new railway-station, Dalliar, from which the road 
to Kedabeg runs by way of the new Suabian colony 
Annenfeld. Here we found in course of construction 
the already mentioned conduit, through which the 
naphtha brought by rail from Baku to Dalliar was to be 
pumped up to Kedabeg about three thousand feet. The 
operations, as regards both the laying the tubes and the 
arrangements of the pumping station, were proceeding 
well, but we had to abandon the hope of seeing the 
completed work in action before the beginning of winter. 


Our drive from Dalliar to Kedabeg formed a 
genuine Oriental spectacle to the great delight of the 
ladies. The Beys of the neighbourhood had heard of 
the arrival of the owners of the wonderful mine, and 
did not omit to greet us festively with their dependants, 
and escort us to Kedabeg. This party was continually 
renewed and increased on the road nearly twenty- 
five English miles long. They swarmed round our 
carriage on their fleet Caucasian mountain - horses, 
mostly at a wild gallop, up hill and down dale, and 
afforded, in their Caucasian costume and accoutre- 
ments, an extremely attractive spectacle. In chasing- 
past the men performed the most daring, break-neck 
feats of horsemanship, at the same time firing off their 
guns, so that our approach produced the impression 
rather of a warlike encounter than of a peaceful 
reception. Near Kedabeg the entire population of the 
place, together with the miners and smelters, joined 
the procession. In the house of our head manager, 
Mr. Bolton, we were received by the ladies of his 
household, and lodged most comfortably. During our 
stay we derived some benefit from the visit, which 
had taken place a few weeks before, of the young 
Crown Prince of Italy, who, attended by the Russian 
grandees of the Caucasus, had visited our mine and 
smeltery. For the reception and entertainment of these 
guests unusual arrangements had of course been made, 
which had especially included provision for a comfor- 
table descent into the mine and the procuring of an 
improvised saloon -carriage for our railway. We re- 


peatedly made use of the latter in our visits to the 
outwork Kalakent and the Shamkhor on the picturesque 
line, carried often over perilous abysses. 

Despite the often rather annoying fumes from the 
works we fully enjoyed in glorious autumn weather 
the charms of the beautiful environs of Kedabeg. 


Among the special delights must be reckoned a bear- 
hunt, which we attended in the so-called paradise. 
This name is borne by a small table-land, bordered 
by the rivers Shamkhor and Kalakent, which is splen- 
didly situated and adorned with many wild fruit-trees. 
The great abundance of fruit in the autumn attracts 
the bears of the neighbourhood, and the officials of 
our mine had often instituted successful bear-hunts in 
this season. 

We passed the night in the branch smelting house 
Kalakent, and at sunrise repaired for the chase to the 
neighbouring mountains, which during the night had 
been surrounded by our forest -keeper with a chain 
of beaters. It was a wonderfully fine morning, and 
the noiseless march on the lonely hunting paths in 
constant expectation of the bears was not without a 
charm. After a rather long time, passed in intense 
expectation, we heard in the far distance the call of 
the beaters resounding from the summit of the slope, 
the base of which we held. Nothing else was heard in 


the general stillness except the falling of the autumn 
leaves, a sound, with which hitherto I had only made 
acquaintance in novels. I was posted on a narrow moun- 
tain-path between brother Charles and Dr. Hammacher. 


My weapon was a rifle with two barrels, one charged with 
ball, the other with small shot. Similarly defective 
was the equipment of my companions in the chase. 
Gradually the clamour of the beaters came nearer, but 
of bears nothing was to be seen or heard. Suddenly 
the forest -keeper called our attention by signs to a 
slight rustle in front of us, and immediately delivered 
a shot in the direction indicated. The bear slunk 
away to the left without being hit. A shot delivered 
by Dr. Hammacher took just as little effect. Then on 
the other side of me cracked a shot by my brother 
and immediately after a second. I thought my chance 
was gone of getting a shot, when all at once close 
beside me a large brown female bear, accompanied by 
a cub. crossed the clearing. I delivered my ball-charge 
at the bear, when the cub fell on its knees with terror, 
which made me believe I had hit the latter. The 
mother and her young however ran quietly down the 
mountain. Every one of us of course thought he had 
shot his bear, and the district was eagerly searched 
for the wounded. Traces of blood were indeed dis- 
covered, but neither then nor afterwards was anything 
to be seen of our wounded bears. In the further 
beating up too no bear was slain, only one more in 
fact came to view and that close to the beaters. 
These and the bear seem to have been equally ter- 
rified and fled in opposite directions, the beaters cal- 
ling out as if in their death-agony. 

One of the finest tours in the further environs 
of Kedabeg embraces the valley of the Kalakent brook 


above Kalakent itself to the summit of the mountain 
enclosing the large Goktsha lake. From the summit of the 
pass the immense lake is seen in the foreground, whilst the 
chains of the Armenian highlands form the background 
of the splendid panorama. My travelling companions, 
who had not shrunk from the severe ride necessary 
to reach this commanding eminence, had the good 
fortune to enjoy a perfectly clear prospect, the snow- 
caps of the great and little Ararat standing out with 
perfect distinctness. 

After brother Charles and I had had our full 
delight in the great progress which our remote pos- 
session had made in the last years, and our com- 
panions had exhausted the charms of the surrounding 
forest-clad hills in extensive rides, we continued our 
journey to Baku, to pay a visit to the ancient sacred 
perpetual fires, and to make acquaintance with the 
sources of the modern fire-bringer, donor at any rate 
of far greater blessings, petroleum. We had quite 
special reasons for so doing, since it was owing to 
naphtha, the mother of petroleum, that we found 
Kedabeg in brisk and hopeful activity. 

The route lay by way of Elisabethpol, the govern- 
ment town of Kedabeg, in the neighbourhood of which 
is situated Helenendorf, the largest of the Suabian 
settlements. When the worthy Suabians heard of our 
presence in Kedabeg, they sent their mayor with an 
invitation to us, to visit Helenendorf likewise. We of 
course accepted it, and on our arrival in Elisabethpol 
were received by a deputation of the peasants, and 


were quickly driven to the village a few miles off. 
There the whole community took pains to show attention 
to their German countrymen and especially to their 
Suabian countrywoman. We had to inspect the church, 
the school, and the waterworks, and took genuine 
delight in the old thoroughly German orderliness, which 
has defied all opposing influences of the country and 
climate. Helenendorf is the most flourishing and 
prosperous of all the Suabian settlements in the 
Caucasus, and owes this in part, no doubt, to the 
healthy climate and the favourable situation in a fine, 
mountainous, and well-watered region. To its inhabitants 
the merit is due of having introduced German con- 
veyances into the Caucasus. Eecently the colony has 
taken to the cultivation of the vine, and turns out 
excellent products of the native grapes by the appli- 
cation of modern methods. 

The railroad - journey through the monotonous 
steppe of Elisabethpol to Baku does not offer much that 
is noticeable. The vegetation is very scanty, with the 
exception of places which lie by water-courses or have 
artificial irrigation, of which certainly for the most 
part only a few traces have remained. It is not the 
land which has value in such regions, but the water 
which can be conveyed to it. Progressive culture 
will in this respect be still able to do much, but even 
if the rivers were deprived of all their water to 
fertilize the fields, this would benefit only a small 
part of the great steppes of Russia. The needful 
amount of rain is wanting. Whether this has ab- 


solutely diminished within historic times, which might 
be concluded from many phenomena, or whether only 
its distribution has become different, cannot as yet be 

The astonishingly large number of wooden prospect- 
towers thirty to fifty feet high in the wholly flat region, 
which afforded but the smallest prospect, is explained 
by the circumstance, that the inhabitants in the worst 
fever- season pass the nights in these towers to escape 
the fever. 

A peculiar spectacle was afforded towards the 
end of the journey by a whole town of similar wooden 
towers, standing much higher still, apparently close 
to one another, which crowned the summit of a near 
mountain -range. More exact observation through a 
telescope revealed that they were high boring-towers, 
such as are wont to be erected for deep borings. This 
was the district of the famous naphtha wells. Thence 
the oil is conveyed for refining through numerous 
conduits to the neighbouring "black town" of Baku 
or rather to its newer part, which contains the 
numerous petroleum distilleries. It is remarkable that 
borings in the closest proximity, sometimes more than 
a thousand feet deep, often yield altogether different 
results. Frequently, on reaching the petroleum stratum, 
a fountain arises, from which the naphtha spurts up to 
a height exceeding a hundred feet. A hollow is then 
quickly made in the neighbouring soil, to collect the 
gushing naphtha. The yield of the well however soon 
diminishes. After a few weeks it is wont no longer 


to "strike"', as they say in Baku, and the naphtha 
must now be pumped up from the bottom of the 
boring. The boring -towers are accordingly left stan- 
ding, in order to be used subsequently as pumping- 
towers. It is hard to explain, how it happens, that 
at a very slight distance from a boring, where the 
elasticity of the gases, which at first pressed up the 
petroleum, is already quite absorbed, a new and strong 
fountain can arise, as it must be assumed, that all the 
wells spring from a single stratum of naphtha. Alto- 
gether the origin of petroleum is still veiled in darkness, 
and therefore one cannot say whether it will maintain 
a permanent place in the field of human civilization. 
How large an influence the naphtha wells of Baku 
already exercise on the life and industry of Russia is 
obvious from the long rows of reservoir waggons for 
the transport of petroleum and masut, which are met 
with on all the Russian railway-lines. As the forests 
of Russia have almost everywhere been largely cleared, 
and coal is only found in quantities on the Don, 
masut and raw petroleum have quickly attained great 
importance as cheap and easily transportable fuel. 
A large part of the Russian locomotives and river- 
steamers are even now heated by petroleum, and for 
many branches of Russian industry this has proved 
a great help in need, as was the case in the working 
of our Kedabeg copper-mine. 

The old town of Baku is beautifully situated on 
the abruptly rising shore of the Caspian Sea. Besides 

the district of the naphtha wells with the very 



modernized everlasting fires, the "black town", and 
a number of interesting architectural remains of the 
time when it was the residence of the Persian Khans, 
the town offers few attractions for the stranger. But 
with favourable weather he may procure himself the 
pleasure of setting the Caspian Sea on fire, if he 
makes an excursion in an iron" steamer to a place not 
far from the coast, where inflammable gases rise from 
the sea-bottom. In calm weather these may be ignited 
and then. form a sea of flame around the ship, often 
lasting a considerable time. 

We made the return-journey by land via Moscow 
and St. Petersburg. In crossing the great Caucasus 
we traversed grandly beautiful wild mountain -valleys 
in the depression at the foot of Kasbek. But if one 
wishes thoroughly to enjoy their beauty it is better 
to travel in the reverse direction, for the wild Terek 
valley, which forms the northern slope of the mountains, 
is so quickly traversed in descending, that one has 
hardly time to enjoy the charms of the surrounding 
country; a further drawback being the disagreeably 
abrupt bendings of the otherwise marvellous road, when 
passed over at full speed. From Vladi-Kavkas, the com- 
mencement of the Russian railway-network, we travelled 
to Moscow in three days without break of journey. Un- 
fortunately, owing to the cloudy weather of the first 
day, the fine views of the great Caucasus, especially the 
towering Elbrus, escaped us. The numerous cairns on 
both sides of the road were highly interesting. They 
prove that for long periods of time a relatively high 


civilization prevailed on the northern slopes of the 
Caucasus, and it is here perhaps that we must look 
for the centre of origin and rallying point of the tribes, 
which have at different times deluged Europe. 

I resist the temptation to describe Moscow, and 
will only refer to the feeling experienced there of 
being thoroughly in Russia, i. e. on the border-land of 
European and Asiatic culture. One has this sensation 
more keenly if, like ourselves on this occasion, one 
comes from Asia and therefore brings a vivid feeling 
for Asiatic life and doings. This is hardly to be put 
into definite words. "In Asia", said one of my fair 
travelling companions, "dirt and rags are not repulsive, 
here they certainly are". This is in fact quite charac- 
teristic of the transition from Asiatic to European 
civilization. The Asiatic in spite of dirt and rags 
always exhibits a certain degree of manly dignity, 
which the European in rags invariably lacks. 

The Russian proper, i. e. the native of Great 
Russia, forms a true transition between Asiatics and 
Europeans, and is therefore the proper and successful 
carrier of European civilization eastward. The con- 
verse way, of which the Panslavist Russians now often 
dream, the renewal of the "rotten West" by the native 
energy of Asia, has certainly no great likelihood of 
being ever realized. It can indeed not be denied that 
there lies a danger for the development of Europeo- 
American civilization in the fact, that Europe has be- 
come the voluntary teacher of Asia in procuring and 

utilizing the instruments of power, which the former 



owes to its technical progress. With the great capacity 
of the Asiatics for imitation and for utilizing their 
acquirements, and with the ever advancing art of 
depriving distance of its dividing power by improving 
the means of communication, undoubtedly our little 
Europe might be exposed to a new invasion from 
Asia subversive of culture, but the first annihilating 
blow would then light on the intervening countries, 

D o 

especially Russia, as history has indeed already re- 
peatedly shown. For the rest this danger can only 
arise, when the scientific and technical progress of 
Europe comes to a standstill, so that it loses the great 
start in its technical development, which most surely 
protects its civilization from every inroad of barbarian 
nations. Only internal suicidal conflicts could lead to 
that, for in mental power and inventive faculties the 
peoples of Europe are far superior to the Asiatics and 
will doubtless remain so in the future. 

.. In Moscow it was already intensely cold, in St. 
Petersburg sledging had actually begun and the Neva 
was covered with drifting ice, so that after a short 
stay we continued our journey and could still enjoy 
for a while the milder climate of home. 

As in the two past years I have come here to 
Harzburg at the end of June, in order to devote a 
few weeks to recording these reminiscences, and do 
not intend to leave before I have come to the end 
of them. I have repeatedly tried in Gharlottenburg 


to continue my task, but I have not succeeded there, 
where everything is pressing forward, in persistently 
looking backward. For it is habit which puts the 
strongest snackles on us. I have never been able 
entirely to put aside the thoughts and plans, which 
were just then occupying my mind, and this has 
frequently spoiled my enjoyment of the present, to 
which I could never wholly devote myself except in 
passing moments. But on the other hand such a 
thought-life, partly spent in dreamy speculations, partly 
in strenuous aspirations, also affords great enjoyment. 
It sometimes even perhaps brings us the purest and 
sublimest joys of which man is capable. When a law 
of nature, hitherto hovering darkly before the mind, 
all at once clearly emerges from the enveloping mist, 
when the key to a long vainly sought mechanical 
combination is found, when the missing link of a chain 
of thought is happily inserted, this affords the dis- 
coverer the elevating feeling of an achieved mental 
victory, which alone richly compensates him for all 
the pains of the struggle and exalts him for the moment 
to a higher stage of existence. Certainly the ecstacy 
does not generally last long. Self-criticism usually soon 
discovers a dark spot in the discovery, which renders 
its truth dubious or at least narrowly restricts it. 
It exposes a fallacy in which one has been entangled 
or, as is unfortunately almost the rule, it leads to the 
perception that only an old friend has been met with 
in a new dress. Only when strict examination has 
left a sound kernel does the regular hard labour 



begin of elaborating and completing the invention, and 
then the struggle for its introduction into scientific 
and mechanical life, in which most men are ultimately 
ruined. Discovering and inventing brings therefore 
hours of supreme delight, but also hours of the greatest 
disappointment, and of hard fruitless work. The 
public commonly notices only the few cases in which 
successful inventors have hit, almost accidentally, upon 
a useful idea, and by making the most of it, have 
attained without much labour to fame and affluence, 
or the class of acquisitive invention-hunters, who make 
it their life -task to seek for technical applications of 
well-known things and to secure the benefit of them 
by patents. But these are not the inventors who 
open for the development of mankind new paths, which 
will presumably conduct it to more perfect and happier 
conditions of life, but those who either in the 
quiet of scholarly seclusion, or in the bustle of tech- 
nical activity -- devote their whole being and thought 
to this development for its own sake. Whether, by 
correct judgment and use of the opportunities of 
practical life, inventions lead to the accumulation of 
wealth or not, frequently depends on chance. Unfor- 
tunately however the instances of success possess great 
attraction and have called forth a host of inventors, 
who plunge into discovery and invention without the 
necessary knowledge and without self-criticism and 
thus are mostly ruined. I have ever regarded it as 
a duty to turn such deluded inventors from the 
dangerous path which they had entered upon, and this 


has always cost me much time and trouble. Unhappily 
my efforts have rarely been attended with success, 
and only complete failure and the bitterest self-inflicted 
distress occasionally brings these inventors to a per- 
ception of their errors. 

