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Memoir of Sir Andrew Crombie Ramsay
Chapter IV - The Professorship of Geology at University College, London


The year 1847 was to be a memorable one in the life of the subject of this biography. The early months of the year were passed in the usual official and social engagements, into all of which Ramsay entered with much zest. Perhaps the most important event in his London life during the season was his introduction to the general scientific society of London on the 12th March, when he gave the Friday evening discourse at the Royal Institution referred to in the foregoing chapter. He chose as his subject one which his Survey work in Wales had now made familiar to him, and on which he had much fresh information to convey—'The Causes arid Amount of Geological Denudations.' In later years he not infrequently discoursed in the same theatre, and usually with some trepidation beforehand. The success of his lecture always depended upon the mood he happened to be in at the time, and he never could tell how he was succeeding until his task was half done. ' The Royal Institution,' he once wrote to me, 'is the most ticklish audience ill Britain to lecture before, because the most critical and refined, and possessing also, in large and equal shares, so much knowledge and so much ignorance.' We shall find in the course of this biography that the impression made by the young lecturer's exposition upon the present occasion had its influence in securing for him the goodwill of the authorities at University College.


HENRY W. BRISTOW, from a Photograph by Wilson and Beadell

By the beginning of April he had finished all the indoor work of the winter, and was ready to take the field. From that time, with the exception of the brief interval required to attend the meeting of the British Association at Oxford, where he acted as Secretary of Section C, he remained all the summer and autumn in the field.

A few weeks of inspection duty were first spent with H. W. Bristow among the Jurassic rocks of Dorsetshire, and a visit was paid to Aveline and his family near Wrington, in Somerset. By the first week in May he was once more back in Wales, running boundary-lines that still needed completion to the north of Brecon, and revising the volcanic geology to the north of Builth. His growing experience of ancient volcanic rocks now enabled him to separate the ' ashes' from the ordinary sediments, which in the earlier surveys had been grouped together, and to introduce much more precision and detail into the mapping of these rocks. W. W. Smyth, who had previously mapped part of the district, joined him at Builth, and the two colleagues re-examined the district together. On the 21st May Ramsay chronicles: ' Out with Smyth over the Carneddau, and on the traps farther north. Found them so egregiously wrong, that they will not stand an hour's investigation in the new style of mapping. Great part of the work to-day was revising his old work, so that we are all more or less in the same mess. The day was lovely, and a splendid full-flavoured Havannah we did enjoy, where the two brooks meet to the east of Maes gwyn, reclining on the grass in the sun with all the trees growing green under our very eyes. That was a smoke. Continued the lines from thence all down to Tan y graig, and got home to two cold legs of lamb at six; Smyth finished the one, and I the other. Wrote letters at night.' The commissariat of these Survey parties was sometimes apt to vary a good deal both in quantity and in quality. A few days after the disappearance of the two legs of lamb, Aveline joined the party at Builth, bringing with him a pig's cheek as a contribution to the common larder. Ramsay records the consternation and distress of their worthy landlady on discovering that a dog had got into the house, broken the dish, and made off with the pig's cheek.

'June.—Out with Aveline at the traps to the north to show him my system of working them, that there might be a unity in the work of the Survey. Got some capital work done to the north of Llwyn Madock.

'4th.—Wrote my mother on hearing of the death of Dr. Chalmers. [Thomas Chalmers, born 1780, died 1847 ; the most distinguished preacher of his day in the Church of Scotland. He was for some years minister of the Tron parish in Glasgow, became Professor of Theology in the University of Edinburgh from 1828 to 1S43, and was the leading spirit in the secession that founded the Free Church, of which he was the first Moderator. He was on friendly terms with Mrs. Ramsay and her family.] He died suddenly in his bed, of apoplexy, through the night on Sunday, the 30th. He was the greatest and the best man I ever knew. I am glad I saw him twice within the last two years, and shall often think of his cheerfulness at the family breakfasts, when, after the meal, his daughters, he, and I used to "form the segment of a circle round the fire," when he described his Sunday congregation in the Cowgate "sitting in all the glory of their rags," and when, speaking of the Survey, he said, " I hope they endow you liberally, and do not engraft upon you the scurvy economics of a Joseph Hume."

11th.-—Heard from Sir Henry asking me if I would accept the Chair of Geology at University College, London, if it were offered me. Wrote favourably, but said I would not accept if the trouble were to be infinite and the emoluments nothing but the honour. I would accept on the grounds that the position of professor in one of the chartered Universities is a good addition to my present honourable position; that it would do me good in London scientific society, besides that a tag is a useful thing to a man's name anywhere. This is the second time it has been offered; the last was before Joyce was appointed.'

Two days afterwards he heard that the number of students attending the class of geology at University College had, during the previous five years, ranged from eight to seventeen, and the emoluments from £14: 10s. to £48. The prospect which these figures opened out to him could not be regarded as inviting. Nevertheless he determined to accept the appointment if the season and hour of lecture could be made to fit in with his duties in the Survey. Edward Forbes wrote to him urging him to make his conditions definite, and particularly that the lectures should be given in one continued course in January, February, and March, and he added that ' remuneration can hardly be expected from it, but the position and title are worth having, and might under various circumstances be of much importance to you. J think, too, you might make a class in the end, and make it worth while. Such a continuous course of lectures would, at any rate, be excellent exercise. I fancy the disposers of the chair and the advisers of the Senate on such an occasion would be Greenough, Warburton, Hutton, and perhaps Fitton, so that you might be sure of just judges at least.'

As a mere matter of form he was asked to send in an application for the appointment, together with any testimonials he might wish to submit. Among bis papers he has preserved the recommendation he received from Lyell, with the memorandum written on it, ' Not used, appointment being completed before it came.' The letter is as follows :—

Kinnordy, Kirriemuir, N.B., 7th July 1847.

