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Darwin Correspondence Project

From F. C. Donders1   17 April 1872

Utrecht,

17 Avril | 1872,

My dear and most honoured Sir,—

J’éprouve le besoin de répondre encore en quelques mots à votre dernière lettre, et je l’aurais fait immédiatement, si je n’avais été indisposé. Vous parlez de “strike out a good deal, and only give some facts and quote what you have told me”—.2 Je ne me pardonnerais jamais, d’avoir été la cause involontaire de quelque suppression de votre part. Nous autres, spécialistes, nous sommes heureux de mettre nos connaissances à votre disposition. Tout le monde a fait la même chose à l’égard d’Alexandre de Humboldt. Ce sont de purs renseignements.— Si vous croyez qu’il suffit d’être physiologiste pour écrire un livre sur l’expression, qui fasse faire un pas à la Science, vous vous trompez: nous l’attendons de vous, d’après votre conception, qui vous est propre et qui se rattache à l’esprit qui a dicté tous vos ouvrages. Soyez en bien assuré, si nous avons le bonheur de recevoir un livre de votre main, ce sont les grandes qualités qui frappent et—suffisent. Qui aurait l’esprit assez étreint et borné pour faire attention et pour se complaire à quelque petite inexactitude en matière de physiologie ou de toute autre science accessoire?— Permettez-moi donc de vous prier de ne rien effacer de ce que vous avez écrit que le strict nécessaire. Si vous y tenez haut, de ne vous rendre coupable du moindre peché contre la physiologie, et si vous continuez à m’honorer de votre confiance, envoyez-moi tout simplement les épreuves des parties où il y a question de physiologie spéciale; je les examinerai directement et vous les renverrez; je ne suis plus occupé au même point que jadis.— Il est très probable que je viendrai vous rendre visite vers la fin du mois de juillet, si vous le permettez.3

Avec la plus haute considération | Votre devoué | Donders

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 20, Appendix I.
See letter to F. C. Donders, 8 April 1872. Donders quotes verbatim from CD’s letter.
In the event, Donders probably did not visit (see letter from F. C. Donders, 14 July 1872 and n. 3).

Translation

From F. C. Donders1   17 April 1872

Utrecht,

17 April | 1872,

My dear and most honoured Sir,—

I feel the need to reply again with a few words to your last letter, and I would have done so immediately, had I not been indisposed. You speak of “strike out a good deal, and only give some facts and quote what you have told me”.—2 I should never forgive myself for having been the unwitting cause of some suppression on your part. We specialists are happy to place our knowledge at your disposal. Everyone did the same for Alexander von Humboldt. It is just information.— If you believe that it suffices to be a physiologist in order to write a book on expression that can make Science advance a single step, you are wrong: we are expecting it of you, according to your conception, which is peculiar to you and allied to the spirit that has dictated all your work. Rest assured that, if we have the happiness of receiving a book from your hand, it is the great qualities that strike one and—suffice. Who could have such a narrow and limited mind as to pay attention to or take pleasure in some slight inaccuracy in matters of physiology or some other subordinate science?— So allow me to beg you not to delete anything that you have written other than the strictly necessary. If you care greatly about not rendering yourself culpable of the least sin against physiology, and if you continue to honour me with your confidence, simply send me the proofs of the parts which concern physiology specifically; I shall examine them directly and send them back to you; I am no longer occupied to the same degree as formerly.— It is very probable that I shall pay you a visit towards the end of July, if you allow me.3

With the greatest respect, I am | Yours sincerely | Donders

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original French, see pp. 162–3.
See letter to F. C. Donders, 8 April 1872. Donders quotes verbatim from CD’s letter.
In the event, Donders probably did not visit (see letter from F. C. Donders, 14 July 1872 and n. 3).

Summary

Protests against CD’s statement that FCD’s letter will make him "strike out a good deal". He would never pardon himself for being the cause of any suppression by CD. It is for specialists to put their knowledge at CD’s service. He is mistaken if he thinks a knowledge of physiology is sufficient for writing a book on expression. It is CD’s conception and spirit that all await. Offers to read those parts of the proofs of Expression dealing with physiology.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-8290
From
Frans Cornelis (Franciscus Cornelius) Donders
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Utrecht
Source of text
DAR 162: 231
Physical description
3pp (French)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8290,” accessed on 19 August 2019, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-8290

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20

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