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Full text of "Life of Sir Roderick I. Murchison, bart.; K. C. B., F. R. S.; sometime director-general of the Geological survey of the United Kingdom"

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Life of Sir Roderick I. Murchison, Bart.,; K. 
C. B., F. R. S.; Sometime ... 

Archibald Geikie 




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LIFE 



OF 



SIR RODERICK I. MURCHISON. 



VOL.1. 



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LIFE 



OF 



SIR RODERICK I. MURCHISON 

BABT. ; K.aB., F.B.8. ; BOMBTDCE DIBEOTOR-OKNEBAL OF THB OEOLOOIOAL 
SUBYET OF THB UMITED KINODOlf. 



BASED ON HIS JOURNALS AND LETTERS 

WITJI NOTICES OF HIS SCIENTIFIC CONTEMPORARIES 

AND A SKETCH OF THE RISE AND GROWTH OF 

PALAEOZOIC GEOLOGY IN BRITAIN 



BY ARCHIBALD GEIKIE, LL.D., F.RS. 

mKBCTOB OF ELM. QEOLOQICAL SUBVBT OV SOOTLAND, AHD MimCHiaON PBOFE880R OF GKOLOOT 
AND mVERALOOT IIT THK UIOVBBSITT OV BDINBUitaH. 



IN TWO VOLUMES— VOL. L 



Illnstrateir tiitfi ^ortTaits anir QIEooticnU 



^LONDON 
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET 
18 75. 



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PREFACE. 

Compared with foregoing periods of history, the 
nineteenth century has been marked by the extent 
and rapidity of its social transitions. These must 
imdoubtedly be ascribed m great measure to the 
strides made by the physical sciences. Without 
claiming for Geology any prominent share in them, 
we may yet contend that this branch of science has 
done much to open out those wider views of natiure 
and of man's place here, which have so powerfully 
influenced the tone and tendency of human thought 
and speculation at the present time. So that the 
history of a man who was a conspicuous actor in the 
drama of the establishment of Geology, as a science, 
may possess more than a merely individual interest. 

The life of Sir Roderick Murchison was cast in 
this time of notable transition. Living on terms 
of intimacy with not a few of the leading men of his 
day, he himself bore a part in the leavening of the 
community with an appreciation of the nature and 



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vi PREFACE. 

value of science. For many years he was in the 
habit of keeping a record of the events which he 
witnessed, or in which he took part. In the belief 
that the story of his life might have some interest 
and nseftJness for those who should succeed him, 
he used now and then during his later years to de- 
vote his spare hours to the task of reading over his 
early journals, and superintending their transcrip- 
tion in whole or in abstract under his own eye. 
In the course of time a goodly series of closely- 
written voliunes grew imder the hand of the amanu- 
ensis, but their author at length perceived that their 
details could hardly possess sufficient interest for 
general readers. In the spring of 1871 he pro- 
posed to me that I should imdertake the task of 
reducing his memoranda into a connected narrative. 

Having accepted the office of biographer, I found 
that, in addition to the journals, there existed a vast 
mass of miscellaneous letters and papers going back 
even into last century. It appeared that Sir 
Roderick for many years of his life never destroyed 
any piece of writing addressed to him, — ^notes of 
invitation to dinner, and acceptances of invitations 
given by himself, being abundant among the papers. 

To these materials, through the kindness of his 
friends and correspondents, to all of whom sincere 



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PREFACK vii 

thanks are due, I was subsequently enabled to add 
a large series of his own lettera 

From the first it appeared likely that no narrative 
devoted merely to the personal events of Sir 
Roderick Murchison's life would be satisfactory. 
And as the work of arranging the volumino\is mate- 
rials proceeded, the desirability of adopting a wider 
treatment became increasingly evident. His life, 
closely bound up with the early progress of geology 
in this country, was one of work and movement. 
Duly to follow its stages, the surroundings among 
which it was passed must be constantly kept in 
view, — ^notably his comrades, their work, and its 
relation to his own. Accordingly I deemed it best, 
while keeping his story prominently before the 
reader, to give an outline of so much at least of 
these surroundings as would probably show with 
adequate distinctness what Murchison was, and 
what he did. With this view I have sketched some 
of the more salient featiures in the rise and growth 
of the geology of the older formations in Britain, 
including, at the same time, notices of Murchison's 
predecessors and contemporaries in the same branch 
of science. Obviously, however, even such a general 
outline as was alone admissible into a work like 
the present could not be continued into the later 



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viii PREFACE. 

years when Murchison ceased to be the same pro- 
minent worker he had previously been, and when 
his labours were taken up and extended by others. 
To this historical aspect of the book, I believed 
that some additional interest might be given 
by a selection of portraits of some of the more 
conspicuous men to whom the establishment and 
spread of geology in Britain is due, more especially 
with reference to the study of the older rocks. 
Some difficulty was necessarily encountered in 
making the selection, arising in some cases from 
the want of available materials for the engraver, 
in others from the limited number of portraits 
admissible compared with that of the geologists 
deserving such recognition. Greenough, Fitton, and 
Lonsdale, for example, among the earlier luminaries, 
might have been most appropriately included in 
the list here given. To the friends who have 
supplied the paintings, drawings, and photographs 
from which this little gallery of scientific worthies 
has been engraved, my best acknowledgments are 
gladly given. 

Of Murchison's early contemporaries who outlived 
him, and from whom assistance was received in 
the preparation of his biography, two of the 
most ill\istrio\is have since been removed by deatL 



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PREFACE. ix 

Sir Charles Lyell fiimished a series of letters on 
geological topics written to him by Murchison. 
Professor Phillips, besides supplying a large and 
most interesting collection of letters, which proved 
of great service in the preparation of the biography, 
kindly sent some memoranda of his own, which will 
be found incorporated in the book. To Mr. Poulett 
Scrope I am indebted for some interesting and useful 
notes respecting some of the older geologists of this 
country. 

My friend and colleague, Professor A. C. Ramsay, 
has laid me imder much obligation by the notes 
and suggestions sent by him as he read over the 
proof-sheets, and which are incorporated into the 
text or embodied here and there in footnotes. To 
Mr. John Murray, Mr. K. R. Murchison, Mr. Tren- 
ham Reeks, and Professor T. Rupert Jones, F.R.S., 
my thanks are likewise owing for a similar revision. 

For the loan of letters written by Sir Roderick 
Murchison, acknowledgment is further due to Mr. 
Aveline, His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, M. 
Barrande, Dr. Corbet, Lady Denison, Sir Charles 
Dilke, Sir Philip De Grey Malpas Egerton, Bart. ; 
Professor George Forbes, who supplied letters 
written to his father, Principal Forbes; Professor 
Johnstrup of Copenhagen, who sent a series of letters 



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X PREFACE. 

addressed to the late Professor Forchliammer ; Cap- 
tain Grant, Professor Harkness, Professor Hughes, 
who fiimished the letters written to Sedgwick; 
Professor Hull, Major-General Sir Henry James, 
Mr. Martin, Mr. Hugh Miller, who procured a 
series of letters written to his father ; Mr. K. R 
Murchison, Mr. Murray, Mr. Lyon Playfair, C.B., 
M.P. ; Professor Eamsay, Rev. Mr. Symonds, Mr. 
Todhunter, from whom came the letters addressed 
to Dr. Whewell. 



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CONTENTS OF VOL. I. 



CHAPTER L 
ANCESTRY-flCHOOL-DAYS, 1 



CHAFTEB n. 
FIBST YEARS OF A SOLDIER'S LIFE, . .16 

CHAPTER in. 
SIX MONTHS OF THE PENINSULAR WAR, .... 28 

CHAPTER IV. 
MILITARY LIFE AT HOME, 65 

CHAPTER V. 
ITALY AND ART, .78 

CHAPTER VI. 
FIVE YEARS OF FOX-HUNTING, 88 

CHAPTER VII. 
RISE OF GEOLOGY IN BRITAIN, 96 



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xii CONTENTS OF VOL. I. 

CHAPTER Vra. 

PAOI 

FIBST TEARS OF SCIENTIFIC LIFE AT HOME, .117 

CHAPTER IX. 
FIRST GEOLOGICAL RATOS INTO THE CONTINENT, . . 146 

CHAPTER X. 
THE INVASION OF GRAUWACKE, 172 

CHAPTER XL 
THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, AND SOCLAX LIFE IN LONDON, IM 

CHAPTER Xn. 
THE SILURLAIJ SYSTEM, 216 

CHAPTER XIIL 
THE DEVONIAN SYSTEM .244 

CHAPTER XrV. 
A GEOLOGICAL TOUR IN NORTHERN RUSSIA, ... 289 

CHAPTER XV. 

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN RUSSIA, AND THE URAL MOUN- 
TAINS, 815 

CHAPTER XVI. 
THE CHAIR OF THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, . . 858 



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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS IN VOL. L 



PORTRAIT OP SIR RODERICK MURCHISON, from a Por- 
trait by Pickeragai, 



FronHipiece, 



TARRADALE, ROSS-SHIRE, Sir Roderick Marchi8on*8 Birth- 
place, . io/acepoffi 10 

JAMES HUTTON, M.D., from a Portrait by Sir Henry Rae- 
bTtm, in the possession of Sir George Warrender, Bart, 



PROFESSOR ROBERT JABfESON, from a Miniature in the 
possession of Dr. Claud Muirhead, Edinburgh, 

REV. WILLIAM D. CONTBEARE, from a Photograph in the 
possession of the Family, 

WILLIAM HTDE WOLLASTON, BID., fh>m a Drawing by 
Sir Thomas Lawrence, 

REV. PROFESSOR ADAM SEDGWICK, from a Photograph, 

WILLIAM SMITH, LL;D., firom the engraving of the Portrait 
byFoureau, 

JOHN MACCULLOCH, M.D., from a Portrait by R. B. 
Faulkner, 

PROFESSOR JOHN PLAYFAIR, firom a Picture by Sir Hemy 
Raebum, 

REV. PROFESSOR WILLIAM BUCKLAND, from a Sketch 
by Thomas Sopwith, Esq., 



108 

116 

129 
138 

190 

202 

225 

809 



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^» CHAPTER L 

ANCESTRT — SCHOOL-DAYS. 

A MONG the Western Highlands of Scotland there is no 
"^^ wilder tract than that which stretches between the 
Kyles of Skye and the line of the Great Glen. From the 
margin of the western sea the ground rises steeply into rugged 
mountains^ which slope away eastward through many miles 
of rough moorland into the very heart of the country. The 
bold Atlantic front of these mountains is trenched by deep 
and narrow valleys, of which the upper parts rise above the 
sea-level into dark and rocky glens, the lower portions sink- 
ing under the water and forming the characteristic sea-lochs 
or fjords of that region. In the shelter of these hollows, 
alike in the glens, and as an irregular selvage along the 
margins of the lochs, lie strips of arable land with farm- 
houses and the cots of the peasantry; but all above and 
around are the wild rough hiUs, shrouded for great part of 
the year in mist, and catching the first dash of the fierce 
western rains, which seam their sides with foaming torrents. 
Even now, with all the appliances of modem travel, these 
tracts of Lochalsh and Kintail are little known, except in so 

^Q VOL. I. A 



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2 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. 

far as they can be seen from the sea, or firom the few good 
roads which have been made through them. But some five or 
six generations back they were to all intents as remote from 
the civilisation even of the Scottish Lowlands as if they had 
lain in the heart of Eussia. No roads led across them then. 
They could be traversed only by bridle-tracks, too little 
trodden to be always easily traced among the bogs and 
crags over which they lay. Notwithstanding the noble 
inlets which bring the tides of the Atlantic far into these 
wUds, there was then but little navigation, even of the 
simplest kind. Save the boats used in ferrying the lochs 
and in fishing, almost the only vessels ever seen were the 
smacks and cutters which from time to time smuggled ashore 
brandy and claret for the lairds. 

Over this wild region the chiefs of the clan Mackenzie 
had for a long while held sway — a fierce and warlike race, 
exemplifjring on their territory the curiously mingled merits 
and defects of the old Highland patriarchal system. In 
their midst, however, lay one or two smaller septs, some- 
times in league with the dominant clan, sometimes in open 
arms on the side of their surrounding enemies. One of these 
septs went by the name of Mhurachaidh or Macmhurachaidh, 
that is, Murdoch or Murdochson, or, as it is now corrupted, 
Murchison. The first of the family must have been a 
Murdoch. Who he was, however, where he came from, and 
what he did to distinguish himself &om the other abounding 
Murdochs of that part of Scotland, are questions to which 
no satisfactory answer seems now possible. Perhaps he was 
one of the Mackenzies, or more probably of the Mathiesons, 
or clan Malghamna, who possessed these tracts before the 
Mackenzies, and among whom Murdoch was a frequent 



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ANCESTRY. 3 

name.^ He may have been noted above his fellows for some 
characteristic^ so that his posterity came to be called after 
him. 

In the early part of the sixteenth century we find the 
Mnrchisons in possession of land in KintaiL In the year 
1641, Evin M^Kynnane Murchison was proprietor of Bun- 
chrew when he obtained a remission from James v. for 
having taken an active part, together with some of his neigh- 
bours, in burning the castle of Eilandonan, the stronghold 
of the Mackenzies, at the mouth of Loch Duich. It has 
been conjectured by a Mendly genealogist, that for such 
deeds the sept received the soubriquet of " Chalmaon,'* or 
" brave ;" and that this title led to their being confounded 
with certain M'Colmans of Aigyleshire.' There must at least 
have been a wonderful versatility about the race, for not 
many years after the raid on the Mackenzies, when the 
Beformation had already made way through the countiy^ 
the churches of Kintail, Lochcarron, and Lochalsh were in 
peaceable possession of different members of the family.' 

In the following century (1634) the Murchisons appear on 
the Boss-shire rent-roll as holding land in Lochalsh, of which 
they had obtained charters from the Crown. By this time, 

1 This saggestion has been made to me by Mr. W. F. Skene, who 
adds that " the small septs are often the remnants of the older popula- 
tion.** 

' In the North-West Highlands the Mnrchisons are called in Gaelic 
H'Colman, and have been traced by some genealogists to an origin in 
Aigyleshire, where a sept of that name oconrs. The family traditions, 
however, insist on a more northern origin, as stated in the text. 

' In 1574, James yl presented John Murchesonn " to the haill com* 
monn kirk, baith parsonage and vicarage, of KintaiL** In 1582 the same 
King presented Donald Mnroheson to the same church, then vacant by 
the demission of John Mnrcheson, and Master Murdo Morcheson to the 
parsonage of Lochalsh and Lochcarron. — Register of Great Seal For these 
references I am indebted to the courtesy of Mr. Skene. 



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4 SIB RODERICK MURCHISON. 

too, ihey seem to have settled their differences with the 
Mackenzies of Seaforth, for they then held rank as hereditary 
castellans of that same Eilandonan stronghold which about 
a hundred years earlier they had assisted to demolish. 

It is not, however, until the troublous times of 1715 that 
any member of the Murchison sept comes notably forward 
in Highland history. Up till that period the people of these 
wilds remained under the same clan-system which had 
prevailed from the earliest times. The word of their chiefi9 
was their law, and they had but a feeble notion of any 
higher rule or greater authority outside the dominions of the 
clan. While this ancient obedience and attachment con- 
tinued on the part of the vassals, the chiefs themselves were 
more or less influenced by somewhat similar feelings towards 
the old line of the Stuarts. A new race of sovereigns had 
been installed by Southern and Saxon hands. It was re- 
garded by these mountaineers with distrust and fear. They 
had no great cause to look back with satisfaction to their 
treatment imder the sway of the fallen house. But thei*e 
appeared more risk than ever of molestation from the new 
and alien rulers ; and so, partly from loyalty to the Stuarts, 
and partly from distrust of the Hanoverian dynasty, there 
existed at this time among the Highlanders a wide-spread 
disaffection and longing for a restoration. 

At last these feelings found vent in open insurrec- 
tion, and the outbreak of 1715 began. Among the chiefs 
who appeared in arms came the Earl of Seaforth, head 
of the Mackenzie clan. With him marched a gallant 
company of Murchisons, including two of note, John and 
Donald, imcle and nephew, the former bearing a commission 
in the Prince's army, and bringing with him all the men he 



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ANCESTRY. S 

could muster in Lochalsh, the latter holding rank as colonel^ 
his commission having been sent over by the Pretender 
himself in a quaint large ivory " snuflf-mull," inscribed with 
the words " James Eex. Fobwabd and Spabb Not." ^ 

Among those who fell in the disastrous battle of Sheriff- 
muir was the great-grandfather of the subject of this bio- 
graphy. Colonel Donald^ however, made good his escape, 
and soon afterwards appeared in his native district, where, 
amid narrow inlets and bays, rough glens and lonely moors, 
he could bid defiance to the conquerors. 

Donald Murchison was certainly one of the most remark- 
able Highlanders of his day.^ Bred a lawyer at Edinburgh, 
he united to the usual warlike virtues of the clansman a 
shrewdness and knowledge of the world, which gave him 
(considerable influence as the agent and friend of the Earl 
of Seaforth. After the battle of Sheriffmuir, when the 
Earl went into exile in France, Donald appears to have 
gone back to the mountains of EJntaiL Doubtless, in 
1719, he took his share in the rude fortifying of Eilandonan 
Castle, of which, as we have seen, his family had been here- 
ditary castellans, and saw with dismay its walls battered 
to pieces by the guns of three English war -vessels. Nor 
was he likely to be absent &om his chief when the luckless 
expedition of Spanish auxiliaries and Highlanders, marching 
eastward for the invasion of the countiy, encamped in Glen- 

^ This box WM in the poaaession of Sir Boderiok up to the time of his 
death, and ii now one of the family heirlooms in the keeping of his 
nephew and heir, Mr. K. B. Mnrchison. It forms a oonspicnoos feature 
in the picture of ** Donald Mnrchison gathering Seaforth's rents in Kin- 
tail," painted for him by Sir Edwin Landseer, and bequeathed by him to 
the National Gallery at Edinburgh. 

' For an account of him see Chambers's Dcmestk AnmU qf Scotland, 
Tol. iii 



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6 SIR ROBERT MURCHISON. 

shieL Seaforth escaped wounded, and Donald was not 
among the prisoners. 

The Seaforth estates were forfeited, but they lay in so 
remote and inaccessible a region that the Commissioners of 
the Forfeited Estates only in 1721 were able to procure a 
factor bold enough to march westward to take possession of 
them. Donald Murchison, however, had been intrusted 
with their keeping by him whom he and all the n&tive popu- 
lation still regarded as the rightful laird. Hearing of the 
approach of the new fjtctor with a body of the King's troops, 
he attacked them as they toiled through one of the savage 
glens of the district, and not only stopped their further pro- 
gress, but compelled the factor to give a bond of £500 that 
he would never again attempt to carry out his duties in that 
quarter. That he might have additional sanction for his 
own proceedings, Donald even extorted authority fix)m the 
unfortunate official to act as deputy-factor for the Com- 
missioners of Forfeited Estates, so that he could draw his 
rents for the Earl either as the agent of the one Government 
or of the other, as might be needful in each case. 

Again, in the following year, a still larger party of sol- 
diers made another attempt to gain possession of the rebel- 
lious country. But once more Donald proved himself not 
unworthy of the coloners commission and the ivory snuff- 
mull. By a clever piece of strategy he discomfited this 
new invasion, and forced it to retire to its starting-place at 
Inverness. 

For ten years Donald Murchison administered the Sea- 
forth estates. Even after his successful resistance to the 
royal troops, such was his boldness that he would go per- 
sonally to Edinburgh to see after the proper transmission 



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ANCESTRY. 7 

of the rents to the banished and attainted EarL General 
Wade, in reporting to George I. in 1725, writes that "the 
rents [of the Seaforth lands] continue to be collected by one 
Donald Murchison, a servant of the late Earl's, who remits 
or carries the same to his master into France. . . . The last 
year this Murchison marched in a public manner to Edin- 
burgh to remit £800 to France, and remained fourteen days 
there unmolested. I cannot omit observing to your Majesty 
that this national tenderness the subjects of North Britain 
have one for the other is a great encouragement for rebels 
and attainted persons to return home from their banish- 
ment." ^ 

Though the '' Coarnal," as Donald was called then, and 
as he still lives in old Boss-shire story, preserved the estates 
for the Seaforth family, risking often Us life in the service 
of his master, the Earl, on regaining his position in his 
native country, treated his faithful ally with injustice and 
neglect Taking advantage of the lawlessness of the time, 
he seized the charters and lands of the Murchisons. Donald, 
finding reparation hopeless, and despairing of success in any 
appeal to a Government which had no strong reason to be 
very active on behalf of a man who had given it so much 
trouble, retired to the east side of the island, and died of a 
broken heart, childless and in poverty.* He was buried by 
the Conon, but the memory of Us deeds still lingers among 
the hills which he guarded so long and so well Nearly a 

1 Wade*8 Beport, in Appendix to Bart's LeUera^ 2d edit (1822), ii. 
p. 280. 

' For these particulars I am indebted to Dr. Corbet of Beaoly, whose 
grandfather was a grandson of Colonel Donald's brother, and who has 
made the family genealogy a matter of investigation. See also Chambers, 
op, cU,, and Anderson's SeoUish NaUon, voL iii p. 731. 



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8 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. 

century and a half after he had passed away, a monument 
was raised to him by his kinsman, Sir Roderick Murchison ; 
and now, as the tourist sails through the narrow Kyles of 
Skye, and marks on one hand the mouldering barracks of 
the Hanoverian soldiery, on the other the crumbling walls 
of the castle of Eilandonan, a granite obelisk on one of the 
headlands of Lochalsh recalls to him the deeds of one of 
the most disinterested men of that wild time. 

Donald's brother, Murdoch, raised an action at law for 
recovery of the charters ; but the renewed outbreak of 1745 
came on. He took part in it, and died from the effects of 
wounds received at Culloden. Thus the action disappeared, 
and so did the ancestral property of the Murchisons.^ 

John Murchison, farmer at Auchtertyre, in Lochalsh, Sir 
Eoderick's great-grandfather, has been already referred to as 
one of those who fell at Sheriflfmuir. Traditions still linger 
in the north as to his feats of strength; one large stone, 
in particular, weighing about half a ton, being pointed out 
as having been carried by him for some distance to form 
part of a wall which he needed to build on his farm. 

Of Alexander, grandfather of Sir Roderick, little has been 
handed down. He continued to rent the farm of Auchtertyre, 

^ Sir Roderick was never able aocarately to trace his relationship to 
Colonel Donald. He seems to have regarded the hero as his great-grand- 
nnde, but the connexion was yet more distant. His grandfather was a 
third coiisin of the Colonel, so that his own kinship was of that shadowy 
kind in which Highland genealogists delight Sir Roderick belonged thus 
to an offiBhoot from the main stem of the Morchisons in whose hands the 
little paternal property had been. His grandfather's great-grandfather 
had owned it. — It^ormatum from Dr, CorbeU 

Both Boswell and Br. Johnson, in their narratives of their tonr in the 
Hebrides, refer with gratitude to the attention shown to them by a Mr. 
Murchison, factor for the laird of Macleod, in Glenelg, who sent them a 
bottle of rum, and an apology for not being able to entertain them in his 
house. 



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ANCESTRY. 9 

and had to straggle with but slender means ; yet, like his 
predecessors who had not fallen in fight, he reached a good 
old age, living on even till he was ninety-nine, and saw the 
fortunes of the family retrieved by his eldest son, Kenneth, 
whom he actually outlived. 

It was in the year 1751 that this Kenneth came into 
the world at Auchtertyre. He studied Medicine at the 
Colleges of Glasgow and Edinburgh, took the diploma of 
the Boyal College of Suigeons in London, and while still 
a young man went out as suigeon to India, where he 
remained for seventeen years. A lucrative appointment 
at Lucknow enabled him to amass a competent fortune, 
with which, coming home again about the year 1786, 
he not long afterwards purchased from his maternal uncle, 
Mackenzie of Lentron, the small estate of Tarradale, in the 
eastern part of the county of Boss. He appears to have 
been a man of much force of character, a thorough Celt, 
generous, yet with enough of worldly wisdom to keep him 
from losing his possessions as his forefathers had done. He 
wrote his journals in Gaelic, but used the Gieek characters, 
which he held to express the sound of his native tongue better 
than Soman letters could do. Having gratified the ambi- 
tion, so common in Scotland, to become a laird, he kept up old 
Highland ways, and as long as he lived at Tarradale had as 
one of his retainers a piper, who also played the harp. Fond 
of antiquities, he devoted himself to those of Tarradale and 
its neighbourhood, and made a collection of urns and other 
objects found in tumuli and elsewhere on the estate. He 
was one of the original members of the Highland Society of 
London, and a warm friend of the scheme of the British 
Fisheries for the employment of the people of the Western 



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10 SIE RODERICK MURCHISON. [itms. 

Highlands and Islands. In those days doctors were scarce in 
the Highlands, hence Dr. Murchison's house formed a centre 
of attraction to the sick and maimed for many miles round. 
As he took no fees, his populcurity became more wide-spread 
than was wholly pleasant, so that in the end he set on foot 
an agitation which resulted in the erection of the present 
Northern Infirmary at Inverness. 

In the year 1791 he married the daughter of Mackenzie 
of Fairbum, lineal representative of the Eory More or Big 
Eoderick Mackenzie to whom these estates had been granted 
by James v. She — as well as her brother, of whom more 
will be told in later pages — was born in the old tower of 
Fairbum, the characteristic Highland fortalice of the sept, 
guarding the entrance of one of the glens which open upon 
the lowlands of the Black Isle. 

The first-fruits of this marriage appeared at Tarradale, on 
the 19th of February 1792, when the subject of this memoir 
saw the light. He received the name of Boderick, after his 
maternal grandfather, Boderick Mackenzie of Fairbum, a 
jolly old laird, who lived for more than ninety years, al- 
though, as he used to say of himself, in regard to whisky, 
claret, or other potations, he was " a perfect sandbank."^ A 
second name was giveli to the boy — that of Impey, after Sir 
Elijah Impey, an intimate friend of his father's.' 

For three years the family continued to reside at Tarra- 

1 This expression has been handed down by Sir Boderick Mnrchison. 
With reference to it Dr. Corbet informs me that he is himself in posses- 
sion of old Fairburn's silver quaioh or drinking-cnp, and that it does not 
hold more than an ordinary wine-glass. Bat of coarse the size of the cap 
telk OS nothing as to how often it was replenished. 

* Tn one of Sir Boderick's journals the foUowing notice occars bearing 
upon this period of his life : — ** Old John Gladstone's wife was the dearest 
friend my poor mother had. She was a Miss Annie Bobertson, daughter 



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T'< fucf puffe 10. 



TARRADALE, B0SS-8HIB£, TUB BIKTUPLACE OP SIR RODERICK MURCHISUN. 



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1788-5.] ANCESTRY. 11 

dala This period, however, was too brief to fix any eariy 
Highland impressions on the memory of the future geologist, 
although he used afterwards to say that he ought to have his 
Celtic proclivities fully developed, for he had been nursed 
by the " sonsie " miller's wife of Tarradale, who hushed him 
to sleep with (Jaelic lullabies, and no doubt, after the fashion 
of the country, gave him now and then, when he whimpered, 
a taste of the famous whisky distilled on the adjoining 
lands of Ferrintosh. 

These three years of infancy formed the only prolonged 
residence which Sir Boderick Murchison ever made in the 
Highlands, His later visits were only for a few weeks at a 
time^ in summer or autumn. That early stay at Tarradale 
might have been indefinitely prolonged, so as to change the 
whole tenor of his life, had his father's health continued good. 
A delicacy, however, brought on probably by his Indian 
experiences, induced Mr. Murchison to quit his northern 
home for a milder residence in the south of England. 

Among the earliest recollections which his son Boderick 
retained was one dating from the time of this southward 
migration. These were the days of highwaymen, and the 
party had journeyed armed. The father, always anxious 
that his son and heir should be a manly little fellow, pre- 
sented one day a pistol at his head, bidding him stand fira 
His wife, fortunately, was sitting by and snatched away 

of the Provost of Dingwall, Boss-shire. When my father married he pro- 
posed that the bride's great friend and bridesmaid should stay with them. 
Finding that she was in very delicate health, he attended to all her ail- 
ments for a year or more, and when I was brooght into the world, the first 
yonng lady's lap on which I was dandled was that of the mother of the 
present Chancellor of the Exchequer. She has often told me this herself, 
and has expressed how much she owed to my father for his kind medical 
attention." 



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12 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [vm^ 

the child, when the pistol, which was not supposed to be 
loaded, went off, and a volley of slugs passed through the 
window. 

In a jotting found among his papers, and bearing date 
August 14th, 1854, the son thus recalls the memoiy of his 
parents : — " My father was a good violin-player, and had a 
fine Cremona, on which he brought out his native and 
Jacobite airs with much feeling; whilst my mother, dear 
soul, though never a skilful musician, played her reels on 
the harpsichord with so much point and zest that even now 
I can bring her full to my mind's eye whilst I was dancing 
my first Highland fling to the tunes of 'Caber Fey* or 
' Tulloch Gorum/" 

The change from Tarradale to the south of England did 
not avert the malady from which the invalid was suffering. 
He died in the year 1796. Of his closing days the follow- 
ing notes have been penned by his son : — " A recollection of 
him, doubtless often since brought to my memoiy by my dear 
mother, is that while my father was in the last stage of the 
disorder (liver-complaint and dropsy) of which he died, my 
little brother and self were sent from Bath to the then 
sequestered village of Bathampton, where he took leave of 
us. The opening of the red damask curtains of the lofty 
old-fashioned bed, the last kiss of my dying parent, and the 
form of the old-fashioned edifice to which the invalid had 
been removed, have been stereotyped in my mind.** 

On the death of her husband, Mrs. Murchison moved 
with her two boys to Edinburgh, where she took the house 
No. 26 George Street^ As soon as age allowed they were 

^ The younger son, Kennetli, became Governor of Singapore, and after- 
wards of Penang. 



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iwi] SOHOOL'DAYS. 13 

placed under the instructions of Bishop Sandford. Most of 
the Jacobites being either Catholics or Episcopalians, she 
found herself among Mends in the small gathering which 
the disestablished Charch could muster at that time in the 
metropolis of the north. Two years before his death her 
elder son revisited the little chapel near Charlotte Square to 
which his mother used to bring him. The lapse of more 
than seventy years had not wiped away the recollection of 
these early days, and he could yet recall how, one Sunday, 
their fat little cook Peggie, having incautiously ventured 
westward to her mistress's chapel, returned abruptly to the 
house, inveighing with indignation at the profanity of an 
organ, " for she cou'dna bide to hae the house o' God turned 
intil a playhouse." 

The widow, still young and attractive, was not long in 
finding a second husband in Colonel Eobert Macgregor 
Murray, one of the younger brothers of the Chief of the 
Macgregors. He, as well as his brothers, had been on inti- 
mate terms with Mr. Murchison in India, so much so that 
the Chief and his brother. Colonel Alexander, with Sir 
Elijah Impey, were left as guardians to the two boys. 

The marriage of his mother broke up the home-life of 
yoimg Eoderick. Her husband was called to Ireland to 
aid in suppressing rebellion there, and as she determined 
to accompany him, it became necessary to place the boy, 
now in his seventh year, at schooL Accordingly, in the 
year 1799, he was sent to the grammeur-school of Durham. 

More than half a century afterwards he spoke of the 
pang of the parting &om his mother, and from Sally, the 
Dorsetshire lass, to whose tuition he used to attribute the 
English accent which he retained through life. Before 



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14 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [iTW- 

leaving Edinbuigh he could already read the newspapers 
with emphasis, and recite various pieces of verse. 

But now a new and sttange life opened out to him. At 
Durham he was domiciled, with some twenty other boys, in 
the house of one Wharton — a kindly man, who taught them 
French, and who, though himself a strict Catholic, never 
attempted to taint any of his pupils with a bias towards 
Popery. 

Six years passed away at Durham. They could hardly 
be called years of study. The boy, indeed, toiled in 
some fashion into the sixth book of the Iliad, crossed the 
" pons" in Euclid, and picked up a little French, besides 
the ordinary rudiments of an English education. But the 
somewhat morose and severe manners of the head-master 
were not of a kind to make learning pleasant. Kor in 
the discipline of the school, stem enough in its way, and 
often aided ^m a bundle of hazel rods, was there check 
sufficient to control the waywardness of the wilder boys. 
Among these Roderick, or " Dick," as they called him, was 
always a ringleader. Breaking bounds was the least of his 
ofiTences. Many an expedition did he lead against the town 
boys, and when not engaged in actual offensive warfare, he 
would be found drilling his school-fellows in military 
exercises. 

Pranks, too, of the dare-devil kind were a favourite 
pastime. At one time he would be seen sitting on a pro- 
jecting ornament or comer-spout of the highest tower of the 
Cathedral, to the horror of his comrades, who lay down in 
abject fright upon the "leads." He filled up more than 
the usual list of boyish escapades with gunpowder and 
on treacherous ice. The broken ground on which the 



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1806.] SCHOOL-BAYS. 15 

romantic old city of Durham stands lent itself eminently 
to such feats. There was one exploit which deserves a pass- 
ing mention, since it was, perhaps, his earliest attempt to 
explore what lies imder ground. Just beyond the archway 
leading to the Prebends' Bridge lay the open mouth of a 
drain which had its other end on the banks of the Wear, 
some hundred yards below. It had been a boast among the 
boys to get down to the bottom of the vertical mouth. But 
"Dick" one day undertook to force his way down the whole 
length of the conduit to its farther opening at the side of 
the river. Having dropt into his hole he soon found, as he 
advanced on hands and knees, that to turn was impossible. 
So, scaring many a rat by the way, he crept down, and at 
last, with scratched skin and torn raiment, and probably 
with what Trinculo styled " an ancient and fish-like smell,*' 
he emerged to the light of day, amid the hurrahs of his 
expectant school-fellows. 

His stepfather and his mother, during part of his stay at 
Durham, rented Newton House, near Bedale, in the North 
Biding, whither, in vacation-time, he repaired to exhaust him- 
self in the delights, of a pony and terriers. There, too, it waa 
that the military life distinctly shaped itself in his mind. His 
maternal uncle. General Mackenzie of Fairbum, seeing his 
active habits, told him that in due time he would make a 
good soldier. "From that day," he remarks, "I read and 
thought of nothing but military heroes." 



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CHAPTEE II. 

FIRST TEABS OF A SOLDIER'S LIFE. 

The six years' schooling at Durham, such as it was, 
fonned all the connected general education which Murchison 
received, though he tried to supplement it after a fiashion a 
couple of years later at Edinburgh. It was thought to be 
amply sufficient as a groundwork for the profession of a 
soldier; the more specisJ training needed for the military 
life could be obtained elsewhere. Accordingly, in the year 
1805, being now thirteen years of age, he was taken 
to the Military College of Great Marlow. Late in life he 
could recaU how his stepfather sang amusing songs to cheer 
him on the way ; how, on arriving in London, they " were 
quartered at the Spring Gardens coffeehouse;" and how 
surprised he was to see, " in the box next to us, gloating 
over his beefsteak and onions, the corpulent John, Duke of 
Norfolk." 

At Marlow his aptitude for study was not more 
marked than it had been at Durham. His six books of 
Homer and the Latin which had been flogged into him 
were no help in aiding him to solve even simple questions 



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iwa] FIRST TEARS OF A SOLDIERS LIFE. 17 

in geometry and arittunetia He was rejected, or/ in the 
language of Ids comrades, " spun,** and sent back to *^ mng/' 
or study. " I could not do," he says, " the commonest 
things in geometry, and was a bad arithmetician — a foible 
which has remained with ma** 

When at length he had passed as a Cadet, he contmued to 
introduce a fair amount of firolic among his not very arduous 
duties. C. 26 — for that was his number in the third com- 
pany — ^became as conspicuous a ringleader among the boister* 
ons youths at Marlow as he had already been among the 
boys at Durham. He succeeded, however, at the same time, 
in acquiring some military habits, and a slender knowledge 
of tactics and drawing. He now, for the first time, had to 
leam subjects really interesting to him, and, as he had 
been formerly in the habit of drilling his school-fellows for 
mere amusement, it was now a congenial and not very diffi- 
cult task to become a good drill-serjeant From this time, 
too, dates the development of that singular faculty he had 
of grasping the main features of a district. His exercises in 
military drawing at Marlow first drew out this faculty, and 
led to the future rapidity and correctness of his '' eye for 
a country," to which, in his scientific career, he owed so 
mucL 

As a reminiscence of these Marlow days he writes : — 
** As each cadet cleaned his own shoes and belts, and black- 
balled his own cartridge-box, we really knew what a soldier 
ought to do. French polish was then unknown, and the 
blacking which we bought of old * Drummer Cole' required 
much elbow-grease to bring out the shine ; so that I shall 
never forget, when the Duke of Kent (the father of our 
gracious Queen) reviewed, us, how I admired his highly- 

V0L.L B 



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18 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [im 

polished, well-made Hessian boots, and his tight-fitting white 
leather pantaloons.'' 

Those who remember the veteran geologist in his later 
days, and recall the military bearing which marked him up 
to the last, will readily appreciate how strong an impress 
these Marlow days left upon him. While a cadet he was 
also somewhat of a dandy. He preserved memoranda of the 
names of the titled people he met when he paid a visit ; 
how he delighted in the " smart curricle" of one distinguished 
acquaintance; how he rode ^the well-conditioned hunters 
or chargers" of another ; how he dined at a fine old mansion 
one day, and played at whist with the young aristocracy of 
the place the next He had good opportunity for indulging 
these tastes during a visit which he paid in 1806 to his 
uncle. General Mackenzie, who was at that time command- 
ing a militia force at HulL And yet other qualities of his 
nature were also developing themselves. His uncle, who 
kept a diary, made the following entry on 29th January 
1806 : — ^** This day my dear nephew Roderick left me. He 
is a charming boy, manly, sensible, generous, warm-hearted — 
in short, possessing every possible good attribute. I think 
he has also talents to make a figure in any profession. That 
which he has chosen is a soldier. He goes back to Marlow 
College on the dd of next month." 

The following year, at the age of fifteen, he was gazetted 
Ensign in the 36th regiment, but did no regimental duty for 
some time after his appointment He writes of this epoch 
in his life : — " For the first six months after I became an 
officer I was supposed to be computing my studies! In 
reality I was amusing myself with all sorts of dissipation at 
Bath, where I passed my holidays driving ' tandems' and 
wearing clanking spurs. 



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1808.] FIRST TEARS OF A SOLDIERS LIFE. 19 

** On leaving Marlow I was removed to Edinbuigh, where 
my mother and relatives lived, and was placed in the house 
of Mr, Alexander Manners, the respected Librarian of the 
Faculty of Advocates, where I was associated with five or 
six other youths all older than myself. Having a recruiting 
party in the city under my orders, and with plenty of money 
to spend and balls to dance at, it may be well conceived that 
I did not gather together much knowledge. Still I picked 
up a few crumbs, which were destined to produce some fruit 
in after times. Unquestionably, this winter in Edinburgh 
materially influenced my future character. For example, I 
took lessons in French, Italian, German, and mathematics. 
I also attended a debating club, and wrote (such as they 
were) two essays on political subjects, of which of course I 
was profoundly ignorant While the young powdered mili- 
tary fop (pig-tails and powder were then in the ascendant) 
afiected to despise all dominies and philosophers, I could 
not be one of the table presided over by the bland and 
courteous old Manners without picking up many useful 
hints for future guidance.'* 

Though he may have made some progress with his books 
at Edinburgh, he does not appear to have been quite as sure 
of his success in that way as he was of his mastery over the 
kicking horse in Leatham's riding-schooL At the same time 
he took lessons in thrusting and parrying with the foil 
from an old French valet-de-chambre in the service of 
the Comte d'Artois, afterwards Charles x., who was then 
living in exile at Holyroodhouse. As the result of these 
various accomplishments he came to have such a good opinion 
of himself that when, at last, in the winter of 1807-8, he 
joined his regiment at the barracks of Cork, great was his 



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20 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. \im. 

chagrin to find the officers very different from the high- 
bred dandies he had expected them to be. They seem 
to have been for the most part quiet, well-disciplined old 
soldiers, who knew their work and did it, and who, more- 
over, had seen a good deal of active service on the Continent, 
in India, and in South America. He was no longer the 
important personage he had lately been with the ''lecnuting 
party under his orders." But in a little while he discovered, 
that what his comrades lacked in outward show they more 
than countervailed in the best qualities of soldiers. He found 
that the regiment had been a favourite with Sir Arthur 
Wellesley in India. His messmates could tell many a story 
of the cool daring of their old Colonel, Eobert Bume ; how 
he led his men at the storming of Seringapatam ; and how, 
when at Buenos Ayres, the Spaniards had brought up eight 
guns that completely enfiladed the road by which the British 
force was retiring, he halted his brave fellows and said 
quietly to them, — " Now, my lads, I 've come to lead you 
once more to an assault. Ton see these guns I If we don't 
take and spike them our raiment will be swept away;" 
and then how he plucked a flower, and coolly placing it in 
his button-hole, drew his sword, and in a qu8ui;er of an hour 
had, vrith his grenadiers, spiked every gun and driven the 
enemy back into the town. 

Such tales vividly impressed the imagination of the 
young Ensign. His ideal of a military hero had hitherto 
been his handsome young uncle, Qeneral Mackenzie, in the 
full blaze of martial uniform, and it was his ambition to 
become the General's aide-de-camp. But he now came into 
contact vrith a real tried hero, whom he thenceforth set up 
as his model 



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180&] FIRST TEARS OF A SOLDIER 8. LIFE. 21 

Colonel Bume was an excellent specimen of a typ^ of 
ofiScer now probably extinct. Cool and daring on the field 
of battle^ he was a severe disciplinarian. His piercing dark- 
brown eye proved quick to detect a careless pig-tail^ or a 
failure of pipe-clay either in gloves or breeches.' He had 
drilled his men to the most perfect precision after the 
method then in vogue^ insomuch that his had become what 
was called a " crack regiment" at the camp on the Curragh. 
Sut with all this attention to the laborious system of trains 
ing which prevailed in his time, he knew how to unbend 
after his da/s work was past. At the mess-table he would 
sit habitually firom five till ten o'clock, setting an example to 
all his officers in the potation of port. He could not tolerate 
a drunken man, and he despised a young fledgling Ensign to 
whom illimitable draughts of his own favourite beverage 
proved in any way disastrous. He himself never showed 
any indication of being in the least degree affected, save that 
*^ his nose was gradually assuming that purple colour and 
bottle-shape which rendered him so conspicuous in the sub- 
sequent Peninsular war." Such was the brave and jovial 
leader whom the young Ensign of the 36th set before him- 
self for imitation. 

The regiment moved to Fermoy in the spring of 1808 ; 
but shortly thereafter a small army of about eight thousand 
men assembled at Cork for foreign servica Its destination 
remained secret, though it was shrewdly suspected to be de- 
signed for South America to retrieve there the honour of 
the British arms. The charge of it was given to Sir Arthur 
Wellesley, with Ceneral Mackenzie as his second in com- 
mand. The latter resolved to take with him his nephew 
Soderick as an extra aide-de-camp. Such a post had been 



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22 SIR RODERICK MUROHISON'. {im. 

the dream of the young Ensign's life ever since he had en- 
tered on his military career, and it seems to have impressed 
him more each time he saw his uncle in all the pomp of 
command. 

But the projects both of uncle and nephew were rudely 
broken. The unexpected successes of the rising of the 
people of Spain against their French invaders at once 
drew the attention of the British Government to that 
country. The expedition was ordered to proceed not to 
South America, but to Spain. With this change of destina- 
tion came also an alteration in the conmiand. Greneral 
Mackenzie was not to accompany the force, and the ex- 
pectant aide-de-camp had to bear his mortification as he 
best could. 

But it was still his destiny to join the expedition, not on 
the Staff, but carrying the colours of the 36th, for in passing 
through Fermoy to take the command. Sir Arthur Welles- 
ley left orders for that regiment to proceed to Cork within 
twenty-four hours. A hurried gathering of goods and 
chattels, a march of twenty miles, an inspection in the 
streets of Cork by Sir Arthur himself, and then a string 
of boats filled with the red-coats slipping down to the 
Cove and to the transports — ^thus suddenly the young 
soldier of but sixteen summers found himself face to face 
with the stem realities of war. 



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CHAPTER III. 

SIX MONTHS OF THE PKNINSULAE WAR. 

Bkitish expeditions had come to hold but a poor reputa- 
tion when the present century began. The despatch of a 
new one created little enthusiasm, or even interest. Long 
years of war had made the minds of men familiar with 
campaigns and battles and sieges. And these warlike 
operations were now spread over so wide a field that it 
would have been hard to tell to what quarter a fresh expe- 
dition would, vrith most probability, be sent. With this 
low military prestige there existed also a wide-spread 
feeling of indifference, sometimes bordering on contempt^ for 
the profession of a soldier. The rank and file of the army 
contained a large infusion of the lowest orders of the 
community. Enlistment was in the hands of agents who 
received a profit according to the numbers they could 
induce to join the service. A man who had proved himself 
unfit for any honest calling was yet good enough for a 
soldier. And thus it became common to regard the " listing " 
of a son or brother as a kind of family disgrace. 

Of the private himself but slender care was taken by the 



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24 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [laoe. 

authorities. He enlisted for life, and could look forward 
to being permitted to leave the service on a small pension 
only when ill-health or age at last made him useless. As 
a rule, he could neither read nor write. There was then no 
daily newspaper press recounting to every town and village 
in the three kingdoms the doings of his regiment, men- 
tioning even his own name should he distinguish him- 
self ; no associations for the help of the sick and wounded ; 
no lady-nurses venturing from dainty homes into the rough 
scenes of war ; no frequent post bringing him letters and 
papers firom the fatherland to show him that he was the 
object of kindly solicitude to his native country. When 
he was carried away into service abroad, it was not in 
a roomy steam-transport, but in a sloop or brig drawn 
perhaps from the coasting trade. And yet in spite of all 
these wants, of many of which he was happily unconscious, 
in spite, too, of pipe-clay and blackball, of plastering his 
queue, and burnishing his musket, he could be trained into 
an excellent soldier, and he went through his hardships 
with that endurance and boldness which more than restored 
the teputation of the British army. 

On the 12th July 1808 the small expeditionary force set 
sail from Cork, and met with no mishap until it came to 
anchor off the coast of Qallicia. Owing to some uncertainty 
as to the state of affairs in the Peninsula^ the disembarka- 
tion was delayed for a few days, and the transports moved 
southward to the Portuguese coast The young ensign of the 
86th raiment, cooped up in a small brig, had been in the 
surgeon's hands, and continued still an invalid. But at 
the order for landing his kit was soon packed. Like the 
other oflScers he took ashore three days' provisions, beside 



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im] LANDS IN PORTUGAL. 25 

his greatcoat and knapsack, while he had to cany on his 
shoidders the colours of the regiment. Of this time he 
writes: — 

"Early on the 1st of Angost, the d6th, forming part of 
the first brigade, disembarked with the 60th Eifles and 
other r^[iments under General Fane, Fortunately it was 
a fine calm hot day, with little or no surf on the sterile and 
uninhabited shore, vrith its wide beach and hillocks of blown 
sand. The inhabitants of Figuiera^ on the opposite bank 
of the river, stood under their variously-coloured umbrellas, 
and my boat being to the extreme left, I could scan the 
motley group, in which monks and women predominated. 
Just as I was gazing around, and as our boat touched the 
sand, the Commodore's barge rapidly passed with our bright- 
eyed little General Perhaps I am the only person now 
(1864) living, who saw the future Wellington place for the 
first time his foot on Lusitania, followed by his aide-de- 
camp, Fitzroy Somerset, afterwards Lord Baglan. He 
certainly was not twenty paces from me, and the cheerful 
confident expression of his countenance at that moment 
has ever remained impressed on my mind. The disem- 
barkation being imopposed, you would think I had nothing 
to record. But the young ensign, with his glazed cocked 
hat, square to Uiefrcmi, his long white gloves, his tight belts, 
and well-fiUed knapsack and haversack, found it no easy 
matter to obey the orders of the fidgety General Fane, who, 
whilst out feet slipped back on the loose sand, was en- 
deavouring to make us move as if on the Brighton race- 
course!" 

Of this toilsome march, and of the subsequent operations 
of the army, the young soldier wrote a minute and earnest 



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26 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80K [im. 

account two days after the battle of Yimieira, in a letter to 
his uncle. General Mackenzie, which, with all its tediousness 
of detail, shows no ordinary powers of observation, and grasp 
of the general plan of the military pitx^eedings : — 

** Vdiieiba, 23d August 1808. 

" My dbak Uncle, — Having been prevented so very long 
a time from writing to you, on account of not knowing to 
what part of the Mediterranean you are ordered, I am re- 
solved at last to send this letter to Sicily, and let it run the 
hazard of a ship sailing &om Lisbon to that island If you 
had been in England during the whole of the time in which 
we were acting against the French in this country, what 
pleasure it would have given me to have sent you from the 
scenes of action the last accounts of them ; but in such 
ignorance was I of the country you were in, that in the only 
letter which I have had from my mother since I left Ire- 
land, she informed me only of your having proceeded in the 
' Pomona' frigate to the Mediterranean ; that it was probable 
you would touch at some of the Spanish ports, whither it 
was then supposed Sir Arthur Wellesley's expedition would 
proceed ; and that in case of meeting with me, you intended 
taking me on with you as your aide-de-camp. I shall en- 
deavour in this letter to give a detailed account of our pro- 
ceedings, as I am certain you will be pleased with it, incorrect 
as it may be in some respects, and far as it must be from 
being a general one, on account of my humble situation in 
the army. 

" Sir Arthur Wellesley, after having proceeded to Corunna 
in order to hear of the movements of the Spaniards, wrote to 
Admiral Sir Charles Cotton off the Tagus, and requested him 
to co-operate. The landing of the troops in Mondego Bay 



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1W8.] LANDS IN PORTUGAL. 27 

was then determined upon, and, on the let of August, the 
d6th and 40th infantiy, and some rifles, disembarked on the 
south side of the river Mondego, under General Fane, exactly 
opposite the town of Figuiera. The troops passed the bar 
of the river chiefly in small schooners which trade along the 
coast, and also in Portuguese boats. 

" The brigade being formed was then marched in open 
columns along the coast, chiefly through veiy heavy sands, 
about two leagues, and encamped near the village of Lavaos, 
where Sir Arthur established head-quarters for the night 
As by his orders two shirts and two pair of stockings and a 
great-coat were to compose the whole of the baggage of 
officers and soldiers, and that not such a thing as a donkey 
or any other animal was procurable, our whole kit, including 
three days' provisions, was on our backs, which, with a brace 
of pistols and the 36th regimental colours, loaded me abso- 
lutely to the utmost of my strengtL Even our old Colonel 
was compelled to tramp through the sands this day, which 
he did with the greatest alacrity. In four days the whole 
of the troops and stores were landed without any loss. As 
we were now to wait at Lavaos for the arrival of General 
Spencer's force from Cadiz, we had it in our power to com- 
municate with the shipping, and I was thus enabled to land 
my boat-cloak and a few other necessary articles, which 
have since been of infinite use to me on outlying picquets 
(under waUs and without tents) and guards, and to buy a 
donkey to carry them, which little animal is with me at 
present. In the course of three days General Spencer^s force 
arrived and inunediately disembarked. The army being then 
arranged and divided into six brigades, we were placed under 
General Ferguson with the 40th and 71st r^ments. The 



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28 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [18O8. 

appointment of this excellent officer (who, I think, is your 
particular friend) gave ns, the 36th, great satisfaction. 

" Sir Arthur Wellesley*8 orders, previous to our landing, 
were most explicitly and clearly written, particularly in 
explaining to the troops the nature of the service they were 
about to enter upon, and. directing the greatest attention to 
.be paid to the religion and customs of the Portuguese. We 
were likewise given to imderstand by these orders, that 
through the whole of the war we should be en Uvcuac, 
and no tents allowed for officers or men. On the 10th the 
whole army directed its march to Leyria. It was intended 
at first to have marched only three leagues, but upon in- 
formation being received that a force had proceeded by the 
sea-coast, in order to have surprised some of our outposts, 
our march was continued until three o'clock next morning. 
We then halted and took up our stations on a cold, bleak 
imoor, about two leagues from Leyria, having marched up- 
wards of twenty English miles. Next morning we marched 
to Leyria (where the 'inhabitants had been maltreated by 
Loison), and halted on the south side of the city, whence I 
went in to inspect it There we were joined by the Portu- 
guese army, which did not exceed in strength 3000 men. 
Prom what I could observe, there were about four squadrons 
of cavalry, good-looking, well-mounted dragoons, being the 
garde de police of Lisbon, who had made their escape from 
thence on hearing of our disembarkation. The Portuguese 
infantry was in a most wretched state of discipline. On the 
13th the army marched two and a half leagues, and halted 
at Lucero, about a mile and a half on the south side of the 
beautiful ancient abbey of Batalha, where the Portuguese 
gained that celebrated victory over the Spaniards which 



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1808.] IN THE BATTLE OF RORigA. 29 

secured the independence of their coimtiy. At this place, 
for the first time, we got hold of a few straggling Frenchmen. 
Next day, the 14th, we proceeded to Alcoba^a, and halted 
near it The abbey is most magnificent, and delighted me 
more than any public building I have seen. The library 
and kitchen of the convent are well worthy of admiration. 
Part of the French army had just quitted this place. 

" We had proceeded next morning about half-way between 
this town and Las Caldas ; when, approaching the small town 
of Albaferam, the French appeared in sight Their army was 
drawn up in close column, and was ready for action. They 
however continued their retreat, and we advanced and 
halted near Las Caldas. 

^ Sir Arthur had received intelligence that the French 
General Laborde was strongly entrenched in the mountainous 
pass at the extremity of the valley in which the old Moorish 
fort of Obidos stands, and that General Loison was at no 
great distance from our right The greatest part of the army 
was advanced from the valley to force the pass, while 
General ^Feiguson's brigade (with General Bowes's in its 
rear) was sent off to the mountains on the left, with the in-r 
tention of cutting off Laborde's retreat. We were proceed- 
ing in this direction when the French appeared upon our 
flank, in consequence of which we formed line, and changing 
direction advanced, as the fog cleared, towards the enemy. 
We marched over about two leagues of hilly ground, and 
when within about one mile and a half of the pass we un- 
expectedly perceived the whole of the enemy in direct 
march to it, and immediately afterwards our riflemen opened 
their fire from the top of a hill upon one of the enemy's 
columns, who returned a volley and retreated a short distance. 



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30 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isoe. 

" It fell to the lot of the Eifles, 5th, '9th, and 29th regi- 
ments, to force the pass, and to the last regiment especially, 
who, from the nature of the ground, could in some places only 
ascend up the hill in single files. It was on this account 
that the 29th lost so many officers and men, including the 
gallant Colonel Lake, who was some paces in front of his 
regiment when he fell. Just as we arrived at the foot of the 
mountains our artillery was brought into play, which no 
doubt annoyed the enemy's retreating columns, and three 
companies of our regiment were detached in order to support 
om: light infantry, with the other light infantry of the 
brigade. The enemy had moved off, however, &om the shots 
of the rifles, and the distant fire of a few pieces of our 
artillery. The 40th regiment was then detached from our 
brigade to cover the baggage, and as soon as the firing ceased 
we pursued our march through the pass. Swiss and French- 
men were lying dead on all sides. As soon as we got through. 
General Ferguson's brigade, with the others which had not 
been much engaged, formed on a very extensive heath, and 
were advanced in front in order to charge the enemy if he 
would stand ; but Monsieur would only permit a few stray 
shots to be sent into his solid columns — he had received 
beating enough to satisfy him for one day.^ 

" On the 19 th the army moved on to Yimieira, and passed 
over the very plateau on which we of the 36th were, two 
days afterwards^ to have an opportunity of signalizing 
ourselves. 

" The village of Vimieira is situated in a narrow valley, 
amid rising hills. In our front, on to the south-east, is a 
wood upon a low eminence ; and in the rear, on towards the 

1 This was the engagement of Roli^a or Rori9a. 



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iwa] THE BATTLE OF VIMIEIRA. 31 

coast, are very high hills. On the summit of these hills, 
which lie exactly between Vimieira and the sea, the greatest 
part of the British army was posted On a lower hill on 
the right, and a little in front of the town, was the light 
Brigade, with the 20th regiment. This was an excellent 
post of observation. On the hill on the left was the 40th 
regiment, which was the left of our brigade, the 71st High- 
landers on their right, and the d6th being in the hollow 
exactly in the rear of the village. Close to our front was 
a small river. The position was rather more than two 
leagues &om the sea. , , . We discovered some squad- 
rons and picquets of French dragoons. Several oflScers 
approached us, and one coming particularly near (I suppose 
he was sketching). Captain Hellish (Ceneral Ferguson's 
A.D.C.) offered the long odds to any one that, if permitted, 
he would dismount him. 

"On the following morning, the 21st, about nine o'clock, 
the drums of the 40th regiment beat to arms. This was 
occasioned by their outlying picquet being attacked by some 
small party of the enemy which was greatly advanced. In 
ten minutes we were formed. Our brigade, led by General 
Ferguson, immediately crossed the little river and ascended 
to the hill on which we were about to fight We had hardly 
commenced our uphill move before the advanced posts of 
our centre, in the hollow near Yimieira^ on our right, com- 
menced a very heavy fire. We proceeded up the hill and 
formed line under its brow, A brigade of artillery was 
brought up with the greatest promptitude, and two guns, 
under Lieutenant Locke, being placed on the rising ground 
on our right, and the others on the left, three companies of 
the 3 6 th were detached to the edge of the hiU on our right, 



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32 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [laoa. 

in order to protect the guns, which were soon annoying the 
advancing French close columns in the finest style with 
shrapnell shells, whilst our rifles and light infantry were 
firing in extended files as videttes. 

" After some very hot and dose work the centre of our 
army, at the village of Yimieiia, repulsed the enemy. Thei'e 
General Anstruther's brigade, with the 50th r^iment^ re- 
ceived the enemy in firont of the village. Colonel Taylor, 
who had charged with four troops, the only cavalry we had, 
viz., of the 20th Light Dragoons, was killed in a wood, whilst 
our heavy artillery, which was. placed upon the hillock in 
front of the village, cut up the enemy most dreadfully. The 
50th charged them with the bayonet ; the 43d met them in 
a narrow lane when in open column, and gallantly repulsed 
them; the 5 2d and 97th were likewise wannly engaged 
and thus the enemy was quite routed in their central or 
main attack.^ 

** To return to our own part of the battle, i.e. to our left 
wing : the fire of the enemy soon became very hot^ and even 
though the 36th were lying on their breasts under the brow, 
our men were getting pretty much hit, whilst the regiment 
in our rear, the 82d, which at that time could not fire a 
shot, suffered more than we did. General Spencer, who 
commanded the division, when moving about to regulate the 
general movements, was hit by a ball in. the hand, and I 
saw him wrap his handkerchief round it and heard him say, 
' It is only a scratch T Soon after, the light infantry in our 
front closed files and fell in ; our guns were pulled back, 

^ The original of the present letter appears to have been lost In the 
copy of it from -which the text has been printed, the remainder after 
the above paragraph is in Mnrchison's own handwriting of a mnch later 
date. 



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1808.] THE BATTLE OF VIMIEIRA. 33 

and then came the straggle. General Ferguson waving his 
hat, up we rose, old Bume (our Colonel) crying out, as he 
shook his yellow cane, that ' he would knock down any man 
who fired a shot' 

** This made some merriment among the men, as tumbling 
over was the fashion without the application of their Colonel's 
cane. ' Charge !' was the word, and at once we went over 
the brow with a steady line of glittering steel, and with a 
hearty hurrah, against six raiments in close column, with 
six pieces of artillery, just in front of the 36tL But not an 
instant did the enemy stand against this most unexpected 
sally within pistol-shot Off they went, and all their guns 
were instantly taken, horses and all, and then left in our 
rear, whilst we went on chasing the runaways for a mile and 
a halt as hard as we could go, over the moor of Lourinhao. 
They rallied, it is true, once or twice, particularly behind 
some thick prickly-pear hedges and a hut or two on the 
flat table-land ; but although their brave General Solignac 
was always cantering to their front and animating them 
against us, they at last fled precipitately, until they reached 
a small hamlet, where, however, they did make a tolerable 
stand 

** Here it was that Sir Arthur Wellesley overtook us 
after a smart gallop. He had witnessed from a distance 
our steady and successful chaige, and our capture of the 
guns, and he now saw how we were thrusting the French 
out of this hamlet. Through the sound of the musketry, 
and in the midst of much confusion, I heard a shrill voice 
calling out, * Where are the colours of the 36th?' and I 
turned round (my brother ensign, poor Peter Bone, having 
just been knocked down), and looking up in Sir Arthur^s 

VOL.1. c 



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34 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isoa 

bright and confident face^said, ' Here they are, sir !' Then 
he shouted, * Very well done, my boys ! Halt, halt — quite 
enough I' 

" The French were now at their last run, in spite of 
every effort of Solignac to rally them. Several of our 
bloody-minded old soldiers said in levelling, * they would 

bring down the on the white horse ;' and sure enough 

the gallant fellow feU, just as the 71st Highlanders, who 
were on our left, being moved round en potenee, charged 
down the hill, with their wounded piper playing on his 
bum, and completed the rout of the enemy, taking General 
Solignac of course prisoner.* 

** Had we possessed a squadron or two of dragoons on 
the left wing, all the remedning force of Solignac's division, 
which had been driven two miles to the north, or away from 
the main body of Junot (which had retreated to the south), 
would have been captured, for they were then a rabbla 
But Sir Arthur knew his weakness in cavalry. He had 
defeated a very superior force in crack style ; on our wing 
we had indeed taken the General, and all the guns brought 
against us; he also knew that the enemy had three full 
regiments of cavalry in the field, whilst we had none. 
Moreover, he was no longer conmiander, for old Sir Harry 
Burrard, already on the ground, was his senior, and had 
ordered a halt 

** Think, my dear uncle, with what pleasure I got a sheet 
of long paper from the adjutant, and wrote my first account 
of this glorious victory to my mother on a drum in the field, 

1 Thia appears to be a mistake. Solignac was wounded, but the French 
General taken prisoner was not he, but firennier. See Wellington's De- 
spcUchea, voL iv. p. 96 ; Napier's Penmndar War, toL L p. 215. 



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1808.] THE BATTLE OF VIMIEIRA. 85 

in order that it might go home with the despatches.^ We 
shall soon go on to Lisbon^ and then I expect we shall finish 
off Monsieur Junot — I remain ever, my dear unde, your 
most affectionate nephew." 

To this letter may be added one or two reminiscences 
which he used to tell of these first Peninsular days. It was 
no marvel if a stripling of sixteen, even though he had been 
a ringleader in all rough sports and adventures at school 
and military college, should have looked pale for a moment 
on going into actual battle. His face caught the eye of the 
bluff old veteran. Captain Hubbard, who gave him a good 
draught of Hollands gin out of his canteen, and patted him 
on the back, saying he would never feel so afterwards. 
" And he was quite right," added the narrator ; •* the first 
start over, and you are ever afterwards one of a united mass 
of brave men." 

No trace of personal emotion was of course allowed to 
escape in the business-like letter to his uncle from the 
embryo aide-de-camp. And yet, brave and bold as he was, 
he could not help a shudder at the first sight of the dead 
and mangled bodies of the Swiss and French lying right 
and left as his corps marched through the Pass of Boriqa. 
But a more hideous recollection dwelt in his memory 
through life. " When halting at a bivouac before we reached 
Vimieira^" he wrote, " a Portuguese volunteer on horseback 
coolly unfolded before myself and others a large piece of 
brown paper, in which he had carefully folded up like a 
sandwich several pairs of FreTuhmen^s ears, his occupation 
having been to follow us, and to cut off all these appendages 

1 ThiB letter, sealed with a bit of brown bread, baa not been preaenred. 



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8C SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [18O6. 

from men who were thoroughly well ' kilt * — doubtless to 
produce them in coffee-house in Lisbon as proofs of the 
number of the enemy he had slain ! " 

The conduct of the 36th regiment, and its gallant colonel, 
received high praise in the despatches of Sir Arthur Wei- 
lesley, to which, in after life, Murchison referred with pride, 
as evidence that though his friends had almost all known 
him only as ^ civilian and a man of peace, he had yet had 
shared with his comrades in actual and successful fighting.^ 

The subsequent events of this short campaign, with all 
their memorable results in the Peninsula and at home, left 
but little impress on the young ensign* He saw his favourite 
general superseded by Sir Harry Burrard, and then by Sir 
Hew Dalrymple. He was quite sure that the British forces 
could have compelled Junot to surrender, or at least that 
the French force never could have fought its way back 
to Spain. like so many of his fellow-countrymen, he looked 
on the so-caUed Convention of Cintra ''as stupid, if not dis- 
gnu^efuL" In spite of what he has described to his uncle as 
his ''humble situation in the army," he seems to have had 
no hesitation in deciding that the brilliant successes in which* 
he had taken part had been "shamefully lost" by subsequent 
diplomacy. And he no doubt found consolation in repeating 

^ In the official despatch from the field of yimieira, Sir Afthnr writes 
thus :— *' In mentioning Colonel Borne and the 36th r^ment upon this 
occasion, I caonot avoid adding that the regnlar and orderly condnot of 
this corps throughout the service, and their gallantry and discipline in 
action, have been conspicuous." — ^Wellington's Despatches, by Gurwood, 
voL iv. p. 96. Again, in a letter written next day to Lord Castlereagh, 
he says, *< You will see that I have mentioned Colonel Bume of the 36th 
r^ment in a very particular manner ; and I assure you that there is no- 
thing that will give me so much satisfaction as to learn that something 
has been done for this old and meritorious soldier. The 36th regiment are 
an eicample to this army.^^Op. cU, p. 100. 



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i8oa] LISBON IN THE PENINSULAR WAR 37 

to his comrades one or other of the contemporary squibs 
which expressed the popular estimation of the respective 
merits of the three commanders. 

With the political side of the militaiy events he troubled 
himself but littla Of more interest at the moment were 
the sights of Lisbon, in which his raiment was now quartered, 
and the looks and ways of the inhabitants. The music of 
the French bands before Junof s forces were embarked and 
sent away from the Tagus^ the black>eyed beauties of the 
coffee-houses, and the filth of the luxurious city— these 
were the features of the sojourn in Lisbon which most 
impressed themselves on his memory. Night after night 
his room was perfumed by the burning of lavender in it^ 
and he was thereafter left to wage war against domestic 
battalions hardly less numerous than those which he had 
encountered at Vimieira. Or if he ventured oat of doors 
after nightfall, no little dexterity was needed to work his 
way safely among the discharges of filth, which, in accordance 
with the sanitary arrangements then in rogue, descended 
from the windows, too often followed, instead of being 
preceded, by the cry required by the police, of *' Agua va I " 

The month of September wore away. At home fierce 
outcry had arisen over the Convention by which the French 
were removed from Portugal The three ccmimanders and 
the leading generals were summoned back to England to un- 
dergo examination before a Court of Inquiry, while vehement 
denunciations were poured forth by the newspapers against 
the conduct of affairs after the battle of Vimieira. Mean- 
while events had transpired in Spain which wholly 
altered the aspect of the war, and gave occasion to the 
English Government to interfere more actively than ever 



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38 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [isoe. 

in the contest between Napoleon and the people of the 
Peninsula. After the French armies had traversed Spain 
and crashed the numerous but unconnected and ill-directed 
attempts of the patriots to resist the march of the invaders, 
the tide of war turned. A division of Kapoleon's armies, 
eighteen thousand in number, which had penetrated into the 
most southerly province, was surrounded by the insurgents 
and forced to lay down its arms. The enthusiasm of the 
people blazed forth afresh from one end of the country to 
the other. In England the joy was great and loudly ex- 
pressed, that at last some check seemed likely to be placed 
on the career of conquest of the man whom the country 
hated and feared. Money, men, stores of every kind, were 
freely promised to the patriots, and as freely, though with 
sad want of judgment, supplied. 

The British army, whatever might be thought or said 
as to the mode in which the feat had been accom- 
plished, had certainly compelled the French to evacuate 
Portugal, and the Ministry of the day deemed it advis- 
able that their victorious expedition, now lying at Lisbon 
and watching the embarkation and removal of the French 
regiments, should put itself in motion, march across the 
country, enter Spain, and give effectual aid to the efforts of 
the Spanish patriots. Orders to this effect reached Lisbon 
early in October. Sir John Moore was put at the head of 
the expeditionary force. He was told that not a French 
soldier remained in the southern half of Spain, that CastaiLos 
in the south, and Blake in the north, had collected large 
armies, with supplies, and how enthusiastically the people 
were everywhere rising against the invadera He was 
directed to enter Gallicia or Leon, and there to receive an 



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im] WITH SIR JOHN MOORE IN SPAIN. 39 

additional force to be despatched tinder Sir David Baird 
from England. In Spain his further movements were to be 
regulated in concert with the Spanish generals. 

Through the long melancholy marchings and coimter- 
marchings which began at Lisbon at the end of September, 
and ended at Corunna in the middle of January, Murchison 
took his place with the 36th. His regiment formed part of 
the force sent round by Talavera under Sir John Hope. The 
troops began to move as the rainy season was setting in. To 
the rain succeeded the snows and frosts of an inclement 
winter. From the Spaniards assistance neither in men nor 
in means of transport, nor information of the movements 
and strength of the common enemy, could be procured. To 
the last there came firom them in abundance promises of 
powerful reinforcements, entreaties to the British commander 
to advance, glowing pictures of the vast enthusiasm and re- 
sources of Spain, and stories of the weakness and hesitation 
of the French. In the midst of so much uncertainty it was 
natural enough that the progress of the British force should 
be but slow, and that this tardiness and apparent hesitation, 
combined with the hardships of the weather, should have 
caused some murmuring in the ranks. Among the mur- 
murers was our Ensign of the 36th. His physical frame, 
though strong, was sorely tried during these long marches, 
with indifiPerent food, in the dead of winter. He could not 
then judge what were the real operations of the army. He 
was necessarily ignorant, as other subalterns were, of the 
almost incredible difficulties of the noble-hearted Moore. 
He could see only the toilsome and seemingly staggering 
marches and halts and retreats. It appeared as if at head- 
quarters there were no settled plan; as if the army were 



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40 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [isos, 

moved to and fro merely at random. So deeply \7as this 
impression of inadequate generalship fixed on his mind, that 
even late in life he continued to express himself as he might 
have done in the march from Lugo, or on the heights of 
Coninna.^ 

Of the actual events of the campaign he has preserved 
notes, chiefly of the various stages reached by his division 
in its march from Lisbon through Portugal and Spain, with 
a few personal reminiscences. In a little pocket note-book, 
which went with him through the campaign, there are traces 

^ The foUowing note oontainB Ids deliberate judgment as to the general- 
ship of Sir John Moore. It was written about the year 1854 : — 

'* The chief mistakes of Moore can Dever, I thiuk, be set aside, although, 
doubtless, he had a most diflSoult task to play, and was 'grossly deceived 
by the Spanish goyemment. These mistakes ^ere, 1^ sending round all 
his artillery and cavalry, when we entered Spain, by a long march, thus 
paralysing his exertions for a fortnight or three weeks ; 2d, making the 
hazardous and indecisive advance from Salamanca to Sahagun, which led 
him eventually to abandon the only true strategical plan of returning, as 
he himself intended a week before, on the strong ground of Portugal. 
Again, the detaching the light Division to Vigo was an error which pre- 
vented his occupying a strong position before Oorunna ; and, lastly, his 
forced night marches in order to escape from our enemy, who was re- 
pelled by us at all points, even after our horrible losses and disasters, and 
with two-thirds only of our army. 

'*It must be recoUected that I only had the knowledge of a young 
subaltern o£Scer, and in resenting the stem general order of our chief, in 
which he reflected on the want of discipline, I simply express what aU the 
poor sufferers felt who knew that the army so condemned was in an ad- 
mirable state a month before. <To whom therefore,' said we, 'is this 
forlorn state due, but to the chief who commands us to do impossibi- 
lities — t.e., to march without shoes and provisions, and in dark winter 
nights?' 

'* For these reasons, notwithstanding aU the praise of his admirers, in- 
cluding William Napier, who had been driUed under him, I have never 
been able to regard Moore as a first-rate general. As a general of division, 
as a disciplinarian, and as a noble type of unblemished character and un- 
flinching courage, he was without a rival. Peace be to his ashes ! and let 
glory be ever associated with the name of the hero who in Egypt contri- 
buted so much to the success of Abercromby, and who, like his gallant 
Scottish countryman, met his death in the arms of victory." 



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i8(k] with sir JOHN MOORE IN SPAIN. 41 

of some attempts to acquire a few words of Spanish. Such 
phrases as were likely to be of service in the march are 
carefully noted. He records how, having now been pro- 
moted to be Lieutenant, he made his first essay in horse- 
dealing, — ^an unfortunate adventure, by which he secured an 
animal whose legs, when seen by daylight, turned out to 
have been all duly pitched below the knee, and whose most 
sprightly movement consisted in rolling himself on the 
ground, his feet in the air, and his rider sprawling in the 
sand beside him, amid the laughter of the regiment. 

From Abrantes to Castello de Vide he notes the broken 
features of the ground, which rises into heights crowned here 
and there with quaint old hill-forts, and sinks into fold after 
fold of cork-forest, with plenteous harbourage for the hairless 
black pig, " the best food in Portugal" Now and then during 
the halts he and a companion would sally out for the inspec- 
tion of castle, forest, village, or town, as might happen. At 
the venerable fortress of Marvao, for example, scattering troops 
of black swine, he climbed up to the fortifications of what 
seemed to be a forgotten tenantless hold, when a challenge 
suddenly came from a ragged sentinel in dingy bro¥m, and 
with a sorely rusted musket, dangerous only to the hands 
that might venture to fire it. The strangers were reported 
to the " Governor," and they found, as the whole garrison, a 
score of men yet more patched than the sentinel, with hardly 
a lock to any one of their guns. 

The 36 th regiment was the first of the division which 
crossed the frontier into Spain. He chronicles in the be- 
haviour of the natives a strong contrast to that of the Por- 
tuguese. Though received with shouts of "Long live the 
English !-— Long live King George 1" he found the people 



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42 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [isos. 

cold and distrustful; and he speaks of the disheartening 
effect upon himself and comrades of the indifference and 
reserve with which the houses on which they were billeted 
were opened to them. 

There was much in this march into the heart of Spain to 
arrest the notice of an observant eye-^the forms of the 
great table-land, with its sierras and river-gorges — the 
antique towns and mouldering ruins going back even into 
Roman times — the ways and manners of the people. Of 
these various features no jottings occur in the journal, save 
only such scanty ones as to show that they were not passed 
wholly without notice. At the Escurial the force halted for 
six days. Many of the officers contrived during this interval 
to see Madrid. Murchison, being somewhat unwell, spent the 
time among the jolly brethren of the great gridiron convent. 
What seems to have made the most lasting impression on 
him were the large flasks of wine hung before the window 
of every cell to ripen for private use. But he retained a 
vivid recollection, too, of the splendours of the art collec- 
tion, then still untouched by French spoliation, and of the 
solemn resting-place of the Kings of Spain. 

