Popular Science Monthly/Volume 42/April 1893/Science and the Colleges
|SCIENCE AND THE COLLEGES.|||
WE have come together to-day to do our part in raising one of the milestones which mark the progress of education in America. Our interest in higher education brings us here, and our interest in science; and, more than ever in the past, we find these two interests closely associated. More and more each year the higher education of America is becoming steeped in science; and in the extension of human knowledge the American university now finds its excuse for being.
I hope that in what I shall have to say I shall not be accused of undue glorification of science. I recognize in the fullest degree the value of all agencies in the development of the human mind. But the other departments of learning may each have its turn. We are here to-day to dedicate a hall of science. We are here in the interest of science teaching and scientific research. When, in a few years to come, we may dedicate a hall of letters, we shall sing the praises of poetry and literature. But to-day we speak of science, in the full certainty that the humanities will not suffer with its growth. All real knowledge is a help to all other, and all real love of beauty must rest on love of truth.
At this time, as we stand together by the side of the milestone we have set up, on the breezy upland which marks the boundary of our nineteenth century, it is worth while to glance back over the depressing lowlands from which we have risen; and, in our discussion of the relations of the American college to science, we find depression and darkness enough without going back very far.
I am still numbered, I trust, with the young men. I am sure that I have never yet heard the word "old" seriously joined to my name. When they speak of "old Jordan," I know that they mean the river, and not me. Yet, in the few years during which I have taught biology, the relation of science to education has undergone most remarkable changes.
I remember very clearly that, twenty years ago, when, in such way as I could, I had prepared myself for the two professions of naturalist and college professor, I found that these professions were in no way related. I remember having in 1872 put the results of my observations into these words: "The colleges have no part or interest in the progress of science, and science has no interest in the growth of the colleges."
The college course in those days led into no free air. A priori and ex cathedra, two of its favorite phrases, described it exactly. Its essentials were the grammar of dead languages, and the memorized results of the applications of logic to number and space. Grammar and logic were taught in a perfunctory way, and the student exhausted every device known to restless boys in his desire to evade the instruction he had spent his time and money to obtain. Then, when all the drill was over, and the long struggle between perfunctory teachers and unwilling boys had dragged to an end, the students were passed on to the president to receive from him an exposition of philosophy. This was the outlook on life for which three years of drill made preparation. And this philosophy was never the outgrowth of the knowledge of to-day, but simply the débris of the outworn speculations of the middle ages.
We well remember the first invasion of science in the conventional programmes of study. This came in response to an outside demand for subjects interesting and practical. It was met in such a way as to silence rather than to satisfy the demand. A few trifling courses, memorized from antiquated text-books, and the work in science was finished. The teachers who were capable of higher things had no opportunity to make use of their powers. Their investigations were not part of their duties. They were carried on in time stolen from their tasks of plodding and prodding. It is to the shame of the State of Indiana that she kept one of the greatest astronomers of our time for forty years teaching boys the elements of geometry and algebra. That he should have taught astronomy and made astronomers occurred to no one in authority until Daniel Kirkwood was seventy years old, and by the laws of Nature could teach no longer. What was true in his case was true in scores of others. The investigator had no part in the college system; or, if on sufferance he found a place, his time was devoted to anything else rather than to the promotion of science. It is not many years since the faculty of one of our State universities Spent a whole afternoon discussing a proposal to abolish laboratory work in science, and the substitution for it of good text-books and suitably illustrated lectures.
All this time, as Emerson has said, "the good spirit never cared for the colleges, and, while all men and boys were being drilled in Greek, Latin, and mathematics, it had left these shells high on the beach, and was making and feeding other matters in other parts of the world." These other matters were the study of men and plants and animals, the laws and forces of Nature, the laws which govern human life, and the manifold laws of divine workings—to which we give the name of science. Everywhere in Europe and America men were eagerly devoting their lives to this work, but in nineteen cases out of twenty these men were outside of the colleges.
Have I drawn the picture in colors too dark? In an address given in Detroit eighteen years ago, Andrew D. White used these words: "While the United States has pushed the roots of its public-school system down into the needs and feelings of the whole people, and thus obtained a deep, rich soil which has given sturdy growth, it has pushed the roots of advanced education down into a multitude of scattered sects, and has obtained a soil wretchedly thin and a growth miserably scant.
