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by [?]

There is only one thing in the book I remember, but that stands out as clearly as the little mole on White Pigeon’s forehead. The author said that Leonardo da Vinci invented more useful appliances than any other man who ever lived, except our own Edison.

I know Edison: he is a most lovable man (because he is himself), very deaf–and glad of it, he says, because it saves him from hearing a lot of things he doesn’t wish to hear. “It is like this,” he once said to me: “deafness gives you a needed isolation; reduces your sensitiveness so things do not disturb or distract; allows you to concentrate and focus on a thought until you run it down–see?”

Edison is a great Philistine–reads everything I write–has a complete file of the little brownie magazine; and some of the “Little Journeys” I saw he had interlined and marked. I think Edison is one of the greatest men I ever met–he appreciates Good Things.

I told Edison how this writer, Rose, had compared him with Leonardo. He smiled and said, “Who is Rose?” Then after a little pause he continued, “The Great Man is one who has been a long time dead–the woods are full of wizards, but not many of them know that”; and the Wizard laughed softly at his own joke.

What kind of a man was Leonardo? Why, he was the same kind of a man as Edison–only Leonardo was thin and tall, while Edison is stout. But you and I would be at home with either. Both are classics and therefore essentially modern. Leonardo studied Nature at first hand –he took nothing for granted–Nature was his one book. Stuffy, fussy, indoor professors–men of awful dignity–frighten folks, cause children to scream, and ladies to gaze in awe; but Leonardo was simple and unpretentious. He was at home in any society, high or low, rich or poor, learned or unlearned–and was quite content to be himself. It’s a fine thing to be yourself!

Thackeray once said, “If I had met Shakespeare on the stairs, I know I should have fainted dead away!” I do not believe Shakespeare’s presence ever made anybody faint. He was so big that he could well afford to put folks at their ease.

If Leonardo should come to East Aurora, Bertie, Oliver, Lyle and I would tramp with him across the fields, and he would carry that leather bag strung across his shoulder, just as he ever did when in the country. He was a geologist and a botanist, and was always collecting things (and forgetting where they were).

We would tramp with him, I say, and if the season were right we would go through orchards, sit under the trees and eat apples. And Leonardo would talk, as he liked to do, and tell why the side of fruit that was towards the sun took on a beautiful color first; and when an apple fell from the tree he would, so to speak, anticipate Sir Isaac Newton and explain why it fell down and not up.

That leather bag of his, I fear, would get rather heavy before we got back, and probably Oliver and Lyle would dispute the honor of carrying it for him.

Leonardo was once engaged by Cesare Borgia to fortify the kingdom of Romagna. It was a brand-new kingdom, presented to the young man by Pope Alexander the Sixth. It was really the Pope who ordered Leonardo to survey the tract and make plans for the fortifications and canals and all that–so Leonardo didn’t like to refuse. Cesare Borgia had the felicity of being the son of the Pope, but the Pope used to refer to him as his nephew–it was a habit that Popes once had. Pope Alexander also had a daughter–by name, Lucrezia Borgia– sister to Cesare and very much like him, for they took their diversion in the same way.

Leonardo started in to do the work and make plans for fortifications that should be impregnable. He looked the ground over thoroughly, traveling on horseback, and his two servants followed him up in a cart drawn by a bull, which Leonardo calmly explains was a “side- wheeler.”