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Memoir of Sir Andrew Crombie Ramsay
Chapter IX - The Presidency of the Geological Society Reorganisation of the Geological Survey


The period of Ramsay's life on the history of which we now enter embraces a space of about ten years. During that interval he was mainly occupied in the duties of the Geological Survey, finding time and ability for fewer extra-official labours than he had been able to accomplish before. His routine work was not relieved and enlivened by the inspiration of Swiss mountaineering; but he continued to perform it with faithful persistence, and to superintend his staff with the same firm and friendly hand.

It is one of the duties of the President of the Geological Society at the end of each of the two years of his tenure of the office to read an address, which may either deal with the general progress of geology during the previous twelve months, or may treat of some special branch of the subject to which the writer has particularly given his attention. For some years past Ramsay had been brooding upon what Darwin had so well enforced—the imperfection of the geological record. He was struck by the extraordinary gaps in the succession of organic remains, even where there was no marked physical interruption of the continuity of sedimentation. And he connected these gaps with geographical changes of which no other trace had survived. He had made a communication on this subject to the American Association at the Montreal meeting, which had attracted considerable attention among those present. He had afterwards made it the subject of one of his evening lectures to working men at Jermyn Street. But no full exposition of his views had yet been made public. He therefore chose ' Breaks in the Succession of the British Strata' as the thesis to be worked out in his two successive presidential addresses, taking the Palaeozoic systems in the first year (1863), and the Secondary and Tertiary systems in the second (1864). Some account of these essays will be given in the concluding chapter of this volume.

In the months of January and February 1863 Ramsay gave a course of six evening lectures to working men in the Jermyn Street Museum on the Physical Geology and Geography of Great Britain. These lectures were taken down at the time in shorthand, and were shortly afterwards printed and published as a small volume. Unfortunately, the lecturer's state of health at the time prevented him from correcting the proofs with adequate care. The book consequently appeared full of inaccuracies. But the nucleus of a valuable handbook was there, and in later years its author was able to revise and enlarge it, and it now forms his well-known and admirable treatise on the Physical Geology and Geography of Great Britain. Even in the original tract the geological reader can perceive the outlines of many deductions regarding the growth of the sur face topography of the land, which the author was able subsequently to work out more fully. The publication of this book marks a distinct epoch in its writer's scientific, career. Thenceforward, while he continued to take interest :n all geological problems, and more particularly in those which were engaging the attention of his colleagues in the mapping of the Geological Survey, it was the origin of scenery which had for him the supreme attraction. The history of lakes, river-basins and valleys, the influence of geological structure on landscape, and the effects of that structure and of its accompanying topographical contours upon the people of the country—these were the; themes which now engaged his thoughts, and on which he loved to speak and write.

The old elasticity of mind which in the past had enabled him to get through so much mental as well as bodily work still refused to return, and though n congenial society he could once again be the liveliest and brightest of a party, he was apt to suffer from such weariness as made even the simplest duties irksome. Writing to me on the; 5th May 1863 from Dolaucothi, whither he had gone for a little rest, he says : ' I had begun to consider recovery doubtful, but I now think "there's life in the old dog yet." All the while I could eat, laugh, sing, fish, and walk a little (three or six miles), but still I had misgivings. Oh the charm of this country and its pleasant friends! Since breakfast I have been at a magistrates' meeting, seeing two affiliation cases disposed of, and then engineering a brook with the young ladies. This country is full of drift, with scratched stones and erratics going up to 600, 800, or 1000 feet, maybe higher. But I have seen no clear section of It, and do not know if it is stratified. I considered it so long ago, but I would like to confirm it.'

The improvement in his condition was not maintained during the summer, and he looked forward with dismay to the winter, when the necessity for lecturing would once more meet him face to face. As his lectures were not written out, but were delivered merely from notes, which he changed and brought up to date from year to year, he always felt that the success of a lecture depended almost entirely on his condition at the time when he had to speak. Even up to the end, though the subject was quite familiar to him, and he could have discoursed for hours about it to a group of friends, the formal lecture to a miscellaneous audience, and still more to a company of students, was a severe mental strain to him. When it was over he would come out of the lecture-room sometimes so weary that he could only go home and rest. The prospect of the winter session of the School of Mines was, therefore, at this time so dark to him that he seriously proposed to resign his lectureship, if that could be done without pecuniary loss. He felt that if relieved from all teaching duty, he could devote himself with more undivided energy to his duties in the Survey, and that the change would be better for the Survey as well as for himself. ' If the Treasury throw out my proposal,' he wrote to me, 'then I am where I was; and as I do not intend to die, I suppose I must put on half-steam. I wish they could be, consistently with official etiquette, a little more liberal in the matter, for it is hard to begin to go back when one has served twenty-two years and more, and is half a century old, especially when one's Survey work has been well trebled.' After some months of suspense, ' the everlasting No' of the Treasury was duly received. ' So there it is,' he wrote again, 'and I suppose when February comes I shall try [lecturing]. I feel, I am glad to say, even better than when you saw me last, and it may, perhaps, not be too much for sac.'

The field-work of the Survey was now in full march through the remaining tracts of the southern counties of England, and Ramsay took an active interest in it, and in the fascinating problems of physical geography which it elucidated. On the 7th November he wrote to me : ' The deevil a holiday have 1 had since I saw you. I have been I don't know where, but at Wellingborough of late, and Sittingbourne and Tunbridge. On Monday 1 go with Hughes and Whitaker to look at and arrange about Tertiary mapping between Folkestone and Dover, and then to Lindfield to see the last of the Weald, that is to say, of the solid rocks there.

. . By the way, I think I have given up the marine denudation of the Weald. Atmosphere, rain, and rivers must ha' done it. I'm coming to that, I fear and hope, and hoping, fearing, trembling, regretfully triumphant, and tearfully joyous with the alloy of despair at my heart, and the balm of a truthful Gilead spread upon the struggling soul, bursting the bonds of antique prejudice, I yet expect to moor the tempest-tossed bark of Theory in the calm moral downs of Assurance.'

