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THE cause of the delay in the publication of 
Sedgwick's Life and Letters demands a short 
explanation. Soon after his death, in January, 1873, 
Professor Hughes, his successor in the Woodwardian 
Chair, undertook to become his biographer. No man 
was better qualified, by geological knowledge, and by 
affectionate regard for Sedgwick, to perform the task 
adequately ; and, had he been able to command 
sufficient leisure, he would doubtless have produced 
a very admirable piece of work. He carefully studied 
the materials placed in his hands, and made consi- 
derable progress with different portions. But, as time 
went on, and the duties of his Professorship increased, 
he found himself, year after year, less able to cope 
with the difficulties of a task which demanded a long 
and patient research. It became gradually obvious 
that if the book was to be written at all, either it must 
be put into the hands of some one else, or Professor 
Hughes must obtain assistance. In 1885 Miss Sedg- 
wick applied to me ; but, as I was at that time fully 
occupied with my edition of Professor Willis' Archi- 
tectural History of the University and Colleges, I was 

viii PREFACE, 

constrained to reply that I could not even look at the 
materials until that work was completed. Finally, 
Miss Sedgwick agreed to wait ; and it was not till 
near the end of 1886 that I was able to make a start. 
Professor Hughes, with great generosity and kindness, 
handed over to me all his materials, together with the 
portions that he had already written ; but, after some 
consideration, I decided to return the latter, and to 
begin afresh. It was then arranged between us that 
he should contribute the geological portion only, 
leaving the rest of the biography to me. 

I have tried to explain, in the opening paragraphs 
of my first chapter, the difficulties with which Sedg- 
wick's biographer is confronted. In addition to what 
I have there written I may now notice the further 
drawback arising from the deficiency of materials. 
Sedgwick outlived most of his contemporaries and 
intimate friends ; and, since his death, many of those 
younger persons with whom he delighted to corre- 
spond have passed away. Hence a number of inter- 
esting letters, which he is known to have written, and 
which were long carefully preserved, have either been 
destroyed, or cannot now be traced. These remarks 
apply specially to his earlier years; for the letters 
which he wrote in profusion to his nieces, and which 
so vividly illustrate the last forty years of his life, 
have been placed in my hands without reserve. 

In dealing with the earlier portion of his life I have 
tried to draw a picture of the University of that day, 
and to bring out the prominent and energetic part 
taken by Sedgwick in its studies, its controversies, and 


its reforms. Further, I have gone at length into the 
history of Dr Woodward and his foundation, with 
short biographical notices of the Professors who pre- 
ceded Sedgwick, in order to show what he accom- 
plished in placing the study of geology in Cambridge 
on a new basis, and in getting together one of the 
noblest geological collections in England. 

No task could have been more congenial to me. 
Sedgwick was one of my father's oldest and most 
intimate friends ; and I can remember his visits to our 
house, and his society in our rides and walks, as far 
back as I can remember anything. If I have failed in 
my attempt to delineate a singularly genial and loveable 
man, my failure has not, at any rate, been due to want 
of interest in my subject. I have tried to set him 
before my readers as I knew him, and as I heard him 
spoken of, in his best days, by those who had known 
him, respected him, and loved him since they had 
been undergraduates together. 

The biography of one who was born so far back 
as 1785 involves, to some extent, an archaeological 
investigation ; and has compelled me to trouble a 
large number of persons, too numerous to mention 
individually, with inquiries. I must ask them, as well 
as those who have allowed me to print letters by 
Sedgwick, to accept a collective expression of my 
gratitude for their assistance. 

I wish, however, specially to thank the representa- 
tives of the Reverend Joseph Romilly for the kindness 
with which they placed his Diary at the disposal, first 
of Professor Hughes, and then of myself. From the 


year 1832 until his death, Mr Romilly wrote down an 
account, more or less minute, of each day, the names 
of those whom he met, and often the subject of their 
conversation. Unfortunately he does not say much 
about what was going on in the University, so that the 
Diary has a personal, rather than a public, interest. 
But, it is an invaluable record of what Sedgwick was 
about ; for he never fails to record his movements, 
his employments, and his almost daily visits to him- 

Further, my best thanks are due to Dr Robinson, 
Master of S. Catharine's College, for writing a chapter 
on Sedgwick's life at Norwich ; and to my friend 
Dr Jackson, Fellow of Trinity College, for revising 
and correcting the proof-sheets. 

In conclusion, I have to thank the Syndics of the 
University Press for their liberality in enriching the 
work with numerous illustrations ; and the staff of the 
Press for much kindness to myself personally during 
its progress. 


Scroope House. Cambridge. 





Introduction. Sedgwick's birth-place. Geographical position of Dent. Descrip- 
tion of it at the beginning of this century. Ancient manners and customs. 
Spelling of the name Sedgwick. Origin and history of the family. Imme- 
diate ancestors of Adam Sedgwick. His brothers and sisters. His own 
account of his father. ........ pp. i — 44. 



Birth of Adam Sedgwick. Childhood and boyhood at Dent. Love of his native 
Dale. His sister Isabella. Goes to school at Sedbergh. His master and 
schoolfellows. Selection of a College at Cambridge. Reads mathematics 
with Mr Dawson. Account of him. .... pp. 45 — 70. 

(1804 — 1810.) 

Begins residence at Trinity College, Cambridge (1804). The Rev. T. Jones. 
Christmas at Whittlesea. College Examination (1805). Summer at Dent. 
Fever. Life and friends at Cambridge (1806). Preparation for degree 
(1807). System of Acts and Opponencies. Sedgwick's first Act Univer- 
sity election for M.P. His Father's account of the Yorkshire election. 
Scholarship at Trinity College. Blindness of his Father. Senate-House 
Examination (1808). Revisits Dent. Reading party at Ditton. Classical 
work (1809). Fellowship (1810) pp. 71 — 100. 



(1810— 1818.) 

ork with pupils. Reading for ordination (18 10). Visit to London. Society 
at Cambridge. Contested election for Chancellor and M.P. for University. 
Installation of Chancellor. Reading party at Bury St Edmunds. Christmas 
at Dent (181 1). Winter visit to Lakes. Visit to London. Petition against 
Roman Catholic claims. Reading party at Lowestoft Appointed sub- 
lecturer at Trinity College. Second petition against Roman Catholics (18 12). 
Serious illness. Summer at Dent (1813). Severe frost. Visit of Marshal 
Blucher. Summer at Dent. Excursion in Yorkshire (1814). Projected 
tour on the continent. Farish's lectures. Cambridge fever. Goes home to 
Dent. News of Waterloo. Assistant tutorship at Trinity College (18 15). 
Tour on continent (1816). Ordination. Summer at Dent. Hard work in 
Michaelmas Term (1817). Elected Woodwardian Professor of Geology 
(1818) pp. 101 — 165. 


:etch of the life and works of Dr John Woodward. His testamentary 
provisions. Arrival of his cabinets. A room constructed for their 
reception. Sedgwick's predecessors: Conyers Middleton; Charles Mason; 
John Michell; Samuel Ogden; Thomas Green; John Hailstone. Orders 
and regulations sanctioned in 181 8. . . . . pp. 166—198. 



ccursion to Derbyshire and Staffordshire (18 18). First course of Lectures. Visit 
to Isle of Wight with Henslow. Foundation of Cambridge Philosophical 
Society. Visit to Suffolk coast. Commencement festivities. Geological 
tour in Devon and Cornwall. Henslow's work in the Isle of Man (1819). 
Geological tour in Somerset and Dorset. Acquaintance with Rev. W. D. 
Conybeare. Death of his mother (1820). Visit to the Isle of Wight. 
Geological tour in Yorkshire and Durham (1821). Controversy respecting 
Professorship of Mineralogy (1812 — 1824). . . . pp. 199; — 245. 



sological exploration of the Lake District (1822 — 1824). Contested election for 
University (1822). Death of his sister Isabella (1823). Geological papers. 
Work in the Woodwardian Museum (1823 — 1827). Lecture to ladies. Visit 
to Edinburgh with Whewell (1824). Visit to Sussex with Dr Fitton (1825). 
Contested election for University. Visit to Paris with Whewell (1826). 
Elected Vice President of Geological Society. Contested election for Univer- 
sity (1827). Social life at Cambridge. Hyde Hall. Review of Sedgwick's 
Geological work (1818— 1827). pp. 246 — 297. 




The Geological Society. First acquaintance with Murchison. Tour with him in 
Scotland. Office of Senior Proctor (1827). Joint papers with Murchison. 
Summer in Cornwall. Dolcoath Mine. Visits Conybeare in South Wales 
(1828). Sedgwick President of Geological Society. Divinity Act. Mr 
Cavendish elected University representative. Summer in Germany and the 
Tyrol with Murchison. Joint paper on the eastern Alps (1829). Address to 
Geological Society. Summer in Northumberland. Contested election for 
President of Royal Society (1830). Addresses to Geological Society 
(1831) pp. 298 — 371. 


(1831— 1834.) 

The Reform Bill. Contested election for University. Geological papers. Tour 
in Wales with Charles Darwin (1831). Declines the living of East Farleigh. 
Mrs Somerville's visit to Cambridge. British Association at Oxford. Summer 
and Autumn in Wales. President of Cambridge Philosophical Society. 
Discourse on the Studies of the University (1832). British Association at 
Cambridge. The Beverley Controversy (1833). Dislocates right wrist. 
Petition against Tests. British Association at Edinburgh. Made Prebendary 
of Norwich (1834) pp. 372 — 437. 



Cambridge occupations. Election at Dent. Presentation at Court. British 
Association at Dublin. Skeleton of Irish Elk. Visit of Agassiz to Cam- 
bridge (1835). Lectures and Society at Norwich. Geological tour in 
Devonshire with Murchison. Death of Mr Simeon (1836). Ill health. 
Paper on Geology of Devonshire. Criticism of Babbage. Death of Bishop 
Bathurst. Foundation of Cowgill Chapel. Geology in Devonshire. British 
Association at Liverpool. Inundation of the Workington Colliery (1837). 
Explorations at Bartlow. Devonian Paper. Queen's Coronation. British 
Association at Newcastle. Open-air Lecture (1838). The Silurian System 
published. Foreign tour with Murchison (1839). Ill health. Cheltenham. 
Paper to Geological Society (1840) pp.438 — 528. 


Geological work accomplished between 1828 and 1838. The Devonian 
System pp. 5*9— 539- 

» . 4 

. * 

• » • 


Introduction. Sedgwick's birth-place. Geographical position 
of Dent. Description of it at the beginning of this 
century. Ancient manners and customs. Spelling of 
the name Sedgwick. Origin and history of the family. 
Immediate ancestors of Adam Sedgwick. His brothers 
and sisters. His own account of his father. 

It is proposed, in the following pages, to give some account 
of the life and labours of Adam Sedgwick. To the world he 
is best known as Woodwardian Professor in the University of 
Cambridge from 1818 to 1873, and as one of the founders of 
modern geology. But, eminent as he was in the subject of 
his choice, it would be a great mistake to suppose that he 
was a geologist and nothing more. Geology, it is true, was 
rarely absent from his thoughts. So long as his health 
permitted, he devoted himself, with untiring energy, to the 
investigation of some of its least-known formations ; to the 
establishment of fixed principles for its study ; to the defence 
of it against bigotry and ignorance ; to the instruction of 
students; and to the extension of the Museum connected with 
his chair. But, on the other hand, his mind was far too active, 
his nature too warmly sympathetic, to suffer him to be content 
with the claims of a single science, however attractive. He 
took a keen interest in all that was going forward, whether in 
his own University, or in the world at large. In his younger 

S. I. I 

> • 


days.hfc was an ardent politician on the Liberal side, and 
played' a prominent part in the reforms, or attempts at 
reforms, which distinguished that period of academic history; 
/end in later years, as a member of the Royal Commission of 
'1850, he was enabled to exercise a considerable influence on 
"•• the legislative changes afterwards introduced. To the end of 
• his life he watched public affairs, both at home and abroad, 
with unabated zeal ; and his letters will show how heartily he 
rejoiced over a national triumph, how bitterly he mourned a 
national disaster. Nor did he forget that there were other 
fields of research besides his own. He was fond of meta- 
physical and moral speculations, as we shall see when we come 
to speak of his Discourse on the Studies of the University of 
Cambridge ; and no less an authority than Dr Whewell has 
admitted that had not Sedgwick's life " been absorbed in 
struggling with many of the most difficult problems of a 
difficult science," he would have been his own "fellow-labourer 
or master" in the work which he was then publishing, The 
Philosophy of tlie Inductive Sciences*. History too — especially 
the history of his own country — was one of his favourite 
pursuits ; he took a genuine interest in archaeology and 
architecture, though he had no leisure to study either 
thoroughly ; and, from his earliest years to extreme old age, 
no visits gave him so much pleasure as those which he paid 
to English Cathedrals. 

Again — besides the subjects here indicated — he was an 
omnivorous reader of general literature. Nothing came amiss 
to him. Travels, biography, novels, poetry, even contro- 
versial theology, were all at least looked into. Like most 
men born in the last century, when light reading was 
comparatively unknown, and the multiplicity of modern 
books had not yet come into being, he delighted chiefly in 
the masterpieces of our older literature. He revelled in 
Chaucer and Shakespeare; he could quote long passages 

1 Letter to Rev. A. Sedgwick, prefixed to The Philosophy of the Inductive 
Sciences, by the Rev. W. Whewell, ed. 1840. 


from Milton, Cowley, and Dryden ; and he was never tired of 
reading and re-reading, till he must have known them almost 
by heart, the novels of Walter Scott, with which, as he often 
said, " he had been driven half-mad as a young man." The 
amount of information acquired through this incessant miscel- 
laneous reading, taken together with a rich natural humour, 
and a copious flow of language and illustration, lent a 
singular charm to his conversation. Few have ever told a story 
so vividly as he did, or with such a marvellous combination 
of the dramatic, the humorous, and the pathetic. He knew 
how to invest incidents which, had they been told by anybody 
else, would have seemed common-place, with the most thrill- 
ing interest. He placed himself in the circumstances of those 
whose adventures he was relating ; he thought as they did, 
felt as they did ; and whether he was speaking of an old 
woman buried in a snow-drift, or a dog guarding a bag of 
stones, his hearers were fascinated by the truth of the picture, 
and carried away by the rare power of the narrator. One or 
two of his most celebrated stories will find a place in this 
narrative ; but it is to be feared that without his flashing eye, 
and the passionate earnestness of his voice, they will hardly 
justify their celebrity. 

And herein lies the principal difficulty with which 
Sedgwick's biographer is confronted. He may well despair 
of being able to set before a reader, who never saw him, 
possibly never even heard of him, his remarkable personality. 
Engravings may give a fairly accurate idea of his features and 
his figure ; criticism may determine the exact value of his 
contributions to science ; his occupations from day to day 
may be accurately discovered ; and yet the reader may still 
be left in ignorance of Sedgwick as a man. Some effort must 
be made — though the colours may be faint, and the brush 
unsteady — to make posterity realise his rare originality of 
character, which commanded the admiration of all who knew 
him, from the Queen to the humblest of her subjects; his 
absolute sincerity, which Mr Justice Maule summed up in the 

i — 2 


forcible remark : " Sedgwick is one of those men who, if they 
ceased to believe in God, would tell you so directly;" his 
kindly sympathy with the pursuits, the sorrows, and the joys 
of others ; his unselfishness ; his boundless liberality ; his 
enthusiasm for all that was good and noble ; his hatred of 
wrong-doing and oppression in whatever form they presented 
themselves ; his conscientiousness in the discharge of duties 
which might at first sight appear so incompatible as a 
Professorial Chair at Cambridge, and a Prebendal Stall 
at Norwich; and lastly, the firmness of his belief in a 
personal Redeemer, which animated him through the whole 
of his active life, and cheered him in the loneliness of his 
declining years. Nor is this all. His humour when he 
told a story has been already alluded to. But it was not 
reserved for those special narratives which became insepar- 
ably connected with his name ; it manifested itself in all his 
occupations, even the most serious. His animal spirits rarely 
flagged ; he was the life and soul of every company in which 
he found himself, whether it were a knot of children at a 
Christmas party, or a meeting of their seniors convened for 
important business. If he were present the gravest unbent 
their brows — the most serious forgot their solemnity. It was 
impossible to resist the infection of that boisterous laugh; 
that cheerful geniality; that persistence in looking at the 
bright side of things ; in a word that union of all that was 
cordial and generous and friendly which gained for him the 
appropriate name of "Robin Goodfellow 1 ." 

Fortunately he dearly loved writing letters — not short 
letters after the fashion of the present day, but long compo- 
sitions in which he wrote as he talked, with that combination 
of playfulness and seriousness which made his conversation 

1 A paper was circulated at the Installation of the Prince Consort in 1847, 
entitled : Sporting Intelligence. University Sweepstakes, Cambridge, Several of the 
most prominent members of the University were supposed to be running horses, 
the names of which were intended to hit off their obvious characteristics. We find 
Dr Whewell's Rough Diamond ; Prof. Sedgwick's Rodin Goodfellow ; Mr W. H. 
Thompson's A -don-is; Dr Archdall's Mrs Gamp, etc. 


so delightful. It will be remarked that the best of these 
letters are usually those addressed to ladies. Sedgwick 
compensated himself for the want of children of his own 
by adopting those of his intimate friends ; and he probably 
selected the daughters instead of the sons as his correspon- 
dents, because he felt that when addressing them he could 
find unreserved expression for feelings which had no other 
outlet — and which, had his circumstances been different, 
would have made him the most tender of husbands, and the 
most considerate of fathers. It is much to be regretted that 
some of the most interesting of these letters are known to 
have been destroyed, while others cannot now be traced. 
Enough, however, survive to show a side of Sedgwick's 
character, the existence of which, without them, might have 
been wholly unsuspected ; and, it may be added, to make us 
regret more bitterly the loss of the remainder. 

Another of Sedgwick's most marked characteristics was his 
attachment to his birth-place, Dent in Yorkshire. Most men 
who go out into the world from a distant corner of England, 
and make themselves famous in new surroundings, either forget 
their birth-place altogether, or revisit it only at rare intervals. 
Sedgwick, on the contrary, did not merely feel affection for 
the place where he had spent the first nineteen years of his 
life, but he regarded it as his home, from which he might be 
separated for the greater part of each year, but which he was 
bound to revisit at the first opportunity. " For more than 
three-score years" he wrote in 1868, "Cambridge has been 
my honoured resting-place, and here God has given me a 
life-long task amidst a succession of intellectual friends. For 
Trinity College, ever since I passed under its great portal, for 
the first time, in the autumn of 1804, I have felt a deep and 
grateful sentiment of filial regard. But, spite of a strong and 
enduring regard for the University and the College, whenever 
I have revisited the hills and dales of my native country, and 
heard the cheerful greetings of my old friends and countrymen, 
I have felt a new swell of emotion, and said to myself, 'Here 


is the land of my birth ; this was the home of my boyhood, 
and is still the home of my heart 1 '." Nor is it a mere fancy 
which traces a connection between his rugged nature and 
the crags of that wild mountain-valley. To the end of his 
days he was at heart a Yorkshire Dalesman. 

On this account it will be a peculiarly interesting task to 
dwell at some length on the natural features of Sedgwick's 
birth-dale, and the old-world manners of its inhabitants, as 
he remembered them. And here, fortunately, he can speak 
for himself; for, in the supplement and appendices to his 
Memorial by the Trustees of Cowgill Chapel, he amused 
himself by setting down, for the information of his fellow 
dalesmen, not only his own personal recollections, but the 
traditions which he had gathered from men who were old 
when he was himself a boy. 

The dale of Dent is situated in the westernmost extremity 
of Yorkshire — a corner of the county which runs forward, 
wedge-like, into Westmoreland, by which it is bounded on 
the west and north. The dale descends, as does the neigh- 
bouring Garsdale, from the lofty mountain-range called " the 
backbone of England," towards what Sedgwick terms the 
"great basin or central depression," in the upper part of which 
stands the town of Sedbergh. Five distinct valleys are 
there united. Down four of them the waters descend into 
the central basin ; down the fifth they make their final escape. 
The position of these valleys will be better understood from 
the accompanying map than from any elaborate description. 
The Rawthey, a stream which rises in the fells near Kirkby 
Stephen, is joined, at a short distance above Sedbergh, by 
the Clough, or Garsdale-beck, which drains Garsdale; and, 
at an almost equal distance below it, by the Dee, which 
drains the dale of Dent. The united streams, still called 
the Rawthey, fall into the Lune at about two miles below 

1 A Memorial by the Trustees of Cowgill Chapel, with a preface and appendix, 
on the climate, history -, and dialects of Dent. By Adam Sedgwick, LL.D. 8vo. 
Cambridge, 1868. Privately printed, p. vi. 

I M J« J/ i tl 


To/ace pagt 6, JW. /. 




Sedbergh. From the point of junction the name Rawthey 
disappears, and it is the Lune which flows past Kirkby 
Lonsdale into Morecambe Bay. The whole district is 
remarkably picturesque; but it is from the hills on the 
right bank of the Lune, just opposite to its junction with the 
Rawthey, that the finest views of the five valleys can be 
obtained. Those who have personally enjoyed them can best 
sympathise with Sedgwick's enthusiasm, when he exhorts his 
"younger countrymen and countrywomen" to scale these 
heights, and then to u warm their hearts by gazing over this 
cluster of noble dales, among which Providence placed the 
land of their fathers, and the home of their childhood 1 ." 

At its origin the dale of Dent is a mere gorge, leading to 
a mountain-pass ; and, in fact, the whole upper portion, for a 
distance of between five and six miles (all of which is included 
in the hamlet of Kirthwaite) is narrow and contracted, and 
the boundary-hills are bare and rugged. The climate of this 
part of the dale is much more severe than that of the lower 
part ; the rainfall is greater ; and " it is sometimes in the winter 
season much obstructed by ice and snow, when the roads in 
the lower part of the valley are quite free 9 ." It was in this 
hamlet that a destructive avalanche — or, as they would have 
said in Dent, a 'gill-brack' — took place in January, 1752, by 
which seven persons lost their lives 3 . As a traveller descends 
the dale, the ruggedness gradually disappears, the hills 
become less precipitous and more cultivated, and when 
the village of Dent, or, as the dalesmen call it, Dent's Town, 
is reached, they are green to their summits, and their sides 
are dotted with homesteads, divided, sometimes by stone 
walls, but more frequently by rows of trees, into plots of 

1 Supplement to the Memorial of the Trustees of Ccnvgill Chapel \ with an 
appendix, etc., printed in 1868. By Rev. Adam Sedgwick, LL.D., F.R.S. 
Printed for private circulation only. 8vo. Cambridge, 1870. p. 48, note. 

* Memorial \ p. 4. 

* Ibid. pp. 36 — 50, where a letter written by one of the survivors to his brother 
is printed. This letter will also be found in the Philosophical Magazine for 1866, 
xxxi. 80; and in the Cambridge Chronicle, 9 December, 1865. 


pasturage. Here the dale is nearly a mile in width ; and, at 
a short distance from the village, it is joined by a short 
subsidiary dale, called Deepdale. This wider part of the 
dale is about two miles long. Below it, through nearly the 
whole of the four miles which have to be traversed before 
Sedbergh is reached, the boundary-hills again converge, and 
the river-channel is deep and narrow, so that "in ancient 
days, when the hill-sides were covered with dense forests, 
Dent must have been more retired from sight, and perhaps 
more difficult of access, than any of the other valleys within 
the parish of Sedbergh 1 ." 

At the present day, Dent is a small picturesque village, 
with a single paved street; but in 1801, when the first census 
was taken, its population was considerably larger than that 
of Sedbergh*. Various causes have contributed to this decay, 
as Sedgwick's narrative will show; and, as he mournfully 
admitted, " there is no sign of hope that Dent may hereafter 
regain its lost position." His reminiscences have therefore 
an historical importance quite independent of his own 

" Dent was once a land of statesmen, that is, of a rural and 
pastoral yeomanry, each of whom lived on his own paternal 
glebe. The estates were small ; but each of them gave a right 
to large tracts of mountain pasturage; and each statesman had 
his flock and herd. A rented farm was once a rare exception 
to the general rule; but now (1868) nearly the whole dale, 

1 Supplement^ p. 48. 

9 Sedgwick makes the following remarks on the diminished population of 
Dent in the* Supplement (1870), p. 14, " In the previous pamphlet there are 
several mournful notices of the gradual decay in the prosperity of Dent, and of 
the diminution in its population. To obtain a numerical test of this fact, during 
my short visit to Dent in the summer of 1 868 I examined the Parish Register of 
Baptisms and Burials. Counting all the Baptisms from 1 747 to 1 766 inclusive, I 
found that they amounted to 985 : but counting the Baptisms from 1847 to 1866 
inclusive they amounted only to 529. In like manner, taking the corresponding 
periods in the two centuries, I found that the Burials amounted to 671 in the last 
century ; and in the present century to 383. In both these periods the Registers 
appear to have been very carefully kept : and the numbers seem to prove even a 
greater diminution in the population than I had stated." 


from end to end, is in the occupation of farmers with very 
small capital, and living at a high rack-rent 1 ." 

The statesmen, it must be understood, were the aristocracy 
of the dale; they stood somewhat aloof from their fellow- 
dalesmen, and affected a difference in thoughts, manners, 
and dress. It used to be said of a lad who was leaving his 
father s home : "He's a deftly farrand lad, and he'll du weel, 
for he's weel come, fra staetsmen d baith sides" i.e. " He is a 
well-mannered lad, and he will prosper, for he is well 
descended, from statesmen on both sidesV , But, though the 
statesmen might be somewhat exclusive, " they never passed 
a neighbour, or even a stranger, without some homely words 
of kind greeting. To their Pastor, and to the Master of the 
grammar-school, they did not grudge any known address of 
courtesy ; but among themselves the salutations were at once 
simple, frank, and kind ; and they used only the Christian 
name to a Dalesman, no matter what his condition in life. 
To have used a more formal address would have been to 
treat him as a stranger, and unkindly to thrust him out from 
the Brotherhood of the Dales. And were they not right in 
this ? What name is so kind and loving as the dear Christian 
name, excepting the still dearer and more revered names of 
Father or Mother ? They are the names by which we speak 
to our brother or sister, or friend who is near our hearts. 

"In former times I never returned to Dent without hearing 
my Christian name uttered with cheerful face and rung with 
merry voice by all the upgrown persons whom I encountered 
on the highway. But nearly all my old friends are gone; 
and, to my deep sorrow, I no longer hear my Christian name, 
but am welcomed by words that pronounce me to be a 
stranger, and no longer a brother living in the hearts of the 

" I will explain my meaning by two recent examples, 
which were exceptions to the above remark ; but they will, 
I trust, prove that I am rightly interpreting the ancient 

1 Memorial, p. vii. 2 Memorial, p. 65, note. 


manners and feelings of my countrymen. There was an 
aged soldier in Dent, poverty-stricken and desolate, having 
neither wife nor daughter to cheer him. Several times I 
gave him a trifle by way of remembrance when I visited 
Dent; and for a while he had from me a small weekly 
allowance for tobacco. When in extreme old age he was 
removed to the Union Workhouse ; and he then requested 
me to exchange the tobacco for a small daily glass of grog. 
In the discipline of his regiment he had learned a more smart 
and formal address than was usual in the Dales, but all this 
wore away when he tried to express his thanks to me, 
whenever I called on him. I was then sure to hear my 
Christian name sounded from his aged lips. The last time I 
saw him he was above ninety years of age and bedridden, yet 
apparently happy and in good hope ; and when the master of 
the Union made him understand that a gentleman had called 
to see him, he said, ' Is it Adam ? ' I did not remain long with 
him ; and as I left him he pressed my hand, and said : ' Oh, 
Adam, it is good of you to come and see me here ! ' 

" The other case tells the same truth— that the Christian 
name was the name of loving memory — but it is told in a 
merrier tone. There were in my childhood two well-known, 
cheerful-mannered women living in Dent — a mother and 
daughter employed in the carrying trade 1 — old Peggy Beckett, 
and young Peggy Beckett. Young Peggy won my child's 
heart by playing with me, and helping me to leap over the 
tombstones in the ehurch-yard. But she married, and dis- 
appeared from Dent ; and many years, I think not less than 
seventy, passed away before, in extreme old age, she returned, 
to end her days at her son's cottage. The first time I found 

1 At the time of which Sedgwick is speaking all external produce came into 
Dent, by carriers from Hawes, Kendal, or Kirkby Lonsdale. Women were 
carriers as well as men, and were indeed preferred, because they could match 
draper's goods, and choose provisions, better. Mrs Beckett and her daughter 
were carriers to Kendal, 16 miles distant from Dent. They used to leave Dent on 
Friday, attend Kendal market on Saturday, and get back to Dent late on Saturday 


my way to Dent, after her return, I went, along with some 
young nieces, to call upon her. She received our party with 
a bright and respectful cheerfulness ; but perhaps with more 
formality than was usual in the Dale ; and she spoke to me 
as a stranger. But when they told her who I was, her fine 
old face lighted up. She looked earnestly at me for about 
two seconds, and then said : ' Oh, Adam, it is lang sin' I 
tought ye to loup off Battersby's trough ! " (Oh ! Adam, it is 
long since I taught you to leap off Battersby's tombstone 1 ) ! 
This address brought back to my memory a pleasant passage 
in the life of my childhood ; and it proved that the young 
Peggy Beckett of early years, by this use of my Christian 
name, no longer thought me a stranger, but welcomed me 
again as a brother of the Dale. 

" Do not these two examples prove what I contend for ? 
That the Christian name was not used as a word of thought- 
less familiarity ; but as a word of confiding, brotherly, love 1 ." 

" Many of the old statesmen in the higher parts of Kirth- 
waite were numbered in the Society of Friends. Excellent 
men they were, and well-informed in matters of common 
life ; lovers of religious liberty ; of great practical benevolence, 
and of pure moral conduct ; and they were among the 
foremost in all good measures of rural administration V 

" Though the population of the dale has diminished, I 
believe, by more than one-third since the middle of last 
century, yet the poor-rates are enormously increased. It was 

1 Sedgwick adds the following note : u Battersby was an early Master of the 
Chartered Grammar School, and had in his day the reputation of being a 
" conjurer." A large and ugly monument had been erected to his memory near 
the south-west angle of the new steeple; and, being partly in ruins when the 
builders began, some of its larger blocks of stone were placed in the new ground- 
works. When this desecration was discovered, an old man came in terror to my 
father, affirming that the steeple would never stand. My father partly allayed the 
old man's fears, and told him it was foolish and wrong to think that a part of 
God's bouse could not stand against the power of a dead conjurer. For a while 
the old man was pacified, and seemed half ashamed of himself; but shortly 
afterwards he returned with a blank, doubting face, and said : ' I's feard, Sir, 
the bells when put in the new steeple 'ill be ringing when they sud'nt.' " 

* Supplement^ pp. 44 — 47. 8 Memorial, p. xii. 


once a place of very active industry ; well known as a great 
producer of wool, which was partly carded and manufactured 
on the spot for home-use ; but better known for what were 
then regarded as large imports of dressed wool and worsted, 
and for its exports of stockings and gloves that were knit 
by the inhabitants of the valley. The weekly transport of 
the goods which kept this trade alive, was effected, first by 
trains of pack-horses, and afterwards by small carts fitted for 

"Dent was then a land of rural opulence and glee. Children 
were God's blessed gift to a household, and happy was the 
man whose quiver was full of them. Each statesman's house 
had its garden and its orchard, and other good signs of do- 
mestic comfort. But alas, with rare exceptions, these goodly 
tokens have now passed out of sight ; or are to be feebly 
traced by some aged crab-tree, or the stump of an old plum- 
tree, which marks the site of the ancient family orchard. 

"The whole aspect of the village of Dent has been changed 
within my memory, and some may perhaps think that it has 
been changed for the better. But I regret the loss of some 
old trees that covered its nakedness ; and most of all the two 
ancient trees that adorned the church-yard, and were cut 
down by hands which had no right to touch a twig of them. 
I regret the loss of the grotesque and rude, but picturesque 
old galleries, which once gave a character to the streets ; and 
in some parts of them almost shut out the sight of the sky 
from those who travelled along the pavement For rude as 
were the galleries, they once formed a highway of communi- 
cation to a dense and industrious rural population which lived 
on flats or single floors. And the galleries that ran before 
the successive doors, were at all seasons places of free air ; 
and in the summer season were places of mirth and glee, and 
active, happy industry. For there might be heard the buzz 
of the spinning-wheel, and the hum and the songs of those 
who were carrying on the labours of the day ; and the merry 
jests and greetings sent down to those who were passing 


through the streets. Some of the galleries were gone before 
the days of my earliest memory, and all of them were 
hastening to decay. Not a trace of them is now left I 
regret its old market-cross, and the stir and bustle of its 

market-days. I regret its signboards dangling across the 
streets ; which, though sometimes marking spots of boisterous 
revelry, were at the same time the tokens of a rural 
opulence 1 ." 

Some traces of this peculiar feature of Dent were still in 

1 Memorial, pp. vii — in. 


existence so late as 1820, when the water-colour drawings 
were made from which our woodcuts are taken. Both 
represent the main street of Dent. The first cut shows 
one of the external flights of stairs which led up to the 
galleries; and from the walls on both sides of the street 
project stone brackets that once supported similar structures. 
In the second cut the opposite end of the gallery ap- 
proached by the stairs of the former drawing occupies the 
left corner of the picture ; and facing it is a conspicuous row 
of brackets on which imagination can place another. 

In the first year of King James the First the principal 
land-holders of Dent obtained a royal charter for their 
grammar-school, the endowment of which had been collected 
by subscription. This school "has had a very healthy 
influence upon the education and manners of the valley. 
The leading statesmen's sons attended it, and acquired a 
smattering of classical learning ; and if a statesman's younger 
son, or the son of a cottager, were a lad of good promise, his 
education was pushed forward into a higher course, and he 
was trained for the Church. And many so trained, and 
without any other collegiate education, did enter the Church, 
and filled the retired curacies in the north of England. 

" The necessities of the country soon led to an extension 
of the course of teaching at the grammar-school. It had 
large English classes, in which writing and arithmetic were 
taught to young persons of both sexes ; and there were also 
itinerant masters, of good repute among the northern dales, 
who visited certain schools in a regular cycle, and were 
chiefly employed in teaching writing, arithmetic in all its 
branches, and the principles of surveying. 

" Nor must I omit to state that at all the knitting-schools, 
where the children first learnt the art many of them were 
to follow through life, the Dames always taught the art of 
reading 1 ." 

"Trusting in the traditions of family history, we may 

1 Memorial^ p. 54. 




affirm, that after the Reformation, and down towards the 
concluding part of the last century, Dent was in the enjoy- 
ment of happiness and prosperity; in a humble and rustic 
form, it might be, but with a good base to rest upon — the 
intelligence and industry of its inhabitants. The statesmen 
were long famous for their breed of horses. The farms were 


B "^|B . JP Jm^i I 'l'W 

■• : slfylj:ii & 


providently managed ; and the valley was well known for its 
exports of butter, which, from defect of ready transport, was 
highly salted, and packed in firkins. The art of the cooper 
became then of importance. Dent was supplied in abundance 
with the materials and the workmen ; and the cooper's art 
nourished in it for several generations, by works both for 
home use and for export 


" The management and economy of the good housewives 
of our valley became notorious, and often was the subject of 
some good-humoured jest on the part of the lazy lookers on. 
Jests seldom bear repeating ; but I will repeat one which I 
have heard in my boyhood. A clever lass in Dent can do 
four things at a time, was said of old : 

She knaws how to sing and knit, 
And she knaws how to carry the kit, 
While she drives her kye to pasture. 

"Wool must have been a great staple produce of the valley, 
from its earliest history. The greater part of it was exported; 
but some of it was retained for domestic use ; then worked 
into form by hand-cards of antique fashion (which, in my 
childhood, I have seen in actual use) ; and then spun into a 
very coarse and clumsy thread ; and so it supplied the 
material for a kind of rude manufacture, that went, I think, 
under the elegant name of Bump. 

" But, as art advanced, our Dalesmen gradually became 
familiar with the fine material prepared by the wool-comber; 
and, before the beginning of last century, Dent became 
known for its manufacture and export of yarn-stockings of 
the finest quality. Some of the more active and long-sighted 
statesmen of the Dales, taking upon themselves the part of 
middle-men between the manufacturers and the consumers, 
used occasionally to mount their horses, and ride up to 
London to deal personally with the merchants of Cheapside, 
and to keep alive the current of rural industry. 

" At a further stage in the industry of our countrymen, 
worsted, that had been spun by machinery, came into common 
use ; and the knit worsted-stockings were the great articles of 
export from the Northern Dales. Such became the im- 
portance of this export, about the middle of last century, that 
Government Agents were placed at Kirkby Lonsdale, Kendal, 
and Kirkby Stephen, during 'the seven years' war/ for the 
express purpose of securing for the use of the English army 
(then in service on the Continent), the worsted stockings knit 


by the hands of the Dalesmen ; and in this trade Dent had 
an ample share. 

"In the last century there was another source of industry 
in Dent, which I must not pass entirely over — I mean its 
minerals and its coal-works. All the mountains of Dent, to 
the east of Helm's Knot and Colm Scar, are composed of 
nearly horizontal beds of limestone, sandstone, and flagstone ; 
and of dark shale, here and there showing traces of coal. 
And the whole series is surmounted by a coarse gritstone, 
called the Millstone Grit. The limestone beds are arranged 
in six groups ; of which the lowest, called the great Scar 
Limestone, is several times thicker than all the other groups 
put together. The top of it is seen just above the village of 
Flintergill; and its upper beds are finely exposed in the 
river-course of Kirthwaite. Its lower beds are nowhere seen 
in our valley ; but they are grandly exposed in Chapel-le- 
Dale, where they rest upon the greenish slate-rocks. All the 
limestone groups of Dent are separated by thick masses of 
sandstone, flagstone, and shale ; and, as the top of the great 
Scar Limestone is only seen near the river-course, the other 
five groups are to be looked for on the mountain-sides. The 
lowest of the five contains the black marble beds ; and under 
the highest of the five, sometimes called the upper Scar 
Limestone, is the only bed of coal that has been worked in 
Dent for domestic use. The upper Scar Limestone is sur- 
mounted by a bed of shale, which is capped by the lower 
beds of the great group called Millstone Grit. This part of 
the Millstotte Grit forms the flat top of the hill called Crag, 
and the top also of Ingleborough ; and over this grit (at 
Great Colme. Whernside, etc.) is a shale with beds of coal 
that is too poor (in the hills of Dent) for domestic use, but 
which might, I think, be profitably employed in burning 

"These facts may be seen by any one who will use his 
senses ; and indeed it seems to have been generally known, 
before the beginning of last century, that a profitable bed of 
S. I. 2 


coal was often to be found under the upper Scar Limestone. 
At what time the coal-beds in Dent were first opened I do 
not know ; but it is said that they were first considered an 
object of profit in Kirthwaite. Early, I believe, in the last 
century a small statesman called Buttermere found the bed 
of coal under the upper Limestone of the Town-Fell, just 
under the last rise of the Crag. The bed appeared at first 
sight too thin to be worked for profit ; but on examination it 
proved to be free from sulphur, and well fitted for the works 
of the whitesmiths in Kendal. He therefore engaged the 
help of the country miners, and carried on his work for years 
— conveying to Kendal, by a train of pack-horses (seventeen 
miles over the mountains), the coal which he drew from a 
bed not more than six or seven inches thick. And, spite of 
the smallness of his produce, and the cost of its primitive 
mode of transport, he went on till he had realised a fortune — 
not small, according to the humble standard of his country- 
men — and he ended as a public benefactor to his valley. 
Joseph Buttermere's coal, as a matter of export, would now 
be scouted as a mere worthless mockery. Yet I think the 
tale deserves notice as a curious record of one of the primitive 
modes in which our old statesmen dealt with those who, to 
them, were in a kind of outer world. But I will return to the 
craft more peculiar to our valley. 

" It may have seemed, at first sight, almost incredible 
that one of our old statesmen should have thought it worth 
his while to mount his little, tough, but active horse, and to 
ride up to London to make bargains with the merchants of 
Cheapside for a supply of goods manufactured in his Dale. 
Such however was the fact, as I have already stated ; and I 
well remember that, in my early boyhood, there were three 
men, living at, or near, our village, who had many times 
made these journeys — some before, and some more than 
twenty years after, the time of the 'seven years' war.' 
Changes of manners and of times had put an end to such a 
primitive mode of dealing some years before I saw the light 


But I have sat upon the knee of old Leonard Sedgwick (my 
father's cousin) and listened to the tales of his London 
journeys ; and how, when his horse had carried him nearly to 
the great city, he saw the dome of St Paul's standing up 
against the sky, and countless spires and steeples bristling up 
into the air above the houses. His homely pictures never 
faded from my memory. He was intelligent and honour- 
able in his dealings ; a kindhearted and mirthful man ; well 
content to look on the brighter side of the things around 
him ; and (a blessing on his memory !) he made all the little 
children near him right happy by his Christmas feasts. Such 
a man, and so employed, can never appear again in Dent, 
unless we could undo the social work of a whole century. 

" And there was another man, old Thomas Waddington — 
a dealer in hats, cloth, drugs, and I know not what besides — 
who had from time to time ridden up to London to obtain a 
good stock of materials for the use of his countrymen. He 
was a statesman, and a man of high character ; and a great 
favourite with the public, in spite of a singularly crusty and 
irritable manner. Upright in person, with a face glowing 
with the signs of good cheer — with a dark wig decorated with 
many curls, and with a broad-brimmed hat, looped in a way 
that indicated a former, and more proud, condition, — he 
steadily marched through his walk of life. And where is 
there one now to represent him? His shop was the place 
where all the leading statesmen met to discuss the politics of 
the day, and the affairs of the parish. 

" And there was a third man whom I must not pass over, 
if I mean to give any conception of what Dent once was. I 
well remember Thomas Archer, the prince of rural tailors, 
with his wig of many curls. In my very early boyhood he 
was what old Chaucer would have called a ' solempne man ' ; 
and, whatever he said or did, seemed to take its tone from a 
feeling of inherent dignity. Ludicrous as the fact may seem, 
he had been in the habit, in his early days, of going up to 
London, I know not how ; and there, by the help of some 

2 — 2 


connexions or relations, he would work for a few weeks on 
a London tailor's shop-board. And having learnt the last 
metropolitan mysteries of his art, he would return — well 
primed and loaded — to discharge his duties in his native 
valley. To these mysteries of his skill the old statesmen 
owed some of those large decorated coat-sleeves and lapped 
waistcoats which were many years afterwards worn, in a 
threadbare state, during Dent's decline, by men who had 
been brought low through poverty. 

"There is no man among my countrymen, or in any 
neighbouring valley, to match this enterprising old tailor. 
Many long measures he had ; but not one so long as that by 
which he measured his own standard. He was made by 
the times in which he lived ; and the change of times has 
made it impossible for us to find a recurrence of his 

"Certainly I have neither room nor time for many 
biographical notices of my countrymen ; but one more name 
I must mention — that of Blackburne, the barber and wig- 
maker. To me he was historical, and only known by his 
works ; for he had been called away some years before I was 
counted among the living inhabitants of Dent But he was 
a man famed in his generation through all the neighbouring 
valleys. From him proceeded the ample full-bottom; and 
the three-decker (or more rarely the four-decker), so named 
from its splendid semicircles of white curls that girt the back 
of the wearer's pericranium ; and he made also the humblest 
of all wigs, the scratch — fitted for a poor man's head. Nor 
must I forget, in this list of our native artist's works, the 
formidable tie-wig with a tail like that of a dragon, and with 
winged curls at the ears. I have heard this wig called, by the 
school-boys of my day, the flying dragon ; and let that be its 
name, for it well deserved it. All such capital monuments 
of art were turned out in their glory by the man who with 
cunning hand and head had built up the crowning decora- 
tions of our countrymen. The place of his ancient shop 


was marked by a great pole, with its symbolical fillet and 
basin; which I used, in my childhood, to look up to with 
respectful wonder. But the genius of the place was gone; 
and I saw only the decayed monuments of the great wig- 
maker's constructive skill. 

u I have not stated such facts as these that I might hold 
up our ancestors of a former century to ridicule ; but in the 
hope of giving my countrymen a graphic proof of the great 
change of manners wrought by time; and of a sorrowful 
change in the fortunes of the inhabitants of Dent, that drove 
many of them away from their early homes, and sank others 
into a state of depression against which they knew not how 
to struggle. I well remember (and I -first made the remark in 
my very childhood) that many of the old-fashioned dresses, 
seen on a holiday, were the signs of poverty rather than of 
pride. The coats were threadbare, and worn by men who 
had seen better days. The looped broad-brim was seen, but 
as a sign of mourning, like a flag hoisted half-mast high ; for 
it was the half-fallen state of the triple cock (still worn by one 
or two in the parish) with its three outer surfaces pointing 
to the sky. And, in the same days, old Blackburne's full- 
bottoms had lost all their crisp symmetry ; and the lower 
hairs of their great convexity were drooping, as if in sorrow, 
upon the wearers' necks. The three-deckers showed broken 
lines and disordered rigging; and as for the flying dragons, 
they had all, like autumnal swallows, taken themselves away. 
But there were many exceptions to these mournful signs of 
decay. There still remained many Dalesmen with old- 
fashioned dresses, and with cheerful, prosperous looks, among 
the Sunday congregations at Dent ; but the ancient fashions 
were wearing fast away 1 . 

" Let me here add a word or two on the domestic state 
and habits of our countrymen, before their old social isolation 
had been so much broken in upon by the improved roads and 
rapid movements of modern times. With the exception of 

1 Memorial, pp. 57 — 64. 


certain festive seasons, their habits were simple, primitive, and 
economical. The cottager had, as his inheritance, the labour 
of his own hands and that of his wife and children : and, in 
the good old times, that labour made him quite as inde- 
pendent as one of the smaller statesmen. In manners, 
habits, and information, there was, in fact, no difference 
between them. Even in the houses of the clergymen and of 
the wealthier statesmen, there was kept alive a feeling of 
fraternal equality; and, although external manners were more 
formal and respectful than they are now, yet the servants, 
men or maids, sat down at the dinner-table, and often at the 
tea-table, with their masters and mistresses. 

11 The dress of the upper statesman's wife and daughters 
was perhaps less costly than that of the men who affected 
fashion; and according to modern taste we should call it 
stiff and ugly to the last degree, as was the fashion of the day. 
There was one exception however, both as to cost and beauty: 
for the statesman's wife often appeared at Church in the winter 
season in a splendid long cloak of the finest scarlet cloth, 
having a hood lined with coloured silk. This dress was very 
becoming, and very costly ; but it was carefully preserved ; 
and so it might pass down from mother to daughter. 
Fortunately, no genius in female decoration (like the Archers 
and Blackburnes of the other sex) seemed to have brought 
patches and hoops into vulgar use (as in the preposterous 
modern case of crinoline). 

"Among the old statesmen's daughters hoops did however 
sometimes appear, as one of the rarer sights of the olden time; 
and I have heard an aged statesman's daughter tell of her 
admiration, and perhaps her envy, when she saw a young 
woman sailing down the Church with a petticoat that 
stretched almost across the middle aisle. That decoration 
shut her out from a seat on any of the Church forms ; but, by 
a dexterous flank movement, she won a position among the 
pews ; and then, by a second inexplicable movement, the 
frame-work became vertical, and found a resting-place by 


overtopping the pew-door — to the great amazement of the 
rural congregation. 

"All the women, with very rare exceptions, learned to 
read ; and the upper statesmen's daughters could write and 
keep family accounts. They had their Bibles, and certain 
good old-fashioned books of devotion; and they had their 
cookery-books; and they were often well read in ballad 
poetry, and in one or two of De Foe's novels. And some of 
the younger and more refined of the statesmen's daughters 
would form a little clique, where they met — during certain 
years of last century — and wept over Richardson's novels. 
But this sentimental portion was small in number; and it 
produced no effect upon the rural manners of the valley; 
which were fresh and cheerful, and little tinged with any dash 
of what was sentimental. 

"While speaking of the habits and manners of my country- 
women, I may remark that their industry had then a social 
character. Their machinery and the material of their fabrics 
they constantly bore about with them. Hence the knitters of 
Dent had the reputation of being lively gossips ; and they 
worked together in little clusters — not in din and confinement 
like that of a modern manufactory — but each one following 
the leading of her fancy; whether among her friends, or 
rambling in the sweet scenery of the valley ; and they were 
as notable for their thrifty skill as for their industry. And 
speaking of both sexes, the manners of our countrymen may 
have been thought rude and unpolished from lack of commerce 
with the world ; and their prosperity in a former century may 
sometimes have roused the envy, and the jests and satire, 
of those who were less handy than themselves ; but for many 
a long year theirs was the winning side. 

"Their social habits led them to form little groups of 
family parties, who assembled together, in rotation, round one 
blazing fire, during the winter evenings. This was called 
ganging a Sitting to a neighbour's house ; and the custom 
prevailed, though with diminished frequency, during the early 

** sEDGmars recollections of dent. 

wars I spent in Dent Let me try to give a picture of one of 
these scenes in which I have myself been, not an actor, but a 
looker-on. A statesman's house in Dent had seldom more 
than two floors, and the upper floor did not extend to the 
wall where was the chief fire-place, but was wainscoted off 
from it The consequence was, that a part of the ground- 
floor, near the fire-place, was open to the rafters; which 
formed a wide pyramidal space, terminating in the principal 
chimney of the house. It was in this space, chiefly under the 
open rafters, that the families assembled in the evening. 
Though something rude to look at, the space gave the 
advantage of a good ventilation. About the end of the 
17th century grates and regular flues began to be erected ; 
but, during Dent's greatest prosperity, they formed the excep- 
tion, and not the rule. 

" Let me next shortly describe the furniture of this space 
where they held their evening Sittings. First there was a 
blazing fire in a recess of the wall ; which in early times was 
composed of turf and great logs of wood. From one side of 
the fire-place ran a bench, with a strong and sometimes 
ornamentally carved back, called a lang settle. On the other 
side of the fire-place was the Patriarch's wooden and well- 
carved arm-chair ; and near the chair was the sconce 1 adorned 
with crockery. Not far off was commonly seen a well-carved 
cupboard, or cabinet, marked with some date that fell within a 
period of fifty years after the restoration of Charles the 
Second*; and fixed to the beams of the upper floor was a row 
of cupboards, called the Cat-malison (the cat's curse); because, 

1 In north-country dialect, a low partition. 

2 Sedgwick notes : " One or two of the Belgian refugees, who had been driven 
from London by the great Plague in 1664, are said to have found, for a while, a 
home in Dent, and there to have practised their art of wood-carving ; and one of 
them is said to have settled in Kirthwaite. The art of wood-carving, at any rate, 
flourished within the period above indicated ; and I remember many good 
specimens of it in the old statesmen's houses in Dent. The art existed, however, 
in Dent at an earlier period. For there was, in my Father's time, at the old 
parsonage, a set of oak bed-stocks, which he had brought from his birth-place, 
They were vigorously though rudely carved, and had the date of 1532." 


from its position, it was secure from poor grimalkin's paw. 
One or two small tables, together with chairs or benches, 
gave seats to all the party there assembled. Rude though 
the room appeared, there was in it no sign of want. It had 
many signs of rural comfort: for under the rafters were 
suspended bunches of herbs for cookery, hams, sometimes for 
export, flitches of bacon, legs of beef, and other articles salted 
for domestic use. 

u They took their seats ; and then began the work of the 
evening ; and with a speed that cheated the eye they went on 
with their respective tasks. Beautiful gloves were thrown 
off complete; and worsted stockings made good progress 1 . 
There was no dreary deafening noise of machinery; but 
there was the merry heart- cheering sound of the human 
tongue. No one could foretell the current of the evening's 
talk. They had their ghost-tales ; and their love-tales ; and 
their battles of jest and riddles ; and their ancient songs of 
enormous length, yet heard by ears that were never weary. 
Each in turn was to play its part, according to the humour of 
the Sitting. Or. by way of change, some lassie who was 
bright and tenable* was asked to read for the amusement of 
the party. She would sit down ; and, apparently without 
interrupting her work by more than a single stitch, would 
begin to read — for example, a chapter of Robinson Ctusoe. In 
a moment the confusion of sounds ceased ; and no sound was 
heard but the reader's voice, and the click of the knitting 
needles, while she herself went on knitting : and she would 
turn over the leaves before her (as a lady does those of her 
music-book from the stool of her piano), hardly losing a 
second at each successive leaf, till the chapter was done. Or, 
at another and graver party, some one, perhaps, would read 
a chapter from the Pilgrim's Ptogtess. It also charmed all 

1 A less agreeable picture of this continual knitting is drawn in A true story of 
the terrible knitters e' Dent, in Southey's Doctor^ Inter-chapter xxiv. Vol. vii. p. 78, 
ed. 1847. Miss Sedgwick remembers that boys and old men knitted as well as 

* Loquacious. 


tongues to silence : but, as certainly, led to a grave discussion 
so soon as the reading ceased. 

" In all the turns of life the habits of our countrymen were 
gregarious. A number of houses within certain distances of 
one another were said to be in the lating rd (the seeking row), 
and formed a kind of social compact. In joy or sorrow they 
were expected to attend, and to give help and comfort. To 
follow this subject out would lead me into details too long for 
my present purpose. But I may mention how it told upon 
the customs of Dent, on occasions of great domestic joy. 
Before the birth of a new inhabitant of the hamlet, all the 
women of mature life within the lating rd had been on the 
tip-toe of joyful expectation : and the news of the first wail- 
ing (the crying-out, as called in the tongue of Dent) — the sign 
of coming life — ran through the home-circle like the fiery 
cross of the Highlanders; and, were it night or day, calm 
sunshine, or howling storm, away ran the matrons to the 
house of promise, and there, with cordials, and creature 
comforts, and blessings, and gossip, and happy omens, and 
with no fear of coming evil — for the women of the valley 
were lively, like the women in the land of Goshen — they 
waited till the infant statesman was brought into this world 
of joy and sorrow, in as much publicity as if he were the heir 
to the throne of an empire. This custom was upheld with 
full tenacity during the younger years of my life 1 . 

"There were in ancient times, few observances in the 
conduct of a funeral, which are not known at the present day. 
Formerly, however, they kept a watch in the house, with 
burning lights in the room of death. This passed under the 
name of the Lyk-wake: but the custom had become very 
rare, and I believe entirely went out before the end of the 
last century ; and at no period of our history were there 
hired professional ' mourning women, skilful in lamentation/ 
as among the Jews of old, to give effect to the waitings of 
sorrow. As a prevailing custom, many were ' bidden to the 

1 Memorial \ pp. 68 — 73. 


funeral'; and there was a peculiar refreshment called the 
arva/, offered even at a poor man's funeral, before they went 
with the coffin to the church ; and, after the interment, if the 
mourning family belonged to the better class of statesmen, 
those who had been bidden to the funeral had a dinner pro- 
vided at one of the inns, which the immediate mourners did 
not attend. The fact is nothing new to my countrymen ; and 
I only mention it now, because I have many times heard it 
sneered at, and shamefully misrepresented. I never knew a 
single case in which this truly kind and hospitable mode of 
celebrating a funeral led to intemperance or abuse. It may 
be better now to conduct a funeral with more quiet simplicity. 
But so long as there was a large gathering of those who had 
been the neighbours and friends of the deceased, there was 
nothing unseemly in giving a poor man a dinner, for which 
he was thankful, or in offering refreshment to friends who 
had come from afar, and stood in need of it. 

" The festivities of Christmas, and other holiday seasons, 
were kept up among our countrymen with long-sustained, and 
sometimes, I fear, intemperate activity. They had their 
morris-dances ; their rapier-dances ; and their mask-dances. 
These grotesque and barbarous usages of a former age disap- 
peared a considerable time before the end of the last century. 
I believe I saw the end of them full eighty years since, while 
I was in my nurse's arms. Dent was long famous for its 
Galloway ponies ; and its race-course had its celebrity in 
former centuries. I believe I saw, in my very early boyhood, 
the last race ever run upon the old course. Since then, the 
old ground has been so cut up and changed, that, happily, it 
would be impossible to re-open it as a race-course, were the 
old taste to come to life again. 

" I should think myself ill-employed were I to dwell long 
upon the by-gone vices and follies of my countrymen : but I 
should be disloyal to the cause of truth were I only to hold 
up to the light of day the fairer and brighter side of their 
character. Among the vulgar sports of England, especially 


during Shrovetide, were matches of game-cocks, which for 
centuries had kept their place. Nowhere did this vile and 
cruel sport flourish more than among the Dales of the north 
of England. Men of character joined in it without compunc- 
tion ; and so thoroughly was it ingrained among the habits of 
society, that the Masters of the chartered grammar-schools 
received a Shrovetide fee from their scholars ; and in return 
gave game-cocks to the boys, to be matched for the honour of 
the school ! This fee (known by the boys as the cock-penny) is 
given to the present day 1 ; and I have paid it myself many 
times. But, for about a century and a half, the Master has 
ceased to give any return beyond an acknowledgement of 
thanks. I have been present during some of these matches 
as a looker-on in my early days (what school-boy will not get 
into mischief if he can?); and I have witnessed their fruits; 
which were reaped in gambling, quarrels, drunken riots, and 
bellowings of blasphemy. Thank God, they have gone from 
sight ; and will never again, I trust, defile the light of day. 
So far as Dent is concerned, this form of cruel sport died 
away in the unhappy years that closed the last century. 

"In conclusion, I will add a few words more upon the 
social decline of my countrymen, which no ingenuity on their 
part could have averted ; for the gigantic progress of mechan- 
ical and manufacturing skill utterly crushed and swept away 
the little fabric of industry that had been reared in Dent. 
Many of the inhabitants gradually sunk into comparative 
poverty. The silken threads that had held society together 
began to fail; and lawless manners followed*. 

" Through all the years of my boyhood and early manhood, 
the Magistrate, nearest to Dent, who acted for the West 
Riding of Yorkshire, lived at Steeton (in the valley of the 
Aire), which was about forty-two miles from Dent, and fcyty- 
seven or forty-eight from Sedbergh. In those years several 
well-educated men of ample fortune lived within the parish 

1 This was written, it must be remembered, in 1868. 
9 Memorial, pp. 74 — 77. 


of Sedbergh, but not one of them was in the Commission of 
the Peace. Whether from want of patriotism, or love of ease, 
or a too modest estimate of their own powers, they refused 
the office. My Father, through all the vigorous years of 
his very long life, refused to act as a Magistrate, believing 
its duties inconsistent with those of a Parish Priest. My 
brother John thought differently, and obtained his Com- 
mission soon after he became Vicar of Dent, to the real 
benefit of the country. For he knew the people well ; knew 
how to temper justice with mercy; and, without flinching from 
his duty in its sometimes painful exercise, he was honoured, 
trusted, and beloved ; and to the end of life was called the 
poor man's friend — a character engraven on his monument by 
those who knew him well 1 . The cost and trouble of seeking 
justice put law for awhile in abeyance ; or, if a check were 
put upon coarse manners and a disorderly life, it was some- 
times done in the way of lynch-law, like that which on 
occasion has reigned in the back-settlements of America. I 
could tell some tales of this kind that might raise a laugh ; 
but in very truth they ought to be called tales of sorrow*. 

" I remember, one Sunday evening, when I was a young 
school-boy, seeing a man in a brutal state of drunkenness, 
tumbling and bellowing like a maniac among the graves and 
tombstones of the church-yard, and challenging any one in 
Dent to fight him. He was a man of very great strength, and 
of considerable pugilistic skill, which he had gained in London, 
where he had resided for some time with a relation, but had 
been sent back to Dent for insubordination and intemperance. 
When sober he was a good-tempered cheerful man, and a 
(so-called) 'good companion'; but he had not one grain of 
principle. He had learnt to regard sin as life's jest, and good 

1 Supplement ^ p. 30, note. The words of his epitaph, in Dent Church, here 
referred to, are : "His manners and temper were gentle and kind, And endeared 
him to all who were under his pastoral care : Nor did he forfeit their love while 
Faithfully discharging the duties of a magistrate, For he was merciful, as well as 

2 Memorial, p. 77. 


manners as a mask or mockery, put on to serve a purpose. 
When under excitement he became fierce and dangerous, and 
for several years he was the terror of the Dale. 

"On the occasion just alluded to, the constable of the 
parish came with a pair of handcuffs and one or two assist- 
ants to secure the drunken maniac. After looking at the 
formidable brute for a few seconds, the constable said, ' If I 
fix these things on, I dire not tak 'em off without ganging 
to th' Justice, and that will cost the parish I kn& not what. 
He is oer drunk to be dangerous, and I'll give him a good 
basting.' So he laid down the handcuffs upon a tombstone, 
and being himself a man of activity and great strength, and 
no mean artist, he had, in less than a minute, so pounded the 
maniac's face that it lost all semblance of humanity, and the 
monster, for a while, had got his quietus. The constable then 
walked home with his handcuffs, cheered and thanked by his 
neighbours for his cheap way of doing justice. 

"Of this strange scene, acted in our quiet village on a 
Sunday evening, I was a witness. And on another occasion, 
at one of our annual Fairs, I saw the same drunkard put in 
handcuffs by the same constable. The day following, the 
constable and his prisoner, and an assistant, each well 
mounted, began their journey towards Steeton. The horses 
required food ; the men regarded such excursions as a kind 
of holiday-keeping, and lived well ; and the party could 
not return before the third day. This was not called cheap 
justice. The magistrates hated dealing with country brawls, 
and often quashed the cases with the cheap benefit of some 
good advice. And, if the case led to the prisoner's committal, 
there were two more very long journeys for the parish officer, 
and more cost for the parish 1 ." 

" The great French Revolution seemed to shake the whole 
fabric of society to its foundation ; and the shock was felt 
even in the retired valleys of the north of England. But the 
inhabitants of Dent, though sorely lowered in position, had 

1 Supplement ', p. 31, note. 


learnt no lesson of disloyalty. They burnt Tom Paine in 
effigy — a kind of fact sure to fasten itself upon the memory 
of a boy; and one of the statesmen, who had inherited a 
fortune far above any previously known in the valley, engaged 
the parish singers, and others with lungs that were lusty and 
loyal, to make nocturnal parades about the parish, singing 
melodies like Rule Britannia and Hearts of Oak ; and when 
the parade was over, they were allowed to crown the day 
with squibs, crackers, loud cheers, and deep potations. Such 
fooleries could do no good ; and they did much harm to 
those who acted in them. 

" The war that followed brought new taxes, and increased 
poor-rates ; and no new gleam of reviving hope shone upon 
our countrymen. I was still living at the Parsonage at the 
end of last century ; and I well remember the two years of 
terrible suffering, when the necessaries of life were almost at 
a famine price, and when many of the farmers and land- 
owners — before that time hardly able to hold up their heads 
— had to pay poor-rates that were literally more than ten 
times the weight of what they had been in former years. It 
was indeed a time of sorrow and great suffering. But I will 
not end with notes of such a dismal sound. 

" Dent has again revived, and taken a new position. 
Emigration has relieved the burthen of the five hamlets. 
Education has made good progress. Roads are greatly 
improved 1 . I remember some roads in Dent so narrow that 
there was barely room for one of the little country carts to 
pass along them ; and they were so little cared for, that, 
in the language of the country, the way was as ' rough as 
the beck staens/ I remember too when the carts and the 
carriages were of the rudest character; moving on wheels 
which did not revolve about their axle ; but the wheels and 
their axle were so joined as to revolve together. Four strong 
pegs of wood, fixed in a cross-beam under the cart, embraced 
the axle-tree, which revolved between the pegs, as the cart 

1 Memorial, pp. 77, 78. 


was dragged on, with a horrible amount of friction that 
produced a creaking noise, in the expressive language of the 
Dales called Jyking. The friction was partially relieved by 
frequent doses of tar, administered to the pegs from a ram's 
horn which hung behind the cart. Horrible were the creakings 
and Jykings which set all teeth on edge while the turf-carts or 
coal-carts were dragged from the mountains to the houses of 
the dalesmen in the hamlets below. Such were the carts that 
brought the turf and the coals to the vicarage, during all the 
early days of my boyhood. But now there is not a young 
person in the valley who perhaps has so much as seen one of 
these clog-wheels, as they were called ; and our power of 
transport, to be more perfect, only wants a better line of 
road, that might easily be made to avoid those steep inclines, 
which are now a grievous injury to the traffic of the valley. 
But, with all our modern advantages of transport, Dent has 
lost the picturesque effect of its trains of pack-horses : and 
many times, on a Sunday morning, I have regretted that I 
could no longer see the old statesman riding along the rough 
and rugged road, with his wife behind him mounted upon a 
gorgeous family pillion ; and his daughters walking briskly 
at his side, in their long flowing scarlet cloaks with silken 
hoods 1 ." 

The ancestors of Adam Sedgwick have been statesmen 
of Dent for more than three centuries, but their origin, the 
orthography of their name, and its etymology, have occasioned 
many rival theories. In 1379 the name is spelt Sygglieiswyk, 
Seghewyk, Segheswyk* ; in 1563 Seeggeswyke ; between 161 1 
and 1619 the parish registers of Dent give Sidgsweeke ; in 
1624, Siddgswicke; between 1645 and 1696, Sidgwick or 
Sidgswick. Between 1700 and 1737 the name is entered 

1 Supplement, p. 41. 

8 From the rolls of the collectors of the subsidy granted to King Richard II. in 
the West Riding of Yorkshire 1378 — 79, printed in The Yorkshire Archaological 
and Topographical Journal^ Vol. v. pp. 1 — 51. These and the succeeding 
references to the spelling of the name are due to the kindness of Arthur Sidgwick, 
M.A., Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. 


hirty-six times. Of these entries, two in 1701, and one in 
736, give Sidgwkk; all the rest Sidgswick. The earliest 
Sedgwick at Dent appears on the tomb of the Rev. James 
Sedgwick, great-uncle to Adam Sedgwick, who died in 1780; 
mt in his register of baptism, 30 Sept. 1715, he is entered 
is son of John Sidgswick. Adam Sedgwick maintained 
hat the spelling of the family name was deliberately changed 
>y this James Sedgwick, at the suggestion of the then Master 
>f Sedbergh school. On the other hand, a branch of the 
amily who had settled at Wisbech in the Isle of Ely called 
hemselves Sedgewick at the beginning of the seventeenth 
lentury 1 , and they are said to have adopted a characteristic 
rest, a bundle of sedge bound up in a form like that of a 
vheat-sheaf. Hence it became natural to seek for the origin 
)f the family in 'a village built on fenny ground, with an 
ibundance of the water plant called sedge ' ; and Sedgwick 
n Westmoreland, near the head of Morecambe Bay, was 
ixed upon as the birth-place of the clan, from the similarity 
>f sound, though it does not fulfil the other conditions. 
\dam Sedgwick rejects these theories for the following 
easons : 

" 1. Because the word sedge is, I think, unknown in the 
lialect of the northern Dales. 

" 2. Because the well-known village, Sedgwick, is built 
ipon a high and dry soil that is washed by the beautiful waters 
>f the Kent, a stream that runs brawling over the rocks. 

" 3. Because the word Sedgwick does not give the sound 
>f the name as it was uttered among the ancient inhabitants 
>f the mountains ; nor does it come near to the spelling used 
n former centuries. The name is at this time commonly 
>ronounced Sigswick by the natives of the Dales*." 

The same information is cast in a more humorous form 
n the following letter : 

1 Visitation of Cambridgeshire \ made 16 19 by Henry St George, Richmond 
erald; printed by Sir Tho. Phillips, Middle Hill Press, 1840. 

* Supplement^ p. 18. Miss Sedgwick informs me that the name is still 
ommonly pronounced Sigsick. 

S. I. 3 


"The Sidgwick you mention is of the Dent stock. His 
great-grandfather was brother to my great-grandfather. It 
may be one step higher ; for I am a sorry genealogist. In 
the old Parish Register the spelling was always with two is. 
My father's uncle altered the spelling, and adopted the 
Cyclopic form (at the foolish suggestion of an old pedant of 
Sedbergh School), when he was a boy. He afterwards 
educated my father and sent him to College; and so it came 
to pass that all my dear old father's brood were born with 
the one i ; or at least were so dockited on all high-ways, and 
in all post-towns. 

"The name is still pronounced (except where children's 
tongues have been doctored by 'pupil teachers') Siggswick, 
and has nothing to do with Sedge. Neither the name nor the 
plant are known among my native hills 1 ." 

The etymology of the word Sedgwick has been most 
kindly investigated by Professor Skeat, with the following 
result. "There can be no doubt," he says, "that Sedgwick 
was at first a place-name, and then a personal name. ' Wick ' 
is not a true Anglo-Saxon word, but simply borrowed from 
the Latin uicus, a town, or village. 'Sedge," or 'Sedj* or 
' Sedg ' is simply the later spelling of the Anglo-Saxon secg. 
Two distinct words were spelt thus : (i) the modern 'sedge* ; 
(2) a word which has now become quite obsolete, but was 
once in common use, like uir in Latin. It is a derivative from 
secg-an, to say, and meant say-er, speak-er> orator y and generally 
man, Jiero, warrior. It could easily be used as a personal 
name, as 'man' is now; and Secg-wic is therefore a town 
built by Mr Secg or Mr Mann, as we should say at the 
present day V 

When Sedgwick was making a geological tour in Saxony, 
he met a gentleman who was both a geologist and an 
antiquary. They fell into conversation about the etymology 

1 To Archdeacon Musgrave, 13 March, 1862. 

* In the same way Sedgeberrow, in Worcestershire, is Sccges-bcaruwe, Le. Seeg's- 
grove; and Sedgeleigh, in Hampshire, is Secges-leah^ which means Seeg's-lea, not 
a sedge-lea. 


of his name, and it was decided that it might originally have 
been sieges-wick, 'village of victory'; whereupon, taking 
into account the position of the village of Sedgwick, they 
amused themselves by inventing the following story : 

* Soon after the abandonment of England by the Romans, 
the Anglo-Saxons invaded the valley of the Kent, and settled 
there after they had driven out the ancient Britons. Then 
came successive crews of new invaders, Danes and Norsemen ; 
and, during a lawless period, there were many conflicts 
between the earliest settlers and the piratical crews, which 
landed and were engaged in the highly exciting work of 
burning, plundering, and cattle-lifting. On one of these 
occasions, the plundering sea-rovers were repulsed by the 
older Anglo-Saxon inhabitants, in a battle fought on the 
banks of the Kent ; and the victory was commemorated, at 
first perhaps by a heap of stones, and then by a village built 
near the spot, which took the name of Siegeswick, or village 
of victory 1 ." 

Professor Skeat rejects this etymology, and Sedgwick did 
not advance it seriously ; but, even if it be erroneous, it may 
still be admitted that the hero who gave his name to the 
village may have established his reputation by an achieve- 
ment not so very different from that which Sedgwick and 
his friend invented ; and, in fact, there is still to be seen a 
large cairn or tumulus near the village in question, under 
which those who fell in some such raid may have been in- 
terred. Moreover the presence of northern invaders in old 
days is amply attested by traces of their language still to be 
met with in the dales. 

Here, however, we must leave these interesting specula- 
tions for the surer ground of legal documents still in the 
possession of the Sedgwick family. From these it can be 
ascertained that towards the end of the reign of Queen 
Elizabeth a Sedgwick was in possession of an estate in Dent 
called Bankland. His son Leonard, who owned, besides 

1 Supplement, p. 19, note. 



Bankland, a second property in Dent, called Gibshall, had 
twin sons. The elder of these inherited Bankland, the 
younger Gibshall, of which, at the end of the seventeenth 
century, a John Sedgwick was in possession. He was a man 
of energy ; and, having a grove of oak trees on his property, 
turned tanner, and realised a handsome fortune out of their 
bark. He had two sons, Thomas, born 1705, who followed 
his father's trade, and James, born 17 16, who took Holy 
Orders, and became Master of the endowed Grammar-school 
at Horton in Ribblesdale. The former, grandfather to 
Adam Sedgwick, had an only child, Richard, born 7 March, 
1736. He was educated at Dent Grammar School until the 
age of fifteen or thereabouts, when he was sent to his uncle at 
Horton for more advanced instruction. After spending some 
months at Horton, he was removed to the school at Sedbergh, 
at the suggestion of his uncle, who has the further credit of 
having persuaded his brother to give his son the benefit of 
a University education. But, as he had not enjoyed that 
privilege himself, while Mr Wynne Bateman, then Master of 
the school, had graduated at St John's College, Cambridge, 
in 1734, it is surely more probable that the step was taken 
in consequence of his advice. Be that as it may, Richard 
Sedgwick, after a few months instruction in mathematics 
from Mr John Dawson of Garsdale (of whom more below), 
matriculated at Cambridge in 1756 as a sizar of St Catharine's 
College, or, as it was then called, Catharine Hall. It has 
been recorded that before starting he bought a horse, rode 
it to Cambridge, and there sold it at a profit There was 
nothing unusual in this at that time. His cousin, another 
Richard Sedgwick, went up to St John's College, Cambridge, 
in the following year in the same manner; and when 
Mr Paley, Master of Giggleswick School, took his son to 
Cambridge in 1758, he rode on horseback, with the boy on a 
pony beside him. The future archdeacon was a bad rider, 
and at first got a good many falls. His father paid but little 
attention to his misfortunes, merely turning his head and 


exclaiming: "What, William, off again! Take care of thy 
money, lad ! " 

Richard Sedgwick proceeded to the degree of Bachelor of 
Arts in 1760, when he was placed seventh in the second class of 
the Mathematical Tripos. He was ordained in that year or the 
next, and from 1761 to 1768 held the curacy of Amwell near 
Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire. He was also assistant-master 
in a boarding-shool at Hoddesdon, kept by Dr James Bennet, 
a gentleman of some distinction in the literary world, for he 
not only published an edition of Roger Ascham's English 
works, but obtained the collaboration of Dr Samuel Johnson, 
who is said to have written for him a life of the author and a 
dedication to the Earl of Shaftesbury. In 1766 Sedgwick 
married Dr Bennet's daughter Catherine, and in 1768 was 
presented to the living of Dent by the patrons, twenty- four of 
the leading statesmen of the Dale — a strong proof of the 
popularity of the family, for they could have known little or 
nothing of him personally. His young wife accompanied her 
husband to Dent, where she died before the end of the 
summer (31 July, 1768), leaving one child, who survived her 
mother for some years. After her death (28 June, 1777) her 
father, married a distant cousin, Margaret Sturgis, by whom 
he had seven children: Margaret (1782), Thomas (1783), 
Adam (1785), Isabel (1787), Ann (1789), John (1791), James 


The names of Adam Sedgwick's brothers and sisters will 

occur so frequently in the course of our narrative that it will 
be best to mention in this place the leading events in the 
lives of each of them. Margaret married late in life a distant 
cousin, the Rev. John Mason, Vicar of Bothamsall in Notting- 
hamshire, and chaplain to the Duke of Newcastle. She 
became a widow, 29 October, 1844, and returned to Dent, 
where she resided till her death, 13 January, 1856. Thomas 
passed his whole life in Dent, and died, unmarried, 19 Sep- 
tember, 1873, aged 90. Isabel died unmarried, 18 January, 
1823. Ann married, 22 September, 1820, Mr William Westall, 


an artist of considerable reputation in his day, and died in 
1862. John was admitted a sizar of St John's College in 1810, 
and proceeded to the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 18 14, but 
without obtaining Honours. He was ordained immediately 
afterwards, and became curate of Stowe in Lincolnshire. 
Ultimately, in 1822, he succeeded his father as Vicar of Dent, 
an office which he held till his death, 9 February, 1859. 
James, like his brother, was admitted a sizar of St John's 
College, Cambridge in 18 13, and proceeded to the degree of 
Bachelor of Arts in 18 17. He was not deficient in ability, and 
it was hoped that he might take a good degree, and perhaps 
be elected to one of the Fellowships then appropriated to 
Sedbergh School. But he lacked industry ; was placed no 
higher in the Tripos than sixth in the third class, and subse- 
quently failed in the Fellowship Examination. Soon after 
taking his degree he was ordained, and in March, 1818, 
became curate of Freshwater in the Isle of Wight, where he 
remained until June, 1839. He then removed to Downham 
Market in Norfolk, and in 1840 was presented by the Dean 
and Chapter of Norwich to the vicarage of Scalby near 
Scarborough. He died, 28 August, 1869. 

No son ever spoke or wrote of his father with greater love 
and respect than Adam Sedgwick ; and, when it is remem- 
bered that the old man lived till 1828, when his son was 
forty-three years of age, everything that he says about his 
public character, his management of the parish, and his 
influence in the dale, may be accepted as the deliberate 
judgment of one man by another. Numerous allusions to 
him, and anecdotes illustrating the fervid religious feeling, 
tempered by sound common-sense, for which he was so 
remarkable, will be found scattered through the letters printed 
below. For the present we will select the following passages 
from the Memorial and its Supplement. They are not only 
interesting in themselves, but reveal the source of many of 
the convictions which were most deeply engrained in his son's 


" When in my childhood I saw, on a Sunday morning, 
the ample convexity of my father's well-dressed and well- 
powdered wig, I thought it one of the most beautiful sights 
in the world. I remember too, as he went, with his usual 
light step, towards the church, and saluted his friends who 
were come to join in the sacred services of the day, that each 
head was uncovered as he passed. They loved my Father, 
because by birth he was one of themselves, and because of 
his kindness and purity of life. They were proud of him too, 
because he was a graduate of the University of Cambridge, 
and had been living in good literary society some years before 
he fixed his home in Dent Part of his influence arose, also, 
from the reputation of his skill in athletic exercises ; and 
from a principle of action which he carried out through his 
long life — never to allow his conception of his sacred duties 
to come, on questions of moral indifference, into a rude 
collision with the habits and prejudices of the valley. The 
consequence was that he held an almost unbounded influence 
over his flock. Of this I will mention one example ; for 
it deserves notice as a fact of which it would be in vain to 
look for a match in the present condition of the Church of 

"Some years before I ever saw the light there was an 
unexpected contest for the county of York. Mr Wilberforce, 
a young man of bright presence and great eloquence, was 
then first named as a candidate ; and he had even then 
become famous as an enthusiastic advocate for the abolition 
of the Slave Trade. This fact set every chord of my father's 
heart in motion. He consulted his early friends, the good old 
Quakers in Kirthwaite, and his other friends in all the five 
hamlets ; and he personally canvassed the valley from house 
to house. Then at least the inhabitants of the valley formed 
an united Christian brotherhood. At that time the free- 
holders abounded, and every vote was pledged for Mr Wilber- 
force. Soon afterwards came a solicitor to canvass on the 
other side; but he soon left his canvass, finding himself 


unable to advance a single step. For wherever he asked for 
a vote the reply was, Na2 use Sir, we d here gang wV tk 
Parson. So the solicitor left the field ; mounted his horse at 
the door of the Sun Inn ; and, uttering an anathema, cried 

out aloud, that Dent was "the Priest-ridden hole in 

England 1 ." 

" Great injustice should I do to the memory of my Father, 
were I to describe him as turning his influence as a Parish 
Priest to serve the purposes of a political movement The 
Slave Trade he regarded as a foul national sin, which (how- 
ever deep its roots might be struck into the policy of the 
State) every man, who believed in the over-ruling Providence 
of God, was bound, by all lawful means within his reach, to 
root out and trample under-foot. The influence he had over 
the minds of his flock rested on his humble teaching of 
Gospel truth ; on the cheerful simplicity of his life ; and on 
his readiness, at every turn and difficulty, to be in true 
Christian love an adviser and a peace-maker. 

" Were then the inhabitants of Dent, in any high sense, 
religious men during the old times of their prosperous 
industry ? They were honourable in their dealings, active in 
their daily work, steady in the external observances of the 
Church Services, and without the bitterness of controversial 
spirit. They had an ancient custom which I may mention 
here, (and many times when I have thought of it I have 
felt sorrow that it had ever been abandoned), of assembling 
and holding a Communion in the Church at a very early 
hour on Easter Sunday morning. The custom had come 
down to them from ancient times, — probably before the 
Reformation. There was nothing superstitious in such an 
observance ; and it was well fitted to touch the conscience 

1 This story refers to the general election of April 1784, when Parliament 
had been dissolved on the recommendation of Mr Pitt. Mr Wilberforce, then a 
young man of 25, successfully contested the county of York, with Mr Duncombe, 
in opposition to Mr Weddell and Mr Foljambe, the nominees of the great Whig 
families. Life of Wilberforce, by his sons. 8vo. London, 1838: i. 50 — 64. 


of any one who believed in his heart that his Saviour had, 
at an early hour, as on that day, triumphed over the grave, 
and opened to the race of fallen man the gate of everlasting 

"They had some customs that raised in their hearts no 
reproach of conscience, but which in our day would, by 
many, be thought inconsistent with the conduct of a man 
who professed to be leading a Christian life. I will mention 
one notorious example. It had been a custom, dating from a 
period, I believe, long before the time of James the First, for 
the young men of Dent to assemble after Sunday Evening 
Service, and finish the day by a match at foot-ball. My 
father might perhaps have put down this ancient custom ; 
but he did not interfere, because he thought the contest, if 
carried on in good-will, tended to health and cheerfulness: 
and he knew well that it was not thought sinful or indecorous 
by the old inhabitants of Dent. He dreaded, too, the acts of 
intemperance and drunkenness which might arise out of the 
sudden suppression of a generous and healthy exercise in the 
open field. 

" There was often at the old Parsonage, on a Sunday 
evening, a small tea-party for those whose homes were distant 
from the Church ; and, later in the evening, my Father read, 
to a small assembled circle, from some serious book (it might 
be an extract from one of Bishop Wilson's sermons) ; and the 
little service ended with a short family prayer. Now it was 
by no means unusual for one, who had been contending 
robustly in the foot-ball match, to come and join in the grave 
and quiet Sunday evening Service at the Parsonage ; and the 
only kind of question the old Pastor ever asked was one 
which expressed his trust that the game had gone on in 
cheerfulness and good-will 1 ." 

" Athletic sports were held in rivalry by different parishes, 
and were conducted with great spirit. Matches at leaping, 
foot-racing, wrestling, and foot-ball, were all in fashion among 

1 Memorial, pp. 64 — 68. 


the Dalesmen. But the victory of the foot-ball match was 
regarded as the crowning glory of the rural festival. My 
father never opposed such games, because he thought 
they promoted health, temperance, and good social temper. 
The spirit of parochial rivalry sometimes, however, led to 
mischief; and in some rare instances the games were carried 
on with a savage energy. 

" I remember an occasion, in my very early life, when one 
of the old statesmen, John Mason of Shoolbred, came in 
great haste and out of breath into the Vicarage, and wished 
to see my father. ' I hope you will kindly come and help 
us/ he said, 'or there will be mischief at the field-sports in 
the Great Holm. At a late parochial meeting there was a 
sad accident, which led to mutual charges of foul-dealing. 
Several of us have been asking them to pledge their word, 
as true men, that all shall be done fairly and kindly; but 
their blood is up, and they refused with scorn, till one of 
the men cried out, 'We will play fairly if Mr Sedgwick will 
come and be the umpire of the foot-ball match/ ' I will go 
with all my heart/ said my Father, ' that I may be a peace- 
maker ; and I should like to see the game. Come, Adam, 
take my hand, and you shall walk with me to the foot-ball 
match/ I right willingly obeyed the order; and though 
more than eighty years have passed away since that day, yet 
I remember standing on the high embankment by the river- 
side, and my father's figure at this moment seems to be 
living before my mind's eye. I remember his cheerful coun- 
tenance, beaming with kindness, and lighted by the flush of 
health ; his broad-brimmed hat, looped at the sides in a way 
that told of a former fashion ; his full-bottomed wig, well- 
dressed and powdered ; and his large silver shoe-buckles ; all 
of them objects of my childish admiration. But what I wish 
most to notice was the respectful manner of the crowd. 
Many of them came to thank my Father, and each one 
spoke with uncovered head. Harmony and good-will were 
restored to the excited combatants, and the great foot-ball 


vent on and ended in joyful temper and mutual 


hese reminiscences may be added another, told by 

k in the presence of Miss Lucy Brightwell,. daughter 

rightwell of Norwich, and written down by her shortly 


ing one of the last visits the Professor paid to my dear 
en nearly blind from cataract, he was led to mention his 
;r, who had been similarly afflicted. He told us how the 
man was honoured and loved in his old age ; and concluded 
following story. ' 

of his parishioners, an ungodly-minded man who had no 
the Scriptures, called one day at the Vicarage ; and, being 
to find his way to the study, came unawares upon the aged 
toom he heard (as he supposed) conversing. He waited 
:ned, and found that the converse was in truth Prayer. 
ier,' said Professor Sedgwick, 'being absorbed in feeling, 
>nsciously uttering aloud the breathings of his soul before 
x. The man remained spell-bound for some minutes, and 
it away, without saying a word. But he had heard what 
d him of the reality of religion — he had found true and 
faith, and from that moment ceased to be an unbeliever.' 
essor, as he told this, was weeping, and we were ready to 
h him." 

ng the last twenty years of his life Richard Sedgwick 
icted with total blindness, and was in consequence 
to keep a curate. But he knew the different services 
church by heart, and generally took part in them, 
who remember him record that it was especially 
I to see and hear him when conducting the service for 
ial of the Dead. Led by one of his sons, or by a 
e would meet the mourners at the gate of the church- 
id precede them into the church. He had a clear 
ery sweet in its tones, and pronounced the Lesson 
ne of triumphant exultation, which never failed to 
deep impression on the congregation ; and, when they 
> the grave, the prayers were not read, but prayed. 
:her," Sedgwick wrote in 1829, "was a very happy old 
d over and over again said that his blindness was a 

1 Supplement \ pp. 42, 43. 


blessing, as it made him more religious and more fit to die. 
In the last years of his life he was, out of all comparison, the 
most perfect moral creature I have ever had the happiness of 
knowing 1 ." 

In 1822 he resigned the Living, and went, with his eldest 
son and daughter, to live at Flintergill, a small house at no 
great distance from the Parsonage, where he died, 14 May, 
1828. His son has recorded that "he was cheerful and happy 
to his last day, and died as quietly as a child goes to sleep in 
a cradle*." 

1 To Rev. W. Ainger, 7 February, 1829. 
* To Miss Kate Malcolm, 16 April, 1849. 


(1785— 1804.) 

Birth of Adam Sedgwick. Childhood and boyhood at Dent. 
Love of his native Dale. His sister Isabella. Goes 
to school at Sedbergh. His master and schoolfellows. 
Selection of a College at Cambridge. Reads mathe- 
matics with Mr Dawson. Account of him. 

Adam Sedgwick was born at the vicarage of Dent, early l7 8 5 . 
in the morning of the 22nd March, 1785. The surgeon who &t. 1. 
attended his mother was Mr John Dawson of Sedbergh, 
already celebrated as a mathematician, as mentioned in the 
previous chapter, but still compelled by poverty to follow the 
more lucrative profession of a general medical practitioner. 
Sedgwick always took a singular pleasure in recording, both 
in conversation and in writing, the circumstances under which 
he came into the world, and his letters contain several versions 
of them. Of these by far the most graphic and humorous 
occurs at the end of a letter to Mr Charles Lyell of Kinnordy, 
father of the geologist. He had been one of Mr Dawson's 
pupils, and had written to Sedgwick urging him to draw up 
a memoir of him, and asking for some information respecting 
his life and writings 1 . "A fourth sheet! I had no notion 
that I had finished a third till I tried to find a blank page. 
Well ! as I have a blank page, I will tell you of my very first 

1 The rest of the letter, dated 76 January, 1847, is printed below, pp. 61 — 69 
A few details have been added from a letter to Miss F. Hicks, 28 March, 1841. 

46 BIRTH. 

1785. acquaintance with our old Master, and I will tell it you as 
iEt. 1. nearly as I can in his own words: 'On the 21st of March, 
1785, I was called to attend your mother. The night was 
tempestuous, and I had much difficulty in making my way to 
Dent through the thick snow ; and when I got to the old 
vicarage I found that my difficulties were not over. The 
moment was critical ; and though you seemed anxious to 
show your face in the world, you were for doing it in a 
strange preposterous way/ Here he referred me laughing to 
an early page of Tristram S/tandy. * So I sent ' said he * your 
Father's servant to knock up old Margaret Burton to help me 
to keep you in order.' She was a celebrated midwife, of 
firmer nerves than the old mathematician. Between them 
the work was done, and by hook or by crook, I was ushered 
into the world at about 2 o'clock, a.m. on March 22nd, 1785. 
I was then carried downstairs, in old Margaret's apron, 
to the little back-parlour, where my Father was sitting in 
some anxiety, as he had been told that his youthful son was 
beginning life badly, and not likely to take good ways. 
Margaret threw back the corners of her apron and cried out : 
' Give you joy, Sir, give you joy ! a fine boy, Sir, as like you 
Sir, as one pea is to another.' My Father looked earnestly 
at me for a moment or two, kissed me, and then, turning to 
the old midwife exclaimed : ' Like me do you say, Margaret, 
why he is as black as a toad ! ' ' Oh ! Sir ! don't speak ill of 
your own flesh and blood, if I have any eyes in my head he 
is as white as a lily,' she replied, much shocked, while old Mr 
Dawson shook his sides, as much, I dare say, as he did when 
he told me the story. To stumble on the threshold was of 
old counted a bad sign, and what I have told you may be 
the reason why I am sticking as a Senior Fellow without 
getting on in the world." 

Sedgwick's complexion, though not so black as to justify 
his father's comparison, was still extremely dark. He in- 
herited it from his mother. Mrs Burton acted as nurse to 
young Adam for a short time, but she died when he was still 


XX. i—8. 

quite a boy, and he lost sight of her family for many years. 1785 to 
In 1840, however, an accident made him acquainted with her J?*^_ 
great-granddaughter, and they soon became sworn friends on 
the strength of their common obligations to the skill of the 
same person 1 . 

As a child, Adam was active and merry, fond of play, and 
given to tearing his books rather than reading them. When 
he was five years old, his godfather Mr Parker, then Master 
of the Grammar School at Dent, gave him a new and 
handsomely bound spelling-book, which the little fellow 
thought too good to be torn. So he set to work, and soon 
learnt to read it. Like his father before him, he was sent, 
probably at a very early age, to the public grammar-school, 
to be educated with the other boys of the Dale. Mr Parker 
was much attached to his godson ; and in the summer of 1793, 
when Adam was eight years old, he took him, riding behind 
him on horseback, to visit his friends at Hesket-Newmarket in 
Cumberland. The events of this summer made an indelible 
impression upon Sedgwick's memory. He refers to it again 
and again in his letters, and always with pleasure. He was 
shown Carlisle, and remembered that at that time the old 
walls were standing, and that he had walked all round the 
city on the ramparts; and he spent a few days at Scaleby 
Castle, an old place of strength about six miles from Carlisle 2 , 
the occupier of which was Mr Fawcett, a distant cousin. 
But the most delightful reminiscences of all occur in a letter 
which he wrote in 1853 f° r the amusement of one of his 
nieces, who had just been revisiting her birthplace, the Isle of 
Wight. " We all delight," he says, " to revisit the scenes of 
our childhood. Such visits produce emotions, some cheerful 
and some sorrowful, that do our hearts good, and they 
ought to teach us healthy lessons. I almost envy you 
the pleasure of your visit to the sweet Island of your child- 

1 To Rev. W. Ainger, 23 March, 1840. 

* To Miss Fanny Hicks, 18 April, 1849. The walls of Carlisle were pulled 
down in 181 1. Life of Isaac Milner, 8vo. Cambridge, 1843, P- 453* 


1793. life. When I was a child of eight years old I spent the 
jEt. 8. summer vacation at Hesket, a small village between Penrith 
and Carlisle. My schoolmaster took me home with him 
during his summer holidays, and the Grand Turk does not 
think himself half so great a man as I then thought myself. 
Exactly thirty years afterwards, I landed one Saturday 
evening at Hesket, during my geological tour in 1823. The 
old man who kept the Inn when I was a child was still 
living; and I remembered him by this token, namely, that 
he had pulled my ears because I had, with a lad older than 
myself, caught his turkey-cock, and pulled some beautiful 
feathers out of its tail. I quite rejoiced to see the old man. I 
forgave the ear-pulling which I had deserved, and he had quite 
forgotten my theft of the feathers. Next day I went to church. 
A woman opened the door of a pew, and when I looked round 
I saw that it was the very seat I used to sit in during my visit 
in 1793 — the year the king of France was beheaded, you 
know. Of course I knew no one, but I observed that the 
well-looking middle-aged woman who had received me into 
her pew went to the house where my old school-master lived. 
So I followed her, and she proved to be the sister of my 
master — a young woman who in 1793 was very kind to me. 
I was very sentimental all that day, and in the evening drove 
to PenrithV , 

When they got home to Dent, Mr Parker told Mr Sedgwick 
how much everybody had been struck by his son's powers of 

Soon after this, Mr Parker left Dent 2 , and Mr Sedgwick 
was solicited by the Governors of the school to undertake the 
Mastership, with one -or more under-masters to assist him. 
After some hesitation he consented, and taught his own boys 
along with his other scholars. About Adam's progress tradi- 
tion is silent ; but as, in after years, his knowledge of Greek 

1 To the same, 17 July, 1853. 

2 In 1 81 2 Sedgwick went to stay with him "near Macclesfield". To Rev. W. 
Ainger, 14 February, 18 12. 


and Latin was superior to that of most men as distinguished 1793 to 
in mathematics as himself, it may be safely assumed that he _ " 6 
worked hard ; and that he had been well grounded, in the 
first instance by his godfather, who was a clever man, and 
afterwards by his father, who is said to have been a very good 
scholar, and whose early experience under Dr Bennet would 
now stand him in good stead. 

It is an old story that the boy is father to the man ; and 
it is interesting to find that the portrait which family tradition 
has drawn of Adam Sedgwick as a boy would be true had it 
been drawn of him when he was grown up. He did not give 
any special promise of future intellectual power, but he was 
remarkable, we are told, for a frank, genial disposition ; he 
was full of fun and high spirits ; he delighted in rambling 
over the fells and climbing the hills which bound his native 
dale ; his powers of observation were great ; and he had a 
plentiful share of sound practical common-sense. He was 
also distinguished for undeviating truthfulness in all that 
he said and did. Among his brothers and sisters and school- 
fellows, if Adam said a thing was so, there was no further 
question about the matter. " I almost lived out of doors," — 
he said in conversation with Mr J. W. Salter 1 — " at fourteen 
years old I was trusted with a gun, and coursed over the 
heathy moors the whole autumn day. I believe I was a 
tolerably good shot I was a fisherman too at this age, and 
was particularly careful to obtain the exact feathers which 
were considered the most killing flies for trout, grayling, etc. 
Nor, though I ought to confess it with some reluctance, — 
save that I never had an unworthy selfish thought in the 
matter beyond the joy of sport — was I quite free from the 

1 Mr Salter accompanied Sedgwick to North Wales in 1842 and 1843, and 
afterwards prepared under his direction A Catalogue of the collection of Cambrian 
and Silurian Fossils contained in the Geological Museum of the University of 
Cambridge, 4to. Cambridge, 1873. While engaged upon this work he persuaded 
Sedgwick to dictate to him a few reminiscences of his early life, apparently with 
the intention of preparing a complete biography ; but ill-health and other en- 
gagements prevented the completion of the task. 

S. I. 4 


1793 to crime of poaching. Old and I were great friends, and 

lSo1, many a night have I met him by appointment to try our 
flies, and our snares for rabbits, hares, and pheasants. I 
believe he always had the game ; the sport was quite enough 
for me. But to this day I like to hear the click of a fowling- 
piece; and, as I pass a mountain burn, I can scarcely help 
speculating in what holes the trout may be lying. 

"But I did not quite forget the rocks and the fossils. 
One of my early employments on a half-holiday when nutting 
in Dent woods, was, as I well remember, collecting the con- 
spicuous fossils of the mountain-limestone on either side of 
the valley. It was not till many years afterwards that I 
understood its structure, but these early rambles no doubt 
aided to establish a taste for out-door observations." 

These geological reminiscences must be received with 
a certain caution, partly because Mr Salter was not suffici- 
ently well acquainted with the district to follow Sedgwick's 
descriptions of it, partly because even the most truthful of 
men cannot help imparting to events which happened in their 
early years the colouring derived from fuller study at a later 
period ; still, as Sedgwick could hardly have drawn upon his 
imagination, even in extreme old age, for the whole story, the 
record has been thought worth preserving in this place. 

As might be expected from the recollections of Dent in 
former days which have been printed in the previous chapter, 
he loved to talk with the old statesmen, and to hear their 
stories of the Scotch incursions, and of the rebellion of 1745. 
Some of them, his father among the number, had been at 
Kendal in that eventful year, and seen the disorderly retreat 
of the remnant of the Pretenders army. Two incidents of 
the '45 can fortunately be reproduced almost in the words 
in which Sedgwick used to tell them. 

"When I was a boy there was living at Dent a certain 
Matthew Potts, whom we lads looked up to as a hero, because, 
when he was an apprentice, he and another lad ran away 
from their masters, and followed the fortunes of the Scottish 


army on their retreat northward. They were witnesses of 1793 to 
the battle of Clifton Moor near Penrith, which Scott has ^ 8 ' l6 
described in Waverley, and Potts carried off from the battle- ' 
field a broadsword, a target, and a tortoise-shell comb stolen 
from the body of a young Highland officer. The young 
scamps lived by milking the cows they found upon the 
moors ; and they grew so familiar with scenes of battle that 
they boasted of having set a dead Highlander astride of a 
stone-wall with a pebble in his mouth to keep it open." 

"When the Highlanders marched through Kendal they 
were very badly shod, and laid hands on all the boots and 
shoes they could find. One of them went into the stables of 
the King's Arms and appropriated a pair of boots belonging 
to the ostler, who was out of the way. As the thief was 
lagging behind his comrades to put on his ill-gotten spoils, 
he was overtaken by the owner of the boots, a truculent 
fellow, who ran him through with a pitchfork and killed him 
on the spot. My father, who was a boy of ten years old at 
the time, knew the ostler well, and had often heard the story. 
I think the histories record that a soldier of the Duke of 
Perth's regiment met with his death at Kendal, but say 
nothing of the manner of it 1 ." 

The old men of the village were delighted to have the 
bright boy as a listener, and used to speak of him afterwards 
to his father as * a lad aboon common \ We can readily 
imagine that "Adam d the Parson's," as he was called in 
the dialect of Dent, soon became a leader of the lads of his 
own age; but the only records of his youthful prowess that 
have come down to us are both connected with bonfires. 
The first of these incidents befel in 1798, when Sedgwick 
was thirteen. " I well remember," he wrote in 1863, " the day 
that brought to my native valley the news of the battle of the 
Nile, and we contrived (for the schoolmaster gave us a 
holiday) to pile up such a heap of turf, sticks, and tar-barrels, 

1 These stories were told by Sedgwick, about a fortnight before his death, to 
W. Aldis Wright, M.A. now Fellow and Vice-Master of Trinity College. 



1793 to that we had nearly set the village of Dent on fire 1 ." The 

JEt 8— 6 ot ^ er was an annua l celebration. In 1871, having occasion to 
write a letter to Canon Selwyn on the fifth of November, he 
began as follows : " This was, in my younger days at Dent, a 
day of joy — a holiday, a hunt, and a bonfire. I was busy, 
with my schoolfellows, a good part of the day in gathering 
logs of wood, collecting turf, and breaking hedges, with 
loyalty to King George, and detestation of the Pope and 
Jesuits. We clubbed from our poor purses, and sturdily 
begged of those who had a little to spare, to raise a stock to 
purchase tar-barrels — each of which cost about eight-pence — 
and finally used to put old Dent into such a blaze that there 
was a serious risk of our turning the village itself into a 

An interesting anecdote respecting this period has been 
preserved by family tradition. When Adam was about 
twelve years old, the conveyance of a farm in Dent to the 
trustees of a charity had to be executed by some gentlemen 
who resided in the north of the county of Durham. There- 
upon a formidable difficulty presented itself. By what means 
were the indispensable signatures to be obtained, and the 
deeds brought back to Dent in safety? Said one of the 
trustees : " If anybody can be depended upon, it is Adam 
Sedgwick; and I, for one, am quite willing to entrust the 
deeds to his care, if his father will let him go." Mr Sedgwick, 
to the boy's great delight, made no objection ; and mounted 
on his father's mare "Bet", Adam rode off all alone, with 
the precious deeds secured in saddle-bags. He came back at 
the end of a week with the deeds in safety, all properly signed 
and sealed. 

Such an expedition as this, taken together with the sense 
of importance conferred by it, would have gratified any boy 
of spirit and intelligence. But, keenly as Adam admired 
new scenes and fresh objects of interest, we do not hear that 

1 To Dean Trench, 11 April, 1863. 

2 To Canon Selwyn, 5 November, 1871. 


he was fired with any special ambition to leave his native 179310 
dale, and try his fortune in the great world beyond it. A few - Q \ 

AX* o — 10. 

years later, when he had tasted the sweets of University life, 
he was apt to find Dent somewhat dull ; and in middle life he 
had other objects of interest, and perhaps thought less of his 
home than of those who lived there. But, when he became 
an old man, all his boyish fondness for the place returned to 
him, and he has left many a charming description of its 
scenery, and of his own feelings towards it. Here is one, 
written from Dent to Lady Augusta Stanley, 3 July, 1865, 
which recalls his young days there with singular vividness. 

" I wish I could, for a minute or two, transport you to this 
place. Not so much that you might look at my rugged old 
face, as that you might gladden your eyes by gazing over the 
sweet scenery of this rich pastoral valley. The home scenery 
is delicious ; and glowing at this moment (6.30 a.m.) with the 
richest light of heaven ; and from the door of this old home 
of my childhood I can look down the valley, and see, blue in 
the distance, the crests of the Lake Mountains which rear 
their heads near the top of Windermere. All around me is 
endeared by the sweet remembrances of early life. For here 
I spent my childhood and my early boyhood, when my 
father and mother and my three sisters and three brothers 
were all living in this old house. Our home was humble ; 
but we were a merry crew ; and we were rich in health, and 
rich in brotherly love. Forgive me for going on at this rate. 
I think you are a lover of rural scenery ; and indeed when I 
return to Dent I feel again as if I were in my true home — and 
I quite naturally talk and think of the joys of boyhood, and 
begin ' to babble of green fields \" 

Fond as Sedgwick was of his brothers and sisters collect- 
ively, his chosen friend and companion was his sister Isabella, 
who, it will be remembered, was just two years younger than 
himself. She died in 1823, and when we come to that part of 
his life, we shall see how passionately he mourned her loss. 
Nor did his sorrow diminish as time went on. Throughout 


1801. his life he cherished her memory with the tenderest affection, 
Ml 16. an d his letters of sympathy to friends in trouble frequently 
contain allusions to her, and to their early days together. For 
instance, in 1849, twenty-six years after her death, he wrote 
to a lady who had just lost her own sister : " I can feel for 
your great sorrow. I once lost a sister, the dearest of all my 
sisters, and the darling companion of all my early years. 
She was a woman of most placid temper, yet of great personal 
courage. We had our little squabbles about our toys when 
children ; but after we reached our teens I think I never heard 
so much as a word from her lips that was not spoken in 
kindness. Her death was a grievous blow to me, and I never 
visit my native hills without being reminded of her at every 
turn 1 ." And again, writing in 1864 to the mother of one of 
his numerous godchildren: "My especial love to my dear god- 
child. I rejoice to know that she is a jolly tomboy. That 
shows that she has good spirits, good health, and the right 
use of her limbs. I had a sister, not quite a year younger 
than myself*. When a young girl she was my never-failing 
companion; and I taught her, in our wild valley of Dent, 
all sorts of boys' tricks. For example, she would run like a 
monkey up a tree to peep into a magpie's nest. The effect of 
this training gave her excellent robust health — and it matured 
her sweet natural temper — and when she grew up she was a 
mild, gently feminine, unselfish person, beloved by everyone. 
May my dear god-daughter have health and temper like that 
of my beloved tomboy and my darling sister, and may God 
bless her with a longer life 8 ." 

When Sedgwick was sixteen he was sent to the Grammar- 
School at Sedbergh, the mastership of which was then in the 
gift of St John's College, Cambridge. At that time the post 
was held by the Rev. William Stevens, a former fellow of that 

1 To Mrs Homer, 14 March, 1849. 

9 The account of Sedgwick's brothers and sisters given in the previous 
chapter, which has been verified from the parish- registers of Dent, shows that his 
memory was slightly at fault here. 

3 To Mrs Martin, 16 February, 1864. 


house, who had been fifteenth wrangler in 1791. As far as 1801 to 
mathematics went he must therefore have possessed sufficient ' , 
knowledge for his position ; but the school did not flourish 19. 
under his rule. Indeed it has been whispered that he neglected 
his duties, and that "for years together he had the school 
locked up, teaching in his own house a few boys, hardly ever 
amounting to ten 1 ." Mr Sedgwick, however, must have had 
confidence in his abilities, for he sent all his sons, one after 
another, to be taught by him, and the two families were on 
terms of close intimacy. Adam describes him as "an excellent 
scholar, and a good domestic and social man'." Perhaps he 
took more pains with him than he did with others ; perhaps 
his social qualities endeared him to his pupils. For it should 
be mentioned that he had been for a short time a chaplain in 
the Royal Navy, and had been present at Lord Howe's victory 
off Cape St Vincent in 1794. In those days of martial enthu- 
siasm such a man would appear little short of a hero in the 
eyes of boys, especially if he entertained them with stories 
of his naval experiences. Indeed it is not improbable that 
Sedgwick's lifelong interest in all things naval may be traced 
to the influence of his old schoolmaster. 

