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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/816

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only such as were known to exist in the United States and the British Provinces. It formed an octavo volume of over three hundred pages. That much credit was due to many workers during this period, both in the field and in the laboratory, there can be no question, but among them all I find four men standing forth so prominently as leaders that I have thought it would be well for us to recall briefly something of the character of these men and their labors for the advancement of mineralogy in this country.

First among these I will mention Dr. Archibald Bruce. He was the son of Dr. William Bruce, a surgeon in the British army, and was born in New York in 1777. He was graduated at Columbia College; subsequently studied medicine, and in 1798 went to Edinburgh, where, in 1800, he obtained his doctor's degree from that university. He was early interested in natural science, and while still in college found, his biographer says, "the collection and examination of minerals—a pursuit not then at all attended to in this country—was his particular relief from other studies; for even during his recreation he was ever on the lookout for something new or instructing in mineralogy."

When he went to Europe he took with him a large number of American minerals, and, through exchanges with institutions and prominent mineralogists abroad, he established friendly relations with those most interested in his favorite science. After the completion of his medical studies, he traveled for two years on the Continent of Europe, making the acquaintance of the Abbé Haüy, and other eminent mineralogists, and collecting an extensive cabinet of valuable minerals, which, on his return to this country in 1803, he brought with him to New York. This collection, with another brought to New York about the same time by Mr. B. D. Perkins—both being made fully accessible to all interested in seeing them—contributed, it was said, more than any agencies had ever done before to excite in the public an active interest in the science of mineralogy. Besides this, Dr. Bruce entered into extensive correspondence with others interested in the subject, was active in visiting and discovering new mineral localities, and in advising, encouraging, and inspiring young mineralogists. Finally, after well considering the matter, he established the first purely scientific periodical ever published in America. This was called the "American Mineralogical Journal," and the first number of it was published in 1810. It contained original contributions, chiefly on mineralogy, from a number of investigators. "It was received," says the elder Silliman, "in this country and in Europe in a flattering manner; it excited at home great zeal and effort in support of the sciences which it fostered, and abroad it was hailed as the harbinger of our future exertions." But alas! it was in advance of the age, and, after struggling for several years, was given up on the publication of the fourth number. Possibly it would have continued longer had it not been for the failing health of its founder.