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From the Dublin University Magazine.
THE GIFTS OF SCIENCE TO ART.-PART II.
ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH-SCIENTIFIC Ærial | telegraphic messages may, in some measure,
VOYAGE OF MESSRS. BARRAL AND Bixio-- be estimated from the state of telegraphic CONCLUSION.
business in the United States. There a tariff,
considerably lower than that which is estabSuch is the latest and greatest improve- lished in England, has been adopted ; and ment of the Electric Telegraph.
we find, accordingly, that the amount of the It has been objected to this system of Mr. communications is increased in an enormous Bain, that it provides a superfluity of power; proportion, and that their character is altothat the exigencies of communication do not gether different. While, for example, no demand the
extraordinary celerity and facili- London journal, save the Times, is able to ty of despatch which it supplies ; that to use afford a daily telegraphic despatch of the it for the common purposes of telegraphic French news, exceeding a few lines in length, communication, is like employing a steam- and that only from Dover to London, the engine to thread a needle.
New York journals, the price of which is The answer to this is obvious. The public have only one penny, while that of the London not yet become familiar with the capabilities journals is five pence, receive by telegraph and the uses of this vast agent of intercommu- complete and detailed reports of the pronication, which will soon show itself to bear to ceedings of Congress at Washington. the post-office the same relation as the stock- During the trial of Professor Webster at ing-loom does to the knitting-needle, or the Boston, on the charge of murder, which prospinning frame to the distaff. They are now | duced so much excitement in the United restrained from calling into play the functions States and in Europe, a complete report of of the Electric Telegraph by the excessive the examination of witnesses, and the speeches cost of transmission. To send a communica-, of counsel, was forwarded every night by tion from London to Edinburgh or Glasgow, telegraph, from Boston to New York, and costs at the rate of eight-pence per word. , appeared in the morning journals the next Using round numbers, a letter of moderate day. length, say one consisting of 300 words, Now, the telegraphic tariff in America, would therefore cost ten pounds, and the though inferior to that adopted in Europe, is answer to it, supposing it of equal length, as very far above what it might, and no doubt much more. Now, except in cases of the will be reduced to, when the improved and very highest importance, such a tariff con accelerated method of transmission, which we stitutes an absolute prohibition. But with have described, shall be adopted. telegraphs working on the system adopted in The methods now used in America are England, it is difficult to see how this can be those of Morse, and the earlier improvements avoided. The tariff may be too high, and of Bain. The method of transmitting a writsome reduction of its amount might increase ten report by the application of the perforated the profits of the company, by augmenting ribbon of paper, which we have described, the quantity of business done in a greater has been only recently patented in that ratio than the diminution of the rate of country, and has not yet been brought into charge. But such an extent of communica- | operation, consequently the celerity of comtion as we contemplate, and as we feel as- munication, which would enable the transsured will, sooner or later, be realized, would mission to be accomplished at a vastly rebe utterly impracticable with the present duced price, has not yet been practically telegraphs.
realized there. The probable effect of a considerable re- In reference to what has been just stated duction in the charge for the transmission of it may be interesting to mention, that one of
the London journals had the spirit, not long I would be developed, and a much greater resince, to try, by experiment, whether the ad- duction of expenses effected. vantage to be derived from a long and detail- When the powers of this improved teleed telegraphic despatch daily transmitted graph shall be brought into full operation, from Paris would, to use a commercial term, and when this mode of intercommunication pay: A contract was, as we are assured, shall be available by the public in all parts made with the telegraphic establishment, and of Europe, great changes in the social and a sum of more than £400 per month was commercial relations of the centres of comactually paid for such daily communication. merce and population must be witnessed. It was found, however, that the advantage Hitherto the use of the telegraph on the was not adequate to the expense, for even
Continent has been limited to the govern. at this price the intelligence was obliged to ment. The public has been altogether exbe conveyed in so compressed a style as, to cluded from it. Such a system, however, be deprived of its principal attraction. cannot be of long duration, and the precur
Even the daily despatch of the Times, now sors of a speedy change are already apparent. published, consists, as will be perceived by A project of law has been presented to the reference to that journal, of a few heads of Legislative Assembly by the French Governnews, a sort of table of contents to the de- ment, to open the telegraph to commerce tailed despatch which is to follow. Such and the public. Lines of electric telegraph communications can have no interest or utility, have been constructed, and are already in except in cases where events of great im- operation, along the principle lines of railway portance have to be announced, a circum- in France. A commission has been appointed stance which it is evident can never be of by the Belgian Government, to report upon daily occurrence.
