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Memoir of Sir Andrew Crombie Ramsay
Chapter II - The Ordnance Geological Survey


56

In the Geological Survey of Great Britain, to which Ramsay was now appointed, he spent more than forty years. The work of his life was so intimately bound up with the progress of the Survey that ;t cannot be intelligently followed unless this relationship is clearly-understood. At the outset, therefore, it will be desirable to trace the origin and development of the organisation of which he now became a member, and of which for many years he was the guiding spirit.

The Geological Survey owes its existence to the sagacity and energy of Henry Thomas De la Beche. This distinguished man—the last male representative of a family of Norman barons who came to England with the Conqueror—was born in 1796. From his father, who was in the army, he inherited some landed estate in Jamaica. But the halcyon days of this island had fled, and left him by no means wealthy. It was at first intended that he should follow the profession of his father, and with that end in view he was sent to the Military College of Great Marlow, where he had been preceded some five years earlier by his future friend Murchison. But the close of the great war seeming to shut out any hope of distinction in the career of an active soldier, he turned his thoughts in another direction. From early years he had been fond of natural history pursuits, and especially of geology, for the prosecution of which he had found admirable opportunities along the southern coast of England. When only twenty-one years of age he entered the Geological Society, and two years later was admitted into the Royal Society. He did not confine his attention, however, merely to English geology, but extended his acquaintance with the principles and illustrations of the science by foreign travel. At one time he might be seen sounding and charting the Lake of Geneva, at another he was at work among the rocks on the Riviera, or studying the fossil plants of the Col de Balme. He even carried his science across the Atlantic, and while visiting his paternal domain in Jamaica, lost no opportunity of studying the geology of that island, of which the first account was published by him.

De la Beche had a singularly wide and firm grasp of geological science. A master of stratigraphy, he likewise made himself familiar with minerals and rocks, at a time when the study of petrography can hardly be said to have existed in this country. Having read much and critically in chemistry, he was able to apply the results of chemical research to the problems presented by his geological work. Though not a professed palaeontologist, he had such keen sympathy with natural history inquiries, and knew so much of the natural history of his own country, that he recognised from an early period the necessity of a knowledge of organic remains in geological research, and did all in his power to foster the study and applications of palaeontology. Moreover, he wrote a number of papers and books. Among his most important and successful works were an excellent Geological Manual; a practical treatise, The Geological Observer, full of the experience of many years of field-observation; and a striking little volume, Researches m Theoretical Geology, which for sagacious insight and breadth of view was far in advance of its time.

To his scientific qualities were added those of the artist and the keen lover of nature, combined with a strength of frame which, in his prime, made him a bold swimmer and an active pedestrian. Over and above all shone his bright cheery nature, his irrepressible merriment, his helpful sympathy, and that inexhaustible enthusiasm which not only supported his own untiring efforts, but, like a contagion, affected and stimulated all who were associated with him. In his later days he was sometimes thought by his officers to be too scheming and to subordinate their interests to the advancement of the Survey and of the large Museum and School of Mines which grew out of it. But we must remember that he had to create the whole establishment, to gain the goodwill of successive governments and ministers, not always predisposed to spend money in the cause of science, and to keep the organisation effective with as little outlay as possible.

After various more or less desultory geological studies at home and abroad, De la Beche at last settled down seriously to the detailed investigation of the geological structure of the south-west of England. He began to map that region on the Ordnance maps which had then been published on the scale of one inch to a mile. He soon saw of how much practical utility carefully-prepared geological maps would be in aiding the development of the mineral resources of the country, and that the work which he was himself voluntarily undertaking at his own charges would be more efficiently performed in connection with the general Trigonometrical Survey of the country. Accordingly, having laid his views before the authorities, he was in 1832 appointed by the Board of Ordnance ' to affix geological colours to the maps of Devonshire and portions of Somerset, Dorset, and Cornwall.'1 His work thus obtained official recognition.

By the beginning of 1834 De la Beche, acting under the direction of the Board of Ordnance, had produced a geological map of the county of Devon which, as remarked at the time by Greenough, ' for extent and minuteness of information and beauty of execution has a very high claim to regard.'1 He worked with such rapidity that by the end of that year, of the eight sheets of the Ordnance map on which he had been engaged, four had been published, three were complete, and the eighth nearly complete, while the explanatory memoir and sections were far advanced.8

Next year (1835) an important step was taken in the official recognition and assistance of De la Beche's labours. Owing, no doubt, to his own representations on the subject, the Ordnance authorities were led to consider the question of the geological work which he had been carrying on under their sanction, and to take the advice of distinguished experts in regard to it. Their action and its results cannot be better told than in the following quotation from the address of Lyell as President of the Geological Society in February 1836.

Early in the spring of last year an application was made by the Master-General and Board of Ordnance to Dr. Buckland and Mr. Sedgwick, as Professors of Geology in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and to myself, as President of this Society, to offer our opinion as to the expediency of combining a geological examination of the English counties with the geographical survey now in progress. In compliance with this requisition we drew up a joint report, in which we endeavoured to state fully our opinion as to the great advantages which must accrue from such an undertaking, not only as calculated to promote geological science, which would alone be a sufficient object, but also as a work of great practical utility, bearing on agriculture, mining, road-making, the formation of canals and railroads, and other branches of national industry. The enlightened views of the Board of Ordnance were warmly seconded by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. T. Spring Rice), and a grant was obtained from the Treasury to defray the additional expenses which will be incurred in colouring geologically the Ordnance county maps. This arrangement may be justly regarded as an economical one, as those surveyors who have cultivated geology can with small increase of labour, when exploring the minute topography of the ground, trace out the boundaries of the principal mineral groups. This end, however, could only be fully accomplished by securing the co-operation of an experienced and able geologist, who might organise and direct the operations; and I congratulate the Society that our Foreign Secretary, Mr. De la Beche, has been chosen to discharge an office for which he is so eminently qualified.

