SEMAPHORE (from 8(77724, a sign, and pheri3, I bear) was the name applied to the sys tem" of telegraphy in use before the application of the electric current. Semaphores were first established by the French in 1794, as it plan for conveying intelligence front the cap ital to the armies on the frontier. In the following year. lord GeorgeMurray introduced them in England; and by their means the board of admiralty were placed within a few minutes of Deal. Portsmouth, or Plymouth. These semaphores consisted of towers built at intervals of from 5 to 10 in., on commanding sites. On the top of each tower was the telegraph apparatus, which at first comprised 6 shutters arranged in 2 frames, by the opening and shutting of which. in various combinations. 63 distinct signals could be formed. In 1816 sir Home Popham substituted a mast with 2 arms, similar to many of the present railway signals. The arms were worked from within the tower by winches in the look-out room, where a powerful telescope in either diieetion constantly commanded the mast of the next station. If a fog set in at ally point on the route, the message was delayed; otherwise, when a sharp look-out was kept, the transmission was very rapid. For instande,'the hour of one by Greenwich' time was always communicated to Ports mouth when the ball fell at Greenwich; the seomphores were ready for the message, and it commonly passed from London to Portsmout:t and the acknowledgment back to Lon don within three quarters of a minute. Each station was in the charge of a naval officer —usually a lieut.—with one or two men under him. To save the cost of this establish ment, the Deal and Plymouth lines fell into disuse soon after the peace of 1815; and the superior advantages of the electric telegraph being incontestable, the Portsmouth line sent its last message Dec. 31, 1817, and, on land at least, the semaphore closed its career of
usefulness for ever. In calm weather, when flags will not extend, semaphores are employed on board ship as a means of signaling from vessel to vessel, or to-the shore; in such a case, the post containing the arms is movable, and can be readily shipped or near the stern. See also SIGNALS.
8E11E, in heraldry. When a charge is repeated an indefinite number of times so as to produce the appearance of a pattern, the term sein„ii (sometimes aspersel or powdered) is applied to it. When d field is some, it is treated as if it were cat out of a larger extent of surface, some of the charges being divided by the outline of the shield. The term crusilly denotes seme of cross crosslets, and billetty seme of billets.
SEMECAR'PrS, a genus of trees of the natural order anacarckbeem The MARRING NUT of India is S. anacardium, a tree 50 ft: high. growing on mountains. The swollen receptacle of the flower becomes a succulent fruit, eatable when roasted, hut astringent and acrid when raw. On the receptacle is seated the nut, which is heart-shaped and black, consisting of a kernel—not unwholesome, although rarely eaten—surrounded by two skins, between which is a black acrid juice. This juice is used in medicine as an external application to heal rheumatism, etc. It is also in general use in India for mark ing cotton cloth; and the color is improved, and running prevented, by the addition of a little quicklime and water. The wood of the tree contains so much acrid juice that it is dangerous to work upon.