There are specially two inventive ideas, which 
have misled and frequently also ruined innumerable 
people, otherwise fairly gifted and even remarkably 
clever in their own sphere of activity. These are 
the inventions of so-called perpetual motion i. e. of 
a self-acting work -performing machine, and that of 
the flying -machine and the manageable balloon. One 
might have thought, that the knowledge of the law 
of the conservation of energy had already so far 
penetrated the popular mind, that creating force out 
of nothing would have come to be considered as con- 
trary to nature as the production of matter, but it 
seems that generations must always pass away before 
a new fundamental truth is universally regarded as 
such. If a man is once possessed by the unhappy 
delusion, that he has found the way to construct 
working machines by mechanical combinations alone, 
he has become the victim of a generally incurable 
mental ailment, which defies all teaching, and even 
the most painful experience. Almost the like holds 
good of the endeavours to construct flying-machines and 
manageable air-balloons. The problem itself is indeed 
for every mind possessing a slight mechanical training 
a very simple one. It is indubitable that we can con- 
struct flying-machines according to the pattern of flying 


animals, if only the fundamental condition be fulfilled, 
which consists in this, that we have machines as light 
and powerful as the motor muscles of flying animals 
and which do not require a much larger supply of 
combustible material. When such a machine is invented, 
every skilled mechanician can make a fly ing -machine. 
The inventors however always begin at the wrong end, 
and invent flying mechanisms without having the power 
for moving them. Still worse is it with the manageable 
air-ships. The problem of their construction has been 
long ago solved in principle, for every air-balloon may, 
in perfectly calm weather, be slowly propelled in any 
direction by a suitable mechanism applied in the car. 
Progress however can only be slow, because in the 
first place power -machines of sufficient lightness are 
still wanting to drive the voluminous balloon at greater 
speed through the air or against the wind, and secondly 
because the material of the balloon would not stand a 
strong counter -pressure of the atmosphere, even if we 
possessed such machines. The oblong form, which the 
inventors give the balloon, in order that it may better 
cleave the air, increases its weight with equal volume 
and is therefore worthless. The like holds good of the 
application of inclined planes, which are intended to 
facilitate the supporting of the weight. 

Besides these two problems there are a number 
of others on which inventors squander time and money 
by failing to perceive that the means for carrying 
them out are not yet at the disposal of applied science. 


After these digressions I resume the thread of 
my narrative with my retirement from political activity. 

The war of 1866 had removed the obstacles 
which opposed the longed-for unity of Germany, and 
had at the same time restored internal peace in Prussia. A 
new support was thereby given to the national idea, and 
the hitherto vague tentative efforts, as it were, of German 
patriots now obtained a firm foundation and definite 
direction. It is true, the Main boundary still divided 
Germany into a Northern and a Southern half, but 
no one doubted that its removal was only a question 
of time, if it was not rigidly fixed by external force. 
That France would make that attempt appeared certain, 
but there was a growing confidence, that Germany 
would successfully stand this trial also. As a conse- 
quence of this great revolution of popular sentiment 
there resulted the general endeavour to consolidate 
quickly what had been attained, to strengthen the 
feeling of solidarity of North and South despite the 
Main boundary and to prepare for the coming struggle. 

This buoyant feeling was evidenced by increased 
activity in all departments of life, nor did it fail to 
react on our business affairs. Magneto-electric mine- 
exploders, electric range-finders, electric apparatus for 
steering unmanned boats, furnished with explosives, 
against hostile ships, as well as numerous improve- 
ments of military telegraphy, were the off-spring of 
this stirring time. 

I will here only give a detailed account of a 
non-military invention of this time, as it has become 


the foundation of a new and important branch of 
industry, and has exerted and still continues to exert 
a stimulating and transforming influence in all depart- 
ments of technology, I mean the invention of the 
dynamo-electric machine. 

As early as the autumn of 1866, when I was 
intent on perfecting electric exploding apparatus with 
the help of my cylindrical inductor, the question 
occupied my mind, whether it would not be possible 
by suitable employment of the so-called extra- current, 
to considerably intensify the induction - current. It 
became clear to me, that an electro-magnetic machine, 
whose working power is very much enfeebled by the 
induced currents arising in its coils, because these 
induced currents considerably diminish the efficiency 
of the source of electricity, might conversely strengthen 
the force of the latter, if it were forcibly turned in 
the opposite direction by an external force. This 
could not fail to be the case, because the direction 
of the induced currents was at the same time reversed 
by the reversed movement. In fact, experiments 
confirmed this theory, and it appeared that there 
always remains sufficient magnetism in the fixed 
electro-magnets of a suitably contrived electro-magnetic 
machine to produce the most surprising effects by 
gradually strengthening the current generated by the 
reversed rotation. 

This was the discovery and first application of 
the dynamo-electric principle underlying all dynamo- 
electric machines. The first problem, which was 


thereby practically solved, was the construction of an 
effective electric exploding apparatus without steel 
magnets, and such exploding apparatus is still in general 
use at the present day. The Berlin physicists, among 
them Magnus, Dove, Riess, du Bois-Reymond , were 
extremely surprised, when I laid before them in 
December 1866 such an exploding inductor, and 
showed, that a small electro-magnetic machine without 
battery and permanent magnets, which could be turned 
in one direction without effort and with any velocity, 
offered an almost insuperable resistance when turned 
in the opposite direction, and at the same time produced 
an electric current of such strength, that its wire -coils 
became quickly heated. Professor Magnus immediately 
offered to lay a description of my invention before 
the Berlin Academy of Sciences, but, on account of 
the Christmas holidays, this could only be done in the 
following year, on the 17 th of January 1867. 

The priority of my application of the dynamo- 
electric principle was afterwards impugned in various 
quarters, when its enormous importance came to be 
seen in its further development. At first, Professor 
Wheatstone was almost universally recognised in Eng- 
land as simultaneous inventor, because at a sitting of 
the Royal Society on the 15 th of February 1867, at 
which my brother William produced my apparatus, he 
immediately exhibited a similar apparatus, which was 
only distinguishable from mine by the wire -coils of 
the fixed electro-magnet being differently disposed in 
their relation to those of the rotating cylindrical magnet. 


Next, Mr. Varley came forward with the assertion, 
that already in the early part of the autumn of 1866 
he had given orders to a mechanician for just such 
an apparatus, and also subsequently handed in a 
"provisional specification" of the same. My first 
complete theoretical establishment of the principle in 
the printed Transactions of the Berlin Academy, and 
its previous practical elucidation, have however finally 
been taken to be decisive in my favour. The name 
given by me to the apparatus "dynamo-electric machine"' 
has also become general, although frequently corrupted 
in practice into "the dynamo". 

Already in my communication to the Berlin 
Academy, I had pointed out that technical science was 
now in possession of appliances capable of producing 
electric currents of any desired tension and strength 
by the expenditure of energy, and that this would 
prove of great importance for many of its branches. 
In fact large machines of the kind were immediately 
constructed by my firm, one of which was exhibited 
at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867, whilst a 
second was employed in the summer of the same year 
by the military authorities for electric lighting experi- 
ments in Berlin. These experiments proved indeed 
quite satisfactory, with the drawback, however, of the 
wire-coils of the armatures rapidly becoming so hot, 
that the electric light produced could only be allowed 
for a short time without interruption. The machine 
exhibited in Paris was never actually put to the test, 
as there were no appliances for the transmission of 


force in the space allotted to my firm, and the jury, 
to which I myself belonged, did not subject the exhibits 
of their members, which were "hors concours", to any 
trial. All the greater was the sensation caused by 
an imitation of my machine exhibited by an English 
mechanician, which produced from time to time a small 
electric light. It was considered a sufficient recognition 
that the order of the Legion of Honour was awarded 
to me at the close of the exhibition. 

When at a later time the dynamo-machine, after 
considerable improvement, especially by the introduction 
of Pacinottrs ring and Hefner's coiling system, had 
received the most extensive application in practice, 
and both mathematicians and engineers had developed its 
theory, it seemed almost self-evident and hardly to be 
called an invention, that one should arrive by merely 
reversing the rotation of an electro-magnetic machine 
at the dynamo -electric machine. Against this it may 
be said, that the most obvious inventions, of primary 
importance, are commonly made very late, and in the 
most round-about way. For the rest it would not 
have been easy to have arrived by accident at the 
discovery of the dynamo-electric principle, because 
electro-magnetic machines only "excite", i. e. spon- 
taneously strengthen their electro-magnetism on re- 
versing the rotation, when their dimensions and the 
disposition of the coils are perfectly correct. 

To this period also belongs my invention of 
the alcoholmeter, which very successfully solved an 
extremely difficult problem, and accordingly excited 


much attention at the time. The problem consisted 
in constructing an apparatus to register continuously 
and automatically the quantity of absolute alcohol 
contained in the spirit flowing through it. My apparatus 
solved this problem so completely, that it indicated 
the quantity of alcohol, reduced to the customary 
normal temperature, as accurately as could be determined 
by the most exact scientific measurements. The Russian 
government has employed this apparatus for almost 
a quarter of a century in levying the high tax, which 
is imposed on the production of spirit, and many other 
European states have also subsequently adopted it for 
the same purpose. Apart from a few important 
practical improvements due to my cousin Louis Siemens, 
the apparatus is still supplied in the original form as 
a regular article of manufacture by a factory specially 
erected for the purpose in Charlottenburg. No imitation 
has hitherto been successful anywhere, although the 
apparatus is unprotected by a patent. 

The dimensions, which the firm of Siemens and 
Halske gradually attained, of course required a correspon- 
ding organization of the management and the help 
of able technical and administrative assistants. The 
friend of my youth, William Meyer, who filled the 
post of chief engineer and confidential clerk from the 
year 1855, had, by his considerable organizing talent, 
not only rendered valuable service to the Berlin firm, 
but also to its branches in London, St. Petersburg, 


and Vienna, Unfortunately he fell ill of a serious 
disorder after eleven years activity in the business, 
and died after prolonged sickness, deeply lamented by 
me as a personal friend and faithful co-worker. 

Not long afterwards, in the year 1868, my old 
friend and partner Halske retired from the firm. The 
favourable development of the business this will 
hardly appear credible to many at first sight was 
the determining reason for his taking this step. The 
explanation lies in Halske's singularly constituted nature. 
He took great pleasure in the faultless productions 
of his clever hand, as well as in everything that he 
could entirely overlook and control. Our common 
activity was thoroughly satisfactory for both parties. 
Halske always gladly adopted my constructive plans 
and designs, which with remarkable mechanical tact 
he at once most distinctly apprehended, and to which 
he often first gave their full value by his practical 
skill. At the same time Halske was a clear-headed 
cautious man of business, and him alone have I to 
thank for the good business results of the first years. 
The case altered however, when the business increased 
and could no longer be managed by us two alone. 
Halske regarded it as a desecration of his cherished 
establishment that strangers should have rank and rule 
in it. Even the installation of a book-keeper gave 
him pain. He could never get over it that the well- 
organized concern should exist and work without him. 
Finally, when the designs and undertakings of the firm 
became so large that he could no more overlook 


them, he felt no longer satisfied, and resolved to retire, 
in order to devote his whole activity to the ad- 
ministration of the city of Berlin, which afforded him 
personal satisfaction. Halske remained a dear and 
faithful friend to me -till his death, which occurred 
last year, and always, even to the last, retained a 
lively interest in the establishment of which he was 
joint -founder. His only son takes to-day an active 
part in the management of the present business as 
confidential clerk. 

As Meyer's successor we appointed the former 
director of the Hanoverian telegraph system, Herr 
Karl Frischen, who after the annexation of Hanover 
passed over into the service of the North German 
Confederation, and had for several years filled the 
office formerly held by Meyer as chief telegraph 
engineer of the Government telegraphs. The business 
gained in Herr Frischen an eminent technical worker, 
who had already distinguished himself by many original 
inventions. Further it was now of great advantage 
to the firm, that excellent departmental managers and 
constructors had been formed among its junior assistants, 
who had received their training in the firm. I shall 
only mention Herr von Hefner-Alteneck, whose achieve- 
ments as head of our construction-office have earned 
for him a world-wide reputation. 

Supported by such able coadjutors I was able more 
and more to confine myself to the general management 
of the business, and to leave with full confidence the 
details to our assistants. In this way I obtained greater 


leisure to occupy myself with scientific and such social 
problems as I had particularly at heart. 

My domestic life underwent a complete trans- 
formation through my second marriage, which took 
place on the 13 th of July 1869, with Antonie Siemens, 
a distant relative, the only child of the meritorious, 
and in agricultural technology well-known, professor 
Carl Siemens in Hohenheim near Stuttgart. I have 
often jokingly said in after-dinner speeches and the 
like, that this marriage with a Suabian lady should 
be looked upon as a political act, as the Main line 
was bound to be bridged, and this could best be 
done by as many alliances of affection as possible 
being concluded between North and South, which must 
then of themselves soon be followed by political ones. 
Whether my patriotism was not considerably influenced 
by the amiable qualities of the fair Suabian herself, 
who has again brought warm sunshine into my some- 
what gloomy and laborious life, I shall not here more 
closely enquire. 

When on the 30 th of July 1870 the news arrived 
by telegraph in Charlottenburg that the Emperor 
Napoleon had crossed the German frontier at Saarbrtick 
and the fateful war between Germany and France had 
actually begun, my wife presented me with a little 
daughter, to be followed two years later by a son. 
I gave our daughter the name Hertha, in pursuance 
of a vow to give her this name, if the German war- 
ship so called, which the French fleet were chasing 
in all waters, escaped capture. My four elder children 



were in Heligoland at the time of the declaration of 
war, and had to flee as speedily as possible with the 
whole troop of visitors, in order not to be prevented 
from returning by the blockade. The telegram of my 
eldest son, then sixteen, from Cuxhaven may pass as 
a sample of the deep emotion and courage that had 
taken possession of all Germany - - "I must join too'', 
words that happily could not be translated into action, 
as before the completed seventeenth year no one is 
accepted in the Prussian army. 

The war with France, like that of 1866, was 
speedily carried to a victorious issue for Germany, 
after a struggle of tremendous proportions. The joyful 
consciousness, that Germans from all parts for the first 
time in the course of their history fought and con- 
quered side by side under the same flag, made the 
heavy sacrifices, with which the gloriously achieved 
victories had to be purchased, appear more endurable, 
and lightened the profound mourning and misery, which 
the war entailed. It was a glorious and elevating 
time, which has left impressions never to be effaced 
on all who lived through it; and coming generations 
will assuredly never suffer the feeling of devout grati- 
tude to die out, which the nation owes to the great 
leaders who put an end to its ignominious discords, 
and made it united and powerful. 

