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Darwin Correspondence Project

From K. S. Sievert1   1 February 1874

1. Febr. 1874.

Herrn Darwin

Hochgeehrte Herr!

The Examiner (Jan. 24. 74) habe so eben erhalten. Verbindlichen Dank für freundliche Aufmerksamkeit. Ebenso Herrn G. H. Darwin meinen Dank.3

Der “Communisten-Staat” hat zuerst wesentlich dazu beigetragen, Ihre Lehre bei den besitzenden Klassen in Deutschland populär zu machen, denn die besitzenden Klassen begreifen in der Regel zunächst nur, was ihnen im Kampfe um ihr Eigenthum nützlich ist.

Die neue Auflage vom “Alter des Menschengeschlechts” werden Sie inzwischen ebenfalls erhalten haben.4 Die günstige und wohlwollende Aufnahme, welche dieselbe beim Landvolke gefunden, hat mich wahrhaft überrascht. Unser deutsches Landvolk ist sehr conservativ und allem Neuen sehr schwer zugänglich. Wer aber das deutsche Landvolk hat, der hat die deutsche Zukunft. Die grossen Städte produciren bei uns, mit seltenen Ausnahmen, fast nur Bummler und Schwätzer. Das Land aber producirt stets neu die Intelligenzen und Capacitäten der Zukunft.

Sie können also schon heute mit grosser Sicherheit annehmen, die Zukunft in Deutschland gehört Ihnen und Ihrer Lehre.

Darf ich Kap. VII. im Alter des Menschengeschlechts Ihrer Aufmerksamkeit empfehlen?5

Und darf ich mir erlauben, Ihnen meine und meiner Frau Photographie beizulegen?6

Genehmigen Sie die Versicherung vorzüglichster Hochachtung und Ergebenheit | Carl Siegwart | Sievert

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Appendix I.
Probably now Werder-Havel, near Potsdam.
George Howard Darwin had published a review of Sievert’s Der Communisten-Staat (The communist state; Sievert 1873a) in the Examiner, 24 January 1874, pp. 88–9 (G. H. Darwin 1874a). Sievert 1873a was dedicated to CD, Charles Lyell, Henry Thomas Buckle, and Thomas Robert Malthus. Sievert discussed historical German communistic or feudal societies, remarking that in the theory of evolution not every new variation was necessarily an improvement, which George took to mean that he thought communism was a retrogressive variation or atavism.
There is a copy of Sievert’s Alter des Menschengeschlechts (Antiquity of man; Sievert 1873b) in the Darwin Library–Down, and an 1874 reprint in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
In this brief chapter (Sievert 1873b, pp. 27–30), Sievert speaks of a ‘big gap’ between mechanistic and vitalistic accounts of the universe, and recommends that recent theories of the origin of life be applied to extraterrestrial affairs: our reading of the ‘heavenly clockworks’ must be augmented by more organicist interpretations, allowing the category of ‘will’ to permeate our conception of the entire universe.
The photograph of Sievert and his wife has not been found.

Translation

From K. S. Sievert1   1 February 1874

1. Febr. 1874.

To Mister Darwin

Most venerated Sir!

Have just now received The Examiner (Jan. 24, 74). Thank you kindly for this gift. Thanks also to Mr. G. H. Darwin.3

The “Communisten-Staat” initially helped considerably in making your theory popular among the propertied classes in Germany, for the propertied classes as a rule comprehend initially only what serves them in the struggle for property.

By now you will also have received the new edition of “Alter des Menschengeschlechts”.4 I was genuinely surprised by the favourable and benevolent reception which it found amongst the country folk. Our German country people are very conservative and not very amenable to anything new. Yet, who has the support of the German country folk commands the future of Germany. With very few exceptions, the large towns over here produce almost exclusively idlers and windbags. The country, on the other hand, time and again produces the intellects and authorities of tomorrow.

This is why you can assume already with great certainty that the Germany of tomorrow belongs to you and your theory.

May I recommend chapter 7 in Alter des Menschengeschlechts for your attention?5

And may I permit myself to enclose a photograph of myself and my wife?6

Allow me to assure you of my highest respect and devotion | Carl Siegwart | Sievert.

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original German, see pp. QQQQ.
Probably now Werder-Havel, near Potsdam.
George Howard Darwin had published a review of Sievert’s Der Communisten-Staat (The communist state; Sievert 1873a) in the Examiner, 24 January 1874, pp. 88–9 (G. H. Darwin 1874a). Sievert 1873a was dedicated to CD, Charles Lyell, Henry Thomas Buckle, and Thomas Robert Malthus. Sievert discussed historical German communistic or feudal societies, remarking that in the theory of evolution not every new variation was necessarily an improvement, which George took to mean that he thought communism was a retrogressive variation or atavism.
There is a copy of Sievert’s Alter des Menschengeschlechts (Antiquity of man; Sievert 1873b) in the Darwin Library–Down, and an 1874 reprint in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
In this brief chapter (Sievert 1873b, pp. 27–30), Sievert speaks of a ‘big gap’ between mechanistic and vitalistic accounts of the universe, and recommends that recent theories of the origin of life be applied to extraterrestrial affairs: our reading of the ‘heavenly clockworks’ must be augmented by more organicist interpretations, allowing the category of ‘will’ to permeate our conception of the entire universe.
The photograph of Sievert and his wife has not been found.

Summary

Thanks CD for copy of Examiner.

Fear of communism is making CD’s theory popular among possessing classes.

Describes reception of Lyell’s Antiquity of man among German country people.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-9262
From
Karl Siegwart Sievert
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Pechylswerder a.d. Havel
Source of text
DAR 177: 161
Physical description
3pp (German)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9262,” accessed on 23 August 2019, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-9262

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22

letter