Sympathetic Snail Compass

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HERETOFORE there has been a limit to the security and rapidity of mental intercourse both between individuals and nations. The most tender epistles, the most important despatches, must needs be subject to the dangers and caprices of the winds and waves; nor can the electric telegraph bear our messages beyond the confines of our island home, for hitherto, at least, its attempts to find a pathway in the mighty deep have proved an utter failure. The longings thus expressed for an instantaneous communication of thought with distant countries, and which have hitherto been baffled and disappointed, are now, however, on the eve of being realised by a discovery which will enable us, in a moment of time, to span the great globe itself by our inmost thought, and to whisper it in silence to the listening car of our friend at Calcutta or New Zealand!

‘But by what mighty agency will this instantaneous communication be effected?’

‘By a snail.’

‘By a snail! Incredible! Impossible!’

‘Incredible, if you will, but not impossible; for it is to the snail that this mission of thought-bearing is assigned; and the vast community of snailhood will doubtless fulfil their office with a becoming sense of its importance.’

Let us now attempt to unravel this mystery. About eight or nine years ago it was discovered, almost simultaneously, by an American and a Frenchman (Messrs Biat and Benoit), that certain snails, after having once entered into affinity with each other, were endued with the remarkable faculty of remaining permanently under a mutual sympathetic influence, which was not destroyed, nor even weakened, by the most prolonged intervention of time or space. This electric sympathy was not always dual in its nature, for it was found to exist with equal intensity among whole families of snails whose early lives had been passed within the same paternal hole. It was discovered, moreover, by our philosophers that this sympathy is strengthened and directed by placing the sympathising snails en rapport with (we use the terms without professing to understand their meaning) the magnetic, mineral, and adamic fluid, which may be effected by bringing them under certain conditions necessary to the maintenance of this threefold sympathy. In order to obtain these results, there has been invented by these gentlemen a portable apparatus, called a Pasilalinic Sympathetic Compass, by whose aid they obtain instantaneously, and at whatever distance the sympathetic snails may be placed, a sensible movement— designated by them an ‘escargotic commotion,’ and which is manifested every time that the parted sympathetic snails are excited by the approach of other sympathetic snails which are in affinity both with them and with each other; even in like manner as the electric commotion manifests itself to the experimentalist each time that he approaches with Ins finger a body which has previously been electrified.

But how can this sympathy be mutually manifested when the snails are placed at a great distance from each other? This is the next point to be ascertained. Well, it would appear from the statements of our two philosophers, that when these tender creatures arc torn asunder by the relentless hand of fate, there flows forth from one to the other a sort of fluid, of which the earth is the conductor, and which unfolds itself, so to speak, like the almost invisible thread of a spider or a silk-worm, only with this difference—that the escargotic fluid is quite invisible, and that it passes through space with the rapidity of lightning. It is by means of this fluid that is excited and communicated the escargotic commotion, which is instantaneously transmitted from one beloved snail to the other, even though their habitations be fixed on opposite sides of the globe. In order to establish this communication, however, it suffices not to awaken escargotic sympathy: there must also exist an harmonic sympathy between the individuals who desire to correspond; and this harmonic sympathy is obtained by animal magnetism, and by intermingling the sympathetic escargotic fluid with the mineral and adamic magnetic fluid under the influence of the galvanic mineral fluid.

This is not the place to inquire what analogy there may naturally exist among these different fluids. Suffice it to say, that the necessity for their interfusion is the chief fact of the discovery, and without which the whole system must fall to the ground. In a word, the entire system of this novel communication may bo said to rest as a basis upon the medium of galvano-magnetic-mineral-animal-adamic-sympathy.

There remains now to be ascertained by what sort of apparatus this escargotic commotion is obtained, and what means are adopted to render tins commotion subservient to the transmission of thought. The pasilalinic-sympathetic compass consists of a square wooden box, within which is placed a galvanic battery whose metallic plates, instead of being placed above one another, as in the voltaic piles, are arranged in series, and fixed in 1 grooves, made for that purpose in a circular wooden plate, which revolves round its axis of iron. In place of metallic disks, Messrs Biat and Benoit have substituted circular troughs or cups of zinc, each one lined with linen which has been previously steeped in a solution of sulphate of copper, the lining being kept fixed by a plate of copper which is rivetted to the cup. At the bottom of each trough is fixed, by a certain composition, known only to the inventors, a living snail, which imbibes in this metallic solitude a due portion of galvanic influence, to be subsequently combined with the electric influence, which is developed when the wheel is set in motion, bearing along with it the captive snails which have been fixed around it in their cells.

The box wherein is enclosed this moveable battery may lie made of any form or substance whatever; but n close covering is absolutely essential, as the snails must not be exposed to atmospheric influence. Moreover, each of the galvanic troughs must be furnished with a spring, whose pressure will reveal the escargotic movement of the being which dwells within. It will be readily apprehended that in order to the formation of a corresponding apparatus, two of these snail-prisoning instruments will be necessary; the corresponding cups of each containing snails which have a reciprocal affinity, so that the escargotic commotion may be transmitted from one precise point of the battery to the same precise point of the other battery in the duplicate compass.

One more particular remains to be noticed. Messrs Blat and Benoit have affixed to the wheels of those two instruments, and close to each of the sympathetic springs, corresponding letters, which form a sort of alphabetic and sympathetic dials, by means of which the communication of thought is effected easily and instantaneously to any place, however distant; the escargotic commotion indicating on the corresponding dial those letters which one person desires to transmit to the other.

