# From Robert Chambers   5 October 1847

Doune Terrace, Edinburgh,

Oct. 5/47.

My dear Sir,

I admire your enthusiasm in wishing to have the head of Strathspey surveyed. I do not know any young man who could be got to work cheap at such a task, but I feel anxious to get one to take a few levels for me in that district, and may yet be able to help you to your wish. However, having never found anything off the horizontal in hundreds of observations with the level in all parts of Britain, I feel sure you will discover no inclination in this instance. Mr D. Stevenson11 has now given me exact statements of the intervals of the Glenroy terraces—212.37, and 80.32 feet. My own memorandum of the interval to the upper Glen Gluoy was “fully thirty”, though Mr Milne says 29. The upper Glen Roy being now strictly 1170, I would make the upper Glen Gluoy just a little above 1200. The following is the tabular view of these terraces, with their relations.12 diag Lochaber Tweed West Lomond, Fife. 1202(?) 1203 1170 1162 1090 1087 989 Lr. Gl. Gluoy 987

&c &c 877$\frac{1}{2}$ 877 765–72 (new) 766 765. ramme all the usual terraces under 500 feet being likewise found in Lochaber—a splendid series at Fort William.

Believe me, my dear Sir, | most sincerely yours, | R. Chambers.

## CD annotations

1.26 998] ‘$\frac{400}{1398}$added pencil below
2.14 1170] ‘G. Roy’ added pencil
2.15 1090] ‘G Roy’ added pencil
2.15 1087] ‘—diff 196’ added pencil
2.18 877$\frac{1}{2}$] ‘Glen Roy’ added pencil
Bottom of last page: ‘1202 989 — 213’ ink ‘Last & best Measurements’ pencil

## Footnotes

Only one letter has been located (see letter to Robert Chambers, 11 September 1847).
An estate on the river Spey and the home of Anne Macpherson, see n. 6, below.
The valley of the river Spey, stretching eastward from the head of Glen Roy.
David Brewster had described these lines to CD (‘Observations on the parallel roads of Glen Roy’, Collected papers 1: 93, 95, 112).
A village on the river Spey, approximately 25 miles north-east of Glen Roy.
The reference is to James Macpherson, famous for his translations of the poetry of the legendary Ossian from Gaelic documents, largely, it was later discovered, of his own invention. His daughter Anne inherited the family estate of Belleville and lived there, unmarried, until her death in 1862; his other daughter Juliet married David Brewster in 1810.
Robert Chambers was a partner, with his brother William Chambers, of the Chambers’s publishing company in Edinburgh and an editor of Chambers’s Journal.
To the south-east of Glen Roy, in the same general neighbourhood. Milne (1847b, p. 21; 1849, p. 415) reported three levels of parallel beach lines; Chambers (1848, pp. 127–30) asserted that he saw many more fragments of such terraces in the area of the loch.
A hill overlooking the south bank of the river Spean, downstream from the mouth of Glen Roy.
An elevation at the point where Loch Treig empties into the river Spean, upstream from Glen Roy.
David Stevenson, a civil engineer, then working in Scotland on a government surveying report for new railway, harbour, and sanitary schemes.
In Chambers 1848, pp. 331–2, a greatly expanded table, including these and many other locations, appears as Table 2, ‘Terraces above 545 feet’. Chambers presented a series of such tables, including terraces in other countries, hoping to show that each level had a global representation, and thus a global, not local, cause, which he believed to be the level of the sea.

## Bibliography

Chambers, Robert. 1848. Ancient sea margins. Edinburgh.

Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

‘Parallel roads of Glen Roy’: Observations on the parallel roads of Glen Roy, and of other parts of Lochaber in Scotland, with an attempt to prove that they are of marine origin. By Charles Darwin. [Read 7 February 1839.] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 129: 39–81. [Shorter publications, pp. 50–88.]

## Summary

Supposition that glaciers made Glen Roy is a dream. Has received three letters from CD on river terraces. Reports on trip to terraces at Belleville. Comparison with Glen Roy.

## Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-1124
From
Robert Chambers
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Edinburgh
Source of text
DAR 161: 131
Physical description
10pp †