skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   30 July [1860]


July 30th

My dear Lyell

We have been here for 3 weeks on Etty’s account, but return home in a few days.—   We had Sir H. Holland here a few days ago, as we got much alarmed about poor dear Etty. He gives us hope for future, but says the fever has left mischief in internal organs, & that her recovery will be excessively slow. We have had an unhappy time of it. All this trouble has prevented my writing, which I shd. have done sooner, though I have nothing to say, as I have seen no one (except indeed Hooker for an hour or two at Kew) for an age. I had lots of pleasant letters about Brit. Assoc. & our side seems to have got on very well. There has been as much discussion on other side of Atlantic as on this. No one I think understands whole case better than Asa Gray, & he has been fighting nobly. He is capital reasoner; I have sent one of his printed discussions to our Athenæum, & Editor says he will print it.1 The Quarterly has been out sometime; it contains no malice, which is wonderful considering Owen’s aid (by the way it seems generally admitted that Huxley smashed Owen at Oxford); it quizzes me really in capital style; it makes me say many things which I do not say.—   At the end it quotes all your conclusions against Lamarck & makes solemn appeal to you to keep firm in the true faith.—2 I fancy it will make you quake a little. Owen has ingeniously primed the Bishop with Murchison against you as head of uniformitarians.3 Owen is really wonderfully clever in his malevolence.—

The only other review worth mentioning, which I can think of is in 3d Nor of “London Review”; by some geologist & favourable for a wonder; it is very ably done, & I shd. like much to know who is author.—4 I shall be very curious to hear on your return, whether Bronns German Translation of the Origin has drawn any attention to subject.—5 Huxley is eager about a Natural History Review, which he & others are going to Edit, & he has got so many first-rate assistants, that I really believe he will make it a first-rate production.—6 I have been doing nothing, except a little Botanical work as amusement.—   I shall hereafter be very curious to hear how your tour has answered.— I expect your Book on Geological History of man will with a vengeance be a bomb-shell:7 I hope it will not be very long delayed.

Our kindest remembrances to Lady Lyell.—8 This is not worth sending, but I have nothing better to say. Yours affectionately | C. Darwin


See letters to Asa Gray, 22 July [1860], and to J. D. Hooker, 7 August [1860].
In his review of Origin ([Wilberforce] 1860), Samuel Wilberforce cited Roderick Impey Murchison’s views and implied that he was a prominent advocate for gradual geological change. CD believed that Richard Owen had supplied Wilberforce with much of the scientific material discussed in the review.
London Review and Weekly Journal of Politics, Literature, Art and Society 1 (1860): 11–12, 32–3, 58–9. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 29 July [1860].
Lyell was travelling on the Continent (see letter to Charles Lyell, 5 [July 1860]). CD refers to Bronn trans. 1860.
See letters to T. H. Huxley, 20 July [1860], and to John Lubbock, 20 July [1860]. Thomas Henry Huxley had recently agreed to become general editor of the new series of the Natural History Review; the board of eleven editors also included John Lubbock, George Busk, William Benjamin Carpenter, Philip Lutley Sclater, and Daniel Oliver.
C. Lyell 1863.


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.

[Wilberforce, Samuel.] 1860. [Review of Origin.] Quarterly Review 108: 225–64.


Comments on BAAS meeting: "our side seems to have got on very well". Asa Gray, too, is fighting nobly.

Comments on review [by Samuel Wilberforce] in the Quarterly [Rev. 108 (1860): 225–64].

Mentions a favourable review in the London Review.

Wonders if German translation [of the Origin] by Bronn has drawn attention to the subject.

The Natural History Review to be edited by Huxley and others.

Expects CL’s book [Antiquity of man (1863)] to be a bombshell.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Wedgwood, S. E. (b) Hartfield
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.222)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2881,” accessed on 30 September 2022,

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