Sunday, November 6, 2016

William Barton Rogers to Henry Darwin Rogers, October 30, 1860

Boston, October 30, 1860.

I have already seen your article in “Blackwood.”  . . . It strikes me, however, as an entirely fair and rational view of the question, as presented by you. The fact of the present association of human relics with the fossils in a bed of gravel is no proof of synchronous deposit. Nor have we a right, even granting the synchronism, to exclude positively the very great geological antiquity of man, since we have no certain knowledge of the time of extinction of these accompanying fossil forms.

It will be important to weigh the evidence, such as this is, gathered from neighbouring and remote regions, on the question of the degree of antiquity to be assigned to these extinct fossils, wholly independent of any association with traces of man. Next, it will be necessary to accumulate all the facts bearing on the question of the physical relations and those under which the two have been brought together, whether by a tranquil process or by turbulent intermingling of different sediments. This, it seems to me, would demand an examination of the whole region, topographically, connected with the Somme valley. As our knowledge in all these particulars now stands, I think a suspension of judgment is the truly philosophical course. You have shown this, I think, most clearly and impressively, and I am sure that all the readers of the article will be struck with its cogency and ability.

I send you in a box some copies of my Report on an Institute of Technology, which you may distribute as you think best. I am, however, mailing a copy to you by to-morrow's steamer. The pamphlet will not be distributed for some time. After the elections are over, and the public ready for other thoughts, we shall try to interest parties here and in the other larger towns, so as to effect a preliminary organization. Then this Institute will join the Natural History Society, Horticultural Society, etc., in a renewed application to the Legislature for a grant of land on the Back Bay. I think you will find the plan of the Institute to include all the features which we used to talk of, and to be at least broad enough for any practical result.

. . . We have no doubt of the election of Lincoln and Hamlin. But there will, of course, be a Democratic Senate, and a very large opposition in the House. The threats of disunion are already less loud. Robert is well, and about to make an analysis of the water-gas, as it is called, which is now used in lighting the new hotel at the corner of Ninth and Chestnut streets. He likes Dr. Pepper, the successor of Wood, very much, and writes in good spirits.

SOURCE: Emma Savage Rogers & William T. Sedgwick, Life and Letters of William Barton Rogers, Volume 2, p. 43-5

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