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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   30 March [1859]

Down Bromley Kent

March 30th

My dear Lyell

You have been uncommonly kind in all you have done.— You not only have saved me much trouble & some anxiety, but have done all, incomparably better than I could have done it— I am much pleased at all you say about Murray.—1 I will write either today or tomorrow to him & will send shortly a large bundle of M.S. but unfortunately I cannot for a week, as the three first chapters are in three copyists’ hands—2

I am sorry about Murray objecting to term abstract as I look at it as only possible apology for not giving References & facts in full.—but I will defer to him & you.—

I am, also, sorry about term “Natural Selection”, but I hope to retain it with Explanation, somewhat as thus,— “Through Natural Selection or the preserv-ation of favoured races”3

Why I like term is that it is constantly used in all works on Breeding, & I am surprised that it is not familiar to Murray; but I have so long studied such works, that I have ceased to be a competent judge.4

I again most truly & cordially thank you for your really valuable assistance.—

Yours most truly | C. Darwin

Emma comes up to London for 2 or 3 days on Friday & she proposes to come & breakfast with Lady Lyell & you on Saturday morning: I have told her 912 is your hour, so you need not write—5


Entries in CD’s Account book (Down House MS) for 6 and 9 April 1859 indicate that CD paid Mr Fletcher and John Mumford for copying. The third copyist was presumably Ebenezer Norman.
The full title of the first edition of Origin reads: ‘On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life’.
See Young 1985 and Secord 1985.
Emma Darwin recorded in her diary that she went to London with Henrietta Emma Darwin on1 April 1859 and returned to Down on 4 April. On 3 April she ‘lunched with Lyells’.


Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Young, Robert M. 1985. Darwin’s metaphor: nature’s place in Victorian culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


CD is grateful to CL for his help in arranging with Murray for publication [of Origin]. Sorry Murray objects to term "abstract" in title, but will defer to him and CL.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.164)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2439,” accessed on 28 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7