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Full text of "Professor Arthur W. Palmer memorial convocation held in the chapel, February 7, 1904"

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THE Iff 





APR 6 -1937 







Borii, London^ England^ February //, 1861. 

B. 6*., University of Illinois, i8Sj. 

Sc.D., Harvard University, iSSd. 

Student in Berlin and Goettingen, j8SS-iS8g. 

Assistant Professor of Chemistry, University of Illinois, i8Sg-i8go. 

Professor of Chemistry, iSgo-igo^.. 


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Lead, Kindly Light Choir 

Scriptures, Psalm xxii., vers. 1-14; John xiv.; Revelation 

xxii., 1-5 . . . . . . . Dean Burrill 

Address Dean Clark 

Address Professor Parr 

Address Professor Breckenridge 

Crossing the Bar Professor Breneman 

Address Dean Davenport 

Address Dean Forbes 

Address President Draper 

The Homeland Choir 

Prayer . . Dean Burrill 


Address by Dean T. A. Clark. 

It is very fitting that we should hold this service today in 
memory of Professor Palmer, for all our minds are turned to 
what his life and his work have meant to this University. It 
is not unfitting that we should hold it in this room; for it was 
here that as a young student he used daily to come, it was here 
that he received his first ideas of University life, and it was upon 
this platform as a young instructor that some of us first came 
to know him. 

It was always an inspiration to me as a student, as I am 
sure it has been to many others, — it was no less an inspiration 
when I came to be a teacher, — to remember that he was a son 
of the University of Illinois, and that much of the training he 
had, he received here. It is a source of pride to all of us today, 
to know that his few years of work — work that has been 
recognized everywhere in this country — were given to further 
the growth and to increase the efficiency of the institution that 
gave him his undergraduate training. 

We may well consider for a few moments some of the 
characteristics which have tended to make him an unusual man 
among the men with whom he was associated here. First of 
all he was a scholar. Whatever scientific work he undertook he 
went to the bottom of. Those who knew him well knew how 
wide was his knowledge, how reliable his judgment, how thor- 
oughly credible all the statements that he made. I have heard 
it said by those who are better able to judge than I, that no 
one ever went to him for information on any subject connected 
with the subject of chemistry without receiving the informa- 
tion that he desired. He was a master of the subject he taught, 


He was more than a scholar, however; he was a man who 
could do things. Not every man who has theory at his tongue's 
end is able to put that theory into practice, but everyone who 
was associated with Professor Palmer knows that what was 
given him to do was done rapidly and done well. No one ever 
found him off his guard ; he was always active, alert, able at 
any time to summon all his powers and to direct them toward 
the accomplishment of whatever purpose he might have in 
mind. He was a man to be trusted, to be given responsibility, 
to be relied upon to accomplish whatever task was given into 
his hands. 

He was an eminently successful instructor. Only this morn- 
ing I was talking with a man whose special interest is in no 
way scientific, and yet he spoke with feeling of the work he 
had taken under Professor Palmer's instruction,— of the clear- 
ness of his presentation, of the interest he aroused in his sub- 
ject, of the love for his science which was all the time evident 
to those who listened to him. He was a man to mould men and 
to leave his imprint upon them as few teachers are able to do 

He was, perhaps, a severe teacher, who made his students 
understand how little they really knew and how wide the range of 
knowledge really is. He set himself a high standard in thor- 
oughness and exactness, and he tried to hold his students up 
to that standard. He was not unsympathetic, however. I have 
been more and more impressed during the last two or three 
years as I have come to know him better and have had occa- 
sion frequently to talk to him about students who were not 
strong in their work, how reasonable and fair he was in his judg- 
ment. He was unusually sympathetic and charitable when 
discussing men who had failed, and no one was more helpful 
and suggestive in giving advice to those who came to him in 
trouble. The man who would not work he had no patience 
with, but any other man could easily find in him a friend. 

I think the characteristic that impressed me most, and 
which helped most to make him the man that he was, was his 
singleness of purpose. He was in no sense a narrow man; for 
his training had been broad, and his interests were numerous 

Few men could talk more intelligently on general topics than 
he, and few had a wider range of information. But these 
things were to him only incidental. His one idea was to ad- 
vance the interests of his science and his department, and this 
idea he never forgot. It was upon his mind during the day and 
too often perhaps far into the night; it was the thing for which 
he planned and worked and gave his chief'energies. It was this 
oneness of purpose coupled with his strong intellect that 
brought success to him when he was still a young man and has 
made his department one of the best in this country. 

I cannot end the few words I am to speak without at least 
referring to my estimate of him as a personal friend. Sincere, 
loyal, true, he bound us all to him with cords that will not soon 
be loosed. 