The amount granted by the Treasury was only £300 a year, so that most of the expense of the surveying still fell upon De la Beche himself. He obtained, indeed, occasional assistance from two officers of the Ordnance Survey who possessed some geological knowledge, and who more especially helped him in the mining districts.

At last by the year 1839 all the maps of the southwest of England had appeared ; likewise an admirable octavo volume, giving a description of the geology of this interesting and important region. How these publications were regarded at the time by English geologists may be gathered from the encomium pronounced on them by Buckland as President of the Geological Society in the spring of 1840.

The first map which I shall mention affords another example of the recognition by Government of the importance of our subject by their having attached a geological department to the Ordnance Survey of England and Wales. The first-fruits of this appointment are the splendid maps of Devon and Cornwall and a part of Somerset, coloured after the surveys of Mr. De la Beche; and it may truly be said of them that they are more beautiful in their execution, more accurate in their details, and more instructive in the economical and scientific information they give respecting mines than any maps yet published by any Government in the world; affording documents to which we can at length with pride appeal, in reply to the reproach that has so long, witb too much truth, been cast upon us, that England alone, of all the civilised nations, has abandoned to gratuitous individual exertions, and the liberality of amateurs in science, the great work of exploring and delineating the mineral structure of the country, and ascertaining the nature and extent of the subterranean produce which lies at the foundation of the industry of its manufacturing population, and to which the nation owes no small portion of its wealth.

The rapidity with which these maps were prepared by so small a staff would have been impossible had the ground been surveyed in the same minute detail as is now practised. In fact, admirable as they were in many ways, and far as they were in advance of anything of the kind previously attempted, they can be regarded as little more than sketch-maps, giving a first general outline of the geological structure of the ground. They ought not to be judged by the higher standard of intricate detail subsequently developed in the work of the Survey. In later years, had Ramsay been free to act as he pleased in the matter, he would have had all these early maps resurveyed.

Having so successfully launched his scheme for a geological survey of the kingdom, De la Beche proceeded to point out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that for the adequate development of the great mineral industries of the country it was not enough to make accurate maps of geological structure, but that it was further needful to collect and exhibit specimens of rocks and minerals which were used, or might seem capable of application, in the industrial arts. He had already, during his work in Devon and Cornwall, made an extensive collection of specimens from the great mining region of the south-west Another large series of samples of British building-stones was accumulated by the Commission appointed to inquire into the most suitable materials for constructing the new Palace of Westminster, after the burning of the old Houses of Parliament in 1834. [This Commission consisted of Mr.—afterwards Sir Charles—Barry, William Smith, the father of English Geology, De la Beche, and Mr. C. H. Smith, a practical sculptor. De la Beche probably took the main part of the labour of collecting the specimens and preparing the Report. The work was done before the days of railroads, and the Commissioners drove about the country in an old carriage and pair, visiting quarry after quarry, procuring rough samples of the different stones, which were sent up to Mr. C. H. Smith's yard to be dressed into six-inch cubes. These blocks are now in the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street.]

There was thus a large amount of material ready for display, and through the labours of the Ordnance Geological Survey, as well as from donations, it was continually increasing in extent and in value. De la Beche's representations were so obviously well founded, that they soon obtained official approbation. Apartments were allotted for the accommodation of the Survey collections, and in February 1837 the Office of Woods and Forests formally took the scheme under its charge, and asked De la Beche to carry out his proposals. His design was to establish a Museum of Economic Geology, wherein the various practical applications of the science might be thoroughly illustrated by specimens, models, maps, sections, and as much information as possible, not only for the general public, but especially for the guidance of all persons practically interested in mineral substances and their applications.

The premises assigned to him for the housing of his collections were in a plain building of moderate size, with no front to the street, and situated in the retired space known as Craig's Court, Charing Cross. The Museum of Economic Geology, thus started, was in fair working order by 1839, though not ready to be opened to the public for two years later. It was under the control of the Office of Woods, but the Geological Survey remained as a branch of the Ordnance Survey, and De la Beche directed the Museum gratuitously. So vigorously did he set to work that, besides the specimens of rocks, minerals, and fossils, he soon gathered together, arranged, and displayed models of mines, samples and models of mining machinery and apparatus, with illustrations of metallurgical processes and of the various industries which arise from the manipulation of mineral substances.

He further secured sanction to fit up a laboratory, and to appoint as Curator of the Museum one of the best analytical chemists of his day, Richard Phillips, who had taken part in the foundation of the Geological Society. At this laboratory it was arranged that the public might obtain analyses of rocks, minerals, and soils.

There was yet another important department which De la Beche now organised. The British Association had in 1838 memorialised Government to collect and preserve documents recording the mining operations of the United Kingdom, on the ground that, for want of the proper preservation of such records, great loss of life and destruction of property had taken place. This petition having been favourably received, De la Beche was authorised to form a Mining Record Office as part of the Craig's Court establishment. Plans and sections of mines were obtained from various mining districts, steps were taken to procure statistics of mineral industry, and in 1840 the Mining Record Office thus started was committed to the charge of T. B. Jordan, a man of remarkable ingenuity, who had been Secretary of the Royal Polytechnic Society of Cornwall. It was further arranged that lectures should be given on the subjects illustrated by the Museum. [For the early history of the Museum of Economic Geology and Mining Record Office see the Account o{ them by T. Sopwith (see p. 78), published by Murray ir. [840. See also Buckland, Proc, Geol. Soc. iii. (1840), pp. 211, 221. The Mining Record Office was transferred to the Home Office in 1883.]

