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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   25 [June 1860]

Down. Bromley Kent


My dear Lyell

I have thought that you might like to add the enclosed very pretty arrow-heads to your Collection. They were sent me by Mrs Moir,—the mother-in-law of Col. Erskine.—1 The place is given in note within; & they may be considered authentic & will make good contrast with the Cets.—2

You need not believe one word of what I said about gestation of dogs;3 since writing to you I have had more correspondence with the master of Hounds, & I see his record is worth nothing—   it may of course be correct, but cannot be trusted.— I find also different statements about wolf—in fact I am all abroad.—

I have given up Oxford;4 for my stomach has utterly broken down & I am forced to go on Thursday for a little water-cure, to “Dr Lanes Sudbrook Park, Richmond Surrey”,5 where I shall stay a week, & shd. stay rather longer had it not been for Etty. Etty improves slightly, but so slightly that it takes weeks to perceive any difference; she cannot sit up in bed for more than few minutes.—6 Farewell—   I hope that you will have pleasant time at Oxford; I much wished to have been there, but I could not stand it, or indeed anything.— Ever yours | C. Darwin

P.S. Many thanks for letter just received.7 I return Dawson, which I was glad to see.—8 I must borrow his Review sometime, for my Bookseller has never had copy.—9 I do not think much of Dawson’s letter. It would be insanity to compare evidence of organic change with geological change, at present, as far as strength of evidence goes.

But what inches of elevation on coast of Sweden are to great mountains so are the numerous varieties & endless doubt what to call species & what varieties, to undoubted species.—   I entirely deny that there is no evidence of change. But time alone will bring naturalists round, when they find that they can explain many facts on such views as mine, & cannot on view of creation.—



Henry Knight Erskine. See letter to Charles Lyell, 4 May [1860].
CD refers to the shaped stones known as celts that had been found in alluvial deposits and identified as arrowheads or hatchets by Jacques Boucher de Crèvecoeur de Perthes. Recently celts had been found in association with the remains of extinct animals. Lyell, Hugh Falconer, Joseph Prestwich, and others were engaged in examining the objects and their locations in an effort to verify their age and origin. See Bynum 1984.
See letters to Charles Lyell, 1 [June 1860] and 17 June [1860].
The British Association for the Advancement of Science was to meet in Oxford from 27 June to 4 July 1860. Lyell was vice-president of the geology section of the meeting.
Edward Wickstead Lane purchased a hydropathic establishment at Sudbrook Park, Surrey, in 1860. He had formerly owned a similar establishment at Moor Park, Surrey, which CD had visited for treatment on many occasions beginning in April 1857. CD greatly admired Lane and his family (see Correspondence vols. 6 and 7).
Henrietta Emma Darwin had been ill since the end of April.
Lyell’s letter has not been found.
CD refers to a letter from John William Dawson to Lyell. Lyell discussed the substance of the letter in an entry in his scientific journal dated 25 June 1860 (see Wilson ed. 1970, pp. 457–8). It reads in part: J. W. Dawson says that Lyell could point to changes in progress which support his theory of modern causes, such as elevation and subsidence, volcanic ejections, river-sediments, now actually in progress—whereas Darwin has to invoke new & unheard of powers & to produce new units of existence.
Dawson 1860b. The review appeared in the Canadian Naturalist. There is a lightly annotated copy in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.


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


Encloses arrow-heads.

Comments on gestation in dogs.

Mentions BAAS meeting at Oxford.

Etty’s illness.

Criticises views of J. W. Dawson on organic and geological change.

The problems of distinguishing varieties and species.

Discusses facts explained by his theory.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.220)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2843,” accessed on 6 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8