Although I had entirely renounced political acti- 
vity after the year 1866, I still continued to take the 


greatest interest in public affairs. One question, to 
which I had long before paid particular attention, was 
that of patent - right. It had long become clear to 
me that one of the greatest obstacles to the free 
and independent development of German industry lay 
in the lack of protection for inventions. It is true 
that in Prussia, as also in the other large states of 

7 O 

Germany, patents were granted for inventions, but the 
grant entirely depended on the good pleasure of the 
authorities and lasted at the most only for three years. 
Even for this short time they afforded only a very 
unsatisfactory protection against imitation, for it rarely 
paid to take out patents in all the states belonging to 
the Zollverein, since every state applied its own test 
of originality, and indeed strictly speaking it was im- 
possible, as many of the smaller states did not grant 
patents at all. The consequence was that inventors, as 
a matter of course, sought in the first instance to turn 
their inventions to account in foreign countries, espe- 
cially England, France, and the United States. The 
youthful German industry was therefore altogether 
thrown upon the imitation of foreign productions, and 
thereby indirectly still more strengthened the preference 
of the German public for foreign manufactures by 
only dealing in imitations, and these for the most part 
also under a foreign flag. 

As to the worthlessness of the old Prussian patents 
there could not be two opinions. Indeed they were 
as a rule only applied for in order to obtain a certifi- 
cate that an invention had actually been made. Further- 



more , the then dominant thoroughgoing Free Trade 
party regarded the patenting of inventions as a relic 
of the old monopoly rights, and incompatible with the 
principles of Free Trade. In this sense a circular 
letter was sent in the summer of 1863 by the Prussian 
Minister of Commerce to all the chambers of commerce 
of the state, in which the uselessness, nay even inju- 
riousness of the patent system was set forth and finally 
the question propounded, whether the time had not 
come to abolish it entirely. This led me to draw up 
a memorial to the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, the 
council of Berlin merchants, which adopted the dia- 
metrically opposite point of view, to set forth the 
necessity and utility of a patent -law for the promotion 
of the industry of the country, and to sketch the out- 
lines of a rational patent -law. 

My detailed statement was approved by the 
Council, although the latter consisted of very pro- 
nounced free traders. It was unanimously adopted 
as the opinion of the Chamber of Commerce , and at 
the same time communicated to the other chambers 
of commerce of the state. Of the latter those, which 
had not yet sent in a reply assenting to the abolition 
of patents, expressed their sympathy w r ith the Berlin 
decision, and as a consequence the proposal for abo- 
lition was abandoned. 

This favourable result afterwards encouraged me 
to initiate a serious agitation for the introduction of an 
imperial patent -law, on the basis proposed by me. 
I sent a circular to a considerable number of men, 


who I supposed would have a special interest in the 
matter, and asked them to form a "Patent Protection 
Union", with the object of procuring a rational Ger- 
man patent -law. The call was generally responded 
to, and a short time after the Union was called into 
existence under my presidency. I remember with 
pleasure the stimulating debates of this Union, to 
which eminent legal authorities such as Professor 
Klostermann, Mayor Andre, and Dr. Rosenthal be- 
longed. The final result of the discussions was the 
draft of a patent -law, which essentially rested on 
the foundation laid by me in my statement of 1863. 
This consisted of a preliminary inquiry in regard to 
the novelty of the invention and subsequent public 
exhibition of the specification, thereby affording an 
opportunity for objections to the grant; further the 
grant of the patent for the term of fifteen years, with 
yearly increasing impost and complete publication of 
the patent granted; finally establishment of a patent- 
tribunal , which on application could always declare 
the nullity of the patent, if the originality of the in- 
vention was afterwards successfully disputed. 

These principles gradually gained approval with 
the public also, and even the Free Trade party of the 
most rigid principles was quieted by the economic 
basis of the proposal, which consisted in the protection 
appearing as a reward for the immediate and complete 
publication of the invention, whereby the new ideas 
underlying the patented invention became themselves 
industrial common property, and might even bear 


fruit in other fields. It took however a long time 
before the imperial government resolved to take legis- 
lative action in the matter. I fancy that a memorial, 
which as president of the Patent Protection Union I 
addressed to the imperial Chancellor, had a consider- 
able influence on the decision for the promulgation 
of an imperial patent -law. In this memorial I laid 
stress on the inferior condition and the slight esti- 
mation of German industry, its productions being every- 
where styled "cheap and nasty"; and at the same 
time I pointed out that a new firm bond for the young 
German empire would be created, if thousands of manu- 
facturers and engineers from all parts of the country 
could find in the institutions of the empire the long 
desired protection for their intellectual property. 

In the year 1876 a meeting of manufacturers as 
well as of administrative officials and judges was called 
together from all Germany, which made the draft of 
the Patent Protection Union the definite basis of their 
deliberations. The bill resulting from these deliberations 
was adopted by the Reichstag with a few modifications, 
and has very materially contributed to strengthen Ger- 
man industry, and procure respect for its productions 
both at home and abroad. Our industry has since 
been on the best way to lose in almost all its branches 
the stigma of "cheap and nasty", which Professor 
Reuleaux rightly gave to its productions at the Phila- 
delphia Exhibition in 1876. 


I will now take up my account of the develop- 
ment of the businesses established by us from the 
point where I described the changes, which our London 
house had to go through after the unsuccessful cable 
undertakings between Spain and Algeria in the year 
1864. The firm of Siemens Brothers, from that time 
separated from the Berlin business, had quickly and 
regularly developed under brother William's direction, 
both as manufacturing and contracting concern. As 
William had also at the same time great success in 
the engineering business carried on by him privately, 
and his time and energies were thereby very much 
taken up, the desire arose at the end of the sixties 
that brother Charles should undertake the special 
management of the London telegraph business. Charles 
consented, as since the expiration of the Russian 
maintenance contracts he no longer found any consider- 
able sphere of activity in Russia, 

Halske's resolution to retire from the Berlin firm 
was taken about the same time, and we three brothers 
decided accordingly upon an entire reform of the 
business - connection of our different firms. A joint 
business was formed which embraced them all. Each 
firm retained its independence as regards administration 
and financial methods, its profit and loss account however 
was carried over to the joint business, of which we 
three brothers were the sole proprietors and partners. 
The St. Petersburg concern was placed under an able 
manager, whilst Charles went to England to undertake 
the special management of the London firm. 


How splendidly the London house, now named 
"Siemens Brothers", prospered in the immediately 
following period has been described at length in the 
above-mentioned book of Dr. Pole on my brother 
William. I therefore confine myself here to some 
remarks on my own and my brother Charles's personal 

When in the year 1869 Charles transferred his 
residence to London, the factory at Charlton was 
already in full work as a mechanical workshop for the 
construction of electric apparatus of every kind; a cable- 
sheathing shop was also combined with it, in which 
important cables had already been manufactured. The 
principle employed by me in the testings of the English 
Government cables, that the permanence of a cable 
could only be assured, if it were tested at all stages 
of its manufacture with scientific thoroughness and 
accuracy, had borne good fruit , and the system of 
cable testings, then elaborated, has answered admirably 
well in the sequel. 

The remarkable success of the Malta -Alexandria 
line, which we tested according to this system for the 
English Government, had considerably raised our tech- 
nical reputation in England, and perhaps for this reason 
the only factory in England, which then turned out 
wires coated with seamless gutta-percha according to my 
method, threw difficulties in the way of supplying the 
purified gutta-percha which we ordered from it. We 
accordingly resolved to establish our own gutta-percha 
factory, and accomplished this with complete success. 


In this manner we were enabled ourselves to under- 
take great cable -lay ings, and thereby to break down 
the monopoly of the great cable-ring which had mean- 
while been formed, and whose purpose was to monopo- 
lize the whole submarine telegraphy. In reality my 
brothers succeeded in calling a Company into existence, 
which entrusted to us the production and the laying of 
an independent direct cable between Ireland and the 
United States. The requisite capital was subscribed 
on the Continent, as the English market was closed 
to us by the overwhelming competition. 

Brother William shewed his great constructive 
ingenuity by designing a large steam -ship expressly 
destined for the laying of cables, which was christened 
by us "Faraday". Brother Charles undertook the 
command of it on laying the cable. I considered 
Charles specially fitted for this task, as he was cool 
and deliberate, besides being a good observer and 
resolute in action. I myself was not to be deterred 
from sailing in the Faraday, freighted with the deep- 
sea cable, to the starting point of the laying, Ballins- 
kellig Bay, on the west coast of Ireland, and there 
undertaking the direction of the operations of the land- 
station during the laying. 

It was tolerably favourable weather, and every- 
thing went well. The difficult abrupt descent of the Irish 
coast into deep water was successfully got over, and 
according to the electrical testings the state of the cable 
was faultless. Then suddenly there occurred a small 
defect in the insulation, so small that only extremely 


sensitive instruments, such as we were employing, could 
have detected it. -According to previous cable-laying 
practice, this defect would have been allowed to pass, 
as it was without any influence on the signalling. But 
we wished to lay down a perfectly faultless cable, and 
determined therefore to take the cable up again to 
the point of the fault, which must be immediately 
behind the ship. This indeed went off well in spite 
of the great depth of 18,000 feet, as was continuously 
telegraphed to us from the ship. Suddenly however 
the scale of our galvanometer flew out of the field of 
sight, - - the cable was broken! Broken at a depth, 
from which to fish up the end again appeared quite 

It was a hard blow, which threatened our personal 
reputation as well as our business credit. The intel- 
ligence spread through all England in the same hour, 
and was received with very different feelings. Nobody 
believed in the possibility of recovering a detached 
piece of cable from so great a depth, and even brother 
William advised by telegraph to abandon the paid-out 
cable, and to recommence the laying. I was how- 
ever convinced that Charles would not return without 
having made the attempt to pick the cable up, and 
calmly watched the continual fluctuations of the scale 
of the galvanometer to detect any signs pointing to 
the movement of the cable-end by the search- anchor. 
Such indications indeed frequently occurred, without 
having further consequences, and two anxious days 
passed without any news from the ship. All at once 


a violent mirror- vibration! The end of the copper- 
wire must be in metallic contact. Then for several 
hours feeble regular twitching of the reflected image 
of the scale, from which I inferred a jerky lifting of 
the cable -end by the grapnel. However succeeding 
quiet for hours together caused hope to sink again. 
Then once more strong mirror - vibration produced 
by a current from the ship, w r hich was greeted with 
reiterated hurrahs by the workers at the "station. 
The incredible had been realised. From a depth ex- 
ceeding the height of Mont Blanc the cable had been 
found by a single operation, and what is more, had 
been brought up to the surface unbroken. Many favou- 
rable circumstances must have combined to make this 
possible. Good sandy sea-bottom, fine weather, suitable 
appliances for seeking and lifting the cable, and a good 
manageable ship with a skilful captain, happily con- 
curred, and made the apparently impossible possible 
with the help of much luck and self-confidence. Brother 
Charles, however, confessed to me afterwards that 
during the uninterrupted lowering of the grapnel, 
which took seven hours, to reach the sea - bottom, 
giving him for the first time a clear idea of the known 
depth, he had lost all hope of success and was him- 
self astounded when it came. 

After successful removal of the fault and re-esta- 
blishment of connection with the land the laying was 
continued for some days without disturbance. Then 
the ship reported rough weather, and soon after a 
small fault again occurred in the cable, which was 


left however till reaching shallow water off Newfound- 
land, in order to seek and remove it when the weather 
was more favourable. The picking up proved how- 
ever to be very difficult, as the sea-bottom was rocky 
and the weather persistently bad. Much cable was 
thereby lost, and the Faraday was obliged to return 
to England without finishing her task, to ship fresh 
cable and coals. Yet even the following expedition 
led only to the more accurate localization, but not to 
the removal of the fault, and a third attempt was 
necessary, in order to render the cable communication 
perfectly faultless. 

This first transatlantic cable-laying of ours was 
not only exceedingly instructive for us, but in point 
of fact led for the first time to the complete clear 
apprehension and mastery of cable - layings in deep 
water. We had shown, that even in unfavourable 
weather and at a bad time of year cables can be laid 
and repaired, and that too in very deep seas and with 
a single, but well -constructed and sufficiently large 
ship. The loss of cable, which we had had in the 
repairings, was attributed by brother Charles to the 
unsuitableness of the construction of the cable, which 
was identical with that adopted for the first successful 
transatlantic cable. For diminishing the specific gravity 
of the cable steel wires had been used for the cover- 
ing and protection of the conductor, surrounded with 
hemp or jute. On a strong pull these twisted the 
cable and produced kinks in the cable on the bottom 
of the ocean, which very much impeded or altogether 


prevented the taking up again. In accordance with 
Charles's suggestion we afterwards used only a closed 
steel -wire sheathing and thereby removed all the diffi- 
culties, which so considerably hampered our first deep 
sea laying. 

On the further technical improvements in the 
method of laying cables in deep water, to which the 
preceding enterprise led us, I cannot here enlarge. I 
will only mention that my theory, propounded on laying 
the Cagliari-Bona cable in 1857, has held its ground 
very well. As already mentioned, I have further 
developed and mathematically treated this theory in 
an essay laid before the Berlin Academy of Sciences 
and the Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electricians 
in London, and believe that it may now be regarded 
as fairly settled. 

The laying of this our first transatlantic cable 
brought us brothers many exciting incidents, one of 
which occurred at a very unfavourable moment and 
profoundly agitated me. 

I had been elected in the year 1874 by the Royal 
Academy of Sciences in Berlin one of its ordinary 
members, an honour which hitherto had only fallen 
to the lot of professed savans, and on the day fixed 
for the purpose I was about to give my prescribed 
inaugural address at a special meeting of the Academy, 
when on leaving the house I received a telegraphic 
message from London to the effect, that according 
to a cablegram the Faraday had been crushed by 
icebergs and had gone down with all hands on board. 


It required no slight self-control on my part, oppressed 
as I was by this terrible intelligence, still to deliver 
my address, which did not admit of postponement. 
Only a few intimate friends had perceived my violent 
emotion. Certainly I had hopes from the first moment, 
that it was only a "love-token" of our opponents, to 
cause this dread intelligence to be concocted in America, 
whence it was telegraphed. And indeed it soon turned 
out to be a baseless fiction. How the story originated 
could never be found out, and after the lapse of 
several anxious days the Faraday was reported safe 
and sound from Halifax. It had for a considerable 
time been detained at sea by a thick fog. 

The successful completion of the American cable 
raised the London firm at a stroke to a far higher 
level of English business - life than it had occupied 
hitherto. The testing of the electric properties of the 
cable by the highest authority in this department, Sir 
William Thomson, had proved that it was entirely 
faultless and possessed a very high signalling capacity. 
It was of great importance that the cable ring, which 
had been formed under Sir John Fender's auspices, 
was now broken through. It is true the attempt was 
made to restore it by subsequently admitting to the 
ring the cable laid by us. This however was to our 
advantage, for there was soon formed another, and 
this time a French, company, which gave orders to our 
firm to lay an independent cable. After a short time 
this also was purchased by the Globe, as the cable 
ring was called, but this led to American capital being 


attracted to cable telegraphy. Brother William received 
in the year 1881 a cablegram, in which the well-known 
railway - king Mr. Gould ordered a double cable to 
America, which was to be constructed entirely like 
the last laid by us - - the French so-called Pouyer- 
Quertier cable. It is a sign of the credit, which our 
firm enjoyed also on the other side of the ocean, that 
Mr. Gould declined to receive a representative to con- 
clude the contract, "as he had perfect confidence in 
us," and confirmed this by the remittance of a large 
instalment. This was the more noteworthy, as Mr. Gould 
is well known in America as a very cautious and keen 
man of business, and it was a matter of some millions. 
At any rate, however, he had correctly speculated, for 
his unlimited confidence constrained my brothers to 
propose the most favourable conditions possible and 
to execute the work in the very best fashion. The 
Gould cables after some competitive contests were also 
united with the Globe, but it was America that again 
broke through the monopoly. In the year 1884 the 
well-known Americans, Mackay and Bennett, gave orders 
to Siemens Brothers for two cables between the English 
coast and New York, which were faultlessly manufac- 
tured and laid within a year, and have up till now 
maintained their independence of the cable ring. 

