To Charles Lyell 3 October 
15 Marine Parade | Eastbourne
My dear Lyell
Your last letter has interested me much in many ways.—
The Dog M.S is safe at Down.—
I enclose letter of Wyman, which touches on Brain—1 Wyman is mistaken in supposing that I did not know Cave Rat was an American form: I made special enquiries.2 He does not know that eye of Tucutucu was carefully dissected.—
With respect to Reviews by A. Gray: I thought of sending the Dialogue to Saturday Review in a week’s time or so, as they have lately discussed design.—3 I have sent the 2d or August Atlantic article to Annals & Mag. of N. History.4 The copy which you have I want to send to Pictet, as I told A. Gray I would, thinking from what he said he would like this to be done.—5 I doubt whether it will be possible to get October number reprinted in this country; so that I am in no hurry at all for this.—6
I had a letter a few weeks ago from Symonds on imperfection of G. Record, less clear & forcible than I expected. I answered him at length & very civilly, though I could hardly make out what he was driving at.7 He spoke about you in a way which it did me good to read.—
I am extremely glad that you like A. Gray’s Reviews. How generous & unselfish he had been in all his labours. Are you not struck by his metaphors & similes?— I have told him he is a poet & not a lawyer.—
I should altogether doubt on turtles being converted into land tortoises on any one island:8 remember how closely similar tortoises are on all continents, as well as islands; they must have all descended from one ancient progenitor; including the gigantic tortoise of Himalaya.—
I think you must be cautious in not running to convenient doctrine that only one species out of very many ever varies.— Reflect on such cases as the fauna & Flora of Europe. N. America & Japan, which are so similar & yet which have a great majority of their species, either specifically distinct or forming well marked races. We must in such cases incline to belief that a multitude of species were once identically the same in all 3 countries when under warmer climate more in connection; & have varied in all three countries. I am inclined to believe that almost every species (as we see with nearly all our domestic productions) varies sufficiently for natural selection to pick out & accumulate new specific differences, under new organic & inorganic conditions of life; whenever a place is open in the polity of nature. But that looking to a long lapse of time & to the whole world or to large parts of the world, I believe only one or a few species of each large genus ultimately becomes victorious & leaves modified descendants. To give imaginary instance, the Jay has become modified in the 3 countries into (I believe) 3 or 4 species; but the Jay genus is not, apparently, so dominant a group as the crows, & in the long run probably all the Jays will be exterminated & be replaced perhaps by some modified crows.—
I merely give this illustration to show what seems to me probable. But oh what work there is before we shall understand the genealogy of organic beings.—
With respect to Apteryx: I know not enough of anatomy, but ask Dr. F.9 whether clavicle &c do not give attachment to some of muscles of respiration. If my views are at all correct; wing of Apteryx cannot be (p. 452 of Origin) a nascent organ, as these wings are useless. I dare not trust to memory, but I know I found whole sternum always reduced in size in all the fancy & confined pigeons, relatively to the same bones in the wild rock-pigeon: the keel was generally still further reduced relatively to the reduced length of sternum; but in some breeds it was in a most anomalous manner more prominent.— I have got a lot of facts on reduction of organs of flight in pigeons, which took me weeks to work out, & which Huxley thought curious.—10
Yours are interesting remarks on Ammonites—Cuttle-fish & Hippurites.
I can hardly make up my mind to keep the Rabbits; but I will think about it.11 Isidore G. St. Hilaire evidently knows the case only second-hand.—12 Do not trust Sclangenweit (the Indian Brothers or some such name) about Yaks, if you come across their statement.13 Isidore, I have a very good opinion of.— Owen rather sneers at him; & I daresay he is not be trusted on Homologies.—14
I have no doubt there are many reputed species (laying on one side question of fertility) not so distinct as Negro & white man.— Ass & Pony? many foxes. &c.—
I am utterly ashamed & groan over my hand-writing. It was “Natural Preservation”.15 Natural persecution is what the author ought to suffer. It rejoices me that you do not object to the term. Hooker made same remark that it ought to have been “Variation & nat. selection”. Yet with domestic productions, when Selection is spoken of, variation is always implied.— But I entirely agree with your & Hooker’s remark.—
Ever yours affect | C. Darwin
Have you begun regularly to write your Book on Antiquity of Man?—
I do not agree with your remark that I make N. Selection do too much work.— You will perhaps reply, that every man rides his Hobby-horse to death; & that I am in this galloping state.
Comments on letter from Jeffries Wyman.
Discusses reprinting reviews by Asa Gray.
Mentions views of W. S. Symonds on the geological record.
Discusses descent of turtles and tortoises.
The universality of variation.
Notes only a few species leave modified descendants.
Variation among pigeons.
Comments on fertility among hybrids.
Does not agree that he makes natural selection do too much work.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2935,” accessed on 20 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2935