The years that were given him to finish his work were not 
many. He has gone from us at an age when most men feel 
that their best years are yet before them. And yet how much 
he has accomplished in inspiring his fellow-workers in the fur- 
thering of chemical science, and in the development of scien- 
tific education! When the history of this University is written, 
among the names of her sons who have done most for her de- 
velopment and her honor will be the name of Arthur William 

Address by Professor Parr. 

Arthur Palmer entered the University as a chemical stu- 
dent in the fall of 1879. 

He brought to his chosen work a very considerable amount 
of manipulative skill, acquired in practical work at the watch 
factory of his home city, in the electro-plating and gilding de- 
partment. This was further augmented along more general 
chemical lines by experiments conducted at home on the fam- 
ily range. 

He certainly brought with him all his avidity for chemical 
work. During his first year, besides disposing of a number of 


preparatory conditions, he obtained five term-credits in chem- 
istry, the three hi^rhest grades for which were 100, and for the 
other two 98. Tt is not strange therefore that at thel)eginning of 
his sopliomore year he was permitted to assist in the hiljoratory 
supervision of the beginning course in chemistry, and in his 
senior year he was given the reguhir appointment of second as- 
sistant in chemistry. 

For one year following his graduation in 1883 he served as 
first assistant, ])ut a more appropriate title would have been 
that of chief operating engineer of the department. Entering 
Harvard in 1884, he was granted a fellowship which was con- 
tinued for two years, thus enabling him to complete his work, 
and obtain the degree of Doctor of Science. After two more 
years at Illinois without any advance in appointment over 
that which he had received at graduation, he left for 
study abroad. His first semester was spent in Gottingen, 
where, because of the crowded condition of the laboratory 
and because also of his strong endorsements from Harvard, 
he was given a place in the private laboratory of Victor Meyer, 
whose standing in the chemical world was second only 
to that of the professor under whom he spent his second se- 
mester, the great Hoffman, at that time dean of the chemical 
world and director of the laboratory at Berlin. Here he began 
his work on the arsines, which culminated three years after his 
return to Illinois in establishing the existenceof that series, un- 
til then described in the books as not existing, — certainly a 
notable piece of work. 

But time does not permit of a detailed account of his ac- 
plishments in these lines. I prefer to turn for a moment to his 
student and post-graduate days. 

He must certainly stand out with marked distinction in the 
minds of those who worked with him in those years. A radical 
change had just been made throughout the teaching force of 
the department, and the new order of things required a little 
time for smooth adjustment. How much we depended on Dr. 
Palmer for help, and how able he was to meet the denumd ! 


I recall hearing a student say, and his statement was not 
overdrawn, "If you have any question about any difficulty in 
any part of any process in any course in this building, between 
cellar and attic, ask Palmer and he will know at once just what 
you are talking about and just what is the matter." I wish to 
couple with this another statement which at hrst glance may 
seem to be contradictory, but which in truth throws a side light 
upon professional habits which make the first statement credi- 
ble. It was made by a student of recent years, and he said, 
"If in the intricate and involved discussions that sometimes 
arise, it ever happens that a point is brought up about which 
Dr. Palmer is uncertain, he will say he doesn't know; but I note 
that after 24 hours, if the topic arises again, he will be able to 
carry you to the utmost detail of possible information upon the 
point in question." 

In his chemical tasks as a student he was continually over- 
running the prescribed work and indulging as a pastime for fill- 
ing in the remaining hours, the preparation of rare and difficult 
salts. Many of these, as cabinet specimens, I regret to say, 
have disappeared in the laboratory fire. It was this habit, no 
doubt, coupled with the ever present desire to conquer new 
fields, that led him, in his senior year into his first real work in 
organic chemistry. The evidences and relics of that work 
could be seen for a long time in the basement of the old build- 
ing, in the shape of beakers and stills with asphaltum residues 
and tarry coatings from materials obtained at the city gas 
works, impossible to clean up, yet too interesting to throw 

It may be in place to note how advanced at this time were 
his ideals as to methods of teaching chemistry. It is difficult 
now to realize what was the procedure then and how great the 
change has been ,■ — due almost, if not entirely, to his efforts. 
First, the recitation work in all chemical courses did not 
extend beyond one-half of . the first year. Three and a half 
years were therefore devoted to laboratory work exclusively, 
without lecture or quiz accompaniment. The reverse of this is 


now true. Second, beginners in chemistry had text-book work 
only. There was no experimental development of the science. At 
the student's first introduction to the laboratory work he was 
given a desk, an analytical table, and an unknown substance, and 
was told to work out his own salvation. At the end he knew a few 
facts but, if possible, less of the science than at the ])eginning. 
The chemical students can better understand what a change 
has been brought about in this regard, a change to be credit- 
ed to Dr. Palmer. 

