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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   [5 July 1845]1

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Lyell

I send you the first Part of the new Edition, which I so entirely owe to you.— You will see that I have ventured to dedicate it to you2 & I trust that this cannot be disagreeable. I have long wished, not so much for your sake as for my own feelings of honesty, to acknowledge more plainly than by mere references, how much I geologically owe you.— Those authors, however, who like you, educate people’s minds as well as teach them special facts, can never, I should think, have full justice done them except by posterity, for the mind thus insensibly improved can hardly perceive its own upward ascent.— I had intended putting in the present acknowledgment in the Third Part of my geology, but its sale is so exceedingly small that I should not have had the satisfaction of thinking, that as far as lay in my power, I had owned, though imperfectly, my debt.— Pray do not think, that I am so silly, as to suppose that my dedication can anyways gratify you, except so far as I trust you will receive it, as a most sincere mark of my gratitude & friendship.—

I think I have improved this edition; especially the 2d Part, which I have just finished; I have added a good deal about the Fuegians & cut down into half that mercilessly long discussion on climate & glaciers &c.—3 I do not recollect anything added to this 1st Part, long enough to call your attention to: there is a page descriptive of a very curious breed of oxen in B. Oriental.—4 I shd like you to read the few last pages; there is a little discussion on extinction, which will not perhaps strike you as new, though it has so struck me & has placed in my mind all difficulty with respect to the causes of extinction, in the same class with other difficulties, which are generally quite overlooked & undervalued by naturalists: I ought, however, to have made my discussion longer & shown by facts, as I easily could, how steadily every species must be checked in its numbers.5

I received your Travels6 yesterday; & I like exceedingly its external & internal appearance: I read only about a dozen pages last night (for I was tired with Hay-making) but I saw quite enough to perceive how very much it will interest me & how many passages will be scored: I am pleased to find a good sprinkling of Nat. History: I shall be astonished if it does not sell very largley.—

Remember me most kindly to Mrs Lyell & tell her that Emma remains in her most wearisome statu quo.—7 How sorry I am to think that we shall not see you here again for so long:8 I wish you may knock yourself a little bit up before you start, & require a day’s fresh air before the ocean-breezes blow on you.—

Will you please to remember me to Miss Lyell & give my respectful compliments to Mr. Lyell9 | and believe me my dear Lyell | Ever yours | C. Darwin


Dated on the basis that CD received his presentation copies of the first part of Journal of researches 2d ed. on 3 July (see letter to John Murray, [3 July 1845]).
Journal of researches, pp. 268–98; 2d ed., pp. 242–51.
Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 173–6, in which CD discusses the Malthusian idea of checks and balances in nature. This passage was one of the most notable changes that CD made to the first edition.
C. Lyell 1845a. CD’s annotated copy is preserved in the Darwin Library–CUL.
The birth of Emma’s fifth child was imminent; George Howard Darwin was born on 9 July.
The Lyells were to depart on 2 September 1845 for a second visit to the United States.
Marianne Lyell, whom CD had met when she visited the Lyells in 1838, and Charles Lyell Sr of Kinnordy House.


Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.


Sends the first part of Journal of researches [2d ed.]. Explains his dedication of book to CL. Describes revisions.

Has received CL’s book [Travels in North America, 2 vols. (1845)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.43)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 882,” accessed on 29 May 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3