the means which ought to be adopted to conBy means of two conducting wires it is im- struct lines of electric telegraph throughout possible, with the telegraphs now used in that kingdom. Lines of considerable extent England, to transmit more than twelve hun- are in operation in the Prussian States, and dred words per hour, and although that still more extended systems are in preparaaverage capability be claimed for the existing tion. Measures are in progress for the essystem, we doubt extremely whether it can tablishment of lines of electric telegraphs in be realized one day with another. But as- the territories of Austria, Saxony, Bavaria, suming it to be practicable, it would follow Wirtemburg, Baden, and all the lesser states that in a day of twelve hours two conducting of Germany. The Emperor of Russia has wires could not transmit more than fourteen issued orders, for the construction of lines of thousand four hundred words, which would telegraphic wires to connect St. Petersburgh be equivalent to 144 despatches of the aver- with Moscow, and with the Prussia, Saxon, age length of 100 words. Now it is clear and Austrian lines of telegraph. that any reduction of the tariff which would The measures for sinking a system of congive anything approaching to full play to the ducting wires in the channel between Dover demands of the public, once awakened to the and Calais are in progress. Of the ultimate advantages which such a system of commu- practicability of this project there seems no nication would offer, would create a demand ground for doubt. In the United States for transmission far exceeding the powers of wires have been already sunk in several arms any practicable number of conducting wires. of the sea, under which a never-ending
But with a system constructed on the stream of dispatches passes, and although principle adopted by Mr. Bain, a single wire the width of these pieces of water is in no is capable of transmitting about 20,000 words case so considerable as that of the Straits of per hour, and two wires would therefore Dover, difficulties of the same kind as those transmit 40,000 per hour, being thirty-three encountered in the latter case have been suctimes more than can now be transmitted. cessfully surmounted.
By the adoption of this system, therefore, When Dover shall have been united with the tariff of transmission might, with the same Calais, by the realization of this project, and profit, be reduced in a ratio of about thirty when the various lines now in progress, and to one, so that a despatch, the transmission contemplated, on the Continent shall be of which would now cost a pound, would be completed, London will be connected by consent at the cost of eight-pence.
tinuous lines of telegraphic communication But it is evident that in the working out of with Brussels, Berlin, Hamburg, Lubeck, the system, many other sources of economy Bremen, Dantzig, Leipsic, Dresden, Prague,
ready perforated on the ribbon of paper (a |
Vienna, Trieste, Munich, Augsburgh, Stutt- | Dr. Lardner, in a speech delivered in the gard, and the towns along the right bank of Rotunda, startled the public by a prediction, the Rhine, from Cologne io Basle; also with that “the day was at hand when a railway Amsterdam, the Hague, Rotterdam, Ant- across Ireland, from Dublin to Galway, or werp, and every part of Belgium ; also with some other western port connected with a Boulogne, Lille, Valenciennes, Paris, Stras- line of Atlantic steamers, would render Ireburgh, Bourdeaux, Lyons, Marseilles, and all land one stage on a great highway, connectthe intermediate towns.
ing London with New York." It is a fact On the arrival of the Indian mail at Mar- sufficiently curious, that this prediction has seilles the leading journals of London,at a cost been literally verified ;* but what would which would appear fabulous, have obtained have been said at that time, had the Doctor their dispatches by means of special couriers binted at the bare possibility of an electric riding express from Marseilles to Boulogne, wire crossing Ireland, and forming a part of and by express steamers from Boulogne to one continuous wire uniting these capitals
, Folkestone. All this will be changed. The along which, streams of intelligence, political, agent of the Times at Marseilles will receive commercial, and social, would be constantly from the Alexandrian steamer the dispatches flowing ?
It is curious to observe how often that, process which may be executed before their which is regarded as fantastical and chimeriarrival); he will take it to the telegraph cal in one age, acquires the character of cold office, where it will be attached to the in reality in another. Strada, in one of his prostrument, and will be transmitted direct to lusions, says Addison, London at the rate of 20,000 words per hour on each wire. Two wires will, there- “Gives an account of a chimerical correspondfore, transmit three columns of the Times in ence between two friends by the help of a certain eight minutes !!
loadstone, which had such a virtue in it, that if If a London merchant desire to dispatch these needles so touched began to move, the other,
touched by two several needles, when one of an important communication to his corre- though at ever so great a distance, moved at the spondent at Hamburg or Berlin, he will be
same time and in the same manner. He tells us able to do so, and to obtain an answer in five that two friends, being each of them possessed of minutes, provided the letter and answer do these needles, made a kind of dial-plate, inscribing not exceed a thousand words, and that bis it with twenty-four letters, in the same manner correspondent is ready without delay to re
as the hours of the day are marked upon the ordiply.
nary dial-plate. They then fixed one of the neeIf the Foreign Secretary desire to send an
dles on each of these plates in such a manner,
that it could move round without impediment, so important dispatch to the British minister at
as to point to any of the twenty-four letters. UpVienna, he is obliged at present to expedite it by a queen's messenger traveling express. He will then have only to get it perforated should im pute a statement to the effect, that a steam
* It is a curious circumstance that public rumor on a ribbon of paper in characters known voyage across the Atlantic was a physical impossionly to himself and the ambassador, and to bility, to Dr. Lardner, who, as we have seen, was forward it to Vienna at the rate of three the first to predict the establishment of steam comhundred words per minute.