The second presidential address to the Geological Society was read on the 19th February 1864. At the Anniversary this year the Wollaston medal was bestowed on Sir Roderick Murchison for his great services to the science of geology, and it fell to Ramsay's lot as President to present it. Briefly and gracefully he summed up the work of his chief, and added a little personal touch that gave a special charm to the incident. ' Perhaps on this occasion,' he said, ' I may be pardoned for recalling the memory of a time I well


Roderick Impey Murchison

remember, when of all the geologists of weight, you, Sir, were the first who held out the hand of fellowship to me, a young man, when four-and-twenty years ago I was struggling to enter into the ranks of geologists.'

With the close of his second Anniversary address the reign of the President of the Society came to an end. Ramsay vacated the office, and was now relieved of duties which, though not onerous, impose sometimes considerable strain on the occupant, and consume not a little of his time.

His views on the origin of lakes involved him in controversy which at this time he was little fitted to wage. Murchison, in his presidential address to the Geographical Society, had vigorously opposed the glacial theory of lakes. Ramsay had refrained from replying to other criticisms, feeling that if his views were correct they would prevail, and that if they were not, no amount of partisanship on his part would save them from dissolution. But when his own chief put out 'an exceedingly authoritative protest' against his theory, he felt that it would almost be uncourteous on his part to remain silent. Accordingly, he wrote a temperate but cogently-argued reply, which appeared in the October number of the Philosophical Magazine. His letters about this time are full of reference to the subject, showing that though he published little, he was following with the most lively interest what was said on the subject by others.

He wrote to me on the 15th May: ' Altogether I am quite pleased with the rapid progress the lake-theory has made. Lyell amazes me in the matter. He told me the other day that it must be wrong, and he believed that the hollows were due only to the disturbance of the rocks. ... Have you brooded patiently for six months without ceasing over that passage at the end of Jukes's memoir on the Irish rivers, in which he discusses the valley of the Rhone above the Lake of Geneva? It is admirable and true, and by'r lakins ! he never saw the location ! Tell me not where is fancy bred, but after my Frankland change of climate article comes out,1 if any other good sound argument occurs to you that I have not used. Bauerman has drawn a wheel so true that Best has to put a heavy weight on it to keep it from running away!'

Beaumaris, 30th July 1864.

My dear Geikie—I am as busy as man can be, and am really getting fast on with that big Memoir, which I trust will be for fifty years a text-book to the Silurian geology of North Wales. I have read Sir R.'s counterblast in proof [above referred to], and I told him I must reply to it. How on earth can he pit Dawson against Logan? Does he remember also that ' he always thought' that Switzerland was another case of water-drifting? For his protest and Lyell's I care not a rush. Lyell for years scarcely believed Agassiz, and used to have a special anti-Darwin chapter till after the great book [Origin of Species] came out. He is afraid of time now, and none of them know anything about denudation and the true physical behaviour of rock-masses. I lately had a very satisfactory letter from Hooker on the subject. The worst of it is that one can scarcely hope to convince them, or the old geological world generally. You can't make a colourblind man see colours. None of them ever mapped a country, as we have done, and disturbed countries to them will still owe their mountain features to disturbance alone.—Ever sincerely, Andw. C. Ramsay.

In the sixth edition of his Elements of Geology, published in January 1865, Lyell noticed the theory of the glacial origin of lake-basins, and adduced various arguments against it. Ramsay once more broke through his resolve not to get into controversy, and replied to these arguments in a paper contributed to The Philosophical Magazine for the following April. These controversies among the geologists were cleverly indicated in good-humoured caricature by an artist in Punch, who portrayed some leading characteristic of each combatant. Murchison sits in front cross-legged throwing up three globes like an Indian juggler. Lyell to a rapt audience of hammers illustrates the origin of terrestrial features by breaking open a globe and lifting up a large fragment of it. Ramsay, on the other hand, is busy by himself in a corner sitting astride his globe, and digging out his valleys and basins with a big spade.1

But though these disputes seem to bulk large in the scientific work of the day, they really occupied a very subordinate place, and certainly in Ramsay's daily work they were not allowed to take up much time or thought. While he remained in London, the editorial supervision of maps, sections, and memoirs left him but little time for extraneous work. His health being now rather better, he could once more push on the completion of the bulky Memoir on North Wales. His part had been finished, but the palseontological appendix by J. W. Salter was still incomplete. That able but uncertain and procrastinating naturalist had resigned his appointment in the. Survey during the summer of 1863. and it was difficult thereafter to secure his continuous services for the completion of his part of the Memoir. But at last, towards the end of 1865, Ramsay could write and date his preface, and the work was finally issued to the public early in 1866. It was the most detailed piece of writing which the Geological Survey had yet published, and it contained deductions and speculations of the greatest interest in theoretical geology.

The work of the Royal Commission on Coal, of which Ramsay was an active member, demanded a great deal of lime during the five years from 1866 to 1870. Besides the numerous meetings of the Commission and of its committees, he undertook much additional labour in preparing, with the help of the staff of the Survey, maps, sections, and other data for the use of the Commissioners. Now and then, however, some less technical application of geology would arise to enliven the routine work of the office, as when Dean Stanley asked whether the geologist could throw any light on the history of the Coronation Stone at Westminster, round which so many old legends hang. Ramsay wrote to me about this request as follows: 'Yesterday I was at Westminster Abbey with the Dean, specially to examine the Coronation Stone from Scone. It is a reddish-grey sandstone, with three pebbles in it, one quartz and two dark ones of a doubtful substance, which may be Lydian stone. It is a hewn stone, with chisel-marks on it, and looks like a stone originally prepared for building purposes. Macculloch says it was taken from Dunstaffnage to Scone by Kenneth II. I see according to your map Dunstaffnage stands on Old Red Sandstone. What is its colour and character there? Maccuiloch says the stone is calcareous, and so it is. I am going to write a short report for the Dean, so please let me know soon.'

