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"I was taken by Johnson direct from the Inman Steamship pier to 65 Fifth Avenue, and met Edison for the first time. There were three rooms on the ground floor at that time. The front one was used as a kind of reception-room; the room immediately behind it was used as the office of the president of the Edison Electric Light Company, Major S. B. Eaton. The rear room, which was directly back of the front entrance hall, was Edison's office, and there I first saw him. There was very little in the room except a couple of walnut roller-top desks--which were very generally used in American offices at that time. Edison received me with great cordiality. I think he was possibly disappointed at my being so young a man; I had only just turned twenty-one, and had a very boyish appearance. The picture of Edison is as vivid to me now as if the incident occurred yesterday, although it is now more than twenty-nine years since that first meeting. I had been connected with Edison's affairs in England as private secretary to his London agent for about two years; and had been taught by Johnson to look on Edison as the greatest electrical inventor of the day--a view of him, by-the-way, which has been greatly strengthened as the years have rolled by. Owing to this, and to the fact that I felt highly flattered at the appointment as his private secretary, I was naturally prepared to accept him as a hero. With my strict English ideas as to the class of clothes to be worn by a prominent man, there was nothing in Edison's dress to impress me. He wore a rather seedy black diagonal Prince Albert coat and waistcoat, with trousers of a dark material, and a white silk handkerchief around his neck, tied in a careless knot falling over the stiff bosom of a white shirt somewhat the worse for wear. He had a large wide-awake hat of the sombrero pattern then generally used in this country, and a rough, brown overcoat, cut somewhat similarly to his Prince Albert coat. His hair was worn quite long, and hanging carelessly over his fine forehead. His face was at that time, as it is now, clean shaven. He was full in face and figure, although by no means as stout as he has grown in recent years. What struck me above everything else was the wonderful intelligence and magnetism of his expression, and the extreme brightness of his eyes. He was far more modest than in my youthful picture of him. I had expected to find a man of distinction. His appearance, as a whole, was not what you would call `slovenly,' it is best expressed by the word `careless.' "
Mr. Insull supplements this pen-picture by another, bearing upon the hustle and bustle of the moment: "After a short conversation Johnson hurried me off to meet his family, and later in the evening, about eight o'clock, he and I returned to Edison's office; and I found myself launched without further ceremony into Edison's business affairs. Johnson had already explained to me that he was sailing the next morning, March 2d, on the S.S. Arizona, and that Mr. Edison wanted to spend the evening discussing matters in connection with his European affairs. It was assumed, inasmuch as I had just arrived from London, that I would be able to give more or less information on this subject. As Johnson was to sail the next morning at five o'clock, Edison explained that it would be necessary for him to have an understanding of European matters. Edison started out by drawing from his desk a check-book and stating how much money he had in the bank; and he wanted to know what European telephone securities were most salable, as he wished to raise the necessary funds to put on their feet the incandescent lamp factory, the Electric Tube works, and the necessary shops to build dynamos. All through the interview I was tremendously impressed with Edison's wonderful resourcefulness and grasp, and his immediate appreciation of any suggestion of consequence bearing on the subject under discussion.
"He spoke with very great enthusiasm of the work before him--namely, the development of his electric- lighting system; and his one idea seemed to be to raise all the money he could with the object of pouring it into the manufacturing side of the lighting business. I remember how extraordinarily I was impressed with him on this account, as I had just come from a circle of people in London who not only questioned the possibility of the success of Edison's invention, but often expressed doubt as to whether the work he had done could be called an invention at all. After discussing affairs with Johnson--who was receiving his final instructions from Edison--far into the night, and going down to the steamer to see Johnson aboard, I finished my first night's business with Edison somewhere between four and five in the morning, feeling thoroughly imbued with the idea that I had met one of the great master minds of the world. You must allow for my youthful enthusiasm, but you must also bear in mind Edison's peculiar gift of magnetism, which has enabled him during his career to attach so many men to him. I fell a victim to the spell at the first interview."
Events moved rapidly in those days. The next morning, Tuesday, Edison took his new fidus Achates with him to a conference with John Roach, the famous old ship-builder, and at it agreed to take the AEtna Iron works, where Roach had laid the foundations of his fame and fortune. These works were not in use at the time. They were situated on Goerck Street, New York, north of Grand Street, on the east side of the city, and there, very soon after, was established the first Edison dynamo-manufacturing establishment, known for many years as the Edison Machine Works. The same night Insull made his first visit to Menlo Park. Up to that time he had seen very little incandescent lighting, for the simple reason that there was very little to see. Johnson had had a few Edison lamps in London, lit up from primary batteries, as a demonstration; and in the summer of 1880 Swan had had a few series lamps burning in London. In New York a small gas-engine plant was being started at the Edison offices on Fifth Avenue. But out at Menlo Park there was the first actual electric-lighting central station, supplying distributed incandescent lamps and some electric motors by means of underground conductors imbedded in asphaltum and surrounded by a wooden box. Mr. Insull says: "The system employed was naturally the two-wire, as at that time the three-wire had not been thought of. The lamps were partly of the horseshoe filament paper-carbon type, and partly bamboo-filament lamps, and were of an efficiency of 95 to 100 watts per 16 c.p. I can never forget the impression that this first view of the electric-lighting industry produced on me. Menlo Park must always be looked upon as the birthplace of the electric light and power industry. At that time it was the only place where could be seen an electric light and power multiple arc distribution system, the operation of which seemed as successful to my youthful mind as the operation of one of the large metropolitan systems to-day. I well remember about ten o'clock that night going down to the Menlo Park depot and getting the station agent, who was also the telegraph operator, to send some cable messages for me to my London friends, announcing that I had seen Edison's incandescent lighting system in actual operation, and that so far as I could tell it was an accomplished fact. A few weeks afterward I received a letter from one of my London friends, who was a doubting Thomas, upbraiding me for coming so soon under the spell of the `Yankee inventor.' "
It was to confront and deal with just this element of doubt in London and in Europe generally, that the dispatch of Johnson to England and of Batchelor to France was intended. Throughout the Edison staff there was a mingled feeling of pride in the work, resentment at the doubts expressed about it, and keen desire to show how excellent it was. Batchelor left for Paris in July, 1881--on his second trip to Europe that year--and the exhibit was made which brought such an instantaneous recognition of the incalculable value of Edison's lighting inventions, as evidenced by the awards and rewards immediately bestowed upon him. He was made an officer of the Legion of Honor, and Prof. George F. Barker cabled as follows from Paris, announcing the decision of the expert jury which passed upon the exhibits: "Accept my congratulations. You have distanced all competitors and obtained a diploma of honor, the highest award given in the Exposition. No person in any class in which you were an exhibitor received a like reward."
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Edison, His Life and Inventions -by- F. L. Dyer and T. C. Martin