It was while waiting at the Escurial for tidings of 
the Spanish forces, with wliich the British were to co- 
operate, that General Hope learned how utterly these forces 
had been routed and dispersed by the French, who, under 
Napoleon in person, were now rapidly approaching the 
capital. At once the route was changed, and by a skilful 
move the British division under Hope was united to the 
main body of the army led by Sir John Moore. In the 
course of this rapid march there occurred at the old Moorish 
city of Avila an incident, of which Murchison gives the 



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1809.] THE RETREAT TO LUGO. 43 

following account: — " Our poor fellows being well tired 
were either asleep or dozing against the walls of the houses, 
when they were roused by a tramping of horses* feet and 
loud clashing of metal, sounding just like a cavalry-charge, 
which caused a few to run for their arms, piled in the middle 
of the dark street, whilst many more made a sauve qui pent 
into the adjacent aUeys. The charge having cleared the 
street, knocking down many a piled musket, our amuse- 
ment was great to find that one old vicious mule, breaking 
away firom the muleteers, had carried with him a troop of 
his associates, who came full gallop clattering down the 
street, tossing our camp-kettles and all their burdens by the 
way. This was the enemy's cavalry that awoke us !** 

Hard winter weather and a continued retreat began to 
tell upon the discipline and the numbers of the British 
troops. On the 6th of Januaiy, on reaching Lugo, Sir John 
Moore issued a general order, beginning, — " Generals and 
commanding officers of corps must be as sensible as the 
Commander-in-Chief of the complete disorganization of the 
army." Lieutenant Murchison, however, could see no signs 
of any such disintegration in the 36th regiment at that time, 
and it was only after the terrible night-marches which suc- 
ceeded the halt at Lugo that his division merited in his eyes 
the severe censure of the Commander- in-Chie£ These toil- 
some nights, with the constant pressure of the French, and 
of even more resistless foes, bitter frost and snow, told, too, 
npon his own strength. On one occasion, after a fruitless 
midnight march against the enemy, who was supposed to be 
advancing to the attack, Murchison, commanding that night 
an outlying picquet, threw himself into a comer of a farmer's 
yard, and soon fell asleep. Day had scarcely broken when 



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44 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [isw. 

the cry of " Picquet, turn out !" roused him firom his rest, 
but not in time to escape the notice of the vigilant Colonel 
Packe, who, however, allowed him to escape with a severe 
reprimand. But after the halt at Lugo, when having vainly 
offered battle to the French, the British army retreated by a 
forced march to Corunna^ the young lieutenant fairly broke 
down. The mule, which had hitherto carried himself or his 
kit, was lost ; his old soldier servant had gone back to seek 
among the snow for his wife and child Of this sad time he 
has preserved the following recollections : — 

•* Never shall I forget the night which followed the 
abandoning of our position in front of Lugo. We marched 
through that city at dusk, and then blew up the bridge 
which was to check for awhile our foe. In darkness, with 
no food, and after sleepless nights, with worn-out shoes, and 
thoroughly disgusted with always running off and not fight- 
ing, this army now fell into utter disorder. Starved as they 
were, the men soon became reckless, and all the regiments 
got mixed together ; in short, the soldiers were desperate, in 
spite of the exertions of the few mounted officers. For my 
own part, I walked on, usually in my sleep, with the grumbling 
and tumultuous mass, until awakened by the loss of my boots 
in one of the numerous deep cuts across the road, which 
were like quagmires, so that with my bare feet I had some 
twenty miles still to march. Many of the soldiers got away 
from the road to right and left. Marching all that dreadful 
night my young frame at last gave way, the more so as I 
was barefoot, cold, and starved, and already the great body 
of troops had got far ahead of me. In short, I was now one 
of a huge arrear of stragglers when day broke, and the little 
hamlet was in sight 



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iswi] NEARLY TAKEN PRISONER 45 

** Seated on a bank on the side of the road, and munching 
a raw turnip which I had gathered firom the a(]yacent field, 
and ju8t as I was feeling that I never could r^ain my r^- 
ment, and must be taken prisoner, a black-eyed drummer of 
the 96th came by from the village, whither the young fellow 
had been to cater. Seeing that I was exhausted, and almost 
as young as himself, and not yet a hardened old soldier, he 
slipped round his canteen, which he had contrived to fill 
with red wine, and gave me a hearty drink. He thus saved 
me from being taken prisoner by the French, who were 
rapidly advancing, and who, if they had had a regiment of 
cavalry in pursuit, might at that moment have taken pri- 
soners, or driven into the mountains, a good third of the 
BritiBh forces. 

" With the draught of wine I trudged on again, and 
came in, at eleven o'clock of the 10th, into the town of 
Betanzos, and rejoined my regiment, which had marched in 
with about fifty men only, with the colours, though ere night 
it was made up to its strength of 600 and odd men. This 
fact alone shows better than a world of other evidence what 
forced night-marches with a starving and retreating army 
must infallibly produce. At Lugo the 36th regiment was 
fit to fight anything--in two days it was a rabble. 

" Happily for me I tumbled into a shoemaker's house. 
His handsome young wife washed my feet with warm water, 
and furnished me with stockings, while her husband came 
to my further aid with shoes. But my swollen feet had no 
time to recover. On the following day the whole army, 
such as it was, passed over the river, blowing up the bridge, 
and taking up its last position. 

" There, remnant as it was, the army formed a respectable 



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46 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [\m. 

line— Corunna within two miles of us, and our fleet ready to 
back us. Provisions and shoes were served out to us, and 
vdth such luxuries the bivouac, even in the month of January, 
was well borne. In truth the army got into comparative 
good spirits, and when on the 15th the French crossed the 
last bridge we had blown up, and were defiling at a respect- 
able distance along our front, we were quite refreshed, and 
ready to repel them. The picquets indeed of our (Hope's) 
division had a sharp encounter on that evening, and when 
looking through the Colonel's glass, I saw Colonel Mackenzie 
of the 5th regiment fall dead from his grey horse, whilst 
leading an attack on two of the enemy's guns. 

** On the 1 6th, just after our frugal repast^ and whilst 
leaning over one of the walls where we lay, my old Colonel 
after looking some time with his glass, suddenly exclaimed 
to me, * Now, my boy, they 're coming on ;' and when I took 
a peep to the hills beyond on the right and south-west, I 
perceived the glitter of columns coming out of a wood. And 
scarcely had the Colonel given the word to fall in, when a 
tremendous fire opened from a battery of seventeen to twenty 
pieces, under cover of which the enemy was rolling down in 
dense columns from the wooded hills upon our poor fellows, 
who were in a hollow with their arms piled, like our 0¥m, 
until they were assaulted. 

" For our cavalry was extinct, as the horses and men, as 
well as most of our artillery, were embarked on the 13th and 
14th ; yet never since Englishmen fought was there a more 
gallant fight than was made by the 4th, 42d, and 50th regi- 
ments (Lord W. Bentinck's brigade), who rushed on with 
the bayonet, and, supported by the Guards, held their own 
against a terrific superiority, until General Paget was ordered 



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1809.] THE BATTLE OF CORUNNA. 47 

to move his brigade towards the enemy's flank, and com- 
pelled them to withdraw — not, however, before poor Moore, 
galloping out from the town, fell, while encouraging the 
troops; and Baird, who marched his division out of the 
town, had lost his arm. My own brigade had much less to 
do, our front line and picquets being alone engaged. 

''As night fell, and after the firing had ceased, the 
enemy having returned to his own ground, we received the 
order to march into Corunna and embark. Our fires were 
left burning to deceive the enemy, and make him believe 
that he must fight us again next morning if he hoped to 
beat us. 

" Silently and regularly we moved on on this our last 
short night-march in the dark tranquil night of the 16th, and 
passing through the gates ifeached the quay. The names of 
our respective transports had previously been explained to 
us, my own being the brig ' Beward,' which I found to be 
from Sunderland. I was on deck as light dawned, and 
then at once saw the danger of the position of this miserable 
little transport, as well as of a dozen or more of the same 
craft They had been foolishly allowed to anchor im- 
mediately under the tongue of high land which forms the 
eastern side of the harbour, and on which there were no land 
defences. Knowing that this ground was only a continua- 
tion of the hilly track on which my division had marched a 
few hours before, and being certain that the French would 
with the peep of day pass over our old bivouac to this pro- 
montory, I at once urged our skipper to get up his anchor 
betimes. But the grog had, I suppose, been strong that 
night He exclaimed, ' Why, I tell you what, the brave High- 
landers are there ; they have not come away like you folks.' 



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48 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK. [1609. 

Scarcely had he spoken when a battery of field-pieces opened 
their fire and sent some balls through our rigging. Turning 
pale as death under the fire of these mere field-pieces, and 
seeing that his crew were ready to run below, he applied the 
axe to the cable, and in a few minutes we were drifting away 
as we best could. The wind being from the east, we were 
fast approaching the rocks on which the Castle of Antonio 
stands, and on which at least five transports similarly 
circumstanced to my own were wrecked, the men being 
saved with difficulty, after losing their arms^ colours, and 
baggaga 

" I have often reflected on the extraordinary want of all 
due arrangement on the part of our Admiral, in command 
of a splendid fleet, who allowed those miserable transports 
to anchor in such a position without placing a frigate or two 
near them to silence the puny battery and prevent the dis- 
may which seized the skippers. 

" Not ' missing stays,' the * Beward ' floated away, and was 
soon going fast before a strong nor'-easter, with the rest of 
the fleet helter-skelter for the CbanneL The retreat from 
Lugo could not be more confused than this flight of ships. 
On the night after our start I was awakened by a strange 
noise, and running on deck found the ship wearing ofi^ 
under a furious storm from amidst white foam and breakers. 
We had just avoided going ashore upon the Dodman — a 
headland of Cornwall — which that very night sent three or 
four of our careless transports to the bottom with their crews, 
and filled with poor soldiers who had escaped firom the 
dangers and privations of the campaign. Such were our 
transports of the old war. We had been saved from this 
disaster solely by the watchfulness of an old grenadier." 



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1809.] GAREISON LIFE AT HOME. 49 

So ended Morcliison's first and last campaign. After the 
lapse of more than half a century spent in peaceful and utterly 
difierent pursuits, and when men had ceased to think of him 
as having tried in any degree the rough ways of war, he 
loved to recall those old Peninsular days. Many a time did 
the recollection of them furnish him with a telling point in 
an after-dinner speech, and give to some of his hearers a 
surprise when they learnt that the speaker whom they had 
known or heard of, perhaps from boyhood, only as a man of 
science, had fought with Wellesley and Moore before the 
year of Waterloo. 

From the end of January 1809 to nearly the end of 
October in the same year, Murchison remained with his 
regiment on home service, continuing to vcuy the routine 
of garrison life by visits to different parts of the country, 
among others to Tarradale, the paternal estate in Soss-shire. 
London, too, lay so temptingly near to Horsham Barracks, 
that he was often to be found with some of his messmates at 
the Old Slaughter's Coffee-house, St Martin's Lane, then a 
favourite military haunt On one of these occasions, escorted 
by his commanding ofBcer, Colonel Bume, he was parading 
Bond Street in the stream of fashionable loungers when Sir 
Arthur Wellesley came up. The hero of Yimieira had for 
the nonce turned his sword into the pen of the Chief 
Secretary for Ireland, and his military uniform into a civilian's 
garb so unique that it remained ever after in the young 
lieutenant's memory : — " Coat double-breasted, with brass 
buttons, buff waistcoat, kerseymere shorts, and brown top- 
boots, leaving a good deal of daylight behind." Becognising 
the Colonel, he stopped. His words not less than his dress 
made one of the reminiscences which Murchison liked most 

VOL.L D 



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90 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isoQ. 

to recall '' Ah, my dear Borne/' said he, '' glad to see you 
once more. One of youryounkers— eh ? Well, things won't 
do as they are, I shall soon be at it again, and then I can't 
do without the 36th/' But though this prophecy came true 
enough, and though doubtless the subaltern went away re- 
joicing in the prospect of again having a chance of distin- 
guishing himself he was not destined to take any part with 
his regiment in the brilliant adventures which ended with 
Waterloo. 

Curiously enough, the very advancement which he had all 
along contemplated as the height of military bliss became 
in the end the ruin of his professional prospects. He now 
attained his ambition, for in the autumn of 1809 he became 
aide-de-camp to his uncle* But the change, though it led 
him abroad, brought him no opportunity of advancing him- 
self in his career. 

Oeneral Mackenzie was then in Sicily, and his nephew 
had orders to join him there. On the 25th of October, 
Qeorge m.'s jubilee, he set saiL As the ^ Salcette' frigate, 
in which he had obtained a berth, slipped round the North 
Foreland and down the Channel, the shores of Kent 
from headland to headland, and from tower to tower, 
blazed with cannon, while a great fleet fronting the coast-line 
answered with one long flame of fire from ship to ship, as if 
to show not merely loyalty to the old King, but a front of 
defiance to be seen and understood by Napoleon on the 
other side of the strait 

life abroad wore now a pleasanter aspect than it had done 
for him in the Peninsula^ '' At Messina^" he says, ^' I was 
soon set up as my imcle's aide-de-camp in a house of my 
own, with two horses, and little to do except make love and 



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moql] garrison life IN SICILY. 51 

ride in the cool of the evening with my general" As one 
of his duties he had to copy an of&cial correspondence be- 
tween his nnde and the agents of the Neapolitan Govern- 
ment, and thereby had an early opportnnity of learning some* 
thing of the duplicity and broken fiedth with which the 
British in Sicily had to deal Another correspondence also 
copied out by him was one with Admiral CoUingwood, then 
in command of the Mediterranean squadron, whose de- 
spatches were pointed out to him by his uncle as 
models for imitation, 

A lull had come in the warlike operations in Italy. The 
hostile forces, looking at each other across the narrow Strait 
of Messina^ contented themselves with a wearisome and 
profitless gun-boat bombardment Murat came down into 
Calabria^ and threats were given out that he would invade 
Sicily and call on the people to rise against the hated 
Bourbon ; but as no such move was made, the bombardment 
went on. 

This uninteresting duel was once enlivened by an inci- 
dent worthy of an older time. A flag of truce came sailing 
across fix)m the French lines, and keen grew the interest on 
the Sicilian side to learn what new turn affairs had taken. 
Still greater, however, was the astonishment of everybody 
when the French of&cer, disembarking with a package under 
his arm, made known his mission thus : — '' Le Boi mon 
mattre ayant appris que son bon ami le Q^n^ral Mackenzie 
se trouve en fiEtce, desire renouveler leur amiti^, et lui envoye 
quelques livres de bon tabac de Paris !" 

It turned out that some years before, Mackenzie had 
obtained leave of absence to go fix)m Minorca to visit Bome. 
While he was in the imperial city, the French army under 



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52 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isoft. 

Murat suddenly appeared. The young British brigadier re- 
solved not to flee, like most of his fellow-countrymen, but 
to trust to the effects of a bold bearing upon the generous 
and susceptible mind of Murat On the evening of the 
French entiy into Bome, a Princess, with whom Mackenzie 
was acquainted, gave a grand ball, at which he was an- 
nounced in foU uniform as " The English (TeneraL** Taking 
no notice of the French officers, who looked at each other 
in astonishment, he saluted the hostess, and had entered into 
conversation with her, when at last Murat, recovering fix>m 
his surprise, tapped him on the shoulder, and begged for 
some explanation. Mackenzie easily satisfied him that he 
was what he pretended to be, — a yoang British officer, ** fond 
of pictures, pretty women, and amusement; and that as he 
was simply amusing himself and learning Italian, he thought 
he had better trust to the generosity of a brave General-in- 
Chief than be captured by troops and treated as a spy." 
Murat not only granted him leave to stay in Bome, but 
gave him a passport to travel where he pleased, and formed 
a friendship which was now renewed even in the midst of 
actual war. 

As a further reminiscence of this friendship, his nephew 
writes, — *' When the General [Mackenzie] visited Paris at 
the peace of Amiens, he found in Murat a most useful and 
kind Mend, who presented him to the First Consul, with 
whom he dined. It was my uncle's habit to eat slowly, 
and in short to dine like a gentleman, in conversing with 
his neighbours. Massena, who was next him, said,T- 
' D^p^hez-vous, mon G^n^ral — le diner sera bientdt fini et 
vous n'aurez rien k manger.' Such was Bonaparte's rapid 
and voracious mode of feeding (no wonder he died of a 



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1809.] GARRISON LIFE IN SICILY. 58 

cancer in his stomach l), that before my worthy unde had 
eaten the second dish, Napoleon was trotting by him, fol- 
lowed by all his clattering suite, to have coffee in the next 
room of the Toileriea" 

Although actual warfore was going on within sight of 
Messina^ our young aide-de-camp began again to complain 
of monotony. He took pains to acquire some knowledge of 
Italian, and, what may surprise those who knew him only 
late in life, had lessons in singing. Of professional work 
there would seem to have been but little for him to do ; 
hence the arrival of a stranger, who needed to be taken 
round the outskirts of Messina^ was no doubt a welcome 
excitement His journals contain jottings of such short 
excursions, parties, and other gossip. The only incident 
beyond the usual routine relates to an English lady, one of 
the beauties of the place, who, however, had the misfortune 
to be extremely stout : — " One day at the table of the Com- 
mander-in-Chief, the captain of a Turkish frigate being 
seated opposite to F — , was so lost in admiration of her 
that D — and myself, who were sitting on either side of 
him, asked him how much he would pay for her, and he 
instantly replied, with sparkling eyes, 'Fifty brass cannon,' 
— in other words, his frigate's worth." 

General Mackenzie's health now required his return to 
England, and our aide-de-camp was soon related once 
more to home life. The journey homeward proved more 
circuitous and prolonged, as well as somewhat more event- 
ful, than the voyage out had been. They had berths on 
board a " miserable little packet, with some six pop-guns," 
and their route lay by Malta and Cagliari to Gibraltar. Off 
the coast of Sicily they ran a narrow chance of being sunk 



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64 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [i8Q9. 

by an Algerine squadron, the Algerines being then at war 
with the Sicilians. At Cagliari they beheld his Sardinian 
Majesty drawn down one of the steep streets of the place in a 
rickety coach by four black long-tailed horses. Ten days 
passed pleasantly away at Gibraltar, enlivened by an excursion 
into the hills of Bonda> in the wake of the retreating French, 
with the risk of being taken prisoners by them, or of being 
shot as Frenchmen by the guerillaa At Cadiz he made 
fresh acquaintances, witnessed a little further warfEtre in the 
attack and defence of Fort Matagorda^ and enjoyed for a fort- 
night the evening stroll on the Alameda. The packet direct 
from Constantinople to England took him finally home. 



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CHAPTEE IV. 

HILITABT LIFE AT HOHB. 

The military career of lieutenant Murchison had now 
come wholly to depend for its shaping upon that of lieub- 
General Mackenzie. As the latter on his return home wias 
appointed to command in the north of Ireland, his prospects 
of fatore advancement suffered hopeless ruin, and with them 
went those of his young aide-de-camp. Both aspirants for 
distinction were doomed to inaction at home just as Wel- 
lington was beginning his brilliant successes in the Penin- 
sula, and they remained here through those eventful years — 
1811 to 1814 — during which the British army established 
its prestige on the continent of Europe. 

With this forced inaction Murchison used to connect an 
incident illustrative of one phase of the society of England 
at the tima General Mackenzie had been a £Bivoimte with the 
Prince Begent, and continued to be so until one fatal night 
after his return firom Sicily. The story is thus told by his 
nephew : — "My uncle was in the pit of the Opera when Sir 
A Murray, the gentleman-usher of the Princess of Wales, 
came down to him fix>m her box and conveyed the flattering 



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56 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80K [mi. 

message that her Boyal Highness wished to see him. Hesi- 
tating for a moment^ for he well knew how the Prince hated 
her, he unfortunately assented, in the belief that no one 
could refuse a royal command. Of course, the Princess 
having got one of the Prince's clique, and a handsome 
feUow, in hand, made the most of her conquest, not only by 
parading him in front of the box, but also by taking him 
home to sup with her. The late Lord Hertford, who was 
the constant gossip of the Prince, went at the usual hour 
next morning, and whilst H!. R H. was shaving said, — 
'Well, Sir, strange things come to pass. Mac was 
with the Princess in her box last night, and went home 
with her to supper.' The razor fell from the royal hand, 
and at once he took a dislike to my uncle, who never saw 
him afterwards. But to soften his fall the Grand Cross of 
the Hanoverian Order was sent to him, the Prince saying, 
' Mac is a handsome fellow, and will look well in it' " 

On his return from Messina, Murchison had again to 
betake himself to dull barrack-duty at Horsham with the 
second battalion of the 36th regiment, to which he belonged. 
He had not yet discovered any form of mental occupation 
which might serve to make even that monotonous sort of 
life not unprofitable. On his own confisssion, he gave him- 
sdf up to walking feats, lessons in pugilism, horses, and the 
other pursuits with which a young military dandy contrives 
to fill up his time. In the midst of this aimless life he 
gladly obeyed a summons from his imcle to join him as 
aide-de-camp in the north of Ireland, where the General 
had been appointed to the command of a division. 

Everything at first promised well in this new sphere of 
action. But when he had furly settled down in his quarters 



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181L] GABRISOir LIFE IN IRELAND. 67 

ia the town of Armagh, the aide-de-camp found them even 
more intolerably dull than Horsham, with a vastly greater 
distance from anything like the pleasures of society. His 
companion at this time, the Comte de Clermont, a young 
French 4migrS, holding the rank of captain in our service, 
had been appointed by General Mackenzie to be aide- 
de-camp with Murchison. With every disposition to be 
amused, the two young men found it no easy task to keep 
themselves in good humour in Armagh. Having no kind 
of military duty to perform, they spent their mornings in 
hare-hunting with slow beagles. During the day they were 
often to be found at a neighbouring rectory, drawn partly 
by the whimsicality of the jolly parson, and partly by the 
charms of his young ladies, among whom each of them con- 
trived to fall deeply in love. From the rector^s humour and 
Miss B — ^"s attractions the change to the dull lonely evenings 
at Armagh was no doubt intolerable. Now and then a tea- 
party came off in their honour. When that form of excite- 
ment failed they had the chance of a game at tric-trac with 
ttie (General, who however would dismiss them at nine 
o'clock to their lodging over a bootmakei^s shop.^ 

In his journal of this period there occur allusions to the 
Cathedral Library, but he appears to have made little use of 
it^ his chief mental exertions having been given to the dis- 
cipline of his stable and the doctoring of his horses. Such 
reading as he accomplished seems to have consisted of 

* An Muasiiig glimpsa into this Armagh life is fumished by the 
remark of a French oook wh<»n the General had taken oyer to Ireland 
with him, and whose diagnst with the want of resonroes for his art, and 
the intolerably pongent peat-smoke, found rent at last in the following 
words, dnly chronided by the oephew : — " Cest arec infiniment de regret, 
M.leQ^n^ral,qiie jeTOosquitte: mais en ▼(rit^ si je rests ioi je perdrai 
et ma reputation et ma Yue." 



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58 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [vsa. 

Shakespeare and any sensational form of literature wliich 
came to hand. 

At this time of his life Mnrchison was simply one of 
those numerous yoimg men who, finding in the routine of 
their military duty occupation for but a small portion of the 
day, and having little inclination for pursuits requiring any 
degree of thought, yet happy in the possession of excellent 
health, strong bodies, and good spirits, need to get an outlet 
somehow for their superfluous energy. Nor does he seem 
to have been more fieistidious than others in his choice as to 
the direction in which that outlet was to be sought — ^feats 
of pedestrianism, hunting, or horsemanship offered a ready 
relief firom the tedium of military idleness. 

Now and again he obtained leave to go to England, and 
on these occasions, when not following the hounds in the 
northern counties, he was usually to be seen dressed in the 
height of fashion and airing himself on the promenades of 
London. For he had now managed to pick up expensive 
tastes, and indulged in an extravagance which brought him 
a series of earnest expostulations both firom his guardian and 
his uncle. .On his own confession he spent treble and 
quadruple his allowance, and looked forward to his majority 
as an event which would enable him to gratify even more 
freely his fondness for display. He even talked of selling 
the patrimony in Boss-shire so soon as it came into his pos- 
session-^a purpose which his guardian contemplated with 
horror as a frustration of the design of Dr. Murchison, who 
had purchased the property as an investment for the &mily, 
and who held that a small freehold estate gives a man a 
better position in the country than treble its value in the 
bank. Murchison of Tarradale would have a voice in his 
county, Murchison of the funds could have none. 



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iMi] COMING OF AQE. 59 

In the midst of this purposeless extravagance it is plea- 
sant to find a glimpse of better tilings. On the 27th of 
January 1812, Captain Murchison became a Member of the 
Bojal Institution, where he attended the lectures of Sir 
Humphry Davy. No notice of this part of his London 
doings, however, occurs in his journals. 

At last the long-wished-for 19th February 1813 arrived, 
and the young laird came of aga His guardian had urged 
him to go north, see the property with his mature eyes, 
and judge for himself whether he would act wisely in parting 
with it. He now resolved to follow this advice. In those 
days it was common to make the journey into Scotland on 
horseback, or to post in one's carriage. Young Tarradale 
combined the two kinds of locomotion, for he converted 
his tall hunter " Buckran " into a buggy horse, and with his 
groom " started ofT steadily in his high green dog-cart'" 
After a short stay in Edinburgh he took the old Highland 
road, and had reached Blair-Athol by the last day in March. 
Nelt morning a loud thumping at his bedroom door, and 
the voice of his Yorkshire groom — *' Sir, I canna get in to 
Buckran ; the snaw 's blocked oop t^ way to steable," brought 
before him in a way not to be forgotten one of the risks of 
Highland travelling in the old daya Half a century after- 
wards he was again driving with the writer of these lines 
along the same road, and recalled the picture of his escape 
how after incredible labours, and with a strong gillie or two at 
each wheel, he managed to reach the little wayside inn of 
Dalnacardoch ; how the stage-coach, trying to follow them 
late in the day, was capsized over the bank of the Garry, 
and the driver, guard, and passengers, after trudging for some 
miles through the snow, arrived with nightfall at his inn ; 



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60 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [isia. 

how next day, leaving Buckran and the groom snowed up at 
Dalnacardoch, and taking only a small supply of raiment 
with him, he and the other passengers toiled from break£ast- 
time to sunset through that most formidable of the Highland 
passes — the defile of Drumouchter ; how one of the 
pedestrians, a sturdy sheep-farmer, would sometimes come 
to the help of two young schod-girls who were of the party, 
lifting one in each arm through the heaviest drifts as if they 
had been a couple of sheep ; how, after reaching and resting 
at Dalwhinnie, they made their way finally to Inverness on 
a snow-carriage; and how Buckran and the dog-cart did 
not turn up for nearly a fortnight after. 

Inverness now became for a short while his headquarters. 
There, as he writes, he had " long proses " with the Provost 
of the town, who was factor for the Tarradale estate. He 
went over the property, and ** tasted" its soil with worthy 
Provost Brown of Elgin, who pronounced it to be " good and 
sharp.** like other Highland estates of the day, the land 
was miserably femned. We can picture the young laird, 
mounted on Buckran, and riding among the wretched hovels 
of his crofters. little about the place itself, save that it 
was his own birthplace and his fetther^s choice, offered any 
opposition to the design he had half-formed of selling the 
estate. In his journal the following passage occurs : ** When 
the whole of the poor little tenants came round me and said 
they would willingly pay any rent which their interpreter 
into English, Bory M'Lennan, said 'so just a man as 
the Provost would award/ I could not find it in my heart 
to turn them adrift, though I knew them to be wretchedly 
bad farmers, who hitherto had only paid their rents through 
illicit distillation of whisky.** Whether it was prompted by 



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IMS.] TARRADALE RENTS. 61 

mere good-nature or by yoathfol impatience, this hasty 
letting of the estate in the old way to poor crofters proved 
in the end to be as bad a piece of policy as the young laird's 
unde, General Mackenzie, declared it to be when he heard 
what had been dona In a few years the rents got more and 
more into arrears, until the estate was gladly sold oft 

Near to Tarradale lay the lands of Ferrintosh, the property 
of Forbes of Oulloden, to whom and his heirs, in considera- 
tion of services rendered and losses sustained at the time of 
the Bevolution, had been granted the perpetual right of 
making and selling whisky at Ferrintosh, duty free. The 
temptation offered by such a traffic was too great to be resisted 
by the tenantry of the other estates in the neighbourhood, 
who readily found a sale in Fenintosh for the whisky they 
had privately distilled in their cabins or in lonely hollows of 
the moors. As a consequence of such extensive evasions of 
the Customs, it became at last necessary to abolish the 
privil^es granted to Ferrintosh, the sum of £21,500 being 
voted by Parliament in 1784 by way of compensation. But 
no Act of Parliament could readily change habits which 
entered so largely into the life of the peasantry of that iox 
Boss-shire region. And so tiie young laird of Tarradale had 
to wink at the distillation, and pocket his rents, or at least 
such proportion of them as he could secure. 

Two Parliamentary elections occurred while he was at 
Inverness, one of them for his own county of Boss-shire, 
in which he took part on the side of the Tory candidate. He 
notes that at one of the election dinners he had the old chief 
of Glengany opposite to him. " I saw," he writes, " that he 
several times fixed me with his fierce grey eyes and bushy 
eyebrows, and when the dinner was a little advanced, he put 



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62 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [vsa. 

his hand across the table, and leaning over said loudly to 
me, 'Ye 're welcome, sir, to the land of your fathers ; may 
you never desert nor forget it,' giving me a Highland grip 
I can never forget" 

We may believe that a relative of Donald Murchison 
would not fail to receive a hearty welcome. Most of his 
time, indeed, during this visit to his native district, seems 
to have been passed in the enjoyment of the hospitalities 
of his fijenda and acquaintances — ^fishing, shooting, and 
hunting, and abundant festivity. 

While amid such desultory employments and amusements 
time had been creeping onward with Murchison in Ireland, 
in London or elsewhere in England, and now in Scotland, 
events of world-wide importance had been shaping them- 
selves in the Peninsula. Step by step Wellington had 
driven the French armies out of that part of Europe; 
Napoleon's prestige had fallen, and at last came his abdi- 
cation and retreat to Elba. Our young military aspirant 
says of himself that he was '' for ever bewailing his £Eite at 
not being at his real work in the Peninsula." The cam- 
paign, however, had ended without his ever having had a 
call into active service, and now on the peace of 1814 he 
saw the final blow to all his hopes of military fame. As 
his uncle threw up his Staff appointment, he himself 
became a captain of the 36th on half-pay, his battalion 
having been promptly reduced. London became again his 
headquarters. 

Of this part of his life the following notice occurs in his 
journal : — "* In 18U I was in London, living gaily at Long^s . 
hotel with a set of young dandies, dining now and then with 
Alexander Woodford of the Guards, at St James's Palace, 



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1814.] LONDON IN 1814. 63 

when the announcement of the airival of the foreign 
Soyereigns (Russia and Prussia) set all the metropolis in a 
fennent I galloped out with maiiy others to Shooter^s Hill 
to see the Emperor Alexander in his little droschke, with 
his bearded Russ on the box, and certes, though there was 
no state reception, he was heartily cheered, escorted by a 
joyous cavalcade of well-mounted English gentlemen. 

''It being announced that the Begent would visit the 
Opera accompanied by his imperial and royal guests, every 
cranny was bespoke, and I got a good central post in the 
pit ; for in those days there were no stalls (and no shopboys 
and tradesmen ever went to the pit then). The reception of 
their Majesties was of course most enthusiastia They were 
reaUy welcomed as our liberators firom Gallic tyranny. 

''Suddenly there arose a sort of semi-applause, followed 
by murmurs, with some disturbance. It was the Princess of 
Wales, who had just entered a box directly facing that of 
the Begent, and, as if she came to defy him and tiy her own 
strength, she came forward in her hat and feathers to show 
herselC A few cries were got up for her, amidst loud mur- 
muring at this unseemly attempt to disturb unanimity on 
such an occasion. 

"Then it was that the Begent, on whose countenance I 
had my eye fixed, rose, and taking the Emperor and King 
on his right and left hands, advanced gracefully to the fix>nt 
of the royal box, tiie three personages bowing three times to 
the audience. The appeal was electric : the roar of applause 
lasted for minutes, and the Princess was so discomfited that 
she no more showed in the front of her box during the 
evening, and retired soon to her pdU sowper and her 
clique." 



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64 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [i8i4. 

In the crowd of English travelleis who eagerly availed 
themselves of the reopening of the Continent, Murchison 
found his way to Paris in the beginning of November 1814. 
He remained there for some weeks, which he employed with 
the most laudable assiduity in trying to make himself as 
French as he could. He dined and spent much of his time 
in a pension where no English was spoken, took lessons in 
dancing firom one of the leading teachers, frequented the 
theatres, passed many an hour over the pictures in the 
Louvre (for he was now beginning to aspire to be a connois- 
seur in art), was presented at Court, and in company with 
his old Mend and fellow-aide-de-camp De Clermont, who 
had returned to Paris with the Sestoration, saw everybody 
and everything which had any interest for " a young man 
about town.** There occur among his memoranda notices of 
the actors and the acting at some of the theatres. ^ I could 
not," he says, " qidte get over the solemnity and monotony 
of the French rhythm at the Th^tre Fran^ais, where I went, 
book in hand, to hear Talma in Comeille's ' Cinna^' supported, 
as he was, by Madlle. de Hancour and by Georges. It was 
gratifying, however, to see how he first broke the sing-song 
by his imitation of Kemble and the English style by ejacu- 
lations and stops in the middle of some of the long lines of 
Bacine. 

" The best actor of high comedy I ever saw was Fleury. 
Having been taught before the Bevolution, he was every inch 
a gentleman, and his countrymen of good taste said despond- 
ingly of him, ' C'est le dernier des Fran^ais qui sait porter 
Wp^e.' "When I saw how vulgarly most of the other actors 
of the revolutionary breed dressed and acted, carrying their 
swords like butchers' knives, I felt the truth of the aphorism." 



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1814-15.] IN FRANCE IN 1814-15. 65 

His mother was then living at Tours, and Murchison paid 
her a visit there. His chief companion there seems to have 
been Francis Hare (elder brother of Augustus and Julius), 
whose versatility and dash captivated him, and with whom he 
made excursions. Among other places, they visited together 
Poitiers, where Hare introduced him to Walter Savage Landor, 
then resident at that place. " Landor lived at the summit of 
a large central tower, which overlooked the whole city, and 
there we found the impetuous but warm-hearted philosopher 
ensconced in a library filled with all the most curious old 
French works, Babelais being his special favourite. He and 
Hare held a disputation on Louis the Eleventh and. his 
doings, as we looked down upon the remnants of the palace 
of that craftiest of all the French kings." 

In such pursuits the last weeks of 1814 and the first two 
months of the following year passed away, until at the b^in- 
ning of March he found himself again in Paris on his home- 
ward journey. The morning after his arrival, his Swiss 
servant roused him with the momentous tidings, '^ Napoleon 
has landed in France !" The following narrative of this part of 
his experience is given by himself : — " To jump up, hurry 
on my clothes, rush out to the Caf^, already full of anxious 
and inquiring faces, was my first movement ; then to read 
the morning papers, most of them trying to make light of 
the affair, and saying it would be all soon put down. Next 
came reports that he had capitulated ; then that he was ad- 
vancing to Grenobla Bight and left the English now were 
eyed inimically in the streets, low and vulgar officers elbowed 
you, and things became mightily unpleasant in the course 
of that day. On the following day, when more news had 
arrived, hopes were up, — ^the garrison at Grenoble had re- 

VOL. I. E 



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66 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isu-ie. 

sisted, and Napoleon's cause was lost ; then a camp was to 
be fonned at Melun^ and the Due de Beni was to command 
it ; the Mar&hal Ney having sworn fidelity to Louis xvm. 
This last, which was true, seemed the best chance, for Ney 
was beloved by the soldiers. Then followed a review of all 
the royal guards and regiments in Paris, 10,000 or 12,000 
men, in the Carrousel in front of the balcony of the Tuileries, 
in which the fat old Louis waddled out in his velvet boots to 
be saluted by the loyal troops. 

"I attended on that occasion, and never saw such a 
farce. The soldiers of the line surrounding the National 
Guards were all cracking jokes with each other ; and though 
they still wore the white cockade, they were evidently all 
dying to mount the tricolor.** 

He went to see his Mend at Court, the young Comte de 
Clermont, and found him fully aware of the fact that the 
army would not stand by the King, and that resistance was 
therefore hopeless. Evidently Paris was no longer a desir- 
able domicile for an English officer. De Clermont advised 
him to leave at once. The English visitors were already in 
rapid flight thronging the usual road to Calais, and hiring 
every available conveyance that would take them to the 
coast. Captain Murchison rightly conjectured that by mak- 
ing a detour by way of B^thune and St Omer, he would 
have some chance of securing post-horses, and reaching 
Calais. Not without some risk, however, could English 
travellers make their way along the roads of France at that 
time. Coming out of B^thune he met the head of an in- 
fantry regiment which, from the narrowness of the roadway, 
had to pass the carriage in single file. '' ' Que sont ces 
Messieurs,' they cried out; 'Ce sont des d'Anglais. 



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18U-15.] BECOMES CAPTAIN OF DRAGOONS. 67 

Allons, renversez les it la baionette/ Drunken as they 
were, and all in the greatest excitement, they had raised the 
wheels, and were actually about to trundle us over into the 
ditch of the fortress, and were unharnessing the horses, just 
as the adjutant rode up and applied a thick cane to their 
shoulders, and rescued us. We afterwards met with others 
of these soldiers in detached parties, and in complete dis- 
order, but we kept dose shut up in our machine. At Arras 
the captain of the guard sulkily let us pass the gates after 
looking at our passports, saying, ' £t bien, je n'ai jpas encore 
leqn des ordres.' '* 

The war-clouds having once more spread over Europe, 
there seemed now again some hope of obtaining active mili- 
tary service, and gaining coveted promotion. So the half- 
pay captain of infantiy determined at once to enter one of 
the cavalry r^ments which were to take part in the im- 
pending Belgian campaign. In doing so, however, he acted 
without the advice and indeed against the wishes of his 
nnde. General Mackenzie, who, vexed at this want of con-^ 
fidence, wrote to his mother that he considered the entering 
into the cavaliy as a '^ measure full of the most stupid foUy." 
Notwithstanding this protest, the exchange was made, Mur- 
chison joined the Enniskillen Dragoons, and seems now to 
have looked forward with tolerable confidence to a chance 
of distinguishing himsel£ But even though he had the 
promise of employment from the Colonel, who was his per- 
sonal friend, he was once more fated to disappointment, and 
the predictions of his unde proved too true. Six troops only 
were ordered out, and every one of the service captains in- 
sisting on going ; he had no alternative but to equip himself 
with uniform and horses, and repair to the depot at Ipswich« 



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68 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON, [1815. 

Events crowded rapidly upon each other during the 
hundred days, — ligny, Quatre Bras, and, lastly, Waterloo. 
Then fell Murchison's hopes of an active military career. 
The war was at an end Europe had now been so worn out 
with fighting that no new campaign was likely to' take 
shape for many a long year to come ; and, in the meanwhile, 
he had no brighter prospect than the mnui of half-pay. 

He was now, however, nearing the event which, in the 
end, proved the turning-point of his career. His mother, 
like other English residents in France, had deemed it pru- 
dent to quit that country after Napoleon's return, and had 
settled for a little at Ryde, in the Isle of Wight. Thither 
her son went to visit her, and there, through the introduc- 
tion of Miss Maria Porter, he made the acquaintance of 
Greneral and Mrs. Hugonin of Nursted House, Hampshire, 
and their daughter Charlotte. This young lady was, to use 
his own words, " attractive, piquante, clever, highly edu- 
cated, and about three years my senior." He first met her 
early in the summer of 1815, and, on the 29th of the 
following August, in the romantic little church of Buriton, 
in Hampshire, they were married. 

Want of success in the military life had disposed Cap- 
tain Murchison to look on that career with less enthusiastic 
feelings than those of earlier years. He had even gone so 
far as to think of retiring from the army ; and now this 
half-formed intention received a stimulus from two sources. 
His wife, herself the daughter of a soldier, had experienced 
some of the discomforts of a soldier's life, and discerning in 
her husband qualities of a higher kind than would be likely 
to be called out by the routine of barrack-duty, seconded 
his own inclinations. But perhaps the more immediate 



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181&] RETIRES FROM THE ARMY. 69 

cause of his final detennination was an order to join his 
regiment at Bomford barracks. To take his bride there, 
that she might share the dulness with which his experience 
at Horsham and Armagh had made him only too familiar, was 
a most distasteful prospect ; so at last he made up his mind 
and sent in his resignation. His commanding officer re- 
monstrated with him, but in vain. He stuck to his purpose. 
After eight years' service he finally retired from the army 
and gave up all those visions of military glory which filled 
his whole soul in the old Marlow day& 

It is evident that> up to this period of his life, Murchison 
had not in any way given promise of future distinction. He 
would have been noted as merely one of the gentlemanly, 
intelligent, but by no means brilliant young officers, so 
plentiful in the British army. To one who judged him 
merely by externals, he would undoubtedly have seemed 
little else than a military fop, and he used in later years to 
confess that such an estimate would have been tolerably 
trua The circumstances which were to call out his special 
qualities of excellence had not yet arisen. Full of health 
and bodily activity, he had from the beginning looked on 
the military profession rather as an outlet for that part of 
his nature than as a career requiring any special mental 
training. In those days, indeed, professional study was not 
much in fashion in the army. After quitting Marlow he 
does not appear to have given himself in any degree to 
acquiring further knowledge of the principles of the art of 
war. In his journals there can be found no trace of pro- 
fessional study, nor indeed of solid reading of any kind. 
His leisure, which must often have hung heavily on his 
hands, was spent, as we have seen, in active field-sports, in 



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70 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [wis. 

feats of bodily exercise, or in gratifying that love of display 
which led him into culpable extravagance ; so that when he 
quitted the army, there was little to look back upon with 
unmingled satisfaction in that introductoiy part of his career. 
He had entered the service with high hopes of distinction, 
but by a series of unfortunate circumstances, and through no 
fault of his own, he had been grievously disappointeA The 
war had now come to an end, and with it went his visions 
of rising to distinction in a campaign. He had not qualified 
himself for distinction in any other way, and we can well 
imagine how he should have turned aside at last almost 
with repugnance from a career which at the beginning 
seemed to promise all that he most desired. 

Hitherto he had lived at his own free wilL From this 
time he came under the influence of a thoughtful, cultivated, 
and affectionate woman. Quietly and imperceptibly that 
influence grew, leading him with true womanly tact into a 
sphere of exertion where his uncommon powers might find 
full scope. To his wife he owed his fame, as he never failed 
gratefully to record, but years had to pass before her guidance 
had accomplished what she had set before her as her aim. 

The wedding over, Murchison took his bride north to 
show her the Scottish Highlands, and to visit his friends 
and relatives there. Of course he did not fail to lead her 
over the paternal acres of Tarradale, and show her some of 
the scenes where his ancestors had distinguished themselves. 
Among other houses they visited that of an old lady, a 
grand-aunt of his, who had intended leaving her estate to 
him or his brother Kenneth, but unfortunately for him, as 
she confided to his young wife, " he had too much of the 
Baillies about him," his grandmother having been a Baillie ; 



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1815.] PROPOSES TO ENTER THE CHURCH. 71 

and 80 the estate, which would have been a welcome addi- 
tion to the badly paid rents of Tarradale, passed into other 
hands. Late in October, and in a storm of snow, they 
migrated southwards again. 

Having given up one fixed employment the retired cap- 
tain of dragoons began to look about for another. It will 
hardly be believed by those who only knew him in his later 
years that he now seriously thought of becoming a clergj'- 
man. In this proposal, as in his choice of a military pro- 
fession, it seems to have been mainly his love of bodily 
activity and open-air exercise which swayed him. He says 
of himself, — " I saw that my wife had been brought up to 
look after the poor, was a good botanist, enjoyed a garden 
and liked tranquillity ; and as parsons then enjoyed a little 
hunting, shooting,and fishing without being railed at,I thought 
that I might slide into that sort of comfortable domestic 
life." Among the letters which he preserved there occurs 
one from a friend whom he had asked to make inquiries for 
him, and who went into the question in the most earnest 
and business-like manner. This correspondent urges the 
necessity of getting a Greek Lexicon, and suggests the 
name of a clergyman who might be of service in helping the 
aspirant for holy orders to read the Greek Testament So 
earnest is he about the Lexicon and other heavy tomes, that 
he insists upon Murchison's having them conveyed separately 
if he could find no room for them in the carriage with 
which he proposed to make a journey to Switzerland.^ 

* The gravity with which the question was viewed may be gathered 
from one or two sentences taken from this letter : — " In consequence of 
the peace we may expect ao irruption of officers into the Church, which 
may produce an additional strictDess of regulation. I am not aware in 
what time a degree may be taken at Cambridge ; any Cambridge man 



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72 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [wis. 

Fortunately for himself and his possible parishioners this 
notion soon died away. Butwhile still undecided about enter- 
ing the Church he resolved in the meantime to see a little of 
the world with his wife. The winter was accordingly passed 
at Nursted House, in diligent preparation for a long and 
leisurely tour on the Continent He had already attained 
considerable proficiency in French. As the tour was to be 
extended into Italy, he now set diligently to work to acquire 
further knowledge of Italian, and to read a quantity of litera- 
ture treating of the scenery and history of Italy. Probably 
this was the most industrious winter he had yet spent ; for 
he had now a definite incentive to work, besides the example 
and co-operation of his wife. A day now and then with the 
Hambledon fox-hounds, or old Tom Barham's beagles at 
Petersfield, or with his gun and his father-in-law at home, 
kept him fiom suffering from such an unwonted application 
to books. 

would tell yon. The examiDation is almost nothing. Not so at Oxford, 
where the whole system would present to you considerable difficulty." 
*' Surely as you are so well known in Ireland you might find a favourable 
bishop in that country, and the journey would be the work of a fortnight. 
At any rate, pray do not giye up your exoeUent plans, dSgoiUt.*^ *' I will in 
your absence, without mentioning your name, make every inquiry I can. 
The stability and weU-being of our Church depends so much upon the 
respectability and fitness of its ministers that we can only quarrel with 
those forms and preliminaries to ordination when they come in competi. 
tion with our own favourite wishes '' 1 

In a note-book of 1815 there occurs a most formidable list of books which 
it seems Murchison had jotted down with the intention of using them in his 
proposed clerical education. They are in Greek, Latin, French, Italian, 
and English, and with his characteristic methodical habits he has classi- 
fied them under various heads, as " Religion," ** Eloquence," " History," 
<' Belles-Lettres," etc etc. 



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CHAPTER V. 



ITALY AND ART. 



With the proposal of a country parson's lot still undecided, 
and indeed with no settled plans for the future, Mr. and Mrs. 
Murchison had determined in the meantime to spend a year 
or two abroad. This resolution had been, in some measure, 
forced upon them by the state of their finances. The Tarra- 
dale rents, never very well paid, even at the best, had almost 
ceased to yield any income, and times were so bad that the 
tenantry petitioned for alleviation. His revenue from other 
sources was not great, certainly not enough to enable the 
young laird and his wife to live comfortably in England, 
It was suflBcient, however, to permit them to enjoy comfort, 
and even el^ance, in Italy. So that, until some decision 
had been come to r^arding the fate of the Highland pro- 
perty, a sojourn on the Continent was deemed absolutely 
necessary. 

This enforced exile, however, proved in the end emi- 
nently advantageous in other than a pecuniary sense, Mrs. 
Murchison had shrewdly discerned her husband's true nature 
and the way in which it should be developed. She saw that 



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74 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isic. 

with his tastes and habits he would be far less likely to 
break ofiP from a useless kind of life at home than if placed 
amidst a totally new set of pursuits and acquaintances 
abroad And thus the continental sojourn was planned 
and the notes of travel were prepsired that the foreign 
sceneiy and associations should act as powerfully as possible 
on his mind. It was a sagacious experiment, and it suc- 
ceeded. In this chapter we have to trace how it was carried 
out. Its fruits will appear in later pages. 

On Good Friday 1816 the young pair sailed from Dover, 
and taking with them their own carriage, posted by easy 
stages from Calais to Paris. About a year had elapsed 
since the hurried flight from that capital noticed in the 
preceding chapter, and now the masons were found to be 
busy on scaflfolds removing the letter N from the public 
buildings. On that previous visit Murchison had made 
himself tolerably familiar with the contents of the Louvre^ 
then enriched with the spoils of Europe; and his first 
object now was to see how the galleries looked after having 
been made to yield back their treasures to the rightful 
owners. He was " astonished to observe how rapidly the 
vacant places had been filled up, and not unfrequently by 
good old Italian pictures, which had also been stolen, but 
which not having been exposed in the Great Gallery were 
not known to exist in France." 

During a most systematic tour of the sights of Paris he 
attended a meeting of the Academy (which many years later 
was to enrol him among its foreign members), and saw Cuvier 
for the first time, who declaimed upon the influence of the 
sciences on the common occupations of man, and upon the 
leading share which France had taken in promoting this 



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1816.] GENEVA SUNDAYS. 76 

influence — a share which would have been yet greater 
had it not been thwarted by the perfde poliMque of 
England. 

From Paris they journeyed in the same leisurely way 
by Dijon to Geneva. Though Murchison had as yet shown 
no special interest in science^ he now began to make the 
acquaintance of scientific men in the places he visited, and 
paid some attention to their museums At (}eneva> for 
example^ he met among others Pictet the naturalist, and De 
CandoUe the botanist He found too that " the same rigid 
solemnity was observed there on the streets on Sunday as 
in Edinburgh — all demure and starch." "I induced," he . 
writes, '' good Madame Peschier to go a drive (and we had 
been at morning service), but when descending the steep 
street from the house a grave-looking churchwarden, who 
was going to afternoon service in his black silk stockings 
and a gold chain, came up to us, and holding out his watch, 
pulled up our horse, and exclaimed, ' Madame Peschier, je 
suis ^tonn^ ! vous auriez dii connaltre que pendant les 
heures de T^glise on ne va pas en voiture.' " 

The summer was spent at Vevay, where he took a little 
villa. His wife's ancestors had come into England frx>m 
that part of the Pays de Vaud about a hundred years before. 
She found some distant relations there who made the sojourn 
at Vevay a memorably pleasant one. Many excursions 
were made to surrounding parts of Switzerland, the ladies 
usuaUy driving or riding, while Murchison himself delighted 
in keeping pace with them on foot Leaving his wife in 
charge of her Svdss cousins, he undertook some feats of 
pedestrianism of which he used to boast in his old age. On 
one occasion he walked 452 miles in fourteen days, on 



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76 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [isie-ir. 

the last day of whicli excursion he accomplished 57 miles. 
In another excursion to Mont Blanc he walked 120 miles in 
three days. Such rapid marching is suggestive rather of 
exultation in bodily activity than of intelligent appreciation 
of scenery. Yet his singtdar power of rapidly seizing the main 
features of a landscape enabled him to carry away some vivid 
impressions of what he saw, and even to note some of the 
details. In his itinerary journal, he speaks of the Grindel- 
wald glacier as a '' river of ice," and among his notes there 
occurs a detailed narrative of the processes in use at one of 
the Swiss salt-mines. 

An interesting episode of their life at Vevay may be 
noticed here. A terrific thunderstorm broke one night (13th 
June) over the lake in front of them, and, roused from sleep, 
they sat watching from the window a scene never to be 
forgotten. Some months afterwards they read at Bome the 
now well-known lines in the then newly published Third 
Canto of ChUde Harold : — 

" And this is in the night ! — Most glorious is the night, 

Thoa wert not sent for sltunber ! let me be 

A sharer in thy fierce and far delight, — 

A i>ortion of the tempest and of thee ! 

How the lit lake shines, a phosphoric sea. 

And the big rain comes dancing to the earth ! 

And now again *tis black, — and now, the glee 

Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain-mirth 
As if it did rejoice o'er a young earthquake's birth.*' 

The passage recalled their experience at Vevay, and brought 
to their recollection that they had met Byron walking from 
Vevay to Clarens on the day before the thunderstorm which 
he has immortalized. 

The winter of 1816-17 was passed at Genoa, studying 
Italian, and kindling a passion for art and art-galleries, which 



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i8ir.] ROME AND THE GALLERIES. 11 

a few months later was to burst into a most portentous blaze 
at Bome. Murchison found opportunity too of practising his 
favourite exercise — ^walking, in which, as his notes record, 
he outstripped two yoimg officers since known as intrepid 
travellers — Irby and Mangles. In one of his excursions 
marine shells were noted upon some of the hill-tops, and he 
infers that these high grounds were once under the sea. 

By the 21st of March, ere Holy Week began, the two 
travellers had reached Rome. Owing to the cessation of the 
war and the reopening of the Continent, the city happened 
to be at this time crowded with strangers. 

Established, however, in a private lodging in the Via 
Condotti, Murchison avoided gaiety, and became now a con- 
firmed dilettante. Day by day, accompanied and incited by 
his wife, he visited gallery after gallery, and church after 
church, making elaborate notes on the pictures and other 
works of art He seems to have left little in Bome unseen, 
and his jottings, written at a time when the profuse modem 
literature of " Guide-books " and " Hand-books " had not yet 
made its appearance, show a creditable degree of zeal and 
intelligence. The general style and tenor of those art-notes 
and criticisms may be judged of from the following specimen 
of his journal : — 

'^ Rome, Jwne 13^, 1817. — Palazzo Colonna. — Four 
superb landscapes of Salvator Bosa (doubtful) ; marine views, 
with armed men and fishermen in the foregroimd. The 
light and distances have the light of Claude, the foreground 
less of the savageness of Salvator than usual Two fine 
heads of Carlo Dolci, one St Catherine, the other a saint 
chained. Some good heads of Guercino, and a fine small 
piece or two bj Conca. Many good landscapes of .Poussin 



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78 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [mi. 

in tempera, and one beautiful bluish landscape of Lucatelli, 
marine, with great depth : this is in his best style. The 
Bella Cenci needs no description. Guido is more expressive 
here than in his fine exuberant Madonna above stairs. 
There are two little Claudes, and a Titian, etc. There are a 
good many pictures of the inferior and later Boman artists ; 
some of these are pleasing. Graetano Lapis (1776), a scholar 
of Conca ; same light colouring, but no confidence in him- 
self! His best picture here appeared to me a Lazarus with 
Christ (doubtful). The frescos of Stefano Pozzi in first room 
are bright and pretty (Turk smoking). The column of Bellona 
(twisted) of T08S0 antico, with Pallas on the top, very beautiful. 
A Dead Christ by Franc<> Trevisani (d. 1746. Sc. Eom), 
not Angelo Trevisani (Venet Sc. same epoch). In this 
Christ the foreshortening is remarkable, the colouring 
Guidesco. He was a universal imitator." 

Of the acquaintances whom Murchison made at Eome 
the most notable waa the sculptor Canova, with whom he 
had frequent intercourse at the house of Cavaliere Tambroni, 
then a sort of chief of art From his journal and a pencil 
note written late in life the following reminiscences of the 
sculptor are given : — 

''When asked what he thought the most wonderful 
structure in Britain (for he had recently visited England), 
he at once replied, ' Waterloo Bridge.' Of the antiquities in 
the British Museum he gave unquestionable precedence to 
the nissus of the Parthenon, preferring it on account of the 
inimitable schiena to the Theseus. 

"He narrated to me how he overcame Buonaparte's 
obstinacy, who at first insisted that the great sculptor 
should represent him in marble in the garb of the con- 



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1817.] REMINISCENCES OF CANOVA. 79 

quering French General with cocked hat, straight cut coat, 
and top-boots — ^hunting-boots *k TAnglais/ Canova stood 
firm in refusing, and when he said to the future Napoleon, 
* Then your Excellency must find other artists, and I can 
recommend both a tailor and a bootmaker in the Corso,' the 
Corsican at once saw a man of taste and genius must have 
his own way, and Napoleon came out in classical toga, etc. 

" Canova was a very active man, and when debarred of 
his exercise by too much work in the studio, he was in the 
habit of jumping backwards and forwards over his modest 
bed, and, proud of his agility, he did it before ma 

"This eminent sculptor passes an hour or two every 
evening at Madame Tskmbroni's ; at nine o'clock he invari- 
ably retires. Had a long conversation with him the other 
night He observed to me, that when in London nothing 
offended his eye more than the smoky brick houses with 
dear painted windows, and was surprised they were not all 
white-washed. He spoke of the absolute necessity of our 
having a museum superior to that of Somerset House. The 
education of English women delighted him, and he the more 
regretted the state of his own compatriotes. He asked why 
all the English began their Italian with Dante and Boccaccio. 
Metastasio seems to be his favourite author. The style of 
the one in literature is similar to that of the other in sculp- 
ture — both chaste, classical, graceful, and full of pathos. He 
said of Metastasio's critics, ' Quei che lo criticano, lo leggono ; 
e poi piangono.' 

" In Canova's studio no one appears more conspicuously 
than the distorted Giaccomino. Ask him where he has been, 
and he answers, * We have been modelling above stairs, il 
cavaliere ed io.' Giaccomino was a poor, good-humoured 



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80 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [1817. 

coontiyman, whom Canova employed as a sort of lower ser- 
vant in the workshop. He sometimes hands the morsels of 
clay to his master whilst he is forming the cast, and from 
hence Giaccomino concludes that at least half the merit is 
his own. He freely canvasses every new attitude, and 
Canova says, ' E mio maestro Giaccomino/ and always asks 
for his opinion upon any new work. In these little traits 
the playful bonhomie of the great sculptor is pleasingly 
exhibited. 

" To judge of Canova's simplicity, examine his house. 
You will find. every article neat and appropriate ; no luxury, 
but the utmost cleanliness and regularity^4oubly delightful 
in so filthy a cotmtry. Two of his bedrooms are ornamented 
with his own paintings. During the French invasion he 
occupied himself for eighteen months with the brush and 
palette. The compositions are in general just what you 
might look for from the graceful mind of the artist — a 
sleeping Venus intruded upon by a peeping Satyr, Venus 
with Cupids, etc. The colouring is Titianesco, and very 
wonderfuL These pictures have already the mellowed tone 
of the colouring of the old masters ; and a head of an old 
carter (a portrait from life) is painted expressly to deceive 
as an antique. 

'* Madame T. related to me, that when Canova first 
imagined his group of the Graces, he happened to be in the 
coxmtry visiting the Cavaliere T. Here there were no fine 
models, but females must be found. Accordingly, two laige 
and fat female domestics of Madame T. were paraded, who, 
with herself formed the graceful trio. Their attitudes must 
have been most diverting to Canova whilst he drilled and 
practised them. Canova is now nearly sixty years of age, yet 



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mr,] ROME AND NAPLES. 81 

constitution and physical powers are such that he can jump 
over his bedstead d pie pari, and can extend a prodigious 
weight with his arm." 

Three months specially given up to fine art soon passed 
away in Some. The journal in which the record of that 
time was so elaborately chronicled is, however, more a dry 
inventory of what the writer saw than of what he thought 
and felt^ Now and then he varied his researches by an 
excursion into the country, but an unfortunate event cut 
short these occupations. His wife caught a malaria fever, 
and became so ill that he despaired of her life. Ballying at 
last, she was able to be moved firom Some at the end of 
Jime to seek a change of air and the sea-breeze at Naples. 

FuU of details though the journal is regarding the 
stay at Naples, Uttle occurs of any general interest, or 
which throws any firesh light upon Murchison's own char- 
acter and development. He visited, of course, all the 
usual places of resort in that neighbourhood. The nearer 
excursions were made with his wife, but in company with a 
military friend he accomplished a series of boating expedi- 
tions to Psestum, Capri, Ischia, and Procida, seeing a good 
deal both of scenery and of Italian life outside of the ordi- 
nary beaten track of tourists. He was lucky enough to 
come in for an eruption of Vesuvius, and ascended the 

^ Ko mention ocenrt in the journal of his havin at this time made the 
acquaintance of Mrs. SomeirUle and her husband. In her charming 
Perdonal BecoUecthns (p. 122), she thus alludes to the incident : — <* Our 
great geologist, Sir Roderick Murchison, with his wife, were among the 
T^gH«^ residents at Rome. At that time he hardly knew one stone from 
another. He had been an officer in the Dragoons, an excellent horseman, 
and a keen fox-hunter. Lady Murchison,— an amiable and accomplished 
woman, with solid acquirements, which few ladies at that time possessed. 
... It was then that a friendship began between them and us, which 
will only end with life." 

VOL. L F 



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82 SIB RODERICK MURCHISON. [1817. 

mountain when a current of lava was streaming down its 
side. To get the better view he made the ascent by night, 
and there being no moon, had an impressive view of the 
huge lurid crater, with its rocket-like showers of red-hot 
stones, and scrambled over the hardened but still hot surface 
of lava to see where the molten mass came out in a glowing 
stream from the side of the cone. His notes of this visit 
are simply those of an intelligent and interested spectator; 
they betray not the slightest geological predilection. 

In Naples, as in Kome, his fetvourite occupation was to 
visit the art-galleries and altar-pieces in the churches, and 
to write out detailed descriptions of the pictures and statues 
in his joumaL Even the sight of the miracle of the 
liquefying of the blood of St. Januarius could hardly inter- 
rupt the art-fever ; for though the saint gratified the curio- 
sity of the two travellers and the prayers of the orthodox by 
thawing the blood in three minutes instead of keeping them 
waiting for hours, the enthusiastic but irreverent dilettante 
writes in his diary, ** We slipped away from the altar to 
admire, not the works of the saint, but the sublime repre- 
sentations of them by Domenichino." 

Early in October 1817 Murchison returned with his 
wife to Bome, and wintered there. Art again became his 
absorbing pursuit. Every gallery was once more visited, 
fresh notes were duly entered in his journals. His criticisms, 
after a few months of experience, are spiced with the dog- 
matism and the pet phrases of a confirmed connoisseur of 
many years' standing. 

Having taken his fill of art and the galleries, Murchison 
next set to work with equal industry upon the antiquities 
of Home. A good part of the winter of 1817-18 was spent 



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1817-18.] ANTIQUARIAN RAMBLES IN ROME. 83 

in sediQously tracing the lines of the several walls, and the 
position and remains of temples and public buildings. He 
entered with his characteristic zeal into the disputed locali- 
ties of the Forum, and not content with reading such of the 
lucubrations on this subject as he could reach, he wrote in 
his journal voluminous comments of his own upon previous 
writers, and gave the observations he himseK had made, 
with the conclusions to which they had led him. He re- 
vived his long disused and never very familiar Horace, 
Virgil, and Juvenal, with whose allusions to Bome and 
Boman sites he interspersed his notes. The following 
extracts may suffice as a specimen of the style of these 
antiquarian memoranda : — 
" Orotto of JEgeria, — 

< In yallem Mg^tiab desoendimm atqne spelanoM 
Diasimiles yeria.' 

In Juvenal's day great had been the alteration of the 
little consecrated grot of old Kuma, which was of tu£Gu 
Now this is the only tufa cavern in this valley. In the 
time of Cicero the simple old cavern was decorated with 
marbles and statues, and became ' dissimiles veris ;' now 
the present work as extant, and the reticulated brick, are 
all of the latter end of the Bepublic The recumbent statue 
of the man proves nothing, as the figure evidently repre- 
sents a river (viz. the Almo, which rises here), from the urn 
under his arm. The goddess might have been placed in the 
same niche above him. Everjrthing marks this distinctly to 
have been the sacred spot 

" Templvm RedictUi. — Positively a temple and no tomb, 
Mr. Eustace.^ The cella and component parts remain. 

1 He refers to Eustace*! Cfku9ieal T<mr^~tk work which he studied 



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84 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [1817-18. 

Hannibal might first have appeared here, and then making 
a detour might have encamped on the other side of the 
town. It has been rebuilt in the age of Severus. Four 
styles of architecture are to be observed in it 

** Baths of CaracallcL — ^Double purpose, bathing and 
amusement. The baths were below ground, and had no 
communication with the halls above, no staircase having 
ever been discovered. The great portico to the west, with 
the various little chambers, was a quarter for troops, from 
which a spiral staircase conducted to a terrace above for 
parade and exercise ; but no communication took place by 
doors between these chambers. The grand central mass of 
building was entirely enveloped and shut in from sight by 
a still more vast pile. These covers or cases for buildings 
were common to the Bomans, for in this exterior an uni- 
form height was preserved, which hid all the inequalities 
of height and construction of the internal pile. This will 
account for the arphes of different elevations. . . . 

** Cecilia Metdla. — Sepublican work : crowned with an 
entablature, and formerly with an attic and a dome. 

" Forum Romanum. — 

' Vespertinamqne pererro 
Saepe Fonun.' Hob. Sat, i. tL 

Old Horace could not have enjoyed his evening walk there 
more than I do, and one great delight consists in the ima- 
gining that I behold some relics of those very buildings 
which he admired. Away then, ye cold sceptics who drive 
everything to such an extreme that at last ye begin to 
doubt whether ancient Bome did really exist here, or 

before le«Ting En^^d, and wliioh he seems to liAve carried about with 
him in Italy, and to have found as unsatisfactory a guide as Byron did. 
(See Notezzzii. to Canto iv. of Chiide Harold,) 



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1818.] RAMBLES IN THE ROMAN CAMPAONA. 85 

whether the Tiber may not have changed its course ! They 
will tell you (even Nardin and others) that most part of the 
columns have been re-erected in subsequent ages on or near 
the spot where they had fallen or been pulled down. But, 
oh ye learned sceptics ! what Pope, Antipope, or Goth, may 
I humbly crave, would ever have had the genius of archi- 
tecture and the love of classical remains impressed so deeply 
on his mind that he should wish to raise up broken entab- 
latures of colossal size, and mutilated columns, in order that 
he might be called a man of taste ? If, therefore, none of 
these re-erections took place in the dark ages, which I 
think any reasonable man will allow, we can have little 
difSculty in proving that such attempts have not been made 
since the revival of letters in the fifteenth century. Private 
and public history are both silent on this point, whilst on a 
number of trivial little subjects, such as that Lorenzo di 
Medici robbed the Dacian captives on the Arch of Con- 
stantine of their heads, and other similar facts, we have 
abundant details." 

While this antiquarian fever lasted, he made an excur- 
sion on foot to Prseneste, walked along ancient highways 
now deserted, but still level and unbroken, looked into the 
memorable crater-hollow of the lake of Begillus, with a half- 
antiquarian, half-military, but in nowise geological eye, 
remai'king that the allies had much the better position, since 
the Bomans had to charge up hill ; scrambled up to the 
Cyclopean walls of Prseneste, and from the summit of the 
town let his eye wander over that marvellous landscape, so 
rich in association, from the far southern Apennines away 
across the Alban and Yolscian hills, into the limitless 
Campagna. 



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86 SIR RODERICK MURCUI80K [isi8. 

About the middle of March (1818) Mr, and Mrs. Mur* 
chison quitted Borne for a leisurely journey homewards. 
At Florence they lingered for three weeks, chiefly among 
the galleries and museums. Again his note-books teem with 
descriptions and criticisms of the pictures, his later studies 
at Bome having given him greater confidence than ever in 
his judgments on art Michael Angelo receives a special 
measure of his critical wrath. More interesting is it to 
mark that among his notes of Florence some space is 
given to an account of the Museum of Natural History, 
particularly that portion in which the successive stages in 
the growth of animals were illustrated. From Florence the 
journey led by short stages, and with many a halt, to 
Bologna, Modena, Parma, and Turin, thence by Mont Cenis 
into Switzerland, and then by way of Lyons to Paris, and 
so home. 

Bather more than two years had thus glided away on 
the Continent ; two memorable years in Murchison's life. 
They taught him, in a way which would have been little 
likely to occur to him at home, the superiority of such pur- 
suits as called for the exercise of thought and taste over the 
more frivolous employments of barrack-life. It is true that 
his wife was always at his side to share in his pleasures and 
incite him to further perseverance in the new line of occu- 
pation. • But her influence was little needed after the first 
decided tendency had been given to his inclinations. He 
soon became a far more enthusiastic lover of art than she, 
and must no doubt have often tried her bodily strength to 
the utmost in his hunt through churches and galleries for 
Guides and Baphaels, Caraccis and Domenichinos, in all 
the stages and styles of each painter. For the time, he was 



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1818.] INFLUENCE FROM ART. 87 

absorbed in art and Boman antiquities. It was the first 
taste he had yet had of the pleasures of continuous intel- 
lectual employment, and he threw himself into it with all 
the eagerness and enthusiasm of his nature. 

He had a natural weakness for display, which in his 
military days, as we have seen, took shape in fashionable 
clothes, horses, and the other extravagances by which a 
young man in the army pontrives to get rid of his money. 
In Italy no such temptation came in his way. For the time 
he was left to the influence of his wife and his own better 
nature, with the result of receiving a deeper and better im- 
press on his character from these two years abroad than from 
his eight years in uniform. Unconsciously he was sowing 
seeds which would in after years bear fruit of a very different 
kind. Through art he first realized the advantage of a dis- 
tinctly intellectual life over one of mere desultory gaiety. 
It was not art which was to furnish his future stimulus, 
and, as we shall find, it did not even suffice to keep him 
from relapsing into some of his old ways when the tempta- 
tion came back again. But his art-studies in Italy formed 
the starting-point of a new life for him, and led the way 
to all the work and honours that were to come. 



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CHAPTER VI. 



FIVE YEARS OF FOX-HUNTING. 



When MurcIiiBon and his wife found themselves in Eng- 
land again, two questions pressed upon them for immediate 
solution : Where were they to take up house ? and, What were 
they to do ? In spite of Mrs. Murchison's fortune, money 
was not so plentiful with them as they wished. The Tarra- 
dale tenants, owing to more stringent prohibition of illicit 
distillation, found many excuses for evading the payment of 
their rents, so that although the young couple could live 
comfortably enough in Italy, there seemed some difficulty in 
the way of their setting up house at home in the style 
to which they had all along been used. The rent of the 
property was at this time a little more than £600, but pro- 
bably not more than about the half of that sum could be 
collected. The long-threatened sale was therefore now 
finally resolved upon, and in August 1818, for £27,000, 
Baillie of Bochfour became the purchaser. Immediately 
after his return from abroad Murchison went north alone 
to make the concluding arrangements, and from that time 
ceased to be any longer a Highland laird. 



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1818.] BECOMES A FOX-HUNTER 89 

Having thus got rid of the troublesome tenants in the 
north, he had next to find a home somewhere for his wife 
and himsel£ Mrs. Murchison's grandfather, a veteran of the 
Flanders wars, had passed the last twenty years of his long 
life in an old mansion at Barnard Castle, in the county of 
Durham. This house, now tenantless, was chosen, and there 
Murchison set up his first m^Tiage in England. 

The change from the pursuits and sights of Bome and 
Naples to the dulness of a little country town in the north 
of England could not but prove a sore trial to the lately de- 
veloped tastes of the retired Captain. The old General, whose 
house they now occupied, had been a favourite in the district, 
and for his sake at first, and afterwards for their own, the 
new-comers had a hospitable reception from the county- folk 
of the neighbourhood. But receiving calls and paying them 
was hardly occupation enough for any reasonably active 
creature. Art- studies were no longer possible; his wife's 
gathering of plants and minerals had not yet sufficed to show 
him what a scientific pursuit really was ; there seemed but 
one path of escape from insufferable ennui^ and Murchison 
chose it He took heart and soul to field-sports, and became 
one of the greatest fox-hunters in the north of England. 

For five years this desultory life lasted. It seemed as if 
the influence of the foreign tour had vanished, and left no 
siga At some of the houses of the neighbourhood — Eokeby, 
for instance — guests distinguished for culture and literary or 
scientific eminence used from time to time to be gathered, 
and in these gatherings Murchison and his wife gladly took 
part. They only just missed Sir Walter Scott They formed 
an intimacy with Sir Humphry Davy, and made the ac- 
quaintance of other notabilities. These were pleasant inter- 



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90 SIR RODERICK MVRCHISON. [isis-o. 

ludes, and helped to vary a little the dulness of Barnard 
Castle and the monotony of bunting. But field-sports con- 
tinued to be the main business of life, since they furnished 
the readiest outlet for that exuberant bodily activity which 
had all along formed one of Murchison's special character- 
istics. 

As a diversion from these more ordinary and engrossing 
pursuits, he on one occasion of a contested election for the 
county of Durham took an active part on the Tory side, 
scouring the country far and wide on horseback for voters, 
bringing them up to the poll ; but in the end beating an in- 
glorious retreat with the impopular candidate, amid showers 
of cabbages, rotten eggs, and other electioneering missiles. 
A further variety was found in an occasional excursion to 
Scotland, or in visits to sporting Mends in the north of 
England. 

It was not without concern that Mrs. Murchison marked 
this relapse into that purposeless kind of life from which her 
husband seemed for a time in a fair way of being weaned. 
She had some knowledge of botany, and had induced him in 
the course of their walks and excursions to assist her in form- 
ing a herbarium. But she could not make him a botanist 
While residing in the north of England she took to the study 
of mineralogy, and made some progress in collecting and 
distinguishing some of the more common minerals found in 
that part of the country. Her husband looked on and helped 
her where he could ; but neither was mineralogy the kind of 
pursuit to enlist his sympathies, and call out his special 
powers. "The noble science of fox-hunting," he says of 
himseK, ''was then my dominant passion, and as I had 
acquired a little reputation in the north as a hard rider, I 



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1818-23.] THE FOX-HUNTING FEVER 91 

resolved to play the great game^ increase my stud, and settle 
for a year or two at Melton Mowbray, in Leicestershire." 

Instead of calming down, therefore, the hunting fever 
broke out with renewed virulence. The migration south- 
wards duly took place, to the great mortification of his wife, 
who had reason to dread the effects of the change both upon 
his character and his purse. He rented a good house at 
Melton Mowbray, kept eight hunters, a horse for his wife, 
and a hack, and subscribed £50 a year to a pack of hounds. 
* These and other expenses were," he says, " more than enough 
for my means. Thus I was led to speculate by investing in 
foreign funds, and obtain an income of £2000 per annum, 
which, with occasional drafts upon my 'floating capital,' 
kept us going." 

He paid a visit to the north of Scotland in 1822, and 
his arrival in Edinburgh happened to coincide with that of 
G^rge IV., whose entrance he witnessed firom the Calton 
Hill, noting especially the beaming face and white hair of 
Walter Scott as he marched jauntily along in front of the 
royal carriage. 

Back at Melton, he recommenced the earnest business of 
the winter by resuming his place at the hunt, and indulging 
in further gaieties.^ The following reminiscences of this 
time were written late in life : — " On Sundays, after six days* 
hard work, we were necessarily very sleepy, and on one 
occasion when the sermon was preached for the Missionary 
Society, and the parson went on to describe the life of the 
savages to be Christianized — hunting all the week, and lying 

^ By way of oompromiBe, apparently, and in compliance with liis wife's 
more literary tastee, he kept his elaborate daily hunting journal this 
winter (1822-3) in French. 



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92 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [wa 

exhausted and sleepy in their houses, — all the ladies' eyes 
were turned upon their drowsy mates." 

'' On one occasion I gave a dinner, and invited Scotch- 
men only, viz., Elcho, Graham (now Duke of Montrose), 
Grant, Melville, etc.; and as I could find no blacksmith to 
singe the head, I performed myself in my own stable-yard, 
to the great amusement of the groom and helpers." 

"I was the only person who r^ularly smoked at the 
covert- side, or when they went away, and the fox was lost 
On one of the latter occasions, and when Graham was cast- 
ing and re- casting his hounds, and was unable to hit off the 
scent, he hollowed out sulkily, ' 'Tis no use trying to do any- 
thing when that pipe spoils the scent !* So strong 

was the feeling then against smoking as a bad and ungentle- 
manlike habit, that when Femley painted a picture which 
we, the subscribers to the pack, presented to Graham, I was 
at first represented on my brown horse Commodore, turning 
my head round, with a cigar in my mouth. The cigar was 
afterwards, however, painted out The picture is at Norton 
Conyers, in Yorkshire." 

Save gossip of this kind, with full notes of his almost 
daily hunts, and references to the companions with whom he 
rode, smoked, and dined, the visits which he and his wife 
occasionally paid, and the people whom they met on such 
occasions, no record of these five hunting years has been 
preserved.^ There seems, indeed, to have been little else to 
chronicle. During the times of hard frost, when the usual 

^ One of his journals gives a detailed narrative of every hunt from 3d 
November 1S2I to April II, 1822, during which period he was 110 times 
with the hounds. In his usual methodical style he has constructed a table 
with columns, in which is entered the work done by each of the twelve 
hunters which he used. 



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1883.] THE FOX-HUNTING FEVER 93 

out-of-door occupations were interrupted, he would take once 
more to books. On one of these occasions he seems to have 
revived for a while his antiquarian tendencies by reading and 
making extracts from Blunt's Vestiges of Ancient Manners 
and Customs in Italy and Sicily. But the books were ex- 
changed for the saddle when the weather suited again. 

The letters written during these fox-hunting years to his 
brother Kenneth, then in the East Indies, abound with grave 
moral sentences on the duty of submission to our lot, and 
the necessity for economy and care when our means are 
small ! Tet they teem with tender affection, and show their 
writer to have had an earnest love for his brother, with the 
fullest interest in all that concerned him. The solicitude 
with which he appears to have watched over a little niece 
confided to his care and that of his wife, and the almost 
fiitherly delight with which he recounts all her ways and 
her progress, betoken great tenderness of heart, with much 
considerate feeling in the way of showing his kindness. 