In these two marked departures in instructional methods, 
there is illustrated the dominant characteristic of all his work, 
that of thoroughness. 

As a student he was far from being a recluse. He was ac- 
tive in all student affairs. He entered heartily into the work 
of his literary society and was for two years a member of the 
Philomathean sextette, a musical organization of no mean rep- 
utation. He engaged in all forms of athletic sport, and there 
were but few of his associates who enjoyed the distinction of 
being able to walk with him without breaking the regulations 
as to a genuine "heel and toe" gait. The strenuous character 
of his mental make-up found its greatest delight in the game 
of chess. 

Student activities and proclivities of his day were not with- 
out their serious lapses of conduct. Indeed there are some 
chapters that we might wish to see blotted out beyond all pos- 
sibility of decipherment. But I can freely say that I never 
knew a student whose discernment between right and wrong 
w^as keener, whose scorn of a mean act was more profound, or 
whose conduct at all times conformed more finely to the old 
motto, "Preserve thine integrity of character, and in doing it 
never reckon the cost." 

My acquaintance with Arthur Palmer exceeds by but a few 
days the 22-year mark. It has been 22 years of unbroken 

It is a poor tribute at best that mere words can pay, but in 
the name of student associates of other daj's, and of student 
followers of the years between, I offer here our tender appre- 


elation of the constancy of his friendship, the example of his 
manliness, and the inspiration of his enthusiasm. How strong- 
ly hast thon entered into the current of our lives ! How sadly 
shall we miss the impulse of thy brave heart ! — Farewell. 

Address by Professor L. P. Breckenridge. 

It is a privilege to be permitted to say a few words on this 
occasion and to acknowledge the admiration with which I have 
always held my friend. 

The relation we hold to any individual, the position from 
which we view any object of interest, so modifies our final opin- 
ion and conclusions that it is fortunate when we may have the 
advantage of several points of view. So it will be today. 

In the affairs of the University my knowledge of the work 
of Dr. Palmer has not been that obtained from intimate and 
close contact, neither is my knowledge of the fundamental sci- 
ence of which he was the efficient leader at Illinois, sufficiently 
extensive to enable me to judge his work. I have had the pos- 
itive advantage of that point of view which is located at the 
focus of University opinion and sentiment, and to which come 
the composite conclusions of both students and teachers. From 
no other place can more correct judgment be formed concern- 
ing the value of the work of the individual teacher ; here the 
prejudice of friendship or of spite is completely obliterated by 
an accumulating wave of solid, persistent, and reliable college 

Dr. Palmer was an eminent scientist as well as an able lec- 
turer and teacher. His ability was recognized by all connected 
with the University. Many have been the words of commenda- 
tion that have come to me from our engineering students con- 
cerning the lectures in elementary chemistry. They have said, 
"We understand what he is talking about"— "We hear what 
he says" — "Professor Palmer does not waste words" — "We feel 
that we are learning something." Homely expressions some 
of them, but they mean much in the life of the student, and no 


words that I could frame would convey so much meaning to 
you as students, or be cherished more by us as teachers, could 
they be said of us. 

With what enthusiasm has his work been done! With 
what arduous zeal has he pushed forward his plans! As a 
student at Illinois, then at Harvard University, and then abroad, 
he always attracted the attention of his instructors, and he ac- 
complished early in life more than many with equal opportuni- 
ties are able to accomplish in a lifetime. 

Here atHlinoishas fortunately l)een completed a perpetu- 
al memorial to him who has gone. We are glad that he lived 
to see his cherished plans in brick and mortar finished. I shall 
always remember the beaming and delighted expression of his 
face when the money for the Chemical Laboratory was really 
appropriated. "It hardly seems possible that it is true," he said. 
And then how he worked building his laboratory, watching 
every detail by day, and while the laborers slept he planned and 
thought by night. 

The Inilliant light from his study window at his home was 
always streaming forth at night. I could easily see it from my 
bed-room window, and many times it was the last thing I saw 
shining through the darkness as I pulled down my curtains for 
the night. Now that light has gone out. Many of us will long 
remember it, and many of us realize, perhaps more now than 
ever, what it meant. Quiet thought must precede intelligent 
action, and so it seems sure that near that light originated and 
developed what we recognize today as the important products 
of his busy brain. 

What we may say here today will soon be forgotten, but 
many thing that he did will endure for years to come. He 
taught the science of chemistry to many students. It seems 
to me that this was his greatest work. He contributed to the 
fund of knowledge in the realm of chemical science. He serv- 
ed the people of Illinois by the application of his science to the 
needs, comforts, the very life of her citizens. He built the 
Chemical Laboratory. These were his ])ublic services. 

