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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. C. Ramsay   18 August 1864


18 Augt 1864

My dear Mr Darwin

You read about that lake that was to be drained in my “Old Glaciers of North Wales”.1 The lake is Glaslyn on Snowdon. It never was done.

I hope you have read or will read Sir Rodericks counterblast against my theory in his Anniversary Address to the Geographical Society.2 If authority can squash a man I am squashed; but I am contumacious enough to think that such a method will not advance his reputation. I think I must answer it, even though I feel that any reply however good cannot have any effect on any one who can accept Sir Rodericks assertions as arguments.3

At Beaumaris4 I finished my “Geology of North Wales”, and am about ready to go to Press.5 It is essentially Silurian, & I touch nothing later than the New Red Sandstone.

Ever sincerely | Andrew C Ramsay


In his essay ‘The old glaciers of Switzerland and Wales’, Ramsay remarked that Lake Glaslyn in Wales was to be drained for copper mining (Ramsay 1859, p. 67). A lightly annotated copy of the paper is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. No letter in which CD enquired about the lake has been found.
Roderick Impey Murchison criticised Ramsay’s theory of the glacial origin of mountain rock-basins in his presidential address to the Royal Geographical Society on 23 May 1864 (Murchison 1864a, pp. 221–41). The section of the address on glaciers was reprinted separately (Murchison 1864b). An annotated copy of Murchison 1864b is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. See also letter from J. B. Jukes, 10 August 1864 and n. 3.
Ramsay responded to Murchison’s criticisms in the October 1864 issue of the Philosophical Magazine (Ramsay 1864c).
Beaumaris is a resort town on Anglesey, north-west Wales.
Ramsay refers to his essay ‘The geology of North Wales’, published in the 1866 volume of the Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain (Ramsay 1866).


Ramsay, Andrew Crombie. 1866. The geology of North Wales. London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer. [Vol. 3 of Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain and of the Museum of Practical Geology.]


R. I. Murchison has criticised ACR’s glacial lake theory in his Presidential Address to Royal Geographical Society [J. R. Geogr. Soc. 34 (1864): cix–cxcii].

ACR has finished his Geology of N. Wales.

Letter details

Letter no.
Andrew Crombie Ramsay
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 13
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4595,” accessed on 16 July 2024,

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