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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   22 May [1860]

Down Bromley Kent

May 22d

My dear Lyell

Perhaps you wd. like see another of A. Gray’s letter received this morning. The Appletons are gentlemen, though payment not large.— The Edition was 2500 of the Origin, & I am far from surprised that sale slackens.—1

I send by this Post Isidore G. H. on Hare-rabbit p. 222:2 you can send it afterwards to my Brothers. I have not yet seen N. British; though I have copy at my Brothers, & am very glad to know who is Author.—3 I hear that it is very savage.—

The Medical Review referred to by Asa Gray is only that (I now find from Williams & Norgate) which Carpenter wrote in Medical & Chirurg. Review;4 it is at my Brothers & you can take it, if you have not already seen it.—

I am sorry that I troubled you with Sedgwick in Cambridge paper.—5

Hooker has sent me letter of Thwaites of Ceylon, who makes exactly same objection which you did at first about the necessity of all forms advancing & therefore the difficulty of simple forms still existing.6 There was no worse omission than this in my Book & I had discussion all ready. I am extremely glad to hear that you intend adding new argument about imperfection of Geological Record:7 I always feel this acutely & am surprised that such men as Ramsay & Jukes do not feel it more.—8 I quite agree no sufficient evidence about Mummy wheat.9

When you can spare it, I shd. like (but out of mere curiosity) to see Binney on coal-marine marshes:10 I once made Hooker very savage by saying that I believed Coal-plants grew in sea like mangroves.—11

Etty keeps nearly the same, but rather improves: it is now more than 3 weeks.— We have just moved her to fresh room for change.—

I have much to write, so goodBye | Yours affect. | C. Darwin

What a fact about the Coal Land Shells!!!12


Asa Gray’s letter has not been found, but see letter to Asa Gray, 22 May [1860]. CD recorded the American sales of Origin in a journal entry dated 22 May 1860 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire 1854–62, 3: 222. CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL. See letter to Charles Lyell, 18 May [1860].
[Duns] 1860. There is a copy of the review in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
[Carpenter] 1860b was published in the British and Foreign Medical-Chirurgical Review.
See preceding letter and letter to Asa Gray, 22 May [1860]. Lyell had raised this point in October 1859. See Correspondence vol. 7, letter to Charles Lyell, 11 October [1859].
Lyell was intending to publish an extensively revised edition of his Elements of geology. Instead, he included this material in his book on the antiquity of man (C. Lyell 1863, pp. 448–50).
CD refers to widespread accounts that wheat grains found in Egyptian tombs had germinated when sown.
Binney 1847. Lyell had recently read the volume of the Memoirs of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester that included both this paper and Binney 1848 (see Wilson ed. 1970, p. 404). CD evidently thought that Lyell was referring to a more recent paper: he was already familiar with Binney 1847 (see Correspondence vol. 4, letter to J. D. Hooker, [1 May 1847]). See also preceding letter.
See preceding letter.
In a paper read at a meeting of the Geological Society on 14 December 1859, the Canadian geologist John William Dawson described the discovery of a fossilised terrestrial mollusc found in the coal formations of Nova Scotia (Dawson 1859). Lyell had formerly visited this site with Dawson and described fossils found there (Lyell and Dawson 1853 and Dawson 1859, pp. 268–9). The occurrence of fossilised land shells in coal was of particular interest in connection with the question of the origin of coal. See Correspondence vol. 4, letter to J. D. Hooker, [1 May 1847].


Binney, Edward William. 1848. Sketch of the Drift deposits of Manchester and its neighbourhood. Memoirs of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester 2d ser. 8: 195–234.

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

Dawson, John William. 1859. On a terrestrial mollusk, a Chilognathous myriapod, and some new species of reptiles, from the Coal-formation of Nova Scotia. [Read 14 December 1859.] Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 16 (1860): 268–77.

[Duns, John.] 1860. On the Origin of species. North British Review 32: 455–86.

Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Isidore. 1854–62. Histoire naturelle générale des règnes organiques, principalement étudiée chez l’homme et les animaux. 3 vols. Paris: Victor Masson.

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.


Mentions American edition of Origin.

A "savage" review [by John Duns] in North British Review [32 (1860): 455–68].

Comments on views of G. H. K. Thwaites on the survival of simple forms as a problem in his theory.

Mentions imperfection of geological record.

Marine origin of coal.

Illness of Etty.

Encloses article by Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire on hare–rabbit crosses [Histoire naturelle générale (1854–62) 3: 222].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.213)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2812,” accessed on 13 September 2023,

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