"Then there is electricity the demon, the angel, the mighty physical power, the all-pervading intelligence!" exclaimed Clifford. "Is that a humbug, too? Is it a fact or have I dreamed it that, by means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time? Rather, the round globe is a vast head, a brain, instinct with intelligence! Or, shall we say, it is itself a thought, nothing but thought, and no longer the substance which we deemed it!"
"If you mean the telegraph," said the old gentle man, glancing-his eye toward its wire, alongside the rail-track, "it is an excellent thing; that is, of course, if the speculators in cotton and politics don’t get possession of it. A great thing, indeed, sir; particularly as regards the detection of bank-robbers and murderers."
"I don’t quite like it, in that point of view," replied Clifford. "A bank-robber, and what you call a murderer, likewise, has his rights, which men of enlightened humanity and conscience should regard in so much the more liberal spirit, because the bulk of society is prone to controvert their existence. An almost spiritual medium, like the electric telegraph, should be consecrated to high, deep, joyful, and holy missions."
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, The House of the seven gables; (pref. 1851); The Flight of two Owls p317- p318, London, Collins' Clear-Type Press, 1851, see online version
I've often wondered!
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