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Before concluding I will say a few words which even seems specially arranged for as to the very curious forms presented this purpose ; at least it would seem by certain seeds and fruits. The pods from experiments made at Kew that of lotus, for instance, quaintly resemble the carunculus exercises no appreciable a bird's foot, even to the toes; whence effect during germination. These rethe specific name of one species, ornitho semblances might benefit the plant in podioides ; those of hippocrepis remind one of two ways. If it be an advantage one of a horseshoe ; those of trapa to the plant that the seeds should be bicornis have an absurd resemblance to swallowed by birds, their resemblance to the skeleton of a bull's head. These insects might lead to this result. On likenesses appear to be accidental, but the other hand if it be desirable to escape there are some which probably are of from graminivorous birds, then the reuse to the plant. For instance there semblance to insects would serve as a are two species of scorpiurus, the pods protection. We do not, however, yet of which lie on the ground, and so curi- know enough about the habits of these ously resemble the one (S. subvillosa), a plants to solve this question. centipede, the other (S. vermiculata), a Indeed, as we have gone on, many worm or caterpillar, that it, is almost other questions will, I dcubt not, have impossible not to suppose that the like- occurred to you, which we are not yet ness must be of some use to the plant. in a position to answer. Seeds, for in
The pod of Biserrula Pelecinus also stance, differ almost infinitely in the has a striking resemblance to a flattened sculpturing of their surface. But I shall centipede ; while the seeds of Abrus wofully have failed in my object toprecatorius, both in size and in their very night if you go away with the impresstriking color, mimic a small beetle, sion that we know all about seeds. On Artemis circumusta.
the contrary there is not a fruit or a Mr. Moore has recently called atten- seed, even of one of our commonest tion to other cases of this kind. Thus the plants, which would not amply justify seed of Martynia diandra much resembles and richly reward the most careful study. a beetle with long antennæ : several spe- In this, as in other branches of science, cies of Lupins have seeds much like we have but made a beginning. We spiders, and those of Dimorphochlamys, have learnt just enough to perceive how a gourdlike plant, mimic a piece of dry little we know. Our great masters in twig. In the common castor oil plants, natural history have immortalized themthough the resemblance is not so close, selves by their discoveries, but they still at a first glance the seeds might have not exhausted the field ; and if readily be taken for beetles or ticks. In seeds and fruits cannot vie with flowers many Euphorbiaceous plants, as for in- in the brilliance and color with which stance in Jatropha the resemblance is they decorate our gardens and our fields, even more striking. The seeds have a still they surely rival, it would be imcentral line resembling the space between possible to excel them, in the almost the elytra, dividing and slightly diverg- infinite variety of the problems they preing at the end, while between them sent to us, the ingenuity, the interest, the end of the abdomen seems to peep; and the charm of the beautiful contrivat the anterior end the seeds possess a ances which they offer for our study and small lobe, or caruncle, which mimics our admiration.-Fortnightly Review. the head or thorax of the insect, and
O Molly, still I see you,
As you there beside me stood,
God knows that you were good.
“Do I hurt you ? does it smart ?” And I could not make an answer
For the beating of my heart.
That sunlit, summer morn,
You drew away the thorn.
Thro' many a lonesome day,
With pilgrim feet away.
I asked you once again,
And ease my bosom's pain.
And you would not, or you could not,
But you turned with tears away,
For ever and for aye.
The time of flowers is over,
The rain falls cold and chill,
O'er every sunlit hill.
Since better may not be.-
The thorn may bide with me. — Temple Bar.
FREAKS OF THE TELEGRAPH.
