Part 4 out of 4
one day and Cheeryble the next--yes, Carker in the morning and Cheeryble
There is no doubt that a dummy so ridiculous as Pecksniff has reduced the
number of hypocrites; and the domineering and unjust are not quite so
popular since Dickens painted their picture with a broom.
From the yeasty deep of his imagination he conjured forth his strutting
spirits; and the names he gave to each are as fitting and as funny as
the absurd smallclothes and fluttering ribbons which they wear.
Shakespeare has his Gobbo, Touchstone, Simpcox, Sly, Grumio, Mopsa,
Pinch, Nym, Simple, Quickly, Overdone, Elbow, Froth, Dogberry, Puck,
Peablossom, Taurus, Bottom, Bushy, Hotspur, Scroop, Wall, Flute, Snout,
Starveling, Moonshine, Mouldy, Shallow, Wart, Bullcalf, Feeble, Quince,
Snag, Dull, Mustardseed, Fang, Snare, Rumor, Tearsheet, Cobweb, Costard
and Moth; but in names as well as in plot "the father of Pickwick" has
distanced the Master. In fact, to give all the odd and whimsical names
invented by Dickens would be to publish a book, for he compiled an
indexed volume of names from which he drew at will. He used, however, but
a fraction of his list. The rest are wisely kept from the public, else,
forsooth, the fledgling writers of penny-shockers would seize upon them
for raw stock.
Dickens has a watch that starts and stops in a way of its own--never mind
the sun. He lets you see the wheels go round, but he never tells you why
the wheels go round. He knows little of psychology--that curious, unseen
thing that stands behind every act. He knows not the highest love,
therefore he never depicts the highest joy. Nowhere does he show the
gradual awakening in man of Godlike passion--nowhere does he show the
evolution of a soul; very, very seldom does he touch the sublime.
But he has given the Athenians a day of pleasure, and for this let us all
reverently give thanks.
Jarvis: A few of our usual cards of compliments--that's all. This
bill from your tailor; this from your mercer; and this from the
little broker in Crooked Lane. He says he has been at a great
deal of trouble to get back the money you borrowed.
Honeydew: But I am sure we were at a great deal of trouble in
getting him to lend it.
Jarvis: He has lost all patience.
Honeydew: Then he has lost a good thing.
Jarvis: There's that ten guineas you were sending to the poor man
and his children in the Fleet. I believe that would stop his
mouth for a while.
Honeydew: Ay, Jarvis; but what will fill their mouths in the
--_Goldsmith, "The Good-Natured Man"_
[Illustration: OLIVER GOLDSMITH]
The Isle of Erin has the same number of square miles as
the State of Indiana; it also has more kindness to the acre than any
other country on earth.
Ireland has five million inhabitants; once it had eight. Three millions
have gone away, and when one thinks of landlordism he wonders why the
five millions did not go, too. But the Irish are a poetic people and love
the land of their fathers with a childlike love, and their hearts are all
bound up in sweet memories, rooted by song and legend into nooks and
curious corners, so the tendrils of affection hold them fast.
Ireland is very beautiful. Its pasture-lands and meadow-lands,
blossom-decked and water-fed, crossed and recrossed by never-ending
hedgerows, that stretch away and lose themselves in misty nothingness,
are fair as a poet's dream. Birds carol in the white hawthorn and the
yellow furze all day long, and the fragrant summer winds that blow lazily
across the fields are laden with the perfume of fairest flowers.
It is like crossing the dark river called Death, to many, to think of
leaving Ireland--besides that, even if they wanted to go they haven't
money to buy a steerage ticket.
From across the dark river called Death come no remittances; but from
America many dollars are sent back to Ireland. This often supplies the
obolus that secures the necessary bit of Cunard passport.
Whenever an Irishman embarks at Queenstown, part of the five million
inhabitants go down to the waterside to see him off. Not long ago I stood
with the crowd and watched two fine lads go up the gangplank, each
carrying a red handkerchief containing his worldly goods. As the good
ship moved away we lifted a wild wail of woe that drowned the sobbing of
the waves. Everybody cried--I wept, too--and as the great, black ship
became but a speck on the Western horizon we embraced each other in
There is beauty in Ireland--physical beauty of so rare and radiant a type
that it makes the heart of an artist ache to think that it can not
endure. On country roads, at fair time, the traveler will see barefoot
girls who are women, and just suspecting it, who have cheeks like ripe
pippins; laughing eyes with long, dark, wicked lashes; teeth like ivory;
necks of perfect poise; and waists that, never having known a corset, are
Of course, these girls are aware that we admire them--how could they help
it? They carry big baskets on either shapely arm, bundles balanced on
their heads, and we, suddenly grown tired, sit on the bankside as they
pass by, and feign indifference to their charms.
Once safely past, we admiringly examine their tracks in the soft mud (for
there has been a shower during the night), and we vow that such
footprints were never before left upon the sands of time.
The typical young woman in Ireland is Juno before she was married; the
old woman is Sycorax after Caliban was weaned. Wrinkled, toothless,
yellow old hags are seen sitting by the roadside, rocking back and forth,
crooning a song that is mate to the chant of the witches in "Macbeth"
when they brew the hellbroth.
See that wizened, scarred and cruel old face--how it speaks of a seared
and bitter heart! so dull yet so alert, so changeful yet so impassive, so
immobile yet so cunning--a paradox in wrinkles, where half-stifled
desperation has clawed at the soul until it has fled, and only dead
indifference or greedy expectation is left to tell the tragic tale.
"In the name of God, charity, kind gentlemen, charity!" and the old crone
stretches forth a long, bony claw. Should you pass on she calls down
curses on your head. If you are wise, you go back and fling her a copper
to stop the cold streaks that are shooting up your spine. And these old
women were the most trying sights I saw in Ireland.
"Pshaw!" said a friend of mine when I told him this; "these old creatures
are actors, and if you would sit down and talk to them, as I have done,
they will laugh and joke, and tell you of sons in America who are
policemen, and then they will fill black 'dhudeens' out of your tobacco
and ask if you know Mike McGuire who lives in She-ka-gy."
The last trace of comeliness has long left the faces of these repulsive
beggars, but there is a type of feminine beauty that comes with years. It
is found only where intellect and affection keep step with spiritual
desire; and in Ireland, where it is often a crime to think, where
superstition stalks, and avarice rules, and hunger crouches, it is very,
But I met one woman in the Emerald Isle whose hair was snow-white, and
whose face seemed to beam a benediction. It was a countenance refined by
sorrow, purified by aspiration, made peaceful by right intellectual
employment, strong through self-reliance, and gentle by an earnest faith
in things unseen. It proved the possible.
When the nations are disarmed, Ireland will take first place, for in
fistiana she is supreme.
James Russell Lowell once said that where the "code duello" exists, men
lift their hats to ladies, and say "Excuse me" and "If you please." And
if Lowell was so bold as to say a good word for the gentlemen who hold
themselves "personally responsible," I may venture the remark that men
who strike from the shoulder are almost universally polite to strangers.
A woman can do Ireland afoot and alone with perfect safety. Everywhere
one finds courtesy, kindness and bubbling good-cheer.
Nineteen-twentieths of all lawlessness in Ireland during the past two
hundred years has been directed against the landlord's agent. This is a
very Irish-like proceeding--to punish the agent for the sins of the
principal. When the landlord himself comes over from England he affects a
fatherly interest in "his people." He gives out presents and cheap
favors, and the people treat him with humble deference. When the
landlord's agent goes to America he gets a place as first mate on a
Mississippi River Steamboat; and before the War he was in demand in the
South as overseer. He it is who has taught the "byes" the villainy that
they execute; and it sometimes goes hard, for they better the
But there is one other character that the boys occasionally look after in
Ireland, and that is the "Squire." He is a merry wight in tight breeches,
red coat, and a number-six hat. He has yellow side-whiskers and 'unts to
'ounds, riding over the wheatfields of honest men. The genuine landlord
lives in London; the squire would like to but can not afford it. Of
course, there are squires and squires, but the kind I have in mind is an
Irishman who tries to pass for an Englishman. He is that curious thing--a
man without a country.
There is a theory to the effect that the Universal Mother in giving out
happiness bestows on each and all an equal portion--that the beggar
trudging along the stony road is as happy as the king who rides by in his
carriage. This is a very old belief, and it has been held by many
learned men. From the time I first heard it, it appealed to me as truth.
Yet recently my faith has been shaken; for not long ago in New York I
climbed the marble steps of a splendid mansion and was admitted by a
servant in livery who carried my card on a silver tray to his master.
This master had a son in the "Keeley Institute," a daughter in her grave,
and a wife who shrank from his presence. His heart was as lonely as a
winter night at sea. Fate had sent him a coachman, a butler, a gardener
and a footman, but she took his happiness and passed it through a hole in
the thatch of a mud-plastered cottage in Ireland, where, each night, six
rosy children soundly slept in one straw bed.
In that cottage I stayed two days. There was a stone floor and bare,
whitewashed walls; but there was a rosebush climbing over the door, and
within health and sunny temper that made mirth with a meal of herbs, and
a tenderness that touched to poetry the prose of daily duties.
But it is well to bear in mind that an Irishman in America and an
Irishman in Ireland are not necessarily the same thing. Often the first
effect of a higher civilization is degeneration. Just as the Chinaman
quickly learns big swear-words, and the Indian takes to drink, and
certain young men on first reading Emerson's essay on "Self-Reliance" go
about with a chip on their shoulders, so sometimes does the first full
breath of freedom's air develop the worst in Paddy instead of the best.
