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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   4 February [1860]1


Feb. 4th.

My dear Lyell.

With respect to antiquity of man,2 I really think p 356, 357, 358 of my Journal are worth your looking at & perhaps p 355 to see nature of country.—3 Mr Gill’s remark on deflexion of streams not applicable in these cases.4 It is a queer thing but I had forgotten the whole case as completely as if I had never written it.

Yours— | C Darwin.

P. S. Very many thanks for your pleasant little note5 just received, though I am sorry you shd. have had trouble to write it.— I have just got Haldeman from Royal—6 it is perplexing to know what he thinks.—

I am extreemly glad to hear about Ramsay.7

I have had letter from Bronn: to my surprise he seems slightly stagered.8 If he could see how life itself could arise he says he wd. be converted to Nat. Selection! Says he has himself published forebodings of the theory of Nat. Selection. in a work on the productions of Islands.—9 I wd. send letter but I suppose you wd. not care to see it.10


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Charles Lyell, 12 [February 1860] (Correspondence vol. 8).
On 9 January 1860, Lyell wrote to George Ticknor that he had been ‘much occupied’ with the ‘antiquity of man as implied by the flint hatchets of Amiens, undoubtedly contemporaneous with the mammoth, and also the human skeletons of certain caves near Liége’, which he believed to be of a similar age (K. M. Lyell ed. 1881, 2: 330). In his letter of 14 January [1860] (Correspondence vol. 8), CD had written to Lyell that he would be very interested in reading Lyell’s discussion of humans (see also Correspondence vol. 8, letter to Charles Lyell, 4 [January 1860]). Lyell was working on a new edition of his Elements of geology (Manual of elementary geology; C. Lyell 1855) until 1861 (see K. M. Lyell ed. 1881, 2: 329, and Correspondence vol. 9, letter to Charles Lyell, 20 July [1861] and n. 7); by late in 1861 he had evidently decided to incorporate the material on human antiquity into a new work instead (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to Asa Gray, 11 December [1861] and n. 15; see also this volume, Appendix V, the revised preface to the third edition of Antiquity of man, C. Lyell 1863c). Antiquity of man was published in 1863 (C. Lyell 1863a).
Journal of researches 2d ed. The first three pages CD cites are concerned with evidence in northern Chile and Peru that humans had inhabited South America ‘for an immensely long period’.
Gill, identified by CD as a civil engineer, found a former river-bed in Peru in which a ridge had been uplifted, deflecting the water to form a new channel; the river’s former course turned into a desert (Journal of researches 2d ed., p. 359). CD thought that the abandonment of habitations found in locations miles from any water was probably due to a change in climate rather than to deflection of streams (Journal of researches 2d ed, p. 358). Gill has not been further identified.
Lyell’s letter has not been found.
CD refers to Haldeman 1843–4 and to the Royal Society of London. Lyell had reminded CD of Samuel Steman Haldeman’s paper in June 1859 (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter from Charles Lyell to T. H. Huxley, 17 June 1859, and letter to Charles Lyell, 21 June [1859] and n. 2). CD referred to Haldeman’s paper in the historical sketch that he was preparing in January and February 1860 for the second American edition of Origin. The sketch cited naturalists who had preceded CD in espousing favourable views of the transmutation of species; see Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix IV. CD had apparently first read Haldeman 1843–4 in 1844 (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, **119: 19v.).
It is not known what news CD had received about Andrew Crombie Ramsay. Ramsay’s health had broken down, and at the end of December 1859 it had been arranged that his lectures at the Royal School of Mines be given by Joseph Beete Jukes, while he himself went to stay with a friend in Cheltenham. He was ordered to take several months’ rest, and went abroad in early April 1860. See Geikie 1895, p. 261.
The reference is to Heinrich Georg Bronn; his letter has not been found. CD sent it to Lyell on 12 February 1860, asking him to return it to Erasmus Alvey Darwin’s house in London (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to Charles Lyell, 12 [February 1860]). CD sent Bronn a presentation copy of Origin (see Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix III); Bronn published a review of it (Bronn 1860a), and the first German translation (Bronn trans. 1860). See also Correspondence vol. 8, letter to T. H. Huxley, 2 [February 1860] and n. 2. For CD’s reaction to Bronn’s review, see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to Charles Lyell, 18 [and 19 February 1860] and nn. 2–5.
Bronn 1860b. There is an annotated copy in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
See n. 8, above.


Suggests references in Journal of researches 2d ed. in response to a query about the antiquity of man. Perplexed about S. S. Haldeman and Haldeman 1843–4. Glad to hear about A. C. Ramsay. Has received letter from H. G. Bronn.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Source of text
DAR 146: 229

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2687F,” accessed on 16 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13 (Supplement)