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Memoir of Sir Andrew Crombie Ramsay
Chapter X - Director-General of the Geological Survey


Before we follow the subject of this biography in his new sphere of duty and responsibility it will be of advantage to look for a moment at the state of the Survey when he was called to be the head of it. He was no longer to be immediately responsible for the personal supervision of the field-work. It is interesting, therefore, to consider in what condition he left the mapping in England and Wales, and how far the Survey had advanced in Scotland and Ireland, which were now to be under his jurisdiction.

In England and Wales the only untouched tracts were Norfolk and Suffolk, with portions of Essex and Cambridgeshire, the greater part of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, and the north-western portion of Cumberland and Northumberland. The field-work was being pushed forward in the six northern counties, Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland, Westmoreland, Yorkshire, and Lancashire. A group of surveyors was busy in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, and Leicestershire, and another in Essex, Hertfordshire, and parts of the home-counties. As for some years past all the surface-geology had been traced upon the maps as well as the outcrops of the older works underneath, a considerable part of England had now been surveyed for Drift

In Scotland the survey, extending westward from the area where Ramsay began in 1854, had stretched across the island from the mouth of the Firth of Tay to the mouth of the Clyde, and southwards to a wavy line drawn from Berwick-on-Tweed to Wigtown. To here were still large tracts of the counties of Berwick, Roxburgh, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Wigtown, and Ayr to be surveyed. The Highlands had not yet been touched.

In Ireland all the country south of a line drawn from Clew Bay to Dundalk had been surveyed, and most of it had been published. The ground to the east of a line from Dundalk to Lough Neagh had likewise been in great part surveyed and published. All the northern part of the country was still unmapped, including the north-western tracts of Mayo, Donegal, Londonderry, Tyrone, nearly the whole of Antrim and Fermanagh, with large tracts of Sligo, Leitrim, Monaghan, and Armagh.

The duties of Director-General of the Geological Survey and Director of the Museum of Practical Geology are necessarily to a large extent administrative. But as far as possible he keeps himself in touch with the field-work by personally visiting the districts that are being mapped, and becoming acquainted with the details. By making himself familiar with the problems encountered in each of the three kingdoms, he is enabled to bring the experience of one branch of the Survey to bear upon the difficulties of the others, and thus to ensure more rapid progress as well as more harmonious results over the whole United Kingdom. All maps, sections, and memoirs, are submitted to him before publication, and in this way a good deal of editorial work is imposed upon him. The amount of Survey correspondence is thus necessarily large and constant. The Director-General is, further, the official channel of communication with his own and with other departments of Government, as well as with the general public. Endless are the applications he receives for information or advice on geological questions. At one moment he is asked for assistance in supplying an arsenal or fort with water; at another he is requested to inform a government board where a prison or a workhouse had best be placed. One Colonial government inquires of him whether in his opinion water is likely to be obtained at a particular spot which he may never have seen or heard of. Another sends home a box of earth and stones with a request to know whether the material affords hopeful indications of gold. A landed proprietor in England asks him why no coal has been found on his estate, another forwards a parcel of 'specimens,' and wishes to know what useful minerals he may look for in the places from which they were taken. A third sends a so-called 'fossil,' dug upon the estate, in the belief that it is some unique treasure, when it proves to be merely a lump of inorganic concretion. In numberless questions of drainage, road-making, railway-engineering, water-supply, choosing sites for buildings, and other matters where a knowledge of geology has a practical bearing, applications are continually made to the Geological Survey for assistance. It may readily be believed that the Director-General is thus involved in a large amount of extraneous business, besides that which more properly arises from his ordinary official duties.

The quantity of letter-writing which now fell upon Ramsay, whether by his own hand or by that of a secretary, was often so large that it left him hardly time for other avocations. Amid the multitude of letters he was glad to keep them as brief as might be. He could comparatively seldom indulge in the pleasant gossiping epistles which hitherto he had been wont to send to his friends and colleagues, but restricted himself more and more to the absolutely essential business. Nevertheless for a few years he contrived to find opportunity for putting on paper some of the observations he had made on the origin of the features of landscapes, and for communicating papers on this subject to the Geological Society.

Except that he was more involved in official routine, and had less time for inspection of field-work and for original research of his own, his life as Director-General passed much in the same way as that of Director had done. One year slipped away like another, only marked by longer or shorter spells of London life. But he had one great resource in a house at Beaumaris left to Mrs. Ramsay by an old friend. To this retreat he betook himself more and more with his wife and family. There, away from the thousand distractions of town, he attended to his correspondence and worked at the geological or literary undertakings which duty or choice imposed on him. The mountains of Caernarvonshire rose in front of his windows to remind him, as he felt himself no longer young, that he had been a good climber in his day, and that on their flanks and among their wynds and crags he had done some of the best geological labour of his life.

Ramsay had now gained the position which for so many years he had wished to reach. But it must be confessed that the reward came to him too late to enable him to profit by it as he would have done had it been conferred ten or fifteen years sooner. He had probably never quite recovered from the effects of that disastrous break-down in 1860. Had he been able to free himself from the burden of his lectureship at the School of Mines, he might perhaps have been restored to complete health, and have escaped from that mental weariness which his friends and colleagues used sorrowfully to watch as it increased upon him during each succeeding session of the school. Even the advancement to be Director-General did not throw off this incubus. The income of the appointment was reduced by the amount of his salary as professor, and he was compelled to go on lecturing for five years longer, until the Treasury at length agreed to restore the emoluments of the office to what they had formerly been, and to permit him to resign his lectureship.

In the early autumn the new Director-General made an official tour in Ireland, in order to become personally acquainted with the various officers in that part of the United Kingdom, and also to see some of the more salient features of Irish geology, of which as yet he had not been able to obtain any knowledge by actual examination in the field. The following letters supply us with some pictures of the tour :—

Larne, 29th September 1872.