As one tramps through Ireland and makes the acquaintance of a blue-eyed
"broth of a bye," who weighs one hundred and ninety, and measures
forty-four inches around the chest, he catches glimpses of noble traits
and hints of mystic possibilities. There are actions that look like
rudiments of greatness gone, and you think of the days when Olympian
games were played, and finger meanwhile the silver in your pocket and
inwardly place it on this twenty-year-old, pink-faced, six-foot "boy"
that stands before you.
In Ireland there are no forests, but in the peat-bogs are found remains
of mighty trees that once lifted their outstretched branches to the sun.
Are these remains of stately forests symbols of a race of men that, too,
have passed away?
In any wayside village of Leinster you can pick you a model for an
Apollo. He is in rags, is this giant, and can not read, but he can dance
and sing and fight. He has an eye for color, an ear for music, a taste
for rhyme, a love of novelty and a thirst for fun. And withal he has
blundering sympathy and a pity whose tears are near the surface.
Now, will this fine savage be a victim of arrested development, and sink
gradually through weight of years into mere animal stupidity and sodden
The chances are that this is just what he will do, and that at twenty he
will be in his intellectual zenith. Summer does not fulfil the promise of
But as occasionally there is one of those beautiful, glowing Irish girls
who leaves footsteps that endure (in bettered lives), instead of merely
transient tracks in mud, so there has been a Burke, a Wellington, an
O'Connell, a Sheridan, a Tom Moore and an Oliver Goldsmith.
* * * * *
While Goldsmith was an Irishman, Swift was an Englishman
who chanced to be born of Irish parents in Dublin. In comparing these men
Thackeray says: "I think I would rather have had a cold potato and a
friendly word from Goldsmith than to have been beholden to the Dean for a
guinea and a dinner. No; the Dean was not an Irishman, for no Irishman
ever gave but with a kind word and a kind heart."
Charles Goldsmith was a clergyman, passing rich on forty pounds a year.
He had a nice little family of eight children, and what became of the
seven who went not astray I do not know. But the smallest and homeliest
one of the brood became the best-loved man in London. These sickly boys
who have been educated only because they were too weak to work--what a
record their lives make!
Little Oliver had a pug-nose and bandy legs, and fists not big enough to
fight, but he had a large head, and because he was absent-minded, lots of
folks thought him dull and stupid, and others were sure he was very bad.
In fact, let us admit it, he did steal apples and rifle birds' nests, and
on "the straggling fence that skirts the way," he drew pictures of Paddy
Byrne, the schoolmaster, who amazed the rustics by the amount of
knowledge he carried in one small head. But Paddy Byrne did not love art
for art's sake, so he applied the ferule vigorously to little Goldsmith's
anatomy, with a hope of diverting the lad's inclinations from art to
arithmetic. I do not think the plan was very successful, for the
pockmarked youngster was often adorned with the dunce-cap.
"And, Sir," said Doctor Johnson, many years after, "it must have been
It seems that Paddy Byrne "boarded round," and part of the time was under
the roof of the rectory. Now we all know that schoolmasters are dual
creatures, and that once away from the schoolyard, and having laid aside
the robe of office, are often good, honest, simple folks. In his official
capacity Paddy Byrne made things very uncomfortable for the pug-nosed
little boy, but, like the true Irishman that he was, when he got away
from the schoolhouse he was sorry for it. Whether dignity is the mask we
wear to hide ignorance, I am not sure, yet when Paddy Byrne was the
schoolmaster he was a man severe and stern to view; but when he was plain
Paddy Byrne he was a first-rate good fellow.
Evenings he would hold little Oliver on his knee, and instead of helping
him in his lessons would tell him tales of robbers, pirates,
smugglers--everything and anything in fact that boys like: stories of
fairies, goblins, ghosts; lion-hunts and tiger-killing in which the
redoubtable Paddy was supposed to have taken a chief part. The
schoolmaster had been a soldier and a sailor. He had been in many lands,
and when he related his adventures, no doubt he often mistook imagination
for memory. But the stories had the effect of choking the desire in
Oliver for useful knowledge, and gave instead a thirst for wandering and
Byrne also had a taste for poetry, and taught the lad to scribble rhymes.
Very proud was the boy's mother, and very carefully did she preserve
these foolish lines.
All this was in the village of Lissoy, County Westmeath; yet if you look
on the map you will look in vain for Lissoy. But six miles northeast from
Athlone and three miles from Ballymahon is the village of Auburn.
When Goldsmith was a boy Lissoy was:
"Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheered the laboring swain,
Where smiling Spring the earliest visits paid,
And parting Summer's lingering blooms delayed--
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please--
How often have I loitered o'er thy green,
Where humble happiness endeared each scene;
How often have I paused on every charm,
The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm,
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church, that topped the neighboring hill,
The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade
For talking age and whispering lovers made:
How often have I blessed the coming day,
When toil remitting lent its turn to play,
And all the village train from labor free,
Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree--
While many a pastime circled in the shade,
The young contending as the old surveyed;
And many a gambol frolicked o'er the ground,
And sleights of art and feats of strength went round."
In America, when a "city" is to be started, the first thing is to divide
up the land into town-lots and then sell these lots to whoever will buy.
This is a very modern scheme. But in Ireland whole villages belong to one
man, and every one in the place pays tribute. Then villages are passed
down from generation to generation, and sometimes sold outright, but
there is no wish to dispose of corner lots. For when a man lives in your
house and you can put him out at any time, he is, of course, much more
likely to be civil than if he owns the place.
But it has happened many times that the inhabitants of Irish villages
have all packed up and deserted the place, leaving no one but the village
squire and that nice man, the landlord's agent. The cottages then are
turned into sheep-pens or hay-barns. They may be pulled down, or, if they
are left standing, the weather looks after that. And these are common
sights to the tourist.
Now the landlord, who owned every rood of the village of Lissoy, lived in
London. He lived well. He gambled a little, and as the cards did not run
his way he got into debt. So he wrote to his agent in Lissoy to raise
the rents. He did so, threatened, applied the screws, and--the
inhabitants packed up and let the landlord have his village all to
himself. Let Goldsmith tell:
"Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,
Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn:
Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green;
One only master grasps the whole domain,
And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain.
No more thy glassy brook reflects the day,
But choked with sedges, works its weedy way;
Along thy glades, a solitary guest,
The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest;
Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies,
And tires their echoes with unvaried cries.
Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all,
And the long grass overtops the moldering wall;
And, trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand,
Far, far away, thy children leave the land."
A titled gentleman by the name of Napier was the owner of the estate at
that time, and as his tenantry had left, he in wrath pulled down their
rows of pretty white cottages, demolished the schoolhouse, blew up the
mill, and took all the material and built a splendid mansion on the
The cards had evidently turned in his direction, but anyway, he owned
several other villages, so although he toiled not neither did he spin,
yet he was well clothed and always fed. But my lord Napier was not
immortal, for he died, and was buried; and over his grave they erected a
monument, and on it are these words: "He was the friend of the
The records of literature, so far as I know, show no such moving force in
a simple poem as the re-birth of the village of Auburn. No man can live
in a village and illuminate it by his genius. His fellow townsmen and
neighbors are not to be influenced by his eloquence except in a very
limited way. His presence creates an opposition, for the "personal touch"
repels as well as attracts. Dying, seven cities may contend for the honor
of his birthplace; or after his departure, knowledge of his fame may
travel back across the scenes that he has known, and move to better
The years went by and the Napier estate got into a bad way and was sold.
Captain Hogan became the owner of the site of the village of Lissoy. Now,
Captain Hogan was a poet in feeling, and he set about to replace the
village that Goldsmith had loved and immortalized. He adopted the name
that Goldsmith supplied, and Auburn it is even unto this day.
In the village-green is the original spreading hawthorn-tree, all
enclosed in a stone wall to preserve it. And on the wall is a sign
requesting you not to break off branches.
Around the trees are seats. I sat there one evening with "talking age"
and "whispering lovers." The mirth that night was of a quiet sort, and I
listened to an old man who recited all "The Deserted Village" to the
little group that was present. It cost me sixpence, but was cheap for the
money, for the brogue was very choice. I was the only stranger present,
and quickly guessed that the entertainment was for my sole benefit, as I
saw that I was being furtively watched to see how I took my medicine.
A young fellow sitting near me offered a little Goldsmith information,
then a woman on the other side did the same, and the old man who had
recited suggested that we go over and see the alehouse "where the justly
celebhrated Docther Goldsmith so often played his harp so feelin'ly." So
we adjourned to The Three Jolly Pigeons--a dozen of us, including the
lovers, whom I personally invited.
"And did Oliver Goldsmith really play his harp in this very room?" I
"Aye, indade he did, yer honor, an' ef ye don't belave it, ye kin sit in
the same chair that was his."
So they led me to the big chair that stood on a little raised platform,
and I sat in the great oaken seat which was surely made before Goldsmith
was born. Then we all took ale (at my expense). The lovers sat in one
corner, drinking from one glass, and very particular to drink from the
same side, and giggling to themselves.
The old man wanted to again recite "The Deserted Village," but was
forcibly restrained. And instead, by invitation of himself, the landlord
sang a song composed by Goldsmith, but which I have failed to find in
Goldsmith's works, entitled, "When Ireland Is Free." There were thirteen
stanzas in this song, and a chorus and refrain in which the words of the
title are repeated. After each stanza we all came in strong on the
chorus, keeping time by tapping our glasses on the tables.
Then we all drank perdition to English landlords, had our glasses
refilled, and I was called on for a speech. I responded in a few words
that were loudly cheered, and the very good health of "the 'Merican
Nobleman" was drunk with much fervor.
