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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert Chambers   [14 February – 20 March 1848]1

Down Farnborough Kent


My dear Sir

I just send one line to thank you very much for the trouble you have taken in sending me the account of the Hand-level, which I have recommended in my Instructions.—2 I am delighted to hear what progress your Book3 has made; I had no idea you were going to publish so grand an affair as 30 engravings sounds like. I am glad you are prepared to fight stoutly with the sceptical geologists.4

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


The period during which CD worked on the geology chapter of Herschel ed. 1849.
CD discussed the use of the hand-level in surveying in Herschel ed. 1849, p. 161 (Collected papers 1: 230), and described an instrument, sold by Adie and Son of Edinburgh: ‘Mr. R. Chambers, moreover, and others have found, that an observer having previously ascertained the exact height of his eye when standing upright, can measure the altitude of any point with surprising accuracy’.
Chambers defended the view that large areas of Scotland been submerged and that the ‘parallel roads’ in the present glens were ancient sea beaches. To account for the change he maintained that the sea had receded; CD had suggested an elevation of the land (‘Observations on the parallel roads of Glen Roy’, Collected papers 1: 89–137). See letter to Charles Lyell, [16 June 1848], for CD’s comments on Chambers 1848.


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

Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

‘Parallel roads of Glen Roy’: Observations on the parallel roads of Glen Roy, and of other parts of Lochaber in Scotland, with an attempt to prove that they are of marine origin. By Charles Darwin. [Read 7 February 1839.] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 129: 39–81. [Shorter publications, pp. 50–88.]


Thanks RC for information on hand-level; he has recommended it in his "Instructions" ["Geology", Collected papers 1: 227–50].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Chambers
Sent from
Source of text
Watt Library, Greenock
Physical description
ALS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1160,” accessed on 9 June 2023,

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