His wife had from the first truly perceived that at bot- 
tom there lay in Murchison something more than the char- 
acter of a mere Nimrod. It was needful that his overflowing 
animal spirits and bodily activity should find adequate outlet, 
but she fully believed that when these parts of his nature 
had in some measure spent themselves, the higher part of 
his character would come to the surface. K he really had 
any more intellectual tendencies than were required for fox- 
hunting, he must needs in the end get tired of such unremit- 
ting application to that pursuit, and then those tendencies 
would be sure to claim a hearing from him. And so it 
came to pass. 

Forty years after the time at which we are now arrived, 



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94 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [i823. 

Murchison was sojouming for health's sake at the baths of 
Marienbad, in Bohemia, and penned there the following 
recollections of the events which brought his fox-hunting 
life to a close : — 

" As time rolled on I got llasi and tired of all fox- 
hunting life. In the summer following the hunting season 
of 1822-3, when revisiting my old friend Morritt of Eokeby, 
I fell in with Sir Humphry Davy, and experienced much 
gratification in his lively illustrations of great physical truths. 
As we shot partridges together in the morning, I perceived 
that a man might pursue philosophy without abandoning 
field-sports ; and Davy, seeing that I had already made ob- 
servations on the Alps and Apennines, independently of my 
antiquarian rambles, encouraged me to come to London and 
set to Bit science by attending lectures on chemistry, etc. As 
my wife naturally backed up this advice, and Sir Humphry 
said he would soon get me into the Boyal Society, I was 
fairly and easily booked. 

" Before I took the step of making myseK a Cockney I 
sold my horses. The two best were put up at auction in 
the ensuing autumn, after dinner, at the Old Club at Melton, 
and were brought into the room after a jolly dinner, Maxse 
acting as auctioneer. In fact I threw them away, and Maker 
who bought the ' Commodore,' named him ' Potash,' as a 
quiz on me for taking so much of that alkali after our 
potations." 

The decision to sell his hunters and renounce the ex- 
pensive life at Melton was probably dictated more by a 
prudent regard to ways and means than by any special 
charms yet visible in the prospect of a life of scientific exer- 
tion. At all events we find, that when the Melton establish- 



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iffli] SELLS HIS HUNTERS. 95 

ment was broken up he did not immediately set up another, 
but went to reside for a time with his father-in-law. The 
winter of 1823-4 was passed chiefly at Nursted House, and 
seems to have slipt away without much indication that he 
had resolved to change his main pursuita Were not the 
Hambledon hounds at hand, with old Parson Bichards at 
their head, and Wyndham's drove pack careering in close 
column up the steep faces of the downs ? Did not Up Park 
offer attractions in its pheasant covers such as few other pre- 
serves in England could show? Keed we wonder, then, 
that the necessity for a new horse became only too apparent ! 
It was but alow-priced hack-hunter this time, yet a service- 
able animal, which carried its rider to probably as many 
meets as took place that winter within access of Nursted. 
And not that winter only, but the summer following, went 
past without apparently any further action in the way of 
carrying out the projected scientific programma We find 
the retired sportsman sojourning for a long time in the south 
of Scotland during that summer, visiting Mends, shooting, 
and in short living as much after the old fashion as if he had 
never seen Davy at Eokeby, and no visions of chemistry 
lectures had ever floated before him. 

But the momentous epoch of his life was now fast ap- 
proaching. This summer of 1824 saw the last of his rambles 
wherein the rocks aroimd him made no direct and urgent 
appeal to him. Henceforth he was to have an occupation 
even more absorbing than any which had yet held him in 
thraU, and into this new employment he was to carry all 
the energy which had hitherto marked his doings in other 
pursuits. 



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CHAPTEE Vll. 

KISE OF GEOLOGY IN BBITAIN. 

At last Murchlson had found a calling wherein his love 
of out-of-door life, and his inclination towards an intellec- 
tual employment of some sort, could find fitting scopa From 
this time forward it was to be his good fortune to have one 
engrossing occupation, which, while furnishing abimdant 
exercise and amusement, should ere long enable him to 
make his name a kind of household word among geologists 
in every part of the world. 

How it came about that a man with no previous scientific 
training should have been able to gain such a reputation, 
and gain it so rapidly, deserves our consideration. We 
might conjecture either that the science could have been no 
very recondite matter, or that the man must have been pos- 
sessed of very extraordinary powers. Neither supposition 
would be quite just Such was the state of geological science 
at the time, that a great work could be done by a man with 
a quick eye, a good judgment, a clear notion of what had 
already been accomplished, and a stout pair of 1^. 

It is of importance that the reader should see how this 



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HUTTONIAN AND WERNERIAN WARFARE. 97 

came to be the case, in order that he may adequately realize 
what Murchison's life-work actually was. I would ask him, 
therefore, to accompany me in a necessarily brief survey of 
the condition of geology in this coimtry during the first 
quarter of this century, with a glance at some of the 
more salient characteristics of the leading geologists among 
whom the retired captain and fox-hunter was now to take 
his place. We shall in this way be enabled to follow more 
definitely the kind of work which lay open to his hand, and 
to note what incentives and obstacles surroimded him on his 
entry upon this new career. 

Looking back to the beginning of this century, we see 
the geologists of Britain divided into two hostile camps, who 
waged against each other a keen and even an embittered 
warfare. On the one hand were the followers of Hutton 
of Edinburgh, called from him Huttonians, sometimes also 
Yulcanists or Plutonists; on the other, the disciples of 
Werner of Freiberg, in Saxony, who went by the name of 
Wemerians, or Neptunists. The strife lasted almost up to 
Murchison's time, though it had in its last years waxed 
faint and fitfuL But many of the combatants who had been 
in the thick of the fight were still alive when he assumed 
the title of geologist, and the current of geological thought 
at that time had been largely influenced by the contest 

The Huttonians, who adhered to the principles laid down 
by their great founder, maintained, as their fundamental 
doctrine, that the past history of our planet is to be ex- 
plained by what we can learn of the economy of nature at 
the present tima Unlike the cosmogonists, they did not 
trouble themselves with what was the first condition of the 
earth, nor tiy to trace every subsequent phase of its history. 

VOL.L G 



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98 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. 

They held that the geological record does not go back to the 
beginniiig, and that therefore any attempt to trace that be- 
ginning &om geological evidence was vain. Most strongly, 
too, did they protest against the introduction of causes which 
could not be shown to be a part of the present economy. 
They never wearied of insisting, that to the every-day work- 
ings of Air, Earth, and Sea must be our appeal for an expla- 
nation of the older revolutions of the globe. The fall of rain^ 
the flow of rivers, the dash of waves, the slowly-crumbling 
decay of mountain, valley, and shore, were one by one sum- 
moned as witnesses to bear testimony to the manner in 
which the most stupendous geological changes are slowly 
and silently brought about The waste of the land, which 
they traced everywhere, was found to give birth to soil — 
renovation of the surface thus springing Phoenix-like out of 
its decay. In the descent of water from the clouds to the 
mountains, and from the mountains to the sea^ they recog- 
nised the power by which vaUeys are carved out of the 
land, and by which also the materials worn from the land 
are carried out to the sea^ there to be gathered into solid 
stone — ^the framework of new continents. In the rocks of 
the hills and valleys they recognised abimdantly the traces 
of old sea-bottoms. They stoutly msdntained that these old 
sea-bottoms had been raised up into dry land from time to 
time by the powerM action of the same internal heat to 
which volcanoes owe their birth, and they pointed to the 
way in which granite and other crystalline rocks occur as 
convincing evidence of the extent to which the solid earth 
had been altered and upheaved by the action of these sub- 
terranean fires. 

That a theory in many respects so bold and original, and 



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Vi)L I. To face page 98. 



.JAMB8 IIUTTON. M.D. 

From an Original Portrait by Sir lUni-y Ratburn, in the possession of 

Sir (itonje Warrendtr, Hart. 



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HUTTONIAN AND WEKNERIAN WARFARE. 99 

embracing so wide a view of the whole field of inoiganic 
nature, should be imperfect ; that the full meaning of parts of 
it should not even have been suspected by its founder ; that 
some of its details should have been built upon erroneous ob- 
servations or deductions, may be readily believed. The most 
obvious imperfection about the theory was, that it took no 
account of the fossil remains of plants and animals. Hence it 
ignored the long succession of life upon the earth, which those 
remains have since made known, as weU as the evidence 
thereby obtainable as to the nature and order of physical 
changes, such as alternations of land and sea, revolutions of 
climate, and such-like. But though the discovery of these 
profoundly significant truths opened up a world of research 
of which neither Hutton nor his firiends had ever dreamed, 
it did not overturn what he had done. He had laid down 
principles which, in so far as they went, were true, and 
which the experience of successive generations has amply 
illustrated and confirmed. He had traced a bold outline 
which has been gradually filled in, but his master lines are 
traceable stilL The whole of modem geology bears witness 
to the influence of the Huttonian school 

It was while views of this broad and suggestive nature 
were making way in this country, that others of a very differ- 
ent stamp came over fix)m Germany. Werner at that time 
was teaching mineralogy at Freibeig, but he aspired to con- 
nect his science with a wide subject^ and from the study of 
minerals to rise to the origin of the globe itsel£ He had 
not travelled. He had seen only a small comer of Europe, 
and having satisfied himself of the order and history of the 
rocks in that limited district^ he proceeded to account for 
the formation of the various rocks of the rest of the globe 



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100 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. 

on the model of his own little kingdom. Instead of starting 
from what can be seen and known as to nature's operations 
at the present time, Werner, like other cosmogonists, con- 
ceived .himself bound to begin at the beginning. He sup- 
posed that the earth had been originally covered with the 
ocean, in which the materials of the minerals were dissolved. 
Out of this ocean he conceived that the various rocks were 
precipitated in the same order in which he found those of 
Saxony to lie ; hence, on the retirement of the ocean, certain 
universal formations spread over all the globe, and assumed 
at the surface various irr^ular shapes as they consolidated. 

Werner was a good mineralogist, and, as he classed rocks 
by their miieral characters, there was a certain neatness 
and precision about his system, and a facility of applying it 
in other countries, such as no previous cosmological theory 
could boast. Moreover, as men were mineralogists before 
geology came into existence, and as the general mineralogical 
bias still prevailed, the doctrines of Werner, so largely based 
on mineralogical considerations, had a great advantage in 
the readiness with which they might be expected to be 
adopted But, besides this, although his views about uni- 
versal formations and the aqueous origin of all rocks — even 
of basalt — were quite erroneous, he had grasped part of a 
great truth in his chronological grouping of strata. He 
had likewise noticed, as indeed had been already to some 
extent recognised by observers both in France and Germany, 
that the remains of plants and animals imbedded in the 
stokta became fewer in number, and more imlike living 
forms, the older the rocks in which they occur. Even, 
therefore, had he not been so full of zeal and eloquence as 
to inspire his pupils with enthusiasm, his views would pro- 



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PROFESSOR JAMESON. 101 

bably have made a way for themselves in Europe. But his 
ardour kindled a like spirit in those who came to listen to 
him. They returned to their own homes eager to apply, 
even in the most distant comers of the globe, the system 
which had been made so dear to them at Freiberg. They 
had at heart not only the cause of truth, but the fame of an 
eloquent teacher and Mend, so that their course, at least in 
this country, became a kind of propagandism. 

It is hardly possible now to realize how fierce and per- 
sonal was the Huttonian and Wemerian war. Hutton him- 
self had lived and died in Edinburgh. The crags and ravines 
of that romantic town had inspired him with some of his 
views, and, after he had gone, these features remained as 
memorials of his teaching, to friends who loved and followers 
who revered him. Edinburgh was naturally therefore the 
home of the Huttonian theory. It so happened, however, that 
in the year 1804 the Professorship of Natural History was 
given to Bobert Jameson, — a student fix)m Freiberg, full of 
the true Wemerian ardour. He was not long in office before 
he began to gather round him a band of disciples ; and thus 
Edinburgh became a chief focus of the geological war.^ 

Amid the turmoil of the contest one figure still stands 
out prominently, calm and gentle, full of the courtesy of the 
days of chivalry, fighting not for self nor for fame, but 
generously setting lance in rest for the cause of tmth, and 
on behalf of a revered teacher and friend — ^formidable in 
the lists withal, well skilled in defence, and with keen eye 
and ready hand to mark the weak points in his adversary's 

^ Among recently published reminisoences of this time, reference may 
be made to Sir Henry Ho]land*8 interesting allusions to the fierceness of 
the contest in Edinburgh. — See his RecoUtcticn$ qf Pati L\f€, p. 81. 



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102 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. 

armour. Such was the illustaious Playfair — a man to whom 
geologists owe a debt of gratitude which has perhaps never 
yet been adequately paid. Hutton had passed away, his 
work imfinished, and the style of his writings so obscure as 
to set a bander to the general diffusion which their genius 
merited. Playfjedr, who was his warm personal friend, de- 
termined to prevent the risk of such doctrines as those of 
Hutton sinking into neglect, and to that end composed, 
and, in the spring of 1S02, published his lUustrcUums of the 
Huttonian Theory. 

This great work may be taken as the text-book of the 
Huttonian school It contains not only the views taught 
by Hutton himself, but the expansion and application of 
them by Playfair. Gifted with an eloquence which, for 
dignity, precision, and elegance, reminds us of some of the 
best old French models, and which has certainly never since 
been equalled in the geological literature of this country, 
Playfair not only gained for the doctrines of his master a 
publicity and measure of acceptance which they might not 
otherwise have attained, but he raised geology out of the 
region of mere wild speculation, and placed it in an honour- 
able position among the inductive sciencea The real rise of 
geology in this country into the dignity of a science, is 
traceable mainly to the influence of the Illtigtrations of the 
Huttonian Theory} 

But in the earlier years of the century this was not re- 

^ Thii WM acknowledged siz-and-twentj years after the lUugtraHons 
had appeared, and when their author had gone oyer to the majority. A 
warm and graceful tribute to his influence, with a frank recognition of 
the obligations of geologists to his labours in their service, was then given 
by Dr. Fitton in his Presidential Address to the Qedogical Society of 
London.— /Voc OeoL 8oc L 56 (15th February 1828). 



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FOUNDATION OF GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY. 103 

oognised. The very principles of geology were still matter 
of discossion. These would doubtless have been sooner 
settled but for the baneful influence of Wemerianism, and 
the check given by that system to the development of the 
views of Button and Playfair. Still it must in fairness be 
acknowledged, that Wemerianism introduced a more precise 
mineralogy and petrography than had ever been known be- 
fore, and that though this was at the best but a poor sub- 
stitute for the earlier growth of sound geology, it was an 
advantage, the loss of which, when it died out with that 
system, has in one not unimportant branch crippled British 
geology ever since. 

In the midst of this ferment of conflicting theories, a few 
men interested in inquiries as to the nature and origin of 
minerals and rocks, drew together in London in the year 
1S07, and formed themselves into the Geological Society. 
A further reference to this important event will be made in 
the next Chapter, when we come to the time when Murchison 
joined the Society. In the meantime we may note that the 
aim of the founders was to gather facts as to the composition 
and structure of the earth without reference to questions of 
theory. With this view they met at short intervals to read 
papers on the rocks or minerals of particular species, or of 
special districts, and every few years gathered the more im- 
portant of these papers into a large quarto volume of Trans- 
actions. During the early days of its existence the Society 
devoted itself with praiseworthy diligence to questions of 
mineralogy, or of the geological structure of different loca- 
lities. The members hardly ever meddled with the remains 
of the plants and animals imbedded in the rocks. That these 
remains had a deep meaning, that they were to famish the 



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104 SIR RODMICK MURCHiaON. 

key which would make it easy to group the rocks of Eng- 
land in their order of formation, and that they contained the 
records of a marvellous march of life upon the earth, had not 
yet dawned upon the minds of any of these early pioneers. 

While the acknowledged leaders of the infant science of 
geology were on the one hand wrangling as to the principles 
to be adopted, and, on the other hand, busjdng themselves 
with the collection and discussion of details of no great 
moment, a man had been quietly and unobserved at work 
for long years among the rocks of England, and had learned 
their secret as none else had done. Bom in Oxfordshire, 
William Smith had been used in childhood to collect and 
wonder over the fossils so abundant round his birthplace. 
In later years, trained to the profession of civil engineer 
and land-surveyor, he had recognised his early playthings in 
far distant parts of the country. Step by step he was led to 
perceive, in a far more precise and accurate way than had 
been thought of by Werner or any previous observer, that 
each group of strata had its own characteristic fossils. By 
this test he could recognise a series of rocks aU the way from 
the coasts of Dorset to those of Yorkshire. He surprised 
some of his friends who had made collections of fossils 
by telling them from what special set of rocks each series 
of shells had been obtained. He constructed, and as far 
back as 1799 began to publish, geological maps of various 
parts of England, on which the different groups of rocks 
which he had made up were delineated with singular accu- 
racy. At agricultural meetings, and to any inquirer who 
wished to see them, he exhibited these maps, showing more 
particularly their value in questions of farming and water- 
supply. He had tried to find patrons, with whose help he 



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DISCOVERIES OF WILLIAM SMITH. 105 

might publish a general work, and even issued prospectuses 
of his proposal, but failed to succeed, until at last, in the 
year 1815, he gave to the world his " Map of the Strata of 
England and Wales.** But long before the appearance of this 
map, and of the other works which he issued in succession, 
his ideas had spread widely through the country. Hence 
when these marvellous productions were published, they met 
with immediate acceptance. They completely revolutionized 
the geology of the day, and called forth &om his contem- 
poraries the most unqualified praise, and the weU-merited 
title of the Father of English Geology. It was now possible 
to arrange the rocks of the country in definite chronological 
order, to compare those of one district with those of another, 
to trace the connexion of the varying character of the strata 
underneath with the change of soils and the rise of springs. 
But, above all, William Smith's discoveries led the way to 
all that has since been done in tracing back the history of 
Life into the dim past. He was not himself a naturalist, 
but he laid that sure foundation on which our knowledge is 
built of the grand succession of living beings upon the 
surface of our planet 

From the prodigious impetus given by these revelations 
Geology made a new start in England, and branched out 
especially in two directions, which have continued up to the 
present time to be the paths chiefly followed by geologists in 
this country. In the first place, what is called Stratigraphical 
geology, that is, the accurate grouping of the rocks according 
to their order of formation, took its rise ftom the work of 
William Smith. Before his day no means existed of making 
any such subdivision beyond the vague general distinctions 
implied in such terms as Primary, Transition, and Secondary. 



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106 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N, 

In the second place, fix)m the attention now given to fossils 
as a key to the discrimination of rocks, the science of Palaeon- 
tology, or the study of ancient forms of life, first took root 
in England. It is true that the researches of Gnvier among 
the extinct mammals of the Paris basin, and his clear and 
eloquent writings, as well as the labours of Brongniart, had 
drawn the eyes of the world to the interest attaching to 
fossil remains. These discoveries undoubtedly laid the foun- 
dations of Palaeontology. They were not made, however, 
until after Smith's views, unpublished indeed, but freely 
communicated, had begun to spread in this country, and 
imtil consequently the minds of geologists were in some 
d^ree prepared for them by learning that a new meaning 
and value had begun to be discernible in the remains of the 
plants and animals imbedded in the rocks. 

At the same time that this new development of geological 
inquiry took place, certain other changes came about in 
England. Foremost among these was the decay of Minera- 
logy and Petrography, or Mineralogical geology. Men found 
such a great untrodden field opening out before them, that 
they forsook the old and weU-beaten paths of mineralogy. 
N^Iecting the study of minerals, they left off also that of 
the mineralogical composition of rocks. For somewhere 
about half a century these branches of geology remained 
scarcely cidtivated at all in this coimtry, and only within 
the last few years have some of our geologists wakened up 
to the fact, that in this department of their science they 
have been far outstripped by their brethren of the hammer 
in Germany and in France. 

So strongly did the tide now set in towards stratigraphical 
and palseontological pursuits, that another not less important 



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SIR JAMES HALL AND HIS WORK. 107 

branch of geological research, which had been begun with 
much promise, fell into neglect — the application of physical 
experiment to the elucidation of geological problems. The 
merit of having started this line of investigation belongs to 
the Huttonian school Among Button's Mends and ad- 
mirers was Sir James Hall of Dunglass — a man of singular 
shrewdness, with a strong bent towards putting things to 
the test of experiment, and an inventive faculty of no com- 
mon order. He had urged Hutton to apply this test to 
some of his views which had been most keenly controverted. 
That philosopher, however, had a deep conviction that as 
we could never hope to imitate the scale of nature's opera- 
tions, so we might run a great risk of having false impres- 
sions given to our minds by such experiments. He seems 
to have had a kind of contempt for those who "judge of the 
great operations of the mineral kingdom from having kindled 
a fire and looked into the bottom of a little crucible." ^ 

Hall, though, fix)m deference to his master, he generously 
refrained from putting his ideas into practice during the 
lifetime of the latter, felt sure that some parts of the Hut- 
tonian Theory could be proved or disproved by simple ex- 
periments.' After Hutton's death a series of trials, memor- 
able as the birth of Experimental Geology, proved the truth 
of his surmise, adding, at the same time, to the stability 
of Hutton's views and the fame of the Scottish School of 
(Jeology. During the first quarter of this century he pub- 
lished at intervals a series of admirable papers in the Trans- 
actions of the Eoyal Society of Edinburgh on such questions 
as the igneous origin of basalt-rocks, the formation of marble 

' Thwry of the Earth, voL L p. 251. 

* Tvansa^ums qfthe Royal Society, Edinburgh, vol vi p. 76. 



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108 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. 

and crystalline limestone, the contortion of the earth's crust, 
etc. But the vitality of the geological school in that capital 
was gone. No one followed up the path opened by Hall, 
and men were too busy elsewhere in making out the order 
of the rocks and the succession of the fossils to have time 
or inclination for theoretical questions 

Another change of import in the history of the time 
succeeding the publications of William Smith, was the 
gradual decline and extinction of Wemerianism. Even at 
its stronghold in Edinburgh it had been waning. Two 
months after the founding of the Geological Society of 
London, Jameson had started the Wemerian Society in 
Edinburgh — a Society which continued for many years, in 
spite of its name, to do much excellent work in various 
departments of natural history. Its founder had come to 
be regarded as the avowed leader of the Wemerians of this 
country. He had one great advantage over his opponents. 
Accurate mineralogical knowledge enabled him to discri- 
minate rocks with a precision to which they could make no 
pretension, and although this was an accomplishment of 
little real moment in the theoretical questions chiefly in 
dispute, he did not fail to make the most of it, nor they to 
betray their consciousness of their inferiority in that respect 
In the end, however, Jcuneson and his band of co-believers 
in Werner came to be gradually isolated on the rocks of 
Edinburgh with an ever-rising flood of the dominant geology 
around them. There they stood, battling as well as they 
might with the inevitable, until at last Jameson frankly 
acknowledged, at one of the evening discussions of the Boyal 
Society, that Wemerianism was doomed and deserved to die.^ 

1 This inoidenty of Jameson's confession, was told to tlie writer by Sir 



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-I ■ m^m^ ^^m 



Vol. I. To fuce jmge la^. 



PROFESSOR ROBERT JAMESON. 

Frviii a Miniaturt in Hit jwssaaion of Dr. Claiul Muirhtml, Edinburgh. 



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VOLCANIC OEOLOOY. 109 

It bad been one of tbe cbaracteristics of Werner's system 
to ignore, or at least to n^lect, volcanoes and volcanic action. 
Tbere were no volcanoes in tbat little kingdom wbicb be 
bad taken as tbe model of tbe globe. Tbe neglect was par- 
donable perbaps in bis case, but wben bis votaries in travel- 
ling over tbe world met face to face witb only too manifest 
proofs of tbe vitality of tbe internal beat of tbe eartb, tbey 
bad recourse to every possible explanation — tbe combustion 
of subterranean beds of coal, or indeed any supposition tbat 
would depreciate tbe importance of volcanoes as parts of tbe 
general economy of tbe world Tbey almost seemed to 
r^ard volcanoes witb dislike as anomalous interferences witb 
tbe normal constitution of tbings. Tbey denied tbe igneous 
origin of sucb rocks as basalt^ even thougb tbeir opponents 
proved tbat rocks of precisely similar cbaracter bad often 
been seen flowing in a melted state down tbe sides of volcanoes. 
Excellent service bad been done in exposing tbe absurdity of 
these notions by Desmarest, Montlosier, Faujas St Fond, 
and otber geologists on tbe Continent, and in tbis country 
by MaccuUocb, Bou^, and otbers, but by none more signally 
tban by Mr. Poulett Scrope in bis admirable memoirs on tbe 
volcanic districts of Naples and Central France, and bis 
work on Volcanoes.^ Tbougb tbe Britisb Islands abound in 

Robert ChriBtisoD, and by Professor Balfonr, who were present at the 
Royal Society of Edinbmgh when it took place. It has not been possible 
to recover the date of the meeting. 

^ Mr. Scrope, to whose cordial friendship it is a pleasore to record my 
obligations, has famished me with the foUowing reminisoenoe of this early 
geological controversy : — " I well recollect, on a discnasion arising at the 
Geological Society meeting, after the reading of a paper of mine on the 
Anvergne volcanoes, Greenongh's argoing that the cinder-cones might be 
volcanic, bnt that the plateaux of basalt that adjoined them were cer- 
tainly precipitations from the archaic ocean of Werner. In my reply 
I got the laugh in my favour by putting to him whether, if he found 



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no SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. 

old volcanic rocks of many ages, even the stimulus of the 
success of these observers was not enough to divert a few 
able observers from the general drift of English geology 
into the channels already indicated. Another generation 
had to arise before the volcanic history of Britain began to 
attract serious notice. 

But of the changes which followed the rise and rapid 
development of stratigraphical geology and palaeontology in 
England^ perhaps the most r^rettable was the neglect of 
what is now termed Physiographical Geology — that is, the 
study of the origin of the present external features of the 
land. Button and Playfair were full of this subject They 
refused to admit of hypothetical revolutions, but steadfastly 
insisted on explaining the changes of the past by the same 
kinds of action which may still be seen at work. Never- 
theless, though they directed attention so forcibly to the 
every-day changes of the earth's surface, their teaching did 
not displace the more sensational hypotheses of catastrophe 
and convulsion. It was reserved for a foreign scientific 
Society to recall the thoughts of men to the revolutions 
which the land had undergone within the time of human 
chronicles, and for the illustrious Yon Hoff to gather the 
historical evidence of these revolutions^ — a task which has 
since been so worthily followed up and extended by LyelL 

some morning on entering his libraiy (bo well known to geologists 
through his hospitalities) a stream of ink flooding the carpet, with a 
broken bottle at one end of it, he would be satisfied with the explana- 
tion of his housemaid that sho had broken the bottle, but was wholly 
innocent of spilling the ink, which must have been done in some other 
way and at some other time. Greenough lived and, I belieye, died a 
consistent Wemerian, and many a contest I had with him in 1823-6 on 
the identical character of basalt and lava.** 

1 Qeschichte der durch Ueberlieferung naohgewiesenen natttrlichen 
VeriinderuDgen der Erdoberflttche— ein Versnch yon K. E. A. von Hoff. 



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ORIGIN OF VALLEYS AND HILLS HI 

While dwelling on ordinary and familiar agents of change, 
the Scottish philosophers found in these the explanation of 
the origin of much of the scenery of the land. They delighted 
to trace the origin of valleys, the sculpturing of mountains, 
and the gradual evolution of the various features of a land- 
scape. They attributed these irr^ularities of surface to the 
action of rain and streams upou masses of land upheaved above 
the sea ; — an idea which was deemed too bold even by many 
of their boldest followers, such as Hall, and which fell into 
comparative oblivion. It was noticed in text-books and 
treatises only to be dismissed as extravagant In its place the 
notion prevailed that to subterranean action we must mainly 
attribute the present inequalities of the land — a notion which 
has been prevalent untU within the last few years, when tlie 
rising generation of geologists has b^un to recognise the true 
meaning and place of the Huttonian doctrine. We shall find 
that Sir Boderick Murchison up to the dose of his life battled 
for the supremacy of the underground forces in the modelling 
of the surfetce of the land. And yet he had read the lucid 
observations and arguments of Mr. Poulett Scrope, written 
so far back as 1822, to prove how valleys in central France 
had been cut out by running water ; — ^nay, as we shall see, 
one of his earliest geological tours abroad was to this very 
region, where he became convinced of the truth of A^r. 
Scrope's views, though the conversion proved to be only a 
transient one. 

In fine, the first quarter of the present century was a time 
of marvellous vigour in the history of geology. It was during 



This work was begun as a prise-essay wriUen in respoDse to an inviiati<m 
from the Royal Society of Soienoes at Qi^ttingen. The first Tolome was 
puUishedin 1S22, 



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112 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. 

that time that the science took shape and dignity. Amid 
the conflict of opposing schools progress had been steady 
and rapid. Every year broaxlened the base on which the 
infant science was being built up. The rocks of England 
and Wales were curranged in their order of age, the outlines 
traced by Smith having been more and more filled in. Ex- 
cellent service had been done by the admirable handbook of 
Conybeare and Phillips, while Bou^, Jameson, MaccuUoch, 
and others, had made known the rocks of large tracts of 
Scotland. But a vast deal remained to be accomplished. 
The field was still in a sense newly discovered, it stretched 
over a wide area, and lay open to any one who with active 
feet, good eyes, and shrewd head chose to enter it. And 
the enthusiasm of those who were already at work within 
its borders sufl&ced not only to inspirit their own labours, 
but to attract and stimulate other fellow-workers from the 
outer world. 

From the foregoing rapid survey of the progress of geology 
during the first quarter of this century we can see the pro- 
bable line of inquiry which any young Englishman would 
then be likely to take who entered upon the pursuit of the 
science without being gradually led up to it by previous and 
special studies. In the first place, he would almost certainly 
be a Huttonian, though doubtless holding some of Hutton's 
views with a difference. He would hardly be likely to show 
much sympathy with the fading dogmas of the Wemerians. 

In the second place, he would 'probably depart widely 
from one aspect of the original Huttonian school in avoiding 
theoretical questions, and sticking, possibly with even too 
great pertinacity, to the observation and accumulation of 
facts. 



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OPENING OF ma GEOLOGICAL CAREER. 113 

In the third place, he would most likely have no taste 
for experimental research as elucidating geological questions, 
and might set little store by the contributions made by 
physicists to the solution of problems in his science. 

In the fourth place, he would almost certainly be igno- 
rant of mineralogy, and whenever his work lay among 
crjrstalline rocks it would be sure to bear witness to this 
ignorance. 

In the fifth place, devoting himself to what lies beneath 
the surface as the true end and aim of geology, he would be 
apt to neglect the study of the external features of the 
land. And this neglect might lead him in the end to form 
most erroneous views as to the origin of these features. 

Lastly, his main geological idea would probably be to 
make out the order of succession among the rocks of his own 
country, to collect their fossils, unravel their complicated 
structure, and gather materials for comparing them with the 
rocks of other countries. In a word, he would in all likeli- 
hood drift with the prevailing current of geological inquiry 
at the time, and become a stratigraphical geologist 

There was no reason in Murchison's case why these 
influences of the day should not mould the whole character 
of his scientific life. We shall trace in the records of later 
years how thoroughly they did so. As he started, so he 
continued up to the end, manifesting throughout his career 
the permanent sway of the circumstances under which he 
broke ground as a geologist 

At first the novelty and fascination of the pursuit engaged 

his attention. Many a time on his walking and hunting 

expeditions he had noticed marine shells far inland. He 

now found out that such shells formed, as it were, the 

VOL.L H 



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lU SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. 

alphabet of a new language, and that by their means he 
might decipher for himself the histoiy of the rocks with 
whose external forms he was so familiar. He threw himself 
into the study with all his usual ardour, and ere long 
became as enthusiastic with his hammer over down and 
shore as he had been with his pencil and note-book among 
the galleries of Italy, or with his hunting-whip or his gun 
across the moors of Durham. 

Of the men on whom the progress of geology mainly 
depended at the time when Murchison joined them to 
become their life-long associate and Mend, something should 
be said here. Some of the band of enthusiasts by whom the 
Greological Society of London was originated still lived, and 
took an active share in the Society's work. Among them 
were Greenough, the true fotmder and first president of the 
Society — amiable, yet shy, and somewhat hesitating in 
manner, full of all kinds of miscellaneous knowledge, obsti- 
nately sceptical of new opinions, a kind of staunch geolo- 
gical Tory, and playing the part of objector-general at the 
evening discussions ; and Babington, a kindly, bland, and 
courteous veteran, who, well versed in the mineralogy of his 
time, had gathered at his house the few like-minded Mends 
from whom the Geological Society sprang, who introduced the 
practice of discussing the papers read at the meetings, and 
who even when nearly fourscore years of age found a con- 
genial occupation in the Society's museiun. Other names 
which had long been associated with the progress of the 
Society still had an honoured place on its list. Such were 
those of Wollaston — admirable mineralogist^ sternly upright 
in his search for truth, quiet, reserved, serious, looking like a 
Greek sage, and deservedly regarded as a general arbiter in 
the scientific world of London, yet, to those who were privi- 



I 



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k 



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Vol. 1. 'Jofncfpngr 11. 1 



RKV. WILUAM D. CONYBEARE. F R R. 

hiom a Pho(o,j,oi>h iu flic itosgcsition of his Fomihf. 



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FOUNDERS OF ENGLISH OEOLOGT. 115 

leged with his more intimate friendship, fond of a joke and 
of a quiet comer in a pheasant cover, where his gun seldom 
failed to tell ; Warburton— cautious and uncommunicative ; 
Fitton — ^friendly and painstaking, an active leader in the 
affairs of the Society, but somewhat hasty in temper, and 
prone to what some of his colleagues thought /'red-tape" 
formality, yet an admirable observer in the field, a most 
gifted debater, and one whose clear and el^ant pen did good 
service to the infant science in popular journals, and whose 
house formed a pleasant centre for the geologists of town ; 
Conybeare — clear-headed, critical, full of quaint humour and 
wit ; Buckland — cheery, humorous, bustling, fall of eloquence, 
with which he too blended much true wit^ seldom without his 
famous blue bag, whence, even at fashionable evening parties, 
he would bring out and describe with infinite droUery, amid 
the surprise and laughter of his audience, the last " find" from 
a bone-cave; Leonard Hornet — ^mild, unpretending, and defer- 
ential, yet shrewd and systematic, a valuable member of the 
council of management of the Society ; Sedgwick — ^with his 
well-remembered hard-featured yet noble face, and eyes like 
an eagle's, manly alike in body and mind, full of enthusiasm, 
ready and graphic in talk, generous and sympathetic, often 
depressed by a constitutional tendency to hypochondria,' yet, 
when in fall vigour of health, shrinking firom no toil, either 
at home or abroad, in furtherance of his chosen branch of 
science, and laying up year by year a store of facts and of 
brilliant deductions firom them, which have given him one 
of the most honoured places in the literature of geology. 

Later in advent than these magnates, or less prominent at 
the time with which we are now dealing, and therefore more 
of the standing of Murchison himself, came Lyell (now a house- 
hold name all over the world), even then noted among his 



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116 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. 

fellows for those qualities the farther development of which 
has been of such value to the spread of sound geology, and 
specially for his earnest pursuit of infoimation on every sub- 
ject which could throw any light upon the problems of the 
science ; Henry De la Beche, then a handsome and fieishion- 
able young man, just beginning to show that quick and 
shrewd observation of nature, and rare power of philosophical 
induction which eventually gave him so honourable a rank 
in British geology ; Dr. Edward Turner — young, open, tm- 
assuming, but eager in quest of knowledge, and one of the 
first chemists to recognise the necessity of linking chennstiy 
closely with mathematics; G. Poulett Scrope — ^full of 
geological zeal, which led him through the chief vol- 
canic districts of Europe, and stimulated him to produce 
an early series of writings which the avocations of a subse- 
quent political life have left all too few ; W. J. Broderip— 
active and methodical, full of varied natural-history know- 
ledge, brimming with joke, yet taking a keen interest in the 
affidrs of the Society, and keeping them in order, not with the 
severe rigour of Dr. Fitton, but with an easy good-humoured 
precision which pleased everybody and did the Society and 
its members most excellent service. 

Many other names of not less note should receive more 
than passing mention here among Murchison's early scientific 
contemporaries. Such were Whewell, Herschel, C. Stokes, 
Babbage, Webster, Lonsdale, Sir Philip Egerton, the Earl of 
Enniskillen (then Viscount Cole), and others, most of whom 
have passed away. Some of these men became intimate 
personal friends of the subject of this biography, and their 
names will therefore appear frequently in the subsequent 
chapters. 



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CHAPTER VIIL 

FIBST TEABS OF SCDSNTIFIC UFB AT HOME. 

Wb letum to Muicliison's career. He had now fairly 
resolved to cast in his lot with the men of science. Bringing 
his wife with him from Nursted, he came up to London, and 
rented the house No. 1 Montague Place, Montague Square. 
There, settling down to a much more serious employment 
than any he had yet undertaken, he entered upon his new 
life full of ardour and hope. 

" If in the last years of my fox-hunting," he says, " I 
began to sniff up a little scientific knowledge, and showed a 
willingness to turn my former rambles among the Alps and 
Apennines to some profit, it was only in the winter of 1824 
that I buckled resolutely to the study of chemistry and the 
cognate subjects by attending Brande's early morning lectures 
at the Boyal Institution. This I did by the advice of Sir H. 
Davy as a necessary preliminary. From this moment, all 
horses except a pair for my wife's carriage being dismissed, 
I got quite into another and to me an entirely new phase 
of society. My notebooks chiefly refer, however, to the 
geological lectures, and before the spring came I became 



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118 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [laa*. 

acquainted, through books and lectures, with the chief phe- 
nomena of British geology. Though chemistry never had 
strong attractions for me, I kept regular notes of the lectures 
on its various branches, and, at the end of my course, knew 
as much about that science as was necessary for a field- 
geologist."^ 

In later years he used to recall with no little pleasure an 
incident in that course of lectures. One day Dr. Brande did 
not lecture, and his place was taken by his assistant — a 
pale thin lad, who began with some timidity, but gathering 
courage as he went on, soon proved himself to be an ad- 
mirable lecturer, and received from his delighted audience a 
hearty round of applause. It was Michael Faraday.' 

From the Boyal Institution lectures the transition was 
easy to the papers and debates to be heard in those little 
rooms in Bedford Street, Covent Garden, where the Geological 
Society then held its meetings. We have in the preceding 
chapter noticed the place which the creation of this Society 
fills in the history of geological science in this country. 
Some further details of a more personal kind may here be 
given, partly because the men who started the Society were 
in great measure still living and active members of it when 
Murchison joined them, partly because Murchison's own 
scientific career was clofi^ly bound up with the subsequent 
history of the Society, and partly because the work done by 

^ These notes, which stiU exist, show a vast deal of dOigenoe, and a 
▼ery fair amount of knowledge. They seem to have been oarefnlly 
written out from day to day, and with equal fulness, whether the subject 
of the lectures was the composition of beef or the properties of oxygen. 

s In telling this story to the writer only a few months before his death, 
Murchison said it was Faraday's first lecture. A comparison of dates, 
however, shows that his memory had been at fault, for Faraday had 
already gained a reputation as experimenter and original investigator 
before this time. 



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iw.] THE GEOLOGICAL 80CIETT. 119 

the Society, and its influence upon the progress of the 
science, have been so great that they claim grateful recog- 
nition, and deserve adequate record in any work which pro- 
fesses to sketch, even in outline, the growth of a portion of 
British geology. 

At the beginning of this century original research in 
natural science was promoted in London by two Societies, 
the Boyal and the linnean. Next in order of time came 
the Geological Society, which took its origin, as already 
mentioned, in 1807, and under the following circum- 
stances :* — 

** Count de Boumon had written an elaborate monograph 
on carbonate of lime, and, in order to raise funds for its pub- 
lication. Dr. Babington invited to his house a number of 
gentlemen distinguished for their zeal in mineralogical 
knowledge, when a subscription-list was opened, and the 
necessary sum was collected. Other meetings of the same 
gentlemen took place for friendly intercourse, and it was 
then proposed to form a Geological Society. On Novem- 
ber 13, 1807, a meeting was held at the Freemasons' Tavern, 
Great Queen Street, at which resolutions were passed formally 
constituting the Society. Only eleven gentlemen were pre- 
sent, and their names deserve to be recorded. They were 
Arthur Aikin, William Allen, r.RS., William Babington, 
MJD., r.RS., Count Boumon, r.RS., H. Davy, SecRS.; 
J. Franck, M.D., G. Bellas Greenough, M.P., F.RS., R 

^ This namtive is taken from an aooonnt of the Society written by one 
of its FeUows, Mr. W. S. Mitchell, jost ifferioos to its recent change of 
qoarters to BnrUngton House, and published in The Hour of November 
5th, 1873. It is the only narrative which has been published of the early 
struggles of the Society. Compiled from the minut»-books of the Society, 
it presents a reliable account of events which must always have an interest 
for Knglish geologists. 



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120 SIB RODERICK MURCHISON. 

Knight, J. Laird, M.D., J. Paxkinson, Bichaid Phillips. Two 
other supporters of the scheme, W. H. Pepys and William 
Phillips, were unavoidably prevented firom attending the 
meeting, but their names were added to the list The thir^ 
teen names were read out, and these gentlemen constituted 
themselves the first members of the Geological Society, with 
the resolution, — * That there be forthwith instituted a Geo- 
logical Society for the purpose of making geologists acquainted 
with each other, of stimulating their zeal, of inducing them 
to adopt one nomenclature, of facilitating the communication 
of new facts, and of ascertaining what is known in their 
science, and what remains to be discovered.' 

'' The customs of the new association were such that it 
would now be called a Club rather than a Society. The 
members were to meet on the first Friday of every month at 
five o'clock, at the Freemasons' Tavern, for a fifteen shilling 
dinner. Business was to commence at seven o'clock, and 
the chairman was to leave the chair at nine." 

After drawing up rules and other initial formalities, in- 
cluding the election of a Patron (Eight Honourable Charles 
F. GreviUe, F.RS.) and a President (G. B. Greenough, M.P., 
F.RS.), the members, in accordance with one of their laws, 
set themselves to work in '' contributing to the advancement 
of geological science, more particularly as connected with 
the mineral history of the earth." Their numbers increased, 
and among their early adherents they could count even the 
President of the Boyal Society, who requested admission into 
their ranks. Specimens of minerals were presented to them 
with such liberality that within a year the idea took definite 
shape of securing some permanent place for the collections 
and meetings of the Society. Accordingly, in 1809, rooms 



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HISTORY OF THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY. 121 

were obtained at No. 4 Garden Court, Temple, and there the 
infant Society was enabled first to erect its household gods. 
But this step, so indicative of independence and activity, 
soon led to serious troublea 

'' The Society reckoned among its members many who 
were Fellows of the Soyal Society, and so long as it aimed 
at nothing more than dining once a month and discussing 
geological subjects, there was nothing to which the Fellows 
of the Eoyal Society could raise any objection. But as soon 
as^ a s ep a rate hatntation was proposed, with a separate collec- 
tion of specimens, it was at once objected that the dignity of 
the Boyal Society would be impaired. At the meeting on 
March 3 (1809), Sir Joseph Banks sent in his resignation, 
and soon after a proposal was made by the Patron, the Eight 
Hon. Charles Greville, to make the Geological Society an 
assistant association to the Boyal Society. The drift of the 
plan was, that the Geological Society should consist of two 
classes of members — (1.) those who were Fellows of the 
Boyal Society, and (2.) those who were not That all papers 
should be sent to the Boyal Society for them to select what 
they liked for publication, and that the Geological Society 
should be at liberty to publish the rejected papers if they 
wished. A special meeting to consider this proposal was 
held at the Freemasons' Tavern on March 10, when this 
resolution was passed : — ' That any proposition tending to 
render this Society dependent upon or subservient to any 
other Society does not correspond with the conception this 
meeting entertains of the original principles upon which the 
Geological Society was founded.' The proposal was decided 
to be inadmissible, and it was pointed out that it was never 
intended to impose any obligations on members of the Geo- 



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122 SIB RODERICK MURCHISON. 

logical Society inconsistent with their allegiance to the Boyal 
Society. Mr. GreviUe sent in his resignation as Patron, but 
the firmness shown by a few of the promoters of the Society 
secured for it freedom and independence of action." 

This vigorous action no doubt helped to strengthen the 
Society both in numbers and in influence. Even so early as 
1810 the first habitation at the Temple was found too small, 
and the chattels of the Society were in that year transferred 
to No. 3 Lincoln's Inn Fields. Further evidence of vigour 
was shown by the fact that the papers read at the meetings 
began in 1811 to be published in quarto volumes of the 
massive orthodox size, and with wealth of margin and illus- 
trations. After six years of great activity, the need for 
further space again became urgent Another migration 
took place, the rooms selected being at No. 20 Bedford Street, 
Covent Garden. For twelve years, that is from 1816 to 
1828, the Society continued to hold its meetings in that 
building. It was while there that ** in 1825 a Charter of 
Incorporation was applied for and obtained from George iv., 
the date of affixing the royal seal being April 23, ' in the 
sixth year of our reign.' The five members named in the 
charter were, — ^W. Buckland, Arthur Aikin, John Bostock, 
G. Bellas Greenough, and Henry Warburton. Dr. Buckland 
was by the charter appointed first President" 

The Geological Society of London " was, in its early days," 
to quote the words of one of its former most distinguished 
members, " composed of robust, joyous, and independent 
spirits, who toiled well in the field, and did battle and cuffed 
opinions with much spirit and great good will ; for they had 
one great object before them — ^the promotion of true know- 
ledge — and not one of them was deeply committed to any 



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18M.6.] JOINS THE GEOLOGISTS. 123 

system of opinions." The same writer boasts of " the joyous 
meetings, and of the generous, unselfish, and truth-loving 
spirit that glowed throughout the whole body." * 

It was into this pleasant gathering of enthusiasts that 
Murchison found his way in the winter of 1824-25. " I 
entered the Society," he says, " Professor Buckland of Oxford 
being President, and on the 7th of January took my seat, 
and had my hand shaken by that remarkable man, who was 
then giving such an impulse to our new science, and was of 
course my idoL One of the honorary secretaries, then a 
young lawyer, was Charles Lyell, who then read his first 
paper, on the marl-lake at Kinnordy, in Forfarshire, the 
property of his father. 

" Among my scientific friends I was of course most proud 
to reckon Dr. Wollaston, who then and in subsequent years 
invariably took pains to make me understand the true 
method of searching after new facts, and often corrected my 
slips and mistakes. 

** I also owed great obligation to Mr. Thomas Webster. 
His acquaintance with minerals and ores, as well as with fossil 
animal remains, and his well-compoeed descriptions, were 
strikingly illustrated by his great powers as an artist. Bom 
in the Shetland Isles, and there receiving a good education, 
Webster had never seen in that r^on a tree higher than a 
bush, so that in coming southwards, as he told me, he never 
could forget the astonishment and admiration he felt, when 
on reaching the valley of Berriedale, on the borders of Suther- 
land, he for the first time saw true forest-trees. Before these he 
kneeled down, as true a worshipper as Linnaeus when he first 
beheld in England the yellow blossom of our common furze. 
^ Sedgwick, BriL Pal, FouiU, Introdaction, pp. xo. xcii. 



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124 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [laai-a 

" Sedgwick, Whewell, Peacock, Babbage, Herschel, and 
all the eminent Cantabs of the time, came flocking in con- 
tinually to our scientific assemblies. From his buoyant and 
cheerful nature, as well as from his flow of soul and elo- 
quence, 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 Ck>ntinent" 

To show farther the contrast between his eknployments 
in London and his amusements during previous winters in 
the country, it may be well to note that he not merely made 
a good many acquaintances among scientific people, but be- 
came a personal friend of not a few men who then or after- 
wards stood in the foremost ranks of literatura He met 
Thomas Moore, Hallam, Copley (Lord Lyndhurst), Lord 
Dudley, and others, who used to frequent the soir^ of Miss 
Lydia White, whose well-known ambition it was to gather 
round her the intellect and taste of London society.^ 

With lectures on science, scientific papers and discus- 
sions, evening soir^, and the opportunity of hearing and 
talking to men who had already made themselves famous, 
he found enough fully to fill up his time, and to make Lon- 
don life a very different thing to him bom what it had been 
in the old days when he used to escape to town from the 
monotony of a country barrack. With his characteristic 
ardour, he had. not completed his first winter^s studies before 
he longed to be off into the field to observe for himsell 

" My first real field work," he says, " b^an under Pro- 

^ Sir Walter Soott, who knew thi« lady well, deaoribee her aa " what 
Oxoniana call a lioneea of the first order, with atockinga nineteen timea 
nine dyed bine, very lively, very good-humonred, and extremely abanrd.*' 
'^Life, ToL ii p. 137. 



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iffl4-».] FIRST FIELD DAYS WITH BUCKLAND. 125 

feasor Buckland, who having taken a fancy to me as one of 
his apt scholars, invited me to visit him at Corpus Christi 
College, Oxford, and attend one or two of his lectures. This 
was my true launch. Travelling down with him in the Ox- 
ford coach, I learned a world of things before we reached the 
Isis, and, amongst others, his lecture on Crustacea, given 
whilst he pulled to pieces on his knees a cold crab bought at 
a fishmongei^s shop at Maidenhead, where he usually lunched 
as the coach stopped. 

^ On repairing fix>m the Star Inn to Buckland's domicile, 
I never can forget the scene which awaited me. Having, by 
direction of the janitor, climbed up a narrow staircase, I 
entered a long corridor-like room (now all destroyed), which 
wfts filled with rocks, shells, and bones in dire confusion, 
and, in a sort of sanctum at the end, was my friend in his 
black gown looking like a necromancer, sitting on the one 
only rickety chair not covered with some fossils, and clean- 
ing out a fossil bone from the matrix." 

The few days at Oxford were memorably pleasant Buck- 
land's wit and enthusiasm glowed through all his scientific 
sayings and doings, and he had a rare power of description 
by which he could make even a dry enough subject fascinat- 
ingly interesting. Murchison heard one or two brilliant 
lectures from him, but what was of stiU more importance, he 
accompanied the merry Professor and his students, mounted 
on Oxford hacks, to Shotover Hill, and for the first time in 
his life had a landscape geologically dissected before him. 
From that eminence his eye was taught to recognise the 
broader features of the succession of the oolitic rocks of Eng- 
land up to the far range of the Chalk Hills ; and this not in 
a dull, text-book fashion, for Buckland, in luminous language, 



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126 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [law-a 

brought the several elements of the landscape into connexion 
with each other and with a few fundamental principles which 
have determined the sculpturing of the earth's surface. His 
audience came to see merely a rich vale in the midst of 
fertile England, but before they quitted the ground the land- 
scape had been made to yield up to them clear notions of the 
origin of springs and the principles of drainage. 

This was the very kind of instruction needed to fan the 
growing flame of Murchison's zeal for science. He returned 
to town burning with desire to put his knowledge to some 
use by tiying to imitate, no matter how feebly, the admirable 
way in which the Oxford Professor had appUed the lessons 
of the lecture-room to the elucidation of the history of hills 
and valleys. While shooting and rambling, as he had so 
often done, at the house of his father-in-law, he had already 
noted many geological £eu^ts in the district around Petersfield 
without paying much heed to them, or seeking in any way 
for their explanation; but firom what he had learnt fix>m 
Mr. Webster and Dr. Fitton as to the Isle of Wight, he could 
see that in that island he should most likely find materials 
for understanding the geology of Petersfield. Accordingly he 
determined that this should be his first essay in independent 
field-work. Of this time he writes : " I was totus in Hits, 
and making every preparation for a thorough survey of all 
the South coast — a project which was gladly backed up by 
my wife, who now saw that I was fairly bitten with my 
new hobby. Conybeare and Phillips' Geology of England and 
Wales had then become my scientific bible, and I saw that a 
fine field was opening for any zealous and active searcher 
after truth in completing many gaps which they had left to 
be filled up.'* 



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1825.] HIS FIRST INDEPENDENT FIELD-WORK, 127 

The summer of 1825 broiight Murchison and his wife 
back once more to Nursted House, but the Hambledon fox- 
hounds had now lost their charms for him. With the same 
zeal he had thrown himself into another kind of hunting, in 
which, instead of old Parson Bichards and his friends, he 
had for companion his own wife. Many a deep lane and 
rocky dingle did they explore together for fossils. Dr. Fitton 
came down to visit them and joined in the pursuit, tracing 
out by degrees the weU-marked succession of cretaceous 
strata shown in that district 

Seeing in this way the problems which he had to work 
out in the Petersfield district, Murchison started with his 
wife in the middle of August on a tour of nine weeks along 
the South coast, from the Isle of Wight into Devon and 
ComwaU. Taking a light carriage and a pair of horses, he 
made the journey in short stages, lingering for days at some 
of the more interesting or important geological localities. 
Driving, boating, walking, or scrambling, the enthusiastic 
pair signalized their first geological tour by a formidable 
amount of bodily toiL Mrs. Murchison specially devoted 
herself to the collection of fossils, and to sketching the more 
striking geological features of the coast-line, while her hus- 
band would push on to make some long and laborious detour. 
In this way, while she remained quietly working at Lyme 
Eegis, he struck westward for a fortnight into Devon and 
Cornwall, to make his first acquaintance with the rocks to 
which in after years Sedgwick and he were to give the name 
by which they are now recognised all over the world. 

It was in the course of this tour that he met with a man 
whom he has the merit of having brought into notice, and 
who certainly amply requited him by the services rendered 



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128 SIB RODERICK MURCHISON. [vm. 

in later years. William Lonsdale had served in the Penin- 
sular war, and retired on half-pay to Bath. With the most 
simple and abstemious habits his slender income sufficed not 
only for his wants, but for the purchase of any book or fossil 
he coveted, and so he spent his time in studying the organic 
remains, and specially the fossil corals, to be found in his 
neighbourhood. Murchison met him accidentally in some 
quarries, — '^ a tall, grave man, with a huge hammer on his 
shoulder,'' — and found him so fiQl of information that he 
stayed some days at Bath under Lonsdale's guidance. 

With the enlargement of view which so instructive a 
ramble had given him, Murchison prepared and read to the 
Geological Society, on 16th December 1825, his first scientific 
paper, — ** A Geological Sketch of the North-western extre- 
mity of Sussex, and the adjoining parts of Hants and Surrey."' 
This little essay bore manifest evidence of being the result 
of careful observation of the order of succession of the rocks 
in the field, followed by as ample examination of their 
fossils as he could secure from those best qualified to give an 
opinion upon them. Li these respects it was typical of all 
his later work. 

Having shown by this first publication his capacity as 
an observer and describer, and being further recommended 
by the leisure which his position of independence enabled 
him to command, he was soon after elected one of the two 
honorary secretaries of the Geological Society. " Lyell being 
then a law-student, with chambers in the Temple, could only 
devote a portion of his time to our science, and was glad to 
make way as secretary to one who, like myself, had nothing 
else to do than think and dream of geology, and work hard 
to get on in my new vocation." 

^ See Oeol, Traina^ 2d aer^ toL iL p. 97. 



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Vol,. I. Tu ftn'e jtaye 1 ^J. 



VILLIAM HYDE WOLL.\BT()N. M.D. 
From a Dmu'iiuj by Sir Thf/majf iMwrence. 



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1826.] ENTERS TEE ROYAL SOCIETY. 129 

In the spring of 1826 he was elected into the Boyal 
Society — an honour more easily won then than now, and 
for which, as the President, his old friend Sir Humphry 
Davy told him, he was indebted not to the amount or value 
of his scientific work, but to the fact that he was an inde- 
pendent gentleman having a taste for science, with plenty of 
time and enough of money to gratify it. His acquaintance 
with the scientific men of London daily increased, Davy and 
Wollaston being specially attentive in their encouragement. 
Of his intercourse with the latter he writes : " Wollaston's 
little dinners of four or five persons were most agreeable, 
and you were sure to come away with much fresh know- 
ledga A good dish of fish, a capital joint and some game, 
fallowed by his invariable large pudding, filled in with 
apples, apricots, or green-gages, all served on plain white 
porcelain by two tidy, handsome women, was the bill of 
fare. 

" This was perhaps about the happiest period of my life. 
I had shaken off the vanities of the fashionable world to 
a good extent — was less anxious to know titled folks and 
leading sportsmen — ^wm free of all the cares and expenses of 
a stable frill of horses — and had taken to a career in which 
excitement in the field carried with it occupation, amuse- 
ment, and possibly reputation." 

But if distinction was to be won in this new kind of 
activity, it could only be by hard toil in the field. He had 
never had any of the special training which would have fitted 
him for working out geological problems indoors, such as the 
discrimination of fossils, or the characters and alterations of 
minerals and rocks ; hence, although stress of weather, not to 
speak ^f the pleasures of society, brought him to London and 

VOL. L I 



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130 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [im 

kept him there during the winter and spring, he soon saw 
that to insure progress in his adopted pursuit he must spend 
as much as possible of every summer and autumn in original 
field-exploration. He had begun well in this way by the tour 
along the South coast. Now that another summer had come 
round he prepared to resume his hammer in the field. As 
before, a definite task was given to him. Buckland and 
others advised him to go north and settle the geological age 
of the Brora coal-field, in Sutherlandshira Some geologists 
maintained that the rocks of that district were merely a part 
of the ordinary coal, or carboniferous system ; others held 
them to be greatly younger, to be indeed of the same general 
age with the lower oolitic strata of Yorkshire. A good 
observer might readily settle this question. Murchison 
resolved to try. 

Again he prepared himself by reading and study of fossils 
to understand the evidence he was to collect and interpret ; 
and in order to do full justice to the Scottish tract, he went 
first to the Yorkshire coast and made himself master of the 
succession and leading characters of the rocks so admirably 
displayed along that picturesque line of cliffs. The summer 
had hardly begun before he and his wife broke up their 
camp in London and were on the move northward. 

At York he made the acquaintance of two men with 
whom he was destined in after life to have much dose inter- 
course and co-operation, — ^the Eev. William Vernon (after- 
wards Vernon Harcourt) and Mr. John Phillips. The latter 
friend has kindly contributed the following reminiscences 
of this interview : — " In a bright afl;emoon of early summer, 
while engaged in museum arrangements, a man of cheerftil 
and distinguished aspect was presented to me by the Pre- 



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1826.] WILLIAM SMITH AND JOHN PHILLIPS. 131 

sideut of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, Mr, W. 
Vernon (Harcourt), as Mr. Murchison, a &iend of Buck- 
land, desirous of consulting our collections. The museum 
was tolerably well supplied with oolitic fossils, and espe- 
cially those of the coralline oolite and calcareous grit of 
Yorkshire. Some of these were amusing enough. A 
diligent collector at Malton, who supplied the museum 
with specimens, sometimes brought what were called 
* beetles,' made by painting and varnishing parts of shells 
and crustaceans. After examining the 'fossils' with care, 
Murchison would see these 'curiosities.' As it happened, 
they were laid contemptuously at the base of vertical cases, 
and were rather diflScult to get out — 'Never mind,' said 
the old soldier, ' we will lie down and reconnoitre on the 
floor.' I knew then that geology had gained a resolute 
disciple, possibly a master-workman," 

Murchison's own record of the meeting is as follows : — 
" Phillips, then a youth, was engaged in arranging a small 
museimi at York. He recommended me strongly to his 
uncle, William Smith, who was then living at Scarborough, 
and had little intercourse with the Geological Society, for 
he thought that Greenough and others, in taking from him 
the main materials of his original Geological Map of Eng- 
land, had done him an injustice. The unpretending country 
land-surveyor, who had really the highest merit of them all, 
had been somewhat snubbed by such men as Dr. Macculloch 
and others, who, having a superior acquaintance with the 
chemical composition of rocks and minerals, did not appre- 
ciate the broad views of Smith. 

*' From the moment I had my first walk with William 
Smith (then ^bout sixty years old), I felt that he was just 



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132 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isaj. 

the man after mj own heart ; and he, on his part, seeing 
that I had, as he said, ' an eye for a country,' took to me 
and gave me most valuable lessons. Thus he made me 
thoroughly acquainted with all the strata north and south 
of Scarborough. He afterwards accompanied me in a boat 
all along the coast, stopping and sleeping at Bobin Hood's 
Bay. Not only did I then learn the exact position of the 
beds of poor coal which crop out in that tract of the eastern 
moorlands, but collecting with him the characteristic fossils 
from the calcareous grit down to the lias, I saw how clearly 
strata must alone be identified by their fossils, inasmuch as 
here, instead of oolitic limestones like those of the south 
we had sandstones, grits, and shales, which, though closely 
resembling the beds of the old coal, were precise equivalents 
of the oolitic series of the soutL Smith walked stoutly 
with me all under the cliflfs, from Eobin Hood's Bay to 
Whitby, making me well note the characteristic fossUs of 
each formation." 

Though the main object of this summer tour was to 
work out the geological problem which had been assigned 
to him in Sutherlandshire, he sketched a most circuitous 
route, partly for the sake of showing Mrs. Murchison some- 
thing more of the Highlands than she had yet seen, and 
partly with the view of putting to use his new acquirements 
in geology ; so that after reaching Edinburgh, and having its 
geology expounded to him by Jameson, instead of striking 
north at once, he turned westwards to the island of Arran, 
and spent many weeks among the Western islands, from the 
Firth of Clyde to the north of Skye. The hills of his native 
coimtry had now acquired an interest for him which they 
never possessed, even in the days when they drew him off 



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1626.] TOUR IN THE HIGHLANDS. 133 

in eager pursuit of grouse and black-cock. At every halt 
his first anxiety was to know what the rocks of the place 
might be, and how far he could identify their geological 
position. In Arran he filled his note-book with observa- 
tions and queries about granite, red sandstone, limestone, 
and other puzzling matters, on which his previous expe- 
rience in field-work in the south of England and in York- 
shire could throw no light, and for the elucidation of which 
he wisely resolved to secure at some future time the guidance 
and co-operation of an older geologist than himself. It was 
in the fulfilment of this resolution that Sedgwick and he 
first became fellow-workers in the field. 

Sailing packets, small boats, and post-horses combined 
to make a tour among the Inner Hebrides and West High- 
lands in those days a leisurely affair. A geologist had many 
opportunities of using his hammer by the way, and Murchison 
seems always to have had his in his hand or in his pocket, 
and to have jotted down in detail what he saw. The itinerary 
of his journey shows that he scoured the hills and glens of 
Mull, peeped into every nook and cranny of Stafia, mounted 
to the top of Ben Nevis and recognised its curious crest of 
porphyry, went up to the Parallel Eoads of Glen Boy, as- 
cended the Great Glen, and then turning west through 
Glengarry to Glenshiel, found himself in Skye. In that 
wildest and weirdest of the Western Islands he and his wife 
did excellent work in collecting fossils, and thereby obtain- 
ing materials for making more detailed comparison between 
the secondary rocks of the West of Scotland and those of 
England than had been attempted by Dr. MaccuUoch. The 
actual fossil-hunting was mainly done by Mrs. MurclusoD, 
after whom one of the shells {AmmoniUs Murchiaonict) was 



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134 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. \\m. 

named by Sowerby, while her husband climbed the cliffs 
and trudged over the moors and crags to make out the order 
of succession among the secondary strata. 

But the tour was not merely geological Many a halt 
and detour were made to get a good view of some fine 
scenery, or to make yet another sketch. Friends and High- 
land cousins, too, were plentifully scattered along the route, 
so that the travellers had ample experience of the hearty 
hospitality of those regions. An occasional shot at grouse or 
deer varied the monotony of the hammering ; but even when 
stalking, Murchison could not keep his eyes from the rocks. 
Amid the jottings of his sport he had facts to chronicle about 
the gneiss or porphyry or sandstone through which the sport 
had led him. This characteristic, traceable even at this early 
period of his life, remained prominent up to the last autumn 
of his life in which he was able to wield a gun or a hammer. 

The summer had in great part passed before he reached 
that part of the eastern coast of Sutherlandshire where the 
scene of his special task lay; but that task proved to be 
eminently easy. From Dunrobin, where he was hospitably 
entertained, he could follow northwards and southwards a 
regular succession of strata, and recognised in them the 
equivalents of parts of the oolitic series of Yorkshire. The 
Brora coal, therefore, instead of forming paxt of the true 
carboniferous system, was simply a local peculiarity in the 
oolitic series. As in Skye, he made a collection of fossils 
which offered a means of satisfactory comparison with the 
oolitic rocks of England. 

The rapidity with which this piece of work could be 
done left time for a prolongation of the tour northwards 
through Caithness, even up into the Orkney Islands, but at 



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i82ft.7.] THE THAMES TUNNEL. 135 

lengih the tourists Iiad to prepare for a southward migration 
again. Beaching Inverness, they turned eastward to Aber- 
deen, and thence, with Bout's Essai in hand, down the eastern 
coast, by Peterhead, Bullers of Buchan, Arbroath, and St. 
Andrews. While in Fife they received tidings of the serious 
illness of the old General at Ninrsted. Abruptly closing this 
protracted ramble, they took their places in the mail-coach, 
and travelled without intermission into Hants. The imme- 
diate result of this summer^s work was seen in the prepara- 
tion of a paper for the Geological Society.^ 

As before, the winter was passed in London, and this 
became henceforth Murchison's practice. The summer and 
autumn usually found him in the country for fresh observa- 
tions, with visits to old Mends and a renewal of field-sports ; 
but when winter b^an to set in, imless when abroad, he 
made his way back to town to renew the socialities of life, 
in which he delighted, and to elaborate his geological work 
for publication. 

Among the incidents of London life in the winter of 
1826-27, he has preserved some notes of a hazardous de- 
scent into the Thames Tunnel, then in course of construc- 
tion. The river had burst in upon the works, and the two 
Brunels were organizing means for expelling the intruder. 
Considerable discussion went on in scientific circles as to 
the mode of procedure, or whether it was worth proceeding 
at alL Dr. Buckland organized a party to go down and 

^ '< On the Coal-field of Bror% in Sntherlandebire, and some other 
stratified deposits in the north of Scotland" {TroM, OtoL 8oc,, 2d series, 
ToL n. p. 293), an excellent memoir, in which the principles of William 
Smith were, for the first time, applied in detail to the oolitic rocks of 
Scotland, and which gave the first connected acooont of these rocks, with 
lists of characteristic fossils 



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136 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [isje-r. 

inspect, including Charles Bonaparte (afterwards Prince of 
Canino) and Murchison. 

** The first operation we underwent (one which I never 
repeated) was to go down in a diving-bell upon the cavity 
by which the Thames had broken in. Buckland and Feather- 
stonehaugh, having been the first to volunteer, came up with 
such red faces and such staring eyes, that I confess I felt 
no great inclination to follow their example, particularly as 
Charles Bonaparte was most anxious to avoid the dilemma, 
excusing himself by saying that his family was very short- 
necked and subject to apoplexy, etc. ; but it would not do 
to show the white feather ; I got in, and induced him to 
follow me. The efiTect was, as I expected, most oppressive, 
and then on the bottom what did we see but dirty gravel 
and mud, from which I brought up a fragment of one of 
Hunt's blacking-bottles. We soon pulled the string, and 
were delighted to breathe the fresh air. 

** The first folly was, however, quite overpowered by the 
next. We went down the shaft on the south bank, and got, 
with young Brunei, into a punt, which he was to steer into 
the tunnel till we reached the repairing-shield. About eleven 
feet of water were still in the tunnel, leaving just space 
enough above our heads for Brunei to stand up and daw 
the ceiling and sides to impel us. As we were proceeding 
he called out, ' Now, gentlemen, if by accident there should 
be a rush of water, I shall turn the punt over and prevent 
you being jammed against the roof, and we shall then all be 
carried out and up the shaft !' On this C. Bonaparte re- 
marked, ' But I cannot swim V and, just as he had said the 
words, Brunei, swinging carelessly from right to left, fell 
overboard, and out went of course the candles, with which 



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1827.] PROPOSES A JOINT TOUR TO SEDGWICK. 137 

he was lighting up the place. Taking this for the sauve 
qui pent, fet C. B., then the very image of Napoleon at St. 
Helena, was about to roll out after him, when I held him 
fast, and, bj the glimmering light from the entrance, we 
found young Brunei, who swam like a fish, coming up on 
the other side of the punt, and soon got him on board. We 
of course called out for an immediate retreat, for really there 
could not be a more foolhardy and ridiculous risk of our 
lives, inasmuch as it was just the moment of trial as" to 
whether the Thames would make a further inroad or not" 

As the spring months wore away, short visits to the 
country could be resumed, as, for example, down to Oxford, 
to join in one of the galloping excursions of the merry Pro- 
fessor of Geology, or to Lewes to make the acquaintance of 
Dr. Mantell, then in fuU medical practice, but who had 
found time to distinguish himself as a zealous palaeontologist 
and collector. In the course of these short and desultory 
excursions, Murchison supplemented his former work in the 
Fetersfield district, and made himself master of the full suc- 
cession of the cretaceous formations. 

But a much more lengthy and ambitious tour had 
already been planned. In the previous year, during the 
rambles in Arran and elsewhere in the north, he had met 
with many puzzling facts. Particularly had he been dis- 
comfited by the problems presented by the red sandstones of 
the west coast And as we have already noted, he had 
determined to return to the attack, bringing with him a 
geologist of ampler knowledge and specially experienced in 
the complicated structure of the older rocks. Of all his 
geological friends none had won his respect and admiration 
so entirely as Sedgwick. Admirable as an observer, clear 



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138 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isssr. 

and brilliant as an expositor, the Woodwardian Professor 
was one of the kindliest, wittiest, merriest of companions. 
While Mnrchison's pursuit of science was now and con- 
tinued through life to be a serious earnest task, Sedgwick's 
enthusiasm and earnestness, on the other hand, were quite 
as great, his knowledge far greater, but he threw over 
his scientific work the charm of his own bright genial 
nature. Brimful of humour and bristling with apposite 
anecdote, his scientific talk was greatly more entertaining 
than the ordinary conversation of most good talkers, for 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 
through his geological work an endless thread of fun and 
wit No wonder therefore that Murchison, who, though not 
himself gifted with humour, had a keen relish for it as it 
came from others, should have made choice of such a com- 
panion. 

But Sedgwick had already distinguished himself in the 
difficult labour of unravelling the structure of some of the 
older rocks of tlus country. And it was in the older rocks 
that the problems lay which had baffled Murchison during 
his first geological raid into Scotland. In every way the 
society of the Cambridge Professor would be an advantage 
to him ; it would give him at once a skilful instructor^ a 
generous fellow-labourer, and a buoyant companion. His 
proposal that Sedgwick should return with him to Scotland 
was accepted, and the two friends, destined to achieve many 



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Vol. I. To /xrr jHKlts l-iS. 



ADAM aKDOWIl.'K. F K.H. 

From a Photogniph. 



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1827.] FIRST TOUR WITH SEDGWICK. 139 

an aiduous and hard-won success in after years in tlie field 
together, started on their first conjoint geological tour early 
in July 1827. 

The main object of this journey was to ascertain if 
possible the true relations of the red sandstones of Scot- 
land — a subject in regard to which Murchison himself had 
observed many diflBcult or apparently contradictory facts in 
the previous year, and which the maps and writings of Mac- 
culloch had not fuUy explained. The route chosen agreed on 
the whole with that previously followed by Murchison and 
his wife — Arran, Mull, Skye, thence through the north of 
Sutherlandshire to the east coast of Caithness, and then 
southwards by Elgin, Aberdeen, Forfarshire, Edinburgh, 
Dumfriesshire, Carlisle, and Newcastle, to York. 

Throughout by much the greater part of the country to 
be traversed in the Highland tracts comparatively little had 
been done by geologists beyond the maps and memoirs of 
Macculloch, and hence there was little in the way of pub- 
lished description to be read before starting. From a loose 
slip of paper found among Murchison's repositories, it 
appears that in the absence of geological memoranda he 
had taken to the acquisition of words and phrases in Gaelic^ 
and had written down such as he judged would be most 
useful. The reader may think this list rather an ominous 
one when he is told that it begins with the question in 
Gaelic, "Where is the public-house?" and ends off with 
'* ooshke day — ^hot water." 

From this long and well-worked journey Murchison 
profited greatly. Under Sedgwick's guidance he saw clearly 
enough now the meaning of things which had puzzled him 
not a little before. For example, even at that early time. 



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140 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [v^. 

Sedgwick had distinguished that peculiar structure in rocks 
to which the name of ** cleavage" is now given, and taught 
his companion to recognise it^ Fractures and foldings, with 
other broad features of geological structure in a r^on of 
old dislocated and altered rocks, were likewise unravelled. 

But with Sedgwick in the party the tour could not pos- 
sibly be all work and no play. They threw themselves 
heartily into the ways of the Highlanders, and made friends 
all along the route, — ate haggises and drank whisky at one 
house, danced in rough coats and hobnailed boots in an- 
other, brightened with talk and tale the drawing-room of a 
third. Much of the journey was performed on foot over 
wild moor and mountain, or in a crazy boat through the 
winding i^ords. Some of the expeditions too were imder- 
taken in such storms of wind and rain as are seldom seen 
anywhere in Britain out of that north-western r^on. Hence 
they returned to the south country, not without adventures to 
boast of, — ^how, for example, they were nearly lost in boating 
from Oreinord to Ullapool, and saved, so Sedgwick said, by 
his vigorous help in bailing the leaky boat with his hat, — 
or how, Sedgwick wearing a plaid which he had bought from 
a shepherd, they were taken by a bustling landlady for a 
couple of drovers, and got but scant courtesy, — or how, to 
prevent a like mistake at Forfar, Murchison insisted on 



^ Among the slate-qiuuTies of BaUmchulish they met with examples of 
deavage which Sedgwick pointed ont on the spot to K. yon Oeynhanaen 
and H. von Dechen, then rambling through Scotland and gathering ma- 
terials for the papers on varioos parts of Highland geology, which they 
afterwards published in Karsten's Archiv. He failed to convince them 
that there was any essential difference between the original stratification 
of the rocks and the lines of cleavage, even though the argument lasted 
long, in one of the deluges of rain so characteristio of that weeping 



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i8sar.] FIRST TOUR WITH SEDGWICK. 141 

going first into the inn, and, to his companion's delight, was 
shown into the tap-room ! from which, however, the retired 
captain of dragoons discharged such a characteristically mili- 
tary volley of denunciation as speedily brought both landlord 
and landlady with profuse apologies and a loud command of 
" wax-lights for the gentlemen," Among these incidents of 
travel one curious coincidence made an impression upon 
Murchison's Highland susceptibilities. His mother, as we 
have seen, was a Mackenzie of Fairbum, bom in the ances- 



Bed Sandstone Mountains on the West Coast of Sutherland. 

tral Tower. There had been a tradition in the district to 
the effect that the lands should pass out of the hands of the 
Mackenzies, and that " the sow should litter in the ladjr's, 
chamber." The old tower had now become a ruin, and the 
two travellers turned aside to see it. " The Professor and 
I," says Murchison, " were groping our way up the broken 
stone stair-case, when we were almost knocked over by a 
rush of two or three pigs that had been nestling up-stairs 
in the very room in which my mother was bom," 



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142 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [im 

After seeing most of the red sandstone tteucAa of Scot- 
land the two travellers re-entered England by Carlisle, 
crossed to Newcastle, and revisited some of the sporting 
scenes of earlier years. One of the friends they saw was 
Murchison's former fox-htmting chief, Lord Darlington, 
who, he writes, "laughed at my new hobby which had 
converted me into 'an earth-stopper!'" — a simile worthy 
of a veteran Nimrod who hunted every day of the week 
except Sunday, 

With the winter came back the usual routine of London 
life. The Secretaryship of the Geological Society demanded 
a good deal of time and labour, and the President, Dr. Fitton, 
kept a sharp eye on his subordinates, so much so, indeed, that 
an actual rupture took place between him and Murchison, 
which was only healed after much correspondence, and by 
the intervention of friends, who endeavoured to convince the 
President that he was too exacting, and the Secretary that 
he was too insubordinate. Murchison kept all the letters he 
received on the subject, and inscribed on the outside of the 
packet, — " 1827. Some months' waste of time— Mttoniana, 
or disputes with my warm-hearted but peppery friend Dr. 
Fitton." 