The Three Jolly Pigeons is arranged exactly to the letter:
"The whitewashed walls, the nicely sanded floor,
The varnished clock that clicked behind the door;
The chest contrived a doubly debt to pay,
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day;
The pictures placed for ornament and use,
The twelve good rules, the royal game of goose."
And behold, there on the wall behind the big oak chair are "the twelve
The next morning I saw the modest mansion of the village preacher "whose
house was known to all the vagrant train," then the little stone church,
and beyond I came to the blossoming furze, unprofitably gay, where the
village master taught his little school. A bright young woman teaches
there now, and it is certain that she can write and cipher too, for I saw
"sums" on the blackboard, and I also saw where she had written some very
pretty mottoes on the wall with colored chalk, a thing I am sure that
Paddy Byrne never thought to do.
Below the schoolhouse is a pretty little stream that dances over pebbles
and untiringly turns the wheel in the old mill; and not far away I saw
the round top of Knockrue hill, where Goldsmith said he would rather sit
with a book in hand than mingle with the throng at the court of royalty.
Goldsmith's verse is all clean, sweet and wholesome, and I do not wonder
that he was everywhere a favorite with women. This was true in his very
babyhood. For he was the pet of several good old dames, one of whom
taught him to count by using cards as object-lessons He proudly said that
when he was three years of age he could pick out the "ten-spot." This
love of pasteboard was not exactly an advantage, for when he was sixteen
he went to Dublin to attend college, and carried fifty pounds and a deck
of cards in his pocket. The first day in Dublin he met a man who thought
he knew more about cards than Oliver did--and the man did: in three days
Oliver arrived back in Sweet Auburn penniless, but wonderfully glad to
get home and everybody glad to see him. "It seemed as if I 'd been away a
year," he said.
But in a few weeks he started out with no baggage but a harp, and he
played in the villages and the inns, and sometimes at the homes of the
rich. And his melodies won all hearts.
The author of "Vanity Fair" says: "You come hot and tired from the day's
battle, and this sweet minstrel sings to you. Who could harm the kind
vagrant harper? Whom did he ever hurt? He carries no weapon--only the
harp on which he plays to you; and with which he delights great and
humble, young and old, the captains in the tent or the soldiers round the
fire, or the women and children in the villages at whose porches he stops
and sings his simple songs of love and beauty."
* * * * *
When Goldsmith arrived in London in Seventeen Hundred
Fifty-six, he was ragged, penniless, friendless and forlorn. In the
country he could always make his way, but the city to him was new and
strange. For several days he begged a crust here and there, sleeping in
the doorways at night and dreaming of the flowery wealth of gentle
Lissoy, where even the poorest had enough to eat and a warm place to
huddle when the sun went down.
He at length found work as clerk or porter in a chemist's shop, where he
remained until he got money enough to buy a velvet coat and a ruffled
shirt, and then he moved to the Bankside and hung out a surgeon's sign.
The neighbors thought the little doctor funny, and the women would call
to him out of the second-story window that it was a fine day, but when
they were ill they sent for some one else to attend them.
Goldsmith was twenty-eight, and the thought that he could make a living
with his pen had never come to him. Yet he loved books, and he would
loiter about bookshops, pricing first editions, and talking poetry to the
patrons. He chanced in this way to meet Samuel Richardson, who, because
he wrote the first English romance, has earned the title of Father of
Lies. In order to get a very necessary loaf of bread, Doctor Goldsmith
asked Richardson to let him read proof. So Richardson gave him
employment, and in correcting proof the discovery was made that the Irish
doctor could turn a sentence, too.
He became affected with literary eczema, and wrote a tragedy which he
read to Richardson and a few assembled friends. They voted it "vile,
demnition vile." But one man thought it wasn't so bad as it might be, and
this man found a market for some of the little doctor's book reviews, but
the tragedy was fed to the fireplace. With the money for his book reviews
the doctor bought goose quills and ink, and inspiration in bottles.
Grub Street dropped in, shabby, seedy, empty of pocket but full of hope,
and little suppers were given in dingy coffeehouses where success to
English letters was drunk.
Then we find Goldsmith making a bold stand for reform. He hired out to
write magazine articles by the day; going to work in the morning when the
bell rang, an hour off at noon, and then at it again until nightfall. Mr.
Griffiths, publisher of the "Monthly Review," was his employer. And in
order to hold his newly captured prize, the publisher boarded the
pockmarked Irishman in his own house. Mrs. Griffiths looked after him
closely, spurring him on when he lagged, correcting his copy, striking
out such portions as showed too much genius and inserting a word here and
there in order to make a purely neutral decoction, which it seems is what
magazine readers have always desired.
Occasionally these articles were duly fathered by great men, as this gave
them the required specific gravity.
It is said that even in our day there are editors who employ convict
labor in this way. But I am sure that this is not so, for we live in an
age of competition, and it is just as cheap to hire the great men to
supply twaddle direct as it is to employ foreign paupers to turn it out
with the extra expense of elderly women to revise.
After working in the Griffith literary mill for five months, Goldsmith
scaled the barricade one dark night, leaving behind, pasted on the wall,
a ballad not only to Mrs. Griffiths' eyebrow, but to her wig as well.
Soon after this, when Goldsmith was thirty years of age, his first book,
"Enquiry Into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe," was
published. It brought him a little money and tuppence worth of fame, so
he took better lodgings, in Green Arbor Court, proposing to do great
Half a century after the death of Goldsmith, Irving visited Green Arbor
"At length we came upon Fleet Market, and traversing it, turned up a
narrow street to the bottom of a long, steep flight of stone steps called
Breakneck Stairs. These led to Green Arbor Court, and down them Goldsmith
many a time risked his neck. When we entered the Court, I could not but
smile to think in what out of the way corners Genius produces her
bantlings. The Court I found to be a small square surrounded by tall,
miserable houses, with old garments and frippery fluttering from every
window. It appeared to be a region of washerwomen, and lines were
stretched about the square on which clothes were dangling to dry. Poor
Goldsmith! What a time he must have had of it, with his quiet disposition
and nervous habits, penned up in this den of noise and vulgarity."
One can imagine Goldsmith running the whole gamut of possible jokes on
Breakneck Stairs, and Green Arbor Court, which, by the way, was never
green and where there was no arbor.
"I've been admitted to Court, gentlemen!" said Goldsmith proudly, one day
at The Mitre Tavern.
"Ah, yes, Doctor, we know--Green Arbor Court! and any man who has climbed
Breakneck Stairs has surely achieved," said Tom Davies.
In Seventeen Hundred Sixty, Goldsmith moved to Number Six Wine-Office
Court, where he wrote the "Vicar of Wakefield." Boswell reports Doctor
Johnson's account of visiting him there:
"I received, one morning, a message from poor Goldsmith that he was in
great distress, and, as it was not in his power to come to me, begging
that I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea and
promised to come to him directly. I accordingly went to him as soon as I
was dressed, and found that his landlady had arrested him for his rent,
at which he was in a violent passion. I perceived that he had already
changed my guinea, and had half a bottle of Madeira and a glass before
him. I put the cork in the bottle, desired he would be calm, and began to
talk to him of the means by which he might be extricated. He then told me
he had a novel ready for the press, which he produced for me. I looked
into it and saw its merits; told the landlady I would soon return, and
having gone to a bookseller, sold it for sixty pounds. I brought
Goldsmith the money, and he discharged the rent, not without rating his
landlady for having used him so ill."
For the play of "The Good-Natured Man" Goldsmith received five hundred
pounds. And he immediately expended four hundred in mahogany furniture,
easy chairs, lace curtains and Wilton carpets. Then he called in his
friends. This was at Number Two Brick Court, Middle Temple. Blackstone
had chambers just below, and was working as hard over his Commentaries as
many a lawyer's clerk has done since. He complained of the abominable
noise and racket of "those fellows upstairs," but was asked to come in
and listen to wit while he had the chance.
I believe the bailiffs eventually captured the mahogany furniture, but
Goldsmith held the quarters. They are today in good repair, and the
people who occupy the house are very courteous, and obligingly show the
rooms to the curious. No attempt at a museum is made, but there are to be
seen various articles which belonged to Goldsmith and a collection of
portraits that are interesting.
When "The Traveler" was published Goldsmith's fame was made secure. As
long as he wrote plays, reviews, history and criticism he was working for
hire. People said it was "clever," "brilliant," and all that, but their
hearts were not won until the poet had poured out his soul to his brother
in that gentlest of all sweet rhymes. I pity the man who can read the
opening lines of "The Traveler" without a misty something coming over his
"Where'er I roam, whatever realms I see,
My heart untraveled fondly turns to thee;
Still to my brother turns, with ceaseless pain,
And drags at each remove a lengthening chain."
This is the earliest English poem which I can recall that makes use of
our American Indian names:
"Where wild Oswego spreads her swamps around,
And Niagara stuns with thundering sound."
Indeed, we came near having Goldsmith for an adopted citizen. According
to his own report he once secured passage to Boston, and after carrying
his baggage aboard the ship he went back to town to say a last hurried
word of farewell to a fair lady, and when he got back to the dock the
ship had sailed away with his luggage.
His earnest wish was to spend his last days in Sweet Auburn.
"In all my wand'rings round this world of care,
In all my griefs--and God has given my share--
I still had hopes, my latest hours to crown,
Amidst those humble bowers to lay me down;
To husband out life's taper at its close,
And keep the flame from wasting by repose.
I still had hopes--for pride attends us still--
Amidst the swains to show my book-learned skill,
Around my fire an evening group to draw,
And tell of all I felt and all I saw.
