Comments on receiving copy of Lyell's Elements [of geology]. Much is new to CD, and he is copying out notes and references.
Criticises geological work of John Phillips.
Describes expedition to Glen Roy, about which he is writing a paper ["Parallel roads of Glen Roy" (1839), Collected papers 1: 87–137].
Enjoys the Athenaeum Club.
Criticises entomological work of F. W. Hope.
Asks Lyell to obtain for him a copy of barometric readings made at Leith.
Asks him to ascertain altitude of several Scottish lochs.
Comments on FitzRoy's character.
36 Grt. Marlbro' St.
My dear Lyell
I did not write to you at Norwich for I thought I should have more to say, if I waited a few more days.— Very many thanks for the present of your elements, which I received, (& I believe the very first copy distributed) together with your note.— I have read it through every word & am full of admiration of it.— as I now see no geologist I must talk to you about it. There is no pleasure in reading a book if one cannot have a good talk over it.— I repeat I am full of admiration at it.— it is as clear as daylight,—in fact I felt in many parts some mortification at thinking, how geologists have laboured & struggled at proving what seems, as you have put it, so evidently probable.— I read with much interest your sketch of the secondary deposits.— you have contrived to make it quite “juicy”, as we used to say as children of a good story.— There was also much new to me, & I have to copy out some fifty notes & references. It must do good;—the hereticks against common sense must yield— Phillips will not surely go on saying that the metamorphic schists are disintegrated granite redeposited. By the way do you recollect my telling you, how much I disliked the manner Phillips referred to his other works, as much as to say, “you must, ought & shall buy everything I have written”. To my mind, you have somehow quite avoided this.— your references only seem to say “I cant tell you all in this work, else I would, so you must go to the Principle,” & many a one, I trust, you will send there, & make them like me adorers of the good science of rock-breaking. You see I am in a fit of enthusiasm; & good cause I have to be, when I find, you have made such infinitely more use of my journal than I could have anticipated.— I will say no more about the book, for it is all praise.— I must, however, admire the elaborate honesty with which you quote the words of all living & dead geologists.—
I came up to town on Wednesday night, just two days after you went; & very much disappointed I was to find by your card you were gone.— I thought youhad intended coming to town after your crag expedition, so I had made sure of seeing you, & having some geological talk.— I was very near writing to you from Shrewsbury, but I thought you would be busy & I denied myself the pleasure. My Scotch expedition answered brilliantly.— my trip in the steam packet was absolutely pleasant, & I enjoyed the spectacle, wretch that I am, of two ladies & some small children quite sea sick, I being well. Moreover on my return from Glasgow to Liverpool, I triumphed in a similar manner over some full grown men.— I staid one whole day in Edinburgh, or more truly on Salisbury Craigs.— I want to hear, some day, what you think about that classical ground:—the structure was to me new & rather curious,—that is if I understand it right.— I crossed from Edinburgh in gigs & carts, (& carts without springs as I never shall forget) to Loch Leven,—was disappointed in the scenery—& reached Glen Roy on Saturday evening, one week after leaving Marlborough St.— Here I enjoyed five days of the most beautiful weather, with gorgeous sunsets, & all nature looking as happy, as I felt.— I wandered over the mountains in all directions & examined that most extraordinary district.— I think without any exception,—not even the first volcanic island, the first elevated beach, or the passage of the Cordillera, was so interesting to me, as this week. It is far the most remarkable area I ever examined.— I have fully convinced myself, (after some doubting at first) that the shelves are sea-beaches,—although I could not find a trace of a shell, & I think I can explain away most, if not all, the difficulties. I found a piece of a road in another valley, not hitherto observed, which is important; & I have some curious facts about erratic blocks, one of which was perched up on a peak 2200 ft above the sea.— I am now employed in writing a paper on the subject, which, I find very amusing work, excepting that I cannot anyhow condense it into reasonable limits. At some future day I hope to talk over some of the conclusions, with you which the examination of Glen Roy has led me to. Now I have had my talk out, I am much easier, for I can assure you Glen Roy has astonished me.—
I am living very quietly, & therefore pleasantly & am crawling on
slowly, but steadily with my work. I have come to one conclusion, which you will think,