Dr. Palmer carried the same enthusiasm into his play that 


he did into his work. It was among his friends that he was at 
his best,— quick of thought, brilliant in speech, sympathetic in 

He was not always understood, nor was he easily won; but 
once his friendship was yours, the more it was prized and the 
stronger it became. 

After all, how much that we think and feel must we leave 
unspoken; the sympathy for the family, the sister, the friends; 
what words mean enough ? To him who has gone we gladly and 
honestly acknowledge our respect, our admiration, our love- 
And now after a few sad days gone by since the news of his 
death came to me over the wire, days of thoughtful, keenly- 
felt sorrow, I still feel as I said: He was a scientist of marked 
ability, a man of unusual enthusiasm, a delightful companion, 
and a true friend. 

Address by Dean Eugene Davenport. 

For a little more than nine years I have been associated 
with Professsor Palmer in this University, and yet I cannot say 
that I knew him well. It is one of the misfortunes of universi- 
ty life that we come close enough to many a man to know and 
feel that a great soul is there, and yet from the very exigencies 
of duty little or no opportunity is given to come into its full 
beneficence. In other words we are surrounded by more person- 
alities than we can utilize, and we lose much of personal privi- 
lege that might be enjoyed were the world less busy and were 
our lines less definitely cast. 

It was so in this case. Though working in buildings but a 
few feet apart, we seldom met except in faculty meeting or up- 
on appointment in matters of routine. I knew Professor Pal- 
mer best, therefore, in his business relations, but one could not 
meet him even here and infrequently without feeling the touch 
of a strong personality that one would be glad to know better. 

Professor Palmer was a born chemist, and I should say that 
all his ambitions lay in the line of pure science. And yet he 


was neither blind nor unfeeling to the applications of science, 
even in lines that did not personally appeal to him. He was 
always fair, open, and generous in his relations with other in- 
terests. With students he was exact and exacting; yet he 
was full of the milk of human kindness, and no student so far 
as I ever knew could complain of Professor Palmer's final treat- 
ment; if a student failed, it was because he deserved to fail. He 
never spared himself. Head of a busy department and l)eset 
by a multitude of exacting duties and harrowing details, he 
thought of himself, if at all, after the demands of duty were 
fully met. Always ambitious for the progress of his department, 
especially along the lines of pure chemistry, he yet met all the 
duties of the department with hdelity and with patience. 

There is a peculiarly pathetic side to this case, and it is only 
just to him that we note it in his passing, even if we somewhat 
overlooked it in his life. A decade ago the department enjoy- 
ed an enviable reputation. Its fame was not limited to the 
natural constituency of this University, but it was widely and 
favorably known among universities everywhere, and it did not 
seem too much to look forward to the time when it should oc- 
cupy front rank among the leading departments of chemistry 
in this country. 

Then came the burning of the chemical ])uilding. Because 
of scarcity of funds, and l)ecause a new and more commodious 
structure was to be asked for, the laboratories were never com- 
pletely restored. The ruin was roofed over, and the work rein- 
stalled, but in a temporary and exceedingly inadequate man- 
ner. The building needed was not provided, and for four years 
this department marked time and struggled for existence. 

This condition of things was at the threshold of the great- 
est period of general growth ever experienced by the Univer- 
sity. Students rapidly increased in numbers in all the colleges, 
and the old laboratories already overcrowded were flooded be- 
yond their capacity with students seeking elementary instruc- 
tion. Here for more than four years the resources of the de- 
partment were taxed to the utmost to meet the increasing de- 
mands on the part of the University for elementary chemistry. 


General prosperity was a fact, but it brought about conditions 
doubly hard upon this department laboring to sustain its repu- 
tation among more fortunate neighbors in other institutions. 

Then came the final struggle when the building was won; 
though the amount granted was insufficient, and those who knew 
Professor Palmer in those dark days when the chemical build- 
ing for the third time hung in the balance — those only knew 
what the issue meant to him. Yet he never neglected his duty 
to the department or to students dependent upon it. These are 
conditions that try the souls of men; and though I never passed 
a word with him upon the subject, I knew what Professor Palmer 
lived through for some five years, and I honor his memory for 
his fortitude and his courage under circumstances more trying 
than most men are called upon to endure. 

He lived to see the building erected. For this we are glad. 
I wish he might have lived to see it completely equipped. I 
wish his dream might have been fully realized on this campus 
and in his lifetime. According to his allotted time he 
should have had a good quarter of a century yet in which to 
bring about his ideals. It is said of some men that their glory 
is brighter and their fame more lasting for a sudden and tragic 
taking off. This cannot be true of Professor Palmer. He would 
have won more laurels for himself and more credit for the Uni- 
versity he loved so well. It is good for most men to die in the 
harness. He was of the kind to go that way, and yet we can- 
not but wish that he might have worn the harness longer. By 
all human standards he had earned the right to do so; and had 
he been spared, he would have added yet new honors to the 
name to which we now pay our last tribute of respect and love. 

Address by Dean S. A. Forbes. 

After the various appreciations of Dr. Palmer — unusually full 
and fair, as it seems to me — which have been given by those 
who have preceded me, I may speak perhaps of a few less obvi- 
ous, less conspicuous matters, which I think are not less signifi- 


cant as clues to his character and helps to an understanding of 
his life. And first, in this connection, I think of the breadth 
and liberality of his intellectual sympathies and interests. We 
have heard of him here today as a chemical specialist, im- 
mersed in the work of his department, closely concentrated on 
his special subjects; but there was another side to him not 
nearly so evident or so well known. He was a chemist, indeed, 
from the ground up, one might almost say from the heart out, 
but when he was free from the harness of technical and ))usi- 
ness routine, when he could cast off his responsibilities for a 
little time and follow the lead that pleased him, it was not more 
chemistry that he seemed to want, it was not to chemistry that 
he turned for stimulus and refreshment, it was to almost any- 
thing else. 1 belonged, with him, to a little study club which 
met once a week; and when it came to the selection of a subject 
for reading and discussion. Dr. Palmer's choice never once 
turned to chemistry or to any allied subject, but to philosophy, 
or ethics, or economics, or sociology, or theoretical history, or 
biology, — to almost anything, indeed, except chemistry, which 
had a content of substantial and interesting thought, so pre- 
sented as to stimulate reflection and to provoke discussion. It 
was with these things that he sought to broaden his thinking and 
to refresh his mind. 

The scope of his intelligence, and the variety of his ability, 
were sometimes strikingly shown to us when it fell to him to 
abstract, for the general benefit, some article or some chap- 
ter on a subject so far removed from his personal studies that 
we would doulit, perhaps, whether he could do what was called 
for; whether, indeed, he could really understand the subject 
himself. But his presentation of the matter would neverthe- 
less come in as clear, as accurate, as complete, as fluent, as one 
of his lectures in elementary chemistry. This same ready, 
thoroughly-trained ability was shown also by the finish and 
skill with which he would do a new, difficult, and wholly unfa- 
miliar thing the first time trying. 1 turn aside a moment to 
give you an instance which came under my own observation. 
It became his duty, one legislative session, to present to an im- 


portaiit committee at Springfield the reasons for establishing 
the Chemical Water Survey of the state, which has now been 
going on under his direction for several years. This he did with 
his characteristic clearness and method, consulting no one be- 
forehand, asking no one's advice as to what he should say or 
how he should say it, and with the result that the bill was 
unanimously approved by the committee, if I remember right- 
ly, at its first vote. One of the most experienced members of 
the House expressed his admiration to me afterwards by saying 
that Dr. Palmer had made the clearest and most interesting ar- 
gument that had been presented to his committee that winter. 
When I repeated this comment presently to Dr. Palmer him- 
self, he replied, "Nonsense ! What does the man mean? I 
never did such a thing before in my life." That was just it. 
He did the thing the very first time just as well as it could be 
done. That was what it meant to have his versatile, well- 
trained mind. 

His desire, to which I have referred, to avoid or correct the 
effects of close specialization, showed itself also in his adminis- 
tration of his department. It is true that the course in chem- 
istry, the requirements of which have been gradually estab- 
lished under his lead and in accordance with his ideas, is one 
of the most highly specialized in the University, surpassed in 
that respect, I think, by only one other in our whole organiza- 
tion, but this is not because of his deliberate preference. He 
thought it the necessary consequence of the industrial demand 
upon his department, of the fact that his courses w^ere so largely 
taken as a preparation for industrial life. He often talked with 
me about these matters. There was a conflict in his mind be- 
tween these tendencies towards specialization, and his appreci- 
ation of liberal study as a preparation for a cultivated and ef- 
fective life. He really wished to turn out not merely well- 
trained chemists, but broadly educated men. By that I do not 
mean, of course, to imply that there is not much breadth in a 
comprehensive chemical education ; but nevertheless, as an ed- 
ucation, it undoubtedly needs broadening and balancing up, 
and Dr. Palmer often influenced young men to liberalize their 


elections to this end. Indeed, one of his latest official acts was 
to send me, from his sick-])ed, a new catalo}? statement of the 
requirements for graduation in clicmistry, nmended l»y the ad- 
dition of two new liberal courses. 

