Edison: His Life and Inventions - Vol. 2

By Frank Lewis Dyer; Thomas Commerford Martin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIX
THE SOCIAL SIDE OF EDISON

THE title of this chapter might imply that there is an unsocial side to Edison. In a sense this is true, for no one is more impatient or intolerant of interruption when deeply engaged in some line of experiment. Then the caller, no matter how important or what his mission, is likely to realize his utter insignificance and be sent away without accomplishing his object. But, generally speaking, Edison is easy tolerance itself, with a peculiar weakness toward those who have the least right to make any demands on his time. Man is a social animal, and that describes Edison; but it does not describe accurately the inventor asking to be let alone.

Edison never sought Society; but "Society" has never ceased to seek him, and to-day, as ever, the pressure upon him to give up his work and receive honors, meet distinguished people, or attend public functions, is intense. Only two or three years ago, a flattering invitation came from one of the great English universities to receive a degree, but at that moment he was deep in experiments on his new storage battery, and nothing could budge him. He would not drop the work, and while highly appreciative of the proposed honor, let it go by rather than quit for a week or two

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