And as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first she flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
Here to return--and die at home at last."
But he never saw Ireland after he left it in Seventeen Hundred
Fifty-four. He died in London in Seventeen Hundred Seventy-four, aged
forty-six. On the plain little monument in Temple Church where he was
buried are only these words:
Here Lies Oliver Goldsmith.
Hawkins once called on the Earl of Northumberland and found Goldsmith
waiting in an outer room, having come in response to an invitation from
the nobleman. Hawkins, having finished his business, waited until
Goldsmith came out, as he had a curiosity to know why the Earl had sent
"Well," said Hawkins, "what did he say to you?"
"His lordship told me that he had read 'The Traveler,' and that he was
pleased with it, and that inasmuch as he was soon to be Lord-Lieutenant
of Ireland, and knowing I was an Irishman, asked what he could do for
"And what did you tell him?" inquired the eager Hawkins.
"Why, there was nothing for me to say, but that I was glad he liked my
poem, and--that I had a brother in Ireland, a clergyman, who stood in
need of help----"
"Enough!" cried Hawkins, and left him.
To Hawkins himself are we indebted for the incident, and after relating
it Hawkins adds:
"And thus did this idiot in the affairs of the world trifle with his
Let him who wishes preach a sermon on this story. But there you have it!
"A brother in Ireland who needs help----"
The brother in London, the brother in America, the brother in Ireland who
needs help! All men were his brothers, and those who needed help were
first in his mind.
Dear little Doctor Goldsmith, you were not a hustler, but when I get to
the Spirit World, I'll surely hunt you up!
It is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples,
extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry contemplation
of my travels, in which my often rumination wraps me in a most
--_As You Like It_
[Illustration: WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE]
I have on several occasions been to the Shakespeare
country, approaching it from different directions, but each time I am set
down at Leamington. Perhaps this is by some Act of Parliament--I really
do not know; anyway, I have ceased to kick against the pricks and now
meekly accept my fate.
Leamington seems largely under subjection to that triumvirate of
despots--the Butler, the Coachman and the Gardener. You hear the jingle
of keys, the flick of the whip and the rattle of the lawnmower; and a
cold, secret fear takes possession of you--a sort of half-frenzied
impulse to flee, before smug modernity takes you captive and whisks you
off to play tiddledywinks or to dance the racquet.
But the tram is at the door--the outside fare is a penny, inside it's
two--and we are soon safe, for we have reached the point where the Leam
and the Avon meet.
Warwick is worth our while. For here we see scenes such as Shakespeare
saw, and our delight is in the things that his eyes beheld.
At the foot of Mill Street are the ruins of the old Gothic bridge that
leads off to Banbury. Oft have I ridden to Banbury Cross on my mother's
foot, and when I saw that sign and pointing finger I felt like leaving
all and flying thence. Just beyond the bridge, settled snugly in a forest
of waving branches, we see storied old Warwick Castle, with Caesar's Tower
lifting itself from the mass of green.
All about are quaint old houses and shops, with red-tiled roofs, and
little windows, with diamond panes, hung on hinges, where maidens fair
have looked down on brave men in coats of mail. These narrow, stony
streets have rung with the clang and echo of hurrying hoofs; the tramp of
Royalist and Parliamentarian, horse and foot, drum and banner; the stir
of princely visits, of mail-coach, market, assize and kingly court.
Colbrand, armed with giant club; Sir Guy; Richard Neville, kingmaker, and
his barbaric train, all trod these streets, watered their horses in this
river, camped on yonder bank, or huddled in this castle yard. And again
they came back when Will Shakespeare, a youth from Stratford, eight miles
away, came here and waved his magic wand.
Warwick Castle is probably in better condition now than it was in the
Sixteenth Century. But practically it is the same. It is the only castle
in England where the portcullis is lowered at ten o'clock every night and
raised in the morning (if the coast happens to be clear) to tap of drum.
It costs a shilling to visit the castle. A fine old soldier in spotless
uniform, with waxed white moustache and dangling sword, conducts the
visitors. He imparts full two shillings' worth of facts as we go, all
with a fierce roll of r's, as becomes a man of war.
The long line of battlements, the massive buttresses, the angular
entrance cut through solid rock, crooked, abrupt, with places where
fighting men can lie in ambush, all is as Shakespeare knew it.
There are the cedars of Lebanon, brought by Crusaders from the East, and
the screaming peacocks in the paved courtway: and in the Great Hall are
to be seen the sword and accouterments of the fabled Guy, the mace of the
"Kingmaker," the helmet of Cromwell, and the armor of Lord Brooke, killed
And that Shakespeare saw these things there is no doubt. But he saw them
as a countryman who came on certain fete-days, and stared with open
mouth. We know this, because he has covered all with the glamour of his
rich, boyish imagination that failed to perceive the cruel mockery of
such selfish pageantry. Had his view been from the inside he would not
have made his kings noble nor his princes generous; for the stress of
strife would have stilled his laughter, and from his brain the dazzling
pictures would have fled. Yet his fancies serve us better than the facts.
Shakespeare shows us many castles, but they are always different views of
Warwick or Kenilworth. When he pictures Macbeth's castle he has Warwick
in his inward eye:
"This castle hath a pleasant seat: the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses.
This guest of Summer,
The temple-haunting martlet, does approve,
By his loved mansionry, that the heaven's breath
Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze,
Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird
Hath made his pendent bed, and procreant cradle;
Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed,
The air is delicate."
Five miles from Warwick (ten, if you believe the cab-drivers) are the
ruins of Kenilworth Castle.
In Fifteen Hundred Seventy-five, when Shakespeare was eleven years of
age, Queen Elizabeth came to Kenilworth. Whether her ticket was by way of
Leamington I do not know. But she remained from July Ninth to July
Twenty-seventh, and there were great doings 'most every day, to which the
yeomanry were oft invited. John Shakespeare was a worthy citizen of
Warwickshire, and it is very probable that he received an invitation, and
that he drove over with Mary Arden, his wife, sitting on the front seat
holding the baby, and all the other seven children sitting on the straw
behind. And we may be sure that the eldest boy in that brood never forgot
the day. In fact, in "Midsummer Night's Dream" he has called on his
memory for certain features of the show. Elizabeth was forty-one years
old then, but apparently very attractive and glib of tongue. No doubt
Kenilworth was stupendous in its magnificence, and it will pay you to
take down from its shelf Sir Walter's novel and read about it. But today
it is all a crumbling heap; ivy, rooks and daws hold the place in fee,
each pushing hard for sole possession.
It is eight miles from Warwick to Stratford by the direct road, but ten
by the river. I have walked both routes and consider the latter the
Two miles down the river is Barford, and a mile farther is Wasperton,
with its quaint old stone church. It is a good place to rest: for nothing
is so soothing as a cool church where the dim light streams through
colored windows, and out of sight somewhere an organ softly plays. Soon
after leaving the church a rustic swain hailed me and asked for a match.
The pipe and the Virginia weed--they mean amity the world over. If I had
questions to ask, now was the time! So I asked, and Rusticus informed me
that Hampton Lucy was only a mile beyond and that Shakespeare never stole
deer at all; so I hope we shall hear no more of that libelous accusation.
"But did Shakespeare run away?" I demanded.
"Ave coorse he deed, sir; 'most all good men 'ave roon away sometime!"
And come to think of it Rusticus is right.
Most great men have at some time departed hastily without leaving orders
where to forward their mail. Indeed, it seems necessary that a man
should have "run away" at least once, in order afterward to attain
eminence. Moses, Lot, Tarquin, Pericles, Demosthenes, Saint Paul,
Shakespeare, Rousseau, Voltaire, Goldsmith, Hugo--but the list is too
long to give.
But just suppose that Shakespeare had not run away! And to whom do we owe
it that he did leave--Justice Shallow or Ann Hathaway, or both? I should
say to Ann first and His Honor second. I think if Shakespeare could write
an article for "The Ladies' Home Journal" on "Women Who Have Helped Me,"
and tell the whole truth (as no man ever will in print), he would put Ann
He signed a bond when eighteen years old agreeing to marry her; she was
twenty-six. No record is found of the marriage. But we should think of
her gratefully, for no doubt it was she who started the lad off for
That's the way I expressed it to my new-found friend, and he agreed with
me, so we shook hands and parted.
Charlcote is as fair as a dream of Paradise. The winding Avon, full to
its banks, strays lazily through rich fields and across green meadows,
past the bright red-brick pile of Charlcote Mansion. The river-bank is
lined with rushes, and in one place I saw the prongs of antlers shaking
the elders. I sent a shrill whistle and a stick that way, and out ran
four fine deer that loped gracefully across the turf. The sight brought
my poacher instincts to the surface, but I bottled them, and trudged on
until I came to the little church that stands at the entrance to the
All mansions, castles and prisons in England have chapels or churches
attached. And this is well, for in the good old days it seemed wise to
keep in close communication with the other world. For often, on short
notice, the proud scion of royalty was compelled hastily to pack a
ghostly valise and his him hence with his battered soul; or if he did not
go himself he compelled others to do so, and who but a brute would kill a
man without benefit of the clergy! So each estate hired its priests by
the year, just as men with a taste for litigation hold attorneys in
In Charlcote Church is a memorial to Sir Thomas Lucy; and there is a
glowing epitaph that quite upsets any of those taunting and defaming
allusions in "The Merry Wives." At the foot of the monument is a line to
the effect that the inscription thereon was written by the only one in
possession of the facts, Sir Thomas himself.