On the 2nd April 1866 the Royal Society of Edinburgh awarded to Ramsay the Neill prize ' for his various works and memoirs published during the last five years, in which he had applied the large experience acquired by him in the direction of the arduous work of the Geological Survey of Great Britain to the elucidation of important questions bearing on geological science.' The presentation was made by the venerable President, Sir David Brewster, and Ramsay attended in person to receive it. The ceremony was fixed to take place at the same time as the visit of Thomas Carlyle to Edinburgh as Rector of the University, when he delivered his memorable address, and when the degree of LL.D. was conferred on three distinguished teachers of the Jermyn Street School— Tyndall, Ramsay, and Huxley. One of the features of this visit, which Ramsay remembered with special pleasure, was the dinner of the Royal Society Club. The Royal Society of Edinburgh, like its sister societies in other parts of the United Kingdom, has its dining club, limited in number of members, who comprise the leading resident fellows. But the distinguishing feature of the northern fraternity is that, while it permits few toasts and no speeches, its proceedings are always enlivened with songs, often written for the occasion. For many years it has boasted a succession of song-writers, one or two of them gifted with great humour, some of whose songs are known far and wide beyond the limits of the Club. The post-prandial efforts of Lord Neaves, unmelodious but infinitely witty, belong to a rapidly-vanishing past, but Sir Douglas Maclagan remains to delight his privileged listeners. His ' Battle of Glen Tilt' will be popular in Scotland as long as cultured conviviality holds a place *n the country. Ramsay heard that and other famous ditties, and used to speak enthusiastically of the way in which the philosophers of the north play their ' high i'nks.'

There was another gratifying presentation a fortnight later. The staff of the Survey gave their esteemed Local Director a handsome gold watch as a mark of their appreciation of his long and devoted exertions in the cause of the Survey, and of his personal kindness and helpfulness to themselves.

At the meeting of the British Association at Nottingham in 1866 Ramsay again led the geologists as President of Section C. Since his previous tenure of the office, ten years before, a custom had crept in that the presidents opened the business of the sections with a specially composed address. He had been called unexpectedly and rather late in the day to occupy the chair, and had not had time to prepare such an address as he could have wished to deliver to his brother geologists. He therefore discoursed to them generally upon the influence of geological structure on external topography, and more particularly upon the influence of igneous rocks. He introduced, but with some hesitation, his views of the origin of some so-called igneous rocks, such as granite, from the action of heat, ' with the aid of alkaline waters.' He also found a place for his doctrine regarding breaks in succession of life, and proclaimed himself once more a thorough uniformitarian.

After the meeting he sent me the following account of it:—

My dear Geikie—I had a week in Anglesey after the British Association meeting, and yesterday brought up wife and bairns. I shall stay for a Coal Commission meeting on the nth [Sept.], and if nothing come of that to interfere, shall immediately take the field thereafter, The British Association meeting was a good one, and I stayed at Newstead Abbey, and slept in the poet's bedroom!

In the poet's bed I slept,
And out o' the bed i' the morn,
Out o' the bed I crept,
And blew my sounding horn;
Then down the turret stair
I winded in my glory,
And light winds raised my hair
As I entered the refectory.
And oh for the muffins and tea,
Beef, ham, and venison pasty,
The jam and the honey o! bee,
The marmalade so tasty!
And ever at dinner again,
I swear by heaven and hades,
We quaffed the bright champagne,
And jabbered with the ladies;
And the lights shone overhead,
And the coats of mail they glinted
On the wall o' the hall where we fed.
Nor meat nor liquor stinted.
No more have I to say,
Though the words could come by milliards,
 I presided in C all day,
And all night I played at billiards.

Yours ever more,

Andw. C. Ramsay.

The general tenor of his life among his colleagues in the field during the years up to the end of 1871 can best be gathered from his letters, from which a few selections are here given :—

King's Arms, Sheffield, 13th August 1865.

My dear Geikie— ... I have been all about ihe universe ; at Rowsley with Dakyns; there and at Hathersage and the Snake Inn with Green. That country beats cock-fighting, for it has no drift, is 2000 feet high, and otherwise ought to have ice, and has none. Then I have been at Todmorden. the deadly-lively, with Hu|l I made two speeches at Manchester, and have also been at Kirkby and Dent and Kendal, and am now here with Tiddeman.

See the last Reader, yesterday's, and expire. At least Sir R. will, when he sees what I, being in my right mind, have bequeathed him in my last will and testament. When I leave this I want to see my wife and babbies a little. They have been in Anglesey a month, and I have not seen them for considerablv longer. ... I sent my review of Campbell [' Frost and Fire'] to Edmonston and Douglas for North British Review].

The City of the Dead, vel Durham, 31st October 1866.

My dearest Wife — Luckily it rained to-day when we got to this City of Silence, and therefore, instead of starting for the hills, I had time to see it, which I have been doing for three hours and a half, and yet have left a deal unseen. You can concentrate your energies on the architecture, for there are no people for certain to look at. Here and there a ghostly figure comes out of a corner and as suddenly disappears, but whether these shapes are ' human mortals' or not, I am unable to guess. To wind up with, we have just come from church, where certainly we did hear some sort of angelic melody. But oh ! the grandeur of the Cathedral, all Norman from end to end, excepting a sort of Lady Chapel of very early English on the east, and, what is more, the whole is almost unaltered Norman. Three towers hath it;, one grand central one, and two at the west end, which take away your breath with a sense of beauty. The great interior columns are marvellous to behold, and the roof is grandly groined. The vast pile overlooks the river, and the west front extends far down the bank, so that a wonderful dignity of height is given to the building. Then the bishop's palace (now, alas! a seedy college)—a vast pile, castle and palace in one, partly Norman, and the cloisters, the close, and lots of other things, which I must see another day when I can make the acquaintance of some local antiquary, if such there be in Durham.

Dunford Bridge, Sheffield, 27th November 1866.

My dearest Wife—This is a bad place to write from. The reason is, that the post comes in at breakfast-time, and in these short days we are in a great hurry to get out, and when we come home again across the moors the post has gone. After dinner no human being writes letters if he can help it. The above gives the reason why I did not write yesterday, and may be the reason why I will not write tomorrow. But to-day I have received several letters so important that I must stay in a couple of hours to answer them. . . . The letters of most importance were from Sir R. and Best. The Duke [of Buckingham] and My Lords are making sweeping changes, to which I must reconcile myself, and I believe I can do it without grumbling, and possibly even with tolerable satisfaction.

