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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Anton Stecker1   24 February 1879

Sokna

d. 24. Februar 1879.

Hochverehrter Herr:

Ich sollte mich glücklich schätzen, wenn Sie Sich noch meiner erinnern wollen, der Sie etwa vor einem Jahre um das Recht, Ihr berühmtes Werk “The Origin of Species” in’s Böhmische übersetzen zu dürfen, ersuchte.2 Mit grösster Bereitwilligkeit, die mich noch heute mit Dank erfüllt, haben Sie damals Erlaubniss dazu gegeben. Seit der Zeit ist aber nahezu ein Jahr verflossen, ohne dass Ihnen die böhmische Ausgabe des in Rede stehenden Werkes mitgetheilt wurde: und dies aus dem Grunde, dass sehr wichtige, meinen Lebenslauf betreffende Ereignisse mich verhindert haben, das begonnene Werk zu beenden; ich hoffe aber, dass mein Nachfolger so glücklich sein wird, Ihnen noch im Laufe dieses Jahres die böhmische Ausgabe des “Origin of Species” verehren zu dürfen.3

Was mich anbetrifft, so dürfte es Sie und den Herrn Francis Darwin, dem ich für seine freundlichen Briefe zum herzlichen Dank verbunden bin, interessiren, zu erfahren, dass ich von der afrikan. Gesellschaft in Deutschland (in Berlin) zum Begleiter des berühmten, Ihnen wohlbekannten Afrikareisenden Dr. Gerhard Rohlfs, auf seiner neuen Tour quer durch Afrika (von Tripolis über Uadaï, Quellen des Schari, Sansibar) erwählt wurde; seit Ende October 1878 befinde ich mich, dem neuen Berufe obliegend, in Afrika.4 Derzeit sind wir in Sokna, wo wir die Geschenke des deutschen Kaisers an den Sultan von Uadaï abwarten müssen, hoffen aber in den nächsten Tagen über Katarah weiter vorzurücken, so dass wir Ende Juni in Uadaï anzukommen gedenken.5

Als Zoologe, habe ich ein reiches Feld für specielles Studium vor mir, und ich versichere Sie, hochverehrter Herr, dass es bei allen meinen Forschungen Ihre epochale Theorie ist, für die neue Belege zu finden, neue Beweise darzubringen ich stets bemüht bin. Ich habe schon einige interessante Beobachtungen bezüglich der Erblichkeit gewisser Charactere und der Mimicry bei den Orthopteren der Sahara, der Abstammung, Verwandschaft und des Farbenwechsels bei den Chamaeleonten und Ascalaboten etc. etc. gemacht, und eine vorläufige Nachricht in den “Mittheilungen der afrikan. Gesell. in Deutschland (in Berlin)” veröffentlicht.6 Ich bin fest überzeugt, dass sich mir mit der Zeit viele andere, interessante, mit Ihrer Theorie im Einklange stehende Thatsachen darbieten werden, und ich werde mir dann erlauben, Ihnen darüber direct zu referiren.

Indem ich Sie höflichst bitte, zu entschuldigen, dass ich mir die Freiheit genommen habe, an Sie diese Zeilen zu richten, habe ich die Ehre zeichnen zu dürfen, | in unbegränzter Hochachtung | Ihnen stets ergebener Diener | Dr. Ant. Stecker.