proves me to be a very sensible man,—namely that whatever you say, proves
right; and as a proof of this, I am coming into your way of only working about two hours
at a spell; I then go out, & do my business in the streets, return & set
to work again, & thus make two separate days out of one.— The new plan
answers capitally.— After the second half day is finished, I go & dine
at the Athenæum like a gentleman, or rather like a Lord, for I am sure the
first evening I sat in that great drawing room, all on a sofa by myself, I felt just
like a duke.— I am full of admiration at the Athenæum; one meets so
many people there, that one likes to see.— The very first time I dined there,
(ie last week) I met D
I am writing you a most unmerciful letter; but I shall get Owen to take it to
Newcastle.— If you have a mind to be a very generous man, you will write to me
from Kinnordy & tell me some Newcastle news, as well as
about the Crag, & about yourself & M
I have heard from more than one quarter, that quarrelling is expected at Newcastle. I am sorry to hear it. I met old Jones this evening at the Athenæum, & he muttered something about writing to you, or some one on the subject.— I am, however all in the dark,—I suppose, however, I shall be illuminated for I am going to dine with him, in a few days, as my inventive powers failed in making any excuse. A friend of mine dined with him, the other day, a party of four, & they finished ten bottles of wine,—a pleasant prospect for me; but I am determined not even to taste his wine, partly for the fun of seeing his infinite disgust & surprise.—
If you should see anyone at Newcastle, whom you know pretty well from Edinburgh, I
should be very much obliged if you could (without giving yourself, or asking your friend
to take much trouble) obtain for me a copy of the two-hourly barometrical observations,
made at Leith, from 7 oclock in the morning to seven in the evening on
Thursday, July the 5
There is one other point, by chance, now that you are in Scotland, you might find out for me, that is the height above the sea of Loch Tay, and Loch Dochart and Tyndrum—and Loch Tula or any one of these places.— I have no idea whom to ask, or where to look.— If you should chance to meet any engineer, will you ask him.—
I pity you the infliction of this most unmerciful letter.— Pray remember me
most kindly to M
Yours most sincerely | Chas. Darwin—
P.S. I have seen FitzRoy, who had bought your book. He looked rather black at the preface, made a kind of growl, but then came smooth again. I never cease wondering at his character, so full of good & generous traits but spoiled by such an unlucky temper.— Some part of the organization of his brain wants mending: nothing else will account for his manner of viewing things.
- f1 424.f1C. Lyell 1838. CD's copy is preserved in Darwin Library–CUL.
- f2 424.f2John Phillips.
- f3 424.f3CD's manuscript, Journal and remarks, was ready for press by September 1837, and the proofs were corrected by November; Lyell was thus able to make use of it before publication and included at least ten references to the Journal and remarks in C. Lyell 1838.
- f4 424.f4Lyell made two trips to examine the Norfolk crag deposits, one in April and another at the end of July. See Wilson, 1972, pp. 478–83.
- f5 424.f5CD departed for Scotland on 23 June in order to explore Glen Roy. He returned to Shrewsbury on 13 July and London on 1 August (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II).
- f6 424.f6Eventually published as ‘Observations on the parallel roads of Glen Roy’, Collected papers 1: 87–137.
- f7 424.f7William Henry Fitton.
- f8 424.f8Francis Boott.
- f9 424.f9Lyell attended the annual meeting of the British Association in Newcastle upon Tyne from 20 to 25 August (Wilson 1972, p. 483).
- f10 424.f10Probably Lyell's clerk, George Hall.
- f11 424.f11Frederick William Hope published numerous papers in Transactions of the Entomological Society of London. CD refers here to Hope 1836.
- f12 424.f12The British Association had been subjected to considerable public criticism. See Orange 1975.
- f13 424.f13Possibly Thomas Jones.
- f14 424.f14Refers to Alexander Adie's ‘Register of the barometer, thermometer, and rain gage, kept at Edinburgh’ which appeared regularly in David Brewster's Edinburgh Journal of Science. These observations were discontinued in 1832 when Brewster's journal was merged with the Philosophical Magazine. See Forbes 1861.
- f15 424.f15Lyell evidently found the altitudes (see Collected papers 1: 105).
- f16 424.f16Inveroran Hotel, Argyllshire.
- f17 424.f17‘Samuel’, as pronounced by the elder Sam Weller in Dickens' Pickwick papers, referring to his son.
- f18 424.f18The preface (p. vii) reads: ‘Mr. Darwin's Journal … is still detained, to the great regret of the scientific world, because it is to form part of a larger work, including an account of the Surveys of Captains King and FitzRoy, in South America.’