Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/511

This page needs to be proofread.


TORREY


453


TORREY


Northwestern Medical and Surgical Journal, St. Paul, Minn., 1872-3, iii; Appleton's Biog. 1889, vi; National Medical Review, Wash- ington, D. C. 1896-7, vi. Antisell T. Biographical Sketch of J. M. Toner, Wash., D. C, 1877.

Torrey, John (1798-1873).

John Torrey, best known as a botanist, was the son of Capt. WilHam Torrey, a Revolutionary soldier.

John graduated M. D. in 1818 with a thesis on "Dysentery," and, although eminent as a chemist and mineralogist, it was as a botanist that his fame reached the highest point. Throughout the world he was regarded as one of the fore- most in this department of science. Ilis faith in the Holy Scriptures found a firm foundation in the study of nature. The God of the one was the God of the other. If there were difficulties, he knew, if not immediately, they would in time be reconciled. The more closely they were studied, the more positive would be the mutual confirmation.

Among his good works should be mentioned the gift of his valuable and extensive herbarium and his botanical library to Columbia College.

In 1824 he was appointed professor of chemistry, geology, and mineralogy at the Military Academy at West Point. From 1827, when he resigned this position, to 1855, he was professor of chemistry and botany in his alma mater, and subsequently was emeritus professor. From 1830 to 1854 he was professor of chemistry and natural history in the College of New Jersey, Princeton, New Jersey, and in 1853 assayer in the United States Assay Office, and no political change in war or peace disturbed him in this position, to which a son succeeded. He was one of the earlier presidents of the New York Lyceum of Natural History. His pub- lished works are numerous and of the highest value. A catalogue of his works, which ma}' be imperfect, is as follows: "Catalogue of Plants Growing Within Thirty Miles of New York," published in 1819; "A Flora of the


Northern and Middle States of North America; or, a Systematic Arrangement and Description of all the Plants Hitherto Discovered in the United States of North America," 1824; "Compendium of the Flora of the Northern and Middle States," 1826; "Cyperaceaj of North America," 1836; "Flora of the State of New York," 2 vols., 1843-4; "Botanical Reports of the Various Land Exploring Expeditions of the United States from 1822 to 1858;" "Appendix to Dr. John Lindley's Introduction to Botany," 1831; "Flora of North America," 1838; This work was edited jointly with Dr. Asa Gray.

Yale College gave him the honorary M. A., in 1823, and Amherst, that of LL. D., in 1845.

Torrey will be remembered by the students of the College of Physicians and Surgeons as an excellent teacher. No man had a better understanding of their character. Were they uproarious — he joined in their glee, and they soon lent an attentive ear. Were they stupid — he was patient and painstaking. Were they rude — he was always a gentleman, and at once commanded respect. He quietly pursued his course, giving us the plain truth in a simple and comprehen- sive manner. The boys always had a good time in his room, for he relished a joke as much as any of them. In a serious and quiet manner he was closing a lecture with some remarks upon formic acids, when he was interruj^ted by the reception of a note from one of tht; students. His eye twinkled, and his benevolent face changed to a smile as he glanced at the question asked. " Is not formic acid an ajit-ackW He at once dismissed the class amid shouts of laughter, remarking that he was not prepared to give an immediate answer, but they should have the rest of the hour to themselves.

Torrey's knowledge of old New York was great and interesting. He botanized along the stream which passed from the Collect across Broadway under a bridge to Hudson river, and many a stately