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Notebook No.126, 3 December 1845 - 12 December 1845

 Item — Box: Lyell-temp-box 5
Identifier: Coll-203/A1/126

Scope and Contents

This notebook contains Charles Lyell’s notes from December 3, 1845 to December 12, 1845 upon leaving Boston and traveling to Philadelphia, with visits in New Haven, Connecticut and New York City, and further enroute to Washington, D.C. The notes are comprised of discussions about politics and religion, supplemented by commentary about social life, in New England and the United States more broadly, plus field notes, observations, and sketches concerned with geology and natural history, including descriptions of regions in anticipation of future field excursions, and further accounts of Sea Serpents and the infamous 'Hydrarchos' exhibit by Koch. A projected itinerary through the end of January 1846 is outlined on p. 90. Notes are in ink and pencil. The index is located in the back of the notebook on pages 113-115, plus seven unnumbered pages, including four pages (one sheet, folded vertically) that have been added into the notebook, evidenced by the red thread tying them in place, at the end.

Content warning:

Lyell uses his Scientific Notebooks to gather evidence, based on both his own observation, by reviewing other people's works, by correspondence, asking questions and analyses. The language used in this index is historical, can be discriminatory and may cause offence.

Transcription note:

The following index is Lyell's own words, copied from Lyell's own "Index", found at the end of the notebook, transcribed from digital surrogates using the platform Transkribus. When known, Lyell's abbreviations and contractions have been expanded using brackets [ ]. Abbreviations in standard use, such as two letter abbreviations for United States place names, have not been expanded. When writing is unclear, and transcription is not possible, this is denoted using [...]. Quotation marks are Lyell's own notation for ditto, as is the abbreviation "do"; The inclusion of [sic] indicates the misspelling of a word is deliberate and taken from the notebook. There are numerous margin notations in this index. X is used to mark a pencil cross (one instance of ?X) made at certain entries. It is not clear if this notation is written contemporaneously or later. At times Lyell has included dates (inner left margin) and these have been inserted at the beginning of the appropriate section. On some of the notebook pages themselves, Lyell has erroneously written Nov[ember]. instead of Dec[ember]. several times

Lyell's own index:

