To Ernst Haeckel 27 December 1871
Down, | Beckenham, Kent.
Dec 27. 1871
My dear Häckel
I thank you for yr very interesting letter, which it has given me much pleasure to receive. I never heard of any thing so odd as a Prior in the holy Catholic Church believing in our ape-like progenitors.1 I much hope that the Jesuits will not dislodge him.
What a wonderfully active man you are! & I rejoice that you have been so successful in yr work on sponges.
Your book with 60 plates will be magnificent.2 I shall be glad to learn what you think of Clarke’s view about sponges being flagellate infusorians: some observers in this country believe in him.3 I am glad you are going fully to consider inheritance, which is an all-important subject for us. I do not know whether you have ever read my Chapter on Pangenesis:4 my ideas have been almost universally despised; & I suppose that I was foolish to publish them; yet I must still think that there is some truth in them; any how they have aided me much in making me clearly understand the facts of inheritance.
I have had bad health this last summer, & during 2 months was able to do nothing.5 But I have now almost finished a new edit. of the Origin, which Victor Carus is translating. There is not much new in it, except one chapter in which I have answered, I hope satisfactorily, Mr Mivart’s supposed difficulty on the incipient development of useful structures. I have also given my reasons for quite disbelieving in great & sudden modifications.6 I am preparing an essay on expression in man & the lower animals; it has little importance, but has interested me.7 I doubt whether my strength will last for much more serious work. I hope however to publish next summer the results of my long continued experiments on the wonderful advantages derived from crossing.8 I shall continue to work as long as I can; but it does not much signify when I stop, as there are so many good men fully as capable, perhaps more capable than myself, of carrying on our work; & of these you rank as the first.
With cordial good wishes for your success in all your work, & for your happiness, believe me | my dear Häckel | yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin
- Letter no.
- Darwin, C. R.
- Haeckel, E. P. A.
- Sent from
- Source of text
- Ernst-Haeckel-Haus, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena (Bestand A Abt. 1–52/26)
- Physical description
Refers to priest who believes in "our ape-like progenitors".
EH’s work on sponges.
Describes new edition of Origin [6th]
and his work on plant crossing.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8121,” accessed on 13 February 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-8121