My dear Mrs. Cookman—I am at Larne, in Antrim, some twenty miles or so north of Belfast, and have with me my good friend John F. Campbell, ycleped of Islay. [John F. Campbell, born 1821, died 1885, author of Tales of the West Highlands, was also fond of geological observation. He had travelled far and wide, and was the author of the picturesque and entertaining work Frost and Fire, besides other volumes of travel.] And this is how it happened. Being in London against my will, in re a fight in the Irish branch of the Survey, I heard that Campbell was also in London n a dismantled state. . . . So here we are! At Dublin I transacted a deal of business, saw some marvellous antiquities at the Irish Academy, and then with my colleague Mr. Hull, Director for Ireland, we started for Dundalk, where besides seeing the geology, we visited Cuchullin's Rath and saw the grave of Fin M'Coul; worked our way to Newry; from Newry to Warrenpoint, and joined there a fine young fellow called Traill, one of the Survey. He looks something like what I did when I joined the Survey, only he is much handsomer, sings a great deal better, but cannot jump so high. We saw the Carlingford country and all the Mourne Mountains, and progressed to Newcastle, staying two or three days at each place. We were out on the mountains or on the sea-cliffs every day, and have been battered by equinoxial gales from every point of the compass. ... I do not expect to be home for a fortnight or three weeks, for by easy stages I have to continue this royal progress till we get to Galway, and then back across the great central plain of Ireland to Dublin.

The Irish trouble to which I alluded has lost me three weeks, otherwise I proposed going to Germany, and perhaps taking Ella with me. But I begin now to see that it will be too late for this year. I have such a pretty problem in my mind, if I could only tackle it.

Florence Court, 5th October 1872.

My dear Geikie—I got your letter last night on our arrival here, Hull and self. I have been making a grand round with Hull for more than a fortnight. . . . Here at Lord Enniskillen's we stay till Monday. I have learned a great deal about Irish geology and physical geography previously to me unknown. John Campbell stuck by us as far as Armagh, when he branched or shunted off to speak Gaelic to the folk in the north-west.

Thanks for your remarks on Arran. I have seen the Mourne Mountain and Slieve Croob granites, and one of them took away my breath. Here follows a rough sketch showing an upper cake of contorted and baked Silurian strata with basalt dykes, underlain and cut off by a mass of granite.] That is in the Mourne Mountains, and the drawing represents the crest of a large mountain a mile or two long; it is one of many such.

When I saw it drawn in a section I could scarce believe it. But I saw it afterwards on the ground, and it is true.—Ever sincerely, A. C. Ramsay.

The loughs of Ireland, as might have been expected, roused the enthusiasm of one who had studied lakes so closely, and had been involved in so much controversy about them. Regarding those of Fermanagh he tells Mrs. Cookman : 'These lakes here (Upper and Lower Lough Erne) first took away my breath, then made my hair stand on end, and then confused my intellect so lamentably that I doubt if I will ever write sense any more. They are the most curious lakes I ever saw.'

Dublin, 11th October 1872.

My dear Geikie—Since I wrote to you I have been at Sligo and Boyle, and I now write to say that near Boyle I saw Old Red Sandstone, which doubtless is Lower, and it contains bands of felspathic lavas precisely like those of the Pentlands and Oban. I have seen no Old Red Sandstone that is not Lower and the Carboniferous lies highly unconformably on it.

I now also know a deal about the great Carbon iferous Limestone plains of the middle of Ireland, and something of the coal-fields. Ireland must have been somewhat like Finland long ago, before so many of its lakes got turned into peat-mosses. I have also partly realised the Shannon and a lot of other odds and ends in a three-and-a-half weeks' tour among Hull's men. I have seen all the staff but two, and a very nice set of fellows they are. I leave to-morrow night, and get home on Tuesday, I hope.—Ever sincerely,

A. C. Ramsay.

One of the periodical tasks of the Director-General is to receive the reports of the field operations, of the indoor work, and of the Museum for the year, and to prepare from them his Annual Report of progress, which is sent to the Department of Science and Art to be presented to Parliament, and published in the annual blue book of the Department. At the end of the year these various returns are prepared by the officers of each branch of the Survey and the curators of the collections in Jermyn Street, Edinburgh, and Dublin, and the first duty of the chief after the begin-ing of January is to master their contents, to procure additional information or correction where needed, and to work the whole into a narrative of all that has been done during the previous twelve months by the different establishments under his control. Buried in the pages of a blue book, these Annual Reports are much less widely known than the labour spent upon them entitles them to be. It was now Ramsay's turn in the early part of 1873 to compile the yearly statement. His personal familiarity with the men in the field and their work enabled him to attack the most difficult part of the task with spirit and success. In these labours of routine, and indeed in all the official work of his office! he received constant loyal and efficient aid from Mr. Edward Best, who, originally appointed as an assistant geologist for service in the field, had been transferred early in his career to the office in Jermyn Street, where he acted as general secretary in charge of the correspondence and the issue of publications. Mr. Best's long experience made him familiar with all the details of the history and progress of the Survey. He was a general favourite among the staff, and for many years served as the right hand of his chief. [He joined the service in 1855 under De la Beche, and retired from it on 31st March 1893, carrying with him the affectionate regard of all his colleagues.]

Ramsay still occasionally contributed an article to the Saturday Review, and gave a Friday evening discourse at the Royal Institution. In the pages of his favourite 'weekly' he wrote pleasantly about the history of Great Britain, taking a much wider view into the past as well as into the future of the subject than the ordinary historian is content with, and adding a caution to our statesmen for the benefit of their successors fifty thousand years hence, when a new glacial period shall begin to banish man from the northern half of Europe. 'It behoves the Minister for the Colonies,' he concludes, ' to see that our inter-tropical possessions are kept in good order for the coming migration, for thel fortunes of the British Islands will then be far below zero. One cold comfort remains — the universal northern ice-sheet may possibly solve the Irish difficulty.'

Another occupation of the same winter was the writing of an article on the River Po for Macmillan's Magazine. As his mind dwelt so much now on rivers and their operations, he was led to recall what he had himself seen of the workings of the Po and its tributaries on the southern flanks of the Alps, and over the vast plains of Lombardy. He likewise read extensively the literature of that great river. The paper which he now wrote was translated by Gastaldi into Italian for the Bulletin of the Italian Alpine Club, and separate copies of the translation were printed for the Italian Government, that they might be distributed widely among local authorities and others in Lombardy. In sending a copy of the Italian version of the paper to Mrs. Cookman, Ramsay told her that he had ' heard from Italy that the article has helped to stir up the authorities there in re their duty to their rivers and the people.'

