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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francois Jules Pictet de la Rive1   19 February 1860


19. Feby. 1860

Your book makes science young clear, elevated, but no facts

to prove that principle that slight modification multiplied by any factor of time no matter how long could reach the character of families &c or cd. produce profound modifics. in organization.—2


Pictet de la Rive’s letter has not been found. The text has been transcribed from Charles Lyell’s scientific journal. It is also printed in Wilson ed. 1970, p. 354. The entry in Lyell’s journal is headed: ‘Pictet to C. Darwin, Geneva 19 Feby.1860’.
CD sent Pictet de la Rive a presentation copy of Origin (see Correspondence vol.8, Appendix III). CD had been impressed by the discussion of the species question in Pictet de la Rive 1853–7 and thought that Pictet might be swayed by his theory. See Correspondence vol. 7, letters to F. J. Pictet de la Rive, 11 November [1859], and 24 December [1859].


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.

Pictet de la Rive, François Jules. 1853–7. Traité de paléontologie, ou histoire naturelle des animaux fossiles considérés dans leurs rapports zoologiques et géologiques. 2d edition. 4 vols. Paris: J.-B. Baillière.


Believes Origin makes science "young, clear, elevated" but does not have the facts to prove that cumulated slight modifications could ever produce different families from common ancestors. [See 2709.]

Letter details

Letter no.
François Jules Pictet de la Rive
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
The University of Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections (Lyell collection Coll-203/A3/5: 110–11)
Physical description
CC 1p inc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2704A,” accessed on 4 October 2023,

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