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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   12 [February 1860]

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Lyell

I send Bronn’s letter with translation of latter half made for me by my nephew.1

I send also letters by Asa Gray & Bunbury for the chance of your liking to see them.2 I had not intended to have sent them, as it seems so boastful to send them,—not that I have a shred of modesty in me.— I have answered Bunbury that in his sense the undulatory theory of Light is very far from a vera causa.3 Bunbury’s letter seems to me uncommonly well written. There is one sentence in A. Gray’s (if you read it) which you might misunderstand; he put my name before Forbes on Glacial distribution; & I told him in answer that I had written out the notion 3 or 4 years before Forbes, but that I had no sort of claim to notice on this head, as he published first, & that in the Origin I shd. of course take no notice of this.—4

In few days I will send you 1st part of Asa Grays excellent Review5 & notice by Bronn in Jahr-buch fur Mineralogie.—6

It is good job that I have heard today that Bronn will superintend the German Translation.—7 All these letters &c may be left at Erasmus’ marked not to be forwarded, as I shall be up in fortnight.—8

I think it was a great pity that Huxley wasted so much time in Lecture on preliminary remarks:9 he hardly gave idea of my notions; but his Lecture seemed to me very fine & very bold. I have remonstrated (& he agrees) against impression that he would leave that sterility was universal & infallible criterion of species.—10

You will, I am sure, make a grand discussion on Man. I am so glad to hear that you & Lady Lyell will come here.—11 Pray fix your own time & if it does not suit us we wd. say so. We could then discuss man well

Ever yours | C. Darwin

How much I owe to you & Hooker; I do not suppose I shd. hardly ever have published, had it not been for you


The letter from Heinrich Georg Bronn has not been located, but see the letters to T. H. Huxley, 2 [February 1860], and to H. G. Bronn, 4 February [1860]. CD possibly refers to his nephew Henry Parker, who was a fellow of Oriel College, Oxford.
Letters from Asa Gray, 23 January 1860, and from C. J. F. Bunbury, 30 January 1860.
[Gray] 1860a. Gray’s review of Origin was published in the March number of the American Journal of Science and Arts. There is a copy of the review in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Bronn 1860a.
The letter has not been found, but see letter to H. G. Bronn, 14 February [1860].
Emma Darwin’s diary records that CD went to London on 27 February 1860. He stayed at the house of his brother Erasmus Alvey Darwin.
Thomas Henry Huxley delivered a Friday evening lecture at the Royal Institution on 10 February 1860, in which he addressed CD’s work on species (T. H. Huxley 1860a). CD attended the lecture (see letters to T. H. Huxley, [26 January 1860] and 2 [February 1860]).
The printed version of Huxley’s lecture contains a passage that directly relates to CD’s comment (T. H. Huxley 1860a, p. 195): Leaving open the question whether the physiological distinction just mentioned is, or is not, a universal character of species, it is indubitable that it obtains between many species, and therefore has to be accounted for by any theory of their origin.
The Lyells visited Down from 9 to 12 March 1860 (Emma Darwin’s diary).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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 letters from H. G. Bronn, Asa Gray, and C. J. F. Bunbury, concerning the Origin.

Will send review by Gray and a notice by Bronn.

Says Bronn will superintend the German translation.

Comments on lecture by Huxley [at Royal Institution, 10 Feb 1860, Not. Proc. R. Inst. G. B. 3 (1858–62): 195–200]. Has remonstrated with him for saying sterility is "a universal and infallible criterion of species".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.196)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2693,” accessed on 9 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8