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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Dismorr   15 May [1851]

Down Farnborough | Kent

May 15

Dear Sir

I have received your two notes & the box— I am very sorry that you have had all this trouble in vain—but I trust it will not damp your geological zeal. Depend on it, everyone makes plenty of blunders at first & I well know that I have done so—& so long that they are not printed & published, it signifies nothing— I have seen concretionary bodies something like those sent— There is often a tendency in iron concretions to form hollow spheres & your bodies are to a certain extent a much modified instance of the same tendency1 Allow me to suggest to you not to be in a hurry in sending off any fossils which you may collect as your specimens will be useful to you for comparison in case you find any second lot but any thing which you may wish to send home I will willingly do my best with & place in the hands of those best qualified to appreciate them & describe them.— I sincerely hope that you may meet with success & find interest in your geological pursuits— If you have not procured the Admiralty Manual of Scientific enquiry2 & would like to possess a copy, I have a spare one & should have much pleasure in sending it you in a few days per the Delivery Company

You have indeed been very scrupulous in not putting me to any charge & as you would perhaps dislike my returning you the stamps I have cut off 12 the amount of the porterage from Farnborough for which I am much obliged

Believe me Dear Sir | with every good wish | Your very faithfull | C. Darwin


CD described the tendency of iron to produce hollow concretions, a phenomenon he observed on Chiloé Island, in South America, p. 123.
Herschel ed. 1849, to which CD contributed the chapter on geology (Collected papers 1: 227–50).


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

South America: Geological observations on South America. Being the third part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1846.


Comments on concretionary bodies found by JD. Encourages him to continue geological study.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Stewart Dismorr
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 143: 386
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1428,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5