英语学习杂志 2013-03-21 17:07





Get Flash Player

By Dylan Littlebrumble

漪然 选注

Ford grew up on a rural un-electrified farm, and as a young man he followed Edison’s meteoric career as the inventor rose to become a national icon.1 Edison was Ford’s role model and as a young man Ford took a job at the Edison Illuminating Company working his way up to chief engineer.

In 1896 Ford was thirty-three and, though still working for Edison Co., had created his first experimental automobile the Ford Quadricycle2 during his off-time. At an Edison company party in New York Ford had his first chance to meet his hero Edison, and even able to explain his new automobile to the prolific3 inventor. Edison was impressed. Edison is said to have slammed his fist down and shouted “Young man, that’s the thing! You have it! Your car is self-contained and carries its own power plant.”4 Edison himself had been working on the idea, but had only been considering electricity as the power source, so the idea of a gas engine was a new and somewhat novel5 one.

The words comforted Ford tremendously, who immediately set out building a second prototype which was to become the Model-T.6 The two men became fast friends and would go on camping trips together along with naturalist John Burroughs, botanist Luther Burbank, creator of the Russet Burbank Potato, Harvey Firestone of Firestone tires and occasionally, President Harding.7

When Edison became confined to a wheelchair, Ford brought an extra one to his estate so they could race.8 At a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the lightbulb, Ford honored Edison.9 When Edison spoke he ended his speech directed at Ford: “As to Henry Ford, words are inadequate10 to express my feelings. I can only say that in the fullest meaning of the term, he is my friend.” Therefore it is no surprise that Ford wanted something to remember Edison by after he passed away11 in 1931.

As the legend goes, Ford asked Thomas Edison’s son Charles to sit by the dying inventor’s bedside and hold a test tube12 next to his father’s mouth to catch his final breath. Ford was a man with many eccentricities (as was Edison) including some interest in reanimation and spiritualism,13 and some say that he was attempting to capture Edison’s soul as it escaped his body in hopes of later reanimating the inventor.

The truth of the story is somewhat less intense but bears a fairly close resemblance14 to the legend. While by no means15 did Charles hold up a test tube to Edison’s lips as he lay dying, there were indeed a series of eight test tubes very nearby his bed. In the words of his son Charles:

“Though he is mainly remembered for his work in electrical fields, his real love was chemistry. It is not strange, but symbolic, that those test tubes were close to him at the end. Immediately after his passing I asked Dr. Hubert S. Howe, his attending physician, to seal them with paraffin.16 He did. Later I gave one of them to Mr. Ford.”

The test tube itself didn’t turn up until 1950 when it was cataloged in the Ford estate after Clara Ford’s passing, and then promptly lost again until 1978 when it was discovered, “in its cardboard mailing tube along with the hat and shoes under one of the display cases in an exhibit entitled, ‘Henry Ford—A Personal History’ in the Henry Ford Museum.”17 It would then be discovered that the tube was labeled “Edison’s Last Breath?”

There is a further mystery and irony of this ‘last breath’ test tube. It would seem as if Edison had quite a last breath indeed, as the Edison Estate holds a collection of 42 test tubes all supposedly containing Edison’s last breath.

Regardless of the hoopla18 over the last breath, the test tube is quite touching in its meaning. Although both men were known for all sorts of poor behavior towards their loved ones and mistreatment of employees, between them at least, there was clearly a profound mutual respect and admiration. The test tube stands as a last gift of friendship, memory and inspiration from one inventor to another.


1. un-electrified: 没有电气化的,没有供电的;meteoric: 一举成名的,迅速成功的;icon: 偶像,崇拜对象。

2. quadricycle: 四轮汽车,quandr是前缀,意为“四”。

3. prolific: 多产的。

4. slam sth. down: 猛地放下;self-contained: 自给的,独立自足的;power plant: (机动车的)动力装置,动力设备。

5. novel: 新奇的,新颖的。

6. tremendously: 巨大地,重大地;prototype: 原型,模型;Model -T: 福特T型车,这款车价格低廉,当时美国的寻常百姓都能承担得起,它的出现使美国迅速成为了“车轮上的国家”。

7. fast friends: 挚友;naturalist: 博物学家;John Burroughs: 约翰•伯勒斯,美国博物学家,著作有25部之多,多描述自然,尤其是鸟类;botanist: 植物学家;Luther Burbank: 卢瑟•伯班克,美国植物学家,一生培育了八百多个新植物品种;Russet Burbank Potato: 褐色皮伯班克土豆,伯班克培育的土豆品种,主要在美国和加拿大种植;Harvey Firestone: 哈维•费尔斯通,20世纪美国橡胶大王;President Harding,即Warren Gamaliel Harding,沃伦•加梅利尔•哈定,美国第29任总统。

8. confine: 限定,限制;estate: 住宅。

9. commemoration: 纪念,纪念活动;lightbulb: 电灯泡;honored: 向……表示敬意,礼待(某人)。

10. inadequate: 不足的。

11. pass away: 去世。

12. test tube: 试管。

13. eccentricity: 古怪,怪癖;reanimation: 复活;spiritualism: 招魂论,通灵术(相信活人能与死人的灵魂沟通)。

14. resemblance: 相似之处,类似之处。

15. by no means: 绝不可能,一点也不。

16. attending physician: 主治医生;paraffin: 石蜡。

17. 这支试管直到1950年克拉拉•福特去世之后才出现,它作为福特家族的遗产被登记在册,但是随即又消失了,1978年才再次被人们发现:“在亨利•福特博物馆举办的一次名为‘亨利•福特——他的一生’的展览中,(它)和一顶帽子和鞋子一起(被装)在一个陈列柜下面的邮件硬纸筒中。”catalog: 登记,记载;Clara Ford: 克拉拉•福特,亨利•福特的妻子;mailing tube:(尤指用以邮寄照片、地图等易折物品或印刷品的)邮件硬纸筒;display case: 陈列柜,展示柜。

18. hoopla: 大肆宣传,大吹大擂。

(来源:英语学习杂志 编辑:丹妮)



















关于我们 | 联系方式 | 招聘信息

Copyright by chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved. None of this material may be used for any commercial or public use. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. 版权声明:本网站所刊登的中国日报网英语点津内容,版权属中国日报网所有,未经协议授权,禁止下载使用。 欢迎愿意与本网站合作的单位或个人与我们联系。



Email: languagetips@chinadaily.com.cn