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From Charles Lyell   [13–14 February 1860]

Summary

Discusses phases of climate.

Describes fossil mammals discovered by Auguste Bravard in South America.

Has had argument with Bishop of Oxford [Samuel Wilberforce] about CD’s book [Origin].

Discusses review in Annals and Magazine of Natural History. Guesses that T. V. Wollaston is the author.

Discusses evidence of shells on Madeira.

Comments on paper by Wallace ["On the zoological geography of the Malay Archipelago", J. Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. (Zool.) 4 (1860): 172–84].

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [13–14 Feb 1860]
Classmark:  DAR 205.3: 283, DAR 205.9: 395
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2694

From Charles Lyell   2 May 1860

Summary

It is small comfort to be told you will be succeeded in lineal descent by angels when Lamarck and Darwin have made your ancestors without souls. However, can the progressive system not be seen as most consonant with a higher destiny if all spiritual natures advance? The link of common descent to inferior beings like idiots should be obvious. Infants die before they become responsible. Pope’s An essay on Man [1733] shows how man was "In doubt to deem himself a God or Beast", without speculation on his genealogy.

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  2 May 1860
Classmark:  Kinnordy MS, Charles Lyell’s journal V, pp. 176–9
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2779A

From Charles Lyell   7 May 1860

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Summary

Saw Salter’s Spirifer specimens; a very good proof of indefinite modifiability.

Beginning to think gap between Cambrian and Lower Silurian enormous.

Édouard Lartet to give paper before Geological Society ["On coexistence of man with certain extinct quadrupeds", Q. J. Geol. Soc. Lond. 16 (1859–60): 471–5].

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  7 May 1860
Classmark:  DAR 205.9: 396
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2787

From Charles Lyell   15 June 1860

Summary

Rejects CD’s comparison of natural selection with the architect of a building. The architect who plans and oversees construction should not be confused in his function with the wisest breeder. That would be to deify natural selection.

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  15 June 1860
Classmark:  Kinnordy MS, Charles Lyell’s journal VI, pp. 108–9
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2832A

From Charles Lyell   19 June 1860

Summary

Sees Huxley’s deification of matter and force as a reaction to the way Paley likened the "Unknown Cause" to the mind of man so that new causes could be introduced. If you wish to retain free will which is inconsistent with constant law, Paley’s position is better. Free will is a recently introduced cause on our planet. It cannot be fully attributed to secondary causes.

What CD says about the variation in gestation of the hound is remarkable.

The astonishing fertile rabbit–hare hybrids encourage belief in Pallas’s theory of the multiple origin of dogs.

Does the regularity of gestation in man indicate a common stock?

Hooker’s observation of absence of forms peculiar to extra-Arctic Greenland indicates that the time since the beginning of the glacial period is brief in geological terms.

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  19 June 1860
Classmark:  Kinnordy MS, Charles Lyell’s journal VI, pp. 117–23
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2837A

From Charles Lyell   28 August 1860

Summary

Objections to Origin which Owen and Wilberforce could have used. Why have incipient mammalian forms not arisen from lower vertebrates on islands separated since Miocene period? Knows CD would not derive Eocene Mammalia from higher reptiles, but would bats not be modified into other mammalian forms on an ancient island? This is not the case in New Zealand. Why have island seals not become terrestrial? Assumes rate of change is greatest in mammals. Difficulties are small compared with ability to explain absence of Mammalia in pre-Pliocene islands. Asks about descent of Amblyrhynchus. Believes objections apply equally well to independent creation of animal types, but not if the First Cause is allowed completely free agency.

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  28 Aug 1860
Classmark:  Kinnordy MS, Charles Lyell’s journal IV, pp. 164–71
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2900A

From Charles Lyell   [before 20 November 1860]

Summary

Discusses the possibility of a land-bridge connecting Biscay with Ireland and the consequent occurrence in southern Ireland of Asturian plants which are absent from England.

Asks if Hooker or anyone has criticised Edward Forbes’ botanical migration of five floras in the British Isles ["On the connexion between the distribution of existing fauna and flora of the British Isles, and the geological changes which have affected their area", Mem. Geol. Surv. G. B. 1 (1846): 336–432].

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [before 20 Nov 1860]
Classmark:  DAR 170.2: 80
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2902

From Charles Lyell   8 September 1860

Summary

Believes CD’s argument against special creation based on absence of terrestrial mammals on islands isolated before Pliocene era is very strong. However, the absence means Cetacea and bats have not modified towards terrestrial existence. There is similar lack of development of bats and rodents in Australia. Constancy among land shells of Madeira over long period shows that the majority of their species are immutable: a minority of "metamorphic" species maintains the overall number of true species while extinction removes many. Emphasis on the role of extinction discomfits CD’s opponents since the power of generation of new species ought to keep pace. Mentions Ammonite deposits with reference to CD’s comments on their apparent sudden extinction [Origin, pp. 321–2]. Perhaps absence of transmutation on slowly subsiding atolls indicates the slow rate of selective change.

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  8 Sept 1860
Classmark:  Kinnordy MS, Charles Lyell’s journal VI, pp. 179–86
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2908A

From Charles Lyell   18 September 1860

Summary

It is strange that Agassiz, who is for the "sanctity of species", should favour Pallas’s view of hybrid origin of domestic dog.

CL has not meant to advocate successive creation of types but to question assumption that all mammals descended from single stock. Why should a Triassic reptile or bird not move towards mammalian form because an ancestral marsupial has appeared? Believes recent appearance of rodents and bats in Australia explains their lack of development.

Can CD supply a reference on plant extinction on St Helena?