"Within the last twenty years I have seen much of these institutions, and I freely confess that my observations have saddened me. Go from one great State to another, in every one you will find that this unfortunate system has produced the same miserable results—in the vast majority of our States not a single college or university worthy the name; only a multitude of little sectarian schools with pompous names and poor equipments, each doing its best to prevent the establishment of any institution broader and better.
"The traveler arriving in our great cities generally lands in a railway station costing more than all the university edifices in the State. He sleeps in a hotel in which is embarked more capital than in the entire university endowment for millions of people. He visits asylums for lunatics, idiots, deaf, dumb, and blind, nay, even for the pauper and criminal, and he finds them palaces. He visits the college buildings for young men of sound mind and earnest purpose, the dearest treasures of the State, and he generally finds them vile barracks.
"Many noble men stand in the faculties of these colleges, men who would do honor to any institution of advanced learning in the world. These men of ours would, under a better system, develop admirably the intellectual treasures of our people and the material resources of our country; but, cramped by want of books, want of apparatus, want of everything needed in advanced institutions, cramped above all by the spirit of the sectarian college system, very many of them have been paralyzed. Then, too, the really strong men holding professorships are too often hampered by incompetent men, whose main function was to hear boys 'parrot' text-books by rote in the recitation-room, and to denounce 'science falsely so called' in the chapel, varying these avocations by going about the country denouncing every attempt at a better system as 'godless,' and passing around the contribution-boxes in behalf of the bad system they represented."
The American college of the middle of this century, like its English original, existed for the work of the Church. If the college dies the Church dies, was the basis of its appeal for money and influence. Its duty was to form a class of educated men in whose hands should lie the preservation of the creed. In the mouths of ignorant men the truths of the Church would be clouded. Each wise church would see that its wisdom be not marred by human folly.
The needs of one church indicated the needs of others. So it came about that each of the many organizations called churches in America established its colleges here and there about the country, all based on the same general plan.
And as the little towns on the rivers and prairies grew with the progress of the country into large cities, so it was thought, by some mysterious virtue of inward expansion, these little schools in time would grow to be great universities. And in this optimistic spirit the future was forestalled, and the schools were called universities from the beginning. As time went on, it appeared that a university could not be made without money, and the source of money must be outside the schools. And so has ensued a long struggle between the American college and the wolf at the door—a tedious, belittling conflict, which has done much to lower the name and dignity of higher education. To this educational planting without watering, repeated again and again, East and West, North and South, must be ascribed the unnaturally severe struggle for existence through which our colleges have been forced to pass, the poor work, low salaries, and humiliating economies of the American college professor, the natural end of whom, according to Dr. Holmes, "is starvation."
The intense rivalry among these schools, like rivalry among half-starving tradesmen, has done much to belittle the cause in which all are engaged. At the same time, their combined rivalry has too often prevented the growth within their neighborhood of any better school.
In this connection you may pardon me for a word of my own experience, when twenty years ago I set out in search of a place for work. A chair of Natural History was the height of my aspirations; for anything more specialized than this it seemed useless to hope. I was early called from New York to such a chair in a wellk-nown college of Illinois. But in those days the work of a college chair was never limited by its title. As a Professor of Natural History I taught zoölogy, botany, geology, physiology—of course, a little of each, and to little purpose. Then physics, chemistry, mineralogy, natural theology, and political economy, also as a matter of course. With these went German, Spanish, and evidences of Christianity, because there was no one else to take them. There finally fell on me the literary work of the college—the orations, essays, declamations, and all that flavorless foolishness on which the college depended for a creditable display at commencement. When to this was added a class in the Sunday school, you will see why it seemed necessary that the naturalist and the professor must sooner or later part company. I tried at one time to establish a little laboratory in chemistry, but met with a sharp rebuke from the board of trustees, who directed me to keep the students out of what was called the cabinet, for they were likely to injure the apparatus and waste the chemicals. When I left this college and looked elsewhere for work, I found on all sides difficulty and disappointment; for the reputation I had, wholly undeserved, I am sorry to say, was the dreaded reputation of a specialist. The question of theological orthodoxy seemed everywhere to be made one of primary importance, and candidates for chairs who, like myself, were not heretics on the subject of the origin of species, passed the rock of evolution only to be stranded on the inner shoals of the mysteries of the Scottish philosophy.
