In comparing the advantages of the two lines, it must be remembered that the security of the telegraphic wire is of infinitely more importance than any saving in the length of the cable. It takes no longer to transmit a message 2500 miles than to transmit it 2000; so that the shortness of the Euphrates route is quite unimportant, if the Red Sea route is more secure. There seem to be the strongest reasons for concluding that this is, in fact, the case. A submarine telegraph is the safest of all telegraphs, if there is a proper depth of water, for the sea is an absolutely perfect protection against either mischief or marauding. On the other hand, the country between Seleucia and Bussorah is in the most dangerous state. It is nominally part of the Ottoman Empire, but is, in fact, a sort of no man's land, wandered over by tribes of wild Arabs, who are continually at war with each other, and who would naturally and inevitably feel the greatest jealousy of an establishment which they would think likely to interfere with their independence. They would be certain to destroy the telegraph from mischief or wantonness, and the wires or cables would in themselves excite their cupidity. It is almost impossible that a telegraph should be made along the Euphrates route unless and until the projected railway is accomplished. No doubt the forces which would be required to guard the one would guard the other also; but the period of the completion of the railway is very distant, and there seems to be no reason why we should not obtain the benefit of a telegraphic communication with India as soon as possible. It must also be remembered that whatever advantages may ultimately be found to belong to the Euphrates line, the Red Sea route is that which is actually taken by commerce at present; and as this is so, it would be strange to prefer to it, for purposes of telegraphic communication, a line of which the advantages are as yet entirely matter of conjecture. The advantage of a telegraphic communication with Aden would in itself be very considerable, and charts and soundings have been prepared along the whole line which it is proposed to adopt.
These reasons lead us to incline strongly to the opinion that, whatever may be the ultimate decision as to the Euphrates route, it would be desirable to carry out the proposal which we have described. But we do not see that there is any necessary opposition between the two plans. If the Euphrates line of railway should hereafter be completed, and if that project should include the establishment of an electric telegraph, the undertaking would, no doubt, be a most important and noble one. The advantage of having the alternative of using either line of communication might, under many circumstances, be very considerable. At any rate, it appears to us that the Euphrates Telegraph is dependent for its success on the construction of the Euphrates Railway. The Red Sea Telegraph is a substantive scheme, and we do not think that the possible success of a collateral project ought to prevent our having the benefit of it.
Saturday Review, March 7, 1857.