“Provided, That one half of the said sum shall be appropriated for trying mesmeric experiments under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury.”
Mr. S. Mason rose to a question of order. He maintained that the amendment was not bona fide, and that such amendments were calculated to injure the character of the House. He appealed to the chair to rule the amendment out of order.
The Chairman said it was not for him to judge of the motives of members in offering amendments, and he could not, therefore, undertake to pronounce the amendment not bona fide. Objections might be raised to it on the ground that it was not sufficiently analogous in character to the bill under consideration, but, in the opinion of the Chair, it would require a scientific analysis to determine how far the magnetism of mesmerism was analogous to that to be employed in telegraphs. [Laughter.] He therefore ruled the amendment in order.
On taking the vote, the amendment was rejected—ayes 22, noes not counted.
The bill was then laid aside to be reported.
On February 23, the once more hopeful inventor sent off the following hurriedly written letter to his brother:—
“You will perceive by the proceedings of the House to-day that my bill has passed the House by a vote of 89 to 80. A close vote after the expectations raised by some of my friends in the early part of the session, but enough is as good as a feast, and it is safe so far as the House is concerned. I will advise you of the progress of it through the Senate. All my anxieties are now centred there. I write in great haste.”
A revised record of the voting showed that the margin of victory was even slighter, for in a letter to Smith, Morse says:—
“The long agony (truly agony to me) is over, for you will perceive by the papers of to-morrow that, so far as the House is concerned, the matter is decided. My bill has passed by a vote of eighty-nine to eighty-three. A close vote, you will say, but explained upon several grounds not affecting the disposition of many individual members, who voted against it, to the invention. In this matter six votes are as good as a thousand, so far as the appropriation is concerned.
“The yeas and nays will tell you who were friendly and who adverse to the bill. I shall now bend all my attention to the Senate. There is a good disposition there and I am now strongly encouraged to think that my invention will be placed before the country in such a position as to be properly appreciated, and to yield to all its proprietors a proper compensation.
“I have no desire to vaunt my exertions, but I can truly say that I have never passed so trying a period as the last two months. Professor Fisher (who has been of the greatest service to me) and I have been busy from morning till night every day since we have been here. I have brought him on with me at my expense, and he will be one of the first assistants in the first experimental line, if the bill passes.... My feelings at the prospect of success are of a joyous character, as you may well believe, and one of the principal elements of my joy is that I shall be enabled to contribute to the happiness of all who formerly assisted me, some of whom are, at present, specially depressed.”