Discipline was not strict at Sedbergh School. The boys 
boarded at the neighbouring farm-houses, and when their 
work was done, few inquiries were made as to the employment 
of their time. Half holidays were generally spent in fishing 
in the Rawthey or the Lune, or in rambles over the mountains. 
The farm-house called "the Hill", where Sedgwick boarded, 
along with three other boys, stands a little to the north of the 
town, just under Winder. As the woodcut shows, it has been 
but slightly altered from the aspect it bore in his day. The 
farmer was a quaker named Edmund Foster, a near connexion 
of the Fosters of Hebblethwaite Hall, who were great friends 

1 History of the Parish and Grammar School of Sedbergh, Yorkshire, by 
A. E. Piatt. 8vo. Lond. 1876, p. 159. 

2 Supplement, p. 65. Writing to Ainger, 14 Feb. 181 2, Sedgwick speaks of 
Mr Stevens' "zeal for the interest of his pupils"; but adds "there is something 
about him which I neither like nor understand ". 



of the Sedgwicks. " We were treated ", Adam has recorded, 
"with infinite kindness by the family, and our happy freedom 
made us the envy of our schoolfellows'." The lodgers were 
of course obliged to accommodate their hours to those of their 
host ; and it was to this training that Adam attributed the 
habit of early rising which he never abandoned*. 

The schoolhouse, erected in the last century, has not 






r ,r, 'lS 

r ' % 

la ' M 


Door of the school-In 

been materially altered since Sedgwick's time. It is an 
oblong stone building in two floors, about sixty feet long 
by twenty-two feet wide. The west door, long disused, and 

1 Supplement, p. 55. 

' To Dr Livingstone, 1865. 


blocked by slabs of stone, is a picturesque example of the 1801 to 
classical style prevalent in the early part of the last century 1 . J ~ 
The date, 17 16, probably indicates the completion of the 19. 
existing building. The lower floor is now fitted up as a 
chapel, and the upper floor 
as a library and reading- 
room. The words A. Sedg- 
wick, 1803, are cut on a 
stone at the south-west ex- 
ternal corner. The inscription was no doubt intended to 
commemorate his leaving the school, but whether it was cut 
by himself, or by some other person, is not now known. 

Of Sedgwick's schoolfellows at Sedbergh two at least must 
be specially commemorated, William Ainger, and Miles Bland. 
The former, who in University standing was his senior by one 
year, was the chief friend of his early life. They lived in close 
intimacy at Cambridge, and afterwards, though they met but 
seldom, corresponded with tolerable regularity. Mr Ainger, 
after holding several pieces of preferment, became Principal 
of the Theological College at St Bees, and Canon of Chester. 
He died rather suddenly in 1840, attended by his old 
friend. Mr Bland became a Fellow of St John's College, and 
during his residence at Cambridge, he and Sedgwick probably 
saw a good deal of each other. On the occasion of the death 
of their old Master, Mr Stevens, in 1819 s , they raised, by their 
joint exertions, a large sum of money for the benefit of his 
widow and children, for whom he had neglected to make any 
provision. But their friendship was never very close, and 
after 1823, when Mr Bland accepted the living of Lilley, in 
Hertfordshire, and left the University, it ceased altogether. 

Adam Sedgwick's school days were prolonged, we do not 
know why, until a later period than was usual at that time, 
for he was not sent to Cambridge until 1804, when he was 

1 The beautiful drawing from which the woodcut was taken is due to the kind- 
ness of Edward G. Paley, Esq., of Lancaster, Architect. 

2 Mr Stevens died 9 November, 18 19, aged 50. 


1801 to well on his way to twenty. In the autumn of the previous 
1 4 ' year a council was held to determine the particular college at 
19. which he should be entered. It was composed of his father, 
Mr Stevens, and their common friend the Rev. D. M. Peacock, 
then Vicar of Sedbergh, who had been Senior Wrangler in 
1 79 1, and subsequently a Fellow of Trinity College. Boys 
educated at Sedbergh were usually entered at St John's 
College, because on that foundation there were then three 
Fellowships and ten Scholarships appropriated to the School ; 
and Mr Stevens urged that his two cleverest boys, Bland and 
Sedgwick, should both be entered there. But Mr Peacock 
held a different opinion. "Bland", he said to Mr Sedgwick, 
"is a better mathematician than your son. He will always 
" beat him in examinations, and, afterwards, if it comes to a 
" question of a Sedbergh Fellowship, your son will not be the 
" successful candidate." Mr Sedgwick assented, and suggested 
his own college, Catharine Hall. "No!" said Mr Peacock, 
" Adam is a clever lad, let him go to my college, Trinity, and 
take his chance 1 ." And so it came to pass that he was entered 
as a sizar at Trinity College, 18 November, 1803, under the 
popular tutor Mr Jones'. 

During the summer-months of 1804 he became a pupil of 
Mr John Dawson, the surgeon-mathematician of Sedbergh, 
who had given similar instruction to his father just forty-eight 

1 This account has been communicated by Miss Isabella Sedgwick, and there- 
fore represents family tradition. Sedgwick himself gave a different version of the 
reason why he was not entered at St Catharine's College, which we find stated 
as follows in a diary kept by the Rev. George Elwes Corrie, B.D., then Fellow 
and Tutor of that College, and afterwards Master of Jesus College: "16 June, 
1843. I met Professor Sedgwick in the Library, who, among other things, told 
me that he was anxious to have been admitted to our College, in consequence 
of his Father having been of the Society, but that owing to the disputes in 
College at that time the Master did not allow any admissions. 1 ' A reference to 
the Cambridge Calendar for 1803 shows that the offices of Tutor, Bursar, Dean, 
Lecturer, and Steward were all vacant, and that there was only a single under- 
graduate on the boards. The Master was the Rev. Joseph Procter, D.D. (1799 — 

2 " 18 Nov. 1803. Admissus est sizator Adamus filius Ricardi Sedgwick de 
Dent in Com. Ebor. e Schola apud Sedbergh in eodem Com. sub praesidio Mag. 
Stevens, ann. nat. 19. Mag. Jones tutore." Admission Book of Trinity College. 


years before. It has been already related that Mr Dawson 1804. 
had been called upon to use his skill as a surgeon to usher Mu , 9- 
Adam Sedgwick into the world ; and now, by a singular 
coincidence, he was to use his skill in another department to 
fit him for his entrance into the University. 

This seems to be the fitting place to give some account of 
this remarkable man, whose career affords one of the most 
striking instances on record of self-help, of indomitable 
perseverance triumphing over difficulties which could hardly 
have been surmounted by anyone, unless he had belonged, 
as Sedgwick said, " to the very highest order of intellectual 

Sedgwick had a warm affection for Mr Dawson, and has 
left two accounts of him : one in the letter to Mr Lyell, from 
which a single passage has been already quoted 1 ; the other in 
the Supplement* to the Memorial. These accounts, as might 
be expected, travel over much of the same ground, especially 
when describing Mr Dawson's early struggles. An attempt 
has therefore been made, in the following pages, to combine 
them into a continuous narrative, of which the letter to Mr 
Lyell forms the basis. 

" The outline of Mr Dawson's early life I will try to give 
you in a very few words. He was the son of a very poor 
statesman in Garsdale 8 , with perhaps not more than ^10 or 
£12 sl year, and his vocation was to look after the paternal 
flock of sheep on the mountains. In this situation he remained, 
I believe, till he was more than twenty years of age. But he 
was a forgetful shepherd, and was living in an ideal world of 
his own. He had no money, no friend, and could not there- 
fore buy books. But he begged them, or borrowed them, or 
invented them, for he actually worked a system of Conic 
Sections out of his own brain. Some small sums of money 
he gained by teaching, and in 1756 three young men went to 

1 See above, p. 45. a Supplement, pp. 49 — 54. 

* He was born at Rangill Farm in Garsdale, and, as he was baptized 25 February, 
1734, was probably born in January. 


1804. read with him before they entered the University. My father, 
iEt - '9- who often spoke of the Garsdale summer as one of very great 
happiness and profit, was one of them ; Dr Haygarth 1 , after- 
wards a physician at Leeds, and in his day a man well known, 
was one of this happy number ; the third took his degree at 
St John's College, Cambridge, and afterwards had a living 
in Leicestershire. This was perhaps the first dawn of the 
youthful shepherd's fortunes*. 

"Soon after this triumvirate went to the University, 
young Dawson was taken as a kind of assistant — he was too 
old to be a regular apprentice — by Mr Bracker an eminent 
surgeon of Lancaster, a man of science and good sense, who 
had a name among the northern worthies of last century. 
There he remained several years, compounding medicines, 
solving crusty problems on an inverted mortar, and learning 
the duties of his profession as a surgeon. His condition was, 
during this time, much improved. He had now no lack of 
books, or want of sympathy ; and he rapidly made that great 
and generous progress which marks an intellect of first-rate 
power, when urged onwards in its work by a never-tiring will. 
Before long he was capable of holding consultations with 
good professional men, and of measuring weapons with mathe- 
matical analysts of the highest name in England. But he 
had only stolen hours for his favourite studies, as his master 
— I think I may say his master — was in great and wide 
practice. As soon as he thought himself fit for the duties 

1 John Haygarth, M.D. of Leeds, was born in Garsdale in 1740. He was 
distantly related to Dawson. 

2 Professor Pryme, who read with Dawson during the summer of 1 799, gives a 
somewhat different account of his early years : "He was the son of a yeoman in 
Garsdale. He had availed himself of some books belonging to his brother, an 
excise officer, to gain a knowledge of arithmetic, and of the rudiments of mathe- 
matics, and then became an itinerant schoolmaster ; for many parts of that 
mountainous district were not sufficiently peopled to maintain one capable of 
teaching anything beyond mere reading and writing. He stayed two or three 
months at a time in one house, by arrangement, teaching the children of the family 
and neighbourhood, and then removing to another. In the meantime he was 
pursuing his own mathematical studies." Autobiographic Recollections of George 
Pryme. 8vo. Lond. 1870, p. 29. 


of his profession, before he had attended any regular aca- 1804. 
demic medical course, and without any medical diploma, ^..19. 
he became surgeon and apothecary at Sedbergh. There 
he remained about a year — living on a crust, and saving 
every farthing he could scrape together, till he was pos- 
sessed of nearly £100. This sum he 'stitched up in the 
lining of his waistcoat' — I am telling you his own words, 
which I have more than once heard from his mouth when I 
was a schoolboy at Sedbergh. Off he set, staff in hand, and 
walked to Edinburgh. There he lived, in a cheap garret, 
upon a sum so incredibly small, that I dare not trust my 
memory with the mention of it. 

"While making way with the medical cycle, and en- 
countering a formidable range of severer studies, he lived 
with the sternest self-denial. But no economy could save his 
funds from wasting; and the external sinews of his move- 
ments were on the very point of failing, when once again he 
packed up his whole stock, took his good staff in hand, and 
strode back to Sedbergh. He had then no difficulty in meeting 
the common wants of life. The country was longing for his 
return, and professional practice flowed in upon him. But he 
still lived with great self-denial, and by using all means 
within his power, both of head and of hand, he amassed a sum 
I believe about three times as great as that with which he 
walked to Edinburgh. 

44 Again he left his native mountains, and went, partly on 
foot, partly I believe in a stage-waggon, to London, with all 
his gold stitched, as before, in small parcels under his waist- 
coat. 4 But I could not', said he, 'live as I had done at 
Edinburgh/ Neither could he live in the same retirement, 
for the sound of his name had passed beyond the Dales, and 
several men of science sought his personal acquaintance. 
Among the rest he mentioned, I think, the late celebrated Dr 
Waring, Lucasian Professor at Cambridge 1 . 'My money 

1 Edward Waring was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics from 1760 to his 
death in 1798. He proceeded M.D. in 1767. 


1804. went from me', said he, 'faster than I wished, but I got 
JEt. 19. through one good course of surgical and medical lectures/ 
In short, he became a regular member of his profession ; 
obtained a diploma ; and then returned on foot to Sedbergh. 
His course was now clear, and he had won a good position for 
himself. He married, and had one daughter 1 , whom you 
must well remember ; settled in his own house, and had the 
command of the best medical practice in all the neighbouring 
Dales ; and sometimes, to his sorrow, his duties carried him 
far beyond them. 

" He still went on with his favourite studies, and his mind 
hardly seemed to have a pause. It was said of him, perhaps 
in jest, that he could solve a problem better when riding up 
the Dales on his saddle than when sitting at his private desk. 
At any rate he made himself master of every standard mathe- 
matical work known to the scientific literature of this country, 
and was counted among the very first analysts of his day. 
This was not the mere admiring gossip of a country town ; 
its truth is proved by various profound essays on contested 
points of Physical Astronomy, into which he was led, not 
through vain-glory, but from the simple love of truth. 

" The rest you know, I think, as well as I. After several 
years of honourable, and most successful, practice, in a wild 
and poor country, and amidst a thousand interruptions to his 
severer studies — he gained a small fortune and a great repu- 
tation. Cambridge undergraduates flocked to him every 
summer. About 1790 he entirely relinquished his practice as 
a surgeon, and devoted himself exclusively to mathematical 
teaching". Between 1781 and 1794 he counted eight Senior 

1 The Sedbergh Registers show that John Dawson married Ann Thirnbeck, 3 
March, 1767. Their daughter Mary was born 15 January, 1768. Mrs Dawson 
died 21 January 181 2 ; her daughter, unmarried, 18 July, 1843. 

8 The expense of attending Mr Dawson's class was not great. We have seen a 
letter written by Dr Butler, Headmaster of Harrow and Dean of Peterborough, 
who became his pupil in 1 792. The letter is dated 1 7 June in that year. The 
writer, after describing his journey from London to Sedbergh (which began on a 
Tuesday at 7 a.m. and ended on the following Saturday at 1 1 p.m.), mentions that 
Mr Dawson charged 5*. per week for instruction ; and that he would have to pay 


Wranglers among his pupils. In 1797, 1798, 1800, and 1807 1804. 
the Senior Wranglers were also Dawsonians 1 . I only knew &&• *9- 
him in his decline ; but he continued, I believe, to have pupils 
till about 1810 s . 

" I became a pupil of our late Master in 1804, a few months 
before I entered at Cambridge ; and at that time he was full 
70 years of age. His intellect was then as grand as it had 
ever been, but his memory had begun to fail. I remember a 
singular example of this in the vacation of 1806, when I was 
reading with him some of the later sections of the first book 
of the Principia, You remember his ' Peripatetic' mode of 
teaching. He came to the back of my chair. ' Here is a 
proposition', said I, 'but no proof, and I think it is by no 
means self-evident' He looked at the proposition for a 
minute, and then took his pencil and worked out a kind of 
mongrel proof, half analytical, and half geometrical, on a slate. 
This was done in about ten minutes. Judge of my surprise ! 
On turning over the leaf I found Newton's proof on the next 
page ! I called Mr Dawson back, and showed it to him. He 
was as much surprised as myself, and said, with an expression 
of sorrow, that he had gone over this section many hundred 
times, and ought not to have forgotten the proposition. * But', 
he added, ' I am beginning to have an old man's memory.' 

at the King's Anns Inn "the best in the town" is. 6d. per week for an excellent 
room ; for dinner lod. a day, and for breakfast id, "Dinner" he says "consisted 
of a leg of mutton and potatoes, both hot ; ham and tongue, gooseberry tarts, 
cheese, butter, and bread: pretty well for iod." The letter is printed in The 
Stdbcrghian for December, 1881. 

1 The Senior Wranglers of these four years were: 1797, John Hudson, Trinity, 
afterwards Fellow and Tutor; 1798, Thomas Sowerby, Trinity, afterwards Fellow 
and Tutor of Queens' College ; 1800, James Inman, St John's, afterwards Mathe- 
matical Professor in the Royal Naval College; 1807, Henry Gipps, St John's. 
The previous eight cannot all be identified, but the following may be safely claimed 
for Dawson : 1786, John Bell, Trinity; 1792, John Palmer, Professor of Arabic 
on Sir T. Adams' foundation; 1793, Thomas Harrison, Queens'; 1794, George 
Butler, Sidney. 

1 There is a slight error here. Miss Ann Sedgwick writes to her brother 25 
July, i8n : "James is attending Mr Dawson during Mr Stevens' vacation. It is 
his last opportunity, as Mr Dawson takes no more pupils after this summer. He 
has at present fourteen." 

S. L 5 


1804. "About twelve or thirteen years afterwards, I called on 

iEt - *9- him during one of my visits to my native valley of Dent He 
seemed delighted to see me, roused himself, talked of Cam- 
bridge, of his own early studies, of our change of system, of 
some new work of analysis, and especially of the Calculus of 
Variations, with which, he said, he had just begun to be 
acquainted when his mind began to fail, and he was by old 
age made incapable of any new and severe study. ' I have 
sometimes grieved/ he said, ' but perhaps it is ungrateful of 
me, that I did not know this powerful implement of discovery 
in early life. I thought that I might have grasped it, and 
then tried my hand with some of the great problems of physical 
astronomy ; but now I am a feeble old man, and my days are 
nearly numbered/ While this conversation was going on, 
with no small animation on his part — to the utter amazement 
of his daughter and myself, for she told me afterwards that she 
had hardly heard him talk collectedly for many weeks, and I 
expected only to see a venerable intellectual ruin, and bid 
him a sorrowful adieu for ever — in came some neighbours and 
interrupted him. He became silent at once. They went 
away in ten minutes, and I then tried again to arouse him, 
and lead him back to the subjects on which he had dwelt with 
so much energy and apparent delight. But all in vain. He 
had forgotten every syllable of our conversation, and was 
become again a mere dotard. I left him with most oppressive 
feelings of admiration and sorrow, and I never saw his face 

" Such is my outline, but I have given it you in more 
words than I first intended. He published one or two good 
mathematical tracts in the Mancfiester Memoirs 1 , which, as you 
well know, have become famous as the vehicle of Dalton's* 

1 This is a mistake. Dawson wrote no papers in the Manchester Memoirs. 
Sedgwick was probably thinking of some letters by him in Hutton's Miscellanea 
Mathematica, signed "Wadson," in which he attacked a theory advanced by the 
Rev. C. Wildbore, On the velocity of water issuing from a vessel in motion. 

8 John Dalton, of Manchester, F.R.S., Chemist and natural philosopher, 
born 1766, died 1844. 


great chemical generalisations. He was engaged in a contro- 1804. 
versy with that strange but clever mathematical bear Emerson 1 . ^St. 19. 
Thomas Simpson* had shown, in an analytical investigation, 
that Newton had made a slip in his great problem of Precession. 
Spite of this blunder it is one of Newton's very greatest 
triumphs. Emerson worshipped Newton, and abused every 
other son of man. So on principle he opened a foul-mouthed 
volley on poor Thomas Simpson. Dawson replied by sending 
an entirely independent analytical investigation of the same 
great problem, which gave a result identical with that of 
Simpson, at the same time modestly pointing out the slip in 
Newton's demonstration. This produced a volley of abuse 
and nothing better, from his opponent, and so the matter 

"Ata later period Mr Dawson wrote an excellent memoir 
on certain problems in the Lunar Theory, in reply to a 
geometrical essay on the same subject by Matthew Stewart 
(father of the celebrated Dugald Stewart), of Edinburgh. 
Our old tutor proved to demonstration that purely geometrical 
methods must in many approximations necessarily fail, and in 
nearly all must be unsatisfactory, inasmuch as they do not 
give us any certain data as to the value of the terms left out 
in the approximation. This controversy was carried on in the 
pure love of truth, and in a most excellent spirit. Dawson 
had the entire victory, and his tract procured him the personal 
friendship of some of the leading Edinburgh philosophers 8 . 

1 William Emerson, mathematician, born 1701, died 1781. 

3 Thomas Simpson, F.R.S., mathematician, born 17 10, died 1761. 

9 In 1763 Mr Stewart published an essay on the "Sun's Distance", which he 
made out to be far in excess of previous estimations of it. Dr Chalmers (s. v. 
Stewart) says that "even among astronomers, it was not every one who could 
judge in a matter of such difficult discussion. Accordingly, it was not till about 
five years after the publication of the ' Sun's Distance ' that there appeared a 
pamphlet, under the title of Four Propositions > intended to point out certain errors 
in Dr Stewart's investigation, which had given a result much greater than the 
truth." After describing the nature of these errors, Dr Chalmers adds: " And it 
is but justice to acknowledge that, besides being just in the points already mentioned, 
they [the Four Propositions] are very ingenious, and written with much modesty 
and good temper. The author, who at first concealed his name, but afterwards 



1804. After this, he was visited at Sedbergh by Playfair 1 , Lord 
j£l 19. Webb Seymour, and Lord Brougham. 

" The pamphlet you inquire after was written, I believe, 
sometime between 1780 and 1790, in reply to some of the 
published doctrines of Priestley in his tract on Philosophical 
Necessity. Dawson thought the doctrine of immoral tendency, 
and not true. He attacked it with firmness, but with his 
usual calm temper. Priestley replied, also in a good spirit, 
and ever afterwards spoke of Dawson in terms of respect 
and admiration*. 

" Our old master was a firm believer, and a good sober 
practical Christian of the old school. His moral influence 
was felt by all near him, but he loved a good story, and told 
his rough adventures among his country patients with infinite 
humour. I have, however, no time to tell you any of them 
now. His sphere of usefulness was limited. The wonder is 
that he could do anything, circumstanced as he was, to make 
himself a name. On the whole I think him a man belonging 
to the very highest order of intellectual greatness. 

" I knew him well in his honoured old age, for I was his 

consented to its being made public, was Mr Dawson, a surgeon at Sedbergh in 
Yorkshire, and one of the most ingenious mathematicians and philosophers which 
this country at that time possessed. " 

1 John Playfair, mathematician and natural philosopher, of Edinburgh : born 
1749, died 1 8 19. 

2 Thomas Priestley published, in 1777, a pamphlet entitled The Doctrine of 
Philosophical Necessity. Dawson's reply was first published anonymously in 
1 78 1 : The Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity briefly invalidated, 8vo. 1781. An 
answer appeared in The Monthly Review or Literary Journal for July, 1781 
(p. 66), but Dawson's name is not mentioned. Subsequently Dawson published 
a second edition : The Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity briefly invalidated, by 
John Dawson of Sedbergh. Second edition, to which is now added an Appendix. 
" And binding Nature fast in fate, Left free the human will." Pope. i2mo. Lond. 

It should be mentioned that Dawson had paid a good deal of attention to 
metaphysics and theology, as shown by his correspondence with the Rev. Thomas 
Wilson, who had been his pupil in early life. The quotations in these letters prove 
that he had at least a respectable knowledge of Latin and Greek, though he 
laments his inability to read the Fathers in the original. Selections from the 
Poems and Correspondence of the Rev. T. Wilson, Cheetham Society, 1857, pp. 
106 — 135. 


pupil during three successive summers of my undergraduate 1804. 
life, but it is hard for me to do full justice to the head and Mu '9- 
heart of my dear old master. Simple in manners, cheerful 
and mirthful in temper, with a dress approaching that of the 
higher class of the venerable old Quakers of the Dales, without 
any stiffness or affectation of superiority, yet did he bear at 
first sight a very commanding presence, and it was impossible 
to glance at him for a moment without feeling that we were 
before one to whom God had given gifts above those of a 
common man. His powerful projecting forehead and well- 
chiselled features told of much thought ; and might have 
implied severity, had not a soft radiant benevolence played 
over his fine old face, which inspired his friends, of whatever 
age or rank, with confidence and love. 

" Happy were the days, both to young and old, when the 
genial-hearted philosopher walked over the hills, which he did 
frequently, to spend a few hours at the Vicarage of Dent! 
Whenever he and my father met, their hearts seemed to be 
warmed with the spirits of two schoolboys meeting on a 
holiday. And well might they be happy in the sweet remem- 
brances of God's mercies so long vouchsafed to them, and in 
those firm unflinching Christian hopes that gave a bright 
colour to the days of their old age 1 ." 

Our portrait of Mr Dawson is reduced from a beautiful 
water-colour drawing by William Westall — who married 
Sedgwick's sister Ann — dated 18 17, three years before 
Dawson's death. It represents him therefore "in his honoured 

1 Mr Dawson died 19 September, 1820. A few years afterwards a monument 
was erected to his memory, on the south side of the central aisle of Sedbergh 
Church, by some of his former pupils. It consists of a black marble niche, 
enclosing a bust, inscribed "Sievier sculp*. Aug. 1825." Beneath, is a 
white marble tablet bearing the following inscription: "In memory of John 
Dawson, of Sedbergh, who died on the 19th Sept. 1820, aged 86 years. 
Distinguished by his profound knowledge of mathematics, beloved for his 
amiable simplicity of character, and revered for his exemplary discharge of 
every moral and religious duty. This monument was erected by his grateful pupils, 
as their last tribute of affection and esteem." The inscription was written by 
Mr John Bell, the distinguished leader at the Chancery Bar, who had been one 
of Mr Dawson's Senior Wranglers, as mentioned above, p. 65, note. 

1 8c 


Born 1734; diet/ 1810- 

From a teattr-eoleur drawing by William IVtstall, 1 

page :«, Vol. t. 


(1804 — 1810.) 

Begins residence at Trinity College, Cambridge (1804). 
The Rev. T. Jones. Christmas at Whittlesea. College 
Examination (1805). Summer at Dent. Fever. Life 
and friends at cambridge (1806). preparation for 
degree (1807). System of Acts and Opponencies. Sedg- 
wick's first Act. University election for M.P. His 
Father's account of the Yorkshire election. Scholar- 
ship at Trinity College. Blindness of his Father. 
Senate-House Examination (1808). Revisits Dent. Read- 
ing party at Ditton. Classical work (1809). Fellow- 
ship (1810). 

SEDGWICK went up to Cambridge, accompanied by his 1804. 
friend Bland, in October, 1804. They left Dent, or Sedbergh, ^ l 9- 
on Saturday, 29 September ; spent Sunday with a friend at 
Kirkby Stephen, and on Monday joined the " Paul Jones " 
coach at Brough, in which delightful vehicle, " an old 
six-inside," they passed three days and two dismal nights 1 . 

The fear of a French invasion was at that time uppermost 
in the minds of Englishmen. As Sedgwick often said ' England 
looked like a great camp' 1 ; and the occupation of arming 
and drilling, which had penetrated even to the University, 
together with the paralysis of trade, and the high prices of 

1 To Miss Sedgwick (U.S.), is October, 1853. To Miss Isabella Sedgwick, 
1 October, 1851. 


1804. the common necessaries of life, had seriously diminished the 
Mt. 19. number of young men who could afford a University education. 
In 1804 only 128 presented themselves for matriculation, the 
smallest number since 1775, when it had sunk as low as 121 \ 
More than one of Sedgwick's contemporaries has been 
heard to say that when he first made his appearance in 
Trinity Collegje he was thought uncouth, and that some time 
elapsed before he was properly appreciated. - This unfavour- 
able judgment need not surprise us. It must be remembered 
that though he was nearly twenty years of age, he had never 
quitted his home, or its immediate neighbourhood, for more 
than a few days at a time. Carlisle was probably the 
furthest point he had reached in any of his brief excursions. 
Nor, in that remote corner of England, could he have had 
any opportunity of associating with men of the world. When 
we have mentioned his own father, the vicar of Sedbergh, 
Mr Dawson, and two or three of the neighbouring country- 
gentlemen, the list of his older friends is exhausted. From 
the young men of his own age, whose ideas of amusement 
were confined to sport, wakes, and drinking-bouts*, he could 
have learnt nothing but tastes and customs c more honoured 
in the breach than the observance ', and that he never gave 
way to such himself, to any serious extent, is a proof either 
of his father's influence, or of his own strength of will. On 

1 In the first six years of the present century, 1800 — 1805, the average (neglect- 
ing fractions) was 150: in the last six years of the previous century it had been 
156. Between 1806 and 181 1 it rose to 33a ; and between 1813 and 1817 to 178. 

a A friend — a clergyman — writing to Sedgwick 28 July, 1807, records the 
following experiences : " I had fully determined to write to you immediately after 
my return from Yorkshire ; but a number of Feasts crowded upon me in such 
quick succession that I found myself unable to devote a single hour to correspond- 
ents. Mr 's house was filled with company on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, 

and Thursday, many of whom never thought of flinching till three or four o'clock 
each morning; they then staggered home to bed.... We met with the usual 
hospitality in Dent.... They even kicked up a dance for us in the old school-room 
on Whit Friday. Your Brother John and I unluckily dined with Thomas 
Fawcett on that day, where we met a set of rook-shooting Bloods from Kendal. 
They all drank very freely, and tho* John and I left early in the afternoon, yet we 
were far from sober. This however did not prevent our joining in the dance, and 
frisking away as well as the best of them." 


a young man brought up as he had b^en, the University 1804. 
would produce the sense of wonder and bewilderment which Mt - *9- 
we associate with the first sight of a crowded capital. He must 
have felt out of his element among scenes for which he would 
be less prepared than most undergraduates even at that time, 
when journeys were not lightly undertaken, and when most 
people could say, with the Vicar of Wakefield, that their 
longest migrations were from the blue bed to the brown. His 
dress, his manners, and his bearing would bespeak him a plain 
unsophisticated Dalesman 1 . 

Sedgwick's tutor at Trinity College, as mentioned in pie 
previous chapter, was the Rev. Thomas Jones. It would be 
difficult, if not impossible, to name any one man, who by force 
of personal character, vigour of intellect, and unwearied devo- 
tion to his duties, was enabled to effect a more enduring 
influence for good on the moral and intellectual life of his 
college. He had been Senior Wrangler and first Smith's 
Prizeman in 1779, and was elected Fellow in 178 1. A few 
years after his election he took part in a movement of such 
far-reaching importance, that we must briefly notice it. For 
some years the examination for scholarships and fellowships 
had been conducted in private — candidates "went their rounds 
to the electing seniors*". This system could never have been 
a good one, and of late years it had been grossly abused, 
inasmuch as it was notorious that some of the Seniors had 
voted at elections without having examined, and others had 
been personally influenced in favour of particular candidates. 
In October, 1786, an election to Fellowships, made "exactly 
in the most improper, as well as the most unpopular, manner 
possible 8 ", brought matters to a crisis. Ten of the Junior 

1 Unfortunately none of the numerous letters which Sedgwick is known to 
have written to the home-circle at Dent have been preserved. 

1 Memoirs of Richard Cumberland, 4to, London, 1806, p. 106. The author 
gives a detailed account of the way in which the whole examination was then 
conducted, which well deserves careful perusal. 

1 Mr John Baynes to Mr Romilly, in Memoirs of the Life of Sir S. Romilly, 
e<L 1841, i. 253. The writer, one of the Junior Fellows who signed the Memorial, 


1804. Fellows — among whom was Jones — addressed to the Master 
-**• *9- and Seniors a remonstrance, which alleged that the practice 
was in opposition to the statutes, and tended to destroy the 
objects of the foundation. The Master and Seniors, greatly 
incensed, cautioned the memorialists to behave with greater 
deference to their superiors, and entered an admonition to 
that effect in the Conclusion Book. From this sentence the 
Junior Fellows appealed to the Visitor. The appeal was 
heard by Lord Chancellor Thurlow on behalf of the Crown. 
His sentence, while condemning the form which the action of 
the memorialists had taken, condemned the practice com- 
plained of more strongly still. The result was eminently 
satisfactory. Not only were the remonstrance and the 
admonition both withdrawn, but the Master insisted ever 
after on each elector being a bond fide examiner; and, in 
the following year (1787), notwithstanding the share which 
Jones had taken in the memorial, he was elected Senior 
Tutor — an office which he held until his death in 1807, at 
the comparatively early age of fifty-one 1 . 

It must be recollected that in those days private tutors 
were not commonly resorted to, and indeed, during the two 
years which preceded the examinations for degree, were 
forbidden by Grace of the Senate". In consequence of this, 
and of the comparatively small number of undergraduates, 
the college tutors were brought into closer relations with 
their pupils than is possible at present, for they were not 

takes credit to himself for having originated it. As he and Miles Popple, another 
of the Memorialists, were parties to the appeal to the Visitor, it is probable that 
they were the prime movers in the whole matter. 

1 Cooper's Annals, iv. 424; Gunning's Reminiscences, ed. 1855, ii. 100; 
Monk's Life of Btntley, ed. 1833, ii. 423. 

8 Grace, 35 February, 1781. It is printed at length in Whewell, Of a 
Liberal Education, Part 1., p. 110. The time at the end of a student's career 
during which reading with a private tutor was prohibited, was gradually diminished. 
By Grace, 9 April, 1807, it was reduced to a year and a half; by a subsequent 
Grace, 3 July, 181 5, to one year. Ibid. p. 221. The Grace of 1781, it should be 
observed, limits its prohibition to tutors engaged within the precincts of the 
University (intra Academiam). A student was at liberty to read with whom he 
pleased during the vacations. 


only advisers, but instructors. In both capacities Mr Jones 1864. 
was preeminent. His friend and biographer, the Rev. JEt - *9- 
Herbert Marsh, has recorded that in his duties as College 

"he displayed an ability which was rarely equalled, with an 
integrity which never was surpassed. They only, who have had 
the benefit of attending his lectures, are able to estimate their value. 
Being perfect master of his subjects, he always placed them in the 
clearest point of view ; and by his manner of treating them, he made 
them interesting even to those who had otherwise no relish for 
mathematical inquiries. 

" As a companion, he was highly convivial : he possessed a vein 
of humour peculiar to himself; and no one told a story with more 
effect His manners were mild and unassuming, and his gentleness 
was equalled only by his firmness. As a friend, he had no other limit 
to his kindness than his ability to serve. Indeed his whole life was 
a life of benevolence, and he wasted his strength in exerting himself 
for others. The benefits which he conferred were frequently so great, 
and the persons who subsisted by his bounty were so numerous, that 
he was often distressed in the midst of affluence. And though he 
was Head Tutor of Trinity College almost twenty years, with more 
pupils than any of his predecessors, he never acquired a sufficient 
capital to enable him to retire from office and still continue his 
accustomed beneficence V 

To this sober prose may be added a few lines from an 
elegy by Robert Dealtry, LL.D., written after Jones' death. 
The verse is poor, but the sentiments have the true ring of 
sincerity : 

"The wild unbroken boy he led, not drove, 
And changed coercion for paternal love. 
By mildness won, youth found resistance vain, 
Bound in a silken, yet a snapless chain. 
Around his sacred tomb th' ingenuous band 
Of sorrowing pupils oft shall pensive stand, 
Shall hail the Tutor faithful to his trust, 
Revere his memory, and bedew his dust.'* 

It is not likely that Sedgwick made many new friends 
during his first term of residence. His two school-friends 
Ainger and Bland being both members of St John's College 

1 Memoir of the late Rev. Thomas Jones. Signed, Herbert Marsh, Cambridge, 
Feb. 19, 1808. 


1804. he probably was more frequently in their society than at 
Mu 19. Trinity ; and we shall find by and bye that he made 
several friendships in their college. 

Dent was far too distant to be visited in one of the short 
vacations; so, when the Michaelmas Term was well over, 
Sedgwick went, on December the 17th, 1804 (a date he was 
fond of recalling), to spend Christmas with Ainger at his 
father's house at Whittlesea. From this memorable visit 
dates his lifelong friendship with the whole Ainger family. 
He never forgot the simple pleasures which he there enjoyed. 
In 1851, forty-seven years afterwards, he could still write to 
Mr James Ainger, his friend's brother, that " when Christmas 
came round, I remembered the happy, genial, joyful Christmas 
I spent in your father's house in 1804". It was on this occasion 
that he made the acquaintance of Henry Smith, son to the 
surgeon of Whittlesea, then a boy of sixteen, who afterwards 
became a distinguished Indian general, and is known to fame 
as Sir Harry Smith. Sedgwick watched his career with 
affectionate interest, and his name will frequently recur in our 

In the College examination held in June 1805, Sedgwick's 
name appears in the first class, in company with only six 
others — a distinction which shows, to those familiar with the 
practice of Trinity College at that time, that he must have 
got up the classical subjects with thoroughness, as well as 
the mathematical. The ordeal was in those days specially 
formidable, for a vivd voce examination used to be held in the 
Hall in the presence of the Master, who sat in the centre of 
the dais, with the Seniors to his right and left, as Byron has 
recorded : 


High in the midst, surrounded by his peers, 
Magnus his ample front sublime uprears: 
Placed on his chair of state he seems a god, 
While Sophs and Freshmen tremble at his nod 1 ." 

1 Thoughts suggested by a College Examination. The lines were printed in 
Hours of Idleness ) published in 1807, on ty * wo years after Sedgwick's first 


The persons to be examined stood in front of this awe- 1805. 
inspiring assemblage, and questions were passed down the iEt *°- 
line from one to another by the presiding examiner, the 
Master occasionally interposing a word of praise or reproof — 
more frequently the latter. Men have been known to faint 
with apprehension even before it had come to their turn to 
be questioned. When the examination was over the names 
of those only were published whom the examiners thought 
specially worthy of commendation 1 . A place in the first class 
was therefore a considerable distinction. 

In the summer Sedgwick went down to Dent, accompanied 
by his friend John Carr, an undergraduate of Trinity College, 
one year senior to himself. Carr was a distinguished mathe- 
matician, who became second Wrangler and second Smith's 
Prizeman in 1807, and subsequently obtained a Fellowship. 
Sedgwick's intimacy with him indicates that he was by 
this time making his way in the College, and had got into 
the society of men older than himself — at all times a sure 
indication of popularity. The vacation was spent, as re- 
corded in the last chapter, in reading mathematics with Mr 

Soon after Sedgwick's return to Cambridge, he was 
attacked by a typhoid fever which nearly proved fatal. His 
medical attendants despaired of his life. They had in fact 
left his rooms, and were walking up and down on the pave- 
ment beside the Chapel, waiting to hear the last news before 
they left College. The news, however, did not come, and it 
was at last suggested that they should go back and look at 
their patient again. To their surprise they found him not 
only not dead, but apparently somewhat stronger than when 
they had left him. One of them, Sir Busick Harwood, said 
to the other : " This is a very strong young man, let us try if 
we can do anything more for him." Accordingly a blister 
was suggested. The poor patient shrunk from the anticipated 
suffering, and asked what effect the application would have 

1 Pryme's Recollections \ p. 90. 


1805. upon his flesh. To this very natural question he is said to 
Mi. «a have received the somewhat brutal answer : " Oh ! — the 
flesh, if we can only save the life ! " The blister was applied, 
and the patient survived, to tell the story almost as it is here 
related 1 . He was nursed through his illness with unremitting 
diligence by his friend Ainger, and he used to say that he 
owed his life more to him than to his physicians. 

The date of this fever is fixed exactly by an interesting 
circumstance which Sedgwick recollected when the funeral of 
the Duke of Wellington reminded him of the death of Lord 
Nelson. News of the success or failure of his operations 
against the French fleet must have been waited for with an 
anxiety of which we, in these peaceful times, can form no 
conception. If he failed, England would almost certainly be 
invaded; if he were successful her safety was secured. In- 
telligence of the battle of Trafalgar reached London on 
Wednesday, 6 November, 1805, anc * Cambridge on the 
following day. The volunteers assembled in the market- 
place, and fired three volleys ; the bells of Great St Mary's 
Church rang a dumb peal ; and in the evening the town was 
illuminated 1 . Sedgwick resided at that time in a set of 
garrets between the Chapel and the Great Gate*; and, half- 
delirious as he was, he insisted, as soon as he heard the bells, 
on being carried to the window, that he might see the 
illuminations 4 . In those days the Sun Inn was opposite to 
the College, and would no doubt be conspicuous for its 

Sedgwick's recovery was slow, and it was not till the 

1 This story is taken from an excellent article headed " Adam Sedgwick," by 
the Lord Bishop of Carlisle, in Mactnillan's Magazine for April 1880. 

3 Cambridge Chronicle* Saturday, November 9, 1805. " At noon yesterday 
[the column is headed * Cambridge, November 8'], the Cambridge Volunteers were 
drawn up in the Market Place, and fired three feuxde-joie. A dumb peal was 
rung at Great St Mary's, as a testimony of respect to the memory of the brave 
Admiral, and in the evening a general illumination took place. " 

8 Sedgwick told his niece, Miss Isabella Sedgwick, that his first rooms were in 
this part of the College. 

4 To Mrs Richard Sedgwick, 21 November, 1852. 


early spring of the following year (1806) that he was able 1806. 
to leave his rooms. He recollected this in 1871, when fine <*t«*'' 
weather on the last day of the year had enabled him to take 
a short walk under the shelter of the Chapel : " The bright 
sunshine ", he wrote, " has tempted me out, and I have had a 
turn on the flags before our Chapel. I tried the bowling- 
green, but it was in the shade, and did not suit me. While 
walking I could not but think of the early weeks of the year 
1806, when I crawled out of my rooms, one bright sunny day 
(about February I think) after my long confinement from 
typhus fever. I had great difficulty in getting back. But 
then I was young, and my rate of recovery was astonishing. 
I am not strong now, but I mounted my staircase quite 
briskly on my return today 1 ." 

The rest of the year 1806 is singularly barren of informa- 
tion. At the examination in June Sedgwick was again placed 
in the first class — which shows that he had by this time 
entirely recovered from the effects of his fever — and when 
term was over he went down to Yorkshire, where he spent 
the summer in reading mathematics with Mr Dawson. We 
get, however, a glimpse of his Cambridge life and interests, 
from the following letter, which, though written sixty-one 
years afterwards, belongs, by its subject-matter, to 1806. 

To Rev. H. C. G. Moule, Trinity College. 

Fakenham, Dec. 16, 1868. 
My dear Sir, 

I wish it were in my power to give you more 
information respecting the two very remarkable persons (H. 
Kirke White and Robert Hall), than I have at my command. 
Both of them, in their way, were men of great genius. I did 
not know Kirke White till a little while before his death — 
that is, I never met him and conversed with him during his 
first academic year. But whenever I met him in the streets 
I was impressed by his look and bearing. He was a tall 

1 To Miss Isabella Sedgwick, 31 December, 1871. 


1806. thoughtful-looking young man, with fine features, and with a 
fix. «i. complexion that seemed to indicate a life of severe study. 
In his second year, a month or two before his death, I several 
times met him in society. His manners well matched his 
character. They were simple, earnest, winning, and unaffected. 
He had the look of a man of genius. So far as regards his 
features, Chantrey's medallion gives, I think, a good general 
notion of them, so far as can be given by a profile likeness in 
low relief 1 . 

Robert Hall had ceased to live in Cambridge before my 
Freshman's year*; and of his manners in society I have no 
right to speak, as I do not remember to have ever exchanged 
a sentence with him ; though, on public occasions, I have 
once or twice met him. But he occasionally revisited Cam- 
bridge ; and then he always preached at the Baptist Meeting- 
House in St Andrew's Street ; and whenever I could secure a 
seat on such occasions, I always attended the Meeting. He 
always began with a prayer (sometimes of considerable 
length), uttered with great earnestness and simplicity, but 
injured in effective power from an apparent asthmatical 
difficulty of articulation. There was the same constitutional, 
or organic, difficulty in the commencement of his sermons. 
But the breathing of his sentences became more easy as he 
advanced, and before long there was a moral grandeur in his 
delivery which triumphed over all organic defect or physical 
weakness. While he rolled out his beautiful and purely 
constructed sentences one felt as if under the training of a 
higher nature. In occasional flights of imagination, in dis- 
cussions of metaphysical subtlety, we were for a while amazed, 

1 Henry Kirke White commenced residence at St John's College in October 
1805; but he did not matriculate (as a Sizar) until 16 May, 1806. He died 
19 October in the same year. The medallion by Chantrey is in All Saints' Church, 

' Mr Hall resigned his duties at Cambridge, owing to ill-health, in November, 
1804 : returned in April, 1805 ; and resigned finally 4 March, 1806. In 1803 he 
had been advised to reside at Shelford, and his biographer ascribes the mental 
affection of 1804 to the loss of society occasioned by this removal. Works of 
Robert Hall, 8vo. Lond. 1843. v. 443, vi. 73 — 75. 


and almost in fear for the Preacher. And then he woulcf 1806. 
come down, with an eagle's swoop, upon the matter he had in -**.«. 
hand, and enforce it with a power of eloquence such as I 
never felt or witnessed in the speaking of any other man. 
Such is my feeling now. Many a long year has passed away 
since I last heard Robert Hall. I have listened with admira- 
tion to many orators in the two Houses of Parliament, and to 
many good and heart-moving preachers ; but I never heard 
one who was, in my mind, on the same level with Robert 

I am at a friend's house, and I have very little spare time 
on my hands ; but I have stolen away from the party for a 
few minutes, that I might do my best in answering your letter 
which has just reached me. Alas ! I know too well that this 
letter is not worth your reading ; but I have, at any rate, en- 
deavoured to shew my goodwill to a brother- Fellow. 

I remain, 

Very faithfully yours, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Sedgwick's recollections of Henry Kirke White, who was 
of St Johns College, confirm what was mentioned above, viz.: 
that his friendship with Ainger, his senior in University 
standing by one year, would readily introduce him to 
Johnian society. Two other men of Ainger's year and 
college became intimate with him, Robert Bayne Armstrong, 
and James Tobias Cook, who were afterwards both Fellows 
of the House. In his own college he knew Charles James 
Blomfield, afterwards Lord Bishop of London, William Clark, 
afterwards Professor of Anatomy, Richard Ward, and Edward 
Peacock. These were all of his own year, and distinguished 
for their hard- reading and academical success. Of those 
senior to him, besides Carr, may be mentioned George 
Pry me, afterwards Professor of Political Economy, who had 
obtained his degree in 1803, and his Fellowship in 1805. He 

S. I. 6 


1807. liad been a pupil of Mr Dawson, and while at Sedbergh had 

Mt. «. played cricket with Sedgwick 1 , but they could hardly have seen 

much of each other at Cambridge before 1808, when Pryme 

gave up the pursuit of the law in London, and returned to 

College. They then became very intimate friends. 

At the beginning of 1807 Sedgwick began to prepare in 
earnest for his degree. In those days the University required 
no proof of a student's proficiency until his third year, in the 
course of which he had to keep two Acts and two Opponencies, 
as they were called. Of the former the first took place in 
the Lent Term, the second in the Michaelmas Term. This 
system has been so long completely obsolete that a descrip- 
tion of the way in which it was managed is almost indispen- 
sable. We will try to make this as brief as possible. 

At the beginning of January in a given year the Moderators 
obtained from the Tutor of each college a list of his pupils 
who aspired to Honours in January of the ensuing year. 
Out of these lists — each name on which was noted for the 
Moderators' guidance, reading, non-reading hard-readings as 
the case might be — a complete list was formed, and tran- 
scribed into a book. On the second Monday in the Lent 
Term the Moderator for the week — (the two Moderators 
divided the term between them) — sent a written notice to 
one of the students on his list — who apparently was selected 
quite arbitrarily — to the effect that he was to appear in the 
Schools on that day fortnight as a disputant. Shortly after 
receiving this summons, the student, now called a Respondent, 
waited on the Moderator with three Propositions, usually 
termed Questions, the truth of which he was prepared to 
maintain against any three students of the same year, whom 
the Moderator chose to nominate, and who were called 
Opponents. The first question was generally taken from 
Newton's Principia ; the second from some other writer on 
Mathematics or Natural Philosophy; the third was called the 
Moral Question, and, in connexion with it, Locke, Hume, 

1 Recolkdions, p, 30. 



Butler, Clarke, Hartley, Paley, were alternately attacked and 1807. 
defended. During the fortnight's preparation, it was usual *<■ "■ 
(at least at the time we are considering) for the Respondent 
to invite the Opponents to wine, or tea, or breakfast, in order 
to compare arguments, and generally to rehearse the per- 
formance 1 . On the day appointed the Moderator entered 

Thr Moderators • 

1, fan 

1 Alma Mater, Svo. Lond. 1817, ii. 35—38. The system here sketched was 
abolished in 1839, and for about sixty years previous the disputations had lost 
much of their original vitality. Compare The Origin and History of Ike 
Mathematical Tripos, by W. W. Rouse Ball, M.A., 8vo. Camb. tBBo ; and The 
Matktmatiial Tripos, by J. \V. L. Glaisher, Sc.D., F.R.S., 8vo. Lond. 1886. 

' The seat here figured is that in the Law School, which was somewhat larger 
than that in the Arts School, but in all other respects resembled it exactly. The 
photograph was taken in January 1B86, just before the Law School was fitted up 
for Library purposes, as authorised by Grace of the Senate, 17 December, 1885 
\Cambridgc University Reporter, p. 197). 



1807. the Arts School at 1 p.m., ascended the rostrum on the 
Nx. 72. wes t s jd e> an( j sa id : Ascendat Dominus respondens. Thus 

summoned, . the Respondent ascended the rostrum on the 
opposite side of the school, and read a Latin dissertation, 
which generally occupied from ten to fifteen minutes, on 
any one of the three questions. As soon as he had finished, 
the Moderator called upon the first Opponent to begin 
{Ascendat opponentium primus). He ascended a rostrum 
beneath that of the Moderator, and propounded his argu- 
ments in the form of syllogisms, which the Respondent 
answered as best he could. When the first Opponent had 
finished, his place was taken by the second Opponent, and 
so on. The first Opponent was obliged to bring forward 
eight arguments, the second five, and the last three. " When 
the exercise has for some time been carried on according to 
the strict rules of Logic " — says the authority from whom we 
have borrowed this account — "the Disputation insensibly slides 
into free and unconfined debate, the Moderator, in the mean 
time, explaining the argument of the Opponent, when neces- 
sary; restraining both parties from wandering from the subject; 
and frequently adding, at the close of each argument, his own 
determination upon the point in dispute. The three Opponents, 
having, in their turns, exhausted their whole stock of arguments, 
are dismissed by the Moderator in their order, with such a 
compliment, as, in his estimation, they deserve {Domine 
opponens, bene disputasti — optime disputasti — optime quidem 
dispiitasti)\ and the Exercise closes with the dismission of 
the Respondent in a similar manner 1 ." 

At the close of the Act, the Moderator assigned to the 
Disputant a certain number of marks, which he set down 
opposite to his name in his book ; and, when all the Acts had 
been kept, the two Moderators conjointly formed the students 
into classes according to the number of their marks. 

1 Remarks upon t/u present Mode of Education in the University of Cambridge. 
By the Rev. John Jebb, M.A., Ed. iii. 8vo. Camb. 1773, pp. 18 — 20. Wordsworth, 
Schohc AcadcmictCy pp. 32 — 43 : 368 — 376. 


The disputations took place on five days in each week, 1807. 
and each occupied about two hours. The language used was JEu "• 
Latin, which, by the beginning of the present century, had 
degenerated into a strange jargon ; and the logic was little 
better than the language. Still, as a man's place in the 
classes depended upon the impression he made upon the 
Moderator when he kept his Act, it was imperative (at least 
in 1807) to take pains. Moreover, at that period, when the 
distractions of University life were few, Acts still excited 
considerable interest, and were well attended, both by 
graduates and undergraduates. The disputant was there- 
fore on his mettle, and anxious to distinguish himself at a 
performance which he felt would have a great share in 
determining his academical reputation 1 . The Acts were 
often performed with great spirit, and tradition still preserves 
the names of some of those who were specially successful for 
their ingenuity of attack or defence. The system was also 
useful in a social way, by making men of the same year, but 
of different colleges, known to each other. By this means 
Sedgwick " became well acquainted with " Henry Bickersteth 
of Gonville and Caius College, who was Senior Wrangler 
in his year. He mentions this fact in a letter which is 
printed in Bickersteth *s Life, and adds : " He did not quite 
do himself justice in his first public Act, in the Lent 
Term of 1807; but his Act in the October Term of the 
same year was the most triumphant I ever witnessed. 
He literally seemed to trample his opponents under foot 2 ." 
Their acquaintance, thus begun, ripened into a friendship 
which was maintained after the one had become Master of 
the Rolls and Lord Langdale, and the other Woodwardian 

Sedgwick kept his first Act in February, 1807, an< 3 soon 

1 Of a Liberal Education in General, Part I. By W. Whewell. Ed. ii. 
1850, p. 183. 

* Memoirs of the Right Honourable Henry Lord Langdale. By T. D. Hardy. 
Svo. Lond. 1852, i. 232. 


1807. afterwards wrote to Ainger to record his success, with other 
^Et. 22. fragments of University intelligence 1 : 

" I came off better than I expected in the schools. I 

perhaps might fairly say that I came off better than I could 
have previously wished. The honour I received from Wood- 
house" was : "omni tuo officio tnultd cum laude perfunctus es." 

" Since you left Cambridge we have had a most eloquent 
sermon from Dr Milner ; it was delivered with that peculiar 
emphasis which you might expect from a man of his powers, 
conscious at the same time of the truth and importance of 
what he was delivering 8 . We have had four sermons from 
Lemma Vince 4 , the most strange things ever preached in 
pulpit. The first Sunday he took us thro* the three laws of 
motion and Wood's chapter on projectiles 8 . The 2nd Sunday 
he got into his complete system of astronomy 6 . The 3rd he 
took us through the 1 ith section of Newton, and to conclude 
gave us a dissertation on optical glasses. His pulpit lectures 
have now ended " 

The Act over, Sedgwick evidently thought of nothing 
but preparation for the Senate House ; and is rallied by his 
friend on his devotion to his studies : 

" How possibly can you, deeply immersed as you are in all 

the sublimities of Mathematical Science, take any interest in the 
grovling concerns of one who, since he left you, has merely been 
scampering about the Fens in order to get rid of time ? In truth, 

1 To William Ainger, 23 February, 1807. 

' Robert Woodhouse, M. A., Fellow of Gonville and Caius College ; Lucasian 
Professor 1820 — 22; Plumian Professor 1822 — 28. 

8 Isaac Milner, D.D., President of Queens' College, 1788 — 1820. In after-life 
Sedgwick did not speak of Dr Milner in such complimentary language. The sermon 
referred to must be the one preached at Great St Mary's Church, 30 January, 
1807, against the Emancipation of the Roman Catholics, which produced a great 
sensation in the University. Life of Milner, 8vo. 1842, p. 344. It is printed in 
Milner's Sermons, 2 vols., 8vo. Lond. 1820, i. 1. 

4 Samuel Vince, M.A., Plumian Professor 1796 — 1822. He was Select 
Preacher in February, 1807. The Sundays in February 1807 fell on the 1st, 8th, 
15th, 22nd. 

6 An allusion to a then popular mathematical work : The Principles of Mechanics ; 
designed for the use of Students in the University -, by James Wood, B.D. 1796. 

• A Complete System of Astronomy, by Rev. Samuel Vince, 3 vols. 4to. 1797. 


Sedgwick, had I anything more important to acquaint you with, I !8o7. 
would not presume to inform you that last Tuesday sen'night I was j£ tt 22t 
capering at Wisbeach to the sound of a Fiddle, and that the deepest 
speculation in which I have engaged, has been an attempt to learn 
the character of an eccentric girl whom you may recollect I once 
mentioned as the only female likely to make an impression on your 
iron heart Positively I think her as great an oddity as yourself; 
and surely this is saying enough to excite any one's curiosity who is 
not so much infected with the Mathematical Mania as to scorn 
everything which is lower than the stars...." 1 

We do not know what became of this damsel, or whether 
she was ever aware of the honour destined for her ; but the 
next letter shows that the self-denying student could at any 
rate find time to take interest in University politics : 

" Since you left us we have had a dead calm in Cambridge, 
which in all probability would have been of long duration if 
the King of his great goodness had not caused a dissolution 
of parliament. We are now in confusion and uproar. The 
Johnians are exerting themselves to the utmost in grunting 
out the praises of their brother Palmerston. Lord H. Petty's 
interest is considerably diminished in consequence of Mr 
Jones' illness. We were under the greatest apprehension for 
the life of our old Tutor, but the last reports from London 
were more favourable. He is now there, under the care 
of an eminent physician, attended by his friend Professor 

" As my sister has now left Cambridge, I can begin a 
system of close reading to which I hope to adhere. I have 
finished the first volume of Newton, and just begun to look at 
the second. In making an attempt, last night, upon the 
philosophy of sound, I got so completely fast, that after 
retiring to rest I was disturbed with the most horrid dreams 
you have the power of conceiving. I intend to rise at five all 
this summer; if you will do the same I can promise you 
great advantage from it.... 2 " 

Sedgwick had been taught by his father to abhor the 

1 From William Ainger, 11 April, 1807. 

2 To William Ainger, 4 May, 1807. 


1807. slave-trade, and he told Bishop Wilberforce in 1848 that he 
tet. **. had signed a petition against it as soon as he " had learnt to 
scrawl his name in childish characters". He had also imbibed, 
probably from the same source, a wholesome horror of the 
Church of Rome, and had not yet become a sufficiently 
decided Liberal to see the justice of removing the civic 
disabilities of Roman Catholics, as he did a few years later. 
He would therefore take a peculiar interest in the University 
elections of 1806 and 1807, of which the former turned on 
Abolition, the latter, at least to some extent, on Catholic 
Emancipation. After the death of Mr Pitt, Lord Henry 
Petty of Trinity College, afterwards Marquis of Lansdowne, 
then Chancellor of the Exchequer in the cabinet of Lord 
Grenville, had come forward, as an abolitionist, at the sug- 
gestion of Mr Wilberforce 1 , who had personally canvassed 
on his behalf. He was elected by an enormous majority, 
his competitors, Viscount Althorp and Viscount Palmerston, 
polling together only 273 votes, while 331 were recorded for 
him 2 . At the same time many of those who usually agreed 
with Mr Wilberforce were not a little scandalised at his 
support of one who had opposed Mr Pitt, and some, among 
whom was Dr Milner, voted against his candidate*. At the 
general election of 1807 the feelings of the constituency were 
no longer the same. The Abolition Bill had received the 
Royal Assent on the 25th March, and therefore the slavery 
question had passed out of sight for the moment Lord 
Grenville and his colleagues — better known as the ministry of 
"All the Talents" — had been dismissed by the King on a 
point connected with the relief of the Roman Catholics ; and 
their successors, the Duke of Portland and Mr Perceval, had 
dissolved Parliament. The question placed before the consti- 
tuencies was partly the relief of the Roman Catholics — partly 
the vindication of the King's conduct, who had demanded 

1 Life of Wilberforce, ut supra, iii. 255, 256. 

2 Cooper's Annals, iv. 484. 

3 Life of Milner, ut supra, pp. 316 — 320. 


a pledge from his ministers that they would never again, 1807. 
under any circumstances, offer him advice on the Catholic ^ Etm "• 
question. Protestantism and loyalty — both equally unreason- 
able — were roused to passionate enthusiasm in the country 
and in the University. There were four candidates for the 
two seats : Lord Euston, who had been Mr Pitts colleague 
ever since his first election in 1784, and Lord Henry Petty 
(whigs); Sir Vicary Gibbs, Attorney General, and Viscount 
Palmerston (tories). " We are all in a flame for Church and 
King" wrote Dr Milner. "Most seriously, I do think that 
the greatest constitutional question, by far, that has happened 
in my time is now at issue ; and if the * outs ' were to get the 
better, I think that the royal prerogative would be in im- 
minent danger." He concludes by urging his correspondent 
to support "Sir V. Gibbs and Lord Palmerston, who, at 
present, represent the constitutional side, against Lord 
Euston and Lord Henry Petty, the friends of the ex- 
ministers 1 ." 

The polling, then limited to one day, took place on May 
the 8th. At the end of the morning's voting Gibbs and 
Palmerston were considerably ahead, Lord Euston was third, 
and Lord Henry Petty " hopelessly at the bottom ". There- 
upon Mr Pryme and about forty of Lord Henry's supporters, 
who had promised to vote for him only, called a meeting of 
his committee, and with his consent divided their votes 
between him and Lord Euston 2 . In consequence the latter 
headed the poll with 324 votes, and Sir V. Gibbs was second 
with 312, just beating Viscount Palmerston, who polled 310. 
Lord Henry Petty polled only 265* — a curious instance of the 
fickleness of fortune, when compared with his great majority 
only fourteen months previously. Sedgwick was probably 
right in attributing his failure to the loss of the active 
assistance of so influential a member of his own college as 

1 Life of Milner, ut supra, p. 349. 

a Pryme's Recollections, ut supra, p. 79. 

3 Cooper's Annals, iv. 487. 


1807. Mr Jones, who must have supported him on general grounds, 
iEt. S3. f or h e was th e p U pil of another tutor, Mr Porter. 

An interesting glimpse of an election contest of those 
times is afforded by a letter written to Sedgwick by his 
father from Dent, 11 June 1807. The candidates for the 
county of York were Mr Wilberforce, who had been member 
since the memorable contest of 1784, Mr Lascelles, and 
Viscount Milton. The polling, held at York, lasted for fifteen 
days, at the end of which Mr Wilberforce and Viscount 
Milton were declared to have been elected 1 . 

"You will naturally conjecture what a bustle and ferment this 
County has been put into by the contested election. Wilberforce 
had every freeholder's vote in this parish except TatterselPs, who 
gave a plumper for Lord Milton.... Dr Dawson and I with 12 others 
from Dent and Sedbergh set forward from Kirkby Lonsdale at the 
same time, but were divided at Skipton for want of immediate 
conveyances. From thence Mr John Fawcett and Hen. Hodgson 
were my sharers in a chaise to York and home again. . . 

" Mr Leigh Bland's friend was a warm advocate for Lascelles, but 
very careful about spending money for liquor. Lord Milton's agents 
were just the reverse, they spared no expence to get a single voter. 
Most of his freeholders returned home with about five guineas clear 
of all expences. The other candidates were before him in canvassing; 
and Milton would have got few here had not a report prevailed that 
his Committee allowed very liberally for expences. Indeed we were 
all carried almost free from expence by stopping at houses that were 
open for accommodation/' 

The same letter reports that Mr Dawson is anxious to 
know " in what Book or Section of Newton your mathemati- 
cal question was which you kept your Act upon in the 
Schools: he also wishes to know upon what you mean to 
keep your next Act*, if you have already determined that 
point" This inquiry shows that the old mathematician was 
watching with interest the steps of his pupil's career at the 
University. Mr Sedgwick, whose knowledge of the higher 
mathematics had grown somewhat rusty, contented himself 
with general advice: "You have been engaged in lectures 

1 Life of Wilberforce^ ut supra , iii. pp. 315—337. 

3 No reference to Sedgwick's second Act, or to either of his Opponencies, 
occurs in his correspondence. 



out of my sphere. I wish you to apply regularly to your 1807. 
studies, but at the same time not so closely as to injure your ^ "• 
health ; take also regular exercise when you can \" 

In the Easter vacation Sedgwick was elected to a scholar- 
ship in his college. As this was his only opportunity of 
competing for a distinction without which, according to the 
rules then in force, he would not have been allowed to sit 
for a Fellowship, success was a matter of vital importance 
to him, and his chances probably caused him the gravest 
anxiety. The election over, he allowed himself a short pe- 
destrian excursion by way of holiday, in which he had invited 
one of his earliest Yorkshire friends and schoolfellows to join 
him. The answer indicates how acutely he had suffered from 
apprehension as to the result of the examination : 

"It would have given me heartfelt pleasure to have been with 
you in the delightful walk you mention, that I might have congratu- 
lated you, while your mind was filled with the most agreeable ideas 
from the honour which you had achieved. As your breast would be 
entirely free from those anxieties which you could not but feel in 
preparing for that day on which your reputation in a considerable 
manner depended, you could not but be in a cheerful mood, and, be 
assured, I should have enjoyed your cheerfulness 8 ." 

The beginning of the Long Vacation of 1807, which 
Sedgwick spent in College, preparing for his degree, was 
saddened by the death of the respected and beloved tutor, 
Mr Jones, which took place on the 18th July. His claims on 
the affection of his pupils have been already recorded, and 
therefore need not be repeated. That he had obtained it is 
proved by a single extract from a letter of one of Sedgwick's 
friends : " Poor Jones ! I am sure there is not a man one 
could have less spared, or one who is more lamented by our 
College or by the University in general. ,, Sedgwick no doubt 
shared this common sorrow ; but he had, in addition, a 
private trouble of his own. His father was gradually becom- 
ing blind, and a letter from his sister Margaret, after giving 
the sad news in detail, had concluded with the ominous words, 

1 From Mr Sedgwick, 18 November, 1806. 
8 From John Brown, 10 April, 1807. 


1807. u he fears he shall not be able to teach the school next winter. 
Mt. 22. My Mother says that if they can get over this winter, you and 
Thomas may manage it next summer. How will you like to 
be a Dent's schoolmaster?" Much as Sedgwick loved Dent 
— much as he might have liked such an offer had he never 
left it — he now contemplated the possibility of enforced 
return with infinite bitterness of spirit. 

" My Father's eyes/' he wrote to Ainger, " have long failed 
him, but he has lately perceived their imperfections so much 
that he fears a total blindness ; in other respects he is as well 
as at his time of life could possibly be expected. These 
accounts for some time produced such a depression in my 
spirits that I was prevented from reading; my sorrow, 
indeed, was in a good measure selfish (few of our sorrows 
are otherwise), for, if my Father's sight should continue to 
decline, a fixed residence in Dent must be my inevitable lot 
This situation of all others I should dislike. Little as I have 
seen of the world, I have seen enough to find that to me no 
pleasures are to be found in illiterate solitude. These thoughts 

are to me too gloomy to dwell upon Pray has Henry 

Smith escaped the fate which many of our brave countrymen 
have met in Egypt ? I believe his regiment was in the expe- 
dition V 

His friend, with many apologies for being a bad cor- 
respondent, for Sedgwick had begun the above letter with a 
page of abuse on that subject, lost no time in replying : 

Whittlesea, Aug. 3, 1807. 
My dear Fellow, 

...Henry Smith, after whom you enquired, did not go 
into Egypt, but to Buenos Ayres. His father had a letter from him 
after the engagement. His captain was killed by his side in the 
outset ; the command of the company then, of course, devolved to 
Henry, who, I believe, acquitted himself very creditably, and did not, 
to use his own expression, get a single scratch. Last week brought 
his friends another letter from Monte Video, which acquainted them 
that he was then (in April) just recovering from the attack of a fever 
which appears, Sedgwick, not to have been less formidable than 

1 To William Ainger, 1 August, 1807. 


is. He says he has lost all his flesh; but I find he retains all 1807. 

*• ^t. ««. 

needless to say that I am truly sorry for the accounts which 

e received from Dent. However, you are certainly right in 

Hiring to banish gloomy thoughts. I do not indeed think it 

character to indulge in them much, and in the present 

1 1 trust the occasion is not so serious as to justify them. In 

ere hope, at least, that it may not be found so, 

I remain, Dear Sedgwick, your friend, 

W. Ainger. 

1 can imagine that Sedgwick's natural elasticity of spirits 
enable him, before long, to chase away gloomy antici- 
5, and brace himself to his work and his amusements 
is future were without a cloud. In 1807 a Long Vaca- 
fered few distractions, with the exception of Sturbridge 
vith its varied diversions and excellent theatre, which 
Dlder members of the University did not scruple to 
tit. To these Sedgwick was evidently looking forward, 
iger (probably in reply to an invitation to Cambridge) 

him " much fun at it ", and regrets his own inability to 
sent. In the more important matter of work he had 
such good progress that a notion seems to have been 
t that he had a chance of being Senior Wrangler. His 

Carr, who had been Second Wrangler in 1807, anc * 
>re knew the Senate-House examination well, had 
1 to him soon after his own degree : " Mind you read 
ind I have not the least doubt that we shall have the 
• Wrangler next year. You have my best wishes ;" and 
r heard by accident at the very end of the year, that 
:llows had formed a very high opinion of his powers. 

ICKLEFORD, Jan. I, 1808. 

ar Sedgwick, 

...One morning Mr Professor Lax 1 called here. He 
id of me about the great men who were going out this year, 
lame, of course, was mentioned He enquired whether you 
► be Senior Wrangler. This was a question which I could not 

e Rev. William Lax, M.A., Fellow of Trin. Coll. and Lowndean Professor 

nomy and Geometry 1795 — 1836. It was probable that, in virtue of his 

might be appealed to to settle the position of the candidates in the brackets. 


1808. positively answer ; but I took the liberty of saying that you, without 

Mt. 33. doubts would be among those whom he would have the pleasure of 

examining. He said he had heard a splendid account of you from 

some of the fellows of Trinity, among whom, I think, he specified 

Hudson 1 . 

From a man of your celebrity, Mr Sedgwick, I certainly cannot 
expect the honour of a letter 'till your expectant brows are finally 
crowned with the laurels which at present hang over them ; and, by 
that time, I may, probably, be again at Cambridge. I shall assuredly 
be most happy to make one in the train of your triumph. 

I conclude, Dear Sedgwick, by repeating my wish of a happy new 
year to you. If benedictions are of any service, may mine avail you 
in the Senate House. Seriously, however, Sedgwick, may success 
attend you ! but, whether successful or unsuccessful, rely equally on 
the sincere esteem and unaffected friendship of yours truly, 

W. Ainger. 

The Senate- House examination began on Monday, t8 
January. It was at that time conducted partly vivA voce, 
partly by printed papers, each class* being seated at a separate 
table. At the conclusion of the first three days examination 
a new classification was published of those who had passed 
with the greatest credit This consisted of a series of brackets, 
arranged in order of merit, the names in each being placed 
alphabetically. These brackets (which were hung up on the 
pillars of the Senate House at 8 a.m. on the Thursday morn- 
ing) were regarded as a first approximation to the final list, 
" and men who were joined together in the same bracket had 
the opportunity of fighting the battle out under the direction 
of some Master of Arts appointed for the purpose. Sedgwick 
was in the first bracket, and the battle was fought out under 
the direction of the Rev. George Barnes, then Tutor of 
Queens' College, who said that he found no reason to 
alter the order in which the names came to him; that 
the men were so different in their reading that he could 
have put them in almost any order by a special choice of 
questions ; but that the man who impressed him most as 
possessing inherent power was Sedgwick 8 ." The result of 

1 The Rev. John Hudson, M. A. succeeded Mr Jones as senior tutor. 
a These classes were arranged by the Moderators. See above, p. 84. 
3 Macmillaris Magazine, ut supra, p. 477. 


this last trial was published on the Friday morning, when 
the successful candidates were admitted to the degree of 
Bachelor of Arts. Sedgwick's name stood fifth in the first 
class, or Wranglers. Those above him were: Bickersteth, of 
Gonville and Caius College (Senior Wrangler) ; Bland, of 
St John's College, his old friend and schoolfellow, who had 
always, as we have seen, been considered certain to beat him ; 
Blomfield, of Trinity College, who used to say that Sedgwick 
was a much better mathematician than himself; and White, 
of Gonville and Caius College. 

The next two years were spent by Sedgwick in preparing 
for the Fellowship examination at Trinity College. His own 
wish was to read for the Bar, to which he was stimulated by 
the example of his friend Bickersteth ; but he was deterred 
by the consideration that his father's health was failing, that 

1 Memoir of C. J. BlomfitU, &vo. I 


1808. his two younger brothers had to be educated, and that it 
Mu «3. was therefore his duty to create an independence for himself 
as soon as possible 1 . Some relaxation, after the strain of the 
preparation for the degree, was, however, indispensable, and 
in January, 1808, he went down for a few months to Dent, 
which he had not visited since October, 1806. The change 
proved the reverse of agreeable, and his letters betray a good 
deal of disappointment, not to say ill-humour. 

Dent, February 19, 1808. 
Dear Ainger, 

I hope you have executed the commission which I 
left with you, viz. 'to see my box well fortified with a wrapper, 
cord &c, and set on the right road for finding its way into 
the North/ The said box contains all the valuable property 
of your humble servant. You need not doubt therefore that he 
is extremely anxious for its arrival. I am anxious on another 
account ; it contains some books of which I already begin to 
feel the want. Indeed all the last week I have thought myself 
a fish out of water. I rise about 9 in the morning ; come down 
stairs in all due form, and commence breakfast, which consists 
of a large mess of oat-meal porridge, to which I drink about a 
quart of excellent milk. This is by far the greatest animal 
comfort which I enjoy, for I no sooner have finished breakfast 
than I become miserable for want of employment. The weather 
is so bad that to walk is impossible. I have therefore nothing 
to do all morning but amuse myself with my own pleasant re- 
flections, surrounded and perplexed with all the clamour of 
domestic music. I hope next week to find more rational plea- 
sures, for I have procured an excellent grey-hound. You may 
depend on it that dogs are the best company a man can have 
with him in the country. Your pleasures, Ainger, I know are in 
some measure different from mine ; marriage may be all well 
enough when a man is on his last legs, but you may depend 
on it that to be linked to a wife is to be linked to misery. 

1 This statement is made on the authority of Miss Isabella Sedgwick. 


From the horrid estate of matrimony I hope long to be de- 1808. 
livered. I arrived at Dent without any incident during my Aim *$- 
journey which is worth mentioning. I found my friends at 
Dent better than I expected ; my father, though his eyes have 
so far failed as to be of no use to him in doing the Church 
service, still keeps up a good flow of spirits, and his general 
health does not seem materially impaired.... 

Believe me, dear Ainger, 

Yours truly, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Dent, April 23, 1808. 
Dear Ainger, 

I merely write this to be out of your debt, for there 
is nothing here which I can tell you totidem litteris, but Bland 
will be able to tell you much better totidem verbis. As soon 
therefore as you may think convenient after the sight of this, 
write to me, write to me about anything but love and friend- 
ship. Indeed a plain matter-of-fact letter will be most agree- 
able, inasmuch as you are the only person from whom I can 
expect to hear what my old friends are doing in Cambridge.... 
Bland tells me you have been lately on a visit, and that 
Miss H — s has been of your party. I think your plan of en- 
joyment most rational. I wish some blooming damsel could 
contrive to kindle a flame in my breast, for then I might 
stand some chance of keeping up a proper degree of animal 
heat ; without some artificial aid of this kind I am fully con- 
fident that my lamp of life will be soon extinguished. Indeed, 
Ainger, such is the inclemency of the season, that at the 
moment I am writing, most of the farmers in the higher parts 
of our valley are busily employed in digging out sheep which 
have been covered up in the snow. An "over-drive" at this 
time is most unfortunate as many of the sheep are on the 
point of bringing forth lambs. So much for the pleasures of 
a country life and a crook. I have now completely exhausted 
S. I. 7 


1808. myself; love naturally led me to talk of sheep, and sheep lead 
JEXm **• me to talk of I know not what I shall therefore only add 
that I am, dear Ainger, 

Yours &c A. Sedgwick. 

Sedgwick returned to Cambridge in May, 1808. The 
summer was spent on a reading-party with seven pupils. 
That ingenious device for combining instruction with exercise 
and pleasure was then in its infancy, and Sedgwick went no 
further afield than Ditton, a small village on the River Cam 
about two miles below Cambridge, where he established the 
head quarters of his colony, as he called it, at Mr Bond's farm- 
house. One, at least, of his pupils lodged there with him ; 
another established himself at Horningsea, a village about a 
mile further down the river, but spent the day at Ditton ; the 
others probably had lodgings in the village. Sedgwick appears 
to have given himself up to his tutorial duties with unremitting 
diligence. Vainly did Ainger try to tempt him away to 
Whittlesea by the attractions of "a day's excursion on the 
Mere"; "my engagements preclude the possibility of my 
leaving Ditton" was the stern reply ; and in fact the only 
amusement which he allowed himself was an occasional visit to 
the theatre at Sturbridge Fair. Still he and his pupils seem to 
have enjoyed themselves, for more than one of those who read 
with him refers in after years to his summer at Ditton as a 
pleasant experience. Sedgwick was nicknamed "the Com- 
missioner", and his authority as "head of the colony" was 
successfully maintained. All went well, and the party did not 
return to College until near the end of October. 

The names of five out of his seven pupils can be recovered 
with certainty from his correspondence, viz. : Robert Roberts, 
and Arthur Savage Wade, of St John's College; Henry 
Rishton Buck, of Pembroke College ; Oliver Hargreave, and 
John Bay ley, of Trinity College. To these should probably 
be added two other men of the same college, William Robin- 
son Gilby, and Samuel Duckworth. None of these gentlemen 


were specially distinguished in after-life; unless indeed we 1808 to 
except Gilby and Bayley, who became Fellows of Trinity and ' 
Emmanuel respectively. Buck went into the army in 1809, 74. 
as soon as he had obtained his degree, and saw a good deal 
of active service in Flanders and Holland. Ultimately his 
regiment took part in the battle of Waterloo, where he was 
killed, 18 June, 181 5. A good many letters passed between 
him and Sedgwick, who was evidently sincerely attached to 
him. He carefully preserved all Buck's letters, and on a slip 
of paper dated 22 September, 181 5, he recorded the last 
events of his friend's career, concluding his brief notice with 
these words : " Peace to his soul. A man of more cool 
undaunted courage never existed. If he had lived he would 
have been an ornament of his profession." 

One interesting reminiscence of the autumn of 1808 was 
frequently recalled by Sedgwick in conversation. He hap- 
pened to come over from Ditton to Cambridge on Tuesday, 
4 October, and on reaching College found that Professor 
Porson was to be buried on that very day in the chapel. As 
may be easily imagined, his dress was suited to the country 
rather than to such an occasion, but, being anxious to honour 
the memory of so distinguished a scholar, he borrowed a black 
coat from a friend, and took his place in the procession. 

In October, 1809, Sedgwick sat for a Fellowship, but was 
unsuccessful. There were but two vacancies, to which Charles 
James Blomfield and William Clark * were elected. The 
former, it will be remembered, was third Wrangler in the same 
year as Sedgwick, and had also been senior Chancellor's 
Medallist; but Clark was only seventh wrangler, and had 
obtained no University distinction in classics. On the sup- 
position therefore that there was no first-rate candidate of 
the upper year, Sedgwick had a good prospect of success. In 
the examination, however, which was partly classical, partly 
mathematical, Clark did extremely well in classics, and gave 
special satisfaction to the examiners by a translation of a 

1 Professor of Anatomy from 181 7 to 1866. 



1810. passage from Pindar into English verse. Sedgwick was 
/Et *5 therefore compelled to wait for a year, which he spent in im- 
proving his classical knowledge. "What are you about now?" 
writes his friend Duckworth, 22 April 1810: "How many 
vacancies ? What number of books of Thucydides, and plays, 
&c perused ? " Others write in the same strain. On the next 
occasion, in October, 18 10, there were four vacancies, to fill 
which the Master and Seniors selected Sedgwick ; George Edis 
Webster (8th Wrangler), Edward Peacock (9th Wrangler), and 
Richard Ward (7th Senior Optime, and second Chancellor's 
Medallist), all of the same year. 

Sedgwick's friends hastened to express their joy at his 
success. Letters of congratulation have a certain uniformity of 
style, and those addressed to Sedgwick — or "Sedge " as he was 
called for brevity's sake — form no exception to the rule. None 
need be quoted at length — but from that written by Samuel 
Duckworth, more enthusiastic than the others, we will cite 
a brief extract "Escaped from the clutches of x and y\ 
no longer bounded by right lines, superficies, or solids; no 
longer impelled to move in a diagonal by the joint action 
of ambition and lucre on the one hand, and of indolence on 
the other, you may commit yourself entirely to the influence 
of the latter, enjoy otiutn aim dignitate, and listen to the con- 
gratulations of your friends resounding from the banks of the 
Mersey and Humber to those of the Cam. I for one sincerely 
congratulate you, my dear Sedge," and so forth. But of all 
those which he received probably none gave him so much 
pleasure as that from his old school-master at Sedbergh, 
who added in a postscript: "Mr Dawson begs to join in 

(1810— 1818.) 

Work with pupils. Reading for ordination (18 10). Visit 
to London. Society at Cambridge. Contested election 
for Chancellor and M.P. for University. Installation 
of Chancellor. Reading party at Bury St Edmunds. 
Christmas at Dent (181 i). Winter visit to Lakes. 
Visit to London. Petition against Roman Catholic 
claims. Reading party at Lowestoft. Appointed sub- 
lecturer at Trinity College. Second petition against 
Roman Catholics (181 2). Serious illness. Summer at 
Dent (18 13). Severe frost. Visit of Marshal Blucher. 
Summer at Dent. Excursion in Yorkshire (1814). 
Projected tour on the continent. Farish's lectures. 
Cambridge fever. Goes home to Dent. News of 
Waterloo. Assistant tutorship at Trinity College 
(181 5). Tour on continent (1816). Ordination. Summer 
at Dent. Hard work in Michaelmas Term (181 7). 
Elected Woodwardian Professor of Geology (18 18). 

The long-coveted distinction of a Fellowship at Trinity 1810. 
College did not bring to Sedgwick all the pleasure he had no & u 7 $- 
doubt anticipated from it. He had sacrificed his own inclina- 
tions, as already mentioned, to his duty towards his father 
and his brothers, and he never repented of that decision. 
But the course which it compelled him to follow was not the 
less distasteful because it was right. He had never taken 


102 •.■•:•/ WORK WITH PUPILS. 


• • 

• • 

1810. any 'deep interest in mathematics, or done any original work 

&*• *5- .mvthem ; and when it became necessary to teach them, 
• •• • 
\gferely for the sake of money, to young men of whom some 

"■•-. probably approached their study with unwillingness as great 

# >./" as his own, he regarded both the subject and the pupils with 

• • • 

'.•*••" feelings little short of detestation. He worked hard, and 
evidently did his duty conscientiously and thoroughly 1 , but 
he was at heart profoundly dissatisfied with himself and his 
surroundings. " Six of these blessed youths I have to feed 
each day," he exclaims in one of his letters ; in others he 
deplores his wasted life, his inability to find leisure, even in 
the summer vacation, for the private reading which he is 
longing to begin ; and he looks forward, with eager anticipa- 
tion, to a future in which he will be able " to have done with 
the system altogether". Nor were other causes wanting to 
make his life less pleasant than it had been. 

In the first place, his health had become impaired. He 
had been extremely anxious about the result of the Fellow- 
ship examination, and had over-worked himself in pre- 
paration for it In fact, the chronic ill-health from which 
he suffered during the rest of his life, and which occupied 
so large a space in his letters and his conversation, may 
be traced to the mental and physical strain of that period. 
He broke down completely in 18 13, as will be related below; 
but even at the end of 18 10, though he declined to allow that 
he was ill, his appearance was such that his friends had 
become solicitous on his behalf. As one of them wrote : "a 
man who is reduced two or three stone below his standard 
weight cannot be very well 2 ." The state of his purse, how- 
ever, would not allow him to take the rest of which he stood 

1 For instance, when Ainger was coming to Cambridge in the Easter Term, 
181 ?, and had suggested that Sedgwick should meet him on the road from 
Whittlesea, he received the following reply : " I would have met you with a gig 
with my whole heart if I could have done it with a good conscience. But consider; 
I have six pupils, and it is now within three weeks of the examination. An 
absence of two days would at this time of the year be a great trespass." 

8 From Rev. John Mason, 3 October, 18 io. 


so much in need, and he was "driving on just as usual 1 ". 1811. 
Moreover, his determination to give up the Bar entailed a ^ * 6m 
further, and more important, step, namely, the adoption of 
the clerical profession, for which he had no very decided 
inclination. He came, however, to the wise conclusion that 
it would be best to commence the study of such a subject 
without delay, and before the end of 18 10 he wrote : "I intend 
to begin my theological labours in about a fortnight. I wish 
I had a better motive than I have for beginning these labours. 
I acknowledge the necessity and importance of them, but I 
feel an indifference to serious subjects which I shall find it 
difficult to conquer. We must hope for better times." We 
shall see that the commencement here announced was again 
and again deferred: but the feeling that he ought to be 
studying theology was constantly present to his mind, and 
added to his anxieties. Lastly, he felt acutely the loss of his 
old set of friends — all of whom, with the exception of Carr, 
had left Cambridge. It was probably their absence, far more 
than ill-health or uncongenial work, that made him feel so ill 
at ease. As usual, he poured his troubles into the sym- 
pathising ears of Ainger, now comfortably settled in a 
curacy at Beccles in Suffolk, who had ended his last letter 
with these words : " I conclude with earnestly advising you, 
and the whole set of you, to follow my example, and get away 
from College as fast as you can." 

Trin. Coll. February n, 181 1. 
Dear Ainger, 

I feel much obliged to you for the circumstantial 
account you have given me of your situation, your prospects, 
and your society. You know little of my feelings if you are 
not convinced that everything relating to yourself must always 
excite in me the warmest interest. I am frequently gloomy 
when I consider that in the common course of things I may 
not hereafter have it in my power to spend many weeks in 
that society which for the last six years has contributed so 

1 To Rev. W. Ainger, 7 December, 18 10. 



1811. much to my happiness, I might almost say to my existence. If 
&*' **• Carr was away I should consider myself alone at Cambridge. 
You will recollect that I made several resolutions to read 
divinity this vacation. I did begin, but that was all, for I 
made no progress. Boswell's Life of Johnson is the only 
book I have seen this Christmas. While the men were in the 
Senate House, I did nothing. The result you will of course 
have seen. I should otherwise have sent you a tripos in some 
corner of this sheet. It has been a noble year for Trinity. 
Armstrong says he fears the glory of St John's is gone for ever 1 . 
Soon after the degrees were conferred I set off to Town, 
where I spent a gay and agreeable week; indeed I was 
engaged out to dinner every day I remained there. Gilby 
and I one evening left a party early and went to the Opera. 
I was much more astonished than pleased with the per- 
formance. Catalanfs powers are certainly transcendent, yet I 
felt more surprise than delight at her Italian warblings. The 
music was much too refined for my taste; they sacrifice 
everything to execution : however I have no right to censure 
what I do not understand. After taking an early dinner 
with Harrison*, I one evening went with Armstrong and 
Duckworth to Covent Garden. Cato 9 and the new pantomime 
of Asmodeus were performed. I am Goth enough to acknow- 
ledge myself more pleased with Grimaldi's wry faces than 
with Addison's declamation. 

I returned to Cambridge last Tuesday, and am now lead- 
ing a life of dull uniformity. I am at present almost prevented 
from leaving my rooms by a violent cold which has already 
taken away three of my senses ; I can neither hear, smell, 
nor taste. But while I have one sense left I shall ever 


Yours sincerely and affectionately, 

A. Sedgwick. 

1 There were 15 Wranglers, of whom Trinity had 7 ; the 1st, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 
9th, 14th: St John's only 1 ; the 10th and 12th. 
8 Charles Harrison, Trin. B.A. 18 10. 
3 A revival of Cato with John KeroUe as Cato and Charles Kemble as Juba. 


In April 181 1, after Sedgwick had proceeded to the degree 1811. 
of Master of Arts, he had the right of dining at the High Mt - * 6 - 
Table in Hall; but these new surroundings gave him but 
little pleasure, at any rate at first. For a time he enjoyed 
Calx's society there ; but at the end of 181 1 or the beginning 
of 18 1 2 he also left College, and Sedgwick remained alone, to 
make new friends as best he could. His judgment on his 
brother Fellows — at least on those senior to himself — was not 
favourable : 

" I find a great want of Carr ; for, though I am more at 
home among our Fellows than I was formerly, I find none 
amongst them to supply his place. On the whole I have 
been rather disappointed in the society of Masters of Arts. 
Many are gloomy and discontented, many impertinent and 
pedantic; and a still greater number are so eaten up with 
vanity that they are continually attempting some part which 
they cannot support 1 ." 

The University has changed so completely since Sedgwick 
wrote these words, that a few remarks on University life at 
the beginning of the present century will be not out of place. 
In attempting to picture to ourselves what it was, it must be 
remembered in the first place that foreign travel was impos- 
sible, that communication with other parts of England was 
slow and costly, and that therefore journeys were seldom 
undertaken. Many Fellows made Cambridge their home, 
which they rarely left, and died, as they had lived, in their 
college rooms. Newspapers — such as they were — travelled 
as slowly as individuals, and the arrival of a letter was a rare 
event. We have often wondered what the Fellows conversed 
about at dinner or supper, or at the symposia in the Combina- 
tion Room which in winter filled up the long interval between 
the two meals. And yet those gatherings were described as 
cheerful ; and Sedgwick himself has been heard to expatiate 
with delight on the recollection of a certain Christmas, when 
they had been so fortunate as to secure the company of an 

1 To Rev. W. Ainger, without date. 


1811. Irish Captain, specially famous for his comic songs. Christ- 

Mt. 16. mas> however, comes but once a year, and the joviality of the 

twelve days over which its festivities then extended was no 

doubt enhanced by the dullness of the remaining three 

hundred and fifty-three. 

Again, the refining influence of ladies' society was almost 
wholly absent With the exception of the Heads of Colleges, 
there were very few married men in the University, and the 
Heads were averse to general society. Dr Mansel, who had 
daughters to establish, gave a few evening parties ; the other 
members of the oligarchy thought themselves too important 
to associate with anybody whose degree was below that of a 
Doctor, or who had not achieved the dignified position of a 
Professor. Nor was it the custom for Fellows of Colleges to 
see anything of the undergraduates. It was rather the fashion 
to ignore their existence. The old custom of a Fellow sharing 
his room with one or more undergraduates had died out a 
century before, and had not been replaced by the frank inter- 
course which has now become usual, to the common benefit of 
both. It is evident, from what Sedgwick says of the Fellows, 
that he knew nothing about them until he was enrolled among 
their number. There were Fellow-Commoners it is true, who 
were sometimes numerous ; but the Fellows saw very little 
of them. From the way in which Professor Pryme speaks of 
the pleasure which he and some of his friends derived from 
intercourse with "the most cultivated of the Fellow-Com- 
moners 1 ", it is evident that such intercourse was as rare as 
they found it agreeable. 

Few Fellows of Trinity College, except the officials, had 
any definite occupation. With two exceptions, they were 
bound to take Holy Orders. Some held small livings in 
Cambridgeshire, tenable with their fellowships ; others, who 
had been appointed to the office of College Preacher, held 
more lucrative pieces of preferment. But in neither case was 
residence compulsory ; parishes were held to be sufficiently 

1 Recollections, p. 89. 


provided for by the appointment of a curate, and the per- 181 1. 
formance of an occasional Sunday service. With the large &*- *<*• 
majority of the residents, the fact that they were clergymen 
imposed upon them no duties, and effected no difference in 
their manners, habits, or language. Men of ambition went 
out into the world and boldly courted fortune, as soon as 
they had obtained their fellowships — some without even 
waiting for that assistance. Those who despaired of success, 
or had no energy to strive after it, remained behind. One 
resource, and one only, remained to them, the chance of 
obtaining a College living ; and for this, and for the marriage 
which in many cases depended on it, a man would wait, year 
after year, 

"Sickening in tedious indolence, 
Hope long deferr'd, and slow suspense 1 ;" 

till not only had he become unfit for active work in a parish, 
but his hopes of domestic happiness had too often ended, 
sometimes by mutual consent, sometimes in a sadder way, 
by the death of the intended wife. 

No wonder that discontent and ill-humour became chronic, 
except with those happy dispositions whose natural gaiety 
can never be checked ; no wonder that those who had to 
endure a life which had all the dullness of a monastery 
without its austerity or its religious enthusiasm, should 
become soured, eccentric, selfish, if not intemperate and 

We have drawn a gloomy picture, but one which repre- 
sents, we fear, a painful reality. Before long, however, a 
great change took place. The restoration of peace put an 
end to the isolation of England, and the Universities, in 
common with the rest of the kingdom, shook off their torpor, 
and became imbued with new ideas. The Fellows of Trinity 
College only a few years junior to Sedgwick were men of 
powerful intellect and wide interests ; with whom, as it will 
be our pleasing task to point out, he made common cause 

1 Ode to Trinity College* Cambridge. By G. Pryme, 8vo. Lond. 18 11, p. si. 


1811. against the dullness of a previous age, and inaugurated the 
Mt. a6. modern development of the University. 

\ At all times, even the most stagnant, politics can rouse 
the soundest sleeper ; and in March, 181 1, the University was 
thrown into an unusual state of excitement by two elections, 
both of which were contested. The Duke of Grafton, who 
had been Chancellor for forty-three years, died on the 14th ; 
and the elevation of his son, Lord Euston, to the peerage, 
vacated one of the seats in Parliament For the Chancellor- 
ship the candidates were Prince William Frederick, Duke of 
Gloucester, and the Duke of Rutland. The latter had ac- 
quired an almost paramount influence in the * Town of Cam- 
bridge, of which he was High Steward, and on this account 
was opposed by several prominent tories, and notably by 
Professor Marsh, who considered that his duties to the 
Borough would clash with his duties to the University. The 
Duke of Gloucester, as a staunch Abolitionist, had the support 
of Mr Wilberforce, and Dean Milner was specially active on 
his behalf. The Duke of Rutland's supporters, on the other 
hand, hinted not obscurely that His Royal Highness was in 
favour of Catholic Emancipation, and called his friends 
"enemies of the Church". This clever electioneering move 
was, however, unsuccessful, and the Duke of Gloucester was 
elected by a majority of 117, 26 March, 181 1 1 . 

For the seat in Parliament the candidates were Viscount 
Palmerston, who had been Under-Secretary for War since 
October 1809, and John Henry Smyth, M.A. of Trinity 
College. The tories made the most of " the ability displayed 
by Lord Palmerston in the administration of the country," and 
he obtained a majority of 106 over his opponent, a whig, who 
had taken no part in public life, and was known only as a 
good classical scholar 1 . The election — which took place on 

1 The Question Examined, whether the Friends of the Duke of Gloucester in the 
present contest are Enemies of the Church. By Herbert Marsh, D.D., 8vo. Camb. 
181 1. Milner's Life, p. 450. Cooper's Annals, iv. 495. Wilberforce 's Life, iii. 502. 

* Mr Smyth had taken an ordinary degree in 1801, but had obtained Browne's 
medal for a Greek and Latin Ode in 1799, and for a Greek Ode in 1800. 


the day following that of the Chancellor — excited compara- 181 1. 
tively little interest beyond the walls of Palmerston's own ^t. «6- 
College. Sedgwick, as the next letter shows, was beginning 
to take a keen interest in politics — and he puts the objections 
to the Duke of Rutland even more forcibly than Professor 
Marsh had done. 

Trin. Coll. Tuesday morning. 

[March, 1811.] 
My dear Ainger, 

...The University is already in a ferment; I shall 
rejoice to see you whenever you may come, tho* I fear many 
of my political lectures have been lost on you. It would 
be absurd in any one to wish you to vote against Lord 
Palmerston ; he is no doubt a highly respectable candidate, 
and deserves the support of his college. 

The candidates for the Chancellorship are both of our 
college. The Johnians in general support the Duke of 
Rutland. I am astonished at his impudence in offering him- 
self. If we look to his intellectual attainments we shall find 
them beneath contempt. He borrows his influence from that 
source which ought to render him infamous. He is one of 
the greatest borough-mongers in the kingdom. It is con- 
foundedly provoking to the men of our year to be without a 
vote. The undergraduates of St John's are all about to be 
sent out of College to make room for the Masters of Arts. 
As you will be here before next Tuesday, I shall trouble you 
no further, 

I am Yours most affectionately, 

A. Sedgwick. 

You must not tell your friends what I have written. I 
shall be prosecuted for a libel if you do. 

Notwithstanding Sedgwick's good resolutions, his theo- 
logical studies made little or no progress. During the Easter 
Term he was occupied as usual with pupils, and with prepara- 
tions for his summer excursion to Bury St Edmunds. When 


1811. term was over, he stayed in Cambridge in order to participate 
iEt * 6 - in the gaieties of the Chancellor's Installation, and evidently 
forgot all his cares in the bustle and excitement. "Well 
do I remember" he wrote in 1864, "the tumult of joy with 
which I plunged into the festivities of 181 1, when the Duke 
of Gloucester was installed 6ur Chancellor. In those days 
I was a dancing man, and found it a most happy method 
of discharging my redundant spirits 1 ." 

The following letter to Ainger, written at the end of term, 
opens with such an amusing burst of well-feigned indignation, 
that we are tempted to regret the loss of the remonstrances 
against unpunctuality in answering letters which provoked it. 

Trin. Coll. June 10^ 181 1. 
Dear Ainger, 

Your letter was left in my rooms this morning. 
When I had read it over, and found your name affixed to it, I 
could with difficulty persuade myself that I was not deceived 
by my senses. I am at present a solitary, matter of fact 
man, little accustomed either to give, or receive, the language 
of abuse. Your letter is indeed couched in terms of right 
orthodox scurrility. You have been reading books of reli- 
gious controversy, I presume. Authors of the description you 
are now studying I am little acquainted with, and I therefore 
cannot be expected to express the worst passions of human 
nature with the same strength and propriety that you do. A 
momentary irritation was the only effect your impudent scrawl 
produced ; I resolved to throw it aside and think no more of 
it I have, however, allowed my judgment to master my 
feelings, and resolved to give you an opportunity of explain- 
ing away this farrago of false accusations. I have been since 
endeavouring to account on rational principles for this change 
in your tone of thinking and of writing. Have you become 
so far intoxicated by the applause of the gaping crowds at 
Beccles that you expected to overwhelm me with a torrent of 

1 To Mrs Hotson, 5 June, 1864. 


eloquent abuse, unaccompanied by reason or truth? You 1811. 
have indeed got some egregious Gospel Trumpeters in your Mu **• 
parish. Your sermons make as much noise in the papers 
as Daffy's Elixir, or Bish's Lottery tickets. I hate such 
Pharisaical blasts; I wonder you have not found means to 
stop them. 

You begin by asserting that I am a sad careless fellow, 
and that you fear I shall never mend. This from you is too 
much. On turning over your letters I find that, almost with- 
out exception, they begin with apologies for neglect. In one 
you acknowledge " that the happiness you derive from present 
objects had filled up every moment of your attention ; that 
you had never found time even to think of those who were 
absent " (dated Hertfordshire) ; in another you with all due 
contrition bewail your offences, calling yourself " a wretched 
caitiff and a miserable sinner " ; in a third you say " that the 
fulminations in my last letter had roused you as it were from a 
dream, and at length brought you to your senses ". In truth, 
Ainger, out of the six letters of yours which I have before me 
I could find more expressions of bitter remorse than you 
could pick out of all the volumes of the Newgate Calendar. 

I should not have brought your own words in judgment 
against you if you had not set me the example. I still pro- 
fess myself desirous of continuing a regular correspondence. 
If you had been guilty of no dereliction of duty, you would 
have experienced none from me. You say it was my turn to 
write because you had paid me a visit I recollect no such 
visit. You did indeed just show your face in Cambridge " to 
do the devil's dirty work for nothing ". But let me assure you 
that if the taking a coach, and driving across the country to 
vote for a foolish fox-hunting Duke is hereafter to be con- 
sidered as an answer to .my letters, I shall feel no desire of 
continuing our correspondence. 

I cannot yet propound to you any difficult questions in 
divinity, because I have not taken the trouble to look for 
them. I have had five pupils during the whole of last term ; 


1811. when I was not engaged with them I employed myself 
Mt. 26. principally in reading voyages and travels. I managed to get 
through ten or twelve quarto volumes. Besides these I have 
read Malthus on Population twice through ; he is a delightful 
author, and has made me a convert to most of his opinions. 
His maxims are too cold-blooded for a man of your tempera- 
ment My more serious moments have been devoted to 
Xenophon, Tacitus, Virgil, Berkeley's Metaphysical Works, 
and Paley's Sermons. I am at present engaged exclusively 
in reading Mathematics by way of preparation for our 
summer's labours. We shall not remove to Bury till after 
the Commencement. I have of course regularly seen the 
morning and evening papers. Such a tide of success has 
been flowing in upon us, as Perceval says, that even you, 
dead as you are to all political feeling, must have joined in 
the general exultation. The reappointment of the Duke of 
York is a cursed drawback. "The Talents" have behaved 
infamously ; they are nothing better than the vile refuse of a 

Carr has left Cambridge and all its festivities behind him ; 
he is now in the North, and will continue there during the 
summer. I almost envy him. At one time I intended to 
have seen Dent before July, but I could not raise the wind. 
In truth, Ainger, I scarcely dare appear in the streets ; some 
terrific gaping dun stares me in the face at every corner. 
Bland is now at Sedbergh. I had some conversation with 
him before he left us. When speaking of you he seemed 
quite in a pet, and muttered something between his teeth 
very much like an oath; he seems resolved never more to 
think of you, or to write to you, because you never give your- 
self the trouble of answering his letters. Armstrong has sent 
me a very long and amusing letter. He was one of the 
Stewards at the John Port Latin dinner. On returning to 
Gray's Inn he was obliged to leave a reverend friend of his in 
the watch-house. Armstrong seems to have made a long 
speech in defence of this hopeful divine, but his eloquence 


produced no effect on the constable of the night. He men- 181 1. 
tions no names. " The Parson " (he says in one part of his &*- 26 - 
letter) "has never written to me since he left town." He 
complains of you for your indolence. Your friends, you find, 
are abusing you with one consent. Don't be so self-com- 
placent as to imagine that you are right and they wrong. If 
after this prompt and vigorous exertion on my part you 
make no suitable return, I shall for the future consider you a 

monster of ingratitude. 

I am, dear Ainger, 

Yours most truly, 

A. Sedgwick. 

The reading party assembled at Bury St Edmunds in 
July 1 , and, let us hope, passed the summer both profitably 
and agreeably, but we know neither the names of the pupils, 
nor any particulars of their doings, with this exception, that 
Sedgwick, as might be expected, made friends there, whom 
he visited on subsequent occasions. 

Between October 181 1 and April 18 12 Sedgwick's life 
offers no variety. He worked on as usual ; denied himself a 
holiday in London towards the end of the year — " Five pupils 
and an empty purse interpose difficulties not easily got over 2 ;" 
— passed the Christmas vacation at Dent ; and finally, after a 
Lent term devoted to pupils, and preparation for a summer at 
Lowestoft, allowed himself a hasty glimpse of his old set in 
London. It is painful to notice that the tone of his letters is 
still depressed. The elasticity of youth had passed away, and 
had not yet been replaced by the cheerfulness of a man who 
is doing work which he enjoys contentedly and resolutely. 

Trin. Coll. February 14, 1812. 
My dear Ainger, 

I informed you in my last that I should visit Dent 
during the Christmas vacation. My anxiety to be off was 

1 Miss Margaret Sedgwick directed a letter (31 July) to '• Mr Sedgwick, at 
Mr Crisp's, Druggist, Bury St Edmunds." 

* To Rev. W. Ainger, Bcccles, Suffolk, 4 December, 181 1. 

s. I. 8 


1811. such that I left Cambridge two days before the end of the 
^*- *7- October term. You will perhaps be surprised when I say 
that I travelled outside all the way from Alconbury Hill to 
Ingleton. I had fortified myself with a box-coat of huge 
dimensions and impenetrable thickness, so that, notwithstand- 
ing a keen north wind and hard frost, I found little incon- 
venience from the weather. 

My Father still retains that freshness of complexion, and 
activity of limb, for which he was remarkable, and, though 
deprived of his sight, he is not cut off from all communication 
with books, for my sisters read to him by turns the greater 
part of every evening. On the whole there are perhaps few 
men who enjoy a more rational, or a more happy, existence. 
My mother looks old, though she does not complain of ill 

At Sedbergh the empire of dulness is firmly fixed. With 
Stevens I spent some pleasant days; his hospitality, and, 
above all, his zeal for the interest of his pupils, cannot be 
too much admired ; but yet there is something about 
him which I neither like nor understand. He has seven 
daughters and a son, and there is another on the stocks, 
but of its sex one cannot speak with certainty. Mrs 
Dawson died about ten days before I left the north. Her 
dissolution had long been expected. Mr D., if one may 
judge from his appearance, will not be long in following 
her. He looks quite cadaverous, and is shrunk into a 
mere skeleton. 

I spent about a week with a man of our college who lives 
on the borders of Windermere. We took many excursions 
during my visit to the different Lakes in the neighbourhood. 
The face of nature is certainly seen to a great disadvantage 
during this part of the year, yet the excursion — 

I was interrupted about 10 this morning by the entrance 
of a pupil. It is now late, the fumes of wine are in my head, 
and I am drowsy. It had been my intention to give you a 
bombastic description of the rugged scenery in the neighbour- 


hood of Coniston, but I am now quite disabled. I returned 18 12. 
to Cambridge by Manchester and Leicester. The road is ^Et. 27. 
intolerably bad, and the distance about fifty miles greater 
than by Leeds. I was induced to return by this route that I 
might call on a clergyman near Macclesfield 1 who formerly 
had the delectable office of teaching me A, B, C, and with 
whom I spent a month in Cumberland about twenty years 
ago. I have only seen him twice since that time and after 
long intervals. We soon became as intimate as if our ac- 
quaintance had been uninterrupted; and as he is not tor- 
mented by that bane of domestic happiness a wife, we 
contrived, during each of the few nights I was with him, 
to keep up the conversation till two or three o'clock in the 

I forgot to tell you that I went out with a gun several 
times during the Christmas vacation. I have quite lost the 
art of shooting. I had many good shots, and literally killed 
nothing. Here I am grinding away with six pupils. Under 
such circumstances it is impossible to advance one step. But 
I am compelled by circumstances to undergo this drudgery. 
When I look back on what I have done since I was elected 
Fellow I cannot discover that I have made any proficiency 
whatever, or gained one new idea. This is miserable stagna- 
tion, but I thank God that I am not yet in the " slough of 
despond ". I hope for better things. You will undoubtedly 
have heard of Carr's appointment to Durham School. I find 
a great want of him. He was too valuable a man to be 
easily replaced. I think he was in the right to accept 
the situation, though at present the emoluments are but 

I am, dear Ainger, 

Yours most affectionately, 

A. Sedgwick. 

1 Sedgwick's godfather, Mr Parker. See above, p. 47. 



f 8**- Trin. Coll. Sunday Evening, 

Mu 27 ' April 19, 1812. 

My dear Ainger, 

I left Cambridge on Monday week, and arrived here 
last Thursday, having exhausted my stock of cash and curi- 
osity. I had no time to yawn or flag during the visit, as a suc- 
cession of delightful engagements presented themselves. Our 
friends Armstrong, Hargreave, Harrison, Duckworth, Gilby, 
&c. are all well ; with some of these I contrived to breakfast 
almost every morning during my stay, spent the remainder of 
the morning in spying farlies 1 , and ended at one of the 
Theatres, the Opera, or the House of Commons, seldom 
finding my way to bed before two in the morning. 

My resolution of spending the summer at LowestofF* is 
still fixed. We shall probably remain there about sixteen or 
seventeen weeks; as this is a good long time, perhaps I might 
engage lodgings cheaper on that account If a comfortable 
sitting-room and a bed-room could be procured for a guinea 
per week I should feel quite happy ; if for less so much the 
better ; if for four or five shillings a week more, I should not 
quarrel with them. Some of the men may perhaps take a 
house, as you recommend. I should prefer being on my old 
footing. As you have proposed to look out for me, I feel 
disposed to accept your offer ; but should wish to put you to 
no inconvenience, especially as more than two months must 
elapse before I shall think of leaving Cambridge. In regard 
to the formation of a mess, that will be best done after we 
arrive at the spot, as two or three of us shall probably leave 
Cambridge together. At the same time a hint from you may 
be of good service. 

