of small yellow spots upon it, and a mouldy odor about

time: 2023-12-02 13:55:28laiyuan:toutiaovits: 9

In the foregoing details, the reader has been afforded but a passing glance at the great practical working equipment which constitutes the theatre of Edison's activities, for, in taking a general view of such a unique and comprehensive laboratory plant, its salient features only can be touched upon to advantage. It would be but repetition to enumerate here the practical results of the laboratory work during the past two decades, as they appear on other pages of this work. Nor can one assume for a moment that the history of Edison's laboratory is a closed book. On the contrary, its territorial boundaries have been increasing step by step with the enlargement of its labors, until now it has been obliged to go outside its own proper domains to occupy some space in and about the great Edison industrial buildings and space immediately adjacent. It must be borne in mind that the laboratory is only the core of a group of buildings devoted to production on a huge scale by hundreds of artisans.

of small yellow spots upon it, and a mouldy odor about

Incidental mention has already been made of the laboratory at Edison's winter residence in Florida, where he goes annually to spend a month or six weeks. This is a miniature copy of the Orange laboratory, with its machine shop, chemical-room, and general experimental department. While it is only in use during his sojourn there, and carries no extensive corps of assistants, the work done in it is not of a perfunctory nature, but is a continuation of his regular activities, and serves to keep him in touch with the progress of experiments at Orange, and enables him to give instructions for their variation and continuance as their scope is expanded by his own investigations made while enjoying what he calls "vacation." What Edison in Florida speaks of as "loafing" would be for most of us extreme and healthy activity in the cooler Far North.

of small yellow spots upon it, and a mouldy odor about

A word or two may be devoted to the visitors received at the laboratory, and to the correspondence. It might be injudicious to gauge the greatness of a man by the number of his callers or his letters; but they are at least an indication of the degree to which he interests the world. In both respects, for these forty years, Edison has been a striking example of the manner in which the sentiment of hero-worship can manifest itself, and of the deep desire of curiosity to get satisfaction by personal observation or contact. Edison's mail, like that of most well-known men, is extremely large, but composed in no small degree of letters--thousands of them yearly--that concern only the writers, and might well go to the waste-paper basket without prolonged consideration. The serious and important part of the mail, some personal and some business, occupies the attention of several men; all such letters finding their way promptly into the proper channels, often with a pithy endorsement by Edison scribbled on the margin. What to do with a host of others it is often difficult to decide, even when written by "cranks," who imagine themselves subject to strange electrical ailments from which Edison alone can relieve them. Many people write asking his opinion as to a certain invention, or offering him an interest in it if he will work it out. Other people abroad ask help in locating lost relatives; and many want advice as to what they shall do with their sons, frequently budding geniuses whose ability to wire a bell has demonstrated unusual qualities. A great many persons want autographs, and some would like photographs. The amazing thing about it all is that this flood of miscellaneous letters flows on in one steady, uninterrupted stream, year in and year out; always a curious psychological study in its variety and volume; and ever a proof of the fact that once a man has become established as a personality in the public eye and mind, nothing can stop the tide of correspondence that will deluge him.

of small yellow spots upon it, and a mouldy odor about

It is generally, in the nature of things, easier to write a letter than to make a call; and the semi- retirement of Edison at a distance of an hour by train from New York stands as a means of protection to him against those who would certainly present their respects in person, if he could be got at without trouble. But it may be seriously questioned whether in the aggregate Edison's visitors are less numerous or less time-consuming than his epistolary besiegers. It is the common experience of any visitor to the laboratory that there are usually several persons ahead of him, no matter what the hour of the day, and some whose business has been sufficiently vital to get them inside the porter's gate, or even into the big library and lounging-room. Celebrities of all kinds and distinguished foreigners are numerous--princes, noblemen, ambassadors, artists, litterateurs, scientists, financiers, women. A very large part of the visiting is done by scientific bodies and societies; and then the whole place will be turned over to hundreds of eager, well-dressed men and women, anxious to see everything and to be photographed in the big courtyard around the central hero. Nor are these groups and delegations limited to this country, for even large parties of English, Dutch, Italian, or Japanese visitors come from time to time, and are greeted with the same ready hospitality, although Edison, it is easy to see, is torn between the conflicting emotions of a desire to be courteous, and an anxiety to guard the precious hours of work, or watch the critical stage of a new experiment.

One distinct group of visitors has always been constituted by the "newspaper men." Hardly a day goes by that the journals do not contain some reference to Edison's work or remarks; and the items are generally based on an interview. The reporters are never away from the laboratory very long; for if they have no actual mission of inquiry, there is always the chance of a good story being secured offhand; and the easy, inveterate good-nature of Edison toward reporters is proverbial in the craft. Indeed, it must be stated here that once in a while this confidence has been abused; that stories have been published utterly without foundation; that interviews have been printed which never took place; that articles with Edison's name as author have been widely circulated, although he never saw them; and that in such ways he has suffered directly. But such occasional incidents tend in no wise to lessen Edison's warm admiration of the press or his readiness to avail himself of it whenever a representative goes over to Orange to get the truth or the real facts in regard to any matter of public importance. As for the newspaper clippings containing such articles, or others in which Edison's name appears--they are literally like sands of the sea-shore for number; and the archives of the laboratory that preserve only a very minute percentage of them are a further demonstration of what publicity means, where a figure like Edison is concerned.


AN applicant for membership in the Engineers' Club of Philadelphia is required to give a brief statement of the professional work he has done. Some years ago a certain application was made, and contained the following terse and modest sentence:

"I have designed a concentrating plant and built a machine shop, etc., etc. THOMAS A. EDISON."

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