Manchester Evening News 4 October 1879
The ladies' cabin of a ferry boat which met a Pennsylvania Railroad train recently was full when reporter entered it. There was one partly vacant seat, to be sure and many of the passengers who were grouped on the forward deck had probably avoided for fear of disturbing a blonde gentleman, half of whose body hung over it. The reporter was not so modest, and after taking a hasty glance at the gentleman who was dressed in a natty grey suit, grey gaiters and a breastpin with greyish stone bearing classical face cut intagiio on italtogether a sort of ashes of roses gentleman —asked if, "that seat was engaged." The gentleman for answer straightened himself and dropped his crutch headed cane between his knees. The reporter took the now entirely vacant seat and began to examine cut representing a telephone in paper which he had picked up at the wonderful Edison's laboratory.
The languid eye of tho ashes of roses gentleman saw the staring woodcut in spite of itself. Then an eyeglass was adjusted and the gentleman in a voice which was painfully low and deliberate, although very soft in tone, asked—
"The telephone," says the gentleman of tender greys, "is simply the salvation of men who wish grow old gracefully. I know it was invented with an eye to that doosid commercial idea of helping a man make money with less trouble than ever before; but for all that it's a capital refuge from boredom and unpleasant contretemps."
"When Sir Chailes Coldstream lamented that he had done the world,' answered the gentleman musingly, "and that there was nothing new for him to do, and when his friend suggested marriage, neither of them conceived that women's tongue would be super eded instrument like the telephone. Now I'm tired of traveling about; I'm tired of society. I'm tired of meeting assinine people everywhere—don't move; I'm tired of taking the trouble to do things which are not worth doing. I am tired of haggling with shopkeepers. So I construct sort of little court. I select dozen people whose friendship I wish retain. I make list the shopkeepers whom I wish to patronise and so on, then I have a telephone for each one set up in my sittingroom. Thus a conversation with friends becomes real communion of soul with soul and the shop is keptout of sight and business is transacted in shert order."
"Oh, no ; it's for the encouragement of friendship. I sit in my room with half hundred telephones arranged on table. Now you know business men don't very much like to have people calling on thorn during business hours, and it's just embarrassing for the caller. But no one objects to the telephone. You can talk at it without the necessity of asking a man to sit down have a cigar, and going through all those formalities which begin conversation. You plunge right into your subject by telephone, there's no saying at the end, "Call again old fellow; I'm sorry I hadn't more time to talk to you."
"Now," continued the gentleman, "imagine that beautiful woman opposite to us wrapped in the mysteries of her toilet at a moment when want to talk to her. There's no waiting; there's no sending down the white lie that, she is not at home or is sick. She doesn't need to dress herself to answer the call. She puts herself into her maid's hands, we have our chat, and by the time I've taken conge the lady's dressed and in frame of mini ready to receive bores."
"It's doosid convenient,'' said tho gentleman. "Then as to the shop keepers. When you want a thing you order it and you don't lose your temper by the shopkeeper insisting upon showing you some new goods and asking you to buy this and that and the other. I'm having my rooms connected now with Wallacks the Union Square and several other theatres, and there'll ba for me no standing in line at the box-office, no interruption by people coming in late friends dropping down on you at the best part of tho pay, no going out between the acts. The only thing I regret is that I can't eat my telephone. I like good dinner and I like my club. So I shall be obliged to content myself with what has been vouchsafed me.'
"But suppose," ventured the reporter, "that the telephone should.be so, improved that you could not only near your far-away friend speak, but could see him and hear him think. Suppose that instead of hearing your business friend's voice telephonoscope should present him bodily before you and enable you to read his thoughts without his speaking, and you should see his frowning brow, instead of hearing his cheerful voice. Science has not yet reached its limits. Supposing instead simply hearing the actors you should fix your eyes the telephonoscope and see the stage enjoy the drama by intuition, you might say. Suppose instead of simply hearing tho lovely lady's charming voice, you—" "
God bless me !" exclaime the gentleman as the boat bumped against the end of the pier and he staggered his feet. But whether the ejaculation was caused by the bump of the beat by the reporter's suggestion as to the future scientific discoveries must remain unknown for the gentleman disappeared in the crowd and was not seen again.—