Has just given a paper [on "Sand tubes"] at Cambridge Philosophical Society and exhibited some specimens. It went well, with Whewell and Sedgwick taking an active part.
Herschel thinks 6000–odd years since the creation not nearly long enough to explain the separations from a single stock.
My dear Caroline
It is nearly twelve o'clock, but before going to bed I will write my last
letter from Cambridge.— I have just been reading a short paper to the
You tell me you do not see what is new in Sir J. Herschell's idea about the chronology of the old Testament being wrong.— I have used the word Chronology in dubious manner, it is not to the days of Creation which he refers, but to the lapse of years since the first man made his wonderful appearance on this world— As far as I know everyone has yet thought that the six thousand odd years has been the right period but Sir J. thinks that a far greater number must have passed since the Chinese, the [space left in copy], the Caucasian languages separated from one stock.—
The other day I met at M
Yours affectionly, | C. Darwin.
- f1 346.f1The copyist has written ‘Feb.
y 29 th. 1837.’, which has been corrected in pencil to read ‘27 th’. 27 February 1837 was a Monday.
- f2 346.f2The minutes of the General Meeting of the Cambridge Philosophical Society on 27 February 1837 record the event as follows: ‘An account by Mr C. Darwin of fused sand tubes found near the Rio Plata, which were exhibited along with several other specimens of rocks.’ CD's paper was not printed in the Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, but the tubes are discussed in Journal and remarks, pp. 69–71.
- f3 346.f3C. Lyell 1837a. Besides mentioning CD's ‘Observations of proofs of recent elevation on the coast of Chili’ (Collected papers 1: 41–3), Lyell reported briefly on the ‘most striking results’ of Richard Owen's examination of CD's South American fossil collection. Owen had written to Lyell about his preliminary findings in a letter of 23 January 1837 (Wilson 1972, pp. 436–7).
- f4 346.f4For an account of the brilliant company at one of Charles Babbage's parties, see Ticknor 1876, 2: 178. Ticknor's journals also contain excellent character sketches of William Whewell, Adam Sedgwick, and other friends and acquaintances of CD.
- f5 346.f5J. F. W. Herschel's views on Old Testament chronology were expressed in a letter to Charles Lyell of 20 February 1836: ‘when we see what amount of change 2000 years has been able to produce in the languages of Greece & Italy or 1000 in those of Germany France & Spain we naturally begin to ask how long a period must have lapsed since the Chinese, the Hebrew, the Delaware & the Malesass [Malagasy] had a point in common with the German & Italian & each other.— Time! Time! Time!— we must not impugn the Scripture Chronology, but we must interpret it in accordance with whatever shall appear on fair enquiry to be the truth for there cannot be two truths.’ (The letter, in the American Philosophical Society collection, has been transcribed and published in Cannon 1961. Extracts were published in Babbage 1837.)
- f6 346.f6Probably Henry Granville Howard.