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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   6 November 1881

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | (Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.)

Novr. 6th 1881

My dear Lubbock

If I had written your address (but this requires a fearful stretch of imagination on my part), I shd. not alter what I had said about Hicks.1 You have the support of the Pres. Geolog. Soc,2 & I think that Hicks is more likely to be right than Bonney.3 The latter seems to me to belong to the class of objectors general. If Hicks shd. be hereafter proved to be wrong about his third formation, it would signify very little to you.—

I forget whether you go as far as to support Ramsay about lakes as large as the Italian ones; if so, I would myself modify the passage a little, for these great lakes have always made me tremble for Ramsay, yet some of the American geologists support him about the still larger N. American Lakes.4 I have always believed in the main in Ramsay’s views from the date of publication, & argued the point with Lyell.5 I am convinced that it is a very interesting step in geology, & that you were quite right to allude to it.—

Ever yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


In comments on a draft of Lubbock’s presidential address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, CD had alluded to the recent division of pre-Cambrian strata by Henry Hicks (see letter to John Lubbock, [18 September 1881] and n. 3).
Hicks’s new classification scheme had been mentioned in Robert Etheridge’s presidential address to the Geological Society of London in April 1881 (Etheridge 1881, pp. 67–8). Lubbock referred to Hicks’s work and to Etheridge’s summary in the final version of his address (see Lubbock 1881a, p. 17).
Andrew Crombie Ramsay had argued that many of the European and American lake-basins were originally formed by glacial excavation (see Ramsay 1862). Lubbock was largely supportive of Ramsay’s theory (see Lubbock 1881a, p. 22).
CD was an early supporter of Ramsay’s theory (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Charles Lyell, 14 October [1862]), but had remained open to other explanations. Charles Lyell had argued that lake-basins were formed by gradual upheaval and subsidence, in combination with fluvial erosion (see C. Lyell 1865, pp. 168–74).


Etheridge, Robert. 1881. Anniversary address. Proceedings of Geological Society of London 37: 37–235.

Lubbock, John. 1881a. President’s address. Report of the 51st Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at York (1881): 1–51.

Lyell, Charles. 1865. Elements of geology, or the ancient changes of the earth and its inhabitants as illustrated by geological monuments. 6th edition, revised. London: John Murray.

Ramsay, Andrew Crombie. 1862. On the glacial origin of certain lakes in Switzerland, the Black Forest, Great Britain, Sweden, North America, and elsewhere. [Read 5 March 1862.] Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 18: 185–204.


Supports the statements on Henry Hicks in JL’s address.

Bonney is an "objector general".

CD has always supported A. C. Ramsay.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Add MS 49645: 104–5)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13463,” accessed on 14 July 2024,