The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Werner, Abraham Gottlob
WERNER, Abraham Gottlob, a German mineralogist, born at Wehrau, Upper Lusatia, Sept. 25, 1750, died in Dresden, June 30, 1817. He completed his studies at Freiberg and Leipsic, and from 1775 till his death was professor of mineralogy and geology at the Freiberg mining academy. He was early regarded as the first mineralogist of his time, and his lectures were attended by great numbers of students from all parts of Europe. He opened separate courses for various branches of study, and in 1785 one relating to geology, which he was the first to raise to the importance of a science by pointing out its application to the practical purposes of mining. As early as 1774 he had published Von den äusserlichen Kennzeichen der Fossilien (translated into French by Mme. Guyton de Morveau, Paris, 1790; into English by Weaver with notes, Wernerian society, Edinburgh, 1849-'50), which, though only a brief essay, was said by Cuvier to have revolutionized mineralogy by giving precision to the terminology and classification of that science. (See Mineralogy, vol. xi., p. 589.) His principles were widely disseminated by his pupils, among whom were Karsten and Robert Jameson, the latter of whom about 1845 established at Edinburgh the Wernerian society. Antagonistic views on certain points were advocated by his contemporary Dr. Hutton of Edinburgh, and geologists were long divided into the Wernerian and Huttonian parties. (See Geology, vol. vii., pp. 688, 689.) He was never married. His few works include Kurze Classification und Beschreibung der Gebirgsarten (Dresden, 1787), and his celebrated Neue Theorie über Entstehung der Gänge (Freiberg, 1791; translated into French by Daubuisson, Paris, 1803; into English by Charles Anderson, “New Theory of the Formation of Veins, with its Application to the Art of Working Mines,” Edinburgh, 1809). His collection and manuscripts came into the possession of the Freiberg academy. Cuvier's eulogy of him is included in his Éloges historiques, edited by Flourens (Paris, 1860). Sketches of his life have been written in German by Frisch (Leipsic, 1825), in Italian by Configliachi (Padua, 1827), and in English by Sir William Jardine for the “Naturalist's Library” (Edinburgh, 1837).