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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/820

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of science on this continent during the first half of the present century that his life-work is more or less familiar to all. But the important service he rendered in the early history of mineralogy deserves especial recognition here, not only for the work he himself did in the laboratory and the field, but because his enthusiasm and zeal were a constant inspiration to others.

Commencing with the historic "candle-box" of unlabeled stones which he took to Dr. Adam Seybert, of Philadelphia, to be named, he began with enthusiasm the acquisition of knowledge and the gathering of material to illustrate the mineral kingdom. During a residence in England and Scotland, in 1805-'6, he had opportunities to add to his information, and collect many specimens, chiefly from the mines of Derbyshire and Cornwall. On his return to America he at once applied the knowledge he had acquired in making an exploration of the mineral structure of the environs of New Haven, and read a paper on this subject to the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences in September, 1806.

In the following year he induced the corporation of the college to purchase the mineral collection of Mr. B. D. Perkins, of New York (already referred to), for one thousand dollars, thus placing the institution in possession of means for illustrating the science of mineralogy far in advance of anything it had before enjoyed.

The occurrence of the fall of the Weston meteorite in December, 1807, offered an opportunity for Professor Silliman to undertake, in connection with his colleague, Professor Kingsley, an investigation into the circumstances of the phenomenon, and the character of the stones which fell at that time. The results of this investigation were presented to the American Philosophical Society, and published in the "American Philosophical Transactions," in 1809. The diligence employed in obtaining all the facts possible from eye-witnesses of the occurrence, and the care and skill shown in the chemical and mineralogical examination of the meteorite, made this paper one of the most remarkable memoirs of the time, and attracted the attention of philosophers throughout the world.

As already stated, it was the personal enthusiasm and magnetic influence of Professor Silliman which led Colonel Gibbs to deposit his great cabinet of minerals in New Haven, under the care of his friend. It was due to the same qualities in Professor Silliman that the college secured the permanent possession of this invaluable collection, which probably has done more to create an interest in and disseminate a knowledge of mineralogy in this country than any other single agency.

The establishment of the "American Journal of Science" in 1818, now everywhere recognized as of inestimable value to all departments of science, was peculiarly helpful to mineralogy, and the early volumes are rich in articles on this subject. Professor Silliman's original contributions to science were more in chemistry and geology, but he also