Before the Royal Institution he discoursed on 'Old Continents,' and sent me the following account of the evening. 'I lectured last Friday [12th February 1873] on "Old Continents" to a very full house. As I treated it, the subject was quite new to every one there, and by good luck I was in the right humour for lecturing. I restricted myself to the great continental epoch between the close of the Upper Silurian and the end of the New Red Marl, and put all episodes in consecutive order. The act of lecturing on it suggested some new ideas which I did not broach, for I had quite enough to do without them in an hour. However, perhaps they may bear fruit in a paper for the Geological.'

Having been chosen by Murchison as his literary executor, and charged with the writing of his biography, I had applied to Ramsay for any of Mur-ehison's letters which he could supply, and also for information as to the best way of procuring materials from some of the old chiefs correspondents. He answered as follows : ' I have no influence with Sedgwick. We are very good friends, but he never quite forgets the Survey having turned his Cambrian into Lower Silurian, so aiding Sir Roderick, without specially meaning it. ... I doubt if Hughes will be able to help you in that matter. Sedgwick is still sore about it. ... I never saw Wollaston, but Greenough, Buckland, Warburton, and Fitton I knew. There ought also to be De la Beche, Sedgwick, old John Taylor, Whewell, Mantell, Major Clark, old Stokes, Sir Philip Egerton, Lord Enniskillen, Babbage, and others. They used all to have a jollification at Lord E.'s rooms in Jermyn Street after the meetings. Lord E. told me a lot of things last autumn, which 1 now nearly forget.'

Of the voluminous memoir on the Geology of North Wales, published in 1866, a new edition was now required, and its author set about the necessary preparation. The house at Beaumaris came then to be of more practical value to him than ever, for while it allowed him to escape conveniently from London, and to keep his family around him, it provided him with a home near the ground which he might have to re-examine. This new edition continued to be one of his main employments during the rest of his official life.

While at Beaumaris, in the summer of 1873, he made a short excursion to St. David's, the geology of which had in recent years been brought into prominence by Mr. Salter and Dr. Hicks, whose conclusions did not quite coincide with those expressed on the maps of the Geological Survey. Writing to Mrs. Ramsay from that remote cathedral town on the 3rd August, he says : ' To-day (Sunday) we have been at the cathedral, and I sat in my old stall and sang bass. But the music has sadly fallen off. The organ is dismantled because of the repairs of the church, and there is only a harmonium, and the singers are diminished. Scott is slowly restoring the building, but there is still a great deal to do, with as yet insufficient money.

'To-morrow we take a boat and coast along for eight or ten miles to re-examine the coast section. The weather is splendid, and it will be delightful. We have first-rate boatmen, one being the captain of the lifeboat. . . . Now that I am here, it would never do to leave the country without bringing the geology of St. David's (which is now exciting so much attention) up to the modern mark. Considering how ignorant I was in 1841, I wonder I did it so well.'

Three days later, writing to the same correspondent, he tells her : ' Probably we will start tomorrow, drive up to Fishguard, and thence to Cardigan. I shall refresh my memory on geological points by the way. . . . This is a moist, hot climate, like Cornwall. Your very clothes get damp, and your gummed envelopes get also damp and seal themselves.'

On his return to Beaumaris he sent me the following account of the trip into Pembrokeshire: ' I have been for a fortnight at St. David's seeing all Hicks's discoveries among the Cambrian rocks and his Menevian strata, which form a grey band, 550 feet thick, between the uppermost purple Cambrian grits and the bottom of the Lingula Flags. Fossils numerous, all of the same kind as those in the Cambrian beds, only some additional genera and species, but none or few common to the Lingula Flags. Etheridge I took with me, and David Homfray came also from Portmadoc. As I knew before, there are boulder-beds at St. David's, but I did not know that they contain chalk-flints, which are also found ir. Ramsey Island. The country is undoubtedly moutonnd, and I saw on the coast in three places striations running N.N.W. and S.S.E., pointing, in fact, to the north of Ireland.

'My Contemporary Review paper, as regards substance, is in all important points my two Red Rock papers in the Geological Journal, only the subject is put consecutively. ... I. am satisfied that in Scotland there are two or three glacial episodes in what Is commonly called Old Red. I have no doubt, however, that you will work it out, and I see no reason against a Carboniferous glacial episode. The day will come when all folk will allow a Silurian one too, which I long ago inferred from the rocks on Carrick Moore's land, and troubled his mind by printing the idea.

'Hicks I think is wrong about his Laurentian axis at St. David's. I believe the area is Cambrian metamorphosed into a kind of syenite, and that the granites there are, like those of Anglesey, also meta-morphic. But I could not be supposed to see all that in 1841 when I surveyed the area.'

He was able this summer to carry out at last his intention of visiting the Rhine Valley, for the purpose of studying the problem of its origin. Taking with him his eldest daughter, and accompanied by his sister and his nephew (now Professor William Ramsay of University College, London), he ascended the river from Cologne, and remained a week at Bingen, making excursions up the valley of the Nahe and the Rhine. Thence the party went to Strasburg, and Ramsay took some geological expeditions into the Vosges valleys for the solution of the question he had come to study. Being so near, it was impossible to resist the pleasure of seeing some of his old friends and former haunts in Switzerland. So with his travelling companions, he made for Basle, Lucerne, and Meiringen, crossing the Scheideck to Grindelwald, where he was much interested in the diminution of the glaciers since he had previously seen them. By way of the Wengern Alp, Lauterbrunnen, and Interlaken, the party reached Berne, where they remained some days taking excursions with the venerable Studer„ They then made for Bex, where Ramsay, with eyes now quickened to perceive the profound interest of river-courses, was delighted to have an opportunity of examining the valley of the Rhone where it bends sharply round at Martigny,and farther down where the river is filling up the upper end of the Lake of Geneva with sediment. Returning to Basle, they experienced much kindness from thatdelight-ful veteran of Swiss geology, Peter Merian, and from Professor Riitimeyer, and then made their way homeward by the east side of the Rhine, through Heidelberg to Cologne. It had been Ramsay's intention to descend the whole length of the grand old river down to Rotterdam, but on looking into the state of the finances of the party, he found that they had just money enough left to take them straight back to London, which they reached by way of Ostend.

