Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/129

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119
SKETCH OF GEORGE JARVIS BRUSH.

ing college sentiment reflected the views and feelings of the past, and very little those of the present; it did not begin to have even a conception of what was in store in the future. The student might or might not learn Latin and Greek; but, whichever was the case, he left the institution with a profound respect for them both, and usually the degree of his respect was fairly proportioned to the degree of his ignorance. It was not at all so in the case of the natural sciences, in spite of the eminence of some of its professors. Nor in the academic body as a whole was there then the least comprehension of what may be termed the solidarity of studies—that community of honor and dishonor in which they share, which renders it impossible for any one of them to be unduly depreciated without having some injurious effect upon the development of all the rest.

Still, the necessity of doing something more than had been done was beginning to be felt; and in a feeble way efforts were put forth to prepare for what the blindest could not fail to see was the inevitable. In 1854 an attempt was made at organization. The scattered instruction given by individual professors was brought together in the catalogue, though nowhere else; and an institution under the somewhat imposing name of the Yale Scientific School existed at least on paper. There was then no money with which to endow it; it is safe to say that, had there been, none would have been voted. But in one respect the corporation did a service to the new department they had created greater than could have been rendered by any pecuniary assistance that lay in their power. At the commencement of 1855 they elected Mr. Brush to a professorship.

He was first offered the chair of mining and metallurgy; but this he declined as embracing too much, and the title was limited to that of metallurgy alone. This, several years after, was exchanged for that of mineralogy. To qualify himself still further for the position, the newly-elected Professor went, in the autumn of 1855, to London, where he pursued his studies in the Royal School of Mines. The following year he made an extended tour through the mines and smelting-works of England, Scotland, Wales, Belgium, Germany, and Austria. In December, 1856, he returned to this country, and, in January, 1857, he entered upon the duties of his professorship.

From this time on the history of Professor Brush has been the history of the special scientific department of Yale College, which, in 1860, owing to the liberal benefactions of Mr. Joseph E. Sheffield, received the name of the Sheffield Scientific School. He came to it while it was not only without reputation, but without appreciation or expectation. He came to it while it was poor beyond even that decent poverty which apparently belongs, in the nature of things, to institutions of learning—while it was in a state so unorganized that as a whole it could hardly be said to have a being at all. It exhibited, indeed, a good deal of life in the college catalogue, but beyond that