skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Andrew Crombie Ramsay   10 July 1864

7 Victoria Terrace | Beaumaris,

10 July 1864

Dear Sir

I asked Stanford1 to send you the 2nd Edition of a little book in the hope that you would burn the 1st., which for reasons told in the preface to the new edition, was badly written.2 There is much new matter in the 2nd Edition, but all I specially care about your reading is the new theory of the Denudation of the Weald.3 During the progress of the Survey work4 there it has been gradually “born in upon me” & I am convinced it is in the right direction, & also that the whole subject of escarpments, Oolitic & Cretaceous both in England & Germany, wants revision.5

Pray do not take the trouble to reply to this, & believe me | Ever truly yours | Andw C Ramsay


Edward Stanford was the publisher of the first and second editions of Ramsay’s The physical geology and geography of Great Britain (Ramsay 1863 and 1864b).
Ramsay’s book was based on a series of lectures to working men delivered at the Royal School of Mines in 1863. In the preface to the second edition (Ramsay 1864b), Ramsay stated that the work was thoroughly revised and corrected. A copy of the first edition is in the Darwin Library–CUL. The second edition, however, is not in the Darwin Library–CUL or the Darwin Library–Down.
In the second edition, Ramsay greatly expanded his discussion of the denudation of the Weald, a district between the North and South Downs in Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, and Kent. He departed from the prevailing view of marine denudation, and proposed instead that the terrain had been eroded mainly by rivers (Ramsay 1864b, pp. 75–85). CD had consulted Ramsay in 1857 and 1858 on the depth of various geological deposits of the Weald in order to estimate the length of time required for their formation and denudation (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter from A. C. Ramsay, 29 December 1858; CD’s notes and calculations are in DAR 205.9: 341 and 346). In Origin, pp. 285–7, CD estimated the denudation of the Weald from marine processes to have taken approximately 300 million years. As a result of sharp criticism, CD halved this figure in the second edition of Origin (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to J. D. Hooker, 3 January [1860] and n. 16). He eliminated the discussion entirely in the third edition (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to Asa Gray, 3 April [1860] and nn. 9 and 10).
Ramsay was the director of the Geological Survey of Great Britain for England and Wales (DNB).
In the third edition of The physical geology and geography of Great Britain, Ramsay devoted a chapter to the origin of escarpments, arguing that such inland cliffs were denuded by rivers and rain (see Ramsay 1872, pp. 108–25).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

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.

Ramsay, Andrew Crombie. 1872. The physical geology and geography of Great Britain. 3d edition. London: Edward Stanford.


Sends 2d ed. of his Physical geology [1864]; hopes that he will burn the 1st because of its errors.

ACR is convinced he is right about denudation of the Weald.

Letter details

Letter no.
Andrew Crombie Ramsay
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 12
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4557,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12