Dear Sir—My residence at a distance from London will explain the delay in my answer. I am glad to learn that you are a candidate for the Chair of Geology now vacant in University College, especially as I hear there are from sixty to seventy students at King's College. Several weeks ago one of the U. Coll. Council asked me my opinion in regard to your qualifications for such an office, and I mentioned your publications, so far as I knew them, from that on The Geology of Arran (the excellence of which I could test by my own knowledge of that island) to your last elaborate paper on 'Denudation' in the Memoirs of the Survey of Great Britain.

I also alluded to your experience in field-work and the application of geology to the arts. I was naturally questioned on your powers as a lecturer, of which I was able to speak as having heard you at the Royal Institution. I said you were able to express yourself freely on subjects with which you were familiar without reference to MS., and that I thought with practice you would make a good oral instructor.

You may make any use you please of this letter, and I shall be happy to answer any further queries if required.—Believe me, ever truly yours, Cha. Lyell.

A. C. Ramsay, Esq.

De la Beche warmly supported the claims of his colleague, and readily arranged that the duties of the professorship and those of Local Director of the Geological Survey should not interfere with each other. It was agreed that the lectures should be given during the first three months of the year, and in the afternoon, so that he could complete his work at Craig's Court before going up to University College. In due course he was appointed to the chair, and now became 'Professor Ramsay,' the name by which he is best known, and which he continued to use for thirty-four years, until knighthood was conferred upon him at the end of his official career.

The British Association assembled this year for the second time at Oxford. Ramsay made a hurried journey to the meeting, and returned to his field-work in Wales. To him one of the pleasantest features of the week was the presence of his old friend Professor Nichol of Glasgow, whose early kindness he was enabled in some measure to repay by introducing him to a number of men of science whom the astronomer had not before met. From his notes of the meeting a few quotations may here be inserted.

'24th June.—At eleven the business began with Chambers's paper on Raised Beaches. lie certainly pushed his conclusions to a most unwarrantable length, and got roughly handled on account of it by Buckland, De la Beche, Sedgwick, Murchison, and Lyell. The last told me afterwards that he did so purposely that C. might see that reasonings in the style of the author of the Vestiges would not be tolerated among scientific men.

'28th.—Prince Albert, the Crown Prince of Saxe-Weimar, came to our Section while Count Rosen was reading a paper, Murchison in the chair. This delighted Sir Roderick. Afterwards Dr. Buckland took the chair. Among others I read a paper on the

Contour lines of Cardiganshire, showing that the hill-tops in the west formed a regular inclined plane to the sea. I did not read, but spoke it. It was well received by all but the Dean.

'29th.—Sir Henry was in the chair to-day. I spoke twice, and one time for Salter's benefit, showing how far he was wrong in his conclusions touching early life.'

As it was now the end of the June quarter, and the accounts had to be gone through, Ramsay came up from Oxford to London, and spent two or three days there, contriving as usual to crowd a good deal both of work and of amusement into the time. Let me cite in illustration the diary of only one day.

'3d July.—Wrought among the accounts, etc., all day, and wrote Willie. At three went to Lady Shelley's breakfast party. There was a most brilliant assemblage. I, however, only knew Lady Shelley, Barlow, and Sir Philip Egerton. I was especially delighted with the children. There were about fifty of them. They looked so lovely, and were so elegantly dressed. A harp and piano were brought out to the green, and the children danced so gracefully. I left at five to join the Red Lion dinner. We entertained the Prince of Canino and several others, Dutch, Russian, and Danish, making no difference in our ordinary fare of beefsteaks, kidneys, toasted cheese, etc. We had two jolly bowls of punch brought in after. Cooke Taylor was in the chair, Forbes vice. Sir Henry De la Beche sat opposite the Prince, on Taylor's left hand. The foreigners of northern nations entered into the fun with heart and soul, and though the nephew of the Emperor Napoleon was wondrously good-natured and seemed highly amused, I question if he perfectly understood the humour of the thing.'

By the 8th of the month Ramsay had joined a large Survey party assembled at Cerrig y druidion, from which centre they were working out the structure of the country to the north and east of Bala. On the 9th he makes the following entry :—

'Held a consultation over some trappy specimens in the morning. After that went out with Smyth, Jukes, Selwyn, Gibbs, and the dogs, to look at Jukes's ash-beds. We had a goodish day's work on bits of detail. Jukes should have showed me something larger, but detail seems his forte. He is ever in doubt, even when nearly convinced, about little things, and yet grasps the subject so well notwithstanding, that he produces better work and understands it better than any man on the Survey.'1 Next day one of the canine companions of the party, 'Jukes's dog Governor, amused himself by slaying a sheep, which cost his master 7s. 6d. In the course of a long walk we got well drenched going, dried again coming back, and were re-wet before we got home.'

De la Beche was at this time in North Wales with his daughter, taking a share in the field-work by tracing some of the boundary-lines of the igneous rocks of Caernarvonshire. He asked Ramsay to join him at Beddgelert, and to accompany him in a kind of prospecting excursion through the country around Snowdon, and thence into Anglesey. This was the first introduction of the younger geologist to that intricate piece of geology, in the ultimate unravelling of which he was to achieve one of the great successes of his career. He probably never spent three happier weeks than these. The beauty of the scenery entranced him, he became more familiar with his worthy chief, and what he always counted a great additional pleasure, he passed the time in cultivated and agreeable female society. On the first day, as they were driving over to Llanberis, which was to be their chief headquarters, he notes: 'To my great surprise and delight, Sir Henry proposed that I should occupy the same quarters with them—have a bedroom, and all mess together. Wasn't I satisfied? The thing was so unusual, no one having ever penetrated before into the sanctum of the family.' A few reminiscences of the tour may be quoted.

