UIHistories Project: A History of the University of Illinois by Kalev Leetaru
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Repository: UIHistories Project: Board of Trustees Minutes - 1878 [PAGE 200]

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humbler service. It summons the fire engine to the scene of disaster; it gives the alarm when the thief enters our dwelling to steal, or to kill, or to destroy. The practical men of our time are not slow to do honor to the inventor; but before a Morse could do his work a Faraday must have done his. W h e n Faraday was pursuing his patient and searching investigations of the effects produced by the passage of an electric current around a bar of soft iron, a practical man, so called, questioned him as to the use which could be made of his discovery. The philosopher could give no good account of his work, and his questioner found in him a new and melancholy example of the waste of high endowments and great capacities of service on the barren and unfruitful problems which mere scientific curiosity could, suggest; and yet without just those unpractical experiments the magnetic telegraph would have been impossible. Perhaps in all England ninety years ago there was no labor that could have justified itself less in the eyes of that practical people, than the unpaid toil of William Smith, the founder of stratigraphical geology. H e traveled on foot through the united kingdom, examining every quarry and every exposure of rock along his way, noted the mineral characteristics of each exposure, and, above all, the fossils which the different belts contained. I t is easy to imagine the undisguised contempt with which such labors must have been viewed by the practical men of his time, especially when he was utterly unable to connect these labors directly with economical interests. " I am studying an unexplored department of nature," he might have said. " I am arranging, in proper chronological order, the crumpled leaves of the great stonebook, so that he who runs may read. How my discoveries shall be transmuted into gold, I know n o t ; whether they shall be transmuted I care not. It is enough for me to be the first to trace the steps of creative wisdom, to deduce the grand history of the globe that fills with divine activity and life the ages of an immeasurable past." But when his work was done, and he gave to the world his geological maps and his geological column, he gave with them, or rather in them, the master key that fits all the wards of the subterranean world. W e are not slow to give credit to the practical men who use this key in unlocking fountains of living waters for great cities—stores of long buried heat and light for the service of mankind—or the granite bound caskets in which gems and gold lie hidden ; but let us not forget the services of him, who with no motive but the love of scientific truth, and no reward but its establishment, with patient but unappreciated toil, forged the key. In the best interests of practical utility then, we must find a place on these foundations, for pure science as well as applied science ; for original investigation as well as for successful u s e ; for the patient study of those prolific principles which alone can make our age confer on the age which is to follow it, such advantages as it has inherited from its predecessor. 4. Finally, this education must be liberal. Strange blending of incongruous ideas and demands! The liberal education of the industrial classes! How can that be? T h a t the industrial should be educated at all, involved the overthrow of the earlier civilizations of the world; that a limited, practical training shall be offered them, adapting them better to the narrow sphere in which they are doomed to live and labor,