Henry Darwin Rogers, 1808-1866: American Geologist

By Patsy Gerstner | Go to book overview

15
To Leave a Land Sterile of Friendship, 1855-1857

Rogers was approached late in 1855 about a potential position at the University of Glasgow.1 The professorship was in natural history and had a long history. The faculty of the university had voted in 1803 to appoint a lecturer in natural history, and in 1807, when William Hunter's anatomical museum was about to be moved from London to the university and expanded to cover natural history, a royal warrant was issued, creating a professorship of natural history. The holder of this appointment was to serve also as keeper of the museum. The professor was to be appointed by the reigning monarch and was to have all the rights and privileges of any other professor and an annual salary. The ensuing argument between faculty factions over the propriety of such an action resulted in the natural history professor's being recognized only as a member of the university and not of any single faculty within the university. Therefore, he was not entitled to vote in meetings of the faculty or to claim one of the houses allotted to professors that belonged to a faculty.2 Since 1829, William Couper, who taught zoology, had held the position under these terms.

While Couper still occupied the position there could be no formal word about a potential opening, but Couper was growing old, and it was obvious to the rector of the university, who was George Douglas Campbell, duke of Argyll, that the position would soon be vacant. The duke of Argyll had far-ranging interests in geology and from time to time contributed to the London Geological Society, where he may have met Rogers for the first time. A general familiarity with Rogers's theories, with his work in Pennsylvania, and with Rogers's well-known skill in

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