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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. C. Ramsay   13 December 1862


13 Decr 1862

My dear Sir

By this post I send you the 3d edition of our Catalogue of rocks. It is a kind of manual.1

I have read Jamiesons paper on the Parallel Roads.2 It is to be read at the Society January 21st. It is excellent & not long. Might I venture to refer it to you.3 It would give you very little trouble, I am sure. If you would rather not have it I must refer it to someone else less able to judge of its merits.

In the Catalogue I now send, you may possibly be interested in the passages p 1 to 3, bottom of p 13 & p 14, p 19 also top 12 of p 21,4 and the bottom of page 185 where you will find a remarkable quotation from the writings of old Peter Merian of Basle on the subject of fracture & regelation of glacier ice, though not in these express terms.5

Ever truly | Andw C Ramsay


Ramsay refers to a catalogue of the rock specimens in the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street, London (Ramsay et al. 1862). Ramsay was on the staff of the Geological Survey of Great Britain and was lecturer in geology at the Government School of Mines, both of which were part of the Jermyn Street establishment (Geikie ed. 1895). The catalogue was intended as the first in a series of publications ‘to illustrate the several branches of science which are taught in the Government School of Mines’ (Ramsay et al. 1862, p. ii); in his introduction Ramsay explained how the collections had been arranged for didactic purposes.
Jamieson 1863. See n. 3, below.
Ramsay was president of the Geological Society; in his letter to Ramsay of 14 December [1862], CD agreed to referee Jamieson 1863 for publication in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London. In his paper, Thomas Francis Jamieson offered an explanation for the series of parallel terraces on the sides of Glen Roy in Lochaber, Scotland, contradicting that given by CD in his 1839 paper, ‘Parallel roads of Glen Roy’. CD had fully accepted Jamieson’s explanation (see letter to A. C. Ramsay, 5 September [1862]).
Ramsay refers to a number of passages relating to the origin of metamorphic rocks, and, in particular, to the phenomenon of cleavage. He cited a suggestion of CD’s from South America, based on his observations in the Andes, that foliation may be the extreme result of the process of which cleavage is the first effect;” or, in other words, that the process of re-arrangement of particles in the rocks began with cleavage, and ended in their entire crystalline re-arrangement in the same lines, thus producing foliation. Ramsay, on the contrary, held that there was no ‘necessary connection betwen cleavage and foliation.’
Ramsay et al. 1862, pp. 185–6. The reference is to Merian 1843, p. 156. Ramsay noted that Peter Merian’s theory that glaciers moved by repeated fracturing, followed by rapid regelation under pressure, was similar to that recently proposed by the physicist John Tyndall.


Jamieson, Thomas Francis. 1863. On the parallel roads of Glen Roy, and their place in the history of the glacial period. [Read 21 January 1863.] Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 19: 235–59.

Merian, Peter. 1843. Ueber die Theorie der Gletscher. Bericht über die Verhandlungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Basel 5: 110–60.

‘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.]

South America: Geological observations on South America. Being the third part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1846.


Sends 3d ed. of catalogue of rocks [A descriptive catalogue of the rock specimens in the Museum of Practical Geology (1862)].

T. F. Jamieson’s paper on the parallel roads of Glen Roy to be read 20 January. Asks whether CD will be a referee.

Letter details

Letter no.
Andrew Crombie Ramsay
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 10
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3857,” accessed on 31 July 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10