Several epitaphs in the churchyard are worthy of space in your
commonplace book, but the lines on the slab to John Gibbs and wife struck
me as having the true ring:
"Farewell, proud, vain, false, treacherous world,
We have seen enough of thee:
We value not what thou canst say of we."
When the Charlcote Mansion was built, there was a housewarming, and Good
Queen Bess (who was not so awful good) came in great state; so we see
that she had various calling acquaintances in these parts. But we have no
proof that she ever knew that any such person as W. Shakespeare lived.
However, she came to Charlcote and dined on venison, and what a pity it
is that she and Shakespeare did not meet in London afterward and talk it
Some hasty individual has put forth a statement to the effect that poets
can only be bred in a mountainous country, where they could lift up their
eyes to the hills. Rock and ravine, beetling crag, singing cascade, and
the heights where the lightning plays and the mists hover are certainly
good timber for poetry--after you have caught your poet--but Nature
eludes all formula. Again, it is the human interest that adds vitality to
art--they reckon ill to leave man out.
Drayton before Shakespeare's time called Warwick "the heart of England,"
and the heart of England it is today--rich, luxuriant, slow. The great
colonies of rabbits that I saw at Charlcote seemed too fat to frolic,
save more than to play a trick or two on the hounds that blinked in the
sun. Down toward Stratford there are flat islands covered with sedge,
long rows of weeping-willows, low hazel, hawthorn, and places where
"Green Grow the Rushes, O." Then, if the farmer leaves a spot untilled,
the dogrose pre-empts the place and showers its petals on the vagrant
winds. Meadowsweet, forget-me-nots and wild geranium snuggle themselves
below the boughs of the sturdy yews.
The first glimpse we get of Stratford is the spire of Holy Trinity; then
comes the tower of the new Memorial Theater, which, by the way, is
exactly like the city hall at Dead Horse, Colorado.
Stratford is just another village of Niagara Falls. The same shops, the
same guides, the same hackmen--all are there, save poor Lo, with his
beadwork and sassafras. In fact, a "cabby" just outside of New Place
offered to take me to the Whirlpool and the Canada side for a dollar. At
least, this is what I thought he said. Of course, it is barely possible
that I was daydreaming, but I think the facts are that it was he who
dozed, and waking suddenly as I passed gave me the wrong cue.
There is a Macbeth livery-stable, a Falstaff bakery, and all the shops
and stores keep Othello this and Hamlet that. I saw briarwood pipes with
Shakespeare's face carved on the bowl, all for one-and-six; feather fans
with advice to the players printed across the folds; the "Seven Ages" on
handkerchiefs; and souvenir-spoons galore, all warranted Gorham's best.
The visitor at the birthplace is given a cheerful little lecture on the
various relics and curiosities as they are shown. The young ladies who
perform this office are clever women with pleasant voices and big,
starched, white aprons. I was at Stratford four days and went just four
times to the old curiosity-shop. Each day the same bright British damsel
conducted me through, and told her tale, but it was always with
animation, and a certain sweet satisfaction in her mission and starched
apron that was very charming.
No man can tell the same story over and over without soon reaching a
point where he betrays his weariness, and then he flavors the whole with
a dash of contempt; but a good woman, heaven bless her! is ever eager to
please. Each time when we came to that document certified to by
"Judith X Shakespeare,"
I was told that it was very probable that Judith could write, but that
she affixed her name thus in merry jest.
John Shakespeare could not write, we have no reason to suppose that Ann
Hathaway could, and this little explanation about the daughter is so very
good that it deserves to rank with that other pleasant subterfuge, "The
age of miracles is past"; or that bit of jolly claptrap concerning the
sacred baboons that are seen about certain temples in India: "They can
talk," explain the priests, "but being wise they never do."
Judith married Thomas Quiney. The only letter addressed to Shakespeare
that can be found is one from the happy father of Thomas, Mr. Richard
Quiney, wherein he asks for a loan of thirty pounds. Whether he was
accommodated we can not say; and if he was, did he pay it back, is a
question that has caused much hot debate. But it is worthy of note that,
although considerable doubt as to authenticity has smooched the other
Shakespearian relics, yet the fact of the poet having been "struck" for a
loan by Richard Quiney stands out in a solemn way as the one undisputed
thing in the master's career. Little did Mr. Quiney think, when he wrote
that letter, that he was writing for the ages. Philanthropists have won
all by giving money, but who save Quiney has reaped immortality by asking
The inscription over Shakespeare's grave is an offer of reward if you do,
and a threat of punishment if you don't, all in choice doggerel. Why did
he not learn at the feet of Sir Thomas Lucy and write his own epitaph?
But I rather guess I know why his grave was not marked with his name. He
was a play-actor, and the church people would have been outraged at the
thought of burying a "strolling player" in that sacred chancel. But his
son-in-law, Doctor John Hall, honored the great man and was bound he
should have a worthy resting-place; so at midnight, with the help of a
few trusted friends, he dug the grave and lowered the dust of England's
Then they hastily replaced the stones, and over the grave they placed the
slab that they had brought:
"Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here,
Blest be the man who spares these stones,
And cursed be he who moves my bones."
A threat from a ghost! Ah, no one dare molest that grave--besides they
didn't know who was buried there--neither are we quite sure. Long years
after the interment, some one set a bust of the poet, and a tablet, on
the wall over against the grave.
Under certain circumstances, if occasion demands, I might muster a
sublime conceit; but considering the fact that ten thousand Americans
visit Stratford every year, and all write descriptions of the place, I
dare not in the face of Baedeker do it. Further than that, in every
library there are Washington Irving, Hawthorne, and William Winter's
three lacrimose but charming volumes.
And I am glad to remember that the Columbus who discovered Stratford and
gave it to the people was an American: I am proud to think that Americans
have written so charmingly of Shakespeare: I am proud to know that at
Stratford no man besides the master is as honored as Irving, and while I
can not restrain a blush for our English cousins, I am proud that over
half the visitors at the birthplace are Americans, and prouder still am I
to remember that they all write letters to the newspapers at home about
* * * * *
In England poets are relegated to a "Corner." The earth
and the fulness thereof belongs to the men who can kill; on this rock
have the English State and Church been built.
As the tourist approaches the city of London for the first time, there
are four monuments that probably will attract his attention. They lift
themselves out of the fog and smoke and soot, and seem to struggle toward
One of these monuments is to commemorate a calamity--the conflagration of
Sixteen Hundred Sixty-six--and the others are in honor of deeds of war.
The finest memorial in Saint Paul's is to a certain eminent Irishman,
Arthur Wellesley. The mines and quarries of earth have been called on for
their richest contributions; and talent and skill have given their all to
produce this enduring work of beauty, that tells posterity of the mighty
acts of this mighty man. The rare richness and lavish beauty of the
Wellington mausoleum are only surpassed by a certain tomb in France.
As an exploiter, the Corsican overdid the thing a bit--so the world arose
and put him down; but safely dead, his shade can boast a grave so
sumptuous that Englishmen in Paris refuse to look upon it.
But England need not be ashamed. Her land is spiked with glistening
monuments to greatness gone. And on these monuments one often gets the
epitomized life of the man whose dust lies below.
On the carved marble to Lord Cornwallis I read that, "He defeated the
Americans with great slaughter." And so, wherever in England I see a
beautiful monument, I know that probably the inscription will tell how
"he defeated" somebody. And one grows to the belief that, while woman's
glory is her hair, man's glory is to defeat some one. And if he can
"defeat with great slaughter" his monument is twice as high as if he had
only visited on his brother man a plain undoing.
In truth, I am told by a friend who has a bias for statistics, that all
monuments above fifty feet high in England are to the honor of men who
have defeated other men "with great slaughter." The only exceptions to
this rule are the Albert Memorial--which is a tribute of wifely affection
rather than a public testimonial, so therefore need not be considered
here--and a monument to a worthy brewer who died and left three hundred
thousand pounds to charity. I mentioned this fact to my friend, but he
unhorsed me by declaring that modesty forbade carving truth on monuments,
yet it was a fact that the brewer, too, had brought defeat to vast
numbers and had, like Saul, slaughtered his thousands.
When I visited the site of the Globe Theater and found thereon a brewery,
whose shares are warranted to make the owner rich beyond the dream of
avarice, I was depressed. In my boyhood I had supposed that if ever I
should reach this spot where Shakespeare's plays were first produced, I
should see a beautiful park and a splendid monument; while some
white-haired old patriarch would greet me, and give a little lecture to
the assembled pilgrims on the great man whose footsteps had made sacred
the soil beneath our feet.
But there is no park, and no monument, and no white-haired old poet to
give you welcome--only a brewery.
"Ay, mon, but ain't ut a big un?" protested an Englishman who heard my
Yes, yes, I must be truthful--it is a big brewery, and there are four big
bulldogs in the courtway; and there are big vats, and big workmen in big
aprons. And each of these workmen is allowed to drink six quarts of beer
each day, without charge, which proves that kindliness is not dead. Then
there are big horses that draw the big wagons, and on the corner there is
a big taproom where the thirsty are served with big glasses. The founder
of this brewery became rich; and if my statistical friend is right, the
owners of these mighty vats have defeated mankind with "great slaughter."
We have seen that, although Napoleon, the defeated, has a more gorgeous
tomb than Wellington, who defeated him, yet there is consolation in the
thought that although England has no monument to Shakespeare he now has
the freedom of Elysium; while the present address of the British worthies
who have battened and fattened on poor humanity's thirst for strong
drink, since Samuel Johnson was executor of Thrale's estate, is unknown.