On his return he sent me (26th September) a few jottings of his doings : ' I got home last night, having solved my problem in a very different way from what

I expected. It was curious to find all the supports to one's speculative views crumbling away one after another. So I began again quae dispassionately in re the Rhine, and the result is that I think I have done the gun trick, which is too long to write about. I have also learned a deal of other odds and ends. To Mrs. Cookman he wrote: 'Ella and I had a delightful journey. I saw at least five of my old friends in Switzerland, two of them, alas! over eighty years of age, but I rejoice to say quite hale and hearty But I missed old Escher von der Linth, who is no more. I learnt heaps of things, and will send you a memoir when it is written and printed, on the physical history of the valley of the Rhine. If you and Betha will come out with my wife and me, we'll explore the valley of the Rhone from Geneva downwards, and next year do the Danube from its sources in the Schwarzwald to ics mouth, and write joint memoirs on these subjects, for I am rather crazy about rivers just at present, and it will be of great advantage to the world if Louisa and you w ill get crazy too '

The results of this brief continental excursion were quickly brought before the world. On the 4th February 1874 Ramsay read an account of his observations to the Geological Society in a paper on the Physical History of the Valley of the Rhine, and on the 27th March he gave a Friday evening discourse on the subject to the Royal Institution. A reference to his views on this question will be made in the succeeding chapter.

Next summer, as was usual now, he spent some time at Beaumaris, making excursions thence to reexamine ground for the preparation of the Welsh Memoir. With the company and assistance of Mr Hughes, formerly one of his staff, but who had now succeeded Sedgwick as Woodwardian Professor at Cambridge, and also with Mr. R. Etheridge, and Mr. I). Horn fray of Portmadoc, he traversed a good deal of ground in the district of Cader Idris, Aran Mowd-dwy,' .and Portmadoc. Rain and wind buffeted the party a good deal, but the Director-General declared that ' every day hardened his old legs more and more, and by the end he cared little for the fatigue.' In an account of his doings (9th August) he wrote to me that ' the necessity for a second edition of my North Wales is now urgent, and I am seriously at work making out a new line of division, that between the base of the Llandeilos and the top of the Tremadocs, or, en grand. between the Lingula Flag series and the Llandeilos. I have accurately traced twenty miles of it, and have for the first time (yesterday) got perplexed. We have been at work for about eighteen days.'

Some further information is given in a letter to his brother William, written from Portmadoc during a subsequent excursion. (13th September 1874): 'I am busy revising a deal of country and realising all the discoveries that have turned up since Selwyn and I were here more than twenty-five years ago. It involves the tracing of one new geological line that no one suspected long ago, and which I surmised must exist ever since Sir Roderick and I were in the north of Scotland some fifteen years ago.'

The progress of his work and the nature of some of his engagements during the year 1875 are told in the following letters :—

30th January 1875.

My dear Geikie—I highly approve of your vindi cation of De la Beche [in proof-sheets of the Life of Murchison. In fact, the one-sidedness lay all on the other side. . . . Last Wednesday Ward read a second paper at the Geological Society on the Cumbrian Lake-basins, going the whole hog in re their glacier origin. Bonney allowed that he could go that length, but that the theory in no way applied to the Swiss and Italian lakes. Since then 1 have received a letter from Gastaldi enclosing a MS. of a paper to be read at the Academy of Turin on Sunday, the 7th February, in which he proves that all the great Italian lakes were produced by glacier erosion, and giving good reasons for their special positions and relative sizes in relation to the valleys in which they lie, and also their relations to the Pliocene deposits of the valley of the Po. He wants my opinion on it before it is read, which I will send h*m on Monday. In the meanwhile, my wife is translating it, and I will publish it with his permission after he has read it. It is a very important paper.— Ever sincerely, A. C. Ramsay.

16th April 1875.

My dear Infanta [Miss Johnes]—J do not think you can have any idea of the good that my visit to Dolaucothi did to me physically and morally. I went on improving after I got home, too, extending even to the art of lecturing within the last few days. The pleasant quietness and the absence of all necessity for being agreeable in your house did me a power of good. The dawdling by the quiet waters and among my old friends the individual trees, and the sitting opposite your father in the library, to say nothing about his two daughters all about the house—ach, lieber Himmel!—these things were good for a man.

You know that I was always soft enough in the head, but now I think I have got softened all over, not excepting the engine that drives the blood. I do not think I have even thought a cross thought since I came home, and I only hope I may always be able to keep up that decent frame of mind. You see I do not mind what I say to you or your sister. You are one of the Sisters of Charity, and I make my confession to you as I would to the Pope, honest man, if I happened to be intimate with him, and liked him sufficiently. I often think of that pleasant episode in my life which began when I first went to Pumpsaint, and has lasted up till to-day. That to me is a golden legend better than any that Caxton ever printed, for in spite of a few clouds, so much of it has been full of air, light, and sunshine. On the 26th July 1842 I first went to Pumpsaint, and there was no winter at all that year, nor for several years after. And even now there is no more of it than is perhaps good for one.

London, 24th April 1875.

My dear Geikie—Since receiving yours of 21st I have been very busy. . . . Last night I lectured at the Royal Institution on the Pre-Miocene Alps, and their subsequent waste and degradation, to a good audience. It is a difficult subject to make quite plain to a general audience, the figures are so large; but though I was not quite satisfied with it myself, Sir Philip Egerton and others seemed to think I made it clear.—Ever sincerely, Andw. C. Ramsay.

London, 23rd July 1875.

My dear Mrs. Cookman— ... As for me my life is rendered miserable by writing testimonials for men trying for professorships in Australia, Japan, Aberyst-with, and Eton the latter a mastership. 1 have had the nomination of a man to the University in the capital of Japan, as Professor of Geology. T hen I am driven wild by invitations for self and lady to all sorts of public soirees—three for this very night, to only the quietest of which I will go. However, I have made up my mind to dine with the Lord Mayor, and I will take Louisa to the soiree of the Society of Arts.

