skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   23 September 1874

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Sep 23 1874

My dear Lyell

I suppose that you have returned or will soon return to London; & I hope re-invigorated by your outing.1 In your last letter you spoke of Mr Judd’s paper on the volcanoes of the Hebrides. I have just finished it, & to ease my mind, must express my extreme admiration.2

It is years since I have read a purely geological paper which has interested me so greatly. I was all the more interested, as in the Cordillera I often speculated on the sources of the deluges of sub-marine porphyritic lavas of which they are built, & as I have stated, I saw to a certain extent the causes of the obliteration of the points of eruption.3 I was also not a little pleased to see my volcanic book quoted, for I thought it was completely dead & forgotten.4 What fine work Mr Judd will assuredly do! I have just begun Mr Jamieson’s paper, which seems to me very interesting & I shd think true.5

Now I have eased my mind & so farewell—with both ED’s6 & C.D’s very kind remembrances to Miss Lyell.7 | yours affectionately | Charles Darwin

Mr Mallet will not like to hear of palæozoic true sub-aerial explosive volcanos.—8


Lyell had been travelling in Scotland (letter from Charles Lyell, 1 September 1874).
Lyell had mentioned John Wesley Judd’s paper on volcanoes in the Hebrides (Judd 1874) in his letter of 1 September 1874.
CD had reported that it was difficult to trace the origin of porphyritic lava in the Cordillera mountains, because the original points of eruption tended to become the points of injection (see South America, pp. 232–3). Judd described numerous porphyritic structures in the Hebrides mountains (Judd 1874, pp. 261, 269, 278–81).
CD’s Volcanic islands was referred to in Judd 1874, p. 257.
CD refers to ‘On the last stage of the glacial period in north Britain’ (Jamieson 1874). CD had corresponded with Thomas Francis Jamieson about glaciation in Scotland (see Correspondence vols. 9, 10, 11, and 14).
Emma Darwin.
Marianne Lyell was Charles Lyell’s sister.
In a general discussion of the causes of volcanic energy, Robert Mallet had argued that volcanoes were unlikely to have existed much before the start of the Tertiary era, and that most igneous action had been subterranean (Mallet 1872, p. 171). In contrast, Judd had described the remains of Palaeozoic volcanoes in the Scottish Highlands (Judd 1874, p. 276).


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

Jamieson, Thomas Francis. 1874. On the last stage of the glacial period in north Britain. [Read 27 May 1874.] Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society 30: 317–38.

Judd, John Wesley. 1874. On the ancient volcanoes of the Highlands and the relations of their products to the Mesozoic strata. [Read 21 January 1874.] Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 30: 220–302.

Mallet, Robert. 1872. Volcanic energy: an attempt to develop its true origin and cosmical relations. [Read 20 June 1872.] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 163 (1873): 147–227.

South America: Geological observations on South America. Being the third part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1846.

Volcanic islands: Geological observations on the volcanic islands, visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle, together with some brief notices on the geology of Australia and the Cape of Good Hope. Being the second part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1844.


Discusses paper on volcanoes by J. W. Judd.

Comments on volcanoes of the S. American Cordillera.

Mentions paper by T. F. Jamieson ["Glacial period in N. Britain", Q. J. Geol. Soc. Lond. 30 (1874): 317–18].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.450)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9654,” accessed on 2 December 2021,

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