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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Raphael Meldola   12 March 1872

Star Chemical Works, | Brentford, | W.

March 12th. 1872

Dear Sir,

I made notes of one or two of the facts given by Fritz Müller in the letter which you were good enough to submit to my perusal some time since.1 Do you think that this gentleman would have any objection to my publishing them in my forthcoming paper—provided of course you have no intention of doing so yourself.2 I may remark that it is only the facts that I want—as you advise, I should not dare to publish his view that ♀ butterflies have their tastes altered by constantly seeing other beautiful forms inhabiting the same district. It is a proposition at present incapable of proof. The specimens accompanying Fritz Müller’s letter, for the loan of which I am much obliged to you, I shall shortly return. Many specimens ranked by Müller as one species have been resolved by my friend Mr. A. G. Butler into several species & this considerably alters the views expressed by Müller in his letter. I will send you the names of the species with the specimens.

The case of mimicry by a ♂ butterfly only to which you referred me was given by Mr. Butler in “Nature”—3 This gentleman has since told me of other cases in which ♂s are better mimics than their ♀. These cases I propose publishing as telling against Mr. Wallace’s statement that no ♂ mimic only is known.4

I have just perused with interest the 6th. ed. of your “Origin”— I was always impressed with the idea that the theory of Nat. Selec. had nothing to fear from Mr. Mivart’s “Genesis of Species”5 & in a very warm (but entirely one-sided) debate at the London Union6 in which, (against every speaker that rose), I maintained the proposition that you had satisfactorily demonstrated the descent of man from some lower animal, I had to reply in chief part to objections taken from Mr. Mivart’s work. Your recent reply to this zoologist’s objections is to my mind eminently satisfactory, & Prof. Huxley’s criticism in “Contemporary Review” appears also to have completely answered his theological & ethical objections.7

Believe me to be, | Yours with respect, | Raphael Meldola.

C. Darwin Esq, M.A. &c.


Meldola did not mention Müller in his paper (Meldola 1873; see also letter from Raphael Meldola, 21 January [1872]).
See letter to Raphael Meldola, 27 January [1872], and Correspondence vol. 19, letter from A. G. Butler, 2 June 1871 and n. 13. Arthur Gardiner Butler published a letter on the subject in Nature, 29 December 1870, p. 165.
Meldola did not mention these examples in Meldola 1873. No published statement by Alfred Russel Wallace on independent mimicry in male butterflies has been found, but in Descent 1: 414–15 n. 31, CD reported Wallace’s belief that no male butterflies had protective coloration that was not shared by females of the same species.
Meldola refers to St George Jackson Mivart and Mivart 1871a. CD added a substantially new seventh chapter to Origin 6th ed. to discuss objections to the theory of natural selection by Mivart and others.
The London Union Society was a university students’ club founded in 1869 (Lancet, 11 September 1869, p. 398).
Meldola refers to Thomas Henry Huxley’s article ‘Mr. Darwin’s critics’ (T. H. Huxley 1871).


Wishes to use some of Fritz Müller’s observations in his paper on mimicry.

CD’s reply and Huxley’s article ["Mr Darwin’s critics", Contemp. Rev. 18 (1871): 443–76] have answered all of Mivart’s objections to natural selection as applied to man.

Letter details

Letter no.
Raphael Meldola
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Star Chemical Works, Brentford
Source of text
DAR 171: 119
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8240,” accessed on 19 May 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20