I have had a letter to-day from America, and the ' critter' encloses another sheet giving a sketch of my life, and asking me to fill in some blanks and correct it and send it back for publication 111 Applctoris American Cyclopedia! I am laughing consumed!)'. — Ever affectionately, Andw. C. Ramsay.

During the summer and autumn he was again busy in Wales, and from time to time he sent me tidings of his doings. From his letters to me the following sentences are taken.

'27th July.—There has been no practicable weather till yesterday. It is fine now, and I start for Merionethshire on Thursday. The book is not in. a state to make any further progress till more work is done in the field. I had brought it up to that point.

'12th August.—Here [Beaumaris] and in Monmouthshire, Etheridge and I are hard at work. In the mountains about Dolgell: I have Ward and Hebert, having shown them the sections and the needful line to add to the map. I am not fit for daily high mountain work on a large scale now.

'The case stands thus: We have (1) Lingula Flags, (2) Tremadoc Slates, (3) Arenig beds, which in my Memoir are called Lower Llandeilo or Arenig beds, above which in N. Wales comes the Caradoc series, of which the old-fashioned Llandeilos of Murchison may with propriety be considered a part. From the Tremadocs into the Arenig beds there pass about ten or eleven species; from the Arenigs into the ordinary Llandeilo and Caradoc beds eight species. I hear that you have equivalents of the Arenigs in the S. of Scotland, somewhere towards the Cambrian country. Can you give me any idea of their real relations to any overlying Silurian strata, and underlying strata, if any? . . . I have some evidence that the Arenigs of Caernarvonshire have overlapped all below, and lie direct on the Cambrians. It is in my Geology of N. Wales, but I think these Arenigs are there called Llandeilos.

11th September. — I scarcely think I have had enough of rest in the entire way. I am getting on with my new edition in spite of too much correspondence, and I have now got all the data except a scrap. The great Arenig and Lower Llandeilo line is done and run out to sea at both ends. I think I would almost rather write a new book than a new edition. Dovetailing is often so troublesome. I think (or hope) that I shall soon get to the last half, which may need but little alteration, except a few words here and there. As it turns out, a good deal of my book will be almost rewritten. It will be a great improvement on the last edition. In the Welsh section, the trappy inter-stratifications are, of course, accidents, and sometimes, as at Criccieth, they are absent.

'23rd December.—I am so head and ears at present in the River Dee (Wales) that I think 1 have got water on the brain. It is the most curious bit of physical history of any river I have yet tackled. It will make a chapter of my Survey Memoir on N. Wales; but I shall first send it to the Geological Society. 30th.— I have finished my Jolly Miller chapter [on the origin of the River Dee]. The results rather astound myself about the extremely early date of the river. It has been running so long that the Rhine is a baby to it in age.'

He had on hand at this time a number of geological memoirs bearing on his favourite topic of the origin of the superficial contours of the land. The paper on 'How Anglesey became an Island' was read before the Geological Society on the 19th January 1876, and that upon the River Dee upon the 26th April following. Then he was busy during the winter partly on the new edition of the Welsh Memoir, and partly on a revised and enlarged edition of his little volume on The Physical Geology and Geography of Great Britain. He still also fired an occasional shot in defence of his theory of the glacial origin of lake-basins. We resume the extracts from his correspondence.

On the 26th January 1876 he wrote to me: ' My Dee paper only went in [to the Geological Society] last Saturday, and therefore is not likely to be read for a month or two, in the time of the new President, Dr. Duncan, who assumes office on the 19th February. Austen would not take it, and there is no doubt that Duncan is the next best man. Evans's selection of him gives general satisfaction.

'We are very deficient in volcanic rocks in England and Wales, excepting those of Lower Silurian date. These are all younger than the remadoc Slates, and begin in the Arenig series (Lower Llandeilo of Murchison). If, as I have said, the red Cambrian rocks are mostly fresh-water or estuarine deposits, that may give some sign of an old valley; but in Wales there is a great thickness of Lingula Flags and Tremadoc Slates between the Cambrian strata and the volcanic series. ... I know all the New Red series of England north of the Severn, and it contains no volcanic rocks. In Devon it does, see De La Beche's Report on Devon and, Cornwall, chap, vii., where you will find something directly bearing on your question in re valleys and volcanoes.

'We have no Liassic or Oolitic volcanic rocks, and none in the Wealden, though that formation must have been deposited at the mouth of a great river-valley. Neither have we any Cretaceous or Eocene igneous rocks, though there is in these formations evidence of the mouth of another big river-valley.

'The Eifel volcanoes are, in general, on the top of a plateau, in which, however, there were pre-Miocene valleys, if these volcanoes be Miocene. ... I think your letter gives me a glimmering of what you are thinking about in the matter of these old river-valleys and volcanoes, and the subject is quite a new idea to me, and will be to others when you work it out.'

To Miss Johnes he wrote on the 2nd March : ' I have pretty good news to tell of myself. This is my last year of delivering lectures in the Royal School of Mines. This will be a very considerable relief in point of work. As I had pay and fees as a professor, they cut off that part of the salary given to Sir Roderick, supposed to represent the Museum as distinct from the Survey. Now they are to add /300 a year to the Survey salary for the Museum, and cut off the Professorship salary, etc., and for that "crowning mercy" I am very glad, and so is Louisa. The fear

Is that by and by, having no occasion to lecture students, I may take to lecturing her instead.'

To Mrs. Cookman he reported that he had given his farewell lecture on the 9th May, ' fifty-five minutes being devoted to a broad resume of geological subjects, and eight or ten to taking farewell of the students, and of my post of Professor of Geology. In that theatre I had lectured for quarter of a century, to say nothing of three previous years at University College. Glad as I am to stop, the severance cost the a sort of pang, and for a moment at the beginning of the valedictory, I almost thought I was going to break down—a tendency which my watchful wife observed, but which probably no one else did. In point of fact, I bit my under-lip, and swallowed something like a young potato in my throat. A sprinkling of extra strangers came, and all my children were there to hear Papa's last lecture.'

