This person at once stepped over to the partition corresponding to the receiver, where another auxiliary dial permitted him to properly direct at a distance the very movable needle of the receiver. Everything depended, as will be seen, upon the use of the magnet, and upon a deceit that perfectly accorded with Comus' profession. There is, then, little thought in our opinion that if the latter's apparatus was not exactly the one Guyot describes, it was based upon some analogous artifice.

Jean Alexandre's telegraph appears to have borne much analogy with Comus'. Its inventor operated it in 1802 before the prefect of Indre-et-Loire. As a consequence of a report addressed by the prefect of Vienne to Chaptal, and in which, moreover, the apparatus in question was compared to Comus', Alexandre was ordered to Paris. There he refused to explain upon what principle his invention was based, and declared that he would confide his secret only to the First Consul. But Bonaparte, little disposed to occupy himself with such an affair, charged Delambre to examine it and address a report to him. The illustrious astronomer, despite the persistence with which Alexandre refused to give up his secret to him, drew a report, the few following extracts from which will, we think, suffice to edify the reader:

"The pieces that the First Consul charged me to examine did not contain enough of detail to justify an opinion. Citizen Beauvais (friend and associate of Alexandre) knows the inventor's secret, but has promised him to communicate it to no one except the First Consul. This circumstance might enable me to dispense with any report; for how judge of a machine that one has not seen and does not know the agent of? All that is known is that the telegraphe intime consists of two like boxes, each carrying a dial on whose circumference are marked the letters of the alphabet. By means of a winch, the needle of one dial is carried to all the letters that one has need to use, and at the same instant the needle of the second box repeats, in the same order, all the motions and indications of the first.

"When these two boxes are placed in two separate apartments, two persons can write to and answer one another, without seeing or being seen by one another, and without any one suspecting their correspondence. Neither night nor fog can prevent the transmission of a dispatch.... The inventor has made two experiments--one at Portiers and the other at Tours--in the presence of the prefects and mayors, and the record shows that they were fully successful. To-day, the inventor and his associate ask that the First Consul be pleased to permit one of the boxes to be placed in his apartment and the other at the house of Consul Cambaceres in order to give the experiment all the éclat and authenticity possible; or that the First Consul accord a ten minutes' interview to citizen Beauvais, who will communicate to him the secret, which is so easy that the simple expose of it would be equivalent to a demonstration, and would take the place of an experiment.... If, as one might be tempted to believe from a comparison with a bell arrangement, the means adopted by the inventor consisted in wheels, movements, and transmitting pieces, the invention would be none the less astonishing.... If, on the contrary, as the Portier's account seems to prove, the means of communication is a fluid, there would be the more merit in his having mastered it to such a point as to produce so regular and so infallible effects at such distances.... But citizen Beauvais ... desires principally to have the First Consul as a witness and appreciator.... It is to be desired, then, that the First Consul shall consent to hear him, and that he may find in the communication that will be made to him reasons for giving the invention a good reception and for properly rewarding the inventor."

But Bonaparte remained deaf, and Alexandre persisted in his silence, and died at Angers, in 1832, in great poverty, without having revealed his secret.

As, in 1802, Volta's pile was already invented, several authors have supposed an application of it in Alexandre's apparatus. "Is it not allowable to believe," exclaims one of these, "that the electric telegraph was at that time discovered?" We do not hesitate to respond in the negative. The pile had been invented for too short a time, and too little was then known of the properties of the current, to allow a man so destitute of scientific knowledge to so quickly invent all the electrical parts necessary for the synchronic operation of the two needles. In this telegraphe intime we can only see an apparatus analogous to the one described by Guyot, or rather a synchronism obtained by means of cords, as in Kircher's arrangement. The fact that Alexandre's two dials were placed on two different stories, and distant, horizontally, fifteen meters, in nowise excludes this latter mode of transmission. On another hand, the mystery in which Alexandre was shrouded, his declaration relative to the use of a fluid, and the assurance with which he promised to reveal his secret to the First Consul, prove absolutely nothing, for too often have the most profoundly ignorant people--the electric girl, for example--befooled learned bodies by the aid of the grossest frauds.

From the standpoint of the history of the electric telegraph, there is no value, then, to be attributed to this apparatus of Alexandre, any more than there is to that of Comus or to any of the dreams based upon the properties of the magnet.

The history of the electric telegraph really begins with 1753, the date at which is found the first indication of a telegraph truly based upon the use of electricity. This telegraph is described in a letter written by Renfrew, dated Feb. 1, 1753, and signed with the initials "C.M.," which, in all probability, were those of a savant of the time--Charles Marshall. A few extracts from this letter will give an idea of the precision with which the author described his invention: