Graduation Address
Delivered by Jack, William Brydone

"The Late Dr. Robb" New Brunswick Courier (6 July, 1861) (UA Case 67, Box 1)

From the Encaenail Address delivered by W. Brydone Jack, D.C.L., President of the University of New Brunswick, at the close of the Academic term, on the 27th ult., we extract the following, which refers to the late lamented Dr. Robb. We would willingly insert the whole address did space permit, as it is an able production:—

There is one melancholy theme on which I have not as yet touched, but which I feel ought not to be passed over in a silence on an occasion like the present. One seat I see vacant that last year was filled,— one heart that ever throbbed warmly for our welfare had ceased to beat,— one head full of ripe scholarship and profound science lies lowly in the dust.

The death of Dr. Robb has no doubt been keenly felt by many of you as the loss of a warm friend or valued instructor: — to me it has been the removal of more than a brother. For upwards of twenty years we had been associated in kindred pursuits without the perfect harmony of our daily intercourse every being disturbed. He was a true friend and a cheerful and instructive companion. Naturally endowed with a strong and vigorous intellect and possessing powers of unwearied application, he has amassed vast stores of knowledge, which being orderly and scientifically arranged he could liberally draw upon whenever occasion required. He loved science for its own sake, and followed its onward march with neither slow nor faltering steps. His knowledge was thus ever progressive and always fully up to the standard of the day. A courteous manner and genial temperament, together with a quaint and playful humor with which he often enlivened his conversation, marked his intercourse with society, and endeared him to his more intimate acquaintances. Possessed of kindly feelings and ready sympathies, he was every careful not to give wanton offence or wound the susceptibilities of others. Generous, warm hearted, and benevolent, the poor and needy never applied to him in vain; and to the diseased and suffering his professional advice and assistance were freely and cheerfully given, even when involving much inconvenience and trouble to himself. As a medical man, though avowedly not engaged in the practice of the profession, he enjoyed a deservedly high reputation; and I have heard many speak in the warmest and most grateful terms of the benefits they had derived from the exercise of his skill.

As a Professor in this University, he was eminently qualified to give instruction in all the various branches of science entrusted to his care. His own knowledge of these was profound and systematic, and having himself had the benefit of a regular and scientific training, he possessed the happy forte of communicating and impressing his views in a clear, connected, and methodical manner upon his pupils. Being thoroughly imbued with the great principles of the Inductive Philosophy, he carefully and minutely scrutinized the value and hearing of every fact upon the result to which it pointed.

But his labors were not confined to the lecture-room. His extensive and varied knowledge of every section of the country enabled him to communicate much valuable matter to Professor Johnston for the Report of that gentleman on the Agricultural capabilities of New Brunswick. To him we are indebted for the compilation of a Geological Map of the Province, which though necessarily imperfect, is the best guide we have on the subject. The University lies under the greatest obligation to him for the establishment of its Geological Museum, and for an extensive collection of the Flora of New Brunswick. The latter and many specimens of the former are entirely due to his individual exertions, in the prosecution of which it was often necessary to spend not only time but money.

Nor did he limit his attention to matters strictly professional; for one marked characteristic of his mind was a strong predilection for the practical results of science. Accordingly, very shortly after the first introduction of the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph, we find him, in conjunction with Mr. Wilkinson, drawing up a report to the then Lieut. Governor, Sir William Calebrooke, on the mode of working it, and the expenses of its construction and maintenance, with a view to the establishment of a Line in this Province.

Many members of the Fredericton Athenaeum will long remember his labors in that Society, and the great practical value of the papers he contributed, whether on literary, historical, or scientific subjects. He was a member of several learned Societies and Associations in other countries, and to these he occasionally sent communications, but his eminently practical turn of mind repressed the desire, and did not allow the leisure to write much on purely scientific or speculative points.

He was one of the most zealous in promoting the formation of the "New Brunswick Society for the encouragement of Agriculture, Home Manufacturers, and Commerce," and acted as its most efficient and responsible officer during the period of its existence. It was in a great measure, owing to his untiring exertions that the Fredericton Provincial Exhibition was attended with such happy success, and that such orderly arrangements prevailed in its several departments. His views and opinions had no small influence in establishing the present "New Brunswick Board of Agriculture;" and the great ability and indefatigable zeal with which he discharged the onerous duties of its Secretary up to the time of his lamented decease, are universally acknowledged.

No wonder then that his death should be regarded as a public calamity; and on this Institution with which he was so long and honorably connected, the blow falls with peculiar severity. He is the first of our Professors whose loss we have been called upon to mourn while still engaged in the active discharge of the duties of his office. In the prime of his life and in the midst of his usefulness, it has pleased the Great Disposer of events to remove him from amongst us, and the end occurrence can not but forcibly remind each of us of the words of solemn warning –
"Be ye also ready."

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