But besides looking after the lucubrations of other writers 
aspiring to geological feme, he had plenty of work this winter 
in extending for the Society his notes of the Scottish tour 
with Sedgwick. The latter was full of work at Cambridge ; 
suffering, too, from weak eyes, and given to " water-drinking 
and dephlogisticating," — apt, therefore, to delay what he could 
push aside for a time, and needing, as he said himself, an 
occasional nudge on the elbow. His pen was re(][uired for 



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1827.] SEDGWICK AS FELLOW-LABOURER. 143 

the conjoint memoir as much as his hammer had been for 
the work in the field ; but who could expect much continuous 
literary labour firom a man who could speak of himself thus ? 
— '* Behold me now !" he says, in a letter to Murchison (28th 
October), '^ in a new character, strutting about and looking 
dignified, with a cap, gown, cassock, and a huge pair of 
bands — the terror of all academical evil-doers — ^in short, a 
perfect moral scavenger. My time has been much taken up 
with the petty details of my ofl&ce, and in showing the lions 
to divers papas and mammas, who, at this time of the year, 
come up to the University with the rising hopes of their 
families. 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 beet I can for our Joini-^tock 
vmkT 

The two Mends had resolved to make their work in the 
Highlands the subject of two Memoirs for the Geological 
Society — one on Arran, and one on the Conglomerates of the 
northern and eastern counties. The former of these was at 
last read to the Society in January 1828, but the second was 
kept back by Sedgwick's delay. In a later letter he refers 
to a hint from Dr. Fitton to make haste, lest Murchison 
should forestall him, and generously speaks of their joint 
share in the field-work thus : — ** 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*** Weeks slip away, and still no help comes from the 
Woodwardian Professor, who writes to his friend, — ^' I fear 



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144 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [vm. 

you will think me a sorry coadjutor, for all the work is left 
to yourselt This is not as it ought to be, but I am at pre- 
sent almost a lame soldier." Still time passes, and brings 
April round without the completion of Sedgwick's contribu- 
tion. On the 7th of that month he says, — ^"Tou 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 state before the reading ; 
but to expect that our documents should exactly tally, so 
that we have only to stitch them together, is to expect im- 
possibilities. 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 part of my ofl&ce, as well as to fit on 
a head and tail" At last, on the 16th May, the conjoint 
paper* was fairly launched before the Greological Society. 

Murchison had left London for the C!ontinent before that 
date. His fellow-labourer, however, sent him an account of 
the reception of their first conjoint work. " Our paper," 
Sedgwick writes, " increased to such a size that it was ob- 

1 Among the exceUent detaila in the paper on Amn {OeoL Trans,, 2d 
series, vol ii.), the authors erred in. identifying the Tarious rocks with 
sapposed English equivalents. The structure of the island is too oom^ 
plex to be worked out offhand in a week or two, and some of its problems 
are even yet not understood. 

The paper on the Old Red Sandstone of the North of Scotland likewise 
showed great observing skill ; but the same risk of error, from compara- 
tively hurried examination of a few traverses, was shown in it. The 
authors massed all the red sandstones of the west and east coast — an 
error which they committed, though knowing what MaccuUoch had 
written on the subject, and which Murchison many years later discarded. 
One special merit of the paper was the important announcement (con- 
firming that made in the Brora paper), of the abundant fossil fishes found 
in many parts of Caithness, and the plates and descriptions given of some 
of the forms, which in later years were to become so well known through 
the writings of Hugh Miller. 



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1MB.] FIRST JOINT PAPER WITH SEDGWICK. 146 

viously too laige to be taken in at one meeting. . . . All 
went off well, and ended with the dish of Caithness fish, 
which were beautifully cooked by Pentland, and much 



iHpteruc 



Coooo$t«ut, 
Fiahes of the Old Bed Sandstone of Scotland. 

relished by the meeting. Greenough, Buckland, Conybeare, 
and all the first performers were upon the boards." 

These are confessedly details of no great moment in 
themselves. They seem, however, to find a fitting place 
here, inasmuch as they serve to show the hearty spirit of 
friendship and co-operation with which these two men 
worked together in the early years of their intercourse. 



VOL. I. 



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CHAPTER IX. 

FIKST GEOLOGICAL RAIDS INTO THE CONTINENT. 

The three years which had now passed away since his 
geological hammer was first buckled on had been to Mnr • 
chison a time of hard work. Even in mere physical exer- 
tion his labour had been great^ and would be inadequately 
represented by the statement that he had trudged on foot for 
^many hundreds of miles over rough shores and still more 
ragged mountains. His enthusiasm had been so thoroughly 
awakened that there was now no risk of desertion from the 
scientific ranks. He had learnt a vast deal in that short 
interval, and learnt it too where alone it can be truly 
mastered — ^in the field. Of the many avenues of research 
which the infEmt science of Geology was opening, he had 
already chosen that along which he was to rise to eminence. 
Whether in the south of England, among late secondary 
and tertiaiy rocks, or in the north and west of Scotland, 
among some of the oldest palaeozoic masses, his leading aim 
had been to unravel the true order of arrangement of the 
rocks, and show their relation to each other and to those of 
other and better known regions. * In this pursuit he felt 



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1828.] SUCCESS m GEOLOGY. M7 

tliat he could distingaish himself, and he had done so. With 
leisure at command and a wide field for exertion, q>urred 
too by a real love for the work as well as bjr a strong desire 
to be prominent, his first three years of geological labour at 
home had been a marked success. From a mere b^inner 
he had speedily become one of the prcnninent men at the 
Creological Society, and one of the most ardent and pro- 
mising of the rising geologists of his day. 

So thoroughly had geology dispossessed, at least for the 
time, all other occupations, that his note-books for these years 
contain memoranda of hardly anytMng else. Elaborately 
does he detail eveiy section which he saw ; minutely does 
he describe every step and stage of each of his journeys. 
The main scientific results have long been given to the 
world, and there remains, besides the mere dry itinerary, 
but the scantiest residuum of personal matters to show in 
what other ways his thoughts and time were engaged. 
Among his papers occur notes of invitation — a dinner with 
Davy, a soiree at Eitton's, — or memoranda of meetings and 
consultations with Mends of the Koyal or Geological 
Society, and jottings enough to show that his scientific 
pursuits had in no way slackened his general activity and 
energy, or lessened his pleasure in the convivialities of 
society. 

But having successfully essayed his strength among the 
rocks of his own country, it was not to be supposed that he 
would long refrain from making a dash at those of the Con- 
tinent^ where it was thought that a good deal might be 
done in applying the principles of classification which had 
been so successfully used among the Secondary rocks of 
England. Accordingly in the winter of 1827-8 he began to 



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148 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [i8s». 

turn his thoughts towards a foray of that kind. The restdt 
was that, once abroad, he found so much of novelty and 
interest there as to bring him back again and again. Hence 
for the next three years the scene of his labours extended 
from the Straits of Dover through central and southern 
France to the shores of the Adriatic on the one hand, and 
through Bhineland, Bavaria, and Austria into Hungary on 
the other. 

The first of these continental excursions was planned to 
include the centre and south of France, the north of Italy, 
and parts of Switzerland. As usual, copious notes were 
made from the various authors who had treated of the 
geology of these tracts. "I induced my wife," he writes, 
• " to accompany me as well as my associate, Charles LyelL 
We were off in April, and on the 26th of that month were 
at work in the field with Constant Prevost, following his 
subdivisions of the Pans basin. The theoretical views of 
Prevost made a deep impression on Lyell, who, as far as I 
can judge, imbibed some of his best ideas of the operation 
[aie] of land and fresh water alternations with marine de- 
posits from the persevering and ingenious Frenchman." 

At Paris they met also Cuvier, Brongniart, Deshayes, 
£lie de Beaumont, Desmarest, Dufr^noy, and other scientific 
men of mark, and made further notes for the summer^s work. 
By the beginning of June they found themselves among the 
wonderful extinct volcanic cones of Auvergna This singu- 
larly interesting r^on had been admirably described shortly 
before, both with pen and pencil, by Mr. Poulett Scrope, 
whose memoir they carried with them. They were fortunate, 
moreover, in having an introduction to Count Montlosier, 
one of the noblesse of Auveigne, who, while taking part in the 



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i8».] AMONG THE PUTS OF AUVERGNE. 149 

political straggles of his country, had devoted himself also 
to the study of the volcanic rocks of that district, which he 
had described with great spirit and accuracy. Amid the 
troubles of the time he had lost all his property, " except a 
portion of mountain which was too ungratefal a soiL to find 
another purchaser/' Eetiring to this retreat in his old age he 
had built himself a cottage in an extinct crater. " The tra- 
veller in approaching the door of the philosopher of Eandane 
had to wade through scoriae and ashes ; " but beyond these 
obstacles he found a hospitable roof and a host whose " lofty 
and vigorous presence accorded well with his frank and 
chivalrous demeanour."^ A hearty welcome awaited otir 
three tourists. Their coming had been anticipated by the 
old Count, from whom on reaching Clermont they found 
awaiting them a note of invitation and welcome (still 
extant) couched in that tone of mingled dignity, courtesy, 
and cordiality which seems now one of the lost arta '' He 
was charmed to see us," records Murchison, " and to go over 
all his old volcanic subjects, and instract us on every feature 
around his residence, except on the post day when his 
papers and letters came. Then he flew to them, excusing 
himself with the old French politesse, ' Pardonnez, Mes- 
sieurs et Madame ; mais c'est ma vie.' " * 

The three gentlemen, on foot or on horseback, and Mrs. 
Murchison on a stout pony of the Count's, explored together 
the cones of cinders and chdres of lava. Even to one who 
is familiar with volcanoes the first sight of these marvel-^ 

1 Whewell, Proc, Otol 8oc, iii 70. 

> The Coant Montloder ** died in 1837, at the age of eighty-three, on 
hit way to Paris to take his seat in the Chamber of Peers, of which he 
was a member." See a brief sketch of him by Dr. Whewell, in the 
address referred to in the preceding note. 



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150 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [im. 

loualj fresh cones and craters and lava-rivers fills the mind 
with astonishment. He wanders perhaps up a narrow and 
picturesque valley feathered with birch and broom down the 
sides, and gaily green with meadow and orchard along the 
bottom. Suddenly he comes upon the rough black lava, 
usurping the channel of the stream, and still bare and 
bristling, as if it had only yesterday stiffened into rest. And 
then climbing further by the edge of the lava-torrent, he 
comes at last in sight of the marvel of the region — ^the chain 
of Puys — cones of volcanic materials still so perfect that he is 
tempted to watch if steam or smoke cannot still be seen rising 
firom their tops. But when, crossing the lava stream, he 
mounts the steep sides of one of these old volcanoes, he finds it 
cold and silent There beneath him lies the crater — a deep 
hole sunk into the summit of the hill, no longer breathing 
out volcanic heat and fumes, but carpeted even to the 
bottom with turf, and fragrant with many a wild-flower. 
And from these depths, whence in old times came the snort- 
ing and bellowing of the volcano, there rises now on the 
breeze only the tinkle of the cattle-bells or the hum of the 
bee. 

These are the youngest of the volcanoes of Central France, 
but all round them lie fragments of older and yet older 
eruptions, pointing to a long protracted volcanic period — so 
long, indeed, that the rivers of the district had been able to 
cut out in the older lavas deep and wide valleys, down which 
some of the later lavas flowed. Beyond measure instructive, 
therefore, is such a country to the geologist, inasmuch as it 
places before him admirable illustrations of the action both 
of subterranean and external forces. 

Amid such scenes as these, our travellers spent some six 



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1888.] IN SOUTHERN FRANCE AND ITALY, 151 

weeks, riding, climbing, driving, and filling note-book and 
sketch-book with memoranda of rocks and scenery. These 
rambles bore fruit during the succeeding winter in papers 
which were read before the Geological Society.^ 

Turning eastward, the travellers journeyed leisurely down 
the valley of the Bhone, looking at rocks and antiquities by 
the way, until they reached Montpe^er, and thence passed 
on by Nismes to Aix, in Provence.* After quitting Toulon, 
an incident occurred to mar the good spirits and hinder the 
work of the party. Murchison caught a malaria fever, and 
became rapidly delirious. He soon recovered, however, and, 
except a temporary loss of strength, suffered no evil effects, 
escaping more fortunately than his wife had done, for the 
symptoms of the fever she was seized with at Rome used to 
return upon her at intervals all through life. To recruit him 
a halt of nearly three weeks was made at Nice, where the 
invalid soon regained his former activity, scouring the dis- 
trict all round the town under the guidance of Bisso the 
conchologist, who led him over the fossiliferous deposits. 

While recruiting his health at Nice, Murchison sent an 
account of the tour to the Woodwardian Professor, from 
which a few sentences may be quoted. In Central France 
'^we left various things undone, consoling ourselves that 
such a case was to be worked out by Sedgwick next year. 
And here let me, by way of parenthesis, invoke the philo- 
sophical spirit of inquiry which prevails at Cambridge, and 
urge you, who are really almost our only mathematical 

^ *' On the Exoavation of Valleys, as illustrated by the Voloanic Bocks 
of Oeotral Prance." By Charles Lyell and Boderick I. Murchison.— 
Proc GeoL Soc, i. 89. See also p. 140. 

> See Proc OeoL 8oc, I 150, where their conjoint paper on this tract 
is given. 



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152 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [isjs. 

champion^ not to let another year elapse without endeav- 
onring 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." "We met 
with splendid cases of basalt and trap, rivalling in an- 
tiquity of aspect our northern acquaintances/' "splendid - 
proofis of the extraordinary amount of excavation in the 
valleys," two thousand feet or more of fresh-water strata, 
with apparently " everything which characterizes even the 
older secondaries" — ^"red sandstones," "grits, shales," "an 
excellent comstone, and beneath this lymneceeLniplanorbes;'* 
little " coal-fields — true chips of the old coal-block." " In 
dust and insufferable heat, which have never quitted us 
since, we descended the Rhone." " The only cool place we 
could find was Buckland's hyaena cave at Lunel. Our 
journey across to Aix en Provence was most interesting, 
and that place offered so much that we halted a week, our 
work being now reduced to four or five hours in the morn- 
ing, from four to nine, and a little in the evening. We 
hope to show you twenty or thirty species of insects !! from 
the gypsum quarries there. In this city of idleness we 
have been pent up during ten days, not daring to travel 
into Italy with these heats : it has not rained one drop here 
for eight months." 

After making a number of excursions together in the 
Vicentin, Mr. Lyell having finally resolved to abandon law 
and devote himself wholly to geology, turned off southwards 
^ Coaybeare and FhiUips* Outlines beiag considered ikejint Tolaine. 



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/iV THE TYROL. 153 

to pxirsue his inquiries among the tertioiy locks, while the 
other two travellers struck eastwards to Venice, and thence 
into the Alps. At Bassano, Murchison collected materials 
for a paper on the tertiary and secondary rocks of the 
Tyrolese Alps, which was read to the Geological Society in 
the following spring. Ascending by Botzen, he examined 
the now well-known earth-pillars — tall pyramids of stony 
day, each with a stone or big boulder on its summit, and 
conjectured their materials to have been accumulated by 
** powerful torrents coincident with the elevation of the 
chain." At that time the former extension of the glaciers 
of the Alps had not yet been realized by geologists. Hence 
not at Botzen only, but up the valley of the Inn, and in 
other parts of the mountains traversed in this tour, Murchison, 
following the prevalent notions of the time, looked upon all 
the masses of "" drift," with travelled blocks, as the results of 
powerful deluges or cUbdcles, which swept down the valleys 
or over the hiUs. 

Having recently supplied the (reological Society with 
what Sedgwick called " a dish of fossil fish" firom the old 
red sandstone of Caithness, he took the opportunity of turn- 
ing aside to collect another meal of the same materials &om 
the bituminous schists of Seefeld — a little mountain village 
of the Tyrol, where some of the rocks were so impr^nated 
with animal matter, from the abundance of fish remains 
imbedded in them, that for generations the villagers had 
been in the habit of roasting fragments of the stone, out of 
which they obtained oil for their lamps and cart-wheels. 
This little episode was turned to account in the following 
winter, and bore fruit in a paper upon these dark schists 
and their fish, read to the Geological Society. 



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154 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80X. [isas. 

A leisurely journey, with many halts by the way to 
allow of the use of hammer and sketch-book, brought the 
travellers through the picturesque tract between the valley 
of the Inn and the Lake of Constance, and thence once more 
into Switzerland. But this time it was not fine scenery, nor 
even a field for feats of pedestrianism, which formed the 
chief attractions of the coimtry. At every resting-place an 
attempt was made to ascertain the nature and sequence of 
the rocks, and as much time and labour were now given to 
hunt up an old quarry as in former days would have been 
gladly given to find out a half-hidden specimen of an old 
master. Beaching Stein, Murchison set at once about ex- 
ploring the quarries of Oeningen, famous for having formerly 
yielded the skeleton which Scheuchzer gravely described as 
'' Homo diluvii testis ;** but which more recent science has 
shown to be not human, but salamandrina " To my joy I 
learnt," he writes, " that in the last two years the quarries 
had been re-opened, and that a very remarkable new quad- 
ruped had been recently exhumed. This splendid fossil had 
fallen into the hands of a doctor and a silversmith of the 
little town, and was in the house of the former, where I in- 
spected it, and counted twenty- three vertebrae. On the whole 
it was like a dog, fox, or wol£ I resolved at once to acquire 
it, provided, on my return to Paris, M. Cuvier should pro- 
nounce upon its value, the sum asked being £30. It was 
however, essential that I should have a drawing, and there- 
fore my wife stole out with her pattens across the muddy 
street early next morning, before the doctor was up, and 
induced the servant girl to let her in to sketch the beast 
The moment Cuvier saw the drawing he said it was in all 
probability a fox. Of course an old fox-hunter like me 



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182B.] FINDS A FOSSIL FOX. 155 

could not resist the bonne l(mche of finding the first fossil 
fox, and, writing back from Pans, I acquired the animal, 
which I gave to the British Museum,^ and which Owen has 
since turned into the * dog of the marsh,' — more newly 
related to the civet-cat than any other living animal" ' 

Journeying by Basle, Strasbourg, the Vosges mountains, 
and thence through France, with many a stop and detour to 
visit geological sections or the contents of museums, the 
travellers did not reach England until the end of October. 
They had thus been six months abroad. During that time 
Murchison seems to have done his best not to let a single 
day pass without adding to his stock of geological know- 
ledge. With an enthusiasm which must have made him 
a somewhat troublesome companion, he spared no bodily 
fatigue in pursuit of his inquiries, throwing himself as 
heartily into questions regarding the order of succession 
among the rocks of each town or valley he visited, as if the 
place had been his home. The work of these six months 
was reduced to form in two memoirs, which he himself pre- 
pared in the succeeding winter for the Geological Society, 
and in three conjoint papers written in concert with Mr. 
LyelL But the results are to be measured not so much 
by these published records of them as by their influence in 
, finally clenching his geological bent, and fixing him in that 
stratigraphical groove in which he had made his first essay 
in the south of England, and in which, with but short and 
not altogether successful deviations, he was to pursue his 
geological career to the end. 

^ The oonnterpart ilate he gave to the (Geological Society. 

^ Professor Owen named this nniqiie specimen OcUeeynua OenmgenaiSf 
and regarded it as belonging to " an extinct genus intermediate between 
cania and viverra,^ — See Quart Joum. GtoL 8oe.y iiL (1847), p. 60 ; and 
Palaontology, 2d edit., p. 412. 



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156 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80K [isas-o. 

The winter of 1828-9 was spent as usual in London. 
The preparation of the five memoirs just referred to, as weU 
as the business of the Secretaryship of the Gleological 
Society, kept Murchison's hands full enough of work.^ " M. 
Valenciennes," he notes, "was in London this winter and 
helped me to describe the fossil fish of Seefeld, and I was 
gathering knowledge from Stokes, Broderip, Wollaston, 
Buckland, Greenough, Lindley, Curtis the entomologist, 
Konig, Webster, and MantelL" He found time, however, 
to do a little field-work now and then, for in visiting friends 
in the country he came no longer simply as a sportsman. 
Some of the notes of invitation of these years occur among 
his papers, and show that his new zeal for stones furnished 
muiy a point for a quiet joke at his expense, where the 
writers, while referring half deprecatingly to the use which 
they could wish to see him make of his gun, are at pains to 
assure him that he need not want opportunities of wielding 
his hammer. 

With spring and the prospect of fresh work in the field 
plans were vigorously sketched for a new campaign* Again 
an attack on the structure of the Alps was decided upon, 
but this time it was not to be single-handed. Professor 
Sedgwick had agreed to share in the toil and glory of the 
warfare, having determined to quit for a time his books at 
Cambridge and his vacation rambles at home, and trust him- 
self with his hypochondria to the rough fare of imfrequented 
routes abroad. It was again Murchison's task to collect all 
the information obtainable from papers or friends as to the 
geology of the tracts to be visited. 

i Among his oote-bookB there is one with detailed notes of a series of 
leotores on the straotore of birds, which he attended daring the spring of 
1829. 



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18891] OOTTINQEK AND BLUMENBACH. 157 

In June the two travelleis set out together, and travel- 
ling rapidlj by Bonn, the volcanic tract of the Laacher See, 
Coblenz, and Cassel, halted at (^ottingen to geologize. 
There they chanced by a onrlous coincidence to stumble 
upon their two Prussian Mends, von Oejmhausen and von 
Dechen, with whom they had held the fierce argumentation 
in a deluge of rain at Glencoe. *' I was just about to sally 
out," Murchison writes to his wife, ''when little Oeynhausen 
popped his nose into the room where S. and self were dress- 
ing. In an instant we were in each other^s arms, and I 
can assure you that he kissed me on each cheek at least a 
score of times. And the Professor did not come off with a 
short allowance. Think of our good luck I He with his 
nouvdle marine, mother-in-law, and Dechen with his aposa 
are hera The vivacious little Prussian discovered me by 
the name wpon my hanvmer, as it hung out of the old stone- 
bag in the cairiage-yard." Again, he records that at Got- 
tingen " Our hero (Sedgwick specially rejoiced in him) was 
old Professor Blumenbach, then eighty-six years of age, on 
whom we called. He told us loads of amusing anecdotes. 
Among his numerous skulls he showed me one of a High- 
lander sent to him by Sir George Mackenzie, and he denied 
that my countrymen had higher cheek-bones than other 
people. We afterwards attended his lecture of the day on 
inseotSy and were astonished at his versatile powers, his 
extraordinary action, his fine deep voice, and impressive 
countenance. Whether he rolled out hard words with all 
the rapidity of a youth, or thumped his desk with all the 
vivacity of a youth, or suddenly paused abruptly to explain 
with a broad slow ' aber, aber,' before he finished by some 
reservations, I looked at him as the most original of God's 



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158 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [i8». 

works I had ever seen. As I had presented him in the morn- 
ing with some of my fossil insects from Aix, he launched out 
in illustration of these flies and bugs which had lived ^ vor 
Menschen,' and then carried his pupils off to the British 
Museum and our gigantic Scarabseus in granite. Drinking 
tea with him in the evening, Blumenbach equally astonished 
us by his extensive reading and wonderful memory, whether 
he adverted to metaphysics and Bishop Berkeley, to Scottish 
history and scenery and Walter Scott, or the vitrified forts 
and Sir Greorge Mackenzie."^ 

Turning northward the two travellers made their way 
through the Harz Mountains and thence by way of Halle to 
Berlin. At that early time the older palsaozoic rocks were 
all classed together under the uncouth title of " grauwacke,'' 
and among Murchison's notes reference is made to the ''in- 
terminable grauwacke," which deprived so much of the 
journey of geological interest Strange that before many 
years passed away it was among such rocks that he earned 
his chief title to scientific fame, and that they offered attrac- 
tion enough to lead him hundreds of miles from home, and 
to keep him busy over mountain and valley for months 
together ! This very region of the Harz, as we shall find, 
furnished, only ten years later, abundant interest and plenty 
of hard work for the two fellow-labourers among these same 
grauwacke masses. In the meanwhile, however, these rocks 
seem to have had somewhat of a depressing effect upon 
Murchison's spirits, so that the wit and sparkle of the Pro- 
fessor were never more welcome. 

The halt at Halle brought them in contact with a real 

^ A brief biographical aketcb of tbia remarkable man wiU be foand in 
▼oL iii of the Proeeedinga qf the Otologkal Society, p. 533. 



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im] WITH SEDGWICK— EASTERN ALPS 1 59 

living specimen of a staunch Wemerian in the person of 
Professor Germar, who expounded the geology of the country 
after the system of his master, no doubt to the infinite 
delectation of the Cambridge Professor, who must have 
looked upon the old theorist as an interesting relic of a 
species of geologist that was gradually becoming extinct 
But they succeeded in picking up a few scraps of informa- 
tion regarding some of the regions included in their pro- 
gramme of travel, and their visit to Berlin was similarly 
successful 

Southward the journey lay by Dresden through Bohemia 
to Vienna and the confines of Hungary, and thence by the 
caves of Adelsberg to Trieste, "a hot hole, although it has some 
luxuries in it — good ice and water-melons that would make 
any man ill except Sedgwick," From that point, which was 
the limit of their journey, the travellers bent their steps 
homeward again through the Caxinthian Alp&f, the Tyrol, and 
the Salzkammergut, striking westward into Switzerland by 
the Lake of Constance, and descending the Bhine to Stras- 
bourg, whence they found their way across France, so as to 
reach England once more in the end of October. 

Some of the pleasantest days of this tour were those in 
which the travellers enjoyed the society of that remarkable 
man, the Archduke John, among his mountain retreats in 
Carinthia. " Our chief object in coming to Gastein," Mur- 
chison writes, " was to wait upon the most scientific Prince 
in Europe, the Archduke John, and he received us with cor- 
diality and frankness. We dined at the rural taile-d'hSte, 
at which the landlord presided, carved, and could boast 
with pride that his ancestors had kept the inn for 350 years. 
At this board, besides the Archduke, we had imperial minis- 



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160 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [iw. 

ters and generals, Prussian nobles, as well as professors and 
geologists. After dinner we set out to ascend, in a ehar d, 
lane, with the Archduke and his chamberlain, to the upper 
cascades at Naasfeld. We passed the village of Bockstein, 
where the gold ore is washed, and thence viewed the snowy 
range of the Ankogel, to the summit of which the Arch- 
duke had ascended, viz., 10,000 feet high, and seven hours' 
good walk above the highest ch&let. We reached the upper 
fall at sunset, and were then in the region of summer- 
ch&lets, and surrounded by snowy peaks and glaciers, the 
boundary between Carinthia and the Salzburg region. 

''The Archduke was a capital cicerone, and talked 
familiarly with every one we met. One of these was a 
rough Carinthian packman, whose broad lingo amused us, 
and reminded me of Goldsmith's line — 

* Or onward where the rude CarinthiAn boor ;' 
though I do not think that Oliver, for the sake of rhyme, 
had any right to add — 

' Against the honaeless stranger shuts his door.' 
Nor would the Archduke allow that they were a bad set of 
feUows, though very inferior to his Styrians and Tyrolese. 
All the miners were 'hail-fellow ' with the Prince — *a with 
perfectly good manners, but with no mauvaise Jumte. 

"On our homeward trip on foot we had 2k petit sou/per of 
fresh trout, which the Archduke had ordered for us in the 
village of Bockstein, and in approaching the cabaret several 
peasant girls ran out with their little nosegays, and to kiss 
his hand ; whilst he of course put the flowers into his broad- 
brimmed Styrian hat. As we walked down the valley in a 
fine starlight night we had much enlivening chat, and we 
soon perceived how honest a liberal the Prince was. He 



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m.] THE ARCHDUKE JOHN IN CARINTHIA. 161 

laughed at all the old stiffness and prejudice of the Austrian 
court, to the dress of which his Styrian jacket, black leather 
shorts, and long green worsted stockings presented a marked 
contrast. He is a first-rate chamois-hunter, and kills about 
forty bucks annually. ... He talked with delight of 
everything in his dear Stjrria, — ^the clean inns, honest inn- 
keepers, and pretty waiting-maids. He specially abused all 
men-waiters, who had found their way to Gratz, and whom 
he stigmatized as * des hommes de deux maitres ' — i.e, as 
waiters and ' agens de la haute police.' 

"Next morning we were at the door of the Archduke by 
appointment at 7. It was opened by a blufif Styrian jager, 
who beckoned us into the curate's small sitting-room, then 
the only residence of his Imperial Highness, whom we found 
on his knees, his hob-nailed boots taken ofT, and busily at 
work laying out on the floor the Austrian trigonometrical 
map of the surrounding Alps for our inspection. Showing 
us all the passes, he gave us many good instructions.'' 

The scientific fruits of this expedition have long been 
before the world. They were given to the Geological Society 
in four successive papers during the succeeding winter and 
spring. Such rapid work among the broken and contorted 
rocks of a complicated geological region could not but con- 
tain many errors. Yet it must remain as a striking example 
of keen and quick observation, and of often happy, though 
not always accurate, generalization. In addition to their re- 
searches on the structure of the Austrian Alps, the travellers 
were struck by two classes of facts which could not but 
arrest the notice of men whose geological types had hitherto 
been mainly English. In the first place, they found thick 
beds of good black coal, masses of millstone, oolite, and 

VOL. I. L 



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162 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80K. [i889. 

other hard rocks, to be not older than some of the soft 
tertiary sands and clays at home. Well might Murchison 
write — " Away went all our old notions of mineral terms 
applied to geological formations as any indications of their 
age." In the next place, they were again and again arrested, 
and as it were appalled, by the formidable ravines and chasms 
which bear witness to the enormous yearly waste of the Alps. 
At one part of the course of the Fella they noticed that a 
single night of heavy rain had buried the roadway under a 
vast pile of rubbish swept down from the mountain-sides. 
"As there are countless such torrents rushing down into the 
Tagliamento and its tributaries, which is one of the six chief 
rivers that flow into the Adriatic between Trieste and Venice, 
we can well imagine how that sea must be encroached 
upon, and at what a rate the sides and gorges of the Alps are 
wearing away." 

In another respect the tour had not been without its 
fruits. It brought the two EngUsh geologists into direct 
personal relation with the geologists of Germany, from whom 
they received much kind attention and assistance. A ground- 
work was thus laid for much pleasant and friendly inter- 
course in later years. In passing through France too they 
formed or renewed acquaintance with several brethren of the 
hammer in that country, notably with M. £lie de Beau- 
mont, whom they met at Boulogne, and from whom, then in 
the early enthusiasm of his pentagonal theory, they received 
details regarding the order in which he supposed the moun- 
tains of the globe had been elevated— details, however, 
which their own work among the Alps would hardly 
support 

The winter months of 1829-30 were spent in London, 



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1829-30.] THE EASTERN ALPS REVISITED. 163 

where the duties of the Secretaryship of the Geological 
Society, the preparation of his memoirs on the recent Con- 
tinental tour, and the ordinary but increasing social 
exigencies of his position, kept Murchison's hands fuller 
than ever of work, though he still found now and then an 
opportunity of escaping to the country to visit a friend and 
have a few days' shooting. Indeed, it would seem from a 
letter addressed to him in March that the old fox-hunting 
Adam was not yet wholly cast out of him. 

Nevertheless when summer had brought back sunshine 
and flowers to the Alpine valleys, ho determined to revisit 
them. 

On the appearance of the abstracts of their papers on the 
Austrian and Bavarian Alps in the Proceedings of the 
Geological Society, the views which Sedgwick and Murchi- 
son had put forth were combated in British and foreign 
journals, notably by Dr. Ami Bou& Before the publication 
of their completed memoirs, the two fellow-labourers saw 
clearly that to meet the objections which had been urged, it 
would be necessary for one or both of them to revisit a few 
of their sections, and to examine some of the new localities 
which had been cited as adverse to their views. Murchison 
gladly undertook this congenial task. Accordingly, early in 
June he started with his wife, primarily for the purpose of 
clearing up these difficulties, but also to see a little more of 
German scenery and society as well as German geology and 
geologists. 

The tour lasted until the beginning of October, and em- 
braced, besides the old ground, some parts of Europe which 
he had not yet seen since he had taken to scientific pursuits. 
Crossing to Ostend, and proceeding by Antwerp to Brussels 



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164 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [vao. 

and Namur, where he ''was enraptured with Omalius 
d'Halloy ;" li^ge, where young Dumont, just heginning his 
career, lent the traveller his services ; Cologne and Bonn — 
Murchison sped up the Rhine without any halt for geological 
exploration. At that time he still ** despised the old slaty 
rocks/* though before another year was over he was to begin 
the forging of that chain which kept him to them for the 
rest of his life. '' I was then keen on one scent only, viz., 
greensands, chalk, and tertiary,** and it was to study these 
rocks yet more fully that he had again set out for the eastern 
Alpa 

Instead, however, of striking at once into the mountains, 
the travellers made a detour through Bavaria, passing by 
Aschaffenburg, Bamberg, Bayreuth, and Batisbon, to Vienna. 
Every museum on the way was examined, and notes were 
made of its contents in so far as they might throw light upon 
the secondary rocks of the Alps and surrounding regions. 
Every local geologist too seems to have been ferreted out 
and pressed into service. At Bamberg, by good chance, a 
name of more than local celebrity caught Murchison's eye 
in the visitors* book at the inn. "I instantly rushed to 
the museum,** he writes, " where I introduced myself to the 
great geologist to whom Humboldt and all Germany bowed 
— ^Leopold von Buch. We had at once a most interesting 
colloquy on dolomitization and many of the recent discoveries. 
The little vivacious man was then quite en tSte with his 
monograph of Ammonites. Though turned of sixty, he had 
only of late begun to study oiganic remains, and at once he 
was endeavouring to generalize and group these animals by 
their suturea I perceived at once how with all his great 
qualities, he was irascible if any contemporaiy criticised him, 



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1890.] TALK WITH METTERNICH. 165 

and he was then in a particular rage about Buckland's 
having omitted to state that the bear-cavems of Muggendorf 
and Gailenreuth were in pure dolomite ! He had just under- 
gone a severe penance, owing to his obstinacy in never 
taking a guide. He was lost in a forest on a stormy night, 
and passed the hours of darkness under a tree, with no protec- 
tion but an umbreUa which he then always carried. As he 
got old, however, he threw even that aside, and braved wet 
and cold in a plain black suit, and without any change of 
garmenta"^ 

At Vienna, besides museums, picture-galleries, and geolo- 
gists, Murchison saw a good deal of " distinguished society," 
for which to the end he had a special fondness. He renewed 
his acquaintance with the Archduke John, dined with Lord 
Cowley, ambassador at the Austrian Court, and had an oppor- 
tunity of holding converse with Mettemich. He has pre- 
served a record of part of the conversation at the ambas- 
sadoi^s table. The talk had drifted into geology, and a lady 
present — the same who had been the heroine in the incident 
at dinner in Messina (flrvU; p. 53)— asked across the table a 
question about science and the Mosaic record. " I naturally 
had some difficulty in getting out of the dilemma, when 
Mettemich, taking up the cudgels, gave them to my surprise 
a capital lecture, and quite to the purpose. On going into 
the drawing-room after dinner, and on sitting down on the 
sofa to converse with the great diplomatist who had over- 
thrown Napoleon, I soon learnt how and where he obtained 

^ It was Dot until further experience of Ck>ntinental geology and 
geologirts that Murchison conceived that great respect for Leopold von 
Buch which he used often to express in his later years, adding at the 
same time a cordial recognition of what he conceived to be his own obli- 
gations to the influence of the German geologist. 



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166 SIR RODERICK MURCUISON. [isso. 

his geological knowledge. ' You will not believe me (said 
he) when I tell you that I love science more than politics. 
In my early youth I took honours in scientific studies, and 
intended to give up my life to such pursuits, and become a 
Docteur-is-Arts et Sciences. But the French Revolution 
startled all the old Austrian families, and my father insisted 
on it that as I had a name to sustain, I must, for the good of 
my country and the honour of my family, betake myself to 
public life. So I was sent as an attach^ to the embassy at 
Paris. There, in the intervals of business, and when not 
occupied in the study of the doings and character of 
Napoleon, I was always an attendant at Cuvier's lectures. 
The words of that great master have never been forgotten, 
and hence my repetition of them, when I supported you at 
table, and showed to my diplomatic friends the great 
iisefulTiess of your science, for that is the only mode of ap- 
proaching them' 

" In his conversation he showed that he had read and 
thought much on this subject, and particularly on the 
application of geology to the development of the mineral 
wealth of Austria. He endeavoured to make me believe 
that he was all in favour of a scientific meeting in Vienna 
next year, following those of Hamburg, etc., which had 
already taken place. He expressed his ardent hope that 
the people would become more scientific, and hoped that I 
would publish some work upon their country, and stir them 
up a little. 

"When I told the Archduke John afterwards of this 
conversation of Mettemich's, he said it was all fudge, and 
merely intended to blind me !" 

Breaking away at last from these attractions in the 



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1830.] WORK m THE EASTERN ALPS, 167 

capital, Murchison betook himself to the serious work which 
had been the main object of the journey. He had written 
to Sedgwick that in order to prove their points he would, 
if possible, ** riddle these Alps in all directions" — a resolu- 
tion which he now proceeded to put in practica Accom- 
panied by Professor Paul Partsch, an active geologist of 
Vienna, he made several minor excursions in the neigh- 
bourhood, and then, striking through the Leitha Gebirge 
as far as Gratz, turned back westwards into the Alps.^ 
The wonderful little tertiary basins enclosed among the 
older rocks of Carinthia, and sometimes furnishing thick 
masses of lignite, first detained him. But the real hard 
work lay among the mountains of the Salzkammergut and 
Styria, the object being to clear up the relations of the 
supposed tertiary strata of Gosau and the structure of the 
secondary rocks of that part of Austria. In the state of 
the science at the time, it was no wonder that Murchison, 
though making out some new points in the structure of the 
mountains, still missed the meaning of the curious and 
puzzling assemblage of fossils at Gosau. Several weeks 
of very hard work were spent in those regions, with the 
result of confirming some medn parts of the conjoint survey 
of the previous year, and of showing the need to modify 
others. From Ischl, in the midst of the rambling, he wrote 
to Sedgwick : — " 0, what would I give that our sketch of 
the Alps was not out! I could make it so much more 
perfect in details and sections. . . . All these points neces- 
sarily involve important alterations in our sections, which I 

^ Some ezcelleat observations were made during this time on the age 
of the older rocks of Carinthia. They have been recently referred to by 
M. de Koninok in his '* Becherches sor les Animauz fossiles," 2de Partie, 
187% p. 2 {Sur les Fosdles Cofrhw^ftres de Bkiberg). 



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168 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80K [vm. 

hope have not been began. After a great deal of hard work 
I have relieved my mind from a world of anxiety, and am 
now resting and thankful, and taking a vapour salt bath or 
two, enjoying right worshipful high Vienna society, who 
are all stewing themselves in salt hera I am at same 
time working out the details of the upper beds (upper grits 
and marlstones of the Alpen-kalk), which by a charming 
accident I have got within half a mile here." 

About three weeks later the same correspondent received 
a further detailed narrative of geological exploits in a letter 
dated from Sonthofen, and beginning thus : — " Here I am> 
sticking to my scent like a true fox-hound. Since I wrote 
to you from IscU I have done some marvellous good work. 
I made out a fine range of the Gk)sau beds near that placa 
... At Hallein I found Y. lill all anxiety to see me. . . . 
The moment I twigged certain secondary black fossils like 
lias (in his den near the river), and ascertained that the 
section was not above a six hours' excursion, the post-wagen 
was ordered, and off we travelled. ... I soon made a most 
clear and instructive section, with lias shells and sufficient 
fossils to make out the case. . . . How I did pant and fag 
on the north side of Untersberg, for which I had glorious 
hot weather. I made four parallel transverse sections. I 
think I have the whole thing now most clear: it is cer- 
tainly a capital key." 

"I set out with a heavy heart to cross 120 miles of 
Bavarian pebbles, and exactly 100 back to Augsburg, in 
order that I, Rod. I. M., should heal my pricking conscience 
and that of my dear ' heilige freund' Adam Sedgwick in re 
'Sonthofen.' ... I flatter myself I get to understand the 
valley, but with devilish ado and many perplexities — ^nay^ 



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1830.] NUREMBERG. 169 

more than I ever encountered in my geological career. My 
throw off occasioned a hearty malediction upon Herren 
Sedgwick and Murchison, who as they drove up to Sont- 
hofen last year passed through a certain archway leading 
into that valley, with a rock close to them which they never 
hammered. This I found to be true genuine old greensand. 
. . . But when I came to go along the south flanks of the 
Grinten, and ascend to the iron mines, all my precognosced 
-Mends seemed to be sent topsy-turvy. What inversions 
and contortions ! . . . I left no gorge nor any mountain 
peak unexamined where I thought examination necessary." 

Quitting at last these puzzling rocks on the flanks of 
the Alps, he turned homeward by Munich, Nuremberg, 
Gotha, and Gottingen. At Nuremberg he notes in his 
journal " a change of scene : fossils and rocks were forgotten 
for a day or two." Curiously enough, however, in the next 
sentence he writes — *' A picture of Luther reminded me of 
Buckland in his jolliest moments, while the pensive and 
reflective Melanchthon is well represented in England by 
Heniy Warburton." In Gotha he " passed an evening with 
the most remarkable man of the place. Von Hoff, whose 
works on physical geography and geology proyed afterwards 
of such good service to LyelL" 

On the 1st October Mr. and Mrs. Murchison set sail 
from Botterdam for London. And thus ended one of the 
pleasantest of the continental rambles which they had yet 
undertaken. They had accomplished the definite object 
which had given point and aim to the journey, and had 
besides seen much new country and made many new 
acquaintancea The tour was, moreover, the last of this 
early foreign series. The next nine years were to be em- 



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170 SIR RODERICK MURGHISON. [i830-3i. 

ployed at home in laying the foundations of that Silurian 
system by which the name of Murchison will be chiefly 
remembered in the history of geology. 

Before we turn to that point of the narrative, the work 
of the winter of 1830-31 remains to be very briefly noticed. 
During the preceding three years Murchison had filled many 
note-books with innumerable memoranda of sections, fossil 
collections, excerpts from published descriptions and verbal 
information, all bearing upon the geology of the secondary 
rocks of Germany. The long and elaborate memoir of 
Sedgwick and himself on the eastern Alps, still in the press, 
would, when published, contain all the main4)oints of their 
work ; but many details i-emained which it seemed desirable 
to publish, especially in so far as they might bear upon 
English geology. To carry out this idea, and verify some 
parts of the larger memoir, he went to Paris to compare a 
collection of fossils from (Jermany, and partly, as he con- 
fessed, " to frequent the society of scientific friends." With 
Alexander von Humboldt, who happened to be there at the 
time, he made acquaintance, and got from him much infor- 
mation regarding some of the geological aspects of the great 
geographer's travels. 

How the foreign materials were produced at the Geo- 
logical Society may be partly gathered from the subjoined 
letter to his friend Sir Philip Egerton (28th January 1831) : — 

" I am quite vexed that I should fire oflT all my Alpine 
crackers without your hearing the report of one. I finish 
on Wednesday next, when the whole of the meeting-room 
will be hung with sectional tapestry of the manufacture of 
Lonsdale^ and Co., magnified from my smaller designs. If, 

1 The worthy Curator of the Society's collections. 



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183L] PAPERS AT QEOLOOICAL SOCIETY, 171 

therefore, you have any intention of being in town for the 
meeting of Parliament, being Friday, perhaps you can 
accelerate your movements (particularly as it freezes hard), 
and be with us ; otherwise you will miss a golden oppor- 
timity of learning how much deposit took place between the 
periods of our English chalk and London clay, and through- 
out such extensive regions that I verily believe our case 
in Western Europe will prove to be the exception and not 
the rule. Besides this, I will warm you with basaltic erup- 
tions which, though they only show the tips of their noses, 
have heaved up mountains of gneiss and granite against the 
greensand series, setting it, and the tertiary strata above it, 
all on end. 

'' I was out of town for a fortnight, shooting at Charles 
Lefevre's, and at Up Park about the Christmas time, since 
when I have been working like a slave, previous to quitting 
office — ^not with disgrace, however, as my friends are going 
to vote me into the President's chair, in which case I shall 
request you to be one of my councillors — a post well befit- 
ting so grave a senator. Our anniversary, when all the 
jollification and election take place, is the 18th February — 
so you may bow to the Queen in the morning, and to me at 
night." 



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CHAPTER X. 

THE INYASION OF GRAUWACKE. 

Fob five years the Secretary of the (Jeological Society 
had worked energetically for the Society's behoof, catering 
for papers, arranging the reading and publication of them, 
and preparing, either alone or in conjunction with the 
Woodwardian Professor of Cambridge or Mr. Lyell, some 
able memoirs on structural geology. He had earned a claim 
to the Society's gratitude, which was acknowledged this 
winter (February 1831) by his election to the dignity of 
President The chair had been previously filled by Sedg- 
wick, who, on quitting it, concluded his address with these 
words : — " Mine has been indeed but an interrupted ser- 
vice ; but I resign it to one of whose powers you have had 
long experience, who can give them to you undivided, and 
whose hands are in no respect less ready than my own." 

The ofl&ce is held for two years. How it was filled by 
MurcMson will be told in the next chapter. We have now 
arrived at the great turning-point of his scientific life, and* 
must look at it with some care, that its bearings may be 
clearly seen not only on his own career, but on the history 
of geology. 

Up to this time, his work in the field had lain almost 



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1831.] THE TRANSITION ROCKS. 173 

wholly among Secondary rocks, whether in this country or 
abroad, insomuch that, as we have seen, the rocks of older date 
seemed to him to wear a dry, forbidding aspect, no matter 
where they might present themselves. But before the close 
of the first session of his Presidency at the Geological Society 
he had determined to look these old rocks steadily in the 
face, and see what after all might be their meaning and 
history. Every year brought fresh and often apparently con- 
tradictory facts to light about them. They evidently deserved 
to be studied, and would probably reward any adventurous 
spirit who chose resolutely to grapple with their problems. 
Murchison, at the instigation of Buckland and other friends, 
made up his mind to try. 

The labours which have now to be traced as they went 
on year by year, have a far wider interest than merely their 
relation to the life and work of the man by whom they 
were conducted. They unquestionably established a notable 
epoch in the progress of geology. They added a new chap- 
ter to geological history. They have been of infinite service 
in helping the interpretation of what are called the palseo- 
zoic rocks in every quarter of the world. To gain an ade- 
quate notion of what they were and how they came to 
acquire the importance now justly ascribed to them, we may 
cast our eyes first of all, and very rapidly, over the know- 
ledge, or rather the ignorance, which existed in this part of 
geology before the date of Murchison's researchea 

Over the centre and south of England the great series 
of rocks now embraced under the term " Secondary" have 
undergone comparatively little disturbance from those sub- 
terranean movements which have in other regions heaved up 
these same rocks into some of the loftiest mountain-chains 



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174 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [issi. 

upon the surface of the globe. They lie one upon the other 
with almost the regularity of the shelves in a library. 
Their story, therefore, when once the key to decipher it had 
been given, was not diflScult to read. The genius of William 
Smith had supplied that key, and thus the investigation of 
the Secondary rocks had made such enormous strides during 
the previous fifteen or twenty years, that it seemed as if 
little more could be done in that branch of geology, save to 
elaborate details. Starting from the types of the undis- 
turbed formations of England, men endeavoured by their 
means to reduce into order the complicated structure of such 
regions as the Alps. Among those who successfully essayed 
such a task, Murchison had taken an honourable place 

But down below these Secondary rocks, and underneath 
the Carboniferous and Old Red Sandstone deposits, the suc- 
cession of which had been made out by William Smith, there 
lay others, so hardened, squeezed, and broken as seemingly 
to defy all attempts to classify them by the same minute and 
detailed method. Such rocks stretched over most of Wales, of 
Devon and Cornwall, of the Lake Country, and of the uplands 
of the south of Scotland. They covered wide spaces on the 
Continent, as for instance in Scemdinavia, Ehineland, and 
Bohemia It was known that they must be enormously thick. 
From year to year an increasing number of the remains of 
corals, crinoids, shells, and other organisms was reported 
from them. Evidently, therefore, they did not all date from 
a time anterior to the introduction of life upon the eartL 

Many were the names given to this vast and hetero- 
geneous series of rocka That proposed by Werner had met 
with the widest acceptance, viz.. Transition — ^a name which 
implied the theory that these rocks had been formed at a 



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( 



1831.] HISTORY OF TRANSITION ROCKS 173 

period of the world's history transitional between a; time 
when rocks were laid down all over the globe by chemical 
precipitation from a hot ocean, and a time when conditions 
more like those at present in force permitted of the exist- 
ence of living creatures upon the earth. 

Another appellation which had been very generally applied 
to these old rocks was "grauwacke" — an uncouth word origin- 
ally used by the Harz miners for a special kind of rock in 




ChARACTKBISTIC FOflAILS FROM THB QrAUWACKK (LlAHDEILO FlAOB). 

1-10. TrQobites. 1. Asaphiu tyraniras. S. Ogygia BucblL & O. PortlockiL 4. Stygina 
If urchisoniK. 6. Agnoetus IfaccoyU. 0. Trinuclena flmbriatoB. 7. T. LloydiL & T. con- 
centricoa. 9. Calymene brevicapitata. 10. C. dupUcata. 10*. Beyrlchla complicata. 11. Orap- 
tolithos BeckiL 12. O. tenuis. 13. DidymograpBUs If urchisonii. 14. DiplograpBos tere- 
tiosciiliis. 16. Orthia alata. 16. O. striatala. 17. Siphonotreta micula. 1& Lingula 
attenuata. 19. L. granolata. 20. L. RamaayL 2L Theca reveraa. 22. If onticulipoia fayidoaa. 

the Transition series, and gradually adopted as a convenient 
name for a great part of the most ancient stratified masses. 
But though often used as if it signified a particular division 
of geological time, grauwacke was really the name of a par- 
ticular rock, and hence wherever that rock occurred, the 
name might be legitimately given to it, without reference to 
respective age, or under the mistaken impression that all 
grauwacke was of the same general geological date. 



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176 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [\m. 

Under such vaguely applied names, rocks of vastly dififer- 
ent ages and characters were incongruously grouped together. 
Hence they presented so many contradictions and difficulties 
that geologists on the whole avoided them as much as possible. 
Murchison only reflected the common dislike of them when 
he hurried through the Bhine provinces to get away from 
what he called the *' interminable grauwacke/' Writers of 
text-books were sorely puzzled how to marshal the few 
discordant facts which were already known on the subject 
Fanciful theory and mere trim mineralogical distinctions 
often supplied the place of geological knowledge.^ 

^ No better illuatration oonld be obtained of the state of this part of 
geological scienoe at the time than the fact that the Principles qf Geo- 
logy of Lyell, while devoting about 300 pages to the Tertiary deposits, 
dismissed all fossiliferoos rooks older than those above the coal-measures 
in twelve lines. — (Principles, vol. iii, published in the spring of 1833, and 
dedicated to Murchisoo.) The account there given of these rocks does 
not pretend to be more than a reference, but it may be quoted here as a 
curious commentary on the state of ignorance whidi prevailed at the time 
regarding the Pa]»ozotc rocks : — 

'* 6. CarborU/erous Cfroup, comprising the coal measures, the mountain lime- 
stone, the old red sandstone, the transition limestone, the coarse slates and slaty 
sandstones caUed graywacke by some writers, and other assodaied rocks, 

''The mountain and transition limestones of the English geologists 
contain many of the same species of shells in common, and we shall there- 
fore refer them for the present to the same great period ; and consequently 
the coal, which alternates in some districts with mountain limestone, and 
the old red sandstone, which intervenes between the mountain and tran* 
sition limestones, wiU be considered as belonging to the same period. 
The coal-bearing strata are characterized by several hundred species of 
plants, which serve very distinctly to mark the vegetation of part of this 
era. Some of the rocks, termed graywacke in Germany, are connected by 
their fossils with the mountain limestone." 

The third edition of a popular English geological text-book — Bake- 
well's Introduction to Geology — appeared in the year 1828, and contained 
the following table of the rocks now referred to : — 

** Tbaksition Clasb (Conformable). 

'* 1. Slate, including flinty slate and other varieties. 

2. Grey waoke and greywacke slate, passing into old red sandstone. 

3. Transition limestone. Mountain limestone." 

In the third edition of the excellent Geological Manual of the late Sir 



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183L] HISTORY OF TRANSITION ROCKS. 177 

When we consider the extremely perplexing character 
of the geology of many of the districts where these old 
rocks occur, we cannot wonder that they should have 
continued to be a stumbling-block in the progress of the 
science. The key furnished by William Smith for the 
secondary rocks might not have been found for many years 
later, if these strata had lain less regularly in England 
than they do. To men who came fresh from such undis- 
turbed deposits to the contorted, fractured, and hardened 
older rocks, it must have seemed well-nigh a hopeless task 
to reduce the apparent chaos to order. Professor Sedgwick, 

Henry 0e 1* Beche, all the foMiHferoas rocks ander the old red sandstone 
are thrown into the *' Grauwacke Gronp,*' which is described as ** a large 
stratified mass of arenaceous and slaty rocks, intermingled with patches 
of limestone, which are often continnona for considerable distances. The 
arenaceous and slate-beds, considered generally, bear evident marks of 
mechanical origin, but that of the included limestones may be more ques- 
tionable." The foasiliferous character of the group is insisted on, and 126 
genera and 547 species of fossils are enumerated from the grauwacke rocks 
of this and foreign countries. When, however, we look into these fossil 
lists, we find that a large number of species belong to rocks which are 
now placed on the horijson of the old red sandstone or Devonian system, 
and that others have been inserted which should have been placed on the 
still higher horizon of the carboniferous limestone. The confusion of the 
lists is only a faithful reflex of the utter confusion in which the strati- 
graphy of the rocks themselves still lay. 

Even as late as the year 1832, after Sedgwick had published his views 
as to the structure of the transition rocks of the Cumberland district, and 
after Murchison had made knosm the distinct order of succession in the 
upper portions of these rocks around the Welsh border, the able and weU- 
informed Oonybeare could report to the British Association but a meagre 
statement of the scanty knowledge then obtained on tins part of British 
gedogy, and is found gravely discussing the '' need of a term less barbar- 
ous than grauwacke-slate, which would conveniently denominate the 
characteristic rock of this era. Might not dasmoschist (from the Greek 
icXa<r/ia) be conveniently adopted ? It would afford a term well contrasted 
to mica-schist, the chiuracteristio rock of the primitive group.''— {BrU. 
A$$oe, ReportSf voL i p. 382. 

On the Continent the ignorance was quite as dense as here, although, 
appearing under the guise of hard names and neatly arranged tables, it 

VOL. L M 



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178 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [issi. 

indeed, nine years before the time at which we are arrived, 
viz., as far back as 1822, had began to grapple with the 
rocks of his Cumbrian mountains, and, in spite of their 
broken and contorted character, was slowly imravelling 
their structure. But no amount of labour or skill in that 
region could possibly connect the history of the Transition 
rocks with that of the younger strata by which they are 
covered; for a great gap occurs there in the geological 
record, which is thus rendered as imperfect as a historical 
narrative would be if several important chapters were torn 
out of it and destroyed* A similar hiatus had been so fre- 
quently observed elsewhere that the notion had become 
general that the so-called " Transition '* rocks belonged to 
a totally different and distinct order of things, and that they 
had been fractured and upheaved before any of the Second- 
ary formations were laid down upon them. 

Any attempts which had been made to subdivide the 
Transition series, and to connect those of one country with 
those of another, had been based hitherto wholly on the 

might have paased for exact knowledge. Thus the JSUmena de 06olog%e 
of J. d'Omalios d'Halloy, offered the subjoined table to its readers as 
showing the most advanced views in the year 1S31 : — 

/ Terrain honfller, 

I Calcarenx [monntain limestone^ 30 
Snp^rienr, < species of fossils given]. 

( Qnartxo-schisteux [9 species]. 

( Calcareox [7 species]. 
Inf^enr, < Qoartzo-schisteox [old red sand- 

\ stone, 1 species]. 

Schisteux. 
Quartzeux. 
Terrain ardoisier, ^ [This series includes the granwacke. Fossils 
rare and indistinct, belong chiefly to 
trilobites, spirifers, and encrinites.] 



t 



Terrain anthraxif^, 



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1831.} HISTORY OF TRANSITION ROCKS 179 

mineralogical characters of the strata. But these characters, 
as is now well known, aflford no suflScient test of geological 
age and position, the grauwackes and shales of one age 
being often in that respect undistinguishable from those of 
another. Besides, even when used in reference to one 
continuous series of rocks, though often most convenient 
and useful, they are liable to constant and rapid changes. 
They could not, therefore, be safely relied upon for a sound 
and generally applicable classification, such as had been 
established by means of fossil evidence among the overljdng 
formations. 

And yet the transition rocks were far &om being desti- 
tute of fossils.^ These were to be had sometimes in great 
abundance. They seemed to be in the main of peculiar 
species, not found in the overlying strata. Hence it was 
evident that before any use could be made of the fossils 
in the way of grouping the rocks into divisions, the very 
order of succession among these rocks had first to be settled. 
But no one who had hith^to addressed himself to this task 
had been able to establish as a basis for palseontological 
work any broad and serviceable divisions among the old 
grauwacke, or to connect it satisfactorily with the formations 

^ Their fosailiferoafl character had been noted by Werner. In England 
fossilB had been found by William Smith and Mr. Phillips in the upper- 
most Transition rocks of Westmoreland. These specimens were shown to 
Sedgwick in 1822, and slightly described by him in his paper on Craven 
in 1827. The fossiliferous character of some parts of the Transition 
series of Shropshire and Wales was likewise well known, though no one 
seems to have set about determining what the fossils were, and how far 
they agreed with or differed from those of the overlying formations. 
'* Practically, " to quote from some notes obligingly furnished by Pro- 
fessor Phillips, " before the summer of 1831 the whole field of the ancient 
rocks and fossils of Wales was unexplored ; but then arose two men — 
pa/r nobUe, of all men fitted for the purpose — Sedgwick and Murchison — 
and simultaneously set to work to cultivate what had been left a desert." 



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180 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOX. [wi. 

which succeeded it in time. So broken indeed and altered 
was it that if any one had proposed to apply to this puzzling 
old transition or grauwacke series the same tests by which 
the secondary and tertiary deposits had been brought into 
such clear and intelligible order^ he would have raised a 
smile among his geological Mends. Murchison knew of 
course no more about these ancient formations than his 
neighbours, but he now resolved with his characteristic 
energy and enthusiasm to see what he could make of them. 

At the end of the session of the Geological Society he 
started from Bryanston Square with his ''wife and maid, 
two good grey nags and a little carriage, saddles being 
strapped behind for occasional equestrian use." Some 
preliminary skirmishing took place among the secondary 
and tertiary rocks by the way, for he could not resist the 
sight of a quarry or pit, being resolved to miss nothing on 
the road. The route lay by Oxford, where his old friend 
and preceptor Buckland received him, and led him over 
some of the ground where he had formerly received his 
earliest lessons in field geology. But it was not merely to 
renew old acquaintance that a halt was made at Oxford. 
" I took notes from Dr. Buckland " he writes, " of all that 
he knew of the slaty rocks, or grauwacke as it was then 
called, which succeeded to the Old Bed Sandstone, and the 
relations of which I was determined to begin to unravel ; 
and I recollect that he then told me that he thought I 
would find a good illustration of the succession or passage 
on the banks of the Wye east of Builth." 

This laudable custom of collecting all available infor- 
mation, published or unpublished, regarding any piece of 
geology, before himself attacking it, has already been fire- 



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1831.] BEGINS WORK IN THIS GRAUWACKE. 181 

quently apparent in the preceding narrative. It came 
forward prominently enough at the commencement of this 
new and momentous enterprise. He had already made 
notes in London, while Dr. Buckland furnished him with 
new and valuable suggestions. Quitting Oxford, he jour- 
neyed westward to visit the Rev. W. D. Conybeare, a name 
honourable in the history of geology as that of one of the 
joint authors of the Geology of England and WdU$. 
From this kind and experienced friend he notes that he 
obtamed " some good advice.'* Other local observers, who, 
though not aspiring to be called geologists, had been in the 
habit of looking at the rocks and fossils of their neigh- 
bourhood, gave him invaluable assistance. Among these 
helpers may be mentioned Dr. Dugard of Shrewsbury, Mr. 
Anstice of Madely, Dr. Lloyd of Ludlow, Mr. Davies of 
Llandovery, and above all the Eev. T. T. Lewis of Aymestry. 
From the first these friends enlisted readily in his service, 
and some of them continued their unremitting toil and kind- 
ness for years. To Mr. Lewis especially he was indebted 
for much of his knowledge of the rocks and fossils of the 
upper Silurian series, for that gentleman had made out the 
arrangement of the rocks in his district, and recognised their 
characteristic fossils before Murchison had begun to study 
the subject 

On first taking the field this year Murchison had spent 
some time in a desultory series of visits to country friends 
and rambles after Secondary strata. His companion during 
a portion of the time was Mr. Phillips, who has given the 
following notes of the journey : — " In the cool spring-time of 
1831 we met by appointment at Staneford, and explored 
together the district of CoUyweston and Eetton. It was 



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182 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [issi. 

a pleasant walk along the high grounds overlooking the 
WiUand ; cigars contending with endless discussions on the 
rocks around us^ and on their relationships to Alpine lime- 
stones which had begun to be recognised. We made care- 
ful measures of the slaty and sandy beds full of shells which 
here overlie the ironstone and the lias, and intended to give 
a joint memoir as to their position and numerous fossil con- 
tents. CoUyweston has been again and again visited by me, 
but not I think by Murchison, who in that year had his 
attention drawn to a larger field of work, and b^an to dream 
of Siluria." 

The dream was soon to become a reality. For, crossing at 
last to Swansea, Murchison struck northwards into the hills 
beyond the coal-field, and there began to invade the Tran- 
sition rocks of South Wales. These hills consist of the^ 
Oarboniferous Limestone rising out from under the Goal 
measures and resting upon thick masses of Old Bed Sand- 
stone, so that when one crosses the high ground and 
descends into the lower regions towards the north, one comes 
upon lower and lower strata cropping up fix)m beneath the 
Old Bed Sandstone, and spreading for many a league over 
the imdulating country to right and left and in front. It 
was near the town of Llandeilo that Murchison first broke 
into these older rocks with the purpose of making them dis- 
close their true place and order in the geological series. 

" Travelling from Brecon to Builth by the Herefordshire 
road, the goi^e in which the Wye flows first developed 
what I had not till then seen. Low terrace-shaped ridges 
of grey rock dipping slightly to the south-east appeared on 
the opposite bank of the Wye, and seemed to rise out quite 
conformably from beneath the Old Bed of Herefordshire. 



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1831.] BREAKS GROUND IN SOUTH WALES. 183 

Boating across the river at Cavansham Ferry, I rushed up 
to these ridges, and to my inexpressible joy found them 
replete with transition fossils, afterwards identified with 
those at Ludlow. Here then was a key, and if I could 
only follow this out on the strike of the beds to the north- 
east the case would be good." 

To and fro through the Welsh and border counties he 
worked his way as the rocks led him northwards over hill 
and valley into the plains of Cheshire. The expedition was 



Vale of the Towy, ftrom near LUndeila (Sketched by Mn. Murchisou ) 

far more successful than he had dreamed it could be, for, by 
a happy accident, he had stumbled upon some of the few 
natural sections where the order of the upper parts of the 
transition rocks in Britain can be readily perceived, and 
where their strata can be traced passing up into the over- 
lying formations. No one could better appreciate the value 
of this " find" than the fortunate geologist himself. " For 
a first survey," he writes, " I had got the upper grauwacke, 
so called, into my hands, for I had seen it in several situa- 
tions far from each other all along the South Welsh fix)ntier. 



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184 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [i83i. 

and in Shropshire and Herefordshire, rising out gradually 
and conformably from beneath the lowest member of the old 
red sandstone. Moreover, I had ascertained that its different 
beds were characterized by peculiar fossils. I had, therefore, 
quite enough on hand to enable me to appear at the first 
meeting of the British Association, which I had promised to 
join at York in October, with a good broad announcement 
of a new step in British geology." 

His notes, however, show that he did not rush at once 
from the grauwacke to the York assembly, but journeyed 
so leisurely as to pay many visits to old north-country 
friends, and to fill up long pages of jottings by the way on 
the geology of the region between the hills of Wales and 
the sea-coast of Durham. At last, the same " pair of greys" 
which had carried the two travellers from London all through 
the Welsh border, and the midland and northern counties, 
deposited Mr. and Mrs. Murchison at the hospitable gates of 
Bishopthorpe, where they remained as guests of the Arch- 
bishop during the first meeting of the British Association. 
Of that memorable meeting, so important an event in the 
history of science in this country, Murchison has preserved 
the following recollections : — 

" FIKST MEETING OF THE BRITISH ASSOCUTION AT YORK, 
27/A September to 3d Odober 1831. 

" This fii-st gathering of men of science to give a more 
systematic direction to their researches, to gather funds for 
carrying out analyses and inquiries, to gain strength and 
influence by union, and to make their voice tell in all those 
public affairs in which science ought to tell, came about in 
this wise : — Assemblies of * Naturfoi-scher* had been for two 



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FIRST MEETING OF BRITISH ASSOCIATION. 183 

years or more in existence in Grermany, having begun in 
Hamburg. Thereon Sir D. Brewster wrote an article in 
the Edinburgh Phdloscphieal Journal suggesting that such a 
meeting should be tried in Britain. On this the Eev. Wil- 
liam Vernon (afterwards Vernon Harcourt), the third son of 
the Archbishop of York, and a Prebendary of York, not only 
made the real beginning by proposing that we should meet 
at York, but by engaging his father to act as a Patron, and 
by inducing Earl Fitzwilliam to be the President, he gave at 
once a locm standi and respectability to the project But 
he did much more ; for he elaborated a constitution of that 
which he considered might become a Parliament of Science, 
such as Bacon had imagined, and was thus our lawgiver. 

" The project thus ela'oorated having been transmitted 
to me in London in the spring of 1831, when I was President 
of the Geological Society, I at once eagerly supported it 
Nay, more, I wrote and lithographed an appeal to all my 
scientific friends, particularly the geologists, urging them to 
join this new Association. But notwithstanding my energy, 
the scheme was for the most ^Bxtpoohrpoohed, and, among my 
own associates, I only induced Mr. Greenoilgh, Dr. Daubeny, 
Sir Philip Egerton, and Mr. Yates, to follow suit John Phillips 
of York, the nephew of William Smith, and the Curator of 
the York Museum, had very much to do in the origin of 
this concern, for he co-operated warmly with William Vernon, 
and, when we got together at York, was the secretary and 
factotum. He had previously corresponded with me in Lon- 
don, and stimulated me with a ready-made prospectus. I may 
say that it was the cheerful and engaging manners of young 
Phillips that went far in cementing us ; and even then he 
gave signs of the eminence to which he afterwards arose 



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186 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N, [lasi. 

in the numerous years in which he was the most efficient 
assistant-general-secretary of the body, until when, as the 
distinguished Eeader of Geology in the University of Oxford, 
he presided over the British Association at Birmingham. 

" When, however, we were congregated bom all parts, the 
feebleness of the body scientific was too apparent From 
London we had no strong men of other branches of science, 
and I was but a young President of the geologists ; from 
Cambridge no one, but apologies from Whewell, Sedgwick,^ 
and others ; from Oxford we had Daubeny only, with apo- 
logies from Buckland and others. On the other hand, we 
had the Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, Dr. Uoyd, Dr. 
Dalton, from Manchester, and Sir David Brewster from 
Edinburgh. Thus there was just a nucleus which, if well 
managed, might roll on to be a large balL And admirably 
was it conducted by William Vernon, for, after opening the 
meeting in an earnest, solemn manner, the good Lord Fitz- 
William handed over the whole control to Harcourt and 
left us. 

" On my own part I had plenty of matter wherewith to 
keep my geological section alive, as, besides those I have 
mentioned, we had a tower of strength in old William Smith, 
the Father of English Geology, and then resident at Scar- 
borough; James Forbes, Tom Allan the mineralogist, and 

^ " Sedgwick indeed sent his apology through me, in a letter from Llan* 
fyllin. It was his d&mi among the North Welsh rocks. ' Cracking the 
rocks of Carnarvonshire for three weeks, and getting fond of the sport,* 
he writes, ' I should be a traitor to quit my post now that I am keeping 
watch among the mountains. It would be very delightful to mingle 
among the philosophers and commence deipnosophist, but it would be 
very bad philosophy in the long-run. You may teU Mr. W. Vernon 
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.' " 



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FIRST MEETim OF BRITISH ASSOCIATION. 187 

Johnston the chemist from Edinburgh, to say nothing of 
Harry Witham of Lartington (now an author on fossil flora), 
and others, including William Hutton of Newcastle-on-Tyne, 
then strong upon his ' whin-silL' After all, however, we 
were but a meagre squad to represent British science, and I 
never felt humbler in my life than when Harcourt, in his 
opening address, referred to me as representing London ! 

" Indeed, William Conybeare, afterwards Dean of Uan- 
dafT, had quizzed us unmercifully, as well as W. Broderip 
and Stokes, and other men of science. The first of these had 
said, that if a central part of England were chosen for the 
meeting, and the science of London and the south were to be 
weighed against the science of the North, the meeting ought 
to be held in the Zoological Gardens of the Event's Park ! 
It required, therefore, no little pluck to fight up against all 
this opposition, and all I can claim credit for is, that I was a 
hearty supporter of the scheme — ccrA^e que caAte} 

"This first gathering was in short much like what takes 
place at small Continental meetings — we had no regular 
sections, but worked on harmoniously with our small force 
in cumvio. The excellent Archbishop was of great social 
use, and gave a dignity to the proceedings, whilst Lord Mor- 
peth, then the young member for Yorkshire, incited us by 
speeches as to our future. It was then and there resolved 
that we were ever to be Provincials, Old Dalton insisted on 

^ As an illustration of the kind of tannts amid which the Britiah Abso* 
ciation was bom, the foUowing sentence may be quoted from a letter 
written by J. G. Lookhart, editor of the Quarterly Beview, to Morchison 
just before the meeting : — '' I presume you are going to the colt-show at 
York. Don't make a fool of yourself among these twaddlers, who must, in 
such strength of re-union (considering what happens in all their minor 
associations), be enough to disturb the temper, if not brains, of the 
(To^ttroroft, of which number is of course the P. G. S. I4." 



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188 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [i83i. 

thiB — saying that we should lose all the object of diffusing 
knowledge if we ever met in the Metropolis. 

" With all our efforts, however, we might never have suc- 
ceeded had not my dear friend Dr. Daubeny boldly sug- 
gested (and he had no authority whatever) that we should 
hold our second meeting in the University of Oxford ! I It 
was that second meeting which consolidated us, and enabled 
us to take up a proper position. Then it was that, seeing 
the thirig vxis going to succeed, the men of science of the metro- 
polis and those of the imiversities joined us." 

A letter written by Murchison from York, towards the 
close of the meeting, to Dr. Whewell, gives a glimpse of the 
enthusiasm with which some of the fellow-labourers worked 
for the Association : — 

" Before I entered into the * British Association ' which 
the meeting at York has given rise to, I was very desirous 
of weighing the men who were eventually to carry us through. 
I was really very mainly induced to join it in consequence 
of your letter to William Vernon, and I was quite decided 
in so doing when I saw the calibre of the men he had 
assembled, and the promises of support from those who 
could not attend. . . . Brewster really astonished every one 
with the brilliancy of his new lights, old Dalton, * atomic 
Dalton,* reading his own memoirs, and repl3dng with 
straightforward i)ertinacity to every objection in the highly 
instructive conversations which followed each paper. . . . 
I had no memoir ready myself, and did not intend to rob the 
Geological Society of anything intended for them, but I 
found that a poor and hard-working druggist of Preston,^ 

^ Mr. W. Oilbertaon (see BrU, As9oe, Rep., 1831-2, p. 82). The shells 
referred to are in the museum of the Qeological Society. 



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FIRST MEETING OF BRITISH ASSOCIATION 180 

Lancashire, who had made some years a^ a very important 
observation on the existence of shells of existing species in 
the gravels and marls of Lancashii'e at 300 feet above the 
sea, and at distances of fifteen and twenty miles from the 
sea, was present I took the opportunity of turning lecturer, 
and having visited those parts this summer, I brought out 
my little druggist with all the ^clat he merited. This is 
another practical exemplification of the good arising from such 
a reunion. The Archbishop had all the party on one of the 
days, and it would have gratified the liberality of Cambridge 
to have seen old Quaker Dalton on his Grace's right hand. 
Pray act cordially with us, and if Adam [Sedgwick], my great 
master, and yourself will only go along with us, the third 
meeting will unquestionably be at Cambridge. Eely on it, 
the thing mvst progress, all the good men and true here 
present are resolved to make it do sa" 

Fresh from the field, Murchison had not had time to pre- 
pare any important paper to inaugurate the birth of the new 
Association. But besides bringing forward the finder of the 
Lancashire shells, he took the opportunity of showing the 
general nature and tendency of his recent work, by hanging 
up the maps which he had used that summer in his tour, and 
on which he had coloured ** the Transition Bocks, the Old 
Bed Sandstone, and Carboniferous Limestone," etc., an ex- 
hibition of interest to geologists, since it was the first which 
gave promise that the uncertainty of the true relations of 
the Transition rocks to the later formations was now at 
length to be dispelled. 

At the close of the meeting the "pair of greys," which 
had done such good service already, were again in requisition 
^ BriMi AisociaUon Beporta, voL i. p. 9L 



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190 SIR RODERICK MURGHI80N. [issl 

to transport the traveUers to the east coast. There, at 
Scarborough and its neighbourhood, Murchison once more 
availed himself of the ever ready co-operation of the illustrious 
'* Father of English Geology," and renewed his acquaintance 
with the rocks of that interesting coast line. In a letter 
written at that time to Mr. Phillips, he reports the first 
germ of a proposal which in its completed form did honour 
to the men who made it, and to the Government which 
carried it into execution. It was one of the earliest of a long 
series of kind-hearted acts to meritorious but often poor men 
of science — acts which, if they had not Murchison for their 
originator, never failed to find in him an active and influential 
supporter. We can picture him among these Yorkshire clifls, 
with the kindly old man, who, though he had done more for 
geology than any man then living, was spending the re- 
mainder of his days in humble quiet at ScarborougL And 
those who knew Murchison will recognise how well fitted 
this sight was to touch him into active and considerate 
benevolence, 

" I have had a nice field-day with your uncle at Hack- 
ness. What is your opinion, your real opinion, as to what 
J or my Mends could really do for him (i.e, for his benefit ) ? 
It would never do to bring him to town without something 
sure and good was offered. If we could persuade the 
Government to give him a little salary to be geological 
colourer of the Ordnance Maps published — do you think I 
ought to suggest this ? I ask this as a preliminaiy : it 
would certainly be of national importance to have these well 
done, and lodged in the Tower and GeoIogi(Sal Society." 

This proposal, as we shall see, was not a mere matter 
of form or of transient good- will. But before any further 



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Voi„ I. To /ace page 100. 



WILLIAM SMITH. LL.I>. 
Frovi o VnitraU htj Fourmv. 



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1831.] SEDGWICK'S FIRST WORK IN WALES. 191 

action could be taken, the writer of it had to find his way 
bstck to London, This he did in the usual circuitous way 
which a geologist chooses, travelling through Lincolnshire 
and Norfolk in search of geological sections. While at 
Norwich he received fix)in his friend Whewell a pressing 
invitation to visit Cambridge on the homeward journey, and 
as part of the attraction, was told that " You will find 
Sedgwick fall to the teeth with Welsh porphyry and grau- 
wacke, and shall hear the legend of his fight with some of 
the old spirits of the mountains, who made a great resistance 
to the process of being geologized — an operation for which 
there is no name I believe in any of the dialects of the Gaelic ; 
but you know best" It was a curious coincidence that the 
two brother geologists should each independently have 
broken ground in Wales in the same year.^ Sedgwick 
unfortunately had begun the attack in a region of great 
complication, Murchison, on the other hand, had been lucky 
enough to begin in one of comparatively easy comprehension. 
This accidental difference indirectly led the way to that sad 
estrangement which remains to be told in future chapters. 
This had been in many ways a busy and important year 

^ The following ertract from a letter of Sedgwick's to Mnrcbison, 20ih 
October 1831, gives ns an interesting glimpse into the state of the work 
when the eager Woodwardian Professor began it in North Wales: — 
'* The weather became so bad that I was driven out of Carnarvonshire 
before I had qnite finished my work ; bnt» Gk>d 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 shaU perhaps be able to see my way 
through the greater part of the Principality. If I live to finish the sur- 
vey, I shall have terminated my seventh or eighth summer devoted exclu- 
sively to the details of the old crusty rocks of the primary system. What 
a horrible fraction of a geological life sacrificed to the most toilsome and 
irksome investigations belonging to our science ! When I finished Cumber- 
land I hoped some one else would have done North Wales, but I have 
been disappointed. N^importe, I am now in for it, and must go on/' 



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192 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK. [i8si. 

in Murchison's career. He writes of it thus : — " In sum- 
ming up what I saw and what I realized in the summer of 
1831^ or in about four months of travellings I may say that 
it was the most fruitful year of my life, for in it I laid the 
foundation of my Silurian System. I was then thirty-nine 
years old, and few could excel me in bodily and mental 
activity. 'Omnia vincit labor' was my motto then, and I 
have always stuck to it since." 



