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Letter 5349

Darwin, C. R. to Haeckel, E. P. A.

8 Jan 1867

    Summary Add

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    Comments on EH's "great work" [Generelle Morphologie].

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    An English translation "hopeless".

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    Asks about EH's expedition.

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    MS of Variation sent to printers.

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    Fritz Müller working on plants.


Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Jan 8th. 1867

My dear Prof. Haeckel

I received some weeks ago your great work. I have read several parts, but I am too poor a German scholar and the book is too large for me to read it all; I cannot tell you how much I regret this, for I am sure that nearly the whole would interest me greatly, and I have already found several parts very useful, such as the discussion on cells, and on the different forms of reproduction. I feel sure after considering the subject deliberately, and after consulting with Huxley, that it would be hopeless to endeavour to get a publisher to print an English translation; the work is too profound and too long for our English country-men.

The number of new terms would also I am sure tell much against its sale; and indeed I wish for my own sake that you had printed a glossary of all the new terms which you use. I fully expect that your book will be highly successful in Germany; and the manner in which you often refer to me in your text, and your dedication and the title I shall always look at as one of the greatest honours conferred on me during my life.

I sincerely hope that you have had a prosperous expedition and have met with many new and interesting animals   If you have spare time, I should much like to hear what you have been doing and observing. As for myself I have sent the M.S. of my book on ``Domestic Animals &c'' to the printers; it turned out to be much too large; it will not be published I suppose until next November. I find that we have discussed several of the same subjects, and I think we agree on most points fairly well. I have lately heard several times from Fritz Müller, but he seems now cheifly to be working on plants. I often think of your visit to this house, which I enjoyed extremely, and it will ever be to me a real pleasure to remember our acquaintance. From what I heard in London, I think you made many friends there, Shall you return through England; if so, and you can spare the time, we shall all be delighted to see you here again.

With cordial good wishes for your success in every way, believe | Dear Haeckel | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 5349.f1
    CD refers to Haeckel's Generelle Morphologie (Haeckel 1866). He had earlier received a proof-sheet of the book (see Correspondence vol. 14, letter to Ernst Haeckel, 18 August [1866]). There is an annotated copy of Haeckel 1866 in the Darwin Library--CUL (see Marginalia 1: 355--7).
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    f2 5349.f2
    CD also mentioned the difficulty he was having in reading Haeckel 1866 in the letter to Fritz Müller, [before 10 December 1866], the letter to T. H. Huxley, 22 December [1866] (Correspondence vol. 14), and the letter to T. H. Huxley, 7 January [1867] (this volume). For Haeckel's discussion of cells, see Haeckel 1866, 1: 269--89; for his discussion of different forms of reproduction see ibid., 2: 32--109. These sections are lightly annotated in CD's copy (see Marginalia 1: 355--7).
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    f3 5349.f3
    CD consulted Thomas Henry Huxley in his letter of 22 December [1866] (Correspondence vol. 14). For Huxley's reply, see his letter of [before 7 January 1867]; see also letter to T. H. Huxley, 7 January [1867], and L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 288--9.
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    f4 5349.f4
    See also letter to T. H. Huxley, 7 January [1867] and n. 3.
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    f5 5349.f5
    The subtitle to Haeckel 1866 reads: `Allgemeine Grundzüge der organischen Formen-Wissenschaft, mechanisch begründet durch die von Charles Darwin reformirte Descendenz-Theorie' (General outline of the science of organic form, mechanically established through the theory of descent, reformed by Charles Darwin). The second volume of Haeckel 1866 has the following dedication: `Den begründern der Descendenz-Theorie, den denkenden Naturforschern, Charles Darwin, Wolfgang Goethe, Jean Lamarck, widmet diese Grundzüge der allgemeinen Entwickelungsgeschichte in vorzüglicher Verehrung' (To the founders of descent-theory, the thinking naturalists, Charles Darwin, Wolfgang Goethe, Jean Lamarck, this outline of general developmental history is dedicated with greatest respect). See also ibid., 2: 166--70, for Haeckel's discussion of Darwinism.
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    f6 5349.f6
    In his letter to Fritz Müller of [before 10 December 1866] (Correspondence vol. 14) CD mentioned that Haeckel would be in Madeira over the winter working largely on the Medusae; see also this volume, letter to T. H. Huxley, 7 January [1867] and n. 4. In the event, Haeckel and two students spent most of the winter at Lanzarote, where they studied hydrozoans and siphonophores (Krauße 1987, pp. 76--7).
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    f7 5349.f7
    CD refers to Variation (see letter to John Murray, 3 January [1867], and letter to T. H. Huxley, 7 January [1867] and n. 5).
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    f8 5349.f8
    CD's most recent letters from Fritz Müller were those of 1 and 3 October 1866, [2 November 1866], and 1 December 1866 (Correspondence vol. 14).
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    f9 5349.f9
    Haeckel visited Down House on 21 October 1866 (see Correspondence vol. 14).
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    f10 5349.f10
    Haeckel met Huxley and Charles Lyell while in London in 1866 (see Krauße 1987, pp. 76--7).
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