'14th July.—After breakfast we all started for the top of Snowdon, the girls walking by the road, and Sir Henry and I cutting a parallel section of the Barmouth sandstones, etc., on the neighbouring ridge, and every now and then coming within sight and hailing them. By and by we joined them. It was a glorious day. First, all the country was partially enveloped in white fog, which, clearing off here and there, showed peeps of the country, as if set in a superhuman frame. By and by it all rolled away, and from Cader Idris and Plynlimmon to the Long-mynd all was clear and distinct. Confound the Cockney tourists, though, that one meets a-top, and confound the huts and coffee-pots, visitors' books and guides.

'15th.—We all started after breakfast for the lake, and got into our landlord's boat, Sir Henry and I pulling, and the ladies laughing and chatting in the stern-sheets. I never enjoyed a day more all my life.

We paddled along and admired the glorious scenery of the lakes, and the Pass of Llanberis, with Snowdon in the clouds, and that old grey tower below. Then, ever and anon, Sir H. and I landed to tap the rocks, chaining the boat with its fair freight to the banks till our return. We pulled to the bottom of the lake, and walked a mile farther, picking the ladies up on our return, as well as a lot of cockles Sir H. had bought. We loitered to gather a hundred or two of white and yellow water-lilies. We then tied a shawl to an oar for a sail and crept up the lake, dragged the boat into the other lake, and so home at half-past six.'

In descending from an excursion to the top of Glydyr fawr he sprained his foot—an accident which, though he made light of it at the time, proved serious enough in its effects to prevent him from further field-work for some weeks. Much of the subsequent occupation of the party was done by driving from point to point, so that the disabled geologist had an opportunity of taking a general survey of the whole region. In this way they visited Caernarvon, struck the southern coast at Pwllheli, crossed to the west side of the peninsula, drove to the promontory of Aberdaron, and thence back by Tremadoc to Llanberis. In these preliminary traverses, favoured by good weather, Ramsay was enabled in some degree to grasp the physical features and broad geological structure of a region into the detailed study of which the Geological Survey was now about to enter. There is an additional interest in these excursions, for one of them included a visit to Anglesey, where Ramsay now saw for the first time the island about which in after years he was to think and write so much, where he was to find his wife, where, wearied with the turmoil of official life, he was to retire and spend his closing years, and where, at last, he was to be laid at rest for ever. The party drove to Beaumaris in an open barouche. The dian records how they waited half an hour to see 'that glorious work, the Menai Bridge. Its beauty, simplicity, and grandeur are wonderful. Dined at the Bulkley Arms, Beaumaris, and after dinner removed to our new lodgings in Menai Place, which are very nice, and have a splendid view across the straits.'

This happy time came to an end on the 6th August, when the De la Beche party left by steamer for Liverpool, and Ramsay, still lame, made his way by carriage to join Selwyn at Ffestiniog. With the help of a pony he was able to accompany Selwyn, Playfair, Jukes, and Gibbs over a good deal of ground, and discuss with them some of the problems that had been met with in the course of the mapping. But as the sprain continued to give a good deal of trouble, he at last went over to Dolaucothi, and remained six weeks there, to rest and work at the preparation of his lectures for University College. Forbes joined him, and the two friends had long consultations over the general plan of these lectures. Thus, under date the 25th August, Ramsay records: ' Arranged with Forbes a plan of my introductory lecture. By his advice I simplified and condensed my plan, but I much fear it will be more than I can well do to make a good job of it, considering the little time I shall have in London to prepare a good philosophical account of how folks arrived at their geological conclusions from the time of Strabo down to our own date.'

The month of September, and nearly all October, were spent in taking Forbes over some of the sections that best showed the characters and relations of the various members of the Silurian series. From Dolau-cothi the two geologists made their way by Llangadoc and Llandovery to Builth, where they saw the Car-neddau, with its unconformability, then by Pen y bont, Kington, Ludlow, Church Stretton, Bishop's Castle, and Chirbury to Welshpool. In this tour Ramsay, still unable to use his foot, was compelled to ride, while Forbes walked at his side. Being familiar with the ground, however, he was able to point out all the salient features of geological structure. ' I explained,' he says in his diary, 1 and Forbes believed in all the geology.' As Forbes had not had any opportunity of making himself familiar with the older Palaeozoic rocks, it was of great benefit to him, and of much ultimate advantage to the Survey, that he should learn his lesson in such a typical region, and under the guidance of the best stratigrapher on the staff.

There was not, however, always perfect agreement between the two travellers. So long as only the facts of geological structure were concerned, Forbes was quite content to take them from Ramsay, but when :t came to the interpretation of these facts, and to theoretical deductions from them, he claimed to use his own judgment. Notwithstanding the experience gained in mapping the Cader Idris country, and in traversing the Arenig chain, Ramsay still retained, and indeed maintained to the last, his belief in the. conversion of stratified rocks, through the contact metamorphism induced by intrusive masses of igneous material, into substances that could not be distinguished from true igneous rocks. He supposed that the sedimentary strata had been actually melted, and ihat from this molten condition a gradation could be traced, on the one hand, into the ordinary character of sediments, and, on the other, into undoubted eruptive material. After spending some time on Caer Caradoc and Hope Bowdler he went to Bishop's Castle, and on the first day of the stay there makes the following entry : ' ist October.—Went out to take a turn on the traps and altered rocks at Upper Hublast (sic). Found that they had been injected into and highly baked the Wenlock shales, and in one place, as I thought, fairly melted them, so that part of this must be mapped trap. Forbes and I had a tou«h argument on this head, for I fancied I could trace a gradual change from the genuine baked Wenlocks into melted beds. This he would not allow, so we both became hot, and neither gave in. We were doubtless partly both right.'

