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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. H. Miller   [16 October – 27 November 1842]

Down nr. Bromley | Kent


Dear Miller

After an interval of two or three years I am finally preparing for press some of my geological notes—1 I find in them some blanks, where I intended to introduce the name or some remarks on a few of the more interesting specimens, which you were so kind as to undertake to examine.— I have looked over a heap returned from you with their names &c &c, but it appears to me, that there must be some still, in your possession & these are the ones which now cause hiatus’s in my fair M.S. Will you add to your former kindness by finding out for me soon, whether you still have not some specimens & further by endeavouring to give me some information, on them.

In my note book I find opposite 378 (yellow,)2 “a prism of 7912, not yet ascertained”—so this I presume you have it & it is one from the unique manner, in which the cells are half filled up horizontally, I am curious to know something about. No. 240 & 246 (white), I find were deposited with you, & I can now discover no trace of them,— they are what Sedgwick would, I am sure call “beastly rocks”— & they entirely defy me to give them any kind of name.— yet they form an entire island, though to be sure a small one3

I shall be very much obliged if you can let me have answer soon. — My long ill-health has put all my schemes out but I hope now slowly to make up arrears. I have left London & bought this place & I find the change very agreeable.—

All men, who feel interested in the welfare of the Geological Society, ought if they possibly can to attend the Special general meeting on December 3d—. Pray mention it to all friends of the Soc: If the meeting be not well attended, it is very possible, it may be last meeting ever worth attending, at least some think so. I hope better things4

Ever Yours, C. Darwin


CD had begun working on Volcanic islands on 14 October (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II).
Presumably St Paul Rocks. CD collected the specimen numbers 240 and 246 on that island (DAR 32: 37). However, the ‘beastly rocks’ remained a mystery (Volcanic islands, pp. 32–3).
At a Special General Meeting of the Geological Society, held 2 December 1842, the membership voted to approve the action of the Council in rejecting the application of Edward Charlesworth for the position of Curator. At a second Special General Meeting on 14 December, Edward Forbes was elected to the post. CD was present at both meetings, but Miller was absent. See letter to Charles Lyell, [5 and 7 October 1842], n. 3; a letter from L. L. Belinfante to A. C. Seward, 26 July 1901 (DAR 112: 3–4), confirms the dates of the meetings.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Volcanic islands: Geological observations on the volcanic islands, visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle, together with some brief notices on the geology of Australia and the Cape of Good Hope. Being the second 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. 1844.


Mentions preparing geological notes for press. Asks whether WHM still has some geological specimens he had examined for CD.

Urges WHM to attend important meeting of Geological Society on 3 December.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Hallowes Miller
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.29)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 651,” accessed on 31 July 2021,

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