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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   20 July [1861]1

2. Hesketh Crescent | Torquay

July 20th

My dear Lyell

I sent you two or three days ago a duplicate of a good Review of the Origin by a Mr. Maw,2 evidently a thoughtful man; as I thought you might like to have it, as you have so many.— By the way I was pleased, considering how many have attacked me on “Induction” &c, to hear the other day from the blind H. Fawcett, that he had spent an evening with J. Stuart Mill “who considers that your reasoning througout is in the most exact accordance with the strict principles of logic. He also says the method of investigation followed is the only one proper to such a subject.” Considering how high an authority he is, this pleases me much, & I think you will be pleased.—3

Lady Lyell4 & you will be glad to hear that Etty improves a little.5 This is a quite charming place & I have actually walked I believe good two miles out & back, which is a grand feat.— I saw Mr Pengelly the other day & was pleased at his enthusiasm.6

I do not in the least know whether you are in London. Your illness must have lost you much time, but I hope you have nearly got your great job of the new Edition finished.7 You must be very busy, if in London, so I will be generous & on honour bright do not expect any answer to this dull little note.— I am doing nothing, except drawing up a long paper on the fertilisation of Orchids, which will, I think, be curious;8 but I almost wish I could have been completely idle here. When I shall ever complete my book on “Variation under Domestication” Heaven only knows, for I do not.—9

Farewell my dear Lyell; I heartily hope that all things go well with Lady Lyell & you.— | Yours most truly | C. Darwin


The endorsement is confirmed by CD’s stay in Torquay (see ‘Journal’; Appendix II).
Letter from Henry Fawcett, 16 July [1861]. After the publication in 1843 of his System of logic, John Stuart Mill became recognised as the leader of the empirical school of philosophy (DNB).
The Darwins were visiting the seaside resort of Torquay in the hope that it would improve the health of their daughter, Henrietta Emma Darwin. Emma Darwin’s diary is filled with references to Henrietta’s recuperation while at Torquay in July and August 1861.
The geologist William Pengelly, a regular correspondent of Lyell’s, was directing excavation work being carried out in the Brixham cave, near Torquay. Over the past three years the bones of extinct mammals and other remains had been discovered in deposits in the cave. Pengelly was keeping Lyell informed about the coal-plants found in deposits near Bovey Tracey, Devon (see K. M. Lyell ed. 1881, 2: 346).
The sixth edition of Lyell’s Elements of geology did not in fact appear until 1865. The delay was due to his decision to publish the results of his study of the antiquity of man, originally to be included in the Elements, as a separate volume (C. Lyell 1863).
CD was intending to summarise the results of his study of the pollination mechanisms in orchids in a paper to be contributed to the Linnean Society of London (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 19 June [1861]). In the event, he published his results in a small volume in 1862 (Orchids).
Variation appeared in two volumes in 1868.


DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Maw, George. 1861. The pavements of Uriconium. Journal of the British Archaeological Association 17: 100–10.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Mentions George Maw’s "good review" of Origin [Zoologist 19 (1861): 7577–611].

Relates remark by J. S. Mill concerning soundness of logic and method of Origin.

Is at work [on Orchids and Variation].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.258)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3215,” accessed on 2 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9