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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/811

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A CENTURY OF THE TELEGRAPH IN FRANCE.

tain signals of the preceding post, transmitted them to the following, and always thus in succession, and these different signals were so many letters of an alphabet of which they had not the cipher then at Paris and at Rome. The greatest distance seeable by the telescopes made the distance between the posts, of which the number was to be the least that was possible, and, as the second post made some signals to the third, as soon as they were seen made at the first, the news was found carried to Rome in almost as little time as it needed for making the signals at Paris.

The government of Louis XV did not occupy themselves with what it considered a mere plaything, and the inventor, discouraged, renounced his project. Thus was relinquished, some two hundred years ago, a project in telegraphy which was about as rapid, if not rapider, than the slow-coach message from Rome to PSM V44 D811 Claude Chappe.jpgChappe Paris of the present day, which actually takes half a dozen hours or so for the delivery from domicile to domicile.

In 1788 Dupuis experimented in turn with an alphabetic telegraph, and Linguet, on his side, was also thus occupied about the same epoch.

The idea was, therefore, so to say, in the air when appeared Claude Chappe, to whom the entire globe is indebted in reality for the invention of the telegraph. This is one of the events the most memorable in the history of humanity,

Claude Chappe was born at Brulon (department Sarthe) in 1763. His father gave him a classical instruction of the most approved kind. The studies of Claude, commenced at the college of Joyeuse, at Rouen, were terminated at the seminary of La Fl├Ęche; as to his four brothers, they were placed in an establishment a trifle away from this latter town, and this has caused the supposition to some of his biographers that Claude Chappe had conceived the idea of his telegraph in order to be able to communicate with his brothers. It is to-day demonstrated that this is nothing but a legend.

Chappe studied the sciences from his early youth. Physical science specially attracted him, and he published at the age of twenty years some very remarkable researches.

We have said that he submitted to the Legislative Assembly,