Dec 3rd.
p. 1 Sea-serpent in West[ern] Islands
p. 2 X - [Sea-serpent] seen at Boston Aug 1817.
p. 3-8 X - [Sea-serpent] Evidence before Committee, on,
p. 8 X - [Sea-serpent] Pontoppidan
p. 10 X - [Sea-serpent] Scoliophis Atlanticus.
p. 11 X Zeuglodon references
p. 11 Lake Pontchartrain cedar swamp
p. 12 X White Mountains. Dr Bigelow [Note: This reference to the account of Dr. Bigelow is on notebook p. 13.]
p. 14 X Mount Washington ascent of
p. 15-17 X - [Mount Washington] bald part of mountain. [‘17. –’ written at end of line]
p. 18 X - [Mount Washington] height of, plants.
p. 19 X - [Mount Washington] cold in winter
p. 20-21 X - [Mount Washington] list of plans & animals. [‘20 –’ written at end of line]
p. 22 X - [Mount Washington] Birds –etc.
p. 23 Hamilton Couper on Darien fossils
p. 23 X 3rd. Dec[ember]. Skating on Frog Pond Boston
[Note: The two notes above are on notebook p. 22; p. 23 outlines a partial itinerary and list of luggage.]
p. 24 X Relics of Mayflower Ticknor
p. 24 X Hoaxes about Miss[issippi]- Steamer
p. 24 Missionary Museum - Budhist [sic Buddhist] Idols
p. 24 X President Message in one day to Boston
Dec 4th
[p. 24] Forefathers day, Gray on recentness of U.S.
] p. 28 X Springfield 98 m[iles] from Boston
p. 28 X Rain on Thankgiving [sic Thanksgiving] day 1/8th of year
p. 28 Glacial beds Maine, Gould names of shells
p. 28 ?X In Senate few men of note
p. 30 X Mount Washington why trees cut short.
p. 30 To team a wagon
p. 30 B[isho]p Doanes holy virgin & child diploma
p. 30 X Railway accident “no blame to any one”
p. 32 X Puritan Sunday lectures for money
p. 32 Federal system, strong if it can hold together free States & Slave
p. 32 Indian blood improves white race
p. 34 & 38 New Orleans ships 8. ft. high Silliman [‘38 &’ interlined at end of line]
p. 36 Icicles Newhaven [sic New Haven] on rigging
p. 36 X Tour Springfield to Newhaven [sic New Haven]
p. 36 X Delay by ice on railway & one line of rail.
p. 36 Caleb Cushing on irons in Missouri
p. 38 New Orleans notes on - alligators not out till April
p. 38 - [New Orleans] climate of, houses damp -
p. 38 - [New Orleans] bodies dead floated thro’ crevasse, seven
p. 41 Natches [sic Natchez] limonite brown ox[ide]. of iron?
p. 41 Ferruginous pipes at - [Natches [sic Natchez]]
p. 41 X Southern hospitality owing to slaves
p. 41 Northerners must wash themselves etc.
p. 41 Inns why much better in North
p. 41 Natches [sic Natchez] blind quadruped
p. 42 Stiffness of Yankees in some -
p. 42 Warmth of expression restrained in England by mauvaise honte, not in U.S.
p. 43 X Steamers of N[ew]. Orleans, dangers real - Silliman. great number [‘number’ underlined]
p. 44 X Newhaven [sic New Haven] East rock covered with snow
p. 44 X Icicles like cut glass prismatic -
Dec. 5.
p. 44 Newhaven [sic New Haven] Mr Whelpley
p. 44 Coral limest[one]. (recent?) hardness of
p. 44 Mississippi State absence of stone
p. 47 & 66 X Voyage thro’ Long Isl[and]. Sound. [‘66 &’ written at end of line]
p. 47 Presidents Speech. balance of power
p. 47 - [Presidents Speech] free trade govern[ed]. by revenue wants
p. 48 X New York water works, cost of
p. 48 Great work with[out]. boast -
p. 48 X Fountains height of -
p. 48 X N.Y. city improved, new churches
p. 50 Southerners less able than formerly & yet by union with democr[at[s]]. [? not definite, may be democracy] rule more [‘more’ interlined]
p. 50 X Demagogues, election lies Polk represent[ed]. as Protectionist
p. 50 Antislavery strongest when defeated by Abolitionist desertion
p. 50 Abolitionists ag[ainst]. Gov[enor]. Briggs
p. 50 Romanists pew holders at Buffalo
p. 52 - [Romanists] circulating lives of Christ with comments & illustrat[ions].
p. 52 Education of Catholics N.Y.
p. 52 X Hatred to England trading on it a political capitol. Cushing
p. 52 Romanists of Cincinnati.
p. 55 Natches [sic Natchez] flints whence Koch
p. 55 Zeuglodon Koch says at Martha’s V[ineyard]. [Lyell writes ‘Vynyard’ on p. 54]
p. 55 Claiborne shells, list of, Koch.
p. 58 - [Claiborne shells] Clarkesville Al[abama]. - [list of, Koch] [? text replacement for ‘Do.’]
[Note: The 3 items noted to be on p. 55 (blank page) are on p. 54; list of shells - starts at bottom of p. 54, continues on pp. 56, 58.]
Dec. 6th.
p. 60 Eocene shells Claiborne Al[abama]. Koch.
