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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Preyer   30 April 1871

April 30. 1871.

My Dear Sir,

I am very much obliged for your extremely kind letter.—1 Permit me to state that in making out a list of persons to whom to send my Descent of Man, I entirely forgot your name, as well as that of two or three others, in regard to whom I now regret extremely that my memory failed me.2 If you do not possess a copy, will you take the trouble to inform me, and I will immediately send one. Wallace’s suggestion, which you support, about separating Sexual Selection is a very good one, and I saw at the time the evil of the present union, but did not know how to avoid it.3 To remedy the evil would now consume more time than it is worth. I am much obliged for your promised present of the work on Blood-crystals, and will you thank very sincerely in anticipation Prof. Müller for his intended present.4 It is a never-failing regret to me that I read German so badly, but I am now too old and have too poor a capacity for languages to improve. I shall be particularly glad to see your paper on the external ear, as this will be very useful for any future corrected edition of my book.5 I was quite unaware of the inexplicable fact of the deficient ear-lap in negroes. Have not hedgehogs ears very like those of man in shape; I was told so lately, but have had no opportunity of looking at one?6 With respect to guinea pigs I ought to have said that there once existed a breed in Germany with dependent ears; for though I cannot remember my authority, I feel sure that it was trustworthy.7

Pray believe me | My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

I did not care at all about the Review in the Times, for it was obviously not written by a scientific man; I do not know who was the author.8


CD refers to the presentation list for Descent; see Correspondence vol. 19, Appendix IV.
See letter from William Preyer, 27 April 1871 and n. 3. CD refers to Alfred Russel Wallace.
CD refers to Preyer’s Die Blutkrystalle (Preyer 1871) and Wilhelm Müller’s Beiträge zur pathologischen Anatomie und Physiologie des menschlichen Rückenmarks (W. Müller 1871); see letter from William Preyer, 27 April 1871 and nn. 5 and 6.
See annotations to letter from Hubert Airy, 3 April 1871 and n. 3.


Is sending copy of Descent.

Thanks for copy of WP’s book [Die Blutkrystalle (1871)].

Discusses shape of external ear.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Thierry (William) Preyer
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 147: 265–7
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7729,” accessed on 19 March 2019,

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