Believe me yours, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Sedgwick's interest in the contested election of 181 1, and 

1 In North Country dialed, afartey means a wonder, a strange thing. 

2 Sedgwick always writes l/>westoflf, not Lowestoft. 


his regret that he had no vote wherewith to oppose the tories, 1812. 
as represented by His Grace of Rutland, have been already ^ 2 7- 
mentioned. In the Easter term of 181 2 he found an oppor- 
tunity of exercising his newly obtained rights as a member of 
the Senate, under political circumstances of more than ordinary 
interest Early in the year the propriety of making some 
concession to the Roman Catholics, in connection with the 
peace and good government of Ireland, had engaged the 
attention of both Houses of Parliament The motions, each 
of which took the form of a petition for a committee on the 
state of Ireland, were lost ; but it was evident that much of 
the opposition was directed against the form of the proposal 
rather than against the matter, and that the question would 
be brought forward again at no distant date. Under these 
circumstances the Protestantism of both Universities took 
fright, and it was resolved to send petitions to Parliament. 
But it is evident that, at least at Cambridge, those who 
suggested such a course knew that they were not standing on 
sure ground. The petition was certain to be opposed, and in 
fact, as the result proved, ran considerable risk of being 
rejected altogether. Even the all-powerful Heads of Colleges 
were not unanimous in its favour. The promoters of it there- 
fore determined to bring it forward as secretly as possible. 
It was presented to the Senate on Monday, 20 April; but, "it 
was not till Saturday (18 April) that it was surmised in the 
University that such a Petition was in contemplation, and it 
was not till Sunday, a day usually devoted to other concerns, 
that the promoters of the Petition formally promulgated their 
purposes." Incredible as this statement sounds, it was made 
in the House of Lords by the Marquis of Lansdowne, in the 
terms quoted above, and no one ventured publicly to contra- 
dict it The Earl of Hardwicke (Lord High Steward of the 
University) had already spoken in the same sense, adding 
that even the Master of Trinity College had not been trusted 
with the secret ; perhaps because, as Lord Lansdowne " had 
authority to state ", be would have opposed the petition had 


* i ■ i n ■ ii M- —in ■ — r ~T i 

i8u. he not been accidentally absent The document was drawn 
>£l n- U p by Dean Milner 1 , and, from what we know of his character, 
it may be safely assumed that the measures for presenting it 
to the Senate were devised by the same person. The petition 
is not in his happiest manner, and the main argument is 
curiously fallacious. It stated, with a specious affectation of 
liberality intended of course to disarm opposition, that the 
petitioners u have never been adverse to liberty of conscience 
in Religious or Ecclesiastical Matters ; that they feel no 
uneasiness at the Concession of any comforts or advantages 
to their Roman Catholic Brethren" ; but that "the controul 
of any foreign Power over the Government of this country 
either in Church or State is inconsistent with the first princi- 
ples of all Civil Government...; that the power of the Pope, 
though for various reasons lessened in the public opinion, is 
notwithstanding more dangerous to us now than ever, being 
itself brought under the control of a foreign and most in- 
veterate Enemy." As Sedgwick's friend Armstrong observed: 
"According to the wiseacres who framed that petition, the 
Pope's influence increases as all external means of doing 
mischief are taken away from him ; if he were only shut up 
in a dungeon it follows he would be irresistible." Notwith- 
standing the precautions that had been taken, the opponents 
mustered in considerable force in both the Houses into which 
the Senate was then divided ; and the Grace to affix the 
University Seal to the document obtained a majority in the 
Regent House of only fourteen, and in the non-Regent House 
of only five*. That Sedgwick voted in the minority is evident 
from the following extract from a letter to Ainger (3 May) : 

" I had a long letter from Armstrong yesterday in reply to 
a much longer of mine. In truth I had filled to the brim a 
large sheet of scribbling paper with abuse of those men who 
were instrumental in sending that absurd petition to the two 

1 Life of Milner, ttt supra^ p. 500. 

* The numbers were: Regents; Placet 34, N on- Placet, 20; Non-Regents; 
Placet 14. Non-Placet 19. 


Houses. Armstrong felt exactly as I did, but, in my opinion, 1812. 
acted very absurdly, for he not only shewed my farrago of Mi - *7- 
invectives to our common friends, but, by some means or 
other got it conveyed to Mr Whitbread, who in consequence 
fired off some bitter invectives in the House against the 
patchers of the petition. Fortunately the speech was not 
reported ; I say fortunately, because if any circumstances had 
transpired by which my letter had been made public in 
Cambridge I should have found myself in hot water. After 
having committed my assertions to paper, the onus probandi 
would have rested on me ; and I might have found it devilish 
difficult to prove every thing I had asserted. But of all this 
mum, mum 1 ." 

Sedgwick's summer residence at Lowestoft was in every 
way successful. He frequently spoke and wrote of it in after- 
years, with all the pleasure afforded by a thoroughly agree- 
able retrospect, and, on several occasions, when prebendary 
of Norwich, he spent a few days there in revisiting his old 
haunts. Of his nine pupils four at least became his intimate 
friends; and some of the resident families, delighted to 
welcome a set of cultivated young men to their society, 
showed him civilities which he never forgot. Among these 
were Dr Smith, afterwards Sir James Edward Smith — the 
celebrated botanist, founder of the Linnean Society — and his 
accomplished wife. In April, 1865, when all but fifty-three 
years had elapsed since his first visit, Sedgwick was at 
Lowestoft Saddened by a drive to several country churches, 
where he saw "the monuments of friends of bygone years", 
he called on Lady Smith, " the most wonderful woman of her 
years that I ever beheld. She is now ninety-two ; yet her 
eyes are bright as diamonds ; her face is smooth ; there is 

1 Armstrong's letter (from which a quotation has been already made) is dated 
May, 181 2. Sedgwick's letter to him has not been preserved. The petition was 
presented to the House of Commons (22 April) by Sir Vicary Gibbs, M.P. : but 
no debate is reported. The history of the petition, as stated above, will be found 
in Hansard, Vol. xxii., pp. 506, 507, 722. It was presented to the House of 
Lords (21 April) by the Duke of Gloucester, Chancellor. 


1812. a natural colour on her cheek ; her voice is full ; her gestures 
Mi. 27. active and firm ; her posture as upright as that of a young 
woman ; her manner of address happy, kind, and cheerful. 
She is still very good-looking. When young she was very 
beautiful, and it was a kind of beauty to last well — somewhat 
of oriental about it, for when she was a girl she sat to Opie 
as a gipsy, and it was one of the cleverest pictures he ever 
painted V The conversation naturally turned on their first 
acquaintance in 18 12, and a few days afterwards she sent 
him a copy of verses written on the departure of the party 
by one of her young friends, Miss Ritson. This jeu <T esprit 
— which indicates by the way that their time was not wholly 
absorbed by the study of mathematics — fortunately records 
the names of all Sedgwick's pupils. 

Whence comes the deep sigh, whence springs the fond tear? 

Why seems my sad heart now so lonely and drear? 

Why beats it so heavy that once was so gay? 

Tis because pleasure flies me. The moralists say 

Did you think it would last? — and I answer them — Nay. 

Yet a sigh of regret will arise in my heart 

When I see that my friends with my pleasures depart. 

At the play, at the ball, in the dance, with the song, 

Our hours have sped gaily and swiftly along. 


Farewell then to Be/grave*, good wishes attend, 
Good sport in the field, and at home a true friend. 
And farewell to Sedgwick, the Mentor who join'd 
With the grave mathematics, the life of the mind, 
Who foremost in whate'er was gay or could please, 
With knowledge join'd mirth, and with study mix'd ease, 
Who so justly the dulce and utile mingled 
That the harp still was soft and the chords never jingled 

1 To Mrs Atkinson, 18 April, 1865. Pleasance, Lady Smith, daughter of 
Robert and Pleasance Reeve, was born 1773, an( ^ died '877, aged 103. Her 
husband died 18*8. The picture was painted 1797, soon after her marriage. It 
is thus described in Opie and his Works, by J. J. Rogers, 8vo. Lond. 1878, p. 161. 
*• Canvas, 79b in. x 24^ in. Seen to waist, three quarters face to right, dressed as 
a gipsy, her hat thrown back on her neck, and hanging by a muslin scarf tied in 
front under her chin ; dishevelled hair about her brow, both hands shown, her 
right fore-finger resting in the left palm ; an arch smile and pretty face." 

2 William Belgrave, St John's, B.A., 1813. 


Farewell too, to Musgrave\ polite and refined, 18 12. 

Like a well-tuned piano the chords of his mind. ygt. 27. 

Tho* grave never stately, tho' wise n'er pedantic 

Tho' devoted to music, yet never romantic 

And farewell to Peacock\ to Lodge*, and to Case 4 , 

Who alike pleased us all, by each good-humQured grace; 

And though Adams 6 at dancing and Ladies may sneer 

Still we'll wish him success in his learned career. 

And to Cook* who to study and books ever true; 

To the well-bred, polite, lively Holder 1 adieu. 

And farewell to Ingle 8 of marvellous fame, 

By mighty comparisons marking his name, 

Who, fond of discussion, would oft raise the smile 

And join in the laugh the long hours to beguile. 

His mind I for once will attempt to compare 

To the great bird of Jove, to the prince of the air, 

For ever in alto his thoughts will arise 

And you must take care, the/re not lost in the skies. 

Keep his wits 'neath the clouds, for they're monstrously clever, 

If they once soar above you, you've lost them for ever. 

His mind never free from a thousand vagaries, 

You would think he had lived in the age of the Fairies. 

But the gay tribes are flying and flitting away 

And the brown tints of Autumn no longer may stay. 

Stern Winter will come, bid his tempests to roar, 

So Til give a fond tear to the Summer that's o'er, 

And sweet retrospection of scenes long gone by 

Shall paint, and will raise, or the smile or the sigh, 

While poor Lowestoft deserted no gaiety knows 

And hears nothing more than the keen blast that blows. 

But hope may to future sweet scenes look along 

Through the gloom of the winter, whose terrors among 

May arrest the sad sigh, make my bosom to swell 

And wipe off the tear that accords with Farewell. 

Lowestoft, i October y 181 2. 

Of the nine gentlemen here celebrated, Case, Belgrave, 
Holder, and Adams are unknown to fame; nor do their 
names occur in after-years in connection with Sedgwick's 
history. With Cook — who became a Fellow of Christ's 

1 Charles Musgrave, Trinity, B.A. 18 14. 
* George Peacock, Trinity, B.A. 18 13. 
8 John Lodge, Trinity, B.A. 1814. 

4 I sham Case, St John's, B.A. 181 4. 

5 Richard Newton Adams, Sidney Sussex, B.A. 18 14. 

6 Joseph Cook, Christ's, B.A. 1813. 

7 Robert Keyse Holder, St John's, B.A. 181 3. 
6 Charles Ingle, Trinity, B.A. 1814. 


i8i«. College — he maintained a correspondence until his death, 
***• *7- in 1825, while travelling in the Sinaitic Peninsula. Musgrave 
(the future Archdeacon), Peacock, Lodge, and Ingle, were 
all numbered among his most intimate friends. The two 
former became Fellows of Trinity ; and though Musgrave 
left College in 1821 to become Vicar of Whitkirk, in York- 
shire, they still contrived to meet frequently. Peacock resided 
in College until he was made Dean of Ely in 1839. Lodge 
obtained a Fellowship at Magdalene College in 18 18, and was 
University Librarian from 1822 to 1845. Ingle obtained no 
University distinction, and left Cambridge as soon as he had 
taken his degree. But a very warm affection had grown up 
between him and Sedgwick, and they continued to write 
letters, and to pay frequent visits, to each other. Ingle was a 
brilliant, impulsive creature — with a warm heart and a weak 
head — who clung to Sedgwick's stronger character like ivy to 
an oak. The friendship, however, was far from being all on 
one side. Sedgwick had a high opinion of his talents, de- 
lighted in his society, and selected him as the confidant of his 
most private thoughts and feelings. Few lives have opened 
with brighter promise ; none — as it will be our painful task 
to tell — have had a more miserable close. 

Sedgwick paid another visit to Lowestoft in 1869, and 
sent a charming description of it to his two American cousins, 
Mrs Norton and Miss Sedgwick. The letter, dated 8 July, 
1869, contains so many references to 18 12, that it will be best 
to quote a considerable portion of it here : 

" I have no news to communicate except what relates to 
myself. I am looking over the broad sea. The sands below 
my windows are covered by groups of merry children, digging 
away with their little spades, as lustily as if they thought the 
fate of England was in their hands. The waves are sparkling 
in the bright sun, and a great number of vessels are running 
before a side-wind both north and south, and close in shore, 
for this is the most eastern point of our Island. I ought to have 
returned to Cambridge to-day to superintend some important 


works going on in my Museum ; but I could not resist the 1812. 
temptation of a run for a few hours to the seaside, that I <**• *7- 
might breathe the free air of heaven, and visit some old 

"And I have visited two or three to my joy. Among them 
was my dear old friend Lady Smith. She has bright manners, 
bright eyes, and clear sight ; a face still handsome, and with 
healthy colour on her smooth, well-rounded, cheeks. She 
hears well, and her voice has a cheerful ring with it. All this 
may be said of many English women. But Lady Smith is 
one of a million — the wonder of the county, and the charm of 
her old friends, for she is now happily wearing her way 
through her 97th year ! I am old and suffering from the in- 
firmities of old-age ; but my friend Lady Smith, to whom I 
gave a true-love kiss, is twelve years older than myself. Let 
not my two saucy American cousins laugh at the thought of 
a love-kiss given between two such aged remnants of old 
Time's gleanings. Love is the dearest attribute of God. 
Like Himself it will last for ever. He may plant it here ; 
and, if we do our part well, it will have its consummation and 
perfection after the wreck of all visible worlds. 

" Well ! to come back. I am going to have a drive, that 
I may revisit the pretty rural spots in this neighbourhood, 
where I spent many happy days in my youthful life ; and to 
which I have often brought my young relations during the 
periods of their visits to me at Norwich. I spent 181 2 at 
this bright little seaport on the Suffolk coast. It was the 
last time I ever went out with pupils. The whole summer 
and autumn were seasons of intense excitement. No rail- 
roads, and no telegrams then. So day by day we went out 
to meet the mail-coach, on its first entrance, to catch the 
first whispers of news from Spain and Russia. It was you 
know the year of Napoleon's invasion of Russia, at the head 
of the grandest army that ever mustered within the limits of 
Europe. The issue of the contest seemed to involve the very 
life and death of old England. And in fits of gloom I some- 


i8i». times fancied that she must fall before the fortune of the 
iEt. 27. great conqueror, as so many other powers of Europe had 
done before her. But such gloomy visions had one bright 
side. I said to myself, if England lose her freedom I will 
pack up all I have, and go to settle along with my relations 
among the free-men of the United States. We had heard 
reports of good news, and I took my stand on a little hill 
that overlooks the London road along with my party. Several 
hundred of the inhabitants joined us. At length the mail- 
coach came in sight, rapidly nearing us. On its top was a 
sailor, waving the Union Jack over his head, and gaudy 
ribbons were streaming on all sides, the sure signs of victory. 
The guard threw down a paper to me, and with it I ran to 
the Public Room. There, mounting upon a table, I read to 
the assembled crowd the Gazette Extraordinary of the Battle 
of Salamanca 1 . The cheers were long and loud, but there 
were sobs of sorrow too, for some of us had lost those who 
were dear to us. Remembrances of this kind gave a quiet 
charm to my sweet drive." 

When the party had separated Sedgwick took a short 
excursion with his friend Mr Daniel Pettiward* to Ipswich 
and Bury St Edmunds, and then returned to Cambridge. It 
is sad to learn that he still found the place distasteful. At 
the beginning of the term, however, he was appointed a sub- 
lecturer — an office which, by requiring him to take part in the 
College examinations, brought him into closer contact with 
the undergraduates, and also with the tutors. From this 
period may be dated the commencement of the excellent 
understanding which ever after subsisted between him and 
the rest of the society. 

Trin. Coll. Oct i7tJt> 1812. 
My dear Ainger, 

I met Mr Pettiward at Ipswich as I expected. The 
day following we commenced our excursion. We had not 

1 Wellington defeated the French at Salamanca, 22 July, 181 2. 
8 A member of Trinity College : B.A. 1789, M.A. 1792. 


descended more than three or four miles when our vessel 1813. 
stuck fast in the mud. This accident I had from the first & u 2 7- 
expected, as the navigation is very intricate, and the whole 
crew of the wherry was intoxicated before we started ; one of 
the many blessed effects of a general election. We must 
have remained in the mud till next high-water, if a very 
beautiful yacht had not most opportunely made its appear- 
ance. One of the gentlemen hailed Mr Pettiward, and, on 
being informed of our situation, offered to take us on board ; 
we wished good night to our brethren in jeopardy, and most 
gladly accepted the proposal. Our voyage was delightful in 
every respect ; indeed the accident we had met with gave us 
a greater zest for enjoyment. If you should ever have an 
opportunity of making the same excursion you will find 
yourself amply rewarded for sacrificing some time to it. 
After taking dinner on board the yacht, and drinking nearly 
a bottle of Madeira each, we landed at Harwich. Every 
thing there was in a state of uproar, as the election had 
taken place in the morning. As we approached the inn we 
heard sounds of boisterous conviviality. All the gentlemen 
of the town and neighbourhood were assembled in the 
upper rooms to celebrate a dinner on the event of the 
election. Mr Pettiward knew many of the party so well 
that he did not scruple to introduce me. I flatter myself 
I chimed in with considerable effect. I never was in better 

The next day was well employed in examining Landguard 
fort, and many other fortifications in the neighbourhood. 
The day following we went a short excursion up the Manning- 
tree river, landed at the other side, and walked to Ipswich, 
where we arrived late in the evening. I spent a day with 
Mr P. near Stowmarket, and three at Bury St Edmunds 
most delightfully, among the friends I acquired there last 
summer. "Past and to come seem best." This I find 
confirmed by my own feelings. I am already beginning to 
complain of Cambridge. This may perhaps be accounted 


i8n. for; few of my friends are arrived, and I am indisposed in 
iEt *7- consequence of the effects of a severe cold. 

Your most affectionately, 

A. Sedgwick. 

The term was not many weeks old before the Catholic 
Question became again prominent. Early in November the 
ruling party in the . University determined to send a second 
petition to Parliament. The document used in the previous 
April was slightly altered and enlarged, but the arguments 
were the same as on the former occasion. It was not, how- 
ever, proposed to the Senate with the same precautions 
against discovery ; though, when presented to the House of 
Lords (i December) Lord Hardwicke complained that "due 
notice had not been given to the non-resident members of the 
University of the intention to set on foot such a petition." It 
appears, however, that a notice of six days, instead of the usual 
notice of three days, had on this occasion unquestionably been 
given. The excitement among non-residents, especially among 
junior Masters of Arts in London, was prodigious ; and Sedg- 
wick became the corresponding member of "a confederacy /' as 
one of them called it, established among members of Gray's Inn 
and the Temple, prominent among whom were Gilby and 
Armstrong, for the purpose of opposing the petition. He 
was to send information to four specified persons, who were to 
inform the rest. By this means, no matter how late the 
notice of congregation might be issued, it was expected 
that twenty voters would reach Cambridge in time. These 
elaborate precautions were rendered unnecessary by the 
length of notice ultimately given, but a number of non- 
residents did eventually come up. The voting took place on 
Wednesday, 18 November, when the Grace to seal the petition 
was passed in the Regent House by eighteen votes, and in 
the Non-Regent House by eleven — a result which must have 


been singularly mortifying to the enthusiastic partisans of 1813. 
toleration 1 . ^ * 8 - 

At the beginning of May, 181 3, Sedgwick broke a blood- 
vessel in the course of an excursion on the river. One of his 
usual colds — as usual neglected — had ended in a violent 
cough ; and Anally inflammation of the lungs, or something 
very like it, had supervened. The attack must have been 
serious, from the way in which his father wrote on receiving 
the news : 

"Notwithstanding your caution to the contrary we were all a 
good deal alarmed by your first letter. However your last letter, in 
which you seem so much recovered, has made us in better spirits. I 
hope by this time you are nearly well, and beg that you will take the 
earliest opportunity after you receive this of letting us know how 
you go on, if you have not, before it arrives, sent a letter off. 

Your mother joins me in requesting that you will set off for the 
North as soon as you think you are able, and it is safe for you to 
undertake the journey. Perhaps the journey and change of air may 
be of service to you." 

That the health of one apparently so strong should break 
down so completely was a subject of great surprise, and 
sincere regret, to all his friends ; and Ainger with his usual 
solicitude hastened to him. His place as examiner in the 
next College Examination was taken by Mr Pryme 8 , and 
towards the end of May he was well enough to leave Cam- 
bridge. Indeed he felt so strong that before going away he 
accepted the laborious office of Moderator for the ensuing 
year. On his way to Dent, however, while staying at the 
house of his cousin Mr Mason, in Nottinghamshire, he had a 
relapse which compelled him to give up all thoughts of the 
Moderatorship. When he got home his friends were greatly 
shocked at his appearance, and despaired of his recovery. It 
was thought that he would become consumptive. Complete 
idleness, however, did wonders. He provided himself with a 

1 The numbers were: Regents; Placet 52, Non-Placet 34; Non- Regents; 
Placet 53, Non Placet 42. The above account is derived from the letters addressed 
to Sedgwick by Gilby and Armstrong; from Hansard, Vol. xxiv., pp. in, 134, 
118 ; and from the Cambridge Chronicle, 20 November 18 12. 

* Recollections, ut sufra, p. 91- 


*s , .-*-T -*~ "£."7 .^.^ r THE L>L3C2± 

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*/tV. ;.»icturt:y:-<: ar.d tt -.r.-ierf :1 

• ' AW;: 5w *eek* *:nce. I left Dent on an excorsk* 
which afforded me the rrs,<z u-rr.-xed delight. My head- 
quarters were at Hawkshead. in the centre of die Lakes. 
The lady whom I visited a! '.owed me to pursue every scheme 
of pleasure my fancy could -ug^e^t. so that during the first 
fortnight not a single day elapsed without my going out 00 
smnr r\|Hulition from which I generally returned in the 
evening fatigued without being exhausted. My appetite, 
slouch, f\\u\ nplilK every moment improved: my mind 
liiMt<t"U< wan in t\ nUto above all others suited for receiving 
jjiri>j^< iiiijhi :si:iiniin Object* combining everything to j 
iUM{iiii .hmI itohiitlnli weir each day pro<ented to my view, 
j .i|v,.»y.» lift 1 In in with reluctance, and started the day 
Mlov.jjj|< w|||i In* ir,i«;rd avidity. 

JJjjj'Jjjk Hi* hi il Imtnight I nut rmly visited all the principal 
J.;iki.;> in Hm in li'.ltl tout hood, but I aUo spent an afternoon 
amon^ tin. nijiiii of Furnas Abb*y. descended into the iron 
mine* in that neighbourhood, and explored. I think, more 
than a quarter of a milr under ground, the copper-mines near 
(JonisLon. After the celebration of the regatta at Winder- 
mere I left Hawkshead, and commenced my last and longest 
journey. After passing for twenty-five miles through a most 
rugged and desolate country I arrived at the foot of Wastdalc, 
The day following I ascended about three miles by the side 
of a noble expanse of water. On the opposite side a mountain 
entirely covered with rock rose abruptly, to the height of 
2000 feet, from the margin of the lake ; when 1 arrived at the 



top I found myself in an amphitheatre of pyramidal mountains, 1813. 
all of which terminated in sharp rocks, Rudge makes the <**• * 8 - 
perpendicular height of the ridge considerably more than 
3000 feet. I was this day quite alone, and felt an elevation 
of spirits infinitely greater than when I was surveying the 
sweet country on the shores of Windermere. I sometimes 
thought that the lovely scenery in that neighbourhood made 
me melancholy. In Wastdale everything was rugged and 
sublime; about a dozen farm-houses seemed to make the 
desolation more visible. From this place I pursued my way 
through a pass in the mountains by a most frightful road, 
which literally winds among masses of rock which have fallen 
from the precipice above. I remained on horseback till I 
became quite giddy ; then I dismounted, and led the way to 
the top along a road in many places not more than a foot 
and a half wide. A false step would have been destruction 
to my beast. 

August 19. I was prevented from coming to a conclusion 
on Tuesday, and am now so busy that I shall be compelled to 
take the remaining part of my tour for granted. Suffice it to 
say that I arrived from Wastdale-head to Borrowdale without 
breaking my neck. I proceeded through the most romantic 
vale in England to Keswick, where I met with a Cambridge 
man with whom I prosecuted my journey for the next four 
days. We walked round Bassenthwaite, ascended Borrow- 
dale, explored the lead-mines, perhaps a quarter of a mile 
from the surface of the earth : and descended to Buttermere 
through a fine pass in the mountains. The celebrated Mary 
has now no personal charms to recommend her, but I must 
recollect her with gratitude, for I was wet to the skin, and she 
spliced me with a dry shirt, and her husband's breeches. 
We scraped an acquaintance with the parson, who introduced 
us to a party of ladies who were going on Crummock Lake 
on a fishing excursion. We caught few fish, but had lots of 
conversation. We returned to Keswick, and went together to 
Ambleside, where we parted, and where I considered my tour 

S. I. 9 


1813. as terminating. I remained one day near Windermere, which 

Mt - * 8 * I spent in sailing, and had I imagine very nearly been upset, 

and in the evening I dined with Wilson, the author of TJie 

Isle of Palms 1 . He is a clever convivial man, much superior 

to what I should have expected from his poetry*". 

After this he accompanied his sisters to Gordale, near 
Settle, and ended the vacation with a visit to his friend Carr, 
whose appointment to the headmastership of Durham School 
has been already mentioned*. In October he was well enough 
to return to Cambridge 4 , whither he was accompanied by 
his brother James, who was entered as a sizar at St Jofin's 

For the moment Sedgwick had recovered, but he felt the 
effects of this illness throughout his life. " I have been liable 
to attacks of congestion ever since 181 3," he wrote in 1864; 
and he told Dr Hooker that he had become "unfit for 
sedentary labour after 181 3." Fresh air and regular exercise 
became indispensable to him; and frequent attacks of ill- 
health warned him that he must seek for a profession which 
would keep him out of doors for several months in each year. 

1 John Wilson, better known as Christopher North, published The Isle of 
Palms, and other Poems, in 181 2. 

9 To Rev. W. Ainger, 17 August, 1813. 

8 The Rev. John Carr died in November, 1833. Mr Robert Surtees, in a 
letter dated 1 5 November of that year, thus sums up his character : ' ' He was 
eminently distinguished as a mathematician, and was, perhaps, not less dis- 
tinguished as a classical scholar. He peculiarly excelled in pure Latin com- 
position, but his private character was to me his chief recommendation. Kind, 
unobtrusive, gentle ; most pure, most blameless, wrapped up in domestic feeling, 
and neither meddling with nor caring for the world, I firmly believe he had not an 
enemy.... There was a quiet, unobtrusive independence about him, which I never, 
perhaps, saw equalled ; a purity and delicacy of mind and manners arising from 
the union of a complete education and the most perfect sense of honour, united to 
the most unaffected simplicity of manner. As a schoolmaster, he never looked 
like one, but he sent good scholars to Cambridge. No boy ever left Durham 
without loving him." A short time before his death Carr had been made 
Professor of Mathematics in the newly founded University of Durham. A 
monument, by Rickman, was erected to him in Durham Cathedral. Taylor's 
Memoir of Robert Surtees, ed. Raine, p. 439. 

4 Many of the details respecting this illness have been supplied by Miss 


This conviction, more than any other consideration, deter- 1814. 
mined him to become a candidate for the Professorship of Mu *9« 
Geology in 18 18 ; and, after forty-nine years devoted to that 
science, he could say with thankfulness : " Geology has been 
a hard task-mistress, but she has paid me nobly in giving me 
health, which I had utterly lost before I put myself under her 
robust training 1 ." 

The immediate effects of Sedgwick's illness are painfully 
apparent in the listlessness and want of energy from which he 
suffered during the next two years. He was evidently obliged 
to take constant care of himself, and felt indisposed for 
any intellectual exertion that was not absolutely indispens- 
able. He performed his duties as College examiner ; tried to 
make his brother James work ; and did some desultory read- 
ing, partly theological, on his own account But the old 
animation was gone, and the letters which formerly he wrote 
so frequently, ceased altogether. And yet events took place 
which under more favourable circumstances would have 
furnished him with subjects for long and entertaining narra- 
tives. There was the great frost of January, 18 14, when no 
coal-barges could get up the river, and he was obliged, as he 
has been often heard to say, to burn his gun-case and some of 
his chairs*; and in July the dinner in Hall to the Chancellor 
and Marshal Blucher, on leaving which he saw the old soldier 
snatch up an attractive damsel who was pressing forward to 
get a good look at him, and give her a kiss. But on these 
trifles, and on graver matters, he is equally silent. In the 
summer months a curacy was suggested to him, at a small 
place in Northamptonshire, where the church, he was assured, 
would not be too much for his lungs 8 ; but he had not energy 
enough to submit to even the small amount of work then 

1 To Mrs Norton, 17 August, 1867. 

* Professor Pryme records (Recollections y p. 113), that the scarcity of coal 
was so great and the cold so severe, that some of the trees in the grounds of 
St John's College were cut down for fuel, and at all the colleges men sat two or 
three together in one room. 

8 From Rev. W. Ainger, 1 May, 1814. 

9 — 2 


1814. required of candidates for ordination, and so the proposal was 
Mu *9- declined. In the spring of 18 15 he attended the lectures of 
William Farish, Jacksonian Professor of Natural and Experi- 
mental Philosophy, probably more for the sake of obtaining 
intellectual gratification without thought or trouble, than for 
any more serious reason. But, listless as he was at Cambridge, 
the moment he got to Dent he became a different man. In 
September 18 14 Ainger and his brother James paid him a 
visit there, and they took a pedestrian excursion together. 
The letter in which he directs James Ainger how to get to 
Dent shows how difficult it was in those days to reach remote 
parts of England. 

"The distance of our village from Ingleton is not more 
than eight miles. If the weather should be very favourable, I 
should be happy to meet you there, and walk home with you 
over the mountains. On horseback we perhaps might break 
our necks. If the weather should be bad it will be better to 
go on to Kirkby Lonsdale, which is about eleven miles from 
Dent. The road from thence is passable by a carriage, though 
some parts of it are as steep as any house-roof in Whittlesea. 
We could easily contrive to meet you there with a horse. At 
all events it will be necessary that your portmanteau should be 
conveyed to Kirkby Lonsdale or Kendal, and from one of 
those places to Dent by a carriage. If your Reverend brother 
come along with you it will be best to post it from Kirkby 
Lonsdale, and then you will both arrive bag and baggage." 

During the expedition Sedgwick was evidently better able 
to bear fatigue than either of his friends. Their melancholy 
experiences evidently made a deep impression on him ; for, 
writing to one of them thirty-seven years afterwards, he 
laments that he had then become " a poor walker compared 
with what I was when I took you (I think in 18 14) to the 
Ulverston slate-quarries, and witnessed on your face an 
expression of anything but comfort 1 ." 

When his friends had left him, Sedgwick made a short 

1 To James Ainger, Esq., 19 December, 1851. 


tour in Yorkshire. He went by way of Leeds to York, which 1814. 
he had evidently never visited before, and was profoundly iEt 2 9- 
impressed by the "vastness, harmony of proportion, and rich- 
ness of execution of the cathedral," though the exterior was 
" miserably spoiled by a set of dirty houses which press so 
close upon it that no situation can be found from which the 
whole pile can be seen at once. ,, Next morning he went on 
to Hull, taking Beverley by the way. "The minster is a 
beautiful specimen of the lighter gothic, though in some 
places much injured by certain modern improvers. The west 
front is exquisite, infinitely superior to that of Westminster 
Abbey, which was intended to be an imitation of it. Hull 
is a fine town of the kind, though, I should think, not a 
very comfortable residence. The docks are beautiful, and 
the Humber is superb. As we were crossing it the merchant 
vessels seemed almost to cover its surface. In our passage 
we met a steamboat, working its way at a prodigious rate 
against wind and tide." From Hull he travelled to Cambridge 
by Peterborough, where he thought the cathedral " very fine ; 
but whoever compares it with that at York should be stoned 
for blasphemy 1 ." 

As soon as the Peace of 18 14 had been concluded, English- 
men, who had been shut up within the narrow limits of their 
own island for more than a quarter of a century, felt a natural 
anxiety to explore the Continent, and above all France, with 
whose Government we had been so long at war. Several of 
Sedgwick's intimate friends had taken the first opportunity to 
go abroad — Bland to Switzerland, Charles Musgrave to 
France, whence he wrote exceedingly interesting letters. 
He notes the richness and the beauty of the country, the 
cheapness of living, even to a foreigner, and the efforts that 
were being made, at the sea-ports and elsewhere, to recover 
from the disastrous isolation to which France, like England, 
had been so long subjected. The effects of the war were still 
painfully apparent: "In passing through the country I have 

1 To Rev. W. Ainger, 31 October, 181 4. 


1815. seen few men in the fields compared to the number of women. 
&t. 30. Th e effective male population of France seems to have been 
completely drained by the war." English troops were still 
marching through France on their way home from Spain, and 
the sight of them did not increase the respect for the restored 
Government, which was on all grounds unpopular, especially 
with the army : "No one endeavours to conceal that the 
military are highly disaffected to the King, and are panting 
for a change." Nor were traces of the Revolution wanting : 
" Every town on the Loire presents a monastery in ruins, and 
the chapels of the convents have been principally converted 
into Diligence-offices and stables. The men who have con- 
ducted us down the Loire from Nantes remember to have 
seen boats crowded with Royalists sent to the bottom, while 
the Revolutionists fired at them from the shore if they raised 
their heads above the surface of the water 1 ." These and 
other letters, similar in tone, though less graphically written, 
were not without their effect on Sedgwick, and in the early 
spring of 1815 he was planning not only a tour in France, but 
a first essay in authorship. By way of preparation he spent 
part of the Lent Term in learning the French language, and in 
reading French books. His projects, however, were overset by 
Napoleon's escape from Elba; and he was obliged to exchange 
Paris for Bury St Edmunds, and French literature for divinity. 
"My French journey is quite hopeless. If that were the 
only ill effect to be expected from Bonaparte's visit it would 
not, perhaps, be much lamented. So many books of travels 
have been written that my little volume could not have con- 
tributed much to the general stock of information. 

"On Monday I shall begin to read divinity. I have got 
about twenty folios out of our library. By the way, if I 
should go to Bury I cannot take them with me. I must 
therefore begin the Monday following. No matter*." 

1 From Charles Musgrave, dated "Paimbceuf, 18 July, 1814." 

2 To Rev. W. Ainger, 30 March, 1815. Mr Ainger was now curate of 
Hackney, London. 


In the course of the Lent Term Cambridge was visited by 1815. 
an unusually severe epidemic of typhoid fever. At first little ^t. 30. 
or no attention was paid to it, but the deaths of several 
members of the University, and the serious illness of others, 
created so great a panic, that on the 3rd May — in deference to 
public opinion rather than from any conviction of the necessity 
of such a measure — the Senate agreed to allow the term then 
commencing to all undergraduates, who, having kept the 
previous term, chose to absent themselves. Such a permission 
was of course largely taken advantage of, and the public life 
of the University practically ended on the day the above 
Grace passed 1 . Even the Commencement was celebrated with 
maimed rites ; " not a single fiddle'" was heard, and the non- 
resident Masters of Arts who had journeyed to Cambridge in 
search of pleasure went back to their chambers and their 
parishes sorely disappointed. Sedgwick, warned by his own 
experience of "the Cambridge fever" in 1804, had beaten a 
hasty retreat at a somewhat earlier period, and gone down 
to Dent with his brother James, and his friends Lodge 8 and 
Sheepshanks 4 . 

Dent, May 22, 181 5. 
Dear Ainger, 

The escape of Bonaparte from Elba was not more 
sudden and unexpected than my flight from Cambridge. I 
had resolved to remain at all events ; and as I knew that my 
brother James was not likely to read much at home (for God 

1 The exact words of the Grace are worth quotation : " Cum opinio, quamvis 
vana forsan sit, late pervagata est, et multorum animis insedit, earn esse hoc 
tempore loci hujusce gravitatem, ut Juvenes Academici non sine vitae periculo in 
eo commorari valeant ; Placeat vobis, quo Parentum potius medeamur anxietati, 
quam quod rei necessitas ita postulare videatur, ut scholares in quacunque facultate, 
vel absentes, hunc terminum complevisse censeantur, ea tamen lege ut nemini qui 
superiore termino abfuerit, haec Gratia sit profutura." 

2 From Rev. W. Ainger, 29 July, 1815. 

8 John Lodge, Trin. Coll. B.A. 1814; afterwards Fellow of Magdalene Coll. 
and University Librarian 1822 — 1845. 

4 Richard Sheepshanks, Trin. Coll. B.A. 1816, a distinguished mathematician, 
afterwards Fellow, Secretary to the Astronomical Society, and Founder of the 
Sheepshanks' Fund and Exhibition. 


1815. knows his literary zeal is not very great in any place), I was 
&\. 30. resolved still more on his account to remain in College. The 
death of six or seven members of the University during the 
latter part of the Lent term excited so much apprehension, 
that the walls of many colleges were quite deserted in the 
vacation. About the beginning of this term two men, one of 
Christ's and the other of Emmanuel, died the same morning. 
The fever also began to make its appearance in our College, 
which till then had escaped all contagion. These melancholy 
appearances excited so much alarm that many members of 
our College, and among the rest your present correspondent, 
were persuaded to scamper off, without having time to give 
notice of their departure. At the time of our departure we 
expected to be called back to the University to keep the latter 
part of the term. The death, however, of another member of 
Emmanuel College, and one or two new cases of fever, induced 
the Senate about the beginning of this month to give the term 

Since my arrival I have as usual been engaged in a variety 
of employments. I have now read the whole of Gil Bias 
twice over, and am reading for the second time certain parts 
of Telemaque. A short analysis of certain chapters in 
Beausobre's Introduction has employed part of my time, 
but the task is a confounded dry one. Old Carr had the 
kindness to lend me a very elaborate commentary on St Luke, 
of which I purpose to make myself master. I hope also to 
read the Bishop of Lincoln and Burnet on the Articles in 
course of the summer. 

My sisters received five or six weeks since a second package 
of books for the use of their Sunday Schools 1 . Upwards of 40 
children attend, and many of them have made a highly satis- 
factory progress ; but more of this in my next. 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

1 The school had been established in, or about, 181 3. Memorial, p. xi. 


This quiet life was interrupted by one great excitement — 1815. 
the news of the victory of Waterloo — which Sedgwick had the &*• 30. 
pleasure of bringing himself to Dent. How this came to pass 
can fortunately be told in his own words. 

" At that time we had a post three days a week, and each of 
those days, to the great comfort of the aged postman, I rode 
over to Sedbergh to bring back the newspapers and the letters 
to my countrymen. Gloomy reports had reached us of a 
battle and a retreat; but another and greater battle was at 
hand ; and on one of my anxious journeys, just as I passed 
over the Riggs, I heard the sound of the Sedbergh bells. 
Could it be, I said, the news of a victory ? No ! it was a full 
hour before the time of the postman's arrival. A minute 
afterwards I saw a countryman returning hastily from 
Sedbergh. " Pray what means that ringing ?" I said. "News, 
Sir, sich as niver was heard before : I kn& lile about it ; but 
the Kendal postman has just come an hour before his time. 
He was all covered with ribbons, and his horse was all covered 
with froth." Hearing this, I spurred my horse to the Kendal 
postman's speed ; and it was my joyful fortune to reach 
Sedbergh not many minutes after the arrival of the Gazette 
Extraordinary which told us of the great victory of Waterloo. 

"After joining in the cheers and congratulations of my 
friends at Sedbergh, I returned to Dent with what speed I 
could ; and such was the anxiety of the day that many scores 
of my brother Dalesmen met me on the way, and no time was 
lost in our return to the market-place of Dent. They ran by 
my side as I urged on my horse ; and then, mounting on the 
great blocks of black marble, from the top of which my 
countrymen have so often heard the voice of the auctioneer 
and the town-crier, I read, at the highest pitch of my voice, 
the news from the Gazette Extraordinary to the anxious crowd 
which pressed round me. After the tumultuous cheers had 
somewhat subsided, I said : ' Let us thank God for this great 
victory, and let the six bells give us a merry peal/ As I 
spoke these words an old weather-beaten soldier who stood 


1815. under me said : * It is great news, and it is good news, if it 
;Et. 30. bring us peace. Yes, let the six bells ring merrily ; but it has 
been a fearful struggle, and how many aching hearts will 
there be when the list of killed and wounded becomes known 
to the mothers, wives, and daughters of those who fought and 
bled for us ! But the news is good, and let the six bells ring 
merrily 1 1,M 

Just a month after this stirring scene had been enacted 
before the public of Dent, private news came to Sedgwick 
which must have caused a nearly equal excitement in the 
home-circle at the vicarage. Hudson, who had succeeded 
Jones as Senior Tutor of Trinity College, had accepted the 
vicarage of Kendal, and the approaching vacancy of the tutor- 
ship — which could not be delayed, at the farthest, beyond the 
expiration of the year of grace — had been taken advantage of 
by the Master and Seniors to extend the number of tutors to 
three — a step rendered necessary by the increase in the number 
of students. Two of the assistant-tutors, John Brown, and 
James Henry Monk", were promoted, as was usual, to be tutors, 
and the offices thus vacated had to be filled up. The selection 
of assistant-tutors was at that time left to the tutors under 
whom they had to work, and Monk, with the consent of his 
colleague, invited Sedgwick to accept one of the vacant posts. 

From Rev. y. H. Monk. 

Cambridge, July 15, 1815. 
Dear Sedgwick, 

You are probably aware that J. Brown and myself have 
been appointed to succeed Mr Hudson as joint Tutors. I now 
write to solicit your aid as mathematical assistant tutor, and to 
express the earnest hope of my colleague and myself that you may 
find it consistent with your views and your feelings to accept that 
office. We are well aware of the great advantage which would 
accrue to the College from your assistance in the tuition, and are 
persuaded that the appointment would be in the highest degree 
gratifying to every person who is interested for the prosperity of our 

It is, I believe, Brown's intention to take the higher mathematical 
departments himself, though not exactly in the same arrangement as 

1 Supplement^ p. 38. a Professor of Greek 1808 — 18*3. 


Hudson has done. But I am certain that in this, as well as in every 18 15. 
other respect, your wishes will be consulted as far as possible, and jEt. 30. 
nothing will be omitted, to make the situation as agreeable and as 
beneficial to you as circumstances can allow. 

It is necessary to mention that the original arrangement made by 
Mr H. for giving up the tuition has been altered. He had agreed to 
resign it to us at Michaelmas. This agreement he has broken, and 
has induced the Master to suffer him to retain the pupils till 
Christmas, except the freshmen, whom he will give up to Brown 
and myself at Michaelmas. Though this alteration is naturally a 
subject of displeasure to us, on many accounts, yet it will make no 
difference in the department of which you are invited to accept: 
since Brown is decidedly of opinion that it is desirable for the person 
who gives the mathematical lectures to the freshmen, to begin with 
them in October. 

I am aware that your health has not been strong, but I trust that 
it is now better, and at all events that there is no fatigue in the office 
alluded to which you need apprehend. 

I shall leave College next Friday morning — but a letter directed 
to me here will follow me — so do not hurry in deciding, should you 
hesitate. But I am sanguine in hoping that we may have the 
benefit of your valuable assistance. 

I am, dear Sedgwick, with great regard, 

Ever your most faithful Servant, 

J. H. Monk. 

This letter must have been in every way gratifying to 
Sedgwick. The proposed office offered him a congenial 
occupation with less wear and tear than private tuition, and 
besides might lead eventually to a Tutorship. He did not, 
however, accept it without due consideration. The answer 
which he finally wrote — so modest, dictated by so nice a sense 
of honour, and so perfectly straightforward — must have con- 
firmed Monk in the belief that he had made choice of a 
colleague who would do him credit. 

Dent, July 2%, 181 5. 
Dear Sir, 

Our communication with the post town is so irregular 
that I have only had your letter a day or two, but should 
think myself unpardonable, if I any longer postponed my 
reply. I should indeed have written sooner if I had not been 
desirous of first speaking to some of my friends in this neigh- 
bourhood. They have all earnestly wished me to accept the 


1815. mathematical lectureship. The reluctance which I at first 
&t. 30. expressed to them did not arise, let -me assure you, from any 
dislike to the appointment, more especially when the offer of 
it was made in terms so very flattering to my feelings ; but 
from an indescribable fear of not being able to discharge the 
duties of it properly. You are aware that for the last three 
years my health has not allowed me to attend seriously to any 
mathematical subjects. I am, however, now much better, and 
have besides most solemnly resolved within myself not to 
retain the office of lecturer unless I feel myself on trial quite 
equal to the duties of it If I acted otherwise I should show 
myself very little deserving the good opinion you have so 
handsomely expressed, and of which you and your colleague 
have given me so substantial a proof. I hope you will both 
accept my thanks, and at the same time my congratulations 
on your appointment to the Tutorship. 

It will of course be necessary for the Bishop 1 to confirm my 
appointment ; but you or Mr Brown will know how to speak 
to him on the subject I hope you will have the kindness to 
write again when all is finally settled. 

Since I left Cambridge I have been leading the most retired 
life possible. But even in this corner of the world we are all 
overjoyed at the great events which have been passing on the 
Continent Every individual in the Island must have exulted 
at the exploits of our brave fellows. By the way I had forgot 
that there may perhaps be one or two exceptions in the Com- 
bination Room of Trin. Coll. I expect some friends when 
the moorgame season commences, in whose company I shall 
probably not spend a very sedentary life. Early in September 
I propose to return to College. In a few weeks after that 
time I shall hope to have the pleasure of meeting you. 

Believe me, Dear Professor, 

Your most faithful servant, 

A. Sedgwick. 

1 William Lort Mansel, D.D. Master of Trinity College, was Bishop of Bristol 
from 1808 to his death in 1820. 


Trin. Coll. September 23, 1815. 1815. 

Dear Ainger, &t. 30. 

I have been leading a very active, though perhaps 

not a very profitable, life since I received your last letter. 

Two friends from Nottinghamshire spent the latter half of 

August with me in Dent We were constantly out on the 

moors, and killed a good many birds. About a fortnight 

after their departure I turned my face towards the South. 

I had several reasons for leaving Dent so soon. In the first 

place I have accepted the office of mathematical lecturer 

under our new Tutors, and I was desirous of having some 

time to prepare for my new duties. In the next place I 

was desirous of getting James up to College, where he will, I 

hope, adopt new habits. He has been doing nothing in the 

country this summer. Besides, I hoped to have some sport 

in this neighbourhood before the confinement of lectures. 

I left our friends well, and as for myself I am in better 

health than I have enjoyed for three years before. Bland is 

returned from France. He does not open out freely, but he 

looks well. My sisters' school flourishes as well as they can 

expect. I attended almost every Sunday during the summer, 

and heard one of the classes. They are desirous of instituting 

some little rewards occasionally among the children, and have 

petitioned the assistance of some of the good folks in the 

parish. I have promised a guinea, which I mean to spend in 

books. Can you recommend me to any cheap shop ? Does 

the National Society print any books which would answer the 

purpose ? I intend, if they will admit such a heretic, to be a 

subscriber to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. 

Could you propose me ? 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Trin. Coll. November 29, 181 5. 
Dear Ainger, 

I fear you will complain of me for not having written 
sooner. Indeed I have no excuse to offer. As Hudson still 


1816. continues in College, and the labours of the mathematical 
^t. 31. lecturer are consequently divided between Brown and myself, 
Euclid and the first part of Algebra have fallen to my share. 
If you inquire what I have been doing, I can hardly tell you. 
My health has, however, been much better than it was last 
year. The run in the country last summer has quite set me 
up. Father Bland and your other college friends are I believe 
well ; though I am sorry to say that one or two cases of fever 
have made their appearance in the University during this term. 
It is now near 12 o'clock, and my fire is almost out. You 
must therefore allow me to finish by assuring you that I 
remain yours truly and affectionately 

A. Sedgwick. 

In the summer of the following year (18 16) Sedgwick 
spent four months in France, Switzerland, part of Germany, 
and Holland. Travelling was slow in those days, and, 
though he was so long abroad, he did not see more than 
would now be accomplished in less than half the time. Nor 
has he left any detailed account of what he did see. This is 
the more provoking, as he was a keen and accurate observer, 
and was travelling at a time of special interest. He kept a 
journal, it is true, but unfortunately it was only written up at 
intervals — occasionally very long ones — and therefore is little 
better than a record of places visited, people met, and dis- 
comforts endured in the inns and on the road. Page after 
page, especially at the commencement, is filled with dis- 
jointed notes, which make us suspect that, when he started, 
he had still some idea of writing a book, and was jotting down 
heads of paragraphs, and fragmentary details, to assist his 
memory on a future occasion. 

He embarked at Brighton on June 22nd, and reached 
Dieppe on the following evening at 9 o'clock. There he 
joined his friend Edward Valentine Blomfield, Fellow of 
Emmanuel College 1 , his pupil Lord Charles Murray, and 

1 A distinguished classical scholar (B.A. 1811), younger brother of C. J. 
Blomfield. He died, of a fever caught abroad, 3 October, 1816, a few days after 


another Englishman, and in their company journeyed by way 1816. 
of Rouen to Paris, which was reached on the afternoon of ^- 3»- 
June 27th. Here we will give a specimen of the diary : 

"27. Early walk in Mantes. Church injured by the Revolution. 
Churches in Normandy very beautiful. Down the valley of the 
Seine to Meulan. Mons. Wastel the priest. Destruction of his 
church and his sufferings. Dialect of the Normans. St Germain. 
Royal Palace. Panorama from the top. Immense work on the 
Seine at Marly. Enter Paris. Palais Royal. Dinner surrounded 
by [disreputable characters]. A general description of the valley of 
the Seine. Riches of the country — no appearance of depopulation 
or misery. n 

A fortnight was spent in Paris ; but bad weather, a 
rooted prejudice against the Roman Catholic religion, and a 
cordial hatred of all the ways and works of the French, 
prevented him from enjoying it as much as he did a few years 
afterwards. Entries of this sort frequently occur: "A French- 
man will never pretend to be ignorant ; but he will rather lie 
than make that confession. Insolence of the soldiers;" "Con- 
temptible character of the French. No display of loyalty on 
this occasion (a review of the National Guard by the King)"; 
and in one of his letters, though he admits that "the beautiful, 
gay, and profligate city of Paris is a noble capital," he adds, 
" but the people are so abominable and detestable that there 
can be no peace for Europe if they are not chained down as 
slaves, or exterminated as wild beasts." He took a master 
in the French language, and worked hard at the usual sights, 
among which the method of instructing the deaf and dumb 
pursued by the Abb6 Sicard — successor to the famous Abb6 
de TEp6e — seems to have interested him more than Notre 
Dame or the Louvre. He also visited the gaming-houses, then 
so numerous, the cates, and the principal theatres ; saw Talma 
twice in Manlius Capitolinus 1 and Mile. Mars as Elmire in 

his return to Cambridge. An interesting memoir of him, by J. H. Monk, is in the 
Museum Crititum, of which he had been one of the founders, i. 510. 

1 A tragedy in verse by Antoine de la Fosse, sieur d'Aubigny (born 1653, 
died 1708) a contemporary and imitator of Racine. The play is poor, with a 
single fine scene, in which Manlius by means of an intercepted letter discovers a 


1816. Tartuffe. This latter occasion was of unusual interest. The 
&*• 3i- performance had been commanded by the Due de Bern, on 
whose entrance, accompanied by his wife, there was a good 
deal of enthusiasm, repeated when the famous lines were 
spoken, which have been applied to so many different persons, 
and have glorified such opposite principles : 

Remettez vous, monsieur, (Tune alarm e si chaude, 
Nous vivons sous un prince ennemi de la fraude, etc. 

About the middle of July, accompanied by William Hodge 
Mill 1 , then a Junior Fellow of Trinity College, Sedgwick 
started for Switzerland. A weary journey of six days brought 
them to Lyons ; whence, after a brief rest, they proceeded to 
Geneva. The bad weather followed them, and, besides this 
drawback to their enjoyment, the place was "filled with a set 
of lounging impertinent English coxcombs, who appear to go 
abroad for no other purpose than to disgrace their country." 
There he met by appointment, John Haviland", Fellow of 
St John's College, with whom he made a tour through 
Switzerland, for the most part on foot. 

"We started from Lausanne on the second of August, and 
walked to Vevay, a beautiful small town near the head of the 
lake. Next day we proceeded in a voiture to Martigny, 
through a valley infinitely more beautiful than anything my 
imagination had ever formed. Of the Alps I had formed 
a good general notion. One can conceive an outline varied 
in every possible form ; a man can imagine a mountain four 
times as high as any he has seen ; but of that exquisite 
perfection of scenery which arises from contrast and com- 
bination, no one can have any perfect notion who has not 
been in Switzerland. If I attempt to describe these delicious 

conspiracy against his life, organised by his friend Servilius. He hands the 
letter to Servilius and bids him read it aloud. When he has finished Manlius 
exclaims "Qu'en dis-tu?" The great success of the revival is said to have been 
entirely due to the expression of Talma's face while Servilius was reading, and to 
the tone in which he uttered the above words. 

1 Regius Professor of Hebrew 1848 — 1854. 

2 Professor of Anatomy 1 8 1 4 — 1 8 1 7 ; Regius Professor of Medicine 1 8 1 7 — 1 85 1 . 


scenes, I should only use certain general terms which would 1816. 
convey no distinct meaning. ^t. 31. 

"Next morning we started for Chamouni, with a guide and 
three mules. After having ascended for some time we entered 
the pine forests. These forests are constantly broken in upon 
by small patches of cultivated ground. If the soil is capable 
of producing anything, the Swiss are sure to find it out. You 
observe on the very confines of perpetual snow small wooden 
cottages, many of which are only inhabited during the summer. 
They drive up a certain number of goats or cows sufficient to 
consume the vegetation ; and when that is finished descend 
again into the valleys. I was also much pleased with observing 
the mode in which the Swiss have cultivated some mountains 
which in any other country would have been quite unproduc- 
tive. They have erected a number of strong walls parallel to 
the horizon on the sides of their most rugged hills, which by 
those means become divided almost from top to bottom into 
a series of steps or platforms, the top of each wall being on 
a level with the field immediately above it. Each of these 
small slips of ground is cultivated with the utmost care ; and 
the whole mountain-side presents the appearance of an im- 
mense sloping garden. With such habits of industry, and 
such a country, the people can never be uninteresting. We 
were much pleased with the honest simplicity and kindness of 
this people, which was rendered still more agreeable by being 
contrasted with the unmanly insolence of the French. I find 
I am forgetting myself and running out into general observa- 
tions. I must pull up, and proceed with my journey. After 
having traversed the pines we reached the forests of larch 
trees which in this country are always found near the extreme 
limits of vegetation. Some of them were of an enormous size. 
We could not help observing the effects of the winter storms 
in these wild regions. Sometimes several acres of trees are 
cleared away in one night. We remarked also a passage 
formed through the forest by an avalanche of the preceding 
winter, which had literally forced its way to the bottom of the 
S. I. 10 


1816. valley. After having traversed this second valley we as- 
^ u 3 1 - cended a second and higher ridge, and at length emerged 
from the forest, and found ourselves in the regions of per- 
petual snow. We soon gained the top of the Col de Balme, 
and had before us perhaps the most glorious mountain 
scenery in the world. On the right were a ridge of lofty 
mountains, whose pointed summits rose far above the limit 
of perpetual snow, before us were the beautiful villages and 
fields of Chamouni, and on the left were the pinnacles of 
Mont Blanc, rising to a height of more than twelve thousand 
feet above the level of the valley. In our descent to the 
village we passed three glaciers. There is a very fine one 
below the village, which we visited that day. 

" Early next day we started for the sea of ice. It takes 
about two hours' good work to climb up to it. You are, 
however, well rewarded for your labour. A few stunted 
larches mark the limit of vegetation. After you enter the 
valley, everything is rude, barren, and desolate. We de- 
scended on the ice, and were amusing ourselves with throwing 
lumps of ice down the deepest crevices we could discover, 
when the rain began to fall in torrents, and soon drove us 
among the larches. We afterwards descended by a steep 
path along the side of the ice to the bottom of the valley. 
The lowest parts of these enormous glaciers appear to me by 
much the most interesting. One cannot form any perfect 
notion of the depth of the sea of ice, or of its general magni- 
tude, but no one can see without astonishment huge blocks of 
ice, some of them coming down into the even fields, piled 
one upon another to the thickness of some hundred feet, and 
extending for many leagues in the channeled sides of the 
mountain. In the lower part of the glaciers large masses are 
continually rolling down the hill with a loud rumbling noise, 
which adds much to the effect produced by such savage 
scenery. We returned next day, though not by the same 
route, to Martigny. 

" On the 7th, by the help of our mules, we ascended in 


eleven weary hours to the Mont St Bernard. We were well 1816. 
rewarded for our exertions. About half way up we met two ^Et 31. 
monks, one bearing a banner with a picture of the Virgin, 
and another with a crucifix, heading about two hundred 
people dressed in white. They consisted of a set of country 
people who had gone up to the convent to kiss the image of 
St Bernard, and to beg for his interest to get them some fine 
weather. We travelled over snow for about three miles 
before we reached the convent. The monks received us with 
hospitality, and even with politeness. One of the monks 
walked with us over a lake, at that time frozen four feet 
thick, to the ruins of an ancient temple. We took a peep ' 
into the north of Italy, returned, and dined, or rather supped, 
in hall with our new friends. The Prior was fortunately 
there — he does not commonly reside — a pleasant, well- 
informed man as I should wish to meet. We retired early — 
rose next morning at four, and were much astonished and not 
a little pleased to find two honest monks up, with some warm 
coffee and toast, to see us well off. 

" I have a great deal more to say, but my paper is nearly 
over, and I have already stolen an hour from my sleep. I 
must therefore content myself with saying that we got safe 
down ; that we went up the Valais ; crossed the Gemmi, and 
were nearly frozen among the sleet and snow ; that I had 
nearly broken my neck, and that I did break my crupper in 
endeavouring to follow a mad English sailor across a preci- 
pice ; that we have seen the lakes of Thun and Brientz, the 
glaciers of Grindelwald, and the town of Berne ; that we 
marched across the country from Berne to Lucerne by the 
help of the sun and stars, inasmuch as we neither knew the 
language of the people, nor the names of the towns we were 
to pass through; that we reached Lucerne this morning 1 ; 
that we are off for the Devil's Bridge tomorrow ; and lastly 
that I am 

Yours ever, A. Sedgwick. 

1 This letter, to the Rev. W. Ainger, is dated Lucerne, 17 August, 181 6. 

IO — 2 


1816. It is worthy of remark that the future geologist, though 

^t 31. filled with enthusiasm at the first sight of the Alps, says not a 
word about their physical structure, nor does he appear to 
have been more surprised than any ordinary tourist by the 
novel spectacle of a glacier. After some further adventures 
in Switzerland the travellers proceeded down the Rhine to 
Cologne, whence Haviland returned to England (10 Septem- 
ber) and Sedgwick went on alone to see something of Hol- 
land. Writing from Leyden (19 September), he says: 

"The Dutch I have found a mighty comfortable, sober- 
mannered, old-fashioned, people. In the towns you see great 
signs of active industry, though there everything goes on in a 
quiet orderly manner. It is however in his country-house 
that you see the animal in all his glory. By the side of his 
canals you see him enthroned amidst clipped hedges, sedge, 
and duckweed ; he is so grave and immoveable that at 
first you might easily mistake him for a smoking automaton. 
When you approach him you find his face the very picture of 
internal comfort. I had a deal of conversation with one of 
these comfortable-looking gentlemen in my way down the 
canal to Amsterdam. From his appearance I should conjec- 
ture that he was first cousin to a burgomaster. He asked me 
if I thought the Swiss villages as beautiful as the Dutch. I 
answered that I thought the Swiss villages much more beau- 
tiful ; and then proceeded to describe some of them. The 
Dutchman puffed the tobacco once or twice with somewhat 
more violence than before, and then observed that these things 
were well enough to look at, but after all Holland was the 
country to live in. The English are in great favour in this 
country. I have met with the greatest civility in all the parts 
of it I have seen. The inns are so excellent that I am more 
than half a convert to the old citizen's opinion." 

Sedgwick was always fond of art, and his diary shows that 
he took considerable interest in the Dutch School, which 
would of course be quite new to him. When he got to 
Antwerp, he criticises Rubens and Vandyke with an acuteness 


which shows a remarkable natural aptitude for grasping a 181 6. 
painter's characteristics : -**• 3*- 

"One striking character of Rubens' pictures, is animation. 
He always chooses a moment when some great event is taking place, 
and represents it with vigour and truth. He groups well — but 
there is almost always a want of delicacy and variety in his 
female figures. He is a great master of colour, but often seems 
only to have painted for distant effect I have, however, seen some 
pictures of his finished to the last degree, and which appear to me 
to equal anything I have ever seen in the richness, the disposition, 
and the harmony of the colours." 

From Antwerp, though he had been unwell for some days, 
Sedgwick persisted in going to Brussels, to have a look at the 
field of Waterloo. A sharp attack of fever — due to a neglected 
cold, incessant exposure, and hard travelling — was coming on, 
and by the time he reached La Belle Alliance he was so ill 
that he could with difficulty hold up his head. Next day a 
Belgian physician prescribed herb-tea, which did more harm 
than good ; and the result might have been serious had not 
an English physician been discovered, whose remedies, though 
severe, were efficacious. After nearly a week's confinement, 
the patient, sorely enfeebled, was allowed to travel, and pro- 
ceeded by way of Calais to Dover, where he landed in safety, 
after a passage of only five hours and a half, on the 17th 


Trin. Coll. March 16, [1817]. 

Dear Ainger, 

Some months have elapsed since we last parted, and 
I have still to reproach you for not having written to me. 
Pray what have you been doing ? How do you get on with 
your new college 1 ? How do you like your curacy, your 
living, &c. &c. ? 

My own history may be written in a very few words. 
Since we parted I have not been a single day out of College. 
During the Christmas vacation I was present at divers parties 
of whist, in which I did not join ; I witnessed the scaling of 

1 The new Theological College of St Bees in Cumberland, of which Mr 
Ainger had just been made Principal. 


1817. many pies, of which I did not taste; and I saw huge bowls 
Mt - 3*« of punch emptied without venturing even to sip of them. 
Notwithstanding this system of mortification, I spent my 
time pleasantly enough, for my health was better than it has 
been for the four preceding years. During the greater part 
of this term I have been slightly indisposed, principally I 
believe from the fatigue of lecturing ; I am beginning now to 
see land, for the Easter vacation commences before the ex- 
piration of next week. James will this week be very busy 
with the Fellowship examination. I am of course most 
anxious about his success. John is now here, but is not able 
to sit, as he was unfortunately elected to a Heblethwaite 
scholarship, which prevents his being a candidate for either of 
the Lupton Fellowships which are now vacant. Bland looks 
dismally; he has for some time been tormented with a 
jaundice ; he is now, I hope, convalescent Carr was up last 
vacation ; he had only been married about a fortnight, and 
was apparently quite happy, and most anxious to be back to 
his wife. He came to take possession of a small College 
living 1 to which he had been presented a few weeks before. 
The old Knight", I think, died after you left us ; Haviland 
has got the Regius Professorship. The Anatomical Pro- 
fessorship will be vacant next term. Clark and Woodhouse 
are again candidates. There is, I believe, no doubt whatever 
of Clark's success 8 . If you should be anywhere in this neigh- 
bourhood about the time of the election I hope you will come 
up and give him your vote. 

Yours ever, 
A. Sedgwick. 

1 Hatfield Broad Oak in Hertfordshire. 

8 Sir Isaac Pennington, M.D., Fellow of St John*s College. He was Professor 
of Chemistry 1773—93, and Regius Professor of Physic 1793 to his death, 
3 February, 1817. 

8 William Clark, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College, and John Thomas 
Woodhouse, M.D., Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, had been candidates for 
the Professorship of Anatomy in 181 4, when Haviland was elected. On this 
occasion Woodhouse retired, and Clark was elected without opposition. 


Since Sedgwick obtained his Fellowship in 1810 the study 1817. 
of Divinity had formed part of his programme of work, as JEu 3»- 
often as he drew up that record of good deeds to come. He 
was always going to begin ; he intended to be ordained before 
the summer was out ; and the like. Now, however, it had 
become impossible for that procrastinating spirit of his, which 
furnished him with so many jokes at his own expense, to 
frame any excuse for further delay. The stern voice of the 
statutes under which Trinity College was then governed pro- 
claimed that all the Fellows save two should be in Priest's 
Orders within seven years from the full completion of the 
degree of Master of Arts, under pain of forfeiting their 
Fellowship. No time was therefore to be lost ; and on July 
20th, 181 7, having obtained letters dimissory from the Lord 
Bishop of Bristol, Master of Trinity College, he was ordained 
deacon by Bishop Bathurst of Norwich. His companions in 
a postchaise thither, were Charles Musgrave, and Mill, his 
fellow-traveller for a portion of the previous summer. Mill, 
who had already begun the oriental studies in which he after- 
wards obtained such distinction, beguiled the tedium of the 
journey by translating, for the amusement of his companions, 
a tale from an Arabic manuscript 1 . 

The greater part of the Long Vacation was spent in the 
North, which he had not visited since 181 5. There he began 
to perform the duties of a clergyman, in the shape of writing 
and preaching sermons at Dent. In the course of the summer 
he found time for an excursion to the Lakes with Charles 
Musgrave ; paid a visit to Ainger at St Bees ; and later in the 
year visited Ambleside, where he provokingly just missed the 
pleasure of being introduced to Wordsworth, with whom he 
afterwards became so intimate*. Besides these occupations, 
he got his usual shooting at Dent, for the last time, as events 

1 To Miss F. Hicks, 27 December, 1853. Sedgwick was admitted to Priest's 
Orders on Sunday 15 February, 18 18, at Quebec Chapel, London, by the Lord 
Bishop of Salisbury. 

2 To Rev. W. Ainger, 6 November, 18 17. 


1818. proved — but he never forgot the pleasure he had derived from 
<<Et. 33* that sport In 1866 — forty-nine years afterwards — happening 
to write to a friend on the first day of September — he said : 
" In early life I used to count much upon this day, for I was 
a keen sportsman till I became a professed Geologist. So 
soon as I was seated in the Woodwardian Chair I gave away 
my dogs and gun, and my hammer broke my trigger. My 
sporting days ended with the autumnal season of 181 7V So 
long as he was employed in this way we hear nothing about 
his health ; but as soon as he got back to Cambridge he 
began as usual to feel ill again. The work was no doubt 
severe. " I am as usual employed two hours every morning 
in lecturing to the men of the first and second year, and every 
other day we are engaged about two hours and a half more in 
examining the men of the third year. We are besides em- 
ployed at least three hours in the evening in looking over 
their papers*." His relations had already urged him to 
resign his lectureship, and rusticate for the rest of his days. 
To those who knew him, idleness and Sedgwick is such a 
strange conjunction, that it sounds wonderful that even 
paternal solicitude should have suggested it It is fortunate 
that he turned a deaf ear to these admonitions ; "had he not 
done so he might have missed the golden opportunity which 
shortly presented itself. 

Early in the Lent Term of 181 8 it was whispered in 
Cambridge that the Rev. John Hailstone, one of the Senior 
Fellows of Trinity College, who had been Woodwardian 
Professor of Geology since 1788, and must therefore have 
reached the ripe age of fifty-eight, was proposing to take to 
himself a wife — a step which would ipso facto render the 
Professorship vacant by the provisions of the Founder's Will. 
Sedgwick at once made up his mind to be a candidate, for 
reasons which are best stated by himself in the following 
letter : 

1 To Rev. J. Edleston, 1 September, 1866. 
* To Rev. W. Ainger, 6 November, 181 7. 


Trin. Coll., March 19, 1818. 1818. 

Dear Ainger, Mu 33. 

I sent a letter to St Bees about five months since 
which most probably never reached its address; I should other- 
wise most assuredly have had an answer from one of my most 
punctual correspondents. But change of place, and change of 
time, and change of circumstances, are enough to work stranger 
changes than even this, and may, after all, have broken in upon 
those punctual business-like talents for which my old friend was 
most deservedly in good repute. But enough of other people, 
let us talk about ourselves. If thou art a priest, so am I, and, 
if thou art a Professor, so I fain would be. I don't suppose 
you have so entirely forgot Cambridge as not to feel some 
interest in our proceedings. 

We were very busy in the October term with the subjects 
of lectures : for, besides the ordinary course, we established 
additional examinations for the men who were going out. 
We have certainly reaped the fruits of our labours, for we 
turned out the Captain of the Tripos with eight other 
wranglers at his heels. Since that time we have got both the 
medals, the Pitt Scholarship, and the first on Bell's foundation. 
Notwithstanding this blaze of honours I am most heartily 
sick of my connexion with the Tuition, and only wish for an 
adequate motive for resigning all hopes in that quarter. Now 
such a motive will probably present itself ; for it is generally 
expected in Cambridge that the Woodwardian Professorship 
will be vacant by the marriage of Hailstone. In case that 
event should take place I mean to offer myself as a candidate 
for the vacant appointment. It would be quite premature to 
commence a general canvass ; I have therefore only written to 
my personal friends, requesting them to give publicity to my 
intentions, in a way too most likely to promote my interests. 
What do you think of the business ? If I succeed I shall 
have a motive for active exertion in a way which will promote 
my intellectual improvement, and I hope make me a happy 
and useful member of society. I am not such a fool as to 


1818. suppose that my present employment is useless; and my 
^ l - 33- pecuniary prospects are certainly better than they would be if 
I were Woodwardian Professor. Still, as far as the improve- 
ment of the mind is considered, I am at this moment doing 
nothing. Nay I often very seriously think that I am doing 
worse than nothing; that I am gradually losing that little 
information I once had, and very sensibly approximating to 
that state of fatuity to which we must all come if we remain 
here long enough. If you were two hundred miles nearer 
you might perhaps serve me with a vote. As it is let me 
have your opinion of the matter in the first place, and your 
good wishes in the second. There will probably be several 
candidates. Evans of our college means to offer himself. 
Carrighan of St John's 1 has been written to. He is now at 
Rome, and is expected back in a month or two. 

Yours ever 

A. Sedgwick. 

His friend's answer was rather lukewarm. Ainger approved 
his purpose, but added : " I should be quite delighted with it 
if I did not find, on consulting the Cambridge Calendar, that 
the salary is only £100 a year: yea, indulge me, as a Benedict, 
in saying further, that I am sorry to find you must, if suc- 
cessful, resign your honours whenever you follow your pre- 
decessor's example ! But, notwithstanding these drawbacks, 
you have my most hearty wishes for your success." The 
conclusion of the letter is significant, as showing the view 
then taken of Geology : " I really think the pursuit of miner- 
alogy will suit you to a hair, as I take it for granted that it 
will sometimes lead you to pick up stones, as well as to range 
them in your lecture-room." Other intimate friends to whom 
he wrote at this early date were more enthusiastic. Armstrong 
and Duckworth began to canvass Members of the Senate in 
London, and were successful in obtaining numerous promises 
of support against all comers. Bickersteth for instance pledged 

1 Arthur Judd Carrighan, Fellow of St John's College, B. A. 1 803. 


himself at once : "lam quite sure," he said, " that Sedgwick 1818. 
would not propose himself if he did not judge himself to be Mi - 33- 
the proper person ; and, if that is his opinion, I have no doubt 
of the fact" 

In the first instance the only candidate who appeared to 
have any serious intention of going to the poll was Robert 
Wilson Evans, Fellow and assistant-tutor of Trinity College. 
One of the two Musgraves had been thought probable ; but 
there is no evidence that he had any such intention himself, 
and the same may be said of Carrighan of St John's College. 
Evans was a dangerous opponent. He was a man of high 
character, deservedly popular both in his own college and in the 
University. Before long a third candidate appeared, George 
Cornelius Gorham, Fellow of Queens' College, who afterwards 
became celebrated for his long doctrinal controversy with 
Bishop Philpotts of Exeter. He had been third wrangler in 
1809, anc * could therefore show a better place in the Tripos 
than Sedgwick. Moreover he was reported to have "been 
studying Geology for a long time 1 "— an important point 
of which his friends did not fail to take full advantage. 
Sedgwick could make no such pretensions — nor indeed could 
Evans — but it was specially unfortunate that one of Sedgwick's 
two opponents belonged to his own college ; for, as one of 
his most active supporters observed, it " destroyed that cor- 
porate spirit which induces men to inconvenience themselves 
to attain an object about which individually they care 

Professor Hailstone having sent in his resignation (1 May), 
Sedgwick issued a short circular, dated on the same day, 
addressed to those whom he thought likely to support him. 
After announcing the vacancy, he said : 

"The kind assurances of support which I have received from 
many Members of the Senate, have induced me to declare myself a 
Candidate for the appointment. I am at the same time aware, that 
I have no right to found my expectations of success on support 

1 Pryme's Recollections, p. 135. 2 From R. B. Armstrong, 8 May, 181 8. 


tftfft, derived from the partiality of personal friends. Let me then assure 
/\t Ai ^ you that no one can appreciate more highly than myself, the great 
responsibility attached to the office for which I am now soliciting. I 
venture, therefore, to ask for the honour of your Vote and Interest 
at the ensuing Election; pledging myself, in the event of my 
success, to use my best endeavours to discharge the important duties 
of the Professorship, and to carry into full effect the intentions of its 
Founder. M 

Wc have not seen the circular issued by either of Sedg- 
wick's opponents, but both of them evidently took advantage 
of the vagueness of his pledges to state explicitly that they 
Intended to deliver lectures — a move which created a diversion 
to their side — for Armstrong warns Sedgwick (9 May) that : 
"the promise to lecture given by your opponents is con- 
sidered by their supporters as greatly in their favour; and 
perhaps with those that do not know you the maxim dolus in 
gitHtr*til)H$ may do you some disservice." It therefore became 
necessary to correct the erroneous impression which had got 
abroad ; and, the 21st day of May having been fixed by the 
Vice-chancellor for the election, Sedgwick issued a second 
circular (14 May) in which he informed his supporters of this 
fact, and added : 

"t have pledged myself, in the event of my success, to use 
my best endeavours to cany into lull effect the intentions of the 
t\ttinder of the tac&ssorship* In making that pledge, I more 
especially wished to refer to a clause in the Witi of Dr Woodward, 
by which it is provided that a Course of Lectures be anwoaOy read 
on some subjects connected with the Theory of the Earth. I am 
h&WY in h*Ytn£ an oMxwtunity of giving this additional expUnaxkn 
of my x-iews re^ctin^ the imjxwiaat duties attached to the o&oc lor 
wh*crt I am now $oik*tu^* 

A )X>£t$Cfipt tv> this; circular aaiKwnocs * that Mr Evans 

of Trinity CoJk^ye fe »o loader a caTk3ida)^e. , ' , He had restored 
frown tfoc oowrxs* after a <>ctt&p*risett of w&esv mikfc Sodg- 
widlt, <* sowic of kis rrktfkk. h*3 i*3x*«*3 iiittj to agree ta 
Siw»lat jwijvisak; m<« «&*de to Mr Gaduan. bat in vain. 
So^aicfc^ tincais tkerc&trci, sbcu^k riwy itih Aai afeer 
Etatts Ks^nrttfMfc ke was *vcna oo all i«wu»<3 ", being com- 
pdfoi t» ^Mtflmwi the <o«ftc3k ^tftcrmsned to make ht< 


majority as large as possible ; and, in addition to his resident 1818. 

supporters, arrangements were made for twenty London Mt ' 33- 

voters, most of whom were barristers, and could ill afford to 

lose even a single day, to travel to Cambridge in post-chaises 

or on horseback, record their votes, and return at night. The 

position of affairs, on the eve of the election, is graphically 

described by Gorham to his father : 

Queen's 1 College, Cambridge, 
17 May, 1818. 
My dear Father, 

Evans gave in on Thursday. I instantly got the Clare 
and Bene't resident Voters, but no others. St John's is against me. 
In £act, except a few stragglers, I have only Queen's, Catharine, 
Peterhouse, Clare, and Bene't. You shall have a note on Thursday 
night, though the event is not doubtful. I can only reckon on 
50 votes, and Sedgwick has promises of 190. Nevertheless I will, 
on principle, carry on the contest, and go through the disagreeable 
business of the poll. Sedgwick is put up by a large College, merely 
as a man of talent, who can soon fit himself for his office. For 
myself, I feel a conviction that few persons in the University have 
followed up the Science more sedulously than I have. If, therefore, 
the Electors choose to dispose of Woodward's funds upon the shame- 
ful principle of influence against qualification, I will drive them to the 
necessity (which I know they wish to avoid) of recording their votes 
at a poll, which may be published if I like it — not that I intend to 
take that step. Some few (like our dear friend Farish *) were taken in 
by anticipation : but the greater number avow the precedent of Bishop 

It has been clearly expected that I should give in ; to obviate 
any such rumour my notice in the Cambridge paper was worded in 
the form in which you see it 8 . Clarke 4 , I suspect, has given me his 
name, but not his interest The Trinity men employed him on Friday to 
persuade me to agree not to call in out-voters. I rejected any such 

You may rely on the number of votes, 60 to 200, being nearly 
correct, even if I push my minority to the utmost. To say nothing 
of the prejudices against a small College, and a methodistical one — 
and my having little acquaintance in the University — I feel that I 
have been left to myself. While Sedgwick's printed letters were 

1 Mr Gorham always, on principle, wrote Queen's, not Queens', College. 

9 William Farish, Fellow of Magdalene College, then Jacksonian Professor. 
Charles Farish, Fellow of Queens' College, voted for Gorham. 

* Cambridge Chronicle, 15 May, 18 18. " We are authorised to state that the 
Rev. G. C. Gorham, Fellow of Queens' College, decidedly intends to continue the 
contest for the Woodwardian Professorship." 

4 Edward Daniel Clarke, Professor of Mineralogy 1808 — 1813. 

i 5 8 


1818. underwritten by friends, only one of mine had that advantage — and, 
jEt. 33. excepting Mr Holmes and Dr Ingle, I do not believe that one 
member of the Senate has canvassed for me. 

Your affectionate Son, 


The result showed the correctness of these anticipations. 
Sedgwick polled 186 votes to his opponent's 59, a conclusion 
on which Gorham made the following comment in the 
promised note to his Father : " In the result I feel perfect 
satisfaction, though certainly not in the circumstances con- 
nected with it. The plain fact is that Sedgwick had all the 
influence of his College, and that of St John's exercised their 
influence against me as being a Methodist. Disagreeable as 
the day has been, I am glad I drove the matter to a Poll 1 /' 

A summary of the votes taken gives the following 
results : 

Proxies . 
Peterhouse . 
Clare Hall . 
Pembroke Hall 
Caius College 
Trinity Hall . 
Bene't College 
King's College 
Queens' College 
Catharine Hall 
Jesus College 
Christ's College 
St John's College 
Magdalene College 
Trinity College 
Emmanuel College 
Sidney College 
Downing College 
Commorantes in villa 



























l 9 































2 45 

It was natural that a disappointed candidate, smarting 
under a sense of undeserved wrong, should call Sedgwick's 

1 These letters — extracts from which are printed above — have been most 
kindly lent by the Rev. G. M. Gorham, Vicar of Masham, Yorks. 


success "an instance of favouritism V An examination of the 1818. 
above summary, however, shows that he not only polled more ^ Et 33- 
votes in his college than his opponent did in the whole 
academic body, but that there was a general feeling through- 
out the University in his favour. The colleges of Pembroke, 
Trinity Hall, King's, Christ's, and Downing voted " solid " for 
him ; he had a majority in those of Caius, Jesus, St John's, 
Magdalene, Emmanuel, Sidney ; those of Corpus Christi and 
St Catharine were equally divided, contributing respectively 
two and four to each side ; while Gorham had a majority 
only in his own college, in Peterhouse, and in Clare Hall. 
Further, those who care to go through the names recorded in 
the poll-book will find that Sedgwick's majority was not 
merely strong in numbers ; he had on his side most of those 
who were distinguished in the University by their position or 
their attainments. 

Gorham is probably right in saying that his own claims 
were never fairly considered. Nor is it unlikely that the 
strong evangelical tone of Queens' College at that time, 
taken in conjunction with Dr Milner's personal unpopularity 
with Liberals, and with most of the Fellows of Trinity 
College, the Mastership of which he had twice tried to obtain, 
may have done him some disservice. But we may safely assert 
that the election was virtually decided by Sedgwick's personal 
character. In the next chapter it will be shown that the 
successive Woodwardian Professors had done little or nothing 
to justify their appointment. To this discreditable state of 
things the University not unnaturally wished to put an end ; 
and Sedgwick, with his fiery energy, and reputation for 
thoroughness in whatever he did, seemed to be the man most 
likely to do this necessary work in a completely efficient 

In attempting to form a just estimate of the qualifications 

1 These words occur in Gorham's note to his father, dated ai May, 18 18, from 
which an extract has been already quoted. 


1818. of the two candidates, we must discard the ideas which we 
iEt - 33- now attach to the term geology, and recollect that at the 
beginning of the present century it was regarded as little 
better than a subordinate department of mineralogy, which, 
from its practical usefulness, and the beauty of the substances 
with which it dealt, had become popular at an early period. 
It was considered to be the business of a geologist to investi- 
gate the mode in which the earth had originated, and the results 
of these speculations may be seen recorded in various essays 
called Theories of the Earth, When, therefore, we find Gorham 
credited with "a long study of geology", and are told that 
some of Sedgwick's personal friends, among whom was Mr 
Pry me, thought his claims so strong that " it was only just to 
vote for him", we are led to suspect that an acquaintance with 
mineralogy must have caused this favourable opinion. This 
theory is supported by the fact that Dr Edward Daniel 
Clarke, Professor of Mineralogy, voted for Gorham — though 
in the above-quoted letter he makes light of his support — 
and that the same person was also proxy for Sir Joseph 
Banks, President of the Royal Society, whose action would 
naturally be governed by the opinion of the official repre- 
sentative of mineralogy at Cambridge. This, however, is mere 
speculation, and may be erroneous. On the other hand, we 
have Gorham's own deliberate statement, in the letter quoted 
above, that he had "sedulously" studied geology; and we 
have been informed that he had worked at the physical 
structure of Scotland, and of parts of Yorkshire. But, un- 
fortunately for his own reputation, he had never published 
any geological papers ; and, in the absence of the direct proof 
of his acquirements which these would have given, the 
worthlessness of his geological knowledge has been too 
hastily assumed from Sedgwick's celebrated account of him- 
self and his opponent, which is still remembered in the 
University : " I had but one rival, Gorham of Queens', and he 
had not the slightest chance against me, for I knew absolutely 
nothing of geology, whereas he knew a good deal — but it was 


all wrong 1 !" This remark, however, was not made seriously, 1818. 
and it would be unjust to Gorham's memory to quote it as a ^ u 33- 
deliberate judgment, without making a large allowance for 
that departure from literal truth which is permitted to a 
brilliant antithesis. That he had a genuine love for natural 
science may be taken for granted, for he was a good practical 
botanist, and had formed a valuable collection of plants in the 
course of an extended tour in Switzerland in 1810 and 181 1. 

While the contest was proceeding Sedgwick is reported to 
have said : " Hitherto I have never turned a stone ; hence- 
forth I will leave no stone unturned/' and his contemporary 
Mr Pryme amplifies the idea of thoroughness conveyed by 
this sentence into the following statement : 

" The latter [Sedgwick] professed to know nothing of the sub- 
ject, but pledged himself, if elected, to master it, and to resign 
the assistant tutorship in order that he might give the more complete 
attention to it"." 

This passage contains several inaccuracies. If Sedgwick 
professed ignorance, he had the good sense to reserve such 
professions for private conversation with his intimate friends ; 
his public utterances contain no reference to it. Nor did he 
state, as we have seen, that he meant to master the science of 
geology. All he said v/as that he would deliver public 
lectures "on some subjects connected with the Theory of the 
Earth." Neither did he announce his intention of resigning 
the assistant tutorship if elected : we know that he had long 
been anxious to do so ; and, as a matter of fact, he did resign 
in the course of the following Long Vacation, and Mr 
Whewell was elected in his room. But he never pledged 
himself to such a course. 

At the same time there is no evidence that he had ever 
troubled his head with any cosmical speculations. The word 

1 To this story Mr G. M. Gorham adds the following delightful anecdote: 
44 Did not such logic warrant an ancient inhabitant of Dent, himself a stone-breaker, 
in his reply to my pilgrim-inquiry in 1874, 'Have you ever heard of a native here 
called Adam Sedgwick?'" "What ! d'ye mean the Perverser?" 

2 Recollections ■, p. 1 35. 

S. I. I I 


1818. " strata " occurs in one of his letters from Switzerland, but, 
&*• 33- with that exception, there is no evidence that he had given 
things of the earth a moment's consideration. It has been 
recorded, on his own authority, that he collected fossils at 
Dent when he was a child ; but, had he lived on the sea-coast, 
he would probably have picked up recent shells ; and the 
former habit no more indicates a future geologist than the 
latter a future conchologist. The time that he could spare 
from mathematics he devoted to general literature. He had 
indeed, as we have seen, attended the lectures of William 
Farish, Jacksonian Professor of Natural and Experimental 
Philosophy, in 181 5. But the object of those lectures was to 
exhibit " the application of Chemistry to the Arts and Manu- 
factures of Britain/' by means of a series of models of the 
machinery employed. The method was novel, and we have 
the authority of Professor Willis for stating that the illustra- 
tions were ingeniously contrived, and the lectures generally 
instructive ; but, beyond the fact that Part I. of the Syllabus 
is headed Metals and Minerals, and that such subjects as The 
structure of the Earth, Strata, Dislocation of the Strata, appear 
as sub-headings, there is nothing in the whole course to 
suggest geology 1 . Professor Hailstone, Sedgwick's predecessor, 
did not lecture. An interleaved syllabus of Dr E. D. Clarke's 
lectures on mineralogy, enriched with copious notes, shews 
that he attended him for at least one course ; but Professor 
Clarke was no geologist Nor do any of his friends, when 
writing to him about his chances of success, refer to his 
special knowledge of the subject as a reason for supporting 
him. Mr Daniel Pettiward, for instance, says (May, 18 18) : 

1 A general view of the course is given in the Camb. Univ. Calendar, 1815, 
p. 38. Farish had been Professor of Chemistry, 1794 — 1813, and, on finding "the 
province of reading lectures on the principles of Chemistry already ably occupied 
by the Jacksonian Professor [F. J. H. Wollaston, Trin. Hall, 1792 — 1813] was 
therefore obliged to strike out a new line." When elected to the Jacksonian 
Chair he continued his former course, as may be seen by comparing the Calendar 
for 1 8 15 with that for 1802, p. 24. See also : A Plan of a Course of Lectures on 
Arts and Manufactures, more particularly such as relate to Chemistry. By 
W. Farish, 8vo., 1821. 


"It is my Intention to Enlist myself under your Banners, in great 1818. 
hopes that one of my Favourite pursuits, from your Activity of mind ,Et. 33. 
and the Genius you possess for General knowledge, may not be hid 
in a Napkin, but that the world may be better for the fruit of your 

This is very different language from what he would have 
used had his correspondent been thoroughly conversant with 
even the little geological knowledge of those days. Sedg- 
wick's intimate friend Carr too, writing a letter of congratula- 
tion (26 May), says : 

"I suppose you will be busily employed this summer in the pursuit 
of your new studies ; for this purpose I venture to recommend the 
North as the most proper place, both as it abounds in those 
productions of nature which will now more particularly engage your 
attention, and as it will at the same time afford me the opportunity 
of seeing you." 

Moreover Sedgwick himself, in his first letter to Ainger 
on the approaching vacancy, dwells on the " motive for active 
exertion," and the intellectual stimulus, which the Professor- 
ship would give him ; but says not a word about his wish to 
cultivate a science which he had already begun. Nor should 
his impaired health, and the fatigue which mathematical 
teaching caused him, be left out of consideration. His eager- 
ness to escape from an uncongenial occupation has been 
already mentioned more than once. 

Precedents were not wanting at Cambridge for the election 
of a man of ability to a Professorship in a subject of which 
he knew nothing. Bishop Watson, to whom Gorham refers, 
was made Professor of Chemistry in 1764, and says of him- 

"At the time this honour was conferred upon me, I knew 
nothing at all of Chemistry, had never read a syllable on the subject, 
nor seen a single experiment in it ; but I was tired with mathematics 
and natural philosophy, and the vehementissima gloria cupido stimu- 
lated me to try my strength in a new pursuit \" 

Dr E. D. Clarke's knowledge of mineralogy was thoroughly 
unscientific, and in fact he was only saved from mistakes by 

1 Anecdotes of the Life of Bishop Watson, ed. 181 7, p. 28. 

II — 2 



1818. the interposition of a friend, the Rev. John Holme, Fellow of 
<&• 33- Peterhouse, to whom he submitted his syllabus, and the 
outline of his lectures 1 . Notwithstanding these drawbacks 
both these gentlemen filled their lecture-rooms ; Watson 
advanced his subject scientifically ; and Clarke was successful 
in creating a general enthusiasm. 

It is almost impossible, at a distance of just seventy years 
from the period we are investigating, to obtain personal 
recollections of Sedgwick at the time of his election. One 
valuable testimony has, however, been placed in our hands by 
the Rev. Leonard Blomefield, who, as the Rev. Leonard 
Jenyns, established a high scientific reputation as a system- 
atic naturalist. He attended Sedgwick's lectures " not more 
than a year or two after his election to the Professorship," and 
is under the impression "that he was not a mere learner 
himself at the time ; he seemed a master of the subject, and 
his lectures were earnestly listened to, as well as earnestly 
delivered." Mr Blomefield is further of opinion " that though 
Sedgwick had not made Geology much of a study, nor learnt 
its details to any great extent practically in the fields, before 
he was admitted to the Professorship — he was fairly acquainted 
with the subject in a general way, and took a great liking to 
it, or he would not have offered himself for the chair*." 

Our own opinion is, on the whole, for the reasons men- 
tioned above, opposed to that of Mr Blomefield, and in 
favour of the notion commonly accepted in Cambridge, that 
Sedgwick got up his subject after his election. It will 
be our business to trace, in subsequent chapters, the 
gradual development of his geological knowledge ; for the 
present we will content ourselves with quoting a passage from 
his latest work, dictated only a little more than three months 
before his death, in which he sums up the purpose he set 
before himself at the outset of his career, and which domi- 
nated his long academic life : 

1 Gunning's Reminiscences ', ed. 1855, ii. 195. 
a From Rev. L. Blomefield, 20 August, 1887. 


"There were three prominent hopes which possessed my i8r8. 
heart in the earliest years of my Professorship. First, that I &*• 33- 
might be enabled to bring together a Collection worthy of 
the University, and illustrative of all the departments of the 
Science it was my duty to study and to teach. Secondly, 
that a Geological Museum might be built by the University, 
amply capable of containing its future Collections ; and 
lastly, that I might bring together a Class of Students who 
would listen to my teaching, support me by their sympathy, 
and help me by the labour of their hands 1 ." 

1 Preface to A Catalogue of the Collection of Cambrian and Silurian Fossils 
contained in the Geological Museum of the University of Cambridge* by J. W. 
Salter, 4to. Cambridge, 1873, p. xxxi. The preface, by Professor Sedgwick, is 
dated 15 September, 1871. 


Sketch of the life and works of Dr John Woodward. His 
testamentary provisions. arrival of his cabinets. a 
room constructed for their reception. sedgwick's 
predecessors : conyers mlddleton ; charles mason j 
John Michell; Samuel Ogden; Thomas Green; John 
Hailstone. Orders and regulations sanctioned in 1818. 

We have now reached a point in our narrative at which it 
is desirable to sketch Dr Woodward's life, together with his 
intentions in founding a Professorship, or, as he would have 
called it, a Lectureship, in the University of Cambridge. As 
a supplement to this, we shall briefly record what Sedgwick's 
predecessors did, or, we might almost say, did not do, to carry 
out the founder's instructions. 

John Woodward was born in Derbyshire, I May, 1665. 
His father is said to have been "a gentleman of a good family 
in the county of Gloucester" ; but, if such were the case, it is 
strange that the son should have been apprenticed, on leaving 
school at sixteen, to a linendraper in London. It is true that 
the most original of Woodward's biographers, Dr Ward 1 , 
guards himself with an "as is said," while making this state- 
ment ; but, on the other hand, it was certainly believed during 

1 The Lives of the Professors of Gresham College, by John Ward, Professor of 
Rhetoric in Gresham College, and F.R.S. Fol. Lond. 1740, pp. 183—301. It 
will be understood that the quotations in the following sketch are from this 
work, unless other references are given. 


Woodward's lifetime, and was used to his discredit by un- 
scrupulous opponents 1 . That he did go to London, while a 
mere boy, is certain ; and while there had the good fortune to 
become acquainted with Dr Peter Barwick, physician to King 
Charles the Second, who received him into his house, and 
"took him under his tuition in his own family." 

To this circumstance the general direction of Woodward's 
studies is obviously due; and it may be further conjectured 
that his interest in the University of Cambridge may have 
been inspired by Barwick. Barwick had been educated at 
St John's College, where his elder brother John, the sincere 
and courageous royalist, afterwards successively Dean of 
Durham and of St Pauls, was already Fellow. He proceeded 
Bachelor of Arts in 1643, Master of Arts in 1647, an d Doctor 
of Medicine in 1655. As a London physician he had a large 
practice and a well-deserved reputation ; while as a man of 
science he is known as the defender of Harvey's theory of the 
circulation of the blood. Barwick is also described as a man 
of sincere religious convictions, a strong churchman, and a 
daily attendant at service, either at St Paul's or at Westminster 
Abbey. From him therefore Woodward probably derived that 
religious tone of mind which led him to devote most of his 
scientific writings to the support of the Mosaic history of the 

Barwick has recorded in a testimonial dated 24 September, 
1692, that he had then known Woodward "for above these 
eight years"; that he "had made a very great progress in 
learning" before he came to him ; that he studied physic with 
him for nearly four years ; and that subsequently he " prose- 
cuted his studies with so much industry and success that he 
hath made the greatest advance not only in physick, anatomy, 
botany, and other parts of natural philosophy ; but likewise 

1 For instance, Dr Richard Mead, in his Discourse on the Smallpox and 
Measles, calls Dr Woodward ** a man equally ill-bred, vain, and ill-natured, who, 
after being for some time apprentice to a linen-draper, took it into his head 
to make a collection of shells and fossils," etc. Works * ed. 1763, ii. 100. 


in history, geography, mathematics, philology, and all other 
useful learning of any man I ever knew of his age." It would 
appear, therefore, that he became known to Barwick in 1684 ; 
and, as he was born in 1665, and remained at school till 168 1, 
when he was sixteen, there remain only three years to be 
accounted for, during part of which — whatever may be the 
truth of the apprentice story — he is said to have pursued his 
studies " with great diligence and application." We are not, 
however, told what these studies were, nor is any hint given 
that he went through the ordinary course prescribed for 
candidates for a medical degree. By 1692, however, he had 
become sufficiently well known to obtain the Professorship of 
Physic in Gresham College, for which he was recommended not 
merely by Dr Barwick, in the testimonial already mentioned, 
but " by many gentlemen of figure in the learned faculties." 
It is much to be regretted that Dr Ward, who had seen these 
testimonials, should give no particulars of them, nor even 
record the names of those who wrote them. Had he been 
a little more explicit, we might have discovered the reasons 
which induced the electors to choose a young man of twenty- 
eight, who, so far as we know, had given no visible signs of 
fitness for so distinguished a position; and we might thus have 
learnt the nature and extent of Woodward's early studies. 

In the following year (30 November, 1693) Woodward 
was elected Fellow of the Royal Society. Two years later, 
4 February, 1695, he was made a Doctor of Medicine by 
Archbishop Tenison, and in the same year (28 June) the 
same degree was granted to him by the University of Cam- 
bridge; on which occasion he was admitted a member of 
Pembroke Hall — as Pembroke College was then termed 1 . 
Here again Barwick's influence may have disposed the 

1 He is so recorded in Dr Richardson's List of Degrees preserved in the 
Registry of the University. The Supplicat for his degree is : " Placeat vobis 
ut Johannes Woodward sit eisdem Gradu Honore et Dignitate apud nos Canta- 
brigienses quibus est per Literas Patentes Domini Archiepiscopi Cantuariensis " ; 
endorsed, "Ad. Lect. et Cone. 28 Junii 1695. Non subscripsit." The records of 
Pembroke College do not mention Woodward. 


University to admit his friend and pupil ; but on this point 
we can only form a probable conjecture, and as to Woodward's 
reasons for selecting Pembroke, we are completely in the 
dark. He was admitted a candidate of the College of 
Physicians 25 June, 1698; and Fellow 22 March, 1702 — 3. 
He held the office of Censor there in 1703 and 17 14; and 
in January 17 10 — 11 delivered the Gulstonian Lectures On 
the Bile and its Uses 1 . 

It would be beside our present purpose to investigate 
Woodwards claims to distinction as a physician, or to do 
more than allude to his quarrel with Dr, afterwards Sir Hans, 
Sloane, in 17 10, which led to his expulsion from the Council 
of the Royal Society* ; or to his controversy with Dr Freind 
and Dr Mead on the new treatment of the smallpox suggested 
in his treatise, The State of Physick and of Diseases ', published 
in 1718*. For the same reason we will be silent about his 
antiquarian pursuits, and "poor Dr Woodward's shield V* by 
which "he ingaged the attention of the learned for a consider- 
able time." Those who wish to enjoy a hearty laugh at his 
expense should turn to the third chapter of the Memoirs of 
Martimts Scriblerus, where, under the transparent disguise of 
Dr Cornelius Scriblerus, the misfortunes of the learned owner 

1 Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London ; by William Munk, M.D. 
8vo. Lond. 1861, ii. 3. 

2 Weld's History of the Royal Society, 8vo. Lond. 1848, i. 337 ; Brewster's 
Life of Sir Isaac Newton, Chapter XX 1. 

3 This was the occasion of the attack made on Woodward by Mead. 
According to the account which Woodward sent to The Weekly Journal for 
10 June, 1 7 19 (printed by Nichols, Lit. Anecd. vi. 641), Mead followed him to 
the gate of Gresham College, and there made a pass at him with his sword from 
behind. Woodward drew, and was defending himself, when his foot slipped, and 
he lay at the mercy of his adversary, who bade him ask his life. The encounter 
was presently terminated by the interference of other persons. " Had he been to 
have given me any of his physic," said Woodward, " I would, rather than take it, 
have asked my life of him ; but for his sword it was very harmless." 

4 Lord Castledurrow to Dean Swift, 4 December, 1736. The shield, of iron, 
14 in. in diameter, is a cinquecento Italian work. It was bought, at the sale of 
Woodward's Collections (see below, p. 186, nole) f by Colonel King. After his death 
in 1767, aged 84, it was sold for ^40 (Nollekens and his Times % by J. T. Smith, 
i. 39). It is now in the British Museum, Department of General Antiquities. 


of the shield, reputed to have once been wielded by Camillus, 
are chronicled with infinite humour 1 . His geological specula- 
tions, on the other hand, deserve careful examination, for, 
though they are in many parts absurd, and warped throughout 
by the necessity for making the observed facts fit a precon- 
ceived theory of a universal deluge, "he appears to have had 
some very correct notions as to the general structure of the 
globe, and the proper method of pursuing the investigation 
of it'." 

The circumstances which led him to these studies have 
been recorded by himself in the Preface to the Catalogue 
of the English Fossils in his own collection. 

It may not be improper or unseasonable, before I proceed to the 
brief Account I am going to give of the Bodies in the following 
Catalogue, to take notice that I began my Observations and Collec- 
tions in Gloucestershire ; whither I was invited by Sir Ralph Dutton, 
along with his Lady's Father Dr Barwick, under whose tuition I then 
was, very happily, he being a Man of great Sagacity, Learning, and 
an Encourager of all ingenuous Studies. Here I had very generously 
allow'd me all Conveniencies and Assistances for the furthering of 
Comparative Anatomy, in which I took great pains ; and had all the 
several sorts of Brutes, of Birds, of Fishes, that this noble and 
plentiful Country afforded, readily brought to me for Dissection. I had 
here likewise opportunity of carrying on my Botanic Studies, of which, 
being then young, I was very fond. Not that I confin'd myself so 
much to this part of Natural History as not to be ready, forward, and 
desirous to look into any other ; and the Country about Sherborne, 
where Sir Ralph Dutton's Seat was, and the neighbouring parts of 
Gloucestershire, to which I made frequent Excursions, abounding 
with Stone, and there being Quarries of this laid open almost 
everywhere, I began to visit these, in order to inform myself of the 
nature, the situation, and the condition of the Stone. In making 
these Observations, I soon found there was incorporated with the 
Sand of most of the Stone thereabouts, great plenty and variety of 
Sea-shells, with other marine Productions. I took notice of the like, 
lying loose in the Fields, on the plough'd Lands and on the Hills, 
even to the very top of the highest thereabouts.... This was a 
Speculation new to me ; and what I judgM of so great moment, that 
I resolv'd to pursue it through the other remoter parts of the 
Kingdom ; which I afterwards did, made Observations upon all sorts 
of Fossils, collected such as I thought remarkable, and sent them up 

1 Pope's Works, ed. Roscoe, v. 160. 

2 Edinburgh Review, xxix. 316. The article is by Dr W. H. Fitton. 


to London. Some others were afterwards given me by such curious 
and intelligent Persons, as being appriz'd of the usefulness of these 
Studies, turn'd their Thoughts to such Searches 1 . 

The results of these observations are recorded in An Essay 
toward a Natural History of the Earth and Terrestrial Bodies, 
especially Minerals ; as also of the Sea, Rivers, and Springs, 
with an Account of the Universal Deluge, and of the Effects 
that it had upon the Earth, first published in 1695, as the 
forerunner of a larger work, which, however, was never written. 
The author tells us that in order to inform himself of the 
present condition of the earth, he travelled through the 
greatest part of England, enquiring "for intelligence of all 
Places where the Entrails of the Earth were laid open, either 
by Nature (if I may so say), or by Art, and humane Industry. 
And wheresoever I had notice of any considerable natural 
Spelunca or Grotto, any digging for Wells of Water, or for 
Earths, Clays, Marie, Sand, Gravel, Chalk, Cole, Stone, Marble, 
Ores of Metals, or the like, I forthwith had recourse thereunto; 
and taking a just account of every observable Circumstance of 
the Earth, Stone, Metal, or other Matter, from the Surface 
quite down to the bottom of the Pit, I entered it carefully 
into a Journal, which I carry'd along with me for that purpose." 
The English tour being finished, Woodward wished to extend 
his travels beyond sea; but was prevented by "the Com- 
motions which had then so unhappily invaded Europe," and 
had to content himself with the observations of others, for 
whose use, he says, " I drew up a List of Quceries upon this 
Subject, which I dispatch'd into all parts of the World, far and 
near, wherever either I myself, or any of my Acquaintance, 
had any Friend resident to transmit those Quceries unto*." 

1 An Attempt Towards a Natural History of the Fossils of England ; in 
a Catalogue of the English Fossils in the Collection of J. Woodward, Af.D. 
2 vols. 8vo. Lond. 1729. Vol. I. Part II. p. 1. 

2 Brief instructions for making observations in all parts of the world; as also 
for collecting, preserving, and sending over natural things: Being an attempt 

to settle an universal correspondence for the advancement of knowledge, both natural 
and civil: 4to. Lond. 1696. An abridgement, called: Brief Directions for 
making observations and collections, and for composing a travelling Register of all 


These observations led him to the following conclusions : 
that in all parts of the world, " the stone and other terrestrial 
Matter" was "distinguished into Strata, or Layers ; that those 
Strata were divided by parallel Fissures ; that there were 
enclosed in the Stone, and all the other denser kinds of terres- 
trial Matter, great numbers of Shells, and other Productions 
of the Sea;" that the "Shells, and other marine Bodies, found 
at Land, were originally generated and formed at Sea;" and 
"that they are the real spoils of once living Animals." The 
arguments by which he establishes this truth — in those days 
a startling novelty — show that he had carefully examined 
both recent and fossil forms. 

Unfortunately for Woodward's reputation, he felt obliged 
to account for the presence of these bodies where he found 
them, and therefore promulgated the geological romance with 
which his name is associated. He imagined the centre of the 
earth to be a spherical cavity — the Great Deep of Genesis — 
filled with water; that when the Flood took place these 
waters burst forth ; that by their agency " the whole Terrestrial 
Globe was taken all to pieces and dissolved ; " that " Stone, 
and all other solid Minerals, lost their solidity, and that the 
sever'd Particles thereof, together with those of the Earth, 
Chalk, and the rest, as also Shells, and all other Animal and 
Vegetable Bodies, were taken up into, and sustained in, the 
Water ; that at length all these subsided again promiscuously, 
and without any other order than that of the different 
specifick Gravity of the several Bodies in this confused Mass, 
those which had the greatest degree of Gravity sinking down 
first, and so settling lowest ; then those Bodies which had a 
lesser degree of Gravity fell next, and settled so as to make a 
Stratum upon the former ; and so on, in their several turns, to 
the lightest of all, which subsiding last, settled at the Surface, 
and covered all the rest ; that this very various Miscellany of 

sorts of Fossils, was printed after Woodward's death in : Fossils of all kinds, 
digested into a Method suitable to their mutual Relation and Affinity, 8vo. Lond. 