The wonders of the telegraph have spirit, some telegraphic Puck, seems to been sufficiently dwelt on. Its praises preside over the destinies of the telehave been sung in prose and verse. gram, with malicious perversity altering Dithyrambs have been lavished on the the sense, and seeming to take a pleasmarvellous invention which has enabled ure in thwarting man, and playing pracman to put a girdle round the earth, tical jokes upon him. to hold direct converse with the an- It might a priori be imagined that, tipodes, and to annihilate time and though the telegraph must of necessity space. Now, while in no way gainsay- share the common lot of things human ing the wonderful nature of the inven- —that of being liable to err—yet no extion, or depreciating its importance and ceptional tendency in that direction general usefulness to mankind, we may ought to exist. So far as concerns the be permitted to observe that these great mechanical part of the invention, this is advantages are not entirely without draw- undoubtedly so; the mechanical part back. The telegraph is not always, or rarely fails. Although we have it on the to everybody, the unmitigated boon and authority of the Postmaster-General, in blessing enthusiastic admirers have rep- one of his reports, that on one occasion resented it to be. As
As a messenger, it a party of friends telegraphed that they is distinctly uncertain ; and those who were all right," which, owing to a have suffered from this uncertainty may mechanical defect of the apparatus, perhaps be pardoned if they look with came out that they were “all tight;" somewhat diminished fervor on the boon yet, on the whole, errors which arise conferred upon them. In short, there from defects of apparatus are, we beis to this, as to most questions, another lieve, very rare. It is the “personal side ; and it is with this other side that equation” which has to be allowed for. we propose to deal in the following The human element plays so considerpages.
able a part in matters telegraphic, that We have said that, as a messenger, the hunnan propensity to err finds prothe telegraph is uncertain. Thereby we portionately wide scope. And this tells mean that—to some extent from causes in two ways. It applies to him who which we shall hereafter endeavor to in- sends a telegram as well as to the opedicate—there is always more or less un- rator who manipulates it. Imagine for certainty attaching to a telegram, both a moment what the process is : you, let in regard to the length of time it may be us say, wish to send a telegram ; you on its journey, and in regard to the way write out your message ; perhaps you in which the wording may be repro- pride yourself on your handwriting (most duced. Especially on this latter point people do who write indistinctly), but is it that there is so much liability to go you are not aware how incompletely you wrong. Too often some kind of tricksy form many of your letters, and how easy
it is for a stranger to your handwriting similarity which is, of course, producto misread some of the words, especially tive of mistakes. We may take it that if the indistinct words happen to be the Morse system of telegraph symnames. Hence liability the first to bols, having been adopted universally error. The intelligent telegraph clerk throughout the telegraphing world, is (or not intelligent, as the case may be) the best for the purpose that has been reads over your message to himself, and devised ; and we presume that it is not reads it, as he imagines, correctly. Not
Not likely now to be improved upon. And so, however. One of the words—say yet there are many words which are so “ten”-is written so as to look more perilously alike that errors in them are like “ two ;” and he reads it for two.' sure to recur from time to time. To The sense of the message is in no way name but one instance, “bad” and affected, and he does not question the “dead” are composed of the same word. Or it may be a name which number of dots and dashes, the sole looks to the clerk more like some other difference being that there is in dead name. Supposing, however, that he a “space” or pause wanting in “bad” reads the word correctly, the chances a difference so slight as to require the are great that the clerk who despatches nicest perception to distinguish it. We will fall into the very error which the will give the two words in Morse spellformer has avoided. Thus, even in the ing, so as to afford an ocular demoninitial stage there is a great liability to stration : error. This is increased by the fact that
d telegrams so often have to be written in
Bad = a hurry; and it is astonishing what mistakes we all make in such circumstances.
Dead = It is by no means an unknown occurrence for persons to omit to insert the It unfortunately happens that uneducatessential word in a telegram ; while, we ed people have a special affection for have heard, it is not at all infrequent for the phrase,
the phrase, “ He is bad,” for “He is them to put down as the address the ill ;' and this phrase, when used in telename of some totally different town from grams thus—“Father is bad, come that which they had in their minds, and directly," gets altered into “ Father is imagined they had written.
But even dead, come directly." supposing these shoals avoided, the The universal adoption of the telerocks ahead are many. Each telegraph phone, should that ever become practioperator takes down the words as he re- cable, would, we fear, by no means do ceives them ; and his liability to error away with the evil. The nature of the is twofold. He may rightly apprehend errors would change, that is all. They the words, and yet in writing make one would be such as arise from mishearing; or more so indistinct that when he or and it is open to question whether they another operator comes to transmit the would not be quite as numerous and message a stage further, the words are just as perplexing. Telegraphing is a misread ; or he may misapprehend the species of dictation ; and any one who signal sent to him, and thus write down had had experience of the way in a wrong word. When this possibility of which, under dictation of a subject going astray is multiplied, as it often is totally incomprehensible to the writer, several times, by the message having to the most ludicrous mistakes will be undergo several separate transmissions, made, will not be surprised at the curiperhaps the marvel is that so many
ous freaks the telegraph sometimes inthousands of telegrams should go right, dulges in. The only mode in which rather than that out of the whole num
its Puck-like mischief-making powers ber many should go wrong.