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Appendix I.
See Correspondence vol. 26, letter from Anton Stecker, 9 March 1878; CD gave his permission for a Czech translation of Origin in his reply of 13 March 1878. ‘Bohemian’ was used to refer to the Czech language and people.
No Czech translation of Origin was published until 1914 (Klapálek trans. 1914; see Freeman 1977). None of CD’s works were published in a Czech translation in the nineteenth century; in Bohemia and Moravia, his works were usually read in German (see Hermann and Šimůnek 2008, pp. 201 and 205).
In 1878, Stecker had asked whether CD could assist him in obtaining a position in a natural history museum or on an expedition, but had been informed that CD was unable to do so (see Correspondence vol. 26, letter from Anton Stecker to Francis Darwin, 12 March 1878, and letter from Francis Darwin to Anton Stecker, 17 March 1878). In December 1876, the Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Erforschung Aequatorialafrikas (German Society for the Study of Equatorial Africa) was amalgamated with the German section of the International African Association to form the Afrikanische Gesellschaft Deutschlands (African Society of Germany); see Rohlfs 1881, p. 4. For Stecker’s appointment as Rohlfs’s companion on the expedition from Tripoli to Zanzibar (via Wadai (now Ouaddai) and the sources of the river Chari); see ibid., p. 24. Rohlfs had sent comments on CD’s Descent; see Correspondence vol. 19, letter from Gerhard Rohlfs, 6 June 1871.
The expedition set out in December 1878 but only made it as far as the Al Khufrah oases in the Libyan desert. They remained in Sokna until 10 March 1879 and then headed east, probably to the Qattara Depression (‘Katarah’ is a misspelling of ‘Kattara’ in German; see Rohlfs 1881, appendix 8 (Meteorologische Beobachtungen), tables v and vi). The presents from the German emperor, Wilhelm I, for Yusuf (kolak or sultan of Wadai) arrived in Awjilah in May 1879 but were stolen with the expedition’s supplies and money in September 1879. The presents and some supplies were later returned but not the money (ibid., pp. 229, 299–300, and 327).
Stecker’s preliminary report was in Mittheilungen der Afrikanischen Gesellschaft in Deutschland (Communications of the African Society in Germany; Stecker 1879). On pp. 79–81, Stecker mentions mimicry in Orthoptera (the order of grasshoppers, locusts, and crickets), chameleons (family Chamaeleonidae) and Ascalabotes (a former genus of geckos whose members are now in Stenodactylus and other genera).

Bibliography

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Hermann, Tomáš, and Šimůnek, Michal. 2008. Between science and ideology: the reception of Darwin and Darwinism in the Czech lands, 1859–1959. In The reception of Charles Darwin in Europe, edited by Eve-Marie Engels and Thomas F. Glick. London: Continuum.

Klapálek, František trans. 1914. O vzniku druhů přirozeným výbĕrem čili zachováváním vhodných odrůd v boji o život. By Charles Darwin. (Czech translation of Origin 6th ed.) Prague: J. L. Kober.

Rohlfs, Gerhard. 1881. Kufra: Reise von Tripolis nach der Oase Kufra; ausgeführt im Auftrage der Afrikanischen Gesellschaft in Deutschland; nebst Beiträgen von P. Ascherson, J. Hann, F. Karsch, W. Peters, A Stecker. Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus.

Stecker, Anton. 1879. Zoologische Beobachtungen auf der Reise von Tripolis nach Sokna. Mittheilungen der Afrikanischen Gesellschaft in Deutschland 1 (1878–9): 75–81.

Translation

From Anton Stecker1   24 February 1879

Sokna

24 February 1879.

Most esteemed Sir:

I should count myself lucky if you still remember me, who about a year ago asked you for the right to be allowed to translate your famous work “The Origin of Species” into Bohemian.2 With the greatest obligingness, which to this day still fills me with gratitude, you gave your permission then. Since that time, however, almost a year has passed without the Bohemian edition of the work in question having been sent to you: the reason for this being that major events in my career prevented me from completing the work in progress; however, I hope that my successor will be so fortunate as to present you with the Bohemian edition of the “Origin of Species” in the course of this year.3

As regards myself, you and Mr Francis Darwin, to whom I am cordially obliged for his kind letter, may be interested to learn that I was selected by the afrikan. Gesellschaft in Deutschland (Berlin) to accompany the famous Africa explorer Dr. Gerhard Rohlfs, whom you know well, on his latest tour across Africa (from Tripoli via Ouaddai, sources of the Chari, Zanzibar); since the end of October 1878 I have been, as required by my new occupation, in Africa.4 Currently we are in Sokna, waiting for the arrival of the presents of the German emperor for the Sultan of Wadai, but we are hoping to move on towards Qattara in the next few days, so that we are expecting to arrive in Wadai in late June.5

As a zoologist I have before me a rich field for specialist study, and I assure you, most esteemed Sir, that in all my studies it is your epochal theory for which I always endeavour to find new evidence and to produce new proofs. I have already made some interesting observations regarding the heredity of certain characteristics and mimicry among the Orthoptera of the Sahara, the origin, relations and the colour change among the Chameleons and Ascalabotes etc. etc., and I have published a preliminary note in the “Mittheilungen der afrikan. Gesell. in Deutschland (in Berlin)”.6 I am of the firm conviction that many more and interesting facts that are in harmony with your theory will come my way with time, and I will venture to report them directly to you.