But these were not the only sources of difficulty. In one institution toward which I had looked the chair of Natural History was found unnecessary. In the meeting of the board of trustees a member arose and said in substance: "We have just elected a Professor of History. This includes all history, and the work in natural history is a part of it. Let the Professor of History take this, too"; and for that year, at least, the Professor of History took it all, and it was not hard for him to do it, for the college course in history consisted of nothing but cut straw and its preparation—that is, the reading of a chapter in the text-book a day in advance of the class was no drain on the time or the intellect of the teacher.
Even in the excellent State university into which I ultimately drifted I was met at the beginning by the caution that the purpose of my work must be elementary teaching, the statement of the essential facts of science, and by no means the making of naturalists and specialists.
I could give more illustrations, and from better schools, showing that the demand of the colleges of twenty years ago was always a demand for docility and versatility, never for thoroughness or originality; and, as a rule, the progress of science in America came from men outside of the college, and in a great part outside of college training and college sympathies; that to promote science or to extend knowledge was not often one of the college ideals, and that the colleges' chief function was to keep old ideas unchanged. What was safe in times of old will he safe to-day, and safety, rather than inspiration or investigation, was the purpose of the college. From time immemorial until now Oxford and Cambridge, the schools of clergymen and gentlemen, have been the center of English conservatism. The American colleges—dilute copies of Oxford and Cambridge—were likest their models in their retention of old methods and old ideas. The motto, once suggested for a certain scientific museum, "We will keep what we have got," might have been taken by the American college. There was no American university then, unless a few broad-minded teachers—such men as Lowell, Gray, Silliman, Henry, Baird, and Agassiz—could, as so many individuals, be properly regarded as such.
In a high sense, as I elsewhere have said, the coming of Agassiz marked the foundation of the first American university. Agassiz was the university. The essential character of the university is Lernfreiheit, freedom of learning, the freedom of the student to pursue his studies to the furthest limit of the known, the freedom of encouragement to invade the infinitely greater realm of the unknown. It is from this realm that come the chief rewards of the scholar. The school from which no exploring parties set out has no right to the name of university. In the progress of science, and the application of its methods to subjects not formerly considered scientific, the German university has its growth and development. In like progress must arise the American university.
You remember the story of the discussion, some forty years ago, between Emerson and Agassiz, as to the future of Harvard. Emerson, himself one of the sanest and broadest of men, saw in the work of Agassiz elements of danger, whereby the time-honored symmetry of Harvard might be destroyed. In a lecture on universities, in Boston, Emerson made some such statement as this: That natural history was "getting too great an ascendency at Harvard"; that it "was out of proportion to other departments, 'and hinted' that a check-rein would not be amiss on the enthusiastic professor who is responsible for this."
"Do you not see," Agassiz wrote to Emerson, "that the way to bring about a well-proportioned development of all the resources of the university is not to check the natural history department, but to stimulate all the others?—not that the zoölogical school grows too fast, but that the others do not grow fast enough? This sounds invidious and perhaps somewhat boastful, but it is you," he said, "and not I, who have instituted the comparison. It strikes me that you have not hit upon the best remedy for this want of balance. If symmetry is to be obtained by cutting down the most vigorous growth, it seems to me it would be better to have a little irregularity here and there. In stimulating, by every means in my power, the growth of the Museum and the means of education connected with it, I am far from having a selfish wish to see my own department tower above the others. I wish that every one of my colleagues would make it hard for me to keep up with him, and there are some among them, I am happy to say, who are ready to run a race with me."
In these words of Agassiz may be seen the keynote of modern university progress. The university should be the great refuge hut on the ultimate boundaries of knowledge, from which daily and weekly adventurous bands set out on voyages of discovery. It should be the Upernavik from which polar travelers draw their supplies, and, as the shoreless sea of the unknown meets us on every side, the same house of refuge and supply will serve for a thousand different exploring parties, moving out in every direction into the infinite ocean. This is the university ideal of the future. Some day it will be felt as a loss and a crime if any one who could be an explorer is forced to become anything else. And even then, after countless ages of education and scientific progress, the true university will still stand on the shore, its walls still washed by the same unending sea, the boundless ocean of possible human knowledge.
The new growth of the American university which we honor to-day is simply its extension and its freedom, so that a scholar can find place within its walls. The scholar can not breathe in confined air. The walls of mediævalism have been taken down. The winds of freedom are blowing, and the summer sunshine quickens the pulse of the scholar in the deepest cloister. In the university of the future all departments of human knowledge, all laws of the omnipresent God, will be equally cherished because equally sacred. The place of science in education will then be the place it deserves—nothing more, nothing less.
