To the Chairman of the Committee of Papers, Royal Society 16 March 
In my opinion Mr Sharpe’s paper is eligible for publication in the Philosophical Transactions.1 Its object is to show that the laminæ in the metamorphic schists follow the same laws with the cleavage planes in clay-slates. The subject has been little attended to; & I do not believe that it has hitherto been attempted to show on a map the range, as well as dip, of the foliation (whatever its theoretical origin may have been) over an extensive district.— I am on the other hand bound to state that owing to the obscurity of the structure in many parts, and to the presence (as admitted by the author) of many minor curvatures, I think further evidence is necessary, before the existence of the several great arches extending across Scotland can be accepted as at all certain. I should have hesitated in advising the publication of this paper, had not the places, in which a vertical & fan-like arrangement of the folia occur, been separately marked on the map; for such facts seem liable to little error:— Moreover, statements by Macculloch2 & other Scotch authors are used by Mr Sharpe, & these support his general inferences. If we consider in the author’s sections, simply the fan-like layers, & neglect as doubtful, the broad intermediate districts with convoluted & less steeply inclined layers, we may, I think, see evidence of arrangement, distinct from ordinary stratification. I may here just allude to the observations by Humboldt & others,3 showing the uniformity of strike in the metamorphic schists in one given direction over surprisingly large regions in other parts of the world,—as for instance in New S. Wales, where the strike serves as a compass to people travelling through the woods,— I allude to this, as offering some proof that the subject is not of limited interest.—
With regard to Mr Sharpe’s map, I must express a strong opinion (though fully admitting that the author in most cases is the best judge) that it would have been very much better, if not a single line had been inserted without some distinct authority: on account of the rather small scale, it might perhaps have been necessary to have extended the lines a little beyond the points observed, but some definite limit ought, in my opinion, to have been fixed on & stated. As the map now stands, it tells at once the authors views, but it is not possible to discover which lines, & how far along each line, are the result of actual observation, & how much has been conjecturally added.4 The author’s attention might be called to one other point,—namely to his use of the term “arches or lines of elevation”, as applied to his arches of foliation; considering that the very object of the memoir is to show that the folia are not merely upturned layers of deposition in a metamorphosed condition, it appears unfortunate that this term, which at once calls before the mind beds folded by ordinary mechanical forces, should have been adopted, when axes of foliation or some other term might have easily been found, which would not have been confounded with ordinary lines of elevation, & yet would not have precluded the idea of the foliation having resulted indirectly from mechanical action,—as seems to be the Author’s view.—5
Notwithstanding the foregoing objections, from the novelty &, as it appears to me, importance of the subject, I am of decided opinion that Mr Sharpe’s memoir ought to be published in the Transactions.6
Apologising for the length of this Report | I remain, Sir, Your obedient servant | Charles Darwin To the Chairman of | the Committee of Papers.
P.S. | The author ought to state whether his bearings have been corrected for variation; & a scale of colours should appear on the map, together with an explanation of the several lines used.7
Referee’s report on paper by Daniel Sharpe ["On foliation and cleavage", Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. 142 (1852): 445–62].
- Letter no.
- Darwin, C. R.
- Chairman, Committee of Papers, Royal Society of London
- Sent from
- Source of text
- The Royal Society (RR2: 226)
- Physical description
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 840,” accessed on 24 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-840