First, Scotland is to be raised to a special branch like Ireland, and Geikie is to be Director. Second, I am to get another ^100 a year, to continue in charge of England and Wales, to drop the ' Local' before Director, and to be ranked as Senior Director. I am to have two ' District Surveyors' under me, who will be Aveline and Bristow; two first-class senior geologists, eight second-class, and the rest as before, except that we shall have a large addition to the staff. There would be no use objecting to anything, even if there be anything to object to, for the Duke and My Lords have ruled it, I believe, without reference to Sir Roderick. ... I think I have written Sir Roderick a very good letter, without any grumblings at all. I have only compared myself to the Emperor of Austria, losing not Venice, but his German native dominions, and increasing his revenue thereby, and I have approved of all the other details.

Hazelhead, Sheffield, 4th December 1866.

My dearest Wife — This is an awful day of wind and rain, and this is my tenth, and I hope my last letter.

From a very official letter Sir R. wrote me, I was afraid he had taken amiss the way I took these changes. But to-day I have had a very long and pleasant letter from him telling me that that was by no means the case, and that he wrote the short official simply because the subject was strictly of that nature, and he was communicating a copy of Cole's official bearing My Lords' pleasure. He also tells me that the importance of my position is very much raised, seeing that I shall have three times as many men to command as Jukes, and four times as many as Geikie. To this I reply, not satirically, that I feel the compliment of being considered able to do four times the work of other people, and hope it will be duly considered when pension time arrives. . . . The gale is tremendous, and the rivers are flooded.

The changes in the organisation of the Geological Survey referred to in these letters were the most important that had been made since the foundation of the service under De la Beche. The staff in Great Britain was divided into two, Scotland being made a distinct branch of the Survey under a separate Director. The title of Local Director for Great Britain being abolished, Ramsay became Senior Director for England and Wales. Jukes remained as before Director for Ireland, and the corresponding office in Scotland was given to the present writer. A new grade, that of District Surveyor, was created, in order that separate areas in which a number of the staff were at work might be more continuously supervised. The number of assistant geologists and geologists was largely increased, and it was arranged that there should be one geologist for every three assistants. When the new appointments were all filled up, the Senior Director had under him a staff of thirty-seven men, the Director for Scotland nine, and the Director for Ireland fourteen.

As a consequence of this transformation, Ramsay ceased to have any control over the progress of the work in Scotland, and no longer paid his annual visit of inspection to the surveyors north of the Tweed.

But the number of men whom he now had to superintend in England was larger than he had ever had before. On reflection, he strongly disapproved of the increase in the staff, and he particularly condemned the way in which it was planned and carried out. Though his long experience gave him a special claim to be consulted in any important changes in the organisation of the Survey, he never heard anything definite as to what was in contemplation until the whole scheme was matured and adopted. He used to speak bitterly of the difficulty of procuring the authorised number of new men, for he felt sure that a good geological surveyor could not be manufactured by a board of professors, nor even by a crammer, and could not be discovered by any ordinary form of examination. The recruit, properly equipped by his education, could only acquire his fitness for duty by practical training, and it was, in Ramsay's judgment, impossible with his force of old hands, constituted as it was, to train at once half their number of new men. He would have preferred adding to the force by degrees, as good men could be found and educated for their duties.

It must be acknowledged, however, that the Department of Science and Art in proposing, and the Treasury in sanctioning, this great rearrangement and augmentation of the staff of the Geological Survey, were sincerely desirous to further the objects for which the Survey was instituted. They wished that, with as little delay as possible, the public should be put in possession of a general geological map of the whole country, and this end could not be attained for many years unless the force were largely increased. There was an additional reason that had much weight with the Lord President of the Council. For some years the Geological Survey had been carefully distinguishing and mapping the various superficial deposits which, in the earlier days of the work, ;t had not been thought necessary to discriminate. Apart from their great scientific interest, maps of the surface geology had innumerable advantages of a practical kind. They gave information as to the nature and distribution of soils, and were thus of value for agricultural purposes. They were of essential service in the construction of reservoirs, and generally in questions of water-supply. They were of great utility in the laying out of roads and railways ; and they could be made to furnish valuable evidence in relation to drainage and sanitary matters. The importance of such maps being recognised by Government, it was desired to afford greater facilities for their production. It was now arranged that the practice of mapping the superficial deposits simultaneously with the solid rocks underneath them, which had been introduced into the Survey some years previously, should be continued over all the unsurveyed districts, and that, as soon as surveyors could be detached for the purpose, the tracts already surveyed where the surface-formations had not been separated should be re-traversed for the purpose of inserting them. By this means a general agronomical map of the whole country would be provided, which would be of much service for farming purposes, land-valuation, drainage, water-supply, and many other practical affairs of life. These designs have since that time been steadily kept in view, and a large part of the country has now been completed.

The changes in the Survey staff could not come into operation until the beginning of the financial year, that is, the 1st April 1867. Steps had been taken before that time to obtain young men who gave promise of becoming efficient surveyors. But, as Ramsay had contended, it was extremely difficult to procure the required number at once, and some time had passed before he could announce that his complement was complete, and a still longer time before he was able to replace the incompetent new-comers and make his corps efficient. There was much disagreeable detail to be attended to before all these preliminaries were settled, and his letters show that it gave him a good deal of vexation. But his gaiety of spirit made even these worries sometimes a subject of merriment. His letters to myself were at this time more frequent than usual. A few of them are inserted here:-

Lunnun, 5th February 1867.

My dear Bell-the-Cat —We must have a profound talk over the colouring of Ayrshire, for there will be plenty of fault-finders ; and as it belongs to my reign (old Saturn), and as my aged eyes may never see the Empyrean (Auchendrane2) again, we must settle it among us, while yet, like the Centurion, 1 may say to James (the Caledonian apostle), Come, and he cometh. Let him come, then, with all his maps, and that will do for the blooming Peach's as well, and all will be settled before the Jovial times begin. If need be, Bone in a day will draw in the lines (in pleasant places) on a clean copy, and we will decide and colour the rest.

