To Charles Lyell 25 March 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Lyell
I have been glad to see the enclosed correspondence & thank you for sending it & for your note.2 I presume I may quote Miss Buckley about the roosting in trees (which is only new point) as “from information received through Sir C. Lyell”. If you think I ought to name Miss. B; please tell me, otherwise I will quote as above.—3
In Upper Egypt where natives live in conical mud hovels, the pigeons regularly settle in flocks on low trees, but not on the Palms.4 The Duke making such a point on this rests on the Lamarckian belief that everything in structure & habits must change:5 I have put the case that such a change, if not selected or induced by compulsion, would be a downright difficulty on my notions.6
Here is a more curious case from compulsion the domestic pigeons settle on the Nile, & float down the stream, whilst they drink, in districts where the banks are absolutely perpendicular; so that they look like a flock of Gulls.—7
I have read most of H. Spencer’s Biology & agree with you.8 Some of his remarks are very clever & suggestive, but somehow I seldom feel any wiser after reading him, but often feel mistified. His style is detestable in my opinion; & no wonder as he dictates & never alters. Hooker agrees that his last nor is best he ever wrote.—9
I finished your Elements with uncommon interest; but have nothing to remark:10 I was, however, particularly struck by your summing up on the Laurentian stages.11
My health keeps much the same; but I have of late had fewer black days & generally do my two hours work & am making considerable progress in getting ready for press my “Domesticated animals & Cultivated Plants”12
My dear Lyell | Yours ever very sincerely | Ch. Darwin
Mentions Miss Buckley’s information on roosting in trees [see Variation 1: 181 n.].
Refers to Duke [of Argyll] and his Lamarckian view of change.
Roosting habits and behaviour of pigeons in Egypt.
Criticises Herbert Spencer’s works.
Has finished Elements; comments on Laurentian stages.
Remarks on his health
and forthcoming work [Variation].
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4794,” accessed on 8 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4794