On the 22nd June he formally sent in his resignation of the lectureship, and the task which had once been so light and joyful, but which in these last years of failing power had become an increasing burden, was now happily removed. He told me that he would be financially a loser by the change, ' but the relief will counterbalance that.

10th July 1876.

My dear Geiicie—On Thursday I take my family to Beaumaris. Etheridge will join me by and by to have a bout at the rocks of Lleyn (north horn of Cardigan Bay), where I begin to believe I shall find the Arenig Slates lying directly on the Cambrian, without the intervention of the Menevian, Lingula, and Tremadoc beds, and involving a vast unconformity.

It is a most important point in British Silurian geology, as I have long attempted to show, and if I find this additional demonstration I shall be glad.

I shall be at work in Wales, writing the Memoir, with some field-work, for a good while, how long I know not. In September I go to Gibraltar for the Colonial Office and the authorities at Gibraltar, with an assistant. All expenses for both will be paid, and I asked nothing more, considering it a piece of duty. It is in re water. Now I would like much it you could spare your brother James to go with me. A few weeks will do it, for the surveying will be brief.

In accordance with his plan of work Ramsay this summer revisited many parts of the ground in North Wales which Selwyn and he had surveyed so long before, and with the assistance of some of h:s colleagues traced in the new boundaries. It is interesting to notice among his notes of these journeys that over tracts where formerly he had eyes only for the old rocks and their structure, he now looked out eagerly everywhere for the tracks of glaciers and ice-sheets, examined the rock-basins, and went carefully over the exposures of drift.

Beaumaris, 10th August 1876.

My dear Geikie—We started at eight yesterday morning, and had twelve hours on the Caernarvonshire hills. We began by marching to the top of Moel Tryfaen to see the Cambrians and the shell-beds of Trimmer, 1150 [correctly about 1400] feet above the sea. These are undoubtedly true marine, beachy, false-bedde.d sands and gravels, overlaid by good boulder-clay, and have been much eroded before or during the deposition of the latter. It is a long story. We saw much moraine matter en route up. There is no description of that area in my Old Glaciers of North Wales, and no printed description of Moel Tryfaen gives an account of all that we saw. I shall write a note about it for the Geol. Soc., and also put it in my new edition of North Wales, when I have digested it. In the meanwhile, I see nothing in it adverse to my broader views in the Old Glaciers of North Wales.

From Moel Tryfaen we walked across moor and hill to Llanberis, that I might get a notion of the great extension of the slate-quarries since I first mapped the country some twenty-seven years ago. ... I reexamined the Cambrian rocks at Bangor the other day, and found that the Arenig beds lie directly upon them, without the intervention of the Tremadoc Slates and Lingula Flags, as I have all along maintained. This is an important point for me versus mere stratigraphico-palaontological men who delight in finding errors in Survey views. I wish you could find Aromg beds directly on the Cambrians in the West Highlands.

On the 14th September he sailed for Gibraltar. With the assistance of his colleague, Mr. James Geikie, he made a careful survey of the Rock and a portion of the surrounding ground, steamed in a gunboat along the Spanish shores, crossed to the opposite mainland, and sailed for fifty miles along the African coast so as to get a bird's-eye view of the geology for purposes of comparison with that of the northern side, spent three days in Africa geologising and wandering among Moors, camels, and the picturesque but odorous streets and suburbs of a Moorish town. He was back :n England on the 30th October.

On his return he set to work at once on the report of his examination of Gibraltar with reference to the question submitted to him. But materials enough of a more generally interesting geological character had been collected which it seemed a pity to bury in the pages of a departmental blue book. The fellow-travellers accordingly worked these materials up into a conjoint paper, which in the spring of 1878 was read before the Geological Society.

A pleasant incident diversified Ramsay's London life during the winter of 1876-77. His pupils at the School of Mines had raised among themselves and former students about ^100, with which they purchased a set of three handsome silver dessert pieces, half a dozen old Dutch parcel gilt spoons, and some other table ornaments. These they presented to their much-esteemed teacher as an expression of their gratitude and good-will for his eminent services to the School, and for the benefit they had themselves derived from his teaching and his influence.

How much his thoughts turned to foreign lands and the geological questions there awaiting solution is well shown in his correspondence at this time. Thus to Mrs. Cookman he wrote: ' I have planned a route to San Remo in the hope of going there to fetch you home; viz. that Louisa and I first go to Mulhouse or Basle, and then find our way down the Sadne to Lyons, where it joins the Rhone, then work up the RBne to Geneva, and back to Lyons, and so down the remainder of the Rhone to Marseilles, with a possible divertissement into Auvergne. There is something to find out about the valleys of the Saone and Rhone that I know nothing about, and which I think no one but myself has yet dreamed of. On the whole, I have always been a pretty good hand at scientific dreaming, and I believe this dream will come true, iif I can only find time to work it out.'

A heartrending tragedy occurred during the autumn of 1876 in the family at Dolaucoth. The butler shot Mr. Johnes, severely wounded Mrs. Cookman, and afterwards committed suicide. As these were Ramsay's dearest friends, the event was a crushing trial for him, and in some measure saddened all his later life. His diary and his letters of this period afford touching proofs of the tender affection and deep sympathy of his nature.

But the vortex of London life swept him on. 'We are all well enough,' he wrote later in the year to his Dolaucothi friends, 'and, as usual, occupied "with those innumerable busynesses which take up so much of people's lives in London, that anyth'ng like leisure becomes an unknown quantity. Of course, I am at work on a book in scraps of time, and if it were only finished I fancy I might breathe more freely, but I know that something else is sure to succeed it. The Survey men both of Scotland and Ireland are crying to me "Come," and go to both I must, some time this year.

' he invasion of scientific foreigners has also set in with unusual severity at an earlier season than usual. I invite them to dinner ; some of them cannot come, and some do come, and then we have a Babel of languages. To add to that, we have got a German housemaid who as yet speaks no English

' Since writing that last word, dispatches have arrived from Nova Scotia requiring immediate atten tion, the writer asking a letter from me, which, being shown, shall stimulate the Governor of Newfoundland to see the importance of certain work on the northeast coast of Labrador, whither my friend is being despatched from Newfoundland the dreary. He is the man who told Louisa that the worst dinner he ever had consisted of "cold eagle and badger-sauce."