'I'lien, as I came to know Professor Palmer. I discerned in 
him a trait which exijlained to me some things alxnit him 
which I could not otherwise have understood, and that trait 
was his essential idealism. He was a strenuous, practical ideal- 
ist. We usually thought of him, it is true, as one of the 
mosiy practical of men, so intense was the steady energy with 
which he pushed toward the accomplishment of his purpose*:; 
but he nevertheless seemed alwaysto carry with him a vision as 
clear as the sight of his eye, of things as they ought to be, with- 
in the sphere of his responsil)ility and interests, and he strove 
constantly with all his might to l)ring the system of things as 
they are into conformity with his ideals. It is in this fact that 
we find an exi)lanation of a certain severe intolerance of poor 
work, and even impatience with the poor worker. He saw so 
clearly how the thing should be, that any falling short of his 
high standard and expectation jarred upon his sensibilities like 
a false note on the ear of a musician. 

The world is not always an easy place for such men to live 
in, and they do not always make it an easy place for those as- 
sociated with them, in whatever capacity. Their highest ideals 
are often criticised as visionary, and their best-matured and most 
carefully considered plans are likely to be rejected as impracti- 
cable. If Professor Palmer had been content to undertake the 
merely probable, he would neve have accomi)lished the utmost 
possible; and that, 1 think, we would all of us say he always 

I must not close without saying something of what 1 found 
him as a friend. 1 first l)egan really to know him personally 
about two years after his return from Germany, when we came 
together one winter as members of a club organized under the 
leadership of one of the professors in the University, for a line 
of study undertaken with reference to the Columl)ia Exposi- 
tion, which was to open the following year. There it was that 


1 first learned of his keen wit, of his contagions gaietj% of his 
careful, considerate, neverfailing courtesy, of his fondness for 
the society of his intimates, of that inimitable, indescribable 
quality which we call personality, which made him so fascinat- 
ing a companion. Later it was my good fortune to spend some 
weeks of a summer vacation on the shores of Lake Michigan in 
his company, and to my surprise I found that this hitherto in- 
cessant worker could also really rest; that an idle dog dozing in 
the sun was not more idle than he might be if he chose. And 
yet, even then, some hours of every day w^ere set aside for his 
departmental correspondence, which he had forwarded regu- 
larly to him from his laboratory; and if a contest were started 
as a pastime, if a competition of any kind sprang up, he dashed 
into it as if great issues were at stake, and no one ever beat him 
who was not his superior at a game. 

I learned, however, to know him best when we met, with 
a very few" others, one evening a week, each week in a year, for 
several years in succession, in a club of University men formed 
for reading and discussion. It was not long before he became, 
I am sure I may say, a favorite with every one of us. The eve- 
ning did not really begin until Palmer came, and those meet- 
ings at which he was not present could scarcely be said to 
count our list; and so he slowly wound himself into all our 
hearts. And now he has gone. That little circle is broken at 
its brightest link. We shall never see his like again. May his 
memoi-y remain green as long as there are good, and able, and 
devoted men and women at this University of Illinois. 

Address by President A. S. Draper. 

We are quite willing that the public shall take the words 
which we speak today as our testimonial to the splendid quali- 
ties of one of our number gone before us over the river which 
parts earth and heaven. But we are not met merely to give 
him formal public honor. To him it matters not what we do 
or w^hat we say. And the throbbing w^orld cares little. But it 


matters much to us. How we who are left feel and what we 
say when one is taken has much to do with ourselves now and 
hereafter. Realizing that, and having beliefs about death and 
the hereafter, we are met under our own roof, around our own 
heartstone, to release our pent up feelings in words spoken to 
each other, to assuage the common grief through the pledge 
of the common support in bearing it, and to bring consolation 
to our own souls through the contemplation of the qualities 
which made us honor and regard the one who filled the vacant 

My colleagues have spoken of the personal qualities and 
characteristics of Professor Palmer. I need not dwell upon 
them, biit I cannot be satisfied to pass them by, lest I repeat. 
Nor need I, for we each saw him at a different angle and I 
stood, not in a closer, but in a different relation to him 
from all the rest. In body and spirit he had individuality 
which was strong and so deeply impresssed upon each of us as 
to make it wholly impossilile that we shall ever forget it. 

In person he was of fair complexion, and attractive mould. 
His eye was clear and his face winsome. None of us surpassed 
him in physical and nervous energy of action. But his carriage 
was manful and his every movement was expressive of deter- 
mination and force. 