We have this on the authority of a solid Englishman, who says: "The
virtues essential and peculiar to the exalted station of British Worthy
debar the unfortunate possessor from entering Paradise. There is not a
Lord Chancellor, or Lord Mayor, or Lord of the Chamber, or Master of the
Hounds, or Beefeater in Ordinary, or any sort of British bigwig, out of
the whole of British Beadledom, upon which the sun never sets, in
Elysium. This is the only dignity beyond their reach."
The writer quoted is an honorable man, and I am sure he would not make
this assertion if he did not have proof of the fact. So, for the present,
I will allow him to go on his own recognizance, believing that he will
adduce his documents at the proper time.
But still, should not England have a fitting monument to Shakespeare? He
is her one universal citizen. His name is honored in every school or
college of earth where books are prized. There is no scholar in any clime
who is not his debtor.
He was born in England; he never was out of England; his ashes rest in
England. But England's Budget has never been ballasted with a single
pound to help preserve inviolate the memory of her one son to whom the
Victor Hugo has said something on this subject which runs about like
Why a monument to Shakespeare?
He is his own monument and England is its pedestal. Shakespeare has no
need of a pyramid; he has his work.
What can bronze or marble do for him? Malachite and alabaster are of no
avail; jasper, serpentine, basalt, porphyry, granite: stones from Paros
and marble from Carrara--they are all a waste of pains: genius can do
What is as indestructible as these: "The Tempest," "The Winter's Tale,"
"Julius Caesar," "Coriolanus"? What monument sublimer than "Lear," sterner
than "The Merchant of Venice," more dazzling than "Romeo and Juliet,"
more amazing than "Richard III"?
What moon could shed about the pile a light more mystic than that of "A
Midsummer Night's Dream"? What capital, were it even in London, could
rumble around it as tumultuously as Macbeth's perturbed soul? What
framework of cedar or oak will last as long as "Othello"? What bronze can
equal the bronze of "Hamlet"?
No construction of lime, or rock, of iron and of cement is worth the deep
breath of genius, which is the respiration of God through man. What
edifice can equal thought? Babel is less lofty than Isaiah; Cheops is
smaller than Homer; the Colosseum is inferior to Juvenal; the Giralda of
Seville is dwarfish by the side of Cervantes; Saint Peter's of Rome does
not reach to the ankle of Dante.
What architect has the skill to build a tower so high as the name of
Shakespeare? Add anything if you can to mind! Then why a monument to
I answer, not for the glory of Shakespeare, but for the honor of England!
THOMAS A. EDISON
The mind can not conceive what man will do in the
Twentieth Century with his chained lightning.
--_Thomas A. Edison_
[Illustration: THOMAS A. EDISON
_Photogravure from drawing by Gaspard_]
Some years ago, a law was passed out in Ohio, making any
man ineligible to act as a magistrate who had not studied law and been
duly admitted to the bar. Men who had not studied law were deemed lacking
in the sense of justice. This law was designed purely for one man--Samuel
M. Jones of Toledo. Was ever a Jones so honored before?
In Athens, of old, a law was once passed declaring that every man, either
of whose parents was an alien, was not a citizen and therefore ineligible
to hold office.
This law was aimed at the head of one man--Themistocles.
"And so you are an alien?" was the taunting remark flung at the mother of
And the Greek matron proudly answered, "Yes, I am an alien--but my son is
Down at Lilly Dale the other day, a woman told me that she had talked
with the mother of Edison, and the spirit-voice had said: "It is true I
was a Canadian schoolteacher, and this at a time when very few women
taught, but I am the mother of him you call Thomas A. Edison. I studied
and read and wrote and in degree I educated myself. I had great
ambition--I thirsted to know, to do, to become. But I was hampered and
chained in an uncongenial atmosphere. My body struggled with its bonds,
so that I grew weak, worried, sick, and died, leaving my boy to struggle
his way alone. My only regret at death was the thought that I was leaving
my boy. I thought that through my marriage I had killed my
career--sacrificed myself. But my boy became heir to all my hunger for
knowledge, and he has accomplished what I dimly dreamed. He has made
plain what I only guessed. From my position here I have whispered secrets
to him that only the freed spirits knew. I once thought my life was a
failure, but now I know that the word 'failure' is a term used only by
foolish mortals. In the universal sense there is no such thing as
Just here it seems to me that some one once said that we get no mind
without brain. But we had here the brain of the medium, otherwise this
alleged message from the spirit realm would not be ours. So we will not
now tarry to discuss psychic phenomena, but go on to other things. But
the woman from Lilly Dale said something, just the same.
* * * * *
Edison was born at the little village of Milan, Ohio,
which lies six miles from Norwalk on the road between Cleveland and
On the breaking out of the Civil War the boy was fourteen years old. His
parents had moved to Sarnia, Canada, and then across to Port Huron.
Young Edison used to ride up and down from Detroit on the passenger-boats
and sell newspapers. His standing with the Detroit "Free Press," backed
up by his good-cheer and readiness to help the passengers with their
babies and bundles, gave him free passage on all railroads and
There was a public library at Detroit where any one could read, but books
could not be taken away.
All Edison's spare time was spent at the library, which to him was a
gold-mine. All his mother's books had been sold, stolen or given away.
And ahoy there, all you folks who have books! Do you not know what books
are to a child hungry for truth, that has no books?
Of course you do not!
Books to a boy like young Edison are treasures-trove, in which is stored
the learning of all great and good and wise who have ever lived.
And the boy has to read, and read for a decade, in order to find that
books are not much after all.
When Edison saw the inside of that library and was told he could read any
or all of the books, he said, "If you please, Mister, I'll begin here."
And he tackled the first shelf, mentally deciding that he would go
through the books ten feet at a time.
A little later he bought at an auction fifty volumes of the "North
American Review," and moving the books up to his home at Port Huron
proceeded to read them.
The war was on--papers sold for ten cents each and business was good.
Edison was making money--and saving it. He only plunged on books.
Over at Mount Clemens, at the Springs, folks congregated, and there young
Edison took weekly trips selling papers.
On one such visit he rescued the little son of the station-agent from in
front of a moving train. In gratitude, the man took the boy to his house
and told him he must make it his home while in Mount Clemens; and then
after supper the youngster went down to the station; and what was more,
the station-agent took him in behind the ticket-window, where the
telegraph-instrument clicked off dots and dashes on a long strip of
Edison looked on with open mouth.
"Would you like to become a telegraph-operator?" asked the agent.
"Sure!" was the reply.
Already the boy had read up on the subject in his library of the "North
American Review," and he really knew the history of the thing better than
did the agent.
Edison was now a newsboy on the Grand Trunk, and he arranged his route so
as to spend every other night at Mount Clemens.
In a few months he could handle the key about as well as the
About this time the ice had carried out the telegraph-line between Port
Huron and Sarnia. The telegraph people were in sore straits. Edison
happened along and said to the local operator, "Come out here, Bill, on
this switch-engine and we'll fix things!" By short snorts of the whistle
for dots and long ones for dashes, they soon caught the ear of the
operator on the other side. He answered back, "What t'ell is the matter
with you fellows?" And Edison and the other operator roared with
laughter, so that the engineer thought their think-boxes needed
And that scheme of telegraphy with a steam-whistle was Edison's first
* * * * *
Instead of going to college Edison started a newspaper--a
kind of amateur affair, in which he himself wrote editorials, news-items
and advertisements--this when he was seventeen years old.
The best way to become a skilled writer is to write; and if there is a
better way to learn than by doing, the world has not yet discovered it.
Also, if there is a finer advantage for a youth who would be a financier
than to have a shiftless father, it has not been recorded.
When nineteen, Edison had two thousand dollars in cash--more money than
his father had ever seen at any one time.
The Grand Trunk folks found that their ex-trainboy could operate, and so
they called on him to help them out, up and down the line. Then the
Western Union wanted extra good men, and young Edison was given double
pay to go to New Orleans, where there was a pitiful dearth of operators,
the Southern operators being mostly dead, and Northern men not caring to
live in the South.
So Edison traveled North and South and East and West, gathering gear. He
had studied the science of telegraphy closely enough to see that it could
be improved upon. One message at a time for one wire was absurd--why not
two, or four, and why not send messages both ways at once!
It was the general idea then that electricity traveled: Edison knew
better--electricity merely rendered the wire sensitive.
Edison was getting a reputation among his associates. He had read
everything, and when his key was not busy, there was in his hand a copy
of Gibbon's "Decline and Fall."
He wrote a hand like copperplate and could "take" as fast as the best
could send. And when it came to "sending," he had made the pride of
Chicago cry quits.
The Western Union had need of a specially good man at Albany while the
Legislature was in session, and Edison was sent there. He took the key
and never looked at the clock--he cleaned up the stuff. He sat glued to
his chair for ten hours, straight.
At one time, the line suddenly became blocked between Albany and New
York. The manager was in distress, and after exhausting all known
expedients went to Edison. The lanky youth called up a friend of his in
Pittsburgh and ordered that New York give the Pittsburgh man the Albany
wire. "Feel your way up the river until you find me," were the orders.
Edison started feeling his way down the river.
In twenty minutes he called to the manager, "The break is two miles below
Poughkeepsie--I've ordered the section-boss at Poughkeepsie to take a
repairer on his handcar and go and fix it!"
Of course, this plain telegraph-operator had no right to order out a
section-boss; but nevertheless he did it. He shouldered responsibility
like Tom Potter of the C., B. & Q.
Not long after the Albany experience, Edison was in New York, not looking
for work as some say, but nosing around Wall Street investigating the
"Laws Automatic Ticker." The machine he was looking at suddenly stopped,
and this blocked all the tickers on the line. An expert was sent for, but
he could not start it.
