The American genius Samuel Morse invented Morse Code (the name kind of gives it away), but he did so many other weird and wonderful things whilst on this mortal coil between 1791 and 1872.
Back in 2009, I released a collection of short stories and humorous poetry called The Unitary Authority of Ersatz – I may have mentioned it two or three dozen times. One of the stories sees Morse visited by a man from the 25th century, and the majority of the event is filled up by Morse obliviously bragging about his many talents and successes.
The title of the piece is ‘What hath God wrought’, in tribute to the message sent from Washington to Baltimore to demonstrate the invention on 1st May 1844.
I hope you enjoy the story, and if you’d like a copy of my book it’s available worldwide from my website. Also, have a play with this Morse Code generator, it’s a good old-fashioned telecommunication wheeze!
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(What hath God wrought?)
As we all know and have known for centuries, time travel will be made possible in the year 2415 by Professor Albert Einbottom (2379-2455).
The following is a 3-dimensional recording found on a model of a video camera which we believe dates/will date from around 2440. It was discovered in a hidden compartment inside historical figure Samuel Morse’s writing desk on 27th July 2009 when it was on loan to the Ersatz Museum of Olden Times.
Playback will commence in 3…2…1…
Mr. Morse, I presume?
And who might you be, my young fellow?
I, sir, am a traveler from a time not yet occurring, and I have come to speak to you specifically, and you alone. I hope my call is a welcome one.
Sir, I am deeply humbled! I have heard of such visitations from persons of future epochs but never before have I played host to such a fantastical event. So tell me to do, what wisdom may I divulge to aid your enlightenment?
Well, sir, I was wondering if perhaps—
No, on second thought, do not tell me – you wish to bask in the radiance of my oeuvre, my painted works, for they are my true calling. Would it please you to learn more about my studies at the Royal Academy in London, or my commissions by presidents and revolutionaries alike in later years back in my homeland of America?
Uh…not quite, sir.
Ah, but no, you seem a man of purest faith. Surely you are more intrigued by my Calvinist upbringing, and how I communicated my religious convictions to the world.
Erm…religion…enticing indeed, sir. But actually I—
No, no, mistaken once more! What a dolt I am! But of course, you seek flamboyant tales of my travels around Italy, France, Switzerland. The cultures I encountered; my association with Louis Daguerre; how I refused to remove my hat before the Pope. Hah!
Ahem. Well, sir—
Wrong again? Then I am agog, but pray keep your lips sealed. Hmm, wrack the old brains…got it! You must wish to discuss mathematics, for my studies took place at none other than Yale College.
It’s a university now, sir.
Is that so, by Jove?
Quite so, sir.
But in fact, I was—
Wishing to converse in the science of horses? For that was another of my passionate tuitions.
The science of…no, sir, I am afraid not. No, sir.
Then you desire to fully comprehend the applications of my revolutionary cutting device that can create three-dimensional sculptures in marble and stone?
My ebullient tales of how I ran, albeit unsuccessfully, for the role of Mayor of New York?
How I promoted anti-Catholic and anti-immigration movements?
Not quite what I was—
Advocacy of the slave trade through my treatise ‘An Argument on the Ethical Position of Slavery’?
The varied experiences that came from two marriages and the rearing of eight children?
Goodness, someone’s been a busy beaver…
My single wire telegraph system?
Ah! Yes, sir! You’ve hit the nail on the head!
Indeed? Well, what would you like to know? Are you interested in the physics? The mechanics? The geographical and topographical factors? The business side of the Magnetic Telegraph Company? Or perhaps how I received the patent from none other than Sultan Abdülmecid at the Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul?
Well, sir, fascinating as all that sounds, I was actually more interested in your code.
Morse Code, sir.
But…but surely you have progressed beyond what, by your future standards, must be an outdated manner of communication, have you not?
Indeed, we have, sir, but still it is used in times of emergency. Not to mention the historic importance and iconic standing of such a monumental breakthrough in information conveyance and conductive technologies.
Is that so?
Irrefutably so, sir.
Gracious me. Very well then, old bean, fire away. I’m sure that your questions will prove most diverting.
As a matter of fact, sir, I was simply wondering if I could get your autograph.
Your autograph, sir, in—
In Morse Code.
In Morse Code, sir, yes.
You have travelled all this way—
Actually, sir, we are standing in the exact spot that will one day play host to my Auntie Gertie’s downstairs toilet.
In time, man, travelled all this way in time.
Ah yes, sir. Quite so, sir.
You have travelled all this way in time…to get my autograph. Am I correct?
Despite the fact that, from what I’ve heard down at the club, the process of time travel has an eighty-five percent mortality rate due to the sheer amount of energy which is unleashed from within the body’s very molecules.
Barely seventy-five percent mortality these days, sir.
I’m a big fan, sir.
And yet you do not wish to enter an enthralling discourse on any of my specialised topics! Not on religion or art; politics or business; physics, mechanics, ethics, or mathematics. Not a single subject appeals to your curiosity?
I’m afraid I’m in a bit of a hurry, sir.
…Not even a quick chat about horse sciences?
Tempting, sir, but I’m paying for this trip by the minute. Look after the pennies, as they say.
I see. Very well. Do you have a pen and paper?
Actually, sir, I was rather hoping for a verbal signature.
A verbal signature? You speak poppycock, man!
Not so, sir, for in my hand I bear the means of capturing your voice, your very animated image, in fact, for future playback. Behold.
Hmm, normally I would deride such flapdoodle, but under the circumstances, I suppose that I am indeed the one who is blissfully ignorant of technological capacities, at least of ones that are as yet mere fancy at most.
So you will grant me a verbal autograph, sir?
In your code, sir?
Harrumph! If I must.
Interstellar! I mean…sensational, sir! Please, do go on.
Very well, although I must say that I am finding this whole affair rather exhausting:
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Uh…Perhaps once more, sir? With a little more enunciation?
Honestly, of all the… (Grunt!) Dit-dit-dit, dit-dah, dah-dah, dit-dit-dah, dit, dit-dah-dit-dit (slash) Dah-dah, dah-dah-dah, dit-dah-dit, dit-dit-dit…(sigh)…dit.
Marvellous! Myriad thanks, good sir! It has been both an honour and a pleasure making your acquaintance. Now if you will excuse me, eBay awaits.
Ee Bay? I have never heard of such a place. Explain yourself, man!
I would, sir, but to be frank you would not understand. Besides, I…say, what’s this nifty little doohickey?
Do not touch that! It is highly conduc—
(ZZZTTT!) GAHH! (THUD!)
–tive. Oh dear, I really should put some kind of casing over that. Hmm, perhaps some of that stuff recently invented by Alexander Parkes. What is its name, by golly? Parkesine, that’s it. Tut! What an egotist, naming an invention after himself. Surely there are a million names for a material with such…such…plasticity. Hmm, I’m sure I could think of one if there weren’t a corpse of an as yet unborn Englishman smoldering in front of me, singing the Persian rug. I suppose I should go get the shovel.
Ah, but first things first, let’s take a look at this recording device…
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