Edward Forbes was an excellent artist. He could with great rapidity catch the likeness of any one whom he wished to portray, while his poetical temperament, his vivid imagination, and his keen sense of humour enabled him to convert his likenesses into idealised portraits or comical caricatures, as the impulse moved him. At Dolaucothi he made pictorial contributions to the ladies' albums, in which the various members of the household figured. His landscape sketches were likewise often admirable. His artistic eye enabled him to seize and delineate accurately the general effect of a scene, while his geological knowledge helped to guide him in expressing its dominant features. Ramsay, though not so gifted in this respect, was not without a measure of artistic capacity. His early drawings of Arran scenery were remarkably good, and his notebooks contain many characteristic sepia-sketches of the landscapes through which his official duties led him to wander. On this tour with Forbes, not being able to walk, he seems to have consoled himself by sitting down to sketch. He makes reference in his journal to these pictorial efforts, but it is generally in some such form as, 'Forbes made some excellent water-colour drawings; I spoiled some paper.'

Among the tastes which these two comrades had in common was a love of antiquities. Ramsay up to the last was always willing to go a long way round for the purpose of visiting a ruined tower or crumbling abbey. He would become enthusiastic as he reconstructed in imagination the design and details of the architecture, and traversed every nook and corner of the ruin, while sometimes the proofs of ruthless destruction would fill him with sadness. Referring to another part of the country, he enters in his journal: 'Revisited all the ruins, got to the top of the square tower, and half broke my heart with the contemplation of such glorious structures utterly destroyed.' On one of the excursions from Church Stretton his antiquarian soul was stirred within him as they traversed the old Roman road, Watling Street, and found it ' now so overgrown that it is a mere grass walk between hedges and briars.'

On the 26th October, after a pleasant tour of five weeks, Forbes went back to London, and Ramsay started for some weeks of hard field-work in Montgomeryshire. A good deal of that country had already been mapped, but there were some parts of it which, from his more recent experience among the volcanic rocks, needed revision before publication of the maps. Accordingly, he devoted himself to the task of re-examining and completing the geological lines, taking long expeditions, getting over a large tract of ground, and definitely fixing some important points in the geological structure of the region.

On the 6th November he writes: 'Out on the hill south-east of Llandegle Rhos. Could not make a start without much scenting about and doubliag back and forward. But during this process I lighted on a glorious sight, proving beyond a doubt all my assertions about the geology of the country. Sir H. and Smyth ought to have inferred the same when they mapped these traps. I found Wenlock shale containing rounded pebbles of trap and slate resting unconformably on Llandeilos on the east side of the Builth traps. It ravished my soul with joy, and far more than atoned for the little that was done before.'

'11th December.—A tremendous day's work down the middle of the traps to the ground above Llanilwidd, near Builth. Found in Sir H.'s mass of greenstone on the east lots of fossils J Ran across the country as far as Pencerrig, and walked back what is called eleven miles in two hours and a quarter.' In this traverse he 'put the finishing touch to the Builth section.'

All the daylight, and sometimes part of the dusk, in these autumnal days were spent in this active pedestrianism. But this work represents only a part of the Director's industry at that time. He kept up with singular regularity and promptitude a correspondence which, both with his colleagues and with friends at a distance, was every year growing more voluminous. He had made some progress in Welsh, and he used to employ himself in translating Welsh songs into English rhyme. Nor did he content himself with mere metrical translation. He had always been rather fond of turning his thoughts into verse, and he occasionally penned an ode or sonnet, or a rhyming epistle. To his good friends at Dolaucothi he often chose a metrical way of expressing himself. Thus, on one occasion, with the music of the Spenserian stanza in his ear, he wrote :—

Or if mayhap, with radiance clear and bright,
The morn give token of a goodlie day
To lure the luckless geologic wight
Once more o'er dale and breezy down to stray;
Then let him walk and work, while work he may,
Forthy eftsoons, though much against the grain,
He by and by, slow wending on his way,
Ah, hapless wretch ! returneth home again
Bemired above the knees, and drenched with pelting rain.

At another time, after section-running in very bad weather, and getting back ' drenched with pelting rain,' he found consolation in making fun of the discomfort, and with recollections of Marmion and the Lady of the Lake, penned the following account of it :—

Dear Emily, two years ago Methinks I promised to send
Some sunny day a line or so To you, my trusty friend.

Loud howls the wind across the waste
Sharp falls the pattering rain,
And yet I don my togs in haste,
And take to the hills again.
With compass and clinometer,
And hammer, stout ally,
I tramp away from Rhaiadr,
Adown the winding Wye.
What reck my fellows of the rain,
William and Thomas hight,
Who bear the lengthy legs, the chain,
And the theodolite?
Stout Thomas was a Builth man bold,
William was reared to wait
On John ap John; his sire doth hold
His post beside the gate.
But when we came to Rhos-saith-maen
And set to work, I wist,
Our merry toil we scarce began
When the white and curling mist
Came downwards like a mighty shroud,
And wrapt the hills in one vast cloud, I
So thick and close, you scarce could see
Within that villain fog, I vow to good St. Jeremy,
A chain's length o'er the bog.