When he had completed, with so little aid, the survey of the south-western counties, and had roused the Government of the day to some appreciation of at least the industrial value of his work, De la Beche resolved to transfer his held - operations to South Wales, where an important coal-field awaited examination. Still under the Board of Ordnance, he obtained increased parliamentary grants, and was allowed the services of a few assistants—young men with no geological experience, whom he had to train in all the details of geological mapping.

The field-work had been a year or two in progress in South Wales when Andrew C. Ramsay joined the staff. Referring to this period of his life at a much later time, he remarked: ' In the year 1841 I had the good fortune to be appointed one of the few assistant geologists. The Survey had then progressed westwards into Pembrokeshire, and was at work at Tenby, and St. David's, and the neighbourhood. There were then four assistants besides myself.' ['On the Origin and Progress of the Geological Survey of the British Isles ' in Conferences held in connection with the Special Loan Collection of Scientific Apparatus, South Kensington Museum, 1876, p. 364. The four assistants referred to above were W. T. Aveline, who joined the service the year before Ramsay, retired from it the year after him, and now lives in Somerset; Trevor E. James, D. H. Williams, and J. Rees.]

Over and above the ordinary assistants, however, the Survey was aided in the palaeontological department by Professor John Phillips—a name affectionately remembered by those who knew him, and honoured by all to whom the history of British geology is familiar. [See ante, footnote, p. 18.] Phillips had previously been employed to examine, figure, and describe the organic remains in the older rocks met with in the course of the survey of Cornwall, Devon, and West Somerset, and an important monograph giving the results of his labours appeared in 1841 as a sequel to the Report of De la Beche. [Figures and Descriptions of the Palaozoic Rocks of Cornwall, Devon, and IVest Somerset. By John Phillips, 1841.] Before the publication of this work, however, the field-operations of the Survey had extended into South Wales, and Phillips in 1840 received an appointment to extend his task into East Somerset, Gloucester, Monmouth, and South Wales. He was in Pembrokeshire when Ramsay joined the staff, and they had some excursions together.

The duties of the geologists in the Geological Survey were to trace on the one-inch maps of the Ordnance Survey the boundaries, structure, and relations of the various geological formations, to collect as much information as possible regarding the nature of the rocks and minerals, to mark where any substances of economic value might be found, to follow out the crops of lodes and mineral seams, as well as of the more important dislocations in the crust of the earth, to note where fossils occurred, and to take such specimens of minerals, rocks, and fossils as might be required for the preparation of the maps for the engraver, and the compilation of material for the subsequent explanatory Memoirs. There were likewise levellings to be executed for the purpose of constructing horizontal sections, which were drawn on the scale of six inches to a mile. These sections formed as novel a feature as the detailed maps in the progress of geological surveying. They had been constructed by Logan in Wales, in order to represent accurately the structure of the great South Welsh coal-field. The same scale was adopted by De la Beche, who, with his artistic eye and deft hand, introduced into his horizontal sections a system of representation of geological structure such as had never before been attempted. The sections were on a true scale, vertical as well as horizontal. By carefully chaining and levelling, the topography of the ground was represented correctly, and for the first time the relations between surface-features and underground structure were clearly brought out.

In carrying out the various field-operations of the Survey De la Beche took an active personal interest. He spent the greater part of the year with his officers, and kept himself in touch with the details of their work, besides continuing for some years to carry on independent mapping of his own. As the staff increased in number, and Ireland came under his jurisdiction, he was necessarily prevented from doing much himself in actual mapping, and he gradually left more and more to the judgment of his subordinates.


WILLIAM E. LOGAN, from a Photograph by Kilburn

Being under a military organisation, the surveyors wore a dark blue uniform. A tight fitting, well-buttoned frock-coat, however, was not a very comfortable garment for the rough scrambling and climbing work of the survey life. The geologists were therefore by no means sorry when, on their transference in 1845 from the Ordnance Department, they were at liberty to choose their own civilian apparel. But as a souvenir of their military connection they retained the gilt buttons embossed with the crown and crossed hammers, which for many years afterwards were worn on festive occasions. Even those members of the service who joined in later years used to provide themselves with a set of the 'Survey buttons,' and wore them on their waistcoats at the annual dinner.

The life of a member of the Geological Survey is, in many respects, an enviable one. He starts soon after breakfast, lightly accoutred, and spends the day, map in hand, over the ground assigned to him for survey. Every exposure of rock is noted by him on his map or in his note-book, with all the needful details. Each stream is followed step by step up to its source; each hill-side and ravine is traversed from end to end; each quarry, sometimes each ditch, and even the very furrows and turned-up soil of a ploughed field are scrutinised in turn. He is thus led into every nook and corner of the ground, until he acquires a more intimate knowledge of it than many of the natives who have been living there all their lives. Out early and late, and in all kinds of weather, he witnesses changing atmospheric effects such as few others have opportunities of enjoying. He is brought into every variety of scenery, and is compelled by his very duties to study these varieties, and make use of them in his daily work. If he has a love of nature, and this, to be a good geologist, he must possess, he is afforded ample scope for its gratification. Flowers, insects, birds, and living things of every kind meet his eye at each turn of the way. If he has any antiquarian instincts, his rambles enable him to visit every antiquity for miles around him. If, lastly, he is of a social temperament, and cares to mix with his fellowmen, there is often pleasant society in the neighbourhood, where a stranger of good address is generally welcomed. Sometimes he must content himself with the kindly gossip of the little farm or wayside-inn; at other times he finds himself discussing rural politics with the village doctor, or undergoing a process of examination in the tendencies of modern science at the parsonage, or joining in a pleasant dinner-party at the squire's.

