much nonsense, but I did not even taste Minerva's small beer to-day.

Yours most sincerely,


C. Darwin to C. Lyell.

Friday night, September 13th (1838). MY DEAR LYELL,

I was astonished and delighted at your gloriously long letter, and I am sure I am very much obliged to Mrs. Lyell for having taken the trouble to write so much.* I mean to have a good hour's enjoyment and scribble away to you, who have so much geological sympathy that I do not care how egotistically I write. .

I have got so much to say abcut all sorts of trifling things that I hardly know what to begin about. I need not say how pleased I am to hear that Mr. Lyell { likes my Journal. To hear such tidings is a kind of resurrection, for I feel towards my first-born child as if it had long since been dead, buried, and forgotten ; but the past is nothing and the future everything to us geologists, as you show in your capital motto to the ‘Elements. By the way, have you read the article, in the Edinburgh Review,' on M. Comte, Cours de la Philosophie' (or some such title)? It is capital; there are some fine sentences about the very essence of science being prediction, which reminded me of “its law being progress.”

I will now begin and go through your letter seriatim. I dare say your plan of putting the Elie de Beaumont's chapter separately and early will be very good ; anyhow, it is showing a bold front in the first edition which is to be translated into French. It will be a curious point to geologists hereafter to note how long a man's name will support a theory so completely exposed as that of De Beaumont's has been by you ; you say you "begin to hope that the great principles there insisted on will stand the test of time." Begin to hope : why,

* Lyell dictated much of his correspondence. + Father of the geologist.




the possibility of a doubt has never crossed my mind for many a day. This may be very unphilosophical, but my geological salvation is staked on it. After having just come back from Glen Roy, and found how difficulties smooth away under your principles, it makes me quite indignant that you should talk of hoping. With respect to the question, how far my coral theory bears on De Beaumont's theory, I think it would be prudent to quote me with great caution until my whole account is published, and then you (and others) can judge how far there is foundation for such generalisation. Mind, I do not doubt its truth ; but the extension of any view over such large spaces, from comparatively few facts, must be received with much caution. I do not myself the least doubt that within the recent (or as you, much to my annoyment, would call it, “New Pliocene”) period, tortuous bands—not all the bands parallel to each other-have been elevated and corresponding ones subsided, though within the same period some parts probably remained for a time stationary, or even subsided. I do not believe a more utterly false view could have been invented than great straight lines being suddenly

thrown up.

When my book on Volcanoes and Coral Reefs will be published I hardly know; I fear it will be at least four or five months; though, mind, the greater part is written. I find so much time is lost in correcting details and ascertaining their accuracy. The Government Zoological work is a millstone round my neck, and the Glen Roy paper has lost me six weeks. I will not, however, say lost; for, supposing I can prove to others' satisfaction what I have convinced myself is the case, the inference I think you will allow to be important. I cannot doubt that the molten matter beneath the earth's crust possesses a high degree of fluidity, almost like the sea beneath the block ice. By the way, I hope you will give me some Swedish case to quote, of shells being preserved on the surface, but not in contemporaneous beds of gravel.

Remember what I have often heard you say : the country

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is very bad for the intellects; the Scotch mists will put out some volcanic speculations. You see I am affecting to become very Cockneyfied, and to despise the poor countryfolk, who breathe fresh air instead of smoke, and see the goodly fields instead of the brick houses in Marlborough Street, the very sight of which I confess I abhor. I am glad to hear what a favourable report you give of the British Association. I am the more pleased because I have been fighting its battles with Basil Hall, Stokes, and several others, having made up my mind, from the report in the Atheneum, that it must have been an excellent meeting. I have been much amused with an account I have received of the wars of Don Roderick * and Babbage. What a grievous pity it is that the latter should be so implacable. . . . This is a most rigmarole letter, for after each sentence I take breath, and you will have need of it in reading it. ...

I wish with all my heart that my Geological book was out. I have every motive to work hard, and will, following your steps, work just that degree of hardness to keep well. I should like my volume to be out before your new edition of 'Principles' appears. Besides the Coral theory, the volcanic chapters will, I think, contain some new facts. I have lately been sadly tempted to be idle—that is, as far as pure geology is concerned-by the delightful number of new views which have been coming in thickly and steadily,-on the classification and affinities and instincts of animals—bearing on the question of species. Note-book after note-book has been filled with facts which begin to group themselves clearly under sub-laws.

Good night, my dear Lyell. I have filled my letter and enjoyed my talk to you as much as I can without having you in propria persona. Think of the bad effects of the countryso once more good night.

CHAS. DARWIN. Pray again give my best thanks to Mrs. Lyell.

Ever yours,

* Murchison,




[The record of what he wrote during the year does not give a true index of the most important work that was in progress,--the laying of the foundation-stones of what was to be the achievement of his life. This is shown in the foregoing letter to Lyell, where he speaks of being “idle," and the following extract from a letter to Fox, written in June, is of interest in this point of view:

"I am delighted to hear you are such a good man as not to have forgotten my questions about the crossing of animals. It is my prime hobby, and I really think some day I shall be able to do something in that most intricate subject, species and varieties."]

1839 to 1841.

[In the winter of 1839 (Jan. 29) my father was married to his cousin, Emma Wedgwood.* The house in which they lived for the first few years of their married life, No. 12 Upper Gower Street, was a small common-place London house, with a drawing-room in front, and a small room behind, in which they lived for the sake of quietness. In later years my father used to laugh over the surpassing ugliness of the furniture, carpets, &c., of the Gower Street house. The only redeeming feature was a better garden than most London houses have, a strip as wide as the house, and thirty yards long. Even this small space of dingy grass made their London house more tolerable to its two country-bred inhabitants.

Of his life in London he writes to Fox (October 1839): We are living a life of extreme quietness; Delamere itself, which you describe as so secluded a spot, is, I will answer for it, quite dissipated compared with Gower Street,

We have given up all parties, for they agree with neither of us; and if one is quiet in London, there is nothing like its quiet

Daughter of Josiah Wedgwood of Maer, and grand-daughter of the founder of the Etruria Works.

ness—there is a grandeur about its smoky fogs, and the dull distant sounds of cabs and coaches ; in fact you may perceive I am becoming a thorough-paced Cockney, and I glory in thoughts that I shall be here for the next six months.”

The entries of ill health in the Diary increase in number during these years, and as a consequence the holidays become longer and more frequent. From April 26 to May 13, 1839, he was at Maer and Shrewsbury. Again, from August 23 to October 2 he was away from London at Maer, Shrewsbury, and at Birmingham for the meeting of the British Association.

The entry under August 1839 is: “During my visit to Maer, read a little, was much unwell and scandalously idle. I have derived this much good, that nothing is so intolerable as idleness."

At the end of 1839 his eldest child was born, and it was then that he began his observations ultimately published in the 'Expression of the Emotions.' His book on this subject, and the short paper published in ‘Mind,'* show how closely he observed his child. He seems to have been surprised at his own feelings for a young baby, for he wrote to Fox (July 1840): "He [i.e. the baby] is so charming that I cannot pretend to any modesty. I defy anybody to flatter us on our baby, for I defy any one to say anything in its praise of which we are not fully conscious. . . . I had not the smallest conception there was so much in a five-month baby. You will perceive by this that I have a fine degree of paternal fervour."

During these years he worked intermittently at 'Coral Reefs,' being constantly interrupted by ill health. Thus he speaks of “recommencing” the subject in February 1839, and again in the October of the same year, and once more in July 1841, “after more than thirteen months' interval." His other scientific work consisted of a contribution to the Geo

* July 1877

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