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A History of Wireless Telegraphy (2nd edition, revised), J. J. Fahie, 1901, pages 66-68:


    During the investment and siege of Paris by the German forces in the winter of 1870-71, many suggestions were made for the re-establishment of telegraphic communication between Paris and the provinces. Acoustic methods were tried, based on the transmission of sound by earth and water. A Mr Granier proposed a form of aerial line which was thought to be feasible by the distinguished aeronaut, Gaston Tissandier. The wire (to be paid out from balloons) was to be enclosed in gutta-percha tubing, inflated with hydrogen gas so as to float 1000 to 1500 metres above the earth. 38
    Amongst other suggestions was one by M. Bourbouze, a well-known French electrician, which only need concern us in these pages. His proposal was to send strong currents into the river Seine from a battery at the nearest approachable point outside the German lines, and to receive in Paris through a delicate galvanometer such part of these currents as might be picked up by a metal plate sunk in the river. After some preliminary experiments between the Hotel de Ville and the manufactory of M. Claparède at St Denis, it was decided to put the plan in practice. Accordingly, on December 17, 1870, M. d'Almeida left the beleaguered city by balloon, descended after many perils at Champagne outside the enemy's lines, and proceeded viâ Lyons and Bordeaux to Havre. Thence the necessary apparatus was ordered from England and conveyed to Poissy, where M. d'Almeida regained the banks of the Seine on January 14, 1871. Here, however, the river was found to be completely frozen over, and the attempt at communicating with Paris was deferred to January 24. Meanwhile the armistice was proclaimed, and the project was allowed to drop. 39
    M. Bourbouze did not, however, abandon his idea, and, thinking he found in the principle of La Cour's phonic wheel telegraph a better means of indicating the signals than the galvanometer, he again took up the problem. Between 1876 and 1878 an occasional notice of his experiments appeared in the technical journals, but they are all provokingly silent on the point of actual results over considerable distances. 40

    38 Such a plan was patented in England more than twenty years previously. See patent specification, No. 2907, of November 19, 1857.
    39 On March 27, 1876, Bourbouze requested to be opened at the Academy of Sciences a sealed packet which he had deposited on November 28, 1870. It was found to contain a note entitled "Sur les Communications a Distance par les Cours d'Eau." The contents of the document, so far as I know, have not been published.
    40 See, amongst other accounts, the 'English Mechanic,' September 8, 1876; 'Engineering,' April 13, 1878; and the French journal, 'La Nature,' July 8, 1876. For Bourbouze's earlier experiments, see 'La Lumière Électrique,' August 19, 1879.
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