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Murchison, Sir Roderick Impey (1792-1871) 1st Baronet, geologist
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Letter from Roderick Impey Murchison

RIM will not be attending the BAAS meeting at Cambridge for various reasons, but mainly because of Adam Sedgwick's dislike of him: 'If I did not feel that he had irresolvably made up his mind to be alienated from me, I would still make every effort in my power to win back his friendship. For a long time and even during our gelogical disputes about nomenclature, he declared that they never could or should interupt our friendship and I am at a loss to know why in the last years he has become so morose and unforgiving' [see Adam Sedgwick to Everina Affleck, 25 September 1862].

James David Forbes to William Whewell

Fettercairne House, Fettercairne - JDF has been unwell and gives a description of his illness. Consequently his studies have been interrupted for some two to three months. JDF is pleased in the recent appointment of his namesake , Edward Forbes, to Edinburgh University. He is sorry that Lord Rosse has resigned from the Royal Society: 'Lord Wrottesley though a very worthy man seems hardly suited for so public a post, so far as I know of him. I think on the whole Murchison [Roderick Murchison] would have done it well. I do not think the Royal Society seems flourishing. The council is not strong and the new elections below criticism'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

2 Raymond Buildings, Gray's Inn - CL was surprised and complimented that WW had already read the 300 pages he had sent him ['Principles of Geology', volume 2, 1832]: 'Recollect that all I have hitherto said against catastrophe is little else than dogmatizing to one who has not seen or read of the evidences which forced me against all my prepossessions to adopt my present creed...I hope you will be an umpire on this question, and therefore restrict yourself for a time to the ample subject of the evidence of organic changes already left you and reject as not yet proved, or attempted to be proved whatever advance respecting the slowness and uniformity of geological changes'. WW may be convinced by the next three chapters. CL has found that 'Hoffman [Friedrich Hofmann?] sent from Sicily an account of the country to which I owe my conversion just when von Dechen [Heinrich von Dechen], Miterlisch [Eilhard Mitscherlich?], and Von Hoff [Karl E A von Hoff?] were reading my book and to this I attribute the now favourable reception of my doctrine at Berlin'. Hoff has reviewed CL at length - an expose of his views as opposed to a critique. 'Dechen writes to Murchison [Roderick Murchison] 'Conybeare's [William Conybeare] reply in the annals is the work of a learned and able divine in support of a lost cause''.

Letter from Charles Lyell

Glasgow - Murchison [Roderick Murchison] showed CL WW's letter, and both agreed that it 'was so strong that it would be impossible to name WW next day in spite of it' [next President of the BAAS?]. Lord Northampton declared against himself being chosen claiming it was the turn of a scientific man. 'There has never been so much about our being honoured by so many dukes and marquisses in three speeches by three persons since you left that the naming one Mr Whewell as the next President is the only thing that can redeem our proceedings from the reproach of taking a very low standard in the estimate of the real dignity of scientific men and in turn the true objects of science'.

Richard Jones to William Whewell

'Poor [Banister?] has sent me the book that comes with this', and wants RJ to forward it to WW. He expects Murchison [Roderick Impey Murchison] will say something about his plan at the present meeting. RJ would be grateful if WW can find anything to encourage or help [Banister?].

Letter from Adam Sedgwick to Everina Frances Affleck

AS 'cannot meet Sir Roderick Murchison as a friend till he retracts, before the Geological Society, publicly and personally, a statement which he made in their printed journal'. Namely 'that in one of the greatest and most mischievous blunders ever made in the history of English Geology, I had visited him and been the cause of his mistake. In short that I was the author of the mistake' [see Roderick Murchison to WW, 28 Sept. 1862].

Letter from Roderick Impey Murchison to Lady Affleck

The friendship WW has shown to RIM 'has quite touched my heart'. He is very grateful at WW's endeavour to bring a truce between RIM and Adam Sedgwick [see RIM to WW, 2 July 1862]: 'I see however by the severe term which he applies to me, that he is still highly irritable to the subject'. RIM is just starting out for Britanny to explore that ancient region.

William Whewell to Richard Jones

Lancaster - WW has been moving from one part of the country to another since the BAAS meeting at Newcastle. He met RJ's friend, Sir James Graham, who speaks very well of RJ: 'he tells me that he has proposed this as a prize question for the new agricultural association: What are the causes of the difference in prosperity of Belgium and Ireland, since you have in both the same small properties and individual labour, and the same religion'. There was a dispute at Newcastle: 'Babbage [Charles Babbage] has behaved with great bitterness to Murchison [Roderick Murchison] and tried to get him drummed out of the association in which he failed'. WW refused to support 'Babbage's dogma that men of science in England are a dogmatical race'.

Letter from Adam Sedgwick

Launceston - AS has 'had one or two severe attacks brought on by fatigue and bad weather'. Nevertheless he has 'done a great deal of good work and fixed many geological land marks'. WW should not hesitate becoming President elect of the Geological Society: 'Have you not been Professor of Mineralogy? Have you not given the only philosophical view of that science that exists in our language? Have you not written the best review of Lyell's [Charles Lyell] system that has appeared in our language? etc. etc.? - you are just the man we want'. WW should tell Murchison [Roderick Murchison] 'that in the quarries a mile and a half south of this place' are some interesting fossils.

William Whewell to Richard Jones

Trinity College - WW returns [Bannister's?] pamphlet. Murchison [Roderick Murchison] 'intended to refer to it publicly: but I do not know whether he did so. He was not disposed to go the length of engaging in the Cabol Society'. John Herschel informs WW that he 'thinks you have sent your pictures to press'.

James David Forbes to William Whewell

Carlisle - Mr and Mrs Forbes are to go on an excursion to Cumberland. JDF will search for traces of glaciers in the lake country, and compare his findings with those he made at Skye last year. His conclusions from the latter 'appear to have been adopted with more than common unanimity by geologists holding various opinions' [Notes on the Topography and Geology of Cuchullin Hills in Skye and on the Traces of Ancient Glaciers which they Present, Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, 1846]. Although JDF has not read through Michael Faraday's 'big memoir...it seems to me that he has formed an undue estimate of the importance of his discoveries in this instance and has put them forth with a prominence which he used not to display'. Roderick Murchison's work on Russia is a fine piece but too 'exclusively technical' [The Geology of Russia in Europe and the Ural Mountains, vol. 1, London, 1845]. Charles Lyell will not increase his reputation by publishing any more 'American Notes' [Travels in North America, 2 vols., London, 1845].

James David Forbes to William Whewell

Edinburgh - Thanks WW for his work on induction in answer to John S. Mill ['Of Induction, with Especial Reference to Mr. J. Stuart Mill's System of Logic', 1850]. Further to their work on revising the recommendations of the mathematics and physics section of the BAAS [see JDF to WW,12 Dec. 1849], JDF thinks it important that new experiments in the area of heat should be devised - as suggested by Philip Kelland's report 'On the Theory of Heat' (1841). JDF is undecided whether he will remain this year for the BAAS meeting, since he is very keen to embark on a continental trip. Murchison [Roderick Murchison] has written to him with suggestions on how best to spend the recent £1000 left to the Royal Society.