Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/861

This page has been validated.
837
SKETCH OF MANLY MILES.

fully stated that Dr. Miles did more to develop the general natural history of that State (Michigan) than any other man either before or since he completed his work as State Geologist."

As professor of zoölogy and animal physiology, Dr. Miles is described by one of his students, who afterward became a professor in the college and then its president, as having been thoroughly interested in the subjects he taught, and shown that interest in his work and in his treatment of his students. He labored as faithfully and industriously with the class of five to which President Clute belonged as if it "had numbered as many score." He supplemented the meager equipment of his department from his more extensive private apparatus and collections, which were freely used for class work; and, when there was need, he had the skill to prepare new pieces of apparatus. "He was on the alert for every chance for illustration which occasion offered: an animal slaughtered for the tables gave him an opportunity to lecture on its viscera; a walk over the drift-covered fields found many specimens of rock which he taught us to distinguish; the mud and the sand banks along the river showed how in the periods of the dim past were formed fossil footprints and ripples; the woods and swamps and lakes gave many useful living specimens, some of which became the material for the improvised dissecting room; the crayon in his hand produced on board or paper the chart of geologic ages, the table of classification, or the drawing of the part of an animal under discussion."

Prof. R. C. Kedzie came to the college a little later, in 1863, when Dr. Miles had been for two years a professor, and found him then the authority "for professors and students alike on beasts, birds, and reptiles, on the stones of the field, and insects of the air," thorough, scholarly, and enthusiastic, and therefore very popular with his classes.

The projection of agricultural colleges under the Agricultural College Land Grant Act of 1862 stimulated a demand for teachers of scientific agriculture, and it was found that they were rare. Of old school students of science there was no lack—able men, as President Clute well says, who were. familiar with their little laboratories and with the old theories and methods, but who did not possess the new vision of evolution and the conservation of energy, men of the study rather than the field, and least of all men of the orchard and stock farm; and they knew nothing of the practical application of chemistry to fertilization and the raising of crops and the composition of feed stuffs, of physiology to stock-breeding, and of geology and physics to the study of the soils.

With a thorough knowledge of science and familiarity with practical agriculture Professor Miles had an inclination to enter this field,