Believes marsupials better adapted for surviving drought in Australia than higher mammals.

Will not press argument about lack of development of mammalian forms on islands, but CD should note objection.

Does CD’s belief in multiple origin of dogs affect faith in single primates in different regions?

Does time lapse between putative independently descended mammalian forms mean first form will "keep down" later incipient one? Thus Homo sapiens has prevented improvement of other anthropomorphs; bats and rodents on islands would prevent improvement of lower forms into mammalian.

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  18 Sept 1860
Classmark:  Kinnordy MS, Charles Lyell’s journal VI, pp. 187–95d
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2920C

From Charles Lyell   25 September 1860

Summary

Returns "excellent" MS in which CD favours hybrid origin of domestic dog, which CL believes strengthens case for common progenitor of wild species.

Doubts CD’s authorities for antiquity of dingo.

Variation will raise many points for investigation.

"Leporine" hare–rabbit hybrid should be investigated.

Has re-read passages in Origin that CD suggested.

Annals of Natural History would probably reprint Gray’s review of Origin at their own expense.

CD’s thought that modern reptiles could not develop into existing Mammalia but only into another high form is a "grand notion" compatible with "the infinite capacity of the creative power".

Comments on New Guinea marsupials.

Still thinks that the Australian genera and species are so well fitted for extraordinary droughts that they would get the better of the dingo.

Suggests that once there were more races of man, though from common stock. Competition and then hybridity checked divergence.

Falconer’s views on elephant classification. CL attaches little value to Falconer’s objection that mastodons and elephants do not come in chronologically, as they should in CD’s view.

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  25 Sept 1860
Classmark:  Kinnordy MS, Charles Lyell’s journal VII, pp. 3–12
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2927A

From Charles Lyell   27 September 1860

Summary

Fears that multiple origin of the domestic dog will be extended to mammals or man. Believes, with Hooker, that whatever occurs in domestication is possible in nature.

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  27 Sept 1860
Classmark:  Kinnordy MS, Charles Lyell’s journal VII, p. 12
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2930A

From Charles Lyell   30 September 1860

Summary

Expects lack of diversification of immigrant mammals on long isolated islands will come to show slowness of selective change.

Asks whether CD has speculated on turtles becoming terrestrial on remote islands.

Perhaps non-diversification on islands is explained by tiny proportion of variable species. Those that vary on continent may not do so on island.

A. Gray is afraid of objections to Origin from imperfection of fossil record.

His argument with Falconer over the hypothesis of limited modifiability.

Are the bird-like characters of the Apteryx parts not yet suppressed or nascent organs?

Extinctions of ammonites, belemnites, and hippurites are striking. Perhaps ammonites made way for higher cuttle-fish.

Believes hybrid origin of domestic dog would weaken objections to treating white man and negro as species. Are there not many reputed species among the Mammalia more closely related than these races?

Objects not to the term "selection" but to what CD assigns to it. It should not be confused with the "Creative power" behind variation and the "capacity of ascending in the scale of being".

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  30 Sept 1860
Classmark:  Kinnordy MS, Charles Lyell’s journal VII, pp. 13–19
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2932A

From Charles Lyell   [after 3 October 1860]

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Summary

CD would have carried the public more if he had explained adaptations by multiple causes, some unknown and some well known, i.e., natural selection.

Discusses Hooker’s views of extinction on St Helena.

Work on antiquity of man suspended.

Stopped by 11th edition of Principles of geology [1872].

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [after 3 Oct 1860]
Classmark:  DAR 205.9: 397
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2937

From Charles Lyell   6 October 1860

Summary

Wonders why the coracoid bone in the flightless Apteryx is so large when the clavicles are reduced. The clavicles are even separate in the ostrich. The large coracoid in reptiles is explained by the connection to the forelimbs.

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  6 Oct 1860
Classmark:  Kinnordy MS, Charles Lyell’s journal VII, pp. 21–2
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2940A

From Charles Lyell   24 November 1860

Summary

CL has calculated that elevation and subsidence of certain formations in Sweden and Norway take place at the rate of 2 1/2 feet per century. He now proposes to estimate the age of a bed by including a conjecture that pauses occur in the oscillations in the ratio of 4 periods of stasis to one of movement. Applying this formula to Scotland, the last subsidence and re-elevation would be 590,000 years and the age of the beds with human implements would be 20,000 years.

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  24 Nov 1860
Classmark:  Kinnordy MS, Charles Lyell’s journal VII, pp. 40–8
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2996A

From Charles Lyell   30 November 1860

Summary

Satisfied that CD finds his conjectured rate of elevation and long periods of stasis reasonable, even if these periods cannot be estimated. Explaining upheaval by subterranean lava flow makes these pauses plausible. Suspects that mountainous areas move more than lowland and coastal areas. General upheavals or subsidence in Europe in glacial period are unlikely. Believes with Jamieson that there was glacial action in Scotland before its submergence and that it was equally mountainous then. Subterranean upheaval visits different countries by turn. Horizontal Silurian strata must have been submerged and upheaved. Rest has always been the general surface character. Believes, however, that the quantity of late Tertiary movement is against CD’s belief in the constancy of continents and oceans: perhaps since the Miocene period, but not since the Cretaceous.

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  30 Nov 1860
Classmark:  Kinnordy MS, Charles Lyell’s journal VII, pp. 49–57
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-3001A
Document type
letter (16)
Author
Lyell, Charles[X]
Addressee
Correspondent
Darwin, C. R.[X]
Lyell, Charles (16)
Date
1860
02 (1)
05 (2)
06 (2)
08 (1)
09 (5)
10 (2)
11 (3)
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