The mind can not conceive what man will do in the
Twentieth Century with his chained lightning.
—Thomas A. Edison
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 Themistocles.
And the Greek matron proudly answered, “Yes, I am an alien–but my son is Themistocles.”
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 failure.”
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 Toledo.
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 steamboat-lines.
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.