Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/562

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544
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

one college is a good thing, surely two must be twice as good, and so on, indefinitely. Why, then, should we not have a college of our own, and train up our young men at home, instead of sending them away to institutions established in distant places for the gratification of wretched local pride? Besides, the nearest university to us was that hot-bed of infidelity founded by the State, and there was great danger lest our youth should go there and become corrupted. Such a catastrophe must be prevented at all hazards.

But one argument influenced us above all others, and was, in fact, unanswerable: we had in our midst a very prominent man, the Hon. Magnus Virtue, who, after accumulating a large fortune in the management of a distillery, had lately retired from business, and joined my church. Out of the goodness of his heart, and encouraged by my exhortations, he decided to become a public benefactor, and accordingly offered us $20,000 for the foundation of a great college to be called by his ever-to-be-revered name. Here, then, was an opportunity which we ought not to neglect. Twenty thousand dollars was a most munificent gift, and would found an institution better endowed at the start than any of our near rivals, except perhaps the political abomination already mentioned. Twenty thousand dollars meant a fine building; and surely students' fees would suffice for the expenses of running. As for libraries, apparatus, etc., we could easily rely upon donations and bequests which would, of course, come pouring in upon us as soon as we were well established.

So we organized a board of trustees, procured a charter, and set to work under the title of "Virtue University." This, we thought, had a grander sound than "Virtue College," and we well knew how much the public is influenced by names. Shakespeare's absurd statement about the odor of a rose is contradicted by universal experience.

The first great task before us was, plainly, the erection of a building; and this involved the choice of a site. Here we were very fortunate. One of my parishioners, a noted real-estate broker, happened to own a worn-out farm some two miles from town, and was anxious to bring it into market. He was a man who clearly recognized the duty of casting his bread upon the waters whenever a fair prospect of speedy return with interest was discernible; and so he presented us with five acres of said land, situated on the top of a steep bluff a quarter of a mile from the nearest road. The gift, of course, advertised the rest of his estate, which he at once cut up into building-lots, and sold at a handsome profit. He got his money, and we got our site, so both were satisfied. Far be it from me to impugn or even to suspect his motives. Of course, our building was begun without delay.

Meanwhile we went vigorously to work manipulating the newspapers, both secular and religious. Every week we caused some item to appear concerning the progress and prospects of "Our Great American University." Rumors of expected bequests, and specula-