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MR. HOYT'S ADDRESS.
Ladies and Gentlemen: His Honor, Mayor Blee, is right in saying that I am an after-breakfast speaker, since I never remember to have made a speech before breakfast in my life.
This association has been a little slow in convening this morning, and I understand that the reason is that there has been some doubt in the minds of most of you as to whether electricity is a fluid or not, and you have tarried to experiment in the bar-room of the Hollenden Hotel.
It is with great pleasure that I add what emphasis I may to the hearty welcome extended to you by the chief magistrate of our city. It is currently reported -I do not know with what correctness-that the first question propounded by Clevelanders to strangers is, Have you seen Cleveland in June?" Certain it is that in the vernal season of the year, when
if ever, come perfect days,
When Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
when the ice is at last out of the lake, and the fumes from the acid works have not had an opportunity to get in the full deadliness of their work, that Cleveland is indeed at her best; and I, for one, regret that you have been unable to hold your meetings here at a time when our city puts on her most attractive garb. But we will try to make
up for the chill in the air by the warmth and the fervor of the hospitality that we gladly extend to you.
It is time that the National Electric Light Association should meet in Cleveland; for, while Franklin, of Philadelphia, first harnessed the lightning, Morse, of New York, made a winged messenger of it, Bell, of Washington, endowed it with power of speech so clear and penetrating that not distance, but the telephone girl only, can render it inaudible, and Edison, of Menlo Park, made a mocking echo of it, it was Brush, of Cleveland, who first made it light, a practical torch, the beams of which are even now shining in the remotest and darkest corners of the earth, and, while I am talking, are piercing the fog of London, illuminating the brilliant boulevards of Paris and Vienna, glistening on the icy surface of the Neva and rending asunder the mantle of darkness which a kindly night has thrown over the horrors of battle-fields in distant Asia. It was at the creation of the modern electrical world that a citizen of Cleveland said,
"Let there be light,' and there was light."
You will remember the illustration which Thackeray used as expressing the obligations of the later writers to Fielding for having originated the natural novel, as distinguished from the romantic novel. Thackeray tells us of the benevolent gentleman who, years and years ago, made a donation of vacant land in London for the benefit of certain charitable institutions, and how the value of the land so given has been immensely enhanced by the buildings and structures erected upon it. He goes on to say that Fielding, like the benefactor of London's poor, first gave the soil on which the later novelists have builded their
imposing and charming structures. The world is under similar obligations to a great inventor. He opens up the territory and donates the land, and those who come after build upon it; and his gift is made infinitely more valuable as the result of the labors and accomplishments of those who come after him.
I read the other day one of your electrical journals and learned, to my very great regret, that all my preconceived notions in regard to electricity were utterly wrong. I have now become like the child who having learned that Santa Claus is a myth, loses all faith in revealed religion. The scientific author of the article I was reading went on to say:
Electricity can no longer be defined as a viscous fluid with small amoeba-like arms stretching themselves out and sticking to light substances and, by contracting, drawing them to the electrified body; or as two fluids, one positive and the other negative, attracting each other and repelling themselves."
All the results of my previous conscientious and earnest scientific research have been swept away by a single sentence, whatever it may mean. To-day I appear before you, gentlemen, to talk to you who are experts, upon something which nobody seems to be able to define, without any knowledge on the subject myself. My position is something like that of the Irishman who said: "Electricity doesn't trouble me at all. Faith, it is nothing but a force, like any other force; but the thing that bothers me is how, after you turn it on with a thumb-screw, the blamed hairpin can keep itself red-hot in the bottle all the time."
Some few days since I visited a distant city with a party of gentlemen. We found it necessary to go
from one end of the city to the other, and we took a street car. There were three cars in the train, all loaded, and as we were were nearing the end of our journey we went up quite a steep hill. One of our party, who had been looking around him with interest, said: "Gentlemen, the accomplishments of electricity are simply marvelous. No one can foretell its future. Think of its tremendous power, drawing three loaded cars up this steep hill. Why, the weight of these three cars must be enormous, and yet they are carried easily and quickly up this hill." There was a solemn pause for a moment, when the critic of our party said, "Look out of the window; this is a cable road." My friend's illustration was unfortunate, but it is nevertheless true that the future of electrical development no man can foresee. Its possibilities are unimaginable. Fifty years ago, if any one had been bold enough to foretell the telephone, the phonograph, the electric light, the scientists of that time would have laughed him to scorn as imagining the impossible. They would have insisted that these things could not be accomplished without running counter to the fundamental laws of nature as they knew them at that time. The mere notion of talking easily between Cleveland and New York, of having a dead friend's voice reproduced in exact tone and accent, of having this subtle and inexplicable substance, or fluid, or movement in the ether, or magnetism, or whatever you may decide to define it, light a large city, would have seemed to them ridiculous. But a few years have rolled away and all of these results have been accomplished. No natural law, either, has been broken. These astonishing and marvelous accomplishments have been possible because of a knowledge on the part of inventors who have made applications of the
laws of nature of which men were ignorant before. As we consider all the development that has already been made in electrical science, there is certainly a solemnity about it, and it ill becomes a scientist of this age, with these tremendous achievements before him, to throw any doubt upon any mystery, whether it be physical, religious or spiritual. A man may reverently say, “I do not know," while he cannot intelligently and conscientiously say, "I doubt." "I doubt." If it be possible for "man born of woman and of few days" to have accomplished in the last years of this century these amazing results, he of all others should hesitate before he declines to believe in a miracle. A miracle, properly defined, is, after all, nothing but an apparent infraction of the laws of nature known at the time. the miracle is performed. If man can do so much, what cannot an infinite intelligence accomplish? With the telephone, the electric light, the phonograph— miracles a few years ago, but admitted facts to-day - not only "the undevout astronomer" but the undevout electrician "is mad."
I want to say again, as one of the representatives of this city, that we warmly welcome you. We are delighted to have Cleveland selected as a place of gathering for representative men, and there is no class more representative than the members of the National Electric Light Association. We ask you, gentlemen, to consider while you are here, if you have an opportunity, our varied and prosperous manufacturing and commercial interests. Cleveland is rapidly growing. She is fast becoming a convention city. Men, who meet for purposes of mutual improvement and for an exchange of ideas, find here a congenial place for assembling. We trust this will be your experience, and we hope you will come here again.