That such a life has its trials, however, may readily be believed. The mere physical endurance which it often requires is enough to tax the strength of a strong man. Not unfrequently, indeed, it involves personal danger as well as discomfort. Few members of the staff but can give instances of narrow escapes from fatal accident. Now it is a mass of cliff or crag which, without warning, falls with a crash close to where the surveyor is standing, or a single loosened block from the rocks above shoots past his head with a whizz like a cannon-ball. At another time it is a treacherous bog which, firm apparently on the surface, suddenly gives way under his feet, and out of the mire of which he with difficulty drags himself. Streams which in the morning could be jumped across may by nightfall, after heavy rain, be so swollen as to be unfordable without peril. Snow - storms sometimes surprise the geologist among the hills, and as the snow rapidly gathers, roads, walls, and fences may be entirely buried before he can struggle through the blinding drift back to his quarters. Among the mountains he is apt to be overtaken by mists so dense that much skill may be needed to steer a right course through them. And in thunderstorms he is sometimes startled by the lightning flash which strikes a tree or a house, or kills a cow, quite close to him.

But apart from occasional personal risk, the constant exposure to the vicissitudes of a changeable climate, the necessity of sometimes enduring serious discomfort and privation in districts where quarters are hardly to be had, where the food is of the sorriest kind, and yet where the geological work may be most difficult and prolonged ; the isolation and loneliness at stations where no congenial society of any kind is to be found, the necessity of frequently moving camp to begin all the domestic experiences and discomforts over again, and the poor pay for which all this drudgery has to be undergone—these and other hardships which may be easily imagined test the scientific enthusiasm of a geologist. By a young man who is fired with an ardent love of his science they are lightly regarded and soon forgotten. It is only as he grows older, and his enthusiasm somewhat wanes, that he begins to find them a serious impediment to the settled home which he then, not unnaturally, longs to establish.

It may easily be imagined that when a member of the Survey plants himself in a country village his occupation becomes at once a source of the utmost curiosity to his neighbours. He carries his accoutrements about his person in such a manner that they do not attract notice. Compass, clinometer, map, notebook, lens, pencils, and so forth, are easily stowed away in his pockets ; the hammer can be disposed in a belt under the tails of his coat, so that he presents no outward marks of his profession. His movements are consequently mysterious in the extreme to the villagers and farm-people, and the most amusing mistakes are made in endeavouring to guess his calling in life. He finds himself set down now for a postman, now for a doctor, for a farmer, a cattle-dealer, a travelling showman, a country gentleman, a gamekeeper, a poacher, an itinerant lecturer, a gauger, a clergyman, a playactor, and often as a generally suspicious character. A former distinguished member of the staff, who now holds a University professorship, has received and duly posted many a letter entrusted to him in the belief that he was the authorised bearer of Her Majesty's mails. Another well-known colleague, who is now also a University Professor, tells how on one occasion he was taken for a policeman in plain clothes, and could not for some time make out why a poor woman poured into his ears a long story about her son, who had been taken up for doing something that he had not done, and did quite unintentionally, and was quite justified in doing. Gamekeepers are sorely puzzled sometimes what to make of the Geological Survey trespasser ; they are afraid to challenge him lest he prove to be a friend of their master, and afraid to let him go his way for fear he be on poaching thoughts intent. One member of the staff who had taken up his quarters in a village was watched for some days by the police on suspicion of having been concerned in a recent burglary. Another was stalked as a suspect who had been setting fire to farm-buildings. A third was watched hammering by himself in the bed of a stream, and as he gave vent to some strong expression when the obstinate boulder refused to part with a splinter, the onlooker on the other side of the hedge fled in terror to the neighbouring village and reported that this strange man who had come among them was stark mad, and should not be left to go by himself. Sometimes the laugh goes distinctly against the geologist, as in the case of one of the staff who, poking about to see the rocks exposed on the outskirts of a village in Cumberland, was greeted by an old woman as the 'sanitary inspector.' He modestly disclaimed the honour, but noticing that the place was very filthy, ventured to hint that such an official would find something to do there. And he thereupon began to enlarge on the evils of accumulating filth, resulting, among other things, in an unhealthy and stunted population. His auditor heard him out, and then, caludy surveying him from head to foot, remarked, 'Well, young man, all I have to tell ye is that the men o' this place are a deal bigger and stronger and handsomer nor you.' She bore no malice, for she offered him a cup of tea, but he was too cowed to face her any longer.

When Andrew Ramsay entered upon this roving Survey life in the spring of 1841, he was twenty-seven years of age, active and athletic in body, with boundless enthusiasm for geology, and an ardent desire to devote himself to practical geological work. Long

I afterwards, looking back on this period of his life, he used to tell how at first the change from a Glasgow counting-house to daily occupation among the hills and along the shores of South Wales seemed like a dream. He could hardly realise for some time that the pursuit, formerly followed only during brief but coveted intervals of holiday, was now to be the constant business of his life. Day after day, as he went out with map and hammer, it seemed to him still holiday work. He brought the same insight and ardour to the study of the Welsh region as he had shown in that of Arran. And before long the Director recognised that in his new recruit he had obtained by far the ablest member of his staff.

