To Ernst Haeckel 2 September 1872
Down, | Beckenham, Kent.
Sept 2. 1872
My dear Haeckel,
Very many thanks for the 3rd. Edit. of your Schöpfungsgeschichte.1 I rejoice at the success of this book, and it proves how our ideas are spreading. One of my daughters has translated to me your new preface, which I have been particularly glad to hear, not only from the very kind manner in which you speak of my ‘Descent’, but from your criticisms on various books.2
I should much like to read Carneri but it is too great a job for my poor german knowledge.3 I did not know how weak a man Bastian was: you pitch into him with a vengeance.4 I thought that you never intended to write severely again about anyone!5 It grieved me to read a year or two ago a review by Ruetimeyer on you. I am sorry that he is so retrograde, as I feel much respect for him.6 Our English Dr. Bastian has lately published a book on So-called Spontaneous Generation, which has perplexed me greatly. He has collected all the observations made by various naturalists, some of them good observers, on the protoplasm within the cells of dying plants & animals becoming converted into living organisms. He has also made many experiments with boiled infusions in closed flasks; but I believe he is not a very careful observer. Nevertheless the general argument in favour of living forms being now produced under favourable conditions seems to me strong; but I can form no final conclusion.7
I have finished my little book on ‘Expression’, & when it is published in November I will of course send you a copy, in case you would like to read it for amusement.8 I have resumed some old botanical work, & perhaps I shall never again attempt to discuss theoretical views.9 I am growing old & weak, & no man can tell when his intellectual powers begin to fail.
Long life & happiness to you for your own sake & for that of Science | Believe me | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin
Comments on EH’s criticism of authors in third edition of Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte .
Discusses book by H. C. Bastian [The beginnings of life (1872)].
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8506,” accessed on 28 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-8506