Bodies being determined to subsidence in this Order meerly 
by their different specifick Gravities, all those which had the 
same degree of Gravity subsided at the same time, fell into, 
and composed, the same Stratum; so that those Shells, and 
other Bodies, that were of the same specifick Gravity with 
Sand, sunk down together with it, and so became inclosed in 
the Strata of Stone which that Sand formed or constituted : 
those which were lighter, and of but the same specifick 
Gravity with Chalk (in such places of the Mass where any 
Chalk was), fell to the bottom at the same time that the 
Chalky Particles did, and so were entombed in the Strata of 
Chalk ; and in like manner all the rest 1 : " in proof of which 
he maintains that the shells usually found in sandstone are 
heavier than those found in chalk. Further, he scornfully 
rejects the notion that there have been " Changes and Altera- 
tions in the Terraqueous Globe" since the Deluge, except 
such as are due to the agency of man. 

While engaged in the researches which led to this theory, he 
amassed a vast collection of specimens, all of which he terms 
fossils — though the collection is partly penological, partly 
zoological. It is accompanied by an elaborate catalogue, 
in which the specimens are carefully described, and their 
localities noted. Here again Woodward was far in advance 
of his age ; and, had not his mind been predisposed to theory, 
he might have anticipated, by a century, the discoveries of 
William Smith. Instead of this, as Sedgwick pointed out, 
"he formed a magnificent collection of organic remains, and 
he separated from the rest a series of fossils of the Hampshire 
coast, and was aware that many of the species were the same 
as those of the London Clay ; but this fact, and many others 
of like kind, were with him but sterile truths ; and, being led 
astray by his theory, he knew nothing either of the real 
structure of the earth, or of any law regulating the distribution 
of organic formsV , 

1 An Essay, etc. p. 29. 

5 Address to the Geological Society \ 18 February, 1 831, on announcing the first 
award of the Wollaston prize. 


The Essay achieved great popularity, passing through at 
least four editions in England during Woodward's life, besides 
being translated into Latin at Zurich, by Dr J. J. ScheuchzerV 
After Woodward's death it was translated into French (1735) 
and published simultaneously at Paris and Amsterdam ; and 
subsequently into Italian (1739). 

It was not to be expected that views so novel should 
escape attack ; and accordingly we find them controverted, 
"partly by occasional remarks in other writings, partly by 
pamphlets written directly against " the Essay, Among the 
latter is a tract by Dr John Arbuthnot, published in 1697. 
He fully admits "that though Dr Woodward's Hypothesis 
seems to be liable to many just exceptions, the whole is not 
to be exploded ; " but good-humouredly hits him in his 
weakest point when he adds : " I cannot forbear to wish that 
People were more diligent in observing, and more cautious in 
System-making. First, the World is malicious, and when 
they write for an Opinion it spoils the Credit of their Obser- 
vations : They have then taken their Party, and may be 
suspected for partial Witnesses. In the next Place, Mankind, 
in these Matters, is naturally too rash, and apt to put more 
in the Conclusion than there is in the Premises; yea, some 
there are so fond of an Opinion, that they will take Pleasure to 
cheat themselves, and would bring every Thing to fit their 
Hypothesis 8 ." The illustrious Ray, though he could not 
make up his mind as to the real nature of the "formed 
stones," as they were termed, rejected the notion that their 
position had been regulated by their specific gravity, as " not 
generally true," pointing out "that they are often mingled, 
heavy with light, in the same Bed or Stratum" At the same 
time he shows, with much acuteness of observation, that 

1 His translation is called : Specimen Geographies Physica Quo agitur de Terra 
et Corporibus Terrestribus Speciatim Mineralibus [etc.]. 8vo. Tiguri, 1704. 

2 An Examination of Dr Woodward?* History of the Deluge^ in Miscellaneous 
Works of the late Dr Arbuthnot^ Lond. 1770, ii. 130. The same collection 
contains (i. 166), An Account of the Sickness and Death of Dr W-dw-rd, a 
satire on the Doctor's medical theories. 


many parts of the earth had been changed in comparatively 
recent times, and that Woodward was by no means accurate 
in maintaining that it was now in the state in which the 
Deluge had left it 1 . 

These authors, and others whom we need not enumerate, 
treated Woodward seriously; but he met with not a little 
ridicule. Gay presented him on the stage, in a farce called - 
Three Hours after Marriage, as Dr Fossile — " the man who 
has the Raree-show of Oyster-shells and Pebble-stones" — ; 
and the wrath of the doctors against his medical theories ma- 
nifested itself in a plentiful crop of scurrilous pamphlets. We 
have neither space nor inclination to recount the history of 
" Don Bilioso de rEstomacV as Woodward is called in one 
of these ; but in Tauronotnachia : or a description of a Bloody s 
and Terrible Fight between two Champions, Taurus and Onos, 
at Gresham College 9 , his theory of the earth is hit off so 
happily that we cannot forbear transcribing a few lines. 
After introducing us to Onos, "a fam'd Empirick of the 
Town," who knew how everything was created, and who 

"of Atoms what, can tell 
Echinites made, and Cackle-Shell*" 

the satire gives a humorous description of the Abyss, the 
Deluge, and the struggle of the various substances to get 
to their proper places as the waters subsided. 

Each thought himself as good as other, 
And with confounded Stir and Pother, 
Strove to accelerate his Pace, 
And shove some other out of 's Place. 
But cross-grain'd Levity combin'd 
With Fate to make some lag behind ; 

1 Three Physico-Theological Discourses ■, by John Ray, ed. 1713, pp. 165-167, 

8 The Life and Adventures of Don Bilioso de FEstomac. Translated from the 
Original Spanish into French; done from the French into English. With a 
Letter to the College of Physicians, 8vo. Lond. 1719. 

8 Tauronomachia etc. Lond. 17 19. Small folio, pp. 6. 

4 A note on this word in another line says, "By a figure of speech peculiar to 
Onos" It was evidently intended to ridicule his affected pronunciation, which 
other writers allude to. 


For some, tho' immensely large and huge, 
Were Naturally Centrifuge; 
Whilst others, Atoms, yet their Weight 
Inclin'd them to be Centripete. 
Oh! had you heard what dreadful Moans 
Were made by Marie, and Coals and Stones, 
And Seeds of Trees ; that had not Power 
To sink themselves two Inches lower; 
How Chalk and Soil did curse and swear, 
That they must lye in open Air; 
You'd been amaz'd, to find this Worldly 
Frame in so d — d a Hurly-burly. 

Thus IVe observed, pro re natd, 
A Kitchin-Wench of Bread lay Strata, 
Eggs, Suet, and Plums in plenteous store; 
But, in a Moment of an Hour, 
Milk in a Deluge vast comes flowing, 
And dissipates all she'd been doing: 
But, when the Streams began t' asswage, 
And quiet grow, and free from Rage; 
Then to ray Sorrow have I spy'd 
Whole Troops of Plums with speed subside. 

Woodward took no notice of any adverse criticism until 
1 7 14. Two years before Dr Elias Camerarius, Doctor of 
Medicine in the University of Tubingen, had published a 
volume of essays on various points of physic and medicine 1 , 
in some of which he had disparaged Woodward's theories, 
but without acrimony or severity. There seems to be no 
special reason why Woodward should have broken his silence 
on this occasion in particular ; but perhaps he was glad of an 
opportunity of addressing the learned world, and especially 
the learned world of Germany, where his own works had 
made many converts. Accordingly he published, with a 
dedication to Thomas, Earl of Pembroke, a short Latin essay, 
in which he examines the points challenged by Camerarius, 
and defends his whole theory, but, it must be admitted, 
without any great novelty of argument 2 . The essay concludes 

1 Eliae Camerarii Dissertationes Taurincnscs Epistolica, Physico- Medico: 8vo. 
Tubingae, 17 12. 

2 Johannis Woodwardi Naturalis Historia Telluris Must rat a et Aucta. Una 
cum Ejusdem Defensione; Prasertim contra Nuperas Object iones D. EL Came- 
rarii Med. Prof. Tubingensis. 8vo. Lond. 17 14. 


with a Classification of Fossils, prefaced by an epistle to Sir 
Isaac Newton, at whose suggestion, says the writer, the work 
had been undertaken. 

One other scientific work of Woodward's must be briefly 
noticed. In June, 1699, he laid before the Royal Society 
Some Thoughts and Experiments concerning Vegetation 1 . This 
remarkable paper shows that the author should be ranked as 
a founder of experimental plant physiology, for he was one of 
the first to employ the method of water-culture, and to make 
refined experiments for the investigation of plant-life. 

Woodward's object was to controvert a theory then 
prevalent, that water, and not mineral matter, was "the 
only Principle or Ingredient of all natural things;" and 
that there was " a direct transmutation of water into plants 
and other bodies." The supporters of this view had in- 
vestigated, experimentally, the growth of various selected 
plants, and had shown in the first place that " mint and other 
plants prosper and thrive greatly in water"; and secondly, 
that, if a plant be placed in a given weight of earth and 
allowed to grow for a considerable time, at the end of the 
experiment the earth will be found to have experienced no 
loss of weight, thus proving that all the nutriment must have 
been obtained from the water. Woodward proceeded as 
follows. A number of glass phials of fairly equal size were 
filled with water, and weighed. Each was then covered with 
a piece of parchment, pierced with a hole just large enough 
to admit the stalk of a plant. Sprigs of spear-mint {Mentfia 
viridis) and other plants, having been carefully weighed, 
were inserted through the holes in the parchment, and the 
phials set in a window, under the same conditions of air, 
light, and sun. As the water evaporated, the phials were 
replenished, account being taken of the weight of the water 
added. He placed in his phials: (1) pure water; (2) water 
containing soluble matter in varying proportions ; (3) water 

1 Philosophical Transactions^ 1699, Vol. xxi. pp. 193 — 217. 
S. I. 12 


artificially mixed with earth. At the conclusion of the 
experiment the plants were weighed a second time, and 
their growth calculated in proportion to the weight of the 
water used. The most important results, as stated in Wood- 
ward's own words, were the following : 

i. "The Plant is more or less nourished and augmented in 
proportion as the Water in which it stands contains a greater or 
smaller quantity of proper terrestrial Matter in it" 

2. "The much greatest part of the Fluid Mass that is drawn off 
and conveyed into the Plants, does not settle or abide there: but 
passes through the Pores of them, and exhales up into the Atmo- 

The first of the above conclusions was a sufficient answer 
to those who supported a contrary theory ; the second shows 
that Woodward had discovered what is now called Tran- 
spiration, which has so important a bearing on plant-life. In 
the light of this result he proceeds to discuss the effect of 
vegetation on climate; and concludes that "so continual 
an emission and detachment of water in so great plenty from 
the parts of plants affords us a manifest reason why countries 
that abound with trees and the larger vegetables, are very 
obnoxious to damps, great humidity of the air, and more 
frequent rains than others that are open and free ; " and that 
this evaporation is dependant on temperature, for "much 
less quantity of water was exhaled in the colder months." 

Woodward was not popular with his contemporaries. 
Thoresby, the well-known antiquary of the last century, calls 
him "very ingenious, yet not the best-tempered;" and, in 
another place, "that ill-natured piece of formality 1 ." Nor 
did foreigners judge him more favourably than his own 
countrymen. Dr Christian Heinrich Erndl, or Erndtel, who 
visited England in 1706, says: 

The said Doctor owns an inestimable treasure of minerals and 
petrified shells, partly collected by himself in Britain, partly obtained 
with much diligence from all corners of Europe, as specimens of the 
rarer minerals and petrifactions. He has likewise a very choice 
library of books on medicine and philosophy. It is to be regretted 

1 Nichols, Illustrations, i. 800, 806. 


that this celebrated man should be very ignorant of Latin, which he 
speaks with difficulty ; and it is wonderful how chary and churlish 
he is in showing his cabinet of curiosities. If you do get a peep at 
it, mind you do not touch the smallest object with so much as the 
tip of your finger. Nor may you look into a single volume, unless he 
holds it in his own hands 1 . 

His eccentricity and vanity are amusingly described in 
Uffenbach's account of a visit paid to him in 1710; but 
allowance must be made for the writer's evident vexation. 

30 October. In the morning called on Dr Woodward for the fifth 
time, and at last found him at home ; but were shown into an ante- 
chamber. When we had stood there a good quarter of an hour, he 
first sent his boy to ask our names : after another quarter of an hour 
the boy came back, saying, ' His master was still in bed, as he had 
sat up somewhat late the night before; it might be half-an-hour 
before he got up, if we could wait so long.' We left our interpreter 
and servant behind, with orders to summon us, when it was convenient 
to the man, and meanwhile drank a cup of coffee in the next coffee- 
house. When one of them came for us, we set off at once, but must 
again wait some half-hour in the ante chamber. At last his boy 
called us, and led us through two rooms to the precious Mr Doctor. 
He stood stiffly up in his silk dressing-gown, and with an affected air 
and screwed-up eyes, asked who we were, and where we came from. 
But when we begged for a sight of his cabinet, he excused himself, 
saying that in half-an-hour he had to attend a consultation, which he 
could not possibly put off, and prayed us to come again the next 
afternoon at three. 

When we were about to take leave, he begged us to stay awhile, 
and called to his lad, ' make haste/ intending, as we supposed, to 
offer us chocolate, according to his custom. For, as we had been 
assured, he presents it to all strangers, and that with such ridiculous 
fuss and ceremony, that one can scarce refrain from laughing. For 
till the chocolate comes he keeps urging the boy with every variety of 
expression ; a shouting to which, much to our disgust, we were forced 
to listen some half-hour. But this time we had not the honour to 
drink a cup with him ; for though the boy brought a silver can and a 
cloth, it was only for shaving ; and we were to be favoured with the 
privilege of looking on. We had heard already of more than four 
foreigners, who had received the same treatment. But we excused 

1 C. H. E. D. De Itinere sua Anglicano et Batavo Annis MDCCV1 et 
MDCCVII facto relatio ad amicum D. G. K. A. C. Amsterdam, 17 10, p. 41. 
A second edition, published 171 1, omits the passage "It is to be regretted — own 
hands." An English translation of the first edition appeared in 171 1, entitled : 
The Relation of a yoitrney into England and Holland in the Years 1 706 and 
1707. By a Saxon Physician. 8vo. Lond. 1711. This translation is badly done, 
and has not been exactly followed in the above passage. 

12 — 2 


ourselves, and said we would not detain him, and got away, though 
he several times begged us to stay. 

31 October. In the afternoon we drove again to Dr Woodward, 
and at last attained our end, to see his things. Yet he kept us 
waiting, as his way is, again a good half-hour in his ante-chamber; 
and then complained that we were not quite punctual, and had not 
come half-an-hour before. This is said to be the uncivil compliment 
which this affected, learned charlatan, pays to all strangers that 
come to him. 

He showed us first all kind of precious stones found here and 
there in England ; then some minerals, and then petrefactions, his 
strong point. Not only was the quantity amazing, but the specimens 
were select and fine. Amongst others he showed us shells filled and 
partly overgrown with stone of all kinds, even the hardest flint. 
Specially curious was the collection in which he showed us the whole 
growth of the conchylia from first to last. He had also many stones 
containing fossil plants of all kinds ; shells covered with metals and 
ores, and partly also filled with them ; amongst the rest very many 
fine ammonites. He had a cabinet filled with ancient urns and vases. 
In another were great fossil snails and ammonites. In another he 
had a good number of MSS., chiefly relating to the Natural History 
of England, which, as he professed, were mostly of his own writing. 
Among these books was a volume, in which he had had all his 
conchylia tolerably well drawn. Again, a fine herbarium vivum 
anglicanum of his collection, in which the plants were quite fresh and 
well-preserved. Dr Woodward showed us all his things with such an 
affected air, and such screwing-up of the eyes, that one cannot help 
laughing; though he suffers you to laugh as little as to speak, 
requiring every one to listen to him as an oracle, approve and extol 
all. You must listen to his opinion de diluvio et generatione ante- 
diluviana et lapidum post diluv tana, till you are sick of it. He 
repeats whole pages of his works, accompanying them with running 
panegyrics. The maddest thing of all is, that he has many mirrors 
hanging in every room, in which he constantly contemplates him- 
self. In all he does he behaves like a woman and a conceited 
fool 1 . 

Woodward died of a decline, in his apartments at Gresham 
College, 25 April, 1728, in the sixty-third year of his age. 
His Will records a wish that he may be buried "in the 
Abbey Church of Westminster, with as little Pomp and 
Expences as may well be." On May-day following this 
wish was carried out. His grave is close to that of Newton, 

1 Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach, Merkwiirdige Reisen. Dritter Theil. 
pp. 128, 235. The translation is by the Rev. J. E. B. Mayor, M.A. St 
John's Coll. A few lines have been omitted in transcription. 


on the north side of the entrance to the choir. No inscription 
marks his resting-place, but near the west end of the nave, 
on the same side of the church, an elaborate monument of 
white marble, erected to his memory by the pious care of his 
friend Colonel King, bears the following inscription : 



Medici Celeberrinti, 
Philosophi Nobilissinti, 


Ingeniutn et Doctrittant 

Scripta per Terrarum feri orbetn 

Pervulgata ; 

Liberalitatem verb et Patrice Caritatem 

Accidentia Cantabrigiensis, 

Munificentid Ejus aucta f 

Opibus ornata, 

In Perpetuum declarabit. 

Natus Kal. Maij A.D. MDCLXV. 

Obiit VII. Kal. Maij MDCCXXVIII. 


Tribunus Militant, Fabrihnqae Prcefcctus, 

Amico optimi dc se merito 
D. S. P. 

Our portrait of Woodward is taken from an oil-painting in 
the Woodwardian Museum. Its history is unknown, but, 
from the style, it is evidently a contemporary picture, and is 
believed to have been sent to Cambridge at the same time as 
the collection, or shortly afterwards. 

Woodward's will is dated i October, 1727. He names as 
his executors the Honourable Dixie Windsor 1 ; Mr Hugh 
Bethell, of Swinton in Yorkshire ; Mr Richard Graham ; and 

1 Of Trinity College ; B.A. 1694, M.A. 1698, and M.P. for the University, 


Colonel Richard King, of the Office of Ordnance in the Tower 
of London. They are directed to convert into money his 
personal estate and effects, including his library, and his 
antiquarian collections ; to purchase land of the yearly value 
of one hundred and fifty pounds, and to convey the same 
to the University of Cambridge. Out of this yearly income 
£ IOO is to be paid, in four quarterly instalments, to a 
Lecturer, to be chosen in the first instance by the executors, 
and after their decease by "the Lord Archbishop of the 
Province in which the said University is, who, it is to be 
presumed, besides his favouring of learning and all useful 
knowledge, will think himself under obligation to have special 
regard to this University"; the Lord Bishop of the Diocese 
in which the said University is ; the President of the College 
of Physicians ; the President of the Royal Society ; the 
two Representatives of the University in Parliament ; and the 
whole Senate. The six persons first-named, together with 
the Chancellor of the University, are to have the privilege of 
voting by proxy. 

The Lecturer is to be a bachelor; "and in case of the 
marriage of any of the said Lecturers afterwards, his election 
shall be thereby immediately made void, lest the care of a 
wife and children should take the Lecturer too much from 
study, and the care of the Lecture." This condition was 
evidently borrowed by Woodward from the statutes of 
Gresham College. In choosing the Lecturer, a layman is to 
be preferred to a divine, " not out of any disrespect to the 
clergy, for whom I have ever had a particular regard, but 
because there is in this kingdom better provision, and a much 
greater number of preferments, for the clergy than for men of 
learning among the laity"; he is to be "further subject to 
such rules, orders, and directions, not interfering with those 
hereinafter particularly specified and set forth, as the electors, 
or a majority of them, shall from time to time think fit to 
make " ; he is not to hold " any preferment, office, or post, 
whatever, that shall any ways so employ and take up his time 


as to interfere with his duty herein set forth, and in particular 
that shall require his attendance out of the University "; if 
he accept such, his post is to become vacant ; he is not to 
be absent from Cambridge for more than " two months in the 
year, and those to be in the long vacation in the summer"; he 
is there to "read at least four Lectures every year, at such 
times, and in such place of the said University, as the majority 
of the said electors shall appoint, on some one or other of the 
subjects treated of in my Natural History of the Earth, my 
Defence of it against Dr Catnerarius, my Discourse of Vege- 
tation, or my State of Physick, at his discretion, but in such 
language, viz., English or Latin, as shall be appointed from 
time to time by the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Provosts, 
and Masters of the several Colleges and Halls belonging 
to the said University ; the said Lectures, or at least one of 
them, at the Lecturer's own free choice and election, to be 
published in print every year." 

In the next place he bequeaths to the University his 
collection of English fossils, with the two cabinets containing 
them, and their catalogues, copies of which are to be 
" reposited in the publick Library of the said University, for 
greater security that the said Fossils be preserved with great 
care and faithfulness." The executors are to " cause and 
procure the same to be lodged and reposited in such proper 
room or apartment as shall be allotted by the said Uni- 
versity"; the Lecturer is to "have the care and custody of 
all the said Fossils and the catalogues of them"; he is to 
" live and reside in or near the said apartment so to be 
allotted for repositing the said Fossils" ; he is to "be actually 
ready and attending in the room where they are reposited, 
from the hour of nine of the clock in the morning to eleven, 
and again from the hour of two in the afternoon till four, 
three days in every week (except during the two months in 
the long vacation, wherein he is allowed to be absent) to show 
the said Fossils, gratis, to all such curious and intelligent 
persons as shall desire a view of them for their information 


and instruction"; and he is to "be always present when 
they are shown, and take care that none be mutilated or lost" 

For the sake of additional security the Chancellor, Vice- 
Chancellor, and Heads of Colleges are to appoint "two 
discreet and careful persons" before the admission of every 
Lecturer, and also once every year, "who shall inspect and 
examine the said collections of fossils, and compare them 
with the catalogues." These inspectors are to "give under 
their hands a report of their examination," and to receive "for 
their care and trouble," £ 5 a piece out of the testator's estate. 
Besides these precautions, the Lecturer, before his admission, 
is to give such security for the safe-keeping of the fossils as 
the electors shall think proper ; and, further, he is to receive 
£10 in ea °h y e ar, "to be laid out and employed by him, 
from time to time, in making observations and experiments, 
keeping correspondence with learned men on the subjects 
directed to be treated of in the Lectures, and in procuring 
additions to the Collections of Fossils... he rendering annually 
to such of the electors as shall be in the University an account 
in writing of the ways in which the said sum hath been dis- 
bursed and employed 1 ." 

Notwithstanding these minute directions and limitations, 
Woodward clearly intended his benefaction to be modified 
from time to time ; for he directs that a further sum of £10 
"be appropriated for a dinner, on the first day of May, or, 
if this fall on a Sunday, then on the second day of May," 
for the Lecturer, Inspectors, Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, and 
Heads of Colleges, "to the end that they may then confer 
and consider of the methods to improve the design and use 
of the said donation by me hereby made. And I greatly 
wish that these things that are of so much use and importance, 
and which I have with great diligence and expense collected, 
may by this settlement, the care of the electors, and the 
diligence of the Lecturer, be made serviceable to the setting 

1 The addition of this ;£io virtually raised the annual salary to ^no, an 
amount often mentioned as though it had been specified by Woodward. 


forth the wisdom of God in the works of nature, to the 
advancement of useful knowledge, and to the profit and 
benefit of the publick." 

Lastly, the balance left in hand after the discharge of the 
sums above specified, is to be spent by the University in " the 
payment of taxes, or any other necessary contingencies " ; 
and any further surplus "in such manner as the said 
University shall think fit ; but in hopes, that for the honour 
of the University, and the benefit that will thence accrue to 
the publick, if the design of this donation be rightly carried on, 
that the said University will be pleased to dispose of the said 
residue in making experiments and observations, in corre- 
spondence, in natural collections, books, or other things that 
may serve to the promoting the good ends of this donation." 

It is evident that Woodward's primary object in this 
foundation was the permanent commemoration of himself 
and his researches without limitation of subject. Geology 
was not, in his eyes, more important than Medicine or 
Botany, provided his collections — the monument of his 
industry and sagacity — could be preserved, extended, and 
displayed to the public. This point having been secured, he 
did not bind his lecturer to their illustration. He might be 
a Botanist or a Physician, provided he took the Woodwardian 
utterances on those subjects as his text-book, and provided 
always that he was willing to act as an honest and efficient 
curator of the Woodwardian cabinets. 

Woodward's estimate of the value of his works is worth 
quotation. After directing his executors to treat his un- 
finished writings as they shall think fit 1 , he proceeds : 

But for such others of my writings as I have at any time in my 
life caused to be published, the property and copyright of all which 
is in myself, and also all such others of my writings as my executors 
may hereafter appoint to be printed, I say of all those and these I do 
give and devise one moiety of the said property and copyright, and 
the benefit and profit thence arising, to the said University ; and the 

1 Notwithstanding this it was found that the MSS. had been placed in a box 
by Woodward's order, with a request, bearing a date anterior to that of his Will, 
that they might be destroyed, which was accordingly done. 


other moiety to the said Lecturer and his successors from time to 
time, upon this special trust and confidence, that the said University 
and the said Lecturer and their successors do take care that all my 
said works from time to time be printed as soon as the former edition 
of the same or of any part is sold off or become scarce, and that they 
and he do not by any contracts to be made for the republishing 
thereof so enhance the price as to prejudice the sale and divulgation 
of any of the said copies to be reprinted. 

The executors lost no time in carrying out Woodward's 
instructions. He died, as we have seen, in April, 1728, and 
by the following September the two cabinets containing the 
English fossils had been sent to Cambridge 1 . The University 
seems to have been fully aware of the importance of the new 
foundation, for at the beginning of the following year 
(26 February, 1728 — 29), the Senate agreed to purchase, for 
a sum not exceeding one thousand pounds, two other cabinets 
containing " foreign fossils," and " additional English fossils " 
respectively. These cabinets had at first been included by 
the testator among the effects which his executors were 
directed to sell, but by a subsequent clause they were 
empowered to make any arrangements they thought proper 
respecting them, or even to give them away. They decided, 
however, to dispose of them by public auction, and the Grace 
recommending their purchase dwells at some length upon the 
importance of preventing a separation of collections so 
valuable, and collected at so great an expense. 

There is no evidence to show where the cabinets were 
bestowed on their arrival at Cambridge ; and it was not until 
1734, during the Vice-Chancellorship of Dr Roger Long, 
Master of Pembroke College, that a definite place was devised 

1 Grace of the Senate, 17 September, 1728. "May it please you that the 
acquittance now read to you be given to the executors of the late Dr Woodward, 
sealed with your common seal." This Grace can only refer to the collections, for 
the estate was not bought until 1731; and in the University Accounts for the 
year ending 3 November, 1728, we find: "Paid Colonel King the carpenters 
bill and other charges in packing Dr Woodward's boxes and two cabinets 
;£ii. 15J. od." His Library and Antiquities of various kinds were sold by 
auction. See A Catalogue of the Library, Antiquities ■, etc. of the Late learned 
Dr Woodward, [etc.] 8vo. pp. 287. The sale began 11 November, 1728, and 
occupied 33 days, 28 of which were devoted to the Library. 


for their reception. In a letter dated 13 April, 1734, the 
executors express to Dr Long their "thanks for the room 
which you have been so good as to appoint for the better 
standing of the Cabinets ; and hope you will be pleased to 
order the fitting it up for that purpose." Dr Long was 
renowned for his mechanical contrivances, and it is probable 
that he himself suggested the ingenious scheme which was 
completed in 1736. By dividing off from the north end of 
the Arts School a space about fifteen feet in length, a room 
was contrived, now the Novel-Room of the Library, of con- 
venient size, and fairly well lighted. The comfort of the 
Lecturer, who was supposed to spend twelve hours of each 
week in it, was provided for by a fireplace, curtains to the 
windows, and other luxuries. The whole work was super- 
intended by Mr James Burrough, of Gonville and Caius 
College, the popular amateur architect of the day 1 . So long 
as the geological collections belonging to the University were 
contained in Woodwards four, or five, cabinets, this room was 
probably not ill-adapted for its purpose; but even then it 
was impossible for the Lecturer to "live and reside in or 
near the said apartment " as the Will directed. As time 
went on, and new acquisitions had to be displayed, it was 
found to be wholly inadequate, and we shall have to notice, 
as we proceed, several abortive attempts to provide a proper 

The acquisition of an estate of the exact annual value 
specified in the Will proved a somewhat difficult matter, and 
was not effected until 173 1, when a property near Beccles in 
Suffolk was conveyed to the University. The annual value was 
slightly in excess of £150, and the proportional difference in 
the purchase-money was made up partly by the generosity of 
Colonel King, Woodward's residuary legatee, partly by a loan 
from the University. 

This matter having been settled, the four executors drew 
up a formal document under their hands and seals, dated 

1 University Accounts and Vouchers for 1735 and 1736. 


30 July, 1731, by which they appointed Conyers Middleton, 
D.D., formerly Fellow of Trinity College, to be the first 
Lecturer. Middleton was a good scholar, and a distinguished 
man of letters. He wrote an English style of which it has 
been said that "for elegance, purity, and ease, it yields to 
none in the whole compass of English literature 1 ." His love 
of music had gained for him the epithet of "musical Conyers"; 
which, as he himself played on the violin, was contemptuously 
changed by Dr Bentley to "fiddling Conyers"." He was a 
well-bred, courteous man of the world ; and, having married 
a lady of good fortune 8 , his house had become, to some 
extent, the centre of Cambridge society. His pamphlets 
against Bentley, and the subsequent degradation of his 
opponent on a question which he had been foremost in 
raising, had made him a prominent person in the University, 
and the office of Protobibliotliecarius, or Principal Keeper of 
the University Library, had been created for him by the 
Senate in 172 1 as a mark of gratitude to a man whom they 
regarded as their champion. But he had no knowledge of 
any department of science, and he probably owed his appoint- 
ment either to his general distinction as a scholar and a 
gentleman, or to a personal acquaintance with Woodward, 
on which he insists in more than one passage of his inaugural 
lecture. This composition, an elegant piece of Latin, was 
printed in 1732 4 . As might be expected, it refers to science 
only in language borrowed from Woodward's own writings, 
without expansion or criticism. It may be described as a 
string of well-turned compliments to Woodward, to the 
executors, and to the University. Woodward had brought 
science out of the depths of the earth, as Orpheus brought 
Eurydice ; Woodward might claim a place by Newton's side. 

1 Monk's Life of Bentley \ ii. 67. 2 Ibid. ii. 38. 

8 Mrs Middleton died 19 February, 1730. 

4 It is entitled : Oratio de novo Physiol ogia Explicanda Afunere, ex cele- 
berrimi Woodwardi testamento institute, habita Cantabrigia in Seholis Publicis a 
Conyers Middleton, S.T.P. Accidentia Cantabrigiensis Protobibliotheeatio ct 
Lectore ibidem IVoodwardiano : 4to. Lond. 1732. 

MR MASON. 189 

Newton had explained the nature of light by study of the 
sun ; Woodward had made light shine out of darkness — a 
conceit which may have been suggested by Dr Bentley's well- 
known lines : 

Who Nature's Treasures wou'd explore, 

Her Mysteries and Arcana know, 
Must high, as lofty Newton, soar, 

Must stoop, as searching Woodward, low 1 . 

From the compliments to the executors, though hardly 
less rhetorical than those to Woodward, the interesting in- 
formation may be extracted that the University was princi- 
pally indebted to Mr Richard Graham for Woodward's 
benefaction. He had been educated at Cambridge, though 
he did not proceed to a degree, and actuated by love for his 
old University he had constantly urged his friend to entrust 
his collections to Cambridge, as a place of note where they 
would be seen and valued. 

Middleton held the office for rather less than three years. 
He resigned, 7 April, 1734, either from a sense of his own 
unfitness, or because he was meditating the second marriage 
which he shortly afterwards contracted. 

The executors next appointed the Rev. Charles Mason, 
M.A., Fellow of Trinity College, apparently at the suggestion 
of the then Vice-Chancellor, Dr Roger Long. Some passages 
from their letter to him, dated 13 April, 1734, will be found 
interesting : 

" Mr Vice-Chancellor, 

Dr Middleton having transmitted to us his Resignation of 
Dr Woodward's Professorship, in Form, dated the 7th of this month, 
we proceeded forthwith to the Nomination of a fit Person to succeed 
him : and have unanimously made choice of Mr Mason : being 
confirm'd in the good Opinion we all have of his Abilities and 

1 Johnson {Life of Cowley \ Works, ed. 1787, ii. 43) speaks of these lines as 
** the only English verses which he [Bentley] is known to have written." For 
Johnson's admiration of them, see Boswell's Life, ed. 1823, iii. 468. The whole 
poem is printed in Monk's Bentley, ii. 174, from Dodsley's Collection, ed. 1765, 
vi. 189. We have followed an earlier text as given in The Grove; or, a 
Collection of original Poems, Translations, etc., 8vo. Lond. 1721. In the 4th 
line Dodsley reads * delving ' instead of Searching.' 

190 MR MASON. 

sufficiency for that Post, by the Character you have been pleas'd to 
give him. 

There is nothing, Sir, we have more at heart, than the firm 
Establishment of this Professorship. And therefore we make it our 
Request to you, that as the Professor is to receive his Salary by the 
hands of the Vice-Chancellor for the time being, no part of the said 
Salary may be paid to him till he shall produce a Certificat, sign'd 
by two Masters of Arts, that he has duly read the Lectures, accord- 
ing to the Institution ; and at the expiration of every year shall 
present to the Vice-Chancellor one of them Printed, giving him (at 
the same time) a particular Account, in writing, how the jQio 
annually allow'd for Correspondence, Experiments, etc., has been 
expended for the Year past ; as is directed by the Founder's Will. ,, 

Two contemporary accounts of Mason have been preserved. 
The first is by the Rev. William Cole, his "particular friend ": 

"He is looked upon as rather unhewn, rough, and unsociable.... 
He is a very ingenious Man, an excellent Mechanic, and no bad 
Geographer : witness a most accurate Map of Cambridgeshire, which 
he has made from a personal Visitation of almost every Spot in the 
County. He has also large Collections for an History of the same 
County 1 ." 

The next is by Mr Richard Cumberland : 

" A man of curious knowledge in the philosophy of mechanics, 
and a deep mathematician; he was a true modern Diogenes in 
manners and apparel, coarse and slovenly to excess in both; the 
witty made a butt of him, but the scientific caressed him ; he could 
ornament a subject at the same time that he disgusted and disgraced 
Society. I remember when he came one day to dinner in the 
College hall, dirty as a blacksmith from his forge, upon his being 
questioned on his appearance, he replied — that he had been turning. 
'Then I wish/ said the other, 'when you was about it, friend Charles, 
you had turned your shirt V " 

Mason was Woodwardian Lecturer for twenty-eight years. 
During that period he printed a single Latin lecture 8 (in 1734). 
Like Middleton, he devotes the greater part of it to praise of 
Woodward and his executors ; and then, after commending 

1 MSS. Cole xxxiii. 156 (Add. MSS. Mus. Brit. 5834). A full account of 
Mason is given in the Architectural History of the University of Cambridge \ ii. 


* Memoirs of Richard Cumberland, 4to. Lond. 1806, p. 106. 

8 ratio de Physiologia Explicanda: Afunere, ex ce/eberrimi Woodwardi Testa- 

mento Institute Habit a Cantabrigia in Scholis Publicis a Carolo Mason , Af.A., 

Coll. S. S. Trin. Soc. et Lectore ibidem Woodwardiano. 4to. Cant. MDCCXXIV. 



the clause in the above letter to the Vice-Chancellor which 
makes the Lecturer's stipend depend on his reading lectures, 
he ends with a promise to devote his best energies to the 
work. Notwithstanding this engagement, we believe that all 
he did was to make a considerable private collection of fossils, 
which was sold by auction after his death. It is noteworthy 
that he was Vicar of Barrington in Cambridgeshire from 1742 
to 1747, and Rector of Orwell in the same county from 1747 
to his death. As no man can be in two places at once, and 
as Woodward had expressly forbidden his Lecturer to hold 
any preferment, office, or post, which might interfere with his 
duty as set forth in the Will, it is evident that Mason must 
have neglected either his parish in favour of his lectureship, or 
his lectureship in favour of his parish. In 1762, when he was 
between sixty and seventy years of age, " he quitted Senior- 
Fellowship, Professorship, and Liberty, for a Lady of small 
Fortune, but of great Accomplishments V and took up his 
abode at Orwell, where he died, 18 December, 1770. 

On Mason's resignation, Colonel King, Woodward's last 
surviving executor 2 , appointed the Rev. John Michell, B.D. 
Fellow of Queens' College, a man of talent, who had already 
distinguished himself by his scientific writings. In 1750, 
while still a Bachelor of Arts, he had published a Treatise of 
Artificial Magnets* ; and in 1 760 he read to the Royal Society, 
of which he became subsequently Fellow, Conjectures concerning 
the Cause, and Observations upon tlie Pfienomena, of Earth- 
quakes*, in which 'he advanced many original and philoso- 
phical views respecting the propagation of subterranean 
movements, and the caverns and fissures wherein steam 
might be generated 6 ." At the outset of this paper he describes 

1 MSS. Cole, ut supra. 

2 Cambridge Chronicle, 10 December, 1762. Mason's marriage had taken 
place 5 November. 

8 A tract of 81 pages, 8vo. Cambridge, 1750. 

4 Philosophical Transactions, 1 760, pp. 566 — 634. It was reprinted in full in 
Tilloch's Philosophical Magazine, 1818, Vol. Hi. 

8 Lyell : Principles of Geology, Ed. 1867, i. 61; ii. 150, 15a. 



the general appearance and structure of stratified countries 
with such remarkable accuracy that so far as principle is 
concerned, a foremost place may be claimed for him among 
the founders of modern geology. That he was acquainted 
with the details also of the beds in certain parts of England 
is proved by a memorandum in his handwriting discovered 
in 1810 among the papers of Mr Smeaton, then in the posses- 
sion of Sir Joseph Banks. In this memorandum several of 
the principal beds are enumerated, from the chalk down to the 
coal ; and, in two instances, detached portions, several miles 
distant from each other, are associated under the same name 1 . 
On the other hand "he was ignorant of the importance of 
organic remains, and did not use them as a means of identify- 
ing strata"." Michell vacated the Lectureship by marriage, 
in September, 1764 8 , having held it for rather less than two 

We have not been able to discover that he ever delivered 
lectures, much less published any. Cole says of him: 

" He is a little short Man, of a black Complexion, and fat, but 
having no Acquaintance with him, can say little of him. I think he 
had the Care of St Botolph's Church while he continued Fellow of 
Queens' College, where he was esteemed a very ingenious Man, and 
an excellent Philosopher 4 ." 

After his marriage he held more than one piece of prefer- 
ment, and does not appear to have revisited Cambridge. Nor 
did he continue the geological studies which he had com- 
menced with so much promise. His subsequent communica- 
tions to the Royal Society are on astronomical subjects. He 
died 29 April 1793, atThornhill, near Dewsbury, in Yorkshire, 
of which place he had been rector since 1767. 

1 This estimate of Michell's geological attainments is derived, in the main, 
from Notes on the History of English Geology, by W. H. Fitton, M.D. in the 
Philosophical Magazine, 1837, i. 268. The memorandum alluded to was first 
published in Tilloch's Philosophical Magazine, 18 10, xxxvi. 102. 

2 Sedgwick's Address to the Geological Society of London, 18 February, 1831, 
on announcing the first award of the Wollaston prize, pp. 4,5, and note. 

8 Cambridge Chronicle, 8 September, 1 764. 

4 MSS. Cole, xxxiii. 156 (Add. MSS. Mus. Brit. 5834). 

DR OGDEN. 193 

The Lectureship being vacant for a fourth time, Colonel 
King, now a very old man, appointed the Rev. Samuel Ogden, 
D.D., Fellow and President of St John's College. Dr Ogden 
had been master of the grammar-school at Halifax from 1743 
to l 753> when he returned to Cambridge, where he resided 
until his death, 22 March, 1778. He held the livings of 
Stansfield in Suffolk and of Lawford in Essex, and was vicar 
of St Sepulchre's, Cambridge, from March, 1759, to May, 
1777. For his personal appearance we will again quote Cole : 

" Dr Ogden is a bald, swarthy, black Man : of a most extra- 
ordinary Turn of Humour, great Vivacity, odd, whimsical, and like 
no one else : a great Epicure, and very parsimonious : a very in- 
genious Preacher, and on that account his Church of St Sepulcre at 
Cambridge is usually so thronged as to be difficult to get a Place 1 ." 

This summary of Dr Ogden's peculiarities may be sup- 
plemented by the following note by Gilbert Wakefield : 

" I heard Dr Ogden preach most of those discourses, which were 
afterwards made public. His manner, and person, and character of 
composition, were exactly suited to each other. He exhibited a 
large, black, scowling figure ; a lowering visage, embrowned by the 
horrors of a sable periwig. His voice was growling and morose, and 
his sentences desultory, tart, and snappish. His sermons are inter- 
spersed with remarks, eminently brilliant and acute, but too epigram- 
matic in their close.... He was a good scholar, a liberal-minded 
Christian, and an honest man. 

His uncivilized appearance and bluntness of demeanour were the 
great obstacles to his elevation in the Church. He kept a public 
Act for his Doctor's degree at the Installation of the Chancellor, the 
late Duke of Newcastle, in 1749, with distinguished applause. The 
Duke was willing to have brought our divine up to Court, to prefer 
him ; but found, as he expressed it, that the Doctor was not a 
producible man*.' 

s >> 

Ogden had a turn for writing verse, and his name appears 
in three of those volumes which, in the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries, the University used to address to 

1 MSS. Cole, ut supra p. 137. The account is dated 19 June 1770. 

* Memoirs of the Life of Gilbert Wakefield, 8vo. Lond. 1792, p. 95. Gunning's 
Reminiscences, ed. 1855, i. pp. 215 — 219, contain several amusing stories of 
Dr Ogden. Sec also Sermons, by Samuel Ogden ; with Life, by S. Hal li fax. 8vo. 
Camb. 1 8 14: and Whitaker's Loidis ad El mete, p. 387. 

S. 1. 13 

194 MR GREEN. 

the sovereign on important occasions. In 1760 he mourned 
the death of George the Second in Latin elegiacs; in 1761 
he hailed the marriage of George the Third in English 
stanzas; and, in the following year, the birth of George 
Prince of Wales in Arabic. These curious changes of 
language were satirised in the following lines 1 : 

When Ogden his prosaic verse 

In Latin numbers dressed, 
The Roman language proved too weak 

To stand the critic's test. 

To English rhyme he next essayed 

To shew he *d some pretence ; 
But ah! rhyme only would not do, 

They still expected sense. 

Enraged the Doctor swore he 'd place 

On critics no reliance, 
So wrapt his thoughts in Arabic, 

And bid 'em all defiance. 

The extraordinary caprice of choosing an eccentric divine 
to fill a scientific Lectureship probably gave rise to the story 
that Ogden had obtained it by a pecuniary gratification to 
Colonel King, or to one of his female relatives*. It is almost 
needless to add that the Woodwardian Lectureship was a 
sinecure during the fourteen years that it was held by Dr 
Ogden. For two or three years before his death he was 
" much broken with Gout and other Complaints 8 ". 

The next Lecturer was the Rev. Thomas Green, M.A. of 
Trinity College, elected by the Senate 7 May, 1778 4 . Our 
information about him is limited to the solitary fact that he 
was Librarian to Trinity College from 1763 to his death. He 
" added some valuable organic remains to the Woodwardian 

1 They were written, according to Cole (MSS. xxxiii. 157. Add. MSS. Mus. 
Brit. 5834) by R. Pepper Arden, of Trinity College, B.A. 1766, afterwards 
Fellow, created Baron Alvanley, 1801. 

2 MSS. Cole, ut supra. Nichols, Literary Anecdotes, ix. 612. The sum 
paid is fixed by the former authority at £150, by the latter at ^"105. 

s MSS. Cole, ut supra, p. 157. 

4 Cambridge Chronicle* 9 May, 1778. 


cabinets", 1 and at his death, which took place 7 June, 1788*, 
when he was still a comparatively young man, he bequeathed 
some books for the use of the Lecturer. 

On this occasion two candidates came forward: John 
Hailstone, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College, and the Rev. 
Thomas Newton, M.A., Fellow of Jesus College. The election 
took place on Saturday, 7 June, 1788, when the Senate selected 
Hailstone by one hundred and twenty-seven votes to forty- 
three. Hailstone was then in his twenty-eighth year — having 
been admitted 8 in 1778, at the age of eighteen — and he had 
been second wrangler in 1782. The University had, therefore, 
good reason to expect that a young man, who had taken a 
distinguished degree, would apply himself with energy to the 
work of his office. Nor did he wholly disappoint their hopes. 

He proceeded, by permission of the University, to study 
the progress which Mineralogy, as he terms his science, had 
made in Germany, where he attended one or two courses of 
lectures by Professor Werner. In 1792 he published: A 
Plan of a Course of Lectures on Mineralogy, to which is 
prefixed an Essay on the different kinds of Mineral Collections, 
translated from tlie German of Professor Werner. In the 
preface he apologises for the defects in "the Geognostical 
part" of the syllabus; "Geognosy, or the knowledge of the 
Earth's internal structure", being "a Science yet in its 
infancy, when ingenious Men may with much more ease 
fabricate systems than confute them". The syllabus shows 
that he proposed to lecture on minerals and rocks — both 
of which he calls fossils, just as Woodward did — and on 
their systematic arrangement. Under the head Geognosy, 
"the Strata of the Earth", divided into Primary, Secundary, 
Alluvial, Volcanic, are treated according to "their relative 

1 University Calendar, 1820. The article, by the style, is evidently written 
by Sedgwick. 

9 Cambridge Chronicle, 14 June, 1788. Green had proceeded B.A. 1760, 
M.A. 1763. He was admitted Librarian of Trinity College 12 September, 1763. 

3 He matriculated as a pensioner of Catharine Hall 17 December, 1778, and 
removed to Trinity College in the following year. 



Antiquity and order of Stratification"; and "Petrifactions" 
are considered separately, without any reference to the beds 
in which they occur, unless we except the general statement 
that " for the most part they appear to have been generated, 
lived and died, in the beds wherein they are found"; and that 
" the Fossil Bones of Siberia and the Ohio " are noticed under 
the heading " Alluvial Strata ". 

Notwithstanding this elaborate syllabus, we believe that 
Hailstone never lectured. In fact its publication was probably 
not intended to serve any other purpose than " to excite the 
attention of the University to a Branch of Knowledge, which, 
although honoured with an establishment in this place for a 
considerable number of years, has hitherto been suffered to 
languish in unmerited obscurity ". 

To the Museum, on the other hand, Hailstone paid con- 
siderable attention. He held that mineralogy was neglected 
at Cambridge through " a want of opportunity to consult and 
examine the different productions of Nature "; an obstacle 
which the "institution of a public Museum under proper 
custody and regulations" would remove. "The Woodwardian 
collection, which was made near a century ago", was, he 
thought, "ill-calculated to promote the study of mineralogy in 
its present state of improvement"; and, he might have added, 
the restrictions imposed upon its inspection by Woodward 
himself, must always have prevented its being generally 
studied. Accordingly he procured in Germany a typical 
series of rocks and minerals, and on his return home founded 
a separate collection, assisted by " the munificence of various 
friends of the University", among whom he gratefully com- 
memorates the Duke of Grafton, and Mr John Hawkins of 
Trinity College, both of whom contributed specimens. The 
accounts of the Woodwardian Estate show that during his 
tenure of office nearly one hundred and fifty pounds were 
spent on fossils, and nearly seventy pounds on books and 
cabinets. When Sedgwick became Professor he found that 
this collection was "composed of many rare and beautiful 


simple minerals, and of specimens illustrative of the physical 
structure both of the British isles, and of some portions of the 
continent 1 ." Nor did Hailstone omit teaching altogether. 
We are told that though 

"No systematic Lectures are delivered, but the Professor constantly 
attends to demonstrate and explain the subjects of this Branch of 
Natural History to such curious persons, whether residents or strangers, 
as are engaged in the study of them. Much of his time is of course 
devoted to this part of his duty, as applications to this effect are 
numerous and frequent 9 ." 

On Hailstone's resignation there was evidently a feeling 
in the University that Woodward's bequest had not produced 
the results which might have been anticipated, and, as it was 
provided in his Will that new regulations might be framed 
from time to time by the electors, advantage was taken of the 
vacancy to appoint a Syndicate (8 May, 1818), "to consider 
what rules and orders should be framed for the development 
of Doctor Woodward's intentions". The Syndics lost no time 
in carrying out these instructions, for their report, which they 
call Statement and Resolutions, is dated 19 May following. 

I. It appears, that the clear annual income of the Woodwardian 
Estates is about^43o, of which the sum of ;£io8. 6s. $d.* is paid to 
the Lecturer for his own use, and about fifty pounds are applied to 
other purposes, in conformity with the Will of Dr Woodward. 

II. That there is an accumulation of about ^1200, which has 
been invested in the public Funds. 

III. That the Room, in which the Fossils and Minerals are at 
present kept being too confined to exhibit them to advantage, or to 
receive many more with convenience, it is desirable that a larger 
should be built with a contiguous room for the accommodation of the 

IV. It is proposed, that to effect this object as soon as possible, 
the surplus annual income shall be added to the above accumulation, 
with the exception of such sums as it may be judged proper to apply 

1 Cambridge Calendar ', 1820. Compare also what Sedgwick says, Commission 
Report* 1852, Evidence, p. 116. 

8 Cambridge Calendar, 1803. This passage is repeated annuaUy until 1820, 
when the whole account is replaced by a different article, evidently written, as 
mentioned above, by Sedgwick. 

3 The £8. 6s. $d. is the surplus of the original rental (£150), left after paying 
the other charges. 


to the purchase of Fossils and Books, and to other necessary 

V. That to entitle the Woodwardian Lecturer to the receipt of 
his annual stipend, it shall be certified to the Vice-Chancellor, that 
Lectures have been given. 

VI. It is agreed, that the knowledge of Fossil organized bodies, 
and of the Constitution of the Earth's Strata having been very much 
extended since the time of Dr Woodward, it would conduce to the 
diffusion of science, and to the credit of the University, as it would 
certainly be in perfect conformity with the Will of Dr Woodward, 
that a Course of Lectures should be read upon these subjects ; and 
if, after a new room has been built, the Professor, in addition to 
the lectures and duties prescribed by the Founder, should give such 
a course, it is proposed that his stipend be increased by one hundred 
pounds a year, and that all Members of the University have free 

This "good and stringent" report, as Sedgwick terms it 1 , 
was passed by the Senate without opposition two days 
afterwards. The recommendation that the Lecturer's stipend 
should depend on the delivery of lectures was merely a 
revival of what Woodward's executors had pleaded for so 
far back as 1734. The affirmation of such a condition in 18 18 
is therefore only a proof that the University had determined 
to insist upon the performance of so special a part of his 
duties. The curious proviso that his stipend should not be 
increased until a proper building had been erected was soon 
rescinded, as will be related in the next chapter. 

1 Evidence, ut supra, p. 116. 


(1818— 1822.) 

Excursion to Derbyshire and Staffordshire (1818). First 
course of lectures. Visit to Isle of Wight with 
Henslow. Foundation of Cambridge Philosophical 
Society. Visit to Suffolk coast. Commencement fes- 
tivities. Geological tour in Devon and Cornwall. 
Henslow's work in the Isle of Man (1819). Geo- 
logical tour in Somerset and Dorset. Acquaintance 
with Rev. W. D. Conybeare. Death of his mother (1820). 
Visit to the Isle of Wight. Geological tour in 
Yorkshire and Durham (182.1). Controversy respecting 
Professorship of Mineralogy (1822 — 1824). 

Whatever may have been the amount of geological know- 1818., 
ledge which Sedgwick possessed when elected to the Wood- ^ tm **• 
wardian chair, it must have been derived from study, and 
not from experience. But he was the last man in the world 
to take facts at second-hand, and therefore, so soon as the 
Easter Term was over, he set out to use his eyes in the 
field. This excursion must not be confounded with his sub- 
sequent systematic explorations. In 1818, his object was to 
learn, not to instruct others ; and it is not impossible that he 
returned, as Darwin fancied he might himself return from 
his first geological expedition, " very little wiser, and a good 
deal more puzzled 1 ," than when he started. We believe that 

1 Life of Charles Darwin^ i. 189. 


1818. this first attempt at field-work is not alluded to in any of 

i * t 33- Sedgwick's scientific papers ; and that, in fact, the only record 

of it is contained in the following letter, the tone of which, 

it may be remarked, is very different from the depression to 

which his correspondents had lately been accustomed. 

Trin. Coll. October 23, 1818. 
Dear Ainger, 

My excursion for this summer is ended. I have 
been about twenty four hours in Cambridge, during the greater 
part of which time I have been employed in packing and 
unpacking, till every table and chair in my room is nearly 
filled with the spoils of my labours this summer. I have once 
or twice thought of sending you some account of my opera- 
tions ; but I have always been too lazy or too busy to take up 
the pen for any such purpose. 

I did not leave Cambridge before the 30th of July. The 
weather had been so dreadfully hot the early part of that 
month that I hardly ventured from under my own roof. After 
spending a day in the neighbourhood of Mount Sorrel, I 
advanced to Matlock, the immediate place of my destination. 
In that neighbourhood I remained about five weeks. My 
mornings were spent in professional pursuits ; that is, in 
following the strata of the different rocks, collecting specimens, 
and diving into the mines. The last operation was often 
attended with no little fatigue, for the rake veins, (i.e. vertical 
fissures, filled with spar and lead ore), are sometimes excavated 
to an enormous depth. What the miners call climbing shafts 
are formed in these veins, by which you descend to the 
works ; not in buckets as in the coal-mines in your neighbour- 
hood, but on cross-bars of wood (called s temples) which are 
placed, like two perpendicular ladders, on opposite sides of the 
pit. Between these you descend in a straddling position. I 
let myself down in this way to the bottom of several of the 
most remarkable mines in the county. In one or two of them 
the works were nearly 1000 feet below the surface of the earth. 


Matlock is one of the most beautiful spots under heaven, 1818. 
and was sometimes during my stay filled with very gay JEt 33- 
company. After being there a day or two I was advanced by 
the right of seniority to the chair, and in right of the same 
office was Master of the Ceremonies at the balls which took 
place every other evening. You see therefore that my employ- 
ments have been not a little diversified. On the whole, I 
believe I got through my most arduous duties better than 
could have been expected. 

After leaving Matlock I travelled on foot with a knapsack 
to the copper-mines in Staffordshire, by far the most wonder- 
ful excavations of the kind I have ever seen. I afterwards 
made Buxton my head-quarters for a fortnight, and finally 
found my way to Dent by the way of Macclesfield, Chester, 
Liverpool, and Lancaster. I remained one day at Northwich 
to visit the famous salt-mines in that neighbourhood. But I 
have no time to describe them. 

My Father is becoming very thin ; but his health is good, 
and his spirits do not indicate any of the infirmities of old 
age. I have not time for a word more, as I am off to a supper 
party. Give my best respects to Mrs Ainger, and believe me 
very busy, and very truly yours, 

A. Sedgwick. 

The reference to Sedgwick's social duties at Matlock in the 
above letter is thoroughly characteristic. He always contrived 
to combine a large amount of amusement with business. 
* That lively gentleman Mr Sedgwick/ as he was called by a 
stranger who met him in a stage-coach, had a happy knack of 
making himself agreeable to everybody with whom he happened 
to be brought into contact, and his geological tours gave him 
a wide and varied experience of mankind. With all sorts and 
conditions of men, quarrymen, miners, fishermen, smugglers, 
shepherds, artisans, grooms, inn-keepers, clergy of all denomi- 
nations, squires, noblemen — he was equally communicative, 
and soon became equally popular. He could make the most 


18x8. silent talk, and could extract information and amusement out 
&• 33- of materials that seemed at first sight destitute of either quality. 
It may be questioned whether his adventures would have been 
as diverting had they happened to anybody else ; he had a 
happy knack of meeting with strange experiences and untoward 
incidents; and his return to Cambridge, after a summer's 
excursion, was eagerly looked forward to by his friends, for 
the sake of the budget of fresh stories with which he was 
certain to regale them. 

The weeks spent in Derbyshire may be credited with at 
least one good result; they convinced Sedgwick that in 
selecting geology as the work of his life he had made a 
wise choice. In a letter to one of his nieces, dated 12 August, 
1854, thirty-six years afterwards, he gives some interesting 
and amusing particulars of this then distant period of his life : 
" When I was a young man, this was always a joyful day, the 
opening day of the grousing season ; and for a week before 
the 1 2th of August I could hardly sleep for thinking of the 
coming sport. Why we should take such delight in killing 
God's creatures is more than I can tell you ; but so it was, 
and so it is, and so it will be. I think it proves that by 
nature man is a savage carnivorous creature. Is he not? 
The last time I ever fired a gun at a heath-cock was August 
1 8 17, thirty-seven long years since! The year following I 
threw down the gun, and took to the hammer, and I enjoyed 
my new sport so much, that in 18 18 (my first year of pro- 
fessional geology) I heard the sportsman's gun on the heaths 
of Derbyshire without a thought of regret or envy. And that 
year I was a dancing-man, and I fell three-quarters in love ; 
but, as you know, did not put my head through love's noose. 
But alas! times are sadly changed with me. I am now a 
gouty old man in my seventieth year 1 ." The bright parti- 
cular star of the Matlock assemblies, whose charms had nearly 
deprived Cambridge of her new geological Professor, married a 
goldsmith in Glasgow, and when Sedgwick was there in 1848, 

1 To Miss Fanny Hicks, la August, 1854. 


he called at her husband's shop, in the hope of renewing his 1819. 
acquaintance. But, as ill-luck would have it, the lady was &• 34« 
away at the sea-side, and her former partner had to content 
himself with an interview with her son \ 

Soon after his return to Cambridge Sedgwick delivered the 
first of those annual courses of lectures which became so 
celebrated, and were never interrupted — except for very brief, 
intervals — until 1872, when he was compelled, by failing 
health, and the advance of old age, to appoint a deputy. It is 
provoking that no contemporary reference to this first course 
should occur either in his letters, or in any other source of 
information to which we have had access. In later years 
Sedgwick was fond of enumerating the courses of lectures he 
had given ; and he used to describe the one on which he was 
engaged according to its place in the series. " I am delivering 
my 40th course," or "my 47th course," and so forth. Had he 
been a man of scrupulous accuracy, it would be easy, by merely 
counting backwards, to discover in what year he began to 
lecture ; but, unfortunately, we frequently find two different 
courses denoted by the same numeral. On three occasions, 
however, he tells his correspondents that he began to lecture 
in 1 8 19, and in two of these letters he states explicitly that 
the course was delivered in the spring. In 185 1 he says: 
" The load of sixty-six years tells upon me, and I am not so 
fresh as I was when I gave my first course of geological 
lectures in the spring of 1819V' in 1859 he describes himself 
as " a toothless Professor who has been lecturing every year 
since he began his first course in the spring of 1819 8 "; 
and in 1861 he says: "I am trying to wind up my last 
course. It may well be my last\ for I began to lecture in 
1819V These direct statements can hardly be erroneous, 
and we may safely assume that his first course was delivered 

1 To the same, 21 August, 1848. 

2 To Miss F. Hicks, 12 December, 1851. 
8 To Miss Malcolm, 29 November, 1859. 

4 To Rev. B. P. Brodie, 29 November, 1861. 


1819. either in the Lent or Easter Term of 1819, probably in the 
<**• 34- former. 

The Easter vacation of 18 19 was spent in the Isle of 
Wight 1 . Sedgwick was accompanied by Mr J. S. Henslow 
of St John's College, who became, in after years, Professor 
first of Mineralogy and then of Botany, and who deserves 
grateful recognition as one of the founders of the modern 
school of Natural Science at Cambridge. As a boy he 
had achieved considerable distinction in zoology, and while 
still an undergraduate had found leisure to learn as much 
of chemistry and mineralogy as was then possible at Cam- 
bridge. He had proceeded to the degree of Bachelor of Arts 
in the previous January, and had therefore leisure to learn 
something of the cognate science of geology. Mr Henslow's 
brother-in-law and biographer, Mr Leonard Jenyns, speaks 
of him as Sedgwick's pupil. In a certain sense this is un- 
doubtedly true. Sedgwick was his senior by ten years— and 
therefore superior to him in experience, and general know- 
ledge both of science and of letters. As a practical geologist, 
however, he could have known little more than Henslow, 
while in the special subjects which the latter had already 
studied with success Sedgwick had much to learn. The 
expedition was successful in more ways than one. The 
characters of the two men were very similar: they differed 
for a time in politics, for Henslow began life as a conservative ; 
but in religion, love of truth, and hatred of wrong, they were 
in exact agreement ; and their intercourse— begun almost by 
an accident — ripened into a warm friendship which was termi- 
nated only by Henslow's death. As regards the special 
science they went out to study, Henslow learnt enough to 
work out the geology of another part of England by himself 
in the course of the following summer — a subject to which 
we shall return presently — and Sedgwick brought home his 
usual practical result in the shape of "a very large collec- 

1 Our principal authority for this tour is a Memoir of the Rev. John Stevens 
Henslow^ by the Rev. L. Jenyns, 8vo. Lond. 1862, pp. 13 — 20. 


tion " of geological specimens, intended for the Woodwardian 1819. 
Museum, but for which at that time it was impossible to find &- 34. 
room 1 . 

This short excursion deserves an honourable place in 
the annals of Cambridge for another reason. In the course 
of it the two friends discussed the want of some place to 
which those interested in Natural Science might resort, with 
the certainty of meeting men of the same or kindred tastes 
with themselves— and where they might learn what was going 
forward abroad. In these days of cooperation, when there is 
almost a. plethora of societies and associations more or less 
learned for the promotion of every sort of object, it is difficult 
to realise that barely seventy years ago there was a complete 
dearth of such bodies ; and that at Cambridge, which is now 
taking the lead in Natural Science, there were only two lecture- 
rooms for the scientific Professors — the one appropriated to 
chemistry, the other to anatomy — no class-rooms, no museums, 
no collections, except the Woodwardian, and the mineralogical 
series then the private property of Dr E. D. Clarke. 

The project thus started was eagerly prosecuted, after their 
return to Cambridge, by the two energetic men who had 
originated it. At first they proposed to establish a Corre- 
sponding Society, and with this idea they not only consulted 
the residents likely to favour such a scheme, but solicited by 
letter the cooperation of men of science at a distance. At the 
beginning of the Michaelmas Term they laid their views 
before Dr E. D. Clarke, who gave them such cordial support 
that Sedgwick always spoke of him as one of the founders of 
the Society which was presently established. At his sugges- 
tion the following notice was issued : 

Cambridge, 30M Oct., 18 19. 

The resident Members of the University, who have taken their 
first degree, are hereby invited to assemble at the Lecture Room 

1 Report of the Inspectors ■, May 7, 18 19. It will be understood that these and 
other similar documents are preserved in the Registry of the University, unless 
otherwise stated. 


1 819. under the Public Library, at Twelve o'clock, on Tuesday, Nov. 2, for 
yEt. 34. the purpose of instituting a Society, as a point of concourse, for 
scientific communications. 

This notice was signed by thirty-three persons, among 
whom were the Heads of the following colleges: Clare, 
Gonville and Caius, Queens', Christ's, Magdalene, and Trinity ; 
Professors Haviland, Monk, Cumming, Sedgwick, and Lee; 
and ten tutors, or assistant-tutors, of colleges. Among the 
latter occur the names of Peacock and Whewell. 

The proceedings at the meeting were not reported, but we 
learn from a second notice, issued on the day following, that 
the second Resolution : " That a Society be instituted as a 
point of concourse for scientific communication," was proposed 
by Sedgwick ; and that he was appointed a member of a 
committee to frame " such regulations as shall appear to them 
to be proper for the proposed institution." We can easily 
imagine, from the speeches made by him in after years, when 
he had to commend to audiences either lukewarm or hostile 
some scheme in which he was interested, the fire and energy 
with which he addressed the members of the Senate assembled 
on that November afternoon ; and we are not surprised to 
learn that the resolution entrusted to him was passed unani- 

The Committee lost no time in discharging the duties 
assigned to them. Their first draft of the rules, endorsed, 

" Report of the Committee appointed to form the Regulations of 
a Society, to be instituted in this University, for Philosophical 
Communication, to be read at the first meeting of the Society, on 
Monday, November 15, at one o'clock, in the Lecture Room under 
the Public Library," 

is dated 8 November, and, at the meeting therein announced, 
Sedgwick moved its adoption. This motion having been 
carried, those present voted themselves a Society, to be called, 
TIte Cambridge Philosophical Society, and the officers and 
Council were appointed. Professor Farish was the first Presi- 
dent, Professors Sedgwick and Lee the first Secretaries. The 


first formal meeting of the Society was held in the Museum 1819. 
in the Botanic Garden, 13 December, 18 19, when, by request ^ 34- 
of the Council, Dr E. D. Clarke read an address, explaining 
the objects of the Society. 

The first rule had originally run as follows : 

"That this Society be instituted for the purpose of promoting 
Scientific Enquiries, and of facilitating the communication of facts 
connected with the advancement of Philosophy." 

At this meeting the words "and Natural History" were 
appended to this sentence. The addition is important, because 
it determined, for many years, in fact so long as Henslow 
resided in Cambridge, the direction of the labours of the 
Society. We may justly credit Sedgwick with disarming 
opposition, and launching the Society so successfully, that 
before the end of the year 1820 it could boast of 171 members ; 
but it was Henslow's patient devotion to zoology which 
enabled it to form an excellent Museum, long the only 
zoological Museum in the University, and the legitimate 
parent of that large family of Museums which have grown up, 
and are still growing up, in the old Botanic Garden 1 . 

Sedgwick always spoke with great delight of the share 
which he had taken in the founding of this Society. The 
annual dinner was one of his red-letter days ; and no matter 
how ill he might be, or imagine himself to be, he made a 
point of attending it, and of making a speech after dinner. 
This speech was one of the events of the academical year ; 
and was, with most of the members, the principal, if not the 
sole, reason for attending the dinner. It is no easy matter to 
describe a speech — especially when it depends, as those 
delivered by Sedgwick did, on the personality of the speaker; 
but these particular postprandial orations have found a graphic 
chronicler in the Lord Bishop of Carlisle : 

1 This account is derived from the following authorities : a complete set of the 
early notices, etc., of the Society, preserved by Prof. Sedgwick : Henslow's Life, 
ut supra, pp. 17 — 19: Otter's Life of Dr E. D. Clarke, ed. 1824, p. 649: The 
Cambridge Chronicle, 5 November, 1819: The Cambridge Portfolio, pp. 121 — 129; 

Macmillaris Magazine, April, 1880, p. 478. 


1819. "His speeches were the most remarkable things of the kind I 

Mt. 34. have ever heard ; they sometimes began with a wild exuberance that 
nearly touched upon the region of nonsense, and then, apparently 
without effort, they rose to the solemn and almost to the sublime ; 
the combination, without incongruity, of lofty morality with almost 
boyish fun was quite wonderful, and almost Shakespearean. It must 
have been on getting up at one of these dinners, that he explained 
the nervousness often felt on standing up to speak by maintaining 
that the vital spirits were very much in the nature of a fluid ; as long 
as you were sitting all was right, but the moment you stood up they 
left your head and went down into your boots. He used to tell us 
that the first conception of the Society was that of an organisation 
for the study of natural history; and he somewhat regretted that 
the overwhelming mathematical bias of Cambridge had, to a great 
extent, changed the original design, and that our Memoirs were so 
exclusively mathematical as they then were. He was, however, 
proud of Cambridge mathematics, and I remember to have heard him 
express his satisfaction thus : ' I rejoice in the progress of mathemati- 
cal science; I measure it in this way; I am a stationary kind of 
being with regard to mathematics; the progress of the science may 
be measured by the small amount of that which I am able to under- 
stand ; and I give you my word of honour that I have not been able 
to understand a single paper that has been read before this Society 
during the last twenty years 1 \" 

At the present day, when the study of Natural Science has 
been so long accepted in Cambridge, it is amusing to find 
Sedgwick recording the alarm which the establishment of this 
very harmless Society seems to have aroused. 

To y. F. W. Herschel, Esq} 

Trin. Coll. February 26, 1820. 

Dear Sir, 

I ought before this to have conveyed to you the 
thanks of our Society for your communication 8 . It will be 

1 MacmillatCs Magazine, ut supra, p. 479. 

3 John Frederick William Herschel, Fellow of St John's College, B.A. 18 13. 
Sedgwick informs him, 14 November, 18*0: "The first meeting of our Philo- 
sophical Society took place yesterday evening. We elected several new members, 
and among the rest the Rev. J. Wood, D.D., Master of St John's. This was 
more than we expected, and certainly more than Dr Wood intended last year. It 
seems as if we had risen in his good opinion. 

8 On certain remarkable instances of deviation from Neioton's scale in the tints 
developed by Crystals with one axis of Double Refraction, on exposure to Polarized 
Light, read 1 May 1820, and printed Trans. Camb. Phil. Soc. i. ai. 


read at our next meeting. Now that we are launched I have 1819. 
little fear : we shall, I doubt not, go on and prosper. Among ^ 34- 
the senior members of the University some laugh at us; 
others shrug up their shoulders and think our whole pro- 
ceedings subversive of good discipline ; a much larger number 
look on us, as they do on every other external object, with 
philosophic indifference ; and a small number are among our 
warm friends. We may count on the zeal of our members 
for a sufficient number of communications; we may also 
venture to found some hopes on an active spirit infused by a 
new system. When you visit Cambridge, I shall hope to have 
the pleasure of seeing you. Peacock presents his kindest 

Believe me, Dear Sir, 

Yours most faithfully, 

A. Sedgwick. 

At the beginning of the Long Vacation — in June, 18 19 — 
Sedgwick went into Suffolk to study the geological structure 
of the coast. Before he could set to work, however, he met 
with a serious accident, the nature of which has not been 
recorded, but the following extract from a letter, written in 
1866 to the Reverend Osmond Fisher, then Vicar of Elmstead 
near Colchester, shows that it must have been severe. It is, 
we believe, the only record of the occurrence. 

Cambridge. Good Friday Morning. 

[30 March, 1866.] 
" I do hope within the next two or three months to see the 
Chillesford beds, and to have a look at the beds near Orford, 
Aldborough, etc., where we have the lowest (so-called) Coral- 
line Crag. I had just touched these when I nearly lost my 
life, and, instead of working at Aldborough, I was lying on a 
sofa for nearly three weeks, and only left the room to move 
away in a post-chaise ; and since then (i.e. June, 1819 !) I 
have never seen these lower Crag beds. So bravo for a merry 
meeting, some time hence, at Chillesford, etc." 

S. I. 14 


1819. Sedgwick was detained at Cambridge until the end of 

^t. 34. j u iy — partly by the aforesaid accident — partly by his social 
duties at the Commencement, which was attended by the 
Chancellor, the Duke of Gloucester, accompanied by his 
Duchess, and his sister the Princess Sophia Matilda. Sedg- 
wick was appointed one of the "managers/' as they were 
styled, of the public breakfast given by the University to 
these distinguished persons. It was held in Nevile's Court at 
Trinity College, and Sedgwick presided at a table in the north 
cloister 1 . When all was over he started for his summer's 

This year, 18 19, may be regarded as the commencement 
of Sedgwick's geological career, not only as an academic 
teacher, but as an original investigator. In the spring, as we 
have seen, he began to lecture ; and in the summer he under- 
took the first of those tours, to which, either in England or on 
the Continent, he usually devoted several months of each year 
during the most active period of his life. These journeys 
were undertaken on a regular system, for the investigation of 
some definite group of rocks, and the results — the most im- 
portant of which, as we shall hope to show, have been con- 
firmed, rather than shaken, by subsequent research — were 
duly recorded in a series of papers. In the present chapter 
and the next we propose to consider the period from 18 19 to 
1827, during which he explored the west of England in the 
first instance, and next Yorkshire, Durham, and the Lake 

The tour of 18 19 is described, in part, in the following 
letter : 

Tavistock, August 14, 1819. 
Dear Ainger, 

It is now nearly a month since I left Cambridge on 
a mining expedition to the West of England. I have not yet 

1 Cooper's Annals, iv. 534; Grace of the Senate, 39 April, 1819 ; Report of 
Syndics, 3 July, 18 19. 


reached Cornwall, the great object of attraction, though I have 1819. 
now for about a week been hovering on its confines. Before ^ 34. 
I proceed any farther, let me request you to write to me, at 
Penzance, by return of post. I long to know how you all are, 
and what has been the fruit of your last year's labours. I 
shall probably be in the neighbourhood of Penzance in 
about a fortnight, and shall remain there some time. If your 
letter should come after I have left that place, I may probably 
miss it, though I shall order the Postmaster to forward it to 
some town in the north of Cornwall. 

Half-past ten o'clock. I am just returned from a long and 
fatiguing expedition to some mines on the banks of the Tamar. 
A cup of tea has so far refreshed me that I think I may have 
it in my power to finish my sheet before my eyelids come 
together. I started on my western course the week after our 
Commencement festivities. The vicinity of Bristol detained 
me four days. I saw it in the company of Dr Gilby to great 
advantage. He has paid great attention to geology, and 
has published two papers on the structure of that neighbour- 
hood \ I was therefore enabled by his assistance to observe 
everything best worth seeing. I afterwards rambled on foot 
all over the Mendip and Quantock hills, and examined almost 
all the cliffs on the north-west coast of Somersetshire. They 
afford fine specimens of the contorsions exhibited by that 
rock to which geologists have given the name of greywacke*. 
What a delightfully sounding word ! It must needs make you 
in love with my subject. The country I have been just 
describing wants some of the grander features, but in beauty, 
luxuriance, and variety, yields to none. The rugged cliffs 
which rise perpendicularly on both sides of the Bristol Channel 
are in many places exquisitely contrasted with the fine lawns 
and rich foliage which go sweeping down to the very edge of 

1 W. H. Gilby, M.D. published A Geological Description of the Neighbourhood 
of Bristol in Tilloch's Philosophical Magazine^ Vol. xliv. (1814); and On the 
Magnesian Limestone and Red Marl or Sandstone y of the Neighbourhood of Bristol ^ 
Trans. Geol. Soc. Lond. 1817, iv. pp. aio — 315; besides other papers. 

14 — 2 


1819. the water. As for the people of Somersetshire, they seem a 
Mt - 34- mighty stupid good sort of people, who have not wit enough 
to cheat a stranger. The men get drunk with cider, and the 
women make clotted cream. I remained a week with an old 
friend and relation of my father 1 , and then proceeded to 
Plymouth by the way of Exeter and Ivy Bridge. 

Devonshire has rather disappointed me. I had heard too 
much of it, and perhaps have not seen the finest part of the 
county. The country about Plymouth is, however, in its way 
of unrivalled beauty. You of course have often heard of 
the breakwater. When completed it will form a mound of 
solid masonry a mile long, in many places seventy feet high, 
and more than five hundred feet wide. The blocks of which 
it is composed weigh from three to nine tons each, and are all 
procured in the quarries of limestone which fortunately 
abound immediately on the Plymouth shores. More than six 
hundred day-labourers, and upwards of forty transport-vessels, 
are employed in this enormous work. I was greatly delighted 
in observing the operations of the workmen in the quarries. 
They commence operations by clearing away till they have a 
kind of terrace. They then proceed to form a hole in the rock 
in the usual manner, but not of the usual dimensions, for they 
penetrate to the depth of five or six feet, and run down eight 
or nine pounds of gunpowder into one opening. One of these 
blasts, when well-placed, will sometimes bring down as much 
as forty tons of limestone. It is a sight well worth seeing to 
observe these masses rolling down into the lower part of the 
works from the height of 1 50 feet The number of explosions 
adds greatly to the effect, for the fires are communicated by a 
signal through the whole line of the works. These masses are 
elevated by cranes into low waggons which are conveyed by 
machinery into the vessels moored close by. They are in due 
time conveyed away to the breakwater, and discharged upon 
it by appropriate machinery. You may imagine that no 

1 The Rev. James Sedgwick, of Curry Rivell near Taunton, a descendant of 
the Sedgwick of Bankland. See above, p. 35. 


time is lost when I tell you that in this way a mass of stone 1819. 
is daily deposited on the work equal to the burden of two ^34* 
of our largest Indiamen. 

I have no time to tell you how an alarm of fire threw the 
whole house in confusion — how I found my way to Tavistock 
— how I mean to get back again — how I purpose to proceed 
to Cornwall — what I mean to see there &c. &c. So no more 
at present 

A. Sedgwick. 

At Penzance Sedgwick fell in with the Rev. John Josias 
Conybeare — of whom and his brother we shall have occasion 
to speak at length in connexion with the tour of 1820 — and 
impressed him very favourably, to judge from the following 
passage, which occurs in a letter from Conybeare to Buckland, 
written shortly afterwards : 

' In the line of Geology the best thing I have done is to contract 
a sort of liaison with the new Woodwardian Professor of Cambridge, 
Mr Sedgwick, whom I met here. He had in his company another 
Fellow of Trinity College, Mr Gilby, cousin to I)r Gilby of Clifton. 
Mr Sedgwick appears a remarkably clever, active man, and had done 
all he had gone over in a very accurate and masterly manner. Having 
been for some time head Mathematical Tutor of Trinity, he brings 
to the study of Geology all the subsidia that a thorough knowledge 
of mathematics and natural philosophy can give him , . , 

The geological results of this tour were communicated to 
the Cambridge Bhilosophical Society in two papers in 1820 
and 1 82 1, and from them we learn that it concluded with a 
thorough exploration of a great part of Cornwall, especially 
the district adjoining the Lizard. Unfortunately no hint is 
given of the reasons which induced Sedgwick to select this 
part of England for exploration, but it may be conjectured 
that his friendship with the Reverend W. R. Gilby, who was 
his companion throughout, may have had something to do 
with it. Mr Gilby had relations at Bristol, and therefore 
probably knew the West of England, or part of it, himself; 

1 The letter is dated Penzance, 35 September, 1819. 


1810. and, besides this, he would be able to urge upon Sedgwick 
^ 35* the advantages to be obtained from his cousin's local know- 

While Sedgwick was thus employed in Cornwall, Henslow 
was doing similar work in the Isle of Man. His visit to the 
island happened to coincide with the first discovery there of 
the great pre-historic elk — commonly called the Irish Elk 
(Megaceros kibernicus). One nearly perfect skeleton was 
sorted out from the mass of bones obtained, and passed into 
the hands of a local blacksmith. Sedgwick was eager to obtain 
it for his own museum ; and Henslow, no doubt at his sugges- 
tion, returned to the island in the following March, in the 
hope of being able to buy it After a stormy passage of 30 
hours from Liverpool he landed in Ramsay Bay, and on the 
following day — having borrowed a horse of one man, and 
a saddle of another — he rode to Bishop's Court The ingenious 
possessor of the elk, though ignorant of anatomy, had put 
the bones together by comparing them with the mounted 
skeleton of a horse, and had placed his prize in a caravan 
for exhibition. After examining it Henslow wrote : 

" You know I am not much given to the marvellous, but I really 
think I never saw a more magnificent sight of the kind in my life, 
and doubt if the Petersburg Mammoth 1 would surpass it. The only 
parts missing are half of one hoof, and the end bones of the tail ; the 
rest is in the highest preservation. I could not have conceived it 
would have cut half so good a figure, and the fellow has really put it 
together with very great ingenuity V % 

The negotiation to buy the skeleton failed, and it was 
ultimately acquired for the Museum at Edinburgh ; but the 
attempt to secure it for Cambridge forms an interesting epi- 
sode in the early history of the Woodwardian Museum and 

1 The nearly complete skeleton of a Siberian Mammoth, acquired by an 
Englishman named Michael Adams in 1807, and mounted in the Museum of St 
Petersburg. It is described (with a complete history of the discovery) in the 
Mhnoires de PAcademie ImpiriaU des Sciences de St Pitersbourg, for the year 
181 2, v. 406. The paper, published only four years before Henslow wrote, had 
greatly interested all men of science. 

9 Henslow to Sedgwick, 31 March, 1820. The letter is dated 18 19, but that it 


shows that Sedgwick had already begun to pay attention to i8ao. 
Palaeontology. •#*• 35* 

In the following summer (1820), Sedgwick resumed work 
in the west of England. 

To Professor Monk, T,'in. Coll. Cambridge. 

Maidenhead Bridge, Monday Evening, 

[17 July, 1820]. 
Dear Professor, 

About the time that we parted I mentioned to you 
a subject on which I am now requesting your good offices. I 
am so much in want of money that without some assistance I 
shall be obliged to abridge my summer's labours for want of 
funds to carry me through them. By the Will of Dr Wood- 
ward, of blessed memory, I am entitled to a quarterly payment 
of my salary 1 . The Vice-Chancellor knows the fact as well as 
myself; and will, I have no doubt, order twenty-five or thirty 
pounds to be placed to my credit at Mortlock's Bank. That 
sum, with what I now have, will enable me to pay my way 
among all the Oolite Beds in the south-west of this island. 
I hoped before this time to have been fairly at work, but a 
violent diarrhoea has retarded my progress. I am half dis- 
posed to rejoice in my misfortunes as they have induced me 
to spend a day (and God only knows whether I shall ever 
spend another day), with our dear friend Mill 8 . He rejoices in 
his appointment, because it holds out to him a rational expec- 
tation of being enabled to employ his great talents in pro- 
moting the highest interests of his fellow-creatures. He is 
now dining with his Rector; I excused myself on the score of 
bodily infirmity. Tomorrow I hope to be in travelling 
condition, in which case I shall endeavour to reach Devizes. 

should be 1820 is evident from Henslow's Supplementary Observations to Dr 
Berger's Account of the Isle of Man; Trans. Geol. Soc. Lond., i8ai. Vol. v., 
p. 502, note. 

1 See above, p. 182. 

8 The Rev. W. H. Mill, Fellow of Trinity College, was at that time curate 
of Taplow. His rector was the Rev. Edward Neale. 


1820. There I shall unpack old Thor, and commence a furious 
^•35- assault on all the solid materials I may meet with on the 
surface of the earth. 

You will greatly oblige me by mentioning the subject I 
began to write about to the Vice-Chancellor. 

Believe me, Dear Professor, 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

P.S. You fire your thunderbolts 1 ; other men must be 
content with squibs and crackers. I have several times 
thought of getting up a geological article for the Quarterly. 
Some interesting foreign works (French and Italian) have 
appeared on the subject, which might be made the foundation 
of a dissertation. My health is never to be depended on ; I 
have no facility of composition; what is more I am much 
engaged ; still I think that I might be able to bring together 
some remarks not entirely undeserving of insertion in that 
Journal. Perhaps you would have the goodness some time or 
other to mention this to the editor. Vale. 

Charlton Mackerel, September 5, 182a 
Dear Ainger, 

I am now halting with my old friend Sharpe *, who 
has been married for several months, and is bearing him- 

1 This expression refers to the controversy, in 18 18 — 19, between Professor 
Monk and Sir J. £. Smith, President of the Linnean Society. The latter had 
been authorised by the Rev. T. Martyn (who had been Professor of Botany since 
1761, but had not lectured since 1796, nor resided since 1798) to deliver a course 
of lectures on Botany. The Vice- Chancellor, Dr Webb, Master of Clare Hall, 
had given his consent, and the lectures had been announced to begin on Monday, 
6 April; when on Saturday, 4 April, a remonstrance was forwarded to the Vice- 
Chancellor, signed by eighteen Tutors of Colleges, who objected to their " Pupils 
attending the Public Lectures of any Person who is neither a Member of the 
University, nor a Member of the Church of England." After this Sir J. E. Smith 
declined to lecture, and wrote an indignant pamphlet, which Monk answered. In 
July, 1818, an article in favour of the course pursued by Monk and his fellow-tutors 
appeared in the Quarterly Review^ Vol. xix. pp. 434 — 446. Smith wrote a 
pamphlet in answer to it, and Monk a counter-pamphlet. Here the controversy 

9 William Sharpe, Trin. Coll., B.A. 1807. 


self with all meekness after his exaltation to the Benedictine 1820. 
honours. Perhaps your brother will have informed you that I &* 35- 
started on an expedition to the West of England in the second 
week of July. My first object was to examine all the strata 
from the foot of the Wiltshire chalk-downs to their termination 
in the ravines near Bath. This part of my summer's labours 
employed me about three weeks. I was, however, interrupted 
by a severe cold, which yielded immediately to the effects of 
the hot bath. Though I started alone, this part of my expedi- 
tion has not been quite solitary. I was joined near Bath by 
an Oxford gentleman with whom I formed an acquaintance 
on the road. I also experienced the greatest possible kind- 
ness from Mr Conybeare, an Oxford Professor and a stone- 
eater. After leaving Bath I went to the house of Mr William 
Conybeare, brother of the aforesaid Professor (perhaps you 
will like these men better when you know that they are grand- 
sons of Bishop Conybeare) 1 , who accompanied me in my 
expeditions for three weeks, during which time we examined 
the most interesting portions of the country to the north of 
Bristol. If I were to give a minute account of our labours I 
should be obliged to use language which would hardly be 
understood, and, if understood, would not, I fear, be very 
amusing. I must therefore leave the lower regions of the 
earth and talk of its surface. The whole face of the country 
north of Bristol, and up to the banks of the Severn, is most 
lovely. The hills are not very lofty, but they are beautifully 
broken, and the woodland scenery is among the richest in 
the world. Part of the country you are, I believe, acquainted 

About the time that I purposed leaving Mr Conybeare's 
house I was attacked by my old enemy ; after being raked 
fore and aft for eight and forty hours, I really thought that 
the whole vessel was going to the bottom ; the internal hurri- 
cane, however, suddenly abated; a state of calm for three days 
succeeded, and after that time I was able to spread my sails, 

1 John Conybeare, D.D., Bishop of Bristol 1750 — 1755. 


i8ao. and steer with a fair wind for the Mendips. Mr Conybeare 
^•35- accompanied me in that excursion. We spent five days in 
examining a most interesting mountain ridge. We have 
here on a small scale examples of every variety of strati- 
fication, and of almost every species of secondary rock. The 
great mass of rock is the same limestone we have about 
Sedbergh, and in the district of the caves. The strata of 
the Mendips are, however, much more highly inclined, being 
in some instances nearly vertical, and are surmounted by 
many newer strata which ride upon their edges in an 
horizontal position. This singular conformation is exhibited 
in many of the deep glens which traverse the strata near the 
eastern end of the chain. 

Mr Conybeare and I parted on the top of the Mendips on 
Saturday last I descended to Wells. The Cathedral is small, 
but very perfect ; and the west front is ornamented by a great 
many good examples of ancient gothic sculpture, which the 
fanatical zeal of our blessed reformers has fortunately spared. 
All revolutions are accompanied with violence, which is an 
evil great enough in some instances to counterbalance the 
good of change. It was, however, better that our protestant 
ancestors should break the heads of stone images than of men 
and women, after the manner of our neighbours on the other 
side of the water. 

Sharpe is coming down to breakfast, so that I must cut 

short my narration. My next great move will be to the coast 

near Sidmouth, from which place I intend to face about, and 

trudge my way back by the coast as far as Portsmouth. 

Thence to Cambridge. Best respects to Mrs A. and the 

young ones. 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Tuxford, Notts, November io, 1820. 
Dear Ainger, 

I wrote to you during the labours of the Long Vaca- 


tion, but from what place I do not at this moment recollect 18*0. 
I presume that I gave you some account of what I had been &x * 35- 
about, and what I intended to do. How uncertain are all 
our expectations ! I have not yet reached the University. 

After an examination of some parts of the country near 
Taunton, which I visited last year, I crossed the Black- 
downs to Sidmouth, and there commenced a laborious 
examination of the coast. The cliffs are on a most magnificent 
scale, abound in organic remains, and are of great geological 
interest Almost the whole coast of Dorsetshire presents a 
succession of rugged precipices of varied forms, arising from 
the peculiar disposition of the strata. Weymouth detained 
me three weeks. The geological map of that district is so 
erroneous that I resolved to rectify it as far as my time would 
allow, and I succeeded almost to the extent of my wishes. 
From thence I found my way to the Isle of Wight by 
Southampton, and there heard, from my brother James, 
such an alarming account of my mother's health that I im- 
mediately recrossed the Channel, and hastened down to the 
North with all the expedition which I could command. 

I should have been very thankful had it pleased God to 
have allowed me to arrive in time to receive my poor mother's 
last blessing ; but that melancholy satisfaction was denied me. 
She died early on Sunday the 15th, after an illness of a week. 
I rejoice to say that she possessed her self-possession almost 
to the moment of her death, and expressed her entire resigna- 
tion to the will of God. We have all reason to thank Him for 
His great mercy in so long sparing our dearest friends. This 
is the first affliction with which our family has been visited. 
My father and sisters are quite well. My father looks much 
better now than he did last spring when I was in the North. 
He is much afflicted at losing the companion of his old age, 
but on the whole is less weighed down than I could have ven- 
tured to hope. It may still, I hope, please God to spare him 
to our family for some years. 

I am now resting on my way to Cambridge with my old 


~^ ' ■■■■■■ ^ - . i , ■ I,, 

1820. friend Mr Mason. I hope to be in Cambridge tomorrow, and 
Mu 35- shall find abundant employment for the term in my profes- 
sional duties. My spirits are not good, but I hope to rally 
sufficiently to give a few public lectures before the Christmas 
vacation. My sister Ann was married about two months 
since to Mr Westall jun. I have no doubt you heard of the 
engagement when you were in the north. God bless you and 


Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

The touching allusion in the first of the above letters to 
the Reverend William Hodge Mill, Fellow of Trinity College, 
then about to leave England as Principal of the newly founded 
Bishop's College at Calcutta, is a proof of the breadth of 
Sedgwick's sympathies, and of the strength of his affections. 
No two men could have differed more widely — Mill was a 
High Churchman — Sedgwick, if he belonged to any party 
in the Church, an Evangelical. Yet they exchanged letters 
frequently during Mill's absence in India, and after his return, 
when he resided in Cambridge as Regius Professor of Hebrew, 
notwithstanding the very decided attitude taken up by both 
in the religious controversies of that day, their friendship did 
not suffer any interruption. 

Sedgwick's meeting with the brothers Conybeare, briefly 
mentioned in the second letter, is specially noteworthy. With 
John Josias Conybeare, Professor first of Anglo-Saxon, and 
next of Poetry at Oxford, then rector of Batheaston, close 
to Bath, he had become acquainted while exploring Corn- 
wall the year before, as mentioned above 1 ; but his brother, 
William Daniel Conybeare, afterwards Dean of Llandaff, who 
then held a lectureship in the church of Brislington near Bristol, 
seems to have been unknown to him until this occasion 8 . 

1 See above, p. 213. 

* In a letter written to the Rev. John Charles Conybeare, second son of the 
Dean of Llandaff, dated 15 October, 1858, Sedgwick refers to his first acquaintance 
with the family : '* Tell Mrs Conybeare that I love all ladies who pass under the 


The introduction led to important results. Not only was the 1820. 
foundation laid of a lifelong friendship, continued to the iEt 35« 
younger members of the Conybeare family long after their 
parents had been laid in the grave, but Sedgwick obtained so 
large a measure of geological instruction that he used to speak 
of Mr W. D. Conybeare as his master in the science. The 
two brothers were both fond of geology, and while still at 
Oxford, in conjunction with Buckland, had established a sort 
of club for the study of it. Thus educated in the methods 
of the science, and, we may be certain, well-informed respect- 
ing the geology of the district in which they resided, they 
would both be eminently qualified to serve as guides to one 
who until he met with them had had little except his natural 
talent to help him. The extent of his obligations, as realised 
by himself at the time, is forcibly expressed in the last letter 
which he wrote to Conybeare from Weymouth, detailing his 
discoveries and difficulties. " My Long Vacation is now ended, 
and I go home with the conviction of having completely 
accomplished the great objects of my summer's tour. I may 
add, with great truth, that I consider the acquaintance I have 
formed with you among the most fortunate and agreeable 
circumstances of my vacation. If I had not been under your 
tuition for three weeks, I should, I fear, never have been able 
to disentangle the difficulties of this neighbourhood." 

By a strange coincidence this letter — throughout which 
Sedgwick expresses himself in a tone of elation at his well- 
merited success — was written on the very day of his mother's 
death. How deeply he felt this sudden calamity — 'the first 
deep domestic pang I ever endured' — is shown by the letter in 
which he informed Ainger — who must have known her well — 
of his irreparable loss; but the depth of his sorrow may be 

name of Conybeare; and tell little Mary that I mean to love her as dearly as 
I loved another Mary [the Dean's only daughter] whom I first knew at Brislington 
in 1820, when little Johnny was on the knees. It was the year I first became 
acquainted with your Father. I knew his brother John before, having been 
acquainted with him in Cornwall. But what ancient memories these are nowl" 


i8*oto estimated more truly still from the casual references to his 

182 1 
_, '_ mother which are scattered through his later correspondence. 

36. Thirty years afterwards, when one of his friends was anxious 
about her own mother, he wrote: "The word Mother has a 
charm in its sound; and there was a blank in the face of 
nature, and a void in my heart, when I ceased to have one;" 
and again, to the same ; " It was my first great domestic 
sorrow, and deeply did I feel it I pity the man who has no 
remembrance of a mother's love. The memory of my dear 
mother and my dear old father throw a heavenly light over all 
the passages of my early life 1 ." 

During the months which elapsed between Sedgwick's 
return from Dent in 1820, and the commencement of the 
Long Vacation of 1 821, he was fully occupied with what he 
termed 'professional pursuits.' Not to mention lecturing — 
digesting the information acquired in the course of the 
previous summer — and writing at least one paper for the 
Philosophical Society — he had plenty to do in his Museum. 
His report (dated 1 May, 1821) speaks of three months spent 
in arranging the contents of seven large cases of " specimens 
from all the strata of Somersetshire, Gloucestershire, and 
Dorsetshire which appear between the old red sandstone and 
the chalk ;" "the arrangement of a series of specimens from 
all the English strata, commencing with the granite of Corn- 
wall, and ending with the alluvial deposits of Suffolk, which 
the Professor has employed three vacations in collecting;" 
and he gratefully acknowledges "the assistance of Mr Henslow 
in arranging the simple minerals 8 ." 

It is pleasant to be able to record that Sedgwick's delivery 
of a course of lectures — in excess of the minimum of four 
prescribed by Dr Woodward — did not pas$ unrewarded. It 

1 To Miss Malcolm, 7 December, 1856; 21 December, 1859. 

3 It must be remembered that the Woodwardian Audit, at which the Pro- 
fessor made his annual report, was held on the first day of May. As Sedgwick 
usually left Cambridge soon after the commencement of the Long Vacation, most 
of the work chronicled in these reports must have been done between his return in 
October and May of the year following. 


will be recollected that on the day of his election the Senate 1820 to 

had accepted a supplementary scheme for the government of ^ ' 

the Professorship. In this document three points were mainly 30. 

insisted upon : (1) that a Museum, with an apartment for the 

Professor thereto adjoining, ought to be built without delay ; 

(2) that the payment of the Professor's stipend should be 

contingent on his delivering lectures ; (3) that if he gave 

additional lectures, he ought to receive an additional stipend, 

but only after the erection of the aforesaid buildings. Two 

years had elapsed, but nothing had been done; nor was it 

probable that any building-scheme would be accepted for 

some time. Sedgwick was naturally unwilling to see his 

promised increase of stipend adjourned sine die, and therefore 

addressed a letter, dated 22 June, 1820, to the Vice-Chancellor 

and Heads of Colleges. This letter contains some interesting 

biographical details, and therefore we may be excused for 

quoting a considerable portion of it. After giving an analysis 

of that portion of Dr Woodward's Will which dealt with the 

annual income of his estate, he proceeds, 

"In consequence of the great change in the value of money since 
1727, the Woodwardian estate now rents for ^430, but none of the 
specific payments have received any augmentation whatever. The 
present Lecturer does not therefore stand in the situation intended 
by the Founder, the stipend he receives being virtually not much 
more than one-third of the sum intended. 

In the same Will it is directed that the Woodwardian Cabinets 
be ' reposited in a proper Room or Apartment allotted by the 
University,' and, 'that the Lecturer reside in or near the said 
Apartment. 1 When therefore the University accepted the Cabinets, 
they contracted an obligation to find an Apartment, suitable at the 
same time to the Collection and to the accommodation of the 
Professor, out of their own funds. It certainly does not appear to 
have been the intention of Dr Woodward that any part of the rents 
of his estate should be held back as a building-fund. As however 
there is at present an accumulation of fourteen or fifteen hundred 
pounds out of the Woodwardian estate, the said accumulation might, 
with the addition of such sums as the University shall think fit, be 
employed in erecting a * proper apartment ' for the reception of the 
Geological Cabinets, in fitting up a Lecture- Room, and, if thought 
expedient, in building rooms for the Lecturer, contiguous to the said 


i8aoto I* ls further obvious, from the said Will, that Dr Woodward 

i8ai. intended his Lecturer to perform important duties 1 .... In the year 

&t. 95 — 1727, a salary of ;£no was a sufficient remuneration to a member 

30. of the Senate for performing the conditions in question. At present 

the same sum is not sufficient. 

The Woodwardian Lecturer wishes finally to observe that, since 
his appointment, he has endeavoured to comply with the severest 
clauses of the Founder's Will. 

1. He resigned, on his appointment to the said Lectureship, 
offices and employments in College of the yearly value of ^200. 

2. He has read 22 public Lectures to the University and 
gratuitously, and will engage to give at least that number annually. 

3. He is preparing to print the substance of two of the said 

4. He has been always ready to exhibit the Museum, and 
during term has spent more hours in it than are specified in the 
Founder's Will. 

5. He has, at a personal expense of between three and four 
hundred pounds, made a Geological Survey of several parts of 
England, by which he has been enabled to deposit large, and, he 
believes, important additions to the specimens in the University 
Cabinets ; for an account of which he refers to the report drawn up 
under the sanction of the Inspectors and presented to the Auditors 
on the first of May"." 

The persons addressed took six months to consider this 
letter, but early in the following year (24 January, 1821), a 
Grace passed the Senate, by which, after several well-turned 
compliments to Sedgwick's energy and capacity, it was 
provided that ^100 should be paid to him for the extra 
lectures delivered in the past year; and ;£ioo in each future 
year, on the condition that he delivered fifteen lectures, at 
the least, in each year, in addition to the four stipulated for 
by Dr Woodward. 

The next three letters describe the employment of the 
Long Vacation of 1821. For once, it may be remarked, we 
hear nothing of his health — perhaps he was too busy to 
pay attention to it 

1 In the omitted passage Sedgwick enumerates the principal duties imposed by 
Dr Woodward, as related in the previous chapter. 

8 The only copy of this letter which we have seen is in the rich collection of 
University Papers formed by the late Dr Webb, Master of Clare Hall 181 5 — 56, 
now in the University Library. 


Trin. Coll., April 13, 1821. i8n. 

Dear Ainger, ex. 36. 

Your letter was left on my table on Tuesday last 
When I saw the direction I believe I should have blushed if 
my complexion would have allowed it. For my conscience 
told me that I had been your debtor three or four months, 
both for a letter and for a small book of goodly admonition. 
Let me thank you for one or both of them now, if it be not 
too late. I have myself turned author since we met last I will 
send you a copy of my paper in the Cambridge Transactions 
when I have an opportunity. Not that I wish you to read it 
I will therefore give it to Mrs A. to tic up sugar-plumbs for 
my god-daughter. But hold — I am quite out of all order. I 
must first congratulate you and Mrs A. on your new accession 
of domestic honours, and then express my own joy in the 
hopes of establishing this spiritual relationship with the young 
stranger. Both my god-fathers are old bachelors, and my 
god-mother (God be with her), is as arrant an old maid as 
ever whispered scandal round a tea-table. My own destinies 
were therefore fixed at the font, and I already feel myself fast 
sinking in the mire of celibacy. I hope I shall bring no evil 
on my charge. But do contrive to have some one joined with 
mc who is cither married or given in marriage, otherwise we 
cannot answer for the consequences. Experto crede. 

Geology has not, I hope, dried up all the social affections ; 
it has, however, left mc very little time for the exercise of 
them. I am too much engaged to be down this short vaca- 
tion. The last week in May and the first week in June I shall 
be engaged with our examination in Hall. A stupid com- 
panion you will find me if here at that busy time ; still let us 
meet if possible. I will promise to do my best during the 
intervals. Immediately after that troublesome business is 
over I start for the Isle of Wight 1 , to relieve my brother who 

1 Whewell, writing to his sister, 18 June, 1821, says: " I am going for a short 
time to the Isle of Wight. I expect to join there Professor Sedgwick, a very 
intimate friend of mine." Life, p. 64. 

s. i. 15 


i8ai. is going down to the North. In the months of July, August, 
Mt. 36. an( j September I must make a regular geological tour, but my 
actual destination is not quite fixed. You may suppose that 
my hands are full when I tell you that besides the care of our 
college examination I have to give public lectures four times 
a week during the next term, and that I am now preparing a 
syllabus of my course for the press. Present my kindest 
remembrances to Mrs Ainger, and believe me, 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Whitby, September 2, 1821. 

My dear Ainger, 

For the life of me I cannot tell when or where it was 
that I last wrote to you. It must surely have been since my 
return from the Isle of Wight. Let us now therefore take it 
for granted — that I did return from the Isle of Wight — that I 
did sojourn about three weeks in the University of Cambridge 
— that I then took a tour through Coventry, Kenilworth, 
Warwick, Birmingham, and Lichfield, where I saw churches, 
ruined castles, hardware manufactories, and Cathedrals — that 
I attended an auction of old bones, of which I bought enough 
to fill fat Lambert's coffin — that I then found my way thro* 
Derby, Nottingham, and Lincoln, to the residence of my 
brother John 1 — that after three days I left the lodgings of my 
said brother, and was conveyed in a steam-packet down the 
waters of the Humber as far as Hull — that I left Hull on the 
top of a coach — that I was set down by the said coach at the 
door of my old friend Gilby, who is now married and perform- 
* ing the duties of a parson and a magistrate in a small village 
about five miles from Bridlington. All this I give in the way 
of summary, because: 1st, it is no easy matter to give it in 
any other form ; 2dly, I do verily believe that I have given 
you the greater part of it before. 

1 At that time curate of Stowe in Lincolnshire. 


With Gilby I remained three or four days, during which 18*1. 
time I made an excursion almost as far as Spurn Head. ^Et.36. 
Holderness is well cultivated and well inhabited, but as dull as 
the fens of your native county. Its physical structure did not 
supply me with a single new fact The sea is making terrible 
encroachments on the whole district In one place the cliff 
cuts through an ancient burial-ground, and the upper face of 
the precipice is literally studded with human bones. Gilby 
accompanied me on foot almost as far as Scarborough. North 
of Bridlington the character of the country is completely 
changed. We crossed the great chalk range, which at its 
northern termination is nearly ten miles broad. As we went 
along the top of the cliff we frequently had on our right hand 
a naked precipice of chalk more than three hundred feet high. 
The chalk cliffs of the Isle of Wight must, I think, yield to 
these in grandeur. But in the wolds of Yorkshire we entirely 
want that combination of woodlands which makes the scenery 
in the Isle so peculiarly beautiful. North of the chalk range 
the cliffs are of less elevation, but more varied in form, and 
perhaps more beautiful than those of Flambro' head. The 
bay of Scarborough viewed from the south is not inferior to 
any part of the coast which I have seen. It is bounded to the 
north by a fine mass of perpendicular rock, which is crowned 
with the ruins of the Castle. So far I have got on without 
taxing your patience with any account of my peculiar craft, 
and I hope to finish without doing so. I am, however, partly 
disqualified from enjoying the picturesque beauties of this 
country, as I have nearly lost the use of one eye in my combats 
with the rocks. A splinter struck it with such violence that it 
has for the last three or four days been of very little use 
to me 1 . 

I am sitting in the travellers' room, and they are beginning 

1 Sedgwick's eye never recovered from this accident. Writing to Lady 
Augusta Stanley, 23 July, 1865, he says : "My old eyes — I ought to say my old 
eye, for one of my original pair has struck work ever since 1821, when I offended 
it by a splinter of rock which flew from my hammer in Robin Hood's Bay — 
work badly by candle-light." 


228 WHITBY. 

i8*i. to be so noisy that I really hardly know what I write. Let 

Mt. 36. me then tell you at once that I have paced my way to this 

place along a most rugged coast, and that I hope to proceed 

with my tour on Tuesday next Whitby is a dirty, stinking, 

town in a very picturesque situation, but I have no time to 

describe it. Pray write to me Post Office, Sunderland. Give 

my best respects to Mrs Ainger. 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

P.S. Monday morning. I concluded last night rather 
bluntly. Wine and tobacco seemed to excite some of my 
companions above all measure. Among the rest an old, fat, 
deep-mouthed Scotsman became so enthusiastic in his admira- 
tion of the native genius of his country, that he roared, ranted, 
or sung, whole pages of Burns. The entrance to the harbour 
of Whitby is by a narrow opening in the cliff. It winds up 
two or three miles into the country flanked on both sides by 
very steep hills. The town is disposed on both sides of this 
estuary just at its entrance into the sea. St Hilda's domain 
was on the south side of the estuary. The ruins of the abbey 
are still very imposing, and in a very beautiful style of 
architecture. The choir and transept are nearly perfect, and 
in the Early English order ; the nave is more ruinous, yet has 
some exquisite arches of the more modern Gothic. About 
two-thirds of the great tower is standing 1 . The old Scotsman 
is again come into the room coughing, and breathing hard, so 
I must conclude. I hope to emerge from this district to 
Stockton in about a week. I shall then go up the coast of 
Durham. The greater part of the expedition must be per- 
formed on foot. Vale. 

