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Letter 1059

Darwin, C. R. to Dieffenbach, Ernst

9 Feb [1847]

    Summary Add

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    On the results of Robert Bunsen's journey to Iceland, which he compares in detail with his own research.

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    "I have for the present given up Geology, & am hard at work at pure Zoology & am dissecting various genera of cirripedes, & am extremely interested in the subject." "I always, however, keep on reading & observing on my favourite work on Variation or on Species, & shall in a year's time or so, commence & get my notes in order."

Transcription

Down Farnborough Kent

Feb. 9th

My dear Sir

I have taken a long time to thank you for your long & most interesting letter of the 5th of last month, but I wished to read it again, before writing, & I lent it to Mr Lyell who returned it only a few days since.— I fe<lt> sure that you would excuse my sending it to Lyell; he was deeply interested in your clear exhibition of Prof. Bunsen's views & facts on Iceland, though they were “sour grapes” to him, as he had just printed off in a new & seventh Edition of the Principles all the volcanic chapters. He would, otherwise, have much liked to have quoted Bunsen's views.—

I have never before heard of Pelagonite which you refer to as a hydrated tuff; I cannot but suspect it is the same, as the rock which I have described in some detail in my Volcanic Island volume (p 99, 100) at the Galapagos, which I thought new: I was induced to think that it was produced by the action of water on particles of Scoriæ. If Prof. Bunsen compares his Geolog. observations with those of others, I wish you would point out this page to him. In several parts of the Cordillera (<s>ee index to my S. American volume ) I found very thin & uneven layers of black pitchstone, often almost composed of angular concretionary masses, & which appeared to me to have certainly been in origin of a sedimentary nature; this has always appeared to me strange, seeing how clearly igneous, pitchstone generally is. What a grand mass of observations Bunsen seems to have made; I am glad he is entering on Amygdaloids; I believe I saw cases in the Uspallata range, where lavas flowing over tuffs had produced amygdaloids, which at the time suprised me much, as I had been accustomed to connect amygdaloids exclusively with true molten rock.

I am much obliged by your informing me that Von Dechen had not received his copy; I have made enquiries, & am assured that it went through a safe channel, viz Williams & Norgate & I hope it will yet arrive: I trust that you have received your copy. You will have heard that a translation of Tschudi's travels has appeared; I have sent for it & expect to enjoy it much.— I presume you see the Geolog. Journ of our Society, allow me to call your attention to what appears to me an important step in the right direction on the curious subject of cleavage; it is by Mr Sharpe in the number for this month. I have for the present given up Geology, & am hard at work at pure Zoology & am dissecting various genera of Cirripedia, & am extremely interested in the subject. I always, however, keep on reading & observing on my favourite work on Variation or on Species, & shall in a year's time or so, commence & get my notes in order; should any important paper appear on this subject in any German periodical, I shd be greatly indebted for information of it.— Allow me to thank you again cordially for the very great trouble which you have so kindly taken to inform me of Prof. Bunsen's views.—

with my best wishes, believe me, my dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 1059.f1
    The cover of the letter is addressed: ‘Dr E. Dieffenbach | Giesen | Hesse Darmstadt’.
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    f2 1059.f2
    Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen described volcanic phenomena in Iceland in Bunsen 1847a, 1847b, and 1847c. See also letter to A. W. H. Kolbe, 5 May [1847].
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    f3 1059.f3
    C. Lyell 1847.
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    f4 1059.f4
    See Correspondence vol.5, letter to Charles Lyell, [November–December 1851], in which CD tells Lyell to include ‘Palagonite of Bunsen’ in his list of volcanic rocks in C. Lyell 1851.
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    f5 1059.f5
    Volcanic islands.
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    f6 1059.f6
    South America.
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    f7 1059.f7
    South America, p. 200.
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    f8 1059.f8
    Tschudi 1847. No copy of this work is in the Darwin Library, but CD listed it among his books read on 8 March 1847 (DAR 119; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV).
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    f9 1059.f9
    Sharpe 1847. See also letters to Daniel Sharpe, [19 January 1847] and [23 January 1847].
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    f10 1059.f10
    CD did not begin this work until 9 September 1854, when the final volume of the monograph on the Cirripedia had been published (de Beer ed. 1959a, p. 13). At the time he wrote this letter, CD was planning only to prepare a paper on the anatomy of cirripedes in connection with describing his new barnacle, Arthrobalanus.
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    f11 1059.f11
    The whereabouts of the original manuscript letter is unknown. The above transcription was made from a photographic copy in the possession of the editors.
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