To Robert Mallet 26 August 1
Down Farnborough Kent
I take the liberty of writing to thank you for your most obliging present of the Dynamics of Earthquakes, & for the much too honourable mention you make of my name.—2 I have read your memoir with the greatest interest & it has much cleared my ideas, though undulations of all kinds will ever be of difficult comprehension to non-mathematical heads.—
During writing the first Edition of my Journal, I consulted Mr Whewell,3 & soon perceived how difficult a subject that of waves was. In the Col. Library Edit, I condensed what I had said, & now heartily wish I had said nothing for I felt at the time that I was out of my depth.4
I beg to send you a paper of mine, which perhaps you may never seen & may be scarcely worth your reading; my chief object in writing it, was to show the intimate connection & indeed identity of the forces, which pour forth lava & elevate continents: this to my mind is an important conclusion.—5 At p. 621. you will see an indirect argument against Earthquakes being undulations in an underlying fluid mass & in favour, (of what your memoir will never again allow to be doubtful) of their being a vibration or oscillation in the solid crust.—6
Have you seen the Mrs Rogers of N. America papers on earthquakes,7 they push the doctrine of fluid undulations to a monstrous extent, & if I might take the liberty to suggest, it would be adviseable to send a copy of your memoir to them; for they are excellent geologists.
How wonderfully interesting it would be, if you could have your instrument8 worked in Chile: in Lima, there was or is a merchant Mr Maclean9 with a strong taste for Natural History, & earthquakes are frequent there.
I have some intentions of being at Southampton,10 & I trust, you will allow me to introduce myself to you.
With my sincere thanks | I beg to remain dear Sir | Yours faithfully | C. Darwin
It has often occurred to me that a faithful record of earthquakes in Chile, would perhaps afford curious results from coincidences with the moon or state of tides.—11
Thanks RM for "Dynamics of earthquakes" [Trans. R. Irish Acad. 21 (1848): 50–106]. It has cleared up his ideas on undulations. Now wishes he had said nothing about them in Journal of researches. Sends his paper ["Certain volcanic phenomena in S. America", Collected papers 1: 53–86]. Wishes RM would investigate Chile. Speculates whether earthquakes coincide with moon or tides.
- Letter no.
- Darwin, C. R.
- Mallet, Robert
- Sent from
- Source of text
- Smithsonian Institution (Special collections, Dibner)
- Physical description
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 992,” accessed on 28 July 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-992