These six transatlantic cables have all been laid 
by the "Faraday", which proved a most satisfactory 
ship for cable -laying, and as such has served as a 
model for the competing firms. The double screw 
with axes inclined to one another, which was first 


employed in it, gave to the great ship of 5000 tons 
a degree of mobility hitherto unattained, which made 
it possible to carry out cable -laying and repairing 
work in every season and even in unfavourable weather. 
Brother Charles had already returned in the year 
1880 to St. Petersburg, after the London firm had 
at his instigation been transformed into a private 
limited liability company. In the year 1883 brother 
William was, alas, torn from us and his untiring ac- 
tivity by a quite unexpected and sudden death. Herr 
Loffler, an official of many years standing, was in- 
stalled as managing director of the London firm, and 
has been recently succeeded by a younger member 
of the family, Mr. Alexander Siemens. 

My appointment as ordinary member of the Berlin 
Academy of Sciences was not only very honourable in 
itself for the favoured individual, who did not belong 
to the class of professional savans, it also had a pro- 
found influence on my later life. As my friend du Bois- 
Reymond, who acknowledged my inaugural address as 
presiding secretary of the Academy, rightly pointed out, 
I belonged by natural endowment and inclination in 
a far higher degree to science than to practice. 
Scientific research was my first, my early love, and 
it has retained my affection to the advanced age, 
which I now - - I can hardly say - - enjoy. At the 
same time I have certainly always felt the impulse to 
make scientific attainments useful for practical life. 


I expressed that in my inaugural address , when I 
enlarged on the theme that science does not exist 
for its own sake, merely to satisfy the thirst for 
knowledge of the limited number of its votaries, but 
that its office is to increase the treasures of know- 
ledge and power of the human race, and thereby to 
raise mankind to a higher level of civilization. It was 
noteworthy that friend du Bois in his reply to my 
address bade me at the end welcome "into the circle 
of the Academy, which only pursues science for its own 
sake". In very truth scientific investigation must not 
be means to an end. The German savant has always 
been justly distinguished by this , that he pursues 
science on its own account, for the satisfaction of his 
thirst for knowledge, and in this sense I have always 
been able to reckon myself more to the savans than 
to the engineers, since the prospective profit has either 
not at all, or only in special cases, guided me in the 
choice of my scientific work. The entrance into the 
narrow circle of distinguished men of science could 
not therefore but elevate me in a high degree and 
spur me to scientific activity. Moreover the statutes 
of the Academy exerted a beneficial constraint upon 
me. Every member must in rotation give a lecture, 
which is then printed in its Transactions. As it was 
very disagreeable to evade this obligation, it compelled 
me to complete and publish researches, which under 
other circumstances I should perhaps have postponed 
in favour of others seemingly more interesting, or have 

left altogether unfinished. Whilst therefore before my 



reception into the Academy I seldom got so far as 
the publication of a piece of scientific work, and 
usually contented myself with the enlargement of my 
own knowledge not without subsequent vexation, 

if my results were discovered and then made public 
by others - - I was now obliged every year to finish 
and publish one or two contributions. To this state 
of things is also to be ascribed the circumstance that 
in my academical lectures I dealt less with matters 
of my special department, electrical technology, than 
with subjects of general scientific interest. They were 
partly detached thoughts and reflections, jotted down 
in the course of my life, which were now brought 
together and scientifically worked up, partly novel 
phenomena, which aroused my particular interest and 
called for special investigation. I shall once more 
return to these purely scientific publications at the 
close of these reminiscences. 

Although since my reception into the Academy 
I had been far more occupied than heretofore with 
purely scientific problems, which stood in no relation 
to my business calling, I did not omit to continue 
to devote the needful time to the latter also. The 
superior management of the Berlin firm, and the 
technical work connected with it, usually claimed 
my whole working time during the day. The diffi- 
culty of my task was much augmented by the in- 
creasingly multifarious character of the firm's opera- 
tions, and the great dimensions they had assumed; 
and although able coadjutors relieved me of a con- 


siderable portion of the burden, yet there still remained 
for me much arduous and unceasing work. 

^/Jt had very early become clear to me that a 
satisfactory development of the continually growing 
firm must depend on securing the hearty spontaneous 
co-operation of all the workers for the furtherance 
of its interests. To attain this it seemed to me es- 
sential that all who belonged to the firm should 
share in the profits according to their performances. 
As my brothers acceded to my view this principle 
came to be adopted in all our establishments. Ar- 
rangements to that end were settled at the cele- 
bration of the twenty -fifth anniversary of the original 
Berlin firm in the autumn of 1872. We then 
determined that a considerable portion of the yearly 
profits should regularly be set aside for allowing a 
percentage to officials proportionate to their salaries 
and bonuses to workmen, and as a reserve fund for 
necessitous cases. Moreover we presented the col- 
lective body of workers with a capital-stock of 9000 
for an old age and invalid fund, the firm agreeing to 
pay every year to the account of the managers of 
the fund, chosen directly by those interested, fifteen 
shillings for each workman and thirty shillings for 
each official, who had served in the business uninter- 
ruptedly for a twelvemonth. 

These arrangements have worked remarkably well 
during the nearly twenty years of their existence. 
Officials and workmen regard themselves as a per- 
manent part of the firm and identify its interests with 



their own. It is seldom that officials give up their 
position, since they see their future assured in the 
service of the firm. The workmen also remain per- 
manently attached to the firm, as the amount of the 
pension rises with the uninterrupted period of service. 
After thirty years continuous service the full old 
age pension commences with two thirds of the wages; 
and that this is of practical importance is proved by 
the respectable number of old age pensioners who are 
still strong and hearty, and beside their pension con- 
tinue to receive their full wages. But almost more 
than the prospect of a pension the endowment fund 
for widows and orphans connected with the pension 
fund binds the workmen to the firm. It has been 
proved to be the case that this endowment is still more 
urgent than the invalid pension, as the uncertainty of 
the future of those dependent on him commonly 
weighs more heavily on the workman than his own. 
The ageing workman nearly always loves his work, 
and does not willingly lay it down without actual and 
serious need of rest. Accordingly the superannuation 
fund of the firm, in spite of a liberal use of the pensions 
by the workmen themselves, has only consumed the 
smaller part of the incomings from the interest of the 
funded capital and the contributions of the firm to- 
wards pensions; the larger part could be applied for 
the support of widows and orphans as well as for in- 
creasing the capital stock of the fund, which is destined 
to secure the workman's claim for pensions in the 
event of the possible liquidation of the business. 


The reproach has been made to this arrangement 
that it binds the workman too much to the particular 
workshop, because by his leaving it he loses the 
advantages gained. This is quite true, although the 
hardship is considerably mitigated by the circumstance 
that with dismissal for want of work every dismissed, 
workman receives a paper, giving him a preferential 
claim to re-admission over other workmen. Certainly the 
workman's freedom to strike is considerably restricted 
by the conditions regarding pensions, for on his vo- 
luntarily leaving his old age claims lapse by the rules. 
It is however to the interest of both parties that a 
permanent working staff should be formed, for only 
thereby is the firm enabled to maintain the workmen 
even in unfavourable times and to pay them wages 
affording subsistence. Every large factory ought to 
form such a pension -fund, to which the workmen 
contribute nothing, but which they themselves manage, 
of course under the control of the firm. In this 
manner the strike mania, which seriously injures in- 
dustry and especially the workmen themselves, is best 
coped with. 

It is certainly somewhat hard that the provisions 
of the Workmen's Old Age Insurance. Law of Ger- 
many have no regard to the already existing or 
prospective private pension funds, and thus oblige 
the particular factories to pay double for pensioning 
their workmen. However the peaceful relations between 
employers and employees, which are secured by the 
private pension fund, as well as a permanent staff of 


workmen, are so important, that such an excess of 
expenditure is amply justified. 

The esprit de corps produced by the arrangements 
described, which binds together all the fellow labourers 
of the firm of Siemens & Halske, and gives them an 
interest in its welfare, explains in great part the com- 
mercial success which we achieved. 

This leads me to the question, whether altogether 
it is to the general interest that large commercial 
houses should be established, which permanently remain 
in the possession of the family of the founder. It 
might be said that such large firms are hindrances to 
the rise of many smaller undertakings and therefore 
act injuriously. That is certainly pertinent in many 
cases. Wherever it is possible to maintain an export 
trade by the productions of handicraftsmen, large 
competing factories have a prejudicial effect. Wherever, 
on the contrary, the development of new branches of 
industry or the opening of the markets of the world 
for those already in existence comes into question, 
large centralised business undertakings with abundant 

o o 

capital are indispensable. Such capitals can certainly 
at the present day be most easily brought together 
in the form of joint stock companies, but these can 
nearly always be only pure gain-seeking companies 
which, by their own regulations, are only allowed to 
have in view the attainment of the largest possible 
amount of profit. They are therefore only adapted 
for reaping advantage from already existing well- 
tried methods of working and organizations. The 


opening of new paths is on the contrary nearly always 
troublesome and attended with great risk, requires 
also a larger store of special knowledge and ex- 
perience than is to be found in joint stock com- 
panies, for the most part short-lived and often 
changing their management. Such an aggregation of 
capital, knowledge, and experience can only be formed 
and maintained in long established commercial houses, 
remaining by inheritance in the same family. Just 
as the great commercial houses of the Middle Ages 
were not only money -making institutions, but con- 
sidered themselves called upon and bound to serve 
their fellow- citizens and the state by seeking out new 
commodities and new highways of commerce - - the 
obligation being transmitted as a family tradition through 
many generations so at the present day in this 
awakened scientific age the large technical business- 
houses are called upon to put forth their whole 
strength, that the national industry may take the lead 
in the great contest of the civilized world, or at 
least the place assigned to it by the nature and 
situation of the country itself. Our political institutions 
still rest almost everywhere on the feudal system, 
according to which the landed proprietor was almost 
exclusively regarded and honoured as the supporter 
and maintainer of the power of the State. Our time 
can no longer recognize the validity of this privilege. 
Not on possessions, be they what they may, will the 
conservative force of society henceforth depend, but 
on the spirit which animates and fertilizes them. Al- 


though it is conceded that inherited possession of the 
soil binds by tradition and education the owner more 
firmly to the state, and is therefore more conservative 
than land easily transferable and capital altogether 
moveable, it yet no longer suffices to protect the state 
from impoverishment and decay. This protection can 
only be secured to-day by the conscious co-operation 
of all the spiritual forces of the nation, the mainte- 
nance and further development of which is one of 
the most important problems of the modern state. 

Although the fact, that I owe my position in 
life to my own efforts, has always afforded me a 
certain satisfaction , yet I have always gratefully 
acknowledged that my path was smoothed by my ad- 
mission into the Prussian army and therewith into the 
State of the great Frederick. I regard the cabinet 
order of Frederick William III., which accorded me 
the entry into the Prussian army, as the opening of 
the only path then possible, in which my energies 
could be developed. I have often, in my later life, 
had opportunity to perceive how true had been the 
utterance of my father that, in spite of all discontent 
with the Prussian policy of the Holy Alliance, Prussia 
was yet the only firm point in Germany and the only 
anchorage for the hearts of German patriots. I have 
therefore always bestowed my, I may well say, inborn 
affection to the German fatherland first and foremost 
on Prussia, and have always been faithfully and grate- 


fully devoted to it and its five kings, under whose 
rule I lived. It was not only the knowledge to be 
acquired at the Prussian military schools and the 
mental culture there attained, which facilitated my 
later progress in life, it was also the position of 
military officer held in such esteem in Prussia, which 
was of the greatest assistance to me. 

Prussia was, as I have already mentioned in 
another place, down to the middle of the present 
century essentially a military and bureaucratic state, 
only to the nobility and landed gentry certain honorary 
privileges appertained. An industrial class proper was 
entirely wanting, in spite of all the effort which 
enlightened officials, such as Beuth, made in order 
to form one from the insufficiently developed artisan 
class. Moreover, as the trade of the country was 
very limited, there was also wanting a prosperous 
cultured middle class as counterpoise to the army, the 
officials, and the landed nobility. Under these circum- 
stances it was in Prussia of great value, to belong as 
officer to the court-retinue and to have the entree to 
all social circles. 

It is customary at the Prussian court for this 
privilege, possessed by every, even the civil officer, 
of belonging to the court - circle to be continually 
exercised. Thus as early as the winter of 1838, when 
a young officer in the artillery and engineering school, 
I was commanded to attend great entertainments at 
the royal palace, and since that time, accordingly for 
more than half a century, I have frequently been per- 


mitted to be present at these great court gatherings, 
which faithfully reflect Berlin society and clearly illus- 
trate the immense revolution which Prussia, and all 
Germany with it, has undergone during that time. 
At these assemblies I have frequently had the oppor- 
tunity of becoming personally acquainted with the 
members of the Royal Family. 

As previously mentioned, I had already had 
occasion at an earlier period of my life to be grateful 
to the Prince of Prussia for his kindness in liberating 
me at St. Petersburg from a painful position. I have 
ever retained this feeling of gratitude, but unfortunately 
in consequence of my political views was constrained 
to incur the anger of the monarch by voting in the 
Diet according to my convictions against the reorgani- 
zation of the army. When the declaration of war 
against Austria had actually taken place, and the 
brilliant victories of the reorganized Prussian army had 
clearly proved the wisdom of the strengthening of the 
army by this reorganization, I took indeed pains to 
help to remove the injurious consequences of the 
parliamentary resistance to the reorganization, and 
successfully struggled for the grant of the indemnity 
so magnanimously asked for by the victorious ruler, 
but hardly thought I could ever hope to regain the 
former favour of the sovereign. I was therefore all 
the more agreeably surprised when at the close of the 
Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867, at the same time 
as the French croix d'honneur, the Prussian Order of 
the Crown was conferred upon me. 


A few years later the Emperor gave a still more 
decided expression to this renewal of favour with a 
kindliness, which could hardly be surpassed. I had 
already for a number of years been a member of the 
Council of the Berlin Merchants' Company, and accor- 
ding to the prevailing practice had been proposed by 
the president of the Company for nomination as Coun- 
cillor of Commerce, without my knowing anything 
about it. The Emperor had already approved of the 
nomination, and the president of police was kind enough 
to call upon me and personally to bring me the grati- 
fying intelligence of this impressive mark of favour. 
The title of Councillor of Commerce however was not 
quite to my taste, for I considered and felt myself more 
a savant and engineer than a merchant. The president 
of police, who soon perceived my uneasiness, tried to 
combat my objection and asked, what he should say 
to the Emperor, who had desired to do me a favour. 
Whereupon the remark slipped off my tongue, that 
first lieutenant, honorary doctor of philosophy, and 
Commercial Councillor did not agree, such a mixture 

O ' 

would produce a stomach-ache! The police -president 
finally promised to convey my petition to the Emperor 
that my appointment as Councillor of Commerce should 
not be published, and we agreed to meet at a particular 
spot at the court ball to be given the same evening. 
He there came up to me with a cheerful countenance, 
and reported that he had communicated to the Emperor 
my scruples regarding the stomach-ache; that the 
Emperor had laughed heartily at it, and remarked he 


himself felt something of the same sort, I should there- 
fore ask for some other favour when he addressed me. 
This unfortunately I could not do. A title more in 
accordance with my position did not exist in Prussia 
for non-officials and I could not possibly follow the 
advice of the president to request a higher order, 
since, as I said to him, one gratefully accepts such 
when offered, but does not solicit it. This refusal 
gave offence to the president, and as the Emperor 
soon after passed without addressing me, I imagined 
I had again incurred his displeasure. All the more 
delighted, nay almost abashed was I, when the presi- 
dent of police communicated to me, he had told the 
Emperor that I knew of nothing to ask from him, and 
that he had thereupon replied "well then, present 
him to my wife". 

