Popular Science Monthly/Volume 66/March 1905/Shorter Articles and Correspondence

1422792Popular Science Monthly Volume 66 March 1905 — Shorter Articles and Correspondence1905



On the seventh of December at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a convocation of students and faculty, were held exercises in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of William Barton Rogers, the founder and first president of the institute. These exercises were of more than local interest, because the man in whose honor they were held has filled a great place in American education and American science. Born in Philadalphia in 1804, he passed his early boyhood and manhood at the old William and Mary College at Williamsburg, Va. In this institution his father was professor of natural science, and in the academic freedom of which this college was then one of the few exemplars, the young Rogers was able to follow the leadings of his own genius. He became professor there in 1828, and was transferred to the University of Virginia, in 1835, as professor of natural philosophy. His career in the latter place was one of great influence and power, not only as a teacher, but as an investigator. In connection with his talented brother he inaugurated the geological survey of Virginia, which survey has become almost a classic.

While living here and during frequent trips to Europe he became impressed with the need in America of institutions in which scientific studies might form the basis of education; and his removal to Boston, in 1853, was in large measure due to his belief that in this community was to be found a better opportunity for the founding of such an institution than in Virginia. Nothing which Mr. Rogers did could have more clearly indicated his good judgment than this conclusion, for there was certainly no community in America so ready for the building of a great technical school as Boston.

Here, amidst the stress of the years of the civil war and under all the discouragements which those years brought he founded the Institute of Technology, which forms to-day his greatest monument and which continued to be, until the very close of his life, his chief concern. He died splendidly, in the very act of service, at the Commencement of June, 1882, as he was addressing the graduating class. Combining as he did the charm of a gracious and pleasing personality with the power of an orator, of a great teacher and of an investigator it is not strange that those who have received their education in the Institute of Technology should have for him a reverence and an affection far above that which they entertain for any other man. In the truest and fullest sense the institute was founded by him, and in large measure drew its inspiration and life from his enthusiasm and devotion.

The exercises held on December 7 were simple, but full of tender regard for President Rogers and his work. An introductory address by the president of the institute dealt with a general estimate of the originality and breadth of Mr. Rogers's educational conceptions. President Lyon G. Tyler, of William and Mary College, told of the influence of that famous institution in the forming of Mr. Rogers's character and in the training of his genius. Professor Francis H. Smith, of the University of Virginia, spoke as an old pupil of Mr. Rogers and of his power as a great teacher. Professor Robert H.

Richards, a graduate of the first class of the Institute of Technology, related interesting events connected with the early beginnings of the institute.

At the close of these exercises an announcement was made that the corporation of the institute, out of funds in its control, had founded a scholarship of $300 yearly to be filled by a graduate or student of William and Mary College to be designated by the faculty of that institution. The exercises throughout were such as to impress upon the student body the nobility and loftiness of Mr. Rogers's character and life and to give a new estimate to those who knew him of the permanence and warmth of the memory in which he is yet held.

Henry S. Pritchett.

Side View of the Inland White Bear (Ursus kermodei Hornaday), From a photograph of the mounted specimen in the Carnegie Museum, Pa.


A few weeks ago the writer had the pleasure of welcoming at the Carnegie Museum his honored friend, Mr. Win. T. Hornaday, the Director of the Zoological Gardens in Bronx Park, New York. Conversation turned upon the latest discoveries in the field of zoological research, and Mr. Hornaday announced that he had just described a new species of bear, 'The Inland White Bear,' to which he had applied the name of Ursus kermodei. After Mr. Hornaday had given the writer the substance of his article, which, as he said, would be read in New York on the evening of the very day we were chatting together, the writer asked him whether he 'would like to see a mounted specimen of the beast.' A look of surprise passed over his features, but in a moment he was piloted to one of the exhibition halls of the Carnegie Museum, and there he saw, what he least expected to see, a beautiful mounted specimen of the animal.

This specimen was acquired by purchase from Mr. Frederic S. Webster, the veteran taxidermist, at the time when his private collection was purchased by the trustees of the Carnegie Institute and he accepted the position of chief preparator in the Section of Zoology in the museum. For many years it has stood in a case and has been pointed out as an 'albino black bear.'

The story of its original acquisition by Mr. Webster may best be told in the words of Mr. Webster himself:

"A number of years ago the firm of Arnold, Constable & Co., of New York, purchased in the London market a lot of skins of the polar bear. I was at that time in business in New York and these skins, a dozen or more of them, were turned over to me to be made up into rugs. In the bundle I found the skin of this little bear, which I at once recognized as not being a Polar bear. I had never seen such a specimen before, but concluded that it was the skin 01 an albino black bear. I purchased the skin and mounted it. The skull was with the head. The specimen was in excellent condition. The fact that the muzzle was black, and not pale in color, as would be likely to be the case in an albino animal, puzzled me at the time. The thickness of the woolly fur also attracted my attention, but having mounted the animal, I did not give the matter much thought afterward."

The specimen, of which a picture from a photograph by Mr. A. S. Coggeshall is herewith given, is thus far the only mounted specimen known to exist in any of the museums of the world. The skin is no doubt that of an individual taken in British Columbia, the home of the animal, which found its way into the London fur market from Canada. It was mistaken for an immature Polar bear, and was so classified by the dealer who sold the bundle of skins to the agent of Messrs. Arnold, Constable & Co.

W. J. Holland.
Carnegie Museum,
February 3, 1905.