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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   3 September [1874]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Sept. 3d

My dear Lyell

Many thanks for your very kind & interesting letter.2 I was glad to hear at Southampton from Miss Heathcote3 a good account of your health & strength. With respect to the great subject to which you refer in your P.S.4 I always try to banish it from my mind as insoluble; but if I were circumstanced as you are, no doubt it would recur in the dead of the night with painful force. Many persons seem to make themselves quite easy about immortality & the existence of a personal God by intuition; & I suppose that I must differ from such persons, for I do not feel any innate conviction on any such points.

We returned home about 10 days ago from Southampton; & I enjoyed my holidays which did me much good.5 But already I am much fatigued by microscope & experimental work with insect-eating plants.

When at Southampton I was greatly interested by looking at the odd gravel deposits near at hand & speculating about their formation. You once told me something about them, but I forget what; & I think that Pretwich has written on the superficial deposits on the S. coasts & I must find out his pages & read it.—6

From what I have seen of Mr. Judd’s papers, I have thought that he would rank amongst the few leading British geologists.7

Believe me, my dear Lyell | Your affectionate friend. | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Charles Lyell, 1 September 1874.
The postscript to the letter from Charles Lyell, 1 September 1874, had not been found when the letter was published in Correspondence vol. 22, but has since been found; see Correspondence vol. 30, Supplement.
CD stayed with William Erasmus Darwin in Southampton from 30 July to 24 August 1874 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Joseph Prestwich had discussed drift deposits in southern England in Prestwich 1862.


Discusses belief in immortality and a personal God.

Describes his holiday in Southampton.

Comments on papers of John Wesley Judd.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.448)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9621,” accessed on 18 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22