To Charles Lyell 12–13 March 
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Lyell
I thank you for your very interesting & kind, I may say charming letter.1 I feared you might be huffed for a little time with me; I know some men would have been so.2 I have hardly any more criticisms, anyhow worth writing. But I may mention that I felt a little surprise that old B. de Perthes was not rather more honourably mentioned.—3 I would suggest whether you could not leave out some references to the “Principles”;4 one for the real Student is as good as a hundred; & it is rather irritating & gives feeling of incompleteness to general reader to be often referred to other book.— As you say that you have gone as far as you believe on species-question,5 I have not a word to say; but I must feel convinced that at times, judging from conversation, expression, letters &c, you have as completely given up belief in immutability of specific forms, as I have done.— I must still think a clear expression from you, if you could have given it, would have been potent with the public, & all the more so, as you formerly held opposite opinion.—
The more I work the more satisfied I become with variation & n. selection; but that part of the case I look at as less important, though more interesting to me personally. As you ask for criticisms on this head (& believe me, I shd. not have made them unasked) I may specify (p. 412, 413) that such words as Mr D “labours to show”—“is believed by the author to throw light”, would lead a common reader to think that you yourself do not at all agree, but merely think it fair to give my opinion.—6
Lastly, you refer repeatedly to my view as a modification of Lamarcks doctrine of development & progression;7 if this is your deliberate opinion there is nothing to be said—; but it does not seem so to me; Plato, Buffon, my grandfather before Lamarck & others propounded the obvious view that if species were not created separately, they must have descended from other species:8 & I can see nothing else in common between the Origin & Lamarck. I believe this way of putting the case is very injurious to its acceptance; as it implies necessary progression & closely connects Wallace’s & my views with what I consider, after two deliberate readings, as a wretched book; & one from which (I well remember my surprise) I gained nothing.9 But I know you rank it higher, which is curious, as it did not in the least shake your belief.— But enough & more than enough. Please remember you have brought it all down on yourself!!—
March 13th— I must add that Henrietta,10 who is a first rate critic & to whom I had not said a word about Lamarck, last night said, “Is it fair that Sir C. Lyell always calls your theory a modification of Lamarcks? Why is it more a modification of his, than of any one’s else?” Do not allude to this, for I do not suppose she would at all approve of my quoting her appropriate (in my opinion) criticism.— I have more trust in your judgment than in my own, so I hope you may be right, as far as mere policy is concerned, in your very gentle statement of your belief.—
Many thanks about Aye-Aye paper; I have written to Sir Henry.—11
I am very sorry to hear about Falconer’s “reclamation”;12 I hate the very word, & have a sincere affection for him.— I have been much interested in Athenæum controversy:13 how well Mr Flower puts in the way in which Owen has falsely dragged in size of brain.—14 Your answer seemed to me very good; except I regretted your too great civility in saying that Owen must have forgotten what he said in Annals; it was a brazen lie, & ought not, I think, to have been treated so delicately.—15
Did you ever read anything so wretched as the Athenæum Reviews of you, & of Huxley especially Your object to make man old, & Huxley’s object to degrade him. The wretched writer has not a glimpse what the discovery of scientific truth means.—16 How splendid some pages are in Huxley; but I fear the book will not be popular.
I have just reread your letter; it seems that I mentioned the sentence “Should it ever become highly probable”: I remember determining not to mention it; but it seems that I was overtaken.17
Ever my dear Lyell | Yours most truly | C. Darwin
I keep very queer in health, & we have resolved, eheu eheu, to start for Malvern after Easter holidays.—18
[On Antiquity of man] CD is "convinced that at times … you have … given up immutability". "A clear expression from you, if you could have given it, would have been potent with the public."
Objects to CL’s description of CD’s view "as a modification of Lamarck’s doctrine". Quotes Henrietta [Darwin]’s observations on this description.
Comments on CL’s controversy with Owen concerning the human brain.
The controversy between Falconer and CL.
The "wretched" review of CL [Antiquity of man, Athenæum 14 Feb 1863, pp. 219–21] and Huxley [Man’s place in nature].
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4038,” accessed on 24 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4038