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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Arnold Dodel1   13 December 1874

Zürich,

13. Decbr. 1874

Herrn Charles Darwin in Down, Beckenham Kent—England.

Hochgeehrtester Herr!

Sie erhalten mitlaufend ein Exemplar meiner “Neuern Schöpfungsgeschichte”, welche nichts Anderes enthält, als die erweiterten Vorlesungen über Ihre Abstammungs- u. Zuchtwahltheorie, so wie ich sie seit 4 Jahren am eidgenössischen Polytechnikum u. an der Universität in Zürich zu halten gewohnt bin.2 Ich schmeichle mir, der erste Docent unserer schweizerischen Republik gewesen zu sein, der es wagte, an einer unserer vier Hochschulen eine Semester-Vorlesung über die neuere Schöpfungs-Geschichte zu halten. Ich las im Sommer 1871 zum ersten Mal über Ihre Theorie u zwar vor 21 Zuhörern verschiedener Fakultäten; im Winter 1872/73 vor circa 80–100 Personen, in den Wintern 1873/74 und 1874/75 vor ca. 60–80 regelmässigen Hörern. Ich habe nicht unterlassen, rückhaltlos u furchtlos, offen u. scharf die Lehre vorzutragen u. die Consequenzen anzudeuten, welche sie naturgemäss für die wissenschaftlich-socialen u. religiösen Bestrebungen der Gegenwart haben muss. Der Lohn war die Genugthuung, einen grossen Kreis junger Leute für Ihre Theorie ins Interesse hineingezogen zu haben, aber auch bittere Anfeindungen mancherlei Art.—3 durch letztere wurde ich veranlasst, meine Vorlesungen so schnell wie möglich zu publiciren. Es ist meines Wissens diese “Neuere Schöpf.-Gesch.” die erste Darstellung Ihrer Theorie von Seite eines Botanikers auf unserem Continent. Man wird manche werthvolle Arbeit von anerkannten Botanikern gehörig berücksichtigt finden. Unsere Disciplin ist sehr geeignet, Beweismaterial aller Art für die Descendenz-Theorie zu liefern. Vielleicht finden Sie manchen Punkt in meinem Buche angedeutet, den Sie später bei allfälligen neuen Auflagen Ihrer Werke mitberücksichtigen können.

Ich hoffe, mein Buch wird zum Mindesten von ebenso vielen strebsamen Leuten gelesen, als dasjenige eines andere Botanikers (Wigand), der sich ablehnend gegen die Abstammungs- u. Zuchtwahltheorie verhält.4 Ich fahre fort, im Interesse unserer freisinnigen Sache zu dociren u. zu schreiben, zu forschen u. zu prüfen.

Möge dieser erste Versuch nicht umsonst gemacht worden sein!

Ich habe die Ehre, Sie meiner ausgezeichnetsten Hochachtung u. tiefsten Verehrung zu versichern.

Ihr ergebenster | Dr. Arnold Dodel, | Docent a/d. Universität.

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Appendix I.
There is a lightly annotated copy of Dodel’s Die neuere Schöpfungsgeschichte nach dem gegenwärtigen Stande der Naturwissenschaften (New history of creation according to the present state of science; Dodel 1875) in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 203–4).
In 1874, eleven students of Zürich University signed a formal complaint, criticising Dodel’s lectures on the Darwinian theory on scientific and moral grounds. A petition in defence of Dodel, signed by another thirty-nine students, led to proceedings against him being abandoned. The situation was however not permanently defused, and when asked to assess Dodel for his promotion in 1879, the rector’s office of Zürich University refused to comment. (Erziehungsrate des Kantons Zürich ed. 1938, p. 698 n.)
Albert Wigand criticised CD’s theory in his work Der Darwinismus und die Naturforschung Newtons und Cuviers (Wigand 1874–7). See letter from Albert Wigand, 11 March 1874.

Translation

From Arnold Dodel1   13 December 1874

Zürich,

13. Decbr. 1874

To Mr Charles Darwin in Down, Beckenham Kent----England

Most highly honoured Sir!

By the same post as this you receive a copy of my “Neuere Schöpfungsgeschichte”, which contains nothing other than an expanded version of my lectures on your theory of descent and of selection, as I have given them in the past few years at the federal polytechnic and at the university in Zurich.2 I flatter myself to have been the first university teacher of our Swiss republic who dared give a regular course of lectures on the new history of creation at one of our four institutes of higher education. In the summer of 1871 I lectured on your theory for the first time, in fact to an audience of 21 listeners from various faculties; in the winter of 1872/73, to circa 80–100 people, in the winter of 1873/74 and 1874/75 before ca. 60–80 regular listeners. I left nothing out and presented your theory without reservations or fear, frankly and strongly, and I pointed out the implications it must necessarily have for the scientific, social, and religious endeavours of the present day. My reward was the satisfaction of having won a great circle of young people for your theory, but also bitter animosities of all sorts.—3 the latter induced me to publish my lectures as speedily as possible. To my knowledge this “Neuere Schöpf.-Gesch.” is the first account of your theory by a botanist on our continent. A number of valuable works by established botanists have been given due consideration. Our discipline is well suited to provide evidence of all kinds for the theory of descent. Perhaps you will find a number of points in my book which you could later take into consideration in the various new editions of your works.

I hope that my book will be read by at least as many assiduous people as that of another botanist (Wigand) who has taken a disapproving stance against your theory of descent and selection.4 I shall continue to teach and write, to research and to examine, in the interest of our liberal-minded task. May this first attempt not have been undertaken in vain! I have the honour of assuring you of my highest respect and of my deepest veneration. Your most devoted | Dr. Arnold Dodel, | teacher at the university.

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original German, see pp. QQQQ.
There is a lightly annotated copy of Dodel’s Die neuere Schöpfungsgeschichte nach dem gegenwärtigen Stande der Naturwissenschaften (New history of creation according to the present state of science; Dodel 1875) in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 203–4).
In 1874, eleven students of Zürich University signed a formal complaint, criticising Dodel’s lectures on the Darwinian theory on scientific and moral grounds. A petition in defence of Dodel, signed by another thirty-nine students, led to proceedings against him being abandoned. The situation was however not permanently defused, and when asked to assess Dodel for his promotion in 1879, the rector’s office of Zürich University refused to comment. (Erziehungsrate des Kantons Zürich ed. 1938, p. 698 n.)
Albert Wigand criticised CD’s theory in his work Der Darwinismus und die Naturforschung Newtons und Cuviers (Wigand 1874–7). See letter from Albert Wigand, 11 March 1874.

Summary

Describes his university lectures on evolution and their publication in a book [Die neuere Schöpfungsgeschichte (1875)].

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-9756
From
Arnold Dodel-Port
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Zurich
Source of text
DAR 162: 194
Physical description
1p (German)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9756,” accessed on 22 September 2019, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-9756.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22

letter