In consequence of a mistake in persons this pre- 
sentation did not take place then, and I also after- 
wards omitted to be presented to the Empress in the 
usual way, as it was repugnant to me to force myself 
into the presence of royalty, as is so often done. 
That this did not pass unnoticed I afterwards learnt 
from the Empress herself. During the Vienna Ex- 
hibition of 1873 the latter requested the German 
jurors to be presented to her, I being one of them. 
After the presentation was over, she sent for me 
specially and said : "I have a bone to pick with you, 
Herr Siemens, you try to give us the slip, but in 
future you will not find that so easy". Indeed the 
august lady often afterwards gave me proofs of her 


esteem and graciousness in visiting our factories or 
inviting me to give lectures on electrical subjects. 

One of these lectures, which I had to give in the 
Imperial palace, had special significance through the 
Grand Duke of Baden on the day before the delivery 
of the lecture having sent me a programme, precise 
both in extent and subject, which the Emperor himself 
had dictated to him. The theme ran "Nature and 
cause of electricity and its application in practical 
life". It was not easy to satisfy the theoretical part 
of the programme, as our knowledge of the nature 
of electricity is still very slight, but even the drawing 
up of such a programme shows how profound was 
the interest taken by the Emperor in the physical 
sciences, the great importance of which for the further 
development of human civilization he fully perceived. 

The Crown Prince and his family have also in- 
variably displayed the liveliest interest in the gradual 
development and the scientific achievements of our 
establishment, and have frequently honoured our fac- 
tories with their presence. To this gracious and kindly 
recognition of my efforts I, in fact, owe my place in 
the list of recipients of honours, which the Emperor 
Frederick announced on ascending the throne. Without 
the usual preliminary inquiry I was included in the 
list, and to my great astonishment first heard through 
the newspapers of my admission into the ranks of 
the nobility. 


Although my time was very much taken up with 
my scientific work and my business, I yet never lost 
my interest in the questions of public life. I was an 
active member of several scientific and technical socie- 
ties, took part both commercially and privately in the 
great exhibitions, and was frequently appointed by the 
government on special commissions for scientific and 
technical questions. Of this multifarious activity I shall 
here only cite a few instances, which appear to me 
worthy of mention. 

When the Imperial patent law came into being, 
substantially in accordance with my proposals, an 
invitation was issued to me to assist the newly con- 
stituted Patent Office at least for a number of years. 
I willingly complied, in order to be enabled to secure 
that the practical application should be in harmony 
with the adopted principles of the patent law. In 
this manner I obtained the rank of an official of the 
Empire and as such was proposed by Prince Bismarck 
for the title of "Privy Councillor". I gratefully ac- 
cepted the same, as the bearing of a title in Prussia 
is very general and my colleagues, the members of the 
Academy of Sciences, for the most part bore it. 

I was an active member and for a number of 
years deputy-chairman of the Association for the Pro- 
motion of Industry, which was called into existence 
by Beuth, the father of Prussian industry, and ren- 
dered great service to the industrial development of 
Germany under the many years' presidency of the 
State Minister Delbrtick. 


I had a large share in the establishment of the 
Electro-Technical Society through the mediation of the 
Secretary of State Dr. von Stephan,/! was" the first 
active president of the Society and made many of my 
technical labours for the first time public through 
lectures in this Society. Similar societies were founded 
in several places after the pattern of the Berlin Electro- 
Technical Society; at the same time the meritorious 
older Society of Telegraph Engineers in London, called 
into existence by my brother William, expanded their 
name and programme by adopting electric engineering 
as the aim of the Society. The formation of the 
Berlin Society is to be regarded as the commencement 
of electro -technical science as a special branch of 
civil engineering, the term "electro -technical" itself 
occurring for the first time in the designation of the 
Society. By the adoption of the resolution subsequently 
brought forward by me, "to request governments to 
establish professorships of electric engineering at all 
technical academies, in order that young engineers may 
have the opportunity of getting to know the assistance 
which electrical technology might afford them in their 
special work", the Society has rendered good service 
as regards the rapid development of electric engi- 
neering in all its branches, as the resolution was almost 
everywhere complied with. Also by its endeavours 
to obtain an international system of electric standards, 
the Society has done great service. The initiative was 
taken by the Congress, which was connected with the 
Industrial Electric Exhibition in Paris of 1881, - a 


request being preferred to the French government to 
bring about diplomatically the assembling of an inter- 
national conference of delegates, whose task should be 
the establishment of a scientific system of standards 
for electro-technology. 

Such a conference, to which Helmholtz, Wiede- 
mann, Clausius, Kirchhoff and myself were deputed 
by the German Empire, met in Paris in the following 
year, and decided in principle for the absolute standard 
system of William Weber, with the modification that 
the c. g. s. standard, for which England had already 
pronounced, was adopted as the standard of resistance. 
Owing to the little accuracy however, with which 
hitherto the absolute resistance unit of Weber could 
be reproduced in practice, it was resolved to take as 
a practical basis the mercury unit, which I had pro- 
posed, and to invite the scientists of every country, 
to ^settle experimentally the relation of the modified 
c. g. s. unit to the then widely adopted Siemens unit. 
As the mean of all the determinations in consequence 
arrived at there resulted for this relation the value 
1-06; and accordingly a column of mercury of 1 square 
millimetre in cross section and 106 centimetres long 
at C. named "Ohm" was established at the final 
conference in the year 1884 as the international 
legal unit of resistance. In like manner the names 
of meritorious physicists were selected for the re- 
maining units of the system; it is however to be 
regretted that the name of William Weber, the creator 
of this absolute standard system, was passed over, 


although this honour ought to have been specially 
paid him, when his own system was adopted. For 
myself it was a little triumph that a reproduction of 
my mercury unit, which Lord Rayleigh made ac- 
cording to a method somewhat different from my 
own, should yet agree to a ten thousandth part with 
the standard tallies delivered by our firm. 

It was certainly somewhat hard for me, that my 
resistance unit, arrived at with so much trouble and 
labour, which had speaking generally made the first 
comparable electric measurements possible, then was 
employed for more than a decennium throughout 
the world and adopted as legal international standard 
of resistance for telegraphy by the International Tele- 
graph Congress, should have now suddenly to be set 
aside with my own co-operation. But the great 
advantage of a theoretically established system of 
standards, consistently carried out and universally 
adopted, necessitated this sacrifice offered up to 
science and the public interest. 

My literary activity was in general limited to 
the presentation of my scientific and technical labours 
and the description of the mechanical contrivances 
which I had constructed. I was however often obliged 
to repel attacks, which were levelled directly or in- 
directly at my firm or at myself personally. This 

was the more necessary as my firm never advertised, 



and only let good workmanship proclaim its merits. 
Unfounded attacks on its achievements could therefore 
not pass unchallenged, which frequently had to take 
the form of an appeal to the law of libel, as the 
newspapers usually had more sympathy for their 
regular profitable advertisers. 

Of such rectifications I will only here instance 
one sent in April 1877 to the Elberf elder Zeitungj 
since it is of a more general interest. The anonymous 
writer, who gave occasion to this rectification, had 
praised the dynamo-electric machines of M. Gramme 
in Paris, whom he styled the meritorious inventor 
of the dynamo -electric machine and electric lighting, 
and for whose recognition he claimed the German 
love of justice in high-sounding phrases, without 
even making mention at all of the German share in 
these inventions. In my reply I emphasized the un- 
doubted merit of Gramme in the development of 
the dynamo - electric machine , which consisted in 
the combination of the ring of Pacinotti with nay 
dynamo -electric principle, I could however not omit 
to reverse the appeal to German love of justice in 
favour of foreign services by pointing to the fact 
that the German is always inclined rather to recog- 
nise foreign and exotic than home growths. This 
was, I added, a great obstacle to the development 
of German industry, since the latter was often com- 
pelled by the preference for foreign manufactures 
to send its better products to the markets of the 
world under a foreign flag, whence it came to pass 


that German manufactures were everywhere wrong- 
fully characterized as inferior cheap wares. 

I have had occasion before to refer to this, and 
in particular have characterized as unpatriotic and 
despicable the suicidal practice of bringing the better 
German manufactures to market as English, French, 
or even American. It is difficult to decide whether 
the blame rests mainly with the German public or 
the German manufacturers, in any case it is the out- 
come of a reciprocal action between the prejudice of 
the former and the short-sightedness of the latter, who 
have only their momentary advantage in view. Since 
the establishment of the new German Empire and the 
national advance connected with it there has un- 
doubtedly been an improvement in this respect, but 
the eradication of the evil is still far from complete. 
Our manufacturers still too much lack the pride to 
supply only good articles, and our public the per- 
ception that such commodities even at a higher price 
are the cheapest. Only from the reciprocal action of 
both is the national pride in the products of one's 
own industry developed, which affords the best pro- 
tection for the latter. How strongly the feeling of 
the superiority of native to all foreign products is 
developed in England was vividly brought home to 
me, when I was once watching, with brother William, 
the unloading of a vessel, which for the first time 
brought ice to London from a Norwegian port. The 
ice was deposited in handsome cubical blocks on 

the landing place, and was regarded with manifest 



interest by the purchasers. My brother began a con- 
versation with one of them by praising the fine 
appearance of the blocks. "Oh yes" was the reply 
of the person addressed, a herculean butcher, "it 
looks very well but it has not the English nature". 
Even English ice must necessarily be colder than 
foreign ice. This prepossession of every Englishman 
in favour of native products, which always influences 
his choice, strengthens the pride of the English artisan 
and manufacturer in the excellence of their work 
and thereby often causes the preconceived opinion to 
become truth. 

Of my other popular publications I will here 
only cite my lectures "Electricity in the service of 
life" of the year 1879 and "The Age of Science" of 
the year 1886. 

In the former lecture I descanted on the state 
of electrical engineering and added some reflections 
on the further progress, confidently to be expected, 
which would result from the circumstance that elec- 
tricity could now with the help of the dynamo-elec- 
tric machine also perform heavy work, whereas hitherto 
it had only been useful through the rapidity of its 
action in mediating, directing and controlling intelli- 

O 7 o" o 

gence and signals, leaving the execution of the heavy 
work itself to other natural forces. 

The lecture "On the Age of Science", which I 
gave at Berlin at the opening meeting of the Society 
of Naturalists and Physicians in the autumn of 1886, 
dealt with the change of social conditions through the 


rapidly growing command of man over the forces of 
Nature. I set forth that engineering, resting on the 
basis of physical science, was more and more relieving 
man of the previous severe bodily labour, which Nature 
had imposed on him for the maintenance of his life, 
that the wants of life and means of enjoyment would 
be satisfied by ever diminishing bodily exertion, and 
thus become cheaper and accordingly more accessible 
to all; further that through the distribution of force 
and the inevitable fall of the rate of interest the 
superiority of large factories to individual labour would 
more and more be neutralized and consequently the 
practical ends of Social Democracy would be attained 
without a violent overthrow of the existing order solely 
by the undisturbed progress of the Age of Science. 
I also tried in my lecture to show that the study of 
the physical sciences in its further progress and general 
diffusion would not brutalize men and divert them 
from ideal aspirations, but on the contrary would lead 
them to humble admiration of the incomprehensible 
wisdom pervading the whole creation, and must there- 
fore ennoble and improve them. The occasion appeared 
to me opportune for publicly asserting my convictions, 
since the unshakable belief in the beneficial conse- 
quences of the undisturbed development of the Age 
of Science is alone competent to repel with success 
all the fanatical attacks which threaten human civili- 
zation on all sides. 

It is not sufficient however to leave scientific 
engineering to its own undisturbed development, it is 


rather necessary to assist its progress as far as possible. 
For this certainly already much has been done in 
Germany through the highly developed system of 
scientific technical instruction, for which the best con- 
ceivable arrangements have been made at the numerous 
universities and polytechnic schools. There was a total 
absence however of any organization for the furtherance 
of scientific investigation, i. e. for the extension of the 
area of our physical knowledge, on which technical 
progress is also dependent. In Prussia years ago the 
necessity of an institute had been perceived, which 
should have for its object the scientific support 
of engineering and especially of applied mechanics, 
and a commission, to which I was summoned, had 
elaborated a plan for such an institute, which was 
to be added to the new polytechnic institution in 
course of erection at Charlottenburg. This was how- 
ever no solution of the problem of furthering scientific 
investigation itself. 

The necessity of an institute, not subserving in- 
struction but scientific research exclusively, had very 
strikingly appeared at the conferences on the establish- 
ment of international electric standards in Paris. There 
was found no suitable place in all Germany for carry- 
ing out the difficult work of exactly producing the 
absolute resistance unit of Weber. The laboratories 
of the universities are, in conformity with their desti- 
nation, arranged for the purpose of instruction and 
indeed as a rule entirely claimed for that object, 
German scientists have nevertheless in the leisure-hours, 


which their teaching vocation left them, used these for 
carrying on their researches, and have accomplished 
much, but for extensive thorough research neither the 
rooms and their fittings nor the leisure -time of the 
scientists were sufficient. My proposal to add to the 
planned institute for the scientific support of engineer- 
ing a second, which should be exclusively at the 
service of scientific research, met indeed with much 
sympathy, but the execution of the plan was re- 
garded as impossible under the existing circumstances. 
Suitable premises were wanting, sufficiently large and 
not liable to vibration from vehicular traffic, and it 
also appeared difficult to obtain the consent of the 
Prussian Diet to the considerable expenditure required 
for the erection and subsequent maintenance of such 
an institution. 

I had already bequeathed in my will a conside- 
rable sum of money to be applied to the furtherance 
of scientific research, but precious time would perhaps 
have been lost before my possibly still remote death, 
and particularly the favourable opportunity would then 
have gone by for calling into life a large undertaking, 
answering to the needs of the time, by the combina- 
tion of the planned institute destined for scientific re- 
search with the scientific-technical one already agreed 
to in principle. I therefore resolved not to wait till 
my death, but to make the Imperial Government the 
offer, to place at its disposal a large piece of ground 
perfectly suited to the purpose or the equivalent 
capital for an Imperial institute devoted to scientific 


research, if the Empire would undertake the cost of 
building and the future maintenance of the institute. 
My proposal was accepted by the Government, con- 
firmed by Parliament, and on this foundation the 
physico- technical Imperial institute at Charlottenburg 
has grown up, which now forms a German home for 
scientific research under the guidance of the first 
physicist of our time, Privy Councillor von Helmholtz. 

Charlottenburg, June 1892. 

1 hoped last year to bring these recollections to 
a close in Harzburg, but was prevented by my wife's 
illness and many other troubles. In the autumn I had 
myself a severe attack of influenza, which compelled 
me to winter in the south. Accompanied by my wife 
and youngest daughter I resorted to Corfu in December. 
It is true that there is not much provision in the place 
for sick persons, and the climate in January and Fe- 
bruary is about the same as that of a rainy North 
German summer, but the glorious situation and the 
beautiful surroundings of the town afford great plea- 
sure even at that season of the year. 

