"Our inventions are
wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious
things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. . . . We are
in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas;
but Maine and Texas, it may be, having nothing important to
communicate. . . . We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring
the old world some weeks nearer to the new; but perchance the first
news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will
be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough."
Henry David Thoreau, "Economy," Walden or, Life in the woods (1854) (Library of America volume ed. Sayre, pp. 363-364).