Dent, October 16, 1821. 
Dear Ainger, 

My memory does not improve, for I am as much 
abroad as I was before in regard to the place from which I 
directed my last letter. It was I suppose from some place or 

1 These remains of the great tower fell at 1 p.m. 25 June, 1830. 


other on the Yorkshire coast. My sisters and Miss Davoren 1 i8«. 
are so noisy that my poor confused brain is not much aided in iEt &* 
its recollection. I will not give you any details respecting the 
cliffs of alum-shale, and the mode of extracting the salt, lest 
I should bore you with a second edition of what I told you in 
my last. These cliffs in some places rise to the elevation of 
600 feet, and then take a sweep round into the interior, 
forming a magnificent natural terrace overlooking the fine flat 
district of Cleveland and part of Durham. From Stockton I 
made a two days' excursion up the Tees, and called upon our 
old friend Wallace*. He looks charmingly for a man of fifty, 
and is as much alive as ever. Old time, that unmerciful 
scratcher of faces, has, however, worn a few lines in his face 
since you were of his household. The coast of Durham, in a 
picturesque point of view, is very inferior to the north-east 
cliff of Yorkshire. The rocks prevailing in that district are 
composed of a magnesian limestone which performs more 
freaks in its mode of aggregation than any mineral substance 
I have yet examined. The mouth of the Tyne has an 
interest peculiar to itself. The river finds its way into the sea 
through a chasm in a rock which on the Northumberland side 
is of great elevation, and crowned by a very picturesque ruin 
of an old abbey. The eternal bustle on the river, which a 
little above Tynemouth is wider than the Thames, reminds 
one of the scene fcelow London Bridge. I found my way up 
this river to Newcastle in a steam-boat; and in getting out of 
it had my ribs nearly staved in by a fall in the hatchway. Old 
Robert Foster now lives there, and is very hoary. I returned 
by Durham, and spent a day or two with Carr, who has now 
three children, and will soon (d. v.) have a fourth. From 

1 Miss Jane Davoren, niece to Mrs Brownrigg, a lady who had resided for 
several years at Broadficld in Kirthwaite, married the Rev. John Sedgwick in 
April, 1822. 

2 Dr Wallace, a physician who lived at Sedbergh when Sedgwick was a boy, 
and was a great friend of his. Ainger boarded in his house. A few years before 
the date of this letter Dr Wallace removed to the neighbourhood of Barnard 


i8ii. there I went to Darlington, to take possession of a horse 
Ml 36. w hich the Doctor had bought for me ; on this beast I went up 
the higher part of Teesdale. It is perhaps more beautiful 
than any valley in the North of England. I had before 
examined the country on the borders of the river near Rokeby, 
which has been so well described by Scott In the highest 
part of the valley, which is ornamented with foliage, the whole 
river is precipitated over a fine mass of columnar basalt, and 
forms a fall not inferior to any in the Lake district The 
columnar basalt is also found on both sides of the valley for 
some miles above the High Force, and is arranged in magnifi- 
cent clusters of pillars. I was driven from this interesting 
district by the most incessant rain with which I was ever 
persecuted, and found my way to Dent by the way of Brough 
and Kirkby Stephen. When I reached Sedbergh I was 
soaked with wet like a piece of blotting-paper. 

My friends here are all well, but complain of the shortness 
of my visit I arrived last Friday morning and intend to 
start for Cambridge the day after tomorrow. Under the 
circumstances of my visit you will see that it was impossible 
for me to reach St Bees. I shall be happy to assist in the 
procession when you keep your Act 1 . The ladies, who are as 
noisy as ever, now desire their kind regards. For the last 
quarter of an hour I have not been able to see a word that I 
am writing, and Miss D. is just beginning to rattle the keys of 
the piano, so I must needs conclude. My best regards to Mrs 
Ainger and my love to my god-daughter. Yours ever 

A. Sedgwick. 

Mr Robert Foster, whom Sedgwick met at Newcastle, was 
a friend of his boyhood at Sedbergh, and he has sketched his 
portrait with singular vividness among his reminiscences of 
those early days. 

" The next person who rises before my mind's eye is Mr Foster 
of Hebblethwaite Hall, a beautiful property a little more than two 

1 Mr Ainger proceeded to the degree of B.D. in i8«. 


miles above Sedbergh. He was of the Society of Friends, and some- i8«. 
times when he drove over to visit the brotherhood in Kirthwaite, or mu 36. 
at other times when tempted by the bright weather to make a short 
cut over the hills to the old vicarage of Dent, he would halt a few 
hours in friendly intercourse with my father. I remember his 
presence well, when I was but a little boy : his dark complexion 
which had been made darker by a tropical sun ; his small and regular 
features ; his dark and bushy eyebrows ; his earnest and grave look, 
which at first sight gave me an impression of sternness. But all 
that feeling went off when he began to speak; for his voice was 
pleasant, and his discourse at once earnest and genial. Even in my 
childhood I felt joy whenever he came to the vicarage ; and I used 
to creep behind his chair that I might hear him talk. He wore a 
broad-brimmed hat, and a grave outer garb of a quaker cut ; but I 
never thought that he looked quite like a quaker. He had not the 
soft, bland, expression of a good old quaker statesman ; and he had 
a confirmed habit of slovenliness, which was utterly unlike the 
precise and perfect neatness of all other men of his grade in the 
Society of Friends. 

While at Sedbergh School he soon outstripped all the boys of his 
class in making his way through the standard authors in Greek and 
Latin ; and he outstripped them quite as much in audacious deeds of 
eccentric waggery. His mind became inflamed by dreams of foreign 
lands, and thoughts of enterprise ; and while in such moods, spite of 
the beautiful scenery of his native home, his yearnings were little 
satisfied by the thoughts of settling down into the placid life of a 
leading quaker statesman. So he one day packed up bag and 
baggage, and walked off to seek his fortune ; and a few days after- 
wards (I think at Liverpool) entered himself in a foreign-bound vessel 
as a common sailor. He set to work in his new life with all the 
energy of his ardent will ; and the master of the vessel, who was 
a man of good sense and humanity, marked the boy's style and 
manner, took him to his cabin, and drew from him his secret. 'You 
have done wrong in leaving your parents,' said the captain ; ' but 
spite of that I like your spirit, and I give you the choice of two 
things : If you have the heart to go on with this profession you must 
leave this ship, and be rated as a midshipman in a man-of-war, and I 
have a friend in the royal navy to whom I will send you, and you 
will be put, as a young gentleman, in a right position. If this do 
not suit you, I have no choice left but to put you under arrest, and 
send you back to your father.' 

There could be no doubt which alternative the boy would choose. 
He was rated as a midshipman in a man-of-war; and by an 
enthusiastic devotion to all the duties and studies of his profession, 
he gradually became an accomplished sailor ; and during one of the 
early wars of the reign of George III. performed in the West Indies 
such acts of well-timed and daring courage, that he obtained the 
commission of lieutenant much sooner, I believe, than would be 
compatible with the rules of modern service. 


1811. Once or twice during the intervals of active service he came down 

Mt. 36. to Hebblethwaite Hall ; and it is said that he appeared at Briggflatts 
Meeting-house, with his laced cocked-hat on his head, and a cutlass 
by his side; perhaps to the suppressed admiration of the younger 
Sisterhood, but certainly to the horror of the venerable and peaceful 
Fathers of the Society. Every effort was made to win him back to a 
peaceful life. He loved his friends, and he loved the Dales ; but he 
resolved to continue in that profession in which he had already won 
some glory. 

At another interval in the service he again came down to 
Sedbergh, and mingled once more with the tried friends of his early 
youth : and then it was that he proved in his own person — what he 
had read of in the poets of antiquity — that love is in conflict mightier 
than fire and sword. He was smitten by one of the youthful Sister- 
hood, as by a fire from a masked battery, and brought to the ground, 
never again to rise in his former strength. His courage was gone, 
for no heart was left in him. His dearest friends seized the oppor- 
tunity; and by every entreaty of duty, by the power of youthful 
passion, and by the prospect of realising new dreams of happiness in 
the immediate possession of the family estate and the lady of his first 
love — by the might of all these motives acting together, he was 
conquered, and struck his flag for ever. His visions of future glory 
vanished like the colours upon an air-bubble, and he collapsed into 
the condition of a country gentleman, much honoured in the Dale, 
and of a leader in that Society in which fate had first placed him. 

These events happened long before I was counted among the 
inhabitants of the Dales ; and after the lapse of many years, while I 
boarded with a kind quaker family, we often saw Mr Foster ; and 
greatly rejoiced when we were invited to spend a half-holiday at 
Hebblethwaite Hall. He loved the society of boys who had risen to 
the upper classes of the school ; and he had resumed his studies of 
the classics, and become a very accomplished Latin scholar. Some- 
times he half alarmed us, when he took down some ancient classic, 
and began to discuss a point of criticism. We thought we had 
enough of such matters when before our schoolmaster. But our fears 
were of short duration ; for he was soon carried on by his love of the 
author ; and then, in a way peculiar to himself, he would roll out a 
noble translation of some favourite passage. It might be from one 
of the orations of Cicero, or some pregnant and pithy chapter out of 
the works of Tacitus ; or it might be some burst of indignant scorn 
and mockery out of one of the old Roman Satirists. These were 
days of delight to the schoolboys who had the honour of being 
admitted to such genial and healthy visits. 

Sometimes, but rarely, he and my father had discussions at the 
vicarage on subjects of religious ordinances ; but I think I may say 
with full assurance that no word of bitterness ever escaped from the 
tongue of one or the other. They agreed in many of the great 
essentials of Christian truth : and they agreed that the end of all 
religious ordinances was to bring the heart — the fountain-head of all 


true religious emotion — into conformity, both in thought and outward i8«. 
act, with the revealed will of God. ^ t> -« 

The last time I saw Mr Robert Foster was at Newcastle, I believe 
in the year 1821, while I was upon a geological tour. The load of 
years had then been resting upon him : but his heart had not 
become cold; for the old man received me with the warmest 
welcome ; and then he walked with me (no longer with his firm step 
of former years), and shewed me some of the neighbouring establish- 
ments on the river Tyne. He seemed to be again in his own 
element ; and all the persons connected with the shipping interests 
of the river treated him with marked respect and confidence. After 
a while he said, ' We will go and rest ourselves at the study of one of 
my friends. You will like to know him, for he is a man of genius, 
and a great humourist. ' It was Bewick, the well-informed naturalist, 
and celebrated engraver upon wood ; and we had a long and delight- 
ful interview with that great artist 1 ." 

The geological work of the next four months — as well as 
the results of the tour of 1821, — are well described in Sedg- 
wick's report to the Woodwardian auditors dated 1 May, 

" The Professor spent the month of June and the early part of 
July in examining the structure of the Isle of Wight, the coast of 
Hampshire, and part of Oxfordshire. The spoils obtained during 
this excursion were conveyed to the University in four large cases. 

" He afterwards went to Lichfield for the purpose of attending an 
auction of fossils, and was fortunate in obtaining some very valuable 
specimens at what he considered a reasonable price. They were 
conveyed to the University in one very large case. 

" He then employed between two and three months in a geologi- 
cal survey of the coasts of Yorkshire, Durham, and Northumberland. 
During this excursion (the greatest part of which was necessarily 
made on foot) he collected many illustrative specimens, which were 
sent off from Whitby, Sunderland, and Newcastle, in four large 
packing-cases. He also succeeded, through the assistance of a 
clergyman at Whitby, in purchasing some valuable spoils of the 
Ichthyosaurus, which have been conveyed to Cambridge in three 
large cases. On his return from the coast of Northumberland in the 
month of October, he examined the basaltic and mining districts of 
High Teesdale, and collected many interesting specimens. 

" Of the preceding collections a part is at present in the progress 
of arrangement. The remaining specimens must be returned to the 
packing cases until some more accommodation is found for their 
reception : as there is at present hardly a single drawer in the 
Museum which is unoccupied. 

1 Supplement to the Memorial y ut suf>ra, pp. 54 — 59. The passage has been 
slightly compressed in transcription. 


i8aa. "The Museum has also received a very valuable accession in a 

iEt. 37. collection presented by Mr Henslow, which consists of nearly 1000 
specimens carefully selected during a geological survey of the Isle of 
Anglesea, and illustrated by a memoir and sections which will be 
published in the next number of the Cambridge Transactions 1 . Mr 
Henslow has undertaken the arrangement of this collection, which 
occupies twenty-four drawers. 

" The Woodwardian professor begs finally to add that he has this 
year read twenty-eight public lectures to the University, and that he 
is endeavouring to comply with a clause in the Founder's Will in 
preparing for the Press the substance of two of the lectures'." 

Most men in the position which Sedgwick now held, with 
an annual course of lectures to deliver, the value of which had 
received a substantial acknowledgment from the University — 
a Museum to maintain — and the almost boundless field of 
geology before him — a terra incognita of which he had just 
commenced the exploration — would have devoted themselves 
to their new duties with a singleness of purpose which would 
have excluded most other interests. But this was what 
Sedgwick never could bring himself to do. He had no 
intellectual self-control ; he could never shut his eyes and ears 
to what was going on around him ; and we shall continually 
find his geological work laid aside for long intervals, because 
he had allowed himself to be carried away by something 
foreign to what ought to have been the real purpose of his life 
— something which others less occupied than himself would 
have done as well, or better, than he did. At one time he 
appears as a member of a Syndicate appointed to provide 
temporary accommodation for Viscount Fitzwilliam's collec- 
tions, and to consult and report to the Senate on the erection 
of a permanent Museum, pieces of business which led those 
who took them in hand into long and tedious negotiations ; 
at another we find his name on The University Branch Com- 
mittee for promoting a subscription in Aid of the Greeks*, 

1 Mr Henslow's Geological Description of Anglesea was read to the Cambridge 
Philosophical Society 26 November, 183 1, and is published in their Transactions ; 
Vol. I., pp. 359—452- 

* These lectures were never published. 

8 Address of the Committee, 20 Nov., 1823. The Rev. G. A. Browne, Fellow 
of Trinity College, was specially active in this matter, and it was probably through 


whose 'holy cause/ as it is termed, was no doubt specially i8m. 
dear to so true an Abolitionist as Sedgwick, and occupied a iEt 37* 
proportionate space in his time and thoughts. The conse- 
quences of these distant excursions may be easily imagined. 
Geological memoranda which ought to have been arranged 
when the subject was fresh in his mind were laid aside; 
specimens remained for months — sometimes for years — un- 
determined, or even not unpacked ; promised papers were 
not finished — perhaps not begun. These remarks, which 
apply to his whole life, have been suggested by what took 
place in 1822. Hardly had his report been laid before the 
Woodwardian auditors when he felt it his duty to plunge 
into a University controversy, which, between discussions with 
friends, and pamphlets against opponents, must have occupied 
a considerable portion of his time for nearly two years. The 
matter — especially Sedgwick's share in it — is of sufficient im- 
portance to demand a brief notice in this place. 

On the death of Dr Edward Daniel Clarke, Professor of 
Mineralogy, 9 March, 1822, there was some difference of 
opinion as to the expediency of continuing a Professorship of 
Mineralogy in the University. The title of Professor, it should 
be remembered, had been conferred on Dr Clarke in 1808, 
but no Professorship had ever been formally established. 
Meanwhile Sedgwick's intimate friend, Mr Henslow, had 
announced his intention of becoming a candidate, should the 
Professorship be continued ; and it soon became apparent 
that, if he had a chance of coming forward, he need have no 
fear of the result. At last, 15 May, a Grace passed the 
Senate which may be thus translated : 

" Whereas by the death of Edward D. Clarke, late Professor of 
Mineralogy, that office is now vacant : may it please you that another 

his influence that Sedgwick, together with his friends Pryme, Romilly, Whewell, 
and Lodge were all induced to join the Committee. In 1824 Pryme invited two 
of the Greek deputies, who had come to England to negotiate a loan, to stay with 
him at Cambridge for the Commencement, and Sedgwick met them at his house. 
Recollections ) p. 143. 


18a*. Professor be elected by you to discharge the duties of the said 
Mt. 37. office 1 ." 

As this Grace was copied, verbatim, the name only being 
altered, from a Grace passed 23 January, 1732, for continuing 
the Professorship of Botany (which, like that of Mineralogy, 
had become vacant by the death of the first Professor), 
Members of the Senate assumed that the election of a Profes- 
sor to succeed Dr Clarke would be conducted in the same 
manner as the election of the Professor of Botany had been, 
namely, by open poll. It was with great surprise, therefore, 
that they learnt, a few days after the Grace had passed, 
that the Heads of Houses, — at the instigation, as it was 
believed, of Dr Webb, Master of Clare Hall, and Dr Chafy, 
Master of Sidney Sussex College* — intended to conduct 
the election in the mode observed at the election of Vice- 
Chancellor — in other words, to nominate two persons, one 
of whom the Senate would obviously be constrained to 
elect Alarmed at what was certainly an innovation, and 
apprehensive that, if it were acquiesced in, a similar claim 
would be made respecting all Professorships founded by the 
University, a large number of members of the Senate met 
at the Red Lion Inn, and 'organised a very pretty rebellion' 8 . 
The sense of the University was evidently with them, for 
seventy-four signatures were immediately affixed to a dignified 
Representation to the Vice-Chancellor and Heads of Colleges 
(24 May), praying them to abandon a position which, as the 
memorialists clearly shewed, was contrary to all precedent 
To this Representation, though those who signed it were 
among the most distinguished men in the University, and 
represented, in numbers alone, at least three-fourths of the 
resident academic body 8 — no reply was vouchsafed, but, 

1 As the subsequent controversy turned, in great measure, on the wording of 
this Grace, it shall be cited in the original Latin : * Cum per mortem Edwardi D. 
Clarke nuper Professoris Mineralogice munus istud iam vacans existit ; Placeat 
vobis ut alius ad idem munus exequendum a vobis eligatur.' 

* Whewell's Life, p. 76. 

8 Professor Christian, from whose Explanation of the Law of Elections in the 
University of Cambridge, 8vo. Camb. i8?a, many of the facts here recited have 


three days afterwards (27 May), a notice was issued by the i8m. 
Vice-Chancellor, Dr French, Master of Jesus College, to the &x* 37- 
effect that at the congregation on the ensuing day, a Grace 
would be offered to rescind the previous Grace — or, in other 
words, to discontinue the Professorship. It is strange that 
the Heads, who are said to have been by no means unani- 
mous in favour of the claim to nomination, should have taken 
so high-handed a course when the Senate was so deeply 
irritated. As might have been expected, the Grace was re- 
jected by forty-three votes to seven. Thereupon the Heads 
at once nominated Mr Henslow and Mr Lunn, both of St 
John's College, and the Vice Chancellor announced that the 
election would take place on the day following, at two o'clock. 
In the interval the members of the Senate who had drawn up 
the Representation met again to consider their position. It 
was determined to select a candidate of their own ; and, 
in the event of their votes for him being rejected, to take legal 
measures for the vindication of their rights. 

This conflict reveals a state of things so different from that 
to which we are now accustomed to in the University, that 
a few words of explanation are necessary. By the statutes of 
the 1 2th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth it was provided, 
that when certain offices were vacant, the Heads of Colleges 
should nominate two persons, one of whom was subsequently 
elected by the Senate. Among the officers so nominated was 
the Vice-Chancellor. By statute the Heads might nominate 
whom they pleased, but in practice they invariably chose one 
of their own body, who was only too glad, on all occasions of 
difficulty, to shelter himself behind the other members of his 
own order. Gradually, therefore, the Heads had acquired the 
position of assessors to the Vice-Chancellor, and were, practi- 
cally, the rulers of the University. Whether they executed 
these high functions moderately, or tyrannically, need not 

been borrowed, has the following passage (p. 25): "The whole number of a 
different opinion could not probably be 25, for the whole number who voted for 
and against the petition against the late Catholic Bill were 66 to 33. " 


j 83i. here be discussed ; all that need be pointed out is that they 

& L 37* were regarded with jealousy by the Senate, as an oligarchy 

anxious to retain privileges which depended on custom rather 

than on statute, and eager to embrace every opportunity of 

extending them. 

Through the whole course of the dispute Sedgwick was a 
prominent member of the opposition. Que diable allait-il 
/aire dans cette galkre f is naturally the first question of every 
one interested in his more important pursuits. The answer is 
not far to seek. In the first place, before the controversy 
began he had had an interview with Dr French, on Henslow's 
behalf, which seemed friendly enough at the time, but which, 
as events proved, brought him into the very front of the con- 
troversy. Secondly, as has been already stated more than 
once, Sedgwick had a horror of wrong, or even the semblance 
of wrong, and he had succeeded in persuading himself that 
the Heads were making an unjustifiable attempt to deprive 
the Senate of one of its privileges. It is impossible to 
approve the whole of his subsequent conduct— especially his 
personal controversy with Dr French; but in the initial stages 
of the affair he showed an independence of spirit combined 
with a courteous demeanour towards those who differed from 
him, which cannot be too highly praised, and which is the 
more striking when contrasted with the uncompromising de- 
fiance of his opponents. 

Every effort was made by the opposition to avoid a con- 
flict After their last meeting, a deputation waited on the 
Vice-Chancellor, urging him to assemble the Heads, and 
devise some plan of conciliation. He replied that it was now 
too late to get them together before the election, but that 
on the following day he would consult those who might be 
present in the Senate House. Six Heads only came to the 
Congregation, and after a long discussion, the Vice-Chancellor 
decided to proceed with the election, with the proviso, it is 
said, that if no member of the Senate voted for either of the 
candidates nominated, the election should be adjourned to 


that day fortnight The Senior Proctor having read out the i8«. 
names of the persons nominated by the Heads, Sedgwick and ^t. 37. 
Mr Carrighan of St John's College handed in a written pro- 
test against the form of the election about to take place. A 
single vote was then recorded for Henslow, and a considerable 
number for a third person. These were disallowed. At the 
close of the election the Vice-Chancellor declared Henslow 
duly elected, and admitted him with the usual formalities. 

The Heads, as well as their opponents, must have known 
that the matter could not end in this unsatisfactory fashion. 
Two days afterwards (30 May) a committee of their oppo- 
nents met, and decided that any legal measures which they 
might resort to against the Heads should be conducted 'in the 
spirit of the utmost amity and courtesy \ Sedgwick does not 
state explicitly that this proposal emanated from himself, but 
the tone of his Letter to the Cambridge Chronicle, and some 
expressions in his first pamphlet against Dr French, warrant 
us in assuming that such was the case. At a subsequent 
meeting, held 15 June, Sedgwick, Mr Carrighan, and Mr 
Lodge were deputed to wait on the Vice-Chancellor, in order 
to propose that the question should be tried by a joint appli- 
cation to the Court of King's Bench. The answer, however, 
was not conciliatory, and therefore the Court was moved by 
the committee alone, who obtained a Rule (21 June) calling 
on the Vice-Chancellor to show cause why a Mandamus 
should not issue for the admission of their nominee to the 
Professorship. In these proceedings Sedgwick took a pro- 
minent part, with some unwillingness, as would appear from 
what he himself says : 

" In the commencement of the legal proceedings, I expected to 
be called upon to make an affidavit on the intention of the party 
which proposed the Grace (of May 15, 1822), and on the construction 
put upon it, at the time, by the Senate. But the affidavit connected 
with the general merits was prepared for another Member of the 
Senate. In consequence of an unlooked-for delay in his arrival in 
London, it was re-modelled and sworn by myself. Thus, by mere 
accident, I was placed in the position of plaintiff; and in all the 
future proceedings I have watched the progress of the cause with 


1833. deep interest, but with no feelings of ill-will towards those who were 
&x. 38. opposed to the Senate 1 /' 

The hearing of the case was not concluded until the end of 
April, 1823; an d, for reasons into which it is needless to enter, 
judgment was neither given, nor applied for. At the moment, 
however, when the University seemed on the point of hearing 
the last of a painful controversy, a personal conflict broke out 
between Sedgwick and Dr French, which, though it extended 
through 1823 and into 1824, had better be disposed of in this 
place. In May 1823, shortly after the conclusion of the case 
in the Court of King's Bench, Sedgwick unfortunately thought 
proper to address a long letter to the Cambridge Chronicle^ 
with the view, as he said, of supplying some omissions in his 
affidavit In this letter, which had better have been never 
written, he gave his own version of his conversation with 
Dr French at Jesus College Lodge ; urging particularly that 
no hint of doubt as to the mode of election had then been 
dropped, that the Senate had accepted the Grace of 1 5 May, 
1822, under the belief that it would be followed by an open poll, 
and, this being the case, that Dr French ought not to have 
joined those ' who endeavoured to force upon the University a 
construction of his Grace which was at variance with his own 
meaning when he proposed it, and with the understanding of 
the Senate when they accepted and ratified it*. In reply to 
this letter Dr French issued (18 June) An Address to tJie 
Senate. This curious composition is written in the third 
person, as though the author was in so exalted a position 
that he could not even use the same pronouns as the rest of 
the University — an assumption of dignity which becomes 
ridiculous when it is remembered that he was Sedgwick's 
junior by three years. At the same time the pamphlet is not 
deficient in ability. But, clever as the author certainly showed 
himself in handling a bad case, he made one very damaging 
admission : 

1 A Reply to an Address to the Senate, published by the Master of Jesus College, 
8vo. Camb. 1823, p. 78. 


"Dr French neither intended that his Grace should give the 1823. 
right of Election more durgensium, nor did he intend the contrary. >£t. 38. 
Aware that a difference of opinion existed as to the proper mode of 
Election in such cases as this of the Professorship of Mineralogy, he 
intended simply to ascertain, without prejudice to the claims of any 
party, whether the Senate were desirous of continuing the office. 
When a Grace to this effect had passed, he determined, under these 
circumstances, not to proceed further without the sanction of the 
Heads. And, accordingly, as soon as there was a majority of the 
Heads of Colleges in the University, Dr French, as Vice-Chancellor, 
called a meeting, for the express purpose of asking their deliberate 
judgment upon the proper method of proceeding 1 ." 

This paragraph granted all that Sedgwick was contending 
for, namely, that he had been allowed to carry away the 
impression that the Grace to continue the Professorship of 
Mineralogy, being in the same form as that used on a similar 
occasion for Botany, would be followed, as that was, by an 
open poll. Had Dr French been more cautious, or more 
candid, he would have taken good care to avoid a mis- 
understanding on so important a question; and, above all, 
he would not have selected a form of words for his Grace 
with which the very meaning he did not wish to convey 
would infallibly be associated. 

Sedgwick's feelings on reading Dr French's pamphlet will 
be best understood from the following letter, addressed to Dr 
Monk, then Dean of Peterborough, one of those who had 
signed the Representation. 

Trin. Coll., October 23, 1823. 
Dear Mr Dean, 

I am just returned to the University after an absence 
of more than five months. You will, I doubt not, have seen 
Dr French's reply to the letter which I addressed to the 
Senate. I am about to commence my reply to it this morning. 
My opponent has come out with a bold tone, and has taken 
a lofty flight. Unless I am most egregiously mistaken I can 
easily bring him down from his perch — not by swaggering 
invectives and solemn asseverations, but by a plain unvarnished 

1 An Address to the Senate, p. 10. 
S. I. 16 


18*3. tale which he will have reason to remember to the last day of 
Xx. 38. his life. I now formally accuse him of mental reservation 
towards myself, and of unfair and disingenuous dealing 
towards Henslow and the Senate. I am, however, resolved 
not to let the strength of my phrase go " beyond the staple of 
my argument", and to conduct the controversy with proper 
forbearance. On the abstract merits of the question in liti- 
gation I shall not be able to speak at length, but I shall 
endeavour to notice them some way or other. Have you any 
information to communicate on the subject? Would you 
have the goodness to give me a synoptical view of the proofs 
by which the rank of Professors is established, and their 
distinction from the Lectores of the 40th Chapter of Elizabeth's 
statutes is made out 1 ? I am now very anxious to get forward 
with my pamphlet. You will therefore greatly add to the 
obligation by sending your information as soon as you can 
possibly make it convenient Did I not know your zeal in a 
good cause I should not have ventured to trouble you. 

Present my best remembrances to Mrs Monk, and believe 
me, Dear Mr Dean, 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Sedgwick was as good as his word. Before the end of 
term he had produced a pamphlet of eighty-six closely-printed 
octavo pages, which may still be safely recommended to the 
perusal of those who care for University history. It is a straight- 
forward, dignified, composition, with here and there some nobly 
eloquent passages ; contrasting very favourably, on the whole, 
with the strut and swagger of Dr French's laboured periods. 
There may be a few errors of detail, but the main arguments 
against the claim of the Heads are learned and accurate. 

1 This Statute directs that the election of lectores, bedelli, and other specified 
officers shall be conducted in the same manner as that of the Vice-Chancellor — i.e. 
by open poll after nomination by the Heads. It was Sedgwick's object to prove 
that these lectores were quite different from the Professores^ whose offices had not 
been created when the Statute was framed. 


The personal question is ably managed. No railing accusation 1834. 
is brought against Dr French, but the c plain unvarnished tale ' -***• 39* 
which Sedgwick tells leads irresistibly to a conclusion most 
unfavourable to his reputation as a man of honour. But, on 
the other hand, the whole pamphlet is far too long. This 
defect is partly due to the fact that it was written in the 
intervals of the author's lectures. As soon as the materials of 
one sheet were brought together, he tells us, they were sent to 
the printer ; and during their passage through the press, he 
was employed in preparing matter for the next sheet 1 . But 
this is a defect which detracted from all Sedgwick's writings, 
except his scientific papers. He never knew when to stop. 

Dr French promptly published Observations upon Professor 
Sedgwick's Reply (21 January, 1824), but prudently refrained 
from comment on the personal question. His pamphlet is 
almost wholly devoted to the legal difficulty, which depended, 
in great measure, on the interpretation of the fortieth chapter 
of the Statutes of Elizabeth. Sedgwick replied (25 February, 
1824), in another pamphlet of considerable length 2 , confining 
himself, like his opponent, to law and precedent Neither of 
these works need be examined in detail, and our account of 
the controversy shall be closed with a single quotation from 
Sedgwick's first pamphlet — partly as a specimen of his style, 
partly from the intrinsic value of what he says. 

"Some one may, perhaps, contend, that the bustle of public 
elections but ill accords with the tranquil habits of this seat of 
science ; and that the question ought to be conceded to the Heads, 
out of regard to the peace of the University. Words of peace are 
always to be suspected when they are accompanied with acts of 
aggression. By conceding this question, we part with our own 
privileges without finding any remedy for the evil complained of 
For it is notorious to the Members of the Senate, that no ordinary 
academical elections have been contested with more warmth, than 
those in which the Heads have nominated the two candidates. 

" Had there existed any flagrant abuse — had there been a con- 

1 A Reply to an Address to the Senate, p. 79. 

* It is called : Remarks on the observations of Dr French : with an argument 
on the Law 0/ Elections to offices created by the Senate, 8vo. Camb. 1824. 



1814. spiracy on the part of certain colleges, to exclude others from their 
Mt. 39. fair share of academical distinctions, there might have been some 
plea for introducing new customs into the University. But in the 
present case, no abuse was even pretended ; we were on the point of 
electing the very man, who was afterwards chosen by our opponents. 
And the lists of those who have filled our Professorships undeniably 
prove, that the Senate has, from time to time, selected out of its 
ranks the man who, by his zeal and his talents, was best qualified to 
promote the true interests of science, and to support the credit of our 

"It was on this principle that Martyn, Watson, Milner, Wollaston, 
and Tennant, were elected ; and on the same principles their succes- 
sors have been, and will continue to be elected, as long as the 
privileges of the Senate are unextinguished. 

"Had the Professorship of Mineralogy been the first office created 
by a Grace of the Senate, I should not have hesitated to pronounce 
an election by nomination, the worst form which was sanctioned by 
the usage of the University. It has all the evils of an open poll, 
with very little of the good. For it virtually gives the election to a 
few individuals, and what is worse, it gives it to them indirectly. 

" Were these individuals led by their known habits of life, and 
their high official duties, to watch the progress and to examine the 
refinements of modern science; we might, perhaps, be content to 
surrender our privileges into their hands, and to repose with confi- 
dence on their wisdom. Collectively, they are entitled to all respect, 
as the Heads of our venerable establishments — as the guardians of 
our discipline — and as the directors of the studies of our younger 
members. Still more they are entitled to our veneration for their 
virtues, and for their talents, by which alone many of them have 
reached the greatest academical elevation. But this very elevation 
removes them from direct sympathy with the Senate, and imposes on 
them such high and important duties, that they have but little time 
for the elaborate investigations of Physiology, of Botany, of Che- 
mistry, and of Mineralogy. Nay, some of them may even think, that 
these subjects are unfit for a course of public lectures — and that the 
Professors' chairs are nothing better than an academical incumbrance. 

" Let the Senate look well to it, before, in any case, it surrenders 
the power of election into the hands of those who, to say the least 
of it, may be indifferent to the office, and therefore can have no 
deep interest in selecting an active candidate. 

" I am not now warning the Senate against an ideal danger. My 
opponent has publicly told us, that he thought the continuance of the 
Professorship of Mineralogy unnecessary. I may tell him in reply, 
that the Senate thought differently — that the republic of science 
allows no such thing as official wisdom — and that his own opinion 
will be of little weight, unless it be founded on a deeper knowledge 
of the subject, than that which is possessed by his opponents. As 
for myself, I am well contented, on this question, to have acted with 
the majority. 


"Individuals there are, at all times, who, not considering that 1824. 
improvement is innovation, oppose themselves to every change, and Mt. 39. 
think every new appointment unnecessary. But the University of 
Cambridge has not acted on such heartless suggestions during the 
last century; and as long as her constitution remains unimpaired she 
will never act upon them V 

One word more is necessary before we dismiss this tedious 
affair. Three years after the publication of Sedgwick's last 
pamphlet — in which a decision favourable to the views of 
himself and his friends was confidently anticipated — the con- 
troversy was closed by an award of Sir John Richardson, 
to whom the matter had been referred by the Senate. His 
decision may be fairly described as a verdict for the defen- 
dants — the Vice-Chancellor and the Heads — for he directed 
that future elections to the Professorships of Anatomy, 
Botany, and Mineralogy, should be conducted according to 
the method prescribed in the 40th Chapter of the Statutes. 

1 Reply, etc., pp. 75—78. 

(1822 — 1827.) 

Geological exploration of the Lake District (1822 — 1824). 
Contested election for University (1822). Death of 
his sister Isabella (1823). Geological papers. Work 
in the Woodwardian Museum (1823 — 1827). Lecture 
to Ladies. Visit to Edinburgh with Whewell (1824). 
Visit to Sussex with Dr Fitton (1825). Contested 
election for university. vlsit to paris with whewell 
(1826). Elected Vice President of Geological Society. 
Contested election for University (1827). Social life 
at Cambridge. Hyde Hall. Review of Sedgwick's 

GEOLOGICAL WORK (l8l8 — 1827). 

Sedgwick's first geological work in the north of England 1 , 
briefly noticed in the last chapter, was succeeded by a 
thorough examination of the Lake District. "I spent the 
summers of 1822, 1823, and 1824," he says, "entirely among 
the Lake Mountains, and I made a detailed Geological Map 
of that rugged region — including a considerable portion 
of Westmoreland and Cumberland, and a small portion of 
Lancashire 8 ." The scientific value of these explorations 
may be estimated from the papers read to the Geological 
Society between 1826 and 1828, and from the five letters 
addressed long afterwards to Wordsworth, of which the first 
three embody the results of the work done between 1822 

1 In that year, 182 1, he began the researches into the relations of the Magnesian 
Limestone which were continued during 1822 and 1823. Trans. Geol. Soc. Lend. 
Ser. 2. iii. 37. 

2 To Archdeacon Musgrave, 5 October, 1856. 


and 1824 1 . But of personal details the record is almost a i8aato 
blank. A brief but pleasant glimpse of Sedgwick at his work ' * 4 * 
is afforded to us in one of Whewell's letters, written from 39. 
Kendal in 1824: 'I got here on Thursday last, and next day 
saw Wordsworth at Rydal, and Southey at Keswick, by 
whom I was informed where to look for Sedgwick. I found 
him on Saturday at the base of Skiddaw, in company with 
Gwatkin 8 , as I had expected 8 / but after this the writer passes 
on to other subjects. This dearth of information is the more 
provoking, as we know that many agreeable memories, both 
of adventures and of friends, clustered round these months in 

It was then that Sedgwick formed an intimate friendship 
with Wordsworth, at whose house he was always welcome, 
and who, to a certain extent, directed and assisted his 
explorations. Wordsworth has been credited with a cordial 
dislike for men of science, who looked upon Nature with 
other eyes than his ; and the first of Sedgwick's letters opens 
with a sort of apology for writing on geology to one who had 
uttered " a poetic ban against my brethren of the hammer " : 

He who with pocket-hammer smites the edge 
Of luckless rock or prominent stone, disguised 
In weather-stains or crusted o'er by Nature 
With her first growths, detaching by the stroke 
A chip or splinter, to resolve his doubts; 
And, with that ready answer satisfied, 
The substance classes by some barbarous name. 
And hurries on ; or from the fragments picks 
His specimen, if but haply interveined 
With sparkling mineral, or should crystal cube 
Lurk in its cells — and thinks himself enriched, 
Wealthier, and doubtless wiser, than before ! 4 

1 These three letters On the Geology of the Lake District, addressed by Sedgwick 
to Wordsworth in May, 1842, were published in A complete Guide to the Lakes... 
with Mr Wordsworth's description of the scenery of the country, etc., edited by the 
publisher, John Hudson of Kendal. A fourth letter was added in 1846, and a 
fifth in 1853. 

2 The Rev. Richard Gwatkin, Fellow of St John's College, B.A. 1814. 

3 Whewell's Life, p. 96. 

4 The Excursion, Book the Third. 


i8m to This denunciation of a class did not prevent the poet from 

1824. taking an interest in the pursuits of individual geologists; 
39. and the gratitude and admiration which Sedgwick felt for 
him can fortunately be recorded in his own words. In the 
third of the above letters he says: "Some of the happiest 
summers of my life were passed among the Cumbrian moun- 
tains, and some of the brightest days of those summers were 
spent in your society and guidance. Since then, alas, twenty 
years have rolled away; but I trust that many years of intellec- 
tual health may still be granted you ; and that you may continue 
to throw your gleams of light through the mazes of human 
thought — to weave the brightest wreaths of poetic fancy — and 
to teach your fellow-men the pleasant ways of truth and 
goodness, of nature, and pure feeling ;" and again, in the last 
of the series, written in 1853, when Wordsworth was no more, 
after some regretful musings on his own enfeebled powers, 
should he ever revisit Lakeland, he is led to speak of the 
friends of whom the district would remind him : " It was near 
the summit of Helvellyn that I first met Dal ton 1 — a truth- 
loving man of rare simplicity of manners ; who, with humble 
instruments and very humble means, ministered, without 
flinching, in the service of high philosophy, and by the 
strength of his own genius won for himself a name greatly 
honoured among all the civilized nations of the earth. 

" It was, also, during my geological rambles in Cumberland 
that I first became acquainted with Sou they, that I some- 
times shared in the simple intellectual pleasures of his 
household, and profited by his boundless stores of knowledge. 
He was, to himself, a very hard task-master: but on rare 
occasions (as I learnt by happy experience) he could relax 
the labours of his study, and plan some joyful excursion 
among his neighbouring mountains. 

"Most of all, during another visit to the Lakes, should 
I have to mourn the loss of Wordsworth ; for he was so far 
a man of leisure as to make every natural object around him 

1 See above, p. 66. 


subservient to the habitual workings of his own mind ; and he 182a to 
was ready for any good occasion that carried him among his J * 4 " 
well-loved mountains. Hence it was that he joined me in 39. 
many a lusty excursion, and delighted me (amidst the dry 
and sometimes almost sterile details of my own study) with 
the outpourings of his manly sense, and with the beauteous 
and healthy images which were ever starting up within his 
mind during his communion with nature, and were embodied, 
at the moment, in his own majestic and glowing language.' 1 

Sedgwick frequently visited the Lakes again, sometimes 
for geological study, sometimes for the pleasure of looking at 
scenes in which he had taken so much delight, or of showing 
them to others. Many opportunities of recording his im- 
pressions of the district will therefore occur, and it might 
seem unnecessary to remove letters referring to it from their 
proper chronological position. On the whole, however, having 
regard to the dearth of contemporary information respecting 
the visits of 1822 — 1824, it seems best to print the two following 
letters in this place, as they give, incidentally, so many details 
respecting those years. Both were written for the instruction 
of geologists who were anxious to explore the Lake district 
for themselves. 

To Rev. P. B. Brodie\ 

Cambridge, September 10, 1854. 
My dear Brodie, 

First of all, find out my old good friend Jonathan Otley, 
the author of the best guide to the Lakes that ever was written*. 
Tell him you are my friend, and that I wished you to call on him ; 
and you may read to him this letter. He will show you maps, &c. 
He knows the physical geology of Cumberland, and all the Lake- 
land, admirably well. He was the leader in all we know of the 
country. I wish, with all my heart, that my letters to Mr Words- 
worth on the Geology of Lakeland had been printed in Otley's 

1 Rev. Peter Bellenger Brodie, Trinity College, B.A. 1838, M.A. 1842. 

2 A descriptive guide to the English Lakes and adjacent Mountains: with 
notices of the Botany, Mineralogy, and Geology of the district. By Jonathan 
Otley. Eighth edition. Keswick, 1849. In earlier editions (the second was 
published in 1825) it was caUed : A concise description of the English Lakes ; etc. 


i8Mto Guide; but I promised Mr Wordsworth in 1822, before I knew Mr 
1824. Jonathan Otley. Ask for a loan of my Letters to Mr Wordsworth ; 
Mt. 37— but they are printed in Hudson's Guide — see last edition, which 
39* contains a 5th Letter. Secondly: find out Charles Wright — a guide 
formerly ; and now, I am told, a guide director. You must take what 
he says cum grano salts, for he is a bouncer. All Otley tells you, you 
may take for Gospel ; for he only tells what he knows. He is a very 
clever truth-loving old man. Look at the mining operations at the 
back of Skiddaw. About Hesket Newmarket you have good 
Mountain Limestone, and a touch of the Old Red. N.B. Old Red 
Sandstone above Kirkby Lonsdale bridge, at bottom of Ulswater, 
near Shap Wells &c. &c. &c. If you visit it look for fish-scales. I 
had good eyes when I worked Lakeland ; but at that time we knew 
not of the Old Red fishes ; and I therefore never looked for them. 
No fossils in the Skiddaw slate, except a few graptolites and fucoids. 
Ruthven found them for me, and Otley will tell you the localities. 
If you could give me a list of the minerals turned out at the mines 
on both sides of Carrock Fell I should be obliged to you for it. It 
might be of great use to me. Also I should greatly thank you for a 
good account of the cleavage planes of the slates in Binsey, at the 
bottom of Bassenthwaite Lake. Thirdly: my old heart-of-oak 
friend John Ruthven lives at Kendal. See him by all means. He 
has all Westmoreland at his fingers' ends, and will tell you of all the 
fossil localities between the Coniston Limestone and the Old Red 
and Mountain Limestone of Kirkby Lonsdale. No fossils have, as 
yet, been seen in the slates &c which alternate with the porphyries 
between the Skiddaw slate and the Coniston limestone ; but if you 
cross them keep your eyes open ; and possibly you may find some 
rare fossil. For when I crossed them again and again (30 years 
since) I was looking for sections rather than for fossils. And it is a 
good rule to keep a good look-out, and never to take for granted 
that no fossils are to be had. If Mr Gough 1 (the surgeon) be at 
Kendal, you ought to see him, but I think he is now away in bad 
health. You ought to see the Kendal Museum. I am President of 
the Society ; and this letter will secure you an introduction and all 
needful attention. 

There ! I have done my best, in a rough way, to answer your 
questions, and I must now complete my dress and prepare for 
morning Chapel. 

Ever truly yours 

A. Sedgwick. 

To Professor Harkness. 

Scalby near Scarborough, August 29, 1856. 
My dear Sir, 

Your letter has been long in reaching me, so I fear the 
information I can send you may come too late to be of any use. 

1 Thomas Gough, of Kendal, an intimate friend of Sedgwick's. 


(1) I advise you to go to Kendal and to call on John Ruthven — the i8« to 
well-known collector of the northern palaeozoic fossils. He knows 1824. 
the country well, and is the only person (so far as I know) who has JE\. 37— 
found fossils in the Skiddaw slate. (2) You may procure Hudson's 39« 
Guide to the Lakes', and in some letters published in an appendix to 
it you may see a general account of the several formations, tho* I am 
not sure that there is any notice of the Skiddaw slate fossils and 
their localities. (3) If old Jonathan Otley, author of an excellent 
little book, be still living (I saw him last year when he was turned 
ninety) he can give you good advice as to localities, and so can 
Charles Wright, one of the Keswick Guides, who went with me in 
some of my excursions in 1824. Since that year I have hardly 
looked at the Skiddaw slates. You should look at the new black- 
lead works somewhere behind Saddle Back, and see the manufactory 
at Keswick. I do not remember the name of the locality, though I 
saw it (in 1823) along with Mr Otley. These works are, I suspect, 
not in a vein, but in a variety of anthracitic slate. So they will give 
you the term of comparison you are looking for. I found black 
slates in the great Skiddaw Group, from which the dark carbonaceous 
colours were discharged by heat. Hence I concluded that such 
beds very probably would contain fossils ; so I set Ruthven to work, 
and he found fossils — graptolites and fucoids — not far from the spots 
I pointed out to him. But he found no shells or crustaceans. 
Since then I have had some doubts about the age of the Skiddaw 
Group. It is of enormous thickness, and may well contain one or 
two groups of very distinct epochs both physically and palaeontologic- 
ally. (4) When you are seeking Skiddaw slate fossils I recommend 
you to take up your quarters at Scale Inn, at the foot of Crummock 
Lake. Hammer well the gritty rocks which appear in the several 
deep ravines which run up the mountains on the left side of the road 
from Scale Inn to Buttermere ; they promise well for fossils. I 
never examined them for fossils in 1823 and 1824, because I 
foolishly thought that they were all below the region of animal life. 
At that time I had not quite learned to shake off the Wernerian 
nonsense 1 I had been taught. (5) Visit Black Coomb in the S. W. 
corner of Cumberland. It is of Skiddaw slate, brought up by 
enormous dislocations, and its ravines are of good promise. To the 
south it is overlaid by the green slate and porphyry zone — well 
marked, but of degenerate thickness ; and over the green slate you 
have in the S. W. extremity of Cumberland the Coniston limestone, 
&c, and some appearances, in the cleavage planes, which I think 
defy the mere pressure theory. That there has been enormous 
compression, along with cleavage planes, no one can doubt, when 
the fossils are flattened and distorted. But they are not always 
distorted and flattened. You have to account for unflattened con- 
cretions, marking, though rarely, the average direction and dip of the 

1 In a letter to Lyell, written in 1845, Sedgwick speaks of himself as having 
been, in 1819, "eaten up with the Wernerian notions— ready to sacrifice my senses 
to that creed — a Wernerian slave ". 


i8i* to cleavage planes. You have to account for the frequent change of 
1824. cleavage dip when there is no change of conditions of pressure 
Hx m 3 7 _ indicated in the sections ; and you have to account for a second 
39- cleavage plane among beds that are by no means crystalline. 
(6) Visit Coniston, and look at the enormous dislocations &c. You 
have there (as also at Broughton in Furness, which you pass through 
on your way from Black Coomb to Coniston) the Coniston lime- 
stone, the Coniston flags, and the Coniston grits which form the 
boundary between a lower and an upper system — by whatever names 
you choose to call them. If these hints be of use I shall rejoice. 

Yours very truly 

A. Sedgwick. 

It will be readily conceived that a man so prominent as 
Sedgwick, and one endowed with so keen a sense of humour, 
became the subject of many jokes, both literary and artistic. 
His early visits to Lakeland recall one of the former, a 
humorous sketch, called Joe and the Geologist. The author 
has preserved a strict incognito, and mentions no names ; 
but Sedgwick's numerous friends in the north recognised the 
accuracy of the portrait at once, and he himself laughed 
heartily over it, though he denied the accuracy of certain 
details, as, for instance, the white neckcloth and the " specks ". 
" I never wore such things", he wrote, "while I was holding a 
hammer in Cumberland 1 ." It should be mentioned that the 
tale, like other legends, is sometimes told with a different 
ending. This second, and probably later, version states that 
the geologist, before he had travelled many miles, discovered 
the fraud that had been perpetrated upon him, and travelled 
back, in furious anger, to catch Joe and make him tell what 
he had done with the contents of the leather bags. The boy 
took good care not to be found, but the stones he had thrown 
away were discovered in a heap by the wayside. 

Ya het foorneun, when we war oa* gaily thrang at heam, an oald 
gentleman mak* of a fellow com* in tul oor foald an' said, whyte 

1 To Rev. G. H. Ainger, 2 September, 1866. Mr Ainger, son of his old 
friend, had sent him a copy of the sketch. In writing to acknowledge it, Sedgwick 
says: "Thanks for your very amusing specimen of the Cummerland tongue, and 
the twit against the knights of the hammer." 


nateral, 'at he wantit somebody to ga wid him on't fells. We oa' 181a to 
stopt an* teuk a gud leuk at him afoor anybody spak ; at last fadder l8 *4« 
said, middlin' sharp>-like — (he ola's speaks that way when we're owte ^t. 37— 
sae thrang, does fadder) — " We've sum mat else to deu here nor to 39« 
ga rakin ower t' fells iv a fine day like this, wid neabody kens whoa." 
T'gentleman was a queerish like oald chap, wid a sharp leuk oot, grey 
hair and a smo' feace — drist i' black, wid a white neckcloth like a 
parson, an' a par of specks on r/top of a gay lang nwose 'at wasn't 
set varra fair atween his e'en, sooa 'at when he leuk't ebbem at yan 
through his specks he rayder turn't his feace to t'ya side. He leuk't 
that way at fadder, gev a lal chearful bit of a laugh an' said, iv his 
oan mak' o' toke, 'at he dudn't want to hinder wark, but he wad 
give anybody 'at ken't t' fells weel, a matter o' five shillin' to ga wid 
him, an' carry two lal bags. " 'Howay wid tha, Joe," sez fadder to 
me, "it's a croon mair nor iver thou was wurth at heam !" I mead 
nea words about it, but gat me-seP a gud lump of a stick, an' away 
we set, t'oald lang nwos't man an' me, ebbem up f deal. 

As we wa^ climmin' t'fell breist, he geh me two empty bags to 
carry, mead o' ledder. Thinks I to my me-seF, " Fse gan to eddle 
me five shillin' middlin cannily." I niver thowte he wad finnd owte 
on t' fells to full his lal bags wid, but I was mistean ! 

He turn't oot to be a far lisher oald chap nor a body wad ha* 
thowte, to leuk at his gray hair and his white hankecker an' his 
specks. He went lowpin' ower wet spots an' gurt steans, an' 
scrafflin across craggs an' screes, tul yan wad ha' sworn he was 
summat a kin tul a Herdwick tip. 

Efter a while he begon leukin' hard at oa't steans an* craggs we 
com' at, an' than he teuk till breckan lumps off them wid a queer 
lal hammer he hed wid him, an' stuffin t'bits intil t'bags 'at he geh 
me to carry. He fairly cap't me noo. I dudn't ken what to mak' 
o' sec a customer as t'is ! At last I cudn't help axin him what mead 
him cum sea far up on t'fell to lait bits o' steans when he may'd 
finnd sea many doon i't deals ? He laugh't a gay bit, an' than went 
on knappin' away, wid his lal hammer, an' said he was a jolly jist 
Thinks I to me-sel' thou's a jolly jackass, but it maks nfca matter to 
me if thou no'but pays me t' five shillin' thou promish't ma. 

Varra weel, he keep't on at this feckless wark tul gaily leat at 
on i't efter-neun, an' be that time o' day he'd pang't beath o't ledder 
pwokes as full as they wad hod wid bits o' stean. 

I've nit sfca offen hed a harder darrak efter t' sheep, owther at 
clippin time or soavin time, as I hed followin' that oald grey heidit 
chap an carryin' his ledder bags. But hooiver, we gat back tul oor 
house afoor neeght. M udder gev t' oald jolly jist, as he co't 
his-seF, some breed an' milk, an' efter he'd tean that an toak't a lal 
bit wid fadder aboot sheep farming an* sec like, he pait me ^tt 
shillin' like a man, an' than tel't ma he wad gie ma udder five 
shillin' if I wad bring his pwokes full o' steans doon to Skeal-hill be 
nine o'clock i't' mwornin'. 

He set off to walk to Skeal-hill just as it was growin dark ; an' 


1811 to neist mwornin', as seun as I'd gitten me poddish, I teuk t' seam 
1814. rwoad wid his ledder bags ower me shoolder, thinkin' tul me-sel' 'at 
ALt 37— yan may'd mak' a lal fortune oot o' thur jolly jists if a lock mair on 
39* them wad no'but come oor way. 

It was anudder het mwornin', an' I hedn't wok't far till I begon 
to think that I was as gurt a feul as t'oald jolly jist to carry brocken 
steans o't way to Skeal-hill, when I may'd finnd plenty iv any rwoad 
side, clwose to t' spot I was tackin' them tul. Sooa I shack't them 
oot o' t' pwokes, an* then step't on a gay bit leeter widout them. 

When I com nar to Skeal-hill, I nlnd oald Aberram Atkisson 
sittin on a steul breckan steans to mend rwoads wid, an' I ax't him 
if I med full my ledder pwokes frae his heap. Aberram was varra 
kaim't an* tell't ma to tak them 'at wasn't brocken if I wan tit steans, 
sooa I tell't him hoo it was an' oa' aboot it T' oald maiziin was 
like to toytle off his steul wid laughin', an' said me mudder sud tak 
gud care on ma, for I was ower sharp a chap to leeve varra lang i' 
this warld ; but I'd better full my pwokes as I liked, an' mak' on 
wid them. 

T jolly jist hed just gitten his breakfast when I gat to Skeal-hill, 
an' they teuk ma intil t' parlour tul him. He gurned oa't feace 
ower when I went in wid his bags, an' tel't me to set them doon in 
a neuk, an' than ax't ma if I wad hev some breakfast. I said I'd 
gittan me poddish, but I dudn't mind ; sooa he tel't them to bring in 
some mair coffee, an' eggs, an' ham, an' twoastit breed an' stuff, an' 
I gat sec a breakfast as I niver seed i' my time, while t' oald 
gentleman was gittan his-sel ruddy to gang off in a carriage 'at was 
waitin at t' dooar for him. 

When he com doon stairs he geh me tudder five shiilin' an' 
paid for my breakfast, an' what he'd gittan his-sel. Than he tel't 
ma to put t' ledder bags wid t' steans in them on beside t' driver's 
feet, an' in he gat, an' laugh't an' noddit, an away he went. 

I niver owder seed nor heard mair of t' oald jolly jist, but I've 
offen thowte ther mun be parlish few steans i' his country, when he 
was sooa pleas't at gittin two lal ledder bags full for ten shiilin', an' 
sec a breakfast as that an'. It wad be a faymish job if fadder 
could sell o' t' steans iv oor fell at five shiilin' a pwokeful — 
wadn't it? 

Sedgwick capped this imaginary narrative with an equally 
amusing experience of his own : 

" Two or three times I went with Mr Hunter (a statesman 
at Mosedale) to break the syenites of Carrock Fell. On my 
second visit I found his old fashioned chimney-piece decorated 
with specimens of syenite. ' Do you think these curiosities ', 
I said. 'Not a bit', he replied, 'they are as common as 
cow-muck. But I put 'em here, aboon the chimlay, to tell my 



nebbers what mak o' things a Cambridge skoller will laed i8m to 
his hors we.' But old Hunter played no tricks. He fed me * * 4 '_ 
and my horse well ; and he went with me and carried a great 39. 
sledge-hammer to break the hard syenites. The last time I 
drove to Mosedale, he spied me before I reached his house, 
and roared out : ' fain to see ye again ; how do ye cum on wi 
yer cobbles ? ' " 

A suitable pendant to these anecdotes is a pen-and-ink 
sketch of 't'oald jolly jist', just as Joe might have seen him 
sitting in his carriage, with the bag of fossils at his feet. It is 
believed to have been drawn by Mr J. E. Davis, and, if so, 
belongs to a period long subsequent to that we are now con- 

Sedgwick on a geological excursion, reduced from a 
pen-and-ink sketch. 

sidering. Fashions, however, did not alter rapidly in those 
days, and it may well represent Sedgwick, hat (generally a 
white one), coat, and all, as he appeared when exploring 


i8«to Lakeland in 1822. It was on one of these expeditions that 
1 * 4 ' the following experience occurred, which shall be told, as 
39. Sedgwick used to tell it, in a dramatic form : 

Scene. A room in a small wayside inn near Wastwater. Enter 
Professor Sedgwick, dressed as in the above sketch, very hungry, 
calling for the landlady. 
S. What have you got to eat ? 
Z. There's nothing in the house. 
5. Nothing ! What did you have today for dinner? 
Z. Potatoes and bacon. 

S, Very well. You didn't eat it all, I suppose. Warm me up 
what's left. 

Exit Landlady, returning presently with the remains of the potatoes and 

bacon, and a pot of ale. Sedgwick eats heartily. 
S. {having finished his dinner.) What's to pay, missus? 
Z. Happen eight pence wouldn't hurt ye ? 
S. Nay, here's a shilling for ye. 
Landlady takes the shilling, and produces four greasy pennies from her 

pocket, which she lays on the table. 
S. {pushing them back.) Nay, nay, you may keep them. 
Z. {after a long and earnest look at him.) I'm thinking that you've 
seen better days. 

On returning to Cambridge after the first of the above- 
mentioned tours Sedgwick was fully occupied for a time with 
lectures and geological work generally. But before the end 
of October a serious interruption occurred, in the shape of a 
contested election for the University 1 . It was not natural for 
him to keep long out of any political contest, and this par- 
ticular occasion offered irresistible attractions. The burning 
question of the day was Catholic Emancipation, in favour of 
which, as related in the third chapter, he had already taken a 
prominent and decided line in the University. The excitement 
in the country was so great that a complete settlement of this 
important matter could not be much longer delayed ; but the 
conservatives had no intention of yielding without an obsti- 
nate struggle, and a constituency such as that of Cambridge, 
composed in the main of clergymen, was easily roused to 
enthusiastic action by the cry that the Church and the Protest- 

1 John Henry Smyth, M.A. of Trinity College, who had been M.P. for the 
•University since 1812, died 20 October, i8ai. 


ant ascendency were both in danger. Several candidates 1811. 
presented themselves, but these were presently reduced to ^Et. 37. 
three : Mr Manners Sutton, Speaker of the House of Commons, 
Lord Hervey, and Mr Robert Grant 1 . The success of the 
Speaker, a conservative, was considered certain, when he felt 
himself obliged to retire (2 November), in consequence of an 
unexpected difficulty respecting his office. Two days after- 
wards Mr Scarlett* came forward. At this juncture it seemed 
probable that the University would find itself in an anomalous 
position. The three candidates now in the field were all in 
favour of Catholic Emancipation, as was the sitting member, 
Viscount Palmerston. Unless therefore a conservative could 
be found, and returned, a body which annually petitioned the 
House of Commons against the Catholic claims would 
be represented by two members voting against its own 
petition. Before long, however, Mr William John Bankes* 
came forward, as determined an opponent of concession as 
could be desired ; and, before the day of election Mr Grant 
retired. The three candidates left after these various changes 
were all of Trinity College. Mr Scarlett, whom the whigs 
seem to have specially adopted, and for whom Sedgwick and 
his friends exerted themselves to the utmost, was already 
a distinguished advocate, and had had three years experience 
of Parliament as member for Peterborough. But he was not 
popular, and besides, he had not come forward until most 
votes were already pledged. Lord Hervey, who had pro- 
ceeded to his degree as a nobleman only a few months before 
the election, was called a whig, but could have had no recom- 
mendation whatever except his relationship to Lord Liverpool, 
and this accident, it is whispered, caused several influential 
whigs to support him ' for private and personal reasons/ As 
one of the pasquinades of the day put it : 

1 Fellow of Magdalene College, third wrangler and second Chancellor's 
Medallist in 1801. After a distinguished career at the bar and in parliament 
he was knighted and made Governor of Bombay, where he died in 1838. 

3 James Scarlett, created Lord Abinger 1835, of Trinity College, B.A. 1790. 

3 B.A. 1808, M.A. 181 1. 

S. I. 17 


1811. Hervey, pushed forth by Bury School 

&t. 37. And backed by noble Liverpool, 

First made his bow to Heads of Houses 
And canvassed all their lovely spouses; 
The Ladies smirked, the Doctors smiled : 
"What? give a vote to a mere child?" 
"A child " — quoth Blomfield — "mark me, Sir, 
He's nephew to the Minister 1 ." 

Mr Bankes, immortalised by Macaulay on a subsequent 
occasion as "our glorious, our Protestant, Bankes" — was a 
well-known, witty, popular, man of the world, and at that 
time specially interesting as a traveller in the little-known 
regions of the East His personal canvass has been described 
as irresistible. " What could I do, Sir? He got me into the 
centre of the great pyramid, and then turned round and asked 
me for my vote," was an unwilling supporter's description 
of the way in which a promise had been extorted from him. 
These pleasantries might suit the study of a college dignitary; 
but for the main body of the electors he provided more sub- 
stantial fare. He had no particular claims to represent the 
University, and therefore wisely presented himself as "an 
appendage to the anti-catholic idea*." His printed circular 
announced "the most steady and decided opposition to any 
measures tending to undermine or alter the established 
Church"; a well-selected phrase of no uncertain meaning, 
the value of which became evident at the close of the poll 
(27 November, 1822), when the numbers were: Bankes, 419; 
Hervey, 281 ; Scarlett, 219. Sedgwick's views on the contest 
and the result are summed up in the following passage from a 
letter written two months afterwards : 

"You wanted to know something about our election. 
Bankes was principally brought in by the interest of the 
country clergymen, who came up from all parts of England to 

1 Lord Hervey was eldest son of the fifth Earl of Bristol, created first 
Marquess of Bristol 1826. His aunt married the second Earl of Liverpool. The 
family seat is at I ck worth, near Bury St Edmund's. 

* This phrase occurs in a long and ably* written article on the election in 
The Times, 29 November, 1812. 


vote for the anticatholic candidate. Undoubtedly all this was 1811. 
the operation of principle (though I think a mistaken one), Mi ' 37» 
because all the Government influence was exerted for Lord 
Hervey, the nephew of the Premier. The highest of our 
Cambridge high-church men (such as Rennell 1 , Tatham 1 , 
Calvert 8 , Wood 4 , etc. etc.) all went for Hervey, and thereby, 
in my humble opinion, did themselves no honor. If Lord 
Liverpool supported a relation, though favourable to Catholic 
concession, they ought not to have left their avowed principles 
to follow him. The whig candidate was not a popular one, 
and was not heartily supported by the staunch men of his own 
party. Our representative Bankes is certainly a very extra- 
ordinary man, and possesses a wonderful fund of enter- 
taining anecdote. When an undergraduate he was half sus- 
pected of being a Papist: and he almost frightened Dr 
Ramsden 5 to death, by building in his rooms an altar at which 
he daily burned incense, and frequently had the singing-boys 
dressed in their surplices to chant services. For a long time, 
while in the East, he wore a long beard, and passed as a 
faithful follower of the law of Mahomet. I don't think we can 
depend on him as a man of business, though as a literary 
character, and a man of large fortune, he is a very proper 
person to represent us in parliament. For several years he 
had four artists in his pay in Asia Minor, and even now 
he has men employed in his service in Upper Egypt, exca- 
vating tombs and temples, etc 6 ." 

The year 1823 opened gloomily for Sedgwick. He was 
spending the Christmas vacation in Cambridge, arranging, 

1 Thomas Rennell, Fellow of King's College ; B. A. 18 10, Christian Advocate, 
1816 — 21. 

a Ralph Tatham, Fellow of St John's College; B.A. 1800, Public Orator 
1809 — 1836, and Master 1839 t0 n * s death 19 January, 1857. 

3 Thomas Calvert, B.A. 1797, Fellow of St John's College, and Norrisian 
Professor of Divinity 18 15 — 24. 

4 James Wood, B.A. 1782, Master of St John's College 1815 — 39. 

5 Richard Ramsden, one of the Senior Fellows of Trinity College ; B.A. 1 786, 
D.D. 1807. 

6 To Rev. W. Ainger, 1 February, 1823. 

17 — 2 


1813. with Henslow's assistance, the collection which the latter had 
^t- 3 8 - formed in Anglesea, when he was hastily summoned to Dent. 
His favourite sister Isabella had been for some time in a 
declining state of health, but no immediate danger was 
anticipated. Perhaps Sedgwick was not told the full truth. 
At last, towards the middle of January, he learnt that she 
was sinking fast. 

"I left Cambridge without delay," he wrote to Ainger, 
" but in consequence of the great quantity of drifted snow, 
which detained us one day on the road, I did not reach home 
till Friday afternoon. Nor could I even then have completed 
my journey had I not left the coach behind, and pushed 
through the snow, for the last three stages, on post-horses. I 
did not reach home in time to see my poor sister, but I had 
the mournful satisfaction of accompanying her remains to 
the grave the day after my arrival. She was blessed with a 
quiet and affectionate temper which greatly endeared her to 
every one of us ; and during her painful illness she exhibited 
a humble resignation to the will of God ; bearing with patience 
her afflictions here, in the Christian hope of being received 
with favour by her Maker in a place where there is neither 
sorrow nor suffering. The shock produced by poor Bell's 
death had such an effect on our sister Jane that she was 
delivered of a daughter on the day following. She and the 
child, I am happy to say, are both doing well. The young 
one is to have the name of Margaret Isabella after my mother 
and sister, and I hope to take upon me the duties of sponsor 
before my return to Cambridge. My Father, who has now 
almost completed his 87th year, has borne his late affliction 
with that patience we all expected from him. His mind is 
better regulated than that of any man whom I have ever had 
the happiness of knowing ; and, so far, he is enjoying, even 
in this world, the fruits of a well-spent life l ". 

1 To Rev. W. Ainger, 1 February, 1813. The dates given in the letter shew 
that Sedgwick left Cambridge on Tuesday 1 1 January, and reached Dent on Friday 
74 January. 


Sedgwick says nothing about his own feelings in the above 1813. 
letter ; but we know from other sources how bitterly he «**• 3& 
deplored the loss of a sister who had been the companion 
of his childhood, and for thirty years in after-life the object of 
the best affections of his heart 1 . To him — with his tender 
and affectionate nature — her almost sudden death was one of 
those calamities under which a strong man does not break 
down, but which he can never forget Sedgwick's affection for 
his sister was transferred, so to speak, to the child-niece 
whose birth coincided with her death, and who became, as she 
grew up, his chosen friend and indispensable companion. 
After the death of her own father and mother, she resided 
with her uncle whenever it was possible to do so, and made 
his declining years happy by her tenderness and care. She 
might well have been, as he was fond of calling her, his own 

After this long digression, which the sequence of events 
has rendered necessary, we must return to Sedgwick's geo- 
logical work. In 1823 and 1824, as mentioned above, he 
continued his exploration of " the most intricate portions of 
Cumberland, Westmoreland, and LancashireV , but he did not 
commit any of his conclusions to paper until 1831. In 1825 
and 1826 he made no fresh geological explorations — unless we 
class under that head a very brief excursion in Sussex with 
Dr Fitton. During these four years, moreover, he worked out 
the information gathered in the period preceding his length- 
ened exploration of Lakeland, and was continually employed 
in writing papers 8 , either for the Cambridge Philosophical 
Society, the Geological Society of London, or the Annals of 

Nor, while engaged upon these works in his study, did 
he forget his Museum. His own reports, or those of the 

1 These words are used with reference to his own sister in a letter (dated 
5 November, 1855) to Mr Lyell, whose sister had just died. See above, p. 53. 

2 Report to the Woodward ian Auditors, I May, 1823. 

8 A detailed list of Sedgwick's works, which we have tried to make complete, 
is given at the conclusion of this Biography. 


1812-1815. inspectors, chronicle in each year some important work done, 
^t. 37-4°- or some valuable specimens added. Among these additions 
should be specially mentioned Mr Henslow's Anglesea 
collection, arranged by himself, as before mentioned, during 
the Christmas Vacation of 1822 — 23 ; a palaeontological series 
from the bone-caves of Yorkshire ; and a cast of u one of the 
finest fossils preserved in the Museum of the Jardin des 
Plantes, Paris," presented by Mr Chantrey 1 . Unfortunately 
the University was, for the time, but little the better for these 
treasures, on account of want of space in the miserable room 
in which the Woodwardian collections were then stowed — it 
would be absurd to say displayed. This subject is dwelt 
upon again and again in the reports of the Inspectors to 
the Vice-Chancellor. We select, by way of illustration, a 
single passage from their report for 1825 : 

" While we request your notice of the valuable additions which 
continue to be made to this Collection by the indefatigable labours 
of your learned Professor, and regret that the Museum should be 
incapable of containing them, we cannot forbear expressing our 
hopes that the result of the Syndicate appointed to treat for the 
purchase of the buildings adjoining the Public Library will be 
favourable to that enlargement of the Museum which has been so 
long desired 

" Of the disadvantage arising from the present crowded state of 
this place it would be needless for us to remind you ; but we feel it 
our duty to advert to an inconvenience which the Professor is 
suffering from the necessity laid upon him of receiving in his private 
rooms those specimens which have lately been received or collected 
by himself." 

Sedgwick's other occupations during these years are best 
introduced by the following letters. Unfortunately none of 
those written in 1824 have been preserved. His work in 
Lakeland in the summer of 1823 prevented his presence at 
the ceremony of laying the foundation-stone of The King's 
Court of Trinity College — better known as The New Court — 
which took place on Tuesday, 12 August, in that year. His 

1 Sedgwick*s Report to the Woodwardian Auditors, i May, 1813. Un- 
fortunately this is the only report by Sedgwick for those years that has been 
preserved, but the series of those by the Inspectors is complete. 


name, however, appears in the list of subscriptions as a 1815. 

donor of twenty-five guineas ; and we learn, on the autho- &• 4©« 

rity of Professor Pryme, that he wished the name to be St 

Michael's Court 1 , obviously in commemoration of Michael 

House, which had owned the ground on which the new 

buildings were to stand. 

Trin. Coll., February 19, 1825. 
Dear Ainger, 

I am really for once ashamed of myself, and acknow- 
ledge that I ought to have written to you some months since. 
One who has so often offended in the same way must needs 
be a merciful judge; I therefore venture to anticipate your 
forgiveness, and even to request that you will show your 
Christian temper by sending me ah immediate answer. Pray 
tell me what you have all been about in the parsonage of 
St Bees. The young ones are now, I hope, all well. Give 
my very kindest remembrances to Mrs Ainger and every one 
of them. 

Now for my own adventures. In about ten days after we 
parted I bent my way to Dent and spent a quiet week with 
my father. I then proceeded direct for Cambridge, and only 
reached my chambers about two days before I commenced 
my course of lectures. I had a very large class, and as usual 
was very busy during the term. Just when I thought my 
labours were happily terminated I found that the whole 
University was likely to be thrown into the greatest conster- 
nation by the sudden appearance of a kind of philosophical 
mania which broke out among the Cambridge Blues. Un- 
fortunately for me their madness took a geological turn, so 
that I was obliged, out of pure compassion, to administer 
to them a sedative dose in the form of a three hours lecture. 
Peacock tells me that you were greatly scandalised at the 
news of this event; and that the electrical horror at this 
academical innovation caused your hair to stand erect, and 
your shovel to unfold itself. 

1 Recollections, p. 143. 


1825. A day or two after this act of homage to the Blues, 

*&- 40. Whewell and I started by the mail for Edinburgh. No words 
of mine can convey to you any notion of the pleasure which I 
experienced when I first saw this magnificent capital. The 
imposing flutter of the old town, which rises, in utter defiance 
of all regularity, along the sides of a steep declivity terminating 
in a perpendicular rock crowned by the battlements of the 
Castle; the beautiful symmetry and neatness of the new 
town ; the happy grouping of great masses of building with 
natural features of gigantic magnitude ; the beautiful glimpses 
of the Firth of Forth which from every elevated point is seen, 
like a great inland lake, winding between the shores of 
MidLothian and Fifeshire ; these are the elements which go to 
the composition of a picture, at least in its kind, unrivalled 
in the whole world. I will say no more of dead things, but 
I will speak of the living. We had excellent introductions, 
and in two days after our arrival, were so completely in 
society that we had not a moment to call our own. We often 
went out to breakfast, and always found the tables covered 
with beefsteaks, ham and eggs, divers varieties of salt fish, 
marmalade, jellies &c. &c In a corner of the table you might 
indeed see a tea-urn and coffee-pot ; but these things are non- 
essentials in a Caledonian fast-breaking. Having out of such 
materials contrived to lay a good foundation, we sallied out, 
and spent the morning in running about the different lectures, 
examining the different institutions, making excursions &c 
&c At six o'clock we returned to some of our new friends, 
and had a second experience of Scotch hospitality, and a 
most sumptuous report I must give of it Our labours did 
not always end here, as we not unfrequently went out to 
evening parties, where we met Belles, Beaux, Advocates, 
Savans, and Craniologists. In short we saw everybody and 
everything. Of the Savans, Leslie 1 and Brewster* are the 

1 Mr, afterwards Sir John, Leslie, then Professor of Natural Philosophy at 
Edinburgh. He died 1833. 

1 Mr, afterwards Sir David, Brewster : born 1781 ; died 1868. 


most distinguished. The former is a short fat butcher-like 1815. 
figure with a red nose, and may be considered as a singular ^Et 40. 
pachydermatous variety of the human species. He is, however, 
a man of very original powers, and possesses a great mass of 
curious information. Brewster is in many respects the converse 
of this. He is a thin gentlemanlike figure, and is so sensitive 
and thin-skinned that you cannot touch him without making 
him wince. The two philosophers hate each other most 
cordially. Jeffrey we met over and over again. He is on the 
whole a very agreeable man ; but you may perceive, in most 
things he says, the tartness and causticity of the Edinburgh 
critic. Walter Scott was unfortunately away during the 
greater part of our visit : what we saw of him made us long 
for his better acquaintance. He talks exactly as he writes, 
and before you have been two minutes in his company he 
begins to tell good stories. Several of his portraits, and above 
all the bust by Chantrey, convey a most correct notion of his 
person. The advocates are a very agreeable set of men, not 
half so much the slaves of their profession, and on that 
account infinitely better informed on subjects of general 
interest, than our lawyers. But of all the people we met, the 
Craniologists afforded us the most amusement They are 
perfectly sincere in their faith, tho' I confess I could only 
regard them as a set of crazy humourists. We met many of 
the Edinburgh Belles, Blue, Red, and White. The Blues, 
like the Blues of other countries, remind one of the Blue Boar. 
But among the Reds and Whites are many delightful persons, 
of whom I have no time to write. 

On leaving Edinburgh we proceeded by the mail to Carlisle 
and Kendal. From Kendal I posted to Dent, and only re- 
mained a day or two, as I found by a letter that I was pre- 
sented by the College to a small living near Cambridge 1 , which 
I can hold with my Fellowship. A few hours after I reached 
Cambridge I went up to London to be instituted. Tomorrow 

1 Shudy Camps, a village in the S.E. comer of Cambridgeshire, 15 miles from 
Cambridge. The population, in 183 1, was 418 ; the value of the vicarage, ^146. 


18*5. I read in. Such is the history of my life and adventures for 
Mt. 40. the last five months. Now, my good Doctor, I have sent 
you a long letter which you must answer. Let me repeat my 
kindest remembrances to Mrs Ainger and your family. 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

P.S. I have accumulated so many materials that I must 
remain at home the greater part of this year to digest and 
write. I have no less than four memoirs on the stocks. One 
of these will run out almost into a volume. I fear I shall not 
have much time for sermons, but I have hired a curate. 

Trin. Coll., August 16, 1825. 
Dear Ainger, 

I reached College on Friday evening, and since that 
time have been employed in settling my last quarter's bills, 
reading Scott's last novels, and writing letters. It has long 
been a custom with me to answer all my friends' letters 
immediately on my return to College from my vagabondizing 
expeditions. The task must be performed some time, and in 
this way it fills up a day or two in which otherwise I might 
not be employed in anything, for after rambling about in the 
open air one always sets very reluctantly to work in a dull 
college room. 

A day or two after we parted I proceeded towards the 
coast, and on my way passed thro* Canterbury, where we had 
the good luck to fall in with Metcalfe, who looks charmingly, 
and has a fine family about him. He conducted Dr Fitton 
and myself over Becket's tomb, and the other ecclesiastical 
buildings, which in general have more historical than archi- 
tectural interest On the whole I was rather disappointed 
with them. From Shakespeare's cliff we worked our way 
westward, examining the successive cliffs, hammer in hand, 
and making short excursions up the country wherever it 
seemed to promise anything good to our geological eyes. 


The weather was beautiful, but so intolerably hot that Fitton 1815. 
took fright, and ran home to take shelter under his wife's ^*. 4a 
petticoats. I had no wife to spread out her nether garments 
over me, so I was compelled, like my old namesake, by the 
sweat of my brow to go thro* my daily work. An account of 
my labours, would, I know, be devoid of interest to the 
uninitiated. Suffice it therefore to say that I sweated my 
weary way as far as Bognor in Sussex, where the rocky cliffs 
have entirely disappeared, and are succeeded by nothing but 
sand and shingles, which offer but little scope for the exercise 
of the hammer. This induced me to hire a boat, and make a 
run direct for the Isle of Wight The weather was delightful, 
and the wind so favourable that we did not shift the sails 
during the whole day. I shall never forget the glowing 
beauty of the shores of the Isle of Wight as we swept up 
the channel. The ships of war at Spithead were firing the 
evening gun just as we reached the pier head at Ryde. 

Next morning I pounded forward to Freshwater, and took 
up my quarters with my brother, where I remained a month. 
Between dinner-parties, water-parties with the ladies, and 
geological expeditions to every corner of the Isle, I contrived 
to pass the month most deliciously, and I left the place with 
infinite regret this day week. As it blew a stiff breeze from 
the right quarter I was induced to hire a boat, in which James 
accompanied me to Portsmouth. At first we bounced over 
the waves right merrily, but a heavy swell from the west 
turned our mirth into sadness, and produced such internal 
qualms that our stomachs almost came out thro* our teeth. 
We therefore made for Cowes harbour, and "spliced our 
main braces " with a glass or two of brandy, which acted like 
oil on the troubled waters, and produced a dead calm in the 
peristaltic regions. The rest of our voyage was performed 
pleasantly enough. 

The following evening we spent in the dock-yard with Dr 
Inman 1 , who kindly showed us everything in his power. I 

1 One of Mr Dawson's senior wranglers. See above, p. 6$ note. 


1815. have seen this great naval arsenal two or three times before ; 
JE,U 4°* but I rejoice to say that I am as much alive to its interest as 
ever. My bedroom windows looked over the harbour, and 
the old Victory with an Admiral's flag at the main-top was at 
anchor within 200 yards of the house. As I rose very early 
to see my brother off, and the coach for London did not start 
till ten, I had an opportunity of hiring a boat, and rowing 
about the harbour for an hour or two, during which time I 
flew off into a fit of heroics which it would be impossible to 
describe in less than another sheet of paper. The state of the 
elements kept up this fit for the rest of the day; for we 
travelled to Town in the midst of claps of thunder and flashes 
of lightning. Near Petersfield a house which had been set on 
fire by lightning was blazing as we passed. 

I only remained one day in Town, and here I am with 
plenty of employment for the next month. If I can finish a 
paper which I have on the stocks in a reasonable time I shall 
try to be at the York Meeting 1 , and from thence I shall (D. v.) 
proceed by Leeds to Dent My kindest remembrances to 
Mrs A. and my young friends. 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Lord Palmerston's Committee Room. 

December 29, [1825]. 

Dear Ainger, 

Strange things come to pass. I am now in the Com- 
mittee room of a Johnian, a Tory, and a King's Minister; and 
I am going to give him a plumper. My motives are that he 
is our old Member, and a distinguished Member, and that I 
hate the other candidates — I mean with public and political 
hate, without private malice. Bankes is a fool, and was 
brought in last time by a set of old women, and whenever 
he rises makes the body he represents truly ridiculous. 
Copley is a clever fellow, but is not sincere, at least when 

1 The Musical Festival which took place at York, September 13 — 16. 


I pass him I am sure I smell a rat Goulburn is the idol 1836. 
of the Saints, a prime favourite of Simeon's, and a subscriber iEu 4*< 
to missionary societies. Moreover he squints. Now, my 
good fellow, though I believe you have the liberality of a 
great Inquisitor, yet I think you will hardly vote against 
your own college, your own friends, and the cause of common 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

P.S. If you don't give at least one vote to Lord Palmer- 
ston, I shall think you have rusted in the country, and lost 
your wits 1 . 

Dent, February 18, 1826. 
Dear Ainger, 

When we last parted I had no thought of finding 
my way so soon to Dent, but here I am act the corner of a 
breakfast-table in the old Parsonage, and the Pastor and his 
wife are making such a noise that my powers of attention 
must, I fear, be suspended, and my language incoherent I 
will, however, do the best I can in making my way through 
three pages of this sheet. After I returned to College my 
whole time was taken up with a dull geological paper 8 which 
I was endeavouring to bring to a close, in order that it might 
appear in the Annals of Philosophy for next month. But my 
operations were interrupted by a letter from my sister, which 
informed me that my Father was much debilitated, and that 
he exhibited some symptoms of an incipient dropsy. I 
showed the letter to Haviland, and he advised me to come 
down, as a complaint of that kind would probably carry off a 
man of my Father's very advanced age in a few weeks. In 
consequence of this advice I met the Leeds coach at Alcon- 
bury Hill on Saturday last ; spent the following day with my 

1 The poll-book shows that notwithstanding Sedgwick's efforts Dr Ainger 
voted for Sir J. S. Copley and Mr Bankes. 

3 On the classification of the strata which appear on the Yorkshire coast. 


i8«6. old pupil Charles Musgrave (who resides on his living near 

iEt -4 I - Leeds), and on Monday night reached my Father's house. 

He is, I am happy to say, very much better than I expected, 

and, on the whole, looks nearly as well as he did when I left 

him in the autumn. His legs are a good deal enlarged, but 

the disease makes very slow progress, and, thank God, he is 

quite free from pain. He is, however, languid and drowsy, and 

sometimes for a minute or two, even when awake, inattentive 

to what is about him. On the whole, however, there is no 

sign whatever of any sudden change, and if he should not get 

worse in course of next week I shall return to Cambridge and 

finish my lectures. Indeed I never expected that he would 

live over the year, and the only wish which his dearest friends 

have now any right to express is, that it may please God 

to preserve the faculties of his mind, and release him from 

a life, now only of labour and sorrow, without the additional 

burden of much bodily suffering. 

After the illumination your mind received at Cambridge, 

not to mention a conversation one evening at your Father's 

house, you will, I am sure, rejoice to hear that Lord Palmer- 

ston's success at the next election is now quite certain. My 

best regards and love to all your family. My sister says she 

will cross the first page of my letter. She shall have her 

mind : but it is a dangerous thing to drive fresh sentences 

over my rugged text 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

[Trin. Coll., February, 1827.] 
Dear Ainger, 

Whewell and I left Cambridge the day after our 
commemoration (the 17th December), and went as far as Hyde 
Hall, where we spent the evening with Sir John Malcolm. Next 
morning we posted to town with the old General in time for 
breakfast; procured our passports, and went by the night 
coach to Dover. As soon as the tide served we embarked 


in a steamer, and in two hours and a half were at the pier 1837. 
head of Calais. In two more days the diligence conveyed us Mt - 4*« 
to the place of our destination. I intended to have written to 
you, and I thought about it every day I was at Paris, but 
I never had time. With the exception of two short letters to 
my Father which I regarded as a matter of positive duty, I 
did not write a line to any one. 

My time was spent in the French capital delightfully, and 
I hope profitably. I attended public lectures, examined 
public institutions, and became in some measure acquainted 
with several men whom I before knew only by reputation. 
Many of the leading literary and scientific men give soir/es, 
that is evening parties, once a week, at which any one may 
attend who has been introduced. Three of these I regularly 
attended : on Wednesday evenings at the old Marquis de 
Laplace's, on Thursday evenings at Professor Arago's at the 
Observatory, and on Saturday evenings at Baron Cuvier's. 
These parties were delightful. They assemble about nine, 
and break up about twelve. You meet there the first literary 
men of France, and you may talk or not as you like, for there 
is no restraint or ceremony whatsoever. Baron Humboldt is 
perhaps the most interesting character I have met, and I 
rejoice to think that I have in some measure formed his 
acquaintance. We have exchanged one or two letters, and I 
will endeavour to keep the ball up. He gave me up two 
mornings, which I considered a great compliment from one 
who is so much engaged. The day before I left Paris I 
called on old Laplace and had a long talk with him. He 
is thin and emaciated ; but posessses great mental vigour 
for a man of 78 years. He asked a great many questions 
about Cambridge, and then began to talk of the CatJwlic 
Question. 'A Roman Catholic priest/ said he, 'cannot be 
a good man, for he is cut off from the rights of manhood, 
has no sympathy with other men, and only plots for the 
aggrandizement of his own order. He cannot be a good 
subject, for he acknowledges an authority which is external 


i8«7- and superior to the executive of his own country. You have 
^•4*« these fellows down — keep them down — if you admit them 
to power they will only endeavour to destroy those who lifted 
them up'!! What do you think of this from a French Peer, 
and a nominal Roman Catholic ? I talked to him in French, 
but I have translated what he said as literally as possible. 
I found many more men in Paris in the same mind. I also 
saw some good English society, and received very great 
civilities from Bishop Luscombe 1 . Pray what is the exact 
history of his consecration, and of his objects? I did not 
exactly make them out. I have many other things to tell 
you, if I had time and paper-room, but I must leave some- 
thing till we meet When must that be ? 

On my return from Paris to London I was three successive 
nights on the road without being able to rest myself for a 
single hour. The cold in France was horrible 9 . 

Give my affectionate remembrances to your family. Take 
care of yourself 8 . I don't however think that writing a short 
letter would do you much harm. 

Yours most affectionately, 

A. Sedgwick. 

It is provoking that this letter should be the only detailed 
account of the six or seven weeks which Sedgwick spent in 
Paris. He always spoke of the visit as having been not only 
agreeable, but also extremely profitable. He learnt, at least 
to some extent, what continental men of science were doing 
and thinking — for at that time Paris was unquestionably the 
scientific centre of Europe — and so paved the way for the 

1 An English clergyman consecrated (ao March, 1835) by the Primus of 
Scotland, as ' a missionary Bishop for the superintendence of such of the English 
clergy and congregations in France, Belgium, and Holland as were willing to 
acknowledge his episcopate. 1 He also acted as chaplain to the British Embassy 
at Paris. 

9 The Rev. Joseph Romilly, Fellow of Trinity College, whose diary will be 
frequently quoted in subsequent years, notes under 5 February, 1827 : * Sedgwick 
came alone in the malle-poste from Paris, with hay twisted round his legs.' 

* Dr Ainger had just recovered from a severe illness. 


researches into continental geology which he undertook soon 1827. 
afterwards. Moreover he added to the Woodwardian Museum & u * r 
" a considerable geological series from the neighbourhood of 
Paris, collected partly by his own hands, partly by the 
kindness of his friends, and partly by purchase. 1 " 

The above letter may be supplemented by a few details 
derived from conversation : 

" Laplace was a rather small man, with a white neck-tie, 
looking very like a parson, though he was reputed to be 
almost an atheist, as indeed was the case. He was then very 
old, and used an old man's privilege, retiring to bed at about 
nine o'clock. Arago was a fine-looking man, with a very fine 
wife, and a staunch republican. Laplace on the contrary 
was weak, and always shifting his politics according to the 
time. This led at last to such a quarrel between him and 
Arago that it was not usual for persons to attend the soirees 
of both. When Laplace was near his end Arago saw a man 
at his own soiree who usually went to his rival, and re- 
marked ' Ah ! he sees old Laplace is going, and so he has 
come to me.' It was usual for a visitor, when once introduced, 
to go regularly, and it was considered rude to cut many 
soirees consecutively. Laplace gave only tea and coffee, 
but Cuvier, after his soiree was over, would sit down with a 
few friends to tea and apple-pie. 

" I believe that I was the last person (not of his own 
family) who ever saw Laplace 2 . I called on him before my 
departure, and sent in my card, as a formal leave-taking. To 
my surprise he received me, and I saw that he was in the 
humour for a good talk. He looked very ill, his voice was 
broken, sounding shrill, like a whistle, and his chin rested on 
his breast. He said he had desired above all things to visit 
Cambridge, the scene of Newton's discoveries, but that first 
want of means, and then the Revolution, had prevented him. 

1 Report to the Woodwardian Auditors \ May, 1827. 

3 Pierre- Simon, Marquis de Laplace, was born 33 March 1749, and died 
5 March, 1827, aged 78. 

S. I. 18 


i8«7. € Are you a clergyman ? ' he inquired. ' Yes.' ' A Protestant 
Mt. 42. clergyman ? ' c Yes/ ' Is there any objection to clergymen 
marrying?' 'On the contrary, a clergyman who does not 
do so is thought rather unwise/ Then, after some remarks 
about priests who could not marry, and therefore could 
not be good men in relation to humanity, and who obeyed 
a foreign despot and therefore could not be good citizens, 
he proceeded : ' I wish I could see your education at Cam- 
bridge. I am convinced that you are right in entrusting it 
to protestant clergymen. English clergymen can be good 
members of society and good citizens, and I have found out 
late in life that it is impossible to govern without the help 
of some religion/ He referred to Catholic Emancipation, 
then occupying the attention of Parliament, and said it would 
be an unwise measure : ' You have your foot on the Catholic 
priests, and you should keep it there ! ' This was called 
being ' liberal ' in those days. After a long and earnest talk 
he said 'Good bye/ and that night or the next day I left Paris. 
On arriving in London I heard that he was dangerously ill. 
The news had probably travelled in the same coach as I had. 
He died soon afterwards 1 /' 

Sedgwick used to tell several other stories — about Cuvier 
and his daughter Clementine — Humboldt — and other scientific 
men whose acquaintance he had the good fortune to make, 
and very amusing and characteristic they were; but un- 
fortunately no one took the trouble to write them down. 

Trin. Coll., March 3, 1827. 
Dear Ainger, 

Your letter reached me this morning, and I do 
most heartily congratulate you on your new elevation in the 
Church". When I mentioned the circumstance in Hall, every 

1 This account is derived from notes of a conversation held in Sedgwick's rooms 
on the evening of Sunday, 6 November, 1870, written down immediately after- 
wards by Dr Glaisher, Fellow of Trinity College, through whose kindness it 
is printed here. 

1 Dr Ainger had just been made Canon of Chester. 



one who remembered you was quite delighted : and all agreed 1817. 
that the manner of the appointment did the Bishop 1 the Mt - 4*- 
highest honour. May you long live to enjoy this and still 
higher dignities. A thousand times greater than these things 
is, however, the blessing of health, and I rejoice to hear that 
now it is no longer withheld from you. Give my affectionate 
remembrances to your sister and all your children. I hope 
they do not forget me. I must try to come down in course of 
the year to rub up their memories. 

On Saturday I finished my lectures and immediately came 
to Sir John Malcolm's to spend a day or two. I only returned 
yesterday, and am now looking forward to a good spell of 
hard work. By the way, I was made Vice-President of the 
London Geological Society at the last annual meeting'. But 
this honour brings no grist There is no manger in my stall, 
so that notwithstanding my V.P.G.S. at the tail of my 
signature, I may die of hunger. You plainly see I have 
nothing to write about so, my dear fellow, let me once more 
congratulate you and wish you a very good night 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

The General Election of 1826, when Sedgwick was a 
member of Lord Palmerston's committee, was fought on the 
same general lines as the bye-election of 1825. The con- 
servative victory on that occasion had inspired hopes that the 
second seat might be won for the anti-catholics, and every 
nerve was strained to effect not only the return of Mr Bankes, 
but the defeat of Lord Palmerston. " This once liberal Uni- 
versity/' said a writer in TIte Times, " is seized at this moment 
with such a violent horror of the Pope that in its panic 
it forgets the services of an old and tried member, and would 

1 Charles James Blomfield, D.D., a former Fellow of Trinity College, was 
Bishop of Chester 1824 — 1828. He and Sedgwick were godfathers to Dr Ainger's 
son. a 7 February, 1827. 



1826. fling him away with as much unconcern as an old glove V In 
iEt 4*- addition to the sitting members, Mr Bankes and Lord Palmer- 
ston, two new candidates presented themselves: Sir John 
Singleton Copley, then Attorney-General, and Mr Goulburn. 
It soon became evident that Copley, from his brilliant legal 
reputation, added to an explicit declaration that he was, and 
always had been, " decidedly adverse " to the claims of the 
Catholics 9 , was certain to be returned, and it became a 
question whether Bankes or Goulburn would do well to retire. 
As the former wrote : " by our both standing it is obvious to 
everybody that we are weakening the Anti-Catholic Interest, 
and frittering away the strength of our great cause V There- 
upon he authorised his Committee to institute "a fair com- 
parison of strength, upon the understanding that whichever of 
the two should prove to be the weakest, should give way to 
the other," but the suggestion was declined, as Goulburn had 
pledged himself under any circumstances to go to the poll. 
This episode inspired a clever ballad 4 , a few stanzas of which 
are still worth reading : 

Bankes is weak, and Goulburn too, 

No one e'er the fact denied; 
Which is weakest of the two, 

Cambridge can alone decide. 
Choose between them, Cambridge, pray, 
Which is weakest, Cambridge, say. 

Goulburn of the Pope afraid is, 

Bankes as much afraid as he; 
Never yet did two old ladies 

On this point so well agree. 
Choose between them, Cambridge, pray, 
Which is weakest, Cambridge, say. 

Each a different mode pursues, 
Each the same conclusion reaches; 

Bankes is foolish in Reviews, 
Goulburn foolish in his speeches. 

Choose between them, Cambridge, pray, 

Which is weakest, Cambridge, say. 

1 The Times, 13 June, 18*6. f Sir John Copley's address, 19 Decembci, 1825. 

* Mr Bankes to Mr Goulburn, 10 June, 1836. 

4 It is printed at length in The Times, 16 June, 1826. 


Bankes, accustomed much to roam, 1826. 

Plays with truth a traveller's pranks ; ^t. 41. 

Goulburn, though he stays at home, 

Travels thus as much as Bankes. 
Choose between them, Cambridge, pray, 
Which is weakest, Cambridge, say. 

Sedgwick never did anything by halves, and the few letters 
from friends which he thought worth preserving show that he 
left them no peace till they came round to his views. The most 
liberal were evidently not a little scandalised — complained 
of being obliged to a pick the best out of a bad pack " — and 
the like ; but in the end they voted as he had suggested. 
The result showed the unwisdom of divided counsels, for, 
though Copley headed the poll with 772 votes, Palmerston 
was second with 631, while Bankes and Goulburn had re- 
spectively 508 and 437 \ The poll-book shows that Sedgwick 
ultimately voted for Copley as well as for Palmerston, as did 
a large proportion of the members of Trinity College. 

Another matter connected with this election must be 
briefly noticed, as it made a great stir in the University, 
and Sedgwick's name appears in connection with it For 
some years the expenses of non-resident electors had been 
defrayed by the candidate for whom they voted. It was 
notorious that the last election had cost a vast sum, and 
several stories were current of the way in which the liberality 
of the candidates had been abused. It soon became apparent 
that the practice would not be discontinued on the present 
occasion ; indeed some leading members of one of the com- 
mittees had been heard to say, with cynical frankness, that 
" whatever might have been the expenses of the last election, 
they were nothing compared with those which would probably 
be incurred at this." It was manifest that if such usage were 
not stopped, not only would grave scandals arise, but the 
choice of University representatives would be limited to men 
of large fortune. Under these circumstances an attempt was 
made to induce the four committees to agree in refusing to 

1 The poll was taken 13 — 16 June, 1826. 


i8*6. pay any expenses. The committees of Sir John Copley, Lord 
Ml 41. Palmerston, and Mr Goulburn agreed to do this, but that 
of Mr Bankes declined even to discuss the subject. Some 
further negotiations were entered into, but without effect, and 
the subject would probably have dropped, had not Mr Lamb, 
Master of Corpus Christi College, and Mr Henslow, drawn up 
a " recommendation " to the following effect : 

"A very general expression of regret having manifested itself 
among the Members of the University at the practice of out-voters 
receiving their expenses from the respective Candidates for whom 
they voted ; the undersigned resident Members of the Senate 
earnestly recommend that this practice should not be renewed at the 
ensuing election." 

This document was signed by 102 members of the Senate, 
among whom were seven Heads of Colleges, the Proctors, ten 
Professors (including Sedgwick), several Tutors, and generally 
most men of consideration in the University. It was therefore 
easy to see on which side the opinion of residents, without 
distinction of party, had been enlisted : but with non-residents 
the case was far different, to judge by the literature which the 
movement called forth. Nor was their wrath appeased by 
the extraordinary conduct of two members of the Senate, who 
on the day of election insisted that the oath against bribery 
should be administered to each voter as he came to the Vice- 
Chancellor's table 1 . 

It was not long before Sedgwick had another opportunity 
of voting against Mr Bankes. The elevation of Sir J. S. 
Copley to the peerage as Baron Lyndhurst, in April, 1827, 
rendered one seat once more vacant The candidates were 
Mr Bankes, Mr Goulburn, and Sir N. C. Tindal, but Goulburn 

1 The history of this question will be found in : Remarks upon the payment of 
the expenses of out-voters at an University election : in a tetter to the Vice- 
Chancellor of Cambridge. By the Rev. John Lamb, Master of Corpus Christi 
College, and the Rev. J. S. Henslow, Professor of Botany. 8vo. Camb. 18*6: 
Observations upon the payment of the ex pence s of out-voters at an University 
election, occasioned by remarks upon the same subject, by the Rev. the Master of 
Corpus, and the Rev. Professor Henslow. By a non-resident Master of Arts. 
8vo. Camb. 1816; and several letters in The Cambridge Chronicle, 28 April — 
16 June, in the same year. 


retired before the day of election. Both the remaining candi- 1817. 
dates professed the same principles on the question in which Mi ' ♦*• 
the electors were most interested, and therefore all they had 
to do was to choose the best man. Tindal, a former Fellow of 
Trinity College, was personally popular, and had a brilliant 
forensic reputation; Bankes, now that the interest in his 
travels had worn off, had lost the favour of residents, and in 
his own college polled only 78 votes against 191 recorded for 
his opponent The country clergy, however, were still faithful 
to him, and it was on this occasion that Macaulay wrote The 
Country Clergyman 's Trip to Cambridge. An Election Ballad 1 . 

As I sate down to breakfast in state, 

At my living of Tithing-cum-Boring, 
With Betty beside me to wait, 

Came a rap that almost beat the door in. 
I laid down my basin of tea, 

And Betty ceased spreading the toast, 
"As sure as a gun, Sir," said she, 

" That must be the knock of the post" 

A letter — and free — bring it here — 

I have no correspondent who franks. 
No ! Yes ! Can it be ? Why, my dear, 

Tis our glorious, our Protestant, Bankes. 
"Dear Sir, as I know you desire 

That the Church shall receive due protection 
I humbly presume to require 

Your aid at the Cambridge election. 

It has lately been brought to my knowledge, 

That the Ministers fully design 
To suppress each Cathedral and College 

And eject every learned divine. 
To assist this detestable scheme 

Three nuncios from Rome are come over, 
They left Calais on Monday by steam 

And landed to dinner at Dover. 

But, amusing as the whole poem is, we have no space for 
further quotation. The result of the election was decisive: 
Mr Bankes polled only 378 votes against 479 recorded for his 
opponent, and, as TJie Times anticipated, he did not again 
offer to represent the University. 

1 Miscellaneous Writings of Lord Macaulay, 8vo. Lond. i860, ii. 413. It appeared 
originaUy in The Times, 14 May, 1827. The Poll was taken 9 — 11 May, 1827. 


1827. Amidst the bustle and excitement of the election Sedg- 

Mt. 4a. yyick did no t neglect his Museum. His next report (dated 
I May, 1827) records the acquisition of "a large collection 
of very magnificent fossils, (chiefly the property of the late 
Mr Parkinson, author of a work on the organic remains of a 
former world 1 ) which were purchased during last month at a 
public auction ;" and "a collection consisting of more than a 
thousand specimens of fossil shells, collected in the Isle of 
Wight by the Woodwardian Professor, and arranged by Mr 
Sowerby of London." 

It will be remembered that when Sedgwick first became a 
Master of Arts he found the society of the Fellows somewhat 
uncongenial. There is happily no evidence that such feelings 
were of long duration, nor do his subsequent letters betray 
any hint that he was otherwise than happy in his college 
surroundings. Besides, in no place does society change so 
rapidly as in a University ; and in the years which intervened 
between 18 12 and 1827 the Fellowships at Trinity College 
had been filled by a succession of very remarkable men. Most 
of them, when their worth became known, attained to high 
distinction in the University, in the Church, or in the world ; 
but, while they remained in Cambridge, they formed a society 
whose social charm and intellectual brilliancy has never been 
surpassed. They differed widely in tastes, in politics, and 
in intellectual pursuits; but they were united by common 
interests, by a common devotion to their College and their 
University, and not only lived together harmoniously, but in 
many instances formed intimate friendships. Some, like 
Sheepshanks, Thirlwall, Macaulay, Airy, stayed for only a 
short time ; others, like Robert Wilson Evans, Peacock, Hare, 
Thorp, gave many of their best years to College and Uni- 
versity work ; while Romilly and Whewell devoted their 
whole lives to the same objects. 

1 Organic Remains of a former World: an examination of the mineralized 
remains of Vegetables and Animals of the antediluvian World, generally termed 
extraneous Fossils. By James Parkinson. 3 vols. 4to. Lond. 1804 — 11. 


Among the Fellows here named Sedgwick's dearest friend 1827. 
was undoubtedly Romilly, whose diary is nearly as full of iEt **• 
Sedgwick as it is of himself 1 . Next to him we would place 
Whewell, whose insatiable love of knowledge, especially scien- 
tific knowledge, led him to add geology to the other depart- 
ments of his omniscience. He therefore entered heartily 
into Sedgwick's pursuits, and for many years they were 
inseparable friends — not only seeing a great deal of each 
other during term, but travelling together in vacation. After- 
wards, when Whewell became Master, they drifted apart, and 
their friendship was interrupted by more than one misunder- 
standing ; but it is pleasant to be able to record that their 
quarrels were not of long duration, and that in any serious 
difficulty, or grave sorrow, Whewell always turned to the 
ready sympathy of his old friend. But Sedgwick could be 
approached from many other sides than geology ; he was no 
specialist, in the modern sense of the word, and those we 
have mentioned had no difficulty in finding a large space of 
common ground on which to build their friendship. He was 
probably the most popular man in the college, and his rooms 
the chief centre of attraction. Intimate friends were glad, 
when their own work was over, to enjoy his original conver- 
sation, and not seldom his extravagant fun : while strangers 
delighted to make the acquaintance of a learned Professor 
who could talk on general subjects as well as they could 
themselves, and who was always ready to lay aside his own 
occupations for a while for the sake of their profit and 
amusement. It is not too much to say that of the leading 
men in Cambridge sixty years ago, no one made so lasting or 
so favourable an impression on all who were brought into 
contact with him as Sedgwick. 

Genial as he was to all-comers, his special pleasure was to 
entertain ladies and children, whom he amused in all manner 
of quaint ways, and sent home with a store of memories that 

1 An account of the diary kept by the Rev. Joseph Romilly has been given in 
the Preface. 


1817. never faded from their minds. One of the first of these 
^ 4*- incidents which has been recorded befell in 1825. Mr 
Leonard Horner, the geologist, had come with his family 
to Cambridge, and the whole party, including the children, 
breakfasted with Sedgwick. It was his first meeting with 
Miss Frances Horner, afterwards Lady Bunbury, then a 
pretty child of ten. When breakfast was over, he declared 
that she should be made a Master of Arts. So she was 
decorated with a cap and gown, which of course trailed 
far behind her on the ground, and thus attired, ran across 
the college grass-plots. Forty years afterwards Lady Bun- 
bury reminded him of the incident, and quoted a passage 
from her childish journal : " We got a most delicious break- 
fast — muffins, tarts, all sorts of nice things. Mr Sedgwick 
was so kind as to give us some minerals." Another wel- 
come, in which Sedgwick took part, equally warm-hearted, 
though less boisterous, has been commemorated by Lord 
Macaulay's sister, Lady Trevelyan. She went to Cambridge 
in 1 83 1 with her sister and brother: "On the evening that we 
arrived we met at dinner Whewell, Sedgwick, Airy, and 
Thirlwall : and how pleasant they were, and how much they 
made of us happy girls, who were never tired of seeing, and 
hearing, and admiring ! We breakfasted, lunched, and dined 
with one or the other of the set during our stay, and walked 
about the colleges all day with the whole train 1 ." 

What has been said of Sedgwick's college friends leads us 
naturally to Hyde Hall, and its hospitable tenant, Sir John 
Malcolm, who has been already alluded to in a letter. Sir 
John, after a distinguished career as a soldier in India, and 
a diplomatist in Persia, had returned to England in 1822, 
and for a time fixed his abode at Hyde Hall, a large and 
commodious mansion near Sawbridgeworth. During the five 
years that he inhabited it it was the favourite resort of Hare, 
Whewell, and Sedgwick, who have all, in different language, 
sung the praises of the master and mistress, and of the society 

1 Life of Lord Afacaulay, ed. 1881, p. 129. 


they gathered round them. Hare, speaking of what conversa- 1817. 
tion ought to be, described Hyde Hall as " a house in which I Mi - 4*« 
hardly ever heard an evil word uttered against anyone. The 
genial heart of cordial sympathy with which its illustrious 
master sought out the good side in every person and thing, 
seemed to communicate itself to all the members of his 
family, and operated as a charm even upon his visitors 1 ;" 
Whewell spoke of his acquaintance with the Malcolms as 
one of the bright passages of his life*; and Sedgwick, as 
might be expected, was even more enthusiastic and out- 
spoken. After one of his early visits he wrote : 

" Sir John has more of the elements of a great character 
than any other man I have had the happiness of knowing. 
As a mere author his rank is high, but with all this he is a 
great oriental scholar, has been three times ambassador at the 
Persian Court, has ruled empires with wisdom, and com- 
manded victorious armies ; and, what is of more consequence 
in his own house, he is one of the most rationally convivial 
men that ever sat at a table, or romped with a family of 
smiling children V 

It is not improbable that in Sedgwick's eyes the smiling 
children were not the least attraction that Hyde Hall had 
to offer. He at once established an intimacy with all of 
them ; but his particular friend was the third daughter 
Kate. He won her affection in the first instance by carrying 
her on his back, and as she grew up he established a cor- 
respondence with her, which was carried on regularly until 
his death. His letters were all carefully preserved, and it is 
from this series that some of the gravest, as well as some 
of the most amusing that he ever wrote will be selected. 

