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- More Letters of Charles Darwin Volume II - 40/133 -

with their summits cut off and worn down" ("Geological Observations on S. America," page 155). I well remember the fine section at the end of a region where the cleavage (certainly cleavage) had been most uniform in strike and most variable in dip.

I made with really great care (and in MS. in detail) observations on a case which I believe is new, and bears on your view of metamorphosis (page 149, at bottom). (Ibid., page 149.)


In a clay-slate porphyry region, where certain thin sedimentary layers of tuff had by self-attraction shortened themselves into little curling pieces, and then again into crystals of feldspar of large size, and which consequently were all strictly parallel, the series was perfect and beautiful. Apparently also the rounded grains of quartz had in other parts aggregated themselves into crystalline nodules of quartz. [Figure 7.]

I have not been able to get Sorby yet, but shall not probably have anything to write on it. I am delighted you have taken up the subject, even if I am utterly floored.

P.S.--I have a presentiment it will turn out that when clay-slate has been metamorphosed the foliation in the resultant schist has been due generally (if not, as I think, always) to the cleavage, and this to a certain degree will "save my bacon" (please look at my saving clause, page 167) (542/2. "As in some cases it appears that where a fissile rock has been exposed to partial metamorphic action (for instance, from the irruption of granite) the foliation has supervened on the already existing cleavage-planes; so, perhaps in some instances, the foliation of a rock may have been determined by the original planes of deposition or of oblique current laminae. I have, however, myself never seen such a case, and I must maintain that in most extensive metamorphic areas the foliation is the extreme result of that process, of which cleavage is the first effect" (Ibid., page 167).), but [with] other rocks than that, stratification has been the ruling agent, the strike, but not the dip, being in such cases parallel to any adjoining clay-slate. If this be so, pre-existing planes of division, we must suppose on my view of the cause, determining the lines of crystallisation and segregation, and not planes of division produced for the first time during the act of crystallisation, as in volcanic rocks. If this should ever be proved, I shall not look back with utter shame at my work.

LETTER 543. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, September 8th [1856].

I got your letter of the 1st this morning, and a real good man you have been to write. Of all the things I ever heard, Mrs. Hooker's pedestrian feats beat them. My brother is quite right in his comparison of "as strong as a woman," as a type of strength. Your letter, after what you have seen in the Himalayas, etc., gives me a wonderful idea of the beauty of the Alps. How I wish I was one-half or one-quarter as strong as Mrs. Hooker: but that is a vain hope. You must have had some very interesting work with glaciers, etc. When will the glacier structure and motion ever be settled! When reading Tyndall's paper it seemed to me that movement in the particles must come into play in his own doctrine of pressure; for he expressly states that if there be pressure on all sides, there is no lamination. I suppose I cannot have understood him, for I should have inferred from this that there must have been movement parallel to planes of pressure. (543/1. Prof. Tyndall had published papers "On Glaciers," and "On some Physical Properties of Ice" ("Proc. R. Inst." 1854-58) before the date of this letter. In 1856 he wrote a paper entitled "Observations on 'The Theory of the Origin of Slaty Cleavage,' by H.C. Sorby." "Phil. Mag." XII., 1856, page 129.)

Sorby read a paper to the Brit. Assoc., and he comes to the conclusion that gneiss, etc., may be metamorphosed cleavage or strata; and I think he admits much chemical segregation along the planes of division. (543/2. "On the Microscopical Structure of Mica-schist:" "Brit. Ass. Rep." 1856, page 78. See also Letters 540-542.) I quite subscribe to this view, and should have been sorry to have been so utterly wrong, as I should have been if foliation was identical with stratification.

I have been nowhere and seen no one, and really have no news of any kind to tell you. I have been working away as usual, floating plants in salt water inter alia, and confound them, they all sink pretty soon, but at very different rates. Working hard at pigeons, etc., etc. By the way, I have been astonished at the differences in the skeletons of domestic rabbits. I showed some of the points to Waterhouse, and asked him whether he could pretend that they were not as great as between species, and he answered, "They are a great deal more." How very odd that no zoologist should ever have thought it worth while to look to the real structure of varieties...

2.IX.VI. AGE OF THE WORLD, 1868-1877.

LETTER 544. TO J. CROLL. Down, September 19th, 1868.

