Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/507

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SKETCH OF PROFESSOR J. P. COOKE, Jr.

tive control, should refuse to comply with such reasonable suggestions as may be deemed necessary to insure publicity in regard to its business, proper inspection of its gas, and a limitation of its earnings.

 

SKETCH OF PROFESSOR J. P. COOKE, Jr.

THE position occupied by this gentleman in American science is one of marked distinction as a successful original investigator, and also as an efficient reformer in the work of scientific education. He is known at home and abroad both by the extent and importance of his experimental researches, and by the high-toned and thorough-going character of his expository works on chemistry and physics. It is a fact of no little significance that, although Prof. Cooke had the advantage of a university training, he was self-taught in chemistry, as his collegiate culture afforded no special preparation for his chosen field of labor, while the impulse which started him in a scientific career came from popular lectures outside the university. Yet he has probably done more than any other man to give chemical science its proper status in the collegiate curriculum as a valuable disciplinary study entitled to a leading place in an effective system of liberal culture.

Josiah Parsons Cooke, Jr., was born in Boston, October 12, 1827, and is a descendant of Major Aaron Cooke, who emigrated from England in 1630, and became one of the first settlers of Dorchester, and afterward of Northampton, Massachusetts. His father, a lawyer, is still living, at the advanced age of ninety, the oldest member of the Suffolk Bar.

Young Cooke received his early education at the Boston Latin School, and entered Harvard College in 1844, where he graduated in 1848. After passing a year in Europe for the recovery of his health, he returned to the university in 1849, as Tutor in Mathematics. He was soon afterward appointed Instructor in Chemistry, and at the close of the following year he succeeded to the Erving Professorship of Chemistry and Mineralogy, which he has held ever since.

Prof. Cooke never had the advantages of a European education, or indeed of any systematic teaching in science. He acquired his taste for chemistry at the early lectures of the Lowell Institute, in Boston, given by the elder Silliman, and, with the apparatus he had collected in a little laboratory in his father's house while a boy, he began his first course of lectures at Cambridge. For several years preceding his appointment no regular instruction in chemistry had been given to the undergraduates, and he had, therefore, the whole labor of developing this department of the college from the begin-