p. 62 - [Eocene] Gryphaea vomer in [‘Gryphaea’ - note ligature (as written)?]
p. 62 - [Eocene] Ostrea sellaeformis & posit[ion]. of nummulite Koch. [‘sellaeformis’ - note ligature (as written)?]
p. 64 - [Eocene] Claiborne shells list contin[ued].
p. 66 - [Eocene] leaves fossil at what place p. 66 & 47 X Voyage Newhaven [sic New Haven] to N.Y. [‘47 &’ written at end of line]
p. 66 X N.Y. city improvements, Trinity ch[urch].
p. 66 X Pigs emblems of Univer[sal]. Suffr[age].
p. 67 X N.Y. electric Telegraph in
p. 67 X - [N.Y.] Croton Water works –
p. 67 X Cost of water - insurance saved.
p. 68 X Fire at N.Y. got under by water.
p. 68 X Explosion at caused the catastrophe
p. 68 X N.Y. Fountains playing in frost.
p. 68 X - [N.Y.] Best Newspaper,
p. 69 Episcopal church, no clerk.
p. 69 X War with England, Wilkes –
p. 69 X Lyells Travels sale of, scientific part aiding sale Wiley
p. 70 Koch on Zeuglodon localities, Al[abama].
p. 71 X Sumner C. critique on
p. 71 X Sea - serpent zeuglodon
p. 71 X Hydrarchos excitement at N.Y. caused by exhibition.
Dec. 8.
p. 71 X Hydrarchos exposed at Boston
p. 71 X N.Y. Population of Cogswell
p. 71 Free-trade – G[reat]. Brit[ain]. & colonies
p. 72 N.Y Explosion not heard by S[tock]. Brookers [sic Stockbrokers] [Note: ‘Stockbrokers’ is supported by the commentary in the notebook – Bond St. is within the New York Stock Exchange area; use of ‘the’ indicates that it is not an individual being referred to.]
p. 72 - [N.Y.] full now – good hired horses
p. 72 - [N.Y.] S[aint]. Nicolas [sic Nicholas] dinner dutch reminiscences – Colden
p. 72 Koch Claiborne section
p. 74 - [Koch Claiborne] leaf-
p. 74 X Gallatin called on w[ith] Cogswell
p. 74 X - [Gallatin] maize & Mexican civiliz[ation]. indigenous
[p. 74] X - [Gallatin] Mexican astronomy not so wonderful
p. 75 - [Gallatin] Antiquity of N[orth]. Amer[ican]. Indians
p. 75 - [Gallatin] Progressive movement – Greece a mystery – Condorcets essay
p. 75 - [Gallatin] Athenian gentlemen with slaves
p. 75 Cherokee Indians with negro slaves get on in civiliz[ation].
p. 75 - [Gallatin] McDuffie on slavery, laboring class must be ignorant.
p. 75 - [Gallatin] on Oregon. Polk, Bancroft.
p. 75 - [Gallatin] on Bunzer & antiquity of Egypt.
p. 76 - [Gallatin] Grotius on law of Nations, Oregon treaty
p. 76 - [Gallatin] On Niagara ravine, age of
p. 76 - [Gallatin] Romans did nothing Greece all - Aristotle -
Dec 8th
p. 78 X N.Y. Croton water, health of city improved by -
p. 78 X - [N.Y.] ice in the streets caused by
p. 78 X Electric Telegrapth [sic Telegraph] over Hudson
p. 78 & 71 X Hydrarchos Exhibit[ion]. [‘71 &’ written at end of line]
p. 80 X N.Y. less charitable bequests
p. 80 X live less within income.
p. 80 Divorce, wife can divorce husbands
p. 80 - [Divorce] New Jersey legislature
p. 81 Zeuglodon, Conrad on tertiary origin?
p. 82 Modiola tooth figured by Conrad
[p. 82] Al[abama]. limest[one]. secondary, Conr[ad].
p. 83 Harlan Santee Canal Eleph[ant]
p. 83 & 84 Whale of Mississ[ippi] - [‘84 &’ written at end of line]
p. 83 Redfield amp; Emmons - Taconic, primitive limest[one]. metamorphes.
[p. 83] Richm[ond]. V[irginia]. Coal fish Catopt[erus] macrurus
p. 84 - [Catopt[erus] macrurus] slab with 20 individ[uals].
[Notebook context – ‘In Philadelphia … [? this] fish …in N.Y. Lyceum museum … catopterus?’; no specific-direct mention of Richmond, Virginia]
p. 84 Whale of Miss[issippi]. was going to Europe
p. 84 Zeuglodon Washita R[iver].
p. 84 Megalonyx K[entucky] –
p. 84 Bayon [‘on’ rewritten-written over in pencil] defin[ition]. of,
p. 85 N[ew]. Orleans depth of mud 212 ft at least - borings –
p. 85 - [N[ew]. Orleans] Crab 160 ft. deep – depth of delta mud
p. 85 Democracy & Demagogues N.Y.
p. 85 X New Red Sandest[one]. [sic Sandstone] fish in, Redfield -
p. 85 - [New Red Sandstone] beds of [‘ori’ deleted] not originally as steep
p. 85 - [New Red Sandstone] horizontal slide in a fish slickinside [sic slickenside]
p. 86 X Trinity church N.Y. painted glass
p. 86 X Cost of – (error)
p. 86 X - [Trinity Church] stone used in building.
p. 86 - [Trinity Church] cost of organ, daily service –
p. 87 X N.Y. last great fire. smoke
p. 87 X [N.Y.] new houses, selling high of ground
p. 87 X [N.Y.] trees burnt - raising of ground
p. 87 Trinity Church – In broad way.
