A generation ago the George Arliss film, House of Rothschild, made major use of an incident that occurred at the end of the Napoleonic wars. In the dots and dashed of powerful light beams, a message flashed across the English Channel brought the dire news, “Wellington defeated.”
Among other consequences, a disastrous financial panic swept the British Board of Trade. No error or duplicity had been involved in the sending of the news. As actually transmitted it said, “Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.” A proper communication had been sent, but fog sweeping in had obliterated all but the first two words, leaving a tragic hiatus.