Begging you most humbly to excuse my having taken the liberty of addressing these lines to you, I have the honour to remain | with boundless respect | always your obedient servant | Dr. Ant. Stecker.

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original German, see p. QQQQ.
See Correspondence vol. 26, letter from Anton Stecker, 9 March 1878; CD gave his permission for a Czech translation of Origin in his reply of 13 March 1878. ‘Bohemian’ was used to refer to the Czech language and people.
No Czech translation of Origin was published until 1914 (Klapálek trans. 1914; see Freeman 1977). None of CD’s works were published in a Czech translation in the nineteenth century; in Bohemia and Moravia, his works were usually read in German (see Hermann and Šimůnek 2008, pp. 201 and 205).
In 1878, Stecker had asked whether CD could assist him in obtaining a position in a natural history museum or on an expedition, but had been informed that CD was unable to do so (see Correspondence vol. 26, letter from Anton Stecker to Francis Darwin, 12 March 1878, and letter from Francis Darwin to Anton Stecker, 17 March 1878). In December 1876, the Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Erforschung Aequatorialafrikas (German Society for the Study of Equatorial Africa) was amalgamated with the German section of the International African Association to form the Afrikanische Gesellschaft Deutschlands (African Society of Germany); see Rohlfs 1881, p. 4. For Stecker’s appointment as Rohlfs’s companion on the expedition from Tripoli to Zanzibar (via Wadai (now Ouaddai) and the sources of the river Chari); see ibid., p. 24. Rohlfs had sent comments on CD’s Descent; see Correspondence vol. 19, letter from Gerhard Rohlfs, 6 June 1871.
The expedition set out in December 1878 but only made it as far as the Al Khufrah oases in the Libyan desert. They remained in Sokna until 10 March 1879 and then headed east, probably to the Qattara Depression (‘Katarah’ is a misspelling of ‘Kattara’ in German; see Rohlfs 1881, appendix 8 (Meteorologische Beobachtungen), tables v and vi). The presents from the German emperor, Wilhelm I, for Yusuf (kolak or sultan of Wadai) arrived in Awjilah in May 1879 but were stolen with the expedition’s supplies and money in September 1879. The presents and some supplies were later returned but not the money (ibid., pp. 229, 299–300, and 327).
Stecker’s preliminary report was in Mittheilungen der Afrikanischen Gesellschaft in Deutschland (Communications of the African Society in Germany; Stecker 1879). On pp. 79–81, Stecker mentions mimicry in Orthoptera (the order of grasshoppers, locusts, and crickets), chameleons (family Chamaeleonidae) and Ascalabotes (a former genus of geckos whose members are now in Stenodactylus and other genera).

Bibliography

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Hermann, Tomáš, and Šimůnek, Michal. 2008. Between science and ideology: the reception of Darwin and Darwinism in the Czech lands, 1859–1959. In The reception of Charles Darwin in Europe, edited by Eve-Marie Engels and Thomas F. Glick. London: Continuum.

Klapálek, František trans. 1914. O vzniku druhů přirozeným výbĕrem čili zachováváním vhodných odrůd v boji o život. By Charles Darwin. (Czech translation of Origin 6th ed.) Prague: J. L. Kober.

Rohlfs, Gerhard. 1881. Kufra: Reise von Tripolis nach der Oase Kufra; ausgeführt im Auftrage der Afrikanischen Gesellschaft in Deutschland; nebst Beiträgen von P. Ascherson, J. Hann, F. Karsch, W. Peters, A Stecker. Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus.

Stecker, Anton. 1879. Zoologische Beobachtungen auf der Reise von Tripolis nach Sokna. Mittheilungen der Afrikanischen Gesellschaft in Deutschland 1 (1878–9): 75–81.

Summary

Has not been able to complete Bohemian edition of Origin because of trip to Africa.

Is collecting zoological evidence for CD’s theory.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-11901
From
Anton Stecker
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Sokna, Libya
Source of text
DAR 177: 251
Physical description
ALS 3pp (German)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11901,” accessed on 8 December 2022, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/?docId=letters/DCP-LETT-11901.xml

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