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CHAPTER XL 

THE OHAIB OF THE GEOLOGICAL SOOIETT, AND SOCIAL 
LIFE m LONDON. 

When once moie back at his post in London, it was one 
of MuTQliison's fiist cares to prosecute farther the scheme 
for doing honour to William SmitL How his plan pros- 
pered is best told in his own words, as written at the time to 
Mr. Phillips: — ^"Tou know all my heart's desire for our 
good old father in geology. I propounded the same (as 
expressed to you) to the Council of the Geological Society 
at our first meeting in November, and I only waited for the 
gathering of the men of of&ce to sound Lord Morpeth on the 
feasibility of my plan, and» if approved of by him, then to 
throw in a strong memorial to the Grovemmeni Judge of 
my delight then, when I found that Lord Morpeth had 
anticipated my wishes, and had already written to Lord 
Lansdowne, arguing Smith's merits, and asking for a small 
pension. This application I was asked to second, which I 
have done by letter a few days ago to Lord Lans- 
downe ; but in doing this I have deviated so &r from the 
original request, as to point out to Lord L. that Mr. 
Smith was stUl capable of doing the State good service. I 

VOL. I. N 



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194 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [issl 

went into an expose of the whole thing, and proposed the 
creation of a new appointment, with some such title as 
'Geological Cdourer of the Ordnance Maps' — ^thereby 
meeting all the objections and criticisms of the Humists 
which might be directed against sinecure places or pensions, 
but which could not hold good with respect to an office so 
connected with the development of the mineral wealth of 
the country as that which I have suggested. We shall see 
what the Lords will do, and in the meantime we had better 
say nothing of it to Smith." 

They had not a long time to wait, for the Government 
granted the venerable geologist a pension of £100 a year 
without stipulating that he should colour any Ordnance 
maps.^ 

His position as President of the Geological Society 
required Murchison's presence in London during winter, 
even if his enthusiasm for the science and devotion to the 
Society had not been amply enough to insure his attendance. 
He might well be proud of the choice which the Society had 
made. Thirty years later a Mend of his referred to him at 
one of the anniversaries of the Society as a man " bom to fill 
chairs." During that busy interval he certainly merited 
the description. But in 1831 he sat for the first time as a 
leader among his scientific brethren, in the chair which had 
been held by such men as Greenough, Macculloch, Buckland, 
and Sedgwick. ^ 

It was always a great object with Murchison, as Presi- 
dent, to get what he called " a good meeting," that is, one 
with interesting papers attracting a full audience, and calling 

^ For purtionlan of this mcident» lee Prof enor Fhillipa* interestiiig 
Life of WilliMn Smith, p. 117. 



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183L] PRESIDENT OF GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY. 195 

out a brisk discussion. In his letters to friends in the 
conntiy at this time the doings at the Society usually figuie 
largely. For instance, writing to Dr. Whewell on the 17th 
November he says : — " We had a capital meeting last night 
1st, A memoir on the gigantic Plesio of Scarborough. 
2d, Old Montlosier on Yesuvlus, wMch drew out a long 
and lucid explanation from Necker de Saussure; Lyell, 
Buckland, Fitton, Greenough, De la Beche, and others 
being orators. Buckland filled up all the parts wanting in 
the Plesio, and perfected a monster for those who in a 
snowy November night were disposed to nightmare.'' 

Certainly in those days the meetings of the Geological 
Society must have been among the most enjoyable gather- 
ings in London. There was a freshness about the young 
science, and men still fought about broad principles, intelli- 
gible and interesting to most listeners. The inevitable days 
of subdivision and detail had not yet come. ''Why not 
contrive to be here on Wednesday?" writes the President 
to one of his Council "Dine with us^ at the Crown 
and Anchor, and attend our meeting, where we shall 
have the rare union of old Adam of Cam, Buckland, 
Conybeare, eta" Bare union indeed! The only paper 
read at the meeting was by Sedgwick — one of those lumin- 
ous efforts which by a few broad lines served to convey, 
even to non-scientific hearers, a vivid notion of the geology 
of a wide region, or of a great geological formatioa Em- 
balmed in the Society's printed publications, 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 

^ i.e. The Geological Club, to be immediately referred to. 



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196 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80K [wsi, 

the mountain wind. The woids are there, but the fire and 
humour with which they rang through that dingy room in 
Somerset House have passed away. 

In several of the learned Societies, and among them the 
Geological, there had sprung up what were called " clubs ; ** 
these were gatherings of the more prominent members to 
dine and talk, and thereafter to adjourn to the evening 
meeting of the Society. Besides promoting good-fellowship 
among the members, they gave opportunities for much 
pleasant scientific gossip, and, what was one of their most 
important functions, they kept up a strong nucleus for the 
Society's ordinary meetings, to which, after a comfortable 
dinner, the dub adjourned in a body. Murchison, at this 
time, and to the end of his life, took a leading share in the 
business, gustatory and other, of the Geological Club, which 
was founded in 1824. In one of his letters he urges a Mend 
to allow himself to be proposed for this club, " which we 
endeavour to keep select, where you will always meet some 
of the choicest spirits, and where you really always pick up 
much geology in a quiet way.** 

To preside at such meetings must have been one of the 
pleasantest duties a scientific man of that day could per- 
form. But over and above his ordinary work for the Society, 
the position of President brought with it an accession of 
other multifarious duties and engagements. Professor 
Phillips recalls how '' men of science who visited London in 
1831 were sure to be courteously met by the President of 
the Geological Society, then residing in Bryanston Place, 
profuse in hospitality and full of hearty zeal and kindly 
sympathy for his brethren of the hammer, of whatever 
country, which never left him." 



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1803-31.] BATTLE IN THE ROYAL SOCIETY. 197 

But besides these pleasant ways of using his influence, 
there sometimes arose others where he was called on to 
take part in less amicable intercourse. Thus^ one of the 
most notable incidents in the scientific doings in London in 
this year was a keen battle over the Chair of the Soyal 
Society — a battle into which Murchison seems to have 
thrown himself with all the ardour of his military youtL 
He gives the following account of it : — " On the retirement 
of Mr. Davies Gilbert from the chair, a certain clique in the 
Society got up the notion that the Duke of Sussex would be 
the best person we could fix upon. As soon as the plot got 
wind, the indignation of all the real men of science knew no 
bounds, and they resolved to start Herschel as an opponent 
to the Eoyal Duka We subscribed our names to a public 
protest ; about eighty or ninety names were appended, in- 
cluding those of nearly all the notable and working men in 
science. It was resolved to beat us^ and the greatest influ- 
ence was used politicajly, royally, and socially to bring up 
voters for the so-called royal cause. I became an active 
canvasser for HerscheL 

''At that time the Boyal Society was very differently 
composed from what it now is. Any wealthy or well-known 
person, any MJ?. or bank director, or East Indian nabob 
who wished to have F.RS. added to his name, was sure to 
obtain admittance, by canvassing and by being elected at 
any ordinary meeting. The consequence was that over all 
that class of our body the Soyal and Government influence 
of the day was overpowering, and even Lord Holland, though 
the gout was on him, was carried up into our meeting 
room, where he had never been before, to vote for his royal 
friend! 



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198 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isao-si. 

** I stood at the top of the stairs at Somerset House, 
doing my best to catch a vote as any friend ascended. We 
were beaten by 119 to 111. Many persons who had seen 
our public declaration had felt so sure we should be victors 
that they did not come up from the coimtry. But so it 
was. 

'' The election over, the good Duke found himself in a 
dilemma. He wisely saw that he could not govern the 
Society if he could not make up a better Council than he 
came in with in 1830. He therefore resolved to choose his 
advisers from among those who had most stoutly opposed 
him, and who in feu^t mainly represented the science of the 
body. Overtures were made to myself, and I deemed it to 
be my duty to accept office under a Prince who could act 
so liberally and kindly towards his opponents.** 

The ground on which this latter step was justified may 
best be gathered from the following letter : — 

"^<wem6erl4, 1831. 

" My deab Whewbll, — Oh for a quiet life ! I thought 
like a simpleton that reform and cholera were enough to glut 
one with horrors, and my poor and only consolation was 
that I might absorb myself in science, and so fossilize my 
mind and frame as to allow all those shafts to pass by 
innocuoua Our campaign geological opened weU with an 
excellent memoir by Dr. Christie. . . . The point of irrita- 
tion is nothing iu our own good Society, but consists in the 
formation of a new Council for the Eoyal, on which they 
have placed my name as well as your own. I will begin 
with the end, which is, that after much conflicting reasoning 
with myself I have agreed to be on the Council, and I need 
not add, that my determination was mainly influenced by 



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1831.] EARLY DAYS OF ATHENjEUM CLUB. 199 

finding we were to have a strong battery, in which I could 
never disgrace myself in performing the part of a simple 
bombardier. . . . You know as well as all my friends with 
what zeal I opposed His Highness's election, but I am not 
of that school who would cherish a rancorous and perpetual 
hostility. ... I have got over all my other scruples, and 
intend to go along with things as they are, and not to fight 
against the stream and old time by joining B. and his cold 
and comfortless crew. In taking this step I feel that I 
shall be liable to the kind innuendos of some of my ultra 
Mends, but my most intimate friend LyeU, who is the only 
man in my confidence on the point, completely approves of 
my conduct" 

" In this way,** to return to the narrative, " the second 
Council of the Duke of Sussex's administration was formed. 
With his bonhomie, his ready access at all times when in 
health, and his earnest desire to do what was best in the 
interests of science, we who had been his opponents became 
his best friends in the sequel There was also this advantage 
in having him for our chief, that all scientific rivalry was at 
an end. 

" As an active member of the Athenseum Club (of which 
I was one of the original 300), I had a finger in most things 
which were stirring among men of letters, art, and science. 
It was for these men that the club was set up, Davy, Croker, 
and Beginald Heber being its real founders and earliest 
trustees I must say that it was then a truly sociable and 
agreeable society. Little home dinners of twelve or fourteen 
were firequent, Heber or Davy often presiding, particularly 
the former.'* 

The Presidency of the Geological Society was employed 



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200 SIR RODERICK MURGHISON. [i831-32l 

by Murchison in a yeiy characteristic way, wherein he con- 
tinued to distinguish himself up to the end of his life. He 
made it the ground for gathering at his house, in a more 
public and of&cial form than one could do in a private 
capacity, assemblies in which scientific men miogled freely 
with representatives from that non-scientific society of rank 
and fashion to which he had always been so strongly 
attached. To these gatherings Mrs. Murchison lent her 
cordial help, giving them a charm which added much to 
their popularity. We shall see in the records of later years 
how marked this social habit became, and what an import- 
ant bearing it had upon the position of science in the society 
of his day. 

One of the tasks of the President during his two years' 
tenure of office, is to prepare an address for the Anniversary 
of the Society in February. It had been customary to 
devote that address to a general survey of the progress of 
geology at home and abroad during the previous year — a 
labour which in the infancy of the science was not very 
arduous, and had proved to be in the highest degree useful 
Murchison had now to undertake this task, perilous though 
it might be for one who only eight short years before was 
known merely for a keen sportsman, as ignorant of science 
and as indifferent to its attractions as any other of the north- 
country squires. Nevertheless he accepted the duty and 
discharged it well His address, indeed, lacks the vigour, 
originality, and eloquence of bis predecessor Sedgwick.^ He 
contents himself with a sober outline of the work which had 
been done by the Society, and other labourers in this country 

^ Tet it had the advwitage of reyision by Sedgwick, one or two 
effeotive touches beixig due to his pen. 



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18a] L7ELL AND MACCULLOCH. 201 

and abroad But he shows in eveiy page the enthusiasm 
with which he now pursued geology, and gives us pleasant 
glimpses of the zeal and good-fellowship which marked the 
first generation of the members of the Geological Society. 
His concluding sentence runs thus : — " Permit me to offer 
you my heart-felt wishes for the continuance of your tri- 
imiphant career, and to assure you that I consider myself 
truly ennobled in having been placed, for a time, at the head 
of a brotherhood united for purposes so great, and knit 
together by such lofty and enduring sympathiea'' ^ 

As illustrative of the progress of Geology in Britain at 
the time, it may be mentioned that in this address the Pre- 
sident had an opportunity of noticing Sedgwick's labours 
(already referred to) among the rocks of Cumberland and 
Westmoreland, Trimmer^s discovery of marine shells on Mod 
Tryfane in Wales, the appearance of Lindley and Button's 
FoBsU Flora, of the second volume of Lyell's Princvples 
of Geology, and of Macculloch's System of Geology, the 
establishment of the British Association, and the great 
increase in number and vigour of local scientific Societies. 
To the thoughtful student of the history of science there is 
something eminently suggestive in this conjunction of the 
works of LyeU and MaccullocL The pages of the former 
writer glowed with all the fervour of the newer school of 
geology, which sprang out of the teachings of Button and 
William SmitL The rocks were no longer treated as mere 
mineral masses, but as documents from which the detailed 
history of the earth and its inhabitants was to be compiled. 
The remains of plants and animals now took the place of 
importance which mineral species had formerly held, in so 

^ Proe, OeoL 8oc, yoL i p. 886. 



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202 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80K [i8» 

mucli that they gradually monopolized to themselves the 
term " fossil," which, in earlier days, had been given indiscri- 
minately to every mineral substance taken out of the earth. 
Appeals were made on every hand to living nature as a 
guide to the changes of past ;time. Zoology and botany 
became as essential to the geologists of this younger creed 
as mineralogy and chemistry had been to their predecessors. 
And thus in a few years, from being a mere subordinate 
branch of mineralogical inquiry, accused, and not altogether 
unjustly, of indulging more in crude speculation than in 
sober observation and induction, geology had sprung into a 
foremost place among the great divisions of natural science. 
This rapid change could receive no fitter acknowledgment 
than in the words of Herschel, who said that in the mag- 
nitude and sublimity of the objects of which it treats, 
geology ranks next to astronomy, and that at length it was 
brought effectually within the list of the inductive sciences. 
In the midst of this glow of fresh thought and of vigorous 
and ever broadening research, Macculloch's System made 
its appearance like the sullen protest of the last high-priest 
of a supplanted religion. Few had earned a better claim 
than this author to the respect of English geologists for hard, 
shrewd, original work, carried on among some of the least 
accessible tracts of the British islands, and described at times 
with a vigour of pen which not many of his brethren of the 
hammer could equal He might well have been content to 
rest his reputation upon that early work. Owing perhaps 
in large measure to bad health, acting upon a temperament 
naturally sensitive, he seemed to regard Scotland and the 
older rocks generally as a kind of geological preserve of his 
own, over which, though he had for many years retired from 



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Voi^ I, To fare page 202. 



JOHN MACtl'LLCKH. M.D. 
from the J^nfjmving oj the I'oi trait hy H. li. Faulkner. 



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1832.] MACCULLOCH^S SYSTEM OF OEOLOOY. 203 

field-work, he could not brook that any one should wield a 
hammer without some licence firom himself! Murchison and 
Sedgwick had laid themselves open to his wrath by their 
xmauthorized raid into his territory. He made no sign at 
the time ; but a few years afterwards, viz., in 1831, he threw 
this System at the heads of his rivals, and in the face of the 
geological world. The book may be looked upon as almost 
the last expiring effort of the old mineralogical school of 
geology in Britain. In perasing it, the reader might suppose 
himself to be in the midst of the literature of the end of the 
previous centuiy. FossiL remains are ignored, together with 
all the new lines of inquiry which they had opened, and the 
rocks ai^e described according to their mineral characters, 
precisely as if William Smith had never lived. And yet 
the author assures the world that he had kq>t his manu- 
script beside him for ten years, ''in the hope that some 
better man would stand forward to represent geological 
science as it is : but he grieves to say that, during that long 
period, geology has scarcely received a valuable addition, and 
not a single fandamental one.'' As President of the Geo- 
logical Society, it was Murchison's duty to repel this state- 
ment, and to point with just pride to the Transactions of the 
Society as a monument of what had been done during those 
ten eventful years.^ 

^ He does not ipeciany refer to Maoonllooli'i trefttanent of his own 
work sod that of Sedgwick. Bat no one can read the SysUm without 
encountering passages which evidently refer, in by no means a compli- 
mentary tone, to the two feUow-labonrers among the Scottish Bed Sand- 
stones. MaocnUoch's ill health and acrimony seemed to increase with his 
years. In his last work« — a pamphlet to accompany his Geological Map 
of ScoUand (1836),— published unfortunately after his sad and sudden 
death, his sllusions became eyen more personal. (See, for example, the last 
sentence on p. 94, where he refers to ** the very ignorant and hypothetical 



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204 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [vssl 

One of the time-honoured customs of the Geological 
Society was then, and still is, to hold a dinner on the evening 
of the anniversary ; so that, after the President has given an 
exhaustive, and sometimes rather exhausting, address in the 
afternoon, he takes the chair and makes after-dinner speeches 
in the evening, surrounded with a goodly gathering of geolo- 
gists and friends, who are of course all agreed ad to the great 
importance of the Society, and the unabating interest of the 
science which it cultivates. In performing this function 
Murchison seems to have been so well satisfied with the 
success of his first public geological dinner that he took 
some trouble to get it reported in the London papers, and 
even wrote to a friend in Inverness to secure a notice of it 
in one of the northern journals ! 

" The summer of 1832," to quote from his journal, " was 
begun with the Oxford meeting of the British Association, 
and of this I need say nothing more than that, imder the 
presidency of Buckland, the body was then licked into 
shape, and divided into six sections. As the mass of the 
great guns of the metropolis had now joined us, and also 
Sedgwick, Whewell, and the best men of Cambridge, our 
success was assured. Altogether it was (thanks to its pro- 
poser, Daubeny) a most auspicious meeting, — the more so 
as it terminated with an invitation, for the next year, from 
Cambridge, with my dear colleague Adam Sedgwick as 



persons. ") He speaks of his own laboais as completing the geological in- 
vestigation of Scotland, there being nothing further to be done save what 
could, after a few weeks of experience, "be effected by a snryeyor's 
dradge, or a Scottish qnarrTman " (p. 17). So far as Sedgwick and Mnr- 
chison were concerned, there was no cause for this hostility ; for, though 
they had differed from him on some points, they had never ignored the 
great services rendered to geology by Maccolloch. 



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1831] BEGINS TO MAP THE WELSH ROCKS. 205 

** The lemainder of the summer was entirely devoted to 
researches amidst my new loves, the ' Transition Bocks/ not 
only by revisiting the old ground to complete my sections, 
but by greatly extending my survey. I had now determined 
to set to and map out the region. But, alas ! the Odnance 
maps of a large portion of the coimtry I had determined to 
examine were only in the course of construction, or not 
begun. But I got hold of every scrap I could firom the 
Map Office, then directed by Colby, or firom my fiiend 
Major Bobe at the Tower, and so I set to work in the terra 
incognita to which I afterwards (1835) applied the name of 
Siluria." 

If it be true, as Bacon asserted, that "^ writing maketh an 
exact man," it is no less true that mapping makes an exact 
geologist Without this kind of training, it is not easy to 
grasp accurately the details of geological structure, and 
hence the literature of the science is sadly overloaded with 
papers and books which, had their authors enjoyed this pre- 
liminary discipline, would either not have been written, or 
would at least have been more worthy of perusal Murchi- 
son wisely resolved not to trust merely to eye and memory, 
but to record what he saw as accurately as he could upon 
maps. And there can be no doubt that by so doing he gave 
his work a precision and harmony which it could never have 
otherwise possessed, and that, even though still falling 
into some errors, he was enabled to get a firmer hold 
of the structure of the country which he had resolved to 
master than he could have obtained in any other way. 
For, to make his maps complete, he was driven to look 
into all manner of out-of-the-way nooks and comers, with 
which, but for that necessity, he might have been little 



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206 SIR RODERICK MUBCHI80K [mL 

likely to make acquaintance. It often happens that in such 
half-hidden places — the course of a mountain torrent, the 
bottom of a tree-shaded ravine, the gully cut by the frosts 
and rains of centuries from the face of a lonely hillside — 
lies the key to the geological structure of the neighbourhood. 
In pursuit of his quest, therefore, the geologist is driven to 
double back to and fro over tracts never trodden perhaps by 
the ordinary tourist, but is many a time amply recompensed 
by the unexpected insight which this circuitous journeying 
gives him into the less obtrusive beauties of the landscape. 

Though Murchison had already learnt something of the 
devious nature of a field-geologisf s path through a country, 
he had never before tried anything on so detailed and ex- 
tensive a scale. At one time he might have been seen 
measuring sections in Shropshire; soon thereafter, led on 
by the rocks, he had got away west into Pembroke. 
Thence, following up his game, he tracked it through the 
wilds of Montgomery and Badnor, or south to the hills 
overlooking the great Welsh coal-field, and back again into 
the English borders. For weeks and months together this 
work went on. Much of the ground proved difficult to 
unravel, and cost its explorer many a restless night, for he 
had now got his head so full of grauwacke, transition rocks, 
and Old Bed Sandstone, that he seems to have been able to 
think or dream of nothing else. From his notes, however, 
we may conjecture that though his days were given to hard 
work out of doors, the evenings were often pleasantly spent 
under the hospitable roof of the country gentlemen of the 
region, some of them old friends, who still enjoyed a quiet 
joke over the enthusiasm with which he now himted " grau- 
wacke " instead of foxes. 



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1832.] JUBILANT OVER HIS EARLY SUCCESSES. 207 

November, with the opening of the session of the Qeolo- 
gical Society, brought him back to London and the usnal 
routine of town life in winter. To Sir Philip Egerton he 
writes immediately after his return, full of excitement over 
the summer campaign: — "I have done a fine stroke of 
work. I have coloured up all the Ordnance Maps I could 
procure, describing a zone of about twenty or thirty miles in 
breadth, £com the Wrekin and right bankjDf the Severn to 




k^i 




FowiLB ntoM THE Orauwacks (Cabadoc Rocks). 

1. Calymene BlmnenbachiL 2. Homalonotos bisnlcatiiB. 8. Fhacope tnmcato-'CaadAtni. 
4. Tentaonlites AngUcns. 6. Lingala cmmena (Llandoveiy). & Orthis testndinazia. 7. O. 
vespertllio. & Strophomena tenuistriata. 0. 8. grandis. 10. Bellerophon bOobataa. IL R 
nodoras. IS. Ortlionotanaaata. 18. Nebulipora lena. lit Diplognpsua pxlstia. 16. Orapto- 
lithiu pilodon. 

the mouth of the Towey, and I hope to show you four or 
five distinct natural fossiliferous formations of great thick- 
ness in our neglected 'grauwacke,' in which I have got 
abundance of fossils — many quite new; indeed, I have 
fished some out of the genuine Old Eed Sandstone which 
overlies all my system. I had a most delightful tour, de- 
spite certain premonitory choleritic attacks, which disabled 
me occasionally. My wife met me in Somersetshire, 
through which county and Wiltshire and Hants we re- 



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208 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [isaa. 

turned, making visits to old friends till we reached onr 
connty near Petersfield, where in the month of October I 
laid low about sixty brace of cock-pheasants. We reached 
town on the 6th of this month to open the geological 
campaign. 

'' Mantell has discovered great part of a nov. spec, of large 
Saurian in the Weald, which he supposes to be his dear 
Iguanodon, of which you know he never as yet found more 
tiian the head and teeth. His paper thereon is to be read 
next meeting (December 5th), after which I am going down 
to a battue at Up Park." 

From the mass of letters which he allowed to accumulate 
&om month to month, some idea can be gathered of the 
multifarious and distracting calls which were daily made 
upon his time and attention during the years of his Pre- 
sidency. The undisturbed early hours before breakfiEtst are 
given up to the elaboration of his notes. The morning post 
brings perhaps, among other epistles, a wail firom some 
coimtry geologist, because he has heard no tidings of an 
elaborate memoir which he had sent up to the President, 
in the confident belief that it would at once exercise the 
collective wisdom of the Society. In the forenoon he 
has to attend a meeting of committee for securing Abbots- 
ford to Sir Walter^s family ; or of another committee 
which is busy organizing a subscription for a suitable 
memorial to Cuvier. Then he goes by appointment to 
meet Chantrey, who had made a design for the WoUaston 
medaL In the afternoon he may have purposed to get 
some of his Welsh notes into order; but a foreign geologist, 
with letters of introduction from some of his friendly Con- 
tinental brethren of the hammer, appears at his door, whom. 



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1833.] LONDON WORK AND COUNTRY PASTIME. 209 

after giving up an hour or two to him, he finally takes to 
Somerset House and consigns to the courtesy of the re- 
spected Curatory Xonsdale. In the evening, unless, as often 
happened, he had engaged himself to dine out, or to hold a 
geological reception at home, he could attend to his corre- 
spondence, or, if that had been already accomplished, he 
might snatch a few hours to prepare an account of his 
labours in the field for the Society, his wife at his side pre- 
paring his drawings and otherwise aiding in the work. 

And yet, despite these numerous avocations, time and 
opportunity were both found for a flight now and then firom 
the bustle of London to the field-sports and friendly inter- 
course of a country house. Witness the following account of 
himself, written on 22d January 1833 : — ^' I met my wife on 
my return from Cheltenham, and we paid a visit of a week 
to Lord Milton, in Northamptonshire, and I must say that I 
never enjoyed a winter week more. He gave me a mount 
on a capital thoroughbred, son of Cervantes, but the day was 
unlucky. It was a woodland fox found in the Bedford pur- 
lieus, which took us right into the heart of old ^'s preserves, 

where the Earl and his Christmas friends were dropping the 
long-tails. You must excuse me if I say that the ex-Minister 
in his threadbare tartan, patch over his eyes, hat twisted up 
behind, on a cock-tailed pony, with large gambadoes, dis- 
tressed as he was by our irruption, looked a perfect pattern 
for H. B. to realize the ' ould constitution' of Dan O'ConnelL 
But the distress of the day was the death of a poor whipper- 
in. I am now writing seven or eight hours per diem, nay, 
even ten and twelve, to make up for lost time, and to enable 
me to take the last week of the best shooting in England at 
Up Park. So you see I am living a very sporting life for a 

V0L.L 



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210 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isas. 

P.G.S. I am delighted you are coming to the anniversaiy. 
Greenongh is to be my successor.** 

The continuous writing to which he refers was required 
for the preparation of the presidential address at the forth- 
coming anniversary in February. In looking back over the 
pages of that forgotten document, we meet with notices of 
several landmarks in geology, showing in what an eventful 
period of the history of his favourite science the life of the 
writer had been cast Among the names of those whose 
recent deaths he had to chronicle, and whose deeds it was 
his duty to record, were Sir James HaU and Cuvier — the 
one standing at the head of physical geology, and linking 
that generation with the early glories of the Huttonian 
school ; the other acknowledged to be the great master of 
that newer school of palaeontology which had so greatly 
altered the aspect and the aims of geological inquiry. Among 
the topics of then recent discussion, he alludes to the erratic 
boulders (* foundlings,** as the Swiss have called them), 
which, strewn over the plains of Europe, were beginning to 
attract attention as evidence of some flood from the North — 
the first beginning of the deciphering of that wonderful 
chronicle which has laid before us at last the story of the 
Ice Age in Europe. Among the annoimcements of new 
work he gives a sketch of his own labours among the old 
rocks of the West, and alludes to those of Sedgwick. But 
his most important item on this head was the reference to 
the foundation of the Geological Survey, that great national 
undertaking, over which, some two-and-twenty years later, 
he was himself destined to preside, and in charge of which 
he spent almost the last sixteen yeara of his life. Very 
modest was its earliest equipment Mr. Henry de la Beche 



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1888-38.] LOCKHART AND BULWER 211 

had been appointed, in connexion with the Ordnance Survey, 
^ to afi&x geological colours to the maps of Devonshire, and 
portions of Somerset, Dorset, and ComwalL" To the tact 
of that sagacious man the Survey owed its existence, and to 
his eneigy and skiU it is indebted for its preseht importance, 
and the great work which it has so far accomplished. 

Writing late in life, and looking back upon this early 
part of his scientific career in London, Murchison penned 
the following reminiscences : — '' During all these years, viz., 
1826-38, 1 inhabited No. 3 Bryanston Place, and, though I 
had but a small establishment, I saw veiy agreeable society, 
for, independent of my scientific friends, I was visited by 
men in public life, as well as by the lovers of science, letters, 
and the art& With Hallam I was in constant intercourse, 
and also with Lockhart, and with both of these very difiTerent 
men I kept up an intimacy to their death. When Lockhart 
came to London eveiy one was afraid of the author of Petals 
Letters to his Kinsfolk, the more so as the Whigs were rabid 
against him ; but with intunacy his reserve wore off, and I 
declare that, amongst my friends, I never knew one who 
was more lively, amusing, and confiding in dual converse, 
nor one whose loss I more sincerely mourned. If he was a 
good hater he was assuredly a warm friend. 

^ Shortly after Bulwer came to London I asked him to 
dine, but did not tell him whom he was to meet He had 
just issued his PaiU Clifford, and, meeting for the first time 
at my table, Lockhart, who had cut it up unmercifully, the 
young author took huff (for he was then a proud young 
dandy), and thought I had done so to annoy him. It re- 
quired all Chantrey's good-humour to keep the party to- 
gether. 



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212 SIR RODERICK MURjCHISON. [iw^» 

^ ^ Sydney Smith, Lord Dudley, Conyetsatiofi Shaaip, L(»fd 
Morpeth, the Parkes (now Wensleydales), L(»d lAnsdowne, 
even the sensible and aged Duehess Countess of 6utlier- 
land, did not disdain our small parties. Lady Davy rarely 
came, for she was too exclusiye. 

*" Among the foremost of our intimates was the all-aGeom«» 
pushed, sensible, modest, and retiring Mrs. ScmiervlUe, who 
witii her jolly good husband the Doctor, then the Physieiaa 
of Chelsea Hospital, was constantly with ua We also often 
Tisited them at Chelsea, and met there Mackintoeb, and other 
leading characters, — ^Mackintosh in particular being a great 
admirer of the lady philosopher. It was our pleasure to 
bring this remarkable woman and WoUaston together, imd 
to gather firom them crumbs of the profound knowledge 
which they unostentatiously let falL^ When we called on 
Mrs. S. in the morning, and found her finishing off one of 
her fine landscapes, or instructing her daughters in music, 
we necessarily admired her feminine qualities, whilst we 
knew she was up to every line of La Place's 'M^canique 
Celeste.' 

^With these notables let me associate my geological 
friends Charles Stokes and William Broderip. The former, 
a stockbroker, was one of the most remarkable men I ever 
knew, albeit he has left little behind him. Never out 
of England, and constantly occupied in the city, he gave 
up his evenings, nights, and momiugs to otiier avocations, 
was versed in all languages and a proficient in most branches 
of Natural History. My little sketch of him in my anid- 
versary address to the Geological Society gives but an im- 

^ Mrs. SbmerviUe, in her ohanniiig memoirs, giyes some pftrtioolAn of 
her interoonrse with WoUaatoiL See p. 128. 



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ia»-38.] REMINISCENCES GF LOKDOHr LIFE. 2W 

.^xfeet idea of his yer^tile powers. He 'was tBe bosom 
-friend of Chantrey^ who also was his constant companion 
witii ns or «t the scnlptoi^s own honse^ Then there i^as 
dear old Migor Gierke^ the editor of the United Service 
Journal^ my old Marlow chum, and last, not leasts 13i<eodor6 
Hdoky who first met Sydney Smith at my honse,^ and has 
often» when very far gone, extemporized his songs to us over 
the piano. But these things were my passing ainusiemeixt, 
and I was pondering all the time upon tnming eyer3rtbi]^ 
into a geological use. 

^ Opposite men of all parties were intermingled with my 
scientific cronies, Sedgwick, Buckland, Greenough,Iltton, and 
others. These parties were really intellectual ; but now that 
I. live in a big house in Belgrave Square my grand dinners 
are dull hocrors^-and it is only when I cbjel manage to have 
a small one that I enjoy seeing company. 

''I meddled little in public matters or politics, though 
iny feeling was Conservative, and I was one of those who 
was^ I confess, alarmed at the great sweep abotit to be 
effected by the Seform BilL So I attended the debates 
both in Lords and Commons, and was present at the whcde 
of the last day's debate in the latter, and wMch did not dose 
tilLfiveAJf. 

^^To xescdnemy recollections of my earliest scientific 
friends in London :. L must specially dwdl on the great 
botax^tBdbert Brown, who was chiefly to be met with at the 
Sunday break&sts of Charles Stokes in Gray's Ian, and whj& 

^ It i« 0aid j(Tiinbe'8 lAoea of the Hum&urida, vol iL pw 276) that Sydi^y 
3mith and Theodore JQook met at table only twice : first at the house of 
Lady Stepney, where " they were both delighthil and mutually d^ghted ; " 
and seeondly, soon after, on the occasion mentioned in the text, where they 
met in a somewhat larger party, bat where poor Hook's failing became 
only too risible. ^ 



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214 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [iw-38. 

provoked my impatient temper because he never would 
pronounce upon the genus — scarcely even upon the class — 
of a fossil plant. Profound in his acquaintance with living 
plants, he knew too well the fine limits and subtle distinc- 
tions to be observed ; these being generally obliterated, and 
the fructification being rarely visible, he paused and looked 
again and again, and came to no conclusion. lindley, on 
the other hand, being of a less cautious temperament, often 
dashed off an opinion, and therefore gratified geologists. 
Bobert Brown, though a quiet sedate man, was fall of diy 
humour, and told many a good story to his intimate friends, 
among whom I was delighted to be reckoned tiU the day of 
his death. I was one of the mourners at his burial at 
Kensal Oreen, when this illustrious man had but a few old 
friends to pay the last honours. How different was it but 
the day before yesterday, when the popular novelist was 
interred in the same place ! Doubtless, so good a master of 
English, so smart a satirist, so warm-hearted a friend, and 
so attractive a writer as Thackeray, merited all the eulogy 
which has been poured out on his character by all the press. 
But if a man of science dies, however eminent he be, a 
passing commendation is all he obtains, and it is doubtful 
whether the compilers of such works as the Anmud Register 
will ever think it right to allude to the death of the first 
botanist of our era. Nor can a different verdict be expected 
from the masses or the fashionable world. Every one knows 
ComhUl and Ptmdi, Pendennis or Vanity Fair, or some one 
of Thackeray's good novels, and so that author obtained a 
good share of the public applause which the nation accorded 
to Walter Scott, whilst the Princeps Batanicorum of Europe 
dies unknown by English scribes. 



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1888-38.] LOUia PHILIPPE. 216 

''Among mj intimates and correspondents of the first 
years of my geological career I must not omit to mention 
Gkorge William Featherstonhangh. He has played a bustling 
and useful part through life, has published on a vast variety 
of subjects, and was a most lively, agreeable companion. He 
was the first to introduce our modem ideas of geology into 
the United States, which he did with great energy in the 
year 1831. Afterwards he induced General Jackson, then 
the President^ to appoint him 'State (geologist,' in which 
capacity he made two extensive tours, illustrating them with 
long sections. ... In the French revolution of 1848, when 
Louis Philippe fled from Paris and was hid in a cottage with 
Queen Am^lie on the south bank of the Seine opposite to 
Havre, it was Featherstonhaugh, then British consul at Havre, 
who managed to get the family of ' Mr. Smith ' over by night, 
and popped them into a British steam-packet. Even in this 
act the consul was the geologist, for he passed off the ex-King 
as his unde William Smith, the father of English geology ! *' 



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CHAPTEE XIL 

THE SILUKIAN SYSTEM. 

During the tennre of his Presidency of the Geological 
Society Mxirchison had greatly raised his scientific position 
in the country, both in regard to power of original geological 
work, and to that practical turn of mind and suavity of 
manner which fit a man to play a prominent and useful 
part among his fellow-mea He hardly as yet realized the 
real importance of the field-work which he had been carry- 
ing on among the Transition rocks. Very slowly as the 
years passed away did he come to see how fall of signi- 
ficance were the sections which he had brought to light 
along the Welsh border& 

A few weeks after resigning the Chair of the Society he 
gave the first detailed account of what he had been doing 
during the two previous years among the " transition rocks" 
and " grauwacke " on the border-land of England and Wales. 
The brief abstract of the paper to the Geological Society in 
which these details are communicated contains the fixst 



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m-^CLASSIFICAriONOF TRANSITION ROCKS. TLT 

imperfect and partly erroneous sketch of a classification, 
which has since become so familiar to geologists.^ 

Beleased from work in town^ Murchison sped back to his 
rocks on the Welsh frontier, and passed the summer of 183S 
in constant travel and work among the^ '' rummaging the 
country," as he said, in search of fossils and evidences of the 
order of sequence among the formationa Again his wife* 
became a partner in the tramp, and while he made more 
distant forays, employed her pencil on some of the sketches 
which afterwards appeared to such good purpose in the 
" Silurian System.** On one occasion the monotony of " the 
perpetual cracking of stones " was pleasantly interrupted by 
the appearance at the inn of that ''famous talker, Richard 
Sharp," who, in taking leave of the enthusiastic geologist, 
remarked to him, "Well, my good fellow, I feel assured that 
you will end in becoming Lord Grauwacka" 

While increasing his knowledge of the rocks, Murchison 
managed also to augment his acquaintance with the in- 
habitants of the country. Not always, however, to the 
advantage of his scientific pursuits, for, as he used to say 
later in life, "Good living in an aristocratical mansion is 
hostile to geological research. I must honestly declare that 

1 The Babdivisions may be quoted here :— > 
** L Upper Ludlow Bock — ^Equivalent, Granwacke Sandstone of 
Tortworth, etc. 
IL Wenhck Limestone — EqaivalentB, Dudley limectone. Transition 

limestone, etc 
m. Loufer LvtdUno Boek — ^Equivalent, ' Die earth.* 

IV. SheOy i^otuitftone^— Equivalent, ? 

y. Black TrilobUe Flagstone^ «<e.— Equivalent, ? 

VI. Bed Conglomerate, Sandstone, and Slaty Schist." 

Proc OeoL Soe,, vol i. p. 475. 
In this table the Aymestoy and Wenlock Limestones are confounded, 
and hence the Lower Ludlow Bock is placed under instead of above tlie 
Wenlock Limestone. 



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218 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [issa. 

in general I have done twice as much work when quarteied 
.in an inn/* It was in such a mansion, however, that a 
project took its rise during this autumn, which came in the 
end to make one of the landmarks of his life, and at the 
same time an epoch in the literature of geology. His friend 
Mr. Frankland Lewis had suggested that he should not 
be content with the limited circle of readers which perused 



View of the Bxeidden Hills near Welsh Pool, from Fowls Castle. 
(Sketched by Mi& Morchison.) 

the ponderous Transactions of the Geological Society, but 
should appeal to a wider public, and elaborate into a separate 
volume his researches among the old rocks of the English 
and Welsh border-land. This idea found a warm supporter 
in Lord Clive, at Powis Castle, where Murchison agreed 
to undertake the task. Before the middle of November 
Lord Clive announced to him a list of eighty subscribers to 
the proposed work. 



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1838.] CUTTING UP OF 'OLD ORAUWACKE! 219 

^ I have truly done much work this summer/' he writes 
to Mr. Phillips, '' having been seventeen weeks hammering, 
with only one day of intermission. But you gallop when 
you suppose I am ready for the press. Absorbed in your 
own great undertaking,^ you have not had time to think of 
the magnitude of mine. Imprimis, My inquiries range over 
seven counties, and they dive into the arcana of formations 
of which no precursor has written one line I Hence each 
succeeding year in which I propagate the principles of our 
craft, and enlist raw recruits in provinces where the sound 
of the word geology was never heard before, I find on 
revisiting my fields of battle that my aides-de-camp have 
collected facts, and facts alter preconceived notions.'' 

And so the work went on horn the Vale of Severn to 
Sb David's. The proposed big book could not possibly make 
its appearance until after far more complete and detailed 
examination* Meanwhile each summer's labours were duly 
communicated in abstract to the Greological Society. From 
his friends there, such as Greenough, Lonsdale, and Phillips, 
came letters of encouragement which brought the enthusi- 
astic geologist back to London with renewed eneigy for 
work. The campaign of the autumn of 1833 ended by 
the despatch of five boxes full of specimens &om the old 
''grauwacke " of the west to the apartments of the Geologi- 
cal Society. Lonsdale, ever catering for the wants of the 
Society, looked forward with his quiet glee to ever so many 
evenings of amusement and instruction to be had out of these 
boxes and the notes by which they were to be illustrated. 
We can picture him in his little den at Somerset House 
surrounded with books, papers, and specimens, rubbing his 

^ The Geology qf TorhMre, now a claasio work in British geology. 



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220 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [im 

hands as he wrote to Murchison — '* Poor old Grauwacke will 
be cut up piecemeal" Poor old Grauwacke indeed ! With 
the Woodwardian Professor hewing at him in Cumberland 
and North Wales, and the President of the Geological 
Society hacking at him all along the Welsh border, his 
doom was evidoitly sealed. 

"Perhaps no one better than Lotisdale comprehended 
the true meaning of the work which Murchison undertook* 
Gertainly no one gave more effectual assistance in the often 
delicate task of clearing up in the calmness of the closet the 
difficulties which frequently misled the eager enthusiast in 
the field. Murchison was never slow in acknowledging his 
great obligation to his patient and right-judging friend."^ 

Mr. Lonsdale's anticipations were fully realized during 
that session of 1833-4. From the note-books of the previous 
summ^ Murchison furnished four separate papers on differ- 
ent parts of the geology of the districts among which he had 
been at work. One of these contained the first published 
table of the Transition rocks of England and Wales, in which 
they were parcelled out into distinct fDrmations, each char- 
acterized by a peculiar assemblage of organic remains. The 
arrangement showed a considerable elaboration and im- 
provement upon that of the previous year.* 

^ From M8. reminiscenoefl kindly oootribnted by Professor PhiUipo. 
, ' The subdiviBions now adopted were as foUows : — 
Old Red Sandstone. 

i Upper Ludlow rock.* 
ft / I. Ludlow rocks, . . I * '- ja-j__ 

1 \ 

p |t j IL WenlockandDudley rocks, j 

5'g'iin. Horderly and MayhiU 
u^\ rocks, 

^ rIV. BuUth and LbndeUo flags. 
P V V. Longmynd andGwastaden 
rocks. 



Aymestry and Sedgeley limestone. 
Lower Lndlow rock. 
Wenl<>ck and Dudley limestone. 
Wenlock and Dudley shale. 
Flags. ^ 

Sandstone grits and limestones. 



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ifflil REPORTS TO OEOLOOICAL SOCIETY. 221 

A characteristic account of those papers and their recep^ 
tion was given by their author in a letter to Sir Philip 
i;gerton (3d February 1834) : — ^'* Though I say it who should 
not, I must fairly tell you that the season [at the Geological 
Society] has not yet produced much, except the communica- 
tions I have made. I judge as much £rom our Mend Lons- 
dale's estimate as &om my own, perhaps perverted, vision. 
... By accident I had a very good dress circle on my second 
night, for besides Buckland, Warburton, Lyell, De la Beche, 



The Candoc Range. (Sketched by Mi& Stackhoose Acton.) 

and performers who could understand it, the President of 
H.M. Council, the M. of Lansdowne, dined with me at the 
club, having quitted a Colonial Council to do so, and he sat 
it all through the evening.'' 

Important as were these conmiunications to the Society, 
they could only be abstracts of the work of the long summer 
campaigns. The fuU details were now to be elaborated for 
the opus magnum on which the energies of the next four years 
were to be concentrated. By the month of August all the 
preliminaries as to publication had been arranged with Mr. 



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222 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [issi 

Murray, and the forthcoming work was advertised as in 
preparation. But much still required to be done in the field 
in tracing out the geological changes in the long strip of 
eountiy through which the Transition rocks extended. Hence 
as soon as he could get away from town Murchison buckled 
on his hammer again, and betook himself to a re-examina- 
tion of his old ground in Shropshire and adjoining counties. 
Up till this time Sedgwick and he had been labouring 
independently among the old grauwacke rocks, as if each 
had got hold of a very distinct problem which could be, and 
indeed needed to be, separately solved. The domains which 
they had seized were conterminous, and tacitly a sort of 
'bateable land had been allowed to stretch between them. 
It was in the summer of this year (1834) that they met to 
arrange, if possible, an amicable adjustment of boundaries. 
Sedgwick crossed over into his friend's territories to make 
with him a conjoint tour, which was thus described at the 
time in two letters from Murchison to Dr. Whewell, dated 
18th July: — 

'''The first of men ' took leave of me and my little car- 
riage at Ludlow, on the 10th July, bending liis steps (nearly 
as firm as I ever knew them) toward Denbighshire. We 
not only put up our horses together, but have actually made 
our formations embrace each other in a manner so true, and 
therefore so affectionate, that the evidence thereof would 
even melt the heart, if it did not convince the severe judg- 
ment, of some Cantab, mathematicos of my acquaintance." 

"Having dovetailed our respective upper and lower 
rocks in a manner most satisfSftctoiy to both of us, I hastened 
back to join my wife. ... I shall run down to Edinburgh 
just in time for the meeting, and the feast being over, the 



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1834.] SEDGWICK AND MURCHISON IN WALES. 223 

Professor and self intend to look at some other border cases 
of transition, — the 'whole to conclude with a lecture from 
him to myself on his strong ground of Cumberland. I was 
not a little proud of having such a pupil ; and although I 
think and hope he endeavoured to pick every hole he could 
in my arrangement, he has confirmed all my views, some of 
which, from the difiQculties which environed me, I was very 
nervous about until I had such a hacker. But I will say no 
more of Number One than to assure you that we had a most 
delightful and profitable tour in every way, and that our 
section across the Berwyns, in which the Professor became 
my instructor, was of infinite use to ma Such are the fold- 
ings and repetitions that my 'black flags' of Llandeilo are 
reproduced even on the eastern side of these mountains, and 
it is only as you get into them that you take final leave of 
my upper groups, and get fairly sunk in the old slaty systems 
of the Professor. 

" I will leave him to tell you of all our marches and 
countermarches in Hereford, Brecon, Caermarthen, Mont- 
gomeiy, and Salop. . . . Whether he fell in love with some 
of the Salopian lasses or not is in his own breast ; but I can 
assure you that a whole houseful of them are deeply smitten 
with him. When we parted at Ludlow it was found that he 
had left that beautiful brown coat of his in the veiy house 
where all these sirens were, so I left him posting back to 
recover the old garment, and perhaps to leave his heart" ^ 

^ From this letter it wiU be seen tliat Marcliison at least was fally con- 
vinced of the doyetailing of his groups of rock with the older slaty masses 
on which Sedgwick had been at work more to the north and west. As 
we shaU find, he published this conviction without note or protest from 
his friend, who indeed pnblidy accepted and declared the same belief (see 
jposteo, p. 230). Many years afterwards, however, when bitterness had 
arisen between these two comrades, and when perhaps the recoUection of 



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224 STR RODERICK MURCHISON. [vol 

The British Association held its meeting this yeat ii 
Edinburgh. Thither the two feUow-hbtnirers made thdr 
way, the one to resign the Presidency which he had held sd 
sudcessfully at Cambridge, the other to^ow his Giauwacke 
and Old Bed Sandstone maps, and to tcdce a share in the 
task of still further consolidating and strengthening the 
infant Association. 

In a letter written to Sir Philip Egerton on his way south 
again to the Welsh and Shropshire rocks, Murchison tiius 
refers to the doings at Edinburgh, and afterwards : — ** The 
meeting was most successful in every way. ... I may say, 

what aotoally took place at the time with which we are dealing had be- 
come in some measure indistinct, Sedgwick penned and published an 
aooouat of this first conjoint tour in Wales, differing considerably from 
that giren in the letter quoted in the text. He says, — ** There were early 
difficulties, both physical and palnontological, in distinguishing the Lower 
Silurian from the Upper Cambrian groups, and in fixing their true geo- 
graphical limits, and it was partly in the hopes of settling such points of 
doubt that in 1834 I went, during six weeks, under my friend's personal 
guidance, to examine the order of succession as established by himself in 
the typical Silurian country. Beginning therefore at liandeilo, and end- 
ing the first part of our joint work at Welsh Pool, we examined many of 
his best sections. OccasionaUy, while he was working out minute details, 
1 spent some days in collecting fossils. ... I believed his sections, so far 
as I saw them, to be true to nature ; and I never suspected (nor had he 
then suspected) any discordancy or break of continuity amongst his typical 
rocks from the Upper Ludlow down to the Liandeilo groups. I adopted 
all his groups, I may say, with implicit faith, never dreaming of a chance 
(during a rapid visit) of correcting those elaborate sections on which he had 
bestowed so much successful labour. . . . We never examined or discussed 
together the SUurian base-line in the country south of Welsh Pool ; and what- 
ever be the merit or demerit of the base-line afterwards published in the map 
of the ' Silurian system,' belongs exclusively to my friend. [See jMMfeo, p. 307.] 
As to this base-line, I neither gave nor had I an opportunity of giving any 
opinion, either good or bad. . • . North of Welsh Pool we reached a country 
(east of the Berwyns) with which I was previously acquainted. . . . My 
friend now made use of and interpreted some of my field sections of 1832. 
... I guided my friend (as he in his Silurian country had guided me) over 
the Berwyn chain to the Bala limestone, along the high road from Rhaiadr 
to Bala. We made no mistake in the section. . . . My friend then de- 



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Vol. r 



To fif't \xtfjc iio. 



PROFESSOR JOHN I'l^YPAia 

t'mm a I'tdnfing by 6ii Henry It'uhut n. 



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1834.] WITH SEDGWICK AT SICCAR POINT. 225 

without vanity, that we geologicals were all the fashion, and 
engrossed by far the greater share of attention. Agassiz has 
pronounced that not one of the fossils of the Burdiehouse 
limestone are reptiles, but all belong to fishes. You will be 
amused to read old Buckie's lecture, given two nights before 
Agassiz made his decision against the reptiles, for in it the 
reptiles made a grand figure. My fishes in the Old Bed are 
baptized Gephalaspis, from their horse-shoe heads. ... I 
was a day at Lord Melville's, after which Se(^gwick and self 
moved on together to Sir John Hall's at Dunglass to look 
at St. Abb's Head and the Siccar Point, both famous by the 
writings of Hutton, Playfair, and HalL Whilst at Dimglass 

olared tbat the Bala limestone was no part of his Silurian system." The 
Professor points oat the error in classifying the Bala rocks as underlying 
ail the Silurian groups, their true place being the equivalent of that of the 
Caradoc rocks in the lower Silurian series. He asserts that for this error, 
hardly avoidable at the time it was made, Murchison was alone responsible. 
It is difficult to see on what evidence this charge rests. One fact at least 
is certain, that if Murduson started the error, Sedgwick adopted it and 
believed it for years, although, according to his own showing, the means 
existed in his own territory of putting the matter to rights at once. ** A 
single traverse from Glyn Ceiriog to the northern end of the Berwyn 
dudn would have settled this question on evidence not short of a physical 
demonstration. But we did not make this traverse." — British Pcdceozoie 
FossHe, Introduction, pp. xliii-xlv (1855). But evidence maybe found 
in Sedgwick's own letters to show that he thought and wrote under 
at least the impression that his own Welsh rocks were older than those of 
Murchison. Urns even so far back as February 1833 he wrote to his 
friend in reference to a proposed dovetailing of their work : — *' The upper 
system of deposits, with its subdivisions, is as plain as daylight, and 
entirely under your set" It would be easy to multiply quotations from 
contemporary geological literature to show that this was the general im- 
pression among geologists as to the views of the two pioneers in Wales. 
As an illustrative example, reference may be made to the first edition of 
Lyell*s ElementM qf Oeology, published in 1838, before the appearance of 
Murchison's Silurian System. See p. 464, where Sedgwick is given as 
the authority for calling Cambrian a vast thickness of stratified rocks, 
*' below the Silurian strata in the region of the Cumberland lakes, in K. 
Wales, Cornwall, and other parts of Britain." This subject will come up 
again in later chapters of this biography. 

VOL. I. P 



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226 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [i834 

I fell in with my old friend Lord Elcho, who has set up a 



View of the ClUh neur St Abb'i HeuL (Sketched by Sir A. Aliaon.) 

advocate, who made sketches of the locks in my note- 
book"^ 

Murchison's journals of this period of his life read very 
much like the field notes of an active geologist Personal 
detail is wholly wanting, and the gist of the scientific work 
has long been given to the world. From the letters which 
he has preserved, we can seAwhat a voluminous correspon- 

\ 

^ One of these aketohet by the fatJU« historian and baronet was after- 
wards introdnced into SUuria (4th edit.^ p. 149), and is reproduced here. 



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1834.] PROPOSES THE TERM ' SILURIAN: 227 

dence he must have kept up witli Mends who lived among 
his grauwacke locks, and from whom he derived continual 
assistance in the shape of notes on the geology, and of fossils. 
He acknowledged, in his published writiiigs, the value of this 
co-operation, and gave the names of his principal coadjutors. 
Even the very children of some of his friends were enlisted 
in his service, and delighted to get away into the quarries to 
hunt f)^r fossils for him ; and at a time when these fossils 
had ne'^er been systematically collected and described, it 
may easily be imagined that this juvenile help proved in 
many cases eminently serviceabla 

It was now plain, after all these campaigns, that though 
many details might be added afterwards, the grand order of 
succession of the grauwacke had only been made more clear 
by every new examination. It had been subdivided into 
four well-marked formations, each as defined by mineral 
characters ai^d fossils as any members of the secondary 
series. To continue to apply the terms "grauwacke" or 
" transition" to these distinct fossiliferous formations, as 
well as to all; the old crumpled unfossiliferous rocks, would 
evidently lead] to endless confusion. They required a special 
name. The i^ry of their nomenclature is thus told by 
Murchison hjmsdf : — " At this time I proposed the term 
' Silurian,' aiid it came about in this way. My Mend, the 
eminent French geologist, ^e de Beaumont, seeing what a 
clear classification I had made out by order of superposi- 
tion and characteristic fossils in each descending formation, 
earnestly urged me to adopt a name for the whole of the 
natural groups. Seeing that the region in which the best 
types of it occurred was reaUy the country of the Silures 
of the old British King Caractacus, I adopted that name 



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228 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isss. 

[Silurian]. I had seen that all geological names founded on 
mineral or fossiliferous characters had failed to satisfy, and 
that ftmciful Greek names were still worse. Hence it seemed 
to me that a well-sounding geographical term, taken ftx>m 
the very region wherein the classification had been elabo- 
rated, and where every one might go and see the truthfulness 
of it, was the best"^ 

The first publication of this new name took place in 
July 1835 in the pages of the London and Edinlnt/rgh Philo- 
sophical Magaxine, In a brief article the author gives his 
reasons for the proposed term, with some improvements of 
his previous tabidar statement, and a woodcut section to 
show the way in which the rocks are related to each other 
in their several subdivisiona As the parent of all subse- 
quent Silurian sections, the diagram possesses a peculiar in- 
terest : a facsimile of it is inserted on the opposite page.' 

Before leaving town for the usual simimer work in 
Siluria he headed a deputation to Government to represent 
the urgent need of a good map of the northern half of the 
island — a subject which had occupied the attention of the 
British Association at Edinburgh. Writing in later years 
of this incident, he remarks, " Spring Eice, the Chancellor 

^ Murohi8on*B extreme anxiety regarding the names to be chosen for 
his formations, is well shown in a letter of ten large pages which he 
addressed to Dr. Whewell on 20th November 1834, " as the great Geolo- 
gical Namendator," entreating his assistance in improving his tabular list 
of the grauwacke rocks. 

This section shows in a kind of rough general way the order in which 
the successive divisions follow each other. It is inaccurate, however, 
inasmuch as it represents a continuously conformable series from the coal* 
measures down to the base of the Llandeilo rocks, and places the latter 
rocks in a violent unoonformability upon those of older date. It was the 
general belief, as already remarked, that the " Silurian*' formations 
described by Murchison belonged to a younger series of deposits than 
the rocks of North Wales investigated by Sedgwick. 



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1836.] 



THE FIRST SILURIAN SECTION. 



229 



5 
•3 



i 



11 



"-a 



5 rf 



I" 



-[ 



«| 



i 






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230 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isss. 

of the Exchequer, received us blandly, and with his Irish 
blarney joked me oflf by saying that I had hunted very well 
in Leicestershire with the Melton map, and made several 
good shifts. He avowed, however, that until Ireland got 
her map we should or could not get ours. And so it has 
proved." 

In its cycle of changes the British Association held its 
meeting this year (1835) in Dublin. We have here no fur- 
ther concern with this assembly than that it was attended 
by Murchison and Sedgwick, and that they conjointly gave 
there an account of what they had each been doing to 
"poor old Grauwacke." The chief feature of interest about 
this communication is the light it casts upon the views 
which the two friends entertained of the connexion of their 
respective areas of work. And this becomes a matter of 
some importance in relation to the subsequent unhappy 
estrangement. Sedgwick now gave the name of Cambrian 
to the rocks among which he had hammered so much in 
Cumberland and Wales. There cannot be the slightest 
doubt that at this time, together with Murchison and geolo- 
gists generally, he r^arded his Cambrian masses as older 
than the Silurian rocks. His colleague stated that in 
South Wales he had traced many passages from the bottom 
of the Silurian system down into the slaty rocks now called 
Upper Cambrian* He himself made no opposition to this 
view ; on the contrary, after showing that the lowest Silurian 
group was connected with his highest series in the chain of 
the Berwyns, he proceeded " to explain the mode of con- 
necting Mr. Murchison's researches with his own." It 
turned out in the end that this notion was erroneous, and 
that the upper half of Sedgwick's Cambrian rocks was simply 



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1836.] A T THE GIANTS CA USEWA Y. 231 

a prolongation of the lower half of Murchison's Silurian, 
But it was an error in which at this time both of the geo- 
logists must be regarded as participating. 

The following memoranda from journal and letters give 
us some notion of the doings of the autumn of this yesur : — 

" A frolic in the north of Ireland with Sir P. Egerton, 

Lord Cole, Sedgwick, my wife, and others, when I made 
some good geological notes. In clambering along the steep 
slope [near Giant's Causeway], Sedgwick lost his head, and we 
much feared that he would fall into the sea. GrifiBth alone 
crossed the Devil's Bridge, Sedgwick, Cole, Colonel Mont- 
gomery, and self, having turned back and gone up the hill 
and round. My wife boated all the way and made sketches, 
and joined us at the comfortable inn of Bush Mills, where 
we had a very jolly party." Thereafter ** I returned to my 
old hunting grounds of the Silurian region." 

*' A pleasant visit at Hagly, but I took care to stick to 
the tail of the Diidley field, which I finished off (ordering a 
new gun of Westly Eichards in a parenthesis). In Tort- 
worth I laboured hard for four or five days, and having com- 
pleted my map, I then took my departure for Pembrokeshire, 
sending Madam on to the neighbourhood of Bath to visit 
some old friends till I became a free man. I spent a day 
with Conybeare on my road. I then set to work in Pem- 
broke most vigorously, and after three weeks of incessant 
labour, every day's work proving to me how much I had to 
do, I left off, perfectly satisfied with having completed a 
very handsome tail-piece for my Silurians, who are now 
regularly launched in three bays in Pembrokeshire. What 
an absurd name does this Grauwacke now appear to be ! — 
I joined my wife two days ago, and shall be in my den to- 



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232 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isse. 

morrow, there to shut myself up till the big book is ready — 
an awful thought I " 

This self-imposed seclusion would have been serious had 
it been carried out, for the big book did not make its ap- 
pearance for three years afterwards. The volume grew far 
beyond the dimensions originally proposed. In its prepara- 
tion, too, questions were continually occurring which made 
a re-examination of the ground either desirable or necessary. 
Hence$ although the winters were spent in tolerably close 
application to the desk, the summer months commonly saw 
the pen willingly exchanged for the hammer. 

As season after season stole past without bringing his 
work to light, some even of his geological friends began to 
get impatient. His excuse was thus given to his friend 
Phillips in the spring of 1836 : — 

''There are at least three reasons why I cannot bring 
out the ' Silurian System' with that promptitude with which 
you have issued your monograph of the 'Carboniferous 
limestone,' — 1st, I have not the same facility of composi- 
tion. 2dly, I depend on others, and not as you do on your- 
self, for the description and figuring of the organisms. Sdly, 
The work is so multifarious, being, besides the history of the 
rocks beneath the Carboniferous system, an attempt to work 
out all the general relations of the lias, New Eed Sand- 
stone, and Coal-measures of those central counties. . . . 
The work is entirely written save the descriptions of the 
organisms — a very large salvo this ! I cannot shove 
Sowerby on, and when he is shoved on I am not so sure of 
him as I could wish. My corals I have no doubt will be 
beautifully distinguished by Lonsdale ; my fishes by Agassiz ; 
plants I have none ; my graptolites by Dr. Beck of Copen- 



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18M.] VISITS DEVONSHIRE. 233 

hageiL What would I not give, my dear friend, for your 
powers in the description of the mollusca V 

"The correspondence [with the Council of the British 
Association on the subject of the delay in completing the 
Ordnance survey] is ordered to be printed for the use of the 
House of Commons, who now begin to feel (railroads cutting 
into their senses) that physical geography is of some im- 
portance even to senators.'' 

In such busy but uneventful routine the three years 
1836-1839 passed away, the chief feature in each of them 
being the autumn meeting of the British Association, at 
which, whether called horn the desk or the hill-side, Mur- 
chison did not fail to make his appearance. 

"In the year 1836," he writes, "I had a good deal of 
anxiety on account of my dear mother, whose health had 
been failing, and to whom I had gone at Cheltenham in the 
spring. This was a cholera year, and my wife having gone 
down to see her mother at Nursted House, I went in June 
into Devonshire with Sedgwick to try to understand the 
complicated geology of that county." 

This tour in the south-west of England proved to be 
the beginning of a series of explorations carried on for 
three years conjointly by the two geologists, which re- 
sulted in the establishment of the Devonian system in geo- 
logy. For the sake of clearness it will be best to trace 
out that story by itself in the next chapter. In the mean- 
time we may merely note in passing when and where the 
explorations were carried on, until we reach the culmination 
of the Silurian work in the publication of " the big book." 
It will then be easy and may be useful to turn back 
for details, and follow out the history of the Devonian 



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234 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [i836. 

qnestion, which thus to some extent overlapped the 
Silurian. 

An excellent start was made during this first excursion 
into Devonshire, and, as we shall afterwards find, materials 
were gathered for a bold announcement to the meeting of 
the Association at BristoL ''At that meeting,"" to resume 
our quotations, " the fun of one of the evenings was a lecture 
of Buckland's. In that part of his discourse which treated of 
Ichnolites, or fossil foot-prints, the Doctor exhibited himself 
as a cock or a hen on the edge of a muddy pond, making 
impressions by lifting one leg after the other. Many of the 
grave people thought our science was altered to buflfoonery 
by an Oxford Don. 

" After the meeting my mother became rapidly worse, 
and died at the age of sixty-five, my sister Jeanette and 
myself being present in her last sufferings. I buried her in 
the same grave with my father, at the little church of Bath- 
hampton, near Bath. In the same churchyard my mother^s 
brother, my old general. Sir Alexander Mackenzie, has since 
been interred. No man ever had a more affectionate mother 
than myself, her only defect being over-indulgence of her 
children." 

At the end of the Bristol meeting the Woodwardian 
Professor went down into Devon and Cornwall to do some 
further hard work among the rocks there. He w^at that 
time intent on getting a clue to the history of^e j^ts by 
which rocks are so abundanUy traversed. " But Jtfurchison, 
having manuscripts and propfnsheets on ^nd, did not 
acQaiap&iiy him, though once again the imwearying explorer 
of Siluria found cause to go over part of his old sections to 
verify them, driving from town to town in a butcher's oart 



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\ 

\ 



1835.] WITH PHILLIPS IN ^IL URIA. 235 

which he had hired for the purposa BBp friend Phillips met 
him by appointment at Brecon, to exatoine with him the 
curious little tract of- Com y Vaen, and the Professor has 
made the following memoranda of the journey : — ** Welsh 
ponies were in requisition, and we reached the hill, hopmg 
to escape the jealous company of the Welsh farmer, who 
looked upon the men of the hammer as some kind of miners 
secretly prowling for gold or coaL Murchison had paid 
many visits, and had tried to explain to the inquisitive 
agriculturist why the barren grey rocks prominent above 
the 'Old Bed Sea' had so much interest in his ey^s. On 
this occasion I also had to encounter ' the old man o^ ^^^ 
mountain,' because my clinometer was in great us\ in 
respect of dip, cleavage and joints. 'Axes of elevati< 
' direction of fault,' * extent of throw,' ' envelope of old rei 
and other strange phrases, made our friend very angiy, so 
that, unlike Welshmen in general, he offered us no kind of 
welcome or refreshment, but appeared to rejoice in our going 
away as a relief from some positive eviL" 

Back in London again among his books and papers, Mur- 
chison writes on November 21st to Sir Philip Egerton : — 

'' I am going through my heavy work, and am just send- 
ing to press all that I mean to say of the 'New Bed 
System.' . • . 

"My bone-bed in the Ludlow rocks is turning up 
trumps — jaws with teeth complete, carnivorous shark-like 
little fellows, with loads of co proli fce s, indinating that my 
Silurians digested even harder stuff than your Liassic 
friends, viz., Pentacrinites, eta ! This is beautiful, at 
some 8000 or 10,000 feet below the fish beds at which 
Buckland begins his transition stories about the oldest 




\ 



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236 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80K [issc 

fishes. But it will do for his third or fourth edition.^ He 
has been in town last week, and was one day closeted with 
Babbage eight or nine hours, to get his siphtinde into order. 
It appears that Sedgwick and others, on reading the Nau- 
tilus Theory, at once saw there was a screw loose in the 
mechanics, and that if the animal got down to depths un- 
known he never could get up again. I know not how it is 



FOSBIU FROM THB GrAUWACKB OB TRANSITIOH B0CK8 (UPPXR LuOTDOTKRYX 

L Pentamenu lens. 8. P. oblongos. 8. P. lintoflw 4. Atryp* bemispberica. 5. A. 
reticnlaria. 0. Pentamenis undataa. 7. Stropbomena eompressa. a Holopella canoeJlata. 
9. Belleropbon trilobatos. 10. BncriimTUB panetataa. 11. Petraia aubduplicata 

to end, but I hope our friend will be able to sing Eesurgam. 
On the whole the book pleases most peopla 

" We are going on swimmingly, with bumper meetings. 
I am working from six A.M. till dark." 

Sedgwick had promised to share in the preparation of a 
memoir on the Devonshire geology, but postponed from week 
to week the completion of his task. Chafing at this delay 
Murchison employed a part of the winter in putting together 
in conjunction with Hugh K Strickland — then just beginning 
a career cut short sadly and too soon — a memoir on the New 
Bed Sandstone, in which the English deposits of that age 

^ Beference is here made to Buokland's well-known Bridgewater 
TreaHse. 



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1837.] SEDGWICK'S CRITICISM. 237 

were correlated with the Eeuper and Bunter formations of 
Germany. The paper was referred by the Council of the 
Society to Sedgwick, and here is his opinion of it as given 
to Murchison himseK : — 

"I have reported favourably on your paper on the 
Keuper, and said that it ought to be printed. But was ever 
such a blotched, patched, botched, scratched, blurred, bothered 
thing sent to an arbitrator ! with a prospectus, too, of certain 
plates affixed like a tin case to its tail, I suppose to make it 
go. It made me mutter bad words through my teeth many 
times over before I got to the end of it Perhaps I did not 
swear outright ; but you have no right to tempt me." 

This description of the author's style of caligraphy is not 
more graphic than true. His manuscript as it went to the 
;»inters was usually so scored, and crossed, and rewritten, as 
to be sometimes with difficulty legible even by himself. 
When the proof came back it soon grew under his pen 
nearly as bad as the original manuscript, and many a time 
had to be set up afresh. His publisher said of him that he 
" wrote in type." 

It was in the elaboration of chapter after chapter of 
such exasperating manuscript that a good part of the siunmer 
of 1837 passed away. The afiTairs of the British Association 
entailed indeed a large amount of correspondence and other 
duties upon a General Secretary. The meeting this year 
at Liverpool drew Murchison as usual out of his den at 
Bryanstone Place, and gave him a week of hard work and 
incessant festivity. For by degrees the rigidly scientific 
aspect of the Association had come to be more veiled by 
the abundant hospitality and good cheer with which the 
members were welcomed. Each town to which they came 



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238 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N'. [i837. 

strove to vie with the previously visited places in this non* 
scientific part of the proceedings. Philosophers, it was found, 
did not despise a good dinner, and were quite ready to 
take part in an evening 'peirty, or a more formal and crowded 
soir^ 

Liverpool received them on this occasion with the most 
lavish expenditure. As Greneral Secretary, Murchison had 
more than enough to do, but he found time to send the 
following notes to his wife : — 

''The preparations here are excellent Turtle daily at 
the ordinary, so what is to become of the poor savans when 
they go back to country quarters? We dine with the 
Mayor to-morrow, whose lady has a grand soir^ in the 
evening, and thus begin our frolica" 

''You are a reasonable woman, and know what a week 
I have had ! nothing have I done but dream, work, and 
think for the Association. All has gone off admirably, in 
spite of wind and weather. The conversazione and lifter 
parties for the evening have been much preferred to the 
dull afiairs of former meetings, and the splendid t&te given 
in the Botanical Gardens to 2600 persons, all of whom were 
fed, and for which forttmately the day of Friday was fine, 
contributed no little to the complete success of the thing. 
Last night we had our finale, and all our thanks." 

The rest of 1837, and nearly the whole of the next year 
were given up to the completion of the " Magnum Opus," 
and the seeing of it through the press, with the drawing 
and engraving of the map and numerous illustrations with 
which it was enriched. Not^ however, without an occa- 
sional malediction over the toil and trouble of the whole 
enterprisa " I get on slowly and sulkily as respects my own 



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M3&] PUBLICATION OF ' SILURIAN system: 239 

powers of digestion'* (he writes, for example, to Phillips). 
'' Never will I nndertake another big book of such multi- 
fietrious parts ! But I must now swim through the^ whole, 
or sink under the weight of my own details. I would give 
any competent man £100 to launch my ship, but I cannot 
trust to others.'* 

The long delay had not been without its advantages in 
the greater scope and accuracy which it permitted, especially 
as r^arded the second half of the work, or that which 
treated of organic remains. It had enabled the author 
during a series of years to gather the fruits of all the 
criticism, the hints, and the information which the discus- 
sions of his communications to the Geological Society 
evoked. It allowed a steady growth of his geological ex- 
perience before he should commit himself to the responsi- 
bilities of an independent publication, appealing to a wide 
circle of readers. Nor had it in any way retarded his 
reputation ; for, as we have seen, the more salient features 
of his continuous labours in this field, since that lucky 
journey in 1831 to the banks of the Wye, had been given 
year after year to the Geological Society, and through 
the publications of the Society, as well as of the British 
Association, had become generally known to geologists 
all over the world. But the Ml account of these, and 
notably of the wonderful series of fossils which he had 
brought out of the old Transition rocks, had been impatiently 
expected for several years. At last, towards the end of 
1838, it made its appearance, — a ponderous quarto volume 
of 800 pages, with an atlas of plates of fossils and sections, 
and a large coloured geological map. 

The publication of The Siliman System, for so the work 



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240 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80K [inaa 

^as entitled, forms one of the land-marks in the history 
of geology. It gave, for the first time, a detailed view of 
the succession of the geological formations of more ancient 
date than the Old Eed Sandstone, with full lists, descrip- 
tions, and figures of the animals which had peopled the 
waters in which these early deposits were laid down. It 
opened up a new chapter, or rather a whole series of chap- 
ters, in that marvellous history of life which geology unfolds. 






Corals, xto., prom thx Grjluwackb Limibtonb (WkklockX 

L Favosites cristatui. 8. F. QotlAndioiu. 8. A variety of this ooraL 8*. 8**. Magnlflel 
portioDB of two varieties. 4. Favoaites asper. 6. Alveolites LabeohiL e. Ceriopora oculata. 
7. Favosites fibrosus ; a a variety encrufitiog shells. 

Before the researches began, which found their fitting termi- 
nation in this splendid work, men had very generally looked 
upon the " Transition " rocks as a region of almost hopeless 
confusion. Murchison had succeeded in making out the 
order of their upper and most fossiliferous portions, and now in 
his pages and plates the subdivisions of these ancient forma- 
tions stood as definitely grouped and arranged as the orderly 
undisturbed Secondary deposits of central England. He 
had traced out also the sites of some of the submarine vol- 
canoes of those early ages, and the great thickness to which 



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1838.] PUBLICATION OF ' SILURIAN system: 241 

the volcanic detritus had accumulated over the sea-bottom.^ 
To give completeness to his account of the Silurian region, 
he had likewise undertaken detailed examinations of the 
overlying rocks, including the coal-fields and the various 
formations up into the Oolitic series. The results of all this 
work were now included in his volume. Eich, therefore, 
in original research, and amply illustrated, the book well 
deserved the encomium of the President of the Geological 
Society (Dr. Whewell), who spoke of it, in his address, ** as 
an admirable example of the sober and useful splendour 
which may grace a geological monograph."* No more 
remarkable proof of the value of steady industry had for 
many a year been given than was furnished by the gradual 
elaboration of this work. " If the young student of geology," 
so said a writer at the time, *' wishes to find an example of 
the effect of diligence and perseverance, as insuring ultimate 
success, he cannot do better than to follow the history of the 
'Silurian System.'"* It was appropriately dedicated to 
Sedgwick* 

^ This had been already done in Ciunberlaad by Sedgwick among 
rocka then mippoaed to be older than any part of Murohiaon's groapa, 
but which are now known to lie on the same Lower Silurian horizona aa 
those of Wales. See Proc Oeol Soe., I p. 400. 

' Proceedings of Cfedogkal Society, yoL iiL p. 81. 

' JBdifL Rev. dxyii 16. 

* But for the assistance of friends and fellow-labonrers, the SUiurian 
System would have been a very different work from what it is. Sedg- 
wick revised some portions of it, especially the Introduction, which he 
induced the author in great part to re-write. Agassiz, Sowerby, and 
partdonlarly Lonsdale, named and described the greater part of the fossils, 
while other friends, whose names are cited in the book, lent a helping 
hand. But besides these coadjutors in the preparation of the yolume, 
the author had been zealously assisted, as we have seen, by active and 
disinterested friends in the field, who had worked for him year after 
year, and who carried on a voluminous correspondence with him. The 
names of some of his coadjutors have been already given. He haa himself 

V0L.L Q 



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242 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isas. 

During all these busy years, when the author of the 
Silurian System was elaborating his work, and giving from 
time to time narratives of his progress in the publications 
of the Geological Society, the fame of his labours had spread 
into every quarter of the globe where geology was culti- 
vated. His term "Silurian" had been adopted and applied 
to the rocks of different countries where similar groups of 
fossils were found Thus £lie de Beaumont and Dufr^oy 
in France, Bou^ and De Vemeuil in Turkey, Forchhammer 
in Scandinavia, Featherstonehaugh and Sogers in America, 

referred to tliem in the pages of his work. Bnt the confession of his 
geaienl obligations conye3r8 inadequate ideas of the untiring zeal and 
quite incalculable service of some of these friends. The Hey. T. T. Lewis, 
of Aymestry, deserves especially to be had in remembrance, for, without 
his generous and effectiye aid, both in the field and in long and admirable 
expository letters, so full a harvest of results could not have been reaped 
by Murchison, but must have been shared by other and later labourers. 
(See Edin. Eeview, loc. dt) 

In the MS. memoranda already referred to as kindly supplied by Pro« 
fessor Phillips, he says, " Murchison found in Mr. Lewis a man equal to 
himself in field-work, and already master of all the local geology. I had 
seen Mr. Lewis's collection in 1S36, and oftep heard his praise from the 
Silurian Chief ; but by some f orgetf ulness the record in the great work, 
to the foundations of which the Vicar of Aymestry had contributed per- 
haps more than any other man, was less full and emphatic than might 
have been ezpected.** 

On the pubUcation of the SUtman System, its author showed an anxiety 
to have the work favourably reviewed, hardly worthy of his position. 
He wrote, for example, an ui*gent appeal to Sedgwick to pen a criticism 
for the columns of the Times, and afterwards another entreaty for an 
exhaustive article in one of the quarterlies on the whole subject of the 
older f ossiliferons rocks, the grounds of the request being variously based 
on the need of trying to regain some of the large amount of money which 
had been expended upon the publication, on the desirability of showing 
how necessary a knowledge of geological structure is for the development 
of our mineral resources, on the good to geology which might be done by 
making the ordinary reading public familiar with some of the more recent 
researches, etc Sedgwick in a very candid and friendly way assured 
him that the book needed no artificial aid, and should be aUowed to make 
way on its own merits. Fitton wrote the review in the Edinbwg?^, and 
drew attention to the important oo-operation of Mr. Lewis. 



