RECORD: Darwin, C. R. A river is a string of water - some parts thick & moving slow - others. (12.1838) CUL-DAR42.194 Transcribed by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by John van Wyhe, corrections by Kees Rookmaaker 5.2011. RN1

NOTE: Reproduced with the permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.


December 25th 1838

A river is a string of water, — some parts thick & moving slow, — others thin & moving quick. — its rapidity depends on bulk & inclination — A continental elevation will affect every river to its source — supposing each part of stream to be in equilibrium with the solid substance forming its bottom, for the part immediately joining the sea, will become more rapid, & so will deepen its channel, & this deepening will be carried to its spring, (as soon as the barrier of every lake is breached & smoothed). Although bottom of river is not really hard, the currents arrange the order of substances at its bottom according to this law. —

Such effecs, (independently of lakes) would never really travel up, for some side torrent in some part of course would probably deliver matter quicker than it could be transported with by the force of the previously existing streams.

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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 2 July, 2012