Our last, in a double sense. For here finally these wide roamings of ours through so many times and places, in search and study of Heroes, are to terminate. I am sorry for it: there was pleasure for me in this business, if also much pain. It is a great subject, and a most grave and wide one, this which, not to be too grave about it, I have named _Hero-worship_. It enters deeply, as I think, into the secret of Mankind's ways and vitalest interests in this world, and is well worth explaining at present. With six months, instead of six days, we might have done better. I promised to break ground on it; I know not whether I have even managed to do that. I have had to tear it up in the rudest manner in order to get into it at all. Often enough, with these abrupt utterances thrown out isolated, unexplained, has your tolerance been put to the trial. Tolerance, patient candor, all-hoping favor and kindness, which I will not speak of at present. The accomplished and distinguished, the beautiful, the wise, something of what is best in England, have listened patiently to my rude words. With many feelings, I heartily thank you all; and say, Good be with you all!
The present work is in some respects a sequel to the PIONEERS OF
ELECTRICITY, and it deals with the lives and principal achievements of
those distinguished men to whom we are indebted for the introduction of
the electric telegraph and telephone, as well as other marvels of
I. THE ORIGIN OF THE TELEGRAPH
III. SIR WILLIAM FOTHERGILL COOKE
The history of an invention, whether of science or art, may be compared to the growth of an organism such as a tree. The wind, or the random visit of a bee, unites the pollen in the flower, the green fruit forms and ripens to the perfect seed, which, on being planted in congenial soil, takes root and flourishes. Even so from the chance combination of two facts in the human mind, a crude idea springs, and after maturing into a feasible plan is put in practice under favourable conditions, and so develops. These processes are both subject to a thousand accidents which are inimical to their achievement. Especially is this the case when their object is to produce a novel species, or a new and great invention like the telegraph. It is then a question of raising, not one seedling, but many, and modifying these in the lapse of time.