skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   14 July 1868

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

July 14 1868

My dear Lyell

Very many thanks for Glöger; but I have it; so I have sent it as from you to the Zoolog. Soc.1 Thanks also about the hairy men which I possess.2 Lewes has published 3 or 4 articles altogether, but not in successive numbers & there are 1 or 2 more to appear.3 They seem to me very clever, tho’ I differ greatly from him on many points. It is refreshing to read articles on this subject which show independent thought.

Mrs Agassiz’s book has been read aloud to me & I am wonderfully perplexed what to think about his precise statements of the existence of glaciers in the Cearà Mts, & about the drift formation near Rio. There is a sad want of details; thus he never mentions whether any of the blocks are angular, nor whether the embedded rounded boulders, which cannot all be disintegrated, are scored. Yet how can so experienced an observer as A. be deceived about lateral & terminal moraines?4 If there really were glaciers in the Cearà Mts it seems to me one of the most important facts, in the history of the inorganic & organic world, ever observed. Whether true or not it will be widely believed, & until finally decided will greatly interfere with future progress on many points. I have made these remarks in the hope that you will coincide.

If so do you think it wd be possible to persuade some known man, such as Ramsay, or what wd be far better, some 2 men, to go out for a summer trip, which wd be in many respects delightful, for the sole object of observing these phenomena in the Cearà Mts, & if possible also near Rio.5 I wd gladly put my name down for £50 in aid of the expence of travelling. Do turn this over in your mind. I am so very sorry not to have seen you this summer but for the last 3 weeks I have been good for nothing & have had to stop almost all work—

I hope we may meet in the autumn   yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin


CD refers to Gloger 1833 (Das Abändern der Vögel durch Einfluss des Klima’s (The alteration of birds through the influence of climate)). There is an annotated copy in the Darwin Library–CUL. CD cited Gloger 1833 in Variation 2: 298. CD also refers to the Zoological Society of London.
CD may refer to an article on the Ainu people in the May issue of the American Journal of Science and Arts (Bickmore 1868). He mentioned the Ainu people (Ainos) in Descent 2: 321, 378–9. On the use of the term ‘Ainu’ rather than ‘Aino’, see Siddle 1996, p. 84, p. 218 n. 20.
George Henry Lewes published a four-part article, ‘Mr. Darwin’s hypotheses’, in the Fortnightly Review for 1868 (Lewes 1868b). Three parts had already appeared. See also letters from G. H. Lewes, 2 March 1868 and 26 July 1868.
Louis Agassiz discussed moraines in the Serra of Aratanha in the province of Ceará, Brazil, in Agassiz and Agassiz 1868, pp. 463–5, and drift formations near Rio de Janeiro in Brazil as evidence for glacial action in ibid., pp. 399–401. The book was largely written by his wife, Elizabeth Agassiz.
CD refers to Andrew Crombie Ramsay. Agassiz had also appealed for members of the Alpine Club, ‘thoroughly familiar with the glaciers of the Old World’, to observe glacial remains in the Ceará mountains more extensively than he had been able to (Agassiz and Agassiz 1868, p. 464). CD suggested that the Royal Society of London might fund an expedition in 1877, but apparently without success (see letter to Thomas Belt, 18 January 1877 (Calendar no. 10804)).


Bickmore, Albert S. 1868. The Ainos, or hairy men, of Saghalien and the Kurile Islands. [Read before the Boston Society of Natural History, 4 March 1868.] American Journal of Science and Arts 2d ser. 45: 361–77.

Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Gloger, Constantin Wilhelm Lambert. 1833. Das Abändern der Vögel durch Einfluss des Klimas. Nach zoologischen, zunächst von den Europäischen Landvögeln entnommenen Beobachtungen dargestellt, mit den entsprechenden Erfahrungen bei den Europäischen Säugthieren verglichen. Breslau: August Schulz und Comp.

Lewes, George Henry. 1868b. Mr. Darwin’s hypotheses. Fortnightly Review n.s. 3: 353–73, 611–28; 4: 61–80, 492–509.

Siddle, Richard. 1996. Race, resistance and the Ainu of Japan. London and New York: Routledge.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Comments favourably, though often differing, on articles by G. H. Lewes.

Discusses claim of Agassiz [in A journey in Brazil (1868)] that he found evidence of glaciers in Brazil. Suggests sponsoring an expedition to test these claims.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.352)
Physical description
LS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6275,” accessed on 19 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16