Many influences have combined to bring about the emancipation of the American college. Not the least of these is the growth of the State university as an institution existing for all the people, and for no purpose but that of popular instruction. It is a part of the great training school in civics, morals, and economics which we call universal suffrage.
Most of these schools have celebrated their coming of age within the last five years, and their growth is certainly one of the most notable features in the intellectual development of America. The State university was founded as a logical result of the American system of education. It was part of the graded system through which the student was to rise step by step from the township school to the State university. It has grown because it deserved to grow. When it has deserved nothing it has received nothing. In the persistence of old methods and low ideals we find the reason for the slow growth of some of the State universities. In the early dropping of shackles and the loyalty to its own freedom we find the cause of the rapid growth of others.
In its early years the State university was in aim and method almost a duplicate of the denominational schools by which it was surrounded. Its traditions were the same, its professors drawn from the same sources, its presidents were often the defeated candidates for presidencies of the denominational schools. Men not popular enough for church preferment would do for the headship of the State universities. The salaries paid were very small, the patronage was local, and the professors were often chosen at the dictates of some local leader, or to meet some real or supposed local demand. I can remember one case when the country was searched to find for a State university a Professor of History who should be a Democrat and a Methodist. All questions of fitness were subordinated to this one of restoring the lost symmetry of a school in which Presbyterians, Baptists, and Republicans had more than their share of the spoils. This idea of division of spoils in schools as in politics is only a shade less baleful than the still older one of taking all spoils without division. And when the spoils system was finally ignored, and in the State universities men were chosen with reference to their character, scholarship, and ability to teach, regardless of "other marks or brands" upon them, the position of professor was made dignified and worthy.
The first important step in the advance of the State universities came through the growth of individualism in education—that is, through the advent of the elective system—and its first phase was the permission to substitute advanced work in science for elementary work in something else. It does not matter from what source the idea of individual choice in education has arisen. It may be a gift of far-seeing Harvard to her younger sisters; or it may be that in Harvard, as elsewhere, the elective system has arisen from a study of the actual conditions. The educational ideas which are now held by the majority of teachers in our larger schools were long ago the views of the overruled minority; and for fifty years or more individuals in the minority have looked forward to the time when inspiration and not drill would be the aim of the colleges. "Colleges can only serve us," said Emerson long ago, "when their aim is not to drill, but to create. They will gather every ray of genius to their hospitable halls, that by their combined influence they may set the heart of the youth in flame." It was in 1864 that Agassiz said, in advocating the elective system, that although it might possibly give the pretext for easy evasion of duty to some inefficient or lazy students, it gave larger opportunities to the better class, and the university should adapt itself to the latter rather than to the former. "The bright students," he said, "are now deprived of the best advantages to be had because the dull or the indifferent must be treated like children."
In the same year Emerson spoke of the old grudge he had for forty-five years owed Harvard College for the cruel waste of two years of college time on mathematics without any attempt to adapt these tasks to the capacity of learners. "I still remember," he said, "the useless pains I took, and my serious recourse to my tutor for aid he did not know how to give me. And now I see to-day the same indiscriminate imposing of mathematics on all students during two years. Ear, or no ear, you shall all learn music, to the waste of the time and health of a large part of the class."
I remember well the beginning of the modern system in the university of a neighboring State. It came as the permission, carefully guarded, to certain students who had creditably passed the examination of the freshman year in Latin, to take, instead of the sophomore Latin, some advanced work in zoölogy. To the very great surprise of the Professor of Latin, those who availed themselves of this opportunity "to take something easy" were not the worst students in Latin, but the best. Those who were attracted by investigation chose the new road; the plodders and shirks were contented with the evils they had, rather than to fly to others that they knew not of. And so, little by little in that institution, and in all the others, has come about a relaxation of the chains of the curriculum of Oxford and Cambridge, and the extension of opportunities for students to find out the facts of Nature for themselves, rather than to rest with the conserved wisdom of an incurious past.