For upwards of four years the Survey continued to advance across South Wales. During this period Ramsay gradually worked his way northwards from the southern coast-line of Pembrokeshire across the counties of Caermarthen, Brecknock, and Cardigan, into those of Montgomery and Radnor. Professor John Phillips was with him for a short time along the Pembrokeshire coast before establishing himself among the Malvern Hills, which he mapped in detail. H. W. Bristow was at work in Gloucestershire, where Ramsay joined him (p. 235), and afterwards, under Phillips, took a share in mapping the Oolites of the Cotteswold Hills and of the Cheltenham, Wotton-under-Edge, and Bath district. But in these early years his time was almost wholly devoted to the older rocks in Wales.

The geological structure of the Welsh region in which he was called upon to labour proved to be excessively complicated. It had been only cursorily examined by previous observers. De la Beche and Phillips were content to map its southern outskirts in a somewhat sketchy manner. Its real difficulties remained to be discovered and grappled with. After his first year's experience Ramsay drew up a draft report of his operations. Unfortunately this report was never printed, nor do its conclusions appear to have been published even in abstract. It is entitled 'Report on the work entrusted to A. C. Ramsay in North Pembrokeshire, and part of Cardiganshire and Caermarthenshire.' The MS., which is in his handwriting, remains in the archives of the Geological Survey. In this document he gave special prominence to the igneous rocks, which he separated into intrusive and contemporaneous, showing that the latter cover by far the greater area. Among the rocks of St. David's he clearly recognised the presence of volcanic ash, and saw in these rocks the records of prolonged volcanic activity. Other geologists, notably Sedgwick, Murchison, and De la Beche, had described the proofs of contemporaneous volcanic eruptions among stratified formations of old geological date. But Ramsay was the first to trace out in detail the structure of a volcanic series of such high antiquity, and to separate from each other the outflowing lavas, the ejected ashes, and the deep-seated intrusive sills. When we remember, too, that this was practically his first piece of detailed mapping, we cannot fail to acknowledge the earnest which was thus given of the future geological accomplishment of the surveyor.

It fell to Murchison's lot as President of the Geological Society in 1843 to giye some account of the recent proceedings of the Geological Survey in his address at the Anniversary of the Society in February. He referred to the increasing evidence brought forward by the officers of the Survey that the interior of South Wales, which had been vaguely referred by him to Sedgwick's 'Cambrian' system, consisted largely of Lower Silurian rocks. He spoke of the Survey's ' results, obtained among strata so obscured by change, as among the very highest triumphs of geological field-work.' ' I therefore wish,' he added, 'to be foremost in recognising the deserts of the labourers who have obtained them, among whom the Director particularly cites Mr. Ramsay, already so favourably known to us by his geological map and model of the Isle of Arran.'

The St. David's map was published in 1845, and after its appearance a sheet of horizontal sections was prepared and issued, showing what was believed to be the general structure of the ground. Unfortunately, twelve years afterwards, in second editions of these publications, while great improvements were made in the general stratigraphy, the views originally formed by Ramsay as to the nature of the St. David's rocks were so modified, though confessedly with his own consent and co-operation, that the essentially accurate interpretation at first adopted disappeared. In later years the truly volcanic nature of much of the fragmental rocks in that district, which in the second edition of the map became ' altered Cambrian,' was re-discovered, and the merit of the first observations was for a time obscured.

There was yet another feature in which Ramsay improved the mapping of the Survey. He traced out, where practicable, lithological subdivisions among the older Palaeozoic rocks, which had not previously been subdivided, and was thus able to detect their sequence and the general structure of the ground over which they extended. In particular, even in his first year's work, he drew a line between the black and purple slates which, though not put on the published map at the time, was afterwards adopted as the boundary between the Cambrian and Silurian systems. It was in those days the belief of the great body of geologists that the older rocks of South Wales belonged to Sedgwick's Cambrian formations, and as such they were coloured on the large map accompanying Murchison's Silurian System, published in 1839. A few fossils had indeed been found in them which were of Lower Silurian species, but the evidence supplied by these fossils does not seem to have been considered strong enough to change the general current of opinion. When in 1841 the Survey began to map the region about Haverfordwest, neither De la Beche nor his officers could find any base to the series which, by common consent, was acknowledged to be Lower Silurian. And when in that and the following year Ramsay and others obtained Lower Silurian fossils at various points across the whole breadth of South Wales, they could come to no other conclusion than that this wide region consisted of Lower Silurian rocks repeated in endless undulations.

Much more detailed work would now be possible in South Wales than is shown upon the maps of the Geological Survey. But those who may in future carry out this re-survey will doubtless be the first to admit the value of the work of the pioneers who produced the first geological map of that difficult tract of country. Ramsay himself was well aware of the imperfection of the early work in South Wales, as will be apparent in later pages of this volume.

