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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Raphael Meldola   26 November [1878]

4. Bryanston St.

Nov. 26th

My dear Sir

I am very sorry to say that I cannot agree to your suggestion.— An author is never a fit judge of his own work, & I should dislike extremely pointing out when & how Weismann’s conclusions & work, agreed with my own.—1 I feel sure that I ought not to do this, & it would be to me an intolerable task. Nor does it seem to me the proper office of the Preface, which is to show what the book contains & that the contents appear to me valuable. But I can see no objection for you, if you think fit, to write an introduction with remarks or criticisms of any kind. Of course I wd. be glad to advise you on any point as far as lay in my power, but as a whole I could have nothing to do with it, on the grounds above specified that an author cannot & ought not to attempt to judge his own works or compare them with others. I am sorry to refuse to do anything which you wish.—

We return home early tomorrow morning— Your green silk seems to me a splendid colour, whatever the æsthetics may say—2

My dear Sir | yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin


See letter from Raphael Meldola, 25 November 1878 and n. 2. Meldola had suggested that CD point out where his own work presaged that of August Weismann in the preface CD was contributing to Meldola’s translation of Weismann’s evolutionary essays (Weismann 1882). In an undated note attached to this letter, Meldola noted that the suggestion had been made because ‘in a great many continental writings upon the theory of descent many of the points which had been clearly foreshadowed & in some cases even explicitly stated by Darwin had been rediscovered & published as though original’.
See letter from Raphael Meldola, 25 November 1878 and n. 4. Meldola had sent CD a sample of silk dyed with a chemical dye, viridine, that he had developed.


Weismann, August. 1882. Studies in the theory of descent. Translated by Raphael Meldola. 2 vols. London: Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington.


Regrets he cannot compare his work with Weismann’s in his preface as he feels “an author is never a fit judge of his own work”. [Appended note explains that RM wished CD’s work to be fully acknowledged, which was frequently not the case in continental writings.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Raphael Meldola
Sent from
London, Bryanston St, 4
NO 27 78
Source of text
Oxford University Museum of Natural History (Hope Entomological Collections 1350: Hope/Westwood Archive, Darwin folder)
Physical description
4pp, RM note

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11759,” accessed on 9 March 2021,