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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   4 November [1855]

Down Bromley Kent

Nov 4th

My dear Lyell

I return by this Post the two pamphlets of Bachman for which I am very much obliged.1 It is most useful to see what is said on all sides: though I am surprised, from what I remember of Bachman, that he did not do the thing better, & that he deals in assertions, which I do not believe he can substantiate by a single fact.— But as Fitton2 once said of Whewell3 “one must make much allowance for him having sworn to what he believes in”.—

I hope you will be so kind as to remember how useful it is to me to see or hear of out-of-the way pamphlets of this nature.

I am deeply immersed on the subject of Pigeons, & have pairs of seven or eight kinds alive & am watching them outside & then shall skeletonise them & watch their insides. I have begun also to cultivate varieties of plants & make hybrids, so that I have entered on my subject in earnest.—

I hope Lady Lyell & yourself will remember whenever you want a little rest & have time how very glad we shd. be to see you here, & I will show you my pigeons! which is the greatest treat, in my opinion, which can be offered to human being.

Most truly your’s | C. Darwin

P.S. I have just seen J. Lubbock & I find that he sent Hooker’s New Zealand Flora with Wollaston.4 Will you be so kind as to take care of it, & let it be returned whenever Wollaston is done with, for which I am in no hurry.—


John Bachman published several articles in the Charleston Medical Journal and Review in 1855 on the question of genera and species and on the subject of the races of mankind. One article was a review of Nott and Gliddon 1854, a work CD recorded having read in December 1855 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 13, 14). CD’s copy of Nott and Gliddon 1854 is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
William Henry Fitton.
William Whewell.
J. D. Hooker 1853–5 and Wollaston 1854. CD evidently lent his copies of these works to Lyell in order that Lyell could study the evidence and comments offered on the theory of land-bridges and continental extensions as they related to geographical distribution. This was one of the first issues he pondered in his ‘Scientific journal’, opened on 28 November 1855 (see Wilson ed. 1970, pp. 8–15).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1853–5. Flora Novæ-Zelandiæ. 2 vols. Pt 2 of The botany of the Antarctic voyage of HM discovery ships Erebus and Terror, in the years 1839–1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross. London: Lovell Reeve.

Wollaston, Thomas Vernon. 1854. Insecta Maderensia; being an account of the insects of the islands of the Madeiran group. London: John van Voorst.


Comments on two pamphlets by John Bachman [probably Continuation of the review of "Nott and Gliddon’s types of mankind" (1855) and An examination of the characteristics of genera and species as applicable to the doctrine of the unity of the human race (1855)].

CD’s pigeon breeding and plant hybridization experiments.

Invites CL to visit.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.115)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1772,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5