"I'll fix it," said a tall, awkward volunteer, the same which was Edison.
History is not yet clear as to whether Edison had not originally "fixed"
it, and Edison so far has not confessed.
And there being no one else to start the machine, Edison was given a
chance, and soon the tickers were going again. This gave him an
introduction to the stock-ticker folks, and the Western Union people he
This was in Eighteen Hundred Seventy, and Edison was then twenty-three
He studied out how stock-reporting could be bettered and invented a plan
which he duly patented, and then laid his scheme before the Western Union
A stock company was formed, and young Edison, aged twenty-four, was paid
exactly forty thousand dollars for his patent, and retained by the
Company as Electrical Adviser at three hundred dollars a month.
In Eighteen Hundred Seventy-four, when he was twenty-seven, he had
perfected his duplex telegraph apparatus and had a factory turning out
telegraph-instruments and appliances at Newark, New Jersey, where three
hundred men were employed.
In Eighteen Hundred Seventy-six, the year of the Centennial Exposition,
Edison told the Exposition Managers that if they would wait a year or so
he would light their show with electricity.
He moved to the then secluded spot of Menlo Park to devote himself to
experiments, spending an even hundred thousand dollars in equipment as a
starter. Results followed fast, and soon we had the incandescent lamp,
trolley-car, electric pen and many other inventions. It was on the night
of October the Twenty-third, Eighteen Hundred Seventy-nine, that Edison
first turned the current through an incandescent burner and got the
perfect light. He sat and looked at the soft, mild, beautiful light and
laughed a joyous peal of laughter that was heard in the adjoining rooms.
"We've got it, boys!" he cried, and the boys, a dozen of them, came
tumbling in. Arguments started as to how long it would last. One said an
hour. "Twenty-four hours," said Edison. They all vowed they would watch
it without sleep until the carbon film was destroyed and the light went
out. It lasted just forty hours.
Around Edison grew up a group of great workers--proud to be called
"Edison Men"--and some of these went out and made for themselves names
Edison was born in Eighteen Hundred Forty-seven. Consequently, at this
writing he is sixty-three years old. He is big and looks awkward, because
his dusty-gray clothes do not fit, and he walks with a slight stoop. When
he wants clothes he telephones for them. His necktie is worn by the right
oblique, his iron-gray hair is combed by the wind. On his cherubic face
usually sits a half-quizzical, pleased smile, that fades into a look
plaintive and very gentle. The face is that of a man who has borne
burdens and known sorrow, of one who has overcome only after mighty
effort. I was going to say that Edison looks like a Roman Emperor, but I
recall that no Roman Emperor deserves to rank with him--not even Julius
Caesar! The face is that of Napoleon at Saint Helena, unsubdued.
The predominant characteristics of the man are his faith, hope,
good-cheer and courage. But at all times his humor is apt to be near the
Had Edison been as keen a businessman as Rockefeller, and kept his own in
his own hands, he would today be as rich as Rockefeller.
But Edison is worth, oh, say, two million dollars, and that is all any
man should be worth--it is all he needs. Yet there are at least a hundred
men in the world today, far richer than Edison, who have made their
fortunes wholly and solely by appropriating his ideas.
Edison has trusted people, and some of them have taken advantage of his
great, big, generous, boyish spirit to do him grievous wrong. But the
nearest I ever heard him come to making a complaint was when he said to
me, "Fra Elbertus, you never wrote but one really true thing!"
"Well, what was that, Mr. Edison?"
"You said, 'There is one thing worse than to be deceived by men, and that
is to distrust them.' Now people say I have been successful, and so I
have, in degree, and it has been through trusting men. There are a few
fellows who always know just what I am doing--I confide in them--I
explain things to them just to straighten the matter out in my own mind."
But of the men who have used Edison's money and ideas, who have made it a
life business to study his patents and then use them, evading the law,
not a word!
From Eighteen Hundred Seventy to Eighteen Hundred Ninety, Edison secured
over nine hundred patents, or at the rate of one patent every ten days.
Very few indeed of these patents ever brought him any direct return, and
now his plan is to invent and keep the matter a secret in his "family."
"The value of an idea lies in the using of it," he said to me. "You
patent a thing and the other fellow starts even with you. Keep it to
yourself and you have the machinery going before the other fellow is
awake. Patents may protect some things, and still others they only
advertise. Up in Buffalo you have a great lawyer who says he can drive a
coach and four through any will that was ever made--and I guess he can.
All good lawyers know how to break wills and contracts, and there are now
specialists who secure goodly fees for busting patents. If you have an
idea, go ahead and invent a way to use it and keep your process secret."
* * * * *
The Edison factories at West Orange cover a space of about
thirty acres, all fenced in with high pickets and barb-wire. Over two
thousand people are employed inside that fence. There are guards at the
gates, and the would-be visitor is challenged as if he were an enemy. If
you want to see any particular person, you do not go in and see him--he
comes to you and you sit in a place like the visitors' dock at Sing-Sing.
With me it was different: I had a note that made the gates swing wide.
However, one gatekeeper scrutinized the note and scrutinized me, and then
went back into a maze of buildings for advice. When he came back, the
General Manager was with him and was reproving him. In a voice full of
defense the County Down watchman said: "Ah, now, and how did I know but
that it was a forgery? And anyhow, I'd never let in a man what looks like
that, even if he had an order from Bill Taft."
The Edison factories, all enclosed in the high fence and under guard,
include four separate and distinct corporations, each with its own set of
offices. Edison himself owns a controlling interest in each corporation,
and the rest of the stock is owned by the managers or "family." With his
few trusted helpers he is most liberal. Not only do they draw goodly
salaries, but they have an interest in the profits that is no small
The secrets of the place are protected by having each workman stick
right to one thing and work in one room. No running around is
allowed--each employee goes to a certain place and remains there all day.
To be found elsewhere is a misdemeanor, and while spies at the Edison
factory are not shot, they have been known to disappear into space with
To make amends for the close restrictions on workers, an extra wage is
paid and the eight-hour day prevails, so help is never wanting.
Ninety-nine workers out of a hundred want their wages, and nothing else.
Promotion, advancement and education are things that never occur to them.
But for the few that have the stuff in them, Edison is always on the
lookout. His place is really a college, for to know the man is an
education. He radiates good-cheer and his animation is catching.
To a woman who wanted him to write a motto for her son, Edison wrote,
"Never look at the clock!" The argument is plain--get the thing done.
And around the Edison laboratory there is no use of looking at the clock,
for none of them runs. That is the classic joke of the place. Years ago
Edison expressed his contempt for the man who watched the clock, and now
every Christmas his office family take up a collection and buy him a
clock, and present it with great ceremony. He replies in a speech on the
nebular hypothesis and all are very happy. One year the present assumed
the form of an Ingersoll Dollar Watch, which the Wizard showed to me
with great pride. In the stockade is a beautiful library building and
here you see clocks galore, some of which must have cost a thousand
dollars a piece, all silent. One clock had a neatly printed card
attached, "Don't look at this clock--it has stopped." And another, "You
may look at this clock, for you can't stop it!" It was already stopped.
One very elegant clock had a solid block of wood where the works should
have been, but the face and golden hands were all complete.
However, one clock was running, with a tick needlessly loud, but this
clock had no hands.
The Edison Library is a gigantic affair, with two balconies and
The intent was to have a scientific library right at hand that would
compass the knowledge of the world. The Laboratory is quite as complete,
for in it is every chemical substance known to man, all labeled,
classified and indexed. Seemingly, Edison is the most careless,
indifferent and slipshod of men, but the real fact is that such a
thorough business general the world has seldom seen. If he wants, say,
the "Electrical Review" for March, Eighteen Hundred Ninety-One, he hands
a boy a slip of paper and the book is in his hands in five minutes.
Edison of all men understands that knowledge consists in having a clerk
who can quickly find the thing. In his hands the card-index has reached
Edison has no private office, and his desk in the great library has not
had a letter written on it since Eighteen Hundred Ninety-five. "I hate to
disturb the mice," he said as he pointed it out indifferently.
He arrives at the stockade early--often by seven o'clock, and makes his
way direct to the Laboratory, which stands in the center of the campus.
All around are high factory buildings, vibrating with the suppressed roar
and hum of industry.
In the Laboratory, Edison works, secure and free from interruption unless
he invites it. Much of his time is spent in the Chemical Building, a low,
one-story structure, lighted from the top. It has a cement floor and very
simple furniture, the shelves and tables being mostly of iron. "We are
always prepared for fires and explosions here," said Edison in
half-apology for the barrenness of the rooms.
The place is a maze of retorts, kettles, tubes, siphons and tiny brass
machinery. In the midst of the mess stood two old-fashioned
armchairs--both sacred to Edison. One he sits in, and the other is for
his feet, his books, pads and paper.
Here he sits and thinks, reads or muses or tells stories or shuffles
about with his hands in his pockets. Edison is a man of infinite leisure.
He has the faculty of throwing details upon others. At his elbow, shod in
sneakers silent, is always a stenographer. Then there is a bookkeeper who
does nothing but record the result of every experiment, and these
experiments are going on constantly, attended to by half a dozen quiet
and alert men, who work like automatons. "I have tried a million schemes
that will not work--I know everything that is no good. I work by
elimination," says Edison.
When hot on the trail of an idea he may work here for three days and
nights without going home, and his wife is good enough and great enough
to leave him absolutely to himself. In a little room in the corner of the
Laboratory is a little iron cot and three gray army blankets. He can
sleep at any time, and half an hour's rest will enable him to go on. When
he can't quite catch the idea, he closes up his brain-cells for ten
minutes and sleeps, then up and after it again.
