To Charles Lyell 10 November 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Lyell
I am writing to you in order to answer Lady Lyells note to Emma,—as she find writing or indeed doing anything whatever a considerable exertion.
We have been most sincerely grieved to hear such very indifferent accounts of Mrs Horner:2 paradoxical as it may appear, I think, illness after so many years of good health, seems all the more to be deplored.— I had hoped to have come to London this week, & I had calculated on the very great pleasure of seeing you & Lady Lyell; but several combined circumstances will stop me; & chiefly Emma’s state. I do not suppose I shall see you till January.—
Last week my Aunt, Mrs Wedgwood, expired here quite suddenly & easily.;—a great relief to her, as her life had become a heavy burthen to her.—3
I wish I could see you sooner than I shall, for I shd like to hear what you have been about.— I suppose the Madeira paper will soon be sent in.—4
I am working very steadily at my big Book;—I have found it quite impossible to publish any preliminary essay or sketch; but am doing my work as complete as my present materials allow, without waiting to perfect them. And this much acceleration I owe to you.5
I know you like all cases of negative geological evidence being upset. I fancied that I was a most unwilling believer in negative evidence; but yet such negative evidence did seem to me so strong that in my Fossil Lepadidæ I have stated, giving reasons, that I did not believe there could have existed any Sessile Cirripedes during the Secondary ages. Now the other day Bosquet of Maestricht sends me a perfect drawing of a perfect Chthamalus, (a recent genus) from the Chalk! Indeed it is stretching a point to make it specifically distinct from our living British Species.— It is a genus not hitherto found in any Tertiary bed.6
Farewell | Yours most truly | C. Darwin
Illnesses of Mrs Horner and Emma Darwin.
Death of Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood.
Mentions work on his "Big Book" [Natural selection].
Remarks on J. A. H. de Bosquet’s discovery of a Chthamalus in the Chalk.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1984,” accessed on 24 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1984