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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. C. Redfield   [22 December 1840]

Athenæum Club

Dear Sir

I have been prevented by long continued illness from not having many months since sent you my sincere thanks for your most valuable pamphlets on meter-eology1 (which, however, I do not feel worthy to receive from the little attention I have paid to that great branch of science), and the Geological Reports2 some of which I have been able to peruse & have been much interested by them.

As I am yet far from recovered I beg you will excuse the lateness & briefness of this letter & believe me dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin

Postscript | With respect to the late discussions on the rotatory action of whirlwinds, I will just mention a trifling observation I noticed in Bruce’s travels,3 where he describes the sublime appearances, presented by the great whirling columns of sand, on his return home across the Nubian desert.— He especially says that the whirling movement had left traces or concentric furrows (?) on the pointed conical hillocks of sand, with which the plain in parts were scattered.— These hillocks having been left, when the columnar mass of sand broke.— I quote only from memory.—

P.S. 2d. As I have mislaid your letter, I am compelled to direct this to the care of Prof. Silliman, who, I daresay, will excuse the liberty.—


Possibly a reprint of Redfield’s discussion of James Pollard Espy’s rival theory of storms (Redfield 1839b).
The Darwin Archive (DAR 136, 137) contains geological reports of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania dating from this period, some of which bear Redfield’s inscription.
Bruce 1813, 6: 345.


Bruce, James. 1813. Travels to discover the source of the Nile, in the years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, & 1773. 3d ed. 7 vols. Edinburgh.


Illness has long delayed CD’s thanks for WCR’s meteorological pamphlets and geological reports. Mentions a reference to whirlwinds leaving rotary patterns in desert sand.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 585,” accessed on 18 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2