Nor was there a keener or more virile mind among us. We 
are proud to say that he was a product of this University, and we 
may well add that it has not developed a more serious or ag- 
gressive student. He shrank from no intellectual undertaking 
and he accomplished completely whatever he undertook. He 
was practical nuister of our Department of Chemistry when it 
was yet in its infancy and he in his undergraduate work. When 
he came to see that this University could not satisfy his pur- 
purposes in life, he went to America's oldest university and 
then to the strongest in the Old World for his training and 
when he had secured it he turned back to the University of 
his fondest hopes and his deepest love to develop a Department 
of Chemistry which should he one of our chief glories and of 
which all the world should know. Of chemistry he became as 


thoroughly a master as any of his age in America. He was not 
immodest, but he had no occasion to avoid, and he did not 
avoid, measuring with the foremost. His love for chemical ana- 
lysis wa,s consuming; his capacity for scientific detail was pro- 
digious; his confidence in his results and in his opinions was 
absolute. His work upon the waters of Illinois was wholly un- 
parallelled and the great report which his unyielding purpose 
got through the press l)efore he could surrender even to the 
Angel of Death is likely to be the reference book of investiga- 
tors for a generation. As a teacher he was exact and efficient. He 
quickened minds and interested them in a science, difficult of 
mastery and not ordinarily attractive. His lectures lightened 
and brightened a hard theme; he was not only master of chem- 
istry but he came pretty near being a master of good English 
style; he never hesitated' for a word and he seldom used any 
other than the one which could serve his purpose to the utmost. 
In a University conference he was always ready with an opin- 
ion and if the matter in hand deserved it, it was a good opinion. 
If it seemed to him unimportant, he was likely to toy with it 
for the relaxation he found in it, but if it was of moment he went 
closely to the heart of it over very strong ground and l)y very 
direct roads. When the time came for University action he was 
read to lead it or fall in anywhere else, and whatever place he 
held he put all of his strength and his resources into the move- 
ment. With all this, he was an alert and persistent leader of a 
department. He was yet more than an administrator; he was a 
builder. He was never content with what had been gained. He 
would enlarge his domain and his opportunities. Men who 
could help him to accomplish his purposes might not see things 
just as he did, but they could not resist him, they were obliged 
to help him. If his report upon the potable waters of Illinois 
is to be an enduring monument to his scientific genius and his 
capacity for unparalled detail, the fine, new Chemical Labora- 
tory over there will express his administrative power and his 
constructive creativeness through the long life of this Univer- 

His learning and his administrative efficiency attracted the 


attention of others and opportunities to go to w liiit seemed to he' 
or were likely in time to prove to he, more conspicioiis places 
were not wanting. Any university in the country would have 
heen glad to secure him for the headship of its department of 
Chemistry. It was not much known, l»ut the way once opened 
for him to go to the presidency of one of the state universities. 
His attachments to his own University led him to put these 
things away, and happily time justified his determination very 
amply. It was fortunate for us; 1 am glad to believe it was 
well for him. This was his place: it was the place which he 
had largely created; he fitted it and filled it; it was the place 
in which he could make the most of himself because it was the 
place of greatest usefulness. 

Very naturally there was another side to his nature which 
this appi-eciation of him does not necessarily disclose, and to 
which I should not allude if it did not throw a stronger liglit 
upon still another and a beautiful phase of his character to 
which I shall allude in a moment. Ue was intense, so intense 
that it was often felt that he wasted himself unnecessarily, that 
he spent himself too freely for the science of his University. He 
often worked while others rested. With all the varied inter- 
ests which center here and which have to be provided for, it 
sometimes seemed as though he persisted for those under his 
care till he carried them l)eyond the point of reason. He loved 
discussion, for he had the qualities of mind which needed and 
sharpened upon it. He was so truly fond of the exhilaration of 
intellectual combat that he would spring to his feet at the first 
appearance of an opportunity for it. These things were liable 
to give a superficial observer the impression that he was given 
to stul)bornness and to idle controversy. But the real truth was 
that he loved discussion, even idle controversy, when it was 
harmless ; he disliked it when it was hurtful. No man liked 
to agree with others upon matters of sul)stance more than he. 
It is quite possible that at times his strength overshadowed 
his urbanity, and that his native force stood in the way of a 
difference of opinion affrighting him as quickly as it did weaker 
men. Yet no one could say that he was wanting in the refine 


meots of feeling-, or that he persisted in serious combat for any 
end which did not appeal to his sense of right. 