Poor Jukes is in a sort of semi-despair about all this business, and considering that he will be adding ten more Irishmen to his already Irish lot, I don't wonder at it His chief man lately informed him that he had given up taking and recording dips, as he found it to be useless! Jukes simply longs for the day when he will be able to retire, from age, and wear out the fag-end of his days, unworried by Irishmen and Boilermen, and I considerably sympathise with him. . . . Oh for an hour of brave old De la Beche, in his best days, to look ahead and provide for the future !—Ever sincerely, - Andw. C. Ramsay.

15th June 1867.

My dear Geikie—I had barely time to write you yesterday about your summons by Sir R. Jukes is exceedingly fidgety. He has not a man in Ireland that he can trust to training others. Also, they are all so unruly, that without rules (printed) every one will be in rebellion. Even on this side of the water I have no doubt we are all frightfully mismanaging everything without knowing it. At least, I have no doubt I am, and I see no reason why you should not be doing the same. If you feel conscious that you are not doing the same, that merely proves that you are so blinded by ignorance and cockyness that you don't know when you are doing mischief. At least, I believe that is the case with me. Therefore everything must be reduced to printed rules.

Now I am of this way of feeling, viz. I don't want to have any duties, and I don't want to do them ; and if it so happen that you are of the same opinion, then it may fall out that Jukes may get printed rules for Ireland, and leave us to that ancient unwritten law which is the Lion of the North, and the bulwark of the Hammerers' faith.

I think I have now expressed myself in clear scientific language, and therefore you will dine with us on Thursday at half-past six.—Yours ever sincerely,

Andw. C. Ramsay.

Kirkby Lonsdale, 3rd July 1867.

My dear Geikie—Yours received. Papers glanced at, but not yet fairly read.

The rule here is out at 9 a.m.; no letters written before breakfast, except in cases of fire, murder, rape, and robbery. Home to dinner, and the post just going (as now), and too lazy to write after dinner, except in cases of abduction, stabbing, perjury, and earthquakes.

To-day we have been in a river, the Greta, from ten till five. When too deep for skipping and missing the stones skipped at, Tiddeman carried us across on his back (Hughes and me), because Tiddeman wears knickerbockers. I understood these villain Carboniferous rocks (Upper, Middle, and Lower Coal-measures; Gannister beds and Millstone grit) better than I ever did before, and so did all of us. When you don't see a rock for miles except in a river, and that river is generally full to the brim and more, then there is usually Tartarus and Thomas to pay, without coin in your pocket. To make sure to-day, we all plunged into a pool to see what was in the bottom, but as we never got there, heaven only knows whether it is shale or Millstone grit.

If I get to the Railway Hotel, Newcastle-on-Tyne, by Saturday (which is on the cards), then I'll spend part of Sunday reading your brief.—Ever sincerely,

Andw. C. Ramsay.

To Miss Johnes he writes on the 17th July from Wirksworth : 'Since I left London twenty-four days ago, I have been staying at Kendal, Kirkby Lonsdale, Newcastle, Belper, and here. Kendal is a woollen-making place, but one charming day we spent on Windermere and in the neighbouring valleys. Kirkby Lonsdale is charming beyond expression. It lies on the River Lune, which is more beautiful than Alph, the sacred river. There is no trade in the town, and the people are very good people, parsons and all ; the gentry are hospitable round about, if you give them a chance, and the inn is old-fashioned, full of daughters, lively yet sedate, who, with their very handsome old mother, do not leave their guests to the mercy of servants. I sometimes think of taking Louisa there some day on our way to Scotland, that she may know what an English river is like.'

The British Association met at Dundee in 1867, and was attended by a large concourse of geologists. Ramsay formed one of the number, and though he read no paper, he took part in the discussions and excursions. He was especially pleased to revisit St. Andrews, where nine years before he had worked for three months at the Welsh Memoir, and where he had made many acquaintances. His old friend, Robert Chambers, who had come to live in the antique university town, was present at the banquet given by the Senatus to the excursionists, and afterwards had a reception at his house. This was probably the last time that Chambers and Ramsay met each other. Chambers looked already much broken in health, though he kept still his interest in geological progress. He died four years afterwards.

In the spring of 1868, in the intervals of examining candidates and lecturing, Ramsay took the occasion of the publication of a new edition (the tenth) of Lyell's Principles of Geology to criticise that work in two articles in the Saturday Review. Resuming the quotations from his letters, we may note that on the 18th March he wrote to Mrs. Ramsay: 'Your father would be about as busy as I am if he had to preach six sermons a week, had, besides, twenty-four curates to superintend—six with him and eighteen constantly writing letters—two of them rebellious, with also a bishop staying in his house constantly consulting with him, besides having about four magistrates' meetings a week to attend. These last are my Coal Commissions and Councils.'

London, 15th May 1868.

My dear Geikie—Your argument about recent disturbances in re lakes is a good addition. I have long given up taking any notice of those who oppose me. They are impenetrable, and I feel so sure I am right, that I can well afford to leave the rest to time. But many people have a pernicious fashion of stating that De Mortillet and I came to the same conclusion the same year. I wish somebody would some day contradict that for me. He says that the lake-basins existed before the glacial period, but how formed he does not say. They were then filled with gravel, etc., and the glaciers scooped out that—a very different sort of story, and one that in no way grapples with the subject. Did you see my two reviews of Lyell's first volume of the Principles in the Saturday of the 1 ith and 18th April ?—Ever sincerely,

A. C. Ramsay.

Ten days later he wrote to me further regarding the opposition to his lake theory : 3 All the objections make no impression on me, and I feel it best to leave them alone as far as I am concerned. But I still hope and intend to apply the view to all time—past, present, and future—and a good deal beyond at both ends.

