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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Ernst Haeckel   3 March 1871

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Mar 3 1871

My dear Häckel

I must send you a few words to thank you for your interesting &, I may truly say, charming letter.1 I am delighted that you approve of my book, as far as you have read it. I felt very great difficulty & doubt how often I ought to allude to what you have published.2 Strictly speaking, every idea, altho’ occurring independently to me, if published by you previously, ought to have appeared as if taken from your works. But this wd have made my book very dull reading; & I hoped that a full acknowledgement at the beginning wd suffice.3 I cannot tell you how glad I am to find that I have expressed my high admiration of your labours with sufficient clearness,— I am sure that I have not expressed it too strongly. I cordially admire your devoted zeal for science, which has led you to prefer staying at Jena, instead of accepting the grand position at Vienna, so that you might do more original work.4 But you must have felt this offer as a highly gratifying honour. The only man whom I have known in England, who under similar circumstances wd have acted as you have, was our illustrious Faraday—5 We had a good laugh at Jena being at least bigger than Down.

When shall we see you here again?6 It wd give us all great pleasure, & my wife desires her very kind remembrances to you—

You will be glad to hear that my book has sold largely, viz 2500 copies in the first week & now they are printing 1500 more. I expect that I shall get very much abused for it, & I grieve to say that I have already detected 2 or 3 bad blunders.7

I wish you all success in yr interesting researches on the spunges & in every thing else which you may undertake—8

Believe me | my dear Häckel | yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin


For Haeckel’s views on the origin of the human race, see Haeckel 1868a and 1868b. CD’s copies of these works are in the Darwin Library–CUL.
CD cited some of Haeckel’s published works, notably Haeckel 1868b, and referred to Haeckel as the only author who had discussed sexual selection and seen its full importance (see Descent 1: 4–5 and n. 2).
Michael Faraday’s entire career was spent at the Royal Institution.
Haeckel had visited CD on 21 October 1866 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
CD had assisted Haeckel in obtaining specimens of British calcareous sponges (see Correspondence vol. 17, letter to Ernst Haeckel, 3 August [1869]). A copy of Haeckel’s monograph on these sponges (Haeckel 1872a) is in the Darwin Library–CUL.


Comments on Descent.

EH’s refusal of position at Vienna.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Ernst Philipp August (Ernst) Haeckel
Sent from
Source of text
Ernst-Haeckel-Haus, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7534,” accessed on 26 March 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19