The Letters of William James - Vol. 1

By Henry James; William James | Go to book overview

II
1861-1864 Chemistry and Comparative Atnatomy in the Lawrence Scientific School

IN the autumn of 1861 James turned to scientific work, and began what was to become a lifelong connection with Cambridge and Harvard University by registering for the study of chemistry in the Lawrence Scientific School. Among the students who were in the School in his time were several who were to be his friends and colleagues in later years -- Nathaniel S. Shaler, later Professor of Geology and Dean of the Scientific School, Alexander Agassiz, engi- neer, captain of industry, eminent biologist, and organizer of the museum that his father had founded, the entomologist Samuel H. Scudder, F. W. Putnam, who afterwards became Curator of the Peabody Museum of Ethnology and Anthropology, and Alpheus Hyatt, the palæontologist, who was Curator of the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy at Harvard for many years before his death in 1902. The chemical laboratory of the school had just been placed under the charge of Charles W. Eliot,-- in 1869 to become President Eliot,-- who writes:"I first came in contact with William James in the academic year 1861-62. As I was young and inexperienced, it was fortunate for me that there were but fifteen students of chemistry in the Scientific School that year, and that I was therefore able to devote a good deal of attention to the laboratory work of each student. The instruction was given chiefly in the laboratory and was therefore individual. James was a very interesting and agreeable pupil, but was not wholly devoted to

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