To Ernst Haeckel 3 July 1868
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
July 3 1868
My dear Häckel
Many thanks for your kind letter of June 22.1
I am astonished at the amount of work which you are doing; but take care of yourself, & remember how easily the brain is injured & how long a time it takes to regain its strength, as I have known in several instances. Thank you much for the present of your two small works. I am particularly glad to receive that on Man, tho’ probably less important under a scientific point of view than the other; for I intend to publish in about a year’s time a short essay on the descent of Man, & this will include a long & full discussion on Sexual Selection. Hence I shall read with much interest your essay on Man, tho’ it will take me some time as I get on so slowly with German.2
Your great work on General Morphology is getting better known in England, & I often see it alluded to. It has lately been reviewed, but not altogether favorably, by Mr Bentham in his Annual address to the Linnean Soc.3
I am very much obliged for your information about the Hare–rabbits.4 I cannot express sufficient astonishment at hearing that the hybrids are fertile inter se. If I did not know that you yourself had examined these animals I shd not have thought the statement that they were hybrids was worth a moment’s consideration. I suppose they are strictly intermediate in character, & I suppose you have attended to such points as the period at which the newly born animals open their eyelids,—the tendency to make burrows,—the number of the mammæ,—the colour & flavour of the flesh when cooked &c. After the discredit which has been thrown upon the French statements I hope you will be very careful, for I must confess I cannot help being sceptical, & therefore I ought not to be honoured by my name being attached to these animals, which if they really are hybrids are by far the most wonderful ever produced.5
I do not in the least doubt the veracity of Dr. Conrad,6 but I have known such cases, as a servant, either out of spite, or thinking to please his master, introduce for a short time a male to a female which would not breed. Might not this have occurred with Dr Conrad? Did he witness the copulation? Forgive my extreme scepticism.—
My health has been worse lately & if I can travel, I shall soon go to the sea for 5 or 6 weeks.—7 With most kind & cordial feelings towards you, | believe me, yours very sincerely | C. Darwin
Thanks for two small works.
Will read essay on man [Entstehung des Menschengeschlechts] with much interest.
Generelle Morphologie reviewed by G. Bentham ["Anniversary Address", Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. (1867–8): lviii–c].
Extremely sceptical of hare–rabbit hybrid.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6265,” accessed on 12 February 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6265