Quite the contrar}' was true. His nature was sympathetic. 
He was exceedingly kindly. This goes to the matter of char- 
acter ; even more than mentality or nervous activity it must 
challenge our esteem in such an hour as this. But if all are 
centered in the same being it is better still. It is easy for men 
to be kindly if they are weak and must depend upon kindness 
from others, or if they lack that nervous restlessness and physi- 
cal force which may blind them to the need of kindness or stand 
in the way of growth in forbearance and graciousness. Pro- 
fessor Palmer had a fuller measure of physical energy, or ner- 
vous aggressiveness, than we often see in one man ; but still he 
was kindly. He stood in a marriage relation which claimed 
the utmost of sympathetic love and gentleness, and received 
them to the full. He w^as a proud and tender father. Some of 
us know what a true and helpful brother he was. Some may 
suppose that he was a hard disciplinarian in his department. 
He never spared himself, and he expected healthy men to work 
to their limit; but who among us has sacrificed himself more 
to develop his subordinates or to save a place for one who was 
sick, but true? He was never insipid anywhere. He knew, 
better than some of us realize, that exactness is the truest kind- 
ness to students. But who among us would be more consider- 
ate of any student in whose good purposes he could believe? 
Where is there another busy, forceful man in our number who 
is bent upon such high professional accomplishments, who 
could enter with such enthusiasm into student movements as 
he was wont to do? K one of his colleagues was ill or unfortu- 
nate his sympathy was as active as his anxiety over a chemical 
determination, or his solicitude for a University triumph. Hi 
all the relations of life, in all that went to the matter of char- 
acter, he was sympathetic, kindly and true. We would rather 
say this with entire truth, than anything else we may say of 
him today ; and when it may be added that his kindness was 
sharpened and given a finer edge by reason of those physical 


and intellectual forces which were more apparent to the casual 
observer, we say all that need be said of any one. 

We will try to learn the olnious lesson. All of us, officers, 
teachers, students, graduates, friends, who go to make up 
the University body, have part in it. We will share each oth- 
er's sorrow and support each other's grief. W^e ^\ ill send our 
sympathy to all relatives and friends, particularly to a stricken 
wife whom we all cherish, and a fatherless boy who cannot 
know the measure of his loss, and to all the members of that 
prominent family among us with which he was so closely asso- 
ciated. But we will go further and apply to ourselves the les- 
son of the life that is gone. We will strive to be exact, force- 
ful, and in earnest; we will try to gain results and lift human 
knowledge to a higher plane ; we will not forget to be more 
generous, kindly and true : and we will strive to be ready for 
the going in (lod's own time. 

Resolutions Adopted by the Board of Trustees. 

Whereas, Tlie Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois has 
learned with deepest reiiret and sincerest sorrow of the death of Pro- 
fessor Arthur William Palmer, Head of the Department of C-hemis- 
try of the University. Therefore, 

/iVso/iw/, That it is with the largest deji;ree of gratitude that we 
place on record our i)roroiiud appreciation of his intense and scholarly 
devoti«)n to liis chosen profession; of liis deep scientific knowledge, 
as denion*stratedin his invaluable services to the University as direc- 
tor and teacher, and of his extended investigation and exhaustive 
reports on the potable waters of Illinois, and on nuuiy other mat- 
ters correlated with his dei)artment. 

licmlved. That, cut oil in his prime, full of ambition and hope, 
loyal to tiie University, zealous in his calling, constant in his labor 
of research, faitiiful in his daily instruction, he has left a monument 
of most intelligent and masterful imlustry, and his loss to the Uni- 
versity and to the progress of chemical science seems quite irrepar- 

Besolved, That this minute be spread on the records and a copy 
be presented to his family, to whom the Board of Trustees extends 
its most cordial sympathy in this hour of its deep bereavement. 


Resolution Adopted by the University Senate. 
By tlie death of Professor Arthur W, Palmer in the early prime 
of his life and in the midst of his career, the University of Illinois 
has lost one of its most distinguished sons, one of its most useful and 
devoted servants. Peceiving his formal education first with us and 
afterwards in other universities of this country and of the old world, 
he spent the whole of his j)roductive life in the development and 
maintenance of the work of his department. An expert and learned 
scholar, a skilled investigator, a brilliant lecturer, a conscientious 
and stimulating instructor, an able executive, and an insi:)iring 
leader, he contributed to the progress of the University as but few 
of longer life have been able to do. We shall miss him greatly in our 
work and in our council ; and we commend his memory to future 
generations of students and instructors here as that of one who aid- 
ed much to establish and to maintain at this University high stand- 
ards of scholarship and high ideals of manly character, and who gave 
exceptional talents and his utmost energies to science, to education, 
and to the public welfare. 

Action of the Faculty of the College of Science. 

February 5, 1904. 
The Faculty of the College of Science direct us as a Committee to 
give on their behalf some public expression of the deep sorrow felt 
by all connected with the College and the University because of the 
unexpected and lamented death of our colleague Professor Arthur 
W. Palmer. This sad loss has cast the deepest gloom upon the Uni- 
versity as a whole, but especially upon the College of Science in 
the development and management of which his long and efficient ser- 
vice made him such an important factor. We but feebly express tiie 
feelings shared in common when we say that all of us who have been 
thus intimately associated with him in our daily lal)ors are profound- 
ly affected by the death of one whom we have always held in the 
highest esteem for the wealth and the worth of his personal charac- 
ter and for his conspicuous and widely recognized attainments in his 
chosen field of science. 


H. S. Grindley, 




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