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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Ernst Haeckel   13 November 1875

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Nov. 13. 75

My dear Häckel

It is a real pleasure to me to receive a letter from you, as they are always so kind and sympathetic.1 I will begin at once to read your paper as I see the full importance of the subject.2 I have often wondered about the differences in the first developement of ova. I am very much obliged to you for your kindness in directing a copy of your History of Creation to be sent to me; but I ordered one long ago from my Bookseller, and received it this very morning.3 When the duplicate copy comes, I will present the purchased one to one of our best Scientific Libraries viz the Royal or Linnean, so that others may profit by your work. Many thanks for the promised copy of your paper on the coral which is to do me honour.4 I hope you enjoyed your stay on the shores of the Red Sea, but I shall be able to learn something of your travels from the pamphlet which you have sent me.

I have little to say about myself. My health is certainly better than it was, but I still waste much time by daily discomfort, but this is forgotten when I am at work. I am now busy in drawing up an account of ten years experiments on the growth and fertility of plants raised from crossed and self-fertilised flowers.5 It is really wonderful what an effect pollen from a distinct seedling plant which has been exposed to different conditions of life, has on the offspring, in comparison with pollen from the same flower or from a distinct individual but which has been long subjected to the same conditions. The subject bears on the very principle of Life, which seems almost to require changes in the conditions   I have also been preparing a new & revised Edition of my “Variation under Domestication” and have endeavoured to improve the chaper on Pangenesis.6 What I shall do in Future if I live, Heaven only knows: I ought perhaps to avoid general and large subjects as too difficult for me with my advancing years, and I suppose enfeebled brain

Believe me | my dear Häckel | with every good wish | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin


Haeckel’s paper was ‘Die Gastrula und die Eifurchung der Thiere’ (The gastrula and egg-cleavage of animals; Haeckel 1875b). See letter from Ernst Haeckel, 7 November 1875 and n. 3.
Haeckel 1876a. See letter from Ernst Haeckel, 7 November 1875 and n. 8. CD often used the booksellers Williams & Norgate.
The ‘paper’ on coral was Arabische Korallen (Arabian corals; Haeckel 1876b). See letter from Ernst Haeckel, 7 November 1875 and n. 5.
For the chapter on pangenesis (CD’s theory of heredity and development), see Variation 2d ed. 2: 349–400. For Haeckel’s comments on pangenesis, see Correspondence vol. 20, letter from Ernst Haeckel, 1 March 1872 and n. 8.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.


Mentions receipt of EH’s History of creation [1876].

Describes his own work on cross- and self-fertilised flowers. Subject bears on the very principle of life.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Ernst Philipp August (Ernst) Haeckel
Sent from
Source of text
Ernst-Haeckel-Haus (Bestand A-Abt. 1:1-52/34 [9887])
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10257,” accessed on 2 July 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23