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1838.] SPREAD OF SILURIAN DOMAIN 243 

had accepted his classification^ and recognised Siluriaii 
fossils in widely distant regions. Hence the book, welcome 
and long-rexpected as it undoubtedly was, lost perhaps a 
little of the novelty which it might otherwise have possessed* 
We have now traced Murchison's career up to the com- 
pletion of the great work of his life. His subsequent geo- 
logical labours chiefly sprang out of these seven years' toil 
among the '^ Transition" rocks. He went abroad to extend 
the area of his Silurian formations, and he succeeded in 
achieving its further increase at home. His domain of 
*' Siluria" became, in his eyes, a kind of personal property, 
over which he watched with solicitude. Or, it might rather 
perhaps be compared to a vast business which he had 
established, of every original detail of which he was com- 
plete master, and which he laboured to extend into other 
countries, while he kept up through life a close correspond- 
ence with those by whom the foreign extensions were so 
abundantly and successfully carried out. How all this was 
done remains to be told in the succeeding chapters. 



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CHAPTEE XIII. 

THE DEVONIAN STSTEIC. 

We have now to trace how it came about that another 
chapter was added to early geological history. With the 
view of following intelligibly how far this addition was due 
to Murchison's labours, we may profitably take here a brief 
retrospect of the previous progress of discoveiy and opinion 
regarding the rocks from which the new chapter was com- 
piled. 

It was one of the merits of the Wemerian geognosts to 
point out some of the more salient subdivisions in which, by 
means maruly of mineral characters, the rocks of the earth's 
crust may be chronologically grouped. They recognised 
that their "Transition" series was often covered by red 
sandstones and conglomerates, and that a younger group of 
similar sandstones was found to rest upon magnesian lime- 
stone or coaL^ It was in England that this distinction came 
to be most clearly perceived, because the extensive coal- 
fields of this country were found to separate the two series 
of sandstones. Hence the terms Old Bed Sandstone and 
New Bed Sandstone acquired an important economic signi- 

^ It would appear, however, that the Old Bed Sandstone of Werner 
himBelf agrees with a part at least of what is now oaUed Permiao. 



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1800-87.] THE OLD RED SANDSTONE. 245 

ficance apart £rom their geological meaning, inasmuch as 
the one lay below the coal, while the other lay above it 

The Old Bed Sandstone during the first quarter of this 
century had been recognised over a large part of Britain. 
It was known to occur in broken bands £rom the Bristol 
Channel up northwards through the border counties of 
England and Wales. It had been recognised coming out 
from under the Carboniferous Limestone in the Lake 
country. It had been followed for great distances through 
the Lowlands of Scotland, and along the flanks of the 
Highlands. 

But though the existence of these red sandstones and 
conglomerates had been extensively proved, little had 
been gathered regarding their thickness, their subdivisions, 
their fossil contents, and the general geological history of 
which they are the records. In Scotland much good 
observation had been made by Jameson, Bou^, Macculloch, 
Imrie, and other& In England a threefold subdivision of 
the series was proposed by Buckland and Conybeare.^ But 
these rocks were still regarded as only a subordinate, and by 
no means important, group, being by some geologists placed 
in the Transition series, and by others with the Carboniferous 
deposits. 

A great advance was made by the conjoined labours of 
Sedgwick- and Murchison among the Old Red Sandstones and 
Conglomerates of the north of Scotland. They showed the 
great thickness and importance of the series, its range even up 
to the most northern parts of our islands, and the great abun- 

^ Trans, CfeoL 8oe., toL i (2d leries), p. 210. See abo Weaver, op. eOL 
p. 338. 



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246 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [w-ai 

dance and lemarkable cliaracter of its fossil fishes.^ It was 
therefore with much previous acquaintance with this geologi- 
cal group, that Murchison, in 1831, had begun to trace out 
its development in South Wales and the adjacent parts of 
England. The vast depth and the variety of strata which it 
exhibited in that region, taken in connexion with its extent 
in Scotland, had so impressed him with the importance of 
the Old Bed Sandstone, that when he published the 
BUwricm System, he proposed, for the first time, to raise it 
to the dignity of a distinct geological System.* He pointed 
out its well-marked lithological characters and its peculiar 
fossil treasures as grounds for clear separatioa By his 
successful search, aided by that of Dr. Lloyd of Ludlow, and 
other observers, the fact was made known that the Old 
Bed Sandstone of England, previously supposed to be 
singularly barren of organic remains, did really contain a 
number of peculiar fishes, and among them some of the 
very same species which had been found in the Old Bed 
Sandstone of Scotland. By this evidence he was entitled 
more confidently than ever to group these rocks of the 
United Kingdom in one great series, and when he found 
that in South Wales they attained a thickness of nine or 
ten thousand feet, he very justly insisted on their claim to 
an independent place in the geological record. 

These views, however, met with little acceptance on the 
Continent It was objected that with some trifling ex-, 
ceptions, as for instance in Belgium and perhaps in Bussia, 
the so-called Old Bed Sandstone of the English geologists 
did not exist on the mainland of Europe, and therefore that 
it had no claim whatever to rank as a system, but could be 

1 See 011^ p. 144. * ^Ourton /S^^eam, p. 169. 



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1838.] SEDGWICK AND MURCH180N IN DEVON. 247 

regarded at the best as a remarkable but only local and 
abnormal development of the upper Transition or lower 
Carboniferous strata. There certainly seemed a good deal of 
force in these objections, and still more in the assertions 
which were confidently made, that the lowest rocks of the 
Carboniferous series were found on the Continent passing 
down into the Grauwacke, and that there was likewise a 
blending of their respective fossils. If these assertions were 
well founded, they proved the absence of any intermediate 
system on the Continent, and rendered the claims of any 
local British series to rank as a system more than 
doubtfoL 

Such, in brief, was the state of this branch of geology at 
the time of the publication of the Silv/rian System. While 
the researches out of which that work sprang were still in 
progress, and the book itself advancing through the press, 
its author, as already mentioned, was led to begin another 
series of observations, which led eventually to an important 
change in English, and indeed of European geology, and to the 
willing recognition of that " Old Bed System " for which 
contention had in vsSn been held before. 

It was in the year 1836 that the observations now to be 
followed b^an to be made. They were the conjoint task 
of the two long- tried Mends Sedgwick and Murchison. Up 
to that time these geologists had been at work contem- 
poraneously but independently among the older rocks, 
and though Dr. Whewell, from the chair of the Geological 
Society, spoke of their labours as " on all accounts to 
be considered as a joint undertaking," still in actual fact the 
two pioneers had started from wholly different points, 
and had, as we have seen, toiled to cut out each his 



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248 SIR RODERICK MURCH180N. [isse. 

own pathway through that vague and unknown region 
of "Transition" rocks, which certainly seemed wide enough 
to give them ample room for exploration without much 
risk of trenching upon each other's ground. Sedgwick 
had grappled with the physical structure of the rockSy 
and, amidst enormous difficulties, had achieved success. 
Murchison, on the other hand, had found a series of strata 
where the physical structure was comparatively simple, and 
which yielded such abundant store of fossils as to be capable 
of subdivision by their means. But now, in the south- 
west of England, the two Mends were to combine their 
methods, and to work out a difficult region by help both 
of physical structure and of organic remains. 

There was no such ambitious plan before them, however, 
when they began their work. They had one definite point 
to settle, viz., the age of the Culm-measures of Devonshire. 
But in putting that matter beyond dispute, they were gra- 
dually led into further and wider explorations, not in Devon 
and Cornwall merely, but over a considerable area of the 
Continent. It was by means of these labours that the 
''Devonian System ** of rocks was established. How the 
work first took shape is best told in Murchison's own 
words : — 

" The origin of this joint survey [of Devonshire] came 
about in this way. In the preceding winter,^ Mr. (after- 
wsoxb Sir Henry) De la Beche had sent up specimens of 
small fossil plants from the culm rocks of North Devon, 
which he described as belonging to the Grauwacke forma- 
tion, ^t the evening meeting of the Geological Society I 
opposed this view, on the ground that my Silurian rocks, 
1 December 1834. See OtoU 8oc Proc, vol. ii p. 106. 



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1836.] ORIGIN OF DEVONIAN CAMPAIGN 249 

both upper and lower, contamed no land plants whatever.^ 
Moreover, I thought I recognised a complete similarity be- 
tween these common specimens of North Devon and those 
which I had explored in the opposite coast of Pembroke, 
and which I knew were superposed to the Millstone Grit 
and Mountain limestone. I therefore urged Sedgwick to 

^ It is perhaps hardly worth while reyerting, eren in a foot-note, to a 
personal matter which threatened to bring abont a rapture of friendly 
relations between geologists all of whom have made their mark in the 
sdentifio history of their time, and who are now gone to their rest. And 
yet the expressions in the text seem to require further explanation, more 
especially as some of the survivors of that time may still be uuder the 
belief that De la Beche was hardly used in this afCur. It was asserted 
by some of his friends that Murchison and Sedgwick had obtained posses- 
sion of an early unpublished copy of his Ordnance Geological Survey map 
of Devonshire ; that they had, unknown to him, gone down into his terri- 
tory and examined his sections with the map in their hands ; that they 
had thereafter hurried up to the Bristol meeting to make an attack upon 
him and expose his mistakes ; and that afterwards, although their full 
conjoint paper had not been read to the Geological Sodety, they procured 
a statement and recognition of their views in the anniversary address of 
the President. The real facts were these : — ^When De la Beche announced 
the discovery of plants of Carboniferous species in the *' Greywacke " of 
Devonshire, Murchison (as stated above) opposed this alleged discovery, 
because it ran directly counter to all the evidence he had obtained in his 
own Silurian domains as to the disappearance of Carboniferous forms of 
life from the older rocks, and, as he wrote to De la Beche, '* I could not 
bring out my long-projected work with such a geological contradiction in 
my face." De la Beche invited him to examine the ground for himself, 
and gave him directions what to see, and where to see it. The map was 
purchased in 1835 in the ordinary way from a bookseller's shop, where it 
was sold also to other members of the Society. But it was not used on the 
ground until the summer of 1836. Possibly, in the meantime, De la 
Beche had begun to suspect the accuracy of these early impressions of 
the map. When Sedgwick and Murchison came to the ground, they found 
the facts to be as stated above. The supposed ** Greywacke ** turned out to 
be merely a somewhat abnormal condition of the Coal-measures, and, in- 
stead of occupying an anticlinal area, so as to dip under the other rocks» 
aotuaUy lay in a great trough above them. So far De la Beche was un- 
doubtedly wrong, and his opponeuts were undoubtedly right, as was after- 
wards shown by the alteration of the Survey map in accordance with the 
newer views. The charges of unfairness appear to have been whispered 
about by De la Beche's friends in London, while he himself was busy in 



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250 8IR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [isai 

join me in a campaign to settle the question.^ He agreed to 
do so. So oflf we went ; and first we looked through the 
rocks of North Somerset, Hfracombe, Morte Bay, Baggy 
Point, and Barnstaple. As we went on, a good, steady, 
southerly dip continued until we reached the edge of the 
fjBunous Culm tract, into and under which the older strata 
pitched at a rapid inclinatioa I there saw that the game 
was won, and, drawing a section, in which I reversed De la 
Beche's hypothetical diagrams, I called out to Sedgwick 
fix)m the rock on which I was sitting, — * Here it is 1 Look 
at my section of the North Devon coaUfidd — ^the youngest 
instead of the oldest rocks of the county — our job is done V 
Still he was a little incredulous until we advanced south- 
wards (for I had sketched this bom the north side of the 

the field in the wmth-westeni ooonties. They were indignantly denied at 
the time by Mnrchison, in a letter to De la Beche himself (6th Jaonaiy 
1837), and in one to Sedgwick (2d February 1837). That De la Beche 
was vexed to find some of the work of the Survey to be wrong was 
natural enough, and that Murduson may have shown, as appears from 
his narrative above, a little elation in pointing out his friend's error, 
was also to be expected. Indeed, it would seem that he allowed himself to 
write to Sedgwick in such a way about the alleged discovery of a Grau- 
wacke flora in Devonshire as to caU down remonstrance from his com- 
rade. Even as far back as January 1835, that is ooly a month after De 
la Beche's announcement, we fiod him acknowledging Sedgwick's oom- 
plaint thus : — '* Ton were quite ri^t in reproving me if you thought that 
I used any acrimony in speaking of De la Beche's discovery, but I had 
long before obviated the possibility of such being the case on one side or 
the other by a friendly interchange of opinions with De la Beche him- 
self." But a perusal of the correspondence and of the published papers 
and abstracts has convinced the writer of these lines that no unfairness 
can be justly attributed either to Murohison or Sedgwick in the matter. 
It may be added, that though right as to the relative position they 
assigned to the Culm-measures, these authors were much deceived in their 
identification of the underlying rocks with the Silurian and Cambrian 
systems, as wiU be shown in the sequel. 

^ In a letter of 8th February 1836, Sedgwick proposes to Murchison 
and plans the tour in Devon and ComwalL It may have been previously 
suggested by Mnrohison. 



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1836.] CULM ROCKS OF DEVON. 251 

baj), and then when he saw the actual order he entirely 
assented, saying what a crow we should have over De la 
Beche. The tnith I can only surmise to be, that De la 
Beche, who was certainly a very able geologist, had never 
really looked carefully at the consecutive sections in nature, 
but seeing the Culm strata in a state of great contortion in 
a low tract, he had presumed that they passed under the 
higher country in the north. I also believe that he was so 
much occupied in writing that remarkably skilful and in-* 
genious work (the best he ever wrote), Theoretical Resewrches 
in Geology, that in doing so, and carrying out his first map 
of Devon and Cornwall, he really worked very little in the 
field." 

''At the Bristol meeting of the British Association, the 
chief business of Sedgwick and self was to establish the 
point regarding the great change we proposed in the struc- 
ture of Devonshire ; and though Greenough, Buckland, and 
the old hands made some resistance, and did not like to see 
the ancient ' Shillats ' and ' (Gossans/ beUeved to be the most 
ancient rocks in Britain, so modernized, it was evident that 
truth would prevail." 

After the meeting, while Murchison, as we have already 
noted, returned to his literary toil in London, his Mend and 
coadjutor went again into the Devonshire country, and spent 
many weeks in hard work there, so that a broad base was 
thereby laid for the conjoint paper which it had been 
arranged to read before the Geological Society. 

But the conclusions arrived at by Sedgwick and Mur- 
chison, though they have now been for many years part of 
the common fund of geological knowledge,^ were far from 
^ The main point established by them was that the Culm-measures lay 



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252 SIB RODERICK MURCHISON. [mml 

meeting with general acceptance at first Some idea of the 
opposition, or at least of Murchison's estimate of it, may be 
formed &om the following sentences in a letter to Phillips, of 
4th January 1836 : — " The paper by old Weaver was read 
last night, and the fight is over. He has sided completdy 
with S. and self. Austen, a remarkably clever young geolo- 
gist, is also with us ; Major Harding &om the first with us. 
The case therefor^ stands thus : For the old constitution — 
Oreenough, De la Beche, and Parson Williams. On our side 
are the two geologists of Great Britain who have given the 
longest attention to the old fossiliferous strata, and their 
opinions are supported by every man who has gone into the 
tract to judge for himselfl 

''All the support expected from France has gone against 
the ancients ; for Buckland (himself as unwilling a witness 
as Weaver) comes back from France persuaded that ]^e de 
Beaumont's ''Grauwacke coal-fields'* are nothing but ordinary 
Carboniferous deposits reposing on Silurian rocks. 

** We are effecting a great reform at the Geological, to 
save Lonsdale's life, and enable him to do his quantum of 
duty. We split the duties — Lonsdale, assistant secretary 
and editor ; a curator to be found. R L M. chairman of a 
committee to find said curator." 

The " fight" alluded to in this letter, however, was merely 

, a preliminary skirmish on the reading of a memoir by 

another member of the Society, and though valuable as 

giving some notion of the relative strength of the parties, 

by no means ended the warfare. Murchison counted much 

at the top of the Deron rocks, and belonged to the Carbonif erons system. 
On what particular horizon in that system they should be placed does 
not appear to be satisfactorily settled yet. 



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18S7.] SEDGWICK AS AUTHOR AND INVALID. 253 

on the support of the Woodwardian Professor, who, if he 
could onlj be got into such measure of health and spirits as 
to come up to town for the purpose, would easily and 
triumphanilj rout the enemy. Thus on the 30th January 
the following appeal left London : — 

**My dear Sedgwick, — ^I worked all day yesterday to 
make the sections, and to have them correspond with our 
long Bristolian coupe. I was in great hopes to have your 
despatches before now ; but I wait patiently like a lamb 
for the sacrifice; — and sacrificed I most assuredly shall 
be without your aid. However, I will drink the best part 
of a bottle of sheny to screw me up to face Buckland, 
Greenough, Yates, and the Ordnance forces which are to 
be brought against us. In anticipation of the memoir, I 
must take this chance of a vaU from you before the fighf 

Upwards of six years had elapsed since these two fellow- 
labourers with the hammer had been leagued together with 
the pen. The brief notice of their discovery made to the 
British Association was meant to be merely a prelude to the 
much fidler memoir designed for the learned audience at 
Somerset House. Former experience, however, showed that 
the Woodwardian Professor could not be got to move faster 
than his wonted pace. After many delays and promises, a 
date was fixed for the reading of this memoir. Murchison 
duly appeared, but found neither Sedgwick nor the paper. 
The letters which came up week after week from Cambridge 
had brought the most touching lamentations over the exact- 
ing claims of lectures, examinations, audits, and other Uni- 
versity business, and hardly one of them ever failed to carry 
a bulletin of the progress of the influenza^ gout, dyspepsia^ 
nervousness, or other of the bodily ailments under which the 



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254 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [i837. 

writer happened to be groaning at the time, and which he 
anathematized with whimsical fervour. Murchison's chagrin 
was expressed next day as follows : — 

** 3 Bbtanston Plage, 2d February 1837. 
" My deab Sedgwick, — The part of Hamlet being omitted, 
the play was not performed, and all the scenic arrangements 
which I had laboured at were thrown away, though the 
room looked splendid. The moming^s arrivals certainly 
surprised ma Ten o'clock brought me your double letter ; 
eleven o'clock by the same mail the maps, and a little note 
to Lyell, but in vain I looked through the parcel for the 
document to be read. I read and re-read your letter, and 
stiU I could not understand it One thing I clearly per- 
ceived, and with great regret, that you were seriously out of 
sorts, and had been suffering ; so after waiting till two, I 
journeyed down to the Society, still thinking that a third 
package with the paper might be sent to Somerset House, — 
not so, however. These things going on ; the whole room 
decorated for the fight ; Buckland arrived, Fitton present^ 
and a large meeting expected, — ^what was to be done? 
Fitton and Lonsdale . . . counselled me to give up the 
thing, which I resolved to do, to the very great annoyance of 
the President [Buckland], and of all the others who came 
to hear. .... 

'' I am mortified that the memoir did not come ; of 
course I blame myself somewhat for having thrown in 
doubts on some points, because I see that ill as you have 
been, and without the power on my part of talking the case 
over, we mutually misapprehended each other. But enough 
of what is past The thing now to consider is when to have 
the paper out I should certainly not wish to have it 



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1837.] BIRTH OF FIRST DEVONIAN MEMOIR. 256 

done till you are present, because we must have a fair stand- 
up fight and knock the and Greenough down, 

** We had a good discussion on Buckland's Keuper, on 
which Greenough and myself agreed about the absurd term 
poikUitic, backed by old Paddy [Fitton], so the spots were 
damned. We had a supper at Cole's, — ^Buckland, Homer, 
Stokes, the Viscount, Sir Phil, and my Mend Bosthom of 
Wolfsberg, a great friend of the Archduke John's, present 

'' Did you really imagine that I was to dramatize the 
whole thing without a sermon before me ? or have you been 
written to by Greenough or some of the dark school ? or 
was the paper unfit to be sent? or was it omitted by acci- 
dent and mistake ? The President stated the last as the 
cause, and I said not a word about it, for with Lonsdale's 
help in construing your letter, we were unable to understand 
it I think that the delay occasioned by my doubts and 
your influenza and state of the stomach are the true causes ; 
but if you had sent it in ever so imfinished a state, the heads 
would have been read, and an abstract made, which would 
have served all purposes." 

Summer had made some progress before the paper was 
at last actually read to the Society. It was the first of 
a series of memoirs upon the rocks of Devon and Cornwall, 
and their equivalents elsewhere. 

The settlement of the geological age of the Culm-measures 
of Devonshire, though by no means an unimportant question 
in British geology, was of small moment compared with the 
further researches to which it led. In working out the 
position of these rocks, the two fellow-labourers found it 
necessary to get a base-line for their Carboniferous forma- 



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256 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [i837. 

tdons. In other tracts of this countiy they would have met 
with ordinary Old Bed Sandstone. But in Devonshire and 
Cornwall they encountered a series of rocks which had 
undergone so much alteration that their true position was 
difficult to defina They were usually classed by the old 
and uncouth term Grauwacke. In some respects they 
resembled the old slaty masses of Wales, and at first the two 
geologists who had come to them &esh from these Welsh 
deposits made them out to be actually in the same geolo- 
gical position as the middle and upper parts of Professor 
Sedgwick's Cambrian series of North Wales.^ A good deal 
of limestone, with an abundance of fossil remains, distin- 
guished these Devonshire strata. But owing to the way in 
which the rocks had been squeezed and broken, their order 
of succession was not easily ascertained. 

Various observers, especially Mr. Hennah, Mr. (Godwin) 
Austen, Mr. Williams, and Major Harding, had made 
collections of the fossils, which certainly differed con- 
siderably from those of the Silurian rocks, and quite justified 
Murchison in deciding not to claim these strata as part of his 
Silurian domain. Mr. Lonsdale, toward the end of 1 837, after 
an examination of various collections of South Devon fossils, 
came to the conclusion that the rocks from which they were 
obtained must be intermediate between the Silurian and the 
Carboniferous series, that is, on the same general parallel as the 
Old Bed Sandstone of other districts.* He was led to this 
inference purely on palseontological grounds, because some 
of the fossils belonged to Silurian species, while others had 

^ Proe. OeoL 8oc., ii. 560 (June 1837). 

* Proc Oeol, 8oc,, iiL 281, and Trans,, 2d series, vol v. p. 721. In ibis 
memoir, the author gives references to previous authors on the rocks of 
Devon and ComwaU. 



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Msr.] EARLY WORK OF HUGH MILLER 257 

a distinctly Carboniferous character. This idea, however, 
was not immediately adopted by Sedgwick and Murchison, 
for they could not get the Welsh and northern type out of 
their minds. 

While the Woodwardian Professor and the author of the 
" Silurian System " were still groping their way among the 
puzzling rocks which underlie the Carboniferous deposits of 
the south-west of England, another labourer, hitherto un- 
known, had been for many years collecting and pondering 



FOflSILB OP THX MiDDUB DXTOXIAIT LlMUTOirB. 

L Caloeola aimdaHTui. S. Megolodon cncallatoa. 8. MorohiBonla bUinetU. 
4 Stringooephalus Burtinl. 6. Atryp* desqaainata. 

over the strange fishes which lie entombed in the Old Bed 
Sandstone of the far north of Scotland, The name of Hugh 
Miller is now familiar wherever English literature has made 
its way. At the time of which we are treating, it had been 
heard of out of his own Cromarty district as that of a musing, 
meditative stone-mason, who employed his leisure hours in 
writing rather indiflferent poetry and most graphic and 
vigorous prose. In what other pursuits the intervals of his 
manual labour were spent, and notably how he began to in- 
VOL. T. B 



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258 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80K [im 

terest himself and others in stones and their story, he has 
told in his own charming memoirs. The following letter, 
one of the earliest which he addressed to his future Mend 
Murchison, is characteristic : — 

** Gbobeartt, IH June 1838. 

" Honoured Snt, — ^My Mend Dr. Malcolmson of Madras 
has written me from Paris, that he has had an interview 
with M. Agassiz, and that that gentleman has expressed a 
wish to see one of the fossils of a small collection which I have 
been forming for the last few years. The Doctor also men- 
tions to me in another letter that he had had the pleasure of 
meeting with you in London about the middle of last spring, 
and that you were at that time engaged in researches which 
some of my specimens might perhaps serve to illustrate. 
From a further remark, I infer that you too are desirous of 
examining some of them. I herewith send a few of the 
more portable to Agassiz, requesting him (should he be no 
former of collections himself, which Dr. Malcolmson tells 
me he is not) to send them to you, who deserve so well of 
the geologists of the north, when he has looked over them. 
Lest, however, some accident should detain them on the Con- 
tinent, I deem it proper that you should have an opportunity 
of examining them in the passing, and I have therefore 
requested Mr. James Malcolmson, the Doctor^s brother, to 
forward them to your address, with which I myself am 
unacquainted. , , • [Here follow some descriptions of 
the fossila] 

*' There is one question in connexion with these fossils 
to which I would fain receive an answer, and which I have 
put to Agassiz, but which you, sir, could favour me by 
answering much sooner than I can expect to hear from him. 



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i8sa] HUGH MILLER. 259 

Is the formation in which they occur a fresh-water one, or 
otherwise ? I have some intention at present of drawing up 
a popular account of the geology of this part of the country 
for a widely-circulated periodical to which I occasionally 
contribute, and the fact in question, if an ascertainable one, 
is essential to my purpose. Your letter, were you to fiBtvour 
me with a very few lines on the subject, would find me in 
Cromarty. It would afford me pleasure to forward for your 
inspection such of my specimens as might prove of use to 
you in your present researches. I am desirous to make my 
little collection as complete as possible, and in no place, 
perhaps, could it be of so much interest as in the middle of 
the district whose oryctology it illustratea Some of my 
specimens, however, are in duplicate, and I need not say 
how welcome you will be to one out of each of the pairs, 
and to the use of all the others. Please favour me by seal- 
ing my letter to Agassiz ere you make up the box. I do 
not know that I have addressed that gentleman as I ought, 
but he must just excuse the ignorance of a foreigner and a 
provincial in the way the far-famed author of Salmonia did 
the Frenchman who addressed him as Sirumphrydavy. — I 
am, honoured Sir, your most obedient humble servant, 

•' Hugh Millbb." 

From Murchison's reply to this letter a few sentences 
may be quoted : — 

" Although my work was intended to be exclusively de- 
voted to Silurian (or Transition) rocks of England and Wales, 
I have made a few allusions to other tracts, and, among 
these, to the Old Bed Sandstone of Scotland, in doing which 
I have, in the descriptions of the organic remains, briefly 



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260 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [isss. 

alluded to your labours. Now that I know the fidelity and 
closeness of your research, I shall endeavour to introduce 
another allusion in the Appendix, which is all that remainB 
unprinted. 

*' I am delighted with your clear and terse style of de- 
scription, and beg to assure you, that if you could send us, 
in the course of the summer, any general and detailed ac- 
count of both the Sutors, and all their contents, I shall have 
the utmost pleasure in communicating it to the Geological 
Society, to be read at the November meeting. 

" You write and observe too well to waste your strength 
in newspaper publications, and a good digest of what you 
have done ought to be preserved m a permanent work of 
reference. I can give you no positive answer as to whether 
the Old Red Sandstone of Scotland was formed in a lake or 
in the sea.* I have, however, strong reasons for believing 
that it is a marine deposit, for in England we find marine 
shells in it to a considerable height above the uppermost 
beds of underlying Silurian rocks. ... I much long to 
revisit the shores of Caithness and Cromarty with my in- 
creased knowledge, and with the conviction that I should 
learn so much from you, but I fear it is hopeless." 

Besides abundant work and correspondence in regard to 
Devonian geology, Murchison took a leading part in one of 
the most prominent of the sdentific doings of London in 
this year (1838). Sir John Herschel, after an absence of 
four years and a half at the Cape, had returned to England 
with a rich harvest of astronomical observations. It was 

^ This question, maiiily from the labours of Mr. Godwin-Aosteo, Pro- 
fessor T. Rupert Jones, and Professor Baznsay, can now be more definitely 
answered, in a sense opposite to the view whioh Morohison faTOoied in 
this letter. 



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1838.] HIS CREED IN 1838. 261 

determined by his scientific and other Mends to give him a 
public dinner, and to present him on that occasion with aa 
inscribed vase. Murchison acted as honorary secretary, and 
to judge firom the mass of correspondence which remains 
among his papers, his post must have left him for many 
weeks with hardly an hour of leisure. One of Herschel's 
notes to him concludes '' with repeated thanks to you for 
all the very great trouble which this afiTair has caused you.'' 
The gathering proved eminently successful — a result in no 
small measure due to the good management of the secretary, 
and especially to his facility for grasping even the most 
insignificant details, and planning the execution of them. 

Before we resume the Devonian story, reference must be 
made to the death of Mrs. Hugonin in the beginning of the 
year 1 838, and to a i:emarkable letter which that event evoked 
from her son-in-law. This letter is addressed to his '' dear 
friend" Sedgwick. It was never sent, however, but remained 
in its writer's repositories until his death. During the in- 
terval he appears to have read the letter at least twice — in 
1857, and again in 1869 — as is shown by his own hand-* 
writing on the back. It would seem, therefore, to have been; 
regarded as a record worth preserving, of the state of the 
writei's mind at the time regarding a momentous subject, 
on which, even up to the end of life, he was not given to 
speak. The letter is marked outside in handwriting of a 
late date, "My Creed in 1838." 

** KuBSTEO Hotrax, Petkbsitblis 
I9th January 1838. 

" My deae Sedgwick, — I have not for the last many 
months found an hour so vacant, that if I abstracted it from 
the book, or any other avocation, I did not reproach myself 



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262 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [im 

80 heavily bas the incubus pressed upon me. Here, how- 
ever, ... I am free to occupy an hour, and I give it to you 
as the man of my heart 1st, Talking of this last-mentioned 
member of our frame in a physical sense, I must crave some 
of that sympathy from you which I have often felt for you 
when you have described to me your own sensations in its 
r^on. The scene here has altogether been trying and 
harassing for my wife and self — several times up and down 
from town, and, on the last occasion of my visit, I returned 
only to Eccleston Street to hurry ofiT Mrs. M. at a moment's 
notice, as I feared she would be too late to dose her mother's 
eyes. This, however, was happily not the case. The old 
lady made a wonderful rally, her mind became quite com- 
posed, and she took the sacrament with her daughter in friU 
confidence of a change to a better world. These are agree- 
able reflections. To-morrow I attend her body to the grave. 
The will gives to my dear wife a most ample income for her 
life. • • . 

'' I do not mean to relax one jot in my search after 
natural knowledge ; nay, being now a free agent for the first 
time these twenty years, I shall, I hope, be enabled to em- 
ploy all my leisure hours more effectively in pursuing my 
favourite study. 

^ But this is not enough. I have one deep-seated source 
of personal unhappiness in my thoughts of the future. To 
go we know not where, may be viewed calmly and resignedly 
by many philosophers, trusting as they do to the wise dis- 
pensations of Providence, yet vmdble to believe in the great 
Atonement for the sins of man. Alas ! I am (for I need 
scarcely confess it again to you, for you know me) one of 
those half-instructed wandering beings who sufficiently know 



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1838.] HIS CREED IN 1838. 263 

and feel what they ottgJU to believe, yet cannot overcome the 
force of habit and a long-continued apathetic indifference to 
the vital point Doubtless I perceive much to admire, nay, 
nothing to cavil at, in the precepts of Christ, though I can* 
not bring my mind to acquiesce in His divinity. Still less 
can I confide in and give my common sense to adopt all the 
historical details of the Old Testament You will refer me 

to Paley, while , professing to be a Christian, will refer 

me to Fellowea I do not require a stimulus to induce me 
to adopt natural religion, for I have it strongly implanted 
in me ; and if geology has done me no other good, it has, at 
all events, strongly fortified me in this sense. 

" But here I halt. Most unwillingly it is true, for few 
people have a higher respect for sincere believers than myself, 
and no one would more stoutly fight for the Church, as a 
great and essential moral engine, than myself. When, how- 
ever, I see men of powerful minds and great integrity, who 
are strict believers in Christ, I am roused to a perception of 
the chance there is that the defect is in my own capacity 
and heart I hope the former only. Your example has 
made more impression upon me than all that was ever said 
or written ; for nothing has more alienated me firom Chris- 
tian belief than the constant exposure (which history and 
our own experience afibm) of hypocrisy, cant, and all the 
worst passions veiled under the garb of religion. You might 
well say to me, ' Look at home ;' for if there ever existed a 
thoroughly pious, yet unobtrusive Christian, that person is 
my excellent wife. Seeing the tranquillity with which she 
views her passage from this world, and knowing how the 
best Christian principles are ever her guides, albeit without 
a tincture of fanaticism or exclusive sanctity, I cannot but 



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264 SIM RODERICK MURCHISOK [i83»-9. 

hope that the day will come, when, striviiig to follow out 
the dying wishes of my ovm beloved mother, I may become 
a true believer. Alas I I am a sJuni way yet upon the road. 
— Ever yours, my dear friend, EoD. L MuKCfflSON. 

*' Having written, I looked at my confessions and was 
about to destroy them, but this would have been giving way 
to my own pride : so you must bear with me." 

During the winter of 1838-39 Sedgwick and Murchison 
were busy trying to get at the meaning of the Devonian 
rocks. Lonsdale's suggestion as to the position of these 
strata was now engaging their attention^ and they sought 
anxiously for light from farther fossil evidence. Mtay a 
box of specimen from Devonshire was turned out and 
scrutinized with Sowerby and Lonsdale. It was not, how>- 
ever, until the spring of 1839 that they quite discarded tiieir 
previously published views of the age of the older rocks of 
the south-west of England and adopted those of Lonsdale. 
Even in March, Sedgwick could still write to his ftiend,^- 
" The Devon fossils are a great puzzle ; but I am as firm as 
ever — no Old Red in Devon.^'^ 

The twa geologists once more became fellow- woikers 
with the pen. And the consequence was, of course, a return 
to the former kind of correspondence— vehement objurga- 
tions by the Professor on his real or imaginary ailment% 
with whimsical accounts of hia condition, shrewd criticisms 
on his friend's writing, and earnest advice as to courtesy and 
moderation towards opponents. The opposition to the re- 

> Mr. De la Beohe'a €kologioal Report on Cornwall and Devon appeared 
in 1839, fuU of exceUent obsenratipDB, but not admitting the Culm rocks 
to be tme Coal-measures, and retaining lus old term Grauwacke for the 
older rooks of that region, which were soon to be named Devonian. 



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1839] TEE DEVONIAN BATTLE. 265 

form which they wished to effect in the nomenclature of the 
older rocks of Devon and Cornwall had not wholly subsided, 
for there came now and then a protest or denial firom the 
other side, though the main point for which they had origi- 
nally contended — ^the true overlying position of the Culm- 
measures — was now so tacitly admitted as to be claimed as 
part of the common stock of knowledge, without reference to 
their relation to it as discoverers. The Ordnance Geological 
Survey Beport upon the district had just appeared, and irri* 
tated them by the way in which it seemed to them to over- 
look tiie important work which they had done in that part 
of the country. They had written imd published rather a 
sharp retort upon De la Beche,^ and the atmosphere at the 
Geological Society was in that state when a storm such as 
had never been experienced at Somerset House might at 
any moment have burst forth. A paper on the Devon 
Geology by the Bev. D. Williams, one of the opponents, was 
announced for reading on the 10th of ApriL A fierce 
battle was looked for, and the combatants and would-be on->> 
lookers came fiom fSeur and near to be present. Sedgwick 
could not attend. The good fight was therefore left to be 
fought by his military ally, who, next day, still full of the 
excitement, sent him the following despatch on this subject : — 

" llth April 1839. 
•'My dbae Sedgwick, — ^The fight is over. It lasted till 
near midnight, and, all things considered, we have come off 

^ Referenoe is made to tbe paper ** On tbe Claasification of the Older 
Stratified Books of Devon and GomwaU," whioh had appeared a few days 
before in tbe April number of the PhUoaophiecU Magazine. The latter 
part of this paper is a rather angry and personal defence of the originality 
of their work in these two ooonties, drawn forth by the statements in 
De la Beche's Geological Report on the same district 



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266 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [vol 

remarkably wdL Parson Williams, who was present, had 
prepared an Ordnance map of Devon and Cornwall coloured 
on his own mineralogical plan. • • . Immediately after the 
memoir was read, De la Beche, who came up per mail for 
the nonce, rose, and holding in his hand our memoir, com- 
menced an exculpation of himself from the charge we bring 
against him in our condusioa .... He spoke calmly, and 
without going into the memoir of the evening. I imme- 
diately replied by first assuring the Chair that I had no 
hesitation in expressing my regret that a word or two had 
been made use of in the huny of composition which both of 
us were sorry for. .... Disavowing the least personality, I 
immediately got D. with me, and having thus cleared the 
course, I opened the discussion on Williams' paper, and 
went 'the whole hog,' as well as I could, touching the 
Devonian case. De la Beche then replied, but did not 
attempt to shake one of our positions, did not place a veto 
on one of my assertions, and least of all, on that which laid 
claim to the originality of the Culm-trough. He bothered 
about a point or two near Chudleigh, as difficulties, and end- 
ing by saying it was immaterial to him what the things 
were called. 

'' Lyell then spoke, and very adroitly put the case as one 
most agreeable to him, now that he perceived that Mr. 
D. not only acknowledged that the view which we took 
at Bristol was original, but also that he (D.) was by no 
means indisposed to adopt our new views, which get rid of 
all the anomalies and difficulties (about plants and fossils). 

" Fitton rose in great solemnity, and with deep pathos 
impressed on the meeting the propriety of restraining the 
too pungent expression of controversial writing among geo- 



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1838.] THE DEVONIAN BATTLE. 267 

logical friends, alluded to xclj having called him ' my geo- 
logical father/ and only wished that I had submitted the 
paper in question to his parental revision before it was pub- 
lished. He acknowledged, however, that the explanation 
had quite rectified the case, and then he went on to expa- 
tiate on the value of our doings, giving us superlative praise, 
and bringing out Lonsdale in the foreground. 

^'Greenough made his oration as I expected, was very 
ingeniously sophistical, tried to throw all into chaos, saw 
nothing new in our views, adhered to his old belief — Grey- 
wacke for ever! — and sustained old Williams by casting 
fossil evidence overboard. 

** Featherstonehaugh spoke well on the great subdivisions 
of the old rocks of North America, and said they were dis- 
tinctly the same as ours. 

*'••». These and many other things being said and 
done, Buckland summed up at half-past eleven, and though 
he evidently wished to shield De la Beche, he ended by 
approving highly of 'Devonian* — ^he now saw light — ^that 
light he referred to W. Lonsdale, and henceforth, said he, 
there will be two great names in English geology — ^W. 
Smith and W. Lonsdale; he adhered entirely to the fossil 
evidences, did not give us the credit we deserved for our 
coal-trough (which is the hey to the whole thing), nor did he 
do justice to my Siluriana, without which, as you have justly 
said, no one could have started this new hare. 

" The room was a bumper. Warburton, who sat it out, 
assured me • . • that he looked upon the case as settled, as 
it was quite evident that Buckland had completely given in, 
De la Beche was ready to do so, and Greenough alone held 
out, standing like a knight-errant upon his ' antiquas vias.' 



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268 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [i839. 

** I had forgot to tell you that Lord Korthampton also 
spoke to a point of conciliation ; in fact, there was too much 
of this, for I sat next to De la Beche, never lost my tenq^er 
for an instant^ asked him to dine with me, and all ended 
' k Taimable/ and would have done so without any of the 
surpassing efforts of these ' good Samaritans.' 

'' Buckland was particularly happy in assisting to de- 
molish ' Greywacke ' by pulling old Greenough up, who with 
himself had declared a mass of rock in the Alps to be good 
* grauwackel which proved to be full of Tertiary shells ; 
that he had seen veiy good 'grauwacke' in oolites, in red 
sandstone, in coal — in short, in everytiiing, and therefore he 
did think with Conybeare that it was ' Jupiter quodcunque 
vides/ and agreed with us in the fitness of using it hereaftes 
entirely as an adjective or expletive. Q. K D. 

" It was right well that I was not absent in. Paris, or 
things in your absence also might have gone pro tempore 
against us. — Ever yours, EoD. L Mubohison." 

A fortnight later the two Enights of Cambria and Siluria 
were ready with their own coiyoint paper on their change of 
view regarding the geological position of the rocks in Devon 
and Cornwall — a change which had afforded one of the 
most effective shafts to their opponents in the contest 

In this memoir the term Devonian was proposed as a 
substitute for Old Bed Sandstone, to include the rocks 
lying between the Silurian and Carboniferous systema* 
The authors, accepting Lonsdale's suggestion, boldly applied 
it not merely to the limestone of South Devon, to which he 

^ The first publication of this proposed new geological sabdivision 
appears to have been that in the PhU Mag. for April 1839, p. 259. 



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1839.] QEOLOQICAL NOMENCLATURE. 269 

oiigmally restricted it, but to all the old slaty rocks of both 
Devon and Cornwall^ and even expressed an anticipation 
that it might be found capable of application on the Con- 
tinent. To quote their own words, adopted by Dr. Buck- 
land, this was " undoubtedly the greatest change which had 
ever been attempted at one time in the classification of 
British rocks." ^ 

It was, without question, a most important change in 
geological nomenclature, and before long it met with recog- 
nition and adoption all over the world, insomuch that the 
term ''Devonian'' came to be as familiar a term as Silurian or 
Cambrian had become. And yet we must admit that, tiiough 
exceedingly ingenious, it was based rather on what seemed 
.probable than what had been proved to be the case. Had the 
authors simply declared that their Devonian rocks occupied 
a place somewhere between the base of the Coal-measures, 
or upper part of the Mountain-limestone and the Silurian 
system, their position would have been unassailable. Their 
identification, however, of the Devonian slates, limestones, 
and sandstones, as the true equivalents of the Old Bed 
Sandstone of other r^ons, left out of sight the fact that 
a great. thickness of Lower Carboniferous rocks was on this 
view unrepresented in the south-western counties, and hence 
that a portion at least of their Devonian series might really 
be Carboniferous. Many years afterwards, as will be told 
in a later chapter, this now obvious objection was started 
a^d argued with great vigour and cogency by the late Mr. 
Jukes. 

So greatly have the rocks in Devon and Cornwall been 
disturbed since their formation, that even now, though they 

1 Train, QeoL 8oc, 2d Ser., v. 691, and Proc, iu. 226. 



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270 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [i8». 

have been examined over and over again by geologists with- 
out number, considerable dispute is still held over their 
true structure. In their memoir to the Greological Society, 
Sedgwick and Murchison indicated that what they had made 
out among these cleaved and fractured rocks might not 
improbably explain some parts of Continental geology, 
and there was likewise the probability of new light being 
obtained from the foreign rocks to clear up the obscu- 
rities still remaining at home. They had even stated their 
intention of personally seeking information on these points. 
Murchison began to think of putting this proposal into 
practice, and talked at one time of Scandinavia, at another 
of Belgium, or of the south of Ireland, and again of the 
Eifel and Westphalia, as the proper ground to begin upon. 
He urged his colleague to make the tour a conjoint one, and 
pressed upon him the needfulness of trying to brec^ loose 
from the ties which seemed to bind him too closely to Cam-* 
bridge or the Chapter of Norwich. Thus, early in the spring 
he wrote, "I was glad to see your handwriting, albeit you 
wrote in a state of exhaustion. Allow me, as your true 
friend, to urge you to make more than an ordinary effort 
without delay to shake off the Norvichian trammels to 
such an extent as will enable you to do that sometJUng more 
in field-geology without which your labours are incom- 
plete and your general views cannot be established. You 
say you are junior in the Chapter, but surely you can con- 
trive to get off for one year a month earlier than usual • , • • 
Pray, therefore, make your arrangements so that you will 
take your fling ' cotite que cotite.' " 

Three weeks later his feelings were expressed to the same 
correspondent as foUows : — "" I am so sick of the town, and 



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i8».] PROPOSES A TOUR WITH SEDGWICK. 271 

so oppressed with the feeling that I ought to be a^ work, 
that somewheie I will go in the middle of May. I may, 
however, defer my Scandinavian tour if I can meet with no 
playfellow; for in those cold and dreary wilds a solitary 
tour is out of the question. Belgium, the Ardennes, the 
Eifel, Taunus, and Harz may be a substitute, and most of 
this I can work away in until you join me, for I gather from 
your letter that some portion of this country is your aim, I 
must be at Birmingham, but I shall make it a stepping- 
stone to Ireland, where I shall remain till the rains drive me 
out. Thus we may unite at points of essential interest." 

On the 7th April, having meanwhile changed his plans 
again and again, he wrote once more to Sedgwick about the 
foreign tour, thus: — "Tour letter reached me at Christ 
Church before we left the Bucklands yesterday, where we 
passed three pleasant days. . • . • I stuck like W8ix to B. 
to get knowledge from him about Normandy and Brittany^ 
and ended by carrying off his maps and two or three sheets 
of memoranda. • • . . You call me a weathercock, and so I 
am, but, I hope, for the only object about which I occupy 
myself in the world. My plan is now definitively arranged. 
On the 1st May or a few days after, start for Antwerp 
and liege — floor that tract in a week with Dumont and 
D'Omalius and Buckland's section ; traverse by Spa and make 
a round to Treves, perhaps taking a peep at the west 
side of tiie Eifel and back to Paris — ten days there before 
any of tiie savans have left it^ fill myself with knowledge 
and buy all maps, etc. ; down straight to Caen, and there 
meet Adam Sedgwick in first week of June at latest, and 
commence work forthwith by the coasts of Normandy 
amid tiie Silurians. In two months we shall have ffutted 



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272 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [i8». 

everytliiiig, and bagged as many ' chonans ' in La Vendue as 
we please. It would be quite useless for you to go to Paris 
and lose time. I will get the lesson for us^ and we shall do 
the trick quickly ; back to Birmingham for the 26th^ and 
in the first week of September over to Ireland, where G. 
Hamilton and GriffiUis will throw us in three weeks into 
every good cover, and we shall be home again for October 
shooting." 

In spite, however, of the minute detail of this *^ defini- 
tively arranged" plan, it was in the course of a week or two 
completely changed. The final arrangement settled that the 
two old friends and fellow-labourers should once more wield 
their hammers together on the banks of the Bhine. The chief 
point to be ascertained was whether or not there existed on 
the Continent a series of rocks having a peculiar assemblage 
of fossils, and passing up:w^u:d3 into the base of the Carboni- 
ferous and downwards into the top of the Silurian rock& 
If such a' series could be found it would amply justify the 
Devonian nomenclatura . . 

Murchison started first Taking Paris on his way, he 
there attended a meeting of the French Geological Society, 
of which he had now become a member, and had a fight 
with some of his scientific friends over the claims of the 
so-called Devonian rocks to the dignity of being styled a 
" system." He stuck to his point, however, here as well 
as elsewhere, and, notwithstanding objections and protests, 
both at home and abroad, succeeded in establishing it in the 
general geological literature of his time. 

The halt at Paris was brief. Before the end of May the 
work had been begun in the heart of Ehineland. From 
Trfeves, Murchison wrote to his wife : — " ' In fine respirol as 



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W39.] CAMPAIGN IN RHINELAND. 273 

I said to myseK whilst I walked up yesterday under the 
fine beech-trees from the little frontier station, and found 
myself in Prussian land, fairly free of the * Grande Nation* 
and all its lies, Smeutes, and bombast Thank God I am now 
in a country I like (people and landscape, with geology 
of all sorts in the fore and background). I blessed the first 
glimpse of the vine-tending nymphs, with their Swiss-like 
broad-topped white caps, and the men with their round 
3louch-hats, honest German faces, and great jack-boots. 
Thenceforward all was changed for the better — capital 
macadamized roads everywhere, postilions with horns; 
the Prussian arms and eagle marl^ing discipline, order, and 
comfort everywhere. 

" I leave to-morrow morning in a little carriage which I 
hire (I shall buy one at Frankfort, where they are excellent) 
passing to Bingen on the Rhine, by Oberstein and Ereuznach 
to Erankfort. I am here in Cambrian and Longmynd rocks, 
with overlying red sandstone and muschelkalk. Portez vous 
hien. I wish you were with me, and that we had to pass 
three or four months quietly in this delightful countiy, to 
which I hope indeed we may return, for I shall have plenty 
to do another year." 

From Frankfort on 2d June he informs Mrs. Murchison, 
" I have bought a Vienna carriage, and a very nice one, which 
I hope will please the Professor. Finding by his letter of this 
day that he does not leave London till the 12th, I had almost 
resolved running away to the Fichtelgebirge to see Count 
Milnster and his collections, and to make a section of that 
chain, where I believe there is much Devonian ; but second 
thoughts have convinced me that it is better to do one thing 
well than two things badly. So I stick to the right bank 

VOI1.L s 



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274 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [i8». 

of the EHne, the contents of which I hope to sweep out so 
as to fill two portmanteaux (now empty among my carriage 
boxes), and send them off to Lonsdale's care before the 
Professor meets me at Bonn." 

Meschede on the Ruhr, Jvme 1839. — ^''Having finished 
my ' Abendessen/ consisting of a fresh trout, some asparagus, 
and eggs, I am now smoking my pipe in a very neat clean 
room overshadowed with trees in this little town of the 
Lower Ehine, which doubtless you never heard of before. 
This morning I came hither by Alpe and BolsteuL I have 
now gone clean across the region, and have looked into the 
zoological and mineralogical contents of each zone of rocks, 
as well as their geological relations. What I have to say 
will surprise you. I do not believe there is a Silurian bed 
among them, and I am more than disposed to think that the 
whole is Devonian, except, perhaps, the westward flanks. 
There are no Eifel fossils hera The limestones are undis- 
tinguishable from those of Plymouth and North Devon, and 
the orgcmic remains are all of the same classes which occur 
in those rocks — OomatUes, large Spirifers, etc. To a person 
bothering and losing himself in details, the geometry of the 
country is puzzling, as the same zones are repeated several 
times, both on the north-west and south-east side of the 
axia To-morrow I march upon Amsberg, and thence into 
the Dlisseldorf coal-field. If my conjectures are right, I shall 
find there Devonian passing conformably under it, and I 
shall then retraverse to Cologne and Bonn, and prove the 
case again by other sections. So that, when Sedgwick joins 
me, I flatter myself that part of the campaign (and which I 
always thought would be the key to the whole thing) will 
be in my pocket, and I shaU have swept the right bank of 



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18».] 18 JOINED BY SEDGWICK. 275 

the Bhine. So much for nnfortunate Grauwacke and all its 
Kiesehchiefer and DacJischiefer, in the midst of which I am 
writing. . . . Ton need not boast too much of my geologi* 
cal hits, as some of them may faiL'' 

The caution in the last sentence of this extract was not 
unneeded. For the writer had evidently determined to do 
as clever a piece of geological strategy as he could before 
his equal in command should join, and he was naturally 
desirous to make his sections bear out the inteipietation 
which they first suggested to him. But he had already gone 
wrong in some of his notes, and further errors and correc- 
tions were in store for him. 

After about a fortnight of such marching and counter- 
marching in search of a good base-line of operations for 
further conjoint movements, he was joined by the Pro- 
fessor. We resume the extracts from the letters to Mrs. 
Murchison. 

Boim, 16th Jwns. — '* If I have my own way I shall not 
go near France again this season, at least not till the autumn, 
and after Birmingham.^ The mine I have opened here is 
weU worth all our time and attention, particularly when 
coupled with the Harz and the other ' transition * tracts of 
K-W. Germany. 

" As I was sitting under the linden-tree with Oeyen- 
hausen and his lady, not forgetting old Noggerath, up walked 
the Professor, and after drinking several jorums of ' Mai- 
trank,' he is now gone to bed. He is delighted with what I 
have done. I have abeady convinced him that our whole 
summer's work will and must be in Germany. We have a 
grand field before us, and I have already provided a certain 
^ The British Association Meeting of 1839 at Birmingham. 



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276 SIR RODERICK MURCH180N. [isaoi 

key. In this case I shall retum by Belgium in the middle 
of August, and after settling Birmingham and our household 
affairs, may make a run of three or four weeks to settle the 
French afiTair, which is in a nutsheE** 

OoUingen, 2Uh June. — ^" Since I wrote to you at Bonn 
only a week ago, we have done stout work, and travelled 
over much ground. I took Sedgwick back to my key, and 
satisfied him of all the main points, which are, indeed, as 
dear as noonday, and we have since been puzzling out some 
minor difficulties, with which we shall have to contend when 
we revisit the region of the Bhina ... A most capital 
toibU-cPhdte seems to have put the Professor into working 
order. I hope, therefore, that in a few days we shall hear 
no more of his dyspeptic symptoms, which far exceed in 
variety any which I ever troubled you witL He is, how- 
ever, in very good spirits, and we get on famously. I have 
become very rubicund and joUy, as I always do on work, 
with hands as brown as a gipsy'a" 

Bailenstddt, Ist July. — " We have, thank our stars! nearly 
cleared the Harz ; and, though the weather has been of the 
most oscillating nature, with severe &owns, we have had 
some charming smiles, which enabled us to do our work and 
peep into three of the most lovely valleys— the Lauterthal 
near the western end of the chain, the Okkerthal near Gk)slar, 
and the Bodethal, about ten miles west of this place. . • . 
Sedgwick is as well as I ever knew him, — eats, drinks, and 
digests Uke a Hercules, and is in great force. Indeed, we 
are both quite well, though the weather is most untoward, 
and fresh storms are gathering around. The geology of the 
Harz is very interesting, but complicated. . . . We sleep 
in a fresh Principality daily. All the kings and dukes of 



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i8».] HOUSH IN BELQRA VE SQUARE. 277 

Glermany seem to have slices of the Harz, and theiriedpective 
strips of land ran towards the Brocken, like the s{)okes to 
the box of a wheel" 

FranJc/ort, Ibth Jvly. — " We have now done the Fichtel- 
gebirge ; and as we travelled here almost without stopping 
I have been my own bagman. Count Miinster was all 
attention, and his museums delighted ua The Upper Fran- 
conian geology was not quite so good as might have been; 
but we did all that could have been done. The rocks are 
two-thirds Devonian, and some Carboniferous — no Silurian.'' 

While these labours were in progress in Germany, other 
transactions, involving a good deal of Murchison's future 
comfort, were going on in Xondon. Mrs. Murchison, with 
the fall sanction of her husband, was negotiating for the 
sale of their house, now in Eccleston Street, and for the 
purchase of the well-known Belgrave Square mansion, in 
which he spent the last thirty-two years of his life, and which 
in his occupancy of it formed one of the hospitable scientific 
centres of London. This purchase is alluded to in the next 
letter of the series. 

Ems, Coblem, 27th t/trfy.-r-" The furnishing of our grande 
maison may be done so leisurely as not to fatigae you, and 
I trust we shall be there for the rest of our lives. At all 
events, you wOl have a good airy palace to live in, even should 
I prefer this tramping life, which I am destined to lead for 
the few years of bodily activity which remain for me, should 
I survive to middle age. 

" Our la^ traverse to and fro through the Nassau countiy 
has answered in some respects. We were both highly de- 
lighted with the work on both banks of the Bhine, between 
Bingen and Coblenz^ which we performed in boats^ carriage^ 



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278 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [isro. 

and on foot, disdaining all tlie smoking steamero. Here we 
are for the day, in this most picturesque watering-place — ^by 
far the prettiest of all the Bhenish baths, and doubly inter- 
esting to me, because here the first true Silurian rocks which 
I have seen in any part of (Germany on the further bank of 
the Ehine are in great force — fine scarps and lots of fossils.'' 

DetUz, 31«^ July. — " We have made our last round in the 
Westphalian region and the right bank of the Rhine, and we 
are now on our way into the Eifel, in which, after certain 
zigzags, we shall reach Treves. I have little worthy to 
communicate except on geological subjects, and on these 
little new. In fact, I am quite tired of this bank of the Bhine, 
and am most anxious to break ground on the opposita The 
only thing which annoys me in my work is, that although 
we have got excellent descending sections from the coal- 
measures to the bottom of the Devonian or Old Bed system, 
into which all the greywacke of the right bank of the Bhine 
falls, still not a trace can I obtain of Ludlow, though the 
Wenlock appears on points, and thus we want the connexion 
which exists in England. It is this which we are to find 
in the Eifel and the Ardennea ... I am swollen out like a 
German, with hands as brown as tanned leather.'' 

As one of the General Secretaries of the British Asso- 
ciation, Murchison required to be present at the meeting, 
which this year had been fixed for Birmingham. Yeiy 
unwillingly he quitted the field-work on the Continent and 
hurried to London. Before joining his colleague in the 
Secretariate, Professor Phillips, he found time to send him 
a brief report of his doings with Sedgwick. 

London, ISih AugusL — " I arrived last night from li^ge, 
in thirty hours, having left Sedgwick on the Meuse, in full 



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1839.] WITH 8ED0WICK IN RHINELAND. 279 

cry with D'OmaKus and Dumont. I am happy to tell you 
that the Devonian system now rests on a basis quite 
unmoveable, and that the coal-field of Devon will after this 
promulgation of our new data, never more be contested. 
Even the sturdy Williams will be swept away 1 It was the 
observance of the leading facts of the case during my first 
month's work, which led me to form a decided opinion that 
Sedgwick and myself ought to give up one whole summer to 
the establishment of our views, by devoting ourselves entirely 
to the Bhenish Provinces and Germany ; and no sooner did 
he see the outlines of the case than we resolved to abandon 
Brittany, at all events till the autumn, and to stick more to 
the classic regions of our science, in which as yet the alphabet 
of the oldest strata remained to be pointed out. To the 
Bhenish Provinces we have added the Harz and the Fichtel- 
gebirge, and I return, after having travelled the better part 
of 3000 miles, and satisfied with the results.** 

Next day, full of his new work, he could not refrain &om 
introducing it thus in a note to his friend Whewell : — " To 
tell you of all the wonderful exploits of the Cambrian and 
Silurian knights, and how many a dreary rock of grauwacke 
they tapped before one of their followers could be found, 
must remain for another day. Grand, however, is the 
Devonian field on the Bhine, the Harz, and the Fichtelge- 
birge. So you see we have been moving.** 

The geological doings at the Birmingham meeting of the 
British Association proved somewhat tama No great 
paper made its appearance. Perhaps the most important 
communication in Section C was Murchison's own account 
of what Sedgwick and he had done on the Bhine and in 
Westphalia. But that account was necessarily incomplete, 



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280 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [i8». 

and even inaccurate, seeing that the work had not been 
brought to a close, and the later rambles of the autumn led 
the two explorers in some respects to modify their earlier 
conclusions. The attention of geologists had now been 
seriously awakened to this settlement of the true age and 
meaning of the " Devonian System." Several other labourers 
were in the field, and there could now be no doubt that 
the problems would not be thrown aside until their solu- 
tion had been found. 

A shade of sadness hung over the gathering of the 
geologists at BirminghauL The day before they met, Wil- 
liam Smith died. He had lived to see his work bearing 
abundant fruit in every comer of the globe, and now, full of 
years and honours, he left the harvest to be gathered by 
younger generations. 

At the close of the Associationmeeting Murchison hastened 
to the Continent again. Before rejoining Sedgwick, however, 
he went to Boulogne to attend the " B^union extraordinaire'* 
of the Gleological Society of France, which was held this year 
in that town. He had instructions from Mrs. Murchison, 
that while discussing ''Devonians" and dinners with his 
French acquaintance, he should take this opportunity of 
obtaining some additional fmmiture for the ''airy palace* 
in Belgrave Square. Here is a part of his report to her : — 

Boulogne su/r Her, I2th Sept — '* Having been out daily 
from half-past five till dark, I have had no time for ' furni- 
ture' thoughts. It so happens that owing to my having 
more knowledge of the older rocks than other geologists here, 
I have been obliged to become a sort of cicerone and orator, 
and yesterday evening, in the great library, the Mayor of 
Boulogne and many French present, I delivered myself of an 



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1839.] RENEWAL OF RHENISH FIELD-WORK. 281 

Lour of Silurianism, and explained the relation of the old 
rocks of this country. The effect of my discourse was to 
destroy the coal-boring mania in rocks of Silurian age. 
They have a poor little coal-field here which lies low in the 
Carboniferous Limestone group, and this being immediately 
recumbent on my Silurian schists and shales, they have 
(their little upper concerns being about done up) been 
poking at great expense, and with the money of unfortunate 
shareholders, into my Stygian abysses. The * actions* or 
shares fell 50 per cent by my speech, and, notwithstanding 
that I told unpleasant truths, I was warmly applauded.* 
I should have been off to-day, but I was so pressed on all 
sides to remain that the departure was postponed till to- 
morrow, when I proceed [with De Vemeuil] by Calais." 

Bonn, 19tt Sept — "We arrived here yesterday afternoon 
(t.«. M. De Vemeuil and myself). I was delighted to find at 
Spa my little old vehicle, which Sedgwick had left there. 
As for the chaise seat, he had carried away the key, but on 
breaking it open we found his lest coat, some maps and 
books, and a long well-used and highly-scented tobacco- 
pipe, all in harmonious keeping. 

" We found S. waiting for us, having just returned from 
an expedition up the Bhine. He is in very good health and 
spirits, and this afternoon we shall take the field — a valiant 
triumvirate, — our force being strengthened by De Vemeuil's 
good knowledge of organics of the older rocks ; but whither 
we shall march, ' Dio lo sa.' I find Sedgwick much bothered 
and disconcerted about many essential geological points, 

^ From the official report of the Societsr's meetings, however, it would 
appear that his views as to the impossibility of finding ooal in the 
older rooks were not unreservedly accepted by his sdentifio brethren. 
See BvUe^ de Ja 8oc. OSoL, torn. x. p. 417. 



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282 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [isso. 

and mncli disposed to go into a 'chaotic' state, but I 
hope we shall put up our horses and come to some clear 
general conclusions in spite of the apparent hotch-potch 
of this volcanized country. 

" The Walloons are an odd, mongrel people ; the country 
hideous — ^high bleak pioors, with all the features of the 
worst parts of the Highlands, and no redeeming grouse. 
We slept at a great £eirm-house converted into a sort of 
caravalisaiy inn. We had storms and wet in passing 
through the EifeL" 

LiUzerath in the Eifel, Sih Octr. — '' I have been a lazy 
correspondent, but a most active workman. The days are 
short, and though up daily at five (by candle-light) we are 
soon benighted. Yet, with all, since I wrote we have done 
a great deal From Coblenz we journeyed by the river to 
Limbuig on the Lahn, and thence passed over the Wester- 
wald, a high basaltic region, to Dillenberg, where we had a 
fSsmious excursion on foot, headed by a little broad-shouldered 
clever Prussian bergmeister, who, booted and spurred, led the 
way (pipe in mouth and hammer in hand), followed by S., 
De Yemeuil, and myself and an English miner. We got 
many additional fossil& .... At limburg De Yemeuil 
took leave of us to run through the Eifel quickly to Paris. 
He is an excellent companion, and of a charming temper, 
never making a difficulty, and a thoroughly gentlemanlike 
Frenchman; how different from a sulky Bull! Take 
this for an example : — His travelling equipage, consisting of 
a little leather bag (the size of a shooting bag) was left be- 
hind at one of our stations. This was forgotten before we 
reached our next post, where, caressing a great German 
pointer, the animal flew at him and bit his lip through. A 



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1839.] DE 7EBNEUIL. 283 

little eau de vie cured the wound, and on we travelled, lie 
as merry as ever, and ready again to play with the next dog 
at the next inn. Arrived at Dillenberg, where the inn is 
kept by an old rrenchman with three or four daughters, De 
Yemeuil was soon at the old piano, delighting the girls with 
new versions of aU the last Parisian airs (he plays very weU), 
and in ten minutes the gayest Mademoiselle was in full zest 
at a duet with him — one of Strauss's last waltzes. Without 
a shirt, without a razor, without shoes, nothing daunted, he 
was up at daybreak, and ready before us for the field, 
equipped in one of the old innkeeper's pairs of trousers and 
a pair of thick shoes. Beaching home, his thin boots and 
pantaloons were ready. A village barber shaved him, and 
being invited to dine out with the young English muier 
and his sisters, De Yemeuil completely beat Sedgwick and 
myself in his toilet, notwithstanding our trunks and bags. 
I was quite sorry to lose him, and I believe he equally 
regretted to quit us. He has been of great use, from his 
intimate knowledge of species, and I think we have been of 
use to him in geology." 

The work was now prolonged into the Eifel, where 
further mingled interest and difSculty met the travellers. 
The autumn had been making rapid strides towards winter, 
as dark mornings and early nights reminded them. There 
were problems in that strange region of ancient slates and 
modem volcanoes which they could then find no means of 
solving. Nevertheless they considered that they had 
achieved enough for one season. And so quitting the 
grauwacke rocks of the Eifel and the marvellous volcanic 
cones which overlie them, they dropt down the Moselle by 
small boat, hammering here and there by the way, and send- 



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284 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [i8». 

ing their carriage by the road. The next letter reports as 
follows : — 

" I now write from the middle of the ' Herzog von Nassau* 
steamer, floating down the Rhine, and within an hour of 
Diisseldorf. We had a most charming voyage in our little 
cock-boat down the Moselle, and reached Coblenz last evening 
with heads full of grauwacke and lordly castles and dark 
gorges. To-morrow will see us at work in Westphalia for 
the last time — our third visit to some spots. We may 
occupy three, but perhaps only two, days in this work, and 
then we may sail for England from Sotterdam on the 15th 
or 16th, and reach London on the ITth.** 

Soon after their return to England Murchison sent a long 
accoimt of their autumn campaign to their common friend 
Phillips. From that letter it is evident enough that the 
writer did not feel over-confident in some parts of their 
recent Continental work, and indeed, «that in certain main 
parts his colleague and he were not yet in agreement But 
they had still a great series of specimens to be critically 
examined and compared with those from Devon and Comr 
walL Much of the winter and early spring was given to 
this task, with the effective and indeed indispensable assist- 
ance of such friends as Lonsdale, Sowerby, and Phillips. 
'As the boxes were one by one examined, alternate light and 
darkness passed over the minds of the examiners. At one 
moment the field-work which seemed to have been so 
decisively settled by the two geologists began to look doubt- 
ful, then it grew -more than doubtful, then it seemed all 
right again, and finally it had in part to be discarded as the 
true reading of the fossils came bit by bit intelligibly out of 
the examination. Sedgwick remained at Cambridge, but he 



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i839i] DEVOmAN DOUBTS AND DIFFICULTIES. 2«5 

had fix)m time to time copious bulletins of progress from 
Belgrave Squara The following extracts may serve as a 
specimen : — 

"JDecr. 8, 1839. — ^My deae Sedgwick, — I have been 
intending to write to you for some days to keep you au 
cov/rant of the examination of our 'kists* and their 
contents, and of the views which have been gradually 
opened out in my mind, and which have now brought 
me back to the status ante lellum, or, in other words, to the 
same condition of mind, or nearly so, in which I was when 
you joined me on the Ehina" 

[Here foUow eleven pages of detail r^arding the 
bearings of the fossil evidence on different parts of their 
work in Germany.] 

'' Thank God ! I now see daylight again. All our 
follies proceeded &om our attending to these cursed min- 
eralogists and ' gentlemen who deal in 'sym^trie de 
position,' whose doctrines will now, I bless my stars, go 
by the board. 

'' Do not think me crazy, for if this letter is too short to 
lead you into your former true path, I hope the 'pifecee 
justificatives* [i.e. the fossils] which cover my whole rooms 
will do sa 

" What we ought to do is to write a memoir on the right 
bank of the Rhine, viz., Westphalia and Nassau, with illus- 
trations of similar tracts in the Harz and Ober Frankwald 
(Fichtelgebirge), and I pledge my Ufe that if plain facts be 
laid before plain geologists, there will be no escape &om my 
present induction. 

*' Adieu — once more redivivus, although you had well- 
nigh killed me.** 



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286 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [i840. 

The result of these laborious deliberations was at last 
a complete accord on all the main features of the question, 
and the consequent elaboration of another great paper for 
the Geological Society.* We get a characteristic picture 
of Murchison in the following account of these prepara- 
tions : — 

Feb, 25, 1840. — "My deab Phillips, — I thank you for 
Austen's list, as (if to be depended on) it adds one or two good 
clenching fossils to a list already too strong to admit of any 
doubt as to the identity of the uppermost Grauwacke 
system of the Continent and the 'Devonian* as defined by 
Sedgwick and mysell' I have arrived at this conclusion for 
many months, and only waited the coming to town of my 
colleague to open the campaign. Now that he has been 
here, and that we are all agreed, the course is clear, and we 
shall soon give a grand memoir to show that the uppermost 
Grauwacke of both banks of the Bhine, as well as the 
three members of Dumont's Terravn arUhrcudfire (supposed 
by him to be Silurian), as weU as the major part of the Harz 
and of the Fichtelgebirge, are true Devonian, passing up into 
Carboniferous strata, and reposing on Silurian. ... I am 
now highly delighted in having insisted on the ' Old £ed ' as 
a system, and on my prophecy of what it would turn out in 
fossils. I too, however, have made my little mistakes, and I 
will thank you to allow me to amend some words in my 

^ On tlie Classification and Distribution of the Older Rocks of North 
Germany, etc, read Idth and 27th May 1840, and published in voL vi of 
the second series of the Society's Transactions. 

^ This was one of the points on which perfect unanimity was not reached 
until after the two fellow-travellers returned to this country, Sedgwick 
having a suspicion that the rocks of Bhineland and Westphalia, which 
Murchison was inclined to rank as Devonian, were really Upper Silurian. 
The grounds of this suspicion, and the difficulty of forming a satisfactoiy 
conclusion, are well stated in the paper last quoted (op, dL^ p^ 226). 



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1840.] VISIT TO PARIS. 287 

communication at Biimingliam.^ Again, in returning by 
Boulogne I gave a field lecture, and, supposing that De 
Vemeuil, Dumont, and others were right in Silurianizing 
these tracts, I chimed in with the error without looking for 
fossils. 

'' I am going to Paris in ten days to read a memoir on 
the Boulonnais, all the fossils of which have been sent to 
me, and they clearly Devonianize it. . . . We propose our 
triple subdivision of Devonian, Silurian, and Cambrian for 
Europe. Buckland has given currency to our views in his 
speech, and Greenough has closely imitated our I'eform of 
Devon and Cornwall So at last all is settled as to the great 
boundaries,* 

The brief visit to Paris, alluded to in this letter, proved 
to be a pleasant and by no means unprofitable one. Dinners 
at the embassy, soir^s, evenings at the opera, and other 
amusements, helped to dilute the draught of science which 
Murchison had been quafl&ng so vigorously for so many 
months. His letters convey a droll jumble of mingled 
science and festivity. Writing to Mrs. Murchison (April 4), 
he describes a soiree at Lady Granville's. "There I saw 
every one," he says, "not excluding Thiers, to whom I was 
presented, and had some chat. He seemed to be delighted 
to hear of Guizof s good reception in England, and called 
him * un homme Eminent' Thiers is the drollest little body 
you ever saw, more like Dick Phillips the chemist, with his 
spectacles, than any one I can recollect at this moment. I 
heard him to-day in the Chambre des Deputes — a short, 
clear, and pithy speech, and I can understand how and why 
he rules. 

^ See ante, p. 279. 



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288 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80K [vm. 

^ To-day I had De Vemeuil with me from nine to one, 
when we adjourned to M. de Meyendoif's, who starts to- 
night for Petersburg, and with whom we arranged a Russian 
campaign for June, July, and August. It is agreed (if I do 
not change my mind) that I sail for Petersburg the 25th May, 
De Vemeuil coming to meet me some days before. The 
advantages are too great to be lost, both as respects the 
Eussian/ocfe^wTn. and Administrator, and De VerneuiL" 

Among the hospitalities, he was especially pleased with 
a soir^ or banquet at which he was entertained by a 
number of the leading geologists of Paris, a dinner fix)m '* old 
Brongniart, in the most hospitable form, with lots of fossils 
in ' sucreries,' '* and a simiptuous entertainment in his honour 
from M. £lie de Beaumont In return for these kindnesses 
he gave a dinner at the ''Rocher de Cancale," to a company 
which included Arago, the two Brongniarts, £lie de Beau- 
mont, Noggerath of Bonn, D'Orbigny, Valenciennes, Russeger 
from Egypt, D'Archiac, Bou^ (then fresh from Turkey), and 
De VemeuiL 

The paper on the Boulonnais was well received at one 
of the best meetings of the season of the Geological Society 
of France. Alexander Brongniart was in the chair, and 
an interesting discussion followed the paper, some of the 
speakers impugning the right of the Old Red Sandstone to 
be regarded as a terrain^ and Murchison standing up stoutly 
in its defence. 

After these few weeks in Paris, passed in this pleasant 
way, he returned to London, having now but little time to 
prepare for that Russian campaign, the plan of which he 
had sketched out. What this plan was, and how it was put 
in execution, will be told in the succeeding Chapter. 



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CHAPTER XIV. 

A GEOLOGICAL TOUR IN KOBTHEBN RUSSI/L 

Amid the ceaseless revolutions which, during the long 
lapse of geological time, the surface of our planet has under- 
gone, few tracts have escaped the efiects of those moyements 
by which the rocky crust has been crumpled and broken. 
The older the rocks the longer have they been exposed to 
these movements, and the greater therefore are the fractures 
and folds which have been made in their mass. Hence the 
task of the geologist, though it may be often easy enough 
among the unaltered deposits of recent times, frequently 
becomes more and more difficult the higher the antiquity 
of the rocks which he seeks to interpret. The older the 
record, the more imperfect and illegible may we expect its 
pages to ba 

It was among some of the older chronicles of the geolo- 
gical record that Sedgwick and Murchison had now been at 
work for many years. With rare sagacity they had suc- 
ceeded in eliciting the evidence of the order of succession 
among some of the oldest and most shattered rocks of 
Europe. They had developed that order in Britain, and as 

VOL. L T 



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290 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [im 

for as they weie able had traced its continuance among simi- 
lar rocks on the Continent Many a time, however, had they 
been thwarted and baffled by the obstacles presented by the 
dislocations and contortions of the rocks, insomuch that, 
although they felt sure that the general story as they had 
interpreted it would be sustained by further investigation, 
they could not as confidently defend all their details. 

In the course of their work, accounts had reached them 
of marvellous regions in the north-east of Europe, to which 
the underground movements, so disastrous to the rocks of 
the central and western tracts of the Continent, had never 
reached — a sort of geological elysium, where no volcanoes 
had ever broken out, where no "convulsions of nature** 
seemed ever to have disturbed the crust of the earth, from 
very early geological times ; where the most ancient rocks, 
elsewhere heaved up into hard crystalline mountains, lay 
still in their original half consolidated state, as if the seas 
in which they were laid down had only recently been 
drained ofiT. Moreover, they had heard that in these undis- 
turbed rocks fossils were found — shells, corals, fishes, very 
like, if not the same as, those which they had disinterred 
from Silurian, Devonian, or Carboniferous formations at 
home. Murchison heard still more about these wonders 
during the visit to Paris referred to in the previous Chapter. 
Evidently some good work was to be done in that Russian 
territory. He might be able among such undisturbed rocks 
to demonstrate by a new mass of evidence the order of 
sequence already determined in Britain, and to show that 
instead of being a mere local arrangement, that order was 
really the normal one for Europe, if not for the whole globe. 
With De Vemeuil as his companion, the journey would 



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1840.] MURCHISON AND VON BUCH. 291 

probably at least be an enjoyable one, and that naturalist's 
great knowledge of fossils would be of inestimable service. 
The plan was accordingly sketched out, and forthwith put 
into execution. 

