skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To François Jules Pictet de la Rive 11 November [1859]

Down Bromley, Kent [Ilkley]

Nov. 11th


I have taken the liberty to send you, as a mark of my respect, a copy of my work (as yet only an abstract) on the Origin of Species.— As it is evident from your great work on Palæontology1 that you have profoundly reflected on this subject,2 I have thought that you might perhaps like to read my book, which I venture to assure you is the result of long-continued & conscientious labour.— I beg you not to think me so presumptuous as to suppose that my work will alter your general conclusions; but it may possibly lead you to reflect further on the side opposed to your view. If you should be induced to read my volume, I venture to state, that it is so much condensed, that it will not be intelligible, unless it be read straight through.—

With much respect & with apologies for troubling you with this note, which does not require any answer, I have the honour to remain | Sir | Your faithful servant | Charles Darwin


CD possessed copies of Pictet de la Rive 1844--6 (vols. 1 and 3 only) and the second edition, Pictet de la Rive 1853--7. His annotated copies of these volumes are in the Darwin Library--CUL. Pictet de la Rive is cited by CD in Origin, p. 305, and, on different points, in his species book (Natural selection, pp. 370, 514).
CD was obviously struck by Pictet de la Rive’s discussion of the species question, and he wrote in his copy (Pictet de la Rive 1853--7, 1: 77): ‘It is not surprising that Geologist shd talk so, but it is astonishing that Naturalist shd. do so.—’ CD also scored Pictet de la Rive’s comments on successive creation and wrote: ‘like Vestiges’ (ibid., 1: 87).


Sending copy of Origin; "it may possibly lead you to reflect further on the side opposed to your view".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
François Jules Pictet de la Rive
Sent from
Ilkley Down letterhead
Source of text
Bibliothèque Publique et Universitaire de Genève
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2518,” accessed on 18 June 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7