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Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. C. Ramsay   1 July [1859]1

Down Bromley Kent

July 1st

Dear Ramsay

I am very much obliged for your interesting note, answering all my queries so clearly. I am sorry about Siberia.—2 I shd like to put in some such sentence as following, & if I do not hear to contrary, I will do so.—

“Traces of life have been observed in the Longmynd beds, beneath Barrande’s primordial zone, & fossils have quite recently been discovered, as I hear from Prof. Ramsay, in the Laurentian marble of Canada, which is the oldest known formation in N. America, & believed to be lower than the Longmynd seriess.”—3

If I do not hear, I will assume that you do not object & think the case sufficiently clear to be put in in this general way.—

Believe me | Dear Ramsay | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

Do not forget that with your knowledge of Glacial action two days at Glen Roy would for ever settle the question which has nearly driven so many of us mad.— If at any future year you were persuaded to go there, I shd like to draw your attention to one or two little points.— I shd so like to see the case settled, even if it proved me ever so egrigiously wrong.—4


Although the letter is endorsed ‘1858’, this seems to be a mistake. The relationship to the letters to A. C. Ramsay, 24 June [1859] and [26 June 1859], and to the letter from A. C. Ramsay, [27–30 June 1859], indicates that it was written in 1859.
See letter to A. C. Ramsay, [26 June 1859] and n. 5. Ramsay apparently included the information about Siberia in the portion of the letter from A. C. Ramsay, [27–30 June 1859] that is now missing, and probably mentioned that he would correct this point in the next edition of his book (see Ramsay 1859 and 1860).
Only part of this sentence was used in Origin, p. 307. The passage reads: Traces of life have been detected in the Longmynd beds beneath Barrande’s so-called primordial zone. The presence of phosphatic nodules and bituminous matter in some of the lowest azoic rocks, probably indicates the former existence of life at these periods. Ramsay’s reply, apparently modifying CD’s sentence, has not been found.


Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Thanks for answer to queries.

Expresses intention of reporting observations of traces of life in the Long Mynd beds and asks permission to cite ACR on his recent discovery of fossils in the Laurentian marbles of Canada.

Urges ACR’s investigation of Glen Roy problems.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Andrew Crombie Ramsay
Sent from
Source of text
Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine Archives
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2851,” accessed on 21 June 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7