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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Ernst Haeckel1   1 March 1872

Jena

1 März 72

Hochverehrter theurer Freund!

Für Ihren lieben letzten Brief und für die gütige Übersendung der VI. Edition Ihres “Origin” sage ich Ihnen meinen freundlichsten Dank.2 Ich habe mich sehr gefreut, dass wieder einige neue tausend Exemplare Ihres grossen Reformations-Werkes in die Welt hinausgehen und der im Dunkeln tappenden Menschheit den Weg zur Wahrheit mit der Leuchte der Entwickelungs-theorie erhellen. Mögen noch eben so viele Auflagen Ihrer Werke nachfolgen, als schon erschienen sind!

Dass Ihre Gesundheit Ihnen wieder so viel Störung verursacht hat, habe ich sehr bedauert, und hoffe, der Sommer soll Ihnen Besserung und Kräfte wieder bringen.3

Ich selbst bin diesen Winter auch nicht zufrieden. Die Arbeiten häufen sich gar zu sehr, und ich weiss an vielen Tagen buchstäblich nicht, wo ich zuerst anfangen soll.

Ausserdem brachte mir der Januar wieder grosse Unruhe, indem ich eine sehr schmeichelhafte Aufforderung erhielt, unter sehr günstigen Bedingungen eine Professor der Zoologie an der neu zu gründenden deutschen Universitaet zu Strassburg (im wiedergewonnenen Eilsass) anzunehmen.4 Doch habe ich auch diese Berufung abgelehnt, eingedenk der Billigung, welche Sie mir als väterlicher Freund vor einem Jahre aussprachen, als ich die verlockende Berufung nach Wien abgelehnt hatte.5 Ich glaube, der Wissenschaft mehr hier im kleinen Jena nützen zu können, wo ich jedenfalls viel ungestörter arbeiten und schreiben kann, viel harmonischer denken und urtheilen kann, als an einer unruhigen grossen Universität. An der äusseren Anerkennung und dem grösseren Ruhme, den mir letztere geben würden, liegt mir gar Nichts.

Mit meiner Spongien-Arbeit werde ich immer noch einige Monate zu thun haben.6 Die Ansichten von Clark und Carter, dass die Spongien Protozoen und speciell Flagellaten sind, werde ich ausführlich widerlegen. Sie sind vielmehr den hydroiden Zoophyten und Corallen nächst verwandt. Die Entwickelungsgeschichte ist sehr einfach, aber sehr interessant.7

Über Ihre Theorie der Pangenesis wollte ich in meiner neuen Auflage der “Nat. Schöpfungsgeschichte” ein besonderes Capitel schreiben. Da aber mein Editor wünscht, dass die neue Auflage nicht vermehrt wird, habe ich es unterlassen.8 Ich hoffe aber, an einem anderen Orte die Theorie der Vererbung mit Rücksicht auf Pangenesis zu erörtern. Ich glaube allerdings nicht, dass die Pangenesis-Theorie die ausserordentlich schwierigen Hereditaets-Phaenomene völlig erklärt. Aber ein guter Kern einer richtigen Vorstellung ist jedenfalls darin. Nur glaube ich, dass hierbei mehr die vergleichende Histologie und namentlich die Ontogenie der Gewebe zu Rathe zu ziehen ist. Man wird immer von den einfachsten Vererbungs-Erscheinigen bei der Zellen-Theilung ausgehen müssen, um die complicirteren Hereditäts-Vorgänge bei den vielzelligen Organismen begreifen zu lernen. Besonders die Moneren und Rhizopoden, namentlich auch die Polythalamien, scheinen mir hierfür höchst wichtig zu sein.9

Ich hoffe sicher, in diesem oder im nächsten Jahre einmal wieder nach London zu kommen und Sie zu sehen.

Wie Viel hätte ich Ihnen mitzutheilen!