In the next chapter we shall describe the geological work 
which Sedgwick undertook in conjunction with Murchison, 
first in Scotland, and then in Germany ; but, before entering 

1 Guesses at Truth, ed. 187 1, p. 528. 

2 Life, p. 239. 

8 To Rev. W. Ainger, 27 October, 1826. 

284 GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818 — 1827. 

upon this new field, it will be well to review what he had 
accomplished alone in the nine years which had elapsed since 
he was elected Woodwardian Professor. 

When Sedgwick began to work, geology was still in its 
infancy. Until recently, theory, rather than induction based 
upon the observation of facts, had held undisputed sway ; 
and, after the publication of such works as Woodward's 
Theory of the Earth, the rival opinions of the Wernerians and 
Huttonians had divided so-called geologists into opposing 
camps. While these profitless battles were proceeding, 
William Smith, whom Sedgwick rightly termed " the Father 
of English geology 1 /' had shown that the proper sequence 
of the strata might be readily ascertained by observation of 
the fossils characteristic of each, and that by this means the 
composition of the crust of the earth might be arrived at — a 
pursuit likely to lead to more valuable results than theories of 
the forces by which that composition had been moulded. This 
discovery — the importance of which it is difficult to realise at 
the present day — worked a revolution. Theory was aban- 
doned — the mineral composition of rocks, together with the 
whole science of mineralogy, ceased to be studied by geo- 
logists pure and simple — but, instead, a number of accurate 
and painstaking observers set to work in different parts of 
England to note the sequence of the strata, their relations 
to each other, and above all their characteristic fossils. 
Sedgwick became an ardent member of this band of ex- 
plorers. His earlier papers, and some of his admissions 
in conversation or at lecture, show that, like many of his 
predecessors, he had once been a mineralogist, and a staunch 
Wernerian. In his first paper, for instance, several pages are 
devoted to an enumeration of the mineral constituents of the 
Cornish rocks ; but this does not reappear in any subsequent 
treatise, and as for Werner, we find him dismissed with a 
jest: "For a long while I was troubled with water on the 

1 In his eloquent Address on handing him the first Wollaston Medal, 18 Feb- 
ruary, 1 83 1. 

GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818— 1827. 285 

brain, but light and heat have completely dissipated it ;" and 
on another occasion he spoke of " the Wernerian nonsense I 
learnt in my youth." The first of these utterances might be 
understood to imply an allegiance to the rival views of 
Hutton; but such was by no means the case. Throughout 
his geological life Sedgwick — thanks no doubt to his mathe- 
matical training — was no theorist. He held firmly to induc- 
tive observation, and, if he did advance a view, he took care 
to avoid the dangerous position of those who "view all things 
through the distorting medium of an hypothesis 1 ." 

It must not be thought, from what has been here advanced 
respecting the changes in geological methods, that geology 
had been made an easy study. The right road had been 
pointed out, but there remained many a tangled forest to 
pass through, many a steep mountain-side to scale. And, as 
we review Sedgwick's share in geological progress, it will be 
found that he always aimed at that which was most difficult, 
and that he did not often stop until he had reached a point 
beyond which, even at the present time, our data do not 
warrant us to advance. 

Sedgwick's first paper, On the Physical Structure of those 
Formations ivhich are intimately associated with the Primitive 
Ridge of Devonshire and Cornwall, recording the observations 
made during the summer of 18 19, was read to the Cambridge 
Philosophical Society 20 March, 1820, and published before 
the end of that year. 

He begins with a short notice of the New Red Sandstone, 
a deposit with which he was no doubt already familiar in the 
Eden Valley. He points out that these New Red conglomerates 
and sandstones are distinct from those which underlie the 
Mountain Limestone on the Banks of the Avon ; but he does 
not deny that sandstones of this earlier age occur among the 
schistose rocks of Devonshire ; thus, seventy years ago, sug- 
gesting, contrary to the opinion of all previous writers, the 
equivalence of some of the Devonian Rocks with the Upper 

1 Letter to Ed. Annals of Philosophy, 11 March, 1825. Vol. IX. p. 350. 

286 GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818— 1827. 

Old Red. He collected fossils from the Devonian limestones, 
and from their character, and from a consideration of the 
stratigraphical position of the beds in which they occurred, he 
arrived at the conclusion that they might be referred to a 
formation distinct from the Mountain Limestone, and be- 
longing to an earlier epoch. 

It would be hard to find a better description of the physical 
geography and general structure of the part of Cornwall 
examined than that given by Sedgwick. He points out that 
the surface of the moors where the granite rocks predominate 
is covered " by granite boulders, the remains of larger masses 
of the same kind which have gradually disappeared, through 
the corrosive action of the elements," and explains the 
Loggan-stone as one of such spheroidally-weathered masses. 
Then, after describing the granite as a crystalline aggregate 
of quartz, felspar, and mica, he points out — with reference to 
some of the elvans which often resemble outwardly a fine 
sandstone — that "varieties, arising from the loss of one of 
these ingredients, or from the addition of some other mineral, 
are by no means uncommon ;" notices and comments on the 
microliths in the felspar crystals, and the doubly-terminated 
crystals of quartz from other similar rocks; and, lastly, 
contests the opinion of De Luc that the great divisional 
planes of the granite represent lines of bedding. Having 
enumerated the different varieties of granite, he concludes 
in general that the granite of Cornwall "is a true granite, 
the oldest primitive rock of the Wernerian series" — an ex- 
pression that does not convey any very clear idea to a modern 

When he comes to the question of the relation of the 
granite to the overlying rocks, he is hampered by the then 
prevalent views of both Wernerians and Huttonians. The 
position Sedgwick takes up is this. The granite is the most 
ancient rock, because the killas, and other rocks, rest on it 
The granite-mass and its veins cannot have been thrust into 
the killas because there is no displacement along the junction, 

GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818— 1827. 287 

such as would necessarily result from protrusion of the granite. 
The killas seems to have been deposited on the granite mass, 
and the dykes must be contemporaneous with the killas — 
that is, must represent some portion of it If he had ex- 
plained that the only way in which this was possible was 
by the dykes, or some of them, being portions of the killas 
assimilated to the granite by alteration along the more open 
divisional planes, he might have gained much support for his 
views at the present day. But he has left this not very clear, 
for it is impossible to imagine that he could have supposed 
that the killas was laid down among a number of preexisting 
protruding dykes. 

His description of the mode of occurrence of the granite, 
the elvans, the killas, and all the associated phenomena, can 
hardly be improved as far as it goes. 

The relations of the rocks known as the Old Red were not 
clearly understood seventy years ago — it can hardly be said 
that they are beyond controversy at the present time — and 
sufficient data had not yet been collected for establishing or 
refuting the various explanations suggested by Sedgwick. But, 
whatever may be thought of the results of the paper, everyone 
who reads it must be struck by the author's familiarity with 
the methods of field geology, with mineralogy, and with 
the general literature of the subject. It was written too with 
no external help, so far as we know, except what he might 
have obtained from Mr Gilby and his cousin, and before 
he had had the benefit of Mr Conybeare's experience. We 
are fully prepared to admit that, taken by itself, this paper 
throws considerable doubt on the truth of the story that 
Sedgwick knew no geology when he was appointed to the 
Woodwardian Chair in 18 18 ; but, when we consider it by the 
light of the evidence which we have collected in favour of 
that view, it proves that by steady application a man of 
talent may be able to make observations of the first order 
in the field two years after commencing the study of the 

288 GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818— 1827. 

The memoranda which Sedgwick made on this expedition 
supplied him with materials for a second paper, On the 
Physical Structure of the Lizard District \ read to the Cam- 
bridge Philosophical Society 2 April and 7 May, 1821. It 
discusses the relation of serpentine to the adjoining rocks, 
and, it should be noted, suggests that its origin may be meta- 
morphic, but without expressing any definite opinion on the 
subject — a position he would have been justified in taking 
up even after much fuller investigation than he was able 
to bring to bear upon it — as may be inferred from the 
fact that the origin of serpentine is still considered a matter 
of such doubt and difficulty that at the International Geo- 
logical Congress held at Bologna in 1881 it was the subject 
set apart for special consideration. 

In 1 82 1 Sedgwick published a Syllabus of a Course of 
Lectures on Geology, for the use of his pupils. The older 
palaeozoic rocks had not been yet worked out — he was 
himself the first to put them in order some ten years later — 
but he gives a classification of the sedimentary rocks which 
holds good in all essential points at the present day. It is 
very interesting to compare the syllabus of 1821 with the 
second edition of 1832. 

Both commence with an introductory chapter, dealing 
with the history and progress of Geology — the distinction 
between Natural Philosophy and Natural History — ancient 
speculations on the Theory of the Earth — and the connection 
between Geology and other branches of Natural History. In 
the first syllabus it struck him as more important to empha- 
size the connection of Geology with Mineralogy, in the second 
their separation. In 1821 the views of Werner and Hutton 
were still subjects for difference of opinion, and consequently 
in the first syllabus prominence is given to the old cata- 
clysmic theories, but in the second they are very briefly 
noticed under the heading " Ancient Theories," and the first 
chapter ends with " True mode of conducting geological 
speculations." This is succeeded by seven pages of notes 

GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818— 1827. 289 

which might form a rough index to Lyell's Principles. A 
section headed : " The great inequalities presented by the 
surface of the earth," is succeeded by another : " On the great 
agents by which the earth's surface is modified, and on the 
effects which have been produced by them during known 
periods." Among the examples of such agents it is interesting 
to find "Coral Reefs" enumerated, when it is remembered that 
in this very year Darwin began to work in South America, 
where, as he tells us 1 , he first thought out his theory of their 
formation. The last division of this introductory portion is 
headed : " Ancient alluvion (" Diluvial detritus ") — including 
all superficial transported aqueous deposits which are un- 
connected with the present mechanical action of the waters." 
It is obvious that alluvium could not be considered without 
some notice of the organic remains contained in it; and, 
having regard to the very decided attitude taken up by 
Sedgwick afterwards in the discussions relating to the An- 
tiquity of Man, the following headings are worth transcription, 
as shewing that even at this period of his scientific life he had 
begun to pay attention to this question. 

Organic remains. (1) In rolled masses derived from older 
formations. (2) Land and marine shells. (3) Bones of mammalia 
of extinct and living species, &c, &c. No human bones (?). 

Description of some remarkable species. 

Great local deposits of bones, formed before or during the period 
of the ancient detritus. Examples. 

Ossiferous caverns, osseous breccias, etc. 

Sedgwick always paid great attention to palaeontology, and 
we find him recurring to the subject of organic remains in the 
same syllabus, Part II. (p. 13), concluding with "Importance 
of organic remains — in the identification of contemporaneous 
deposits — in determining the successive conditions of the 
earth." He fully recognised the value of palaeontological 
evidence. As early as 1822 he insisted upon the importance 
of an intimate acquaintance with certain branches of natural 
history. "Without such knowledge it must be impossible to 

1 Life of Charles Darwin, i. 70. The theory was communicated to the 
Geological Society 31 May, 1837. Proceedings, ii. 552. 

S. I. 19 

290 GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818— 1827. 

ascertain the physical circumstances under which our newer 
strata have been deposited. To complete the zoological 
history of any one of these formations, many details are yet 
wanting 1 ." He always carefully collected fossils, and referred 
them to the best authorities he could find on each special group 
for determination ; but, while he appealed to palaeontological 
evidence whenever he could, he always maintained that the 
first thing was to get the rocks into the right order in the field. 
Sedgwick's arrangement of stratified rocks in the two 
syllabuses shews his gradual emancipation from the theories 
of Werner. In the first the term "transition rocks'' stands as 
the heading to a chapter ; in the second he discusses, at the 
end of a chapter: "Origin of the term Transition — with what 
limitations it is applicable to the upper series — no clear line 
of separation between the two." Again : in the first he 
worked up from the transition rocks through the stratified 
series in ascending order. It is true that while treating them 
he pointed out the "great variety of fossil species ", and taught 
the " principles of classification of organic remains founded on 
the classes of recent species", and dwelt upon the "connection 
of fossil species with particular strata 8 ;" but it is a very 
suggestive fact that in the second syllabus he reversed the 
order, and worked down from the better known to the more 
obscure, shewing that he now more fully realised the truth 
that the history of the earth must be deduced from a study 
of the operations of nature which we see going on around us 
at the present time. A sketch pasted into his own copy of 
the second syllabus shews that among other illustrations he 
cited in his lectures the floating island of Derwentwater, and 
the sources of springs in the neighbourhood of Cambridge. 
The execution is better than that of the sketches which 
ornament some of his letters in later life, the rudeness of 
which he used playfully to deplore. 

1 Letter On the geology 0/ the Isle of Wight, 17 March, i8«. Annals oj 
Philosophy, N. S. Hi. 339. 

* Syllabus, ed. 18*1, Chapter IV. Transition Rocks, § 2. 

GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818— 1827. 291 

It is pleasant to read a good practical paper founded on 
original observation in which the character of dykes is so well 
discussed as in the paper on the Association of Trap Rocks 
with the Mountain Litnestone Formation in High Teesdale 
which Sedgwick read to the Cambridge Philosophical Society 
in 1823 — 24. He points out that dykes are of all ages, 
and refers them to an igneous origin in the following passage : 

" It is a matter of fact, which is independent of all theory, that 
an enormous mass of strata has been rent asunder; and it is 
probable that the rent has been prolonged to the extent of fifty or 
sixty miles. If we exclude volcanic agency, what power in nature is 
there capable of producing such an effect? By supposing such 
phenomena the effects of volcanic action, we bring into operation no 
causes but those which are known to exist, and are adequate to 
effects even more extensive than those which have been described. n 

In describing the columnar structure it did not escape his 
notice that the prisms were arranged at right angles to the 
cooling surfaces. He mentions also the common mode of 
weathering into great balls by the exfoliation of successive 
layers from the joint faces. 

Sedgwick contributed a paper to the Annals of Philosophy 
for April and July, 1825, on the Origin of Alluvial and 
Diluvial Formations, in which he distinguishes the older 
formations, which we should now call " drift ", from the 
generally newer alluvial deposits. He points out the anoma- 
lous position and irregular distribution of the boulders which 
occur in the drift ; but that glacial conditions had once been 
prevalent in our island, and over extensive tracts throughout 
the northern part of our hemisphere, had not at that time been 
recognised. There is still much difference of opinion as to 
whether the "drift" of certain districts is due to land-ice, or to 
icebergs ; and, if we translate the views of those who hold the 
iceberg theory into the language of Sedgwick's time, we shall 
find that the observations which he records are not far wrong 
as to the direction of the currents which distributed the "drift". 
That he did not recognise the exact mode of transport is only 
to say that he had not that familiarity with glaciated districts 

19 — 2 

292 GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818 — 1827. 

which enabled Agassiz to suggest the agency of ice. He 
referred the accumulation of the diluvial detritus to the 
action of water ; he concluded that the floods which produced 
it " swept over every part of England — that they were put in 
motion by no powers of nature with which we are acquainted 
— and that they took place during an epoch which was pos- 
terior to the deposition of all the regular strata of the earth." 

As this question has acquired fresh importance from the 
recent invocation of a flood of waters as the sole agent in the 
deposition of the drift, the following passage, written it will 
be remembered sixty-three years ago, will be read with 
interest. Sedgwick maintained that while the evidence for the 
truths of revealed religion was of a totally different character 
from that by which physical laws are established, still the con- 
clusions at which we arrive in the two cases should not be con- 
tradictory ; and his statements on these questions are always 
fair and liberal, and far in advance of the age in which he lived. 

" As we are unacquainted with the forces which put the diluvian 
waters in motion, we are also, with very limited exceptions, unable to 
determine the direction in which the currents have moved over the 
earth's surface. Many parts of the north of Europe seem to have 
been swept over by a great current which set in from the north. In 
some parts of Scotland there has been a great rush of water from the 
north-west. The details given above, show that the currents which 
have swept over different parts of England have not been confined to 
any given direction. It may, perhaps, be laid down as a general rule, 
that the diluvial gravel has been drifted down all the great inclined 
planes which the earth's surface presented to the retiring waters. 

"The facts brought to light by the combined labours of the 
modern school of geologists, seem, as far as I comprehend them, 
completely to demonstrate the reality of a great diluvian catastrophe 
during a comparatively recent period in the natural history of the 
earth. In the preceding speculations I have carefully abstained from 
any allusion to the sacred records of the history of mankind ; and I 
deny that Professor Buckland, or any other practical geologist of our 
time has rashly attempted to unite the speculations of his favourite 
science with the truths of revelation 1 . 

1 Professor Buckland 's Reliquiae Diluvianae; or, Observations on the Organic 
Remains contained in Caves, Fissures, and Diluvial Gravel, and on other Geological 
Phenomena, attesting the Action of an Universal Deluge, had been published 
in 1823. 

GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818—1827. 293 

" The authority of the sacred records has been established by a 
great mass of evidence at once conclusive and appropriate; but 
differing altogether in kind from the evidence of observation and 
experiment, by which alone physical truth can ever be established. 
It must, therefore, at once be rash and unphilosophical to look to 
the language of revelation for any direct proof of the truths of 
physical science. But truth must at all times be consistent with 
itself. The conclusions established on the authority of the sacred 
records may, therefore, consistently with the soundest philosophy, be 
compared with the conclusions established on the evidence of 
observation and experiment; and such conclusions, if fairly deduced, 
must necessarily be in accordance with each other. This principle 
has been acted on by Cuvier, and appears to be recognized in every 
part of the "Reliquia Diluviance". The application is obvious. 
The sacred records tell us — that a few thousand years ago "the 
fountains of the great deep were broken up " — and that the earth's 
surface was submerged by the waters of a general deluge ; and the 
investigations of geology tend to prove that the accumulations of 
alluvial matter have not been going on many thousand years ; and 
that they were preceded by a great catastrophe which has left traces 
of its operation in the diluvial detritus which is spread out over all 
the strata of the earth. 

" Between these conclusions, derived from sources entirely in- 
dependent of each other, there is, therefore, a general coincidence 
which it is impossible to overlook, and the importance of which it 
would be most unreasonable to deny. The coincidence has not 
been assumed hypothetically, but has been proved legitimately, by an 
immense number of direct observations conducted with indefatigable 
labour, and all tending to the establishment of the same general 
truth 1 ." 

At the end of the paper is an appendix, giving an account 
of some changes in the channels which drain the fen-land : an 
account full of interest to those familiar with the Humber 
and its tributaries, and all the phenomena of silting-up and 
warping. Sedgwick concludes as follows : 

" If such extraordinary effects as those described in this note be 
produced by the accumulation of alluvial matter in course of a few 
hundred years, we may be well assured that the whole form of the 
neighbouring coast must have been greatly modified by the same 
causes acting without interruption, and without any modification 
from works of art, for 3000 or 4000 years." 

The letter On the Classification of the Strata which appear 
on the Yorkshire Coast, which, like the last, was addressed to 
the editors of the Annals of Philosophy, 20 February, 1826, 

1 Annals of Philosophy \ N. S. 1825, x. pp. 33 — 35. 

294 GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818-1827. 

must not be wholly passed over in silence. It is based on 
observations made in 1821, but which, after Sedgwick's 
fashion, were not worked out for five years. His object in 
writing it was to connect the phenomena observed in York- 
shire with those observed in other parts of England ; and it 
contains, parenthetically, a good deal of information on the 
geology of Weymouth and its neighbourhood. 

The value of the work done in Yorkshire appears again 
in the splendid monograph On the Magnesian Litnestone and 
lower Portions of t/ie New Red Sandstone Series, which was 
read to the Geological Society at various intervals between 
November, 1826, and March, 1828. Whatever turn geolo- 
gical research may take, this, with some other papers which 
followed it in quick succession, must always be referred to as 
standard works, which settled some of the disputed questions 
of English geology. It is at once broad and minute : broad 
in its generalisations — for it places in order a complex group of 
rocks which, until it was written, were in complete confusion ; 
and minute in working out, through the whole of the district 
selected, from Nottingham to the southern extremity of North- 
umberland, the boundaries of the different formations, and their 
relations to each other. The labour which this research implies 
is almost incredible ; the whole district appears to have been 
gone over, probably on foot, and compass in hand. Every 
quarry, cliff, and scar is made to bear its part in the general 
result. In carrying out these researches it must be remem- 
bered that hardly any help was at that time available. Mr 
Smith's geological map of Yorkshire had been published and 
is constantly referred to, but Sedgwick notes that " geological 
maps of the other counties through which the magnesian 
limestone passes were not published at the time the observa- 
tions were made on which the greatest part of this paper is 
founded 1 ." Moreover, the Ordnance Survey was not yet in 
existence. On this account it will be interesting, we think, to 

1 On the Geological Relations and Internal Structure of the Magnesian Lime- 
stone, etc, p. 43, note. 

I, 1- 

It . I. .'' 

/. — ■-,. 


sp.-t /'/»». v /.\" rifh: inure y/M.v «^ ////' List., ah M.\r .v-j. 


To illustrate Sedgwick's paper on the (jtvlogieal Relations and Structure 

of the Alagnesian Limestone. 

{Trans. Geol. Soe. lend. Sit. II. Vol. iii. Hate 4.) 

To face page 195. Vol I. 

GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818— 1827. 295 

reproduce one of the maps which Sedgwick drew and mea- 
sured for himself. Difficult as his task must have been — for 
he could hardly have known much about practical surveying 
— it will be found that in accuracy of detail his unaided 
efforts have only been superseded by the elaborate work of 
the Geological Survey. 

The paper opens with the following prefatory sentences : 

"After the production of the rocks of the carboniferous order, the 
earth's surface appears to have been acted on by powerful disturb- 
ing forces, which, not only in the British Isles, but through the 
greater part of the European basin, produced a series of formations 
of very great extent and complexity of structure. These deposits, 
known in our own country by the name of new red sandstone and 
red marl, and, when considered on an extended scale, comprising all 
the formations between the coal-measures and the lias, notwithstand- 
ing their violent mechanical origin, have several characters in 
common, which enable us to connect them together, and, for general 
purposes of comparison, to regard them as one group. Great beds 
of conglomerate, coarse sand, and sandstone, frequently tinged with 
red oxyde of iron ; and of red marl, associated with innumerable beds 
and masses of earthy salts, constitute, in many countries, the principal 
portion of the group we are considering. Many of these salts, 
though of almost constant occurrence among the rocks of this epoch, 
have been developed with so much irregularity, that the attempts to 
arrange them in distinct formations (when used for any purpose 
beyond local description) have sometimes, perhaps, served to retard 
rather than to advance our knowledge of the earth's history. The 
great calcareous beds which were produced during this period form, 
however, an exception to the last observation. They appear to have 
been chiefly developed in the upper and lower portions of the system 
we have been considering; and, though possessing some characters 
in common, are sufficiently distinguished by their position and their 
fossils to be separated into two distinct formations. The higher of 
these (the muschcl-kalk stein of the continental geologists) has no 
representative in the series of rocks which have hitherto been 
observed in our island ; the lower is represented by the great terrace 
of magnesian limestone which ranges from Nottingham to the mouth 
of the Tyne." 

In the next place, after noticing the "general want of 
conformity to all the inferior formations" observable in the 
magnesian limestone series, he cautions his readers against 
pushing this kind of evidence too far : 

" We have no right to assume, nor is there any reason to believe, 
that such disturbing forces acted either uniformly or simultaneously 

296 GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818— 1827. 

throughout the world. Formations which in one country are uncon- 
formable, may in another be parallel to each other, and so intimately 
connected as to appear the production of one epoch." 

Throughout the paper we find great care bestowed upon 
the determination of the fossils found in the different deposits, 
and a good many of the most characteristic are figured. 
Sedgwick was of course very much excited by the discovery 
of fossil fish in the marl-slate ; and he hunted up the spec? 
mens and fragments of specimens which had found their w 
into private collections all over the country. When < 
mitted to De Blainville it was decided that they were a 1 
identical with the celebrated fish from the copper- s! 
Germany. At the end of the paper we find a short desci 
tive notice of three species, Palceothrissum magnum, P. macro- 
cephalum, and P. elegans, illustrated by some excellent figures, 
one of which is here reproduced, to shew the care with which 
he elaborated his papers. Sedgwick followed up the study of 
fossil fish in subsequent researches, and succeeded in getting 
Alexander Agassiz, the Cuvier of ichthyology, to come to 
Cambridge and examine his collection. 

The following classification of the rocks investigated, in 
descending order, is given at the end of the paper : 

1. Upper red marl and gypsum. 

2. Upper red sandstone. 

3. Upper thin- bedded limestone. 

4. Lower red marl and gypsum. 

5. Yellow magnesian limestone. 

6. Marl and thin beds of magnesian limestone. 

7. Lower red sandstone. 

Sedgwick's account of the lowest beds of the group, as 
thus arranged, is not always clear, but it may be explained, 
we think, in the following manner. 

The Lower Magnesian Limestone passes down into red 
or yellow sandy beds at Pontefract. So, in the Eden Valley, 
the brockram or basement conglomerate of the Poikilitic 
series rests on red and yellow sandstones. But these are of 

{Tram. Geol. .Hoc. Land. Ser. II. Vol. m. Ittttt ^ 

GEOLOGICAL PAPERS, 1818- 1827. 297 

totally different age. In the sandy beds of the roadside cliff 
near the great quarries just outside Pontefract Schizodus 
obscurus has been found. These beds undoubtedly belong 
to the Magnesian Limestone series. In the Eden Valley, on 
the other hand, it was found by boring near Appleby that the 
red colour did not extend farther into the rock than a little 
over one hundred feet. The colour was obviously a stain 
produced by infiltration from above. Again, there is, in the 
Woodwardian Museum, a collection of fossil plants from the 
north-west margin of the same area, obtained from red beds 
formerly referred to the Poikilitic series, but which contain 
nothing but carboniferous species. These facts obviously 
account for the difficulties which have arisen from some 
observers recording that the base of the Poikilitic series 
graduated into the carboniferous, while others saw a strong 
discordancy between the two. The confusion has been 
increased by an attempt to force the English classification 
into harmony with the as yet unestablished sequence of 
Germany, or the still less known deposits of Russia. On 
this point Sedgwick makes the following admirable remarks : 

" Each country ought to be described without any accommodating 
hypothesis, according to the type after which it has been moulded. 
But, in comparing the unconnected deposits of remote countries, we 
must act on an opposite principle; learning to suppress all local 
phenomena, and to seize on those only which are coextensive with 
the objects we attempt to classify. " 

Whatever therefore may be convenient in respect of the 
Dyas of Germany, or the Permian of Russia, all attempts to 
bracket the Magnesian Limestone of England and its asso- 
ciated red marls with the carboniferous rocks, instead of 
making them the beginning of a new series, forming the base 
of the Secondary rocks, have been founded on stratigraphical 
mistakes, and tend to perpetuate an unnatural classification. 
Sedgwick's grouping of the New Red rocks of Britain, which 
brackets the whole Poikilitic series together, will undoubtedly 
stand the test of time. 

(1827— 1831.) 

The Geological Society. First acquaintance with Mur- 
chison. Tour with him in Scotland. Office of Senior 
Proctor (1827). Joint papers with Murchison. Summer 
in Cornwall. Dolcoath Mine. Visits Conybeare in 
South Wales (1828). Sedgwick President of Geological 
Society. Divinity Act. Mr Cavendish elected Uni- 
versity representative. Summer in Germany and the 
Tyrol with Murchison. Joint paper on the eastern 
Alps (1829). Address to Geological Society. Summer 
in Northumberland. Contested election of President 
of Royal Society (1830). Addresses to Geological 
Society (1831). 

SEDGWICK had been elected a Fellow of the Geological 
Society of London in November, 18 18. He could not have 
attended the meetings regularly — at any rate at first — but 
when he did go he thoroughly enjoyed them. In those early 
days of the Society's existence — it was but eleven years old 
in 18 18 — it was composed, as he has himself recorded, "of 
robust, joyous, and independent spirits, who toiled well in the 
field, and who did battle and cuffed opinions with much spirit 
and great good will. For they had one great object before 
them, the promotion of true knowledge ; and not one of them 
was deeply committed to any system of opinions 1 ." In such 

1 A Synopsis of the Classification of the British Palaozoic Rocks ■, p. xc. 


an assemblage Sedgwick was sure to take a foremost place, 
and we are not surprised to learn that some of his "most 
honoured and cherished 1 " friendships originated in the Society. 
Before long the value of his cooperation, from a scientific 
point of view, came to be recognised; in 1824 he became a 
member of the Council; and in 1827 a Vice-President. His 
friend Dr Fitton, then President, in announcing his election to 
the latter office, assures him that he feels " no small gratifica- 
tion in the prospect " of having him as a colleague ; and that 
he will be most happy "to receive any suggestions for the 
advancement of the subject or the welfare of the Society*." 
This language affords conclusive evidence of the favourable 
judgment which capable men of science had by this time 
passed on Sedgwick ; before long the Society accepted him 
as a leader, and much of " the generous, unselfish, and truth- 
loving spirit that glowed throughout the whole body" was 
probably due to his influence. 

Sedgwick soon became on excellent terms with the 
fathers of the Society ; but it was with Roderick Impey 
Murchison, then one of the junior members, that he con- 
tracted the closest alliance. The origin of this alliance, like 
the origin of many great things, is shrouded in obscurity; 
but before we proceed much farther we shall find them 
taking long geological expeditions together, and collaborating 
in the Transactions of the Society. Murchison says that 
" from his buoyant and cheerful nature, as well as from his 
flow of soul and eloquence, Sedgwick at once won my heart, 
and a year only was destined to elapse before we became 
coadjutors in a survey of the Highlands, and afterwards of 
various parts of the Continent 8 ." Mr Geikie, on the other 
hand, while fully admitting that his hero admired and 
respected Sedgwick, gives a more practical reason for the 
selection of him as a travelling-companion. Murchison was 

1 Ibid. p. xcii. 

1 From W. H. Fitton, M.D., 8 February, 1827. 

8 Geikie's Life of Murchison y i. 124. 

(1827— 1831.) 

The Geological Society. First acquaintance with Mur- 
chison. Tour with him in Scotland. Office of Senior 
Proctor (1827). Joint papers with Murchison. Summer 
in Cornwall. Dolcoath Mine. Visits Conybeare in 
South Wales (1828). Sedgwick President of Geological 
Society. Divinity Act. Mr Cavendish elected Uni- 
versity representative. Summer in Germany and the 
Tyrol with Murchison. Joint paper on the eastern 
Alps (1829). Address to Geological Society. Summer 
in Northumberland. Contested election of President 
of Royal Society (1830). Addresses to Geological 
Society (1831). 

SEDGWICK had been elected a Fellow of the Geological 
Society of London in November, 18 18. He could not have 
attended the meetings regularly — at any rate at first — but 
when he did go he thoroughly enjoyed them. In those early 
days of the Society's existence — it was but eleven years old 
in 18 1 8 — it was composed, as he has himself recorded, "of 
robust, joyous, and independent spirits, who toiled well in the 
field, and who did battle and cuffed opinions with much spirit 
and great good will. For they had one great object before 
them, the promotion of true knowledge ; and not one of them 
was deeply committed to any system of opinions V In such 

1 A Synopsis of the Classification of the British Palaozoic Rocks % p. xc. 


an assemblage Sedgwick was sure to take a foremost place, 
and we are not surprised to learn that some of his "most 
honoured and cherished 1 " friendships originated in the Society. 
Before long the value of his cooperation, from a scientific 
point of view, came to be recognised; in 1824 he became a 
member of the Council ; and in 1827 a Vice-President. His 
friend Dr Fitton, then President, in announcing his election to 
the latter office, assures him that he feels " no small gratifica- 
tion in the prospect " of having him as a colleague ; and that 
he will be most happy "to receive any suggestions for the 
advancement of the subject or the welfare of the Society*." 
This language affords conclusive evidence of the favourable 
judgment which capable men of science had by this time 
passed on Sedgwick ; before long the Society accepted him 
as a leader, and much of " the generous, unselfish, and truth- 
loving spirit that glowed throughout the whole body" was 
probably due to his influence. 

Sedgwick soon became on excellent terms with the 
fathers of the Society ; but it was with Roderick Impey 
Murchison, then one of the junior members, that he con- 
tracted the closest alliance. The origin of this alliance, like 
the origin of many great things, is shrouded in obscurity; 
but before we proceed much farther we shall find them 
taking long geological expeditions together, and collaborating 
in the Transactions of the Society. Murchison says that 
" from his buoyant and cheerful nature, as well as from his 
flow of soul and eloquence, Sedgwick at once won my heart, 
and a year only was destined to elapse before we became 
coadjutors in a survey of the Highlands, and afterwards of 
various parts of the Continent 8 ." Mr Geikie, on the other 
hand, while fully admitting that his hero admired and 
respected Sedgwick, gives a more practical reason for the 
selection of him as a travelling-companion. Murchison was 

1 Ibid. p. xcii. 

9 From W. H. Fitton, M.D., 8 February, 1827. 

8 Geikie's Life of Murchison, i. 124. 


1827. interrupted fine weather. We have fairly done the island, and 
JEi. 4*. have found a complete series of the Old Red, coal measures, 
and Young Red. The details have cost us some hard labour. 
I hoped to have run across to the coast of Ayr, but it was 
quite impossible. Tomorrow we are off for Bute — thence to 
Oban and Mull, where we shall remain about a week. Then 
we shall start for Portree in Skye. On this island we shall 
remain a week or ten days. If you have a notion of joining 
us, you may find your way by steamers from Glasgow to any 
of these places with as much ease as you travel from London 
to Liverpool; and indeed with much greater ease. All the 
lochs and arms of the sea are covered with steamers plying 
in all directions. 

I am delighted with what I have seen of the Highlanders. 
They are good-humoured, high-minded, well-informed, racy, 
and dirty. The day before yesterday at Loch Ranza I 
asked a fine dark-eyed lass for a pair of slippers. She 
immediately pulled off her own shoes and offered them to me, 
saying : " I dinna want 'em. You may wear 'em yoursel 
while I clean your ain." On returning yesterday over the 
mountains we passed two fine lasses ; one had a green veil, 
and the other a velvet reticule. Yet both were walking 
without shoes and stockings. Our guide is a fine old man 
whose mind is stored with traditions respecting all the 
families in the Highlands. He told Murchison many 
circumstances respecting his family history which quite 
astonished him. He (Mr M.) said that he did not believe 
any man in the world had known them except himself, and 
he had only learned them from an old manuscript of his 
grandfather's. My best regards to every body. Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Ullapool, August 11, 1827. 
Dear Whewell, 

We are waiting at a small inn on the north-west 
coast of Ross, in hopes of better weather. Should it clear 


up, in a quarter of an hour we are off. I have only time for 1827. 
a few lines which may give you some notion of our intended & u 4*- 
motions. Tomorrow and the next day we shall probably be 
at Assynt ; Wednesday or Thursday we shall, if possible, 
spend at Tongue (the seat of Lord Reay), from whose house 
we mean to make an excursion to Cape Wrath. Afterwards 
we turn to the north-east, and shall probably be at Thurso in 
ten days from this time (on the 21st). From Thurso we 
propose to coast by John o* Groat's, and to walk along the 
shores of Caithness, Sutherland, and Rosshire, to Inverness. 
This place we hope to reach in the second week of September. 
If you have any disposition to join us we shall rejoice to see 
you, and I can promise you a most hospitable reception from 
the Highland Lairds. I will also promise you fair weather ; 
for I am quite sure that all the rain must fall on the west 
coast. We have so much here that the clouds can have none 
to spare for the east coast. 

I have neither time nor space for any description of what 
we have been about ; but I will give you our track, and it may 
serve as a text for some talk when we meet. We spent nine 
active days at Arran, and from thence found our way through 
the Kyles of Bute to Loch Fyne. We then crossed the Mull 
of Cantyre, and coasted up to Oban and Ballachulish ; and 
from the latter place we made an attack upon the primitive 
chain, but were driven back by bad weather, and obliged to 
take shelter in a steam-boat, which took us down Loch Linnhe 
to Oban. From Oban we proceeded by the same conveyance 
to Tobermory, on the north point of Mull. The weather then 
cleared, and we had three or four glorious days at Staffa, 
Iona, and the south coast of Mull. If ever you come among 
the western Isles be sure to see the south coast of Mull. 
The basaltic cliffs are most gorgeous. They are more than 
equal to Staffa piled ten times upon itself. From Carsaig 
Bay we crossed through the centre of Mull in a most dirty 
condition ; the two shirts I had with me would have fetched 
a good price from a tallow-chandler: but at Torliusk we 


1827. again embraced our portmanteaus, and found a stock of soap. 
&*• 4 2 - After spending two days with Lord Compton we started by 
the Maid of Islay up the magnificent Sound of Skye, waiting 
for a few minutes by the way under the lofty Scuir of Eig. 
We landed at Portree, and proceeded forwards along the north 
coast of Skye to the utmost limit of the great basaltic chain. 
The character of the coast is this : a base of lias and oolite, 
sometimes forming a cliff five or six hundred feet high ; over 
them great stacks of basalt rising several hundred feet above 
the horizontal beds. The tops of these form a kind of table- 
land, at the back of which is a great basaltic chain rising 
about a thousand feet above the plateau. From some points 
you take in at a single view from a boat, the stratified rocks, 
the superincumbent columns, and the bristling top of the 
chain, and the effect is glorious. This is a dreadful country 
for storms; you have such howling blasts along the coast 
that you might fancy that the gigantic columns of basalt 
were organ-pipes, and that the devil was blowing a tune 
through them. We examined the islands of Raasay, Scalpa, 
etc, and made some excursions to the south-west coast of 
Skye. Our attempt to cross the Cuchullins almost ended 
fatally. Lord Macdonald's forester was our guide ; but in a 
dreadful storm of wind and rain, accompanied with the usual 
mists, he lost his way. After wandering many hours in a 
state of great misery we at length escaped from a labyrinth of 
precipices by the help of my needle, and found our way to a 
farm-house. Since leaving Skye we have been working our 
way, hammer in hand, up the west coast of Ross. The 
country is magnificent, and the weather, till this morning, 
has been highly favourable. Fish is so abundant that we 
have nothing to do but light a fire and put on a frying pan, 
and the salmon find their way into it without help. My 
paper is out My best regards to all Trinitarians. Yours 

ever> A. Sedgwick. 

P.S. Dear Hare, I will direct to you in case Whewell is 


off. How goes on the Translation 1 ? Murchison is walking 1827. 
about with a cigar. He sends you his regards between the ^ 4»- 
puffs. Yours, A. S. 

A third letter, written to Ainger three days later from 
Assynt, where they were detained by bad weather, gives a few 
additional particulars. Sedgwick was evidently thoroughly 
happy. Everything was new, and strange, and delightful. 
He enjoyed the geology, he enjoyed the scenery, we might 
almost say that he enjoyed the bad weather and the rough 
travelling. "Arran," he says, "is a geological epitome of 
the whole world, and is, moreover, eminently picturesque. I 
was greatly delighted with it as the first place in which I saw 
the Highlanders in their native habitations. These indeed 
are none of the best. Those of the lower orders have often 
neither chimney nor window, and from the distance of two 
hundred yards might be mistaken for peat-stacks." In Mull 
they experienced some striking contrasts. One night they 
" slept at a whiskey-shop, and breakfasted in the same room 
with the pigs"; the next they dined with a laird, who gave 
them venison and claret. Rosshire they found " very wild, no 
roads, and what to us is of much greater moment, no bridges. 
The mountain-streams have become torrents, and some of the 
rivers impassable, so that we have been exposed to much 
fatigue, delay, and vexation ; and, what is worse than all, we 
have in one or two instances, after walking twenty or thirty 
miles, returned without effecting the purpose for which we 
started. One day we crossed upwards of forty streams, some 
of which took us up to the middle; and several times 
yesterday our horses were nearly off their legs." Such were 
some of the difficulties which a geologist had to encounter in 
the Highlands sixty years since. 

Mr Geikie, in his account of this journey, points out, as 
indicative of Sedgwick's power of acute observation, that 

1 In 1828 Mr J. C. Hare and Mr Thirl wall published the first volume of their 
translation of Niebuhr's Geschichle Rom's. 

S. I. 20 


1827. he had already recognized the peculiar structure of rocks 
JEt. 47. ca n e d « cleavage ", as distinct from stratification. When the 
travellers were examining the slate-quarries of Ballachulish 
they fell in with two German geologists, K. von Oeynhausen, 
and H. von Decken, whom Sedgwick tried in vain to convince 
on this point. The argument was long, and the rain heavy, 
but the Germans could not be made to see that there 
was any difference between the two classes of phenomena. 
This accidental meeting was the beginning of much agree- 
able intercourse, which was continued in Germany two 
years later. 

Having seen as much of the west and north-west of Scotland 
as the weather would allow, the geologists explored the coast 
of Caithness, and thence made their way down the east coast, 
according to their original plan. On their way home Sedgwick 
at least paid a visit to Lyell at Kinnordy 1 , and then went for 
three days to Dent, before returning to Cambridge for the 
Michaelmas Term. 

Trin. Coll. October 28, 1827. 
Dear Murchison, 

I received your letter on Monday last, and was 
greatly delighted with the account you have given of your 
proceedings. In return I have no news to tell you. My 
father I found in a state of extreme debility, and worn to a 
perfect anatomie vivante, but still without pain, and I might 
perhaps say in good health. 

After remaining with him three days I posted up to Cam- 
bridge with all the expedition I could command, and only 
arrived just in time to be enthralled in my new office. Behold 
me now in a new character, strutting about and looking 
dignified, with a cap, gown, cassock, and a huge pair of 
bands; the terror of all academic evil-doers — in short a 
finished moral scavenger. My time has been much taken 
up with the petty details of my office, and in showing the 

1 Life of Sir C Lyell, i. 199. 


lions to divers Papas and Mammas who at this time of the 1827. 
year come up to the University with the rising hopes of their ^ **■ 
family. Dr Greville and Co. 1 spent two days in Cambridge 
on their way to the south coast, where the Doctor means to 
settle for the winter. Oeyenhausen and Decken have also 
been here for two days, and seemed much pleased with their 
visit I wish I had been more perfectly disengaged for them ; 
but Henslow helped me out. This week I have to make a 
Latin speech to the Senate, not one word of which is yet 
written ; I mean to write a new syllabus of my lectures, which 
commence in about a week — in short my hands are as full as 
they well can be. I will, however, do the best I can for our 
joint-stock work, and indeed I should not be afraid of what is 
before me were it not for the weakness of my eyes. They 
have been much worse since we parted, and have almost 
entirely prevented me from doing anything by candle-light. 
For some days I have abstained from wine, and have dined in 
my own rooms in order to avoid the temptations of a College 
Hall. In consequence of strict regimen, and cooling medicines, 
I am now much better, but I am obliged to read and write as 
little as I can help. Fitton wishes me to write a kind of 
notice (I suppose in form of a letter) of what we have seen. 
What do you think of this ? It might be put in, in our joint 
names, as the harbinger of our joint-stock papers. In the 
present state of my eyes, and with my 1001 engagements, I 
fear you will find me a bad helper. I can only promise to do 
my best, and this promise I make quite honestly. 

I fear you will have a long bill against me, but I must 
cash up out of the profits of my new office. It was sheer 
poverty which drove me into harness. My eyes ache with 
what I have been writing ; and from the way in which I have 
written I fear your eyes will be as bad as mine, before you 
make out my hieroglyphics. Give my kindest regards to Mrs 

1 Robert Kaye Greville, LL.D., of Edinburgh, author of The Scottish Crypto- 
gatnic Flora y and other works. 

20 — 2 


1827. Murchison, and my congratulations on the good work she 
Ax " 4*- has done during the summer 1 . 

Dear Murchison, 
Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

The laborious office of Senior Proctor, to which Sedg- 
wick refers in the above letter, had been offered to him by 
Trinity College ; and moreover he had been specially solicited 
by the Master, Dr Wordsworth, to accept it*. A certain 
amount of unruliness, not to say dissipation, had made itself 
apparent among the undergraduates, which could only be put 
an end to by severe measures carried out with discretion and 
strict impartiality. It was felt that Sedgwick, with his peculiar 
geniality, and known sympathy with the younger members of 
the University, had special qualifications for such a task. 
Proctorial stories have a strong family resemblance, and there- 
fore we need not repeat any of those which still survive 
respecting his administration. We will only say that he 
fully justified the hopes that had been formed of him. He 
detected several evildoers, flagrante delicto, and had them re- 
moved from the University, without either losing his personal 
popularity, or imperilling the dignity of his office. With 
Sedgwick, however, even serious duties had their comic side, 
and many were his jokes at his own expense. Let us quote, 
as a specimen, the following description of his personal appear- 
ance, which he sent to Murchison at the end of a string of 
reasons for not attending a particular meeting of the Geo- 
logical Society: "You and Mrs Murchison would have laughed 
had you seen me enter the Senate House this morning at 
eight. I had a cap, bands, gown, and cassock — so far all was 
regular — but under my silk petticoats appeared an enormous 

1 Mrs Murchison took a keen interest in her husband's pursuits, and frequently 
gave him considerable help by collecting fossils, and making drawings. 

1 This statement is made on the authority of W. H. Thompson, D.D., late 
Master of Trinity College. 


pair of mud boots, and I had a great woollen ruff about my 1827. 
neck as big as the starched cravat of my Lord Bacon. At nine ^ 4*« 
the Examiners adjourn to breakfast, and I provided a large 
pitcher of true old maris tnilJP, which operated delightfully, and 
took the frost out of all our noses. We had kippered salmon, 
and many other good things, which will make my Proctorate 
quite celebrated ; and the remembrance of it will, for ages 
unborn, continue to rise like a sweet odour in the nostrils of 
our Alma Mater. I am sitting at the top of the Senate House 
in an elevated arm chair, looking like an Inquisitor General, 
and scowling down on two hundred and fifty poor devils who 
are squeezing their brains to get out a few drops of mathe- 
matics V 

Would that one of the two hundred and fifty victims had 
occupied a few spare moments in executing a pen-and-ink 
sketch of the Grand Inquisitor, that posterity might have 
realised more vividly the truth of the above description ! As 
it is, we must be content with a silltouette of Sedgwick taken 
during his year of office 8 . It gives a good general notion of 
his dress and figure, as he may have stood, watch in hand, to 
announce to those who were being examined, that the clock 
was about to strike, and that they must fold up their papers. 

The joint labour of Sedgwick and Murchison in the field 
was to be succeeded by a joint labour at the desk, — the "joint- 
stock" work alluded to in the letter of October 28th — by which 
they were to put the results of their tour into shape for presen- 
tation to the Geological Society at as early a date as possible. 
It was decided to write two papers: the one on the structure of 
the Isle of Arran ; the other on the Old Red Sandstone of the 

1 Sedgwick's name for the then popular combination of port wine, spice, etc., 
commonly known as "Bishop". 

1 To R. I. Murchison, 15 January, 1828. At that time the Senate House was 
not warmed. 

3 The Cambridge Chronicle for 19 February, 1828, records: "Monsieur 
Edouart, whose arrival we announced last week, has already met with a con- 
siderable patronage from the gentlemen of the University." The silhouette from 
which our copy was reduced was given to the Registry of the University by the 
Rev. J. Romilly. 



i8»7- north of Scotland. This proved a tedious and difficult matter. 

**• **• If the two writers could have retired together to some lonely 

spot, at a distance from all interruptions, their work might 

have proceeded smoothly and rapidly to its conclusion. This, 

however, they could not do, and therefore it had to be got 

Sedgwick in iBi!; reduced fro 

through by snatches, with the result that the summer of 1828 
was far advanced before the second paper could be read to the 
Society, This long delay was quite unavoidable, partly from 
causes personal to the two writers, partly from the complexity 
of the subject with which they had to deal. Murchison, as 
will be seen presently, was not a little annoyed at it. He had 
no distractions to take him away from geology. He was ten 
years younger than Sedgwick ; he was the fortunate possessor 
of a strong constitution ; he was ambitious, and eager for 


distinction in his new pursuit. Had he been left to himself 1837. 
he would probably have written both papers in a very short iEt - **• 
space of time. But it must be recollected that he had not 
Sedgwick's experience; he had as yet published only one 
paper — and that not a long one ; and he could have had but 
little idea of the labour of reducing extensive field-observa- 
tions. It is perhaps fortunate for his reputation as a geologist 
that he had to submit to an enforced delay in coming before 
the public. 

Sedgwick — as our readers know already — worked under 
very different conditions ; and it was only when he was away 
from Cambridge that he could give undivided attention to 
geology. In this year too he was more than usually occupied. 
His duties as Proctor ; his lectures ; his museum ; his parish ; 
his ailments ; were all so many barriers to a speedy completion 
of his share in the joint task. Moreover, his own paper on 
the Magnesian Limestone, begun (as we have seen) in 1826, 
had yet to be finished. This, however, he generously laid 
aside, and proceeded as fast as he could with the paper on 
Arran. The series of letters he wrote to Murchison while it 
was proceeding is tolerably complete, and affords a more 
graphic illustration than will again occur of the way in which 
Sedgwick's work used to be hampered and impeded by in- 
cessant demands upon his time. The letters are valuable too 
for another reason. They show how cordial the relations 
between him and Murchison were at that period ; and how 
anxious he was to give full credit to his friend for his share in 
the field-work. The first extract refers to what Murchison 
calls "a tiff I had with our warm-hearted but hot-headed 
President Fitton, who had suspected that I was not doing 
justice to Sedgwick 1 ." 

Trin. Coll. November 3, 1827. 

"Your letter both vexed and surprised me... In one 
respect I am almost certain that you are labouring under a 

1 Note by Murchison on the back of the letter. 


18^7. false impression. I have again looked at Dr Fitton's letter, 
iEt. 42. and I cannot persuade myself that anything unfair was in- 
tended towards yourself. He merely wished to give me a 
nudge on the elbow, knowing my habits of delay. At all 
events you may depend upon me, that nothing shall be done 
by myself without consulting you. Indeed, were I so disposed, 
you have me on the hip; as all notes, sections, and indeed 
everything from which our future papers must be compiled, 
are in your possession. You worked harder in many respects 
than I did myself; and, till we reached the east coast, and 
indeed there also, you were my geological guide. I should 
therefore be an ass indeed if I thought of anything beyond 
what we meditated. On the whole, perhaps it is better to put 
in our papers one by one, and leave the results to the end, 
which may be exhibited in the form of a rteume* generate. I 
shall rejoice to see you here ; perhaps I may be in town next 
week to consult the cunning eye-man you mentioned. My 
eye is however much better. I have been water-drinking, 
and dephlogisticating, and certainly have reduced the inflam- 
mation. My kindest regards to Mrs Murchison." 

Senate House, Tuesday morning. 

[13 November, 1827]. 

" Last week my eyes were in such a state that it was 
quite impossible for me to look over your penmanship 1 . Our 
Professor of Physic ordered me to abstain from strong drink, 
which I most religiously avoid, like a true Rechabite. He 
also recommended me to use animal food very sparingly ; and 
not content with this he put twelve leeches on my left temple. 
This treatment has produced a good effect, and if properly 
followed up will, I hope, put out the fire of my eye. I think I 

1 A sentence in the earlier part of the letter shows that Sedgwick here refers to 
the MS of Murchison 's Supplementary remarks on the Strata of the Oolitic Series, 
and the Rocks associated vrith them, in the Counties of Sutherland and Ross, and in 
the Hebrides, read to the Geological Society 16 November, 1827. It is a con- 
tinuation of the paper On the Coal-field of Brora, read 5 January and 2 February, 


told you in my last that I don't look in a book by candle- 1818. 
light, and as my mornings are sufficiently taken up with lee- ^ u ♦* 
tures, and various other academic employments, I have truly 
very little time for many things about which I wish to employ 
myself. The whole of yesterday I was employed in attending 
certain formal academic meetings. Today I had just com- 
menced, under the genial influence of the tea-pot, to read over 
your notes, when, to my great horror, I was summoned to the 
cold marble pavement of our Senate House, to administer the 
matriculation oaths to the freshmen of this year. The men 
are brought up, about twenty at a time, and swear in volleys. 
While a fresh set are signing our books, paying fees, and 
priming for the next broadside, I dip my pen in the inkstand, 
and try to write a word or two ; in this way I have got so far 
over the sheet at a rather hobbling pace; but still I make 

As soon as these swearing manoeuvres are over I will get 
one of my friends to read over your paper to me, for I fear 
my eye-sight will not bear the work, if I am obliged to put 
it off till the evening. I will add tomorrow morning a few 
notes if necessary, and forward it by "The Telegraph 1 " at 
10 o'clock." 

Senate House, Monday morning. 
[13 January, 1828.] 

" It is not from want of inclination that I keep away from 
town ; but of all the days of the year 1828, Friday is the one 
on which I shall be most completely nailed down by engage- 
ments. Our annual examination is going on, and does not 
end till Friday night, when the Moderators, and other exami- 
ners, will meet at my rooms to give in the final result which I 
shall have to publish in my capacity of Senior Proctor. On 
Saturday the degrees are taken, and I shall again have to 
officiate. I am truly sorry that I was not at the last meeting 
from the account you give of it ; besides, I was doing no good 

1 One of the coaches which then ran between Cambridge and London. 


i8a8. here. My cold is better, or rather I am now going on with a 
&t- 43- second edition, which is not so voluminous as the first My 
eyes, I am sorry to say, are no better, and plague me sadly. 
I set to work the evening of the day I last wrote to you and 
finished the peroration of our Arran Paper. It is cram-full of 
hypotheses, and truly may want defending; but you must 
stand up for me. I really think we shall between us set the 
coast-section at rest I was, however, severely punished for 
my exertions ; for my eyes were so enraged at this treatment, 
that they gave me no rest for nearly a week after. Since I 
recovered I have written a few pages of the concluding part 
of my Magnesian Limestone paper ; and I can have some- 
thing ready against next Friday fortnight, when I will, if 
possible, attend in proprid personA. Can you contrive to find 
a corner that evening for my gab ? I truly hope Mr Pentland 
will not have left London, as I want very much to talk with 
him about the fish 1 . Don't prepare any map, as I have a 
beautiful one by Decken, which he made at my rooms ex- 
pressly for our Arran paper. 

I wish I had been at your soiree to have had a fight with 
Buckland ; at the same time I can't help saying that the fight 
against the footsteps is almost to destroy the evidence of our 
senses ; and this is going a long way. In plain truth I don't 
in this case know any better argument than that clencher of 
my uncle Toby, viz. — " By G — they are not footsteps"." 

Senate House, Tuesday evening. 

[14 January, 1828]. 

Dear Murchison, 

I am greatly obliged to you for your kind invitation, 
and truly mortified that I have it not in my power to avail 

1 Mr J. B. Pentland was a travelled gentleman of scientific and antiquarian 
tastes, who made himself useful to geologists by helping them to determine their 
collections. He knew Cuvier, and took the fish in question to France for his 

1 Endorsed by Murchison: •• Alludes to an experiment I made at a soirb with 
live tortoises on paste." 


myself of it. But my letter of yesterday will have informed 1828. 
you how I am circumstanced. It is literally impossible for me & u *3- 
at this time to leave Cambridge. I fear you will think me a 
sorry coadjutor ; for all the work is left to yourself. This Is 
not as it ought to be ; but I am at present almost a lame 
soldier ; at least, till my eyes are better, I shall only be fit for 
invalid duty. You see I am trying to revenge myself for the 
unlucky blow you gave me in Carsaig Bay 1 . It must be rather 
a queer spot this weather. I wish I could transport myself 
there for half an hour, and then come back again. The rust 
of a spear is said to have healed the wounds inflicted by it 
Perhaps the sight of the Carsaig pitchstone would set my eyes 
right. If you don't write sooner pray let me know how all 
goes off on Friday night. I only ask this on the supposition 
that you have five minutes to spare, and that you don't think 
writing a bore. 

The next thing for us to do is to give the structure of 
Caithness, and the coast of the Murray Firth, and then to add 
some general details on the conglomerates of the west coast. 
The paper need not be very long ; at the same time it cannot 
be very short, for it will be a sort of omnium gatfierum, in which 
it will be necessary to speculate de omnibus rebus et quibusdam 
a His. And surely on such a text we may fairly be allowed to 
preach our sand out I started with a good pen, and through 
the first page contrived to make a fair fist ; but I am getting 
worse and worse. My ink is thick, my brains are frozen, and 
my time is up. So no more at present from yours till death 

A. Sedgwick. 

The first part of the Arran paper was read 18 January, 
1828, and concluded 1 February. Sedgwick then set to work 
to finish his own paper on the Magnesian Limestone, but here 
again ill-health stepped in, and March came before it could 
be read, and even then it could hardly be called finished. But 

1 On the south coast of Mull. 


1818. for this, and his delay in beginning work on the second Scotch 
^Et. 43. paper, he shall make his own excuses to Murchison. 

Trin. Coll. Monday morning. 

{February, 1828.] 

" Many thanks for your last parcel. I will use it as soon 
as I can, but I am out of sorts, and really dare not work at 
present Since we parted I have had a short visit from an old 
and very unwelcome acquaintance, which has affected my 
arterial system, and produced a throbbing in my head which 
I must get rid of before I can fairly set to. Yesterday I did 
duty about sixteen miles from hence ; and on my return I was 
frequently obliged to pull up, because my head would not bear 
the motion. The only radical cure for such feelings is exer- 
cise and abstinence, which I must practice forthwith. Your 
account of Mull delights me above measure. Mrs Murchison's 
picture is now framed, and looks magnificent. When will she 
do me the honour of coming to see it ? My lectures begin on 
Wednesday next Of course they will take up a considerable 
portion of my time." 

March, 1828. 

" I send you the end of the paper : and those parts which 
you may omit in reading I have marked at the side with a 
pencil line. You will probably on looking it over see other 
matter which may be left out When you have finished, just 
say to the Society that the sections, and one or two small 
maps, are not finished ; but that a description of them, together 
with a list of minerals and fossils in the formation, will be 
given in an appendix, not of course of a nature to be read. 
If I can get a drawing out of the hands of the man who was 
to do it for me I will send it up by the mail tonight directed 
to the Society's rooms, Bedford Street If I send the abstract 
in a day or two I hope it will be in time 1 ." 

1 The paper was read 7 March, 1818. The Proceedings of the Geological 
Society record under that date: "A sketch of the subjects contained in this paper 
was laid before the Society in 1826 (Nov. 17). They were resumed in a more 
systematic and detailed form during two meetings in 1827; and are now terminated 
by the observations read at the present meeting." 


This work off Sedgwick's hands, his friend naturally 1818. 
expected that he would find leisure to attack their second ^ 43« 
paper. But by this time he was immersed in the work of 
the Lent term, and moreover the President of the Geological 
Society had set apart the 16th May for the joint production — 
an unfortunate step when he had one so dilatory as Sedgwick 
to deal with, for it doubtless gave him a further excuse for 

[Trinity College, 12 March, 1828]. 
" I have received a letter from the President, who sends 
me the following programme of the order of papers to the 
end of the session. March 21. Dr Richardson. April 4. 
Blank. May 2. Buckland and Clift. May 16 and June 6. 
Murchison and Sedgwick. June 20. Tag, rag, and bobtail &c, 
&c. I am not sorry for this delay, except on your account 
It will give us time enough, and I shall be much more dis- 
engaged. My Proctorial duties and lectures have pressed 
rather hard upon me, and left me for the last three weeks 
hardly a spare hour. This week I hoped to have made some 
progress with our joint papers, when to my dismay I found 
that I had, in right of my present dignity, to dance attendance 
upon my Lord Judge. I am off to church with him this 
morning, and then I go in the tail of his robe to hear him 
address the Grand Jury, &c. &c. ; and as for my poor lectures 
they are for the time sent right about. But I hope to resume 
on Friday morning. By the way I gave our men a platoon 
fire about Scotland after one of the meetings of our Philo- 
sophical Society. I don't care one farthing how my paper 
went off when it was read, provided it read well when it is 
printed. It is necessarily dry, being so much in detail ; but I 
think that the facts are important, and at least some of them 
are new. Pray did you get your friend Pentland to look at 
Mr Witham's big fish 1 ? Does he consider it a Palceothrissum? 

1 A fossil fish from the Magnesian Limestone, sent by Henry Witham, Esq., of 
Edinburgh. He had already supplied Sedgwick with other specimens from this 
same locality. Trans. Geol. Soc. Lond. Ser. «, iii. 1 16. 


i8a8. It seems to me to be a distinct species, but of the same genus 
^t. 43. with the Palaotkrissum magnum of De Blainville. 

My abstract is as short as possible, at least so I think. It 
will serve to convey a general notion of the whole paper, and 
that is what it ought to do. No abstracts were made of the 
parts read last year, because it was thought better that the 
whole of it should appear together. I have scribbled it in a 
hurry ; pray make any verbal correction you see fit 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Trin. Coll. 15 March, 1828. 

" I have not been lazy, but I have really had no time for 
our joint work. As soon as I get quit of the engagements of 
the term I can set to work in good earnest ; for my health, I 
am happy to say, is just now very good, and I think that 
my eyes are getting quite well. I will very carefully look 
over all the papers, and make a string of notes ; we can then 
divide our labours, and, though separate from each other, 
shall, I doubt not, get our separate columns into position, so 
that they may, at word of command, be made to deploy into 
line, and be ready for action. By the way, I am to blame to 
think of using military tropes to a soldier, as I shall thereby 
only show my own ignorance." 

The term came to an end, but still Sedgwick was not 
ready. Murchison was then planning a journey to France 
— his first attempt at continental geology — and not unnatu- 
rally wished to see the paper completed before he set out. A 
stronger appeal than usual to Sedgwick elicited the following 
answer; a gentle rebuke which may be profitably laid to 
heart by anybody who advocates speed without making 
proper allowance for difficulties. 

Trin. Coll. April 7, 1828. 
Dear Murchison, 

You call upon me " for my own reputation, and your 
peace of mind, to make ready." I promise, if God spare my 


health, and preserve me of sane mind, to have all in good 18*8. 
state before the reading ; but to expect that our documents iEt - *3« 
should exactly tally, so that we have only to stitch them 
together, is to expect impossibilities. One is making a key, 
and the other a lock, which never can fit till the wards are 
well rasped and filed. To rasp and file will be a part of my 
office, as well as to fit on a head and tail. All the specimens 
we mean to exhibit must be arranged before any good 
description can be given of the several sections. The general 
facts may be stated, but the skeletons must be clothed with 
flesh by the help of the specimens. I have tried my hand at 
the description of the Tarbet Ness 1 coast-section, but I cannot 
satisfy myself without the specimens — the subject seems to 
elude the grasp. I find the introduction, or discours pr£- 
liminaire, excessively difficult — not from want of matter, 
but from having too much. If I could make up my mind 
what ought to be said I could take it at a canter. 

My mind, ever since we parted, has been in a muddy 
state, for I have been living in a troubled atmosphere. A 
most painful case of ungentlemanlike profligacy has come 
under my official notice, and worried me almost out of my 
senses. For the soul of me I cannot take matters of this 
kind calmly. Till last Saturday night I had for 1 a week 
hardly an hour of refreshing sleep. Three men have been 
expelled from Trin. Coll. Two or three of other colleges will 
be sent away from the University. These are the bitter fruits 
I have been gathering during the week. Thank God this 
harvest is over ! and I hope we shall have no second crop of 
this kind during the season of my Proctorate. My head is, 
however, beginning to cool, and my sight to become more 
clear, so that I in some measure see my way through my 
work, and hope to lick it into form before we meet Be 
therefore, my good fellow, in good cheer, and rejoice with me 

1 A promontory in Ross-shire, forming the north side of the Moray Firth. 
The section in question is described by Sedgwick and Murchison, Trans. Geoh Soe. 
Ser. 2, iii. 150. Plate 14, fig. 4. 


1828. that my wits have not been scared away for ever from their 
<**• 43- domicile. 

During the few hours we spend together in Town we 
must devote one or two to the final arrangement of the 
specimens — both with a view to the Society and also to the 
systematic descriptions of the paper. As for the tail, it ought, 
like a spider's web, to be spun out of the body ; it therefore 
can have no real existence before your work has assumed a 
substantial form. At present I can hardly form a guess 
about its length, curvature, or joints. When we have once 
determined what the head and body are to be there can then 
be no difficulty about it This morning I have made a few 
notes upon the sandstones of the western coast ; but I cannot 
make up my mind where to introduce them. At present I am 
disposed to throw them into the latter portion of the paper. 
I have no more time to tell you what I am doing, or what I 
am not doing, for in a minute or two the post closes. It is 
quite impossible for me to think of France for the present. 
My kindest regards to Mrs M. 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Another matter, more agreeable than proctorial duties, 
had occupied Sedgwick during part of the Lent Term. The 
Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics had become vacant, 
and some of the friends of Mr Charles Babbage considered 
that he was the most proper person to fill it The matter 
required very delicate handling; for Babbage was on the 
continent, and could not be communicated with. It was 
obviously impossible to announce him as a candidate unless 
it could be ascertained privately that his election would be 
certain. The electors were the Vice-Chancellor and Heads of 
Colleges — a body whose opinions it was not easy to discover. 
Babbage however was elected, and it appears that Sedgwick 
had had no small share in bringing about this result. Dr 
Fitton writes, 8 March, 1828 : 


I congratulate you very cordially on Babbage's election ; which 1838. 
is not less creditable to the University than to him. And you je\. 43 . 
certainly must have great satisfaction in feeling that your own efforts 
have so much contributed to the spirit that has produced this event. 

The next letter describes the favourable reception of the 
long-expected paper, the first part of which Sedgwick read 
to the Geological Society on the 16th May. 

Cambridge. 25 June y 1828. 
My dear Murchison, 

If you have thought me worth thinking about, I will 
venture to say that you will have accused me of breaking my 
promise. In this instance, however, I have not to plead 
guilty to any great offence ; as I have been much harassed in 
mind, and somewhat also in body, by circumstances over 
which I have had no control. Our paper on the conglomerates 
increased to such a size that it was obviously too large to be 
taken in at one meeting. When all the details were left out, 
and almost every portion of the two coast-sections of Caithness, 
there was enough remaining to produce that peculiar oscilla- 
tory motion in Fitton's lower extremities which you have 
often marked on like occasions. All went off well, and ended 
with the dish of Caithness fish, which were beautifully cooked 
by Pentland, and much relished by the meeting. Greenough, 
Buckland, Conybeare, and all the first performers were upon 
the boards. The account of the conglomerates of the Murray 
Firth and the Old Red of the north-west coast, together with 
certain speculations and corollaries, were put off till the 
following meeting. 

A most delightful party was next day organized at 
Greenough's. Pentland was about the middle of the week 
following to come from Oxford with Buckland, and Greenough 
at the same time was to start with Conybeare from London, 
and the party was then to bear down upon Cambridge, and 
spend three or four days with me. Our plans were, however, 
defeated by a melancholy event which we have long been 

S. I. 21 


1828. looking forward to. Before my return to College I received 
iEt *3« the news of my Father's death, and in consequence hurried 
down to the North with all the expedition I could command. 
I felt a great pang at being separated from so old and dear a 
friend ; but the blow fell upon us as lightly as it could fall. 
For he was in his 93rd year, and died without any pain 
or illness whatsoever, of pure exhaustion ; and retained his 
intellects till within a few minutes of his dissolution. I never 
knew a man of purer principles and warmer heart ; and since 
the time I was a boy I never have heard a word pass his lips 
which implied a want of confidence, or was addressed to me 
in anger. But enough of this — I have no right to obtrude my 
own feelings on a subject like the one of which I have been 

I remained about a fortnight in the North, and returned 
to London in time to attend the next meeting of June 6th. 
Our paper was concluded, and Buckland had a short paper 
on the fossils of the Isle of Portland. I had theory enough 
for a long discussion, and fairly threw down the gauntlet to 
old Mac 1 . No one, however, thought of taking it up for him. 
In short, the meeting was thin, and the discussion meagre. 
Greenough, however, spoke very handsomely of our labours.... 

I shall be extremely busy till the 4th of July, after which 
I shall start for Cornwall, and join Whewell and Airy, who 
are going to repeat their pendulum experiments. After they 
are over we shall visit the granite veins, and make one or two 
transverse sections. On my return I shall cross to South 
Wales, and visit Conybeare, make arrangements for our joint 
work (I think I told you we were going to scribble in com- 
pany), and try to have a run through a part of North Wales. 
I must be in Cambridge by the beginning of October to resign 
the keys of my office, and I shall hail that day with rapture. 
During the Commencement festivities the Duke of Gloucester 

1 John Macculloch, M.D. author of A Description of the Western Islands of 
Scotland, including the Isle of Man. 8vo. Lond. 181 9. 


is coming down, so I fear I shall be half killed with hard-work 1818. 
and hard-eating. I wrote the other day for three bucks. & u *3- 

Believe me, Dear Murchison, 

Yours to the earth's centre, 

A. Sedgwick. 

In writing to Ainger, who knew well what the home-life at 
Dent had been, Sedgwick was naturally less reticent about his 
own feelings : 

"In that humble but useful station in which God placed 
him, he has enjoyed an unusual share of health and happi- 
ness. If I could feel as I ought to do, I should rejoice and 
not mourn at this event, for surely no man could be better 
prepared for this great change. His mind was spared, and 
his kindly affections remained warm to the last ; and by the 
operation of pure Christian principle he seems for years past 
to have triumphed over all the moral infirmities of his nature; 
so that he became an admirable example, and an endearing 
motive for virtuous life, to all those who were nearly con- 
nected with him. In this respect I feel as if I had sustained 
an irreparable loss. For years past I have never visited the 
old man without feeling better for it 1 ." 

Sedgwick has sketched, in a letter to one of his nieces, his 
father's personal appearance on that momentous evening when 
he himself came into the world : " He was then about fifty 
years of age, of robust frame, and of a rosy and cheerful 
countenance. He sat on the right side of the fire, wore his 
large well-powdered wig, his white cravat fixed behind with a 
large silver buckle, and he had a pair of large bright silver 
buckles to his shoes. The chair in which he sat was the very 
chair represented in the lithographic drawing taken about 
forty years after, which I dare say you have seen, so I need 
not describe it 8 ." Mr Sedgwick had been blind for many 
years before his death, and his frame had shrunk a little as he 

1 To Rev. W. Ainger, 4 June, 1828. 

2 To Miss F. Hicks, 28 March, 1841. 

21 — 2 


1818. grew older ; but in other respects (save the wig), Mr Westall's 
&• 43- drawing — a copy of which, slightly reduced, is here given — 
coincides exactly with the above description. In the year 
after his death a monument was erected to his memory on 
the south side of the chancel of Dent Church. The inscrip- 
tion, written by his son Adam, recounts the leading points of 
that character which has already been so graphically set 
before us by the same hand 1 . One sentence will fitly close 
this portion of our narrative : " He lived among his flock for 
fifty-four years, revered as their pastor and loved as their 

Sedgwick's allusion to a project for writing a geological 
work in conjunction with Mr W. D. Conybeare deserves more 
attention than such projects usually do; for though it was 
never really begun, yet for some years Sedgwick was always 
intending to begin it, and we believe that the needful pre- 
paration determined the direction of several of his geological 
tours. The scope of the proposed volume — a continuation of 
the Outlines of t/te Geology of England and Wales, published 
by Mr Conybeare in conjunction with Mr William Phillips in 
1822 — will be best explained by the following letter": 

Bath, April 24, 1828. 
Dear Sedgwick, 

Your letter gave me sincere pleasure. Nothing would be 
more agreeable to me than embarking in a joint voyage with you ; 
and indeed nothing but some proposal of this kind would have held 
out to me the prospect of accomplishing a second volume. 

The materials, as sketched out in my own mind, comprised these 
divisions. I. A description of the older rocks, throwing the transition 
and primitive classes together. The arrangement to be similar to 
that of the former books : first, a general account of the formations ; 
secondly, the topographical detail of their distribution. All this 
part must principally devolve on you, and if more assistance could 
be had, more would be desirable — especially De la Beche, if he 
would undertake any portion of the unexamined districts, would be 
a very useful ally. We ought also to make a push to urge Aikin 8 to 

1 Chapter 1. pp. 38 — 44. 

1 The letter has been slightly compressed in transcription. 
8 Mr Arthur Aikin, a distinguished mineralogist, and one of the founders of 
the Geological Society. 




■: i "*- V 


• * 




.«. • 



*.'HB iij".'» K. . 'JK3^J'Vr;'K. «. -1 . 

"* /d« /tof* 314. Vol, I. 


publish his Shropshire materials, which would be very important. 1828. 
He means to do so in our Transactions^ but wants stirring up. j^t, 43. 

I consider our materials at present as standing thus. The 
Cumbrian district you have done, the Cheviot you will do; of the 
insulated Midland districts enough has been said of Malvern; 
Charnwood requires doing, but might be accomplished in a fortnight; 
of Cornwall there exists a great quantity of scattered information, 
and your next visit may easily put it all together. Wales is the most 
unknown, and from all its local circumstances the most difficult. 
One ought, like Chalmers, to adopt the district plan. If Henslow 
would take the Caernarvonshire range, and indeed the whole ground 
north of Aikin's observations in Shropshire, you and I and De la 
Beche might easily accomplish the southern part; but I shall not be 
very efficient in the field, for I have not, from the demands of a 
large family, either time or funds for much touring. 

II. The second division of my volume respects the collection of 
those phenomena which are perhaps more important as to the 
foundation of geological theory, comprising all the heads of my 
Introduction from § 6 to § 1 2. This would be more closet work than 
any other part of the subject, and I should sit down to it con amore, 
because I feel it easy to assemble such a mass of facts mutually 
illustrative of each other as I conceive must materially tend to 
establish on more positive bases the theory of our science. 

III. The third division would be the corrections and additions 
to the former volume. Here I should principally depend on you. 

You see therefore, from this general outline, that you would have 
a large half of the labour, and of course ought to have of the credit, 
such as it might be, which would result. But I fear that the work 
would hardly hold out a commensurate prospect of repayment in 
this way; for while you would deserve most, I should probably, from 
the earlier connection of my name with the work, get most. I do 
not know, however, that either of us can be more usefully employed 
for the advancement of our science, and I don't think we are either 
of us likely to quarrel for our slices of praise. Very sincerely yours, 


We have now reached a point at which it will be well to 
pause for a moment and examine the first joint work of 
Sedgwick and Murchison more closely. 

The paper on Arran is a good example of the old strati- 
graphical methods — a well-kept diary of excursions made in 
a very interesting district; and, as an examination of the 
island from a new point of view by observers trained in other 
fields, it is a useful contribution to Scotch geology. The 
authors begin with a description of the sequence of the 


rocks observed ; this is followed by a determination of the 
fossils by the best authorities on the subject ; and from these 
data they attempt a correlation of the deposits with those of 
other areas already examined. It would be out of place here 
to go into details and criticise the succession inferred in each 
case, or to point out the corrections shown by later work to be 
necessary in the determination of their fossils. Such modifi- 
cations are necessary from time time in the progress of all 
such descriptive work. This paper is a fine example of the 
way to set about the examination of a district, and is full 
of wise observations. The Islands of Scotland did not, 
however, offer new ground. That shrewd observer Macculloch 1 
had been over it, and had clearly recorded the results of his 
work, though his credit was damaged by his too blind ad- 
herence to the tenets of the Wernerian school. He did not 
take in quite good part the work and criticism of Sedgwick 
and Murchison, for he was a man whose health and tempera- 
ment made him impatient of contradiction, and inclined to 
resent as a personal injury any attempt to trespass upon 
ground which he had come to regard as his peculiar province. 
Sedgwick and Murchison recognised that in this outlying 
fragment of a continental area, which once extended further 
west, they might find a key to the phenomena observed on 
the mainland, and rightly thought that their work would " not 
only assist in completing the natural history of Arran," but 
would help "to fix the true epoch of all those interrupted 
fragments of secondary formations" 8 which are found along 
the West and North of Scotland. 

The reader of these early papers must be cautioned that 
he will meet with some old-fashioned phrases, now changed, 
though not perhaps in all cases for the better. According 
to the old nomenclature the Primary Rocks included the 
Archaean, and, speaking generally, the great masses of crys- 

1 See above, p. 311, note. 

1 Trans. Geo/. Soe. Lond. Ser. 2, iii. 21. 


talline schist of unknown age 1 . Flanking these "Primitive 
ridges" were the rocks of intermediate character, in those 
days called "Transition Rocks," including the series which 
Sedgwick and Murchison afterwards made so well known 
under the names Cambrian and Silurian. Resting upon the 
upturned edges of these older rocks comes the Old Red 
Sandstone, which forms the base of what were then called the 
Secondary Rocks, and to this their attention was chiefly 

The local importance (for purposes of classification) of such 
an unconformity, as indicating lapse of time, is of course 
recognised, but the authors insist upon the fact that such phe- 
nomena are of limited geographical extent, and clearly state 
that they "do not think that a want of conformity is one of 
the elements which will much assist us in grouping together 
or in separating contemporaneous deposits in distant parts of 
the earth." 1 

The second paper is a continuation of the first, and, like" 
it, refers chiefly to the Lower Secondary Rocks; that is, in 
the nomenclature of the day, to the Old Red Sandstone and 
overlying deposits. 

They noticed among the older rocks the fan-shaped 
arrangement of which we have heard so much lately. They 
also distinguished the Old Red Sandstone from the Red Sand- 
stone of Cambrian age, and drew attention to the fragments 
of older deposits which were found imbedded in the intrusive 
rocks. They considered that the Old Red beds had been 
accumulated between ancient ridges of crystalline schist, 
and pointed out that the basement beds were made up of 
fragments of the nearest Primary rocks. Above this lower 
conglomeratic stage they placed a middle flaggy stage, with 
fish remains. When wandering along the shore among these 
flags with their fish scales and bituminous patches, they 

1 It is worthy of note that the age and genesis of these rocks formed the 
principal subject of discussion at the International Geological Congress held this 
year in London. f Ibid. p. 33. 


thought at first that some one had dropped tar here and 
there on the rocks. The occurrence of fish remains in these 
Caithness flags had been already recorded from one locality, 
but they found that they were far less uncommon than had been 
supposed, and traced the fish-bearing strata right across the 
country, and even into the Orkneys. Some of the specimens 
were referred to Cuvier, and his description is given verbatim. 
Some good figures, with a restoration by Cuvier, are published 
with the paper. Sedgwick's old work among the fish-bearing 
beds of the Magnesian Limestone must have made him 
take a special interest in this successful search for fossil fish 
of another and older type. In the middle flaggy stage they 
saw a connection with the Carboniferous System — a view not 
now accepted in the sense in which they understood it, namely 
that these rocks were the equivalents of rocks known as car- 
boniferous further south. Their view has, however, an element 
of truth, in that the beds they were examining undoubtedly 
form a basement to the carboniferous rocks of Scotland, and 
exhibit the incoming of the characters by which they are 
distinguished. It was an interesting observation of theirs that 
the pholas-borings followed the calcareous bands everywhere 
along the shore. 

They did not attempt to map the district in detail, but only 
proposed to indicate the distribution of the beds described. 
When we recollect this the map they give will compare not 
unfavourably with others published half a century later, after 
the country had been well worked out. They did not attempt 
to trace the "faults," but realised the probability of the 
occurrence of many lines of disturbance which had escaped 
detection in the rapid survey which they were making. 
They suspected their existence, among other reasons, 
because the thickness of the series would be so enormous 
were the beds in true geological sequence all along the sec- 
tions examined. 

Sedgwick's employments during the summer of 1828 are 
described in the following letter : 


London, October 8, 1828. 
Dear Murchison, 

Your letter of August 18th reached me in South 
Wales about ten days since. No one knew how to forward 
it from Cambridge before Whewell's return. He started it on 
a venture ; and when I received it, it had been doubling in so 
many directions that it was blackened from one side to the 
other with addresses. When it did come it was most welcome, 
and made me almost envy you for the delightful work which 
you have gone through. Give my best regards and con- 
gratulations to Mrs M. and to Lyell, on the discoveries they 
have made, and on the dangers they have escaped. God 
preserve you all from the fury both of fire and water till you 
are by your own fire-sides in this murky capital ; and I will 
contrive to join you as soon as I can find a moment's leisure, 
in order that I may have a vivd voce narrative of the news 
you bring from the lower world. But what account have I to 
give of myself? Not I fear a very satisfactory one. 

Immediately after the business of the Cambridge Com- 
mencement was over (during which festival I was figuring in 
processions, creating Doctors of Divinity, and going through 
many ancient monastic evolutions) I started pell-mell for 
Cornwall, and about the 8th of July contrived to join the 
pendulum party. I think you have heard of our expedition 
for the purpose of swinging pendulums at the bottom of the 
Dolcoath mine. Had I imagined what time the experiments 
would have taken I should certainly have kept far away from 
them ; we remained nearly two months at Camborne, during 
which time I indeed contrived to make a few interesting 
excursions, re-examined the principal junctions, and settled 
some of my notions : but all the work I did in the county 
might have been completed in ten days. After all we had a 
good deal of amusement out of the pendulums. Our ups and 
downs upon the ladders, which between the higher and the 
lower station amounted to more than fifty in number, and 


&t. 43« 


1828. extended to a length of nearly one-third of a mile; our young 
&*• 43- attendant with a great belt stuffed with chronometers ; the 
dirt and the tallow ; the uncertainty of the result ; the 
speculations of the mining-men and mining-women ; these 
were the materials out of which we extracted our share of 
amusement. We had two beats, continued without inter- 
ruption night and day for more than a week each — during 
which two of Kater's pendulums were running against each 
other for more than 600,000 beats. Whewell and Airy out of 
these materials hoped to have reached a result against which 
it would have been impossible to take any exception. I am, 
however, sorry to say that in consequence of an unlooked for 
fault in the instrument, which is called " invariable'' the 
successive results have been in some measure variable. We 
have therefore after all only gained an approximation. 

Whewell visited with me some of the finest junctions, and 
has sketched some of the magnificent granite veins which are 
found on the coast. I was very much surprised to observe, 
what had before escaped me, that several of the metalliferous 
deposits of Cornwall are true Stockworks. The great mass of 
granite north of St Austell is traversed by innumerable con- 
tetnporaneous veins, some of which bear oxide of tin, and 
where they abound the metal is extracted, as far as I under- 
stand the case, exactly in the manner of the German Stock- 

As soon as the pendulum-party broke up I turned my 
face towards the east ; just looked at the Exeter conglomerates; 
then ran down to Ilfracombe, and crossed by a packet to 
Swansea. From Swansea I ran down to Sully, the rectory 
where our friend Conybeare has incarcerated himself. The 
situation is, however, most delightful, and he has about him 
the society of a charming family. I contrived to poke him 
out of his den, and had a run of about three weeks with him 
through a part of the South Wales coal-basin. It is a highly 
interesting region, and exhibits the secondary rocks of the 
older series in every variety of combination. After doubling 


out of the coal-field I visited one or two friends with whom I 1818. 
have been eating and drinking to my heart's content, and I -**• 43- 
am now in admirable condition for the winter work at 
Cambridge. Yesterday I visited, for about an hour, the noble 
collection at the Bristol Institution, and last night I came by 
the mail to this place. I have all day been doing a great 
deal of little business, and among other persons contrived to 
see Greenough. He says that our Scotch paper wants 
rasping, and has reported to that effect ; but he says that the 
authors must do it themselves. I have no doubt he is right, 
for it was a cobbled business. I will take it down and try 
my hand at docking and cropping. But really it must all 
be written over again, or we shall drive the printer's devils to 
despair. Tomorrow morning I return to my den in Trin. 
Coll. It is time for me to retire, and make up for my loss of 
sleep last night. As good a repose to you and Mrs Murchison 
as I am myself looking for. 

Yours to the centre of the earth, 

A. Sedgwick. 

The experiments at the copper-mine of Dolcoath, in which 
Sedgwick bore a somewhat reluctant part, had been com- 
menced by Whewell and Airy in 1826. "The object was to 
determine the density of the earth, and the essential part of 
the process was to compare the time of vibration of a 
pendulum at the surface of the earth with the time of 
vibration of the same pendulum at a considerable depth 
below the surface. The experiment failed to lead to a 
satisfactory result 1 ," because, as Sedgwick says, the pendulum 
could not be trusted ; and also because, on each occasion, a 
serious accident occurred. In 1826 Whewell and Airy had 
conducted the experiment alone; but in 1828 it was thought 

1 William JVheivell, by I. Todhunter, 8vo. Camb. 1876, i. 37. The only 
printed record of what Mr Todhunter calls "a very arduous experiment," is 
contained in an anonymous pamphlet, known to be by Mr Whewell : Account of 
Experiments made at Dolcoath Mine, in Cornwall, in 1826, and 1828, for the 
purpose of determining the density of the Earth. 8vo. Camb. 1828. 


1828. desirable to enlarge the party, so as to carry on the observa- 
nt- 43- tions without intermission day and night. By this means 
some members of the party could take an occasional holiday, 
and Sedgwick was probably absent when the accident of this 
year — a subsidence of a portion of the mine — took place. 
His account of the experiments, as given in the above letter, 
may be supplemented by what he told Mr J. W. Salter : 

"This mine had a great advantage for our purpose. 
Besides being one of the deepest in Cornwall, it is overhung 
by a steep hill 700 feet high, so that we got the means of 
measurement to a greater extent than would have been 
possible elsewhere. 

" We went down in summer-time, and enjoyed ourselves 
very much. The weather was propitious ; the company 
excellent. But the natives evidently thought us no better 
than we should be, bringing, as we did, strange instruments, 
and strange earnest faces to such a spot, and taking down 
uncouth-looking packages and baskets to all the deepest and 
most dangerous-looking places. We often overheard their 
remarks. One morning I listened to two men who had 
watched our descent the day before : ' I think they're no 
good. There must be something wicked about them — the 
little one (that was Airy) especially. I saw him stand with 
his back to the Church, and make strange faces.' 

"We gave them some cause for their suspicions. Our 
lamp-box, marked outside ' Deville, Strand,' stood well for 
a formal address to his infernal majesty. We were clamber- 
ing down one day, when, to keep up the joke, I asked a 
sturdy miner who was guiding us, ' How far is it to the 
infernal regions ?' He was a match for me — for he replied — 
1 Let go the ladder, Sir, and you'll be there directly.' " 

The party were most hospitably entertained by the neigh- 
bouring gentlemen — with some amusing results. On one 
occasion Sedgwick, Whewell, and Airy presented themselves 
at the front door of a house, where they had been invited to 
dine and sleep, in their working-dress. The butler thought 


that they were real miners, and had just exclaimed, somewhat 1828. 
gruffly, "You go round to the back-door," when their host Mt -43> 
came forward to greet them. At another house the host 
himself is said to have mistaken the same party for agricul- 
tural labourers in distress, and was just intimating to them, by 
a shake of the head, and a wave of the hand, that it was no 
use begging of him, when his friends revealed themselves by a 
loud burst of laughter. We do not vouch for the absolute 
accuracy of these stories. Sedgwick always found Cornwall 
a land of humorous adventure, and other tales will have to 
be related in connection with his subsequent visits to it. 

In the autumn of this year, while Sedgwick was tranquilly 
lecturing at Cambridge, Dr Fitton, whose term of office as Presi- 
dent of the Geological Society was drawing to a close, came to 
the conclusion that the Woodwardian Professor was the proper 
person to succeed him. A certain amount of difficulty seems 
to have been anticipated in persuading one so full of engage- 
ments elsewhere to accept an office which would entail regular 
attendance in London at stated intervals; and the task of 
sounding Sedgwick, and of obtaining, if possible, a favourable 
reply was entrusted to Whewell. His letter is endorsed To 
be opened immediately, an amusing indication of Sedgwick's 
habitual carelessness with regard to his correspondence. 

8 October, 1818. 

Dear Sedgwick, 

Fitton will come to you on Friday to try to persuade you 
to be President. Pray do not refuse. Make it possible, somehow 
or other, for the thing is every way in the highest degree desirable. 
It is clear, from what he says, that he has spoken of it to so many 
people in London, that it will be generally known that the offer has 
been made you; and after Buckland had found it possible in his 
case it will not be easy to make them comprehend that it is not 
ungracious in you to reject the proposal. Fitton is very earnest on 
the subject for the sake of the Society, and with great reason. He 
says that having just received favors from government 1 it is very 

1 "The Society, at a special Meeting on the 18th of April, 1838, was informed 
of the grant from the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury, through the 
mediation of the President and Council of the Royal Society, of apartments in 
Somerset House." Report of Council, 20 February, 1828: Proceedings, i. m. 


1828. desirable and important to have a person at your head who is sure 
ALt. 43. to be independent and straight-forward He adds too that a new 
era of the Society requires a leader who can fill his place with 
distinction. All this is very right — but / am very anxious that you 
should take the office for our sake and yours. It will undoubtedly 
give a degree of prominence and attraction to the science at 
Cambridge which you cannot give it in any other way, and will add 
weight and popularity to all your sayings and doings on the subject. 
Without this we are hardly on a level with the Oxford men, which 
we have a right to be, and which it is your business to make us. 

You will tell me of your lectures, but I am persuaded they will 
gain more in effect, than they will lose by any curtailment or 
inconvenience. Then consider ; this business will not interfere 
with the course of this term. You have often made your second 
term somewhat irregular; it must be possible by some contrivance of 
time or place to manage it again. Consider too that every such 
inconvenience is a practical argument for new rooms, and will I 
hope soon produce its impression. 

I do not think the expense is a very formidable consideration. 
Fitton says he shall suggest to Gilbert 1 the advisableness of trans- 
ferring his parties to Sunday night This would make them a 
continuation of Fitton's, and might be very good. 

Find the will, and make the way. I am sure you will not repent 
it, and it will be an excellent thing for all of us. 

Ever yours, 

W. Whewell. 

These excellent arguments did not have the immediate 
effect intended by their writer ; others had to try their hands 
at persuasion, before Sedgwick yielded. At last, 18 November, 
he wrote to Murchison : " My reluctance in accepting the 
office of President is by no means affected. I value the 
honour as I ought to do, and I should delight in it if I had 
all the accomplishments. But I am an absentee, and I am 
poor. These are sad drawbacks. My friends here, however, 
will not hear of a refusal. So, if you appoint mc, I must 
promise to do my best. It will be a sad falling off after 
Fitton, who has done the thing magnificently." We do not 
know what verdict was passed by Sedgwick's contemporaries 
upon his performance of the duties of President ; but it is 
clear, from various allusions in his correspondence, that he 

1 Davies Gilbert, Esq., then President of the Royal Society. 


was not himself displeased with the work. He grumbled now 1828. 
and then, and vowed that he was " nearly ruined " ; but when ^ 43- 
it was over he admitted that he had found the employment 
agreeable, and had liked the friends to whose society he had 
been introduced. 

Christmas was spent, in company with Whewell, at Viscount 
Milton's house near Peterborough. At that time many of the 
Fellows of Trinity used to find their way to that hospitable 
mansion, and Whewell spent his Christmas there for many 
years in succession. On one of these occasions — possibly in 
1828 — he was asked if he would like to go out hunting. Of 
course he said "Yes". Mounted on a first-rate horse, well 
up to his weight, he inquired how he could see most of the 
run. " Keep close to Sebright (the huntsman) " was the 
reply. Whewell did as he was bid, and followed that 
splendid rider over everything. They had an unusually 
good run, over a difficult country, in the course of which 
Sebright took an especially stout and high fence. Looking 
round to see what had become of the stranger, he found him 
at his side, safe and sound. "That was a rasper, Sir", he 
exclaimed, in admiration at his pluck. " I did not observe 
that it was anything more than ordinary," answered Whewell. 
Sedgwick was either less inquisitive, or more prudent, and 
while the rest of the party were out hunting, rode quietly 
over to Whittlesea to have a chat with the Aingers. The 
Tory sympathies of his particular friend in that family were 
so strong that he could not be persuaded even to write to 
Sedgwick so long as he stayed with so pronounced a Whig as 
Viscount Milton 1 — an amusing illustration of the strength of 
political convictions, not to say prejudices, at that time. 

The Lent Term of 1829 opened with an event which must 
have given Sedgwick unmitigated satisfaction. As soon as 
it became known that the Duke of Wellington and his 
colleagues intended to introduce a bill for the relief of 
Roman Catholics, the University decided to petition par- 

1 To Rev. W. Ainger, 10 May, 1819. 


1829. liament against it. In former years, as already related, the 
JEt. 44. opposition which liberal members of the Senate offered to 
such petitions had been defeated; but on this occasion it 
achieved a signal success, and the Grace to affix the Uni- 
versity seal to the petition was rejected by fifty-two votes 
to forty-three 1 . As the Cambridge Chronicle naively records: 
"the result appears to have been principally owing to the 
somewhat unexpected arrival of several members of the Inns 
of Court, who came down for the express purpose of voting 
upon the occasion ; two Paddington coaches with full com- 
plements of inside and outside passengers arrived between 
one and two o'clock, and returned to London the same 
afternoon." The writer should have added that they dined 
in Trinity before they started. The fact was, that the 
Cambridge Liberals, chiefly Fellows of Trinity College, had 
written to their London friends ; among whom Macaulay, 
then resident in the Temple, had energetically exerted 
himself in marshalling a number of barristers 9 . That Sedg- 
wick would be among the promoters of these tactics might 
be guessed without evidence; but a contemporary ballad 
supplies distinct proof of his activity : 

Oh Sedgwick, Oh Peacock, Oh Whewell, Oh Romilly, 

I'll preach you a ballad, I'll sing you a homily; 

Come hear the prophetical words of a Daniel, 

They were uttered at Clare, they were heard at Emmanuel. 

When devils to Cambridge shall Paddington marry 
And St Pancras shall send an express to St Mary, 
When the Bank shall go down with four horses to meet her, 
Then down goes St Paul, and up goes St Peter. 

The cat's in the larder, the wolfs in the fold, 
The rat's in the garner, the thief s at the gold; 
Oh Journal, and Standard, and John Bull, and Age, 
The lawyers are come in the Paddington stage. 

Come down to the Senate, come up to the vote, 

From fen, and from dyke, and from ditch, and from moat; 

Come darker and blacker, and thicker and faster, 

Come web-footed parson, come well-landed master. 

1 Cooper's Annals ^ iv. 559. The Grace was offered to the Senate 1 1 February, 

* Trevelyan's Life of Lord Macaulay, ed. 1881, p. 106. 


Oh ! were there no powers to check the Iscariots, 1829. 

To hamstring their horses, to shatter their chariots ? j£ U ^ 

There sprung not a spring, and there split not a spoke, 
Though the Journal protested the compact was broke. 

All Cambridge crowds round them, both gentle and simple: 
"Now are ye for Church, Sirs, or are ye from Temple? 
What sort of beast are ye, or what kind of vermin? 
Is it wig, is it mitre, is it lawn, is it ermine?" 

"We come not for Church, and we come not for stall, 
But we come for a dinner in Trinity hall; 
We come not for King, if your commons you'll dish up, 
We come not for Church, but we'll thank you for Bishop." 

This victory in the restricted arena of the Senate House 
proved only a foretaste of the pleasure which those who 
sympathised with the Catholics had in store for them. In the 
following month the House of Commons accepted Catholic 
Emancipation by large majorities at each stage of the mea- 
sure ; nor did the Lords offer any serious opposition. Sedg- 
wick was present when the Duke of Wellington introduced 
the second reading in a speech which has become historical 1 ; 
and listened with natural enthusiasm to the brilliant debate 
that followed. " I have hardly yet come to my sober senses," 
he wrote on his return to Cambridge, "after the stimulus of 
my last visit to London. Lord Grey's speech seems still to 
be ringing in my ears 8 ." Sedgwick's convictions, one would 
have thought, hardly needed stimulating ; but, possibly, the 
general acceptance of principles which had hitherto been 
held by a minority may have urged him to advocate with 
even greater earnestness than heretofore the removal of 
similar restrictions at Cambridge. At any rate we shall 
find him, a few years later, taking a prominent part in the 
great controversy respecting the admission of persons to 
degrees without regard to their religious opinions. 

On February 20, 1829, Sedgwick was formally installed 
President of the Geological Society. At the anniversary 

1 To Mrs Norton, 5 September, 1863. 

2 To R. I. Murchison, April, 1839. 

S. I. 22 


1829. dinner, which then, as now, succeeded the general meeting, 
iEt.44. there was a full attendance of members, and the new 
President, according to Lyell, who was present, "quite 
astonished them. Among innumerable good hits, when pro- 
posing the toast of the Astronomical Society, and Herschel, 
their President, then about to be married, he said : * May the 
house of Herschel be perpetuated, and like the Cassinis, be 
illustrious astronomers for three generations. May all the 
constellations wait upon him; may Virgo go before, and 
Gemini follow after 1 .'" 

How singularly pleasant the meetings of the Geological 
Society must have been when it was still a coterie of brilliant, 
enthusiastic men, who knew each other intimately ; and how 
mortifying it is that we should have to be content with far-off 
glimpses, and faint echoes of what they said and did ! Would 
that we could recall, not merely Sedgwick's post-prandial fun, 
but his mode of delivering one of his scientific papers, or of 
handling the discussion which it was sure to elicit. Mr Geikie 
tells us that "by a few broad lines" he could "convey even to 
non-scientific hearers, a vivid notion of the geology of a wide 
region, or of a great geological formation. Embalmed in the 
Society's Transactions, the paper, as we read it now, bears 
about as much resemblance to what it must have been to 
those who heard it, as the dried leaves in a herbarium do to 
the plant which tossed its blossoms in the mountain-wind. 
Brimful of humour, and bristling with apposite anecdote, he 
could so place a dry scientific fact as to photograph it on the 
memory, while at the same time he linked it with something 
droll, or fanciful, or tender, so that it seemed, ever after, to 
wear a kind of human significance. No keener eye than his 
ever ranged over the rocks of England; and yet, while noting 
each feature of their structure or scenery, he delighted to carry 

1 Life of Sir C. Lyell, 8vo. Lond. 1881, i. 251. There were four Cassinis, not 
three, who were successively Astronomers Royal at Paris. The last, John Dominic 
Cassini, succeeded his father in 1784. Sedgwick had probably met him in Paris 
in 1816. 


through his geological work an endless thread of fun and 1839. 
wit 1 ." *L 44- 

While Sedgwick was President he did his best to attend 
the meetings of the Society with regularity, but, as he said 
when his two years of office were over, his had been "an 
interrupted service." The next letter enumerates the inter- 
ruptions in a single month, April, 1829 : 

" My hands at present are sufficiently tied. I am in the 
first place reading the Fathers and School Divines by way of 
preparation for my Divinity Act, which I must keep on the 
30th of this month. In the meantime I have a rascally 
examination to superintend which will nail me down for a 
whole week". Lastly, we shall soon have a contested election, 
and they have already requested me to become chairman of 
the Committee which will sit at Cambridge. I shall not 
refuse if they come to the scratch, tho' it will be a tiresome 
business. It is a strange thing that good Christians can't 
keep out of troubled water 1 ." 

At that time Divinity Acts were held every fortnight 
during Term. Every Master of Arts of four years standing 
complete was obliged, under rather severe penalties, to be 
a Respondent, that is, to maintain a thesis against three 
Opponents. The proceedings were similar to those which 
preceded the Bachelor of Arts Degree, and therefore need no 
further explanation. If the regular days appointed for the 
keeping of Acts happened to be all engaged, a private Act 
was allowed, at which some Doctor in Divinity, other than 
the Regius Professor, might preside. A letter to Mill shows 
that Sedgwick had adopted the latter course. 

Trin. Coll. April 15, 1829. 

" I expected from what you said, when we last met in 
the Athenaeum, that you would have been in Cambridge 

1 Life of Murchison, i. pp. 138, 195. 

2 The scholarship examination at Trinity College. 

8 To R. I. Murchison, without date, but endorsed by him "April, 1819." 

22 — 2 


1829. before this. My Act comes on on the 30th of this month. 
^. 44. if y OU cannot conveniently preside, Dr Lamb 1 has under- 
taken to perform the task for me. Pray write to tell me 
what you intend to do. My questions are : 

1. The Divinity of Christ. 

2. A denial of the Millennium ; perhaps in the words of 
our expunged Article. 

By opposing me, and pronouncing a determination, you 
will get over two of your exercises, which will be some 
advantage. In regard to arguments, you may bring as many 
or as few as you please. In case of a private Act it is not 
however customary to bring many. 

Pray let me hear what is your final determination. If you 
can't come I must settle with Dr Lamb. Though I have not 
the honor of knowing her, I hope Mrs Mill will accept my 
kindest wishes." 

Murchison had found his foreign tour of the previous year 
so instructive, that before he had been many weeks abroad 
he had urged Sedgwick to come and do likewise. Writing 
from Nice, he describes what he had seen, and adds : 

We left various things undone, consoling ourselves with the 
parting reflection that such a case was to be worked out by Sedgwick 
next year. And here let me, by way of parenthesis, invoke the 
philosophical spirit of inquiry which prevails at Cambridge, and urge 
you, who are really almost our only mathematical champion, not to 
let another year elapse without endeavouring to add to the stock of 
your British Geology some of the continental materials. Pray do it 
before you many and settle for life; pray even do it before you 
bring forth that long-expected second volume on the Geology of 
England and Wales*. Your comparisons will then have a strength 
and freshness which will quite electrify us 1 . 

These arguments, enforced by conversation after his 
return, had convinced Sedgwick, and he agreed to accom- 
pany Murchison on a second journey, so soon as he could 

1 John Lamb, D. D. Master of Corpus Christi College. 

* The work which Sedgwick and Conybeare were supposed to be writing 
together. See above, p. 334. 

' Murchison to Sedgwick, 18 August, 1828. 


get away. They were to leave England towards the middle 1829. 
or end of June, and explore the northern flanks of the Alps, & u 44- 
with the central parts of Germany, Bohemia, and Saxony — 
"a glorious field for a knight of the hammerV , Meanwhile, 
Sedgwick had plenty of work to do in presiding over the 
Geological Society, and in putting the final touches to the 
three papers read the previous year — "the rasping and 
trimming of which, before they were finally delivered over 
to the devils, was no small labour*." But other matters were 
soon to interfere with his preparations for his journey. Be- 
fore May was over Sir N. C. Tindal, one of the University 
representatives in Parliament, was made Chief Justice of the 
Court of Common Pleas, and his seat had of course to be 
filled without delay. No burning question was agitating the 
country, and it was hoped that some distinguished person 
might be found, who would satisfy both parties, and a contest 
be thus avoided. This hope proved delusive. Two candi- ' 
dates appeared in the field on the same day: Mr E. H. 
Alderson, of Gonville and Caius College; and Mr George 
Bankes, of Trinity Hall 1 . Alderson had been senior wrangler, 
first Smith's prizeman, and senior Chancellors medallist in 
1809; Bankes had taken an ordinary law degree in 1825. 
Alderson, moreover, besides his brilliant degree, could show 
a distinguished career at the bar. Bankes had had some 
parliamentary experience as member for the family borough 
of Corfe Castle, and had filled a subordinate post in the 
government of the Duke of Wellington, which he had re- 
signed when Catholic Emancipation became a government 
measure. After that measure had been passed, however, he 
had resumed his place — a step which said but little for his 
consistency. Meanwhile a feeling had gradually spread 
through the University, that it would be well to elect Mr 
Cavendish — now our honoured Chancellor — who in the 

1 To Rev. W. Ainger, 4 June, 1829. 

* To the same, 20 May, 1829. 

3 Their circulars are dated 29 May, 1829. 


1819. previous January had been second wrangler and first Smith's 
^Et. 44- prizeman ; and besides, had won general admiration " by his 
superior talents, by his studious and reflective habits, and by 
the unimpeached regularity of his University life 1 ." But an 
unexpected difficulty presented itself. Mr Cavendish, though 
himself willing to come forward, was for nearly a week pre- 
vented from entering the field by the head of his family, 
whose objections were only overruled by " a public address, 
signed by many distinguished members of the University." 
Mr Alderson then retired ; and a canvass commenced for 
Mr Cavendish "unexampled for the energy and heartiness 
of those who were engaged in it*." That he was supported 
by the liberal party cannot be denied. The chairman of 
his Cambridge Committee was Dr Lamb, well-known for 
his liberal opinions, and in consequence one of the tory 
organs nicknamed him " Lamb's adopted"; but, on the other 
hand, many of the most decided tories voted for him. That 
Sedgwick was foremost in the fight will readily be believed. 
He "personally worked day and night so as almost to destroy 
his health 1 "; he marshalled the supporters who could be 
relied on ; he stimulated the lukewarm ; he exposed and 
controverted the tactics of the other side with a headstrong 
energy which in some cases lacked discretion. It was soon 
found that Mr Bankes had obtained numerous pledges of 
support before the resignation of Sir N. C. Tindal had been 
made public; and moreover the whole influence of the govern- 
ment was exerted on his behalf. " Not one member of the 
Senate," we are told, "who was placed directly, or indirectly, 
within a minister's influence, escaped an official canvass 4 ." 
Not only did his brother, once member for the University, 
write to his former supporters ; but Mr Goulburn, now Chan- 

1 From A Utter to a Member of the Senate of the University of Cambridge, by 
Robert Grant, M.A., M.P., Fellow of Magdalene College. 

* These quotations are from an article in The Times, 19 June, 1829, which is 
known to have been written by Sedgwick. 

8 To Dean Monk, 1 November, 1829. 

4 The Times, ut supra. 


cellor of the Exchequer, wrote to many resident members of ,8*9. 
the Senate on his behalf. These tactics were controverted by ^Et. 44* 
Sedgwick in a letter to Goulburn which was printed and 
circulated in the University. It is signed A resident member 
of the Senate, but there could never have been any doubt 
about the authorship. It was evidently written under the 
influence of strong excitement, and had it been merely an 
ephemeral composition dashed off to serve the purpose of 
the hour, the obvious course would have been to leave it in 
the oblivion into which it has long since fallen ; but it is so 
vigorously written, and throws so much light on the Uni- 
versity politics of that day, that it has been decided, after 
much hesitation, to reproduce it. 