But hark! upon the bleak Drum-ddu
The roaring winds rush fast and free,
And the damp mists that hide the day
Upon their wings they bear away,
And up against the cold blue sky
Stands Cefn-y-gamrhiw sharp and high.
'Now to't, my merry men, like fun,
And make your hay while shines the sun;
You, Thomas, cut along like wind,
And, William, follow up behind:
Run like old Scratch, my lads,' quoth I,
And off we go right merrily
By stock and stone, nor stayed to breathe
Till o'er the hill and o'er the heath
We reached the vale at set of sun
Where wild Cwm Elan's waters run.

Remote Cwm Elan! well I ween
I never saw a fairer scene.
Thy sparkling waters winding stray
By meadow green and mountain grey,
Beneath whose shaggy crest,
In many a wild romantic nook,
By mossy stone and mountain brook,
Image of quiet rest,
In many a lone and shady spot,
Curls the blue smoke from lowly cot.

Next morning we were boun' to climb
Black Craig-y-foel's cliffs sublime;
So steep this hill, so tight and tough
To speel, it cost a whole hour long;
And ere we reached the summit rough
It cracked my wind and stopped my song.

Then, O kind-hearted Emily,
Most fervently I beg of thee,
Remember in thy nightly prayer
Thy broken-winded A. C. R.

For some of his old Glasgow friends he chose a ruder verse, as In the following piece of doggerel:—

I am a geologic tramp
(Beef and greens make very good cheer),
Over the country I rove and ramp
(And a pewter quart is the dish for beer).

I run and I ride, I ride and I drive
(Capon and sausage are good i' the mouth),
Come home to dinner at half-past five
(And a glass of stiff grog will quench the drouth).

I live in an inn by the turnpike road
(Ginger and pepper will tickle the chops),
In rainy weather a queer abode
(When ye brew, i' the brewst put plenty of hops).

You've got a wife and I've got a hammer
(Brose and butter and porridge and ale);
Both at a time can kick up a clamour
(And a joke's a joke, though never so stale).

A wife is better in palace or hovel
(O but a blushing maid looks winsome!)
Than a poke in the eye with a dirty shovel
(But a maid looks best when her pocket is tinsome).

I'm unco vexed that I canna gang down
(Up frae the Broomilaw up in a noddy),
But I maun prepare for the U.C. gown
(Breakfasts and dinner, and O! the toddy).

But besides an increasing, though often amusing and interesting correspondence, there were now looming grimly in front of him the lectures which in a few brief weeks he would have to begin in London. It is not easy after eight or ten hours of active pedestrianism, followed by a good dinner, to sit down calmly to serious literary exertion. Ramsay records now and then with remorse that sleep got the better of him, and he made no progress with those lectures. Nevertheless he set himself resolutely to face the task, and seems to have finished a number of lectures, or at least the detailed notes from which they would be delivered, before he returned to London. For the main part of the course he knew he would be compelled, in a kind of hand-to-mouth way, to work up on one day the lecture that he was to deliver the next.

Not only were the lecture notes to be prepared, but the diagrams to illustrate them all required to be designed and drawn, for there were no appliances of this kind at University College. Ramsay always showed much skill, and even what might be called artistic feeling, in the drawing of geological sections. He now made drafts of what he would need for his course, and sent them up to his colleague, W. H. Baily, at Craig's Court, to be enlarged into proper lecture diagrams. The occasional wet days that interrupted mapping allowed more steady progress to be made with these preparations for the professorship, and once in the full swing of work he would continue until long after midnight, when sleep, which overtook him when uncalled for, would not come when desired, even although he ' read Count Gramviont for an hour to get rid of the geology on the brain.'

By the 20th December Ramsay was once more back in London. Survey duty kept him busy all day at the Museum, and his lectures still occupied him all evening, and sometimes far into the night. A few of his jottings regarding the preparation of these lectures in town may be given here. 'Made a complete abstract of Steno's Prodromus before going to bed. 'Stuck at Hutton's Theory of the Earth and Play fair's Illustrations all day (Sunday), and before night read all, and made a complete abstract of the latter. ' Wrote a bit of lecture, read The Fortunes of Nigel, and went to bed at one.' 'Wrote a good tit of my lecture at night. Hutton every day strikes me with astonishment. Lyell does not do him half justice.' He had never had any practice in public speaking, and was uncertain how far he could trust to notes, or how much he ought to write fully out. But he possessed the best qualification for a successful lecturer : he was full of his subject. To wide reading in it he could bring the priceless advantage of that personal acquaintance and vivid perception which years of practical work in the field could alone have given him.

A professor's first course of lectures is always the most arduous. The preliminary gathering and arranging of notes, and the planning and execution of diagrams and other illustrations, leave him generally prepared for, at least, the first few lectures, perhaps for the larger proportion of the series. But he is probably seldom able to get all his material in hand for the completed course before he actually begins to lecture. Most usually he comes to the end of his arranged notes when there is still a formidable part of the term in front of him, and when, therefore, he has to sit late and rise early to get ready for the prelection of each day as it comes. Then there is the feeling of uncertainty which arises in his mind as to his facility of expression, when, for perhaps the first time in his life, he finds himself addressing that exacting audience—an assemblage of lads, many of them much readier to seek amusement than instruction, careless yet critical, who have to be attracted and interested before they can be instructed.

With but little knowledge of students and student-life, with scarcely any previous practice in public speaking, and with no experience in teaching, Ramsay looked forward with some misgiving to the fateful 14th January 1848, when he was to enter upon his new educational duties. He chose as the subject of his Inaugural lecture a sketch of the progress of geological science, selecting a few of the greater names in the bead-roll of geology, and dwelling more particularly upon the labours of the illustrious Hutton.1 It was a wide theme for a single lecture, but the author succeeded in giving prominence to some of the main historical facts in the evolution of geology, and he reserved for his opening lecture next year a continuation of the story in its progress from the time of Hutton to that of William Smith.

