"Flippant Disparagement" Of Mr. Tesla

Wednesday, March 6, 1901
Archived Page: 

318 THE LITERARY DIGEST [March 16, 1901 “FL|PPANT DISPARAGEMENT" OF MR. TESLA. NEW YORK daily-The .Su/1-coniplains that other papers utter "tlippant remarks of disparageiueut" regarding Mr. Nikola 'l`esla‘s recent inventions. In commenting on this, T/1: lilucfrzkal IVH1'/ll ami 1?/1g1`1/fer' observcs that the reason for this disparagement lies in the nature of things. It says that modern electrical inventors are generally diffuse in their elforts from the fact that opportunities to (vin new triumphs present themselves so abundantly in every direction that the most en- during energy and the highest genius are in danger of dissipa- tion without nct results. And this is the reason why the public once in zz while gets impatient with the inventor and says rude things, The L'/eclrlk lVur/rl' ami E/igifznr continues: “The tide of this flippaut disparagenient has been rising high of late, possibly because Mr. Tesla, with the onrushing enthusi- asm of a man who sees things ahead to be done and is fertile in expedients for doing them, inclines to discuss them as tho they were already disposed of. With men of this stamp of intellect it will be so to the end, and it would be a prosaic worldof mediocre achievement if it were otherwise. just at present Mr. Tesla. and his brilliant fellow countryman, Dr. Pupin. have their names as- sociated in the public mind with new means of communicating across the ocean, and the newspapers, as the popular sources of scicntilic information, are full of the subject-a thing we heartily prefer to seeing the same columns filled with murder cases. But it is certain, in_ advance, that before they get through both Messrs. Pupin and Tesla will encounter a good deal more of 'flippant disparagementf What is no\v being heralded as a novelty in each instance has been known to the electrical com- munity for some time past, as we show in reproducing our arti- cles of nearly a year ago : and probably before the goal is reached there will he several successive outbursts of sensational writing, followed by more of the ‘ flippant disparagement."’ Obviously, the writer goes on to sayfthe tasks of telegraph- ing to Europe without wires or telephoning to Europe with a “loaded " cable are serious problems, but the impatient public does not realize that such things may linger unaccomplished many years to come, without any fault on the part of those who are striving to bring them to pass. He adds: "In Mr. ’l`esla's case the injury done him by the jokes and jihes one finds in almost every paper picked up is the more severe be- cause so much is promised in his name without his direct per- sonal sanction. There seems no way to stop this abuse of conn- dence, from which Mr. Edison has also suffered to such an extent that a shotgun is his preferred reception for the average reporter. But just now Mr. Tesla holds the centerof the sensational stage, and the talk about him is all the looser for the reason that it has so little that is tangible behind it as food. He has read no scien- tific papers before the societies for years, and, since his monu- mental series of patents on polyphase work, has taken out ex- tremely few patents. We can recall only one or two in recent years. Hence the gossip that always besets a great genius has little to feed upon save the \vild and absurd stories to which few of the authors hesitate even at signing Mr. Teslals own name. In this \vay, as all such men discover, the lot of the genius try- ing to crack the nuts of modern civilization is not much better than that of his predecessors treated as lunatics or witches. And this ‘fiippant disparagerrient' falls hardest upon those who are not dra\ving-room inventors with drawing-board inventions."