Thus slowly and painfully came about the development of the scientific courses. We can all remember the dreary time when, in the tedious faculty meetings, we used to devise scientific courses, short in time and weak in quality, for students who could not or would not learn Latin and Greek. There was no scientific preparation or achievement required in these courses. They were scientific only in the sense that they were not anything else. Their degree of B. S., which should have meant Bachelor of Surfaces, was regarded as far inferior to the time-honored B. A. In the inner circle of education it was regarded as no degree at all, and its existence was a concession to the utilitarian spirit of a non-scholastic age. The scientific course was, indeed, inferior, for it lacked substance. There was no lime in its vertebrae. The central axis of Greek had been taken out, and no corresponding piece of solid work put in its place. Gradually, however, even this despised degree has risen to a place with the others. Slowly and grudgingly the colleges have admitted that under some circumstances the study of science might be as worthy of recognition as the study of Greek. When science was worthily studied, this proposition became easy of acceptance. In our best colleges to-day the study of science stands side by side with the study of language, and the one counts equally with the other, even for the degree of Bachelor of Arts. For not the Greek itself, but the culture it implies, was the glory of the course of arts. When equal culture and equal work come through other channels, they are worthy of this degree. To deny this would be to make of the degree itself a mere child's toy, a play on words. As a matter of fact it can be little more, and sooner or later the college will have no need for degrees. It was the firm belief, I am told, of Chancellor Gregory, who laid broad the foundations of the University of Illinois, that the work of the future college should need no stimulus from honors or degrees, and that these playthings of our educational childhood might some day be laid aside forever. In this feeling I fully sympathize. All these things are forms, and forms only, and our higher education is fast outgrowing them. Science has shown herself a worthy suitor of the highest degree the university can give. She will show herself strong enough to care for no degrees at all. In the great schools of the future, each study shall become its own reward. Let all come who will, and let each take what he can, and let the ideals be so high that no one will imagine that he is getting when he is not. Scholars can be made neither by driving nor by coaxing. In any profession the inspiration and example of educated men are the best surety that the generation which succeeds them will be likewise men of culture.
Not the least of the aids to freedom in science was the Morrill Act, under which a certain part of the public lands was given for the foundation of schools of applied science. Unhappily, much of this fund was wasted outright by thriftless management. Much more was in some States half wasted by the formation of separate schools for applied science, where State colleges of the old type already existed. Indeed, in many States, the college and the technical school were so far separated, that the legislators of 1868 saw in them nothing in common. Nevertheless, the highest wisdom in education is to bring these various influences together as much as possible. There is no knowledge which is not science, and there can be no applied science without the basis of pure science on which to rest. Schools of applied knowledge can not be legitimately separated from schools of knowledge. But, whatever the use made of the money, the passage of the Morrill Act in the interest of applied science has given scientific work a prominence in our colleges it did not have before. It has given science definite rights in the curriculum, where before it seemed to exist by sufferance.
I congratulate the State of Illinois that its university is one university; that its pure and applied science, its literature, history, philosophy, and art are taught in one institution by a united faculty. The best results in any line of education can not be reached without the association of all others. The training of the engineer will be the more valuable from his association with the classical student. The literary man may gain much, and will lose nothing, from his acquaintance with the practical work of the engineer. The separation of the schools founded by the Morrill Act from the State university, as we have seen in nearly half the States of the Union, was a blunder which time will deepen into a crime. With the union of the two has come the rapid growth of the Universities of Wisconsin, Illinois, California, Minnesota, and Nebraska, where the higher work of the State is concentrated in one place.
The freedom of choice has not worked to the advantage of science alone. The element of consent in college study has brought about a revival in classical education as well. It is not certain, even, that more science studies are chosen on the elective system than were taken on the old plan of a required curriculum. But the work is done in a different spirit. Colleges and investigators are being drawn together. There is no line of investigation in which the college can not help, if the investigators have freedom to use it. The scientific men are being drawn into sympathy with higher education. Men are now in college who under the former system would have been self-made men, with all the disadvantages that isolation implies. Education gives the ability to enter into the labors of others, and the scientific man of to-day must use every advantage if he is to make his own work an advance in knowledge. He must know what has been done by those who have gone before him. He must stand upon their shoulders if he would look further into the mysteries of Nature than they. Science can not for a moment let go of its past; and to the self-made man of science, struggle as he may, the books of the past are at least partially closed.
The men of science twenty-five years ago the college repelled, rather than aided. I know a well-known naturalist who twenty years ago was dropped from the rolls of one of our State universities; not because he was idle or vicious or inattentive, but because he spent too much of his time studying birds, and did not keep up with his classmates in some of the conventional requirements in mathematics or Latin. The college had no use for bird knowledge, but it came out strong on irregular verbs. And so, like hundreds of others, this man went away, and carried on his own studies in his own fashion. And others similarly situated, with aspirations in science or literature, history or engineering, went away or stayed away, and grew up untouched by the higher education of their times. The elective system provides for such as these. It not only gives a new impulse to the students' work, but it brings a new body of students under collegiate influences.
