[D9238AAI], Letter from Richard Lynch Garner to Thomas Alva Edison, March 31st, 1892


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[D9238AAI], Letter from Richard Lynch Garner to Thomas Alva Edison, March 31st, 1892




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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University


In the Interest of Science
New York, March 31st, 1892.
Mr. Thos. A. Edison.
I beg to submit to you a proposition, which I earnestly ask you to consider and answer without delay.
You may have heard of my efforts to solve the great problem of speech, and how those efforts have been rewarded by the discovery of new facts which are of great value to science and to man. By the aid of the phonograph I have interpreted certain sounds of simian speech, have analyzed them and shown their fundamental nature as sounds, and have done the same with the voices of man and other animals. I have recorded and reduced the voices of nearly all the monkeys on this continent. My work in the field is too extensive to attempt a synopsis in this letter, but I append hereto a list of some of the most important articles which have been published up to this time on the subject.
In order to pursue my work to the end, it is necessary for me to go into the forests of West Africa, where I can study those great anthropoid apes found there, and to reduce to record the sounds of their voices, and to do the same with the lower tribes of mankind. From my success with monkeys, I feel confident that I can find the means of intelligent intercourse with those man like apes, and show that they possess the faculty of speech. What new fields this one step may open to us I dare not guess, but it will so widen the bounds of human knowledge and enrich many branches of science as to justify such an undertaking.
Not having the means of my own, and not willing to ask others to contribute funds to carry out the work which I have done thus far at my own expense, I submit to you a plan by which I hope to procure them.
I agree to assign to The State Trust Co., as trustee, a policy of insurance in the Massachusetts Benefit Association on my life in the amount of $10,000, free from all restrictions of residence of travel. If I should lose my life in wresting this secret from the deadly marshes of that dark coast the said trustee has power to collect and pay the proceeds of the policy to the creditors made by this instrument, provided they shall claim it within one year from legal notice of my death, and pay the residue, If there be any, to my family; but in case of my safe return I agree that one-half of the net proceeds of my lectures and writings shall be delivered to the said trustee, and by it paid to the creditors thus made until those obligations are discharged in full.
The amount you are requested to loan to my expedition is $100 without interest, and the time of payment is within three years. If you are willing to do this, I am willing to forego the comforts of civilized life, the endearments of home, and blessings of health and plenty, and take upon myself the hardships, undergo the privations and endure the toil of such a journey, that I may give to the world the secret with which to pass the gates of speech.
I ask no reward but success, I seek no end but truth to accomplish this I stake all there is in life.
Faithfully yours,
R L. Garner.
[P.S. Address all letters,
Care State Trust Co.,
50 Wall Street,
New York, N.Y.]
My outfit will embrace a phonograph of special make, photographic outfit, telephones, electric battery and supplies, taxidermist’s supplies, steel cage, arms, food, camp equipments etc., and a vast number of minor supplies with which to perform all kinds of experiments and preserve the results for science in the future.
You will find a description of many of my experiments in The New Review, London, June, 1891; November, 1891; February, 1892; Cosmopolitan Magazine for May, 1892(now in press); The Forum, April 1892; New York World, Sunday, December 20, 1891; Harpers’ Weekly, December 26,1891; New York Herald, December 10 and December 11,1891; The Spectator, London, June 6,1891; and all the leading papers in this country, England, France , Germany, etc., many of them illustrated.
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