I hope that you will allow me to thank you for sending me your papers in the "Phil. Magazine." (544/1. Croll published several papers in the "Philosophical Magazine" between 1864 and the date of this letter (1868).) I have never, I think, in my life been so deeply interested by any geological discussion. I now first begin to see what a million means, and I feel quite ashamed of myself at the silly way in which I have spoken of millions of years. I was formerly a great believer in the power of the sea in denudation, and this was perhaps natural, as most of my geological work was done near sea-coasts and on islands. But it is a consolation to me to reflect that as soon as I read Mr. Whitaker's paper (544/2. "On Subaerial Denudation," and "On Cliffs and Escarpments of the Chalk and Lower Tertiary Beds," "Geol. Mag." Volume IV., page 447, 1867.) on the escarpments of England, and Ramsay (544/3. "Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc." Volume XVIII., page 185, 1862. "On the Glacial Origin of certain Lakes in Switzerland, the Black Forest, Great Britain, Sweden, North America, and elsewhere.') and Jukes' papers (544/4. "Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc." Volume XVIII., page 378, 1862. "On the Mode of Formation of some River-Valleys in the South of Ireland."), I gave up in my own mind the case; but I never fully realised the truth until reading your papers just received. How often I have speculated in vain on the origin of the valleys in the chalk platform round this place, but now all is clear. I thank you cordially for having cleared so much mist from before my eyes.

LETTER 545. TO T. MELLARD READE. Down, February 9th, 1877.

I am much obliged for your kind note, and the present of your essay. I have read it with great interest, and the results are certainly most surprising. (545/1. Presidential Address delivered by T. Mellard Reade before the Liverpool Geological Society ("Proc. Liverpool Geol. Soc." Volume III., pt. iii., page 211, 1877). See also "Examination of a Calculation of the Age of the Earth, based upon the hypothesis of the Permanence of Oceans and Continents." "Geol. Mag." Volume X., page 309, 1883.) It appears to me almost monstrous that Professor Tait should say that the duration of the world has not exceeded ten million years. (545/2. "Lecture on Some Recent Advances in Physical Science," by P.G. Tait, London, 1876.) The argument which seems the most weighty in favour of the belief that no great number of millions of years have elapsed since the world was inhabited by living creatures is the rate at which the temperature of the crust increases, and I wish that I could see this argument answered.

LETTER 546. TO J. CROLL. Down, August 9th, 1877.

I am much obliged for your essay, which I have read with the greatest interest. With respect to the geological part, I have long wished to see the evidence collected on the time required for denudation, and you have done it admirably. (546/1. In a paper "On the Tidal Retardation Argument for the Age of the Earth" ("Brit. Assoc. Report," 1876, page 88), Croll reverts to the influence of subaerial denudation in altering the form of the earth as an objection to the argument from tidal retardation. He had previously dealt with this subject in "Climate and Time," Chapter XX., London, 1875.) I wish some one would in a like spirit compare the thickness of sedimentary rocks with the quickest estimated rate of deposition by a large river, and other such evidence. Your main argument with respect to the sun seems to me very striking.

My son George desires me to thank you for his copy, and to say how much he has been interested by it.


"My whole soul is absorbed with worms just at present." (From a letter to Sir W. Thistleton-Dyer, November 26th, 1880.)

LETTER 547. TO T.H. FARRER (Lord Farrer).

(547/1. The five following letters, written shortly before and after the publication of "The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms," 1881, deal with questions connected with Mr. Darwin's work on the habits and geological action of earthworms.)

Down, October 20th, 1880.

What a man you are to do thoroughly whatever you undertake to do! The supply of specimens has been magnificent, and I have worked at them for a day and a half. I find a very few well-rounded grains of brick in the castings from over the gravel walk, and plenty over the hole in the field, and over the Roman floor. (547/2. See "The Formation of Vegetable Mould," 1881, pages 178 et seq. The Roman remains formed part of a villa discovered at Abinger, Surrey. Excavations were carried out, under Lord Farrer's direction, in a field adjoining the ground in which the Roman villa was first found, and extended observations were made by Lord Farrer, which led Mr. Darwin to conclude that a large part of the fine vegetable mould covering the floor of the villa had been brought up from below by worms.) You have done me the greatest possible service by making me more cautious than I should otherwise have been--viz., by sending me the rubbish from the road itself; in this rubbish I find very many particles, rounded (I suppose) by having been crushed, angles knocked off, and somewhat rolled about. But not a few of the particles may have passed through the bodies of worms during the years since the road was laid down. I still think that the fragments are ground in the gizzards of worms, which always contain bits of stone; but I must try and get more evidence. I have to-day started a pot with worms in very fine soil, with sharp fragments of hard tiles laid on the surface, and hope to see in the course of time whether any of those become rounded. I do not think that more specimens from Abinger would aid me...

LETTER 548. TO G.J. ROMANES. Down, March 7th.

I was quite mistaken about the "Gardeners' Chronicle;" in my index there are only the few enclosed and quite insignificant references having any relation to the minds of animals. When I returned to my work, I found that

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