Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/127

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By Professor T. R. LOUNSBURY.

PROFESSOR GEORGE J. BRUSH was born in Brooklyn, New York, on the 15th of December, 1831. His father was a merchant in that city, but in 1835, retiring from business, took up his residence in Danbury, Connecticut. There the family remained till 1841, when they returned to Brooklyn; and in the schools of these two places Mr. Brush received his early education. It was not, however, until 1846, when he was sent to a school in West Cornwall, Connecticut, that he had an opportunity to pay any special attention to science. This school was kept by Mr. Theodore S. Gold, who was an enthusiastic student of mineralogy, botany, and of various other departments of natural history; and he not only gave instructions to his pupils in these subjects, but succeeded in inspiring them with a taste for them. Although young Brush was at this place only six months, he remained long enough to acquire a fondness for natural science, which in the end resulted in changing his course in life. He intended to pursue a business career; and, accordingly, on leaving the school at West Cornwall, entered, in the latter part of 1846, the counting-house of a merchant in Maiden Lane, New York City. There he remained for nearly two years, but the taste for scientific study already acquired did not desert him, and, in particular, he took advantage of every opportunity that came in his way to go off upon mineralogical excursions. A severe illness that befell him in 1848 rendered it necessary that he should abandon the mercantile profession, and it was decided that he should take up in its place the life of a farmer.

Just about this time Professor John P. Norton returned from Germany, and in conjunction with Professor Silliman, Jr., opened at Yale College a laboratory for the purpose of practical instruction in the applications of science to the arts and to agriculture. At the same time he began a course of lectures on agriculture and agricultural chemistry. To attend these lectures, to fit himself as thoroughly as possible for the life of a farmer, Professor Brush, not as yet seventeen years old, repaired to New Haven in October, 1848. This event changed his career. He came to attend a single course of lectures on agriculture. He remained two years as a student of chemistry and mineralogy. In October, 1850, he went to Louisville, Kentucky, as assistant to Benjamin Silliman, Jr., who had been elected Professor of Chemistry in the university of that city. There he remained the following winter, and in March, 1851, made one of the party who accompanied the elder Silliman on a somewhat extended tour in Eu-