The two fellow-travellers started in May from London, 
and with no important halt journeyed straight to Berlin. It 
was through the German geologists, and notably from Hum- 
boldt and Yon Buch,^ that Murchison had learned what he 

^ MorchiBon's obligations to Von Bach are weU shown in the subjoined 
oharaoteristic letter, which farther iUostrates the estimation in which the 
Silarian work of the English geologist was held by the highest geological 
authority of Germany : — 

** Beruk, 23 Fivrier 1840. 

** n est certain, Monsieur, qu'il est facile d'etre savant, et m6me trte 
savant, quand on tient une def en main, oomme votre superbe ouvrage. 
...» Nous serons done Velches, et les noms de Llandeilo flags et de Cara- 
doc nous deviendront tout^i-fait familiers, quoiqu'ils se ressentent an 
peu de leor origine montagnarde. Je taohe k les appliquer aux diverses 
couches de TAllemagne, avant mdme que vos savantes et laborieuses 
reoherches de I'ann^ pass^ nous auront d§voil^ les secrets des mon- 
tagnes germaniques ; et certes, il faudrait 6tre sans int^rdt si on ne croy- 
ait voir quelque lumi^re, votre ouvrage k la main. Mais, comme une 
hultre d*un banc d*Angleterre n'est pas une hultre du Holstein ou dltalie^ 
quoique de la mdme esp^ce, de m6me j'ai un peu d'appr^hension que 
rAUemagne qnoique se pla9ant dans le m6me ordre que vous avez si 
savamment 4tabli, pourrait facilement ajouter quelque nom barbare 
k votre s^rie des couches, et au contraire voir s*<&vanouir ou Wenlock 
Shale, ou Llandeilo, ou quelqu'autre oonche trte bien caract^ris^ 
Chaque pays porte un caract^re k soi, et de vouloir faire entrer des 
couches qui sent caraot^ris^es par des productions qu'on ne retrouve pas 
dans un autre systdme de montagnes, de vouloir les faire entrer dans une 
case de la s^rie 4tablie me parait vouloir T^tendre dans un lit de Pro- 
cruste .... 

<* Vos belles figures m*occupent sans oesse, et le voL 2 de votre bible 
gtologique ne sort presque pas de mes mains. Avec quelle satisfaction 
ne doit on pas voir que vous avez vous m6me ^lair^ la partie difficile 
des trilobites I Pl&t au Giel, que d*autres gMogues vouUussent suivre un 
si bel exemple, et ne pas abandonner la determination des esp^ces aux 
natnralistes de cabinet, qui ne peuvent pas ^tudier les difif(Srentes modifi- 
cations des dtres organiques, qu'on observe en place, et qui 4rigent en 
esp^ce chaque individu qu'on les pr^sente. .... 

** J'avais cru, avant la publication de votre ouvrage, que ces couches du 
Nord pourraient bien entrer dans le systtoe Gambrien, — ^je vois depuis 



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SIR RODERICK MURGHISON. 



[iMO. 



knew of Sussian geology. Hence he made for the Frofisian 
capital, with the view of gathering together as full notes as 
possible of all that was then known on the subject Among 

voire envoi que le caractoe Silurien 7 est encore d^cidemment prononc^ 
par lea Orthit et par les ooranx, depuia le Ludlow joaqu'an Caradoo ; maia 
Dieu me garde d'y vouloir reconnaltre un Caradoo limestone^ un Oaradoc 
aandatone, un Caradoo shale. Le oort^ de oes Princes doit changer 
d'aprte lee locality ei le Toisinage des Diorites, des Hyperites, dea 
Oranits donne un aspect bien difliirent auz couches subordonn^es, que 
n*ont les couches d'argile et de sable de St. Petersbourg. . . . 

^ Le superbe Holoptychius Nobilissimus et les planches qui suivent nous 
donnent tout-k-coup Fexplication de tant d*^cailles, qu'on a mtee touIu 
adapter k des Mammiftees, et elles nous prouvent qu*en Livonie le Sys- 
ttoie D^Tonien est trte d^yelopp^ anx environs de Dorpat et de U Ten 
l*£st, jusqu'au centre des coUines de Waldai prte de Novgorod. Ces 
couches du Nord s'arrangent k peu prte ainsi. 

FormaHion jumuUpu MoyMiM. 

Kelloway rock, Oxford day, A PopOani Cr«tt le point UpLua hcirML •» Bnrope on 

■or la Windan, A Test de LIImu. lai 66^*. on connaisse oette formation ; elle eet r6- 

pandne snr Unite la partie mMdionale des 
payi Baltiquea, m6me auz environs de Ber- 
lin. Ammonites Jaaon, poUox, polygyntua, 
Fecten flbroeos la caract^risent : Gryphea 
dHataU. Lee coaches sap^rieoies man- 
qnent tot^onrs. 



"L—SytUmi CarboMfirt, 
Une grande partie des oollines Waldai 
depois Novgorod Josqn'A Wolotschosk et le 
long dn Wolkov. Le flano de I'Oora] en 
Asie antonr de Bogoslavsk 6^*. 



Prodnotns comoides, ponctatos, antiqna- 
tos, Mya sulcata, Melania ragifera, Spirifer 
trapezoidalis, etc— point d'OrthiSw 



n.—8y8timt Mxmitn. 
Oris de Dorpat i 4cailles d'Holoptychins 
et Calcaire avec Terebratola Livonica, d6- 
crite et figorfi par moi ; d'lmmenses masses 
de Favosites on Choetetes capillaria 



Le lac Peipns enest entoar6. Les grands 
champignons de Choetetes se retronvent 
Jusqn'A Mosooo, pesants des qointaux 
entiers. 



llLSygtimeaavrimk 
Coaches des oollines de St Petershooig, 
Selo, Paolowsk, Poloowa, Bsthonie, fklalses 
deRevaL 



Deax Trilobitee en abondanoe. Jeneles 
tronve pas en Angleterre. Des Orthis en 
fonle, Je les ai d^crits, sortout Orthis 
Panderi, Orthis Pronites on oenomala, 
adscandens ; Orthis elegantola, qai est bien 
votre canalis ; Orthis radiata, eta . . . 



« Continuez, je vous prie, de nous ^olairer et de nous instmire, et comp- 
tez sur la recon n aissa n ce de tons ceuz qui prennent quelqu'int^r^ an 
globe qu'ils habitent, et snrtout sur oelle de votie ttha d^vou4 serviteur, 

"LEOPOLD DK BUOH.'' 



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1840.] EHRENBERQ. 293 

the Mends who lent their assistance were Humboldt, Ehren- 
berg, Gustav Rose, Von Dechen, and others. In writing to 
Mrs. Morchison, he thus describes some of the interviews 
in Berlin: — 

'' The morning with Ehrenberg was arranged by Hum- 
boldt, who accompanied us, and I never in my life enjoyed 
two or three hours more intensely. To have the wonders 
of the infusorial creation clearly explained by the dis- 
coverer himself, and the whole illuminated by the flashes, 
episodes, and general views of ' Der Humboldt,' was enough 
to stir up every sympathy of a naturalist We little know, 
at least we do not know enough, in England of Ehrenberg^s 
immense knowledge. He is not merely a microscopic but a 
great philosophic observer. Humboldt places him in a rank 
above Cuvier, on account of the superior soundness and 
accuracy of his discoveries. . . . Tell Sedgwick that I am 
super-saturated with proofs of the correctness of our views, 
and that I shall be certain to bring home much grist to our 
common nulL" 

The following letter gives some further details, and starts 
a project which, though proposed so long ago, has never been 
put in practice — an international congress of men of all 
sciences, superseding for a year the ^usual meetings of such 
national gatherings as our own British Association : — 

** Berlin, 28<A May 1840. 

" My deab Whewkll, — ^Accept a few lines from your 
wandering friend. We were too late to catch the Lubeck 
steamer, so we consoled ourselves with Berlin, where we have 
been for the last three days resting in intellectual and phy- 
sical enjoyment with Humboldt, Von Buch, Von Dechen, 
G. Bose, Ehrenberg, etc. I have seen and learnt much, and 



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294 SIR RODERICK MURGHISON. [i840. 

have been so fSted, as * the Silurian monarch/ that it might 
well turn the head of any one but an old soldier, who knows 
very well how to receive ^kfefw-de-joie. 

*' The immediate object of my writing to you is that I 
have been your trumpeter, in my best fashion, I hope, with 
an 'Sequence vraiment britannique,' in announcing your 
forthcoming great work, particularly at a great dSjeAner 
given to us this morning by Humboldt I ventured to 
mention of what great use your book would be to him before 
he launched his ' Cosmos,' and I hope you will send him one 
of your first copies, through his relative Baron Biilow. He 
expressed great regret at never having made your acquaint- 
ance, which feeling I augmented by telling him you were 
the English Humboldt. 

*' I have long had a project in my mind, which I now 
intend to broach, and have indeed done so here. Seeing that 
our various national associations prevent the men of all purts 
of Europe from meeting each other, I propose that two 
years hence, that is, for 1842, each nation should abstain for 
a year to have its local meeting, and that we should all con- 
gregate in a central town of Europe. Frankfort, the seat of 
the Germanic Diet, easily accessible from England, France, 
and Italy, appears to me the best spot, and that we should 
honour the dose of Humboldt's life by placing him in our 
chair. No one is so generally beloved, and no one was evet 
his enemy, and he would give us a fine broad philosophic 
discourse. If I can [induce] you and one or two strong men 
to get up the steam, I am sure it would be a really good 
thing, and productive of much real advancement and enjoy- 
ment. Write to me. Pension Anglaise, St. Petersburg, and 
say what you think of it. I am certain that the British 



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iMO.] THE START IN RUSSIA, 296 

Association would rejoice to have a year of reldehe after 
Manchester, or wherever we may go to next year, and by 
having so much time to prepare we could make out an 
excellent bill of fare." 

With introductions to the authorities at Si Petersburg, 
the travellers found their way smoothed for them. To con- 
tinue our quotations : — " The chief of the douaniers asked for 
' Murchison/ and we had the advantage of having our things 
passed and sealed up with the Imperial arms, so that I might 
have smuggled a mammoth." Similar good fortune, by the 
Mendly aid of the Bussian authorities, awaited them during 
the whole of their tour in the dominions of the Czar. 

After some preliminary sight-seeing, their plan of work 
was arranged, and all preparations completed. Baron A. von 
Meyendorf was about to start on a tour through the country 
to inquire into the state of manufoctures and trade in the 
internal governments. With the view of addiug to the 
value of his report, he induced Murchison and De Vemeuil 
to accompany him, together with Count A von Keyserling 
and Professor Blasius. The Baron's objects, however, were 
so different from those of his fellow-travellers, and his rate 
of progress through the country so utterly incompatible with 
adequate geological observation, that after a few weeks' trial 
they had to part company with him. While he rushed for- 
ward to complete his statistics, Murchison and De Vemueili 
accompanied by KoksharofiT, a young Bussian officer, who has 
since done excellent service to Bussian geology and mineralogy^ 
followed at a more leisurely but still by no means a slow pace. 
For about two months they continued on the move. Passing 
northwards by the great lakes, they reached Archangel, and 



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SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [imo. 

made some explorations along the shores of the White Sea. 
Ascending the Dwina, they penetrated into the heart of the 
government of Vologda, and sweeping westwards by Nijnii 
Novgorod, and the valley of the Volga, reached Moscow, 
whence they returned by the Valdai Hills to St Petersburg. 

The mode of travelling differed very greatly from any 
with which Murchison's previous geological rambles had 
made him acquainted. Mounted on a light cal^he, some- 
times with five or six horses harnessed to it, he rushed 
through the country, over sand, boulders, and bogs, at the 
rate of often as much as ten or twelve miles an hour. '' With 
four ardent little steeds in hand^ all abreast at the wheels and 
two before, conducted by a breechless boy who is threatened 
with death if his horse backs or falls, your bearded Jehu 
rattles down a slope at a headlong pace, and whirling you 
over a broken wooden bridge with the noise of thunder, he 
charges the opposite bank in singing ** 60 along, my little 
beauties — ^fly on, from mount to mount, from vale to vale, — 
'tis you that pull the silver gentleman — (their delicate mode 
of suggesting a good tip) ; 'tis you, my dears, shall have fine 
pastures," the whole accompanied by grand gyrations of a 
solid thong, which ever and anon falls like lead upon the 
ribs of the wheelers, followed by screeches which would 
stagger a band of Cherokees." ^ 

It is true that for many a long league such rapid loco- 
motion by no means interfered with geological observation, 
the ground being so thickly covered with clay or sand that 
none of the underlying rocks appeared at the surface; 
These monotonous tracts deserved the description which 

^ Quarterly Review^ voL Ixyii (1841X p. 360, — an artide by Marchiacm 
on the Boatian provinces, with exoerpta from hia own reminiscenoea of 
this first journey in that Empire. 



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1840.] ''ROUOHIXG IT" IN RUSSIA. 297 

Sydney Smith had once given to him of Holland, — "the 
place of eternal punishment for geologists, all mud, and not 
a stone to be found." 

Over wide districts of territory there were no inns. The 
travellers quartered themselves for the night on some priest 
or peasant, sleeping generally on their own " shake-downs ^ 
upon the floor. Nevertheless, they seem to have escaped 
the "creeping and biting horrors" by which such a berth 
is usually accompanied. The food being necessarily often 
indifferent, at every available place they laid in a new stock 
of provisions, among which roast-beef would appear to have 
usually had a place. At one wretched village, for instance, 
it is noted that " we dined on our portable soup, with an egg 
or two, followed by the inside of our roast beef, the exterior 
being by this time (therm. 80") in a greenish, mouldy state." 
In the towns, however, thanks to the semi-official character 
of their journey, better fare and more comfortable quarters 
were secured to them. Thus at Archangel, the governor, 
together with the English and French consuls, afforded 
them much help. "Everything," says Murchison, "was 
light and easy, except two great dinners of twenty-five per- 
sons each, which we ate in company of Russians, Germans, 
Norwegians, French, and English, — all these languages 
going a good pace throughout the meals." 

One of the pleasantest parts of the journey seems to have 
been the luxury of tea-drinking, especially after days of 
long, hot, and dusty traveL To sit in a " traktir " and sip 
tea " of infinitely finer aroma than the Celestial Emperor will 
ever permit to approach the depots of Canton," or in some 
forlorn village to set his portable urn agoing, and " at once 
command a cup of delicious tea," afforded our traveller a 



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298 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [ism 

pleasure of which the very remembraiice continued to have 
a pleasant aroma about it. We can well imagine, theiefore, 
with what appreciative interest, on getting at length to the 
great traktir at Moscow, he must '' have counted seventy 
neat waiting-men ready to hand you a cup or a chibouk, 
and 200 teapots arranged in one of the great vestibules of 
those spacious saloons I "^ 

The journals and letters written during the tour give a 
detailed enumeration of the stages, with copious notices of 
the geology. The writer seems to have been too busy with 
the rocks to have had much leisure to observe, or at least to 
describe, what had not a distinct geological bearing. Now 
and then, indeed, he does make a note of some social 
custom or other non-scientific fietct. Thus, at one of the 
villages through which he travelled there had been an 
epidemic among the horses, and the ceremony of blessing the 
animals ^was going on as he passed "A parish priest in 
his robes was chanting in the centre of a group of horses, 
whose heads were held around him by various men and 
women. We stopped the carriage for an instant to see the 
ceremony. After a short prayer (his books lying before him 
upon a table) the priest dipped a sort of brush into a bowl 
of water which he had consecrated, and turning to each 
horse dashed some water in its face, and afterwards on its 
flanks. The running back and movement of the horses, the 
solemn faces of the peasants, and of their wives and 
daughters, who stood aloft on the high steps and balconies of 
the cottages, produced a very pleasing subject for the artist^ 
and I regretted for the hundredth time that I had not a 

1 Quart. Review, loa cit p. 365. 



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1840.] RUSSIAN TEA VEL. 

travelliiig friend who could sketch the scenes of life in this 
original country.** 

For the Russian peasantry he conceived a high admira* 
tion, which subsequent travelling in the country only con- 
firmed. Their patience^ good-nature, courtesy, readiness of 
resource, and cheerfulness, called forth his frequent praises ; 
nor less was he satisfied with the intelligence and civility of 
the ofBcials with whom he came in contact. He entered 
the empire willing to be pleased, and he left it with an 
almost enthusiastic appreciation which lasted to the end of 
his life. 

Long leagues of jolting over rough roads and bjrways 
tried at once the patience of the travellers and the timber 
of their carriage. Here is an account of their triumphant 
entry again into the capital : — " Our near fore- wheel, which 
had been for some time very rickety, fell to pieces as we 
approached Ijora, so this gave the blacksmith a three 
hours' job, whilst we were in a horrid hostelry* Travelling 
on at night, we broke down again within a hundred yards 
of the post at the gate of Petersburg, and were obliged to 
sleep here. The wheel renovated, we started, and it again 
became dismembered five hundred yards from the starting- 
place. I write this among the Vulcans, doubting if we reach 
the capital to-day. « . . At length we reached Mrs. Wilson's, 
on our tottering wheels, on Tuesday the 25th August at 

Murchison was fond of rapid geological work. With his 
faculty of quickly seizing the salient features of the geologi- 
cal structure of a country, he liked well to move swiftly 
from point to point, eye and note-book busy all the while 
noting and recording each point as he went along. During 



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300 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [vm. 

this first Russian tour there was ample scope for the grati- 
fication of this taste. The general structure of the r^ons 
visited was simple enough, so that a few traverses and the 
examination of sections at comparatively few points, gave 
the order and arrangement of the rocks over vast areas of 
territory. The difficulties of the task are thus summarized 
by him : — 

'* Three causes impede geological researches in Northern 
Bussia : 1^, The flatness and unbroken surface of the coun- 
try ; My The thick cover of drift and alluvium ; and, Mly^ 
More than anything, the suspicion of the peasants, who never 
would give information, inasmuch as they believe that you 
are in search of something by which they may be taxed or 
oppressed by some order of the Government, or its employisj' 

And yet, notwithstanding these scruples, a vast deal of 
cross- questioning of the natives went on all through the 
journey, sometimes not without good efiect; for, in their 
necessarily rapid traverse of the country, the travellers, 
having no guide-book literature to help them, trusted to the 
natives for information as to sections worthy of visit on 
their route. At listing they met the man who had made 
the now well-known deep sinkings in the frozen soil of 
Yakutsk, in Siberia. Murchison notes, that after a long in- 
terrogatory, he learnt that, with the exception of about 60 
feet of alluvium, the shaft to the depth of 350 feet was sunk 
in hard grey limestone, with partings of shale and coaL 

By taking advantage of all available information, and 
making good use of their eyes along the line of journey, 
the travellers succeeded, in spite of the flatness, and the 
interminable sand, day, and boulders, in establishing the 
order of the paleozoic formations over a great part of 



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1840.] GEOLOGICAL SUCCESSES IN RUSSIA. 301 

Northern Bussia. From a lower mass of ancient crystal- 
line rocks they had made out a most complete and interest- 
ing ascending series of Silurian, Old Bed Sandstone, and 
Carboniferous deposits, not hardened, broken, and crumpled 
like the corresponding rocks in Britain, but flat, and only 
partially consolidated. So young indeed did these truly 
ancient deposits appear, that it was difiBcult to realize that 
soft blue clays and loose friable limestones were the geolo- 
gical equivalents of hard fractured slates and marbles in 
Western Europe. Only by recognising in them the charac- 



Pterichthys, a Fossil Fish of the Old Red Sandstone of Scotland and Russia. 

teristic fossils of the typical districts could their true geolo- 
gical horizon be ascertained. 

By much the most important observation which they 
made was the discovery of the Old Bed Sandstone fishes in 
the same beds with true Devonian shells — a discovery the 
full import of which will be perceived if we remember the 
long and arduous struggle which Sedgwick and Murchison 
had had to show that the Devonshire killas answered iu 
point of geological time to the Old Bed Sandstone and Con- 
glomerate of other districts. " If I had seen nothing more 
than this," Murchison writes, " it would have been a great 
triumph for myself and Sedgwick. When we contended that 
the limestones and sandstones of Devonshire were of the 
same age as the Old Bed Sandstone of Scotland, we were met 



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302 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [vm. 

with this objection, * Show us a fish of the Old Eed in Devon, 
or a Devonshire shell in the Old Bed of Scotland.' Here, 
then, in Bussia I have solved the problem, for these shells 
and these fishes (species for species) are here unquestion- 
ably united in the very same flagstones." 

A rapid journey homeward brought our traveller back in 
time for the meeting of the British Association, which was 
held in September in Glasgow. The results of the tour in 
relation to the Devonian question had been so unexpectedly 
remarkable that he was no doubt anxious to get back to the 
Association Meeting, where he would have the opportunity 
of announcing his important discovery. While on board the 
steamer dropping down the Baltic, he wrote full of glee to 
Sedgwick, giving an outline of the journey, and of some of 
the more important geological detaila " Our success," he re- 
marked, "has been so great that I am of course in very good 
humour, which I take the earliest opportunity of conmiuni- 
cating to you, hoping that the ' trinitarian ' proofs which the 
examination of this vast region has afforded me of the truth 
of Devonianism will set you up for the winter, drive away 
all acid and gout, and make you ' Adamus redivivus/ 

" Well or ill, I am sure, however, you will rejoice in the 
splendid and unanswerable confirmation of our viewa . • . 
Think of my audacity 1 Here I am without a speech to open 
the grand congress [at Glasgow], but what I have been 
scribbling in the steamer. If this finds you in good health, 
send me a bit of a sky-rocket of a finale, with allusions to 
Arran, and their coal-fields and their mineral wealth, and 
their Watt, and their forty-horse-powers, and you will much 

^ He refers to the union in the same strata of the mineral characters 
and fossils of the Old Bed Sandstone with the fossils of the Devonian 
rocks. 



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iMo.] BRITISH ASSOCIATION AT GLASGOW. 303 

oblige your friend, who, however he may see all these things 
floating before him, has not the same power as you of put- 
ting them into attractive form. 

*' I am now more on the move than ever, and having 
got the eacoethes, I am planning the Ural on one hand, and 
the Alleghanies on the other, for nothing short of Conti- 
nental masses will now suit my palate.'^ 

Of the memorably successful meeting of the British 
Association in Glasgow in 1840 some notes may be gleaned 
from his letters written under the enthusiasm of the time. 
Thus, to Dr. Whewell he says — " We never had such good 
work as in our geological section ; and I am told by Sabine 
that Section A was admirably conducted by Forbes. The 
opportune arrival of Enke, Agassiz, and Airey gave a great 
brilliancy to our last days. From the Duke of Hamilton, 
whose palace has been open daily with dinners of fifty per- 
sons, down to my hearty Mend Thomas Edington, there is 
but one feeling of satisfactioa It is, I give you my word, the 
only meeting which I have attended where nothing has been 
done which I could wish altered, save the statistical display ; 
all the rest has been done kindly, cordially, and well, which 
I very much attribute to the excellent Lord Provost and the 
Locals, who have brought together all classes. 

"^ Colquhoun's after-dinner speech — a complete smasher 
for the Times ; the good, manly, unaffected bearing of our 
chief [Marquis of Breadalbane] ; the very good sense shown 
by Lord Greenock ; the unbounded joy of my Bussian Mends, 
who kissed me on both cheeks, — all these circumstances, not 
omitting the glorious day at Arran, when I lectured to a good 
band of workmen, with every peak of Gk>atfell illumined, and 
marched up at the dose of the day to Brodick Castle with 



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304 . SIR RODERICK MURCHJSOX. [mmo. 

the heir of the House of Douglas, preceded by the piper — 
all these things, I say, have well repaid me for my journey 
from Nijnii Novgorod, and have more than confirmed the 
anticipations I entertained of the success of the Glasgow 
meeting/' To that success Murchison himself contributed 
much. Still holding the office of Greneral Secretary, he had 
to superintend a vast mass of details which, though separ- 
ately insignificant enough, combined to determine the 
success or failure of such a meeting. The kindly, genial 
President, was not a man of science. Instead of attempting 
to prepare a scientific address, he very properly left to the 
Greneral Secretaries the task of drawing up a brief sketch of 
the progress of science. ''It is my fate," wrote Murchison, 
to Whewell, just before the meeting, " to have, in conjunction 
with Sabine, to prepare a note of the Eling's speech, to be 
read at Glasgow." ^ 

To this meeting a general interest attaches in the history 
of British Geology, inasmuch as it brought into notice and 
into personal acquaintance with the geologists of the day . 
two men who have since made their mark in the literature 
of British Geology — ^Hugh Miller and Andrew Crombie. 
Bamsay. 

The name of the stone-mason of Cromarty had for some 
years been known to geologists who took interest in the 
older rocks as that of a diligent and successful collector of 
the fossils of the Old Bed Sandstone of the north of Scotland.^ 
He had recently come to Edinburgh as editor of a news- 
paper. In the columns of that journal he had begun to 
publish sketches of the structure of the strange fishes which, 

^ The project of an intemational congress of science is publicly proposed 
in this address. See Bep, Brit. Aswe., voL for 1840, p. zlvii. 
> See ante, p. 257. 



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M40.] HUGH MILLER AND A. C. RAMSAY. 805 

he had disinterred, and graphic pictures of the scenery and 
geology of the Cromarty coast-line. These contributions 
had abready attracted the notice of some of the leading 
geologists of the day. Hence a kindly and appreciative 
welcome greeted MiUer^s personal entrance into the ranks. 
The cordiality of his reception was shown by none more than 
by Murchison, who, indeed, had been largely instrumental in 
bringing him forward, and to whom he next year gracefully 
acknowledged his gratitude by dedicating to the author of 
the ''Silurian System" the volume into which the news- 
paper articles grew — ^the charming and classic "Old Bed 
Sandstone." 

Mr. Bamsay was then a young man, who, betaking him- 
self to Arran, had scoured its glens, hill-sides, and shores, and 
made a large geological map and model of the island. These 
he exhibited at the British Association meeting, accompany- 
ing them with an explanatory paper. His work showed him 
to possess in so eminent a degree the qualities out of which 
a good field-geologist is made, that Murchison was greatly 
impressed with his capacity, and proposed to take him abroad 
with him in the following year. Though that determinatioii 
was not carried out, it led directly, as we shall see, to Mr. 
Bamsay's joining the G^logical Survey, and thus opened 
up for him the path by which he has risen to distinction. 

Sedgwick did not appear at this meeting ; indeed, he had 
become so remiss in his attendance at the gatherings of the 
Association as to suggest that he meant to retire from it 
altogether. His presence was missed during some of the 
discussions in the Geological Section, for an observant eye 
might now have perceived the first speck forming of that 
dark cloud which, slowly gathering year after year, finally 

VOL. L V 



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806 SIB RODERICK MURCHISOK \vm. 

blighted all his close friendship with Murchison, and led 
him to retire from the society which he had brightened for 
so many years. Immediately after the meeting Murchison 
sent him a letter containing some account of what had 
been done. That letter has a special interest in connexion 
with future events. It serves too to show the active part 
its writer took in the management of the Association, as 
well as his characteristic regard for high social position : — 

'< WisHAW House, BepL 26, 1840. 

"My dear S., — Our Glasgow meeting has been alto- 
gether the most suocessfal that could have been desired . . . 

" I was compelled to take a strong measure, but one of 
which I know you will heartily approve, in putting Whe- 
well in nomination as our next President, for the Plymouth 
meeting. I say a strong measure, because on my broaching 
it to him he wrote me a letter of four sides (just before he 
left us, and in the middle of the meeting) to show that he 
was in every respect disqualified. Such, however, was not 
the opinion of a single person here whom I consulted, and 
I therefore went on, and he was elected by acclamation, 
nem. diss. It appeared that the Manchester folks rather 
wished to have us in 1842 than in 1841, so we were sud- 
denly thrown upon Devon. To carry out the principles of 
alternation alluded to in my opening address (which I send 
you), it was essential to have a man of science at our head. 
So the staff of science for that meeting are, Whewell, Pres. ; 
Snow Harris, Hamilton Smith, and Were Fox, Secretaries; 
and four men of local weight and family to balance them 
as V.-P.S — Sir C. Lemon, Sir T. Acland, Lord Morley, and 
Lord Eliot 

*' Agassiz's arrival was very opportune, for he confirmed 



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1840.] BRITISH ASSOCIATION AT GLASGOW. 30.7 

the identification of the Bussian and Scottish fishe& I 
also resolved to pull out Hugh Miller of Cromarty, and 
other Scotsmen of the north, and on the last day I gave an 
eapoai of all that you and myself did in the beginning of 
this foray, and held up our sections and our Dipteri. Agassiz 
followed, and ended by naming the curious new winged 
creature PtericfUhys MUleri. 

'^ Agassiz gave us a great field-day on Glaciers, and I 
think we shall end in having a compromise between him- 
self and us of the floating icebergs ! I spoke against the 
general application of his theory. 

"Mr. Bowman's memoir contained some good details.^ 
.... I explained that the outline between Cambrian and 
Silurian in that region [North Wales], as inserted by your- 
self in my map, was done without Ordnance maps, and 
merely to serve as an approximation; that both you and 
myself were aware of the age of the beds in the Vale of 
Llangollen, and that some day or other you would roll out 
what had been for many years in your head and wallet 
De la Beche and Phillips pressed me about the natural line 
of separation between S. and C, on which I replied as 
in my book, that in many parts a fixed line of demarcation 
was impossible, but that I was convinced that to whatever 
extent the same species of fossils as in the Lower Silurian 
strata descended into your upper group, you could show 

^ The paper referred to here was one ia which its aathor gave the 
result of some traverses which he had made across the supposed boundary- 
line between the Cambrian and Silurian tracts of North Wales. He 
oould find no fossils in the so-called Cambrian rocks differing from those 
of the Lower Silurian series, and stated that " if there be any boundary 
between the Upper Cambrian and Lower Silurian systems, it must be 
defined by other evidence than that of fossils." — BrU, Assoc. ReporU^ 
1840, Sections, p. 102. 



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808 3IR RODEHICK MURCHISON. [im 

the existence — indeed, that you had already done so both 
in Wales and Cumberland — of vast masses of much higher 
antiquity which must have a distinguishing nsmie." 

After all the scientific and social work of the Association 
Meeting at Glasgow had been successfully c<Mnpleted there 
began another series of hospitalities. Kot a few of the landed 
proprietors, specially those who had taken part in the gather- 
ing, invited the more prominent members of the Association 
to visit them. In this way Murchison and his wife found 
themselves once more in the heart of the Highlands, enjoying 
the scenery and good cheer of that region. From Lord Brea- 
dalbane the General Secretary had some deer-staUdng at the 
old homely shieling of the Black Mount ; but part of the 
journey was planned to include a visit to the north of Scot- 
land, with Agassiz, to look after the Old Bed Sandstone and 
its fishes. By the 29th of October he had reached Alnwick 
Castle on his homeward journey, whence he writes to Sir 
Philip Egerton : — " I believe if I consulted my own happiness 
I should do nothing but visit till Christmas, but this must 
not be. Work must be revised, and I have an overwhelming 
mass to reduce to order, which if not done before ^the big 
wen' begins to fill will never be done. So I have resolved 
even to give my old friends of the North Biding the go-by, 
and to stick to the east coast, finishing with Cambridge, and 
reaching Somerset House in time for our second meeting in 
November. If you have not been firost-bitten by Buckland 
you have at all events had plenty of friction, scratching, and 
polishing, before now, and next year you may give us a paper 
on the glaciers of Wyvis and the ' moraines' on which you 
sport I I intend to make fight" 



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To f'lct pagr 309. 



REV PROFESSOR BUCKT.AND. D.D.. F.R.8. 

E inippri] n< a " GIticiaUsi" fifim a akd'-h hy Thns. .it^pirith, E:i'j. 



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1840.] OLACIATION OF BRITAIN. 309 

The '' frost-biting " referred to the remarkable series 
of observations bj Agassiz among the glaciers of the 
Alps, and the extension of them to Scotlcmd by Buck- 
land, Lyell, and Agassiz himsel£ Many years earlier Sir 
James Hall had directed attention to the way in which the 
rocks on the surface of the country had been smoothed, 
polished, and striated, by some great natural agent He made 
a careful examination of these ** dressed rocks," attributing 
them to the effects of some powerful d^b&cles or earthquake- 
waves, sweeping over the land and hurrying along sand, 
gravel, and huge loose blocks and boulders. A study of 
the phenomena of the Swiss valleys, however, had taught 
Charpentier, and afterwards Agassiz, that the smoothing and 
scratching of the rocks could have been the work of but one 
agent — glacier-ice.* Profiting by Swiss experience. Buck- 
land had akeady begun to identify some of Hall's " dressed 
rocks'" and other superficial phenomena, as strictly parallel 
with those among the Alpine valleys and plains. And now, 
in the autumn of tins year, the great Swiss naturalist, who 
had come to Scotland chiefly to study Old Bed Sandstone 
fishes, found eveiywhere, to Ins amazement, the counterparts 
of the ice- worn rocks and glacier d^ris which he had been 
so intently looking at among his own great mountains. He 
not merely corroborated Dr. Buckland's identifications, but 
went so far as to proclaim that Scotland, the north of Eng- 
land, and indeed a great part of the northern hemisphere, 
bad once been actually buried under vast sheets of ice. 

So bold and startling a doctrine involved an intimate 

1 It is common to attribute the first observation of this geological 
agency of glaciers to Agassiz. It was recorded by Cbarpentier, however, 
apparently as a known fact, five years before Agassi2*s observations 
appeared. — AnnaU$ des Mme$, 1835, riii 



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810 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [im. 

acquaintance with the everyday life and motions of a glacier, 
which at that time British geologists did not possess. Con- 
sequently the views of Agassiz met with little favour. The 
opposition which Murchison promised them was joined in 
vigorously by other scientific leaders. Hence fully twenty 
years had to pass, and a new generation of labourers had to 
appear upon the scene, before the essential truth of Agassiz's 
teeu^hing was generally recognised.^ 

But pleasant and useful though this Scotch tour proved 
to the busy General Secretary, it formed only a kind of 
interlude in the serious task of interpreting the geological 
structure of the older rocks of Bussia. As he said himself, 
he had returned from the shores of the White Sea to take his 
place in the Association at Glasgow. Hence, when once 
more back amongst his note-books and maps in London, he 
returned heart and soul to Bussian geology. While the 
incidents of travel remained still fresh in his recollection 
he wrote the article (already referred to) for the March 
number of the Quarterly Review^ on ** Tours in the Bussian 
Provincea" While reviewing the works of recent travellers 
in that part of Europe he reveals, in a characteristic way, 
his own identity. For there must have been few readers of 
the gossipy article who did not perceive that its author had 
been with Moore in Spain and Portugal, that he had sub- 
sequently dabbled in art at Bome, that he retained a senti- 
mental affection for the old Highland Jacobites and the doings 
of those who were ''out iu the '15," that he was addicted 
to geological pursuits, that he had spent the preceding sum- 
mer doing geological work in the north of Bussia, and that, 

^ See a memoir on the Glacial Drift of Scotland, Tran9. OeoL Soc 
OUugow, ToL L Fart 2. 



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1840-41.] PLAN OF TOUR TO THE URALS. 311 

in short, he could be no other than Boderick Impey Murchi- 
son, though under a somewhat different guise from that in 
which he was ordinarily known. 

The more serious work of this winter appears to have 
consisted partly in the preparation of the memoir on the 
continental Devonian rocks with Sedgwick (and, of course, 
with the repetition of delay at Cambridge and urgent 
entreaty from London), but mainly in drawing up an 
account of the Bussian journey for the Geological Society. 
This latter task helped to indicate more clearly the points 
of defective knowledge which were to be cleared up by the 
next tour. 

That tour had been partly planned before he and his 
companion, De Yemeuil, had left Bussia. It was heartily 
entered into by the Bussian authorities, from whom, indeed, 
Murchison received a flattering request to continue his 
labours, with the promise of ample assistance. He deter- 
mined to avail himself of these offers, and strike across the 
Bussian Empire, into the heart of the Ural Mountains. So 
long and arduous a survey was evidently one which could 
not be accomplished in a short summer holiday. It would 
require longer time and more endurance than that of the 
previous year. 

Two Societies claimed and certainly received Murchison's 
firmest allegiance— the Geological Society, and the British 
Association. His proposed absence from this country, how- 
ever, altered considerably his relations to both, and he 
accordingly made up his mind to resign the post of General 
Secretary to the British Association. In intimating this 
design to the President, Dr. Whewell, he could justify his 
absence this year by the importance of the work he had 



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312 SIB RODERICK MURCHISON. [iwi. 

undertaken abroad, as well as by the fact that he had not 
hitherto failed to take his share of work at every meeting 
of the Association since its foundation, and he concluded his 
letter with the assurance, that when the 29th of July came 
round, he would not foi^ the gathering to be held then at 
Plymouth under Whewell's leadership, but would ** drink to 
their healths if any liquor can be had in the Ural Moun^ 
tains." 

Things had turned out otherwise at the Geological 
Society, for there, at their anniversary in February, and with 
the knowledge that he would be absent from England duru 
iug the greater part of the year, his associates once more 
placed Murchison in the President's chair, and sent him on 
his self-imposed tiavel with all the prestige which such a 
post of honour carries with it. 

As already mentioned, he had formed a wish to help the 
young geologist who had shown so much geological skill by 
his model and description of Arran, and that wish had to 
some extent taken practical shape in a plan to cany Mr. 
Bamsay abroad with him. The latter, accordingly, came to 
London about the middle of March ; but at the last moment 
the proposed plan of conjoint travel was changed This 
change, at first so bitterly disappointing to his young friend 
and future colleague, but in the end so fraught with benefit 
to both, was thus announced by Murchison at the time : — ^ 
'' Having decided upon going to Bussia^ and not to America 
(and I shall be off in ten days), I have unwillingly given up 
the idea of taking you with 'me; but, in doing so, I have 
secured for you a much more lucrative place than any which 
I could have ofiered you about myself. Mr. De la Beche 
has kindly promised to place you on his Ust of assistants of 



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i»ii.] OEOLOQICAL CLUB DINNERS. 318 

tlie Ordnanee Qeologioal Surrey. As the work in question 
is one for which you are particularly fitted, I hope you will 
approve of my endeavours to serve you*" 

Mr. Bamsay has kindly famished the following reminis- 
c^ices of these early days of his intercourse with his future 
chief: — ''I think I must have dined five or six times with 
Mr. M. during my thirteen days' stay in London ; once at the 
Qeologioal Club, at the Crown and Anchor by Temple Bar, 
where I first met some of the great geologists whom I had 
not previously seen in Glasgow at the B. A. meeting. Mr. 
M. introduced me specially to old John Taylor, a famous 
man in the mining world, and much respected and beloved 
by all the geologists, and indeed by every one. He was 
treasurer to the Club. I sat between him and Major Clerke 
— an old warrior, with a cork 1^, a man of perfectly polished 
manner, witty, and with a vast fund of anecdotes, some 
of which were of the complexion called blue. At that Club 
meeting, I recollect Sedgwick and Buckland, Phillips, 
Greenough, Fitton, Lyell, Sopwith, and Owen, and there 
were others that I forget Forbes was then a young man 
just on the eve of starting to join Graves in the .£gean. 
The dinner made a great impression on me. Mr. M., as 
President of the Society, was in the chair, but I do not 
recollect anything that took place except the mirth created 
at our end of the table by Major Clerke and old John 
TayWs deep voice and pleasant laugL" A few days after 
that dinner the President was on his way to Bussia, while 
his friend joined the Geological Survey at Tenby, there 
to b^in a long and distinguished connexion with that 
branch of the public service, of which he is now the honoured 
and esteemed chief. 



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dU SIB RODERICK MURCHI80K [iwi. 

Two days before starting Murchison sent a parting note 
to Sedgwick, in which he wrote : — '^ To cleanse an Augean 
stable filled with Bhenish, Grerman, and Bnssian fossils, and 
to leave the home of the British Association clean swept 
and all in order, has been no light work for the last fort- 
night. To make the map for our memoir gave me no small 
trouble, but now all is done, and the whole concern is 
ready to go to press, if the Council does not turn crotchety 
and puzzle-headed. If they do, we must publish elsewhere 
without loss of time, for the data are good. ... I am off 
the day after to-morrow. .... God bless you. Go to 
Plymouth and fight my battles. It is now your turn." 



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CHAPTER XV. 

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN RUSSIA AND THE URAL MOUNTAINS. 

It was with a more ambitious programme, and with the 
advantage of the previous yearns experience of the country, 
that Murchison once more, in the spring of 1841, bent his 
steps to the Neva. De Yemeuil again accompanied him, 
and shared in the honours and the toils of a still more 
eventful and successful campaign than any which they had 
yet undertaken together. The two friends had grown dear 
to each other. But apart from the ties of mutual esteem, 
they presented a singularly happy conjunction of qua- 
lities for their special scientific work. Murchison's quick 
eye in detecting the leading elements of geological structure 
would have been of comparatively minor value without 
De Vemeuil's wide knowledge of the early forms of life, 
on the determination of which the comparison of the rocks 
yet unvisited with others already well known was mainly 
to be based. In their Russian colleague von Keyserling 
they found an admirable travelling companion, and one to 
whose judgment and powers of observation the success of their 
coigoint work in the empire of the Czar was largely indebted. 



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316 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK [\m. 

The route chosen, as before, lay by Paris and Berlin. 
During a short halt at Paris Murchison had an opportunity 
of gathering the opinions of the geologists there as to the 
work which Sedgwick and he had been doing in Devonshire 
and Bhineland. He lost no time in letting his friend 
know the result " Every one here/' he writes, " is most 
anxious for the appearance of our memoir, as well as 
Dumont and the Belgians. .... Whatever dubiety may 
shroud the minds of some of our countrymen, the thing 
is already quite done as to the Continent All the palae- 
ontologists are with us, and I am happy to teU you I saw 
yesterday in £lie de Beaumont's closet the copperplates 
of the table of colours of the great map of France, in 
which Devonian, Silurian, and Cambrian are all r^;ularly 
engraved. 

" As you are going to Plymouth this year, I b^ you 
will look about you both inside and outside of the Seo^ 

tion C It may be the object of and 

to mystify our divisiona But stand to yowr ^ns. The 
types are clear and distinct, and beds of passage are not 
to frighten us. ... It would gratify me much if you could 
devote an hour to me immediately after the Plymouth meet- 
ing, and tell me how all went off ... . The geolc^cal 
sight here is the Artesian fountain at Grenelle, which I 
visited yesterday. It is a noble rush of smoking water — 
quite a comfortable tepid batL Portez-vous bien, my dear 
friend. Think of me when I am in Siberia, as I shall think 
of you holding forth on the Breakwater ; and wishing you a 
happy meeting, and an absence of all gout, believe me," etc 

There would seem to have been only one incident of note 
in the early part of the journey : Murchison and De Vemeuil 



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1841.] ST. PETERSBURG. 817 

were all but arrested, in entering the Prussian territories, on 
the chaige of issuing fiEilse notes, which they had unwittingly 
obtained at Paris. They were helped out of the difficulty by 
Humboldt Such portions of their short stay at Berlin as 
could be spared from the hospitalities abundantly offered to 
them by their German scientific brethren, were devoted to 
the acquisition of additional information as to what was 
known of Bussian geology. They arrived at St Petersburg 
on the 30th of April 

The Bussian capital was at that time full of bustle and 
excitement, on the occasion of the marriage of the eldest 
son and heir of the Emperor Nicholas. A magnificent series 
of fStes bad been organized to celebrate the event. Our 
geologists had determined to see these sights before b^in- 
tiing their work. Besides, Murchison looked forward to 
obtaining considerable official assistance for his survey. He 
judged it a good stroke of policy to make the acquaintance of 
as many of the leading ministers and heads of departments 
as possibla At the British Embassy he met many old 
acquaintances, and made not a few new ones, obtaining like- 
wise the much-coveted invitation to the Imperial Palace. 
How these days of festival were spent is best toid in his 
^tters to his wife : — 

^ The last few days have given us pleasant dinners, at 
Lord Glanricarde's, at the French Ambassador's, at General 
TchefiFkine's, where we settled our line of march, at the Minis- 
ter of Finance's, Count Cancrine, and, yesterday, at Prince 
Butera's. The last was the most sumptuous of all these 
feeds, many Circassian lacqueys, and mushrooms in every 
dish. From Oeneral Kisselefif, the Minister of the Imperial 
Domains, I had a history of the successive deniidations of the 



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318 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [wfl. 

wood of each region of Bossia, and how each denudation had 
proceeded from south to north. Herodotus describes the 
r^ons bordering on Turkey, now grassy steppes, as dense 
forests. This being for centuries the great line of march 
of Tartars and Easterns towards Europe, was cleared first ; 
secondly, a middle region, half wood, half arable, as at Mos- 
cow, etc. ; thirdly, the present forest region, all in the north.* 

** The event which charmed me was the great Court ball 
of Wednesday, on the occasion of the marriage, to which we 
were invited by his Majesty's order. The entrances to the 
wonderful Winter Palace are so numerous that you are not 
surprised when you perceive how a thousand star-and-gartered 
eminences aud weU-dressed women have all within an hour 
found their way into the ' Salle Blancha' The whole of this 
exquisite Palace being re-built and re-gilt, it is now in fall 
beauty, and the blaze of light, the elegance of the candelabras, 
and the masses of gold, quite rivet attention. We have no 
notion of lighting, and I now understand the criticism of the 
foreigners who attended our Coronation. 

"We waited for our presentation, which took place in about 
half an hour, when the Emperor came up to Lord Clanricarde, 
and asked for me, saying to me, ' You have travelled a great 
deal in our country, and intend to do so again.' On my 
thanking his Majesty for the kindness of my reception, he 
cut me short by saying, * C'est k vous que nous devons noe 
remerciments profonds de venir parmi nous pour nous ^daircir 
et de nous dtre si utile. Je vous prie d'accepter mon per- 
sonnel,' etc. He then asked if that was not my companion 
near me, and De Yemeuil had his talk ; but my excellent 
Mend being short-sighted, had mistaken the Emperor, so that 
when his Mcgesty left us, De V. turned to me coolly and 



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184L] THE EMPEROR NICHOLAS I. 31? 

said, ' Eh bien ! c'est un homme tr^ agitable que oe Grand 
Due.' ' Mais c'est TEmpereur, mon cher ! ' 

" It was however iu the advanced part of the evening that 
I really became intimate with the Czar. I had glided through 
all the apartments, and was seated in converse with Count 
Strogonoif, when the Emperor appeared, and we were all on 
foot. He selected me, and leaning against a pilaster began 
a r^ular conversation, asking me my opinion on various parts 
of the country. After I had told him where I had been, he 
said, ' Great traveller as I am, you have already seen large 
tracts of my country which I have never visited.' He then 
got me to open out upon my own hobby, and put me quite at 
home ; I ventured on my first endeavour at explanation, by 
stating how dearly I was interested in the structure of a 
country the whole northern region of which was made up of 
strata which I had spent so many years in classifying and 
arranging in other parts of Europe ; how their vast scale in 
Kussia had surprised me, and how they offered evidences which 
were wanting in the western countries. We then talked of 
coal, and I ventured on a geological lecture in order to ex- 
plain where coal would not be found, the uses of our science, 
eta I ushered it in by saying that I was certain that his 
Majesty liked to know the truth, and my honest opinion, and 
he instantly said, 'Surtout, parlez franchement' Having 
given him the Silurian reasons against any coal deposits 
worthy of the name in any of the very ancient rocks on which 
his metropolis was situated, and a general view of the A B C, 
to all of which he listened most attentively, I then comforted 
him about the great coal-field of the Donetz, in Southern 
Kussia, to which I was destined to go. 'Coal,' I said, 'was to be 
looked fpr in the south, and not in the north, which seined 



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820 aiR RODERICK MURGHiaON. [im. 

a providential arrangement, as the forests were stiU plentiful 
in the latter, but annihilated in the former tracts. ' Ah 1 ' said 
he, 'but how we have wasted our forests 1 What disorder and 
irregularity has existed I It is high time to put a stop to 
such practices, or Gtod knows what would have been the state 
of the Empire, even under the reign of my son 1 ' I then 
offered a few words in favour of tiie Grown peasants of the 
north, against whom the wood-cutting remark was directed, 
and spoke of their intelligence, honesty, and the absence of 
all great crimes, and how it had astonished us to travel through 
so wide a space, sleeping with our docnrs open, and in lofts or 
where we could, without being robbed, and in tracts where 
no soldiers or police existed. ^ Oh ! ' added he, ^ we are not 
however so savage as to allow such things.' 

** After asking what was to be the length of our next toui^ 
and what we hoped to find out and see, he desired me to 
express every wish to his officers, and all my wants should 
be supplied. 

'' He inquired about my former career, in what arms I had 
served, where and when, whether I was married, whether my 
wife ever came with ma On my saying that the day was 
when you were always at my side, and sketched and worked 
for me, he added, ' Cost ainsi avec ma femme, mais h^las sa 
sant^ ne le permet plus, eUe a eu quinze couches.* Thus he 
chatted away, and talked of his children, and the happiness 
of his social circla 

** On my saying that I had served in infiEmtry, cavalry, and 
staff in Portugal, Spain, and Sicily, his Majesty evident^ 
took to me, for he said that his doctrine always had been that 
the army was the best school for every profession, and he 
was right glad to see that it made a good geologist I then 



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1841.] THE EMPEROR NICHOLAS I. 321 

expressed how strong a desire I had to see the Kussian army, 
adding that I had been out at six in the morning in the 
Champ de Mars/ and had already seen his Majesty working 
some regiments of cavalry. ' What 1 ' said he, ' talk of that 
morning drill ; we were all dirty and not fit to be seen : 
to-morrow you shall see us better/ And then calling (General 
BenhendorfiT, * Donnez un bon cheval k M. Murchison pour 
la Grande Parade/ He then added, ' Mais c'est ik Moscou 
que Yous deviez nous voir panni nos enfants — c'est ainsi 
que rimp^ratrice et moi nous appelons nos Kusses.' 

'' He talked with favour of his good English Mends, and 
how well they had always served him. 'Alasl' said he, 
' we have just lost two in the space of a few days, and on 

Friday we bury Admiral ^ an excellent officer and a 

very brave man, whom I greatly regret/ 

^ Two days had passed, and amidst n^ thousand occupa- 
tions I had forgotten the Emperor's words. On Friday 
morning; when in my diessing-gown, d la Russe, at break- 
fast, the son of old Mrs. Wilson, our landlady, rushed in ex- 
claiming; 'La, mother, only think of itl At eight o'clock 
the Emperor came in a single drosky to the English Church, 
and had to wait I know not how long before the parson came, 
and then he went through all the ceremony/ The old Ad- 
miral, being a Protestant, was buried in a vault under the 
English Church. I then bemoaned my want of tact in not 
having had my uniform on and ready at the church to meet 
the great man who thus honoured the memory of my coun- 
tryman." 

The letters and diaries written by our traveller at this 
season of rejoicing contain records of little else than the 
names of the great folks at whose houses he dined, or whom 

V0L.L X 



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322 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOHT. \\m. 

he met at the Imperial entertainmenta During the day he 
seems to have found time for an occasional interview with 
some of the scientific men of St. Petersburg, and for desul- 
tory preparation for his journey. But evidently courtiers 
and court life had for the time quite dispossessed geologists 
and geology in the attentions of the author of the " Silurian 
System." At the beginning of the week following that in 
which he had made the acquaintance of the Czar and Impe- 
rial family, he attended a ball given by the newly married 
Czarewitch. From his reminiscences of that evening a few 
sentences may be quoted. 

^ The Emperor talked to me again, asking me what I had 
been doing this morning. 'Four hours,' said he, 'at the 
School of Mines, and two hours with Professor Eichwald ! 
Why, you will quite tire yourself before you set out on your 
long journey. You must have good stout legs,' he continued, 
passing his hand at the same time to the side of my thigh, 
which he pinched. He then discoursed of discipline, system, 
etc., and alluding to the review of the morrow, he observed, 
' You will see three of my sons in the corps of the cadets.* 
'The Grand Duke Constantine will, I suppose, command 
them?' said L 'Commandl' replied he. 'No, indeed! he 
will not even be in the front rank of privates; he is yet 
too young. The little fellow has plenty of talent, but 
requires to be kept in order. We must have a good bridle 
on him for some time to come.' His Majesty agaiii spoke to 
me with gratitude concerning my labours, and said he had 
no doubt my success in my present profession was mainly 
due to my old military education, which he thought was the 
best school for all men. 

" The balls, parties, and reviews attendant on the Imperial 



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1841.] START FROM ST. PETERSBURG. 323 

marriage being over, it was time to take to real work, and to 
b^n the geological researches on the grand scale which had 
been devised through the departmental activity of General 
Tcheffkine, then serving under the Minister of Finance, 
Cancrine, and being chief of the School of Mines." 

Count von Keyserling was named by the Imperial Govern- 
ment as one of the geologists of the expedition, with the in- 
valuable Lieutenant Koksharof, who was again appointed to 
accompany the travellers, and smooth their way for them. 
The plan of operations embraced a series of traverses of the 
vast central and southern provinces of the empire, together 
with as fall an examination as could be made of the chain 
of the Ural Mountains. The party was to divide for short 
periods, and meet again at given points, to compare and con- 
tinue its observations, with the expectation of being able, per- 
haps, to concentrate the work of even two summers into one. 

''All our inspections of collections, schools of mines, 
academies, eta, being over, and our notebooks filled with 
memoranda of things to be seen in Bussia in Europe and the 
Ural Mountains, there was still one grand public f^te to be 
witnessed. The Emperor, as Cancrine had reminded me, 
had asked me to see him among his true Bussians at Mos- 
cow. But this was not to take place for a fortnight^ and in 
that time the geological division under my orders might 
effect much. So we galloped away to Moscow." 

Their object was to examine the various outcrops of 
limestone and thin seams of coal south of Moscow — a task 
which was successfully accomplished without any note- 
worthy incident Up and away to their labours, sometimes 
by three o'clock in the morning, the travellers contrived to 
get over a goodly number of leagues of country, and, rattling 



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324 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [mL 

over the ground in their tilega, to raise many a tiiick cloud 
of dust from the "Tchomaia Zemlia" or black>ear& of the 
Bussian plains, so that they returned to Moscow in a sadly- 
berimed condition, but in time for the £§tes. 

" The great event of the Emperor presenting the heir- 
apparent to his people was about to c(Hne o£ At 10 A.M. 
we drove to the Kremlin. We were ushered through crowds 
of Bussian officers in the palace, and eventually found our 
way to the top of the building. I was an the balcony, dose 
to the room whence the Empercw issued. He observed me, 
and nodded to me. At 11 he issued «n foot and descended 
the steps in full Cossack dress to the Grande Place, which 
he had to cross to reach the great «hurch, and at least 
20,060 persons now filled it A veiy nanow way had been 
formed up to this moment, but wh^i the great beE tolled 
and Nicholas issued forth to the threshold, all line was 
broken, and the crowd presented itself in one dense mass 
before him like a wall He stepped down towarda them, 
and some touching his clothes, others his hasids, he waved 
his hand gently up and down, and the dense mass opened 
out before him. like a wedge he worked his way through 
the ctdoring multitude, who were clinging TOund his legs 
and touching his clothes. . . ' . 

" Profiting by Demidoflfs kindness, by half-past twelve 
we finally stormed the Kremlin, and forced on auto the 
central tower, where we placed the niece of Napoleon [the 
Princess Mathilde] between De Yemeuil and myseli^ like a 
Princess of the Kremlin, M. Demidoff acting as her Bussian 
marito, and we as her French and English aides-de-^camp. 
We were destined to wait for the great sight^tn hour or two, 
during which excellent sandwiches and good Madeira and 



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1841.] FESTIVITIES AT MOSCOW. 326 

sheny, and the Fiench conversation, full of naive and 
sparkling sallies from the daughter of Jerome, made us pass 
the time most agreeably. At length the cortege arrived — ^the 
good Marie in her caltehe and four greys, the Emperor on 
her right hand, her brothers on the left, and the Grand Duke 
H^ritier passing close along the line of troops. When they 
entered the Holy Gate of the Kreinlin, the sight of course 
closed for us. 

"^ As we descended the staircase, thinking all sights were 
over, the attendants stopped us at a doorway, and, in an 
instant, the Emperor, with the Grand Duchess on his arm, 
passed within a few paces of us. He at once recognised us 
with a gracioi2& nod. Of this I should not have felt so cer- 
tain if Count Benbendorff had not told me two hours after- 
wards that his Majesty had informed him of our position. 
Nicholas's eye is ererywhere, and long may it be so ! 

" Count Benh^idOTffgave us an account of the Imperial 
reception. At Bibinsk — a thriving commercial town on the 
Volga, with 30,000 inhabitants — ^it appears that the people 
who had never seen the Emperor kept up such a roar under 
the Imperial residence, that at last, when midnight came, they 
were requested to allow the Emperor to sleep. The hint 
was no sooner given than obeyed. But what followed? 
Not a man slunk sulkily away ; the loyal mass lay down and 
slept at their posts till the return of day was ushered in by 
a general dhanticleer from those sturdy monarch- loving Mus- 
covite& Well then may Nicholas exclaim, 'These good 
people are not yet so advanced as to have learnt not to love 
their sovereign ' — ^words which he used to me in speaking of 
the Bussians of the interior. 

*" Benhendorfif also informed me that the horse-artillery 



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326 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [i«4l 

wliichwe saw this morning had marched 110 versts the 
day before, Le, seventy miles ! This beats the famous march 
of the old Fourth Dragoons, my father-in-law, General 
Hugonin's regiment, which marched from Canterbury to 
London in a day, and acted that evening in the Borough in 
quelling one of the Lord (Jeorge Gordon riots in 1784." 

But it was now time to doff uniforms and court-dresses, 
and take to the more homely garb of travelling geologists. 
Murchison and his Mends had planned their journey in such 
a way that it should comprise many minor lateral excur- 
sions, and they now proceeded to put the plan into execu- 
tion. Starting from Moscow, they crossed Uie empire by 
Vladimir, Easan, and Perm into the Ural Mountains, and 
the edge of the vast steppes of Siberia. From these remote 
bounds they turned southwards to explore the southern 
Urals as far as Orsk, whence, bending their course once more 
in a westerly direction, they passed through Orenburg, re- 
crossing the Volga at Sarepta, traversing the country of the 
Don Cossacks to the Sea of Azov, and then turning north- 
ward to make another traverse of the empire back by 
Moscow to St Petersburg. 

Five busy months passed away in these journeys. Mur- 
chison kept as usual a fall diary. Being mainly geological, 
his memoranda were subsequently elaborated into the great 
work on '' Bussia and the Ural Mountains.'' But among 
them occur records of incidents of travel and other notes, 
which give us glimpses of the scenery and people among 
whom he lived, and of the way in which this extensive and 
rapid survey of the Russian domains was achieved. 

As on the previous journey, the main highways of the 



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1841.] THE START FROM MOSCOW. 327 

country were followed. Provided with a formidable Imperial 
document^ countersigned and double-sealed to enforce atten- 
tion from all persons in authority along their route, the 
travellers had usually little difiSculty in procuring horses at 
the stations. In most cases, indeed, the chief dignitary of 
each place waited on them personally, and in not a few in- 
stances treated them with the frankest hospitality. The 
kindness which Murchison experienced in this way even in 
the wildest tracts of the empire, filled him with that deep 
affection for Bussia and the Russians which used to show 
itself continually all through his life. But neither Imperial 
ukase nor kindly proffered assistance could wholly over- 
come the natural difficulties of the country. The geologists 
had made up their mind to a good deal of rough fare and 
sorry lodging, nor in these respects were their prognostica- 
tions unrealized. 

During the earlier part of the journey through Vladimir, 
Nijnii Novgorod, and Kazan, there was little either in the 
geology or the scenery to delay the expedition. Murchison, 
indeed, seems to have got so disgusted with the interminable 
red sandstones and marls as to break out into some doggerel 
lines in French, that being the language which was now his 
only mode of communication with his travelling companions 
and the natives of the country. These rocks were not yet 
understood by him. He became proud enough of them before 
long; for they furnished to him the type of a new geological 
subdivision, to which, fix)m the province where they were so 
well developed, he gave the name of " Permiaa" 

In spite of these tedious red rocks, Kazan afforded some 
interest The fat jolly Vice-Govemor had instructions to look 
well after the travellers, and it would appear that he did his 



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328 SIR RODERICK MURCUISON. [iMi. 

bdst In their honour he donned his full uniform^ white 
laced hat, and numerous orders, and arrived at their inn with 
the determination that they should see eveiything in Kazan 
forthwith. In vain they explained that one of the Professors 
had already kindly offered to escort them through the collec- 
tions of the University. What ! had he not received the 
Imperial command to look after them himself? and besides, 
had he not been a sailor in the dajrs of the old war, when 
the British and Bussian fleets were allied, and did he not 
still remember a few broken words of English — ** I beg you, 
sare," * ver much wind,** etc ! He would show them the 
collections, and everything and everybody too. De Vemeuil 
and von Keyserling had made a detour. Murchison, therefore, 
under the supervision of the Vice-Govemor,. took further 
notes for the Ural Survey from the specimens and informa- 
tion obtainable from the Professors, and attended sundiy 
feasts into which the exuberant hospitality of Kazan broke 
out When the party reunited, and all was ready for the 
march again, the Yice-Govemor must needs give one £Bu:e- 
well banquet. ** We sat down," Murchison writes, " forty- 
five in a small room, and the yice-€k)vemor was quite 
charming with his old sailor-loves of 'SaUy Cox' and 
' Mary Dickenson ' when in England.'' 

Over many leagues of red rocks the party journeyed 
through the government of Penn towards the long low 
ridges of the Urals. They passed on the way a gang of 
manacled prisoners bound for Siberia, to whom, amid his 
notes of "Eoth-todt-liegende," " Nagelflue," and other geolo- 
gical matters, Murchison devotes a few words in his journal 
About a hundred and fifty men and women, under a strong 
military escort, the men in some cases manacled in couples, 



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184L] SIBERIAN EXILES. 329 

were marching to their exile. * Thank €tod I" he writes, 
''in Ei^land we have the sea for our high-road to banish- 
ment; for such scenes are very harassing." 

While the exiles were tramping along the highway, the 
geologists, having gained a rising ground, were luxuriating 
in the first distinct viei^ of the real crest, if it may be so 
called, of the chain of the Ural Mountains — a long, slightly 
imdulated line, rising behiad a succession of woocled ridges, 
and forming a singularly unimpressive landscape, Qonsidered 
as a part of one of the leading mountain-chains of Europe. It 
was not easy to say when the mountain land was really 
entered, so gradual had been the ascent " Though the Ural 
had been a chain in my imagination, we were really going 
over it at a gallop, the highest hill, indeed, not exceeding (in 
elevation above its base) our Surrey Lower Green-sandstone." 
With no rocks on either side of the duU road, and with dark 
rainy weather, the passage of one of the depressions in the 
low watershed of Europe and Asia became dreary and 
monotonous, till the travellers found themselves in the 
heart of the gold-mining region and in a comf oirtable inn at 
Ekaterinburg. 

Over vast tracts of Suoaia the rocks lie in horizontal 
sheets, so little disturbed that^ failing river goiges and other 
natural sections, it becomes no easy task to determine their 
proper order. like a series of sheets of cloth laid on a 
table, the uppermost conceals those which lie beneath it 
Eastwards, however, they have been ridged up into the long 
swell of the Urals, and our travellers, having already 
acquired a good deal of miscellaneous information from the 
labours of Humboldt, 6. Bose, Ehrenberg, Helmersen, Hoff- 
man^ and others, r^arding that little-known tracts were now 



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330 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [isa. 

bent upon discovering how far the elevation of the Ural 
chain had exposed the edges of the strata, so as to allow their 
order and thickness and fossil contents to be determined in 
an easier and more satisfactory way than could be done over 
leagues of the flat lowlands. They lost no time in beginning 
their work, and before many weeks had passed, by dividing 
their forces into two parties, and moving upon separate but 
parallel lines of research, with occasional reunioi^ by con- 
verging traverses at the chief nuning establishments, they 
succeeded in ascertaining the general geological structure of 
the Ural Mountains, in such a way as to permit the main 
masses of the rocks in that chain to be effectually compared 
with the geological succession already established elsewhere 
in Europe. 

One great impediment in their way was the want of any 
even tolerable map on which to record their work — a want, 
the paralysing effect of which only the geologist who has 
been similarly placed can adequately appreciate. '' Were I 
Emperor of Russia,'" he writes, ''I would make verily at least 
one thousand of my lazy officers work for their laced coats, 
and produce me a good map, or they should study physical 
geography in Eastern Siberia. Excepting (General Tcheffkine 
and a few, very few, I never met with any man who knew 
how to handle a map. It is really an affair of an hour to 
get a governor to make his way upon a map along a well- 
beaten road. I never shall forget my surprise last year at 
Nijnii Novgorod, when the Government House was ran- 
sacked for a map, upon which my line of march to the south 
of Moscow was to be traced. At length what came forth 
from this centre of Russian wealth and coiomerce, in the 
very feir of Nijnii, and in the Government House? — A 



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1841.] RUSSIAN lONORAKCE OF MAPS. 331 

district map of Schoubert's which I have so anathematized ? 
— No, but one of the little three-rouble maps which the 
common traveller buys, with simply the names of the chief 
places and small towns ! The same occurred at Kostroma, 
where the Governor had no other. 

" If such be the case in the heart of Bussia, how are we to 
expect that the best-informed natives here in the Urals 
should have any idea of their broken and diversified region ? 
Bussia must produce geographers before she can expect to 
have geologists. The cost of a single regiment of cavalry 
would effect this great national work ; and would that the 
Emperor could be led to see its desirableness and efficacy for 
all good measures of internal improvement ! I never yet 
heard a Bussian speak of anyplace as being east^ west, north, 
or south of such a point, but merely as so many versts fix>m 
this or that town. Ask him in what direction and he is 
dumb. First he will say it is to the right or to the left, 
according as he may have travelled; and it is only by a 
serious cross-examination, which would puzzle a barrister of 
the northern circuit, that you can guess at something like 
the fact But alas I after fancying myself informed, how 
wide have I found nature from their markl Here, for 
example, you will find people disputing as to whether a 
leading place, such as Stataoust, is to the east or west 
side of the Ural; and as for the roads, they trust to 
their clever peasants, stout horses, and ever-resisting taran- 



The absence of reliable maps, though it proved a con- 
tinual hindrance in the process of geologizing, was never 
allowed to retard the bodily activity of the party. Of that 
party and its local auxiliaries, as they started on one of 



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332 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isa 

their exploratory tours, the jonmal gives the following 
account : — 

''A route from the Zavod [mining-station] of Ghresto- 
vodsvisgensk across the Ural chain to the valley of the Is^ 
on the eastern watershed, was now to he undertaken, as 
arranged in our programme But this wlis no slight 
affair, inasmuch as no party had tratdled by this old and 
abandoned corduroy road through the forests and sloughs 
for many years, yet, by sending peasants across, arrange^ 
ments were made. 

" At 3 A.M., 2d July, I roused the whole parly, and at \ 
past four we were in march from the Zavod, being a party 
of twenty cavaliers of most grotesque and varied outUna 
The President of the Geological Society need not describe 
himsel£ The Vice-President of the Greological Society of 
France sported his long blue Spanish cloak, and a broad- 
brimmed, round-topped, Moscow grey hat, which, on the 
back of a Wouvermanns' grey horse, formed an essential 
item in the motley group. Herr Graube^ the Mast^ of 
the Mint^ who led u% had his long boots above his knees, 
and large furred coloshes, with his little German cap. Yon 
Keyserling, in his green cap and jacket, bestrode a gallant 
brown, and his servant, Juan the Venerable, turned out on 
a Russian saddle in a long black cloak, on a white Cossack- 
like beast The Ispravnick of the district, who honoured 
us, was a sort of sub-military looking figure, with spectacles 
and life-guard boots, superadded to a black shooting- 
jacket. The German doctor of the Zavod, a most obliging 
man, was mounted on a capital iron-grey, witJi high action. 
Lastly came our two Eussian officers, Karspinski and 
Koksharoffi both of whom were knocked up by our rapid 



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1841.] OEOLOOIZINO IN THE URALS. 333 

ride of y^terday. The former, dreading the result, to-day 
had siarapped a large pillow on his nissia-leather red and 
yeUow demi-peak saddla Our bearded fellows were per- 
haps the best for the painter, with their caffcans, double- 
ooned hats, and long boots ; one armed with an axe behind ; 
another with De Yemeuil's gun in hand ; a third with 
long Turkish pipes ; and ethers astride of animals carrying 
sacks, bags, and beds. 

''Our start was somewhat cheerless as to weather, for 
the day looked- lowering ; and in a few minutes we were in 
the interminable boggy forests which fringe the flanks of 
the XJraL It was soon e^dent that all haste was in vain. 
The sloughs exceeded eil that my imagination had conjured 
up. The road was a sort ef bridle-read, not to be described 
to English understanding, for it <xm8isted in most parts, 
and for ten or twenty versts, of planks and round trees, 
most of them rotten and breaking, placed over the quag- 
mires here and there, the track along which seemed hope- 
less, but for the dexterity of a Bussian horse. If the plank 
broke and his leg went in up to the hock, he pulled it leisurely 
out, whilst with the other he was fighting his way up the 
rounded slippery sin^e plank which remained. If his 
tread on one end brought the other up in his face, he would 
gently and evenly move on till the equilibrium was estab- 
lished, and he gained another safe footing. Add to this, 
massive trees, including the noble Pintts cenibra and others, 
lying across the road, immense roots branching in all 
directions, sedge and long grass up to the horse's belly, 
and you may have some idea of a bridle-road in the 
UraL" 

Not much geology could be done under such unfavourable 



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334 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isfl. 

conditions, nor could any clear notion be formed of the 
general aspect of the Ural chain, though the peculiarities 
of the wooded r^ons became only too famiUar. Now and 
then the travellers succeeded in getting above the line of 
wood, so as to catch a glimpse of the summits of the 
Ural and the countiy beyond. Thus at the Eatchkanar 
they " at last found a true mountain in the Ural " — rough 



View firom the Summit ot the Katchkaiur, North UnO, looking northwaidi. 
(From Aiufia in Bwnp^ yoL L p. 893.) 



splintered crags, shooting high over the damp sombre forests, 
and nourishing in their crevices and amid their slopes a 
bright and luxuriant vegetation which recalled that of some 
Swiss valley. From this peak they could look on one side 
over the far rolling sea of dark pine, with here and there a 
snow-streaked summit rising island-like out of it ; on the 
other side lay the vast plains of Siberia, with the level 



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1841.] OEOLOOIZINO IN THE URAL RIVERS. 335 

featureless surface, and to the eye at least with the bound- 
less horizon of a great secL^ 

At other places on the crest of the chain rocky scarps 
were encountered. From Stataoust the party reached some 
conspicuous rocks rising along the water parting between 
Europe and Asia. ''Clambering up to the summit, and 
with one leg on either Continent, we sang ' Qod save the 
Emperor.' In this sequestered spot, however, neither of&cers 
nor workmen knew the present national air, which I had 
heard at St Petersburg and Moscow, but began to chant 
our old ' God save the King,* which they had sung since 
the time of Peter the Great I then hummed this new 
air, and this music of Levoff was thus first given out in 
the western borders of Siberia." 

But the most exciting and instructive work which they 
carried out in these remote regions was the exploration of 
some of the river-courses. Owing to the need of abundant 
water-power for mining purposes, the streams had been 
manipulated in many different ways, some being turned 
into a succession of dams and waterfalls, others deprived of 
their water to fill lateral reservoirs. It was in these natural 
sections that the true structure of the Ural might be most 
confidently searched for, and special care was given to them, 
though but for the active co-operation of the mining 
authorities, these defiles would have proved far more for- 
midable obstacles than the morasses and corduroy bridle- 
tracks. How the work was done may be judged from the 
following extract : — 

'' Descending the river Issetz in canoes, between rocky 
banks of micaceous schists and granite, we came to the 
1 See Plate, p. 392 of Buaiia and the Ural MawUamM. 



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336 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [iB4l 

mill of Paulken, where the miller ofifered us tea, observing 
that his first love was God and the Emperor, the next 
strangers; iot he had travelled in Bussia, and knew the 
value of hospitality. The descent of this river is quite 
unique/ for the water-traveller must quit his canoe at every 
one of the hundred mill-races. There are upwards (^ two 
hundred of these mill-dams between Ekaterinbuig and 
Eamensk. At every one of these, one's goods, chattels, and 
self must go out and in, and his canoe be shoved over the 
rough roots, sticks, and blocks (often held together by 
laige blocks of stones), and dropped some eight or 
fifteen feet as the case may be. No ordinary traveller 
can execute this journey without great loss of time and 
patience. For us the authorities were so active that at 
eeu^h stoppage a multitude was waiting to get us through. 
The sub-officer put every ^ starosta ' in play, and our descent 
was a regular press. * Stupai, pikarea, poshol 1 ' and on we 
went (at what cost it matters tot in this land), carrying 
with us the inmates of one village till we reached the nextw 
No one who has not descended this Siberian river would 
believe how much comfort and industry appear on its banka 
No mill, numerous as they were, was without six or more 
little carts before it A dense population lives all along 
the Issetz. Oood white large churches rise up here and 
there, and everywhere the cottages are nice and clean.* 

More adventurous was the descent of one of the streams on 
the other or western slope of the UraL Von Eeyserling and 
De Yemeuil had been making independent observations, and 
the party re-united at a mining station on the Serebrianska, 
a small stream flowing into the Tchussovaya, which descends 
into the great Permian lowlands. " The descent of the Sere* 



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1841.J PERILS OF URAL NAVIGATION. 337 

brianska," he says, ** was one of the most memorable days 
of my life. The distance to be accomplished by this winding 
stream was seventy versts, or nearly fifty English miles. 
When I went to rest, the bed of the river was almost quite 
dry, with not water enough to drown a rat, and yet we were 
to effect the miracle of floating down in a six-oared boat 
When I awoke a furious stream was rushing down, and the 



Dike of AubUtoI, Soath Und.— (^rom BttUx i% Ewrop^, yoL L p. 860.) 

natives were beginning to get canoes. The good comman- 
dant^ having the Imperial order that I was to descend by 
water, had let off an upper lake, and thus made a river in 
a fine dry sunny day ! 

''The waters having been let off for us, and the river bed 
filled, we effected our embarkation amid three cheers. The 
river was muddy, and had rocks hidden, with very sharp 
VOL. I. Y 



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338 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [isfl, 

curves of the stream. With a hundred groundings and 
stoppages, we got tired of our big boat of honour, and took 
to the canoes. These answered well for a while, but trust- 
ing to shoot through some stakes and nets (mjrself on my 
back at the head of the canoe), we (ie. De Yemeuil and 
myself) were capsized in a strong current. I saved my 
note-book (see the stains), but my cloak, bag, pipe, etc., went 
floating down. A curious scene followed, after we had 
scrambled out to the shore. The other canoe shot by and 
picked up our floating apparatu& Fortunately this letting 
off the waters had brought down some natives to catch fish, 
and they had a fire, by which we dried ourselves, whilst 
their laige wolf-dogs lay aroimd us. When we re-em- 
barked, we shot several ducks (Merjanier), and here and 
there found limestones and shales striking to the N.K.W. 
Some of the limestones were charged with Devonian fossils. 

''After this, evening began to falL Saddles, anticlinals, 
and synclinals arose in magnificent masses on the rocky 
banks, but our boat-bottom was soon knocked to pieces by 
grounding at least a himdred times, and whisking round as in 
a waltz at each shock. It now filled so rapidly that we had 
just time to escape. We had then a fine evening scene. 
We landed on shingle, and got into the forest, not having 
seen a house or hut for fifty miles. The dense wildness of 
the scene, the jungle and intricacy of a Bussian forest, 
can never be forgotten. We had to cross fallen trees and 
branches, and to force through underwood up to our necks. 