To the same friends, who were now on the Riviera, he writes : ' I grieve to say there is no chance of foreign travel for me this year. I must go to Ireland, and I must go to Scotland, and I have irons in the fire that must be got out and cooled, some of them, I hope, ere this year is much further advanced. . . . All of those valleys opening into the Alps, from the Dora Baltea to Como, have made a deep impression on me. I wish I could see them again, and specially with you two and Louisa. Besides the beauty, some curiously interesting points have come out since we were there. It is now known that the great lakes of Como, Maggiore, etc., were at one time fjords, like those of Norway. When the mighty old glaciers were busy scooping out my lake - hollows, the ends of them descended into the sea, and deposited their moraines there, for sea-shells are mingled with the material at the ends of the moraines. Then as the glaciers retired, the lakes became fjords, and I hear that, just as in the Swedish lakes, some marine species still inhabit the waters of Maggiore. There is a geological infliction for you! I give it you without remorse, for I know you to have a soul above buttons, unlike me, when once I wandered out round a lonely lake at the Grimsel in search of any kind of button, and found one of brass, by the margin on an ice scratched rock.

The journeys of inspection to Ireland and Scotland were duly made, and pictures of his progress may be gathered from his correspondence.

Beaumaris, 9th September 1877.

My dear Geikie—I got back on Thursday, after a month's stiffish work all about Ireland, from Kilkenm and Galway up to Portrush and the Giant's Causeway, and so south by Belfast back to Dublin. I have seen all the Miocene basalts in the norih of Ireland, and from thence have had a view of Rathlin, Isla, Jura, the Mull of Cantyre, Ailsa, Arran, the Ayrshire mountains by Loch Doon, and a lot of small islands away north by Oban that I could not name. As for glaciation in Ireland, by Glendalough Galway], etc. etc., good heavens !!! The sections at Glendalough and away north are the Silurian rocks of N.W. Sutherland, etc., quartzites, limestones, and all.

I shall be ready for the Cumberland and south of Scotland comparison with you and your men, Peach and Home, and with Aveline, Ward, and Bristow.

The conference with his colleagues the northwest of England and the south of Scotland was the last important conclave which Ramsay held in the field. The Directors for England and Scotland, each with two of their respective staffs, met him at Kendal, and the party journeyed through the more important geological tracts. Those of the number who had not been out in the field for some years with their chief saw with regret the marked failing in his vigour. The old brightness and kindliness were there as fully as of old. the merry laugh still rang out after the ready jest, and the lively talk, with interesting reminiscence and literary allusion, still charmed as they had always done ; but the elastic step, the eager endurance, the sustained power of tracking the 'ntricacies of geological structure had grown markedly feebler. I remember well the pang with which I realised as we climbed a hill side above Derwent Water that my beloved friend, whom from my boyhood I had looked up to with pride and affection as the very embodiment of geological prowess, had now become an old man. He was then not more than sixty-three years of age, but a life of physical and mental toil and official worry had made him prematurely aged. At the end of the day when we got back to our inn he would often look exceedingly weary, and yet dinner would for the time revive him, and make him once more what he used always to be, the gayest member of a Survey gathering.

I remember that on the same occasion he showed how difficult it now was for him to keep pace with the onward developments of his own science. The introduction of the microscope as an adjunct to a field-geologist's equipment and the microscopic study of thin slices of rocks for petrographical determination had been recognised for some time by several members of his staff as absolutely essential for accurate mapping in regions of crystalline rocks. I had myself made use of the aid of the microscope for twelve years before this time, and J. C. Ward had adopted the same course in his study of the volcanic district of the Lakes. The party having dined, Ward and I had retired to another room that we might examine under the microscope some of his volcanic rocks, and compare them with the Palaeozoic volcanic series of Scotland. We had been engaged on this task for an hour or two when Ramsay joined us. He sat rather impatiently watching us for a while, and then starting up, left the room after exclaiming, 11 cannot see of what use these slides can be to a field-man. I don't believe in looking at a mountain with a microscope.'

While on the journey through Scotland, he sent the following account of it to his friends at Dolau-cothi: [From one of the windows of this coffee-room in Perth] I can see the Tay, full-Hooded, rushing through the arches of that noble bridge, which reminds me of the bridge across the Moselle at Treves, only both river and bridge at Perth are more striking than those of Treves. Of a verity there is no denying the fact that the Tay is the finest river in Britain, with more water in it than even the Thames or the Severn, and such a varied landscape to flow through, with hills and cliffs, woods and swelling fields, all undula ing and brae-like, except the noble haughs or meadows that here and there fo»*m the banks of the river, and of which the Inches of Perth (once islands) form such beautiful examples.

'I went to Keswick, Cockermouth, Carlisle, Hawick, Melrose, Galashiels, Peebles, Edinburgh, Leadhills, and Moffat, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Dumfries again and Edinburgh, and so to Arbroath. Stonehaven, Blairgowrie, and Perth. There is a catalogue for you, that beats Homer's catalogue of ships, or Milton's catalogue of devils. I hope ere a fortnight elapses to be in the bosom of my own family at Cromwell Crescent.'

Returning to London, he was soon once again in the midst of his 'new edition' and other multifarious preparations. His paper on the geology of Gibraltar was read before the Geological Society on the 6th March 1878, and he gave a Friday evening discourse on the subject on the 24th May, which was his last appearance before the Royal Institution. The fifth edition of his Physical Geology and Geography of Great Britain, on which he had been engaged in intervals of leisure for several years past, was at length published in May of this year.

For some time previous to that at which this narrative has now arrived, Ramsay had suffered much trouble from an affection of the left eye, brought on in the. first instance by overwork in lamplight, and aggravated by a severe wetting at the funeral of a brother-in-law. In the autumn of 1878 the ailment became so serious that, to save the other eye, it was necessary to remove the left one—an operation skilfully performed by his friend Mr. Whitaker Hulke, and borne by Ramsay with his characteristic quiet courage.