On the opening day of his course the new Professor made the following entry in his diary :—

'14th Jamiary.— Got up betimes and worked at my lecture till half-past ten. Took a cab to University College, reading as I went the ill-written passages of my lecture. By and by Sharpey and Dr. Grant came in. We then went to the Professor's room, where Graham and Sharpey introduced me into a silk gown, and then Dr. Grant introduced me to the audience, which numbered about a hundred. I was pleased to see so many. Dr. Fitton was there and sundry others, Forbes and Oldham grinning at me from the back rows. I felt a little nervous, but got through very well, as they told me, in an hour and a quarter.

After a month's experience of lecturing he writes. ' I suspect the listeners are better pleased with my matter than I am, and more than that, I daresay I learn more than they do.' The course came to an end on the last day of March, on which date the following memorandum was made. ' Got the composing steam well up and finished the lecture by eleven. Got through it unusually well, and had a round of applause when it was over.'

We may be sure that in this first course of lectures the young professor touched on many questions about which he was able to lay fresh views and original illustrations before his hearers, drawn not from books, but from long observation of nature. His treatment of denudation and the results achieved by it would be specially full and instructive. His account of igneous rocks and the manner in which volcanic phenomena are chronicled among the older geological systems would be such as at the time could be found in no published book or memoir. His description of the structures of the older sedimentary masses would be marked by graphic detail, arising from minute practical study of the subject in Wales. Those who remember Ramsay's lectures in later years may well believe that these earliest prelections would not be wanting in that suggestiveness and foresight which were so characteristic of his style of treatment. In one of his letters to J. W. Salter (2nd October 1848) he remarks: 'Last winter I confidently lectured that these [Welsh] rocks were Silurian, and also that the Grampian clay-slates, etc., would turn out to be ditto, more or less altered.'

During the winter of 1847-48 in London, besides his lectures, there were various incidents that helped to enliven the daily routine of the Local Director's official duty. Sir Henry De la Beche had been elected President of the Geological Society, and as he now took the chair at the meetings, the fortnightly reunions had an added interest for the members of the Geological Survey.

In his anniversary address on the 18th February Sir Henry took the opportunity of gracefully acknowledging the cheerful co-operation of the fellows of the Society in the work of the Geological Survey. The Society and the Survey were not rival organisations, but were united in the one paramount object of promoting the cause of geological science. It was a former president of the Society who had been consulted by the Government as to the propriety of definitely establishing a geological survey of the United Kingdom, and had urged the formation of such a department of the public service, while many of the members of the Society had cheerfully assisted and encouraged the efforts of the Director. De la Becbe, on the other hand, had been for years Foreign Secretary, and was now elected President of the Society. He was thus enabled to give it the benefit of his wide experience and his excellent business habits. The members of his staff, too, took a share in the affairs of the Society, acting on its council, reading papers before it, entering into the discussions, and contributing material to its Quarterly Journal. This feeling of mutual sympathy and co-operation has continued to mark the relations of the Society and the Survey down to the present day. The Society has freely bestowed its offices and its honours upon the members of the Survey, who, on their part, have looked with pride upon their connection with the oldest and most distinguished of the geological societies of the world.

On the present occasion Sir Henry was able to announce the satisfactory progress of the Survey, both as regards its field-work and the issue of its maps. He stated that the maps completing South Wales and extending into North Wales would soon be published, and that considerable progress had been made in the Survey and publication of the maps of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Dorset, and Wiltshire. He spoke also of the satisfactory advance of the field-work in North Wales and Derbyshire, and referred to the commencement of the publication of the maps of the Irish branch of the Survey now under his direction. But perhaps the most important announcement made by him was that in which he stated that the collections in the Museum of Practical Geology having so greatly increased, ' the Government is now erecting the considerable building, which the members of this Society may have observed extending from Piccadilly to Jermyn Street, where these collections, illustrating both the science and applications of geology, can be made properly accessible to the public.

The planning and erecting of this new edifice occupied much of De la Beche's time and thoughts for several years, and many were the consultations which he had with the various members of his staff on the subject. His scheme gradually enlarged as he found he could carry the Government authorities with him, until, in 1851, he saw the new Museum completed, and with it the realisation of the bold idea to found a great educational establishment which he had aimed at so many years before.

Besides the fact that his chief was now president, Ramsay had the additional reason for attending the meetings of the Geological Society, that he had been elected a member of the Geological Club. This was the dining fraternity to which, as already described, he had been introduced by Murchison on his first coming to London. Founded in 1824, it consists of Fellows of the Geological Society, limited in number to thirty-six, who are wont to dine on the evenings of the Society's meetings, and to adjourn from the dinner to the meeting. The Club thus serves a double purpose ; it brings its members into closer and more social contact with each other than is possible in the Society's rooms, and it secures the nucleus of an audience at the evening meeting afterwards. The Society's apartments were at this time in Somerset House, and the Club met in some restaurant in the near neighbourhood. At first the dinners took place at the 'Crown and Anchor Tavern' until that noted establishment was closed in 1847. The Club then moved to Clunn's Hotel, Covent Garden.

Since the removal of the Society's apartments, <n the year 1873, to Burlington House, the old-fashioned dining-houses in the region of the Strand have been forsaken for others nearer the place of meeting—a change still regretted by some who remember affectionately the dingy but cosy dens where they used to dine a generation ago.