Corfu still lives on the benefits, which the Eng- 
lish protectorate formerly brought the island. The fine 
roads made by the English, although already in part 
thoroughly out of repair, still continue to afford fair 
communication between the most important parts of 
the island. The English waterworks also, which have 
made the city of Corfu a healthy place, are luckily 
still kept up. Till a short time ago the Corfiote lived 
in ancient Phaeacian ease on the profits, which the 

378 IN CORFU. 

numerous old olive-trees of the island brought him; 
he never took the trouble properly to gather the fruit, 
but waited till it fell to the 'ground of itself, and then 
collected what was in good condition. Recently how- 
ever petroleum has sent down the price of oil, and 
anxiety for daily bread is beginning to be felt even 
in Phaeacia. Greater attention is therefore now paid 
to the cultivation of the vine, which indeed costs 
much more labour, but is also far more remunerative 
than the cultivation of the olive. One sees with re- 
gret in many parts of the island the old picturesque 
olive-trees cut down to make room for the more pro- 
fitable vine - cultivation. Almost the only foreigners, 
who permanently reside in Corfu, are French traders, 
who buy up all the wine. The large amount of red 
colouring matter, which the wine of Corfu contains, 
doubtless makes it very suitable for the manufacture 
of "genuine" claret. In former times no wine could 
be exported from the island, as the Corfiotes preferred 
to drink their wine themselves. Thus the most ancient 
habits change in an age that does not suffer the un- 
changeable ! 

At the end of February, when the fruit-trees 
began to bloom, we left Corfu and went to Naples, 
where we hoped to find better weather and more 
amusement. But the Apennines were still thickly 
covered with snow, even dear Vesuvius wore a light 
snowy mantle, and in Naples it rained still more persis- 
tently and severely than in Corfu. As a compensation 
we there enjoyed the pleasant intercourse with friend 


Dohrn and his amiable family. A month later we 
went to Amalfi, but not before Sorrento did the long 
ardently desired blue Italian sky at last smile upon us. 
There I first began to feel my strength returning when, 
taking a walk with my wife, we were attracted by 
the prospect of a fine view and reached the highest 
point of the neighbourhood, the monastery of Deserto. 
My hope of being able to pay another visit to Vesuvius, 
and perhaps of taking another look into the sources 
of its changing activity, unfortunately remained unful- 
filled, on account of the unfavourable weather. It gave 
me however much pleasure to see it again, for one 
clings to persons and things, which have earned our 
gratitude. For during an ascent in the year 1878 
Vesuvius had given me such unmistakable indications 
of the cause of its activity by its regularly recurring 
explosion-like eruptions, that the sphere of my ideas 
concerning the formation of the earth's crust and the 
underlying forces was considerably enlarged. 

At the beginning of May we returned home, but 
unfortunately I had yet to sustain two violent attacks 
of fever. Having now luckily got the better of these 
likewise, I hope that the sick period of my old age 
is passed and that a calm and cheery evening of life 
will be granted me in the midst of my beloved ones. 

I have already in the foregoing pages frequently 
spoken of my brothers and sisters, but considering the 
great influence, which they had on my career, I feel 


constrained to append a condensed and connected sum- 
mary of their lives. 

I will first mention my brother William, snatched, 
alas! so early from us. How in a foreign land, which 
he set foot upon without any acquaintances and in- 
troductions and with very limited means, he worked 
himself up to a position of great distinction, has been 
admirably recorded by the pen of so competent a writer 
as Dr. Pole. Many foreigners, Germans among the rest, 
have made their fortunes in England, but that has 
usually depended on certain lucky hits, among which 
a single invention of great material importance is com- 
monly to be reckoned. William achieved more, he 
forced the public opinion of England to honour him in 
his life-time, and in a still more striking manner after 
his death, as one of the leading spirits, to whom the 
country owes the great development of its technical 
industry by the diffusion and application of scientific 
knowledge. By participating indefatigably in the work 
of the numerous associations, which made good in Eng- 
land the previous want of sound preliminary technical 
education, William contributed much to bringing English 
engineering up to the level of advanced physical science, 
and it redounds to England's honour to have impartially 
acknowledged this service on the part of a foreigner. 
William's exertions were considerably assisted by the 
uninterrupted and close connection with his brothers, 
and by his marriage with the amiable Miss Gordon of 
an honourable Scottish family, which made it easier for 
him to obtain a firm footing in English society. 


William died on the 19 th of November 1883, in 
his sixtieth year, of a slowly developed and scarcely 
noticed disease of the heart. His almost sudden death 
overtook him at the height of his activity. Already 
all the honours had been heaped upon William, which 
a savant and engineer can obtain in England. He 
was repeatedly president of the foremost scientific and 
technical societies, amongst others first president of 
the Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electricians 
founded by himself. The highest recognitions and 

/ o 

prizes accorded by these societies were awarded 
him. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge made 
him honorary doctor; and he received the honour of 
knighthood at the hands of the Queen. His death 
was felt throughout England as a national calamity, 
and was as such lamented in all the newspapers. The 
funeral service took place with befitting solemnity in 
Westminster Abbey. A year after his death a window 
was dedicated to his memory in the Abbey, presented 
by the scientific and technical associations of England, 
the leading English men of science and representatives 
of technical industry taking part in the proceedings. 
His deeply afflicted wife retired to her beautiful 
country house, which the forethought of her husband 
had bequeathed her, at Sherwood, near Tunbridge 
Wells, there to mourn her lost happiness. We brothers, 
and I in particular for William was to me more 
than a brother felt his unexpected death as a 
severe blow, which the lapse of now nearly ten years 
can soften but not expel from memory. 


Of my brothers Hans and Ferdinand, who became 
agriculturists, Hans afterwards devoted himself to agri- 
cultural engineering, and undertook a spirit distillery 
in Mecklenburg. That certainly did not bring much 
grist to his mill, but gave him the opportunity of 
falling in love and getting engaged. After his marriage 
he acquired with my assistance a bottle manufactory 
near Dresden, which he managed till his death in the 
year 1867. Ferdinand still lives on his manor of 
Piontken in East Prussia. He was again betrothed in 
1856 and then married; one of his two daughters is 
the wife of my son William, and some years ago 
presented me with the first grandson. 

My brother Frederick had in the fifties actively 
participated in William's efforts to improve his re- 
generative steam-engine and evaporating apparatus. 
In the year 1856 he hit on the happy idea of employing 
the regenerative system, hitherto but little successful, 
for metallurgical purposes, and in particular for rever- 
beratory furnaces. A number of patents, which he 
took out in different countries, partly alone, partly 
in conjunction with William, for a perfected form of 
regenerative gas-furnaces, formed the basis of a furnace- 
building business established by William and himself. 
To work this in Germany and Austria, he transferred 
his residence to Berlin, shortly after his marriage in 
1864. In 1867, after the death of our brother Hans, 
he took over the glass-works near Dresden, and by his 
technical gifts and energy soon raised the same into 
a model factory for glass manufacture. Through the 


introduction of the regenerative system, and afterwards 
of the heating by radiation, he gave the impulse 
to an epoch-making improvement in metallurgy and 
especially of the glass industry. Recently he has made 
over the Dresden glass-works and the works apper- 
taining thereto in Bohemia to a joint- stock company, 
since they no longer afforded him material enough 
for his inventive activity. He is now busily engaged 
in perfecting his regenerative heating process and steel 
manufacture. In a widely different department also, 
that of gas-lighting, he has introduced great improve- 
ments, bringing into use in gas-burners the regenerative 
principle of heating, and in this manner has considerably 
increased the illuminating power of the gas. He has 
thereby not a little retarded the victory of the electric 
light over gas, which however has not produced a jar 
in our fraternal harmony. After William's death he 
undertook the latter' s furnace business in England, 
and has continued it with the best success. An amiable 
wife and a charming troop of children will, we may 
hope, give him still many years of happiness and 
stimulate him for further untiring endeavours. 

Charles had found in Russia a sphere of action 
extremely congenial to his faculties, and very con- 
siderably contributed, by the successful execution of 
our large undertakings, to the firm establishment and 
financially sound development of our business. But 
when in the year 1867 our Russian maintenance 
contracts expired, and the Russian government took 
all further telegraphic affairs into its own hands, the 


St. Petersburg firm seemed condemned to lose its po- 
sition of importance. As about the same time Charles's 
wife began to ail, and a change of climate appeared 
urgently necessary for her, Charles transferred his 
abode to Tiflis, and undertook the management of the 
branch founded there, as well as of our Kedabeg 
mine, which had already grown to considerable propor- 
tions. Unhappily however the condition of his wife 
grew continually worse, a prolonged residence in 
Vienna and Berlin equally failing to restore her health. 
She died in Berlin in the year 1869, leaving Charles 
with one son and two daughters. I now proposed to 
Charles to stay in Berlin for good, and to take part 
in the management of the Berlin firm. We were even 
planning, as we were both widowers, building a house 
for joint occupation, when William came forward with 
the wish that Charles should settle in London. Charles 
accepted this proposal and till the year 1880 managed 
the business of Siemens Brothers & Co. in conjunction 
with William. He showed himself in London, just as 
in St. Petersburg, a far-seeing man of business, an 
able organizer and manager of large undertakings. 

O o O O 

The factory at Charlton near Woolwich was con- 
siderably extended at his suggestion, the cable works 
especially much enlarged, and a gutta-percha factory 
set up. But after several years residence in England 
Charles's health, formerly always very good, began to 
show signs of decline ; he could not bear for long the 
damp English climate. Moreover an irresistible longing 
manifested itself in his children for their native country 


Russia. For these reasons in 1880 Charles returned 
with them to St. Petersburg and once more undertook 
the management of the business there, which he soon 
raised again into a flourishing condition. His two 
daughters have married in Russia; his son assists him 
in the management of the business, so far as a disease 
of the eyes, with which he is unfortunately afflicted, 
allows. Charles's own health has been quite restored 
since quitting England. He himself, as well as the 
firm under his management, which is now chiefly 
occupied with arrangements for electric lighting and 
transmission of force, hold a highly esteemed position 
in Russia. 

The youngest brothers Walter and Otto both died 
in Tiflis, and rest in the same grave. Walter died, 
as I have already stated, in consequence of a fall 
from his horse. He was a fine stately man, with 
pleasing ways, which quickly made him popular in the 
Caucasus; to us brothers he always showed the greatest 
attachment. Otto succumbed some years later to his 
feeble health, of which he had not always been suf- 
ficiently mindful. He was a highly gifted man of sterling 
worth, but did not always possess the requisite self- 
control and strength of character, and has therefore 
often been a cause of anxiety to us older brothers. 
When he had contracted a serious lung disease in 
London, where he was to be prepared under William's 
guidance for a technical career, we sent him for a 
voyage round the world in a sailing ship, in the hope 
that this would effect a cure. He arrived in apparently 



good health in Australia, could not however resist the 
temptation to join an expedition, which was about to 
cross the continent, to seek for traces of the lost 
traveller Leichhardt. But the fatigue was too much 
for him, and he nearly perished in the desert interior 
from the effects of a haemorrhage. When after a series 
of further adventures he returned to England, we sent 
him to the Caucasus, which had often proved bene- 
ficial to consumptives. In truth a rather long stay in 
Kedabeg seemed to have perfectly restored him. At 
Walter's sudden death he entered upon the latter' s 
functions. In the house of Prince Mirsky, governor of 
the Caucasus, he made the acquaintance and became 
enamoured of the widow of General Prince Mirsky 
- a brother of the governor - - who had fallen in 
the Crimean war. Unhappily his death after a few 
years severed the union of the happy pair. 

Our sister Matilda, the wife of Professor Himly, 
died at Kiel in the summer of 1878, mourned by us 
as an affectionate and faithful sister. Sister Sophia 
unhappily lost many years ago her husband, who at 
the time filled the office of advocate to the Supreme 
Court at Leipzig. 

With regard to my own life in the last few years 
it only remains for me to mention that since the be- 
ginning of 1890 I have left the business management 
of the firm of Siemens & Halske at Berlin, Charlotten- 
burg, St. Petersburg, and Vienna to the former active 
partners, my brother Charles and my sons Arnold and 
William, and am now only a sleeping partner in the 


firm. It is a great joy to me to be able to testify 
that my sons have shown themselves fully equal to 
their grave and responsible position, nay that my 
retirement has manifestly given to the firm a fresh 
impulse. This is the more deserving of recognition 
as my old assistants in the technical management, 
Messrs. Frischen, von Hefner, and Lent, are also no 
longer in the firm, the first named being unhappily 
taken from his labours by death. It is with com- 
mercial houses as with states, they need from time 
to time regeneration in their administration, in order 
themselves to remain young. The London business 
and my private undertakings were not affected by my 
retirement from the firm of Siemens & Halske, and 
thus continue to give me sufficient technical occupation. 
My children by the first union are all happily 
married. My first-born, Arnold, married the daughter 
of my friend von Helmholtz, and has already, as well 
as his brother, provided for a continuation of the 
lineage by two grandsons. 

When at its close I survey my life, and search 
for the determining causes and impelling forces, which 
carried me over all hindrances and dangers to a po- 
sition which brought me outward recognition and 
inward satisfaction, and superabundantly provided me 
with the material blessings of life, I am bound to admit 
that many fortunate circumstances have co-operated 

and that altogether I owe a large debt to fortune. 



It was a lucky coincidence that my early "years were 
passed in a time of rapid progress of physical science, 
and that I devoted myself especially to electrical en- 
gineering, when it was still quite undeveloped and 
therefore formed a very fertile ground for inventions 
and improvements. On the other hand however I have 
also frequently had to contend with very unusual mis- 
fortune. This continual struggle with altogether un- 
expected difficulties and unlucky accidents, which in the 
commencement usually hampered my undertakings, but 
which I mostly by good hap succeeded in overcoming, 
William Meyer, the dear friend of my youth and faithful 
companion, very forcibly described in students' slang 
as: Sau beim Peck" (bad luck coupled with astonishing 
flukes).>j^-i must admit the correctness of this view, 
but still do not believe that it was only blind fate, 
when the wave of happiness and unhappiness, on 
which our life is tossed, carried me so frequently to 
the desired goals. Success and failure, victory and 
defeat, often depend in human life entirely on the 
timely and right use of the opportunities offered. The 
quality of quickly making up one's mind in critical 
moments, and of doing the right thing without long 
reflection, has remained tolerably faithful to me during 
my whole existence, in spite of the somewhat dreamy 
life in which I frequently, I might almost say usually, 
was plunged. In innumerable cases this quality has 
preserved me from harm and rightly guided me in 
difficult situations. Undoubtedly a certain stimulus 
was always necessary to give me full control of my 


mental qualities. I needed it, not only to be snatched 
from my own meditative life, but also as a protection 
against my own weaknesses. Among these I especially 
reckon an excessive benignity, which made it uncom- 
monly hard for me to refuse a request, not to fulfil 
a known wish, nay in general to say or do anything 
to anybody that would be unpleasant or painful to 
him. Luckily this quality, very inconvenient especially 
for a business -man and master over many people, was 
neutralized by another, that of being easily provoked 
and excited to anger. This anger, which was always 
easily aroused, when my good intentions were mis- 
understood or abused, was ever a relief and outlet 
for my feelings, and I have often declared that any- 
body, with whom I had unpleasant dealings, could 
never do me a greater service than by giving me 
cause to be angry. For the rest this irascibility was 
usually only a form of mental excitement, which never 
got beyond my control. Although in younger years I 
was often nicknamed by my friends "curly head", 
wherewith they would hint at a certain connection 
between my curly hair and "curly" mind, yet my 
easily roused anger has never led me to actions which 
I had afterwards to regret. For a manager of great 
undertakings I was also in other respects but indif- 
ferently suited. I lacked the good memory, the 
orderly sense, and consistent, unbending strictness. 
If notwithstanding I have founded large business con- 
cerns and managed them with unusual success, this is 
a proof, that industry coupled with energy often over- 


comes our weaknesses or renders them less harmful. 
At the same time I can say on my own behalf that 
it was not desire of gain, which impelled me to devote 
my working power and my mind in so great a degree 
to technical undertakings. In the first place it was 
usually the interest for technical science which led me 
to my task. A business friend quizzed me once with 
the assertion, I let myself always be guided in my 
undertakings by the public benefit they would bring, 
but that ultimately I always found my account thereby. 
I admit this remark to be correct within certain limits, 
for such undertakings as further the general weal com- 
mand a wide interest, and thereby present greater 
prospects of being successfully carried through. How- 
ever I will not undervalue the powerful influence, which 
success and the consciousness arising from it of doing 
something useful, and at the same time of giving their 
bread to thousands of industrious workers, exerts on 
man. This gratifying consciousness has a stimulating 
effect on our mental qualities and is doubtless the 
foundation of the otherwise somewhat paradoxical 
German proverb: "To whom God gives an office, He 
also gives understanding". 