To tlie Right Honourable Henry Goulburn. 

I expected before this time to have seen you at Cambridge ; 
and when I at length found that a reluctance to meet your old 
partisans, or some other motive well understood by yourself, 
prevented you from again being a candidate for the vacant seat 
in the University, I took for granted that you would at least know 
what was due to your former supporters, and that you would preserve 
a dignified neutrality. In this expectation I have been disappointed. 
You have condescended to become the bustling advocate of Mr G. 
Bankes ; and in a position so unnatural, the result has been what 
you ought to have anticipated. Your letters from Downing-street to 
certain resident members of the Senate, have done no good to the 
cause of which you have so unexpectedly become the advocate, and 
have been received only with expressions of contempt and resent- 
ment. Your personal elevation prevents you from hearing at all 
times the language of truth ; but it is well that it should sometimes 
be spoken, and so loudly too, that even those who sit in high places 
should not find themselves exalted above its influence. I beg leave, 
Sir, to remind you that you have twice been a candidate for the 
representation of our University, — that you stood forward as the 
champion of the Protestant ascendancy, — and that you received on 
that ground the support of many high-minded and honourable men. 
There is a vulgar proverb of very obvious application, which may, 
perhaps, explain the rancorous bitterness which existed between 
some of your friends and the party which supported Mr W. Bankes. 
Your person and your conduct were assailed by that party with 
long-sustained invectives, conveyed in language such as English 
gentlemen are not often in the habit of giving or of receiving. You 
received these assaults with exemplary calmness, and endured them 


1829. with a patience which was the admiration of your friends, and was 
Mu 44. worthy of the high religious ground which you had then taken. I 
may, however, remind you, that although our religion commands us 
to forgive our enemies, it never enjoins us to be the patrons of those 
by whom we have been vilified, or the champions of those whose 
principles are in open hostility with our own. Mr W. Bankes is not, 
indeed, in the field ; but his brother professes (how consistently is 
not now the question) to be the representative of the same party, 
and of the same opinions, and on this ground alone comes forward 
to ask for our support. 

During the last session of Parliament your opinions underwent 
one of those sudden revolutions which, whether they happen in the 
physical or the moral world, astonish and confound us. I was not 
among the number of those who made an unfavourable analysis of 
your motives. I believe you, and I still wish to believe you, sincere. 
If you were not sincere in the line of conduct which you have 
recently adopted during the agitation of one of the gravest questions 
which ever came before Parliament, you must be content to find 
your name written in the list of those men who barter themselves 
and their faculties for office and emolument, and who hold to no 
principle with a grasp which does not relax at the approach of a 
vulgar temptation. Of this baseness I dare not and I cannot 
accuse you ; but if you escape from this imputation, I would tell 
you, in the language of our schools, that you are still on the horns 
of a dilemma ; and I would ask you, in the name of the Senate, by 
what new metamorphosis you are become the champion of Mr G. 
Bankes, whose only pretension, — I repeat it, whose only pretension 
is, that he opposed you and your colleagues on that great question 
to which I have alluded, and who, had he succeeded, would have 
contributed to thrust you out from that office which you now fill 
through the kindness of your Sovereign. If you were in the right, 
Mr Bankes was in the wrong ; and for this wrong he is to have your 
support, and appear among us backed and recommended by your 
autographs from Downing-street. But Mr G. Bankes has returned 
to the party which he once vilified and opposed, and he must be 
treated with the afFection of a brother, because he also now wears 
the semblance of an apostate. Whether I am right in this conjecture 
I know not ; but I do know that the members of the Senate are 
justly indignant at any direct interference with the freedom of their 
elections; that they believe themselves to be the proper judges of 
who is the best person to represent them, and that they are not yet 
reduced so low as to supplicate at a Government office for the 
nomination of a candidate. 

In what you have done, you have not appreciated our character 
or our sentiments. The resident members of the Senate, by their 
votes on a late occasion, did good service to the Government ; and 
by way of return for this, you now endeavour to force upon us a 
representative who does not himself stand upon the high ground of 
political consistency, — who is almost unknown to us, — who is not a 


member of our Senate,— who is decorated with no academic honours, 1819. 
— whose name is associated with no pleasant recollections, — and j^x. 44. 
who, by his only public acts connected with our body, encouraged 
and vindicated a combination of the Undergraduates, avowedly 
made in a violation of all discipline, and in contradiction to our 
existing authorities 1 . I do not wish to speak harshly of Mr G. 
Bankes, because I think that he does not deserve it : but I am bold 
to say that he comes forward with no high pretensions, and that he 
has done nothing to entitle him to the honour of being thrust upon 
us by all the forcing power of Government influence. If he consults 
his own honour and the dignity of the University, he will imme- 
diately withdraw : and you, Sir, if you have any regard for your own 
consistency, and the good opinion of those distinguished and honour- 
able men by whom you were once supported, ought to be among the 
very first to recommend this measure to him. 

Mr Cavendish is this moment arrived amongst us. He is urged 
forward by no party and no faction. He was put in nomination 
(without his own knowledge or participation, and against the wishes 
of the highest members of his family) by many distinguished resident 
members of the Senate, who, however they may differ on other 
questions, think it for the honour of our establishment that on this 
they should be united. They come forward to support Mr Cavendish 
because he is a young man of modest and amiable temper, and of 
unsullied life, — because, during the years he lived among us, he 
conformed himself in the purest and highest sense to the true spirit 
of our institutions, — because he has proved, by his academic dis- 
tinctions in literature and in science, that he possesses talents of no 
ordinary kind, and habits of application which even in early life 
have resisted extraordinary temptations. I have now lived more 
than twenty years in the University. I can assert without the risk 
of contradiction, that during this long lapse of time, no young 
nobleman has appeared amongst us who could have been brought 
before the Senate with such high and unsullied pretensions. If, 
from his youth, he has been hitherto prevented from exhibiting his 
powers as a senator, at least he has been saved from error during 
times of no ordinary difficulty, and comes before us without any 
tarnish of inconsistency. He has reaped his first laurels amongst 
us ; they sit fresh upon him, and they will wear well, and they will 
for ever be associated with the ardent recollections of early life. 
Under these circumstances, we may safely count upon his lasting 
attachment to us and to our venerable institutions, and upon that 
consistent and dignified exercise of his great talents which will be for 
his honour and for our own. 

With such qualities, I cannot for an instant doubt the success of 
Mr Cavendish. All the high aristocracy, belong to what party they 

1 Mr George Bankes presented to the House of Commons, 23 March, 1829, a 
petition signed by about 600 Bachelors and Undergraduates, against any further 
concessions to the Roman Catholics. Cooper's Annals t iv. 560. 


18^9. may, are interested in his success : for he stands forward as the 

JEx. 44. representative and the ornament of their order, and has assisted to 

keep alive in a great public body that constitutional respect for 

dignity and for rank, in the absence of which the highest privileges 

would lose all their grace and much of their importance. 

I cannot believe that the illustrious individual who is now at the 
head of administration can have given his sanction to a canvass from 
the Treasury, which is so plainly against the best interests of his 
own order. Be this as it may, the University of Cambridge can and 
will judge for themselves; and are, notwithstanding your humble 
opinion of them, placed far above the reach of improper influence, 
however high the quarter from which it may descend. 

I have now performed the task I have undertaken. I could 
have wished to have had more time for its performance, but I hope 
I have made myself understood. I believe I have fairly represented 
the motives of a great body of the Senate, and the feelings which 
your unexpected canvass has excited. I therefore leave this homely 
expression of truth to its proper influence ; and, notwithstanding the 
strange revolutions I have witnessed in the conduct of others, I 
venture still to subscribe myself, with great respect, Sir, 

Your most obedient and humble servant, 

A Resident Member of the Senate. 

Cambridge, June 3, 1829. 

A few extracts from letters to private friends show better 
than any description Sedgwick's feverish condition during the 
first fortnight of June — divided as he was between the election, 
preparations for his journey, and his duty to the Geological 

To R. I. Murchison, Esq. 

Trin. Coll. Tuesday Morning, 

2 June, 1829. 

" We are up to the ears in politics. Bankes has started 
for the University, and we have pitted Cavendish against 
him. I hope to God we shall succeed. I shall take care to 
be up in time for the Council on Friday ; but in our present 
disturbed state I don't know that I can be with you sooner. 
I am sorry for it ; as I should have rejoiced to meet your 
party of Wednesday. This hurly burly at this time is 
unfortunate, but I can't help it. Pray can you do us any 
service? If you know any voter, or any one who can 


influence a vote, at him by all means. Our cause is good 1839. 
in both ways. Cavendish is a man who would do us great iEt *44- 
honor — Bankes is nobody, and wishes to ride upon the 
shoulders of the ultras. No Popery was a grand stalking- 
horse ; but I hope it has now broken its knees, and will not 
carry weight." 

During this visit to London Sedgwick tried to secure Mill, 
who had returned from India for a short holiday, and was 
staying at an hotel. Mill was out when he called, but he intro- 
duced himself to Mrs Mill, and left with her the following note, 
endorsed, " From Adam Sedgwick, Professor, canvassing for 
Cavendish. Written with his heart's blood." The pollbook 
shows that the appeal was successful. 

Geological Society. 
Dear Mill, 

By your love of virtue — of Trinity College — and of 
literature, and of science, come and vote for Cavendish. He 
has committed no political sin. If this will not do — by your 
friendship for myself and for the other residents who were 
the academic companions of your early life, do not vote 
against him. I wish I had time to see you, but I am 
engaged here from three till half-past eleven. 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

To Rev. William Ainger. 

Trin. Coll., June 4, 1829. 

" I dare not canvass you for Cavendish, because I know 
that you see things with eyes so different from mine that we 
hardly on some matters can find a starting-point from which 
we may begin an argument. He is one of the most amiable 
and accomplished young noblemen whom we have had among 
us in this last century, and has been started by men of all 
parties, purely on his personal merits. I dare say you don't 
like his name, and think it sounds Whiggish. Bankes has no 


18*9. merit that I know of except that he pretended to go out on 
& u 44- the Catholic question. It was all mockery, he never was out 
or he would not now be in. The cast-off rags of No Popery 
won't cover his nakedness. But enough of this. If Cavendish 
come in the University will have an honourable rest All I 
ask is that you do not come against us/' 

To R. L Murchison, Esq. 

Committee Room, June 11. 

"I have not one thought, word, or deed, except for 
Cavendish. Pray do what you can in the way of preparation 
for our tour. The election ends on Thursday week. On 
Friday morning following I shall come up to Town to attend 
the meeting of the Geological Society. But I fear it will be 
impossible for me to be ready by the Wednesday following. 
By Saturday I should be able to start. Coddington 1 means 
to accompany us up the Rhine. His German will be of 
great use to us. I don't think he will go very far. Whewell 
will if possible join us in the Thuringerwald. Excuse this 

To the same. 

Cambridge, 15 Jun* % 1829. 

" Good God ! you will have to do everything for me. To 
start at six o'clock in the morning of Friday, immediately 
after the election, and to be off on Wednesday ! But I will 
do my best. Pray look out some papers for me to read, e.g. 
Bout's &c. ; enquire about maps, and other geological neces- 
saries. If these be in readiness, I hope I may be ready 
myself by Wednesday. How abominably unprepared I shall 
be. My mind will be like white paper — ready for any im- 
pressions. Be it so. The election is horribly inconvenient. 
I am sitting on the edge of a razor. At 8 o'clock tomorrow 
we start Both sides are confident." 

The Poll closed on Thursday, 18 June, when Mr Cavendish 
was elected by 609 votes to 462 — a majority of 137. When 

1 Rev. Henry Coddington, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College. 


the result was declared an undergraduate in the gallery shouted : 1839. 
u Farewell, a long farewell to all — the Bankeses ! " The day iEt * 44* 
ended, according to Mr Romilly, with " a huge dinner " in the 
Hall of Trinity College, at which Sedgwick " spoke finely." 

The next morning Sedgwick was off to London, hurried 
through his preparations, and started with Murchison for the 
continent on the appointed day. The route followed up to the 
middle of September is described in the next letter 1 . 

Gmunden near Salzburg, September 14, 1829. 

My dear Ainger, 

I have for some hours been twirling my thumbs and 
watching the weather ; but there is no longer a gleam of 
hope. The spirits, under such circumstances, undergo a 
kind of recoil. When a man cannot move his body forward, 
he casts his thoughts backward, and thinks of those who are 
behind him. If this letter deserves thanks, you must thank 
the weather and not me. In some respects I am still to be 
envied. While I wield a pen in my right hand, I hold a 
German pipe in my left, and the images of past scenes are 
floating before my mind's eye among the fumes of Hungarian 
tobacco. If the elements were less turbid, I should have 
before me one of the most lovely lakes in the world, backed 
by peaks of the Saltzburg Alps. I am too much a man of 
business to write much ; but I always intended to send you 
one sheet full of such matter as I could scrape together. So 
here I take up my parable. 

I left England on June 24th, steamed to Rotterdam, and 
after a delay of a few hours not ill employed in that truly 
Dutch city, continued my journey up the Rhine, by the same 
conveyance, to Bonn. There we halted, and took in a quantity 
of geological ballast from sundry German Professors. We 
again embarked, and landed at Andernach ; and made an 
excursion on foot up the country to visit some very interesting 

1 Our account of this tour should be compared with that in Geikie's Life of 
Murchison, i. 157 — 162. 


18*9. extinct volcanoes. We traced lava-currents to their craters, 
^t- 44« and travelled for miles upon pumice, scoria, and ashes. I was 
bewildered and confounded at the sight, for these fires have 
never smoked within the records of mankind. We then 
travelled along the lovely banks of the Rhine to Maintz, and 
crossed to Frankfort, where Murchison and myself purchased 
a carriage ; and since that time we have been travelling by 
post, always excepting excursions over hill and dale, above 
ground and under, in places where horses have never trodden. 
Our first excursion was to Cassel, a beautiful capital ; from 
thence we walked over some of the Hessian mountains, and 
met our carriage on the south edge of the kingdom of 
Hanover. We halted one day at Gottingen, and were above 
all measure delighted with old Professor Blumenbach. Thence 
we posted to the Hartz mountains. They detained us some 
days; but I will not torment you with geology. We then 
posted to Eisleben, famous for fossil fish and copper, and 
after angling, or more properly haggling, for these fish, we 
went to Halle, and again rested one day, and smoked with 
German Professors. From Halle we posted across the sandy 
plains of Prussia to Berlin. It is a fine modern capital, but 
is devoid of any venerable monument of former times ; and, 
after the first flash which astonishes you, ceases to give any 
pleasure. We found some very well-informed persons there, 
who gave us the kind of information we wanted, and after a 
halt of four days we started for Saxony. I do wish that I could 
take you by the skirts of your coat and place you upon the 
Bastei, a perpendicular rock on the banks of the Elbe, and I 
would show you one of the finest views in the world. From 
thence we would walk over the field of battle, pause at the 
spot where Moreau fell (marked now by a small granite 
pillar) 1 ; thence we would track our way through the defiles 
of the Bohemian mountains; sleep at a small inn close by 

1 Moreau, the celebrated French republican general who joined the Allies after 
Napoleon's defeat in Russia, was fatally wounded at the battle of Dresden, 
a 7 August, 181 3. 


Culm, where Vandamme was defeated 1 ; and next day we 18*9. 
would visit Toplitz, a broiling hot city where the streets ^^44- 
during the season are filled with German Barons and Counts, 
Bohemian and Polish princes, and where you might walk in 
the public rooms cheek by jowl with the King of Prussia. 
All this I cannot do ; I must therefore be content to tell you 
that this was my track : that from Toplitz I went to Prague, 
one of the most magnificent cities I ever beheld ; and from 
thence posted through southern Bohemia and Moravia, a 
dull and dismal long journey, to Vienna. We were rather 
unfortunate, as the most eminent men of science, at least in 
our way, were gone out of the city. A few Professors were, 
however, left ; and our ambassador very politely invited us 
to his country-house, and we spent a delightful day with him. 
His house stands upon the site of the old Turkish camp 
occupied during the siege of Vienna. It commands a view 
of the Danube, the fatal plains of Aspern and Wagram, the 
city, the Hungarian mountains, and the Styrian precipices 
which form the eastern termination of the Alpine chain. 

On leaving Vienna we took the road towards Trieste, 
and, after crossing a corner of the Alps, descended by the 
banks of the Mur, and spent about ten days in lower Styria. 
It is full of interest, moral and physical; a most lovely 
country peopled by a most beautiful race, who are simple 
and kind-hearted beyond anything I have ever seen. We 
had some excellent introductions, and saw everything we 
wanted, with one exception. We had letters to the Emperor's 
brother, the Archduke John, the Governor of Styria, and he 
was unfortunately absent. He is one of the most extraordinary 
men in Europe; accomplished as a man of science, kind- 
hearted, liberal, and of extraordinary simplicity of manners. 
He was unfortunate in the wars against Napoleon, and, 
perhaps in some disgust with a court life, retired to his 
government ; adopted a simple style of living ; visited every 
corner of his extensive province, and almost every family, 

1 At the second battle near Culm, 30 August, 18 13. 


18^9. often travelling on foot without a single servant. He has 

-**• 44- established museums and scientific institutions, encouraged 

everything good and liberal, and has gained such influence 

that in case of need he could raise up the whole population 

by a motion of his finger. 

We crossed the desolate mountains of Carinthia, and at 
length reached their southern limit and found ourselves in 
one moment looking over the blue waters of the Adriatic. I 
dare not attempt to describe my sensations when the rocky 
shores of Idria, the plains of Italy, and the great wall of the 
Alps burst upon the view ; I should fly into heroics which 
would be out of keeping for a geologist who travels with 
stones in his pockets, and is therefore kept from soaring. 
We spent a day at Trieste, among surly English captains, 
sleepy Dutchmen, and Levant merchants in oriental dresses. 
We crossed the sultry plains of Italy among olive-groves and 
vineyards, and then plunged into the defiles of the Taglia- 
mento, and, after wandering several days among the southern 
flanks of the Alps, crossed the axis of the chain at the Tauern, 
a pass which is at the elevation of about 6500 feet above the 
level of the sea. We then descended by some gorgeous 
defiles to Salzburg, and here I am, as I before said. My 
pipe is out and my eyes are nearly out... 

I am now going to zigzag along the north flank of 
the Alps, and sometime in October hope to hammer my 
way to Paris. In the meantime I wish you a very good 
night My kind regards to your sister, and my love to your 

Yours most affectionately, 

A. Sedgwick. 

On entering the Tyrol from Italy they fortunately fell in 
with the Archduke. Already, though they had not seen him, 
they had profited by his presence in the country ; for, writes 
Sedgwick, "wherever we went in the valleys of Styria with 


our hammers, we were set down at once as odd fellows who 1819. 
were friends of the Archduke John 1 ." ■**• 44- 

" We first saw him at a little village of the higher Alps 
called Bad Gastein ; and in five minutes found ourselves as 
much at home with him as if we had known him twenty 
years. He had received the letters we intended to have 
presented to him, and therefore knew our objects of search 
and who we were. He proposed an excursion to the glacier 
and waterfalls [at Nassfeld], to which we of course joyfully 
assented ; and added most courteously that it would give 
us an occasion of talking of many things by the way, and 
this would be the only opportunity, as the day following he 
was going to cross the great chain on foot to visit a friend in 
the southern Carinthian Alps. We started in a machine 
with two seats, but in every other respects like a Dent's 
shandery-dan; and, after going as far as this machine would 
go, we scaled the precipices on foot, and traversed one of 
those magnificent amphitheatres of ice and snow of which 
no written language can convey any adequate description. 
We descended in the evening to a little tidy alehouse [at the 
village of Bockstein] where we supped upon trout and bottled 
ale, and we finally tracked our way by the light of a lantern 
to the village from which we started. 

" Everything we had heard of this excellent man was 
more than realised. He is sensible, liberal to a degree which 
offends the despotic Emperor, accomplished as a man of 
science, of most amiable temper, and wonderful simplicity of 
manners. The moment the girls of the little alehouse knew 
who he was, I thought they would have gone into fits through 
joy. They seized his hands, kissed them a hundred times, 
and, if he would have allowed them, would have gone down 
on their knees before him. He talked with great freedom ; 
spoke of the partition of Poland as an iniquity which 
he feared would some day bring down a great national 
punishment, and frankly pointed out many existing evils in 

1 To Rev. John Sedgwick, 10 August, 1829. 

s. i. 23 


1829. the system of government. I before told you of the way 
^•44* in which he passes his time among the people whom he 
governs. Everybody seems happy under him, and all insti- 
tutions flourish. There was one subject on which I dared 
not speak to him, and that was religion. He is a catholic, 
and assuredly is a liberal one. Where the people wanted 
ministers and chapels he has built them, in several parts of 
Styria. All this is right, for the country is entirely catholic ; 
but about matters of faith he did not seem inclined to speak. 

"The morning after our excursion I called on him just as 
he was about to start. He was dressed in worsted stockings, 
hob-nailed shoes, and jacket, with a little green hat and 
feather, the costume of Styria. Three men in a kind of 
uniform, with rifles, followed him, for the purpose of shooting 
chamois, wild-deer, or other animals they might meet with. 
His parting was like the rest of his manner ; simple, kind- 
hearted, and unceremonious. We saw him start, and ascend 
towards the higher Alps on foot 1 ." 

The travellers next made a rapid exploration of the Salz- 
kammergut, with which Sedgwick was delighted. "The 
whole region," he wrote, "is of exquisite beauty, and the 
inhabitants have the same honest, simple, kind-hearted 
character which I praised and admired so much among the 
StyriansV Letters from the Archduke gave them ready 
access to the salt-mines ; and at Berchtesgaden they came in 
for the close of a grand hunting-party given by the King of 
Bavaria to some foreign princes. 

1 To Rev. John Sedgwick, 31 August, 1829. The Archduke John was the 
sixth son (born 20 January, 1782) of the Emperor Leopold II. He commanded 
the Austrians at Hohenlinden, where he was defeated by Moreau (3 December, 
1800), and his subsequent military career was equally unfortunate. Throughout 
his whole life he took great interest in the Tyrolese and Styrians. The former 
were incited by him to the unsuccessful revolt under Hofer (1809). In after-life 
he resided in Styria, chiefly at Gratz, where he married the daughter of a postmaster. 
He had no official post in Styria, but employed himself, as Sedgwick says, in the 
improvement of the people. In 1848 he became vicar-general of the Empire, an 
office which he held for only a few months. He died in 1859. 

' To Rev. John Sedgwick, 26 September, 1829. 


"The sport was nearly over before we arrived, but we saw 1819. 
the company, and the manner of the chase, which was all we ^ t - * 4 * 
wanted. The scene altogether reminded me of some of Sir 
Walter Scott's finest descriptions, but was upon a scale more 
grand than Scotland could ever boast of. For some weeks 
before the visit of the royal party many hundred persons are 
employed in driving the deer, chamois, and other wild animals 
into a particular part of the Bavarian forests just under the 
snowy Alps. They form two great lines on the opposite 
extremes of the great forests, at the distance of twenty or 
thirty miles from each other, and by means of dogs, horns, 
etc. drive the affrighted beasts towards the central region. 
It is so contrived that these central forests are under a 
long succession of precipices, through which there is no escape 
to the Alpine summits, except by a few ravines and narrow 
gorges. On an appointed day the king and his attendants 
place themselves in these ravines accompanied by soldiers 
armed with rifles ; and on an appointed signal thousands of 
persons, some employed by government, others led by curiosity 
and love of the sport, rush into the forests, and drive out the 
wild inhabitants from their hiding-places. The poor animals, 
thus beset on all sides, become frantic, and rush out of the 
forest, sometimes singly, sometimes in large herds, and, having 
no means of escape except through the narrow defiles I have 
mentioned, scores of them are brought to the ground before 
they can get out of the reach of the riflemen. The different 
ranks and costumes of the assembled multitude, the shouts 
of the hunters, the echoes of the guns among the great 
precipices of the Alps — produce a combination of circum- 
stances well fitted to excite the imagination 1 ." 

From Salzburg they went to Munich, and thence by 
Ulm, Stuttgart, and the Lake of Constance to Strasburg. A 
letter from the latter place to Whewell, who had been dis- 
porting himself in Switzerland with Mr Coddington, enters so 

1 To Rev. John Sedgwick, from Stein on the Lake of Constance, 26 September, 



1829. much more into geological detail than any of the other letters 
^t- 44- of this year, that, at the risk of some repetition, we will give 
a few extracts from it. After describing their visit to the 
Hartz, Eisleben, Halle, etc. Sedgwick proceeds : 

"This is the focus of Wernerian geology, and to my 
infinite surprise it is the most decidedly volcanic secondary 
country I ever saw. The granite bursts through on one side, 
sends out veins, and along the whole eastern flank the 
secondaries are highly inclined and often absolutely vertical. 
Near Goslar they are absolutely heels over head.... 

" In Styria we found a great deal of good tertiary geology. 
Our Styrian tertiaries led us down into the edge of Hungary, 
from which we doubled to the great road, and beat our way 
down to Trieste. Dull geology, but the finest caverns in the 
world.... From Trieste we crossed the plains of Italy to the 
Tagliamento, by which we entered a great gorge in the Julian 
Alps. We emerged from these gorges at Bleiberg, and began 
to ascend the primary axis. To our great surprise found the 
oldest rocks of the calcareous zone full of gryphites, and not 
older than our lias, though crystalline as white as sugar ! 
We crossed the axis at the top of the great Tauern Alp 
amidst mica-schists and crystalline marbles, serpentines, etc., 
etc., and, what do you think ? in this series we found beds 
top-full of encrinites. I could hardly believe my eyes. Thence 
down the high road to Werfen, from which place we again 
doubled, and ascended to the primary axis by a parallel 
valley.... On our return to Werfen we set off to Salzburg, 
and afterwards threaded our way among the links of the 
great southern calcareous zone. And how shall I describe 
the wonders we here saw ? The tertiary deposits resting on 
the outskirts of this calcareous zone are thicker than all our 
secondary formations put together. For scores of miles they 
are in a vertical position. In many places the Alps, in rising 
through them, have lifted great rags of them into the regions 
of snow. Some of these rags are 3000 or 4000 feet thick, and 
stuck on like great poultices on the bruised pates of the older 


rocks. From Salzburg to Innspruck. Thence once more 1829. 
over the calcareous chain — top-full of fish, and stinking of ^ 44« 
fish-oil, which in many places trickles out like tar. From the 
fish-beds to a bed at Munich. Pictures and antiques one 
day — off to the great tertiaries on the Bavarian flanks — so 
to the Lake of Constance. Two noble sections linking in 
our work with the tertiaries of Switzerland. Thence to 
Oeningen, Murchison's fox-cover 1 . Thence to the Danube — 
Ulm. N.B. Freshwater hills all around the city. From Ulm 
we visited the famous field of Blenheim on our way to 
Solenhofen ; a wonderful place for lithographic stone and 
fossil fish. From this d^pot we crossed the Jura limestone, 
through some beautiful freshwater basins, to Stuttgart, and so 
down the Neckar to Heidelberg. This outline will give you 
some notion of what we have been about. I think we have 
done some good work. I am anxious to be home again, but 
we must go by Paris. We have some work by the way, and 
may not be there before the 17th or 18th. My kindest 
regards to all who regard me*." 

Lyell tells us that Sedgwick returned "full of magnificent 
views; throws overboard all the diluvian hypothesis; is vexed 
he ever lost time about such a complete humbug ; says he 
lost two years by having also started as a Wernerian, etc. 8 " 
He did not himself admit that his conversion was so complete 
as this report of his conversation would imply ; but no doubt 
his views had been greatly modified and extended by what 
he had seen on the continent, and by his intercourse with 
foreign geologists. 

On this occasion Murchison had no cause of complaint 
against Sedgwick on the ground of delay in getting their 
joint work ready for publication. In about a fortnight after 

1 In the previous year Murchison had obtained from this celebrated quarry a 
unique skeleton of a fossil fox (Galecynus oeningensis) now in the British Museum. 
He described it in the Transactions of the Geol. Soc. iii. 277. Compare also his 
Life, i. 154. 

2 To Rev. W. Whewell, 10 October, 1829. 
8 Life of Sir C, Lyell, i. 256. 


1829. their return (6 November, 1829) their first paper On the 
sSt- 44- Tertiary Deposits of the Vale of Gosau in tlie Salzburg Alps, 
was read to the Society ; and, wonderful to relate, in spite of 
Sedgwick's occupations and ailments, which appear to have 
been unusually severe, it was succeeded, at the two following 
meetings (20 November and 4 December) by a second, On 
tlie Tertiary Formations which range along tfie Flanks of the 
Salzburg and Bavarian Alps. The method of setting about 
the work, and the value of the results, do not call for much 
comment. It was not a new and unexplored district, such as 
Sedgwick loved, and yet it was an area where great problems 
were suggested, and it formed a fine field for a holiday tour. 
Murchison, as was his very useful custom, "got the subject up" 
before starting ; he read what had been written on the 
district, corresponded with the authors and authorities upon 
it ; and, thus furnished, the colleagues started to examine for 
themselves, and to criticise the interpretation of the geological 
structure of the country given by Bou6 and others. 

In the summary given by Sedgwick in his presidential 
address to the Geological Society, we have as clear an 
account as we can desire of what was proposed and what was 
done. It was a question of identification and correlation, and 
Sedgwick and Murchison were among the great host of 
explorers and authors who have treated of the bands of 
calcareous and arenaceous rocks, with nummulites in the 
newer beds, and hippurites in the older, which flank the 
Alpine ridges from the Rhone to the Danube. They did not 
collect materials for a minute classification — indeed it would 
have been impossible for them to do so — but they gave a 
good account of the district, with much new work ; and they 
brought the whole subject before English geologists for the 
first time. 

The principal points established are thus stated by 
Sedgwick : 

" We have shewn that several transverse sections from the 
central axis of the Alps to the basin of the Upper Danube 


would present a succession of phenomena in very near accord- 1829. 
ance with those of other transverse sections from the same ^ 44< 
axis to the tertiary formations at the other base of the chain 
in the North of Italy. On both sides of this chain, after 
passing over the great secondary calcareous zones, we meet 
with the lower tertiary strata — always highly inclined, some- 
times vertical, and occasionally conformable to the beds 
of the older system. We contend that this remarkable 
symmetry confirms the hypothesis of a recent elevation 
of the Eastern Alps ; and makes it probable, independently 
of arguments derived from organic remains, that the tertiary 
deposits of the Sub-Apennine regions and of the basin of the 
Upper Danube belong to one period of formation. 

"Thick masses of strata full of organic remains, and often 
occurring at low levels near the northern foot of the chain, 
are sometimes also found (e.g. in the valley of Gosau) in 
unconformable positions, caught up among the serrated peaks 
of the Alps, four or five thousand feet above the level of the 
sea. Such a disjunction of corresponding strata is inexplic- 
able on any hypothesis which rejects the theory of elevation. 
We have concluded, chiefly on zoological evidence, that the 
unconformable beds of Gosau are more recent than the chalk. 
We believe that they contain neither ammonites nor belem- 
nites, nor any other known species of secondary fossils ; and 
on the whole we regard them as a term of that unknown 
series of formations which may hereafter close up the chasm 
between the lowest beds of the Paris basin and the chalk. 

" We have pointed out the limits of the old chain of the 
Salzburg and Bavarian Alps, and traced the direction of its 
valleys anterior to the tertiary epoch : and we have described 
a great deposit of lignite far up the valley of the Inn, contain- 
ing fresh water and marine shells, which seem to connect it 
with the period of the London clay. We have further shewn 
that there are within the basin of the Upper Danube two or 
three higher zones of lignite separated from each other by 
sedimentary deposits of enormous thickness. 


1829. "The tertiary system of Bavaria is shewn to pass into, 

iBt# 44« and to be identical with, the molasse and nagelflue of Switzer- 
land. The higher part of this series must therefore be of the 
same age with some of the formations of the Sub-Appennines. 
We have proved that enormous masses of sandstone and 
conglomerate many thousand feet in thickness, stretching 
from the base of the Alps to the plains of the Danube, are 
chiefly derived from the degradation of the neighbouring 
chain — that many of these masses cannot be distinguished 
from the newest detritus which lies scattered on the surface 
of the earth — that in their prolongation into Switzerland 
they sometimes contain bones of mammalia — that they are 
regularly stratified, and alternate with beds containing marine 
shells — and that they cannot have been caused by any 
transient inundation. 

"Finally, we point out the probable effect of debdcles 
which took place when the basin was deserted by the sea. 
We shew that the excavations produced by the retiring 
waters have been augmented by the bursting of successive 
lakes, of which we found traces in all the upland valleys 
of Bavaria; and that these excavations have been since 
carried on by the erosive power of the streams which roll 
down from the sides of the Alps to the plains of the Danube 1 ." 

To read an elaborate paper is one thing; to make it fit 
for publication is another ; and it was soon found that some 
very hard work had yet to be done. When the abstracts 
appeared in the Proceedings of the Society, the views therein 
advanced — especially those relating to the Valley of Gosau — 
were combated both in England and abroad, notably by 
Dr Ami Bou& It became therefore necessary to test con- 
clusions by a second visit to the ground. Sedgwick, ap- 
parently, had no wish to leave home again so soon ; and the 
task therefore devolved on Murchison, who devoted the 
summer of 1830 to it, with complete success. On his return 

1 Address to the Geological Society, 19 February, 1830, p. 9. Proceedings, 
i. 193. 


he read a separate memoir to the Geological Society, in 1830. 
which the old conclusions were fortified with fresh facts. ^Ms- 
After this the Council of the Society decided that it would 
be more instructive, and save repetition and correction, if the 
whole subject were treated in a single memoir. This was no 
doubt a wise decision, but it entailed the re-writing of both 
memoirs, so as to weld them properly together. A good deal 
of this labour fell to Sedgwick's share, and occupied him, 
conjointly with other work, for several months in 1831. The 
volume in which the paper appears in its final form was not 
published until 1835. 

At the beginning of 1830 it became Sedgwick's duty to 
deliver, as President of the Geological Society, the customary 
address at the Anniversary Meeting. Perfunctory work of 
this sort rarely repays careful analysis. Questions which the 
author weighs in the balance of a good-natured criticism 
have long since been settled, or forgotten ; and praise or 
blame when delivered from the Chair is apt to lose in 
sincerity as much as it gains in authority. Sedgwick — 
always honest and straight-forward — avoids these defects as 
far as the nature of the case permits. He passes in review 
what had been accomplished during the previous year; the 
papers by Lyell and Murchison; by Murchison and himself; 
by Dr Fitton, and others ; and these works lead him to 
discuss the action of river-currents, with his own views there- 
on ; the true sub-divisions of the tertiary strata ; the import- 
ance of the study of organic remains, etc.; so that the speech 
is lifted above the accidents of the moment, and possesses 
permanent value. These diverse subjects are not only clearly 
and eloquently treated, but what in other hands would have 
been a dry discussion is enlivened with graphic similes — 
humorous touches — inspiriting appeals to unwearied labour, 
especially in the field of English Geology — and hints at the 
true method of correlating facts, and establishing a correct 
induction from them — in a manner well worthy of the 
" mathematical geologist." The concluding paragraphs are 


1830. devoted to a piece of criticism as severe as anything that 
&*- 45- Sedgwick ever penned. A member of the Society, Andrew 
Ure, M.D. had lately published A New System of Geology, 
" in which the great revolutions of the earth and of animated 
nature are reconciled at once to modern science and to sacred 
history." This " monument of folly," as Sedgwick calls it, is 
pulled to pieces without mercy, and some of its worst 
blunders exposed. Into these we need not enter — indeed the 
subject would not have been alluded to at all had it not given 
occasion to a passage so noble, and of such general applica- 
tion, that we cannot resist the pleasure of quoting it. 

Laws for the government of intellectual beings, and laws by 
which material things are held together, have not one common 
element to connect them. And to seek for the exposition of the 
phenomena of the natural world among the records of the moral 
destinies of mankind, would be as unwise, as to look for rules of 
moral government among the laws of chemical combination. From 
the unnatural union of things so utterly incongruous, there has from 
time to time sprung up in this country a deformed progeny of 
heretical and fantastical conclusions, by which sober philosophy has 
been put to open shame, and sometimes even the charities of life 
have been exposed to violation. 

No opinion can be heretical but that which is not true. Con- 
flicting falsehoods we can comprehend, but truths can never war 
against each other. I affirm, therefore, that we have nothing to fear 
from the results of our inquiries, provided they be followed in the 
laborious but secure road of honest induction. In this way we may 
rest assured that we shall never arrive at conclusions opposed to 
any truth, either physical or moral, from whatsoever source that 
truth may be derived : nay rather, (as in all truth there is a common 
essence) that new discoveries will ever lend support and illustration 
to things which are already known, by giving us a larger insight into 
the universal harmonies of nature 1 . 

The first half of 1830 was fully occupied with the pre- 
paration of the above address (delivered 19 February) — with 
journeys to London on the business of the Society, and other 
matters which his recognised position as one of the first of 
English geologists imposed upon him — as, for instance, exami- 
nation before a Committee of the House of Commons on the 
Coal Measures, and attendance at "a Committee appointed 

1 Address, p. 23. 


to direct a Survey of the Thames 1 ." In the midst of all this 1830. 

he found time to congratulate his friend Dean Monk on being Mim 45< 

promoted from the Deanery of Peterborough to the Bishopric 

of Gloucester. " We all rejoice at this event/' he wrote, " from 

feelings of personal regard, founded in a long experience both 

of your unwearied kindness and of your great services rendered 

to ourselves and our Society while you were one of our 

resident members: we all rejoice on public grounds, for we 

see in yourself an instance of honourable distinction, founded, 

as it ought to be, not on party interest, but on high literary 

claims 2 ." 

May brought the usual preparations for the Woodwardian 
audit. This year he had plenty of additions to record : 
"specimens from the extinct volcanoes near Bonn;" from 
nearly every district visited in 1829, including "a very fine 
series of organic remains from Solenhofen," and several 
geological maps purchased at Berlin. As usual he laments 
" that want of room prevents him from having the pleasure of 
exhibiting many of these additions," but " hopes that before 
long he snail have an opportunity of unpacking them, and of 
arranging them in a Museum of the University 8 " — a sanguine 
aspiration which was not realised for more than eleven years 
after this report was written. 

Murchison had started early in the summer to "riddle the 
Alps in all directions, ,, as he said ; and he kept Sedgwick 
constantly informed of all that he was doing — of the help 
he obtained from continental geologists, and of the new facts 
he was ascertaining in support of their common position. 
His letters, interesting and valuable as they are, are too 
technical for a biography; and indeed, would be hardly 
intelligible without the maps and sections to which they refer. 
Of Sedgwick's letters to him one only has been preserved — 
perhaps only one was written. It is occupied chiefly with a 

1 To R. I. Murchison, May, 1830. 

2 To Dean Monk, 14 February, 1830. 

3 Report to the Woodwardian Auditors , 1 May, 1830. 


1830. very severe criticism on the abstract of their joint papers 
iEt -45- which Murchison had sent to the Annals of Philosophy, and 
which Sedgwick had fortunately intercepted before it was 
printed off. Murchison calls the letter "very cross," and 
declares that Sedgwick must have been " in a mathematically 
exact humour" when he wrote it; but he concedes all that 
was wanted when he speaks of the paper in question as " my 
very careless abstract 1 ." This matter despatched, Sedgwick 
proceeds to tell him that he had stayed in London for some 
time, " being in daily expectation of the commencement of a 
canvass for a new contest in the University;" that "fortu- 
nately the storm had blown over," and that he was then " in 
all the press and confusion of a man who is going to desert 
his quarters. Tomorrow morning I am off on my way to 
Northumberland. I shall halt at Newcastle, and try to lay 
in a stock of information ; and then, as soon as possible, bear 
down upon the Cheviots. If I knew how to hit you I would 
send a fly-leaf after you when I had properly pounded the 
porphyries. I am delighted with your account of the Low 
Countries; you have done some excellent work there.... Lyell 
has been off about three weeks, and has not been since heard 
of. His book* has a hard delivery ; it is not yet out. This is 
very vexatious, as I wanted to take it with me. The King's 
death ; speeches in the House of Commons ; the fear of a 
contested election; these have been the chief topics.... Give 
my best regards to Mrs Murchison. How does she bear the 
fatigues of your campaign 8 ?" 

A letter to Mrs Murchison (21 October) records a few 
particulars of the summer's work, which had proved some- 
what disappointing: "Among the Cheviot hills I worked 
hard for about ten days ; and I did some good work in a 
small way on the Scotch borders. Soon after I was attacked 
with indisposition ; and in a great measure driven off the 

1 From R. I. Murchison, Ischl, 15 August, 1830. 
1 The first volume of his Principles of Geology. 
8 To R. I. Murchison, Cambridge, 15 July, 1830. 


field. After making one or two vain efforts among the 1830. 
Cumberland mountains I finally took shelter in my native iEt -45- 
valley." There he was detained by a long spell of bad 
weather: "all the powers of the air," he says, " were in league 
against me." He was therefore obliged to give up a projected 
excursion to North Wales and Ireland, and content himself 
with Ingleborough. In that district he " ransacked the hills 
from the ridge of Stainmoor to the heart of Craven." By the 
end of October, as usual, he was back at Cambridge. 

Towards the close of this year certain Fellows of the Royal 
Society let it be known that, in their opinion, His Royal 
Highness the Duke of Sussex was a fit and proper person to 
be President ; that he was willing, not to say anxious, to accept 
the office ; and that he did so with His Majesty's approval. 
Thereupon the actual President, Mr Davies Gilbert, retired. 
The scientific section of the Fellows, indignant at what they 
regarded as an interference with their independence on the part 
of the Court, persuaded Mr Herschel to allow himself to be 
nominated in opposition to the Duke. Murchison took an 
active part in getting up the requisition to Herschel, which was 
signed by Sedgwick and most of his Cambridge friends. He 
had been for some years anxious to see Herschel President 1 , 
but, being out of London, did not work himself up to the 
white heat of anger that seems to have been there prevalent. 
At the same time he did what he could to stop the Duke's 
pretensions in his usual straightforward fashion. He wrote 
to Murchison (21 November): " I did sign a paper requesting 
Herschel to come forward. What this new paper is I don't 
exactly know, and I don't intend to take any more public 

1 In 1827, when he had heard of a suggestion to elect Sir R. Peel, he wrote to 
Murchison (25 November) : " The republic of science will indeed be degraded if 
the Council of the Royal Society is to become a mere political junta, and we are 
to sit under a man who condescends to be our patron. The Institute of France 
have not yet learned to degrade themselves by placing in the chair a man who has 
no other recommendation than that of having been a King's Minister. Why don't 
some of you propose Herschel? He is by far the first man of science in London, 
and would do the work admirably." Sedgwick became F.R.S. in 1820. 


1830. steps. But I intend to take a private step, and a very strong 
&*- 45« one. By this post I shall write to the Duke of Sussex, and 
explain my views to him very plainly. I shall then have 
liberated my conscience. In case of a contest I cannot come 
up. Whewell and some others will come up — Coddington, 
Willis, &c. Whewell wishes me to impress upon you the 
very great importance of inducing Herschel to come forward 
as a candidate. Many men will tail off if they have an 
excuse, and Herschers unwillingness is a good apology for 
weak minds. Indeed it is no bad apology for any one." 

At that time the Duke was a frequent visitor to Cambridge, 
where he greatly enjoyed the hospitalities profusely laid at his 
feet by the Fellows of Trinity College, two of whom, Sedgwick 
and G. A. Browne, had been appointed his chaplains 1 . On 
these occasions he would breakfast with one, dine with an- 
other, sup with a third, and in general behave as if he were 
one of themselves. He was evidently not displeased with 
Sedgwick's boldness, and wrote in reply: "I thank you for 
your candour, and whether our opinions may differ on this or 
any other subject, I know how to respect the talents as well 
as the motives of any individual" — but he persisted in his 
candidature, and was elected by 1 19 votes to in. 

At the beginning of January, 1831, Sedgwick read to the 
Geological Society his first paper On the General Structure 
of the Lake Mountains of tJie North of England, the materials 
for which had been collected several years before. For the 
present, we merely note the fact, reserving for a subsequent 
chapter an account of his views on the geology of Lakeland. 

In the following month he concluded his two years of 
office as President of the Geological Society; but, before 
retiring from the chair (18 February, 1831), he had a singu- 
larly agreeable duty to perform. Three years before, Thomas 
Hyde Wollaston, M.D. had transferred one thousand pounds 
to the Society, the dividends on which were to be applied 
after his death, "in promoting researches concerning the 

1 Sedgwick's patent is dated 10 May, 1819. 


mineral structure of the earth, or in rewarding those by whom 1831. 
such researches may hereafter be made." Dr Wollaston died ^ * 6 - 
22 December, 1828, just a fortnight after executing the above 
transfer. The first year's income was devoted to the purchase 
of a die, designed by Chantrey, " bearing the impress of the 
head of Dr Wollaston" ; in order that a commemorative gold 
medal, value ten guineas, might form part of the annual 
donation ; and it was not until early in 1831 that the Council 
met to decide upon the first award. They resolved unani- 
mously that the medal should "be given to Mr William Smith, 
in consideration of his being a great original discoverer in 
English Geology ; and especially for his having been the first, 
in this country, to discover and to teach the identification 
of strata, and to determine their succession, by means of 
their imbedded fossils." 

The conscience of any other President than Sedgwick 
would probably have been satisfied by declaring this award 
in a few well-selected phrases at the begining or the end of 
his own address ; for, he might well have argued, the merits 
of " Strata Smith " are by this time fully recognised by 
geologists. But Sedgwick was too generous, too warm- 
hearted, to adopt so selfish a course. " I for one," he said 
" can speak with gratitude of the practical lessons I have 
received from Mr Smith: it was by tracking his footsteps, 
with his maps in my hand, through Wiltshire and the 
neighbouring counties, where he had trodden nearly thirty 
years before, that I first learnt the subdivisions of our oolitic 
series, and apprehended the meaning of those arbitrary and 
somewhat uncouth terms, which we derive from him as our 
master, and which have long become engrafted into the 
conventional language of English Geologists." He determined 
to publish to the world, with all the authority of the position 
he then held, the wonderful story of that humble land- 
surveyor who, in the course of his professional work, had 
discovered the key, if we may so speak, to the geological 
cipher. The result is a rapid, but singularly clear and 


1831. appreciative sketch of a remarkable life, interspersed with 
Mt. 46. S ome nobly eloquent passages, the effect of which, as 
originally delivered, with all the force of Sedgwick's energy 
and enthusiasm, may be measured by that which they still 
produce upon a reader. Towards the close of his speech he 
demanded from his hearers their approbation of the Council's 
award : " I would appeal " he said " to those intelligent men 
who form the strength and ornament of this Society, whether 
there was any place for doubt or hesitation ? whether we 
were not compelled, by every motive which the judgment can 
approve, and the heart can sanction, to perform this act of 
filial duty, before we thought of the claims of any other man, 
and to place our first honours on the brow of the Father of 
English Geology. 

" If in the pride of our present strength, we were disposed 
to forget our origin, our very speech would bewray us ; for 
we use the language which he taught in the infancy of our 
science. If we, by our united efforts, are chiseling the 
ornaments, and slowly raising up the pinnacles of one of the 
temples of Nature, it was he who gave the plan, and laid the 
foundations, and erected a portion of the solid walls, by the 
unassisted labour of his hands 1 ." 

In the evening of the same day Sedgwick delivered his 
own address as President. As in that of the previous year, 
he reviews the progress of stratigraphical geology, with even 
more than his former felicity of treatment, and clearness of 
exposition ; while the publication of Herschel's paper On 
the Astronomical Causes which may influence Geological 
Phenomena, of the first volume of Lyell's Principles of 
Geology, and of the papers contributed by M. Elie de Beaumont 
to the Annates des Sciences Naturelles, gave him an opportunity 
of dealing with the fundamental theories of the science. 

Of Lyell's work he spoke with genuine admiration. 
" Were I to tell him," he said, " of the instruction I received 

1 Proceedings of the Geological Society, i. no, 270 — 279. Memoirs 0/ William 
Smith, LL J)., by John Phillips, 8vo. Lond. 1844. 


from every chapter of his work, and of the delight with which 1831. 
I rose from the perusal of the whole, I might seem to flatter <**• 4<>- 
rather than to speak the language of sober criticism ; " but, 
when the criticism came, it struck at the very foundation of 
the authors theory. He " could not but regret " that Lyell 
seemed to stand forward as " the champion of a great leading 
doctrine of the Huttonian hypothesis", and that "in the 
language of an advocate he sometimes forgets the character 
of an historian." Sedgwick had not time to deal with the 
whole of even the single volume then published ; but 
addressed himself, in the main, to the theoretical portion. 
The following paragraphs are, we think, of especial value, 
as the truth of the doctrine of Uniformity has again been 
called in question. 

According to the principles of Mr Lyell, the physical operations 
now going on, are not only the type, but the measure of intensity, of 
the physical powers acting on the earth at all anterior periods : and 
all we now see around us kfonly the last link in the great chain of 
phenomena, arising out of a uniform causation, of which we can 
trace no beginning, and of which we can see no prospect of the end. 
And in all this, there is much that is beautiful and true. For we all 
allow, that the primary laws of nature are immutable — that all we 
now see is subordinate to those immutable laws — and that we can 
only judge of effects which are past, by the effects we behold in 
progress.... But to assume that the secondary combinations arising 
out of the primary laws of matter, have been the same in all periods 
of the earth, is an unwarrantable hypothesis with no a priori 
probability, and only to be maintained by an appeal to geological 

If the principles I am combating be true, the earth's surface 
ought to present an indefinite succession of similar phenomena. 
But as far as I have consulted the book of nature, I would invert 
the negative in this proposition, and affirm, that the earth's surface 
presents a definite succession of dissimilar phenomena. If this be 
true, and we are all agreed that it is ; and if it be also true, that 
we know nothing of second causes, but by the effects they have 
produced; then "the undeviating uniformity of secondary causes ", 
the " uniform order of physical events ", " the invariable constancy 
in the order of nature", and other phrases of like kind, are to 
me, as far as regards the phenomena of geology, words almost 
without meaning. They may serve to enunciate the proposi- 
tions of an hypothesis; but they do not describe the true order 
of nature. 

S. I. 24 


1831. We are not surprised that Lyell should have written : 

Mt. 46. " Sedgwick's attack is the severest, and I shall put forth my 
strength against him in 1 " the second volume. 

But, cautious as Sedgwick was in expressing agreement 
with Lyell's theory, he accepted, almost without hesitation, 
the startling views of M. Elie de Beaumont on the elevation 
of mountain-chains, and exhausted the vocabulary of praise 
on his "noble generalisations, ,, "admirable researches", and 
so forth — because "his conclusions are not based upon any 
a priori reasoning, but on the evidence of facts ; and also, 
because, in part, they are in accordance with my own 
observations." It is only just, however, to mention, that 
Sedgwick warned his hearers that even these generalisations 
had been " already pushed too far." 

This careful study of M. de Beaumont's work led Sedgwick 
to one important conclusion, which has by no means lost its 
interest at the present time, namely : " that the vast masses 
of diluvial gravel, scattered almost over the surface of the 
earth, do not belong to one violent and transitory period." 
And then he had the courage to proceed as follows : 

It was indeed a most unwarranted conclusion, when we assumed 
the contemporaneity of all the superficial gravel on the earth. We 
saw the clearest traces of diluvial action, and we had, in our sacred 
histories, the record of a general deluge. On this double testimony 
it was, that we gave a unity to a vast succession of phenomena, not 
one of which we perfectly comprehended, and under the name 
diluvium, classed them all together. 

To seek the light of physical truth by reasoning of this kind, is, 
in the language of Bacon, to seek the living among the dead, and 
will ever end in erroneous induction. Our errors were, however, 
natural, and after the same kind which led many excellent observers 
of a former century to refer all the secondary formations of geology 
to the Noachian deluge. Having been myself a believer, and, to 
the best of my power, a propagator of what I now regard as a 
philosophic heresy, and having more than once been quoted for 
opinions I do not now maintain, I think it right, as one of my last 
acts before I quit this Chair, thus publicly to read my recantation. 

We ought, indeed, to have paused before we first adopted the 
diluvian theory, and referred all our old superficial gravel to the 

1 Lift of Sir Char Us Lydl, i. 318. 


action of the Mosaic flood. For of man, and the works of his 1831. 
hands, we have not yet found a single trace among the remnants of ,£t. 46. 
a former world entombed in these ancient deposits. In classing 
together distant unknown formations under one name; in giving 
them a simultaneous origin, and in determining their date, not by 
the organic remains we had discovered, but by those we expected 
hypothetically hereafter to discover, in them ; we have given one 
more example of the passion with which the mind fastens upon 
general conclusions, and of the readiness with which it leaves the 
consideration of unconnected truths. ! 

It is strange that so cautious a writer as Sedgwick should 
have written the last paragraph, even in 1 831. But he lived 
long enough to make a second recantation, and to admit that 
Man had appeared upon the earth at a period long anterior 
to that for which he had previously contended. 

1 An interesting account of the way in which Sedgwick was led to change his 
views on diluvium occurs in a letter to Murchison, dated 17 November, 1831. 
"If I have been converted in part from the diluvian theory (which by the way I 
never held to the same extent with Buckland, as you may see if you read the last 
page of the only paper I ever wrote on the subject) it was... by my own gradual 
improved experience, and by communicating with those about me. Perhaps I 
may date my change of mind (at least in part) from our journey in the Highlands, 
where there are so many indications of local diluvial operations.... Humboldt 
ridiculed [the doctrine] beyond measure when I met him in Paris. Prlvost 
lectured against it." 

24 — 2 


(1831— 1834). 

The Reform Bill. Contested election for University. 
Geological papers. Tour in Wales with Charles Darwin 
(1831). Declines the living of East Farleigh. Mrs 
Somerville's visit to Cambridge. British Association 
at Oxford. Summer and Autumn in Wales. President 
of Cambridge Philosophical Society. Discourse on the 
Studies of the University (1832). British Association 
at Cambridge. The Beverley Controversy (1833). Dis- 

Association at Edinburgh. Made Prebendary of Norwich 

When Sedgwick ceased to be President of the Geological 
Society, and, as he put it, "exchanged dignity for liberty," 
he probably looked forward to a spell of leisure, during which 
he might work at geology without interruption. Such hopes, 
however, if he ever entertained them seriously, were doomed to 
disappointment; and we shall find that during 1831 and the 
three succeeding years he was more than ever absorbed in 
University and College occupations. 

In less than a fortnight after the annual general meeting of 
the Geological Society at which Sedgwick delivered his 
farewell address, Lord John Russell introduced the Reform 
Bill into the House of Commons. A man of letters or of 
science, whichever side he took in the controversy which 


thenceforth divided England, might well have exclaimed, 183 1. 
' O now for ever farewell the tranquil mind, farewell content* ; Mi - 4& 
and therefore it need not surprise us that Sedgwick should 
complain shortly afterwards : " I am sadly out of sorts, and 
involved in politics, which are dividing old friends, and 
playing the devil amongst us 1 ." More than half a century has 
elapsed since these words were written, and few are left in 
Cambridge who can remember the state of feeling which 
justified them. But there are still some who can recall 
the after-effects, and can truthfully describe the Reform Bill 
as the nightmare of their childhood. It appeared to them, 
from the way in which they heard their elders speak of it, to 
have been a maleficent influence — an embodiment of the 
spirit of evil — which had brought discord into a peaceful 
society, and had left to the next generation an inheritance 
of sundered friendships and bitter feuds. When a child 
inquired, "Who is that?" he was not unfrequently answered, 
" That is Mr So and So ; we used to be very intimate before 
the Reform Bill, but we never speak now." But nothing of 
this sort could be said about Sedgwick. He was an ardent 
reformer; but his high personal character, his great popularity, 
and his uniform kindliness and good humour towards those 
who differed from him, enabled him to pass through the ordeal 
unscathed. It has been often said that he and Mr Pryme 
were the only liberals in the University who took a prominent 
part in favour of reform, and yet neither made an enemy nor 
lost a friend. 

Soon after the introduction of the Reform Bill, the 
University sent a petition to the House of Commons against 
it. The promoters were evidently by no means sure of their 
ground, for a contemporary fly-sheet records that the petition 
" was carried through with a haste extremely indecorous and 
reprehensible ; the notice to the Senate having been barely of 
the legal extent, and given on a day on which the post did not 

1 To R. I. Murchison, 24 March, 1831. 


1831. leave Cambridge; the previous meetings of the Heads having 
Ex. 46. 5e en held with the shortest possible notice ; some of their 
deliberations having taken place on a Sunday; and the petition 
having been agreed to by them in the two hours preceding 
the congregation at which it was offered at the Senate 1 / 1 
Under these circumstances it was of course impossible to give 
notice to non-residents ; and the grace to affix the University 
Seal to the document, though opposed, was carried in each 
of the houses into which the Senate was then divided. 

The petition having been carried, Sedgwick tells us that 
he and his friends are setting to work "to remedy the evil 
of it as well as we can, by getting a Declaration up in favour 
of the sitting candidates 8 ." This Declaration was supported 
by some of "the original promoters of the recent petition 
to the House of Commons against certain provisions in 
the Reform Bill ; " and was probably suggested by the 
knowledge that the success of the petition would be followed 
by an attempt to unseat Lord Palmerston and Mr Cavendish, 
in the event of a dissolution of Parliament 8 . The Declaration 
is dated 23 March, and is signed by thirty-six members 
of the Senate, among whom, in addition to Sedgwick, 
are Smyth, Cumming, Whewell, Henslow, Airy, Worsley, 
J. C. Hare, and Thirlwall. It was promptly succeeded (28 
March) by a counter-declaration, the signatories to which, 
forty-two in number, bound themselves "to promote the 
return of two representatives entertaining more moderate 

1 Reasons for regretting the University Petition of March ii. This fly-sheet 
is dated "Trin. Coll. March 23, 1831," and is believed to have been written 
by the Rev. W. Whewell. Notice was given on Saturday, 19 March, for a Con- 
gregation to be held on Monday, 21 March, at 1 1 a.m. A letter from Cambridge 
printed in The Times of 23 March says : "If two days' notice had been given, we 
should have had twenty or thirty Masters of Arts from London, who would have 
thrown the petition out, as we did in the case of the Catholic Petition [in 1829]." 
See above, p. 336. 

9 To R. I. Murchison, 24 March, 1831. 

* Sedgwick says, in the last-quoted letter: "The petition will, I fear, create a 
contest at Cambridge, in case of a dissolution, and such an event would be almost 
the death of me.'* 


views than those of the present representatives of the Uni- l8 3i- 
versity upon the vital question of Parliamentary Reform." ' 4 ' 
It became evident, therefore, that, whenever a dissolution 
should occur, there would be a contest, and probably a 
severe one, for the honour of representing the University 
in Parliament. 

When the dissolution took place (22 April) the con- 
servatives brought forward Mr Goulburn and Mr William 
Yates Peel, who declared themselves, in the most unqualified 
language, opposed to the Bill, though not averse to the 
consideration of reform in general. Neither said a word on 
any subject except reform — an omission of which Sedgwick 
was not slow to take advantage. He printed a short address 
(2 May), signed, like his letter to Mr Goulburn, A Resident 
Member of tlie Senate. After pointing out that the two 
candidates had rested their claims to election solely on 
their opposition to the Reform Bill, he proceeds : 

And why, may I ask, have they reduced the question within 
these narrow limits? because that they are well aware they have 
nothing else to produce as a recommendation to any part of the 
University, except their pledges in opposition to the Bill brought 
forward by Ministers. 

How far these pledges are likely to be fulfilled, I will not now 
stop to inquire ; but I wish to put this question to every Member of 
the Senate, "whether it is consistent with the dignity of the Uni- 
versity to select two Members to represent them in Parliament, 
on account of the Vote which they may give upon a particular 
question, without considering their general qualifications for defining 
the interests, and maintaining the character, of this Learned Body?" 

With regard to the measure of Reform, the result of the 
Elections which have already taken place, must convince every 
impartial mind that its success is no longer doubtful. The ground, 
therefore, upon which the new Candidates lay claim to your favour, 
is fast crumbling beneath their feet, and when the Reform Bill has 
passed, I defy the most zealous Anti-Reformer to point out a single 
advantage which the University can derive from this change in its 

This appeal to what might happen in the future met, we 
may well suppose, with but little consideration in those stormy 
times. A large majority of the electors were satisfied with 


1831. the knowledge that Lord Palmerston and Mr Cavendish were 
jEt 46. both reformers. The former, as Secretary of State for Foreign 
Affairs, was a member of the Government, the latter had 
voted for the Bill. The non-residents flocked to the Poll, 
and at its close Mr Goulburn had polled 805 votes, Mr Peel 
804, Mr Cavendish 630, and Lord Palmerston 610 1 . When 
the election was over, Sedgwick wrote : " I was extremely 
fatigued with last week's work, and mortified at the result 
more than I can find words to express ; and it certainly does 
not take away from the painful feelings when I reflect that 
the defeat was courted by the vacillation of our own party*. n 

Amidst this excitement Sedgwick found time to write a 
second paper in continuation of his work on the Cumbrian 
Mountains — a Description of a Series of Longitudinal and 
Transverse Sections through a Portion of the Carboniferous 
Chain beween Penigent and Kirkby Stephen, read to the 
Geological Society in March, 1831. With this — and his 
usual share in the Scholarship Examination at Trinity 
College, he was fully occupied till the middle of April, when 
he set to work on the revision of the paper on the Eastern 
Alps, which, as previously explained, had now to be recast, 
and almost re-written. He had hoped to get this work 
rapidly off his hands, and to be ready to start for Wales at 
the beginning of the Long Vacation. But, when June came, 
he was out of sorts, his time had been cut up by a succession 
of visitors, and, as he went on with his work, he found it 
increase, rather than diminish. 

Early in June Murchison started to commence those 
investigations into the then little known Transition Rocks, 
as they were called, which ended in the publication of T/ie 
Silurian System. Sedgwick had been invited to accompany 

1 The poll was taken 3—6 May, 1831. An analysis at the end of the Poll- 
book shews that the number of voters was 1450 — a strong proof of the excitement 
of the hour — for it exceeded by 157 the largest number polled on any previous 

9 To Mrs Murchison, 11 May, 1831. 


him, but his plans were made, and he declined to alter them. 1831. 
As events turned out it was an unfortunate decision. Had he ^ * 6 - 
said " Yes " instead of " No," how different the future of the 
two men might have been ! They would have commenced 
their exploration of Wales from the same point, instead of 
from opposite sides of the principality; they would have 
worked out the proper sequence of the rocks together instead 
of separately; Siluria might never have had an existence 
independent of Cambria ; and no misunderstanding need ever 
have arisen between the two explorers. 

The next letter describes Sedgwick's difficulties with the 
paper, and at the commencement of his survey of North 

Llanllyfni, near Caernarvon, 

September itfh, 1831. 
Dear Murchison, 

Had the elements been more favourable you 
might have waited long for an answer. But I was driven 
by stress of weather to Caernarvon on Saturday, and on 
Sunday morning found a packet of letters waiting for me, 
and yours among the rest. Yesterday was fine and I did 
some work here ; today everything is wrapped in mist, 
and the rain is falling in buckets. I did not get from 
Cambridge before the 1st of August. The Alpine paper was 
infinitely more troublesome to reduce than I expected. The 
fossils, I took for granted, would fall into their right places, 
and, as their determination was not a part of my labour, I 
hoped simply to have the trouble of writing out the lists. 
You may therefore judge of my vexation when I tell you 
that I was stopped by the fossils over and over again ; that I 
had two journeys up to London, and that Lonsdale had 
one down to Cambridge arising out of them. This was not 
as it ought to have been. The lists ought to have been 
settled for better for worse sooner. And, after all, the result 
is far from satisfactory. I last year actually bullied Bou6 
about the lowest strata in Styria, assuming that the fossils 


1831. were those of the London clay. Now it turns out, after the final 

JEu 46. rev j s j OIlj that in the lowest Styrian clays there is not a single 

London Clay fossil ascertained. There is one with a query, 

and that is all : in fact, I do not believe now that the London 

Clay is found in Styria. But enough of this. 

I spent one day at Dudley and two days at Shrewsbury, 
and finally entered North Wales on the 5th August. As the 
Prince of the Air would have it, I was almost drowned in a 
thunderstorm the very morning I commenced my labours. 
As the greywacke hills continued in cloud I crossed to the 
vale of the Clwyd, hoping at least to do some work among 
the secondaries 1 . It would have delighted me to have 
attacked the Mold district, but I knew that I had no time, 
so I confined myself to the vale. The day following was 
beautiful, and I worked my way down to Denbigh. Next 
day I made a traverse, and descended to St Asaph, thence 
in my gig to Conway. The Old Red all round by Orm 
Head &c. &c. is a pure fiction. At least I can't see a trace 
of it. There is not a particle of it between Denbigh and 
the Isle of Anglesea. There are, however, some red beds 
(which may pass for Old Red for want of better) in a ravine 
west of Ruthin, and in one or two places near Llangollen 
under the Mountain Limestone escarpment. The band of 
limestone on the east side of the vale of Clwyd is not, I 
believe, continuous — there are, if I mistake not, several 
interruptions in it. I spent some days in the Isle of Anglesea 
in the hopes of learning my lesson for Snowdonia. Henslow's 
paper 1 is excellent, but the lesson is worth next to nothing ; 
for Anglesea is almost as distinct in structure from Snowdonia, 
as if they had been separated by the Atlantic sea rather than 
the straits of Menai. I have now been at real hard work, 
cracking the rocks of Caernarvonshire for rather more than 
three weeks, and can report progress. My health is much 
better, but I am liable to rheumatic attacks at night, after 

1 This term includes the carboniferous rocks, as was usual at that time. 
9 See above, p. 334. 


the fatigues of the day, and truly fatiguing work it is to climb 1831. 
these mountains ; but nothing can be done without. Already -**• 4& 
I have been upon all the most elevated summits in this 
county. This is pretty well considering the many inter- 
ruptions from mist and rain. If my health continue, and my 
limbs are not jostled out of their sockets, I shall remain here 
as long as the weather will let me, or at least till I have 
finished this county. I can then quit the country with a good 
conscience, and if I live till next year, can come back to the 
Principality in good hope of finishing my work in another 

Under these circumstances York is quite out of the 
question. I should be a traitor to quit my post, now that I 
am keeping watch among the mountains. It would be very 
delightful to meet the philosophers, and commence deipno- 
sophist, but it would be very bad philosophy in the long run. 
You may tell Mr Vernon 1 that keeping away is a great act 
of self-denial on my part, and that I am in fact doing their 
work by staying away. I shall rejoice to meet you and 
Mrs M. at Cambridge on your return ; you may then tell me 
all about it. If you write, address me still at Caernarvon. I 
consider it my head quarters, though I may not be there 
again for a fortnight or three weeks.... I have no room for a 
Snowdonian transverse section. The structure is on the whole 
regular, and the strike longitudinal ; I have nearly completed 
one base line to work upon; the rest must be done by 
traverses. My best regards to Mrs M. 

Yours ever, A. Sedgwick. 

For two or three weeks, at the commencement of this tour, 
Sedgwick was accompanied by Charles Darwin, then a young 
man of twenty-two. It is provoking that neither should have 
written down his impressions of the other at the time ; for 

1 The Rev. William Vernon (afterwards Vernon Harcourt) third son of the 
Archbishop of York, zealously promoted the first meeting of the Association. 
Geikie's Lift of Murchison y i. 185. 


1831. it is evident that from this time forward Sedgwick took a 
Mu 46. keen interest in him. In 1835, while Darwin was absent on 
board TJie Beagle, Sedgwick wrote to Dr Butler of Shrews- 
bury : " His [Dr Darwin's] son is doing admirable work in 
South America, and has already sent home a collection 
above all price. It was the best thing in the world for him 
that he went out on the voyage of discovery. There was 
some risk of his turning out an idle man, but his character 
will be now fixed, and if God spares his life he will have a 
great name among the Naturalists of Europe 1 ." In after life, 
though they differed widely, Sedgwick always spoke of his 
geological pupil, as he may be termed, with cordiality and 
kindness; and Darwin, replying to a note received from 
Sedgwick not very long before his death, could write : "I am 
pleased that you remember my attending you in your 
excursions in 1831. To me, it was a memorable event 
in my life: I felt it a great honour, and it stimulated me 
to work, and made me appreciate the noble science of 
geology. ,, In 1875, in answer to an inquiry from Professor 
Hughes, Darwin wrote down all he could remember about 
the tour of 183 1. 

Down, Beckenham, Kent, 

May 24, 1875. 

My dear Sir, 

I understand from my son that you wish to hear about 
my short geological tour with Professor Sedgwick in North Wales 
during the summer of 1831 ; but it is so long ago that I can tell you 
very little. 

As I desired to learn something about Geology, Professor Henslow 
asked Sedgwick to allow me to accompany him on his tour, and he 
assented to this in the readiest and kindest manner. He came to 
my father's house at Shrewsbury, and I remember how spirited and 
amusing his conversation was during the whole evening; but he 
talked so much about his health and uncomfortable feelings that my 
father, who was a doctor, thought that he was a confirmed hypo- 

We started next morning, and after a day or two he sent me 
across the country in a line parallel to his course, telling me to 
collect specimens of the rocks, and to note the stratification. In 

1 To Dr S. Butler, 7 November, 1835. 


the evening he discussed what I had seen; and this of course 1831. 
encouraged me greatly, and made me exceedingly proud ; but I jg t . 46. 
now suspect that it was done merely for the sake of teaching me, 
and not for anything of value which I could have told him. I 
remember one little incident. We left Conway early in the morning, 
and for the first two or three miles of our walk he was gloomy, and 
hardly spoke a word. He then suddenly burst forth : "I know that 
the d — d fellow never gave her the sixpence. I'll go back at once;" 
and turned round to return to Conway. I was amazed, for I never 
heard before, or since, anything like an oath from him. On inquiry 
I found that he was convinced that the waiter had not given to the 
chambermaid the sixpence which he had left for her. He had no 
reason whatever, excepting that he thought the waiter 'an ill-looking 
fellow.' On my hinting that he could hardly accuse a man of theft 
on such grounds, he consented to proceed, but for some time he 
grumbled and growled. At last his brow cleared, and we had a 
delightful day, and he was as energetic as on all former occasions in 
climbing the mountains. We spent nearly a whole day in Cwm 
Idwal examining the rocks carefully, as he was very desirous to find 

I have often thought of this day as a good instance of how easy 
it is for any one to overlook new phenomena, however conspicuous 
they may be. The valley is glaciated in the plainest manner, the 
rocks being mammillated, deeply scored, with many perched boulders, 
and well-defined moraines; yet none of these phenomena were 
observed by Professor Sedgwick, nor of course by me. Never- 
theless they are so plain, that, as I saw in 1842, the presence of a 
glacier filling the valley would have rendered the evidence less 
distinct \ 

Shortly afterwards I left Professor Sedgwick, and struck across 
the country in another direction, and reported by letter what I saw. 
In his answer he discussed my ignorant remarks in his usual 
generous and frank manner. I am sorry to say that I can tell you 
nothing more about our little tour. 

I find that I have kept only one letter from Professor Sedgwick, 
which he wrote after receiving a copy of my Origin of Species 9 . His 
judgement naturally does not seem to me quite a fair one, but I think 
that the letter is characteristic of the man, and you are at liberty to 
publish it if you should so desire. 

Believe me, my dear Sir, 

Yours sincerely, 

Charles Darwin. 

1 These phenomena are described in a paper by Darwin in the Philosophical 
Magazine for 1842, xxi. 180. See Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, i. 57. 

2 This letter, written in 1859, will appear when we come to speak of 
Sedgwick's attitude towards Darwin's great work. It has already been printed 
in Darwin's Life y ii. 247. 

382 DR MILL. 

1831. Sedgwick got home sooner than he had intended, driven 

Ml 46. ou t of Wales by bad weather. His letter to Murchison, 
announcing his return to Cambridge, indicates a certain 
amount of disappointment. 

Trin. Coll. October 20, 1831. 

" I came here the night before last. The weather be- 
came so bad that I was driven out of Caernarvonshire before 
I had quite finished my work ; but, God willing, I hope to be 
in North Wales next year before the expiration of the first 
week in May, and with five months before me I shall perhaps 
be able to see my way through the greater part of the 
Principality. If I live to finish the survey I shall then have 
terminated my seventh or eighth summer devoted exclusively 
to the details of the old crusty rocks of the primary system 1 . 
What a horrible fraction of a geological life sacrificed to the 
most toilsome and irksome investigations belonging to our 
science! When I finished Cumberland I hoped some one 
else would have done North Wales — but I have been dis- 
appointed. N'itnporte. I am now in for it, and must go on ! 

Many thanks for your account of the York meeting. I 
suppose I must enrol myself one of your body corporate, 
though I shall certainly not be able to attend the next 
meeting at Oxford. But we will talk of it when we meet." 

Before the Michaelmas Term was over it fell to Sedgwick's 
lot to urge the claims of his friend W. H. Mill to be chosen 
the first Boden Professor of Sanscrit at Oxford. Mill had 
written to him from Calcutta expressing his anxiety to obtain 
an office which, while it took him away from a noxious 
climate, would enable him to "prosecute the Indian studies 
I most like in an academic retirement which, though not the 
abode of my mother, is that of her venerable sister " ; and 
in a style not unlike Sedgwick's own, proceeded to claim his 
good offices : 

1 He told Lyell that their investigation was like "rubbing yourself against a 
grindstone." Lift of Sir C. Lye//, i. 367. 


"Now I do not suppose, my dear Professor, that your ad eundem x 1831. 
degree gives you a vote in Convocation ; nevertheless I do canvass &. 47 . 
you, and implore you, if I have appeared to you one on whose 
behalf such things may be done or attempted without unjust 
partiality, and acceptation of persons such as Scripture and sound 
reason do condemn — by the memory of old times, and our several 
meetings and crossings in France, Switzerland, and Alsace — by the 
canvassing scenes of 1818 and 1829, diverse though they be in many 
material respects from this — that you will wisely bethink yourself 
how you may befriend me in this affair. Perhaps your friends 
Professor Buckland (to whom you introduced me at Somerset House), 
and Mr Lyell, and other scientific men of the other University might 
be induced to lend me their powerful aid by your mentioning my 
name to them*". 

Sedgwick did as Mill suggested, and at once wrote to 
Professor Buckland, who entered warmly into his views. His 
letter " transcribed in a fair hand " — a preliminary step which 
was doubtless necessary if it was to have any effect upon the 
University — was placed in the hands of the Vice-Chancellor, 
together with the testimonials of the other candidates ; and at 
first Buckland seemed sanguine of success ; but, when the day 
of election came, an Oxonian was preferred to a member of 
another University, and the Professorship was conferred upon 
Horace Hayman Wilson. 

In March 1832, Lord Chancellor Brougham invited Sedg- 
wick to accept the living of East Farleigh in Kent. The 
offer was probably prompted by personal feeling as much as 
by the wish to reward a political supporter, for Brougham 
had sought Sedgwick's cooperation in his schemes for the 
diffusion of knowledge, and we believe that the correspond- 
ence had led to more than one interview. Sedgwick declined, 
apparently without hesitation ; a refusal which was much 
deplored by several of his friends, and especially by Lyell, 
who records in his diary (16 March) his own conviction that, 
were Sedgwick to leave Cambridge and marry, " he would be 
much happier, and would eventually do much more for 

1 Sedgwick, Peacock, Whewell, Airy, Henslow were all admitted ad eundem 
gradum at Oxford, 17 June, 1830. 

2 From Dr Mill, 6 June, 1831. 


1831. geology 1 ." Lyell states that it was Murchison who advised 
-^ 47- Sedgwick to decline ; but, had this been the case, Sedgwick 
could hardly have written the following letter : 

To R. I. Murchison, Esq. 

" I returned this morning from the little living of Shudy 
Camps, from which I used to derive £40 or £50 per annum, 
but which now is worse than nothing. Under such circum- 
stances you will think it strange that I have been mad 
enough to refuse the living about which you wrote, but so it 
is. I cannot accept it without my Professorship being vacant, 
and breaking off my work in the middle. I do not think 
this would be to my honour, or that it would add to my 
happiness. Many thanks for your kind note. I have written 
to Le Marchant*, and also to the Lord Chancellor ; to the 
former yesterday between services, to the latter to-day. I 
fear they will both set me down for an egregious fool 8 ." 

If Sedgwick was serious in thinking that the Chancellor 
would ridicule him for saying " No," the answer which he was 
not long in receiving must have caused him considerable 

My dear Sir, 

I read both your letters to the Chancellor yesterday. 
He more than once interrupted me to express his warm approbation. 
When I had done, I asked him what I was to say to you. "Say to 
him," the Chancellor answered, "all that is kind and respectful on 
my part"; and he then proceeded in very forcible terms to eulogise 
your disinterestedness. He also descanted upon your claims, and 
trusted something would turn up that would enable him to prove 
that they had not been overlooked. I have seldom heard him more 
warm in his commendation, and I only regret I cannot tell you all 
he said. I hope however that I have recollected enough to satisfy 
you that you have been dealing with a person capable of appre- 
ciating merit 

Yours very truly, 

D. Le Marchant. 

1 Life of Sir C. Lyell, i. 374. a The Lord Chancellor's principal secretary. 
* This letter bears neither date nor postmark. 


Soon afterwards Sedgwick had an interview with Lord 183*. 
Brougham, and it was probably in consequence of what was & tm 47- 
then said that he wrote with even more than his usual 
vivacity to Ainger : 

London, March 17, 1832. 

"What strange things are in the womb of Time! 
Who would have thought that the Lord Chancellor would 
ever offer me a living worth perhaps ^1000 a year, and that 
I should refuse it? But this very event has come to pass 
within the last week. You may well think, as some of my 
other friends have done, that I am raving mad. No matter. 
The Chancellor thinks me in my sober senses, and has 
promised me one of the very first stalls which is vacant — 
which I can hold both with my Fellowship and Professorship, 
and make my hammer ring more merrily than ever against 
the rocks.... 

On Monday I return to Cambridge, where I have some 
geological papers to finish, and about the first week in May 
I hope to be off for North Wales, when I shall, I hope, be 
following my vocation for five months. On my return I shall 
begin to write a book with which I have been pregnant for 
seven or eight years." 

It was to be expected that the high spirits which 
prompted this letter would not be maintained for long at the 
same level. On the very next day a reaction had set in, 
as Lyell tells us. His estimate of Sedgwick is severe, but 
events proved him to have been right. 

" Sedgwick asked me to walk home with him. I found a gloom 
upon him, unusual and marked. I most carefully avoided all 
allusion to the rejected living, but now, when the first excitement 
of the declining the boon is over, and that others have expressed 
their wonder at it, and that he finds himself left alone with his glory, 
he is dejected. He told me, Thursday last, that he wished before 
he left Cambridge to do something, 'Now if I take a living instead 
of going to Wales, I abandon my Professorship, and cannot get out 
the volume on the primary rocks with Conybeare/ etc. Then he 
hinted that in a year, when this is done, he may retire on some 

S. 1. 25 


1832. living, and marry. But I know Sedgwick well enough to feel sure 
fix, 47. that the work won't be done in a year, nor perhaps in two ; and then 
a living, etc won't be just ready, and he is growing older. He has 
not the application necessary to make his splendid abilities tell in a 
work. Besides, every one leads him astray. A man should have 
some severity of character, and be able to refuse invitations, etc. 
The fact is that to become great in science a man must be nearly as 
devoted as a lawyer, and must have more than mere talent 1 ." 

On reviewing the whole case — with the help of what we 
know of Sedgwick in the closing years of his life — we are 
inclined to agree with Lyell, and to decide that he was wrong 
in refusing Farleigh. No doubt he would have regretted 
Cambridge at first ; but he had a happy capacity for accept- 
ing new surroundings and new occupations. In a few months 
the rector of Farleigh would have been as much at home 
there as the Prebendary of Norwich became afterwards in 
the Cathedral Close. Nor would he have found the duties of a 
parish clergyman — especially as those duties were understood 
fifty years since — incompatible with the pursuit of geology. 
His best geological friends, the brothers Conybeare, were 
both beneficed clergymen, and we believe that they did not 
neglect either parish or science. Lastly, Sedgwick made a 
fatal mistake, when he cut himself off, irrevocably, from 
marriage ; and that he deliberately chose a bachelor life is 
evident from what he says about his readiness to accept a 
stall which he could hold with his Professorship and Fellow- 
ship. We are not aware that he ever owned to regrets for 
Farleigh; but in the loneliness Vhich is inseparable from old 
age within the precincts of a college he not seldom dwelt 
upon what might have been, had he been blessed with a wife 
and children. 

Sedgwick must have needed some distraction after the 
excitement of such a decision as has just been recorded ; and 
he found it in the entertainment of the celebrated Mrs 

1 Life of Sir C, Lyell, i. 375. The above extract is from Lyell's diary for 
Tuesday, 20 March. The passage immediately preceding the extract speaks of a 
party at Murchison's on the previous Sunday, i.e. 18 March. 


Somerville and her husband, whom he persuaded not only to 1831. 
spend a week with him, but to occupy rooms in College. & u 47- 

To Dr Somerville. 

Tuesday morning, 

[3 April, 1832]. 
My dear Sir, 

Your letter delighted me, and I am sure you have 
decided wisely not to rusticate at the Observatory 1 . 

The time you have fixed is the best of all possible times, 
and I hope you will write as soon as possible to finally fix 
the hour of your arrival. I have a plan in my eye which I 
think quite excellent. Mr Sheepshanks' rooms, on my stair- 
case*, are now empty, and I believe he does not return into 
residence next week. In that case we will mount a regular 
matrimonial four-posted bed, and try to domesticate you and 
Mrs Somerville within the College walls. This experiment 
was tried and approved of by Mr and Mrs Murchison. The 
rooms in question are very good ; have a dressing-room with 
a fireplace attached to them, and a small mathematical 
library in which Mrs S. may disport herself when she is tired 
of duller subjects. The day you arrive I can either give you 
a quiet dinner, or ask a few friends to meet you. I mention 
this alternative because Mrs Somerville may perhaps antici- 
pate fatigue, and not wish to meet a party the first evening. 
Only express your wishes on this matter, and they shall be 
law. I shall write by this post to Sheepshanks, and if by 
any mischance I should be disappointed in my present plan 
I will secure rooms for you opposite Trin. Coll. Give my 


1 Then occupied by Geo. Biddell Airy, M. A., Plumian Professor of Astronomy 
1828 — 1836. He and his accomplished wife were intimate friends of Dr and Mrs 

3 At this time Sedgwick occupied the rooms in the Great Court, on the upper 
floor of the building between King Edward's Gate and the Master's Lodge, 
which he held till his death. He succeeded Professor Clark, who accepted a 
college living in 1825. Sedgwick's rooms as an undergraduate were between the 
Chapel and the Great Gate, as mentioned above (p. 78). We do not know 
where he lived between his degree, when he would probably change, and 1825. 

25 — 2 


183^. kindest greetings to Mrs Somervillc and your family, and 
&- 47- believe me most truly yours, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Dr Somerville replied that he and his wife had "no 
habits in hours, food, or in any other circumstances. Dispose 
of us as you list; we are ready to feed in seclusion, petit 
comity or in any party you like to form on Monday, meaning 
not to be fatigued by the journey, which rather recruits 
Mrs Somerville." To this communication Sedgwick promptly 
replied : 

To Dr Somerville. 

Trin. Coll. Thursday evening, 

[5 April, 1832]. 
My dear Sir, 

Your letter delighted me. I have ordered dinner on 
Monday at half-past six, and shall have a small party to 
welcome you and Mrs Somerville. In order that we may not 
have to fight for you we have been entering on the best 
arrangements we can think of. On Tuesday you will I hope 
dine with Peacock — on Wednesday with Whewell — on Thurs- 
day at the Observatory. For Friday Dr Clark, our Professor 
of Anatomy, puts in a claim. For the other days of your 
visit we shall (D.V.), find ample employment. A four-posted 
bed (a thing utterly out of our regular monastic system) will 
rear its head for you and Madame in the chamber immediately 
under my own; and your handmaid may safely rest her bones 
in a small inner chamber. Should Sheepshanks return we 
can stuff him into a lumber-room of the Observatory ; but of 
this there is no fear, as I have written to him on the subject, 
and he has no immediate intention of returning. You will of 
course drive to the great gate of Trinity College, and my 
servant will be in waiting at the Porter's Lodge to shew you 
the way to your academic residence. We have no Canons at 
Trin. Coll. others (sic) we would fire a salute on your entry. 


We will however give you the warmest greeting we can. 183*. 
Meanwhile give my best regards to Mrs S. and believe me ^-47- 
most truly yours, A. SEDGWICK. 

The visit lasted for a week, and though Sedgwick un- 
fortunately was "sadly out of sorts" during part of the 
time, he evidently enjoyed himself thoroughly. Whewell, 
whose health and spirits were always in good order, was quite 
as enthusiastic in his commendation of the lady. Before she 
came to Cambridge, he had probably known her only as the 
authoress of The Meclianism of tfie Heavens, and was somewhat 
surprised to find her not only accomplished in music, drawing, 
and various languages, but "a very feminine, gentle, lively 
person, with no kind of pretence to superiority in her 
manners or conversation V In consequence, she soon be- 
came a great favourite with the ladies of Cambridge, and a 
tradition of her grace and affability long survived among 
them. When the week was over Sedgwick and Whewell 
escorted their friends to Audley End, where they enjoyed 
their society for four days more, and then, as Sedgwick put it, 
" they moved to London, and we returned to our respective 
dens in College." A few days afterwards Mrs Somerville 
expressed her satisfaction by letter : 

Chelsea, April 35, 1832. 
My dear Sir, 

Fruitless as the endeavour would be to express how 
highly we have been gratified with the delightful week spent within 
the hospitable walls of Trinity College, I still feel it to be due 
to you, and all our kind friends, to assure you in language as 
rigorously true as ever was conveyed by x, y t that our reception has 
made an impression upon us not to be forgotten. Our anticipations 
were sanguine, but they were surpassed by the reality, and you will 
only do us justice by believing that the attentions so liberally 
bestowed are duly appreciated. That my studies should merit the 
notice of such men as adorn your University, it would have been 
presumption to expect ; their approbation therefore, so handsomely 
given, is the more gratifying. The two acts of our little drama, the 
first at Cambridge, and the second at Audley End, form a very 
agreeable episode in our life. 

1 \V he well's Life, by Mrs Stair Douglas, p. 142. 


!83i. I trust you have completely recovered from the cold which I fear 

JEu 47. vou caught while kindly devoting your time to me, and that we shall 
soon have the pleasure of seeing you in town. I beg you will let me 
know of your arrival before you have made engagements among the 
numerous friends who are so desirous of your society, for I can assure 
you there is no one who will value the privilege of being included 
among them more than yours very sincerely, 

Mary Somerville. 

Sedgwick started for Wales towards the end of May, as 
he had proposed ; but, anxious as he was to complete his 
work there, he allowed himself a week's holiday in June at 
Oxford, where the British Association held its second meeting. 
He had rather sneered at the notion of such a gathering when 
it was first started, and had protested that he would not leave 
Wales for either York or Oxford. Murchison, however, made 
him break his resolution in favour of the latter city, and 
Buckland clenched the matter by a humorous invitation 
which nobody could well have refused. " I exhort you," he 
wrote, "by all your love for Professorial Unity and the 
eternal fitness of things, to locate yourself in a fraternal 
habitat within my domicile during the orgies of the week 
beginning on the 3rd of June 1 ," and then went on to tell him 
of the arrangements that Mrs Buckland had made for his 
comfort, and the friends whom he would probably meet. 
Still he went unwillingly, and, not many days before the 
meeting assembled, wrote to Murchison : 

Caernarvon, Juru 5, 1832. 

...I shall be glad to make myself of use [at Oxford], 
but in the bustle of the meeting, and among friends, philo- 
sophical reporters, blue-stockings, and big-wigs, I shall not 
find much time. If I say anything it must be extrutnpery, 
and I suppose about Snowdonia, which I now know something 
about. It is, however, a terrible hard crust for sucking geo- 
logists to mumble, and as for the ladies (God bless 'em !) it 
will I fear turn their stomachs. I am, in short, willing to be 

1 From Rev. W. Buckland, 19 April, 1832. 


of use, but I have not good cards in my hand ; and if other 183*. 
people are there who are better prepared (and I defy them to & u 47* 
be worse) I shall be very glad to have an excuse for sparing 
my breath.... Yours to the top end of his hammer, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Sedgwick's reluctance vanished in the congenial society 
he found at Oxford. The Report of the meeting shews that 
he not only took an active part in the business of the geological 
section, but accepted without a murmur the office of President 
for the following year, when the Association was to meet at 
Cambridge, saying in a public speech " that it would be at all 
times and in all situations one of his greatest pleasures to 
contribute his assistance to the British Association 1 ." Six 
weeks afterwards, writing calmly and deliberately to a friend, 
he admitted that the meeting had " gone off admirably." As 
soon as the meeting was over Murchison hurried back to his 
work in Wales, and Sedgwick, after a short excursion with 
Whewell * c to Stratford on Avon and other not distant 
places'," followed his example. He was evidently anxious 
that their separate investigations should become part of a 
common whole, and therefore kept his friend informed of his 
whereabouts and his plans, while, with indomitable energy, 
he followed the strata over hill and dale, principally on foot, 
through a wide extent of rugged country. The rough pen- 
and-ink sections which illustrate the first of the next two 
letters are of especial value as exhibiting the views which 
he held when it was written. 

Barmouth, July 23, 1832. 
Dear Murchison, 

On Saturday the 30th of June, I had from Rodney's 
pillar a glimpse of you and the Colonel on the summit of 
Moel-y-Golchfa. I landed that evening at Llanymynach, and 

1 Second Report of the British Association, p. 

2 Whewell's Life. d. hi. 

2 Whewell's Life, p. 141. 



1832. spent next day with my friend Evans in a proper clerical 
& x * 47- manner. I did, however, after church, go up on the hill north 
of the town, and enjoyed what I think one of the very finest 
views I ever beheld. I was certain, at the first glance, that 
there was a great deal of work before me in Montgomeryshire 
which I had very little expected. The porphyritic system of 
Snowdonia is there told over again, as I made out from the 
look of the country, and the information I obtained from 
Evans. The next day, July 2, very early, we started for 
Llanrhaidr, where we breakfasted ; then visited the celebrated 
Pistill Rhaidr, which is caused by great ribs of porphyry 
passing through the greywack^, which it binds together and 
saves from degradation. The water tumbles over the grey- 
wack6 and porphyry through a perpendicular height of about 
230 feet. It is a gorgeous fall for a geologist, though the 
artists think it formal and unpicturesque. We then scaled 
the Berwyns, and went along the top as far as the highest 
point (Gaderferwyn), and descended by a tributary valley to 
Llanrhaidr. Thence I drove to Llangynog late in the evening. 
The Berwyns for many miles N. and S. dip to the W. or 
W.N.W. ; there must therefore be an anticlinal line in Mont- 
gomeryshire ranging somewhere N.E. and S.W., and probably 
passing near Llanfyllin. E. of that town the beds again roll 
over to the S.E. so as to bring in the newer rocks between the 
Vernwy and the Severn which form the base of the system in 
which you are working. Before the end of the summer I shall 
endeavour to make traverses on the line of Llanidloes, New- 
town, (perhaps Pool and Montgomery), Llanfair, Llanfyllin, 
and Llangollen ; and, if I have time, I shall then make a long 
run towards the south, so as to make one or two long 
traverses in South Wales. In this way our work will link 

Next day, July 3, I crossed the Berwyns to Bala. Through 
the whole ascent, and nearly to the base on the W. side of the 
chain, the dip is about W. by N., working gradually to N.W. 
in the prolongation of the chain towards Corwen. On the 


western side of the chain an anticlinal line strikes through the 1831. 
region about N.N.E. and W.S,W., in consequence of which Mx - 47- 
some bands of black shelly limestone I found at the top of the 
Berwyns are brought out again with an opposite dip, viz. 
E.S.E. These bands of black limestone are absolutely 
identical with the transition lime which separates the greywack6 
of Westmoreland from the great system of greenslate and 
porphyry of the central mountains of Cumberland. They form 
a very grand base-line, which I have now traced from Glyn- 
Diffws (five miles N.W. of Corwen) to Dinas Mowddy, a 
distance, as the crow flies, of about 30 miles. 

From Bala I examined the range of the limestone, and 
made excursions to the Arenig chain, extending my rambles 
almost to the great Bangor road. The whole region forms the 
side of a great saddle, dipping about E.S.E., much interrupted 
by vast unstratified masses of porphyry, which are, however, 
more or less tabular, and range with the strata, without 
altering their dip. A little to the W. of Penmachno the great 
Merioneth anticlinal strikes in, ranging N.N.W. and E.S.E. 
(i.e. geometrically parallel to the four Caernarvon anticlinals, 
and also to the beds of shell limestone above mentioned). 
This line I have traced into the sea near Barmouth, and I 
have examined all the country on the W. side of it. In short, 
I have toiled like a slave, and have made myself ill, so that I 
am now almost confined to the house. Tomorrow I hope to 
be in working condition again. There are no porphyries on 
the W. side of the great Merioneth saddle between Festiniog, 
Harlech, and Barmouth, but an enormous fault, which cuts slap 
through Caernarvonshire from Llanllyfni to Tremadoc, strikes 
in three miles N. of Harlech, and may be traced into the sea 
two miles from Barmouth. It is a very grand geological 
phenomenon, connected, as I believe, with the vast eruptions 
of syenite in the S. parts of Caernarvonshire. The country S. 
of the Barmouth river I hardly know anything about, having 
for the two last days been laid up by a very feverish cold and 
sore throat. This is very provoking, as the weather is glorious, 


183^. and the porphyritic peaks are glittering in the sun as if in 

Ai% 47- mockery of my infirmity. I have, however, once scaled Cader 

Idris. It forms a portion of the eastern side of the great 

Merionethshire saddle, and differs in no essential respect from 

other parts of the county. The crater on its southern side is 

nothing more than a deep pool of water in soft calcareous 

grey wack6 ! ! 

I did not intend to make you pay for a double letter, but I 

have already scrawled over the last page before I once thought 

of the direction. You must see, by what I have written, that 

I have had a good harvest; its reaping is, however, most 

laborious, as the tracing the geological parallels compels me to 

climb almost every mountain. When I have worked down 

through the Cader Idris region to Machynlleth, my labours 

will become more light, as the hills are much lower, and there 

are great uninteresting tracts I shall not be compelled to look 

at. I now understand what formerly I was puzzled with ; 

the transition or primary system of North Wales, though 

enormously thick, is not one tenth part the thickness one 

might at first imagine. In consequence of the anticlinal lines, 

the system of rocks three or four miles S.E. of Bangor 

reappears in the centre of Merionethshire ; and the shell 

limestone E. of Bala lake reappears, if I mistake not, near 

Meifod in Montgomeryshire. Pray write to me at Machynlleth, 

and tell me what you think of this notion, and how far it 

agrees with what you have seen. The dark calcareous beds 

near Meifod &c, &c, I have not yet seen ; so I am arguing 

on an imperfect case. I will fill up this sheet with one or two 

sections for your amusement. 

Most truly yours, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Machynlleth, August 10. 
To the same. 

"I am just arrived here, and have got your letters, 

which I have read, or rather tried to read, with much interest. 

You must see at once it is impossible we should meet I am 






off for Towyn, and hope in two days to finish Merionethshire. 1832. 
I shall then work into Cardiganshire as far as Plinlimmon and ^ 4 ?- 
the Devil's Bridge. For this I will hypothetically allow a 
week. Then I double back, and make traverses in Mont- 
gomeryshire, partly to work out the anticlinals, partly to lock 
my work into yours. I don't quite twig your sections ; indeed 
I can't read 'em, but I see you have done excellent work. 

I find, as a general rule, that the moment I get into a low 
country the strata begin to roll and reel about, but while they 
are in elevated ridges they keep their strike, and dip beauti- 
fully, the changes being produced by parallel anticlinals. I 
hope before this sun is down to trace the great Merionethshire 
anticlinal into the sea, north of Towyn. I shall then have 
followed it over hill and dale for more than 50 miles." 

To Ainger, as usual, he wrote in more general terms. 
After describing himself as "burnt as brown as a pack- 
saddle, and a little thin from excessive fatigue," he proceeds : 

" I have been rambling in various parts of North Wales, 
for days, and almost for weeks, together, as much secluded as 
if I had been in the centre of New Holland. Now and then 
I stumbled on a struggling Cantab, with whom occasionally I 
also contrived to spend the evening. These were, however, 
rare occasions. North Wales is Cumberland over again, 
only on a rather larger scale, and expanded over a wider 
surface. The valleys of North Wales are many of them 
glorious ; but they want the beautiful lakes of your county. 
After all, the Lake Mountains for my money. The Welsh 
are a kind-hearted, but rather dull set of people ; just made to 
be beaten by the Saxons. It is, however, wrong to judge of 
a people whose language one does not speak. I like to talk 
to country people, and to see their humours, but from this I 
am shut out among these children of Caractacus. This it is 
which has made my solitude doubly solitary. As soon as the 
weather changes, for it is now detestable, I shall look again 
towards the south, and endeavour to effect a series of long 


1832. traverses in South Wales ; but in what direction, you know 
ALu 47- at this time pretty nearly as much as I do myself. In short, 
I shall hoist sail, and sail before the wind. Before my final 
return I hope to spend a week with my friend Conybeare in 
Glamorganshire; this will, however, depend on the cholera, 
which is raging not far from him, and may frighten me from 
my present purpose 1 ." 

Sedgwick's share in the foundation of the Cambridge 
Philosophical Society has been already related. His sanguine 
anticipations of success had been more than realised in the 
thirteen years which had elapsed since 18 19. The members 
were numerous ; the meetings well attended ; the papers 
valuable, and of varied interest. Moreover the Museum, 
begun in the very first days of the Society's existence, had 
assumed respectable proportions, through the exertions of 
Professor Henslow, Mr Leonard Jenyns, and their friends ; 
and the reading-room — which was not restricted to Fellows 
of the Society — had become a place of popular resort This 
rapid development might of itself have warranted a new 
departure in the position of the Society, even if an accidental 
circumstance had not rendered immediate action necessary. 
The meetings were held, for the first few months, "in the 
Museum of the Botanic Garden," and afterwards in rooms in 
Sidney Street, facing Jesus Lane. These were commodious, 
and well-suited to the purposes of the Society; but their 
tenure of them was limited, and early in 1832 it became 
known that the owner declined to extend it. Thereupon, at 
a special General Meeting held 7 April, 1832, it was decided, 
on the motion of Mr Peacock, to be "expedient that the 
Society should possess a house of their own, built expressly 
to suit the objects of the institution ; " and, as a preliminary 
step, that a charter of incorporation should be obtained 8 . 

It happened that these important measures, amounting 

1 To Rev. W. Ainger, dated "Llansilin, near Oswestry, 29 August, 1832." 

2 We believe that the Cambridge Philosophical Society was the first Society, 
out of London, that obtained the distinction of a charter. 


almost to a second foundation of the Society, were adopted 1832. 
during Sedgwick's tenure of the office of President, to which ^ 47- 
he had been elected in May, 1831 ; and further, his name 
appears alone upon the charter. As President, he was, for 
the moment, the head of the Society ; and the adoption of a 
single petitioner, in lieu of several, diminished the fees exacted 
by the Stamp Office. But, whatever may have been the 
reason, it must be esteemed a fortunate circumstance that 
he, who took so deep an interest in the Society, should be 
for ever associated with its permanent establishment It is 
almost needless to add that he was himself especially delighted 
at being placed in such a position. Writing to Murchison, 
7 November, 1832, he says: 

"Yesterday after lecture I presided at a public meeting 
held by our Society for the purpose of accepting a Charter. 
We afterwards adjourned to an Inn and had a blow-out. 
Finally three or four of my friends came to my rooms and 
kept me up till two this morning — for which I do not now 
much thank them." 

We can readily imagine Sedgwick's enthusiasm on this 
occasion, probably the first of those annual celebrations in 
which he bore so jovial a part ; and among the reminiscences 
with which he used to amuse the company, none recurred so 
frequently as the story of the charter, when, as he used to 
say, " I was the Society." 

Two other matters, of very diverse nature, occupied much 
of Sedgwick's time and thought during the Michaelmas Term 
of 1832. The first was a movement — as we should now call 
it — to call forth "some expression of national gratitude to the 
memory of Sir Walter Scott." Sedgwick became a member 
of a committee appointed for that purpose, and did his best to 
rouse the enthusiasm of his Cambridge friends — but without 
success. The scheme proposed, to purchase Abbotsford, and 
to secure it to Sir Walter's children, did not commend itself 
to the common-sense of those to whom he tried to recommend 
it. It was in fact, as he himself said — " a strange round-about 


1832. way of shewing respect 1 " — and before long he found that a 
&• 47- few very modest subscriptions, given probably more out of 
regard to himself than from any other motive, would represent 
the generosity of Cambridge. 

This was succeeded, after a brief interval, by a contested 
election for the University, in which Sedgwick, Thirlwall, and 
a few other ardent spirits made an energetic but unsuccessful 
effort to persuade the constituency that Mr John William 
Lubbock, Vice-President of the Royal Society, as " a man 
distinguished for his literary and scientific attainments," would 
be a more suitable representative for a learned body than a 
mere politician. Sedgwick became chairman of the Cambridge 
Committee, and an active canvass was set on foot. But the 
" vehemence of some of his Whig friends"," and the lukewarm- 
ness of others, who agreed to vote but declined to canvass, 
boded ill for the success of the attempt. After a ten days' 
struggle Mr Lubbock withdrew, and Mr Goulburn, with the 
Right Hon. Charles Manners Sutton, late Speaker of the 
House of Commons, were duly elected. The following letter 
from Dr Samuel Butler reached Sedgwick soon afterwards : 

Shrewsbury, December 10, 1832. 
My dear Professor, 

It is better to retire in time than to give a great many 
friends an expensive and hopeless journey at such a season of the 
year, and when many of them have their votes and interests pre- 
occupied elsewhere. I had written this morning to bespeak chaises 
all along the road, especially for the night hours, which I was very 
anxious about By to-morrow's post I can rescind the order. 

I am almost sorry that Lubbock offered. I am no cynic ; I hate 
to snarl and not to bite ; a grin and a growl does nothing but make 
one laughed at. Another thing which I have observed in the course 
of this canvas was, that people did not like to be called upon for so 
long and expensive journies with apparently so little prospect of 
success. It is an unwise waste of strength and interest. I should 
not be surprised if some of our well-wishers took their names off the 
boards to avoid such frequent solicitations, especially when they find 
themselves on the losing side. I say this because I hope that on 
some future occasion time and man may be well chosen, and that we 

1 To R. I. Murchison, 7 November, 1832. 
a Whewell's Life, p. 149. 


shall act with good hope of success, and not without at least a fair 183*. 
chance of it. Nothing should have kept me, or any persons whom je\. 47 . 
I could influence, from the poll on this occasion, but physical 
impossibility ; but wavering or luke-warm persons will not be equally 
zealous, and the oftener they are called upon without any prospect 
of success, the less inclined will they be to serve us. Therefore, I 
say, look for influential candidates, and magna notnina. 

To all that can be said of Mr Lubbock's merits I most willingly 
subscribe. But look at the array against him. All the force of Eton 
from attachment to the Speaker ; all his family connections ; and all 
the Speaker's parliamentary friends. He was a well-chosen opponent, 
whom no private person, however high in character for talents or 
virtues, could hope to conquer, and I have no doubt he would have 
headed the poll. We could not conquer even Goulburn, who has 
a powerful party among the Saints, and whose interest is increased 
by the talents of his son. Now look at the last election. Many 
voted for Lord Palmerston from old connections, who would not 
have voted for us now. The high connections of Mr Cavendish 
were all on the alert, and stood him in more stead than his own high 
merits, and made many take the trouble of coming to serve him, 
especially among the aristocracy, who would not stir a step for any 
individual of private family. 

All this I say, that you may ponder it, and either keep to your- 
self, or communicate to the confidential friends of our party, as you 
may judge best. But I repeat my exhortation that you will carefully 
look out for highly connected, and, if you can, highly popular, as well 
as highly gifted, candidates. Let us give them no possible advantage 
that we can help. There is time to look about before the next 
election. Let those of our friends who can be depended on, be 
prepared in time, and be secret 

My dear Professor, I have one grand article of faith : that no 
speech of four hours in either House ever did good to the cause it 
presumed to advocate ; and that no sermon should be above half an 
hour long if the preacher means to carry with him the good will and 
attention of his congregation. Now I am afraid my preachment to 
you is thirty one and a half minutes. God bless you. We shall 
meet triumphant yet. Truly yours, S. Butler. 

