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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Robert Chambers to David Milne   7 September 1847

St. Andrews,

September 7, 1847.

My dear Sir,

I have had a letter today from Mr. Charles Darwin, beseeching me to obtain for him a copy of your paper on Glenroy.1 I am sure you will have pleasure in sending him one—his address is “Down, Farnborough, Kent”. I have again read over your paper carefully, and feel assured that the careful collection and statement of facts which are found in it must redound to your credit with all candid persons. The suspicions however, which I obtained some time ago as to land-straits and heights of country being connected with sea margins and their ordinary memorials still possesses me, and I am looking forward to some means of further testing the Glenroy mystery.2 If my suspicion turn out true, I shall at once be regretful on your account, and shall feel it as a great check and admonition to myself not to be too confident about anything in science till it has been proved over and over again. The ground hereabouts is now getting clear of the crops—perhaps when I am in Town a few days hence we may be able to make some appointment for an examination of the beaches of the district, my list of which has been greatly enlarged during the last two months.

Believe me, | My dear Sir, | always sincerely yours | R. Chambers.


Chambers refers to Milne’s privately printed memoir on the parallel roads of Lochaber [Glen Roy] (Milne 1847b). The first twenty-four pages of the pamphlet were the text of a paper read to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 1 March and 5 April 1847 (published in the Transactions of the society in 1849). In the privately printed version of the paper Milne substantially augmented his text ‘to adduce proofs, that the whole of Scotland to the depth of at least 1200 feet, has been recently immersed in the ocean, and for a very long period’. Charles Lyell lent CD a copy of this paper (see letter to Charles Lyell, 8 [September 1847]) before CD received one from Milne (see letter to David Milne, 20 [September 1847]). CD’s copy of Milne 1847b is preserved in DAR 139: 5.
Chambers clearly leaned toward CD’s sea beach interpretation rather than to Milne’s argument for the terraces being the remains of lake shores. One year later Chambers wrote explicitly in favour of a marine origin of the Glen Roy roads (Chambers 1848, pp. 97–127, 280).


Chambers, Robert. 1848. Ancient sea margins. Edinburgh.


Has letter from CD asking for copy of DM-H’s paper ["On the parallel roads of Lochaber" (1847), Trans. R. Soc. Edinburgh 16 (1849): 395–418]. RC still has suspicions and looks forward to further testing of Glen Roy mystery.

Letter details

Letter no.
Robert Chambers
David Milne Home
Sent from
St Andrews
Source of text
DAR 143: 5, DAR 146: 1
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1115,” accessed on 27 February 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4