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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   21 June [1859]1

Down Bromley Kent

June 21st

My dear Lyell

It was extremely kind of you to take so much trouble to tell me about Haldeman’s paper, which I read several years ago & abstracted, & I have just looked at my abstract.2 I well remember thinking it a very clever paper; but I did not find much of any actual use to me. I think I have quoted him in my large Book about ranges of varieties; but in my present condensed volume, I have not alluded to the paper. The speculations approach mine & Wallace’s, but did not on any point seem to me identical. Some remarks on the young of some fresh-water shell struck me most, apparently a modified sea-mollusc.—3

You ask about specific centres, if you change terms into specific areas, my theory quite requires them; i.e. it is, I think, next door to an impossibility that the same species should have been formed identically the same in any two areas. This point is discussed in my volume.—4

I am working very hard, but get on slowly for I find that my corrections are terrifically heavy, & the work most difficult to me. I have corrected 130 pages; & the vol: will be about 500. I have tried my best to make it clear & striking; but very much fear that I have failed, so many discussions are, & must be, very perplexing.— I have done my best. If you had all my materials, I am sure you would have made a splendid Book. I long to finish, for I am nearly worn out.

My dear Lyell | Ever yours most truly | C. Darwin


Dated by CD’s reference to working on the proofs of Origin.
See letter from Charles Lyell to T. H. Huxley, 17 June 1859. CD had read Haldeman 1843–4 in May 1845 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 119: 16a). Samuel Steman Haldeman’s paper discussed the geographical distribution of species. CD’s abstract of this paper is in DAR 74: 163–4. He cited it in Natural selection, p. 116, in his chapter on variation under nature. Lyell recorded the work in his species journal after a long entry, made on or about 17 June 1859, considering the progression of fossil forms (Wilson ed. 1970, p. 262).
Haldeman 1843–4, pp. 475–6.
Origin, pp. 351–6.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Haldeman, Samuel Steman. 1843–4. Enumeration of the recent freshwater Mollusca which are common to North America and Europe; with observations on species and their distribution. Boston Journal of Natural History 4: 468–84.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Discusses S. S. Haldeman’s paper ["Enumeration of the recent freshwater Mollusca", Boston J. Nat. Hist. 4 (1844): 468–84].

Centres of species origin.

Describes his corrections of Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.165)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2470,” accessed on 4 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7