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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Charles Lyell   [c. 16 July 1841]

My dear Darwin

I have no doubt that your father did righly in persuading you to stay, but we were much dissappointed in not seeing you before we start for a years absence—1 I cannot tell you how often since your long illness I have missed the friendly intercourse which we had so frequently before & on which I built more than ever after your marriage— It will not happen easily that twice in ones life even in the large world of London a congenial soul so occupied with precisely the same pursuits & with an independance enabling him to pursue them will fall so nearly in my way, & to have had it snatched from me with the prospect of your residence somewhere far off,2 is a privation I feel as a very great one— I hope you will not like Herschell get far off from a rail way—3 I have told my clerk to send to your house the charts on Coral reefs you kindly lent me but I have taken with me Lt. Smyths view of Pitcairns isle4 but will send it back per steamer from U.S if you should wish to have it for publication before my return—

With our joint wishes for your entire recovery & the health & happiness of your wife & family believe me ever most sincerely yrs | Cha Lyell

CD annotations

Verso of last page: ‘Letter from Lyell’ ink


CD initially wrote from Shrewsbury that he intended to return to London by the 16th (see letter to Charles Lyell, 6 [July 1841]). However, he did not return until the 23d (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II). Lyell evidently departed for America shortly after the 16th (Wilson 1972, pp. 459–60, 517).
During his visit to Shrewsbury, CD had persuaded his father to support him in the purchase of a country house (see letter to Emma Darwin, [3 July 1841]).
In 1840 J. F. W. Herschel had bought a country house in Kent (Buttmann 1970, p. 129).
William Smyth. He is listed as an Admiralty Mate on the Blossom’s roster (Beechey 1831, 1: ix). The view of Pitcairn Island is reproduced in Lyell 1830–3, 2: 297.


Beechey, Frederick William. 1831. Narrative of a voyage to the Pacific and Beering’s Strait, to co-operate with the Polar expeditions: performed in HMS Blossom … in the years 1825, 26, 27, 28. 2 vols. London.

Buttmann, Günther. 1970. The shadow of the telescope: a biography of John Herschel. Translated by B. E. J. Page. Edited by David S. Evans. Guildford and London: Lutterworth Press.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Lyell, Charles. 1830–3. Principles of geology, being an attempt to explain the former changes of the earth’s surface, by reference to causes now in operation. 3 vols. London: John Murray.

Wilson, Leonard Gilchrist. 1972. Charles Lyell. The years to 1841: the revolution in geology. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.


Regrets not seeing CD before leaving on trip [to the U. S.]. CD’s move from London will be a privation for CL.

Returns charts on coral reefs.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 98: A1–2
Physical description
ALS 3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 604,” accessed on 17 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2