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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   29 [December 1859]



My dear L.

You are the man to do work. I am not at all sure what sort of note you required about Blyth, but I enclose one which you could forward.—1 I have written it splendidly well! If you wish a more formal one I would write it, but then you must tell me how to address it; but I think a note from you with this enclosure would be more effective. It is very good of you to take so much trouble.— I wrote also to Col. Sykes.—2

I suspect article in Times must be Huxley’s.3 I have not had time to read that in Daily news,4 which some one (perhaps you) has sent me.

I had a civil note from Chambers himself, saying that he has given brief abstract in his Journal.5

I was much surprised (& said so to Owen) at finding the passage in your Book6

I have not alluded to supposed British Trias Mammal.7

Of course I by no means believe that the mundane Glacial period destroyed all Tropical production, though probably it destroyed many.— I believe the vegetation on the plains was at that period like (as I just allude to but as usual far too briefly) that described by Hooker at foot of Himalaya, in which truly Tropical & Temperate forms now live mingled together. This shows at least possibility of so unexpected a mixture.—8 I could have added another instance from part of Mexico.—9

Anything on earth that I can do in giving references &c &c will be a real pleasure & duty.

Yours affecty | C. D.

Had letter this morning from poor Dana at Florence, telling me that my caution to him not to work too hard has proved true—is quite disabled in his head.10 Hopes to come to England.


CD may have been asked to write a testimonial for Edward Blyth, who was seeking appointment as naturalist to an expedition to China (see letter to W. H. Sykes, 20 December [1859]). CD’s enclosure has not been found.
An anonymous review of Origin appeared in The Times, 26 December 1859, p. 8. Thomas Henry Huxley was the author (see letters to J. D. Hooker, 28 [December 1859], and to T. H. Huxley,28 December [1859]).
Daily News, 26 December 1859, p. 2.
Robert Chambers, with his brother William Chambers, was the proprietor and editor of Chambers’s Journal. The review appeared in Chambers’s Journal 2 (1859): 388. There is a copy in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Chambers’s note has not been found.
See letters to Richard Owen, 13 December [1859], and to Charles Lyell, 27 [December 1859].
C. Moore 1858 and 1860.
Origin, p. 378.
Natural selection, p. 550 n. 1.
In 1859, James Dwight Dana suffered a nervous breakdown, from which he never completely recovered (DAB). In convalescence, he made a trip to Europe (Gilman 1899, p. 177). See also letter to J. D. Dana, 30 December [1859].


DAB: Dictionary of American biography. Under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies. 20 vols., index, and 10 supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons; Simon & Schuster Macmillan. London: Oxford University Press; Humphrey Milford. 1928–95.

Gilman, Daniel C. 1899. The life of James Dwight Dana. New York and London: Harper and Brothers.

Moore, Charles. 1858. On Triassic beds near Frome, and their organic remains. Report of the 28th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Leeds, Transactions of the sections, pp. 93–4. [Vols. 7,8]

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

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.


Encloses letter concerning Edward Blyth’s application for a position with the China expedition.

Mentions reviews of the Origin. Guesses that Huxley wrote the Times review.

Alludes to discussion of relations between fossil and modern types [in Principles of geology 3: 144].

Discusses destruction of tropical forms in the glacial period.

Mentions letter from Dana concerning Dana’s illness.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.188)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2612,” accessed on 13 July 2024,

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