To J. F. W. Herschel [21 March 1848]1
Down Farnborough Kent
Dear Sir John Herschel
I received your note this morning & forwarded it to Mr. Mallet,2 who, I do not doubt, will undertake his task in the compressed form.—3 I enclose my M.S.—4 I much fear, from what you say of size of type that it will be too long; but I do not see how I could shorten it, except by rewriting it, & that is a labour which would make me groan. I do not much like it, but I have in vain thought how to make it better. I should be grateful for any corrections or erasures on your part: should you not approve of it, you have my entire concurrence to send it to any other geologist for alteration.
I have felt particular doubt about the propriety of recommending Books, but have done so after much hesitation, on the advice of others.—
I do not know whether each chapter will have any heading: I have sent one, for the chance of such being required.
If there be no objection, I should be glad, either before or after you have looked over the proofs, to be allowed to correct the press;: as my writing is often very incorrect.
If the request be not unreasonable, I should much like to have some few copies of my Chapter to send to friends, who have given me suggestions, & to keep by me to give to any voyager, having previously sometimes had applications to that effect: I should be very glad, also, to have one copy of the entire volume.
Pray believe me | dear Sir John | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin To | Sir J. W. Herschel. Bart.
P.S. You may possibly be surprised at my having expressed myself rather strongly, that the mere collecting rock-specimens is hardly of any use to Geology.5 I have for some years come deliberately to this opinion, in which some other geologists, with whom I have discussed the point, concur with me. I could specify several large collections lately brought home, which no one person would take the trouble even of looking at.6 This is very mortifying to the collector & prevents him afterwards turning his attention to some other branch of Nat. Hist, in which mere collecting would be of service.—
Sends MS of his chapter on geology for Manual [Collected papers 1: 227–50]. Fears it may be too long. Does not much like it but can do no better. After hesitation, has recommended books. Defends his point that mere collection of rock specimens is "of hardly any use to Geology".