p. 87 X Fountains. some not playing
Dec 9th
p. 88 X Frost relaxes, Streets flooded.
p. 88 X Episcopal churches 2 fine new [‘92 &’ interlined below end of line]
p. 88 Lead said to run N[orth] & S[outh].
p. 89 Falls of St. Anthony 28 ft. high [sic St. Anthony Falls]
p. 89 X Beaty [sic Beauty] of [‘Beaty of’ deleted-crossed in pencil]
[? deletion-illegible mark written over ‘X’ in left margin]
p. 89 Copper of L[ake]. Superior in trap
[p. 89] - [Copper] worked out in places.
p. 89 X Puseyism – Newmans conversion
p. 90 X Plan of Itinerary.
p. 92 X N.Y. New churches fine no smoke
Dec 10
p. 92 X - [N.Y.] Electric Telegraph deforms street
p. 92 X N.Y. to Philadelphia
p. 92 X N.Y. Newspapers full of Oregon
p. 92 X Icicles on trap in railway
p. 92 War, Michigan goes for, exception
p. 94 X Railway thro’ middle of Eliz[abeth]. town [sic Elizabethtown]
p. 94 War. If Oregon settled, the desease [sic disease] remains in constit[ution].
p. 94 X Scenery of New red like Engl[and].
p. 94 X Tractarianism - Newmans conversion
p. 96 Ice on N[ew]. Brunswick canal
p. 96 X Texas annex[ation]. has intoxicated the democratic party.
p. 96 White Servants out of element in Southern town
[p. 96] X N.Y. to Phil[adelphia]. railway thro’ Burlington street . scenery
p. 98 Dissenters so called by Episcopal[ians]. not born in England
[p. 98] X “Mexico must by ours”
p. 98 X - [Mexico] like Punjamb [sic Punjab] must be annexed
[p. 98] Geol[ogy]. Conrad made Miocene the equiv[alent]. of English Crag
[p. 98] - [Geol[ogy].] Cyraena carolinensis [sic Cyrena caroliniensis, see notebook [obsolete name]; Polymesoda caroliniana [current name]]
p. 100 & 112 Eocene in N[ew]. Jersey, Conrad [‘112’ interlined] &’ written at end of line]
p. 100 X Philadelphia, less science
p. 100 X Taylor R. C. address [illegible characters (re: pagination?) at end of line]
[NOTE: The preceding four pages (one sheet, folded vertically) of the Index, from ‘Dec. 8.’ to ‘p. 100 X Taylor R. C. address 104 [pages have been added into the notebook here, evidenced by the red thread tying them in place.]
p. 102 Cast of Lepid[odendron]. obovatum with footsteps
p. 102 Teeth foss[ils]. Maryl[and]. from Conrad
p. 104 Geol[ogy] of Oregon
p. 104 X P[ennsylvania]. taxes - Tax gatherer exhorted
p. 104 X Climate changed by resolution
[p.104] Address Dr Morton
p. 104 Fossil bones & teeth of Newbern [sic New Bern, formerly called Newbern] N[orth]. C[arolina]. sent by Conrad to Owen
p. 106 X Debt Philad[delphia]. w[ould]. not be p[aid]. if war
p. 106 X - [Debt Philad[delphia].] Repudiat[ion] defended by respectables [‘109’ interlined below, at end of line?]
p. 106 Geol[ogy]. Sigillaria 70 ft. long -
p. 106 Calendar in Astron[omie] Populaire
Dec 12th.
p. 108 X War articles, France’s aid hoped for
p. 108 Snow on ground - cars.
p. 108 War - U.S. could not borrow
[p. 108] Debt - originally individ[uals]. c[ould] sue the U.S.
p. 109 X Copper smelting in U.S. Sir C. L [Lawson?].
p. 109 X Repudiation morality, P[ennsylvania]. taxes unpaid
[p. 109] X Free trade - New Eng[land]. by being ag[ainst]. it aids war - party
p. 109 Mulattoes super[ior]. to blacks in intellect - boys negro equal.
p. 110 X Repudiation – P[ennsylvania]. jealous of unfettered N.J.
[p. 110] X Geol[ogy]. red clay.
p. 110 Negros, amalgam[ation]. stand heat, Cunningham
p. 110 X Income tax inquisitional amp; evaded
[Note: The commentary for these last two items is on notebook p. 111.]
p. 111 Blanco White, increasing simplicity of churches
p. 112 War majority opp[osed] to, of best or [? even of masses] [notebook page refers to Nicholas I of Russia]
p. 112 X Income tax 16 per cent. P[ennsylvania].?
p. 112 Railway thro’ streets Baltimore
p. 112 Eocene N[ew]. Jersey Conrad
p. 112 Amalgamation.
p. 112 Geol[ogy]. White Mount[ains] dikes cut off by denud[ation]. as in Arran
p. 112 - [Geol[ogy]. R. C. Taylors model shows great denudation of Alleghan[ies].
*See notebook p. 90 – ITINERARY, December [9th to end] & January
[December 9th - New York through January 26th - New Orleans; see also p. 23 - December 8-14th+]


  • Creation: 3 December 1845 - 12 December 1845


Language of Materials



121 folios

60 Leaves

1 volume

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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