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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/561

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SKETCH OF DAVID STARR JORDAN.

converted from a natural organ into a machine for gerund grinding.

At a time when most of our teaching is little better than organized interference, the attitude of Jordan's parents is instructive. It is told of Darwin that, when one of his friends expressed surprise at the way he allowed his boys to run at loose ends, his reply was: "I dare not interfere; Nature can manage them better than I can." This recalls Wordsworth's abiding faith

"that there are powers
Which of themselves our minds impress;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness."

It would be wrong to assume that this attitude toward education is purely negative. In a very positive sense it may be said of young Jordan, as of the good Lord Clifford, that

"His daily teachers had been woods and rills."

Such an education might, or might not, be a good one for a bookkeeper, a forge master, or a minister; for a naturalist it was ideal. One of its outward results was that when, in 1869, the youth of eighteen entered the first freshman class at the Cornell University, he was found to be a learned authority on such diverse subjects as hoof-rot in sheep and the flora of Genesee and Wyoming Counties. His career as a teacher had already begun at the Warsaw Academy. In his junior year at Cornell he was appointed an instructor in botany. In his senior year he became President of the Natural History Society, which then counted among its members several men of unusual activity and ability, whose names are now not unknown in the scientific world. At least two of these gentlemen have made their grateful recognition of his high example and bracing personality a matter of record.

In 1872 he was graduated with the degree of M. S., being the only man who ever received the Master's degree from Cornell upon completion of an undergraduate course. Perhaps it is worth remarking that he shares with Mr. Andrew D. White alone the distinction of an honorary degree from the same university. Immediately after graduation he was appointed to the professorship of Natural History at Lombard University, Galesburg, Illinois. Here he began that systematic study of the fishes of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes which he continued with so much success during the many years of his residence in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Throughout these years all his summer vacations were spent in scientific excursions fruitful of result. Passing over some minor positions which he held but for a short