Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/273

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SKETCH OF ANDREW CROMBIE RAMSAY.

SKETCH OF ANDREW CROMBIE RAMSAY.

SIR ARCHIBALD GEIKIE, from whose Memoir the material for our sketch is derived, speaks of Sir Andrew Ramsay as having stood in the forefront of the geology of his time, and as having "by the charm of his genial nature, as well as by the enthusiasm of his devotion to science, exercised a wide influence among his contemporaries." Having joined the British Geological Survey when it was still in its infancy, and having remained on its staff during the whole of his active scientific career—"so entirely did he identify himself with the aims and work of the survey, and so largely was he instrumental in their development, that the chronicle of his life is in great measure the record also of the progress of that branch of the public service."

Andrew Crombie Ramsay was born in Glasgow, Scotland, January 31, 1814, and died at Beaumaris, island of Anglesey, Wales, December 9, 1891. His father, William Ramsay, was a manufacturer of commercial chemicals, and invented processes that might have made his fortune if patented, but gave them to the world. He was a child of remarkable determination. Being in delicate health, he was sent to the parish school in the seacoast village of Salcoats, where in the natural and physical features and scenery of the region there was much that might have contributed to rouse the observing faculties. In time he was enrolled in the grammar school at Glasgow. After the death of his father, in 1827, he was placed in a counting-house, with the expectation that he would follow a mercantile career, and afterward in the warehouse of a firm of linen merchants, where he seems to have been unhappy. He had acquired a taste for literary pursuits, was "an omnivorous reader," and from the very outset "kept his interests broad." One of the developments of this side of his life was seen in the production of a manuscript periodical, Ramsay's Miscellaneous Journal, by himself and a few other young men, of which he was the editor during 1835 and 1836. About 1837 he formed a partnership with a Mr. Anderson as dealers in cloth and calico, the failure of which after three years left him poorer and disgusted with an occupation that had never had any great attraction for him.

His attention was gradually drawn to geology by the remarkable features presented in the island of Arran, where he was accustomed to spend his summer vacations. Having become acquainted with some of the professors and students of the University of Glasgow, he used to meet Prof. J. P. Nichol there, and enjoy long walks with him, and was introduced to Lyell by Lyon Playfair, who as a student