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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Lonsdale   [c. June 1838]

My dear Lonsdale

I have passed my pen through the paragraph, very properly objected to by the Referee.—1

To page 5, I have added a note, which I should like to be printed if not against the rules, which I suppose it is not, as the appendage is permitted.— There is however, this difference that the note refers to a period, subsequent to the publication of the abstract of the paper.— Will you tear it up if against rules?—2

I cannot make up my mind whether the last sentence of the formerly appended page is ridiculous— it is I believe, quite true, but yet it sounds absurd. will you have the kindness to strike it ought, if it so appears to you.—3

I do not know whether the English of the paper wants improving. I cannot see anything obviously wrong.—

Yours ever truly | Chas Darwin

Monday. Morning36 Great Marlbr’ Stt.—

P.S. I will send the report Mr Austen’s paper soon.—4


The sentence was altered in the Transactions of the Geological Society, but the point remains the same as in the earlier version, i.e., worms had covered the marl put on a field eighty years ago with a layer of earth averaging twelve to thirteen inches in thickness. However, in a letter of 6 April 1844, to Gardeners’ Chronicle (Collected papers 1: 195–6) CD corrected the time to thirty years.
Robert Alfred Cloyne Austen (later Godwin-Austen) published three papers on the geology of Devonshire in the Proceedings of the Geological Society. The paper reviewed by CD was ‘On the origin of the limestones of Devonshire’ (Austen 1838). See letter to the Geological Society of London, 7 September 1838.


Austen, Robert Alfred Cloyne. 1838. On the origin of the limestones of Devonshire. [Read 25 April 1838.] Proceedings of the Geological Society of London (1833–8): 669– 70.

Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

‘Formation of mould’: On the formation of mould. [Read 1 November 1837.] Transactions of the Geological Society of London 2d ser. 5 (1840): 505–9. [Shorter publications, pp. 124–7.]


Responds to report of the referee [on his paper "The formation of mould"]. Strikes out a paragraph and wants to add a note. Asks WL’s advice about a sentence.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Lonsdale
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 36
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 417,” accessed on 27 July 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2