In order to effect the communication, nothing more is required than for the two correspondents to place themselves before these two instruments at the same hour, and to be in the necessary condition of harmonic sympathy, so that they may, without the intervention of steam-packets or electric telegraphs, and without any eye resting upon them save the sympathising glance of their friendly snails, unfold the inmost secret of their hearts.

In the article from whence the above details have been drawn, the writer, M. Jules Allix, goes on to describe his interview with M. Benoit, one of the inventors of this marvellous sympathetic compass, who, desirous to satisfy him fully with regard to the truth of the discovery, invited him to be present during one of his correspondences with Mr. Biat in America. Accordingly, M. Jules Allix bent his steps with an anxious and beating heart to the Parisian dwelling where his doubts were to be resolved and his curiosity satisfied. The philosopher in America having been warned of their intention, they stood before the magic compass. M. Jules Allix not being in a state of harmonic sympathy with the correspondents, it was arranged that M. Benoit should convey any word or sentence he desired to express. The magnitude of the undertaking overwhelmed him with awe, and his mind was filled with reverence for the venerable philosopher who, at the other side of the Atlantic, awaited his message. The only word he could utter was ‘Biat!’ M. Benoit, with a sympathising snail in his hand, touched one of the captives in a trough: it moved! The letter B was noted down. Another was then touched, and another, and another. The name of B I A T was composed and transmitted to the American sage. In a few moments an escargotic motion became once more visible on the dial, and letter after letter was noted down, until these words were deciphered, ‘C’est bien’ (‘It is well’). One or two other brief sentences passed between them, which fully satisfied M. Allix as to the reality of the discovery; but we are obliged in common honesty to confess that some slight inaccuracies occurred in the spelling, not sufficient, however, to render the words unintelligible; and considering that the snails have but recently begun their education, we think it is but fair to make some allowance for them. Meantime, who will deny that the invention of Messrs Biat and Benoit exceeds both in wonder and in importance all the discoveries of Galvani, of Volta, and of Mesmer? Its agency so humble and so simple!—its results so magnificent and so complex! Henceforth, where will be the boudoir, or where the council chamber, which shall not possess its pasilalinic sympathetic compass? There will doubtless be some of massive construction and classic form, Intended for our public offices, from whence they may in a moment of time transmit to the most distant parts of the globe the eloquent outpourings of our orators, or the sage decisions of our statesmen! Nor shall they require to be translated into other languages, for a part of the invention, which has not yet been named, consists in a pasilalinic (or universal) alphabet, whereby a language shall be formed, familiar alike to all people, and tongues, and nations. Again, there will bo pasilalinic sympathetic compasses made in the form and about the size of watches, whereon may be lavished the exquisite taste of our fashionable jewellers, and containing snails no larger than a pin’s head, whose transparent delicacy and sensitive tenderness will make them admirably adapted for a lady’s amanuensis. It is not improbable that these elegant and useful compasses may shortly be seen appended by a chain to the waists of our modish ladies, in lieu of the chatelaines which have so recently been in fashion; and the absolute necessity of adhering rigorously to the moment fixed for their correspondence is a point which will be duly appreciated by our moralists, as tending to generate habits of punctuality and order in the ‘beau sere.’

It was, we are informed, by the merest accident that Messrs Biat and Benoit discovered the abidingly sympathetic property inherent in snails; and they have ascertained, by a long series of experiments, that others of the crustaceous species possess the same faculty of manifesting this sympathetic commotion, although none of them offer such advantages as a medium of communication as does the snail, partly because of the intensity of its sympathy, and partly because it can exist nearly twelve months without food, as also because of its extreme facility to become fixed within the galvanic trough, and its universal citizenship throughout the whole world.

We have no doubt that our numerous renders will hail with enthusiastic delight the important discovery which we have now imparted to them; but we must not part without addressing to them a word of caution. Do not, we pray you, imagine that after having read the preceding slight and imperfect sketch, you are able to construct a pasilalinic sympathetic compass. The inventors, while imparting to the public so much of their discovery as to enable intelligent people to judge of Its possibility, have reserved to themselves the hidden secret of its success, without a knowledge of which the curious inquirer might vainly wander on in this mysterious field of investigation. Even in the very outset of the inquiry, innumerable difficulties occur; for as all men are not able to produce the phenomena of magnetic somnambulism, even so all snails do not possess in themselves this permanent sympathetic fluid; nor can the very best of them be available for the compass without being subjected to a peculiar influence, which has purposely been kept secret by the discoverers.

We are induced to give this warning, less from a regard to the solo and inalienable right of Messrs Biat and Benoit to the whole tribe of sympathetic snails, in whatever quarter of the globe they may be found, than from a sort of liking for the snails themselves, which makes us unwilling that they should be persecuted with experiments by mere tyros in science. Let them be tortured, if you will, by such great men as Messrs Biat and Beuoit, who martyrise them only in the cause of intellect and humanity; but we must protest against the doctrine of free trade in science, at least so far as snails are concerned. For ourselves, we have, since becoming acquainted with the noble destinies of these sluggish creatures, begun to regard them with respectful interest; and we found ourselves, a, day or two ago, peeping Into the leafy recesses of an ivy bush, and wondering what would be the fortunes of a loving family who were closely grouped together in that dark retreat!

We therefore once more pray our readers to remember that it is fur easier to convey their thoughts all over the world by means of a pasilalinic sympathetic compass, than to solve the many mysteries involved in its construction.