To Walter Baldock Durrant Mantell 17 November 1854
Down Bromley Kent Nov.
I hope you will excuse the great liberty I take in addressing you, but I trust my long acquaintance with your honoured Father may serve me as an introduction.1 When on board H.M.S. Beagle I particularly attended to glacial deposits, & I am now very much interested on this subject,2 & most earnestly want to know whether any distinct phenomena of this kind have been observed in New Zealand.— When I was in Bay of Islands I saw several large boulders of greenstone, but as I did not know the surrounding country, & as they were in valleys & not on isolated hillocks, I was not able to tell whether they were true erratic boulders,3 or merely blocks washed down by chance floods &c &c from greater heights. Now I shd esteem it a great favour if you would inform me on your own authority, (or on that of any other competent observer, if such there be in N. Zealand) whether there are any great blocks of rock, especially if angular, which have certainly been transported from a long distance, or which must have crossed valleys or arms of the sea in their course. And lastly whether any one has observed moraines or the marks of glaciers having formerly descended to a lower level on the New Zealand Mountains. The Southern islands wd of course be the most favourable for the chance of the discovery of ancient erratic & glacial action, but I fear that has been rarely visited by instructed persons.
Hoping that you will forgive my asking you to take the trouble to inform me; I remain, Dear Sir | Your’s faithfully & obliged | Charles Darwin
I may add that on stating how anxious I was to obtain the foregoing information, I was encouraged by Sir Charles & Lady Lyell to take the liberty of addressing you.—
Requests authoritative information on erratic boulders and marks of glaciers in New Zealand, and especially in southern islands.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1603,” accessed on 22 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1603