' You will see a lot of curious papers in the volume which I will send to-morrow. I stayed at Bonn two months. I have given Zirkel of Bonn a letter of introduction to you. He is going to the Western Isles. He is a fine young fellow, and a Professor at Lemberg ; he would like, too, to see some work. . . . You must take old Hibbert on the Eifel if you go there. Van Dechen's big map of the Drachenfels region is not very good ; there is an explanation of it in German. Also, the Government geological maps of all the Prussian Rhine region are published. I can lend you some. Be sure you see the Miocene coal at Brill, half-way between Bonn and Cologne. I'll give you letters if you like. Go and see the Moselle and its tributaries—the best case of valleys cut in a tableland that I know. You must march through the Eifel— 6s. per day, living like les coques qui se combattentl

Leeds, 18th September 1868.

My dear Geikie—Late, late, so late; but I will venture now to reply to yours of the 4th, which work, laziness, and sometimes imperfect health, and consequent demi-semi-depression, prevented my sooner replying to. Not that 1 am ill, and yet I am just something or other. It may be that it is only Age with creeping claw that has caught me in his clutch. If so, so much the worse for Age, for he has got hold of a bad lot.

Like the men of the '45, I have been 'out' since the 29th June, all but a fortnight, which I spent in Anglesey; and also, like the same men of '45, I have had a controversy with the king, not King Cole, but King Roderick of Siluria. . . . Some people wonder why I did not reply to Sir R.'s last in the Geo!. Magazine about denudation and lakes, but I think It is better not to ' condescend upon it, as we Scotch lawyers say. But why should he be always troubling our Israel ? Is he afeard that we are becoming rebellious satraps?

I did not go to Norwich [British Association Meeting], I stayed away a-purpose to keep out of any excitement. Last year did me no good, and giving evidence at the end of June for four days before the Coal Commission for four hours and a half per day, together with an immediate march and long hours in the country during the hottest weather, have not improved me. So I stayed away from Norwich.

D- writes me that the advanced, scientific thinkers did themselves and science no good at Norwich. How, I have not heard; but I can well believe it of some of our friends. . . .

I know the Strahleck, having been over <t, and very steep it is on the descent from the Col down to the surface of the glacier on the Grindelwald side. But it is very different in different years. Hinchliff slid down on the snow from top to bottom. I think it took us an hour to go down on the rocks. . . .

We have done a deal of work hereaway, and are fast moving up northwards in a broad line, in the hope of forming a union with the Northumberland and Westmoreland men, before you can say whew. We have begun in the Vale of Eden, and will by and by invade your dominions, if you don't mind your eye.— Ever sincerely, A. C. Ramsay.

Blanchland, 24th September 1868.

My dearest Wife—I write to tell you that I am living in a fragment of an ancient abbey, placed on the banks of the Derwent, far up the stream. The house is now an inn, and our window looks out on a plot of grass that may have been in the middle of the cloisters. The modern church, a fragment of the old one, re-muddled, looks on our grass; and pear-trees, trained against the walls, the fruit of which the monks ate, writhe their old branches all about the stones. Such relics of a beautiful antiquity always fill me with a sort of regretful feeling. If it had only been possible to preserve them! How many lovely spots there are in England that one never heard of till one gets in among them. Howell came with me from Hexham ; we drove over the hills, twelve miles, after four o'clock yesterday. At Hexham there are also the remains of a grand abbey. The transept and the chancel are entire, and are used (though abused), but the nave is gone. It is as big as many a cathedral, and noble Early English in style.

I must tell you a story of our friend Noumeran, the Japanese. He had a post-office order sent to the country, and when he signed his name the postmaster insisted that it would not do. ' You must sign your Christian name as well.' 'But,' said Noumeran, 'I am not a Christian; I am a Pagan.' Amazement of the postmaster, who only knew of Pagans before as of dragons, or griffins, or fabulous monsters of some sort.

Howell told me a story of Disraeli. Vernon Harcourt asked a Conservative friend, ' How can you and your party follow such a man D' ' We look on him as a professional bowler,' was the reply.

The men wait.—Your most affectionate,

Andw. C. Ramsay.

Dent, Kendal, 4th October 1868.

My dearest Wife—I begin another letter to you to-night to tell you something about this place ; it is so beautiful. The valley is five or six miles long, 'well watered.' While below it is full of lovely green meadows, bordered with trees and dotted with old white - washed houses of the dalesmen, all around great bare hills rise to heights of 2000 and 2200 feet. And the little town is so quaint, irregular, and clean, with its village church and absence of shops, that all combined fill the mind with a sense of repose and old-fashionedness, but rarely met with now in toil-worn England. And the people are so nice. Last night we spent with the Sedgwicks in the house where old Adam was born. Mrs. Sedgwick is very pretty, and only about your age. She has at home six girls and a little boy. They all crowd round Hughes, and climb on his knees all at once.

I have written to old Adam Sedgwick telling him how pleased I am to be in his old home, and how kind Mrs. Sedgwick is, and I hope he will be pleased with my letter.

This vale of Dent filled Ramsay with delight, which breaks out again and again in his letters. Thus to Miss Johnes, on the nth October 1868, he writes : ' Dent is not on the outskirts, but in the core of the world, and the farther you recede from it in concentric circles, the nearer you get to the outposts of "civilisation falsely so called." Dent town and the valley of Dent make a kind of paradise to a man troubled with cares of Geological Surveys and Coal Commissions. Fancy a valley some six or eight miles long, well watered, with green sloping pastures and noble trees, with great peaceful, solemn hills all around; noises unknown from the outer world, no sounds, in fact, but those made by winds and running rivers, or dropping rains and cattle, and the voices of " the kindly race of men," and church-bells o' Sundays. All the children are clean (very); all the men are stalwart and frank, honest and brave; and all the women that are not beautiful are comely, some of them stalwart too. Men, women, and children, Danes by descent, are fair, with blue open eyes—"statesmen," the men part, in the northern sense of the term —frank and respectful, for self-respect makes folk respectful to others.

'I have been away from home for four and a half months, as human mortals usually count them, but to me the time looks like four and a half mortal years, and I long to see Louisa and my children again.'

