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Darwin Correspondence Project

To H. G. Bronn   [c. 25 February 1860]1


Shoulder-pad. is the thick, almost horny skin on the shoulder

of the wild Boar, which is said to serve as defence to tusks of other boars: I have not examined this myself.—2

Cross & intercross.— There is no difference: I ought not to have used both terms: an English friend has complained of this mistake of mine.—3

Structure anything visible to eye in appearance of parts

Constitution. rate of pulse—period of gestation—length of life—liability to certain diseases—degree of fertility &c &c &c.

Habit—whether diurnal or nocturnal—what kind of food an animal prefers— Habit may, also, be applied to instincts; but it is rather a loose word, often used in English. It differs little from instinct; but would never be applied to the more wonderful instincts. We might say that the owl had nocturnal habits; but instinct impelled it to build its nest.— The optic nerve being fitted to see in the dark we should call a constitutional difference—the great size of eyes a structural difference.—

I am astonished & much pleased that you think the Translation will be ready by May.—4 Most truly do I thank you for the great honour & benefit which you have conferred on me.—

Honoured Sir, Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


The recipient and the date are inferred from CD’s remark in the following letter that he has had a second letter from Bronn containing queries relating to Bronn’s translation of Origin into German. Bronn’s letter, to which CD’s is a reply, has not been found.
The term ‘shoulder-pad’ was used in Origin, p. 88.
Both terms occur frequently and interchangeably in Origin. CD did nothing to correct the usage in later editions.
The letter to H. G. Bronn, 10 April [1860], indicates that CD received copies of the first part of the German translation of Origin in April. According to the Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel und die mit ihm verwandten Geschäftszweige 27 (1860), pp. 683, 874, 1166, the three parts of Bronn trans. 1860 were issued on 4 April, 2 May, and 11 June 1860.


Discusses meaning of various English scientific terms.

Is much pleased that translation [of Origin, 1st German ed.] will be ready by May.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Heinrich Georg Bronn
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (340)
Physical description
1p inc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2699,” accessed on 22 May 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8