Mit den ergebensten Grüssen an Miss Darwin10 und mit den besten Wünschen für Ihr Wohlergehen stets Ihr treu ergebener | Ernst Haeckel

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 20, Appendix I.
See also Correspondence vol. 19, letter to Ernst Haeckel, 27 December 1871. Haeckel’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for the sixth edition of Origin (see Correspondence vol. 20, Appendix IV).
See Correspondence vol. 19, letter to Ernst Haeckel, 27 December 1871.
Alsace (now part of France) was ceded to Germany by France in 1871, at the end of the Franco-Prussian War (Wawro 2003, p. 304). The Alsatian University of Strasbourg was re-founded in 1872 under the auspices of the Prussian government (Craig 1984).
See Correspondence vol. 19, letter to Ernst Haeckel, 3 March 1871.
Die Kalkschwämme (Haeckel 1872a) was published in December 1872 or early 1873 (see letter from Ernst Haeckel, 10 December 1872).
In a letter of 27 December 1871 (Correspondence vol. 19), CD had asked Haeckel for his opinion of Henry James Clark’s view that sponges were flagellate infusoria. Haeckel outlined both Clark’s and Henry John Carter’s views on the nature and structure of sponges in Haeckel 1872a, 1: 28–31. While Carter had agreed with Clark that sponges were related to protozoans, he differed in likening them to rhizopods rather than flagellated infusoria (for more on the history of protozoan classification, see Corliss 2001). Both Carter and Clark opposed Haeckel’s view that sponges, along with corals, belonged to the Coelenterata (Carter 1871, p. 10; see also H. J. Clark 1871 and Haeckel 1870). The term infusoria referred to a variety of single-celled aquatic protozoans, but is no longer in scientific use; rhizopods were amoeba-like protozoans that used pseudopodia to move (modern Rhizopoda is a class within the phylum Protozoa). Coelenterata is a former taxon, roughly equal to the modern phyla Ctenophora (comb jellies) and Cnidaria (corals, sea anemones, true jellyfish, etc.). Hydroid zoophytes belong to a class within Cnidaria, the Hydrozoa. In modern classification, sponges belong to the phylum Porifera and are thought to be related to choanoflagellates, single-celled creatures that resemble the choanocytes, or collar cells of sponges.
The third edition of Haeckel’s Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte (Natural history of creation; Haeckel 1872b) was published in 1872. For CD’s hypothesis of pangenesis, see Variation 2: 357–404.
Haeckel later published a pamphlet, Die Perigenesis der Plastidule, oder die Wellenzeugung der Lebenstheilchen (Haeckel 1876b), discussing the process of heredity in very simple organisms, such as Monera. CD’s copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Monera is an obsolete kingdom consisting of what are now the domains Archaea and Bacteria. Polythalamids are multi-chambered forms of Foraminifera, single-celled animals with shells perforated with holes.
Haeckel may refer to Elizabeth Darwin, or to Henrietta Emma Litchfield, who had married in 1871 (Correspondence vol. 19).

Translation

From Ernst Haeckel1   1 March 1872

Jena

1 March 72

Most honoured, dear friend!

For your last kind letter and for sending me the 6th edition of your “Origin” I thank you most kindly.2 I was glad that another few thousand copies of your great reforming work have again gone out into the world, to light up the road to truth with the beacon of the theory of evolution, for a mankind that is lost in darkness. May again just as many editions of your work come out as have already appeared!

The news that your health is giving you so much trouble again gives me much concern, and I hope that the summer may bring improvement and renewed energy.3

I myself am not content either this winter. Too much work is piling up, and some days I literally hardly know where to start.

In addition, January brought me major unrest, for I received the very flattering offer, under extremely favourable conditions, of the chair for zoology at the newly founded university of Strasburg (in the reclaimed territory of Alsace).4 Still, I turned down the promotion, bearing in mind your approval as a fatherly friend a year ago, after I turned down the tempting offer of the chair at Vienna.5 I am convinced that I’ll be able to serve science better here in little Jena, where in any case I can work and write with far fewer interruptions, where I can think and judge with greater harmony than in a restless large university. In the recognition of the world and the greater fame that the latter would guarantee I am not at all interested.

I shall be occupied with my work on Sponges for a further few months.6 The views of Clark and Carter, namely that the Sponges are Protozoa and specifically Flagellata, I shall refute in detail. Rather, they are related closest to hydroid zoophytes and corals.7 Their evolutionary history is very simple but very interesting.