His journeys of inspection now ranged over the whole breadth of the northern counties of England. On the 21st November 1868 he wrote to me from Barnsley : ' Since I saw you I have been at Newcastle, Bellingham, Morpeth, Ponteland, Richmond, Harrogate, Pateley Bridge, Otley, Bolton Bridge, Skipton, and here. I have seen, besides geology, Ripon Cathedral, Knaresboro, Kirk Hamerton (real Danish or Anglo-Saxon), Bolton Abbey and Fountains Abbey, besides Skipton in Craven, where, as you very well know, "there's never a haven."

These inspection tours brought him into the midst of delightful scenery, interesting geology, varied historical associations, and pleasant society—a combination of attractions that never failed to show him at his best. Professor Hughes, who now holds the Woodwardian Chair at Cambridge, was then one of the staff with whom the Director had many excursions, and who has kindly supplied me with the following recollections of his chief. Speaking of the evenings after the day's tramp was over, he says : ' Ramsay always threw himself heartily into whatever game or amusement of any kind was going on, and thus got an insight mto the life of his men, and helped to make things pleasant for them with their neighbours. So agreeable a companion at a dinner - party, and so considerate and obliging a guest at an hotel, was always welcome, and every one asked when he was coming back, and tried to arrange little plans to make his stay pleasant. He loved a game of cards or billiards, which he played to win, not with the bored expression of one who did it just because he was asked to, or merely to kill time. He was very fond of chorus-singing, taking the bass with a good deal of skill and great earnestness. Even when there was no entertainment going on he was generally very lively all the evening.'

London, 2bth, October 1870.

My dear Geikie—I have been away since July and only came home on Monday last. I have had an awful battering on the Yorkshire hills of late in thunder, lightning, and in rain (Williams). . . I am very well, and have been, Barring an eye which is now rather better than it was before it got worse.

Wife and babbies all well, and rejoicing more over the desperate willain who has returned than over ninetv-and-nine just men who stay in the field and do their work, I'm off again on Monday for Lancashire, about Preston, etc. etc., and shall be thereabouts for two or three weeks ; after that to Grantham and the Oolites. I won't be much at home before the end of December. Sir R. looks well.

Oh the dales, the dales, the Yorkshire dales! Lovely, luvely, loovely! Cock-fighting be hanged! The terrassic system! The Carb. Limestone is a myth proper, and the Yoredale Rocks ditto. They pass into limestones in the most unprincipled manner, and now the limestone runs up to the Millstone Grit, and now, to use a strong expression, it doesn't. Lithology is the only science, and as for definite horizons, they no more exist than nadir or zenith, the equator or Fergus the First.—Ever sincerely, A. C. Ramsay.

Jermyn Street, 16th February 1871.

My dear Mister G.—I have gotten yourn. I believe I have Riitimeyer's book, and that I looked it over, but I am a poor ignorant son of a sea-cook, and cannot read German. But I get bits translated for me by Ella or the Missus. As Rutimeyer does not agree with me, of course he is wrong! Desor's paper (French) I have read, on the origin of Jura valleys, lakes, etc. etc., and thought it ' Walker.' I do not think I have seen any German treatise of his on the subject.

I am glad you are writing that paper for Nature; it will come in rather pattish. Prestwich sent me his remarks to read—what he is going to say when he hands over to me the Wollaston medal,' and he says nowt about the lakes. They must be still too strong for his geological stomach. But he has swallowed other things handsomely, and remarks that in the matter of Pala;ozoic ice I long stood alone. He may live to swallow all the 4000 feet of Swiss ice that scooped out lakes, and also all the big northern :ce-sheet that buried two-thirds of the northern continents.

Do you think Riitimeyer shows good cause for his dislocations in the Alps without good mapping done ?

My paper on the Old Red, etc. etc., has not yet been read. I suppose it will come on upon the 22nd March or thereabouts. They print the papers now entire for convenience before they are read. It does not follow, I believe, that they will necessarily be printed in the Journal.

Now I must go to prepare a lecture for 2 P.M. I gave one last Monday night on the Origin of the River Systems of England, and the audience liked it better than I did.

Yours ever, A. C. Ramsay.

About this period Ramsay's pen was more than usually busy. The problems suggested by red strati-tied deposits like the New Red Sandstone and Old Red Sandstone had often been considered by him, and he discussed the subject in two papers communicated in January and March 1871 to the Geological Society. One of these dealt with the red rocks of Palaeozoic age, and the other with those of later date. He was likewise turning his thoughts more frequently and earnestly to the history of topography, and especially to the origin of river-valleys. He gave a series of lectures on that subject during this year, and afterwards condensed the substance of one or two of them into a paper on the ' River-courses of England and Wales,' which was read before the Geological Society on the 7th February 1872.

Much anxiety was felt during the year 1871 as to the health of the distinguished Director-General of the Geological Survey. On the 30th November 1870 he had a stroke of paralysis, which at the time deprived him of the use of his left side. But he rallied so far as to be able to take carriage exercise, and to attend to a good deal of business. It was evident, however, that he would never again be fit to resume his place in the scientific world, though he might possibly linger long. Trenham Reeks, his faithful secretary, and Registrar of the School of Mines, used to see him at his house daily, bring official and other letters, arrange about the answering of them, and despatch frequent bulletins to members of the staff as to the condition of the chief. Murchison never again set foot in the Museum in Jermyn Street.

But as there was no immediate prospect of serious change in Sir Roderick's condition, Ramsay took the field among his men in the spring of 1871. Some further letters from him show what he was doing and thinking about during the summer and autumn of this year.

24th March 1871.

My dear Geikie—I write a second note. If you refer to my book on North Wales, you will see that I state that the Lingula Flags and Cambrian are conformable, and pass into each other, and that the Llandeilo and Bala beds lie unconformably on both. Officially I still call the Lingula Flags Lower Silurian, because of the Director-General's classification, but theoretically I consider the Lingula Flags more closely allied to the Cambrian. In the first paper I sent you you will see, however, that 1 consider 1 the Cambrian (below Lingula Flags) as a fresh-water formation. The Llandeilos and Balas are, however, nearly as closely connected with the Tremadoc Slate and Lingula Flags as the Upper Silurian is with Llandeilo and Bala beds. The Tremadoc Slate I consider an upper part of the Lingula Flags.—Ever sincerely, A. C. Ramsay.