Of the actual daily life of these first years of his Survey experience in Wales little record seems to have been preserved. He used to tell n later life how, when stationed at St. David's during the summer of 1841. he sang in the Cathedral choir, for he had an ardent love of music, could with facility read music at sight, and possessed a good voice. One of his early experiences he used sometimes to recount: how, having been benighted among the hills he found his way in the dark to a stream-course, and in descending it came to a cottage where he was known. The shepherd brought him in out of the darkness, and his wife, seeing the famished look of the wanderer, set a large dish of food before him. Eating with all the 'passion of a twelve hours' fast,' Ramsay soon emptied the dish, and then to his dismay discovered that he had eaten up the supper of the family. From his pocket diary for 1842, which has survived, we get a few further glimpses into his proceedings. Instead of going up to London he remained at his field-quarters all winter, and went out among the hills when the weather permitted. He continued his active pedestrianism, sometimes covering 30 miles in a day When the distances from his station got too far to be easily reached on foot, he would ride out to his ground, put up his horse at a farm, spend all day in mapping, and ride back to his quarters in the evening.

On wet days and in the evenings he had always plenty of occupation indoors. He was a regular correspondent with his family in the north, and with many of his old Glasgow companions, now scattered over the world. In the brief jottings of his memorandum books he always inserted the names of those to whom he had written. Hardly any of these early letters have been recovered. Besides writing to his mother and sister, who were now all that remained in the old home, from the very beginning of his Survey life he remitted money out of his income to them, and he continued 1842 survey life in south Wales this pious duty as long as his mother lived and his sister remained unmarried.

Of an eminently social temperament, he made acquaintances easily wherever he went, and these chance acquaintanceships sometimes ripened into lifelong friendships. In one family circle we find him reading aloud Shakespeare, or Scottish ballads, or a good novel ; in another he takes part, heart and soul, in singing glees and madrigals; in a third he joins in dancing and all kinds of merriment. After being some little time at a station he knew everybody worth knowing all round him, and sometimes had difficulty in satisfying the demands for his company. The appearance of a pleasant, conversational, and merry-hearted stranger was sometimes an extraordinary boon to a country district in the days before railways. His doings and sayings, his goings-out and comings-in, were a source of the deepest interest to gossips who longed for some new event in their little world. If he dined at a house noted for its conviviality, there would be solemn head-shakings and expressions of regret that one so young should have been led into such courses. If he spent an evening now and then in a family where there were two or three daughters, it was supposed that he could have but one object there. Curiosity was at once aroused to discover which of the ladies he had chosen, and curiosity soon gave way to certainty as the report of an engagement was rapidly circulated through the parish.

In South Wales Ramsay had early experience of these manifestations of public interest in his affairs. He was naturally fond of female society. His conversational powers, his literary taste, and his lively humour found there a congenial stimulus. And while he thoroughly enjoyed it, his presence brought a brightness which gave general pleasure in return This mutual reaction continued to mark his social intercourse up to the end. In his younger days in Wales, when the tittle-tattle of a countryside was beginning to teach him greater circumspection, he passes judgment rather severely on himself. ' 13th February 1842.—Am, on the whole, rather an ass to be so serio-comic, sentimental, and universally captivato flirt ace ous'

Although most of the time working alone, he had occasionally visits from one or other of his colleagues, or went to see them at their stations. De la Beche, too, used to join him and spend a few days with him on his ground. The Director-General was knighted in April 1842, and early next month paid a visit to his officers in South Wales. The following entries occur in the diary of 1842 : '3rd May.—Sir Henry De la Beche arrived at Caermarthen. I called at night, when we walked down to the stables to see his horse. As jolly as ever.' '4th.—- Out all day with Sir Henry.' '8th.—Sir Henry left me to-day. '9th June.— To-day we [A. C. R. and T. E. James] found lots of fossils far to the north of Llandeilo; wrote to Sir H. to come and see them.' '10th.—Had a glorious find of fossils, and played at cricket in the evening.' '11th. Sir Henry came down and saw our beautiful section by Cwm y Wern. We all bathed in a pool. Fossilised a bit, and then home.' 11th.—Rode to Llangadock to see Rees; a delightful night; Sir H. very kind about futurity.'

It was one of De la Beche's characteristic traits that, having wide aims, and clear views as to how he should endeavour to carry these aims to their fulfilment, he possessed a power of discerning the qualities of the fellow-workers who would best serve his purpose, and of attracting and attaching them to his corps. He was always moving about with his eyes open, on the outlook for the best men to co-operate with him in his great scheme for the national endowment of geological inquiry. After many months of delay and suspense he succeeded, in the autumn of 1844, 'n inducing the Government of the day to authorise him to appoint a paleontologist to the staff of the Survey, whose special duty it should be to determine the fossils found by the surveyors and collectors, and to confer with these officers in the field as to the classification and boundary lines of the fossiliferous formations. He selected for this important post perhaps the most brilliant naturalist of his day—Edward Forbes, who, after returning from his researches in the ^Egean Sea, had been appointed Curator of the Geological Society. Ramsay and Forbes had formed a friendship at the Glasgow meeting of the British Association, and their intimacy grew every year closer. The subjoined letter is of interest here.

22nd November 1844.

Dear Ramsay—What on earth put it into your head that I could possibly be offended at anything you have lately written and done? My dear fellow, I feel most grateful to you, and it is only the press of business engagements upon my change of office which has prevented my writing. I can assure you I feel 10° happier than I did last winter and spring, having now a fair promise of doing something satisfactory for science, and getting rid of Geological Society patchwork. In a fortnight I shall be altogether clear of the G. S. (as an officer, that's to say), as I suppose they will make their election next meeting. Ansted [see p. 78] will probably be the man, and a better for their purpose they could not have. He'll keep up the dignity of the office, and work like a brick. ... I look forward to great things at C. C. [Craig's Court], and have the fullest faith in Sir Henry.