Mrs. Edison occasionally sends meals down for the Wizard when he is on
the trail of a thought and does not want to take time to go home.
One day the dinner arrived when Edison was just putting salt on the tail
of an idea. There was no time to eat, but it occurred to the inventor
that if he would just quit thinking for ten minutes and sleep, he could
awaken with enough brain-power to throw the lariat successfully. So he
just leaned back, put his feet in the other chair and went to sleep.
The General Manager came in and saw the dinner on the table and Edison
sleeping, so he just sat down and began to eat the dinner. He ate it all,
and tiptoed out.
Edison slept twenty minutes, awoke, looked at the empty dishes, pulled
down his vest, took out his regular after-dinner cigar, lighted it and
smoked away in sweet satisfaction, fully believing that he had had his
dinner; and even after the General Manager had come in and offered to bet
him a dollar he hadn't, he was still of the same mind.
This spirit of sly joking fills the place, set afloat by the master
himself. Edison dearly loves a joke, and will quit work any time to hear
one. It is the five minutes' sleep and the good laugh that keep his brain
from becoming a hotbox--he gets his rest!
"When do you take your vacation, Mr. Edison?" a lady asked him.
"Election night every November," was the reply. And this is literally
true, for on that night there is a special wire run into the Orange
Clubhouse, and Edison takes the key and sits there until daylight taking
the returns, writing them out carefully in that copperplate Western Union
hand. He is as careful about his handwriting now as if he were writing
"If I wanted to live a hundred years I would use neither tobacco nor
coffee," said Edison as we sat at lunch. "But you see I'd rather get a
little really good work done than live long and do nothing to speak of.
And so I spur what I am pleased to call my mind, at times with coffee and
a good cigar--just pass the matches, thank you! Some day some fellow will
invent a way of concentrating and storing up sunshine to use instead of
this old, absurd Prometheus scheme of fire. I'll do the trick myself if
some one else doesn't get at it. Why, that is all there is about my work
in electricity--you know, I never claimed to have invented
electricity--that is a campaign lie--nail it!"
"Sunshine is spread out thin and so is electricity. Perhaps they are the
same, but we will take that up later. Now the trick was, you see, to
concentrate the juice and liberate it as you needed it. The old-fashioned
way inaugurated by Jove, of letting it off in a clap of thunder, is
dangerous, disconcerting and wasteful. It doesn't fetch up anywhere. My
task was to subdivide the current and use it in a great number of little
lights, and to do this I had to store it. And we haven't really found out
how to store it yet and let it off real easy-like and cheap. Why, we have
just begun to commence to get ready to find out about electricity. This
scheme of combustion to get power makes me sick to think of--it is so
wasteful. It is just the old, foolish Prometheus idea, and the father of
Prometheus was a baboon."
"When we learn how to store electricity, we will cease being apes
ourselves; until then we are tailless orangutans. You see, we should
utilize natural forces and thus get all of our power. Sunshine is a form
of energy, and the winds and the tides are manifestations of energy."
"Do we use them? Oh, no! We burn up wood and coal, as renters burn up the
front fence for fuel. We live like squatters, not as if we owned the
"There must surely come a time when heat and power will be stored in
unlimited quantities in every community, all gathered by natural forces.
Electricity ought to be as cheap as oxygen, for it can not be destroyed.
"Now, I am not sure but that my new storage-battery is the thing. I'd
tell you about that, but I don't want to bore you. Of course, I know that
nothing is more interesting to the public than a good lie. You see, I
have been a newspaperman myself--used to run a newspaper--in fact,
Veritas and Old Subscriber once took exception to one of my editorials
and threw me into the Detroit River--that is where I got my little
deafness--what's that? No, I did not say my deftness--I got that in
another way. But about lies, you have heard that one about my smoking
big, black cigars! Well, the story is that the boys in the office used to
steal my cigars, and so I got a cigarmaker to make me up a box that
looked just like my favorite brand, only I had 'em filled with hemp,
horsehair and a touch of asafetida. Then I just left the box where the
boys would be sure to dip into it; but it seems the cigarman put them on,
and so they just put that box into my own private stock and I smoked the
fumigators and never knew the difference.
"That whole story is a pernicious malrepresentation invented by the enemy
of mankind in order to throw obloquy over a virtuous old
Witness, therefore, that I have branded it, forevermore!
* * * * *
Once upon a day I wrote an article on Alexander Humboldt.
And in that article among other things I said, "This world of ours, round
like an orange and slightly flattened at the Poles, has produced but five
And ironical ladies and gents from all parts of the United States wrote
me on postal cards, begging that I should name the other four. Let us
leave the cynics to their little pleasantries, and make our appeal to
people who think.
Education means evolution, development, growth. Education is comparative,
for there is no fixed standard--all men know more than some men, and some
men know more than some other men. "Every man I meet is my master in some
particular," said Emerson. But there are five men in history who had
minds so developed, and evolved beyond the rest of mankind so far, that
they form a class by themselves, and deserve to be called Educated Men.
The men I have in mind were the following: Pericles, Builder of Athens.
Aristotle, tutor of Alexander, and the world's first naturalist.
Leonardo, the all-round man--the man who could do more things, and do
them well, than any other man who every lived.
Sir Isaac Newton, the mathematician, who analyzed light and discovered
the law of gravitation.
Alexander von Humboldt, explorer and naturalist, who compassed the entire
scientific knowledge of the world, issued his books in deluxe limited
editions at his own expense, and sold them for three thousand dollars a
Newton and Humboldt each wore a seven and three-fourths hat. Leonardo and
Aristotle went untaped, but Pericles had a head so high and so big that
he looked like a caricature, and Aristophanes, a nice man who lived at
the same time, said that the head of Pericles looked like a pumpkin that
had been sat upon. All the busts of Pericles represent him wearing a
helmet--this to avoid what the artists thought an abnormality, the
average Greek having a round, smooth chucklehead like that of a Bowery
America has produced two men who stand out so far beyond the rest of
mankind that they form a class by themselves: Benjamin Franklin and
Thomas A. Edison.
Franklin wore a seven and a half hat; Edison wears a seven and
The difference in men is the difference in brain-power. And while size
does not always token quality, yet size and surface are necessary to get
power, and there is no record of a man with a six and a half head ever
making a ripple on the intellectual sea. Without the cells you get no
mind, and if mind exists without the cells, it has not yet been proven.
The brain is a storage-battery made up of millions of minute cells.
The weight of an average man's brain is forty-nine ounces. Now,
Humboldt's brain weighed fifty-six ounces, and Newton's and Franklin's
weighed fifty-seven. Let us hope the autopsist will not have a chance to
weigh Edison's brain for many years, but when he does the mark will
register fifty-seven ounces.
An orang-utan weighs about the same as a man, but its brain weighs only a
pound, against three pounds for a man. Give a gorilla a brain weighing
fifty ounces, and he would be a Methodist Presiding Elder. Give him a
brain the same size of Edison's, say fifty-seven ounces, and instead of
spending life in hunting for snakes and heaving cocoanuts at monkeys as
respectable gorillas are wont, he would be weighing the world in scales
of his own invention and making, and measuring the distances of the
Pericles was taught by the gentle Anaxagoras, who gave all his money to
the State in order that he might be free. The State reciprocated by
cutting off his head, for republics are always ungrateful.
Aristotle was a pupil of Plato and worked his way through college,
sifting ashes, washing windows and sweeping sidewalks.
Leonardo was self-taught and gathered knowledge as a bee gathers honey,
although honey isn't honey until the bee digests it.
Sir Isaac Newton was a Cambridge man. He held the office of Master of the
Mint, and to relieve himself of the charge of atheism he anticipated the
enemy and wrote a book on the Hebrew Prophets, which gave the scientists
the laugh on him, but made his position with the State secure. Newton is
the only man herein mentioned who knew anything about theology, all the
others being "infidels" in their day, devoting themselves strictly to
this world. Humboldt was taught by the "natural method," and never took a
Franklin was a graduate of the University of Hard Knocks, and Edison's
Alma Mater is the same.
There is one special characteristic manifested by the Seven Educated men
I have named--good-cheer, a great welling sense of happiness! They were
all good animals: they gloried in life; they loved the men and women who
were still on earth; they feasted on the good things in life; breathed
deeply; slept soundly and did not bother about the future. Their working
motto was, "One world at a time."
They were all able to laugh.
Genius is a great fund of joyousness.
Each and all of these men influenced the world profoundly. We are
different people because they lived. Every house, school, library and
workshop in Christendom is touched by their presence.
All are dead but Edison, yet their influence can never die. And no one in
the list has influenced civilization so profoundly as Edison. You can not
look out of a window in any city in Europe or America without beholding
the influence of his thought. You may say that the science of
electricity has gone past him, but all the Sons of Jove have built on
He gave us the electric light and the electric car and pointed the way to
the telephone--three things that have revolutionized society. As Athens
at her height was the Age of Pericles, so will our time be known as the
Age of Edison.
SO HERE ENDETH "LITTLE JOURNEYS TO THE HOMES OF GOOD MEN AND GREAT,"
BEING VOLUME ONE OF THE SERIES, AS WRITTEN BY ELBERT HUBBARD: EDITED AND
ARRANGED BY FRED BANN; BORDERS AND INITIALS BY ROYCROFT ARTISTS AND
PRODUCED BY THE ROYCROFTERS, AT THEIR SHOPS, WHICH ARE IN EAST AURORA,
ERIE COUNTY, NEW YORK, MCMXXII