« AnkstesnisTęsti »
was actuated by a fierce hatred against Tiberius. We know from him how the accusers of Piso recounted that the poison had been drunk in a health at a banquet to which Piso had been invited by Germanicus and at which he was seated several places from his host; he was supposed to have poured the poison into his dishes in the presence of all the guests without any one having seen him! Tacitus himself says that every one thought this an absurd fable, and such every man of good sense will think it to-day. But hatred makes even intelligent persons believe fables even more absurd; the people favorable to Germanicus were embittered against Piso and would not listen to reason. All the enemies of Tiberius easily persuaded themselves that some atrocious mystery was hidden in this death and that, if they instituted proceedings against Piso, they might bring to light a scandal which would compromise the emperor himself. They even began to repeat that Piso possessed letters from Tiberius which contained the order to poison Germanicus.
At last Agrippina arrived at Rome with the ashes of her husband, and she began with her usual vehemence to fill the imperial house, the senate, and all Rome with protests, imprecations, and accusations against Piso. The populace, which admired her for her fidelity and love for her husband, was even more deeply stirred, and on every hand the cry was raised that an exemplary punishment ought to be meted out to so execrable a crime.
If at first Piso had treated these absurd charges with haughty disdain, he soon perceived that the danger was growing serious and that it was necessary for him to hasten his return to Rome, where a trial was now inevitable. One of Germanicus's friends had accused him; Agrippina, an unwitting tool in the hands of the emperor's enemies, every day stirred public opinion to still higher pitches of excitement through her grief and her laments;
the party of Germanicus worked upon the senate and the people, and when Piso arrived at Rome he found that he had been abandoned by all. His hope lay in Tiberius, who knew the truth and who certainly desired that these wild notions be driven out of the popular mind. But Tiberius was watched with the most painstaking malevolence. Any least action in favor of Piso would have been interpreted as a decisive proof that he had been the murderer's accomplice and therefore wished to save him. In fact, it was being reported at Rome with ever-increasing insistence that at the trial Piso would show the letters of Tiberius. When the trial began, Livia, in the background, cleverly directed her thoughts to the saving of Plancina; but Tiberius could do no more for Piso than to recommend to the senate that they exercise the most rigorous impartiality. His noble speech on this occasion has been preserved for us by Tacitus. "Let them judge," he said, "without regard either for the imperial family or for the family of Piso." The admonition was useless, for his condemnation was a foregone conclusion, despite the absurdity of the charges. The enemies of Tiberius wished to force matters to the uttermost limit in the hope that the famous letters would have to be produced; and they acted with such frenzied hatred and excited public opinion to such a pitch that Piso killed himself before the end of the trial.
The violence of Agrippina had sent an innocent victim to follow the shade of her young husband. Despite bitter opposition, the emperor, through personal intervention, succeeded in saving the wife, the son, and the fortune of Piso, whose enemies had wished to exterminate his house root and branch, and Tiberius thus offered a further proof that he was one of the few persons at Rome who were capable in that trying and troubled time of passing judgment and of reasoning with calm.
(To be continued)
CAN INVENTION BE TAUGHT?-HIS METHODS OF WORKVIEWS ON THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE-WAYS OF STIMULATING THE IMAGINATION-HIS HUMILITY
WHEN I stepped into the library the of a great dressed me as being the germ
group of buildings comprising the great plant at Orange, New Jersey, it was to meet and talk with a man whose many wonderful achievements had fired my imagination since my childhood days.
To talk with Edison, and ask him questions, and try to grasp some secret of the mental attitude which has kept his mind open to the reception of many great fundamental ideas-that was my desire. And the pleasure is doubly mine in being able to share some of those ideas with the world that world every inhabitant of which in this and future ages is or will be a beneficiary of the genius and labor of one of the most prolific inventors the world has ever known.
The immediate object of my visit was to get Mr. Edison to express more at length his views in regard to the possibility of teaching men how to develop their latent inventive instinct. It was a subject that had long engaged my interest, and I had only recently read this statement:
"Edison regards the art of inventing very much in the light of a profession which may be 'learned' almost as successfully as soldiering or acting or even 'doctoring.' Thousands of men, he thinks, might have become inventors had they but cultivated their ideas, for the creative germ lies hidden in most minds."
veloped. Who knows, thought I, but the day may come when our educational systems will more adequately recognize the importance of the creative faculty, and will be keyed to develop the individual mind, instead of forcing the mind to lose much of its individual initiative by being passed through a mold of a dead-level average intelligence? If Edison, the acknowledged "king of inventors," declares that inventiveness can be learned and developed the same as any other faculty of the mind, what an interesting thing for our initial educators to ponder over! Perhaps, even, some of our moneyed men whose fortunes have been made from the ideas of the inventors might make endowments to further such instruction. At any rate, it was an interesting thing to think and talk about, and would afford an opportunity to meet Mr. Edison on a matter that already commanded his interest.