As to news here, there isn't much stirring yet. It may be divided into Scientific, Literary, and Philosophical—

1. Scientific.—Manteil is giving a course of geological lectures at the London Institution. A curious book called the Vestiges of Creation, containing many speculations on Geology and Natural History, said to be written by Sir Richard Vivian, is making great stir in town. A first-rate synopsis and analysis of the Trilobites has just come to hand from Germany with exquisite plates. It is written by the great entomologist Burmeister.

2. Literary.—Punch is published as usual every week. Two new plays have just come out, and the theatres are worth going to.

3. Philosophical.—Lankester, Day, Francis, Henry, etc. etc., and myself have succeeded in establishing a monthly meeting and feed of Red Lions at the 'Cheshire Cheese' in Fleet Street [see p. 62]. We look forward to your roaring in our company. Clara-, the pretty dancer, ran away with somebody the beginning of last week, and came back at the end of it. Amen ! Ever, dear Ramsay,

Edward Forbes A.

Ramsay and Forbes in the early part of this year (1844) had been sounded as to the feasibility of bringing out, with the sanction and co-operation of W. D. Conybeare, [William Daniel Conybeare, born 1787, died 1857, author of some important geological memoirs, but best known for the Geology of England and Wales, referred to above. This work was properly the second and much enlarged edition of a volume by W. Phillips, which was published in 1818. It did not include an account of the older Paleozoic rocks.] a new edition of the classic Outlines of the Geology of England and Wales, by Conybeare and W. Phillips, of which the original edition appeared in 1822. Conybeare himself had made some progress with the task, but he seems to have found the labour beyond the strength of his advancing years, and through the intermediary of De la Beche, entered into negotiations with the two younger authors. These proposals took at last definite shape in a formal legal agreement, dated 8th April 1844, between Conybeare, Forbes, Ramsay, and Messrs. Longmans and Co., publishers.

The work was to be in three parts or volumes, of which it was stipulated that the first should be delivered complete by the 1st January 1845, the second by the 1st October of the same year, and the third by the 1st October 1846. In fulfilment of this undertaking Ramsay made numerous notes, and wrote out many pages of manuscript, but the press of official and other engagements, which became, both with him and with his colleague, increasingly severe, prevented the task from ever being completed. Looking back upon this enterprise, we can hardly doubt that Ramsay felt his practical acquaintance with English geology to be as yet too limited to enable him to perform the task as he would have wished. It was only three years since he had left Scotland, and those years, actively spent in field-work as they were, had been passed almost wholly in South Wales. He gained eventually an unrivalled familiarity with English geology, but many years had still to elapse before that qualification was acquired.

Much is said and written in dispraise of the climate of the British Isles, but the field-geologist can find few regions on the face of the globe where he may ply his vocation more continuously from season to season than there. The winters over much of the United Kingdom are seldom so severe as seriously to interrupt out-of-door work for more than a week or two at a time. The summers are not too warm to prevent active exercise in the open air from early morning until dusk, while the length of a summer's day in these northern latitudes gives time for as much continuous walking and climbing as the strongest frame can endure. Even the rain, which is the geologist's chief meteorological enemy, falls in such wise that the number of thoroughly wet days, when nothing can be properly accomplished out of doors, is much less than most people would be apt to believe. Hence, even as far north as central Scotland, it is quite possible to carry on geological surveying throughout the whole year And often the clear bracing air of December allows nearly as much work to be done In a day as can be accomplished in the warmer but more exhausting weather of June. Accordingly, it was no hardship to Ramsay that, for the first year or two of his Survey life, he spent the winters in South Wales. Thereafter he generally came up to winter quarters in London, the building in Craig's Court serving as the head office of the Survey.

As occupation for the members of the Survey during the winter months there is generally a considerable accumulation of indoor work which cannot be satisfactorily completed in country quarters. The lines traced on the field-maps have to be drawn on fresh copies, or what are called ' dry-proofs' of the sheets, and all the details must be inserted which are intended to be published, preparatory to the engraving of the work. The horizontal sections levelled in the country have to be plotted to scale, and their geological details to be inserted. There are likewise reports and descriptions which require to be extended from the field notebooks. There is thus usually ample occupation to keep the surveyors busy from the time when they drop field-work towards Christmas till they resume it in spring.

In the early days of the Survey's history most of the staff were young and unmarried. They took lodgings in London, and generally dined two or three or more together in some restaurant. Once a fortnight came the meeting of the Geological Society, where they usually made their appearance, and, seated on the back benches, looked down upon the veterans on the front rows, and listened to the papers and discussions, often lively enough in those early days of geology. They had the entry also into various social gatherings, with an occasional night at the theatre, so that the time they could secure for quiet reading was by no means great. How Ramsay passed his time in the first seasons of his London life may be gathered from a few extracts from his diary of the early months of 1845:—

'3rd, January.—Reached the Paddington Station [from Wales] at five in the morning. Got down to the "Golden Cross," slept on benches, and breakfasted at eight. At ten met Sir H. at the Muzzy [Museum] and had a most jolly reception. Minute from the Treasury authorising the junction of the Survey and the Muzzy. It is proposed also that I should be Sir H. s first lieutenant with ^300!!! Thus one dream is in a fair way of being realised. Playfair and I dined and then danced at Smyth's till four.'