A few memoranda regarding the Society and the Club occur in Ramsay's diary of this winter. Thus on the 5th January 1848 he notes : ' Dined at the Geological Club, Clunn's Hotel, Covent Garden, for the first time since becoming a member. Selwyn accompanied Sir Henry, who was in the chair; all the rest were Horner2 and Prevost, so we were but five. I he dinner was splendid and the wine not had. At the Geological afterwards we had a paper by Nicol,3 the new Secretary, which he read ir! a monotonous, drawling, school-boy voice, like some of the old scholars I remember at the Parish School at Saltcoats twenty-four years ago. The paper was good enough—on the Silurian and part of the Old Red Sandstone of the south of Scotland. Lyell, Salter, Greenough, and I spoke. I rose a little afraid, but got on famously before I had said a dozen words, and, as I was told afterwards, gave great satisfaction to Greenough and some others, who liked the Survey style of treating such subjects. I took good care to clench two things ; first, that on analogous subjects some papers would be read by the Survey ; and, second, giving Selwyn a bit of laudation to the cheering of his heart.' Next day Sir Henry told him at the Museum that he had been ' much pleased with the Geol. Soc. last evening, but said he was afraid I would speak again and remove the good impression made by my first.'

'14th February.—Anniversary of Geol. Soc. Did not get down from my lecture till after the [Wollaston] medal had been given to, and acknowledged by, Dr. Buckland. Sir Henry's address passed off very well. I sat mostly next Darwin. I was elected a member of council. Anniversary dinner afterwards. Sir Henry did most admirably in the chair, turning off all his speeches excellently. Sedgwick made the best speech of the evening. I was called on to return thanks for the Survey ; Playfair for the Museum. I got on well, all save one short hesitation, caused by my being so intent on my first paragraph that I quite forgot the second. We broke up about eleven, and in the long-run Smyth, Reeks, Bristow, and I had some supper. Got home at half-past three.

'22nd March.—Geological Society night. Dined at the Club. Sir H. gone, and Moon in the chair. I sat next Prestwich and Austen, and opposite Forbes and Lord Selkirk—all pleasant men. I he last seems most agreeable and unaffected.

'Good night at the Society. Buckland made a most witty speech. It was about crinoids; and he began by saying that the debate seemed to him to have "more of a gastronomic than a palseontological character; for all that had been said bore upon the relation of the plates to the mouth and the mouth to the plates." Forbes spoke well, and to the purpose; so did Charlesworth and Carpenter. I was glad of this, for Emerson, the American, was there.

14th April.—Jukes and I read papers to-night at the Geological on N. Wales and S. Wales. Sir II. was in great alarm beforehand. Jukes read first. Sedgwick was present, and most agreeable and conciliatory. He made a most complimentary speech after. Lyell ditto. Buckland was all in favour, but in attempting to quote Scripture made a great mull of it, and broke down, greatly to the amusement of all especially the Bishop of Oxford. I lectured rather much, they told me—the natural effect of a three months' first course of lectures.'

Of the two communications from Survey officers read at this meeting of the Geological Society, one was by Ramsay and Aveline, and was entitled a 'Sketch of the Structure of Parts of North and South Wales.' It dealt chiefly with the succession of the stratified rocks which had been worked out in the country to the south and south-east of the Dolgelli and Bala district, and pointed out the clear evidence of the great unconformability and overlap of the Upper Silurian formations. The other paper, entitled 1 Sketch of the Structure of the Country extending from Cader Idris to Moel Siabod, North Wales,' was by Jukes and Selwyn, and showed the relative positions of the various great stratified groups and their intercalated volcanic masses.

These papers are interesting in the history of British geology, inasmuch as they gave the first published outline of the results up to that time obtained by the Geological Survey in North Wales. As their titles expressed, they were merely sketches ; and even in that form they were printed only in abstract. The Director-General, as told in the last extract from Ramsay's diary, was in a state of alarm as to what might happen as a consequence of the reading of these papers. This fear arose from a certain timidity of nature which, with all his energy and determination, characterised De la Beche. So anxious was he for the ultimate success of all his wide scheme for a great national institute of applied science, that though he could show fight when occasion demanded, he shrank from taking himself, or encouraging on the part of his subordinates, any action which seemed likely to stimulate opposition. He did not greatly favour the communication of papers by his staff to scientific societies giving the results arrived at during the operations of the Survey. He contended, and with some show of reason, that these results were obtained by public servants at the cost of the State, and were the property of the country, and not of the individuals who made them. Some of the staff, however, angrily resented any restraint of their liberty in this respect ; and there seemed at one time the possibility of a serious rupture on the subject. In the angry correspondence which took place between one of the malcontents and Sir Henry, it was asserted that by the course which had been followed Ramsay had been prevented from taking the position as a geologist to which the amount and quality of his work entitled him. This was a charge which gave special pain to Ramsay himself when he heard of it. ' This is too bad,' he wrote in his diary; ' for though by reading more papers I might have stood higher at the Geological Society, yet, all in all, Sir H. has been my best friend in every way, private and public.'

The mutiny had been in progress during the autumn, but as soon as Ramsay got back to London his tact and sound common sense succeeded in not only keeping the peace, but in effecting an arrangement which, while it preserved the due discipline of the service, provided for the officers of the Survey the possibility of making known their observations in anticipation of the subsequent publication of an official account of them. He wrote to Aveline: ' I have achieved a great point, and got permission for the Survey to read papers at the Geological Society, on the approval of the Director-General, when submitted to him by me. I wish, therefore, you would think over some of the particulars of your present trappy country, as I wish much, if you have no objections, to associate you with myself in a joint paper on the Stretton, Bishop's Castle, Kington, and Builth land. It must not deal with details, but be general, and yet precise in its conclusions. We must not give sections, but diagrams, such as other folk call sections, showing the general run of things ; also only a sketch of the map. The reason is, that as yet the country is unpublished, and matters handed in to the Geological Society belong to it. It is a great point, however, to have gained this, for the Survey is not half enough before the public.'

