Scientific American Supplement, No. 441, June 14, 1884. eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 135 pages of information about Scientific American Supplement, No. 441, June 14, 1884..
with him and afterward let him, Mr. McLane, know what I thought about it.  While we were yet speaking, Mr. Morse made his appearance, and when Mr. McLane introduced me he referred to the fact that, as I had been educated at West Point, I might the more readily understand the scientific bearings of Mr. Morse’s invention.  The President’s office being no place for prolonged conversation, it was agreed that Mr. Morse should take tea at my dwelling, when we would go over the whole subject.  We met accordingly, and it was late in the night before we parted.  Mr. Morse went over the history of his invention from the beginning with an interest and enthusiasm that had survived the wearying toil of an application to Congress, and with the aid of diagrams drawn on the instant made me master of the matter, and wrote for me the telegraphic alphabet which is still in use over the world.  Not a small part of what Mr. Morse said on this occasion had reference to the future of his invention, its influence upon communities and individuals, and I remember regarding as the wild speculations of an active imagination what he prophesied in this connection, and which I have lived to see even more than realized.  Nor was his conversation confined to his invention.  A distinguished artist, an educated gentleman, an observant traveler, it was delightful to hear him talk, and at this late day I recall few more pleasant evenings than the only one I passed in his company.

Of course, my first visit the next morning was to Mr. McLane to make my report.  By this time I had become almost as enthusiastic as Mr. Morse himself, and repeated what had passed between us.  I soon saw that Mr. McLane was becoming as eager for the construction of the line to Washington as Mr. Morse could desire.  He entered warmly into the spirit of the thing, and laughed heartily, if not incredulously, when I told him that although he had been Minister to England, Secretary of State, and Secretary of the Treasury, his name would be forgotten, while that of Morse would never cease to be remembered with gratitude and praise.  We then considered the question as to the right of the company to permit the line to be laid in the bed of the road—­the plan of construction at that time being to bury in a trench some eight or ten inches deep a half inch leaden tube containing the wrapped wire that was to form the electric circuit.  About this there was, in my opinion, no doubt, and it was not long after that the work of construction commenced.  I met Mr. Morse from time to time while he lived, and often recurred to the evening’s discussion at my house in Baltimore.

The above is the substance of what I have more than once related to other persons.  I hope you will persist in your design of putting on paper your own very interesting recollections in this connection, and if what I have contributed of mine is of service to you, I shall be much pleased.

Most truly yours,
JOHN H.B.  LATROBE. 
March 3, 1881.

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Scientific American Supplement, No. 441, June 14, 1884. from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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