munication with America, and who made that pre
diction on an occasion at once so memorable and so A project has been announced in the public, in the presence of at least three thousand journals, which might be justly regarded as persons. The calumny, however, being fabricated the creature of some candidate for Bedlam, and circulated by interested parties, amused those if, after what we have stated as being actu
who delight to find scientific men committing blunally practised, we could dare to pronounce the anthentic reports of the day which appeared in
ders; and, although it has been since refuted, and anything of the kind impracticable. The the Times newspaper, of Dr. Lardner's speeches de project we allude to is, to carry a telegraphic livered in Dublin in 1836, and in Bristol in 1837, to communication across the Atlantic! It is the very contrary effect, have been republished, the proposed to encase a number of wires in a public still clings to what it considers a capital joke
against scientific men and their predictions. The coating which will not be affected by sea
Times itself revived the old story in the year 1845, water, and to sink it in the ocean! One ex- when Dr. Lardner addressed a letter to the editor, tremity of this electric cable is to be fixed at in which he reproduced from the Times ]
spaper itself New York or Boston, and the other, we pre- the report of the speech, from which it appeared, sume, at Galway!
that the statement made by him was precisely the On the occasion of the first meeting of the it has often been since, and will probably always
reverse. This settled the point for the moment: but British Association held in Dublin, in 1836, I continue to be revived. See Times, Oct. 29, 1846.
on their separating from one another into distant / which is announced in one of the memoirs countries, they agreed to withdraw themselves recently read before the French Institute, it punctually into their closets at a certain hour of appears that an individual can, by means of the day, and to converse with one another by this, the electro-chemical telegraph, produce writtheir invention. Accordingly, when they were some hundred miles asunder, each of them shut ten characters in ordinary writing upon paper himself up in his closet at the time appointed, and placed at any distance from the writer. immediately cast his eye upon the dial-plate. If Thus, a merchant at London may take a pen he had a mind to write anything to his friend, he in his hand, and with it write a letter or directed his needle to every letter that formed the draw a bill; this letter, or this bill, shall, at words that he had occasion for, making a little the same moment, be committed to paper, pause at the end of every word or sentence, to letter for letter, and word for word, in any avoid confusion. The friend, in the meanwhile, saw his own sympathetic needle moving of itself desired place telegraphically connected with to every letter which that of bis correspondent London, in Petersburgh for example, and pointed at. By this means, they talked together , such letter or bill, so written, shall be in the across a whole continent, and conveyed their handwriting, and shall be signed with the thoughts to one another in an instant over cities usual signature of the writer, and this shall or mountains, seas or deserts.
be accomplished instantly upon the move“ If M. Scudery, or any other writer of romance (continues Addison) bad introduced a necroman
ment of the pen in the hands of the writer in cer, who is generally in the train of a knight-er
London ! rant, making a present to two lovers of a couple
The method of working this last miracle is of those abovementioned needles, the reader would not given in detail, but it is indicated with not have been a little pleased to have seen them sufficient clearness to enable an adept to corresponding with one another when they were comprehend its principle. guarded by spies and watches, or separated by castles and adventures.
At the moment we are engaged upon this “In the meanwhile, if ever this invention should be revived or put in practice, I would propose
article, a circumstance has occurred so closethat on the lover's dial-plate there should be writ- ly connected with the application of physical ten, not only the twenty-four letters, but several discoveries to elevated purposes, that we entire words, which have always a place in pas- cannot forbear to advert to it. sionate epistles; as flames, darts, die, language, Of all the wonderful discoveries which absence, Cupid, heart, eyes, hang, drown, and the modern science has given birth to, there is enable him to express the most useful and signifi contracted as that by which we are enabled pains in this way of writing a letter, as it would perhaps not one which has been applied to
useful purposes on a scale so unexpectedly cant words with a single turn of the needle.'
