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Robert Jamieson, Professor of Natural History


Robert Jameson, Professor of Natural History, was born at Leith (where his father was a merchant, and the most extensive soap-manufacturer in Scotland), in 1779. He was appointed Regius Professor, and Keeper of the Museum, or Repository of Natural Curiosities in the University of Edinburgh, on the death of Dr. Walker, in 1804. He had previously distinguished himself in the scientific world by the publication of two valuable and interesting works illustrative of the natural History of the Scottish Isles, and had studied for two years at Freyberg, under the celebrated Werner.

Few men have contributed more than Professor Jameson to the advancement of natural history, and more especially geology, as presented in its most popular and important department. His whole life has been actively devoted to study and investigation; and whether in the class-room, or by his writings, he is equally entitled to the gratitude and respect of the student. The vigour with which he has prosecuted his academical labours is the result of early enthusiasm. His first journey to Shetland, for the purpose of exploring the mineralogy and natural phenomena of these islands, was undertaken when only fifteen years of age; and ere he had completed his nineteenth year the world was in possession of the invaluable fruits of his researches. Since that period, scarcely a season has elapsed without witnessing some new emanation from his accumulated stores.

The following is a list of the separate works by Mr. Jameson:—1798 —Mineralogy of the Island of Arran and the Shetland Islands, with Dissertations on Peat and Kelp.------1800—Mineralogy of the Scottish Isles, in two vols. 4to, illustrated with Maps and Plates, the drawings for the latter having been furnished by the Professor's travelling companion, the late Sir Charles Bell.------1804—Part I., 8vo, of a "Mineralogical Description of Scotland, with Maps and Plates ; containing an account of the "Geology of the County of Dumfries." The publication of this work was interrupted by other occupations, and especially by the arduous task of establishing, arranging, and increasing the now splendid Museum in the University, in which he has not had the aid of an official assistant.------1806—Two vols. 8vo, of a "System of Mineralogy," with Plates; and a third on the "Characters of Minerals."------1809—Elements of Geognosy.------1813—In one vol. 4to, to the Translation of the Travels of Von Buch through Norway and Lapland—advised by Mr. Jameson—he added an account of its author, and various notes illustrative of the natural history of Norway.------1813—Translation of Cuvier's Essay on the Theory of the Earth, with numerous illustrations by Professor Jameson—an elegant and popular volume, which has gone through several large impressions.------1816—In three vols, a new edition of the "System of Mineralogy;" also another edition of the " Characters of Minerals."------1820—A third edition of the same works greatly enlarged and improved.------1821—A Manual of Mineralogy and Mountain Bocks.------1834—Various contributions to Murray's Encyclopsedia of Geography, 2 vols. 8vo.------1837—Post 8vo, Mineralogy according to the Natural History Method.

Professor Jameson is known as the founder, in 1808, of the Wernerian Natural History Society of Edinburgh. Besides his numerous separate works, it is to him the world is chiefly indebted for the " Edinburgh Philosophical Journal "—a work begun in 1819, and which has continued to maintain a reputation deservedly high as a valuable repository of science. Dr. Brewster was conjoined with him in the editorship; but owing to some circumstances of a private nature, Professor Jameson became sole conductor after the publication of the tenth volume of the old series. The editorial duties in connection with a publication of this description, extending over a period of more than twenty years, independently of the many valuable articles from his own pen, may well be supposed to have occupied the greater part of the time not engrossed with his classes; yet, notwithstanding his multifarious labours, Professor Jameson has been a frequent contributor to the "Transactions of the "Wernerian Natural History Society," the "Edinburgh Encyclopaedia," the "Encyclopsedia Britannica," "The Annals of Philosophy," the "Edinburgh Cabinet Library," etc., and likewise to several works on physical geography, and to the natural historical portions of various voyages and travels. It is also worthy of notice that, on the return of Captain Parry from his Polar Expedition, and at the request of that gentleman, he drew up, from the specimens brought home, a sketch of the geology of the different coasts discovered and touched upon by our enterprising navigators, which was published, together with the botanical observations of his friends Brown and Hooker, and formed the scientific companion to Parry's interesting narrative.

During the thirty-eight years of his Professorship, Mr. Jameson has had the honour of sending forth from his class-room many pupils who have since acquired a name in the world; and not a few of them at present fill distinguished places in the seminaries and scientific institutions in Europe. It would be tedious to enumerate a tithe of these illustrious names; but among his favourite pupils the following may be mentioned—Dr. Fitton, late President of the Geological Society of London ; Sir George Mackenzie, author of "Travels in Iceland; " Dr. Boue, late President of the Geological Society of France; Dr. Dau-heny, Professor of Chemistry and Botany at Oxford; Dr. Grant, Professor of Zoology in the University of London; the late Dr. Turner, Professor of Chemistry in the same seminary; Dr. Hibbert, author of the "History of the Shetland Isles;" the celebrated Captain, now Rev. Dr. Scoresby; Dr. Richardson, the distinguished and enterprising Arctic Traveller; Dr. Forbes, an eminent Physician and Geologist, late of Penzance, and now of London; Dr. Oudney, the fellow-traveller of Denham and Clapperton, who perished in the centre of Africa; Sir James Alexander, the well-known Traveller; the late very promising naturalist, Dr. T. Christie; many of the eminent Professors in the Scottish Universities, etc.

Professor Jameson, equally respected at home and abroad, was connected, honorarily or otherwise, with almost every society for the promotion of natural history throughout the world. He was a fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh; President of the Wernerian, and fellow of the Antiquarian, Royal-Medical, Royal-Physical, Highland, and Horticultural Societies of Edinburgh; honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy, and of the Royal Society of Dublin; fellow of the Linnasan and Geological Societies of London; honorary member of the Asiatic Society of Calcutta,


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