Snags And Success
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
MR. EDISON being asked on what lines electrical investigation will be pursued in the future, answered, " On chemical lines decidedly. It is in this direction that a man should work to anticipate the future. The great discoveries of the past have been in the line of chemistry. Chemistry is closely related to electricity, but it is sadly neglected because of the difficulties en-countered. I find that electrical investigation is one long course of snags. A man does not have to look out for them ; they are always cropping up. There are, I should say, about two hundred and fifty snags to every new fact."
The boy, Thomas Edison, struck one of these snags when the angry conductor threw him off the train, and boxed his ears so savagely as to damage his hearing for life. But he took his chemicals to the cellar of his father's house in Port Huron, Mich., and continued his experiments. The daughter of the local telegraph operator was about to be killed by a train, when the discharged newsboy, at the risk of his own life, rescued her from danger, and the father, in gratitude for the heroic act, took the saviour of his child into his office and taught him telegraphy. With his appetite for chemistry and electricity, he would have struck a wire sooner or later and learned to work it, but it so happened that his act of heroism was his introduction to that wide field where he has wrought such wonders, and secured such benefits for mankind.
The young man, Thomas Edison, struck another snag. While a telegraph operator, in Indianapolis, Ind., he was experimenting with his chemicals, when he knocked over a huge jug of sulphuric acid, which soon eat through the floor and the carpet of the president's room, destroying the furnishings and some of the instruments. He was promptly discharged. The poor young man, on a winter day, in a linen duster and straw hat, started to walk to Louisville, Ky., a distance of more than a hundred miles, where he secured another position as telegraph operator.
All through his life, in the laboratory and in his business ventures, Mr. Edison has met obstacles which have caused him close study, hard work, and much trouble, but he has overcome most of them, and has wealth, honor, and the consciousness of a singularly useful life.
" Two hundred and fifty snags to every new fact," would perhaps be the testimony of the inventors of the world if they were to be interrogated. The snags are the challenges to keener thought and greater labor.
No one succeeds in any occupation or enterprise in life who does not triumph over obstacles, and profit by many failures. The hindrances are the things that give the greatest value to success.
The religious life is full of snags. As Edison says they do not have to be searched for, they are popping up everywhere. Disagreeable, troublesome, even dangerous, though they be, they serve a good purpose or they would not be scattered so thickly in our pathway. They develop caution, wisdom, energy, enterprise, courage and reliance on Divine power. They are the things that make a high type of Christian manhood or womanhood possible. They are the things that make us skillful navigators on the sea of life, and will enable us to appreciate the calmness and security of the harbor on the other side.