Nothing in our educational history has been more remarkable than the increase in numbers of students in our principal colleges, and the corresponding increase in influence of these schools within the last ten years. Yet nothing is more evident than the fact that these students are not going to college in the old-fashioned sense. The old-fashioned college ideals are not rising in value; but new possibilities of training and the inspiration of modern thought bring to the university all sorts and conditions of men and women whose predecessors twenty years ago would not have thought of entering an American college. Where old educational ideas still reign, be the college rich or poor, there is no increase in numbers nor in influence. Unless a college education involves the emancipation of thought, unless it gives something to think about, it has no place in the educational system of the future. The future of our country will rest with college men, because the college of the future will meet the needs of all men of power, and draw them to its walls.
Scientific men have no interest in the depreciation of literary or classical training. The revolution in our higher education is not a revolt against the classics. It is an appeal from the assumption that the classics furnish the only gate to culture. It asserts the existence of a thousand gates, as many ways to culture as there are types of men. Scientific training asks only for freedom of development, and for the right to be judged by its own fruits.
With the growth of investigation has come the demand for better means of work, better apparatus, more and better books, larger collections, and especially collections for work, not for show or surprise. Better teachers are needed, and more of them. A healthy competition is set up, by which in these later days a man's pay is in some degree proportioned to his power, and the competition for places among half-starved men is changing into a competition for men among; rich and ambitious institutions. One of the great changes which have come to American education has been the extension of scientific methods to many subjects formerly deemed essentially unscientific. For this change the influences which have come to us from Germany are largely responsible. Thirty years ago the mental philosophy which formed the staple of the work of the college president was thoroughly dogmatic, like his moral science and his political economy. It was a completed subject, having its base in speculation, and its growth by logical deductions, and no thought of experimental proof or of advancement by investigation was ever brought before the student.
Now psychology is in the best schools completely detached from metaphysics, and is an experimental science as much as physiology or embryology. By its side ethics and pedagogics are ranging themselves—the scientific study of children, and the study of the laws of right, by the same methods as those we use to test the laws of chemical affinity. Metaphysics, too, has ranged itself among the historical sciences, the study no longer of intuitive and absolute truth, but the critical investigation of the outlook of man on the universe, as shown through the history of the ages. The old metaphysical idea is passing away, soon to take its place with the science of the dark ages in which it rose.
History, too, is no longer a chronicle of kings and battles. It is the story of civilization, the science of human society and human institutions. The Germans have taught us that all knowledge is science, capable of being placed in orderly sequence, and of being increased by the method of systematic investigation.
The study of language now finds its culmination in the science of philology, the science of the growth of speech. Every branch of learning is now studied, or may be studied, inductively, and studied in the light of the conception of endless and orderly change, to which we give the name of evolution. This conception has come to be recognized as one underlying all human knowledge. Seasons return because conditions return, but the conditions in the world of life never return. The present we know, but we can know it thoroughly only in the light of the past. What has been must determine what is, and the present is bound to the past by unchanging law. All advance in knowledge implies a recognition of this fact. The study of science must be grounded in the conception of orderly change, or change in accordance with the laws of evolution.
It is, after all, the presence of scholars that makes the university. It is in such men that the University of Illinois has its existence. It is located neither in Champaign nor in Urbana; it is wherever its teachers may be, wherever its workers have gone. We have met to-day to dedicate its Science Hall. To the future work in this hall we do all honor, but we do not think of it as a new hall, nor a new creation. It is simply a natural outgrowth of the work of Burrill and Forbes. Ever since, in 1878, I visited the little zoölogical workshop of Dr. Forbes in the old school building at Normal, and ever since, in 1882, I saw toadstools and bacteria in the little room across the way which Dr. Burrill called his own, I have been able to prophesy the growth of this building. We care nothing for the brick building, its desks, its shelves, and its microscopes, as things in themselves. We are thinking of Forbes and Burrill. The building is only a better tool-house in which these master workmen can shelter their tools. Their work will be what it was before; and their impulse and example are our best guarantee that so long as this building stands we shall find in it master workmen. Another Forbes, another Burrill, another Rolfe shall fill the gaps when these lay down their work; and the University of Illinois shall live through the years, because the men who compose it are truthful, devoted, and strong.
- Read at the dedication of the Science Hall of the University of Illinois at Champaign, November 16, 1892.