To Mary Elizabeth Lyell [4 October 1847]
My dear Mrs Lyell1
I am much obliged for the Barnacles;2 the one marked Bergen is the right one; but it seems I must give it “locality unknown”: I do not think anyone could have called it a Conia. You shall have your specimens back, but having now passed your new shell, I shd like to leave it, till I go over all the genera again, which will be sometime hence, but I will pledge myself that your shells are returned.
Thank Lyell for his note,—what an awful joke it would have been if we had all subscribed for a horrid calf’s head! It will be grievous if the Coal Saurian turns out a fish;3 I will hope still that Agassiz’s positive assertions4 may be disproved by bones, as well as footsteps.—5
I enclose a letter from Chambers which has pleased me very much,6 (which please return) but I cannot feel quite so sure as he does: if the Lochaber & Tweed roads really turn out exactly on a level, the sea-theory is proved;7 (what a magnificent proof of equability of elevation, which does not surprise me much.) but I fear I see cause of doubt, for as far as I remember, there are numerous terraces near Galashiels, with small intervals of height, so that the coincidence of height might be cooked.8 Chambers does not seem aware of one very striking coincidence, viz that I made by careful measurement my Kilfinnin terrace 1202 above sea9 & now Glengluoy is 1203 according to the recent more careful measurements: even Agassiz would be puzzled to block up Glengluy & Kilfinnin by the same glacier10 & then moreover the lake would have two outlets. With respect to the middle terrace of Glen Roy, seen by Chambers in the Spean (figured by Agassiz,11 & seen by myself, but not noticed, as I thought it might have been a sheep-track) it might yet have been formed on the ice-lake theory, by two independent glaciers going across the Spean, but it is very improbable that two such immense ones should not have been united into one.— Chambers unfortunately does not seem to have visited the head of the Spey, & I have written to propose joining funds & sending some young surveyor there.12 If my letter is published in the Scotsman, how Buckland, as I have foreseen, will crow over me he will tell me, he always knew that I was wrong, but now I shall have rather ridiculously to say but “I am all right again”.—13
I have been a good deal interested in Miller,14 but I find it not quick reading & Emma has hardly begun it yet; I rather wish the scenic descriptions were shorter, & that there was a little less geologic eloquence.
With thanks, believe me, dear Mrs Lyell | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin
Lyell’s picture now hangs over my chimney piece & uncommonly glad I am to have it. & thank you for it.—15
Thanks Mrs Lyell for barnacle specimens.
Mentions Agassiz’s classification of saurians.
Discusses letter from Chambers on "roads" in Scottish glens; views of Agassiz and Buckland on the glens.
Is reading Hugh Miller [First impressions of England and its people (1847)].
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1122,” accessed on 29 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1122