The Edison plant is composed of a number of large buildings, similar to those of hundreds of other factories, and, like them, filled with odd, intricate, and noisy machinery and busy workmen. The library building is at one corner of the grounds, a little apart from the factory buildings. Here, in a large room filled with books and statuary and various bits of paraphernalia which doubtless belong somewhere
else when not in use, I found Mr. Edison sitting at a flat-top mahogany desk, which was covered with the usual array of office papers.
After explaining more fully the object of my visit, I asked him a number of questions calculated to engage his thought upon matters of general interest. Having heard of his deafness, and not knowing how difficult it might be to talk with him, I had prepared a number of questions along the line of the intended interview. These I handed to him in type-written. form.
He looked them over and remarked, "You have some hard ones here." Then he reached for my fountain-pen, which he saw sticking out of my coat-pocket, and, picking up a pad of yellow paper, began to write down numbered answers to my written questions.
The list of questions, and his answers, are as follows:
Q. Do you believe that inventiveness can be taught?
A. Yes, if the person has ambition, energy, and imagination.
Q. At what age is one most likely to respond to such instruction?
A. About twelve years.
Q. What method of instruction would be most valuable?
A. Problems to be solved.
Q. Do you consider the end for which an instrument is designed or the immediate effect you wish to produce?
A. Consider always if the public wants the invention-its commercial value.
Q. What is an inventor's chief inspiration?
A. If he is a good inventor, it is to make his invention earn money to permit him to indulge in more inventions. If he is a one-idea inventor, the incentive is generally money only.
When he had finished writing these answers he leaned back in his chair and began to talk over the subject in general. One of the first things he said was:
"Do you want to know my definition of a successful invention? It is something that is so practical that a Polish Jew will buy it."
This I found was to be a sort of keynote to his whole attitude-a consideration of the practical. He said that he just works along, feeling after results, to find the right tack, but is not much given to reducing his experiments to generalizations. He seemed at least to have attained a working hypothesis in the belief that the open mind was better than making broad generalizations from fragmentary experiments. This was not exactly the kind of psychological secret I had expected to find to account for his deep insight into things,
Q. Should it be done through schools but it explained more than the most cherand books?
A. Books and actual demonstration.
Q. What of the advantage of ordinary shop experience?
A. Great advantage to have actual personal knowledge of how things are done.
Q. What do you think of instruction by correspondence?
A. The cheapest and best way for a poor man, if the college is reputable.
Q. What frame of mind helps to bring ideas?
ished theory would have done.
But I was interested to know what kind of ideas he would have about big thingsthe laws of the universe and our relation to them. For surely a man whose life had been spent working with fundamental laws would have some interesting impressions about them. To open up the conversation on such things, I asked:
"Is a settled concept of the universe important as a background for deep thinking?" I had heard it said that a man needs to have his mind fairly at rest on the
Q. Is it true that an inventor has to be big points of life before he can do much more or less abnormal?
sound creative work.
He waved the question aside with a gesture of head and hand, and smiled as he said: "No; I always keep within a few feet of the earth's surface all the time. At least I never let my thought run up higher than the Himalayas. All my work is rather earthy."
He soon contradicted this limitation,
however, by showing that he could readily let himself out when he wished. "We don't know very much," he said; "practically nothing, when you think of it. There is the infinitely large, and the infinitely small. The sun is a big ball of fire, and every star is like the sun, and around them are planets like ours. They run into millions upon millions. No man can imagine how many and how big. Then everything runs down to the infinitely small, and each cell of everything is as wonderful in its way as the bigger things. A man can't really know anything about the universe -just a few little things here on the surface."
"Don't you think of the universe as a complete whole?"
"Oh, it probably is, but we can't grasp it. We may be like cells in a great big body. Everything is held together by wonderful laws."
"Do you think of the laws as inherent in matter or manifested through it?"
"The laws don't seem to be in matter. I do not think of a tree as having life. It looks to me as if it was the abode of, and was constructed by, a highly organized unit, so small as to be far beyond the limits of the microscope. We see only the grosser aspect. Science cannot reach any other conclusion than that there is a great intelligence manifested everywhere."
"What do you think of the relation of mind and matter?"
"Oh, I don't know," he replied in a tone indicating that this is beyond the possibility of human knowledge. "As far as I can see, we do not think with the brain; that is only a recording-office for things brought to it by our five senses. It's like a phonograph-record. I understand that there is a certain fold in the brain called Broca's convolution, which is about the size of a short lead-pencil, and everything the senses pick up is therein recorded for future use.
Injuries to this convolution have proved that it is the seat of memory. Our first impressions are recorded at its base, and as we advance in age the seat of the record advances from the base. If the base is injured, we forget our mother tongue and remember only things learned. later in life. If the other end is injured, we remember only things recorded in early life. What makes us do things is that mysterious thing called the will.
