To Charles Lyell 4 May 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Lyell
I have had promised me an arrowhead found by Col. Erskine on his property in peat in Aberdeenshire;2 which I will send you; but the only point of interest about the case, is that vast numbers were found at one place where there were stones fitted for the manufacture.— I daresay you know about it, but I may mention that John Lubbock tells me that the flint tools in France are found in such vast numbers, in Peat that M. Boucher de Perthes told him that he might take as many as he liked.—3
These facts, to my mind, remove one of the greatest difficulties of the case of the gravel-beds—celts,—namely their surprising numbers.— I do hope that you will go to France again, & give us lots of Sections.—4 I found that until J. Lubbock drew me a rough section I did not in the least understand their position; & hardly anything seems known about the extension of the beds of gravel, clay &c or their manner of formation. The case seems to me to deserve not day’s but month’s of work—
I will keep Newberry’s paper, as it is very interesting:5 By the way I was much pleased to see how strongly he put the supposed fact that the continent of America has stood there since Palæozoic times.— I suspect my crude notion of the cause of deposits anterior to the Palæozoic times not being known, will hereafter be found to have truth in it—
I have had brief note from Keyserling,6 but not worth sending you: he believes in change of species,—grants that natural selection explains well adaptation of forms, but thinks species change too regularly, as if by some chemical law, for natural selection to be sole cause of change.— I can hardly understand his brief note, but this is, I think, the upshot.—
Pray do not forget to look at the Spirifers arranged by Salter.—7
I will send A. Murray’s paper whenever published: it includes speculations (which perhaps he will modify) so rash & without a single fact in support, that had I advanced them, he or other Reviewers would have hit me very hard.—8
I am sorry to say that I have no “consolotory view” on the dignity of man; I am content that man will probably advance & care not much whether we are looked at as mere savages in a remotely distant future.— Many thanks for your last note—9
Yours affectly | C. Darwin
I have received in a Manchester Newspaper a rather a good squib, showing that I have proved “might is right”, & therefore that Napoleon is right & every cheating Tradesman is also right—10
Is sending CL an arrow-head. Says John Lubbock tells of vast numbers of flint tools in peat in France. Urges CL to conduct further research on the subject.
Comments on paper by J. S. Newberry concerning palaeozoic deposits in America [Am. J. Sci. 2d ser. 29 (1860): 208–18]
and on A. von Keyserling’s view of species change.
Mentions J. W. Salter’s chart arranging Spirifer.
Comments on Andrew Murray’s paper on the Origin ["On Mr Darwin’s theory of the origin of species", Proc. R. Soc. Edinburgh 4 (1860): 274–91].
A Manchester newspaper article says CD has proved "might is right".
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2782,” accessed on 28 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2782