"After our various night evolutions, sometimes by land 
and sometimes by vrater, we finally reached our ' derevna ' 
(Ust Serebrianska) at two A.M., W43t up to the middle, by 
walking through moist jungle and meadow. Our men were 



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184L] NAVIGATION IN THE URALS. SS9 

veiy amphibia, and required no food. They had been half 
the day in that stream, pulling, hauling, shoving, and shout- 
ing, and never eating or drinking. We had to awake the 
chief peasant's family, and were soon in a fine hot room, 
with children sleeping all about 

** I awoke with the bright sun, after three hours' rest, and 



Goige of the TchnasoTaya, we«t flank of Und. Contorted DeTonlan and Carboniferona 
Bocks.— (From Bu$tia in Ewnp*^ toL L p. 886.) 

pulling my shoes out of the oven, and my dried clothes 
firom the various long poles, proceeded after a warm tea to 
embark on the Tschussovaya, into which the Serebrianska 
flows. The Tschussovaya being a much larger river, we had 



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340 SIB RODERICK MURCEISON. [mil 

no difficulty in boating down it, and we had a most instruc- 
tive and exciting day, as we passed in the deep gorges of 
Devonian and Carboniferous limestone, here thrown up in 
vertical beds to form peaks, then coiled over even like ropes 
in a storm, or broken in every direction. Making many 
sections, with many memoranda, the 17th June was 
finished." 

" On the following day we worked away down the river 
in the same great leaky boat as before, the boatmen singing 
their carols, and abusing the Ispravnicks and proprietors 
who force them to drink bad *vodki' or whisky by their 
monopoly. Other songs were gentle, plaintive love-ditties, 
so unlike what our coarse country fellows would sing. 
With no stimulants, getting but black bread, and working 
in wet clothes, for they were continually in the river shoving 
the boat on, they sang in rhymes, one of which as trans- 
lated by Koksharoflf was : — 

* My love slie lives on the banks of a rapid fltream. 
And when the goes to the garden to pnll a rose, she thinks of me.* 

Another of these ditties began — 'Mary, come back from 
the bower.' A third was a comic song, quizzing a soldier 
who got into a house when tipsy. A fouith was a jollifica- 
tion of peasants in a drinking-shop, to beat the maker of 
bad brandy, with a famous loud refrain in which all the 
boatmen joined heartily." 

When, after toils of this kind, the travellers found them- 
selves again in one or other of the busy mining stations, they 
met with much courteous, and even exuberant, hospitality. 
Thus before leaving Ekaterinburg a dinner was given in their 
honour, to which the chief officials of the place were asked. 
Delicacies of all kinds, as well as costly wines, appeared at 



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1841.] HOSPITALITY IN THE URALS. 341 

the table. "The dinner," says Murchison, ''finished by a 
bumper of champagne to my wife, and throwing all the 
glasses out of the building, that they might never again be 
used. I made a speech in reply, and begged to have a top 
and a bottom of the broken glasses, that I might reunite them 
with a silver plate in England, and inscribe on it my grate- 
ful thanka" 

Posts were neither frequent nor regular, or at least the 
geologists were too constantly on the move to be able to count 
upon many fixed addresses to which letters could be sent for 
them. Murchison, however, though busy, body and soul, in 
Bussian geology, naturally found his thoughts many a time 
far away among his Mends at home. On 28th July, by four 



Plain of IdmeBtoiie in the Sontli UnL— <From Btwtia in Bwopi^ toL L p. 43a) 

in the morning, he was up, had boiled his own kettle and 
breakfasted, and was writing up his journal notes : — " This 
day the British Association is assembling at Plymouth, and 
I drank success to it How few of the members there will 
have lighter hearts than their general secretary in Siberia ! 
.... In this poor dreary spot (for the Steppes are like the 
flat border counties of England and Scotland) I made two 
children at all events right happy by giving them new large 
copper piecea" 

It was in the southern parts of the Ural that the 
travellers had most experience of those grassy plains, to 
which the term Steppes is applied — " wide, monotonous. 



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342 SIB RODERICK MURCHI80N. \}M. 

featureless plateaux, the withered grassy sur&ce undulating 
to the south and west, while to the east all is boundless 
even. Not a glimpse of what may be called the Ural 
mountains. The countiy becomes more decidedly southern ; 
or, in other words, bare, barren, and bad. Dried dung, piled 
up, is now used in place of wood, and Eirghis and Calmuck 
faces appear under the military uniform in very poor villages. 
The road now quits the low eminences on which the station 
is placed, defended by men of all arms, including Cossacks, 
and passes along the wide sea of the Steppe. Low bushes 
of a sort of Myrica are mixed with a little culture of oats and 
com. The very road was grassy, and we galloped by the 
first armed mounted archer Bashkirs I had seen, with a 
stout double bow, and twenty heavy arrows. They are used 
in protecting the conveyance of goods." 

Notices of some of the most striking features of the tribes 
through which the journey led occur in the joumaL " Our 
Bashkir drivers had a name for every hill, however smalL 
The principal man, or coachman, was a fine long, aqiuline- 
nosed, wild- looking, good-humoured fellow, with a cap of 
loose shaggy fur. He had the three wheelers in hand, pre- 
ceded by two postilions with a pair each, and all these were^ 
headed by a long lad riding a leader in advance. Our 
equipage and ponies measured fifty feet in length. The 
Bashkirs, being accustomed only to horseback, are not good 
whips like the Bushki, and their horses are too weak to 
charge a hill ; but they go down one furiously, — ^no slight 
danger for the riders, and for us also, who, in case of a fall, 
would have been well smashed." 

These Bashkir of the Ural had no sympathy with the 
geologists in their search after the mammoth and other bones 



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1841.] LIFE AMONG THE BASHKIR. 343 

found in the gold-drifts and ancient alluvia of those regions. 
^ These they considered as relics of their great forefathers, 
saying, ' Take our gold if you will, but leave ub, for God's 
Bake, the bones of our ancestors !' " 

One hot day the parly arrived at a little station in the 
South UraL '' Dined at this lonely spot All still as death 
at noon. Grasses all burnt up. People asleep, but soon 
awakened. The Cossack women of the Uralsk are fine broad 
creatures in red dresses. The confidence of these primitive 
people is very great, for they allowed us to grope for tea- 
spoons and bread in the cupboards in which their bank-notes 
and roubles were lying loose 1** 

Living in Bashkir tents, the geologists learned to relish a 
sort of diet which anywhere else might have been deemed 
hardly tolerable. One staple article of food in summer 
among these simple people is ^^ Koumiss,'' — a preparation of 
mare's milk, — ** the staff of life, the bread, meat, and wine of 
the Bashkir." Of this liquor Murchison would appear to 
have become fond, and to have thriven on it He tells how 
at one of the Bashkir stations, where the party had spent 
the night, '' after a very good breakfast, all sorts of saluta- 
tions followed, such as the drinking of Koumiss to the 
prosperity of our host Then we heard his story of losing 
sixty sheep, killed by three wolves last winter ; next we found 
that he paid so many roubles for his present wife, and that 
her dress cost him more than herself. I expressed a wish 
to him to have a Bashkir vest belt pouch, and cap, and he 
offered me his own. It was with difficulty that I got him 
to take the value to replace them."^ 

^ **ThiB dress I afterwards wore at a fancy ball at Stafford House, 
when I sainted the old Duke of Wellington in true Bashkir style. Kot 



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344 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [i84i. 

At last, with note-books laden with descriptions and 
sections of the various traverses which they had made of 
the Ural chain, the travellers began to move once more into 
the great western plain. They had succeeded in reaching 
the central masses of that chain, and in recognising, by fossil 
evidence, that from a nucleus of granite and ciystalline 
rocks, Silurian, Devonian, and Carboniferous strata are suc- 
cessively thrown oflE This evidence had been industriously 
gathered from river-channels, road -sides, mining operations, 
and every available source of information. For days to- 
gether they had been off soon after daybreetk for renewed 
hammering, and many a time night descended upon them 
while they were still plying their task. Now and then, 
indeed, when pinched for time, they even essayed to use 
their hammers in the dark, after the manner of M. Boub^, 
whose example Murchison used jocularly to quote, up to the 
end of his life.^ 

It was now time to turn westwards, towards the coal- 
fields of the south of Eussia, the exploration of which had 
been fixed as one of the chief objects of the expedition. 
But Orenburg lay in their way, with its governor, the brave, 
though unfortunate, hero of the Khivan expedition. General 
Perovski He was then at his country quarters, in a 
picturesque wooded valley at the far edge of the Steppe, a 
long way to the north-east of the town. To see a little 
more geology, with a taste of Eussian sport, and the 

one of my intimate friends reoognised me. The sword, etc., I iiad from 
Stataonst, and medals d la Bwse, hung roand me." 

^ This geologist, said Sir Roderick, used to maintain that a good deal 
of geological work could be done as weU by night as by day. Bocks had 
three well-marked sounds under the hammer — P^, Poff% i^d Pujfl The 
first of these indicated the hard crystalline rocks, the second the sand- 
stones, and the third the clays I 



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1841.] GENERAL PER0V8KL 345 

acquaintance of a noted Bnssian soldier, were attractions 
Mnrchison could not resist So he undertook the inter- 
minably tedious drive across the Steppe, and spent a few 
days with more thorough pleasure than he had enjoyed since 
leaving home. With all the comforts of civilized life, this 
place was yet quite in the wildsy — BashMr attendants, with 
their picturesque costumes, a hlazing bonfire lighted in the 
encampment, and the moonlight glancing on the lances of 
the Bashkir guard Perovski made a great impression on 
the retired officer of the 36th. One evening he gave him 
the following anecdote: — *'When the utter failure of the 
Khivan expedition become known, all Bussia turned upon 
me, and with any other master than my good Emperor I was 
a ruined man. But the Emperor declared he would not 
condemn me until the opinion of the Duke of Wellington 
was obtained, who, being a Marshal in the Kussian army, 
should have the whole case laid before him. This was done 
through Baron Brunnow, and then came the Duke's dictum : 
' I am of opinion that General Perovski acted as a skilful 
general, and that if he had not retreated when he did, 
instead of losing a fourth part of his army, he might have 
lost the whole. Success was impossible under such intense 
cold."* On this judgment being given, the Emperor not only 
absolved Perovski, but gave him the government of Oren- 
burg. The Gteneral added, — "You see that I owe every- 
thing to your illustrious Duke, and I b^ of you, when you 
return to England, to take some opportunity of letting him 
know what a grateful person I am." "This," Murchison 
adds, ** I took care to do." 

The visit to the General led actually to yet another 
traverse of the Ural, for he showed the travellers a map of 



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346 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80K [mi. 

the southern part of the chain, so greatly superior to any- 
thing which they had yet been fortunate enough to meet with, 
that it prompted a strong desire to take one final look at the 
Ural geology, and with his help among the Bashkir popula- 
tion, they succeeded in once more crossing the chain in its 
central part, and collated their work in the southern and 
northern portions. 

At last, however, they had unwillingly to turn their 



The Oanuaja Hills, South Und, approaching from the Steppea. 
(From Ru$8ia in Europe, voL L p. 460.) 

backs finally upon those picturesque ridges and fertile 
valleys of the Southern Ural, and to speed westwards 
through the dreary monotonous country of the Steppes. In 
geology there was nothing either very interesting or com- 
plicated to detain them. They therefore hurried on through 
the Eirghis Steppes to Sarepta, crossing once more the great 
Volga, and tracing as they went some of the limits of the 



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1841.] IN THE STEPPES. 347 

ancient sea of which the present Caspian^is but a shrank 
remnant Through the plains of the Don, among Cossacks 
and Kalmucks, their course was yet more rapid. On 8th 
September the journal records, — " De VemeuU sleeping in 
the hut, and myself in the carriage. What is a Cossack 
post station ? Everything about it is very different &om a 
flaming great wooden Bussian station. First, you see a dot 
upon the Steppe, which magnifies as you approach it to a 
thing about the size of the smallest Irish hut^ and not very 
unlike one in externals, being concocted of mud and reeds, 
with very little wood. But the interior is very different 
from an Irish cabin. I now write in a room ten feet square, 
and on the table lieth the regular sealed post-book. This 
official chamber is six and a half feet high, and has a large 
stove in the comer, a door four feet high, and two windows 
eighteen inches by nine. The walls are all well white- 
washed, the tables well scoured, and tiie floor well beaten 
and clean swept." 

Skirting the sea of Azov, they turned northwards into the 
coal-field of the Donetz. There they made a series of most 
important observations, bearing both on general questions of 
geology and on the industrial resources of the Bussian 
Empire. They found the coal-seams to lie, like many of 
those in the north of England and in Scotland, among the 
marine strata of the Carboniferous Limestone, there being, 
so far as they could see, no true "Coal-measures," in the 
geologists sense of that term, in Bussia. They learnt, more- 
over, that though the coal was quite workable, and had 
indeed been mined for years, it lay among strata which, 
unlike those of the vast tracts in the centre of the Empire, 
had been subject to such underground disturbances as to 



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348 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [isii. 

present many laige dislocations and many foldings. They 
traced it westwards until they found it die out again on 
ancient crystalline rocks, while northward and eastwards 
they learnt that it passed under sheets of Cretaceous and 
Tertiary deposits. 

In the course of this prolonged tour, while the main 
attention of the geologists had been given to the structure 
of the solid rocks, their ingenuity had been on many occa- 
sions called forth by the anomalous features presented by 
the surface deposits of the country. These difficulties started 
up in renewed force on the way north to Moscow. They 
are thus stated in the journal : — ** The surface of Bussia 
affords some puzzling problems. In passing from south to 
north you first meet with the tract of the northern drift, the 
materials of which become more and more numerous at 
every ten versta Still the old rule (applied by me last 
year) answers perfectly, viz., the diluvia are three- fourths 
derived from the subjacent rocks, so as largely and loosely 
to indicate the zone of country you are traversing, provided 
you have the key to the subsoils of Bussia. Thus, whilst 
the loose stuff was all yellow in the coimtry composed of 
yellow Devonians, so to-day, viz., from lichvin to Kaluga^ 
you are immersed either in ferruginous, or reddish, or white 
sands. The latter prevail in great quantity in the horrible 
tracts north and south of Peremyschl — a most wretched 
town, — and their presence is well explained by the destruc- 
tion of the yellow and white sands of the Carboniferous 
Limestone ; for, with the exception of the section opposite to 
Peremyschl, and one or two rare localities, the valley of the 
Oka is here denuded to a width of several versts, which 
space is flooded in spring-time. This is one of the numerous 



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1841.] BLACK EARTH OF RUSSIA. 349 

cases which realize in modem times (viz., in spring-floods) 
the geologist's idea (mine at least) of the condition of the 
earth's surface during the intermediate period, viz., shortly 
after emersion from the sea, when the mammoth had left his 
bones sticking in the mud. 

" The drifting and excavation are explicable as in other 
places. The vast spaces denuded and broken up in the most 
horizontal districts explain perfectly the vast masses of local 
detritus in the northern governments, and their transport for 
150 versts southwards. 

** But how explain the Tchomaia-zem which overlaps the 
diluvium of the north, and is also spread over vast r^ons of 
the centre and south of Russia, sometimes in river valleys, 
sometimes on slopes, sometimes on high plateaux, and is 
always of precisely the same composition, without a trace of 
true pebbles, or, in short, of any extra ingredient ? What 
colours the black loam ? If it be of vegetable origin, whole 
forests of mighty extent must have been destroyed to pro- 
duce it. But how destroyed? In all other superficial deposits, 
whether in bog, in mud, or in the youngest tertiaries, we find 
traces of the trees, branches, grasses, etc., but not a vestige 
have we in the Tchomoi-zem. All ib a black, uniform, finely 
levigated paste, sometimes highly tenacious, and very much 
so when not worked into with the plough, for after labour it 
works into a fine black mould In this virgin state it is 
seldom to be seen, for 90 to 100 parts of all that is good in 
soil, fix)m the Ural to the swamps of Poland, is already in 
culture. The specimens I selected, however, had evidently 
never been touched by plough or man ; they were taken 
from the precipitous sides of the Oka, just after a subsidence 
of the difib which exposed the section, the lowest deposit of 



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350 SIR RODERICK HVRCHISON. [wa 

which is the iron sand which covers such large tracts in 
Yladimir, and many governments, and overlaps the truncated 
and denuded edges of the Devonian limestone in these parts. 
Perhaps it is Tertiary, but only perhaps, for we have similar 
ironstones under the chalk at Kursk, and similar limestones 
over the Lower Jura shales at Saratoff. 

" If the drift was, as I believe it to be, a great submarine 
operation, then are we to suppose that the Tchomaia>zem is 
the result of a great change of a pre-exi3ting terrestrial sur- 
face ? To believe in this seems to me very difficult, and for 
this reason, that no imaginable destructive sub-aSrial agency 
could produce a general wide-spread and uniform condition. 
By what conceivable sub-aerial agency can this very thick 
black cerate have been spread out as with a unghty trowel, 
and fashioned to the surface over millions of square miles ? 
If forests were destroyed to farmsh it, how were they so 
triturated and reduced to this black cement, that no chemist 
could invent apparatus to produce such results, even in a 
crucible ? 

** I end, therefore, in believing that this black earth is 
the last covering of mud and slime which was left by the 
retirement of the liassic sea^ and was to a great extent 
derived from the wearing away of the shales of the Jurassic 
strata [8ic\. 

** If such are some of the difficulties of the Tchomaia-zem, 
what are we to say of the great subjacent masses of clay 
and sand of South Bussia ? In this we have not a pebble 
of transport, nothing but a sort of day or loam, which 
might well pass for ' loess.' If so, and if ' loess ' was pro- 
duced as Lyell thinks, then all South and Central Bussia 
was one vast pond, in which all was tranquil during two 



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1841.] RETURN TO ST. PETERSBURG., 351 

epochs — \8t, that of the so-called drift, with mammoths ; 
2(2, that of the black earth." 

By the beginning of October the various members of the 
party, who had separated for the purpose of making different 
traverses of the country, were once more brought together in 
Moscow. There several days were spent by Murchison ''in 
condensing thoughts, comparing notes, examining Yon Key- 
serling and Koksharoff, constdting with De Yemeuil and all 
the party, and preparing two general sections, a Tableau 
G^ndrale, the map, and the report of fourteen pages to Count 
Gaucrine on the results of the 'Exp^tion Gr^ologique.' Also 
a letter was concocted to old Professor Fischer, for publication 
in the Bulletin de Moscou and the German periodicals, giving 
a slight sketch of our doings, and in which I first suggested 
the term Permian." Petersburg was reached again on the 
8th of October. 

Of his last few days in Bussia the journal records the 
following memoranda : — *' Having travelled 20,000 versts in 
the distant provinces without losing a pin, we were twice 
robbed between Novgorod and Moscow of our beds and 
things behind the carriage. One trunk only was left in the 
hinder parts, and this was viced on; but besides this 
securily, I resolved to guard it from the station where we 
detected our losses, and so letting down the head jo( the 
caliche, I laid De Vemeuil's double-barrelled gun over the 
rear, and determined to bag the first thief who approached ; 
and in this form we reached Madam Wilson's house. 
Besides several interviews with the old minister, Coimt 
Cancrine (who was much gratified with my report, of which 
he had prepared a digest for the Emperor), and a dinner at 
his house, and the same at Tcheffkine's, we were occupied 



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352 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [isfl. 

in looking after more than twenty cases of fossils, which had 
amved from our distant parts, and were deposited in the 
magazine of the School of Mines. 

''All onr reports and work being delivered in, official 
letters were received annoimcing the Second Class St 
Anne in diamonds for myself, and a plain cross for De 
Yemenil, as a mark of the Emperof s approbation of our 
labours. 

''We were to sail in tiie Nikolai steamer on Saturday the 
24th, and Friday was fixed by the Emperor for seeing us — 
a great compliment, as it was His Majesty's working day 
with his ministers. On these occasions Nicholas uses no 
ceremony. After thanking us for taking so much pains 
about the Ural Mountains, and after asking if I thought the 
gold alluvia were likely to last much longer, he desired me 
to open out and explain the rolls of drawing and paper 
under my arm. This I did ucwndum artem. He was serious 
when he was receiving his lesson about the productive and 
non-productive tracts of eoal, and the rationale thereof, and 
laughing when he saw the Produdus Cancrini and the 
Oomatites Tcheffkini inscribed upon the roll, he asked, 
' Quel esphce de produit est celui-lk de mon ami le Comte V 
'And so you have seen (General Perovski? He is my 
good and dear friend. I hope you were pleased with him?' 
I had then to sing the praises, which I naturally did 
eon amare, of the frank and gallant soldier who had been so 
truly kind, and also so veiy useful to us. 

" When our geological talk was over, and he had asked 
us about our health, our travels, and many special points, 
I broached my desire to revisit Bussia in 1843, with my 
work in my hand, and on that occasion to explore the Altai 



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1841.] THE EMPEROR NICHOLAS I. 353 

* Come when you will,' was his reply, ' I shall always rejoice 
to see you, and to afford you a hearty welcome ; and be 
assured that I am most particularly grateful for all your 
exertions to impart knowledge amongst us whilst you are 
studyii^ the natural history of our country/ And then 
with as hearty an ' au revoir/ and as warm a shaking of 
hands as ever took place between the oldest familiar friends, 
we took our leave. 

''Such is Nicholaa Let those who criticise him look 
into his noble and frank coimtenance, and then let them 
try to tell me he is a tyrant No ; utter ignorance of the 
nature of the man has led to this most unjust notion. 
Nicholas is above all deceit, and squares his conduct on 
more noble principles than that of any potentate of modem 
timea He disdains subterfuge, and is transparent as to 
all his emotions. Hence if ill-served (knowing perfectly 
what duty is) he does not suppress his feelings. He is 
sometimes quick in his anger, but like all such generous 
souls, his confidence in his friends is unboimded. Firm and 
unchanging in his resolves as an Emperor of Bussia must 
be, if he desires to reign, his untiring aim is to ameliorate 
every institution which he can toucL But alas ! so bound 
up is everything in Bussia by forms, customs, and preju* 
dices, that he who supposes the autocrat powerful for all 
good, and capable of making every conceivable reform, 
would find himself most egregiously mistaken. The nobles 
and their privileges meet him here, the different bureau- 
cracies there. Here the Minister of the State Demesnes 
places a veto upon some great projected change ; there the 
Minister of the Finances tells him such a thing cannot be, 
or, in other words, cannot be paid for.** 

VOL. I. z 



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354 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [i84l 

The official courtesy and real kindness shown to Muiohi- 
son in the metropolis made the leave-taking more than a 
matter of mere form. From one and all of his firiends he 
received the heartiest congratulations and good wishes, with 
the expression of a hope for his speedy return. He notes, 
for instance, that Coimt Cancrine, the virtual Prime Minister 
of the Empire, "* embraced us, kissing me three times ; and 
thus encouraged with eveiy promise if I would return, we 
took our leave," 

In spite of fogs and other delays, including a feverish 
attack, the result of the last week of excitement and 
conviviality in St. Petersburg, our traveller reached the 
mouth of the Humber on the 1st November. The last 
record in the Bussian journal, written while the vessel was 
within a few miles of the Yorkshire coast, is as follows : — 

'' Seven months and seven days have now elapsed since 
I left my home on a fine day in the end of March, and I 
hail Old England with a shining sun again after having 
travelled through space equal to the diameter of the earth. 
The Kirghis, the Kalmuck, and the Bashkir excitements 
are now to give way to plain English comforts, of which 
I have neither tasted nor thought since I bade adieu to 
them" 

Thus ended Murchison's Bussian campaign. The ample 
record which is given in the great work by his colleagues 
and himself has made the general scientific results long 
familiar to geologists. The geological structure of the 
Bussian provinces was now for the first time broadly 
sketched out and mapped so as to bring the rocks of one 
half of the European continent into family relationship with 
those of the other hal£ Kor were the benefits conferred 



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184L] RESULTS OF RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN, 356 

only on the country in which the long and arduous journey 
had been made. New light was thrown on questions of 
general geological import^ such as the structure of moun- 
tains, the physical geography of the times of the Old Bed 
Sandstone, the classification of the Devonian and Old Bed 
Sandstone rocks of Western Europe, the history of the earlier 
part of the Carboniferous period, the true order and relations 
of the red rocks lying between the Coal-measures and the 
base of the Jurassic series, the former extension of that 
ancient sea of which the modem Caspian and Sea of Aral 
are but the diminishing fragments, the southern extension 
of the ice-borne boulders carried during the Ice Age from 
Finland and the north far into the low plains of Europe, 
the occurrence of gold and its distribution in the old alluvia 
of rivers. The campaign indeed proved to be most fruitful 
in its issues. It raised Murchison to the same place with 
r^ard to the geology of Bussia that Pallas fiUs in its 
botany.^ It opened out a new field for research, and paved 
the way for the good work which has since been done in 
Bussia by other and later observers. 

On Murchison himself its influence was profoimd. It 
gave breadth to his method of dealing with palaeozoic rocks ; 
it increased his aptitude in applying the evidence of fossils 
to determine questions of geological chronology, and it 
strengthened his confidence in his Silurian and Devonian 
work, and in the principles on which that work had been 
based. Bringing him too into constant and intimate 
association with foreigners and foreign ways of life and 
thought, the Bussian campaign increased in a high d^pree 

^ Helmenen, Bulletin de VAcad, Imp. de 8L PeterdHmrg, torn. xvii. 
1871, p. 295 et ieq. 



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356 SIR RODERICK MURCHlSON. [m\. 

his sympathj and respect for men and things abroad, 
removed from him much, if not all, of that insularity of 
feeling of which his countrymen are so often accused, and 
made him more than ever the considerate friend and cour- 
teous host of all scientific brethren whose lot brought them 
to this country, no matter from what quarter of the globe 
they might come. 

Whether the influences of this bold and skilfully con- 
ducted journey were altogether beneficial may be matter 
for doubt In the course of a few months the geological 
structure of a vast empire embracing the greater part of 
Europe had been sketched out — a feat to which there had 
probably been no parallel in the annals of geological 
exploration. The success of the campaign and the applause 
which that success brought from all quarters, were so great 
that a more than usually well-balanced nature might well 
have felt the strain too severe to keep its equipoise. From 
this time forward characteristics which may be traced in 
the foregoing narrative became more strongly developed in 
Murchison's character. In his letters and in his published 
writings his own labours fill a larger and larger space. His 
friends could trace an increasing impatience of opposition or 
contradiction in scientific matters, a growing tendency to 
discover in the work of other fellow-labourers a want of due 
recognition on their part of what had been done by him, 
a habit, which became more and more confirmed, of speaking 
of the researches of his contemporaries, specially of yoimger 
men, in a soit of patronizing or condescending way. He 
had hitherto been, as it were, one of the captains of a regi- 
ment ; he now felt himself entitled to assume the authority 
of a general of division. To many men who did not know 



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1841.] INFLUENCE OF SUCCESS. 357 

him, or who knew him only slightly, this tendency assumed 
an air of arrogance, and was resented as an unwarranted 
assumption of superiority. But they who knew Murchison 
well, and had occasion to see him in many different lights, 
will doubtless admit that these failings were in large measure 
those of mtumer, and at the most lay openly on the sur- 
face of his character. You saw some of them at once, 
almost before you saw anything else. Hence it was natural 
enough that casual intercourse with him should give 
the impression of a man altogether wrapt up in his own 
work and fame. Yet imdemeath those outer and rather 
forbidding peculiarities lay a generous and sympathetic 
nature which inspired many an act of unsolicited and 
unexpected kindness, and which was known to refuse to 
be alienated even after the deepest ingratituda The suc- 
cess of the Bussian researches probably quickened into 
undue prominence some of the less pleasing features in 
Murchison's character, but they in no way lessened the 
measure of kindly interest and sympathy which, in spite of 
the way he often chose to show them, were those of a true 
friend. 



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CHAPTER XVL 

THE CHAIE OF THB GEOLOGICAL SOCIETT. 

With the prestige which the Bussian geological tour had 
given him all over Europe, Murchison returned to resume 
'his town life in London. There lay a vast amoimt of work 
before him to be done this winter (1841-2). First of all 
the notes of the explorations in Bussia had to be carefally 
worked out in anticipation of the visit which it had been 
arranged should be paid to him by his fellow-travellers, 
with the view of settling their plans for the preparation of 
their conjoint volumes on the geology of the Muscovite 
dominions. The experience which the writing of the 
Silurian St/stem had furnished warned him that his new 
literaiy venture would be no easy task ; we shall find, 
indeed, that just as in the case of the growth of that work, 
so in the elaboration of Russia and the Ural MowrUains, the 
progress of his pen, slow enough of itself, needed to be con- 
tinually sustained by fresh arguments with the hammer. 
Only now, the intervals of field-work, instead of taking the 
geologist to old haimts, social and scientific, in Wales and 
the Border counties, led him to wide digressions into Scan- 
dinavia, France, Germany, Poland, Bussia — in short, into 
many far separated tracts of the Continent, whence firesh 
evidence could be gathered bearing on what had come to 



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1811-2.] TOWN LIFE. 359 

be his great geological quest — the trae order and classifica- 
tion of the older fossiliferous rocks of Europe. 

But besides this main piece of work, he had now to 
take his place and perform persomJly the duties of Presi- 
dent of the Greological Society, an office to which, as we 
have seen, he had been for the second time elected, just 
before he started on his second journey to Bussia. Since 
he had previously filled the chair he had vastly increased 
his reputation. Moreover, the fortune inherited by Mrs. 
Murchison had very considerably augmented his income; 
hence, while eager to sustain his position with dignity 
and hospitality, he found himself much more able to do 
so on a large scale than in the old and more modest days 
at Bryanston Place. 

Add to these various avocations the numerous and 
exacting calls upon the time and thought of a man who 
occupies a prominent place in London society — calls which, 
though now increasing enormously on Murchison's hands, 
he yet strove to meet as far as he could — and we see what 
the change must have been from the wilds of the Urals to 
the turmoil of London. 

The narrative now to be followed will lead us through 
the doings of the busy years which culminated in the pub- 
lication of the work on Bussia. It was during that time 
that the classification developed in the Silurian System 
received its broad basis in Europe. Li that time, too, the 
seeds b^an to germinate of the estrangement which utterly 
destroyed the ancient brotherly friendship between Sedgwick 
and Murchison. There is thus a special interest attaching 
to this period in relation both to Murchison's life and to the 
progress of palseozoic geology. 



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360 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [v^ 

The following letter takes us at once into the midst of 
the work and play of the winter : — 

" 16 Bblqrayb Squabb, January 25<^, 1842. 

"Dbab Egbbton, — My ancient sympathies are not so 
entirely destroyed that I do not feel for your loss of twenty- 
five couple of good hoimds I and the only compensation is, 
that we have a chance of seeing more of yourself. Humboldt 
declines the proposed festival, thanking me for the offer of 
this ' noble mark of English kindness,' but as the King stays 
only eight or nine days, and has nine thousand things to do, 
the thing was impracticable.^ Last week I was at Beaudesert 
trying to shoot in snow, but not prevented during two days 
from geologizing the fine high wilds of Cannock Chase among 
the old Marquis's blackcocks, grouse, and big boulder-stones. 
Then I went to Lord Dartmouth's, where I met a large party 
and read an inaugural address to the Midland Greological 
Society, and made five speeches after dinner (Lord Ward in 
the chair) to all the ironmasters, the most effective hit being 
when, in the absence of other fighting men, I stood up for 
the army and navy, and talked of a withered laurel or two 
which I picked up under the ' Old Duke.' That name was 
a talisman among good loyal folks like the Dudleyites. 

** I shall see Humboldt, I hope, chez mm one of these days, 
but the devil is that I am losing the best shooting of the 
year. I shall read all my discourse' this year at the morning 
meeting, so that we may have a reed jollification at the 
Crown and Anchor, after which I fear I shall scarcely be 
able to face the Earl's symposium." 

^ The King of ProMia was then on a visit to England, with Humboldt 
as one of his soite. 

* The President's addroM at the anniversary of the Geological Society 
in February. 



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SYDNEY SMITH'S ORANQERY, 361 

Befoie the end of the year the inauguial address men- 
tioned in this letter had been printed and circulated among 
his friends. From cue of these, the facetious Sydney Smith, 
he received the subjoined acknowledgment : — 

" Deab Murchison, — Many thanks for your yellow book, 
which is just come down to me. You have gained great 
fame, and I am very glad of it ; had it been in theology, I 
should have been your rival, and probably have been jealous 
of you, but as it is in geology, my benevolence and real good- 
will towards you have Mr play. 

" I shall read you out loud to-day. Heaven send I may 
imderstand you : not that I suspect your perspicuity, but 
that my knowledge of your science is too slender for that 
advantage — a knowledge which just enables me to distin- 
guish between the Caseous and the Cretaceous formations, 
or, as the vulgar have it, to know chalk from cheesa 

" There are no people here, and no events, so I have no 
news to tell you, except that in this mild climate my orange- 
trees are now out of doors, and in full bearing. Immediately 
before my windows, there are twelve large oranges on one 
tree. The trees themselves are not correctly the linnean 
orange-tree, but what are popularly called the bay tree, in 
large green boxes of the most correct shape, and the oranges 
well secured with the best pack-thread. They are uni- 
versally admired, and, upon the whole, considered finer 
than the Ludovican orange-trees of Versailles. Best regards 
to Mrs. M. — Yours, my dear Murchison, very truly, 

** Sydney Smtth. 

« Taumtok, DtunU>«T 26, 1841." 
Two other letters of the same correspondent, called forth 



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362 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [vml 

by similar presents of copies of Murchison's memoirs and 
addresses, may be given here : — 

" Dear Mubchison, — Many thanks for your kind recol- 
lection of me in sending me your pamphlet, which I shall 
read with all attention and care My observation has neces- 
sarily been so much fixed on missions of another description, 
that I am hardly reconciled to zealots going out with voltaic 
batteries and crucibles for the conversion of mankind, and 
baptizing their fellow-creatures with the mineral acids ; but 
I will endeavour to admire and believe in you.^ 

" My real alarm for you is, that by some late decisions 
of the magistrates, you come under the legal definition of 
Strollers, and nothing could give me more pain than to see 
any of the Sections upon the Mill calculating the resistance 
of the air, and showing the additional quantity of flour 
which might be ground in vacuo — each man in the mean- 
time imagining himself a Gktlileo. We have had Mrs. Grote 
here : Grotius would not come. The basis of her character 
is rural, and she was intended for a country clergyman's 
wife ; but for whatever she was intended, she is an extra- 
ordinary clever woman, and we all liked her very muck 

" Mra Sydney has eight distinct illnesses, and I have 
nine. We take something every hour, and pass the mixture 
from one to the other, as Mrs. M. and you do the bottla 

''About forty years ago I stopped an in&nt in Lord 
Breadalbane's ground, and patted his face ; the nurse said, 
* Hold up your head. Lord Glenorchy.' This was the Presi- 
dent of your Society ; he seems to be acting an honourable 
and enlightened part in life ; pray present my respects to 

^ Beferenoe is here mAde to the proceedings of the British AssooiAtioii. 
Lord Breadalbftne wm President in 1840. 



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A OEOLOOICAL PARADISE. 363 

him and his beautiful Counte8& — ^Yours, my dear Murchison, 
very truly, Sydney Smith." 

"Deab Murchison, — ^Many thanks for your address, 
which I shall diligently read. May there not be some one 
among the infinite worlds where men and women are all 
made of stone — ^perhaps of Parian marble ? How infinitely 
superior to flesh and blood ! and what a paradise for you, to 
pass eternity with a Grey wacke Woman I ! ! — Ever yours, 

" Sydney Smith." 

The anniversary address given to the (Jeological Society 
in February 1842 was a laboured production, occupying 
forty of the closely printed pages of the Society's Pro- 
ceedings, and must have somewhat exhausted both reader 
and audience from its mere length. During the interval 
of ten years which had passed away since Murchison 
read a similar discourse, his favourite science had in 
some departments made rapid strides; but in none had 
its progress been so remarkable as in the classification of 
the older fossiliferous rocks, a result which sprang in great 
measure out of his own labours. Naturally therefore he 
dwells upon his share in the triumphal progress of geo- 
logy. Giving his brethren of the hammer a sketch of 
the steps by which the classification had been worked 
out, he alludes to his adoption of the term '^ Silurian," re- 
marking that he had some pride in restoring that name to 
currency in remembrance of the boast of the Soman general 
Ostorius, who, on conquering Caractacus, declared that he 
had blotted out the very name of the British SUures from 
the face of the earth. He justifies the use of a geographical 
terminology, and very pointedly calls attention to the 



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364 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [vm. 

absence of any zoological boundary between the Cambrian 
and Silurian systems, a fact which had already been ad- 
mitted by Sedgwick^ He gathers together with manifest 
satisfaction the evidence of the extension of the Silurian 
system in Europe, Africa^ AmericlEt, Australia, and the South 
Seas. The Geological Survey had been making progress in 
South Wales, and had begun to grapple with the problem 
as to the separation between Cambria and Siluria. While 
alluding to its progress under the leadership of De la Beche, 
Murchison refers again to the work of the Survey in Devon- 
shire, and to his own labours there and on the Continent in 
conjimction with Sedgwick. The rocks of Devonshire lesid 
him to say a few kindly words of Hugh Miller^s Old Red 
Sandstone, which had recently appeared, and to speak of 
the wonderful series of bone-cased uncouth fishes famished 
by the Old Sed Sandstone of Scotland and Bussi& Among 
his allusions to fossils there occurs a reference to the re- 
markable announcement by Ehrenbeig o£ the occurrence of 
still living species in the Cretaceous rocks, a fact which 
showed "the danger of as yet attempting to establish a 

^ Proc. OeoL 8oc^ liL 641. The principle on which Mnrohiaon had 
proceeded in his Silari«n claBsifioaiion wm that which had guided Wil- 
liam Smith among the Secondary rocks — "Strata identified hy their 
organic remains." If, therefore, he found a series of strata containing 
nothing but Silurian fossils, he was logicaUy bound to dass it as Silurian. 
This was the inevitable step in store for him, and that he saw it coming 
seems to be indicated in this address. He says that <*the term * Cam- 
brian' must cease to be used in zoological classification, it being in that 
sense synonymous with ' Lower Silurian,' " and adds that the line of divi- 
sion placed on his map between the two series has no longer any paleon- 
tological significance. He hints that the Cambrian series is but a local 
subdivision of the same great palaeozoic group. Sedgwick's suscep* 
tibilities do not seem to have been roused at this time, but the subse- 
quent perusal of this address and that for the next year led him to protest 
against the proposal to wipe out the Cambrian system from geological 
nomenclature. See Sedgwick's Letters to Wordsworth, Letter Y. p. 86, 
and potUa, i). 380, noU, 



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1842,] THE GEOLOGICAL ANNIVERSARY, 365 

nomenclature founded solely on the fauna and flora of 
former conditions of the planet** After eulogies of foreign 
geologists, and notably of L. von Buch, to whom he con- 
veyed the Society's Wollaston medal, he winds up his oration 
with a long disquisition on the glacial theories which had 
been discussed at Glasgow, and regarding which he had 
then announced his intention " to show fight" He refuses 
to allow Agassiz to cover the northern parts of our hemi- 
sphere with sheets of ice, but admits that the evidence com- 
pels him to concede that the land was submerged beneath 
an ocean over which ice-rafts and icebergs sailed southwards. 

Here is Murchison's own report of his discourse and 
the meeting, as sent at the time to Sedgwick : — 

26ft Februa/ry 1842. — ^"The anniversary went off glori- 
ously, though I say so. The morning discourse was well 
received, and in truth I put a deal of powder and shot into it, 
foreign and domestic, and took so much pains as to stop my 
original work on Russia. ... [I write] as well as a man can 
whose first soiree begins to-night with probably 200 or 300 
people coming ! The morning room was full, and I read for 
two hours without losing a man. I entered at length into 
the Silurian and ' Palaeozoic' question. ... I defended the 
temporary division set up between your lower slaty rocks and 
my superior groups on the ground of positive observation of 
infrapoeition, and if in the end (as I now firmly believe) no 
suite of organic remains will be found, even in the lowest 
depths, which differs on the whole from the Silurian types, 
why then we prove the curious law that in the earliest 
inhabited seas of our planet the same forms were long con- 
tinued. 

" I took care to show that any other plan than that 



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366 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [iwa. 

which we adopted would have led to fatal errors, such as 
'Syst&me Hercynien' and other hypotheses^ and that now 
all most come rights to whatever extent (and the extent can 
probably never be defined) the base of the Lower Silurian 
zoological type may be extended. . . . 

" Our dinner went off ' con amore* and every one says 
it was the best (Adam Sedgwick only wanted) which we 
ever had I did my best to make it of a public character, 
and had my two Enighte of the Garter, one on either side 
the President, and the representative of my Emperor 
Nicholas. Brunnow spoke admirably, and I never heard 
Lord Lansdowne speak so well as for the toast of 'The 
Universities of this Land.' . . . Having no science to go 
to and snore over at night, the coena et nax went ofiT just as 
I could have wished it, and I so handicapped my running 
horses that they each made play where I wanted it I 
send you a scrap from the Morning Post, possibly written 
by . . . Knowing that he was going to furnish some- 
thing, I popped my speech [about the Emperor and Baron 
Brunnow] into his hands, being well aware that words are 
weighed at St. Petersburg. Tell Whewell of our fillies." 

Among the survivors of that small band of enthusiaste 
who founded the Qeological Society, one of the most promi- 
nent still took, even in his old age, a keen interest in the 
Society's affairs. No face was more familiar at the meet- 
ings than that of G. B. Greenough, no voice more often 
heard in the discussions. Every new theory, or proposed 
reform of an old one, every suggested change in the estab- 
lished nomenclature of geology, was sure to receive keen 
scrutiny, and probably more or less of active or at least 
passive opposition, from the veteran President of the Society. 



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1842.] 0. B. OREENOUOH. 367 

He used even to astonish the propounder of some novelty 
by demonstrating, or at least endeavouring to demonstrate, 
that what was thought to be new was really only another 
version of what had been known long before, had perhaps 
been even taught by Werner himself We have seen that 
this happened to be his mood of opposition when the 
Devonian question came up for discussion before the Society. 
And yet with this adherence to his early habits of thought, 
and with a doggedness of opposition which, though always 
courteous and good-natured, must often have been provoking 
enough, Greenough retained the deep respect and esteem of 
every member of the Society. This was manifested now 
by a movement to perpetuate his features in a bust, to be 
placed and preserved in the apartments at Somerset House.^ 
Murchison took a leading share in the organization of this 
scheme, which when propounded to Greenough drew from him 
the following acknowledgment^ addressed to Murchison : — 
March 30, 1842. — ^"For the exertions I have made in 
behalf of the Geological Society I have been most liberally 
remunerated by the confidence reposed in me at all times 
by the body at large, and by the invaluable friendships 
which I have formed with many of the members. I accept, 
however, with much pleasure, the distinction now presented 
to me, viewing it, as I do, not merely as an acknowledgment 
that I have faithfully discharged my duty, but also as a 
stimulant to exertion in others, and above all as a guaran- 
tee that those principles which, in the infancy of our estob- 
lishment, were resolutely insisted upon as essential to 
the well-being of every scientific institution, will continue 
to be cherished in the Geological Society, not only in the 
1 It was introsted to Weatnuusott 



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3 68 SIR RODERICK MURCHiaON. [i84f. 

lifetime of its founders, but long after their decease. — 
Tours sincerely, G. B. Geeenough." 

WMIst the geologists of Britain were in this graceful 
way crowning with honour the latter days of one of their 
earliest fellow-workers, another member of the brother- 
hood of hammerers was about to begin a career which has 
gained for him a high place in the annals of geological dis- 
coveiy, and with both of these events Murchison was 
intimately associated. The Provincial Legislature of Canada 
had voted a sum of £1500 for a geological survey of the 
province. With the view of securing a competent person 
to undertake the duties of such a survey, the (Jovemor- 
General applied to the Home Government, mentioning in 
particular the name of Mr. W. R Logan, and requesting 
Lord Stanley to ascertain whether, in the opinion of the 
Geological Society of London, or other competent authori- 
ties, he was considered to be qualified. This official request 
was communicated to Murchison, as President of the Society. 
Mr. Logan had already distinguished himself by some 
admirable surveys of the South Welsh coal-fields, and by 
observations on the formation of coaL He had worked 
enthusiastically as a volunteer in De la Beche's staff of the 
Geological Survey, and his large sections, drawn to a true 
scale of six inches to a mile, led to all the subsequent admir- 
able sections by De la Beche and his colleagues. Murchison, 
who knew these labours well, and had made use of them in 
his Silurian map, recommended the proposed appointment in 
the warmest terms, adding that it would ^ render essential 
service to Canada^ and materially favour the advancement 
of geological inquiry." Shortly afterwards Mr. Logan re- 



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1842.] VON KEYSERLING IN ENGLAND. 369 

ceived the appointment, and returned to Canada, his native 
country, to lay the foundations, and for about thirty years, 
in spite of many discouragements, to work out the develop- 
ment of one of the most important and successful geologi- 
cal surveys that have ever been carried on in any country. 

Summer had brought back leaf and blossom ere bags 
and hammers were furbished up anew for field-work. A 
plan which had been discussed the previous year in Russia 
was now to be put into execution, viz., that Murchison should 
with his comrades make a careful examination of some of 
the best sections of the older rocks of Britain, for the sake 
of renewed and more definite comparison with those of the 
Continent, and especially of Sussia. Count Yon Keyserling 
duly arrived, and after the usual and indispensable hospi- 
taUties in London, Murchison and he started on their Eng- 
lish tour. Spinning with the Isle of Wight, they first 
worked their way over the Secondary formations westward 
as far as Cheltenham and the Malvema Then they turned 
northwards into the old Silurian region, lingering at the 
rocks and country-houses which had been Murchison's 
fetvourite haunts ten years before, and passing across the 
undefined and increasingly indefinable line between Cam- 
bria and Siluria, away over Sedgwick's domains even to the 
far promontories of North Wales. Turning still north- 
wards, the two geologists halted in Durham to compare the 
rocks and fossils of that county with those of the Bussian 
province whence the term ^ Permian' had been taken. The 
northern coal-fields, so like in some respects to those of 
Bussia, offered many points of interest for comparison. So 
intent, however, were the travellers in gathering materials 
for the illustration of their Eussian work, that they pro- 

VOL. I. 2 a 



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370 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [msL 

longed their journey into Scotland, tracing the red sand- 
stones which emerge from under the coal-bearing tracts, and 
in which they saw much to remind them of the great areas 
of Old Eed Sandstone in Russia. Crossing to Carlisle on 
their southward journey, they worked their way through the 
Lake district, thence down the great Carboniferous Limestone 
tracts of Yorkshire and Derbyshire into the Staffordshire 
coal-field until they once more found themsdves on the 
slopes of the Malvems. 

Such was the round of country examined. One or two 
parts of the journey deserve notice from the sequel to which 
they led. In the course of their traverse from the Silurian 
into the Cambrian region, the travellers were as unable 
as anybody had ever yet been to draw any satisfactory line 
between the two tracts. Mineralogically there was really no 
true boundary line, and zoologically it had been agreed even 
by Sedgwick himself that no distinct assemblage of fossils 
had been ascertained to belong to the Cambrian series. 

The Geological Survey under De la Beche had now been 
extended into Wales. When Murchison and Von Keyserling 
were on their tour, the Survey forces were at work among 
the Silurian and Cambrian strata, and had already, after 
much careful mapping, made out some important points 
regarding the relation of these strata. Some of these are 
referred to in the following extracts from a letter by De la 
Beche to Murchison. Llandovery, Zlst July 1842. — ^''Touch- 
ing the Silurian system, heaven knows where it is to end 
northwards in this land ! it goes in great roUs, and no mis- 
take, a long way beyond the Caermarthen (Ordnance map) 
sheet No want of fossils ; in fact, organics and sections 
all going to prove the same thing. The cleavage no doubt 



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1842.] THE OEOLOGICAL SURVEY IN CAMBRIA. 371 

is abominable, but by very careful hunting of all the natural 
sections, and giving lots of time to it, the affair has at last 
come out clear enougL ... It would be a long story to go 
further into the old story hereabouts; that your Silurian 
system must have a jolly extension at our hands over the 
rocks of this land seems certain." 

The extension referred to was mainly due to the labours 
of Mr. Eamsay, who, since he left for Tenby, had been hard 
at work among the Welsh rocks. On the 7th August of this 
same year he reported progress to Murchison as follows: "I 
have gradually gone over the whole of the d-devarU Cam- 
brians between St. David's and Llandovery, and I can 
clearly show, particularly since I came here [Pumsant], 
that all your rocks, under a somewhat different form, spread 
over the surface of the land at least as far as Cardigan. . . . 
I should much like to show you some of the evidences of 
this Cambrian revolution." 

These were important labours in the progress of British 
geology ; but their special interest in the present narrative 
lies in their relation to Murchison and his views. It will 
be seen that they confirmed his belief in the extension of 
the Silurian forms of life among the older rocks, and they 
no doubt contributed not a little to foster that spirit of con- 
fident assertion which marked his next oration to the Geo- 
logical Society. He counted as personal friends the men 
by whom these researches had been conducted, but until 
this summer, when he took Count Von Keyserling with him, 
he had not become acquainted with the way in which their 
actual work in the Geological Survey was carried on. 
Phillips was then busy "running a section " across the Mai- 
vems. So Murchison and his Eussian companion went 



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372 SIR RODERICK MURCHI80N. [i84a 

round to sea They found their friend, on a bright Sep- 
tember morning, on the siunmit of the Beacon, busy with 
his theodolite, and learnt something of the laborious detail 
of geological surveying, so diffei'ent from the hop-step-and- 
jump kind of work with which their Sussian experiences 
had familiarized them. 

An important change took place this autumn in the 
Geological Society. Lonsdale, feeling the growing weakness 
of his hesdth, and the increasing urgency of the calls of the 
Society upon his powers, had resigned his Curatorship, with 
the purpose of seeking rest in retirement. As Murchison 
had been the means of bringing him to London, and had 
enjoyed his close friendship, as well as the quite invaluable 
aid which Lonsdale cheerfully rendered in palseontological 
and other matters, he now took an active part in promoting 
the subscription for a testimonial to the worthy Curatoi', 
expressive of the universal regret at his retirement. A silver 
cup, together with a sum of £600, were presented by Mur- 
chison and Fitton, in name of the subscribers, to Lonsdale, 
who, unable at the time to find a vent for his feelings, sent 
a characteristically modest and grateful note to Murchison. 
** Should life be granted me," he said, " I purpose to pursue 
the study of fossil polyparies, and it will be a source of per- 
sonal gratification if my friends will transmit to me any speci- 
mens they may think me capable of examining, and for the 
means of conducting this inquiry I shall be indebted to them." 

For fourteen years Lonsdale had been in the midst of 
all the activity of the Geological Society. During that time 
not a publication had been issued by the Society which did 
not owe much to his careful supervision. But the official 
work which he performed so well, and which undoubtedly 



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1842.] RETIREMENT OF LONDSDALE. 373 

had DO small inflaence on the general progress of geology in 
England, represented only a part, c^nd perhaps not even the 
chief part^ of the obligations under which he placed the 
members of the Society. There were few of the geologists 
engaged, like Murchison, in active research and in inde- 
pendent publication, who had not recourse to Lonsdale as an 
ever ready and sagacious helper. In a body of men who, 
busy with the same pursuits^ are always necessarily to some 
extent rivals, there must needs arise ever and anon occasions 
when unwarranted assertions on one side are met by more 
or less angry recrimination on the other, and when the truth 
of the question in dispute becomes clouded by the per- 
sonalities of the disputants. Such cases, despite the glow- 
ing eulogiums in presidential addresses, were not unknown 
in the Geological Society. Lonsdale's perfect impartiality 
and candour, and his tact and shrewd sense, enabled him 
to moderate these ebullitions, and to preserve the harmony 
of the brotherhood. 

Though he now retired from Somerset House, he could 
not so easily wean himself from the Society and the pur- 
suits of its members, with whom he had been so long and 
so intimately associated. He went down to Dartmouth to 
enjoy pure air and give himself up to the unremitting study 
of his favourite branch of inquiry, the structure of fossil 
corals. But we find him carrying on still, as of old, a 
voluminous correspondence with the President on affairs of 
finance, the preparation of the Society's Transactions, the 
choice of office-bearers, and other matters of business, be- 
sides the more strictly scientific subjects on which they 
were both engaged. 

Lonsdale's resignation brought into the service of the 



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374 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOF. [i842. 

Society, and prominently into geological pursuits, another 
naturalist of greater knowledge and wider fama When the 
Curator's determination to leave came to be known, various 
names were talked about in reference to the supplying 
of his vacant post, among them that of Hugh Miller. 
But, after some delay, the final decision among nine can- 
didates was made in favour of Edward Forbes, who had 
recently been chosen Professor of Botany in King^s Col- 
lege, and whose brilliant researches in the iEgean gave 
promise of a distinguished career as a naturalist and palae- 
ontologist 

The appointment of Forbes to be Curator of the Geo- 
logical Society must be regarded as an event of considerable 
importance in the history of geological progress in Britain. 
While still an enthusiastic student of natural history under 
Jameson at Edinburgh, he had struck out into that little- 
trodden path of research in zoological and botanical distri- 
bution wherein he continued to be throughout Ids too short 
life the great pioneer. Already, by excursions in this 
country, in Scandinavia, and hi Switzerland, he had been 
led to recognise the connexion between geological changes 
and the present grouping of plants and animals. For- 
tunately provided with further and more advantageous 
opportunities of concentrated research, by being attached to 
Captain Graves's surveying ship in the iSgean Sea, he had 
thrown quite a fiesh light on the way in which the pro- 
secution of zoological research might be made subservient 
to the elucidation of some of the most interesting questions 
in geology, such as the history of existing species of animals 
and the geographical changes of which they have been the 
witnesses. By these bold and originsd investigations he 



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1842.] EDWARD FORBES. 575 

had in a special maimer attracted the notice of geologists.^ 
And now that his duties at Somerset House brought him 
into direct relationship with the leaders of geological inquiry 
in Britain, his subsequent scientific work took thencefor- 
ward a more decidedly geological aspect. 

It is not, however, in his relations to the general pro- 
gress of the science, but in his connexion with the more 
limited field of palaeozoic geology, that the advent and work 
of Edward Forbes require notice here. His position as 
Curator at Somerset House undoubtedly led directly to his 
subsequent appointment as naturalist to the Geological 
Survey,' to the admirable arrangement of the pal^eontological 
collections placed under his charge in the Jermyn Street 
Museum, and to the good service which he rendered in 
working out the natural history of Silurian and Tertiaiy 
rocks. It brought him also into intimate personal relations 
with Murchison, De la Beche, Bamsay, and the others 
on whom the progress of palaeozoic geology in this country 
mainly depended. 

The winter of 1842-3 was with Murchison a very busy 
ona It was to be his last season of of&ce as President of 
the geologists, and besides the proper official duties, which 
he conscientiously discharged, he entered. with renewed zest 
into the social festivities for which the Belgrave Square 
mansion had now become well known. There were few 
men of note in literature, politics, science, or art to whom 

^ In 1841 he had raoeiyed from the Gedlogioal Society the balance of 
the Wollaston fond, amounting to £30, to assist him in carrying on his 
researches. 

> The actoal proposal of Forbes to De la Beche for employment in the 
Survey was made by Mr. A. C. Ramsay, who had known the young 
naturalist weU since 1840. 



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376 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. [i842. 

the soirees of the President of the Greological Society were 
not^ or might not have been, familiar. 

At the anniversary in February, when he would resign 
office, he had determined to give an address to the Society 
containing a detailed report of progress, and in particular a 
more pointed statement of his position with regard to the 
impending changes in Cambrian and Silurian nomenclature. 
How he meant to proceed is shown in the subjoined letter 
of 16th October:— 

" My dear Sedgwick, — On the 1st of next month I go 
to press with the work on Bussia^ which with amplifications 
and emendations is composed of the memoir referred to you 
last year, and two which I have read since on other parts of 
Muscovy and on the Ural Mountains. The country is described 
in ascending order, and I therefore must cast my Silurian 
chapter at once into type, with a preamble on ' Palseozoic 
rocks,' which shall render my views intelligible to the 
Russians, for whom the work is hereafter to be translated. 
In doing this I necessarily give a little sketch of our own 
operations in the British Isles and in the Bhenish Pro- 
vinces, and then go on to show how Bussia completes the 
proofs desired, and confirms our views. Now in eflTecting 
this to my satisfaction, I wish to have your own authority 
to speak out concerning the Cambrian rocks zoologically 
considered. Tou know as well as myself that on those 
parts of the Continent which we have seen together, there 
is but one type of fossil remains beneath an unquestionable 
Devonian zone, and that we have called Silurian. The 
same is still more clearly exhibited in Bussia in the lime- 
stones, sandstone, and shale, which lie beneath true Old Bed 
Sandstone, filled both with fishes of Scotland and shells 



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1842.] CAMBRIAN AND SILURIAN. 377 

of DevoiL The Silurian rocks of Eussia^ Gothland, and 
Sweden rest at once on the crystalline slates of the north. 
The same Buccession has been recently established (zoologi- 
cally) in Brittany by Vemeuil and d'Archiac this summer, 
though there they have inferior slaty rocks without fossils 
unconformable to Caradoc sandstona Whilst these in- 
quiries have been deciding the zoological succession on the 
Continent, and extending it even into Asia, our own region 
at home has been silent. I was rejoiced therefore when I 
knew you had been again into North Wales, and that you 
had taken young Salter with you, because you could then 
make up your mind to put your oracle out, without having 
it trumpeted forth by others. 

" In the meantime, besides what Mr. Maclauchlan stated 
in respect to Pembrokeshire, De la Beche and his workmen 
assure me, that the whole of that tract is nothing more than 
Caradoc sandstone and liandeilo flag, or Lower Silurian, 
folded over and over in troughs, and exceedingly altered 
by intrusive rocks and changed by crystallization and cleav* 
age. They contend also that the very same identical fossils, 
in (he verg same strata as those which I have described and 
figured as Lower Silurian at Noeth Grlig, north of Uan* 
dovery (and only a few miles from the Old Eed escarpment), 
are repeated over and over, up to the sea-coast at Cardigan, 
and to the north of it. To this I cannot say nay, because 
in my work I have described descending passages into 
what I certainly conceived, without perhaps sufiicient exami- 
nation, to be a great inferior slaty mass, and in which I 
never observed the fossils in question. If their position is 
true it would be in vain to contend for Cambrian rocks in 
South Wales, and certainly not as identified by organic 



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378 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. 

remains, though I am certain there are inferior slaty grau- 
wackes at St. David's, like those of the Longmynd in Salop, 
which cure much older than my fossil Silurian — and of this 
you know I have decisive proofs in Salop, where the Cara- 
doc sandstone rests on the edges of the Longmynd.^ 

''But the question is, K there are no rocks containing 
fossils differing from those published as Lower Silurian in 
South Wales, are there such in North Wales, where lime- 
stones appear in the oldest slaty masses, and the whole 
is expanded and broken up by the anticlinals you have so 
well described ? As to Bala, you know that its examination 
will do nothing in establishing a distinction, and fortu- 
nately I have said so very distinctly in my Silurian System, 
and have asked the question, To what extent will the 
OrthicUe and Leptcerice in question be found to descend into 
the Cambrian rocks, and if they really constitute the Proto- 
zoic type? (p. 308, SU. Syat) 

" I mention this now because I understand from Lonsdale 
that Mr. Sharpe is going to read a paper at the second 
meeting of the Geological Society, in which he is to show 
that the Bala limestone is nothing more than a calcareous 
course in the middle of the Caradoc sandstona I do not 
see how he is to do this stratigraphically, but as I never 
made the transverse section but once, and in your company, 
I do not pretend to be armed with sufficient proofs that the 
limestone is inferior to the slaty flagstones on the eastern 
side of the mountain in which Asaphtis Buchii and Silurian 

^ This happened to be a blander on MorchiBon's part ; he was right as 
regarded the unconformability, but wrong in the position which he had 
assigned in the Siktrian System to the overlying strata. These are what 
we now term Upper Llandovery (that is, at the base of the Upper Silorian 
series), and not Caradoc 



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CAMBRIAN AND SILURIAN. 379 

Orthidm occur ; and on this point, by way of parenthesis, I 
should like to be furnished with your view, in order that 
I may keep the ' Sharp' fellow in his place, should he trans- 
gress bounds. 

'^ But to come to the question : If Bala is zoologically 
Lower Silurian (and that you have yourself now stated in 
your Letters to Wordsworth), if Coniston Water Head and 
Ambleside (at the latter place Keyserling and myself con- 
vinced ourselves of the same) is the same thing, and if no 
older rock is known to contcdn fossils in Cumberland, it 
follows, that the only fossil type which remains to be 
appealed to is that of the Snowdon slates. Li our recent 
visit, Keyserling and myself collected a good many fossils 
both on the north and on the west flanks of that mountain, 
and my friend, who is a very good conchologist, came to the 
conclusion on the spot, that the prevalent and abundant 
forms are two or three species of Orihis {fiahdlulum and 
altemcUa) well known in Lower Silurian and Caradoc, with 
a rare new form of Leptcena; and Sowerby, who has since 
seen our lot, writes to me to the same effect, and teUs me 
that Salter's determinations with you came to the same 
results. 

" Now, I have no intention whatever of writing upon this 
point, except in my exordium on Palseozoics touching Bussia, 
where I have to treat of them over an area as large as all 
our Europe together. On that occasion, and also in taking 
leave of the geologists on the 17th February, I must deliver 
my opinion. Your Wordsworth letter is before me, and is 
B meet subject for my comment, but I wish to have some- 
thing from you touching North Wales. If this is not done, 
De la Beche and Co., advancing from South Wales, will 



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380 SIR RODERICK MURCHISON. 

have the credit with the public of correcting you. But if 
you now say that the slaty region to the north-west of the 
Silurian rocks was left undefined as to fossils, on account 
of your never having examined the forms you so long ago 
collected (and take any line you please, either to contend or 
not for great thickness of the lowest fossiliferous strata), 
then I shaU be at ease, and know how to use your authority 
as well as my own.^ 

^ Marchison's anxiety to cany Sedgwick with him, if possible, in his 
change of the Silurian base-line, is well shown in this letter and in the 
following postscript to it : — ** In the part which specially refers to what I 
have been writing to yon about, I should, in case you wiU authorise me, 
propose to write something such as follows : — After asking ' if no efforts 
had heetk recently made to determine the point if there were or not a 
group of older fossils than the Lower Silurian, and some paragraphs 
relating thereto,' I go on to say, ' Judging from their infraposition, great 
thickness, and distinct lithological characters, it was presumed (when the 
Cambrian system was so named) that these greatly developed inferior 
slaty rocks would be found to contain a class of organic remains peculiar 
to themsdves, the more so as the few forms then discovered in them 
seemed to differ from the Lower Silurian types. Subsequent researches 
have, however, decided otherwiBe. In the alaty region of the north- 
west of England, of which by hard labours he so long ago rendered 
himself the master, Professor Sedgwick has now satisfied himself that 
the lowest organic remains which can be traced are no others than those 
published as Lower Silurian, whilst in revisiting the mountains of Cam- 
bria and Snowdon, whose framework he was the first to explain, he has 
come to similar conclusions respecting the ^oldest fossiliferous tracts of 
North Wales.' 

** 'In the meantime, through the labours of the Ordnance Survey,' eta 
Then Mr. Sharpe ei hoe gemu anme, 

** This is the form in which I should wish to place the case, both 
because it is in my mind quite true, and also because, as I have said in 
my letter, I wish you to speak in your own place." 

Sedgwick made no objection at the time to this statement of his views. 
On the contrary, when he received the proof-sheets of the address he 
made comments on other parts, but, so far as can be judged from the 
letters stiU extant, offered no criticism whatever on the proposed narra- 
tive given in the preceding extract He returned the proofs with the 
remarks, *< The papers are eiceUent, and use my hints as you think 
right. ... I have looked over the slips and made marks. ... I did look over 
the peroration. It is very good." It was, to say the least, unfortunate 



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CAMBRIAN AND SILURIAN. 381 

** The triple zoological division of the Paleeozoic rocks 
(excludve of the Magnesian Limestone) is now so very gene- 
rally proved to the very eastern extremities of Europe, that 
it is well that we who have been the agents in first enun- 
ciating it should not be frightened and driven out of our 
fairly won views because the CambiiaD tail-piece was not 
finished kff. For my own part, I am as convinced as it is 
possible to be, that we have now thoroughly ascertained not 

that, if he had really any itrong objections to the statements in the 
address, he did not frankly express them at the time when the proof- 
sheets were sent to hinu Had he done so we can hardly believe that he 
could afterwards have fonnd occasion to say of any sentence in that 
document : '* I smiled when I read this strange passsge ; bat I did not 
think it worth while formally to contradict it ; in omission and commis- 
sion it is a virtual mis-statement of the facts/' — {Letters to Wordnoorth, 
later edition, p. 87.) Surely by first sending his friend a sketch of what 
he meant to say, and then the proof-sheets of what he had said, Murchison 
showed no common care to secure his concurrence. It is hard to understand 
why Sedgwick should have entered into verbal and other criticisms in the 
most friendly and even jocular style, and yet have left untouched a 
passage which raised a " smile," and which he felt to be " a virtual mis- 
statement of the facts." 

But what was the " strange passage " which called forth these sharp 
words? As quoted and italicised by Sedgwick himself, it ran as follows : 
** We were both aware that the Bala limestone fossils agreed with the 
Lower Silurian ; but depending upon Pro/eMor Sedgtoiel^s conviction that 
there were other and inferior masses, also f ossilif erous, we both ehmg to 
the hope that such strata, when thoroughly explored, would offer a suf- 
ficiency of new forms to characteriise an inferior system." 

On this passage he remarks as follows: — "When the author states 
' that we both clung to the hope that the Cambrian groups would offer a 
sufficiency of new forms to characterize an inferior system,' I can only 
reply, that the hope to which he clung was not derived from anything I had 
ever said or written ; and that I had not, in 1842 and 1843, the shadow 
of a hope that any new system of animal life, any group of new forms 
* marking an inferior system,' would be iound among the Lower Cam- 
brian groups. I had constantly expressed, and repeatedly published, a 
directly contrary optnion/* (The italics are in the original) 

Now it will hardly be believed that Murchison's statement is not only 
borne out by passages in Sedgwick's letters, but seems actually based 
upon them. In support of this assertion two extracts may be given. 
Writing to his friend after his autumnal ramble in Wales in 1842, Sedg- 



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382 SIR RODERICK MURCHISOK 

only the Palaeozoic, but, as I ventured long ago to call it, 
the Protozoic type, and that that is no other than the strik- 
ing orthidian Lower Silurian group, which, first rising up on 
the flanks of old Caradoc, is extended to any thickness you 
please to contend for. In this last respect, however, you 
must have the fear of De la Beche and his trigonometrical 
forces before your eyes, who, whilst they give 12,000 or 
15,000 feet thickness to the South Welsh coal-field, are cut- 
ting down our older rocks at a terrible rate. ... 

" Before I left town I presented £600 to Lonsdale, in a 
silver vase with a suitable inscription. Fitton accompanied 
me, and the poor fellow was quite overcome. The deed how- 
ever had an excellent effect, for his eyes brightened up in 
the following days^ and he wrote me a most affectionate 
note, saying ' that he was now enabled, even in his retire- 
ment, to carry on his studies, and that he would go on with 
that of the Polypifers.** 

Among the miscellaneous correspondence of this period 
which the President of the Geological Society carried on, 
was one regarding a proposed purchase of the island of 
Staffa. It was represented urgently to Murchison that as 

wiok says: — '*To my knowledge of the seciUms I added nothing hut 
autumn, but I hoped to make out distinct foasU groups, indicating a 
descending series, and marking the successive descending calcareous 
junks. But, as I told you, I failed." The italics in this and the next 
quotation are underlined in the originaL Again, just before the annirer- 
sary in February 1843, in reply to Murchison's request for information 
(in the letter quoted above in the text), Sedgwick remarks, " In regard to 
K. Wales you know my general views. I stated last year (see the abstracts) 
that on unpacking my Welsh fossils I could not discover any trace of a 
lower zoological system than that indicated in your Lower Silurian types. 
I did however es^f)ect to find certain definite groups indicating a succes- 
sion in the ascending steps of a vast section (certainly many thousand feet 
thick), and my hope was last September to prove this point, but I failed 
utterly, as I told you before, and at present I really know no such definite 
groups." 



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ADDRESS TO THE GEOLOGISTS 383 

the island was likely to come into the market, no more 
fitting purchaser could be found than the Greological Society 
of London, and that in the hands of that learned body it 
would remain as a perpetual monument consecrated to the 
progress of science. It is needless to say that this project 
never took shape. There is little sympathy in Britain with 
any such fanciful notions regarding the acquirement of 
places of great natural interest by the State or learned 
societies for the good of the country and in the cause of 
scientific progress. Fortunately that fairy isle is too small 
and too barren to warrant the cost of protecting walls and 
notices to trespassers, and its wonders are of too solid and 
enduring a nature to be liable to effacement by the ruthless 
curiosity of the British tourist. And so it stands amid the 
lone sea, open to aU comers, lifting its little carpet of bright 
green above the waves which have tunnelled its pillared 
cliffs, and which are ceaselessly destroying and renewing 
the beauty of the sculpture they have revealed. 

From the foregoing letter to Sedgwick it is clear that 
the preparation of the address to the Geological Society, and 
in particular the forcible enunciation in it of his views 
r^arding the classification of the older rocks, engaged much 
of Murchison's attention during the winter. When at last 
the anniversary came he produced a most voluminous 
oration, extending over eighty-seven closely printed octavo 
pages, and discussing not only the question lying at the 
time nearest his own heart, but the general march of geo- 
logy all over the world. Again he presents to foreign 
geologists — ^^e de Beaumont and Dufr^noy — the Wollaston 
medal with due laudation. After a kindly and appreciative 
eulogy of Lonsdale and welcome of Forbes, he plunges at 



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384 BIR RODERICK MURGHISON. 

once into the palsdozoic rocks, and is soon in the midst of 
Silurian and Cambrian nomenclature, laying down with re- 
newed emphasis the view that his -own Silurian deposits 
contained the records of the earliest type or fades of 
organized existence. In the early summer of the previous 
year Sedgwick had written his now well-known letters to 
Wordsworth on the Oeology of the Lake District, in which he 
summarized in popular but accurate form the results of his 
long labours among these mountains. Another observer, Mr. 
Daniel Sharpe, already referred to, had been at work upon 
the Cumbrian tracts, and transferring his knowledge of them 
to the investigation of North Wales, had - announced his 
belief that Sedgwick's Bala rocks were really, both by fossils 
and physical continuity, the very same as some of Mur- 
chison's Lower Silurian series.^ Sedgwick himself had spent 

^ In the begimung of his paper Mr. Sharpe ttated that the view of the 
infrapoeition of the eo-caUed Cambrian rocka of Sedgwick to the Lower 
Silurian of Mnrchiaon was adopted by the latter geologist on the autho- 
rity of the former. In long subsequent years, Sedgwick bitterly com- 
plained that this was a mis-statement, which Murchison never corrected, 
but, on the contrary, proceeded to profit by, though he had abundant 
opportunity of rectifying it in this address. And the inference drawn is, 
that Murchison was guilty of disingenuous conduct unworthy of a gen- 
tleman, still more of a friend {Iniroduction to BrUUh PcUceozoie Fosnis^ p. 
budii) But, so far from regarding it as a mis-statement, Murchison him- 
self repeats it in this very address. He says that he steadily relied on 
Sedgwick's original opinion, that great masses of the slaty rocks of North 
Wales lay below the Silurian rocks. His respect for Sedgwick's opinion 
was profound, and that opinion he believed to have been aU along in 
favour of the infrapoeition of aU the so-caUed Cambrian rocks. This 
belief, as we have already seen (on^, p. 225, note), was conmionly held by 
geologists, and, if a mistake, Sedgwick never did anything to set it right 
until he found some of his Cambrian formations claimed as Silurian, when 
he maintained that he had never made any error in his work, except in being 
misled by his friend. The charge of unfair conduct on Murchison's part 
was utterly unfounded. Nothing could have been more candid than the 
way in which he acted in this matter. Equally groundless was the accusa- 
tion that he had *' stolen a march " upon Sedgwick, unless we are to be 
told that under such conduct we must include making our victim privy 



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ADDRESS TO THE GEOLOGISTS 385 

port of the summer of 1842 in re-examining some por- 
tions of the North Welsh area, with the view of clear- 
ing up the difficulties in the way of reconciling his own 
work with that of his friend. But he could not establish 
any distinction by means of fossils between the rocks which 
he had called Cambrian and those which Murchison had 
termed Lower Silurian. He intimated this to the President/ 
who now, with evident satisfaction, announces it as further 
proof that the Silurian type of organic remains had been 
firmly established as the oldest in the geological record. 
Murchison further dwells on the important aid given to 
his interpretation by the labours of the Geological Survey, 
which, as we have seen, had now been extended into the 
Silurian tracts of South Wales. While eulogizing the work 
of the Ordnance Geological Surveyors in Wales, he turns to 
that of their fellow-labourers, and notably Captain (after- 
wards General) Portlock, in Ireland, adding words of praise 
to lus notice of the geological map of Ireland by Mr. (now 
Sir Richard) Grifl&th — that wonderful achievement, which 
gives its courageous and undaunted author so honourable 
a rank among the great geological map-makers of this 
century. 

We need not foUow the address through its review of 
contemporary foreign geology, with its elaborate analysis of 
what had then been recently accomplished in Russia, the 
Caucasus, Asia Minor, Turkey, the Alps, Hindustan, AfiF- 
ghanistan, China, Egypt, and North America, or through its 

beforehand to the theft, and sabmittiiig for his approval the plan by 
which he ifl to be cozened. Yet SedgwidL asserted that the first intima- 
tion he had of Mnrchison^s claim over the Upper Cambrian rocks 
as Lower Silurian was obtained accidentally, some years after the seizure 
had been made ! ^ See p. 382, note, 

VOL. L 2 B 



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386 SIB RODERICK MURCHISON. 

details regarding the progress of dynamical and palseonto- 
logical geology. Its main interest for ns lies in its relation 
to the controversy, now imminent, regarding the paUeozoic 
nomenclature and to Murchison's position in that con- 
troversy. Writing of it many years afterwards he thus 
expressed himself : " That address embodied all my matured 
views on the classification of the older rocks, and par- 
ticularly as to the unity of the Silurian system and the im- 
possibility of manufacturing a fossiliferous Cambrian system 
separate from the well-recognised Lower Silurian types. 
Von Buch, Humboldt, and all the foreign geologists, as well 
as my colleagues in the work in Bussia, saw the necessity 
of this. I therefore openly proclaimed my conviction that 
the masses of hard and slaty rocks of Wales to the west of 
my Silurian map and sections, and which were supposed to 
be Cambrian, before their order and contents were elaborated 
by the surveyors and Sir H. de la Beche, were simply 
folds and repetitions of the already classified Silurian rocks 
of Shropshire, Hereford, Eadnor, etc. It is &om this date 
that I considered my classification to be established on the 
broad European scale." 

Eesigning the chcdr to one of the founders of the Geo- 
logical Society, Henry Warburton, Murchison concluded his 
second and last tenure of the oflRce. " I bid you farewell," 
he said to his fellow-members, " as friends in whose society, 
whilst acquiring knowledge, I have passed the happiest days 
of my life. ... I have deeply felt the honour of presiding 
over men who in the course of a quarter of a century have 
demonstrated that there is no such thing as * odium geologi- 
cvm,' and whose members, rivals as they must be, have only 
sought to excel each other in their ardent search after truth.'' 



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ODIUM OEOLOOICUM. 387 

Did the enthusiasm of the moment lead the writer to forget 
the veiy marked ' odium ' which had been evoked during the 
early Devonian warfare ? Had the angiy words of Mac- 
culloch vanished from his memory ? It was well, indeed, 
that they should, but not without leaving behind them just 
trace enough to keep him, even in the glow of excitement, 
from painting in too rosy a hue the intercourse of men whom 
even the brotherhood of science could not save from the 
ordinary frailties of humanity. To his eulogistic language 
the geological doings of after years famished a comment of 
bitter irony, since his own name, to his deep grief indeed, 
and most unwillingly on his part, came to stand out pro- 
minently in the most noted instance of the odivm geologic 
cum which the histoiy of British science has yet offered. 



END OP VOL. L 



PRIKTfSD BT T. AXO A. OOKSTAfiUB, PRINTRRS TO HSR MAJnTY, 
AT THE SDOIBUROH USITEB81TT PRttS. 



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