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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Alphonse de Candolle1   15 March 1868

Genève

15 Mars 1868.

Mon cher Monsieur

Vous avez eu la bonté de m’envoyer les deux volumes que vous venez de publier.2 Je vous en remercie extremement et me propose de les emporter comme ma seule lecture dans un petit séjour que je ferai, dans un mois, aux bains de Schinznach.3 Pour ne pas entamer trop sur ce plaisir je n’ai fait actuellement que jeter un coup d’œil rapide. J’ai vu le plan général et par occasion je vous remercierai de l’attention que vous avez bien voulu donner à mon Geographie botanique au point de vue de l’origine des espèces cultivées.4 Vous m’aurez sans doute completé et corrigé sur beaucoup de points. Je vous félicite d’etre arrivé au bout de cette entreprise, malgré l’etat précaire de votre santé. Vous êtes, avec mon collègue le DrClaparède, un example de l’indépendance du systeme cérébral et de tout le reste de l’organisme,5 au lieu que nous autres de la grande majorité des hommes, nous sentons décliner nos facultés au moindre malaise physique. C’est fort heureux pour la science.

Nos géologues sont occupés depuis quelques jours de la découverte d’ossements et d’outils de l’age de la pierre, faite dans une localité mille et mille fois parcourue des environs de Genève. Il s’agit de carrières exploitées depuis longtemps au pied de Salève, à 4 milles anglais de Genève, sur le chemin de tous les promeneurs.6 On y trouve abondamment de petites haches en pierre, quelques unes avec des dessins d’animaux, et des ossements de renne, chien, marmotte etc. Des sables de la nature de ceux de la riviere d’Arve7 indiquent une èpoque postglaciaire, mais à mon avis ancienne, car le niveau de l’Arve est beaucoup plus bas et assez éloigné. Mon impression est que la disparition des glaciers de notre vallée du lac de Genève est fort antérieure à l’epoque historique, mais on n’a pas de mesure du temps pour ces sortes de phénomènes. Mr Favre qui vient de publier un grand ouvrage (3 vol. et atlas) sur la géologie de la Savoie, fruit de 30 ans de recherches, a bien etudié ces questions, et n’est pas aussi enclin que moi à reculer l’époque glaciaire.8 On trouvera une fois, il faut espérer, des preuves du temps écoulé.

Le libraire Lovell a du vous remettre de ma part un exemplaire de la traduction anglaise qu’il a publiée de mon opuscule des Lois de la nomenclature botanique.9 Je lui avais demandé de le faire. Dans ce travail je suis tout à fait d’accord avec les botanistes anglais et avec les principaux des francais. Il y a d’autres manieres de voir en Allemagne et en Suède et c’est beaucoup ce qui m’a décidé à exposer mes motifs.10

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix I.
Candolle’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Variation (see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix IV).
Schinznach-Bad is a spa with sulphuric spring treatments near Aarau in the Aargau canton of northern Switzerland (EB).
CD had frequently referred to Candolle’s work, Géographie botanique (A. de Candolle 1855), in Variation, especially in chapters 9 and 10 on cultivated plants (Variation 1: 305–72).
Edouard Claparède had left his post as professor of zoology and comparative anatomy at the Faculty of Sciences of the Academy of Geneva in 1865 owing to ill health.
Mont Salève is an isolated limestone mountain range in Haute-Savoie Départment, south-east France, near Annemasse, overlooking Geneva (Columbia gazetteer of the world).
The Arve is a river in Haute-Savoie Départment, south-east France, and Switzerland.
Candolle refers to Alphonse Favre and to Favre 1867. The Savoy is a region in south-east France, bounded by Switzerland, Italy, Lake Geneva, and the Rhône river. The central part is occupied by the outer ranges of the Savoy Alps (Columbia gazetteer of the world).
Lovell Reeve & Co. published Candolle’s Laws of botanical nomenclature adopted by the International Botanical Congress held at Paris in August, 1867 (A. de Candolle 1868). It has not been found in the Darwin Libraries at CUL or Down, but there is a copy of the original French version (A. de Candolle 1867), inscribed by the author, in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Candolle’s study is divided into two parts: the first presents the laws of nomenclature as agreed by the Botanical Congress, while the second part provides a commentary, citing examples from a wide variety of botanical works, justifying the system adopted.