A main reason of the rapid growth of our fac- 
tories is, in my opinion, that the products of our 
manufacture were in large part results of our own 
inventions. Though these were in most cases not 


protected by patents, they yet always gave us the 
start of our competitors, which usually lasted until we 
gained a fresh start by new improvements. This could 


certainly only have lasting effect in consequence of 
the reputation for great solidity and excellence, which 
our productions enjoyed throughout the world. 

Besides this public recognition of my technical 
achievements marks of honour have been so abundantly 
conferred upon me personally both by the rulers of 
the larger states of Europe and by universities , aca- 
demies, scientific and technical institutes and societies, 
that hardly anything remains for me to desire. 

I began the writing of my recollections with the 
biblical aphorism "The days of our years are three- 
score years and ten, or even by reason of strength 
fourscore years", and I think I have shown that also 
the close of the sentence, "yet is their pride but 
labour and sorrow", has held good in my case. For 
my life was beautiful, because it essentially consisted 
of successful labour and useful work, and if I finally 
give expression to the regret that it is approaching 
its end, I am only urged thereto by the pain that I 
must be parted from my dear ones , and that it is 
not permitted me to continue to labour for the full 
development of the Age of Science. 


1 have in the foregoing reminiscences frequently 
had occasion to make some explanatory observations on 
my technical papers, which are described in the second 
volume of the collection of my ' 'Scientific and technical 
papers" published in the years 1889 and 1891 by 
Julius Springer*). I have called attention to most of 
my earliest scientific writings, as they have had great 
influence on my career, and as they have probably 
remained unknown to the younger generation of physi- 
cists. I feel however the need of making also some 
critical remarks, accompanied by an estimate of results, 
on my later scientific work, which in many points 
diverges from the accustomed paths of the prevalent 
physical theories and has therefore found no general 


In several papers written in the years 1860 to 
1866, and published in Poggendorff 's Annalen, I in- 
vestigated the question of the electric conductivity of 
metals, and proposed the first and up till now only 
method of obtaining an empirical reproducible standard 
of resistance. I showed that my method made it 
possible to determine exactly the resistance of an 

*) English edition published by John Murray. 


approximately prismatic space filled with pure mercury 
to within a ten thousandth of its value , and thus 
solved the question of an absolute unit of resistance, 
i. e. one resting on a definition , with an exactness 
corresponding to the fineness of our measuring instru- 
ments. By these means exact and comparable electric 
measurements were first rendered possible. 

In the course of this investigation I confirmed the 
proposition, already laid down by others, that solid 
alloys always exhibit a greater resistance than corre- 
sponds to the resistances of the several component 
metals; I showed however that this does not hold good 
for fluid metallic combinations, which retain in the 
fluid state the resistance of the single metals unchanged. 
This behaviour of the metals I showed could be 
utililized for the determination of the specific resistance 
in the fluid state of metals not readily fusible. Further 
I discovered that the resistance of metals is considerably 
enhanced by fusion, and that at the same time the 
latent heat effusion increases the resistance in a higher 
degree than the sensible heat of a solid or liquid con- 
ductor. I found too that the increase of resistance by 
fusion does not occur discontinuously, but that the 
resistance rises continuously within a certain range 
of temperature and joins without break the resistance 
curve of the fused metal. Hence I concluded that 
the physical processes of fusion and solidification 
essentially consist in the absorption and liberation of 
latent heat, which take place within a definite range 
of temperature during liquefaction. 


In a later essay on the dependence of the electric 
conductivity of carbon on temperature I have confirmed 
Matthiessen's assertion, that the conductivity of carbon 
increases with rising temperature, and have shown the 
objections of Beetz and Auerbach to be erroneous. 
In explanation of this surprising behaviour of carbon 
I advanced the hypothesis that the different states of 
carbon charcoal, graphite, diamond - - are allotropic 
states of "carbon devoid of latent heat" not occurring 
in Nature, and are essentially distinguished from one 
another by the qitantity of absorbed latent heat. 

This hypothesis was further confirmed and deve- 
loped by an investigation of the property of selenium, 
discovered by Willoughby Smith, of being a better 
conductor of electricity in the light than in the dark. 
I found that besides the selenium, which is changed 
by a slight enhancement of temperature from the 
amorphous non-conducting into the crystalline con- 
ducting condition, there is still a third modification, 
which is produced by heating amorphous selenium a 
long time till near its melting point, i. e. to about 
400 F. Both these modifications of the electricity- 
conducting selenium are essentially distinguished from 
one another by this, that the former conducts electro- 
lylically, i. e. like the electrolytic fluid conductors, 
better at a higher temperature, the second, long and 
highly heated, on the other hand metallically, i. e. 
like the metals worse at a higher temperature. In 
this behaviour of amorphous selenium, rapidly cooled 
from the fused condition viz. when heated to over 


180 F. of losing indeed a great part of its latent 
heat of fusion, retained in rapid solidification, and of 
becoming electrolytically conductive, but with longer 
continued and higher heating in the vicinity of its 
melting point, of giving off more latent heat, and 
then of becoming still better conductive and that 
metallically - - I found a confirmation of my previously 
suggested hypothesis, that the electrical resistance of 
a body is an equivalent for the quantity of heat stored 
up in it in the sensible as well as in the latent state. 
Further it seemed to prove that latent heat has a 
greater power than sensible heat of causing resistance, 
and that bodies without allotropically latent heat con- 
duct metallically, and moreover in such a way that 
the resistance increases uniformly with the temperature 
reckoning from zero, whilst the resistance - causing 
influence of allotropically latent heat decreases with 
rising temperature. 

According to this theory all simple bodies, which 
are not an allotropic modification of their original 
metallic primitive state, in which heat has become 
latent, must conduct metallically, and it is probable 
that the so-called active state of bodies is nothing else 
than this state devoid of latent heat, termed by me the 
metallic, which in semi- and non-metals can only occur 
in chemical combinations without passing immediately 
into an allotropic modification, heat becoming latent. 
According to this hypothesis we have therefore to 
imagine, that the molecules of all non-metallic solid 
bodies can assume different positions of stability, corre- 


spending to definite quantities of work, which have 
been used up for constituting them. Only metallically 
constituted bodies can enter into chemical combinations. 
Latent heat therefore forms an obstacle to chemical 
combination, and if such nevertheless occurs heat must 
at the same time become sensible. Conversely a body 
becoming chemically free must be constituted metalli- 
cally, is therefore in the active state at the moment of 
becoming free. Left to itself heat becomes latent by 
absorption of sensible heat, if it is a semi- or non-metal, 
whereby its electric conductivity is then partially or 
wholly destroyed. Heightened temperature makes the 
molecular arrangement, which corresponds to the heat 
absorbed, less stable, enhances therefore the electrical 
conductivity and at the same time the chemical affinity. 
Since heat becomes latent when metals form alloys, the 
conductive resistance of such alloys does not increase in 
proportion to the absolute temperature, as with the 
simple pure metals, but the latent heat of combination 
of the alloy forms a disturbing element, which further 
increases the resistance and thereby nullifies the pro- 
portionality of the same to the absolute temperature. 

I succeeded in employing also technically the 
metallically conductive modification II of crystalline 
selenium, discovered by me, for the construction of 
a selenium photometer. 

In an older paper I furnished the proof, that the 
dielectric becomes heated by repeated charge and dis- 
charge, and thereby found an experimental confirmation 
of Faraday's molecular induction theory. 


In the year 1875 an opportunity occurred of 
bringing into use my modified method, proposed in 
1845, of measuring the velocity of propagation of 
electricity in suspended wires. The experiments, which 
were instituted with a double iron wire, 7 '8 7 miles 
long, yielded a velocity of propagation of 150,300 
miles, a result which satisfactorily agrees with Kirch- 
hoff 's calculated result, regard being had to retardation 
by the condenser action of the wires and to the self- 
induction. Before the performance of these experiments, 
very carefully carried out by Dr. Frolich, I inclined 
to the opinion that the actual velocity of electricity 
in conductors would be immeasurably large, as an 
experiment, which I made with a caoutchouc tube 
more than a hundred feet long filled with water, did 
not show any perceptible difference in position of the 
spark marks. The velocity of propagation of electricity 
could accordingly not depend mainly on the specific 
resistance of the traversed conductor, and I regarded 
it therefore as probable that the very different values 
found by Wheatstone, Fizeau, Gounelle, and others, 
had only been expressions for the retardation by the 
charge of the conductors employed. This doubt was 
removed by the experiments described, for the further 
prosecution of which I have unfortunately never found 
time and opportunity. 

I was led into a sphere of inquiry entirely new 
for me by an observation of the activity of Vesuvius 
in May 1878. It struck me that from the brightly 
glowing opening, at the apex of the lava cone, which 


had risen in the interior of the large dark crater, 
explosion-like eruptions occurred with great regularity 
at intervals of several seconds. More exact observation 
showed that each explosion was followed by an ab- 
sorption of air, so powerful, that the opening often 
sucked in at the same time even ejected scoriae or 
stones, which were again precipitated in its vicinity. 
Inflammable gases, evolved continually from the earth's 
interior, must have become mixed in the upper vent 
of the crater with atmospheric air, which had been 
absorbed by the rarefaction of the air caused by the 
preceding explosion, and thereupon exploded, to pro- 
duce anew a rarefied space. This observation led me 
to a consideration of the process of the formation of 
the earth and its present condition from a physico- 
mechanical standpoint, the results of which differed 
considerably from the prevailing opinions. 

Two diametrically opposed views have hitherto 
been advanced in geology, that of the pure geologists 
and that of the mathematicians. The former mostly 
adhere to the old view, already to be called historical, 
that the earth was once in a molten state, whilst air 
and water formed the likewise still glowing atmosphere, 
that then with progressive refrigeration and after forma- 
tion of a solid crust the seas were disengaged, and with 
the help of frequent partial elevations and depressions 
of the crust deposited the vast sedimentary strata, which 
now cover almost the whole surface. These elevations 
and depressions were said to be produced by internal 
volcanic forces, which still to this day give evidence of 



themselves in volcanoes. English physicists, among 
them Sir William Thomson, now Lord Kelvin, have 
opposed this basis of the theory of the earth's formation 
with weighty arguments. Lord Kelvin has declared 
that the whole terrestrial body must be more solid than 
glass -hard steel, as calculation proves that its surface 
would otherwise participate in the tidal movement 
produced by the attraction of sun and moon, conse- 
quently an independent ocean-tide could not then occur. 
J. Thomson has supported this calculation by a physical 
consideration, which o*oes to show that the fusing tern- 

' O o 

perature of bodies, which expand on solidification, is 
lowered by pressure, but of bodies, which contract 
on solidification, is heightened by pressure. Now since 
the silicates, as he infers, contract on solidification 
about 20| , the pressure increasing with the depth 
would not allow the rock masses to fuse in spite 
of the heightened temperature, but make them still 
more solid. 

It is remarkable that these diametrically opposed 
views on the nature of the earth's crust should have 
been before the world for years without giving rise 
to violent controversies, although the question at issue 
affects the very basis of practical geology. The 
geologists, as already mentioned, for the most part 
maintain the theory of a crust floating on a fluid or 
gaseous nucleus, and the mathematicians cling to Lord 
Kelvin's theory of a solid nucleus, without troubling 
themselves much about the difficulties in the way of 
explaining the actual formation of the surface! 


I have tried to solve this contradiction by showing 
that considerations having reference to actual facts op- 
posed the physical foundations of Thomson's calculation. 
The chief of these is that Bischof s statement, that sili- 
cates become about 20 heavier in passing from the 
fluid to the solid state, is incorrect as follows at once 
from the well-kown fact, that solid silicates always 
float on the fused ones, when they have nearly assumed 
the temperature of the latter. Further I called attention 
to the point, that Lord Kelvin's calculation takes no 
notice of the time required by the viscous terrestrial 
mass to assume the form, which is every moment pre- 
scribed to it by the deforming tendencies of the at- 
traction of the sun and moon. As in these changes of 
form we have to do with dislocations of masses, which 
stretch continuously over the whole body of the earth 
from molecule to molecule, and therefore require a con- 
siderable time to take place, no universal tidal wave 
could be produced, advancing uniformly with the earth's 
rotation, and altogether such an one could only arise 
to a very slight degree. A refutation of these objec- 
tions to the mathematical necessity of a solid core is 
still wanting, and we are therefore entitled, in dis- 
cussing the formation of the earth's surface to assume 
a viscous or gaseous state of the interior. 