to penetrate into the immense ocean of air Addison wrote this in 1711. Had he lived with which our globe is surrounded, and to an hundred and forty years later he would examine the physical phenomena which are have seen not only the sympathetic needles manifested in its upper strata. One would of Strada, but even the alphabetic dial liter- have supposed that the moment the power ally realized. The form of magnetic tele- was conferred upon us to leave the surface graph invented by M. Siemens, and con- of the earth, and rise above the clouds into structed and in operation on some of the the superior regions, a thousand eager in. Prussia lines, presents the precise form de- quirers would present themselves as agents scribed by Strada. The needles established in researches in a region so completely unat two distant stations play upon two dials, trodden, if such term may here be permitted. on which, instead of the twelve hours, are Nevertheless, this great invention of ærial engraved the twenty-four letters, and the navigation has remained almost barren. If electric current, and the mechanism connected we except the celebrated ærial voyage of with it cause the needles to move sympa- Gay-Lussac in 1804, the balloon, with its thelically. Whatever letter one is made to wonderful powers, has been allowed to degenpoint at, the other instantly turns to the erate into a mere theatrical exhibition, exsame, even though they should be separated citing the vacant and unreflecting wonder of by “cities or mountains, seas or deserts.” the multitude. Instead of being an instru
But he might witness still greater miracles. ment of philosophical research, it has become A lover in London might write an epistle to a mere expedient for profit in the hands of his mistress in Vienna, the handle of the pen charlatans, so much so, that, on the occasion being in London, and its point and the sheet to which we are about to advert, the persons of paper on which the letter is written, being who were engaged in the project incurred in Vienna ! By a further improvement, I failure, and risked their lives, from their aversion to avail themselves of the experience of ; of exhibition, and who had become familiar those who had made ærostation a mere spec- with the practical management of the maticle for profit. They thought that to touch chine, a much more favorable result would pitch they must be defiled, and preferred have ensued. As it was, the two voyagers danger and the risk of failure to such asso-ascended for the first time, and placed them. ciation.
selves in a position like that of a natural It is now about two months since M. Barral, philosopher, who, without previous practice, a chemist of some distinction at Paris, and M. should undertake to drive a locomotive, with Bixio, a member of the Legislative Assembly its train, on a railway at fifty miles an hour, (whose name will be remembered in connexion rejecting the humble but indispensable aid of with the bloody insurrection of June, 1848, an experienced engine-driver. when, bravely and humanely discharging his The necessary preparations having been duty in attempting to turn his guilty fellow- made, and the programme and the instrucitizens, from their course, he nearly shared ments prepared, it was resolved to make the the fate of the Archbishop, and was severely ascent from the garden behind the Observawounded,) resolved upon making a grand ex- tory at Paris, a plateau of some elevation, periment with a view to observe and record and free from buildings and other obstacles, the meteorological phenomena of the strata at day-break of Saturday, the 29th June. of the atmosphere, at a greater height and At midnight the balloon was brought to the with more precision than had hitherto been spo:, but the inflation was not completed unaccomplished. But from the motives which til nearly 10 o'clock, A.M. we have explained, the project was kept It has since been proved that the balloon secret, and it was resolved that the experi- was old and worn, and that it ought not ment should be made at an hour of the to have been supplied for such an occasion. morning, and under circumstances, which It was obviously patched, and it is now would prevent it from degenerating into an known that two sempstresses were employed exhibition. MM. Arago and Regnault un during the preceding day in mending it, and dertook to supply the ærial voyagers with a some stitching even was found necessary programme of the proposed performance after it had arrived at the Observatory. and instruments suited to the projected ob- The net-work, which included and supportservations. M. Arago prepared the pro-ed the car was new, and not originally made gramme, in which was stated clearly what with a view to the balloon it inclosed, the observations were to be made at every stage consequences of which will be presently seen. of the ascensional movement.
The night between Friday and Saturday, It was intended that the balloon should be was one of continual rain, and the balloon so managed as to come to rest at certain and its netting became thoroughly saturated altitudes, when barometric, thermometric, with moisture. By the time the inflation had hygrometric, polariscropic, and other obser- been completed, it became evident that the vations, were to be taken and noted; the net-work was too small; but in the anxiety balloon after each series of observations to to carry into effect the project, the consemake a new ascent.
quences of this were most unaccountably The precious instruments by which these overlooked. We say unaccountably, because observations were to be made were preparec, it is extremely difficult to conceive how exand, in some cases, actually fabricated and perimental philosophers and practised obgraduated, by the hands of M. Regnault servers, like MM. Arago and Regnault, to himself.
say nothing of numerous subordinate scienTo provide the balloon and its appendages, tific agents who were present, did not anticirecourse was had to some of those persons pate what must have ensued in the upper who have followed the fabrication of bal- regions of the air. Nevertheless, such was loons as a sort of trade, for the purposes of the fact. exhibition.
'On the morning of Saturday, the instruIn this part of their enterprise the voy- ments being duly deposited in the car, the agers were not so fortunate, as we shall pre- two enterprising voyagers placed themselves sently see, and still less so in having taken in it, and the balloon, which previously had the resolution to ascend alone, unaccompa- been held down by the strength of twenty nied by a practised aronaut. It is proba. men, was liberated, and left to plunge into ble that if they had selected a person, such the ocean of air, at twenty-seven minutes as Mr. Green, for example, who had already after ten o'clock. made frequent ascents for the mere purpose The weather, as we have already stated,