Translation

From Alphonse de Candolle1   15 March 1868

Geneva

15 March 1868.

My dear Sir,

You were good enough to send me the two volumes that you have just published.2 I thank you excessively for them and propose to take them with me as my only reading matter on a short stay at the Schinznach Baths3 that I will make in a month’s time. In order not to preempt that pleasure, I have currently done no more than cast a quick glance through them. I have noted the general plan and would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the attention that you were kind enough to pay to my Geographie botanique from the point of view of the origin of cultivated species.4 You will, no doubt, have supplemented and corrected me on many points. I congratulate you on having completed this enterprise in spite of the precarious state of your health. Like my colleague Dr Claparède, you are an example of the independence of the cerebral system from the rest of the organism,5 unlike those of us among the great majority of men, who feel our abilities decline at the least physical discomfort. This is a very happy thing for science.

Our geologists have been occupied for some days now with the discovery of bones and tools from the Stone Age in an area on the outskirts of Geneva that has been traversed thousands of times. It consists of quarries which have been exploited for a long time, at the foot of the Salève, 4 English miles from Geneva, on a route taken by every walker.6 Small stone axes, some with animal designs, are found here in abundance, and the bones of reindeer, dog, marmot, etc. Sands like those from the river Arve7 indicate a post-glacial epoch, but one which, in my opinion, is still ancient, for the level of the Arve is much lower, and fairly distant. My impression is that the disappearance of the glaciers from our valley of Lake Geneva occurred well before the historical epoch, but there is no standard of time measurement for such phenomena. Mr Favre, who has just published a large work (3 vols. and atlas) on the geology of the Savoy, the fruit of 30 years of research, has studied these questions carefully and is not as inclined as I am to extend the glacial epoch back in time.8 One must hope that proof of the time that has elapsed will be found one day.

The publisher Lovell ought to have sent you on my behalf a copy of the English translation he published of my little treatise on the Laws of botanical nomenclature.9 I asked him to do so. In this work, I am in complete agreement with English botanists and with the leading French botanists. There are other viewpoints in Germany and Sweden, and this is very much what made me decide to set out my reasons.10

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original French, see part I: 268–9
Candolle’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Variation (see Correspondence vol.16, Appendix IV).
Schinznach-Bad is a spa with sulphuric spring treatments near Aarau in the Aargau canton of northern Switzerland (EB).
CD had frequently referred to Candolle’s work, Géographie botanique (A. de Candolle 1855), in Variation, especially in chapters 9 and 10 on cultivated plants (Variation 1: 305–72).
Edouard Claparède had left his post as professor of zoology and comparative anatomy at the Faculty of Sciences of the Academy of Geneva in 1865 owing to ill health.
Mont Salève is an isolated limestone mountain range in Haute-Savoie Départment, south-east France, near Annemasse, overlooking Geneva (Columbia gazetteer of the world).
The Arve is a river in Haute-Savoie Départment, south-east France, and Switzerland.
Candolle refers to Alphonse Favre and to Favre 1867. The Savoy is a region in south-east France, bounded by Switzerland, Italy, Lake Geneva, and the Rhône river. The central part is occupied by the outer ranges of the Savoy Alps (Columbia gazetteer of the world).
Lovell Reeve & Co. published Candolle’s Laws of botanical nomenclature adopted by the International Botanical Congress held at Paris in August, 1867 (A. de Candolle 1868). It has not been found in the Darwin Libraries at CUL or Down, but there is a copy of the original French version (A. de Candolle 1867), inscribed by the author, in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Candolle’s study is divided into two parts: the first presents the laws of nomenclature as agreed by the Botanical Congress, while the second part provides a commentary, citing examples from a wide variety of botanical works, justifying the system adopted.

Summary

Thanks for Variation.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-6013
From
Alphonse de Candolle
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Geneva
Source of text
DAR 161: 13

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6013,” accessed on 16 July 2019, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6013

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16

letter