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Darwin Correspondence Project

To B. D. Walsh   23 March [1867]1

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

March 23d

My dear Sir

I am a good deal overworked with the tedious labour of correcting the proofs of my new book, but I cannot resist sending you a few lines to thank you for pleasant & kind letter of Feb 25th2 I quite agree with what you say about the high value of disseminating scientific knowledge,—perhaps as useful as mere discovery—only you should remember that there are many who can do the one & only a few who can discover original truths.—3 Thanks for Lecture of Agassiz.4 Lyell does not believe a word about glacial action of any kind in lowlands of Brazil. If anyone had attempted to prove, even in a temperate region, former glacial action, & had owned he could find no striæ, he wd. have been laughed at.—5

I believe that the theory that glaciers are propelled by alternate freezing & thawing has been given up by all physicists.—6

I did not know about the workers’ wasps breeding.—7

My new Book will interest you or any one else very little: it will not appear till November & will be entitled “The Variation of Animals & Plants under Domestication”.—8

With many thanks for your letter—

Believe me, yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to Variation (see nn. 2 and 8, below).
See letter from B. D. Walsh, [25 February 1867]. CD had received the first proof-sheets of Variation on 1 March 1867 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix II)).
Walsh had defended his decision to become editor of Practical Entomologist on the grounds that it would promote the pursuit of science in America (see letter from B. D. Walsh, [25 February 1867]).
CD refers to Louis Agassiz and the lecture on glaciers in J. L. R. Agassiz 1867. See letter from B. D. Walsh, [25 February 1867] and n. 4.
Agassiz advanced the hypothesis that the Amazon valley had been covered by a huge glacier in J. L. R. Agassiz 1866. CD had discussed Agassiz’s claims regarding glacial action in Brazil with Charles Lyell and other correspondents (see Correspondence vol. 14).
For a summary of contemporary views on the causes of glacier movement, see C. Lyell 1867–8, 1: 369–74. For CD’s earlier discussion of the topic, see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to T. H. Huxley, 17 January [1857].
See letter from B. D. Walsh, [25 February 1867] and n. 2.
Variation was published in January 1868 (Freeman 1977).


Agassiz, Louis. 1867. The geological formation of the valley of the Amazon. The river, its basin and tributories. The ancient glaciers in the tropics. The aquatic animals of the Amazon. The land animals of South America. The monkeys and native inhabitants. [Six lectures read at the Cooper Institute, New York, 5, 11, 12, 18, 20, and 26 February 1867.] New York Herald Tribune, 6 February 1867, p. 8, 12 February 1867, p. 5, 13 February 1867, p. 5, 19 February 1867, p. 8, 21 February 1867, p. 5, 27 February 1867, p. 8.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Lyell, Charles. 1867–8. Principles of geology or the modern changes of the earth and its inhabitants considered as illustrative of geology. 10th edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

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


Thanks for Agassiz’s Lectures. Lyell does not believe a word about glacial action of any kind in lowlands of Brazil. Agassiz’s view of glacial movement has been given up by physicists.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Benjamin Dann Walsh
Sent from
Source of text
Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago (Walsh 9)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5455,” accessed on 13 May 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15