In the new edition of my “Nat. Schöpfungsgeschichte”, I wanted to include a separate chapter on your theory of Pangenesis, but I left it because my publisher did not wish the new edition enlarged.8 Still, I hope to discuss the theory of heredity in connection with pangenesis on another occasion. I do not believe, however, that the theory of pangenesis fully explains the extraordinarily complex phenomena of heredity, but it certainly contains the core of a good idea. It is just that I believe that here we should rather consult comparative histology and above all the ontogenesis of tissues. To learn to understand the complex processes of heredity in multicellular organisms, we must always start from the simplest phenomena of heredity in cell-division. To me above all the Monera and Rhizopodes, in particular the Polythalamids, seem eminently important for this task.9

I hope very much to come to London again and to see you this year or the next. How Much I shall have to tell you about!

With the most respectful greetings to Miss Darwin10 and with the best wishes for your health | always your devoted | Ernst Haeckel

Footnotes

For a transcription of the letter in its original German, see pp. 96–7.
See also Correspondence vol. 19, letter to Ernst Haeckel, 27 December 1871. Haeckel’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for the sixth edition of Origin (see Correspondence vol. 20, Appendix IV).
See Correspondence vol. 19, letter to Ernst Haeckel, 27 December 1871.
Alsace (now part of France) was ceded to Germany by France in 1871, at the end of the Franco-Prussian War (Wawro 2003, p. 304). The Alsatian University of Strasbourg was re-founded in 1872 under the auspices of the Prussian government (Craig 1984).
See Correspondence vol. 19, letter to Ernst Haeckel, 3 March 1871.
Die Kalkschwämme (Haeckel 1872a) was published in December 1872 or early 1873 (see letter from Ernst Haeckel, 10 December 1872).
In a letter of 27 December 1871 (Correspondence vol. 19), CD had asked Haeckel for his opinion of Henry James Clark’s view that sponges were flagellate infusoria. Haeckel outlined both Clark’s and Henry John Carter’s views on the nature and structure of sponges in Haeckel 1872a, 1: 28–31. While Carter had agreed with Clark that sponges were related to protozoans, he differed in likening them to rhizopods rather than flagellated infusoria (for more on the history of protozoan classification, see Corliss 2001). Both Carter and Clark opposed Haeckel’s view that sponges, along with corals, belonged to the Coelenterata (Carter 1871, p. 10; see also H. J. Clark 1871 and Haeckel 1870). The term infusoria referred to a variety of single-celled aquatic protozoans, but is no longer in scientific use; rhizopods were amoeba-like protozoans that used pseudopodia to move (modern Rhizopoda is a class within the phylum Protozoa). Coelenterata is a former taxon, roughly equal to the modern phyla Ctenophora (comb jellies) and Cnidaria (corals, sea anemones, true jellyfish, etc.). Hydroid zoophytes belong to a class within Cnidaria, the Hydrozoa. In modern classification, sponges belong to the phylum Porifera and are thought to be related to choanoflagellates, single-celled creatures that resemble the choanocytes, or collar cells of sponges.
The third edition of Haeckel’s Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte (Natural history of creation; Haeckel 1872b) was published in 1872. For CD’s hypothesis of pangenesis, see Variation 2: 357–404.
Haeckel later published a pamphlet, Die Perigenesis der Plastidule, oder die Wellenzeugung der Lebenstheilchen (Haeckel 1876b), discussing the process of heredity in very simple organisms, such as Monera. CD’s copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Monera is an obsolete kingdom consisting of what are now the domains Archaea and Bacteria. Polythalamids are multi-chambered forms of Foraminifera, single-celled animals with shells perforated with holes.
Haeckel may refer to Elizabeth Darwin, or to Henrietta Emma Litchfield, who had married in 1871 (Correspondence vol. 19).

Summary

Thanks CD for Origin, 6th ed.

Has declined chair at Strasbourg.

Describes research on calcareous sponges.

Criticises Pangenesis.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-8232
From
Haeckel, E. P. A.
To
Darwin, C. R.
Sent from
Jena
Source of text
DAR 166: 57
Physical description
4pp (German)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8232,” accessed on 21 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-8232

letter