"If a man has a powerful will, he can force an unwilling brain to record things that seem to be repellent to it, like acquiring Latin, etc. I can understand or imagine that the brain can record impressions, but I cannot understand the will that forces it to take records.
"Returning to Broca's convolution, I once made a calculation if it were possible to record in so small a space the whole record of a man's life, supposing him to have a perfect memory. And I found that if it were possible to make a cylinder of diamond three quarters of an inch in diameter and four inches long, by shaving off the records after each layer was made there could be recorded thereon all that a person could say in talking ten hours a day for thirty years, and none of it would be beyond the limits of the microscope. So this branch of the thing is not so wonderful.
"But the will of man, that is the mystery. Our body is highly organized and made up of cells, all symmetrical and beautifully arranged. Is it the combined intelligence of the whole of the cells which we call 'will-power,' or is our body only a building in which these cells are bricks without intelligence and the will resides in a highly organized unit which everywhere permeates our body, and which is beyond the range of vision even with the most powerful microscope, just as I imagined in the case of the tree?
"When we consider that there is apparently no end to space, that every time we increase the power of our telescopes we see more unknown suns of gigantic size, then why should there not be the infinitely little?
'Matter, as shown by radium, is a grain, fine enough to make a living aggregate or being as highly organized and as complicated as a man, and still be beyond recognition by the microscope. Of course these remarks are fanciful and remind one of the great physicist Clerk-Maxwell, who, when working out his theories, used a hypothetical little demon, which he said he sent in among the molecules to gather information."
Returning to activities he said:
"I have tried so many things I thought were true, and found I was mistaken, that I have quit being too sure about anything. All I can do is to try out what seems to be
the right thing, and be ready to give it up as soon as I am convinced that there is nothing in it."
"Do you find," I asked, "that you can force a solution by making yourself think hard along a given line?"
"Oh, no," he said. "I never think about a thing any longer than I want to. If I lose my interest in it, I turn to something else. I always keep six or eight things going at once, and turn from one to the other as I feel like it. Very often I will work at a thing and get where I can't see anything more in it, and just put it aside and go at something else; and the first thing I know the very idea I wanted will come to me. Then I drop the other and go back to it and work it out."
"Tell me more," I said, "about how the ideas come to you. Do you read much for mental culture or do you confine your self chiefly to scientific works? Do you like poetry?"
"Oh, I read everything," he said. "Not merely scientific works, but anything that helps the imagination. But I can't stand jingle. Where the thought is twisted out. of shape just to make it rime-I can't stand that. But I like Evangeline,' 'Enoch Arden,' and things like that. These I call true poetry.”
Then, as if suddenly remembering the best point of all, he spoke in an enthusiastic way: "But, ah, Shakspere! That's where you get the ideas! My, but that man did have ideas! He would have been an inventor, a wonderful inventor, if he had turned his mind to it. He seemed to see the inside of everything. Perfectly wonderful how many things he could think about. His originality in the way of expressing things has never been approached."
"Then you think, do you, that our ideas do not have to be closely connected with our work to be useful?"
“All kinds of ideas help to set the mind going. If a man has enough ideas to be an inventor, he can turn the same force in another direction, if he wishes to, and be a business man, an architect, or anything."
"Then in teaching inventiveness, it would not be necessary to confine it to men who expected to be inventors?"
"Oh, no. It's the same thing, whatever a man does. It's the creative fac
ulty. The more it is developed, the more successful a man should be in any line of work."
Glancing at the notes he had written, which were then before me, I noticed where he had set down twelve years of age as the time when instruction would perhaps be the most effective. Reminding him of this point, he went on:
"Yes, at about that age a boy is interested in knowing how things are done, and you can build on that interest easily. It is hard to teach a man anything if he is n't interested in it. But if you can get him when he is, then everything you do to instruct him counts. His brain or recording department wants work and receives it with pleasure."
"Do you think toys could be made to perform a real service in developing inventiveness, even in a much younger child?" I asked.
"Oh, yes. That will come. There are great possibilities in starting the mind. right with toys. Give them problems to work out that will make them think for themselves."
As a vision of the commercial and educational possibilities of an "Edison system" of instruction by means of toys flashed over me, I said, "Maybe you will get around to that some day-making scientific toys?"
He made a gesture with both hands, as much as to say that that was somewhat out of his usual line, and said: "That will come. It's a good thing, a scientific kindergarten. dergarten. Somebody will work it out. Plenty of time yet."
Returning to the subject of education of boys, he went on:
"They take up too much time teaching things that don't count. Latin and Greek— what good are they? They say these train the mind. But I don't think they train the mind half so much as working out practical problems. Work is the best kind of school to train the mind. Books are good to show the theory of things, but doing the thing itself is what counts.”
"Have you any suggestion to make about how boys should be taught?"
"Oh, it all depends. They'll work that out. That's a business by itself. It's working out."
Thinking of the possible effects of endowments to stimulate educational effort