A month later he wrote to his friends at Dolaucothi: 'I am well enough to be doing much as usual, excepting that I do less work as yet. Then I have got a most lovely glass eye. You are not to quote Shakespeare, "Get thee glass eyes, and, like a scurvy politician, seem to see the things thou dost not."'

On the 16th June 1879 he received a gratifying telegram from Sella at Rome, that he had been elected a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of the Lincei, an honour which he specially prized, not only because of the famous Society which conferred it on him, but because it came as a mark of the kindly esteem of his friend, the illustrious statesman and geologist of Italy.

In the early summer of 1880 he succeeded in taking a brief holiday in a part of Europe which he had not before explored. Mrs. Ramsay and his second daughter had spent the winter at Hyeres, and he met them on their way home at Aix les Bains. The traces left by the vast ancient glacier of the Rhone, which once overspread all that region, filled him with astonishment and delight. He boated down Lac Bourget, walked over hills strikingly ice-worn, and picked up fragments of gneiss, granite, and other rocks that had been brought down by the ice from the heart of the distant Alps. He took the bearings of the glacial striae, observed the positions, sizes, and composition of the erratic blocks, and saw so much as to fill him with the strongest desire to return and make a more complete exam-'nation of the district for comparison with the old glaciated areas so familiar to him at home.

From Aix the party made its way to Geneva, spent a day or two there with the Swiss geologist, A. Favre, and was back in England again by the 10th June.

Ramsay had been elected President of the British Association for this year, and the meeting was to be held on the 25th August at Swansea. In the quiet of his retreat at Beaumaris he prepared the presidential address. He chose a thoroughly geological theme, and contrived to say a little on all the branches of the science in which he himself had specially worked. After a general historical introduction he launched into the subject of metamorphism, and then into that of the volcanic eruptions of former periods, whence he naturally passed to the structure and relative ages of mountain-chains. The salt-lakes of past times and the recurrence of fresh - water conditions again and again in geological history were next touched upon, before the fascinating topic of glaciers and their operations was reached. In summing up his discourse, the President professed once more his geo logical faith as an uncompromising Uniformitarian declaring that, from the period of the oldest known rocks down to the present day, 'all the physical events in the history of the earth have varied neither in kind nor in intensity from those of which we now have experience.'

The discourse, though printed, was not read by the speaker He had a few notes before him, to which he made occasional reference as he passed from one division to another. His lively inflections of voice, marked Scottish accent, and energetic gestures as he enforced the successive points which he wished the audience to comprehend were a novel and not unwelcome variation from the more usual formality of the presidential address. In the proceedings at the close reference was made to the fact that, though the President was not a Welshman, he had done his best to atone for that defect by marrying a Welshwoman. Ramsay in replying spoke of his love for Wales ; he knew almost every mountain-top in the Principality, he said, having either surveyed them with his own hands, or having superintended the surveys of them by others.

Towards the end of the year two marks of recognition of Ramsay's lifelong devotion to science were received by him. At the Anniversary of the Royal Society on the 1st December a Royal Medal was given to him 'for his long-continued and successful labours in geology and physical geography.' A few days later the University of Glasgow conferred on him the degree of LL.D.—thus towards the close of his career linking him by a new tie with his native town and the college with which he had so many pleasant early associations.

The second edition of the North Wales Memoir, which had involved so much labour both in the field and at the desk, was at last published at the close of 1881. In bulk it considerably exceeded the previous edition. A special interest attaches to it because it was its author's last Survey publication. As the year wore on it had become more and more evident that he must seek retirement from the endless cares of official life. In the course of the summer he made a round of farewell visits among his staff. I accompanied him through some parts of the centre of Scotland. He particularly wished to see some of the Highland lakes. So we made for Kenmore, and sailed up Loch Tay, and then by Lochs Vennachar and Achray to Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond. The scenery brought back early associations to him, and mingled with these reminiscences came the new interest which such scenery had for him in its bearing upon his doctrine of the glacial origin of lake-basins, and at the same time the sadness that arose from the feeling that he should probably never see these scenes again.

The British Association held its jubilee this year at York, where it had opened its career fifty years before. Ramsay, as the oldest surviving president of Section C, was asked to take the chair of that section on this occasion. He did so, and gave the address; but the effort was a great strain upon him, and he returned to Beaumaris to rest. It was definitely arranged that he should retire from his Government appointment at the end of the year.

To his old friend and colleague, Mr. Howell, he wrote: 'I feel grateful for the regret that our good fellows feel for my retirement. I regret it too very much, but in the words of the old ballad, "Ira weary wi' hunting and fain would lie down." I hope I may find contented rest in doing nothing but what I choose to do. The change, however, will be very great, even though the non-official intercourse should continue between us as fast as ever.

He announced to his friends at Dolaucothi: 'On the 31st December I shall retire from the public service, and whether or not there will be another Director-General I do not know. Neither do I quite know how I shall enjoy doing nothing but what I choose to do; but, on the whole, I think I shall manage very well. They have given me the highest possible pension, and that and our private incomes will enable us to live just as we have been accustomed to do ever since I became Director-General. ... I think that, on the whole, I have been a "fortunate youth." One thing also pleases me, that I shall be able some time in 1882 to pay a visit to Dolaucothi the beloved, and to lie upon a bank where the wild thyme grows, and where oxlip and the nodding cowslip blows."

'My address to the geological section of the British Association at York last summer principally dealt with the progress of geology for the last fifty years. In my mind there is no doubt that it is, or was, the last address I shall ever give.

'The other day, as Louisa, Fanny, Dora, and I had arrived at the pudding stage of dinner, a franked letter arrived from Mr. Gladstone, informing me that at the instance of Lord Spencer, who is my official chief, I am required on Wednesday next to go down to Windsor by the 1.10 p.m. train in levde costume, and from the station, along with others, am to be transported to the castle to be knighted at three.'

On the afternoon of the 31st December Sir Andrew quitted his desk at the Jermyn Street Museum, and closed his long and honourable career as a civil servant.

For upwards of forty years he had given himself with his whole heart to the work of the Geological Survey, and he carried with him into his retirement the affectionate wishes of every member of the staff over which he had so long and so ably presided.


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