Vanishing Roads and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 329 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.
rations as a letter once a month.  A letter once a month!  They must have had enormous faith in each other, those lovers of old-time, or they must have suffered as we can hardly bear to think of—­we, who write to each other twice a day, telegraph three times, telephone six, and transmit a phonographic record of our sighs to each other night and morn.  The telephone has made a toy of distance and made of absence, in many cases, a sufficient presence.  It is almost worth while to be apart on occasion just for the sake of bringing each other so magically near.  It is the Arabian Nights come true.  As in them, you have only to say a word, and the jinn of the electric fire is waiting for your commands.  The word has changed.  Once it was “Abracadabra.”  Now it is “Central.”  But the miracle is just the same.

One might almost venture upon the generalization that most tragedies have come about from lack of a telephone.  Of course, there are exceptions, but as a rule tragedies happen through delays in communication.

If there had been a telephone in Mantua, Romeo would never have bought poison of the apothecary.  Instead, he would have asked leave to use his long-distance telephone.  Calling up Verona, he would first cautiously disguise his voice.  If, as usual, the old nurse answered, all well; but if a bearded voice set all the wires a-trembling, he would, of course, hastily ring off, and abuse “Central” for giving him the wrong number.  And “Central” would understand.  Then Romeo would wait an hour or two till he was sure that Lord Capulet had gone to the Council, and ring up again.  This time he would probably get the nurse and confide to her his number in Mantua.  Next morning Juliet and her nurse had only to drop in at the nearest drug store, and confide to Romeo the whole plot which Balthazar so sadly bungled.  All that was needed was a telephone, and Romeo would have understood that Juliet was only feigning death for the sake of life with him.

But, as in the case of our Danish knight, there was not a pay-station as yet in all the wide world, and it was fully five hundred years to the nearest telegraph office.  Another point in this tragedy is worth considering by the modern mind:  that not only would the final catastrophe have been averted by the telephone, but that those beautiful speeches to and from Juliet’s balcony, made at such desperate risk to both lovers, had the telephone only been in existence, could have been made in complete security from the seclusion of their distant apartments.

Seriously speaking, there are few love tragedies, few serious historic crises of any kind, that might not have been averted by the telephone.  Strange indeed, when one considers a little, is that fallacy of sentimentalism which calls science the enemy of love.

Far from being its enemy, science is easily seen to be its most romantic servant; for all its strenuous and delicate learning it brings to the feet of love for a plaything.  Not only will it carry the voice of love across space and time, but it will even bring it back to you from eternity.  It will not only carry to your ears the voices of the living, but it will also keep safe for you the sweeter voices of the dead.  In fact, it would almost seem as though science had made all its discoveries for the sake of love.

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Vanishing Roads and Other Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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