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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Fritz Müller   [9 February 1876]

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

My dear Sir

I hope I have not acted wrongly in sending your most interesting letter to “Nature” for publication.1 It seemed to me a shame to keep such interesting facts to myself. If your letter is printed, as I do not doubt will be the case, I will send you a copy.

The little bodies produced by Ceropegia resemble those on the leaflets of the “bull’s horn” acacia, which plant they have living at Kew, & I intend to get a specimen for my son & self to observe.2 Now unless you intend to follow out this subject, I should be very much obliged if you could send me some seeds of the Ceropegia; or would it be possible to send me in a letter enclosed in bladder or tin-foil a few shoots, which if the plant is a climber, might possibly keep alive so as to be propagated.3

In your last letter you spoke as if you would no longer be able to observe facts in Natural History, but I am convinced that as long as you are alive you will continue to make new & brilliant observations.4 Many years ago I suggested to you to publish a sort of Natural History Journal and account of the country, & I believe that you would thus make a book of extraordinary interest—5

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin


Müller’s letter to CD of 25 December 1875 (Correspondence vol. 23) was printed in Nature, 17 February 1876, pp. 304–5.
In his letter of 25 December 1875 (Correspondence vol. 23), Müller had enclosed specimens of the small white bodies (now known as Müllerian bodies) found on the cushion-like structure (now called the trichilium) at the base of the petiole of leaves of Cecropia (the embauba or trumpet tree). CD misread the genus name (see letter from Charles and Francis Darwin to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 14 February [1876]). In 1874, Joseph Dalton Hooker had sent CD a specimen of bull-horn acacia (typical species are Acacia cornigera or A. collinsii) from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; CD had recognised the appendages remarked on by Hooker as the small lipid-rich food bodies on the tips of leaflets that were described by Thomas Belt in The naturalist in Nicaragua (Belt 1874, pp. 218–20; see Correspondence vol. 22, letter from J. D. Hooker, 15 July 1874, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 16 July 1874). They are now known as Beltian bodies.
No record that Müller sent any seeds or shoots has been found.
In his letter of 12 September 1875 (Correspondence vol. 23), Müller had written that he might be forced to abandon natural history. He had not been paid the small monthly stipend that had allowed him to continue his scientific work, and his expected appointment to a government-sponsored post in the national museum was stalled because of a ministerial crisis. By the time Müller wrote his letter of 25 December 1875 (Correspondence vol. 23), his situation had improved thanks to a change in government, and he received a paid appointment as a travelling naturalist in October 1876. For more on Müller’s difficulties with the provincial government at this time, see West 2003, pp. 185–90.
In his letter of 22 April [1867] (Correspondence vol. 15), CD had suggested that Müller should write a book of ‘miscellaneous observations on all branches of natural history’, noting that such books were very popular in England.


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

West, David A. 2003. Fritz Müller. A naturalist in Brazil. Blacksburg, Va.: Pocahontas Press.


Has sent FM’s letter on to Nature ["Brazil kitchen middens, habits of ants, etc.", Nature 13 (1876): 304–5].

Would be grateful for Ceropegia seeds.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Johann Friedrich Theodor (Fritz) Müller
Sent from
Source of text
British Library (Loan MS 10 no 38) (EH 88205868)
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10384,” accessed on 12 August 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24