« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
And why thus lonely lingers she, when ali
The glorious gifts of Summer are no more?-
Distant, yet still how fair!
CLXXIV. - TELEGRAPHS.
1. From the earliest times, men have known how to communi cate with those living at a distance, especially in times of urgency by means of the fire-signal. When, however, from hill to bill over a whcle landscape, the beacon-flames arose, these signals could communicate no very definite information. It could only be learned that some great event had occurred. Vastly more useful, therefore, were the telegraphs, which, by varying the positions of their arms, represented letters, syllables, and whole words, and so rendered a regular conversation possible between individuals separated by a hostile army, or other insurmountable obstructions. The language which these telegraphs exchanged with one another, from one tower or steeple to another, before the eyes of the enemy, or thousands of the curious, depended upon an agreement between those who had to converse by these means; to them alone was it intelligible. Others, who lacked the key, could only guess at the meaning of the quickly-changing positions of the machine.
2. Of a quite different character are the telegraphs of which we now propose to speak. By their means the apparently im. possible has been made easy. Two persons, living fifty, or, indeed, hundreds of miles apart, may now communicate their thoughts in words, not, as in the case of the ordinary telegraph, in the space of an hour, or a half-hour, but instantly, as if they were seated at the same table. And could a connection by cop per wire be established between Washington and Pekin', and the loss of power which the electric fluid would sustain in such a space be avoided, then might a person in the capital of China receive intelligence from the United States in a fraction of a second; and even the man in the moon, if our electric fluid could be carried thither, would hear from the earth in the space of a second, for the transmission of thought by this method is swifter than light. The electric fluid travels in this way about two hundred and eighty-eight thousand miles in a second; a ray of light, only one hundred and ninety-two thousand miles.
3. But, in addition to this all-surpassing speed, such a mode of comniunication has quite other advantages over the ordinary telegraph. That which is to be communicated to a distant point is not seen by thousands of eyes, but only at the destined place does it make itself known. The course which the word thus expressed takes, in the invisible form of an electric discharge, is nidden under the earth, or, enclosed in the metal of the wire, passing high over the roofs of cities. But when it reaches its goal it announces itself, not only to the eye by the common telegraphic sign, but also to the ear. He with whom another communicates in the still, midnight hour, sits, perhaps, sunk in thought at his desk, or has fallen asleep, — the sound of a little bell arouses him; he listens; the sounds now of a lower, then of a higher toned bell are repeated; the number of bell-strokes, and the difference of the sounds, have meaning.
4. First, a deep sound, then, quickly succeeding, a higher, and then again a low note, represent an A; a low note, succeeded by two high notes, and again a low note, signifies B; a low note followed by no high note, and a high note followed by no low note, signify, the first E, the last J; three low notes, following one upon the other, stand for D. Thus, by the number and variety of sounds, every letter of the alphabet is expressed. Between the letters occurs a short pause; between the words the interval is longer. Thus, rapidly as an intelligent child may make out words by spelling, does it become possible by practice to understand the language of bells.
5. But suppose that the person to whom the distant intelligence comes is not awakened by the first stroke of the bell, and has lost the first part, or the whole, even, of what is thus communicated. Still, the loss is not irrep'arable. He finds, upon approaching the table at which his magical telegraph is arranged, that everything which he had failed to hear is set down there in visible characters. He finds a letter written, not, indeed, in ordinary characters, but in points, the peculiar position of which (corresponding to the different notes of the bell), and their combination, represent alphabetical signs, marked, like the sounds, with regularly occurring intervals between the letters and the words ; or, by another plan, he may find a message legibly printed out in bold letters on a narrow strip of paper.
6. In such phenomena as the motion of the electric fluid and of light, which the mind of man has taken into his service and learned to use at will, we have a type of the difference between the action of the mind and the body. Electricity and Light, although possessing power to penetrate space to an extent almost immeasurable, are indeed both material agents, and yet distance and time are almost annihilated by them; the connection they
establish, although by the material means of a metallic conductor, is miraculously direct and intimate. But what must that uniting attraction of souls be, which requires no corporeal medium, but darts instantaneously through an all-uniting spiritual element from one disembodied spirit to another ! Even now the director of an electric telegraph, although confined by the burthen of a body to a certain spot, is able at pleasure to converse with a distant friend, and be present with him in thought and will. What will not be possible when this confinement to the conditions of our planet shall fall away!
CLXXV. — THE ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.
1. HARK! the warning needles click,
Hither - thither — clear and quick.
Sing who will of Orpheän El lyre
2. Let the sky be dark or clear,
Comes the faithful messenger ;
Sing who will of Orpheän lyre,
3. Think the thought, and speak the word,
It is caught as soon as heard,
Sing who will of Orpheän lyre,
Ours the wonder-working wire! 1. Marvel — triumph of our day,
Flash all ignorance away!
Flash sincerity of speech,
Sing who will of Orpheän lyre,
CLXXVI. — LOCHIEL'S WARNING.
Lochiel, a Highland chieftain, while on his march to join the Pretender, is met by one of the Highland seers, or prophets, who warns him to return, and not incur the certain ruin which awaits the unfortunate prince and his followers, on the field of Culloden.
Seer. LOCHIEL, Lochiel, beware of the day
Lochiel. Go preach to the coward, thou death-telling seer
Seer. Ha! laugh’st thou, Lochiel, my vision to scorn ?
From his eyry, that beacons the darkness of Ileaven.
Lochiel. False wizard, avaunt! I have marshalled my clan
Seer. Lochiel ! Lochiel ! beware of the day!
Lochiel. Down, soothless insulter! I trust not the tale!