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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Otto Zacharias   [24 February 1877]1

Until the day of my death I shall look at this magnificent Album with the portraits of so many honoured German naturalists as by far the greatest honour, which ever has been or could possibly be conferred on me.

How very kind it was of your distinguished artist to execute so beautiful a title-page for the Album!2

When I was on board the Beagle, I believed in the permanence of Species, but, as far as I can remember, vague doubts occasionally flitted across my mind. On my return home in the autumn of 1836, I immediately began to prepare my journal for publication, and then saw, how many facts indicated the common descent of species, so that in July 1837 I opened a note book to record any facts which might bear on the question.3 But I did not become convinced that species were mutable until, I think, two or three years had elapsed.


The date is given in the printed source.
On the album of German and Austrian scientists, see the letter from Emil Rade, [before 16] February 1877. The title page was illustrated by the poet and painter Arthur Fitger (see Gries 2006, pp. 35–6). It carried the heading: ‘Dem Reformator der Naturgeschichte Charles Darwin’ (To the reformer of natural history Charles Darwin).
See letter from Otto Zacharias, 23 February 1877 and n. 2. CD refers to his Journal of researches and his notebooks, which were published posthumously (Notebooks). His first notebook on species was started about July 1837 (see Notebooks, pp. 167–9).


Gries, Brunhild. 2006. Emil Rade (1832–1931), sein Anteil an der naturkundlichen Erforschung Westfalens und das Darwin-Album von 1877. Abhandlungen aus dem Westfälischen Museum für Naturkunde 68 (2): 1–93.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Notebooks: Charles Darwin’s notebooks, 1836–1844. Geology, transmutation of species, metaphysical enquiries. Transcribed and edited by Paul H. Barrett et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press for the British Museum (Natural History). 1987.


Thanks OZ for a "magnificent Album".

On Beagle voyage CD believed in permanence of species. Had occasional vague doubts. In autumn of 1836 saw how many facts indicated common descent of species. In 1837 opened notebook to record facts.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Otto Zacharias
Sent from
Source of text
, pp. 76–7
Physical description
1p inc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10863,” accessed on 25 July 2024,