As regards the formation of the earth's surface 
the local elevations, the formation of the stratified 
diluvium covering almost the whole surface, earth- 
quakes and volcanoes, have also a special interest for 
the non- geologist. I have tried to give an explana- 

f OF THE ^ 

F '^ 


tion of these facts resting on a physico - mechanical 
basis, which satisfies my own desire to get at the 
cause of things, but which frequently runs counter to 
the traditional geological views, and therefore has re- 
mained almost unnoticed. Of these traditional views I 
am compelled to declare untenable the one underlying 
all the rest, that there has been a period, when the 
earth was in a molten state and surrounded by an 
atmosphere, which contained the permanent gases and 
all the water in the form of glowing vapour. The 
reasons which influence me will become clear, if we 
go a step further back to the period, when the ter- 
restrial mass assumed the globular form. Its elements 
must then have been uniformily commingled, and thus 
been condensed into a magma by mutual attraction in 
the gaseous state. A segregation of the more volatile 
bodies could only occur at the point of solidification, 
when the gaseous state passed into the fluid and 
solid. A separation of the more volatile bodies in 
the gaseous state could then take place according to 
the progress of this solidifying zone. This separation 
from the molten interior could however only proceed 
very slowly, as inferior specific gravity was the only 
existing force, which could drive to the periphery 
conglomerations of specifically lighter masses. How 
great such a difference of density is in the earth's 
interior cannot be determined, since our knowledge of 
the behaviour of bodies subjected to such high tempe- 
ratures and pressures, as prevail in the interior of the 
earth, is still too slight. It appears however clear 


that the segregation of our atmosphere and our seas 
from the terrestrial mass was the work of many geo- 
logical periods and is not yet completed, as the still 
active geysers and hot springs testify. We shall be 
compelled to assume a "Geyser period" as a special 
geological period, which followed the formation of the 
solid crust, and in which volcanoes and geysers ejected 
at innumerable places of the solidified surface the 
specifically lighter masses, especially water and air, 
and with the help of the varying currents of the sea 
formed by them deposited the stratified sediments. The 
assumption too of the upheaval of mountains by internal 
pressure does not agree with the assumption of a molten 
or gaseous interior, on which the solid crust floats. 

o 7 

They can only be tangential forces, which have elevated 
mountains and are still elevating parts of the earth's 
surface. These tangential forces are supplied by pro- 
gressive cooling of the interior, since the vault, formed 
by the solid covering of the earth, would collapse 
through gravitation, if the vanished fluid interior no 
longer sufficiently supported it. The phenomenon of 
volcanic eruptions does not necessitate the hypothesis 
of an internal pressure, which is stronger than corre- 
sponds to the weight of the solid crust. When we con- 
sider that the more recently cooled layers of solid rock 
must, with progressive refrigeration, be liable to rents, 
which we feel at the surface as earthquakes, it is clear 
that such rents may affect also the contiguous cooler 
crust, already frequently ruptured in former geological 
periods, and thereby bring about direct communications 


between the fluid interior and the surface. The still 
fluid terrestrial mass must then penetrate into these 
cracks, and as it is hot and therefore lighter than the 
superincumbent rock, it must burst forth and form a 
mountain, with a height corresponding to the difference 
of the specific gravity. As with the diminution of the 
pressure, exerted on the hot fluid ascending in the 
fissures, the gases and vapours contained in the magma 
must be set free, the bubbles of gas in the column 
of fluid rock will still further considerably diminish 
its specific gravity, and the height to which the fluid 
interior is raised in volcanoes is thereby explained, 
without the necessity of assuming a mysterious pressure 
in the interior overbalancing the hydraulic force. 

It is surprising that professional geologists have 
left these views, modifying in such essential points the 
foundations of their traditional doctrines, unnoticed and 
unrefuted for now more than a decennium. 

In an essay "On the luminosity of flame" I de- 
scribed a series of experiments on the problem of the 
radiation of light of gaseous bodies, which I partly 
instituted in the large glass furnaces, provided with 
regenerative heating, of my brother Frederick in Dresden 
and in conjunction with him. It appeared from these 
experiments that permanent gases, if entirely free of 
dust, are not luminous even at a very high temperature. 
As they at the same time possess a remarkable power 
of radiating heat, it is doubtless to be assumed, that 
with further increase of heat they must nevertheless 
at last begin to be luminous, because rays of light and 


heat are only distinguished from one another by the 
greater number of vibrations of the former, and be- 
cause the radiating power in general seems to decrease 
with the number of vibrations. At any rate the power 
of radiating light appertaining to dust-free pure gases 
is so exceedingly small, that the luminosity of flame 
must be specifically different from the luminosity of 
the gases heated by the process of combustion. Apart 
from the luminosity of the solid particles separated by 
combustion or suspended as impurities in the gas, the 
luminosity of flame can only be an electrical process, 
which is connected with the chemically shifted position 
of the molecules of the burnt gases. The light of flame 
would according to that be just as much electric light 
as the light of the ozone tube or of the Geissler tube. 
The interesting controversy, in which my deceased 
brother William became involved with the astronomers 
through his work "On the conservation of the solar 
energy"', led me also to the sun and occasioned my 
paper "On the admissibility of the assumption of an 
electrical solar potential and its importance for the ex- 
planation of terrestrial phenomena". As the known 
ways of producing electrical phenomena always depend 
on a separation of positive and negative electricity, we 
must assume that this holds good for the sun also, that 
therefore an electrical solar potential can only exist, if 
the one electricity is carried away from the sun. The 
theory set up by my brother, that solar matter is 
flung off and diffused in the universe in consequence of 
the sun's rotation, makes therefore the supposition of a 


solar potential admissible. The objection of the astro- 
nomers that interplanetary space cannot contain the 
smallest quantity of matter, because then the period 
of the planets would be increased, I sought to refute 
by the consideration that the matter itself, expelled 
from the sun, must rotate round the sun with plane- 
tary velocity, that it could not therefore impede the 
course of the planets. I also supported my brother's 
view that the solar light arises from the burning solar 

o e> 

mass in its ascension, although I could only to a cer- 
tain extent assent to his view that the combustible 
atmosphere resting on a fluid or solid solar surface, 
which is flung off in the burnt state and then again 
dissociated by the sunlight in space, and in this state 
again attracted by the sun, was the cause of the solar 
rays. I could only assent to it so far as the participation 
of the whole gaseous mass of the sun in the combustion 
was concerned, and could assign to the flung-off mass 
only a secondary importance in the thermal economy 
of the sun, but on the other hand considered it decisive 
as regards the question of its electrical charge. 

Ritter's admirable and still insufficiently appreciated 
works remove all doubts as to the sun's gaseous state, 
with which the existence of a special solar atmosphere 
is incompatible. We must therefore assume that the 
whole solar mass is undergoing a continuous process 
of combustion, but which can only actually take place 
in the outermost layer of the body of the sun, where 
the solar gas is already so far cooled by expansion 
that chemical combinations can be formed. These 


then occur with formation of flame and enhanced tem- 
perature at the whole solar surface, whilst a flinging 
off, such as my brother assumes, can only be possible 
in the equatorial zone in a very limited degree. A 
general descent of the burnt mass cooled by radiation 
must follow the general ascent of the uppermost layers 
of the sun, in consequence of their combustion and 
heating beyond the diabatic temperature corresponding 
to their expansion. This takes place in innumerable 
descending streams, which give to the solar surface 
its scaly appearance, or in the mean solar latitudes 
also assumes the form of colossal descending vortices, 
which are darker than the rest of the solar surface, 
since the descending products of combustion indeed 
nearly recover, by their compression, the temperature, 
which they possessed at the beginning of the ascent, 
but are thereby also dissociated and correspondingly 
cooled. For this reason and on account of the absence 
of flame these descending vortices appear as dark sun- 
spots. Certainly this combustion -theory is still op- 
posed by the circumstance that the existence of 
oxygen in the sun has hitherto been spectroscopically 
proved only at the bottom of the sun-spot funnel - - but 
the greatest argument for it is, that the sun possesses 
a composition essentially the same as the earth, that 
therefore oxygen cannot be wanting. 

I have tried to support this solar theory, which 
admits the origin and preservation of an electrical solar 
potential, by the proof that the latter would explain 
many hitherto unexplained terrestrial phenomena. With 


the colossal dimensions of the sun in comparison with 
those of the earth the sun's potential will call forth 
by electric distribution a terrestrial potential of nearly 
half the amount, if we assume, that the electricity, 
becoming free at the earth's surface, and similar to 
the solar electricity, is absorbed through radiation 
and neutralization by the electricity of the oppositely 
electrified matter, proceeding according to brother 
William's theory from the sun in the direction of the 
sun's equator. That this high electric tension is not 
observed at the earth's surface is a consequence of 
the size of the earth's radius. Now by the rotation 
of the earth the electricity bound to the earth's surface 
by the solar electricity is carried round the earth, and 
thus produces the effect of an electric current circling 
round it. which makes it magnetic. Just as the earth's 


magnetism, so also the terrestrial currents and polar 
lights find their explanation by the electrical solar 
potential, and similarly the reaction of phenomena in 
the sun, such as the occurrence of sun-spots and 
coronae, on terrestrial phenomena becomes explicable, 
if we conceive them intimately connected with changes 
of the sun's potential. Atmospheric and lightning elec- 
tricity likewise find their explanation through the 
electrical solar potential. 

Under the title "Contributions to the theory of 
electro -magnetism" I communicated two dissertations 
to the Berlin Academy in the years 1881 and 1884, 
in which the theory of magnetism was considerably 
extended, and parts of it, that had hitherto remained 


obscure, were cleared up. I arrived thereat by ex- 
periments with tubular e]ectro- magnets, which gave 
the looked-for result that iron exerts no, or at any 
rate no appreciable, protection against magnetic action 
at a distance, and that the magnetic maximum of iron 
is independent of the direction of the magnetism. From 
this it follows that the magnetism called forth in iron 


by a magnetizing force is diminished by a simultaneous 
magnetization in another direction. The maximum 
magnetization occurring in ring -magnets even with 
feeble magnetizing power shows that the strengthening 
magnetizing effect, which magnetized iron molecules 
exert on their neighbours, considerably outweighs direct 
magnetization. This led me to the modification al- 
ready previously adopted by Stefan, as I afterwards 
found - - of Weber's electro-magnetic theory, according 
to which the assumed elementary solenoids must be 
double solenoids, which as such move about freely in 
space, and are directed by a magnetizing force acting 
upon them, and then rotate round one another in a 
scissor-like fashion. If we suppose the whole universe 
to be filled with such double solenoids, which after 
the theory of Father Secchi and Edltmd might be con- 
ceived as ether -vortices, and that iron and the other 
magnetic bodies were distinguished from the non- 
magnetic by the ether -vortices pre-existing in a unit 
of volume being more numerous in the former than 
the latter and in empty space, magnetic action at a 
distance might also be regarded according to Faraday's 
suggestion as an action proceeding from molecule to 


molecule or from space-element to space-element, and 
we should then be warranted in applying the laws for 
the molecular transference of heat, electricity, and elec- 
trostatic distribution to magnetism also. 

This theory on its side compels us to assume, 
that magnetism, like the electric current and electric 
distribution, can only exist in closed circuits, in which 
the magnetic i "moment" is inversely proportional to 
the resistance of the circuit. This consideration leads 
therefore to the introduction of the notions "resistance 
to magnetic distribution" and "magnetic conductivity" 
of space and magnetic bodies. According to this, only 
so much magnetism can be produced in an iron rod 
by an electric current circling round it as can be 
conveyed from one to the other pole, or absorbed by 
the space surrounding the iron rod. My experiments 
have confirmed this view, and their result shows that 
the magnetic conductivity of soft iron is approximately 
500 times as great as that of non- magnetic matter 
and empty space. 

Accordingly in the construction of electro-magnetic 
machines Ohm's law may be applied for ascertaining 
the most suitable dimensions, which will in many cases 
be useful to the electrical engineer. The notion first 
introduced by me, so far as I know, of magnetic con- 
ductivity has meanwhile often been employed and 
further developed in technical works - - without any 
reference however to my priority. 

The attempt described in my work on the sun's 
potential, to refer certain meteorological phenomena to 


disturbance of the indifferent equilibrium of the at- 
mosphere, had convinced me, that in meteorology the 
requirements of mechanical equilibrium and the prin- 
ciple of the conservation of energy had not hitherto 
received proper attention. Recent meteorology, in its 
endeavour to deduce all the phenomena of atmospheric 
motion from its extensive material of observation, has 
too much lost sight of the causes of these movements. 
Scientists were generally content to be able to refer 
the aerial movements to the observed maxima and 
minima of the pressure of the air and its movements, 
and were satisfied with pointing to local influences of 
temperature and the earth's rotation in explanation of 
the causes of theses maxima and minima. In my paper 
"On the conservation of energy in the earth's aerial 
ocean" I have set up and defended the principle, that 
every motion of the air is exclusively to be ascribed 
to the unequal heating of the air by the sun's rays, 
and that the earth's rotation can produce no new 
motion of the air, but only change the direction of 
the motion produced by solar influence. One direct 
consequence of this principle is, that the sum of the 
vis viva stored up in the rotation of the aerial ocean 
on the earth's axis must unalterably be that, which 
this ocean would have, if no meridional motion of air 
were produced by solar influence, and the air every- 
where had the rotatory velocity of that part of the 
surface, on which it rests. In consequence of the 
accelerating equatorial ascent of the overheated air, 
streaming to the equator in the trade -winds, a back 


current takes place in the upper regions of the at- 
mosphere towards the poles, which however only in 
a small part can reach polar latitudes. The reason 
of this is that, owing to the narrowing of the upper 
and simultaneous expanding of the lower stratum - 
in consequence of the decrease of the latitudinal circles 
on approaching the poles - - a partial passage of the 
upper poleward moving current must continually take 
place into the lower current towards the equator. It 
is the inertia of the upper poleward travelling current, 
which carries back the air in the lower one to the 
equator. By this circulating current, continued for 
untold thousands of years, the air of the higher lati- 
tudes is intimately mixed with that of the lower ones, 
and the whole aerial ocean must therefore rotate with 
the mean easterly velocity of the earth's surface. The 
westerly course of the trade -winds is thereby ex- 
plained, as well as the mean easterly direction of the 
aerial currents in the intermediate and polar latitudes. 
The maxima and minima are essentially concomitant 
phenomena of the alternation of temperature and of 
the velocity of motion of the upper equatorial air- 
current, and always depend on disturbances of the 
indifferent equilibrium of the overlying air - strata. 
When an aerial current, which has a higher or lower 
temperature than corresponds to its altitude in the 
adiabatic curve of temperature, breaks into the highest 
regions of the aerial ocean, the indifferent equilibrium 
of the whole aerial column is thereby disturbed, and 
neutralization must take place by ascending or descend- 


ing motion of air, according as the invading higher 
currents of air are too warm or too cold, thus also 
too light or too heavy for the indifferent equilibrium. 
This ascending or descending aerial motion must last 
until the indifferent equilibrium of the column of air 
is again restored, and the consequence then is, that 
the pressure of the atmosphere at the surface of the 
earth becomes as great as it would be, if the tempe- 
rature of the whole column of air had changed as 
much as the equatorial current, causing the disturbance, 
deviates from the adiabatic temperature corresponding 
to its place and its height. As the consumption of 
heat during the active expansion of a quantity of air 
is independent of its commencing temperature, the air 
ascending at different places in the torrid zone must 
retain the differences of temperature, which it possessed 
before the rise. Hence it follows , that relatively 
warm and cold currents of air flow polewards with 
different velocity in the higher and highest strata of 
air, and thereby disturb the indifferent equilibrium of 
the atmosphere in its whole course. Slowly flowing, 
too cold currents will give off their surplus pressure 
to the lower aerial strata on which they are resting, 
without ; causing important disturbances, by compressing 
them, and thereby causing a rising barometric pressure 
in a calm atmosphere. Air -currents, which are rela- 
tively light, hot, and therefore strongly accelerated 
during their ascent, will on the other hand cause to 
undulate and carry with them the surface, insufficiently 
weighted by them, of the aerial strata over which 


they pass, and will thus, with a falling barometer, cause 
upward aerial movements, lasting until the indifferent 
equilibrium is again restored in the whole column of 
air. According to this, variations of temperature of 
20 to 40 F. in the highest strata of air suffice to 
produce the barometric fluctuations observed at the 
earth's surface, thus also the maxima and minima of 
the atmospheric pressure. 

This theory has met with considerable approval, 
it however received the assent of the adherents of 
the prevailing views only in certain points, or is even 
entirely ignored by them. I have had occasion re- 
peatedly to defend and further develop it. The 
papers relating thereto are entitled "On the question 
of air currents" (1887), "On the general system of 
terrestrial winds" (1890) and "On the question of 
the causes of atmospheric currents" (1891). I am 
convinced that my theory will gradually meet with 
universal acceptance , as it rests on a basis of facts. 
It is a necessary consequence of our system of in- 
struction however, that new fundamental views, which 
contradict previous doctrines, should only slowly gain 
ascendency. They must first be embodied in text 
books, and that can only take place, when the new 
theory is worked out on all sides and the ruins of 
the hitherto dominant ones are cleared away. 




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