The change in the official relations of the Survey thus briefly alluded to was a momentous one in the history of the service. It was now arranged that the Survey, hitherto conducted under the Board of Ordnance, should be transferred to the Office of Works, and that the Museum and Survey should thus be united as part of one organisation under the control of a single public department. It was further provided that the staff of surveyors should be increased ; that the Geological Survey of Ireland, which had likewise been in charge of the Board of Ordnance, should henceforth be placed under the supervision of the Director of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, who should assume the title of Director-General, and that under this chief there should be two Directors, one for England and Scotland, with the title of Local Director for Great Britain, and one for Ireland. It was the former of these two posts which was now to be conferred on Ramsay.

'8th January.—Playfair and I dined together. Geological Society night. Paper on Fossil Crania from South-Eastern Africa, by Owen. He, Forbes, and I supped with Playfair after. Owen's genius throws light on everything.

'16th.—Dined for the first time with the Metropolitan Red Lions in my capacity as a corresponding-member. Smyth and Falconer elected members. This fraternity took its rise at the Birmingham meeting of the British Association in 1839. Edward Forbes and a few congenial spirits, finding the dull conventionality of the 'ordinaries' insupportable, started simple dinners of their own, where beef and beer were the chief viands, and where the mirth and jollity were so great that admission to these gatherings soon came to be eagerly sought after. The place of meeting was a modest inn known as the ' Red Lion,' and the company styled themselves therefrom 'Red Lions.' They agreed to meet at every meeting of the British Association—a custom which they and their successors have kept up till the present time. Those of them who lived in London, with Forbes at their head, feeling that a year's interval made too wide a gap between their festive gatherings, formed themselves into a London company of the original brotherhood, and it was to the monthly dinner of this company that Ramsay was now introduced.

'19th January.—Home to read [Hugh Miller's] Old Red Sandstone.

'19th February.—Drew [sections]. Phillips (John) came, and we had a big talk. He is still to join us for six months in the year. Went at night to B. and F. I. soiree—a most brilliant affair. Moscheles there, and heaven knows all who besides in the musical line.

'22nd.—At work as usual. Dined, came home, slept, dressed, took a cab to the Athenaeum ; met Sir Henry, and went with him to a soiree at the Marquis of Northampton's. Duke of Cambridge there, Lord Brougham, and many others; Hallam, Monckton Milnes, Forbes, Graham, Gifford, Babbage, etc. etc.

'2nd March, Sunday.—Read and wrote. Walked through St. James's Park to Hyde Park, up Hyde Park along Oxford Street, and down Regent Street. Dinner, and came home to roast chestnuts, and finish the rough draft of a paper for our Memoirs.' This paper is again referred to under date 5th June, where the entry records: 'Writing at home at night. Finished my paper for the Memoirs, that is the first writing of it sans re-reading.' This was his famous essay on the ' Denudation of South Wales,' which eventually appeared in the first volume of the Memoirs of the Geological Survey in 1846, and of which some further account will be given in the following chapter.

'4th.—Forbes's lecture. Dined with Falconer [William Edmond Logan, born 1798, died 1875; connected in early life with the South Welsh coal-field, of which he mapped a large part, afterwards handing over his maps to the Geological Survey, which published them; subsequently appointed Director of the Geological Survey of Canada; one of the great pioneers of pre-Cambrian geology. He was a life-long cherished friend of Ramsay. He retired from the Canadian Survey in 1869, and afterwards settled in this country, and died here.] at the Oriental Club; capital turn-out. Refused the Geological Survey of India. Heigho! Went to the Linnaean, and afterwards Forbes, Ibbetson, Henfrey, and I supped at Lankester's.' Further reference is made two days later to the host here mentioned. ' Falconer came, and Logan1 is the man for India. Sir H. told me, like a daddy, he would advise me not to go, but he would not stand in my way. Shan't take it. At Captain Smyth's [Captain, afterwards Admiral William Henry Smyth, born 1788, died 1865; distinguished for his great survey of the Mediterranean, for his numerous contributions on nautical and astronomical subjects, for his acquirements in numismatics, and for his important services in founding the Royal Geographical Society.] at night. Pleasant party.

'11th.—Reeks [Trenham Reeks was appointed in 1839 to the Museum in Craig's Court, and was Curator of the Museum of Practical Geology in Jermyn Street from its inauguration until his death in 1879.] came home with me, and we had tea and ham together. Then the Geological Society scrimmage between Sedgwick and Greenough. Playfair and I had a long talk after about my Welsh affairs.' The animated discussions at this Society are merely alluded to in the diary. Thus on 5th February he notes : ' Geological night. Fitton  [William Henry Fitton, born 1780, died 1861 ; an able geologist, to whom we are largely indebted for the stratigraphical arrangement of the Cretaceous rocks of England. The paper read by him on the 5th February 1845 was 'On the Atherfield Section of the Lower Greensand in the Isle of Wight.'] on Greensand; a tremendous row, and a regular blow-up after between Fitton and Forbes.' On 2nd April: 'Went to the Geological Society, where old Warburton5 frightened me out of my wits by calling on me to speak; [Henry Warburton, born 1784, died 1858; President of the Geological Society 1843 to 1845.] and on the 16th of the same month: 'Jolly night at the Geological. Buckland's glaciers smashed.' [The writer of this curt record lived to be one of the foremost supporters of the 'glaciers' which he here dismisses. The paper read at the Society was one by A. F. Mackintosh, 'On the Supposed Evidences of the Former Existence of Glaciers in North Wales,' controverting the conclusions previously published by Buckland.]


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