can ever be curbed is by the introducIn any system of symbols for letters, tion of a universal system of transmitconsisting of such simple elements as ting the identical writing of the senders the telegraph alphabet does-viz., dots of telegrams. The only blunders that and dashes-it is inevitable that there we then should have to complain of should be considerable similarity be- would be our own; and to our own tween the symbols of some words-a faults we are all inclined to be chari
table. But such a consummation is dence, and write your message in such probably chimerical, or only destined for guise that he who runs may read. As our posterity. There is, indeed, in ex- an illustration of the ingenuity with istence an instrument for sending the which people will express themselves, original writing by telegraph, but it can as if for the very purpose of defeating at present be regarded only as a scien- their own object, we may cite the follow
ing: A lady, some short time since, So long as our confessedly imperfect telegraphed, " Send them both thanks, system remains, errors must be expect- by which she meant, " Thank you ; send ed: but as errors will be numerous in them both”—(the both” referred to proportion as the sources from which two servants). The telegram reached its they arise are numerous, anything which destination as “ Send them both back,” tends to diminish those sources must be thus making sense as the official mind welcome ; and a few suggestions, with would understand it, but a complete respect to the mode of framing tele- perversion of the meaning of the writer. graphic messages, so that they may not Nothing was gained by putting it in this offer unnecessary traps for the unwary way; the cost of the message would operator, will no doubt be acceptable as have been just the same if put differentcontributing to this result,
ly; and as the telegraph ignores stops, And here we must first combat a the message as it stood read like nonpopular delusion. It is commonly sup- sense. It happens that "th" is not posed that brevity is the essence of a unlike “b” in the Morse alphabet ; and telegram, and that the shorter a message this, coupled with the fact that “back" can be the better : that if you have a seemed to be required as the last word, thing to say in ten words, it is better to fully explains the error. say it in seven ; if you have a thing to But affectionate redundancy may also say in seven, it is better to say it in five. offer traps to the unwary.
The followThis appears to be the creed of the
ing telegram was once sent : “ Thankful general telegram-sender. No doubt, if to say little girl born safely ; dear mother his sole object be to swell the revenues very nicely, having had a short and easy of the State, his procedure is laudable: time." By the substitution of one single but there are other considerations to be letter for another the whole sense was taken into accourt; and if he wishes his changed. This was how it reached its telegrams to be rendered in such guise destination : “ Thankful to say little that they shall be understood par qui de girl born safely dead, mother very nicedroit, he will strive rather to make the ly,” etc. If the reader will imagine that wording plain than laconic. Redundan- sentence being spelt out to him, he will cy is of course to be avoided, but too see that having received the words, great brevity is equally to be eschewed. "Little girl born safely, dea—," no Laconic writing, it is to be borne in other letter than "d" could present itmind, tends to obscurity ; obscurity self to his mind; and so it was with the makes it impossible for the telegraph telegraph operator, who was so fully operator to know when he is sending possessed with the idea of " dead” that sense and when nonsense ; and if he has he paid no heed to the final signals. no guide as to what he is sending, the We may roughly classify the different chances are at least equal that he will go kinds of errors perpetrated by the teleastray.
graph into : ist, Errors which are due There is, no doubt, another motive to pure guessing-sheer carelessness, we which weighs with some, and that is the may call it-against which nothing is desire that the message should not be proof. 2d, Errors closely akin to the intelligible to the officials through whose first, but in which the first letter or two hands it will pass. But it is short-sight- are common to both words. These can ed policy to make the wording obscure, often be obviated by careful wording. in order to frustrate hypothetic official In the instance quoted above, if the curiosity. If secrecy is important, it clearly superfluous "dear" had been would be better to use a cipher. In the eliminated, a mistake, which made the majority of cases, however, the true plan message read like a grim joke, would is to take the officials into your confi- not have been committed. 3d, There