Before the year ended, it fell to Sedgwick's turn to preach 
the sermon at the annual Commemoration of Benefactors in 
Trinity College, on Monday, 17 December. It seems at first 
sight impossible that such a sermon, preached every year in 
the same place on the same subject, could ever be treated with 
any marked originality ; and in fact, allusions to the founders, 
benefactors, distinguished members of the college, and those 
who have passed away since the last occasion, with the obvious 


1831. lessons to be drawn from such occurrences, form the staple of 
-**• 47- these discourses, which vary only with the rhetorical power of 
the writers. Sedgwick, however, struck out a new line, and 
produced a work which not only made a sensation at the 
time, as is proved by the fact that it ran through four editions 
in two years, but which still possesses an historical interest, 
not merely as evidence of the breadth of his own studies and 
speculations beyond the range of his particular science, but as 
a protest against the metaphysical and ethical doctrines then 
commonly accepted. Unfortunately it is now presented to us 
in a form so different from that in which it was originally 
delivered, that it is impossible to realise the effect produced 
on those who heard it. The subject, Tlie Studies of tJie 
University, had probably occupied Sedgwick's thoughts 
for a long while ; but, with more than usual procras- 
tination, he did not put pen to paper until the Thursday 
preceding the day of delivery 1 . In consequence, when asked 
to publish, he found himself in a considerable difficulty. As 
he says in the preface : " having animadverted with much 
freedom on some parts of the Cambridge course of reading, 
[the author] felt himself compelled, before he dared to give 
what he had written to the public, to enter at more length on 
a justification of his opinions. On this account, his remarks 
on the classical, metaphysical, and moral studies of the 
University were cast over again, and expanded to at least 
three times their original length." In fact, only one-third of 
the work remains as it was originally written ; and this, it 
must be reluctantly confessed, is not in Sedgwick's happiest 
vein. The style is heavy and laboured, and there are none of 
those eloquent passages which made his speeches so animated 
and so delightful. The matter, therefore, rather than the 
manner, must have caused those who heard it to wish to read 

1 To R. I. Murchison, 8 December, 1831. ** I cannot be up in Town on 
Monday the 17th,. ..when I have to preach the Anniversary Sermon. How I shall 
get through I don't know, as I have not yet written it, and till next Thursday 
night shall not have much time to think about Divinity." 


it quietly at home. This wish, expressed to Whewell as 1831. 
Senior Tutor, reached Sedgwick in the following letter : -^t. 47. 

From Mr Whewell. 

Trinity College, December 23, 183*. 
My dear Sedgwick, 

When you had scribbled down the last sentence of your 
sermon after the bell had stopt, and had succeeded by a sort of 
miracle in reading your pothooks without spectacles, omitting how- 
ever half the sentences, and a quarter of the syllables of those which 
remained, I daresay you thought you had done marvellously well, 
and had completed, or more properly had ended, your task. In this, 
however, you were mistaken, as I hope soon to make you acknow- 

The rising generation, who cannot err, inasmuch as they will 
discourse most wise and true sentences when you and I are laid in 
the alluvial soil, declare that their intellectual culture requires that 
you should print and publish your sermon. I will give you a list on 
the other side of the names of the persons who have joined in 
expressing this wish. I undertook very willingly to communicate 
this their desire to your reverence, inasmuch as I thought your 
sermon full of notions, as the Americans speak, which it will be very 
useful and beneficial to put in their heads; or rather to call them 
out, for a great number of those good thoughts are already ensconced 
in the excellent noddles of our youngsters, like flies in a bookcase in 
winter, and require only the sunshine of your seniorial countenance 
to call them into life and volatility. I do not know anything which 
will more tend to fix in their minds all the good they get here than 
to have such feelings as you expressed, at the same time the gravest 
and the most animating which belong to our position, stamped, upon 
a solemn and official occasion, as the common property of them and 
us. And I also think it of consequence that when they on their side 
proffer their sympathy in such reflexions, we, on ours, that is, in the 
present case, your dignified self, should not be backward in meeting 
them, by giving to all parties the means of returning to, and dwelling 
upon, these reflexions. 

Such is my thinking about this matter, and therefore I have 
undertaken to urge their request; and I hope you will be able to 
extract from some abysmal recess your manuscript, and to place it 
before the astonished eyes of the compositor. It is probable that he 
will look, as Dante says the ghosts looked when they peered at him, 
like an old cobbler threading his needle, but never mind that. The 
fronts of compositors were made to be corrugated by good sentences 
written in most vile hands ; so let him fulfil his destiny without loss 
of time.... 

Yours ever, 

W. Whewell. 
S. I. 26 


jEt. 47. 

Petitioners for the printing of Professor Sedgwick's sermon : 

Ld Lindsay 



R. Morgan 














Brook field 





E. Morgan 



To this cordial request Sedgwick no doubt gave an equally 
cordial assent, and prepared to print without delay. But ill- 
health (as usual), and other occupations, intervened, and 
November, 1833, came, before the Discourse, as it was then 
termed, saw the light. It will, however, be best to complete 
our account of it while noticing its first delivery ; though, on 
some grounds, we should have preferred to wait until we had 
reached the publication of the last edition in 1850. By that 
time the modest octavo of one hundred and nine pages had 
swelled into a ponderous tome, in which four hundred and 
forty-two pages of preface, and two hundred and twenty- 
eight of appendix, include between them ninety-four pages of 
discourse : " a grain of wheat between two millstones," as 
Sedgwick himself admitted. In conversation he has been 
heard to describe the publication as "the wasp," because it 
had so small a body, and so large a head and tail. But, 
whether he spoke seriously or in jest about it, it was the pet 
child of his brain ; and, as is the way with indulgent parents, 
he perhaps found virtues in it which others, especially at this 
distance of time, may fail to discover. 

A detailed criticism of the Discourse would lead us 
into discussions unsuitable for a biography. We will 
therefore content ourselves with a very brief sketch of the 
subject-matter. It must be remembered at the outset that 
the studies of Cambridge are approached from the moral 
rather than from the intellectual side ; that the author is 
speaking as a clergyman from the pulpit, not as a philosopher 
from the desk. To him Cambridge was a place not merely 
of sound learning, but also of Christian education. This 


obvious limitation of his survey has sometimes been lost sight 1831. 
of, and in consequence an erroneous, not to say an unjust, ^ 47 * 
conception has been formed of his work. The studies of the 
University are reviewed under a threefold division : (1) the 
laws of nature ; (2) ancient literature and language ; (3) ethics 
and metaphysics. Under the first of these divisions natural 
science is considered in the light of the results to which a 
reverent study of it ought to lead ; and it is pointed out that 
its various branches, Astronomy, Anatomy, Geology 1 , minister 
to natural religion, and " teach us to see the finger of God in 
all things animate and inanimate. ,, In other words, this part 
of the discourse may be described as a rapid but forcible 
exposition of the argument from design. Under the second 
head ancient languages and ancient history are briefly 
considered. Sedgwick was no scholar, though fond of classical 
reading, and he does not seem to understand the necessity of 
thoroughness in the study of ancient literature. When he 
deplores the time wasted in "straining after an accuracy 
beyond our reach," he loses sight of the fact that without 

1 In the portion of the Discourse devoted to Geology the following passage 
occurs : "By the discoveries of a new science (the very name of which has been 
but a few years engrafted on our language), we learn that the manifestations of 
God's power on the earth have not been limited to the few thousand years of 
man's existence. The geologist tells us, by the clearest interpretation of the 
phenomena which his labours have brought to light, that our globe has been 
subject to vast physical revolutions. He counts his time not by celestial cycles, 
but by an index he has found in the solid framework of the globe itself. He sees a 
long succession of monuments, each of which may have required a thousand ages for 
its elaboration. He arranges them in chronological order ; observes on them the 
marks of skill and wisdom, and finds within them the tombs of the ancient inhabitants 
of the earth. He finds strange and unlooked-for changes in the forms and fashions 
of organic life during each of the long periods he thus contemplates. He traces these 
changes backwards and through each successive era, till he reaches a time when 
the monuments lose all symmetry, and the types of organic life are no longer seen. 
He has then entered on the dark age of nature's history ; and he closes the old 
chapter of her records." These remarks, and others of a similar kind, so shocked 
the Rev. Henry Cole, " late of Clare Hall," that he attempted to refute them at 
length in : Popular geology subversive of divine revelation I A letter to the Rev. 
Adam Sedgwick... being a scriptural refutation of the geological positions and 
doctrines promulgated in his lately published Commencement Sermon. 8vo. 
Lond. 1834. 

26 — 2 


1832. accuracy no work, whether in language or science, can be 
^ l - 47- satisfactorily carried out. At the same time he cordially 
approves the cultivation of Greek and Latin authors with 
certain limitations; pleads for the further study of their 
philosophical and ethical works ; and in justification of this 
points out that "the argument for the being of a God, derived 
from final causes, is as well stated in the conversations of 
Socrates, as in the Natural Theology of Paley." 

The third part of the discourse contains a severe criticism 
of Locke, and of "the utilitarian theory of Morals" as 
expounded by Paley. In this Sedgwick anticipated the 
views which Whewell subsequently set forth in his Philosophy 
of the Inductive Sciences (1840), and in his various writings on 
Moral Philosophy. In the letter dedicating the former work 
to Sedgwick he says : " the same spirit which dictated your 
vigorous protest against some of the errors which I also 
attempt to expose, would have led you, if your thoughts had 
been more free, to take a leading share in that Reform of 
Philosophy, which all who are alive to such errors, must see 
to be now indispensable." It is not improbable, having 
regard to the intimacy between Whewell and Sedgwick at 
that time, that the views set forth in the Discourse may be the 
result of conversations between them. Moreover there was a 
strong taste for metaphysical speculation in Trinity College 
in those days; and Thirlwall, Hare, and their friends, who 
were Sedgwick's friends as well, would "tire the sun with 
talking" on these subjects. In heading a reaction against 
Locke and Paley, Sedgwick merely gave expression to opinions 
deliberately arrived at by the most thoughtful men with 
whom he was associated. One passage from his criticism on 
Locke, though it has been often quoted, is so graphic, and 
illustrates so well his position, that it may find a place here : 

If the mind be without innate knowledge, is it also to be con- 
sidered as without innate feelings and capacities — a piece of blank 
paper, the mere passive recipient of impressions from without ? The 
whole history of man shows this hypothesis to be an outrage on his 


moral nature. Naked he comes from his mother's womb; endowed 1833. 
with limbs and senses indeed, well fitted to the material world, yet fix. 4 g g 
powerless from want of use ; and as for knowledge, his soul is one 
unvaried blank: yet has this blank been already touched by a 
celestial hand, and when plunged in the colours which surround it, 
it takes not its tinge from accident but design, and comes forth 
covered with a glorious pattern. 

Interest in the Discourse was not confined to Cambridge. 
The Quarterly Review, though it did not devote an article to 
it, called it "the most remarkable pamphlet since Burke's 
Reflections ;" and John Stuart Mill said all that could be said 
against it in an elaborate article which he afterwards reprinted 
in his Dissertations and Discussions 1 . 

After this digression we will return to Sedgwick's own 
proceedings. He had been more than usually unwell during 
the Michaelmas Term, and therefore, as soon as the Com- 
memoration was over, went down to Wensleydale in York- 
shire with Mr Lodge, and thence proceeded to Dent, which 
he found a good deal altered. "The architectural beauties 
of this metropolitan city/' he wrote, " are sadly on the wane, 
which makes me rejoice in the icon I have at Cambridge of 
Dent in its glory. In rambling about among the scenes of 
my childhood I sometimes fancy I am a young man again. 
The delusion however passes away when I look about me, and 
see the young fry playing about the old parsonage the very 
antics I was myself playing forty years since 8 ." During his 
visit he gave himself a complete rest, and when he returned 
to Cambridge at the end of January he was able to announce 
that "my Christmas in the North has given me most ram- 
pagious health, but has put me most dreadfully in arrears 8 ." 

Among these arrears was the delivery of a short course of 

1 Dissertations and Discussions, by John Stuart Mill, 8vo. Lond. 1859, 
i. 95. There is a curious article in The Phrenological Journal for September 
1834, in which Sedgwick is reproved for not alluding to Phrenology in his 
Discourse. The writer is known to have been the celebrated phrenologist, 
Mr George Combe. 

2 To Rev. W. Ainger, 15 January, 1833. 

3 To R. I. Murchison, 5 February, 1833. 


1833. lectures, to make up for some which he had been compelled 
iEt. 48. to omit through ill-health in the Michaelmas Term of 1832. 
Then came the revision of proofs of papers for the Geological 
Society's Transactions ; a correspondence with Murchison on 
the speech which he would have to deliver as President in 
February, and which Sedgwick evidently revised and cor- 
rected 1 ; and lastly, arrangements for the visit of the British 
Association to Cambridge in June. But the year was barely 
three months old when a fresh attack of illness — evidently a 
severe one — put an end to all work, and very nearly rendered 
the President elect incapable of meeting the Association. 

Early in June he tells Murchison : " I returned home on 
Thursday from Walton-on-the-Naze very much recovered. 
Indeed I consider myself now fairly off the sick list. Perhaps 
I ought more properly to say that I am restored to my senses ; 
for during the last seven or eight weeks I have been under a 
strange mental obscuration, unable to do a stitch of work 
requiring thought or attention*." 

But, when the Association met, on Monday, 24 June, his 
ailments were forgotten in the excitement of welcoming an 
overflowing assemblage of men of science, not merely from 
England, but from various parts of Europe. The importance 
of the Association was becoming recognised, and the meeting 
was in every way memorable ; not merely from the numbers 
gathered together, but from the importance of the work done. 
And, whatever was going forward, whether a general meeting 
in the Senate House, or the more private business of the 
geological section, or a dinner in the Hall of Trinity College, 

1 After the serious discussion of various important topics, the following amusing 
passage occurs in a letter dated 5 February : "In regard to the animating para- 
graph you talk of, you ask for what is almost impossible. You cannot take a 
flying leap in cold blood, you must lead up to it by the animation of the chase. 
Anything I could write would be flat as ditch-water, and certainly would be out of 
tone and keeping. Put your own notions in black and white, and before they are 
printed or spoken I will look them over and purge them if I think they want it, 
and you will endure the treatment." 

* To R. I. Murchison, 4 June, 1833. 


Sedgwick was the animating spirit, delighting everybody by 1833. 
his geniality, or thrilling them by his unpremeditated eloquence. ^* t * * 8, 
Had he prepared his speeches, he said, " the intensity of present 
feelings, would, like a burning sun, have extinguished the 
twilight of a remembered sentiment." Probably on no 
occasion in his life did he speak so often and so effectively. 
Dr Chalmers, who was present, spoke of "the power and 
beauty " of part of his farewell address to the Association ; 
and is reported to have said in conversation afterwards that he 
had never met with natural eloquence so great as that of 
Sedgwick. But this excellence, so delightful to his con- 
temporaries, prevents us from enjoying more than a very 
faint reflexion of his brilliancy. The reporters could not 
follow him ; and he was himself too indifferent to fame to 
correct their travesties of what he really said as fully as we 
could wish 1 . The official Report is of course a better authority 
than the Cambridge Chronicle, but even there we have to 
content ourselves, for the most part, with dry bones. One 
passage from his opening address, in which he announced a 
grant from the Civil List to the great chemist Dalton, will 
bear quotation, not merely from his personal interest in 
Dalton 2 , but because it has the true ring of authenticity : 

There is a philosopher sitting among us whose hair is blanched 
by time, but possessing an intellect still in its healthiest vigour; a 
man whose whole life has been devoted to the cause of truth ; my 
venerable friend Dr Dalton. Without any powerful apparatus for 
making philosophical experiments, with an apparatus, indeed, which 
many might think almost contemptible, and with very limited external 
means for employing his great natural powers, he has gone straight 
forward in his distinguished course, and obtained for himself in those 
branches of knowledge which he has cultivated a name not perhaps 
equalled by that of any other living philosopher in the world. From 
the hour he came from his mother's womb the God of nature laid His 
hand upon him, and ordained him for the ministration of high 

1 Sedgwick, writing to Murchison 7 July, 1833, says: "I have now been 
working four days at it [the Report], till my head is almost in as much confusion 
as the short-hand notes. You never read such a chaos. Our reporter was not up 
to the work, and what he has done is almost worse than nothing." 

2 See above, p. 248. 


1833. philosophy. But his natural talents, great as they are, and his 
ALt. 48. almost intuitive skill in tracing the relations of material phenomena, 
would have been of comparatively little value to himself and to 
society, had there not been superadded to them a beautiful moral 
simplicity and singleness of heart, which made him go on steadily in 
the way he saw before him, without turning to the right hand or to 
the left, and taught him to do homage to no authority before that of 
truth. Fixing his eye on the most extensive views of science, he has 
been not only a successful experimenter, but a philosopher of the 
highest, order ; his experiments have never had an insulated character, 
but have been always made as contributions towards some important 
end, as among the steps to some lofty generalisation. And with a most 
happy prescience of the points to which the rays of scattered obser- 
vations were converging, he has more than once seen light while to 
other eyes all was yet in darkness ; out of seeming confusion has 
elicited order ; and has thus reached the high distinction of being one 
of the greatest legislators of chemical science 1 . 

The rest of the year 1833 was very uneventful. Sedg- 
wick's exertions to entertain the philosophers brought on a fit 
of the gout, and when that had passed away the reports of the 
meeting had to be corrected and made ready for press. This 
business despatched, the season was too far advanced for a 
campaign in Wales; so, after a week at Leamington, he 
attacked Charnwood Forest, accompanied by Whewell and 
Airy, and "made out its structure in considerable detail V An 
amusing note, written from Leicestershire to Mrs Murchison, 
indicates his difficulties there, and his subsequent intentions : 

Mont Sorrel, August nth, 1833. 
My dear Mrs Murchison, 

You offer me most provoking temptations, but it 
is quite in vain for me to try to meet you and Mr Murchison. 
It will be the end of the month before I reach Cumberland, 
where I want to make a few sections on the spot, especially 
some on the coast near Whitehaven ; and by the time they 
. are over it will be high time for me to face about for 

1 Report of the Third Meeting of the British Association, p. x. 

1 Salter's Catalogue, p. xviii ; WhewelTs Life, p. 155. Charnwood Forest was 
one of the places of which Mr Conybeare had suggested the investigation. See 
above, p. 3*5. 


Cambridge. The last motive you mention would operate 1833. 
rather as a repulsive than as an attractive force, for the lady iEt - * 8 - 
you talk of is, as I have been told, a most formidable and 
cruel tyrant, who has slain her tens of thousands without 
pity. I should not like to be offered up as a burnt offering 
before the shrine of any woman sprung from Eve, only to be 
told that I was suffering in good company, and without being 
permitted to take a single cup from the living fountain of 

But in the name of wonder what have I to do with love 
and hope and such flimsy matter ? I am wedded to the rocks, 
and Mount Sorrel (does not the word set your teeth on 
edge?) is my present mistress. By the way she is a little 
coy and hard-hearted, and refuses to tell me her pedigree, 
and to introduce me to her old relations. But I am going 
with Professors Whewell and Airy to knock at one of her 
back doors tomorrow morning, and perhaps we may make an 
entry, and establish ourselves in one of her larders. Should 
that be the case we shall dish her up to some tune. But 
talking of love has made me run into figurative language, 
which you know is quite out of place in geology ; so leaving 
all figures let me again tell you how much I thank you, and 
how miserable I am that I cannot join your party, and how 
delighted I shall be to meet you all again in London. Yours, 
my dear Mrs Murchison, to the bottom of Lyell's Hypogene 

A. Sedgwick. 

At Whitehaven Sedgwick met with a kindred spirit in 
Mr Williamson Peile, manager of Lord Lonsdale's collieries, 
and he frequently revisited Whitehaven in subsequent years. 
Mr Peile's duties had naturally led him to study geology . 
from its practical side; but with Sedgwick's help his know- 
ledge was largely developed, and in 1835 a joint communi- 
cation was made to the Geological Society : On the range of 
the Carboniferous Limestone flanking tfie primary Cumbrian 


1833. Mountains, and on the Coalfields of t/te N. W. coast of Cumber- 
Mt. 48. land. 

On returning to Cambridge in October, Sedgwick was 
engaged in writing the appendix to his Discourse, which, 
as mentioned above, was published in November. "Just as 
the last term was waning to its end " he wrote in February, 
1834, "my sermon broke its shell; and in consequence, no 
doubt, of the long incubation, turned out to be six times the 
orthodox stature. Whether it deserves to be sent to the 
flames, for being of these most heretical and monstrous 
dimensions, you will best judge for yourself when you see 
it 1 ." Later in the year, when the third edition had appeared, 
he could announce: "It has been very well received, and will, 
I hope, be the means of doing some good to our young 
men . 

While Sedgwick's Discourse was passing through the 
press, a slanderous pamphleteer named Beverley was pre- 
paring an elaborate attack on the University; and, by a 
curious coincidence, the two works appeared in the course of 
the same month. The pamphlet and its author were equally 
worthless, and the whole question, though it created a pro- 
digious excitement at the time, might well be allowed to 
rest in the oblivion to which it has long since been consigned, 
had not Sedgwick devoted much time and energy to exposing 
and refuting the malicious calumniator. On this account the 
matter cannot be passed over ; but our account of it shall be 
as brief as possible. 

In October, 18 16, Robert Mackenzie Beverley, a native 
of the town of the same name in Yorkshire, was admitted 
a pensioner of Trinity College. He did not proceed to the 
degree of Bachelor of Laws until 1821, and he continued to 
reside in Cambridge for some months afterwards. If his own 
account of himself could be believed, he was a virtuous, hard- 
reading, student ; but, on the other hand, whenever he has a 

1 To Rev. Charles Ingle, 16 February, 1834. 
9 To Bishop Monk, 1 November, 1834. 


particularly disreputable story to tell, the experience of one 1833. 
of his own friends is given as the authority for it He could & im 4 8 * 
not therefore have known the best set either in his own 
college, or in the University at large. He seems to have 
been chiefly remarkable for personal vanity, which shewed 
itself in the set of his cap, and the carriage of his gown ; and 
for an effeminate delight in dress. " For chains and chitter- 
lings, for curls and cosmetics, for rings and ringlets, no man 
was like him. He was indeed a finished and a fragrant 
fop — a very curious coxcomb. 1 " 

In those days he professed to belong to the Church of 
England, but after taking his degree he became a dissenter, 
and, with the ardour of a convert, set himself to the task of 
vilifying, and, if possible, of pulling down, the body of which 
he had once been a member. He began with A Letter to his 
Grace t/te Archbishop of York, on the present corrupt state of 
the Church of England. This was written in September, 1830, 
and published early in 1831. Coarse and vulgar as the pro- 
duction is, it was evidently suited to the taste of those for 
whom it was intended, for before the end of the year it had 
reached a sixth edition. Beverley was delighted at his unex- 
pected success. " Though it becomes not me to say so," he 
writes, "yet it cannot be concealed that my 'Letter to the 
Archbishop of York ' has produced a practicable breach in the 
walls of the Establishment/' He therefore lost no time in 
publishing The Tombs of the PropJiets, a Lay Sertnon on the 
Corruptions of the Church of Christ Both these publications 
were indited with the avowed object of effecting "a total 
separation of the Church from the State, and a speedy con- 
fiscation of that which is falsely called Church Property." 
The success of the sermon was fully equal to that of the 
letter. It was largely sold, and honoured by more than one 

1 Sedgwick's Four Letters to the Editors of the Leeds Mercury in reply to 
R. M. Beverley, Esq. 8vo. Camb. 1836, p. 55. See also Remarks upon Mr 
Beverley's Letter to the Duke of Gloucester. By a Member of Trinity College. 
8vo. Camb. 1833, p. 37. 


1833. reply. Beverley, fond as ever of display, and perhaps not 
iEt 48. insensible to the pleasure of making money by the sale of 
pamphlets which must have been easily written, began to 
give himself the airs of a Luther. His exposure of the 
corruptions of the Church had awakened the nation ; his 
efforts must next be directed against the Universities from 
which the Church draws "its mischievous strength." As 
even he, with all his presumption, could not affect a know- 
ledge of Oxford, he confined his operations to Cambridge, 
and in November, 1833, brought out A Letter to his Royal 
Highness the Duke of Gloucester, Cfiancellor, on tJie present 
corrupt state of the University of Cambridge. 

With affected candour, Beverley begs to be allowed to 
instruct the "illustrious Prince " whom he is addressing on 
certain important matters. "It is not to be supposed," he 
says, "that you can be acquainted with the arcana of that 
mother and nurse of arts and wickedness." He then passes 
in review the morals, the religion, and the learning, of the 
University. All the scandalous stories which he had heard 
while in residence, or with which his correspondents 1 had 
supplied him, are gathered together. His ignorance is only 
equalled by his falsehood and his malignity. Silly tales, 
such as no one but a freshman would credit for an instant, 
are gravely set down as undisputed facts. Exceptional 

1 The way in which his evidence was collected is shewn by the following notice 
"To Correspondents," at the end of his Reply to Professor Sedgwick's letter: 
"I take the opportunity of thanking my correspondents whose letters are not 
yet answered. Two letters received the first week in December may be of 

" One correspondent, however, should remember that it is impossible to rely on 
any anonymous information. As the Revelations of Verax might, if properly 
authenticated, be useful, it is the more to be lamented that he withholds his name 
and address. He may with confidence venture his name, which will never be 

" The testimony from Emmanuel College is not forgotten. All communications 
must be directed to the care of the Publisher, and the postage must be paid ; for want 
of attending to this established rule, some letters and notes have been refused 
admission." Well might Sedgwick term him "the hucksterer of scandal, the 
advertising broker of impurity." Four Letters, p. 37. 


instances of folly and depravity are assumed to be the rule. 1833. 
Rioting, drunkenness, gambling, immorality, extravagance, ^ u * 8 - 
are stated to be universal ; the Fellows are as bad as the 
undergraduates ; religion is a farce ; even learning is a thing 
of the past. Lastly — for Beverley's real object in writing his 
Letter is artfully concealed until near the end — the Dissenters 
are excluded from a place " which should not be styled a Uni- 
versity, but a Particularity," by an iniquitous system of tests. 
But, before it can be made fit for the education of their sons, 
Reform must have reached the root of the whole mischief. 
The only practicable course is " to confiscate all the Univer- 
sity property, to declare it lapsed to the Crown, and to 
remodel it de novo." 

This farrago of blunders and misrepresentations had an 
immense circulation. Three editions appeared before the end 
of 1833, and the author's friends among the dissenters, who 
had read his previous works with satisfaction, probably 
accepted his accusations against the University as true. 
Those who knew better were not slow in replying. Ten 
pamphlets, most of them written by indignant undergra- 
duates, appeared as rapidly as the editions of the libel. 
Some of these take the letter to pieces, paragraph by para- 
graph, and point out that the picture there drawn of Cam- 
bridge is a gross caricature ; others hold the author up to 
ridicule in satiric verse. One of the former says, with much 
truth : 

"You have wilfully and deliberately belied the Undergraduates 
of Cambridge. You have taken particular exceptions and built 
generalities upon them. You have gloated over the recollections of 
your own College intemperance till the foul corruption has quickened 
into life, and your imagination, drawing its stores from the scenes 
of debauchery in which you once revelled, has presented as the 
general portrait of Cambridge what forms the rare and disgraceful 
exception 1 ." 

1 A Letter to R. M. Beverley \ Esq., from an Undergraduate of the University 
of Cambridge. 8vo. Cambridge and London 1833, p. 6. The writer is known to 
have been William Forsyth, B.A. 1834, afterwards Fellow of Trinity College. 


1834- " Our opponent I believe I have effectually silenced ; and 

^t. 49. many years, must, I think, elapse before any party will dare 
to bring forward Beverley as an implement of mischief. I had 
a most revolting task to perform, such as no man can go through 
without dirtying his own fingers. If you saw my letters, I 
hope you remembered that I was not writing for gentlemen 
or scholars, but for the instruction of a multitude of bitter 
blackguards in the shape of Yorkshire dissenters 1 ." 

The following letter is specially interesting as shewing 
that all dissenters were not prepared to agree with their self- 
constituted champion. 

From Mr T. M. Ball. 

61 Coleman St., London, 
10 February, 1834. 

I am a dissenter. In common with thousands of all 
creeds I read Beverley's Letter to the Duke of Gloucester. Of 
Cambridge and its noble University I know but little, but by 
common report. The picture drawn of its condition by the writer of 
that Letter was indeed horrible, but I for one could not and would 
[not] believe all he had written; it bore evidently the stamp of 
malice, and hatred, and every unchristian feeling. You may suppose 
then that it was with much pleasure I read, and I did every word of 
your excellent, eloquent, and convincing reply copied into The 
Times from a Leeds paper. I have also this morning read another 
in the same Journal, and I write now for the purpose of expressing 
my hopes that your promised letters will appear, not in a country 
paper, but as pamphlets, for I should, for one, wish to possess them, 
and you may be sure that I am not the only person who feels this 
desire. Although a dissenter I am no enemy of the Church, no 
dishonest longer to grasp what is her's by right and law. Trusting 
you will excuse this intrusion, which only a love of truth, and strong 
admiration of your admirable replies prompts me to venture thus 
addressing you, and claiming your attention, and ardently hoping 
it is your intention to do as I have expressed my hope, 

I am, with great respect, 

Your obedient servant, 

T. M. Ball. 

Early in January, 1834, while staying at Milton Park, 
Sedgwick met with a severe accident, by which his right arm 

1 To Bishop Monk, 1 November, 1834. 


was disabled for several months. " The day after I arrived at 1834. 
Milton," he says, " I started with a party of ten for Croyland -**• 49- 
Abbey, and in passing carelessly under one of the branching 
trees, whether by the swerving of my horse, or by incautiously 
raising my head too soon, it was caught among the extreme 
branches, and I was pulled off my horse 1 ." The extent of the 
injury was unsuspected at the time, and the patient was 
treated for a severe sprain. On his return to Cambridge he 
sent for the celebrated surgeon Mr Okes, "who saw the whole 
extent of the mischief in an instant, and pointed out the 
existence of a great transverse faulty throwing down the 
metacarpal bones in such a way as to bring one of them to 
the end of the radius, and thrust the thumb below the palm 
of the hand." The bones were soon put into their right 
places, while Sedgwick "howled loud enough to shake all 
the windows in the Great Court;" but his recovery was slow, 
and for several months any work that entailed legible writing 
had to be done by one of his friends. Even the letters 
against Beverley were dictated to either Romilly or Kemble 1 . 
His efforts at lefthanded penmanship did not go beyond a 
letter to a relative or an intimate friend, nor could it be said 
of him, as of a celebrated Puritan divine, 

" though of thy right hand bereft, 
Right well thou writest with the hand that's left." 

Such a condition was ill-suited to a man of his bodily and 
mental activity, and he likened himself, no doubt most truth- 
fully, to " a chained bull-dog." 

Before long, in despite of his maimed condition, and the 
advice of doctors to avoid excitement, he became the central 
figure in an agitation which threw the University into confu- 
sion for more than six months, having for its object the 
abolition of tests on proceeding to degrees. For the moment 
he and his friends were unsuccessful, and thirty-seven years 

1 This and the following extracts describing the accident, are from a letter to 
R. I. Murchison, 8 February, 1834. 

2 John Mitchell Kemble, of Trinity College, B.A. 1830. 

s. 1. 27 


1834. elapsed before tests were completely swept away. In the 
^ 49- interval, whenever an occasion presented itself, Sedgwick 
shewed unflagging interest in the cause, and one of the last 
occasions on which he spoke in public was a meeting at 
St John's College Lodge, to assist the movement which 
resulted in the Test Act of 187 1. 

The movement of 1834, in which Sedgwick bore so promi- 
nent a part, began with a petition, drawn up under the 
following circumstances. In December, 1833, Professor Pryme 
had offered Graces to the Senate suggesting the appointment 
of a Syndicate to consider the abolition or modification of 
subscription on proceeding to a degree. These were rejected 
by the Caput. In February, 1834, Dr Cornwallis Hewett, 
Downing Professor of Medicine, offered a similar Grace, with 
special reference to the faculty of medicine. This also was 
rejected by the Caput, on the veto of the Vice Chancellor, Dr 
King, President of Queens' College. Finally, 12 March, 1834, 
the Senate petitioned to be heard by counsel in respect of the 
charter of the London University 1 . Thereupon several 
members of the Senate met at Professor Hewett's rooms, 
Sedgwick was called to the chair, and it was resolved to draw 
up a petition to both Houses of Parliament — not as coming 
from the body at large, but as expressing the opinion of cer- 
tain individuals, who, from the tactics of their opponents, had 
no other mode of recording their opinions 9 . After expressing 
their attachment to the Church, and the University, and their 
conviction that "no system of civil or ecclesiastical polity was 
ever so devised by the wisdom of man as not to require, from 
time to time, some modification, from the change of external 

1 It is difficult to understand why this demand should have given so much 
offence, but Sedgwick himself enumerates it among the reasons for the action of 
the petitioners in his letter to The Times, dated 8 April, 1834. The University had 
merely prayed to be heard by Counsel in support of the insertion of a clause in 
the Charter, "declaring that nothing in the terms of the Charter should be 
construed as giving a right to confer any Academical distinctions designated by 
the same titles, or accompanied with the same privileges, as the degrees now 
conferred by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge." 

1 Sedgwick's Letter to TAe Times, ut supra. 


circumstances, or the progress of opinion," the petitioners make 1834. 
the following statement : ^ tm & 

" In conformity with these sentiments, they would further suggest 
to your honourable house that no corporate body like the University 
of Cambridge can exist in a free country in honour or in safety unless 
its benefits be communicated to all classes as widely as is compatible 
with the Christian principles of its foundation. 

Among the changes which they think might be at once adopted 
with advantage and safety, they would suggest the expediency of 
abrogating by legislative enactment every religious test exacted from 
members of the University before they proceed to degrees, whether 
of bachelor, master, or doctor, in Arts, Law, and Physic In praying 
for the abolition of these restrictions, they rejoice in being able to 
assure your honourable house that they are only asking for a restitu- 
tion of their ancient academic laws and laudable customs. These 
restrictions were imposed on the University in the reign of King 
James I, most of them in a manner informal and unprecedented, 
and grievously against the wishes of many of the then members of 
the Senate, during times of bitter party animosities, and during the 
prevalence of dogmas, both in Church and State, which are at vari- 
ance with the present spirit of English Law, and with the true 
principles of Christian toleration." 

As it was thought desirable to get the petition presented 
before the Easter recess, time was precious. Accordingly, it 
was not circulated publicly, but lay for signature at the rooms 
of Mr Thomas Musgrave 1 in Trinity College, from Friday 
14 March, to Monday 17 March, while those interested in its 
success solicited support by private canvass. It received the 
signatures of sixty-two resident members of the Senate. 
Among them were two Masters of Colleges, Dr Davy of 
Gonville and Caius, and Dr Lamb of Corpus Christi ; nine 
Professors, Hewett, Lee, Cumming, Clark, Babbage, Sedgwick, 
Airy, Musgrave, Henslow ; several Tutors of Colleges, and 
distinguished Masters of Arts. Some of these were either 
conservatives, or very moderate liberals. It was presented to 
the House of Lords (21 March) by Earl Grey, at Sedgwick's 
personal instance; and to the House of Commons (24 March) 

1 Fellow of Trinity College, B.A. 1810. He was Lord Almoner's Reader in 
Arabic from 1821 — 1837, when he was made Dean of Bristol. He became Bishop 
of Hereford a few months afterwards, and Archbishop of York in 1847. 

27 — 2 


1834. by Mr Spring Rice, member for the town o( Cambridge. By 
^ l - 49- both houses it was received with respect, and became the 
subject of animated debate. 

As might have been expected, it was succeeded, after about 
ten days, by a Declaration, signed by 101 residents. "We do 
not admit," said this laconic document, " that ' the abolition 
of the existing * restrictions ' would be, as alleged, 'a restitu- 
tion 1 of the 'ancient laws and laudable customs' of the Univer- 
sity: neither do we acknowledge that any of 'these restrictions 
were imposed in a manner informal and unprecedented V 
As these words directly controverted the statements of the 
petition, Sedgwick, as " chairman of a party of the resident 
members of the Senate who agreed to the words of the 
petition lately presented in parliament," addressed a long 
letter to The Times (8 April) in vindication of himself and his 
friends, which may be taken as an official statement of their 
position. It deals chiefly with the historical question, and it 
is only towards the end that he gives a short account of the 
motives by which the petitioners had been actuated, and the 
circumstances under which the document had been drawn 

By this time the excitement in the University had become 
very great. As the number of resident members of the Senate 
did not exceed one hundred and eighty, sixty-two of whom 
had signed the Petition, and one hundred and one the Declara- 
tion, nearly every resident was directly interested in the 
question. The promoters of the Declaration, elated at their 
success, gave notice of a Grace at the next congregation 
(16 April), to affix the University seal to a petition to 
both Houses of Parliament praying for the maintenance 
of existing tests. Non-residents came up in considerable 
numbers, but only to find that Dr Hewett had availed 
himself of his right of veto as a member of the Caput, and 
thrown out the Grace. This manoeuvre, however, could 
scarcely be called successful, for the petition was imme- 
diately deposited in the hall of Queens' College, and before 


long received two hundred and eighty signatures. On the 1834. 
following day it was taken to London by the Vice ^ 49. 
Chancellor, and within a week presented to the House of 
Lords by the Chancellor, and to the House of Commons by 
Mr Goulburn. 

Professor Hewett's action was eloquently defended by 
Sedgwick in a letter to The Cambridge Chronicle (16 April), 
the publication of which, taken in conjunction with his previous 
letter to The Times, and his Seventeen Reasons for adopting 
t/te prayer of t/te Petition signed by sixty-two Resident Members 
of the Senate, involved him in further controversy, notably 
with a correspondent of The Cambridge Chronicle who signed 
himself A Member of tlie Senate, a designation which concealed 
his old antagonist, Dr French. From these ephemeral publi- 
cations we will pass on to a letter written to Bishop Blomfield, 
as containing a dispassionate statement of the whole question 
from the point of view of himself and the petitioners 1 . 

Trinity College, April 27, 1834. 
My Lord, 

I have this moment, under your Lordship's frank, 
received a copy of your speech delivered in the House of 
Peers on April 21st*, and sit down at my breakfast table to 
reply to one or two paragraphs in which you seem to misap- 
prehend the wishes of the sixty-two petitioners who first 
moved the question. In my present condition I am com- 
pelled to write with my left hand, and have consequently a 
mechanical difficulty in expressing myself. I must be as 
plain and short as I can... 

Your Lordship's speech seems constructed on the supposi- 
tion that Dissenters, under the contemplated Act, would have 

1 This letter is printed from a copy taken by the Rev. J. Romilly, and 
preserved by him in the Registry of the University. A few paragraphs, not 
specially important, have been omitted. 

2 Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, Ser. 3. xxii. 994. The occasion was the 
presentation of the petition signed 16 April against any removal of tests. 


1854. the right of admission. What Mr Wood's 1 intentions were I 
iEt 49- know not — I wish heartily the getting up of the Bill had not 
been with a Dissenter — but our intentions were to give no 
such right, and I have in two letters written some time since, 
pressed this very strongly on Lord Grey.... We wish no man 
to be forced on the University ; and if Mr Wood adopts the 
suggestions sent up last night and agreed to at my rooms, 
the Bill will not touch the rights of the admitting officers in 
the several colleges. A man is not to come up as a Dissenter; 
he is not to be considered as such by any official college act ; 
he must conform to discipline, and we give him a degree 
without exacting subscription. A moderate, well-informed 
Dissenter will come up under such a system (this is not 
conjecture but fact) and he will take a degree. A bigot — a 
man who would haggle about organs and surplices — will and 
must keep away, and we do not want him. A right to a 
degree without signing a test does not do away with the 
necessity of discipline, or of conforming to college rules ; nor 
does it give (as far as our wishes are concerned) any right of 
admission which is not sanctioned by the voluntary acts of 
the admitting officers. If Dissenters were to come up as such, 
and allowed to force themselves on the several colleges, I 
should then agree with every syllable in the speech I have 
before me. But we look to no such result ; and if it come at 
all it will come as a future consequence of the exclusive policy 
which is now maintained. The Universities cannot maintain 
their old position and continue Universities. This your 
Lordship seems in part to admit, as you contemplate the 
lopping off of the Medical Faculty. I may be mistaken, but 
I cannot bear the thoughts of this, and I think the policy that 
suggests the possibility of it perfectly suicidal. 

1 Mr G. W. Wood obtained leave (17 April) to bring in a Bill to grant to His 
Majesty's subjects generally the rights of admission to the English Universities, 
and of equal eligibility to degrees therein, notwithstanding their diversities in 
religious opinion — degrees in Divinity alone excepted. It passed the House of 
Commons by large majorities at its different stages, but \yas rejected by the House 
of Lords. Hansard, ut supra, 901; xxiv. 492, 632, 1087; xxv. 815. 


You say, my Lord, that when Dissenters — but be it 1834. 
remembered only after having been admitted and having ^ 49- 
kept terms like other men — have a legal right to academic 
honours they will not long consent to be subject to college 
rules relating to chapel, lectures, etc. I am compelled to 
say that I do not see the force of this. A Dissenter knows 
our organization when he comes up, and if the advantages of 
our education have induced him to conform during years 
past, a fortiori he will be willing to conform when he can 
thereby have also the advantage of a degree. This appears 
to me perfect demonstration. Dissenters may have some 
foolish expectations from the operation of the intended Bill, 
but we cannot help this. Again, I affirm with perfect con- 
fidence that the operation of the Bill implies no change 
whatsoever in the college lectures. We have had amongst us 
during the last twenty years Roman Catholics, Methodists, 
Presbyterians, Quakers, Congregationalists of every shade, 
and they all attended lectures, and never, I believe, made a 
single objection to a lecture given in College. Let me appeal 
to your own experience, and to that of your friends the 
Bishops of Gloucester and Lincoln.... 

I feel so confident in the truth of what I am now saying 
that I have not in my heart been able to acquit of a charge 
of insincerity some of those who have accused the sixty-two 
petitioners of attempting to destroy root and branch the 
system of religious education in this University. Were our 
wishes carried into effect I verily believe we should be com- 
pelled to compromise nothing on which a good and charitable 
churchman ought to make a stand. No man is now forced to 
attend the sacrament. The attendance at chapel would, 
I think, be better after the proposed change than it is at 
present, and the public Professors of Theology would probably 
be called to renewed and more effective exertions in behalf of 
the doctrines of our Church. In parochial instruction it is, I 
doubt not, impossible to blend together men of different 
persuasions. But may it not probably be far otherwise, or 


1834. rather, I ought to say, has it not been far otherwise in a 
Mt. 49. system of academic instruction ? The two cases are so dis- 
similar, that, with all deference, we cannot, I think, argue 

from one to the other. 


You say that the proposed Bill would be an infringement 
of our privileges. In which respect? To give degrees in the 
faculties is our privilege : the tests with which these degrees 
are clogged are no privileges, and we want to wipe them out 
as worse than nothing. This is our prayer. We may be 
right, or we may be wrong, but we want to preserve our privi- 
leges. And those who resolve to keep these tests at all 
hazards know that they are supporting that which, if upheld, 
will lead to an infraction of our privileges, and virtually cut 
off from us the medical faculty. Your Lordship does not 
know the enormous injury this amputation would inflict on 
us. Our Professor of Physic gives an admirable course 
of lectures, and his pupils attend the Hospital. The 
Professor of Anatomy gives a new and extended course. 
We have built a Museum and purchased specimens and 
anatomical models at the expense of thousands. We have 
an extended course of Chemical and Botanical lectures with 
reference to the Anatomical Class. Are all these things 
to vanish away? Yes! say those who oppose the sixty-two 
petitioners: Perish Science and live the Tests! We will 
not allow even so much as a Syndicate of inquiry! And 
yet the same persons would enter on a negotiation with 
Sir Henry Halford which would virtually swamp our whole 
medical faculty, as well as the lectures which have risen in 
consequence of it! 

Since your time, my Lord, Cambridge has improved in 
vitality. We have a chartered Philosophical Society which 
has produced five large volumes of Tratisactions rivalling in 
original matter the first scientific memoirs in Europe. We 
have a noble Observatory in full action, and in honourable 
correspondence with all the other public Observatories in the 


world. And who first started and set afloat these noble 4834. 
monuments of Cambridge zeal and learning ? Some of those Mu 49- 
who took a leading part among the sixty-two Petitioners. 
And yet they are to be set down as innovators, lovers of 
movement, and disturbers of the consecrated institutions of 
their country ! So far they are men of movement that when 
they see everything about them stirring they know they 
cannot remain immovable without being left in helpless 
solitude. They believe that the scientific character of Cam- 
bridge is not only its honour but its security. As a great 
learned and scientific University giving degrees in all the 
learned faculties — incorporated as a lay body, and only 
regarded as such in the eye of the law of England — ...Cam- 
bridge may stand firmly.... But if she once be considered as a 
mere school for the Church Establishment her endowments 
will be thought out of all reasonable dimensions, and before 
many years are over we may see our noble edifices beginning 
to crumble about our ears. 

When the Act of Uniformity was in force, with all its 
terrific train of penalties, and all who refused the injunctions 
of the Test and Corporation Acts were excluded from offices 
of trust and honour, our exclusive system was in harmony 
with the law. Now it is not so. And we wish to put 
ourselves right with the actual constitution of our country, 
so that we may still be the nurseries and fountains not merely 
of the Church but also of the Commonwealth, 

* * * * 

Pray excuse this formidable visitation ; accept my best 
thanks for your speech ; and believe me, my Lord, 

Your most faithful servant 

A. Sedgwick. 

Before long Sedgwick's attention was engaged by another 
matter arising directly out of the same agitation. The 
strength of public feeling on the question of tests had mani- 


1834. fested itself in a number of pamphlets, of which Dr TurtonV 
JEt. 49. Thoughts on the Admission of Persons, without regard to their 
Religious Opinions, to certain degrees in the Universities of 
England, was perhaps the ablest, and certainly the most 
widely read. It was promptly answered by Connop Thirlwall, 
at that time an Assistant Tutor of Trinity College. He was 
one of Sedgwick's intimate friends, and had cordially co- 
operated with him in the matter of the petition, though there 
is no evidence that he had taken any very active part in 
promoting it. In the course of his reply to Dr Turton he was 
led to inquire whether colleges might be held to be schools 
of religious instruction; and, having answered this question in 
the negative, went out of his way to denounce the existing 
system of compulsory attendance at chapel as a positive 
evil. Within a week after the appearance of this pamphlet, 
the Master, Dr Wordsworth, called upon the author to 
resign his office, and Thirlwall, almost without hesitation, 
complied. An exercise of authority so despotic, and so 
unprecedented, added to the unpopularity of the Master 
with many of the Fellows, was received with a loud out- 
burst of indignation. Sedgwick, who happened to be in 
London, was promptly informed by Whewell of what had 
taken place. After briefly recording the facts, and his own 
disapproval of the Master's conduct, he went on to say : 

" What will happen next I have no guess, for I have talked with 
none of Thirlwall's friends about the case, but I much fear they may 
attempt some violent and rash measure ; and what I wish to beg of 
you is that you will be our good genius, and moderate instead of 
sharing in, our violence. ... You have more influence in the College 
than any other person, and have perhaps the power of prevent- 
ing our present misfortunes being followed by any fatal conse- 

Sedgwick hastened back to Cambridge, and did all that 
could be done, under the circumstances, in conjunction with 

1 Thomas Turton, D.D., Regius Professor of Divinity from 1817 — 1845, when 
he was made Bishop of Ely. 

* From Rev. W. Whewell, 37 May, 1834. 



Musgrave, Sheepshanks, Romilly, and Peacock 1 . But, as 1834. 
Thirlwall had resigned, their efforts could effect nothing &*• 49- 
except a dignified submission to the inevitable. From our 
point of view the matter is chiefly interesting, as shewing the 
position which Sedgwick had attained in College, and which 
he kept throughout the rest of his long life. 

The following letters furnish an appropriate conclusion 
to the busy episodes in Sedgwick's life which have just been 

From Mr Robert Southey. 

Keswick, 10 February \ 1834. 
My dear Sir, 

I am much obliged to you for your discourse, and for 
the pleasant letter that accompanied it. It is indeed most gratifying 
to see you employing your sledge-hammer against the Utilitarians ; 
and counteracting the mischief which has been done by Locke and 
Paley. Heavy as the hammer strikes, your name and character 
carry with them equal weight ; and I do not think any other person 
could at this time have done so much good. 

This too I can truly say, that in these dark times, nothing has 
cheered me so much as the part which you have thus taken. 

Believe me, my dear Sir, 

Yours with sincere respect and regard, 

Robert South ey. 

From Mr William Wordsworth. 

Rydal Mount, 

May 14M, 1834. 

" My dear Sir, 

I am much indebted to you for a Copy of your discourse 
on the Studies of the University ; and which has been read to me 
twice. It is written with your usual animation, and I hope will in 
the course of time prove of beneficial effect, if the Universities are to 
continue to exist ; which from some late proceedings in your own, I 
am disposed to doubt. 

In every part of your Discourse I was interested, but was most nearly 
touched by your observations on Paley's Moral Philosophy, which, 

1 Mr Romilly records in his diary, 99 May, "Sedgwick and Sheepshanks 
arrived from town to-day to look into Thirlwall's case. Sedgwick and Musgrave 
drew up a Paper, and took it to the Master: 'We the undersigned resident 
Seniors request you to call a Seniority to inquire into the proceedings which led 
to Mr Thirlwall's resignation of the Tuition. ' Signed by Sedgwick, Musgrave, 
Peacock, Romilly, Sheepshanks." 


1834. tho' like all his works a Book of unrivalled merit in certain points, is 
ALU 49. deplorably wanting in essentials. In fact there is no such thing as 
Morals as a Science, or even as Philosophy, if Paley's system be 
right You and I, I remember, talked upon the subject when I had 
last the pleasure of seeing you — so that I need not say more than 
that I heartily concur with you in what your Discourse contains 
upon it. 

Thank you for the drubbing you have given that odious Slanderer, 
Beverley. I was sorry to learn from those letters that you had had 
so severe an accident You have the best wishes of all this family 
for your entire and speedy recovery. 

Should I be silent upon the part you have taken as the Public 
Leader of the 62 or 63 Petitioners, I should not be treating you with 
sincerity, or in the spirit of that friendship which exists between us. 
This is not the place for me to discuss the subject, and tho* I feel that 
my opinion, as an opinion merely, may not be entitled to much 
respect, as your personal friend I cannot hold back the declaration 
of my conviction that the Petitioners are misguided men, — that part 
of them, at least, who have signed this Petition with a hope, that by 
so doing, they are contributing to the Support of the Institutions of 
the Country, the Church included. 

Farewell ! God bless you, and be assured that whatever course 
you pursue either in public or private life, there is no likelihood that 
I shall ever have occasion to doubt that you act from pure and con- 
scientious motives. At the same time allow me to say, that I have 
no dread of being accused of presumption by you, for not having 
bowed to the scientific names which stand so conspicuous upon this 
ill-omened Instrument. 

"Ever faithfully yours, 

"Wm. Wordsworth." 

The history of the Woodwardian Museum during the four 
years comprised in the present chapter must now be briefly 
noticed. The unfitness of the room for the purposes of a 
Museum, occupies, as heretofore, a considerable space in the 
reports of the Inspectors. In 1830 they extend their observa- 
tions to the Professor's college rooms, where they find not 
only cabinets belonging to the University, but " ten or twelve 
packing-cases from Germany and other parts of the continent, 
as yet unopened, for which the Professor cannot find room 
either in the Museum or in his chambers." In 1833 these 
defects are remedied to some slight extent by the acquisition 
of the two rooms at the west end of the Divinity School, 
(now the Music Room and the Newspaper Room of the 


Library) hitherto used by the Registrary ; but Sedgwick " is 1834. 
compelled to state that this addition is by no means adequate & u 49- 
for the reception of the present collection, much less for its 
proper exhibition, or for such augmentations as the present 
state of geological science requires. ,, Meanwhile, thanks to 
Sedgwick's own exertions, important additions were being 
made in nearly every year. We read of casts of Plesiosaurus 
and Ichthyosaurus presented by Viscount Cole and Mr 
Chantrey (1832) ; of a collection lately the property of Dr 
E. D. Clarke, removed from the cellars in the Botanic Garden 
after his death, and of specimens collected in North and 
South Wales by the Professor (1833); and lastly, of a bust 
of Cuvier presented by his widow (1834). 

Sedgwick's plans for the summer had been settled early 
in the year. " I propose," he wrote in April, " to spend the 
early part of the Long Vacation in Wales, thence to find my 
way by steam to Glasgow, to mount up to and batter the 
Grampians, to descend by the west coast of Ayrshire, and 
then to thread my way among the hills of the Lammermuir 
chain, so as to end my work in September in time for the 
meeting of the British Association at Edinburgh, where I 
shall have to resign my office of President of the Philosophical 
afial;6/3toi l " 

This programme, in its main outlines at least, was faith- 
fully carried out. Early in June he started for Wales with 
Murchison. On this visit he began work on the south side of 
the Principality, instead of on the north, for the purpose of 
examining, under his friend's guidance, the ground he had 
already gone over, and thus, as he said afterwards, learning 
the alphabet of the Silurian tongue 8 . The excursion was 
specially gratifying to Murchison, who parted from Sedgwick 
under the firm conviction that he was fully convinced of the 
accuracy of his determination of the sequence of the rocks 
examined. " Although I think and hope," he wrote to 

1 To Rev. W. Ainger, 2 April, 1834. 

2 Salter's Catalogue^ p. xix. 


1834. Whewell, " that he endeavoured to pick every hole he could 
& L 49- in my arrangement, he has confirmed all my views, some of 
which, from the difficulties which environed me, I was very 
nervous about until I had such a backer 1 ." After six weeks 
spent in " marches and countermarches in Hereford, Brecon, 
Caermarthen, Montgomery, and Salop,'* the friends parted at 
Ludlow (10 July). Sedgwick hastened back to his old ground 
in North Wales, where he probably spent most of the time 
until claimed by the Association. 

Sedgwick has unfortunately left no account of his pro- 
ceedings at Edinburgh, where he was the guest of Dr Alison, 
father of the historian. We know from the Report of the 
Association that he resigned the office of President in an 
eloquent, though not specially noteworthy speech, but that 
he did not himself contribute anything to the geological 
section. Before leaving Edinburgh he had the pleasure of 
making the acquaintance of Professor Agassiz, who had just 
come to Great Britain for the first time. A life-long friendship 
between the two geologists was the result of this interview. 

After the meeting Sedgwick and Murchison, according to 
previous arrangement, started together for the south. From 
this point the story can be told in his own words : 

Trin. Coll., November 15, 1834. 
My dear Mrs Alison, 

The day I left you I had a delightful drive along 
the banks of the Esk, which contrast so finely with the 
country on both sides of them. Straight furrows and rotation 
crops may gladden the farmer's face, but they had few charms 
for my companion and myself. We halted, however, at the 
cliffs of Dunbar (they are very curious and if you have not 
seen them pray look at them the next time you pass that 
way), and we were overjoyed at the sight of the noble glen of 

1 Murchison to Whewell, 18 July, 1834, quoted in Geikie's Life of Murchison, 
i. «3- 


Perhaps your brother 1 has told you of our expedition to 1834. 
St Abb's Head. Nothing could turn out better — the geology ^ 49- 
most instructive — the scenery grand and varied — the sea as 
smooth as glass — the cliffs sublime, and every headland re- 
flecting the lights of a glowing sun. We were all excited to 
the highest pitch; sometimes speculating on the strange 
frolics dame Nature had loved to play thousands of years 
before strathspeys were thought of; then talking of Walter 
Scott, the Master of Ravens wood, and the Middle Ages ; 
and ever and anon, as conversation seemed to flag, plying 
Sir John Hall's bottles, not so much from the love of 
wine, as in the hope of seeing the embers of imagination 
blaze out afresh. The day after our sea-trip Murchison 
went helter-skelter after the foxhounds, and had the good 
luck to come back with a fox's brush, and an unbroken 

On the Saturday we were again under way, and continued 
together to Newcastle, where we parted ; but I had the good 
fortune to pick up another friend and knight of the hammer, 
with whom I struck up a league offensive and defensive, and 
we forthwith commenced an action of assault and battery 
against the ribs and shoulders of the mountains which range 
in a lofty unbroken chain from Stainmoor through Cross Fell 
to the frontier of Scotland. I will not torment you with any 
narration of our battles and victories ; sufficient to say that 
we parted at Carlisle — that I found my way to another 
friend's 2 house near Whitehaven — that I joined some young 
people in a pedestrian tour to the Lakes, and contrived to 
reap a rich harvest of joy from the exuberant spirits of 
my youthful companions — that I talked a day and a half 
with Wordsworth, who is the best talker I have the happiness 
of knowing, and who talked in his best fashion — that I found 
my way to my native valley, which will bear looking at after 

1 Duncan Farquharson Gregory, afterwards Fellow of Trinity College, B.A. 
1838, M.A. 1841. 

2 Probably Mr Williamson Peile. See above, p. 409. 


1834. the fairest prospects of the Lake region — that my friends 
&*- 49* were all well, my nephews and nieces springing like mush- 
rooms, and the old vicarage house about as noisy as it used 
to be when I was myself a child. 

But my sheet is ending and it is high time for me to end 
with it. Give my kindest remembrances to everybody at 
Woodville and Heriot Row, and to your brothers and sister, 
and believe me, Dear Mrs Alison, 

Your obliged and affectionate friend, 

A. Sedgwick. 

By the end of October Sedgwick was back in Cambridge, 
restored to good health and spirits by his summer in the open 
air, busy with his lectures, and with preparations for a visit 
from Professor Agassiz early in November. In order to lay 
before the " famous foreign fishmonger," the fare he specially 
fancied, Sedgwick had been for some time in correspond- 
ence with his friend Gwatkin, through whose good offices his 
own meagre table was to be garnished with "a dish offish" 
from Barrow in Leicestershire. " A Yorkshireman hates to 
buy a pig a poke," he added " but I am sure I may trust my 
old fellow-hammerer to make a good bargain for me 1 ." The 
fish in question did justice to Gwatkin's discrimination, and 
were duly added to the Woodwardian collection ; but, at the 
last moment, to Sedgwick's great annoyance, Agassiz was 
prevented from coming. 

Soon afterwards an event occurred which gave Sedgwick 
a new position, and, for a part of each year at least, 
diverted the current of his thoughts into a new channel. 
In the middle of November Lord Melbourne's ministry broke 
up, and just as Lord Chancellor Brougham was lamenting 
that Sedgwick and Thirlwall were the only clergymen who 
had deserved well of the liberal party for whom he had been 

1 To Rev. R. Gwatkin, 3 October, 1834. Mr Gwatkin was then vicar of 
Barrow on Soar, Mount Sorrel, Leicestershire. 


unable to provide 1 , came the news that a stall at Norwich, and 1834. 
a rectory in Yorkshire, were vacated by the death of the iBt « 49- 
gentleman who had held them both. Brougham gave the 
stall to Sedgwick, and the rectory to Thirlwall. The pre- 
ferment, as Sedgwick said, " was saved as from the fire," for 
it was only presented to him formally on the day before 
Brougham gave up the Great Seal. Sedgwick accepted without 
a moment's hesitation, and, as the next letter tells us, hurried 
through the formalities of induction with equal rapidity. 

Close, Norwich, 

Dec. 15, 1834. 
My dear Ainger, 

My poor brain is turned topsy-turvy, and my 
memory has fled so far from me that I cannot tell to 
whom I have written, and to whom I have not, since I 
became Prebendary of Norwich. Here however I am, in 
my own Residence, as good a Prebendary as you can see 
on a winter's day, though still without a shovel hat. My 
friends in College have been putting about a shilling sub- 
scription to buy me a gorgeous shovel hat. I shall receive 
it with due gratitude, and hang it on a peg to be looked 
at, but, as to putting it on my nob, that is another question. 
I doubt not you have heard of my appointment. Perhaps I 
informed you of it myself. If I did, I have forgotten it. 
One of the last acts of the ex-chancellor was to put the 
great seal to my presentation. The very day I received the 
notification of this act, I heard from a friend at Norwich 
who told me that the Chapter had heard of Lord Brougham's 
intention, and that, if I received the presentation in time, it 
would be very agreeable to them that I should take my pre- 
decessor's turn, which commenced on the 1st of December. 
By so doing I should secure all the domestic arrangements 
of the Chapter. There are six Prebendaries, and each resides 

1 Lord Houghton in The Fortnightly Review, February, 1878. At the end 
of 1833 Lord Brougham had induced Sedgwick to revise the MS. of his 
Discourse on Natural Theology. 

S. I. 28 


1834. two months. Now December and January just suit me, as 
&*• 49- the greater part of these two months falls in our Christmas 
vacation. Partly therefore on account of my Brethren of 
the Chapter, and partly on my own private account, I lent 
a willing ear to this suggestion — went up to Town without 
an hour's delay — procured my presentation from the Chan- 
cellor s office — took an early coach to Norwich — arrived on 
Saturday, November 29, in time for the Dean's breakfast — 
took the oaths and signed the books — presented my deed 
with the great seal affixed to the Dean after the First Lesson 
in the morning service — was formally installed in the pre- 
sence of the congregation — read in on Sunday the 30th — 
and commenced Residence in my own house on Monday, the 
1st inst. Is not this doing business? My servant arrived 
after a day or two, Lady Jane Wodehouse (the wife of 
one of my Brother Prebendaries) provided me two excellent 
maid servants. I have taken my predecessor's furniture and 
wines at a valuation, and am gradually settling down into 
my proper place. Our Residence while it lasts is severe. 
We are not permitted to be away from our houses for a 
single night. Attending service regularly, and preaching 
generally once each Sunday, are duties which are looked for. 
We have also to give certain dinners of ceremony to the 
officers of the Cathedral. Giving and receiving dinners con- 
stitutes a formidable service in a city like this. 

What my stall may do for me in the end I cannot say, 
but I am quite sure that for the first year it will make me 
poorer than I have been since I knew how to spell my 
own name. My fees and furniture will run me into debt 
to the tune of six hundred pounds at the very least I 
wish some good Christian would just now give me a thou- 
sand pounds, it would just make a poor body comfortable. 
If my life be spared the stall will I doubt not turn out a 
very comfortable thing. I hope I may count upon its pro- 
ducing me nearly ^600 a year. This, together with my 
Senior Fellowship and Professorship, must surely enable me 


soon to lift my head above water. My clerical employ- 1834. 
ment here is a good thing, and I mean not to flinch from ^ 4 9* 
it. The preaching I spoke of is not compulsory; but has 
been commenced of late years by some of the new comers. 
Pray write to me soon. 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

An amusing incident respecting Sedgwick's first visit to 
Norwich, deserves to be recorded. He called on Dean Pellew, 
as the above letter shews, in time for an early breakfast ; and, 
on being shewn into the drawing-room, found there his 
daughter Minna, aged three, playing at bricks. Sedgwick 
at once went down on his knees, and assisted her to build 
a tower of Babel, in which occupation, the Dean, to his great 
amusement, found his new Canon busily engaged. Sedgwick 
never forgot either the child, or the incident, but maintained 
a close friendship with her until his death, writing to her 
frequently, and generally sending her a present on her birth- 
day. These letters invariably contained either some allusion 
to the " early lessons in architecture which you gave me," or 
some such passage as the following : " Perhaps you think me 
wrong in calling you my oldest friend" he says in 1850; "at 
any rate yours is the oldest friendship which I formed in 
Norwich ; and it has never been interrupted since I began to 
build castles with you on your carpet on the 29th November. 

1 834V 

The following letter, though written two months later, 

completes the history of Sedgwick's first experience of his 

new dignity. 

1 Among the congratulations, humorous and serious, which were showered 
thick upon Sedgwick, may be quoted an epigram, by C. V. Le Grice. Lord 
Brougham is supposed to have presented the Stall with the following couplet : 

41 Dear Adam, if, as I believe, 
You'll one day wish to have an Eve, 
Then on the Eve of such event, 
At Norwich snug I've pitched your tenL" 



,8 34- Sunday Evening, ii p.m. 8 February, 1835. 

* My dear Ingle 1 , 

After chapel I went to drink tea with Pryme, our 
City Member, and have had a very long talk with him ; and 
on returning to my den I just looked in upon Thirlwall, who 
starts for Yorkshire tomorrow, at an hour when I shall pro- 
bably be recumbent, and between a pair of sheets. He tells 
me that he shall halt at York. I am therefore seated at the 
desk scribbling a page, and perhaps two, which he promises 
to convey for me as far as York, and perchance to your door. 
You don't know him, it seems ; but it is clear that you ought 
to know him ; and I hope this act of great benevolence on his 
part will move your bowels, and make you friends as long as 
you both last 

I only returned to College yesterday. My Cathedral 
Residence ended indeed on Saturday the 31st January ; but it 
took me five days to pay bills, pack up odds and ends, and 
unhook myself from a hundred little engagements. I, how- 
ever, moved off the stocks on Thursday night — halted a day 
with Dr Bayne at Bury, arrived in Cambridge yesterday, 
and here I am to-day (Sunday). Your letter delighted me ; 
not because of the grease and butter which covered its first 
page, but because it convinced me that you were enjoying 
your oldest and best flow of animal spirits, and that you 
could receive some pleasure from the recollection of old and 
good days when Charles Ingle was a burly school-boy begging 
salt at a sizar's door. My residence at Norwich forms a 
strange episode in my history. Now that I am once again 
in my old haunts, I can hardly believe that I have not been 
dreaming. While there, I was in the position of Vice Dean. 
In the absence of the Dean I was the official representative of 
the dignity of the Chapter — called upon to practice a series of 
formal hospitalities in a queer, old-fashioned, in-and-out, ugly, 
old, house. Several times I was afraid of being on my beam 

1 The Rev. Charles Ingle was then vicar of Osbaldwick, near York. 


ends ; but by some special providence I was saved from ship- 1834. 
wreck, and am at last safe in port. Everybody was kind and Mt " 49- 
hospitable ; indeed I have been almost killed with kindness ; 
and all the good old Tory inhabitants of the rookery seemed 
mightily anxious to see how such a monster as a Whig 
Prebendary would behave at meals; and you may depend 
upon it they have all been much built up with the sight I 
did, however, contrive to bring together more heretics and 
schismatics within my walls than ever had been seen before 
in a Prebendal house since the foundation of the Cathedral. 
Independents and Highchurchmen were seen licking out of 
the same fleshpots, and Quakers crossed my threshold without 
fear and trembling. By the way some of the Quakers are my 
delight. J. J. Gurney is an excellent and learned man, — 
brother of Mrs Fry and Mrs F. Buxton, — reads Hebrew, and 
spouts the Greek Fathers by the hour together. I don't 
believe there is a better man living. Friend Amelia 1 you 
know well. I like her much; but I never dared to rumple 
her cap in the way you mention. I have also been much 
given to preaching, holding forth twice, and sometimes thrice, 
on a Sunday. But, if I begin to preach now, Thirlwall will be 
asleep. So good night and God bless you. 

Yours always 

A. Sedgwick. 

1 Mrs Opie. 


(1835— 1840.) 

Cambridge Occupations. Election at Dent. Presentation 
at Court. British Association at Dublin. Skeleton 
of Irish Elk. Visit of Agassiz to Cambridge (1835). 
Lectures and Society at Norwich. Geological Tour 
in Devonshire with Murchison. Death of Mr Simeon 
(1836). Ill Health. Paper on Geology of Devonshire. 
Criticism of Babbage. Death of Bishop Bathurst. 
Foundation of Cowgill Chapel. Geology in Devon- 
shire. British Association at Liverpool. Inundation 
of the Workington Colliery (1837). Explorations at 
Bartlow. Devonian Paper. Queen's Coronation. 
British Association at Newcastle. Open-Air Lecture 
(1838). The Silurian System published. Foreign Tour 
with Murchison (1839). Ill Health. Cheltenham. 
Paper to Geological Society (1840). 

Sedgwick was evidently much gratified with his first term 
of residence at Norwich. He was conscious of having won a 
dignified piece of preferment by his own merits, without 
interest or favour ; he was pleased with his new friends, and 
did not, at first, find his duties irksome. Before long, it 
must be confessed, as the novelty of the situation wore off, 
he became less enthusiastic, and for a while was listless and 
ill at ease. 

This can surprise no one who reflects for a moment on 
what his previous life had been. When he became a Preben- 


dary of Norwich Cathedral he was fortynine years of age, 1835. 
and had resided in Trinity College for just thirty years. His ^ 5°- 
pursuits, his habits, his affections, were all bound up with the 
interests of the College and the University. His intimate 
friends, with the exception of Ainger and Murchison, were all 
working with the same objects in view. The duties entailed by 
his position as a Fellow and a Professor were not onerous, 
even in term-time; and, had he been a better economist of 
time, he might have devoted almost as many hours as he 
pleased in each day to his own pursuits. But at Norwich 
he could not call a moment his own. He had to lead an 
essentially public life ; to submit to incessant interruptions ; 
to be at the beck and call of anybody who chose to ring his 
bell. Even the services in the Cathedral — so different from 
those to which he had been accustomed in the college chapel — 
were exceedingly distasteful to him. " These long services/' he 
writes, "cut my time to shreds, and destroy the spirit of 
labour. We have the shadow of Catholicism without a grain 
of its substance, for not one of the Chapter thinks himself 
better for these heartless formalities, or nearer heaven. A 
cold empty Cathedral, and a set of unwilling hirelings singing 
prayers for an hour together. The bell tells me I must be 
off.... I am just returned, after a full hour and a half of shiver- 
ing. And what the congregation ? One single old woman in 
addition to the officials. As soon as my fingers are warm I 
have to go a mile to the County Hospital to read morning 
prayers; for this month I am chaplain. On my return I 
shall have time barely for a short walk (or ride if the horrid 
weather take up) and then another long Cathedral service 
from which I shall come home dog-tired and unfit for work 1 ." 
These expressions, and many others that might be quoted 
from letters written in 1836 and 1837, must not be taken too 
literally. Still it can hardly be doubted that for some time 
he was out of his element at Norwich. Gradually, however, 
like a tree that has been transplanted into genial soil, he 

1 To R. I. Murchison, 15 January, 1837. 


1835. became thoroughly happy in his new surroundings; he re- 
jEt. 50. g ar d e d his old-fashioned house in the Close, especially after 
it became filled with his nephew's children — as a second 
home ; and probably no member of the Chapter performed 
his duties, whether public or private, with so much regularity, 
heartiness, and success. In a subsequent chapter we shall 
throw together some reminiscences of his life in Norwich 
which have been collected by those who knew him and loved 
him well. These, however, will be more intelligible after 
some of the principal persons with whom he was there 
associated have appeared in the general narrative of his life. 

Sedgwick was back in Cambridge by the end of January, 
1835. "Since my return," he writes, "I have been almost 
driven off my feet: lectures, college business, arrears of 
correspondence, disagreeable domestic news involving me 
in the botheration of lawyers' consultations, etc., etc. and 
more than all together the oppressive consciousness of having 
more work before me than I have any chance to get through : 
all these causes have driven me out of my sensesV , Of the 
above-mentioned lectures one, towards the end of the course, 
was delivered in the field, a mode of instruction which under 
Sedgwick's guidance became exceedingly popular, even with 
those who cared nothing for geology. On this occasion a 
cavalcade of seventy horsemen started from Cambridge, and 
rode across the fens. Before the day was over Sedgwick had 
given five distinct lectures; the last, on fen-drainage, from the 
top of Ely Cathedral*. 

In the course of this term the Senate determined upon 
a step which must have given Sedgwick great satisfaction, 
inasmuch as it held out a prospect, at last, of providing 
decent accommodation for the geological collections. A 
scheme for providing a new Library, with Museums and 
Lecture- Rooms beneath it, after being under consideration for 
six years, had been abandoned for want of funds. A Syndicate 

1 To R. I. Murchison, 17 February, 1835. 
1 Diary of Rev. J. Romilly, 9 April, 1835. 


was now appointed to do what ought to have been done in 1835. 
the first instance, namely, to solicit subscriptions. Of this ^ 5o» 
Syndicate, which included all the Professors, Sedgwick was 
a member in virtue of his office. It is hardly likely that he 
would busy himself very actively in work which would have 
been singularly uncongenial to a man of his temperament; 
but his correspondence shews that he successfully solicited a 
few of his friends at a distance, while he himself contributed 
the substantial donation of one hundred guineas. 

Notwithstanding the distraction of these diverse occupa- 
tions, he found time to prepare one of his most important 
papers, On tlie Structure of large Mineral Masses, and to read 
it to the Geological Society (11 March), before he was called 
to Dent by an election for the West Riding of Yorkshire. The 
contest ended in the return of the liberal candidates, Viscount 
Morpeth and Sir G. Strickland, to Sedgwick's great satisfac- 
tion and amusement. To Dr Ainger, whose son, then at 
Sedbergh School, was of the same politics as his father, he 
wrote triumphantly : " Well ! have we not worked the Tory 
noodles of the West Riding? Why in the name of wonder 


have they disturbed our fraction of the county ? I turned 
mob-orator, and had unbounded success, so that all the music, 
fun, and noise was on our side ; and in keeping my stiff- 
necked Dalesmen from drinking and fighting I really think I 
did something little short of a miracle. Before I came they 
had (though in a good cause) shewn a little over-zeal ; and 
your son, who came as flag-bearer of the blues in Fawcett's 
carriage, went away, I fear, in a rather dirty envelope 1 ." To 

1 To Rev. W. Ainger, 18 May, 1835. It was on this occasion that Sedgwick 
was accused of having delivered "a political harangue from the pulpit." The 
truth was that he had told the congregation that giving a vote was a solemn duty, 
to be discharged "as unto God and not as unto man;" and that above all they 
must avoid the sin of intemperance. His brother John writes to a friend (37 
November, 1835): "I am happy to say his exhortations seemed to produce 
the effect of raising the standard of morality amongst the people; for it is 
a striking fact that not a drunken man was to be seen during the two days' 
contest, amongst more than 1000 people gathered together, with about two 
hopeless exceptions." 


1835. Canon Wodehouse he explained his political opinions in more 
&t- 50- sober language : 

" Our party came in at a canter ; and why were the Tories 
so foolish as to start the race ? If the country is to be saved, 
it must be by the union of such men as Morpeth and Wortley. 
Contests such as I have witnessed put off indefinitely any 
reasonable hopes of a broad and firm coalition of good men. 
And who is to gain in the mean time ? The tories ? Certainly 
not The radical party gain a cog at every movement of 
the state machine. Tory domination, in any sense of the 
words, is gone for ever. Yet your party can't see that ; and 
think it a goodly triumph if they can ruin a whig in any 
corner of the land. Do you think it possible that the men 
who were joined with Sir R. Peel in the late Ministry could 
go on with him in the measures he contemplated without 
utterly ruining their characters? I think not: and this at 
least we know, that some of them started with a direct viola- 
tion of pledges that they had given on the hustings. I don't 
think the Whigs a strong party ; yet I hope they will be strong 
enough to get through both Houses a good drastic measure 
respecting the Irish Church. Till that is on some resting 
place no Ministry can stand six months. After two or three 
tumbles, we may perhaps live to see a coalition : but it may 
come too late 1 . 

Early in June he was called to Yorkshire again by the 
sudden demise of Miss Sill, an old lady of fortune, who had 
made him her executor, and as it turned out, one of her 
residuary legatees. " For the first time in my life," he wrote, 
" I am to be well paid for my work ; " and in fact, when the 
accounts were made up, he found himself the fortunate 
possessor of the thousand pounds which a short time before 
he had wished some good Christian would give him. Before 
leaving Cambridge he had made up his mind to attend 
a Levee and a Drawing Room, as in duty bound, but, with 
characteristic carelessness, he had neglected to take the steps 

1 To Canon Wodehouse, 25 May, 1835. 


prescribed by etiquette. In this dilemma he made a diverting 1835. 
appeal to Murchison : "A card, or notification, is to be left ^••5©- 
with some person at some place, to convey some information 
about my courtly intentions, and without these things I cannot 
be received. Will you then do this unknown operation for 
me ?■ As I am coming up partly on purpose, it would be folly 
to fail in mere forms 1 ." The next letter shews that he did 
not journey in vain : 

Trin. Coll., June 30, 1835. 
My dear Ainger, 

Now be it known to you that I reached London on 
Tuesday, that I kissed hands at the Levee on Wednesday, 
and that I exhibited my handsome face at the Drawing Room 
on Thursday. In short I am now a finished courtier. 

We are already beginning to hear the cry of the Installa- 
tion*. Four and twenty years since I enjoyed the festivity 
intensely. My capacity for certain noisy robust enjoyments 
is certainly less now than it was then ; but on the whole 
I am full as happy now as I was then ; at least so I think, 
and I ought to know best. Yet Shakespeare says " past and 
to come seem best, things present worst," does he not ? and 
have not poetical generalities, like other generalities, their 
exceptions ? Let me then remain an exception on the right 
side. My love to your household. 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Sedgwick had determined to do no field-geology this year 
until after the meeting of the British Association at Dublin 
in August, and therefore remained at Cambridge until it was 
time to start. On reaching Liverpool with the intention of 

1 To R. I. Murchison, 17 June, 1835. He was presented by the Lord 
Bishop of London. 

2 H.R.H. the Duke of Gloucester, Chancellor of the University, had died 
30 November, 1834; and John Jeffreys, Marquess Camden, had been elected in 
his room without a contest, 12 December, 1834. 


1835. crossing by the ordinary night steamer, he found that a special 
Mu 50. steamer, the William Penn, had been placed at the disposal 
of the Association by her owners, and was to start early 
on the following morning, Sunday, 9 August. He therefore 
agreed to wait, and to officiate as chaplain. As they pro- 
ceeded down the Mersey, along a new channel discovered and 
laid down a short time before by Captain Denham, it was 
suggested that his infant son, who happened to be on board 
with his mother, should be baptized by the chaplain before 
morning service. This was accordingly done; and, says an 
eye-witness, " by one of those strange and fortuitous accidents 
which often lend an air of romance to the realities of life, it 
happened that just as the service began, the vessel arrived 
close by a newly invented iron boat, bearing an apparatus 
and a bell, which rings constantly as the boat is rocked by 
the waves, and warns mariners of their position when fogs are 
so thick that they cannot discern guides of any other kind ; it 
now fairly rung the inmates of the William Penn into church, 
and Annesley Turner Denham, aged three months, was made a 
Christian almost within its sound." When prayers were over 
Sedgwick preached on a text from one of the Psalms. The 
peculiarity of the occasion gave a spur to his eloquence ; and 
the assembled passengers, together with the crew, listened to 
him with rapt attention while he enforced the true end of all 
scientific and philosophical pursuits ; and from the least as well 
as the greatest discoveries of man, traced the whole to a Being 
of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness. A Roman Catholic 
gentleman, who described the scene to Miss Edgeworth, had 
tears in his eyes as he spoke of the effect the sermon had 
produced 1 . 

Sedgwick was Vice-President of the Geological Section, 
and, conjointly with Murchison, read a paper On t/ie Silurian 
and Cambrian Systems, exhibiting the order in which t/ie older 

1 From Miss Edgeworth, 33 November, 1836. The rest of the account is 
taken from The Literary Gazette for 1835, p. 513, and from a letter written by 
Sedgwick to his brother John, 11 August, 1835. 


Sedimentary Strata succeed each other in England and 1835. 
Wales. The other incidents of the meeting, and Sedgwick's ^ 5<>- 
proceedings afterwards, are related in the following letters ; 
but he omits to record that while he was clambering along a 
steep slope near the Giant's Causeway he lost his he^d, and 
nearly fell into the sea 1 . 

To Rev. John Sedgwick. 

Florence Court, Enniskillen, 

August 21, 1835. 

" We had a glorious passage, and such a reception 
as has eclipsed the remembrance of all former meetings. All 
the public bodies vied with each other in hospitalities. There 
were no drawbacks ; the week was uninterruptedly fine, and 
every face seemed to be suffused with happiness. More than 
all this, all the philosophical sections were most actively and 
successfully employed in the work for which they were called 

Tuesday I left Dublin and went as far as Cavan, through a 
most wretched and beggarly country. I had no notion of the 
external misery of this strange people before I saw it with 
my own eyes ; and it contrasted painfully with the splendour 
I had witnessed during the preceding week. Wednesday 
brought me to Lord Enniskillen's, where I am spending the 
remainder of the week 8 . It is a noble domain, surrounded 
with mountains, and from the windows we have a view of 
three magnificent lakes ; but when you quit the confines of the 
park filth and misery are again seen on the wayside, though 
certainly in a less offensive form than in the county of 

1 Geikie's Life of Murchison, i. 331. 

2 It was on this occasion that Lord Enniskillen ' ' had the satisfaction of seeing 
Murchison and some other guest glorious, and Sedgwick comfortable." (Lyell to 
Sedgwick, 15 October, 1835, Lyell's Life, i. 457). Lyell proceeds: " Depend 
upon it the building of the Museum [by Viscount Cole] and subsidies for what the 
old Lord once condemned as 'damned nonsense' will go on with good spirit, 
after his finding that the hammer-bearers are such a jolly set." 


1835. To Mr L y elL 

j£x. 50. Dent near Kendal, September 20, 1835. 

I received your letter 1 in Dublin ; but as for writing, 
I had not a moment's time ; at least, during the ten days I 
was there. The hot weather, close packing, and perpetual 
festivities, not to mention the serious labours of the sections 
and general meetings, were almost the death of me ; so that 
during the week after, which I spent with Lord Cole at his 
father's seat, I was almost confined to the house by English 
and Irish cholera. 

Let me tell you that I read certain extracts from your 
letter in one of our sectional meetings, and that the questions 
you started were discussed, not, however, with much power, 
as there was no one present, except Phillips, who had a suffi- 
ciently specific knowledge of the subject. He doubts Des 
Hayes* conclusion, to say the least of it ; and makes fight on 
the crag species. I was not present when the discussions 
took place last spring at the Geological Society ; but I do 
not believe a word about the different epochs of the crag. It 
is all of one epoch, and, geologically speaking, not a long one, 
at least so I think. 

I was much amused at your discussions on elevation 
craters etc. etc. with the geological conclave at Paris. I don't 
care one fig about the question, and am disposed to think 
that more fuss is made about it than it deserves. This may, 
however, only arise from my ignorance of the phenomena 
exhibited by modern volcanos. I suspect the truth is between 
the two parties. All the protruded masses of igneous rock 
(granite, porphyry etc.) constantly produce that collocation 
of stratified masses which is presented by the so-called craters 
of elevation. Why should not the local elevatory forces do 
over again what they have formerly done ? I have of course 
read your paper* published in the Philosophical Transactions, 

1 The letter, printed in LyelPs Life* i. 450, gives an account of some shells 
from a bed in the Suffolk Crag, supposed of older date than the upper Crag. 

1 On the Proofs of a gradual Rising of the Land in certain parts of Sweden : 
Phil. Trans. 1835, pp. 1 — 38. 


and was by no means surprised at the fact of the travelled 1835. 
blocks of the north of Europe belonging to a very recent ^ tm 5°- 
period. This is what I should have expected. Your ice 
theory will, I think, only let you slip into the water, and give 
you a good ducking. Erratic blocks are diffused in latitudes 
where there are no icebergs, and never were. How do you 
get your icebergs to shove the Shap Granite over Stainmoor to 
the Yorkshire coast; or the Wastdale Granite across More- 
cambe Bay, over the plains of Cheshire, to the Derbyshire 
hills, and the outskirts of the Welsh mountains ? I think I 
have ascertained this summer that the greatest part of the 
erratic blocks in the south of England have passed over marl 
beds full of recent marine species. But of this by the way. 

Agassiz joined us at Dublin, and read a long paper at our 
section. But what think you ? Instead of teaching us what 
we wanted to know, and giving us of the overflowing of his 
abundant ichthyological wealth, he read a long stupid hypo- 
thetical dissertation on geology, drawn from the depths of 
his ignorance. And among other marvels he told us that 
each formation (e.g. the lias and the chalk) was formed at 
one moment by a catastrophe, and that the fossils were by 
such catastrophes brought from some unknown region, and 
deposited where we find them. When he sat down I brought 
him up again by some specific questions about his ichthyo- 
logical system, and then he both instructed and amused us. 
I hope we shall before long be able to get this moonshine out 
of his head, or at least prevent him from publishing it. His 
great work is going on admirably well, and we voted another 
hundred pounds in promotion of it. I think it is by far 
the most important work now on hand in the geological 

Griffith 1 exhibited a geological map of the whole of 
Ireland, coloured from his own observations. It is a thousand 
pities he did not publish it fourteen years since. As far as I 

1 Mr (afterwards Sir Richard) Griffith. Report of British Association, 1835, 
p. 56. 


1835. have examined the demarcations, they appear to be very well 
iEt - so- laid down — much more correctly I think than in our friend 
Greenough's first edition 1 . The description and discussion 
of this map took two mornings. The only new zoological 
fact brought to light was the existence of fossil fish in the 
New Red Sandstone of the north of Ireland. Murchison 
threw off one morning on his Silurian System ; and I followed 
on the lower division of the Cambrian rocks. Phillips read 
two elaborate papers on the distribution of the Astacidce and 
Belemnites in our secondary strata. That on the Astacida 
was, as far as I was able to judge, admirable. The paper on 
Belemnites was not perhaps quite so well worked out. There 
were several papers on local details connected with Irish 
Geology — some of them good of the kind. We had one 
ignorant and impudent paper by a Mr Williams on the coal 
deposits of North Devon*, which he refers, like De la Beche, 
to the greywackd Murchison is gone to have a brush at it, 
and I suspect strongly will succeed in turning it out of the 
older system, and putting it where it ought to be. I am the 
more inclined to this belief now, as he has proved De la 
Beche to be wrong in a part of Pembrokeshire where he has 
coloured a part of the undoubted coal-measures as grey- 

Since I left Florence Court I have had (along with Mr 
and Mrs Murchison, Lord Cole, Colonel Montgomery, and 
Mr Griffith) a delightful ramble along the coast of Antrim ; 
and on my return to this place halted a few days with Sir 
Philip Egerton 8 . The weather has been glorious though 
terrifically hot; but now it is both wet and cold, and will 
continue so among the mountains till these equinoctial blasts 
pass over. 

1 Geological Map of England and Wales ^ with a Memoir. By G. B. Greenough. 
Lond. 1 8 19. 

* On certain Fossil Plants from the opposite Shores of the Bristol Channel. By 
the Rev. David Williams. Brit. Ass. Report 1835, (Sections) p. 63. 

8 Sir Philip de Malpas Grey- Egerton, Bart. F.R.S., a distinguished geologist, 
resided at Oulton Park, Tarporley, Cheshire. He died 5 April, 1881. 


In this year Sedgwick succeeded in obtaining for his 1835. 
Museum an almost complete skeleton of the extinct Elk *&• 5°- 
(Cervus tnegaceros) commonly called the Irish Elk. In the 
autumn of 1834 he had heard, through Lord Cole, of a fine 
skeleton which had been discovered in a bog near Ennis- 
corthy. It had passed into the possession of Dr Macartney, 
a medical man of that town, but it was understood that he 
might be persuaded to part with it. Sedgwick, who was then 
at Edinburgh, lost no time in ascertaining what help he 
might expect from the Woodwardian trustees, and then wrote 
to Lord Cole : 

" I have heard from our Vice-Chancellor about the great 
Irish fossil, and he wishes me to say that he will help me to 
the tune of £100, provided it be not the skeleton of an Irish 
Bull. With this encouragement, I wish you to consider me 
as a customer, but every farthing beyond ;£ioo will probably 
have to come out of my own pocket, including expenses and 
carriage. Therefore pray have mercy on a poor body, and 
don't screw him to death. If I can do no way else (for by 
the powers I don't think* I can raise the wind myself) I must 
raise a subscription among my friends to lift me out of the 
bog. I hope your correspondent will think ;£no a good 
offer. As a good Yorkshireman, I hate to buy a pig in a 
poke, but I trust to the faithfulness of the account given by a 
person whom you consider of a respectable character, and 
incapable of imposing on us by a false description 1 ." 

In the course of 1835 several letters passed between 
Sedgwick and Dr Macartney, whose reluctance to part with 
his prize increased as the time for packing it up drew near, 
and it was finally settled that the price to be paid should be 
£140, inclusive of the cost of packing and carriage to Dublin. 
In justification of this large sum Dr Macartney urged that the 
skeleton was an exceptionally fine one, and that as the bones 
had been found close together there was " reason to conclude 

1 To Viscount Cole, 11 September, 1834. 

s. 1. 29 


%%*i. they all belong to the same individual 8 " As the Wcod- 
ALt, *o. wardian Museum of that day was too small to contain so 
large a specimen, the bones were confided to the care of 
Frofesvsr Clark. Sedgwick was still absent when the cases 
arrived at Cambridge, and on his return was horrified to find 
the animal tailless. On this defect he wrote " a doleful letter 
of inquiry "* to Lord Cole : 

Florence Court [erased\ 
Trdc. Coll, Cambridge, 

October iyd, 1835. 

Dear Lord Cole, 

What a scatterbrain I must be to begin my date 
with Florence Court ! Expunge the two first words, and you 
will find me where I really am, in Trinity College, Cambridge. 
But why am I troubling your Lordship? I will tell you. 
I reached Cambridge yesterday, and went to our Anatomical 
Professor, to whose care the Enniscorthy Bog beast was 
committed. It has turned out most beautifully — horns, head, 
legs, and body, but, horrible to tell, the tail is wanting! The 
straw in the packing-cases was examined with the utmost 
care, and not one single caudal vertebra was found skulking 
in it This has put me at my wits end. The very sight of 
my stump-tailed beast has given me a sympathetic sciatica — 
a horrible tic in the regions of the rump which wrings groans 
from me enough to melt the heart of a flint! Perhaps 
Dr Macartney can administer a sedative. In plain English 
then, had the beast a tail? if so, where is the tail now? 
When the second question is answered, how am I to get the 
said tail ? These are grave questions, and I should be greatly 
obliged to you to put them gravely to the Doctor. His 
honour is concerned in seeing that my beast is not funda- 
mentally at fault. If I knew his address I might try to put 
salt on his tail myself, but he told me he was about to quit 

1 From Dr Macartney, 6 May, 1835. The Woodwardian trustees paid £130 ; 
the rent was probably paid by Sedgwick. 
s To Sir Philip Egerton, 33 October, 1835. 


his old den, and I wish not to send my salt to a wrong 1835. 
market. Do therefore lend me a helping hand in my hour of Mu so- 
need. My lectures begin on Monday, so for the next month 
I shall be fixed down in this place, and shall hope to hear 
from you, and that you will have the humanity to pity my 
case, and give me my cue {queue). 

Present my best remembrances to your father, whose hospi- 
tality and kindness I must ever remember with gratitude. 

Ever most truly yours, 

A. Sedgwick. 

In answer to this letter Lord Cole undertook to do what 
he could ; and, as the skeleton can now boast of a proper tail, 
it may be concluded that either the requisite number of 
vertebrae were found in Dr Macartney's possession, or ex- 
tracted from one of the numerous bogs in Ireland where 
these gigantic stags are still plentiful. 

Early in the Michaelmas term Sedgwick had the pleasure, 
so long deferred, of receiving Agassiz in Cambridge. Soon 
after his return he had written : " I am once more settled 
in the University, and have buckled on my harness; and 
my fish are all gaping in expectation of seeing their great 
law-giver." At last, 2 November, the famous ichthyologist 
arrived. No account of the visit has been preserved, but it is 
interesting to know that the collection of fossil fishes which 
Sedgwick's energy had got together in the Woodwardian 
Museum was laid under contribution for the Recherches sur 
les Poissons fossiles, on which Agassiz was then engaged. 
That such was the case is evident from a subsequent letter, 
undated, in which Sedgwick enquires : " When are my fossils 
to be drawn ? My fish are gaping for the artist, and scolding 
him for his long neglect of their beauteous faces." 

In December Sedgwick left Cambridge for his second 
term of residence at Norwich. Some months previously the 
authorities of the Museum had asked him to deliver a course 
of geological lectures during the winter, and he had acceded 

29 — 2 


1836. to their wishes, without due consideration of the difficulties of 
iEt - 5'- the task " I wish very much you would come to my first 
lecture this evening," he writes to Canon Wodehouse, " if you 
can do so conveniently. I shall want your advice on more 
points than one ; about the length, topics, points, etc etc. of 
my pattern lecture. I don't know my audience, and therefore 
I want to feel my way. Geology introduces some tender 
topics which require delicate handling. I must speak truth, 
but by all means avoid offence if I can. Above all I must 
try not to make my lecture a bore, which may be done easily 
in two ways — by firing over their heads, or by running out to 
an unwarrantable length." We shall recur to these lectures 
in a subsequent chapter ; for the present it is sufficient to say 
that the dangers enumerated in the above letter were avoided, 
and that the interest shewn by everybody, and especially 
by the ladies of Norwich, was so great that at the end 
of the course he could report : " I have had a merry 
time of it at Norwich. Among other amusements I gave a 
course of geological lectures to a class of three or four 
hundred. Half the stockings in Norwich are turned blue 
in consequence 1 ." These sentences were written after the 
event, when distance was lending enchantment to the view 
of a successful achievement. But, while the course was still 
proceeding, Sedgwick was in a very different frame of mind. 
His anxiety may be measured by the ill-humour of the 
following passages from a letter to Murchison : 

Norwich, January 15, 1836. 

" I am looking forward to my return to my old den and 
old habits with some anxiety, as I am almost worked off my 
legs in this place, and tired of the life I am leading, but it 
is not a life of mere eating and drinking, as you seem to 
fancy. Each Sunday I have to attend three services, and to 
preach twice. My sermons cost me some trouble, and towards 
the end of the week I have to rise at six in order to find two 

1 To Rev. W. Ainger, 19 February, 1836. 


or three hours I may call my own. Besides, I am giving a 1836. 
short course of lectures which cost me much trouble. I state ^ 5«« 
these things as an explanation why I have not looked over 
your MS. I have not done your work, solely because I have 
not had time ; and for the same reason I have not done my 
own work. I don't think I am a selfish person. Last year I 
did nothing for myself, but I was working (a considerable 
part of it) very hard for other people. If you knew the time 
I had given up to my friends I believe you would be disposed 
to set me down for a fool. With such convictions on my mind 
I felt both hurt and angry at some expressions in your letter. 
You say if I won't do your wishes 'you must pocket the 
affront \ Now you have no right to talk of being affronted 
because I have not time to do all you wish. If I am to see 
this or any other MS. on such conditions, I must formally and 
positively decline the task. You sent me work enough for 
three or four entire days. Had they been at my disposal I 
should have given them to the task with very great pleasure ; 
but they have not, and so there is an end of the matter. I 
will look over the preface as soon as I can and return the 

The hardworked Canon had, however, some compen- 
sations. About ten days after the above letter was written 
Mr Romilly spent a week with him, and his diary affords 
us some charming glimpses of Sedgwick in his lighter 
moments, when he threw lectures and sermons to the winds, 
and surrendered himself unreservedly to the company in which 
he took especial delight — that of ladies and young people. 
We have already heard of his introduction to the Dean's 
daughter, his " oldest friend in Norwich," and now, thanks to 
Mr Romilly, we make the acquaintance of Miss Clarke, who, 
down to nearly the close of Sedgwick's life, held a foremost 
place among his lady friends. In after years, as Mrs Guthrie, 
she was widely known for her beauty, her wit, and her active 
benevolence; but in 1836, when she was barely twenty-one, 


1836. with her naturally high spirits unchecked by sorrow or respect 
Mt. 51. f or convention, she was evidently the spoilt child of Norwich 
in general and of Sedgwick in particular. Her sister had 
married Captain Willoughby Moore of the Enniskillen 
Dragoons, and when the regiment was quartered at Norwich, 
Sedgwick, as Canon in residence, called upon the officers. It 
is conceivable that in Miss Clarke's eyes the Woodwardian 
Professor might have been more amusing than the Bishop or 
the Dean ; and that he in his turn found more congenial 
relaxation in her natural gaiety than in the more artificial 
courtesies of the matrons of the Cathedral precincts. What- 
ever their common ground for friendship may have been in 
the first instance, they were on a footing of close intimacy 
when Mr Romilly arrived. His first visit was to " Mrs Moore 
and her charming sister Miss Caroline Clarke (Sedgwick calls 
her Cara, or Carissitna) who is a most fascinating creature. 
She does not look above eighteen, but she comes of age next 
February ." Presently it was time to go out riding, then a 
matter of almost daily occurrence, and some officers joined 
them. "Sedgwick" we read, "was in tearing spirits. By 
their noise and laughter they attracted a great crowd, who 
shouted on seeing them charge down the street" During 
the rest of the visit Miss Clarke's name constantly recurs : 
in the evening she draws caricatures of Sedgwick's figure 
on horseback; next morning she comes to breakfast with 
him dressed as a Quakeress, and plays her part admirably, 
to the "infinite delight" of her host and his friend; on 
another occasion she dons a gown and cassock, and per- 
sonates, first Sedgwick, and then an old shuffling canon. 
"It was vastly comical," says the narrator. Lastly, he 
describes a gathering in Sedgwick's house, with Lady Jane 
Wodehouse and her children, who were dressed up as a Turk 
and his hareem by Miss Clarke, while Sedgwick exhibited 
a magic lantern. 

Amid these diversions Sedgwick's residence came to an 
end, and he soon after returned to his Professorial duties at 


Cambridge. But his lectures had hardly begun before he was 1836. 
compelled to adjourn them sine die y and hurry down to Dent ^ 5*- 
to discharge his duties as executor 1 . 

Dent, February 2^th y 1836. 
My dear Murchison, 

I have been here ever since Saturday week ; up to 
the ears in papers, and muddling my poor brain in accounts, 
some of them of thirty years standing. At first I was in 
despair ; but by working very hard, ten or eleven hours a day, 
I begin to see light, and to comprehend the nature of the task 
that has fallen on me. My poor co-executor is on his death- 
bed, unable to put pen to paper, and may die any hour. I 
am lingering from day to day, waiting the event which will 
enable me to transact some very important business by my 
single signature. My position is most uncomfortable, as my 
lectures ought at this very time to be going on in Cambridge. 
Could you send me a single line ? How are you getting on 
with your book? How did the Anniversary go off? Was 
our President [LyellJ very eloquent ? etc. etc. 

My adventures during the last stage before I reached Dent 
were laughable enough. I took a post-chaise from Kirkby 
Lonsdale and was deluded to attempt the high, rugged, 
mountain-road ; but it was so dark and misty, accompanied 
with sleet and wind, that the driver twice got off the road, 
and the post-chaise was once on its side, though easily 
righted. This I did not like, so I mounted by the side of my 
Jehu, and before ten minutes were over we again missed the 
road, and were within an ace of rolling neck and crop into a 
hollow made by one of the mountain-streams. With some 
difficulty we got the horses again into the old wheel-tracks, 
for there was hardly the appearance of a formed road. I 
then took out one of the lamps, and walked for seven miles 
with a hairy cap on my head, and a boa about my neck, 
all bespattered with sleet and snow, and looking like an old 
grizzly watchman. The driver followed my light, and I led 

1 See above, p. 442. 


1836. him safely to the top of the pass which overhangs my native 
Xx. 51. valley. All's well that ends well. My friends gave me a 
hearty welcome and a blazing fire. With them I have re- 
mained ever since, with the exception of two walks to Sed- 
bergh, for the purpose of talking with a solicitor, and bringing 
home a cart-load of papers. I never thought this calamity 
would have befallen me. I was intended for the sleeping 
partner ; all I meant to do was to come down to sign papers 

and receive money. 

Yours ever, 

A. Sedgwick. 

Early in March Sedgwick was back in Cambridge, and 
announced the continuation of his lectures ; but before many 
days were over the gaieties of Norwich were resumed in 
Trinity College. Here again Mr Romilly is our guide : 

Wednesday, 9 March, 1836. At two o'clock arrived from Norwich 
Captain Moore and the fascinating Miss Clarke. I was not present 
at the arrival, but came a few minutes after to Sedgwick's rooms to 
lunch. I found the brilliant " young person," as she sometimes calls 
herself, sparkling with joy. After no long time Whewell came in, 
and we proceeded to the Senate House and King's Chapel We went 
to the top of the chapel, and between the roofs. At six we dined with 
Sedgwick ; a small party of six — Sedgwick, Cara, Moore, Whewell, 
Lodge, and I. It was very delightful. 

Thursday, 10 March. Breakfasted with Whewell to meet Sedg- 
wick and his guests. Then to our Library, and afterwards to 
Sedgwick's Museum. At six we dined with Sedgwick to meet a 
large party. When Sedgwick took the ladies into the drawing-room 
after dinner they locked the door upon him, and would not let him 
out till he had sung them a song. He sang an odd one : An 
Alderman lived in the City ; omitting however the most objectionable 
verse. Heard afterwards that Carissima, while with the other ladies, 
won all their admiration by her charming conversation. She sang 
them two songs. 

Friday, n March. Breakfasted with the Marchesa 1 to meet 
Sedgwick and his guests; Worsley 8 and Whewell also there. We 

1 The Marquis Spineto was at that time Teacher of the Italian Language to the 
University. He and his wife, a Scotch lady of good family, were extremely popular 
at Cambridge fifty years ago. 

8 Thomas Worsley, Trin. Coll. B.A., 1810. In 1824 he became Fellow of 
Downing, and in 1836 Master, an office which he held till his death in 1885. He 
was intimate with many of the Fellows of Trinity, but especially with Whewell. 


then lionized Jesus Chapel, the Mesman 1 and Fitzwilliam' galleries. 1836. 
After this there was a grand cavalcade consisting of Miss C, Moore, jsx. 51. 
Sedgwick, Whewell and Worsley. On Parker's Piece a dog barked at 
Miss C.'s horse, and flew up at her habit which was waving in the 
wind. Moore dismounted, and lashed the poor dog severely, at 
which our tender-hearted fascination cried bitterly. The party dined 
with me. 

Saturday, 12 March. Breakfast with Sedgwick and his two 
guests — a partie quarrke. Today Sedgwick had to lecture, so Miss 
C. spent an hour in the Public Library, and then paid a second visit 
to the Fitzwilliam Museum to admire Claude's Liber Veritatis under 
the exhibition of Worsley. Sedgwick joined us on our road to 
Worsle/s, where we all lunched. 

Sunday, 13 March. We breakfasted with Whewell. Sedgwick, 
Miss C, and Moore went to church at Simeon's, and heard a good 
and characteristic sermon from him. Dined with Sedgwick at four. 
Whewell was the fifth person. We went to Chapel, and heard that 
beautiful anthem Plead thou my cause, from one of Mozart's 
Masses. After the service Sedgwick had desired Walmisley to play 
the Dead March in Saul, the Minuet in Ariadne, etc. We, of 
course, stayed these out. After tea Whewell exhibited some books 
of the architecture of the Alhambra, and of some churches in 
Germany, and gave us a capital lecture on Saracenic and Gothic 
architecture. In spite of this, however, the evening went off languidly, 
as we knew to-morrow morning came the parting. 

Monday, 14 March. Breakfast with Sedgwick— partie carrhe. 
Our fair visitor was out of spirits, and we most sorry to lose her. 
She and Moore went away to London by the Telegraph. The 
departure of so fascinating a creature has left a sad blank in our 

The next three months were taken up with work which 
needs no special comment — the examination for scholarships 
in Trinity College, geological business in London, Chapter 
business at Norwich, and a hasty visit to Dent for the marriage 
of his sister Margaret. 

Towards the end of June Sedgwick and Murchison broke 
ground together in a new field of geological exploration. For 
several seasons in succession they had been at work contem- 

1 A collection of pictures formed by Daniel Mesman, Esq. They came into 
the possession of the University in 1834, the donor's brother, the Rev. Charles 
Mesman, having renounced his life-interest in them. They were hung in the 
large room of the Pitt Press, now the Registry of the University, from 1834 to 
1848, when they were removed to the Fitzwilliam Museum. 

2 The Fitzwilliam Collections then occupied the old Perse School in Free 
School Lane. 


1836. poraneously but independently among the older rocks, and 

^t.51. though Whewell, when President of the Geological Society, 

had spoken of their labours as "on all accounts to be considered 

as a joint undertaking," they had, in fact, started from wholly 

different points, and employed different methods. Nor is 

there any evidence that they themselves considered that they 

were working with a common end in view. Now, however, 

they combined their forces, and brought them to bear on a 

disputed question outside the special fields in which each 

had been engaged. Their labours ended in the establishment 

of the Devonian System, but, when they began, they had no 

such ambitious views. They proposed to themselves to settle 

the age of the carboniferous deposits of central Devon, known 

as the Culm-Measures. These rocks had been referred to the 

grey-wack6 by Mr De la Beche in 1834, and again by Mr 

Williams at the Dublin meeting of the British Association 

in 1835 1 . Murchison therefore suggested to Sedgwick, or 

possibly Sedgwick suggested to Murchison, that they should 

take this work in hand conjointly, and get the question settled. 

The matter had probably been often discussed in conversation ; 

and soon after Sedgwick's return to Cambridge from Norwich 

in February 1836 he drew out a geological itinerary for the 

next summer : 

Trin. Coll. 6 February, 1836. 

"I am anxious to talk with you on many things.... 
Whewell tells me you have ratted to the iceberg theory. 
I give you joy of your conversion ; but the sooner you turn 
back the better; or rather, scamper round the hypothetical 
ring and come again to the grand stand, and you will be 
where you were before. 

" I want to talk about a plan for next summer. What do 
you say to an early start (middle of May?)? First: Quan- 
tocks and Horner's country, with plenty of calcareous beds 
and organics. Secondly: South Devon and a few points in 

1 See above, p. 448. Murchison appears not to have gone to Devonshire in 
1835 as Sedgwick expected. Geikie's Life of Murchison, i. 331. The above 
account is borrowed from Mr Geikie's work, p. 348. 


Cornwall, working the Plymouth beds well by the way. In 1836. 
Cornwall I could put you into cover, and we could floor all -**. 5*< 
the cross points in a week or two, and we might meet De la 
Beche and Boase at a point or two. Thirdly: return by 
North Devon, see the Ilfracombe calcareous beds and ... grey- 
wack6 coalfield ...\ Fourthly: cross and meet Griffith in 
the south of Ireland, and touch up a Silurian point or two. 
Fifthly: make a long scud and go to Scotland about the 
Mull of Galloway, and run up the west coast examining the 
coalfield and Red Sandstone, and so working up to the Old 
Red through the part we left unfinished in 1827. All this we 
might finish, and find good matter for one or two general 
papers. I think this a good plan. What say you to it ?" 

It is almost needless to say that this very comprehensive 
scheme was not carried out The two friends started in June, 
and approached their work by way of Somersetshire, Ilfra- 
combe, and Barnstaple 2 . What had been accomplished up to 
the middle of July is pleasantly touched upon in the following 
letter to Canon Wodehouse. 

Plymouth, July 20, 1836. 
My dear Wodehouse, 

To catch a letter from a geologist when under way 
is about as easy as to catch a spark from the tail of a rocket 
Our lights are, however, quenched by a pelting shower, and 
here we are in shelter, with a tea urn hissing on the table, 
and some broiled fish within nostril scent How long they