King's Arms, Kendal, 1st October 1871.

My dear Geikie— I'm smoking a pipe on a Sunday. Hallelujah, hallelujee! I send you my two last [papers on Red Rocks] to Edinburgh, not knowing where you may be. I have had a very pleasant letter from De Koninck about them. He will write again, but at present he seems equally surprised and pleased. Besides twelve sent here and there in England, I think I will devote the rest of my copies to Continentals and Americans, for Englishmen can read them in the Journal. . . .

I came here last Tuesday, and, weather permitting, have been daily among the Silurian Green Slates and Porphyries. The more I see of them, the more am I convinced that all of them I have seen form part of a great purely subaerial volcano = the Welsh marine or semi-marine set. I am assist-' ng at a bit of mapping which Aveline cannot make up his mind about, and I have made up mine. ... I hope to leave this on Tuesday or Wednesday for Kirkby Stephen. It is tough work here, driving twelve miles and then climbing, like a climbing boy, mountains from 2000 to 3000 feet high during equinoxious gales. Sir R. continues just the same.—Ever sincerely,

A. C. Ramsay.

London, 13th December 1871.

My dear Geikie—Austen has decided to take the Presidency of the Geological Society.4 That is well. But the Society is not flourishing in papers. I am glad we are to have a strong President, and we must try to get a strong council, made of men of mark. When Dallas wrote me the other day, asking if I had no papers to fill the void, I replied that I had none ready, and of course could not write for the sake of writing. I also said that they might have more were it not that authors of theoretical papers were afraid to send them in for fear of the fatherly care of the Council. Green's last paper was squashed, by - in particular. You will see it in the Geological Magazine. I have a great mind to send in a paper entitled ' The Wonderful, the Councillor,' with illustrations, by Rutley, of living examples. When at Clapham (Ingleborough) last Friday I explored a cave 800 yards long with Tiddeman.—Ever sincerely,

A. C. Ramsay.

London, 13th December 1871.

My dear Geikie—Yesterday I took a leaf out of the Book of Othello, and became ' perplexed in the extreme,' all along of a miserable trusteeship that I hold. The consequence was that all day I stood prostrate at the feet of Europe, having therefore an aversion to all legitimate business, in the evening I plucked up ' hart o' grease' and wrote to S. Kensington asking about the Survey Annual Reports. I have to-day had an answer saying that My Lords meet on Monday, and the question will come before them. ' That is all we know on Earth, and all we need to know.'

Having done this, I went at half past four and played with Herbert Spencer a game of billiards at the Athenaeum. He beat me. Being beaten, I went home and ate a turkey, and then proceeded to lay about me all round and make everybody miserable, all because a woman 200 and odd miles off is an ass, and gives me a deal of deilish bother.

The poet [his son Allan] came home yesterday from Uppingham with a prize for mathematics under his oxter. We are all very well at home, both the cats having disappeared. I hope they are not at the bottom of the water butt!

Several of the dritt maps have been engraved. We are now in a state to publish. I will tell Bristow to send you a coloured specimen copy for your criticism before any are issued. I hope we may manage to do so early next week.—Ever sincerely,

Andw. C. Ramsay.

London, 11th January 1872.

My dear Geikie—Yesterday in the Council of the Geological Society I proposed Croll as a proper man to receive the Wollaston Fund for the year. . . . The President and others hailed my proposition. One objection raised was that Croll's researches involved no personal expense. Prestwich and I thought that of no importance; but nevertheless if you can tell me anything on that score I shall be doubly armed—

And on the top of opportunity, Quell the base scullion rogues, whose envy dull Would squash the light of Genius, and instead Display a dirty, spluttering, farthing dip, And swear that 'tis the sun.

So look alive, my pigeon, and help in this good cause. ... I can do nothing till my third edition of Physical Geology and Geography is in the press. I am now at the last lecture of it. I will turn it into chapters. It will be nearly twice as long as it was, and so much modified (I hope improved) that it may almost be said to be a new book.—Ever sincerely,

A. C. Ramsay.

Sir Roderick Murchison died on the 22nd October 1871, and the office of Director-General of the Geological Survey once more became vacant. When he accepted the appointment it was with the expressed intention of holding it only for a short period. ' I will tide you over a few years,' he said to Ramsay at the outset. But he retained the position for sixteen years and a half. Of his geological labours, and more especially of his connection with the Geological Survey, a full account has been given elsewhere. These matters have therefore been only cursorily referred to in the foregoing chapters.

The death of their Director-General necessarily gave rise to considerable anxiety among the officers of the Survey. They hoped that their friend and colleague, who had been passed over at the time of De la Beche's death, would not be passed over again. Rumour, of course, was busy with reports of various kinds—the Jermyn Street establishment was to be broken up, there was to be no new Director-General, or an outsider who was variously named was to be once more put over the service. But, happily, these predictions proved to be false. After four months of suspense, Ramsay received from Lord Ripon, who was then Lord-President of the Council, a letter dated 26th February 1872, asking him if it would be agreeable to him that he should be nominated to the vacant post. It was explained that the delay had arisen because various questions connected with the several branches of the establishment in Jermyn Street had been under consideration. The appointment thus offered to him did not embrace the School of Mines. A great scheme was in contemplation for the formation of a College of Science at South Kensington, for which the Jermyn Street School would form an excellent nucleus ; and it was therefore considered expedient to sever the tie which from the beginning had united the School of Mines to the rest of the organisation planned and carried out by De la Beche. A fortnight later I had the following note from Ramsay: '16th March.—I was yesterday summoned to attend a meeting of the [Committee of] Privy Council at South Kensington. The result is I am Director-General of the Surveys, Museum, and Mining Record Office. Bristow succeeds me as Director for England and Wales, Howell succeeds Bristow (as District Surveyor), and Ward gets up to be geologist.' Thus at last he had attained what had been the height of his ambition. After thirty-one years of faithful service he was now placed officially at the head of the organisation of which he had so long been the life and soul.


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