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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   4 January [1863]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Jan 4th

Dear Lubbock

I have got an uneasy feeling that I wrote surlily to you the other day.—2 I really forget what I said except begging you not to return my Review.3 If I did write surlily, I wrote with a most false spirit towards you; but I was miserably uncomfortable: I know that you will forgive me, if I did write so; so do not answer this; but if you wish me to alter anything tell me & mark passages in the Review.—& I will do my best.—

What a capital number of N. H. Review!4 I like your articles much;5 they tell just what a general reader would like to hear; you touch up capitally, in first-rate style, Mr Wilson’s reasoning powers.6 I have got only as far as 23 through Falconer’.7

I am fairly burning with indignation at Owen about Elephas Columbi;8 if he does not answer & explain, I think every man of science ought somehow to show his disapproval of his whole line of conduct.— I have pretty nearly made up my mind what I will do.—9 Good night

Yours affecty | C. Darwin

How strong Falconer is coming out10 & how very well he writes.—


The year is established by the references to [Lubbock] 1863a and [Lubbock] 1863b (see n. 5, below).
The letter to Lubbock has not been found.
CD refers to the review of Bates 1861 that Lubbock had asked him to write for the Natural History Review (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from John Lubbock, 15 December 1862). In his letter to Lubbock of 16 [December 1862] (Correspondence vol. 10), CD agreed to write the article; ‘Review of Bates on mimetic butterflies’ appeared in the April 1863 number of the Natural History Review.
CD refers to the January 1863 number of the Natural History Review, CD’s annotated copy of which is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Lubbock had written two review articles for the January 1863 number of the Natural History Review. The first ([Lubbock] 1863a), was a survey of recent books on North American archaeology, and the second ([Lubbock] 1863b) was a review of D. Wilson 1862 (see n. 6, below).
In his review of Daniel Wilson’s Prehistoric man: researches into the origin of civilisation in the old and new world (D. Wilson 1862), Lubbock recommended the book as an introduction to more specialised works on archaeology. However, he criticised the author’s tendency to make obscure or contradictory statements, noting that Wilson, while ‘clear enough on purely scientific questions, becomes unintelligible as soon as he treads on sacred ground’ ([Lubbock] 1863b, p. 27). Lubbock was also critical of the last chapter (entitled ‘Guesses at the age of man’), in which Wilson argued that the supposition that the human species had evolved from other organic forms by a process of natural selection made it difficult to determine the boundary between humans and apes, and, consequently, to place chronological limits on the human species, whereas the belief that God made man in his own image placed moderate, if undefined bounds on human antiquity. Lubbock responded ([Lubbock] 1863b, p. 30): We do not perceive the force of the argument, that moderate limits ‘must be assigned to the existence of the race,’ because ‘God made man in his own image;’ nor can we too strongly reprobate the attempt to fix a stigma of irreligion on the theory of Natural Selection.
Falconer 1863a.
CD refers to Falconer 1863a; for CD’s reaction to Hugh Falconer’s endorsement of evolution, see Correspondence vol. 10.


Bates, Henry Walter. 1861. Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon valley. Lepidoptera: Heliconidæ. [Read 21 November 1861.] Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 23 (1860–2): 495–566.

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

‘Review of Bates on mimetic butterflies’: [Review of "Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon valley", by Henry Walter Bates.] [By Charles Darwin.] Natural History Review n.s. 3 (1863): 219–24. [Collected papers 2: 87–92.]

Wilson, Daniel. 1862. Prehistoric man: researches into the origin of civilisation in the old and the new world. 2 vols. Cambridge and London: Macmillan.


Praises JL’s article ["North American archaeology", Nat. Hist. Rev. n.s. 3 (1863): 1–26]

and Hugh Falconer on the American fossil elephant [Nat. Hist. Rev. n.s. 3 (1863): 43–114].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 263: 58
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3900,” accessed on 9 February 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11