This was by no means the only occasion on which the Local Director was able to avert such threatened ruptures between the ' officialism' of the Director-General and the ' licence' of the geologists. De la Beche was by instinct an official, and he had lived so long in intimate contact with ministers and departments that his natural bent of mind was intensified. If there were two ways of getting a thing done, he chose the more official and roundabout rather than the more simple and direct. Probably he was generally right in his choice, but to those who looked on trom outside, and were not cognisant of all the facts, he seemed often to be raising needless difficulties and guarding against objections that were never likely to be made. Always courteous and pleasant in manner, he seemed unwilling to give a blunt negative to a request, and thus sometimes, unwittingly, encouraged hopes that he did not mean to fulfil.

Ramsay seems to have formed a tolerably just estimate of the character of his chief, whose weak points he recognised, while he thoroughly appreciated his excellences. At the time of the outbreak above referred to he wrote in his diary that '- has used harsh and even unjust terms to Sir Henry, and, too, is not fair to him. Sir Henry's devotion to the Museum and Survey sometimes blinds him to other matters. People must make allowance. With all his little failings, I wish I knew more men 1 love as much.'

There can hardly be any doubt that the very 'officialism,' which seemed to some of De la Beche's critics a defect, powerfully contributed to his success in gaining from the Government of the country support to his scheme for the national endowment of applied geology. He knew how to measure and influence the official mind. He began by trifling requests, and gradually educated the various departments to adopt his views and give their assistance to carry them out, until it became as much a point of honour and credit with his official superiors as it was a heartfelt desire of his own that his successive demands should be favourably considered at the Treasury. Moreover, he cultivated personal relations with the ministers of the day. He was on specially friendly terms with Sir Robert Peel, whom he led to take interest in the erection of the new Museum and in the progress of the Survey. He even sounded him as to his acceptance of the Presidency of the Royal Society. On the 9th February of this year De la Beche told Ramsay that he had been on this errand, and that ' Sir Robert refused on the ground that it ought to be a scientific man. He (Sir R.) highly approved of the plan of holding the soirees at the Society's rooms; "and then," said he, "if a poor man, as it might, and often ought to be, held the Presidency, we could go and pay our respects to him." '

But the Director-General and his staff at Craig's Court had other duties to discharge this winter than had ever before fallen to their share. The proposal of the Chartists to assemble 200,000 men on Kennington Common and march to Westminster on the 10th April led to the taking of ample precautions for the security of public buildings in London. Though the establishment at Craig's Court might have been supposed to lie almost hidden away from the ken of any rioters, its officials prepared themselves most manfully to resist the invasion of their premises. These preparations, and the eventful day, are thus chronicled in Ramsay's diary :—

'8th April.—Got sworn in to-day as a special constable; got a baton at Scotland Yard. Forbes refused; his usual policy. He says there is no cause for alarm, and yet commends people for taking precautions! Yet he takes none. Sir H. also organises, yet does not swear-in himself. Playfair, Hunt, Baily, Reeks, J. A. Phillips, [John Arthur Phillips, born 1822, died 1887 ; received his training at the Ecole des Mines, Paris. At the time referred to in the text he was assistant to Professor Playfair in an investigation ordered by the Admiralty into the steam coals best adapted for the Navy. He afterwards became a consulting engineer in milling and metallurgical matters, and travelled much abroad professionally.] etc. etc., plucky.

'9th.—Wilson is also sworn-in, and quite ready to do the needful. Quiet enough to-night; doubtful tomorrow.

'10th.—Grand row expected to-day. Forbes called, and we went down to the Museum before ten ; met Playfair. Sir Henry at the Museum very active and mysterious, passing through holes into the back stables of the Scotland Yard Police Office, and bringing out armfuls of cutlasses. Streets full of special constables. Chartists afraid, and cowed; all passing off quietly. No procession took place. However, we had a jolly dinner in Sir Henry's room for fourteen, and cigars and coffee in the laboratory afterwards.

This was the hardest duty we had to perform. On public grounds, our men were well pleased that things went off quietly; but as private individuals, many seemed rather disappointed that there was no scrimmage, especially Bone and J. A. Phillips, who were very bloodily inclined. Salter was evidently in a funk, and kept up his spirits all day by whistling psalm tunes.

One of the pleasantest interludes of Ramsay's life this winter in London was a visit paid by him to Darwin's hospitable home in Kent, when Lyell and his wife, Owen and Forbes were likewise guests. It was a brief sojourn from Saturday to Monday, of which he records :—

'11th February, Sunday.—Rose betimes, had a walk in the gardens, and came in to breakfast. Set to work after, and read and thought over Hopkins's views as shown in Jamesons Journaland when found made a note. After lunch Forbes, Owen, Lyell, and I had a walk in Sir John Lubbock's park, and saw a number of things pleasant to look upon, in spite of a tendency to drizzling. Nice cosy chat, too, before and after dinner. Darwin is an enviable man—a pleasant place, a nice wife, a nice family, station neither too high nor too low, a good moderate fortune, and the command of his own time. After tea Mrs. Darwin and one of her sisters played some of Mendelssohn's duets, etc. etc., all very charming. I never enjoyed myself more. Forbes came to my room before going to bed, and gave me a sketch of his coming lecture on generic centres. Lyell is a much more amusing man than I gave him credit for. Mrs. Lyell is a charming person—pretty, lively, and full of faith in, and admiration of, her husband.

'Mr. and Mrs. Lyell told some capital stories about America, but on the whole all tending to the honour of America. He is quite enthusiastic about it, especially in all that relates to the liberal spirit of the New Englanders. Boston seems in all the world his favourite city. The worst party in America is the party that emigrates from Great Britain.'


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