Professor Morse” apparently was written for its illustration from the American Phrenological Journal, edited by Orson Squire Fowler; the image was engraved by William J. Howland, who provided engravings to Woodworth’s Youth’s Cabinet. The editor of the Cabinet may have had offices across the street from Samuel Morse’s, but science wasn’t his forte: the odd information that telegraph wires would dissipate the energy of thunderstorms was retracted in a later issue.
“Professor Morse” (from Woodworth’s Youth’s Cabinet, April 1848, pp. 110-111)
picture of Morse

Here is a portrait of Prof. Morse. What do you think of it, boys and girls? “We never saw the gentleman,” you say, “so that we don’t know whether it looks like him or not.” Well, we did not suppose you had seen him, and that is not the question we meant to ask. How do you like the looks of the picture? That is what we mean. Does it not look like the picture of a man who thinks a good deal—one that might invent a magnetic telegraph, for instance? The truth is, the portrait is a good one—very good, considering that it is engraved on wood. We can answer for the accuracy of it; for we have seen Prof. Morse a great many times. His office is only across the street from the office of the Youth’s Cabinet. The invention which goes by his name, is in many respects among the most wonderful and important of the present age. Think of having a line stretched from New York to Charleston, and of touching one end of that wire here in New York, and marking the other end write any thing you want to tell the Charleston people. The thing seems like magic, almost. One can hardly believe at first, that it is a reality. But it is a reality, and this is only one of a multitude of the wonders of the nineteenth century.

The engraving of Prof. Morse was prepared for the Phrenological Journal, by our neighbors, Fowler and Wells, who, with their accustomed enterprise, were at the expense of an original drawing. To their courtesy we and our

p. 111

readers are indebted for the portrait here presented.

It seems that in a thunder storm the wires are very much affected by the electricity in the clouds, and some strange freaks are often witnessed. Professor Olmstead, of Yale College, states, that as the storm comes up, and especially when over the wires, say fifty or a hundred miles distant, the lightning is attracted by the wires, which can be proved by any one remaining in the telegraph office for half an hour. About the time the storm is coming up, the wires are continually filled with electricity. “It is my opinion,” he says, “that we shall never have very heavy thunder showers, or hear of lightning striking, so long as we have telegraph wires spread over the earth.”

To what a multitude of uses the magnetic telegraph may be applied! The New York Tribune says that the other day, just as the form of the Tribune was being made up, they received by telegraph from a neighboring city, an advertisement for insertion in the next morning’s paper. This is a new illustration of the usefulness of Prof. Morse’s invention.

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