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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   5 [July 1860]

Sudbrook Park | Richmond

Thursday 5th.

My dear Lyell

I thank you for your farewell note,—the last, for the present, of the very many most interesting letters, which you have so kindly written to me.—   I had no idea that you were going for so long;1 I am glad to hear that you are going to Amiens: do for goodness sake invent some theory to explain how the flint gravel was spread out high & low. I am, also, glad to hear that you are going to investigate post-glacial period—   it is a most interesting question with respect to distribution & many other things.2

I was rejoiced to hear yesterday that Etty was safely moved to Hartfield on Tuesday,—of course much exhausted. I leave this place on Saturday; somewhat improved in stomach for I was very bad, & am rejoiced that I did not attempt Oxford. Huxley, Hooker & J. Lubbock (as I am pleased to hear) seem to have stuck up for modification of Species like Trojans.3 Asa Gray, as I hear to day, also goes on fighting well.—   I am in good heart on the question & think we shall in long run conquer.—

Have you seen Hopkins in last Fraser?4 it is very well done & in good spirit; but I regret the soul-discussion, as I have told him. He very coolly puts it as if I had based my belief on what I rank as greatest difficulties. Anyone who will put forward the difficulties alone may make a very damaging review.—

I am particularly glad to hear about the Hare-rabbits:5 your facts have convinced me that they are hybrids, & I never was before quite convinced.—   I forget whether it is stated that the half & half breed inter se.—   The case is the more odd as I have at least two authorities who tried with perseverence & could never get the Hare & Rabbit to breed.

Ever my dear Lyell | Yours gratefully & affectionately | C. Darwin


Lyell’s European tour lasted from 6 July until 23 September 1860 (Wilson ed. 1970, p. 490 n. 88).
Lyell’s letter has not been found. For a discussion of some of its contents, see the letter to Asa Gray, 3 July [1860].
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 2 July 1860, and letters to J. D. Hooker, [2 July 1860], to T. H. Huxley, 3 July [1860], and to John Lubbock, [4 July 1860].
The second part of Hopkins 1860 appeared in the July issue of Fraser’s Magazine.
In his scientific journal (Wilson ed. 1970, p. 465), Lyell recorded that he had seen the so-called ‘leporines’ during a visit to the zoological gardens in London on 1 July 1860. He further noted that the gestation periods of the two parent species differed, a point that related to the question of the fertility of hybrids.


Hopkins, William. 1860. Physical theories of the phenomena of life. Fraser’s Magazine 61: 739–52; 62: 74–90.


Glad CL plans trip to Amiens to investigate flints and post-glacial period.

Mentions support by Huxley, Hooker, and Lubbock at Oxford BAAS meeting. Asa Gray also goes on fighting.

Likes article by William Hopkins ["Physical theories and the phenomena of life", Fraser’s Mag. 61 (1860): 739–52; 62 (1860): 74–90].

Comments on hybrids of hare and rabbit.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Sudbrook Park
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.221)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2860,” accessed on 30 September 2022,

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