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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Hermann Welcker   30 January 1880

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Jan 30th 1880

Dear Sir

I thank you sincerely for your very courteous letter of the 18th, received only yesterday, & for your kind present of a whole series of Essays.1 Many of the points which you have discussed are very interesting & bear directly on the descent-theory.— I am particularly glad that you have investigated the ‘ligamentum teres’ for its absence in the anthropoid apes has long appeared to me a most perplexing circumstance.2 Broca has advanced, & perhaps justly, this case as one in which natural selection could not have come into play.3 I hope before long to read your essays. I am also much interested by what you say about the feet of the Chinese; but we should remember that people always wish to exaggerate any character which they already possess to an unusual degree.4

If on further reflexion you still wish to dedicate your forthcoming book to me, I shall certainly esteem it a very great honour.5

With all good wishes I remain, Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin


Welcker 1876 discussed the position and developmental stages of the ligamentum teres femoris (foveal ligament) in different mammals (see letter from Hermann Welcker, 18 January 1880 and n. 3). CD had been alerted to the absence of the ligament in orang-utans and a few other mammals (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter from Edward Blyth, [1–8 October 1855], and Correspondence vol. 13, supplement, letter from W. C. L. Martin, [1859–61]).
Paul Broca; see Broca 1870, p. 556.
Welcker had sent CD two papers on Chinese foot-binding and its possible hereditary effects (Welcker 1870 and Welcker 1872a; see letter from Hermann Welcker, 18 January 1880 and n. 10).
Welcker’s projected book on the spine was never published; see letter from Hermann Welcker, 18 January 1880 and n. 13.


Broca, Pierre Paul. 1870a. Sur le transformisme. Revue des cours scientifiques de la France et de l’étranger 7: 530–41, 550–8.

Welcker, Hermann. 1870. Ueber die künstliche Verkrüppelung der Füsse der Chinesinnen. Archiv für Anthropologie 4: 221–32.

Welcker, Hermann. 1872a. Die Füsse der Chinesinnen. Zweite Mittheilung. Archiv für Anthropologie 5 (1871–2): 133–52.

Welcker, Hermann. 1876. Zur Anatomie des ligamentum teres femoris. Nachtrag zu Abhandlung VII dieses Bandes. Zeitschrift für Anatomie und Entwickelungsgeschichte 2 (1876–7): 231–5.


Thanks for letter of 18th January 1880 and for present of Essays. Interested in Welcker’s investigation of the 'ligamentum teres', and his comment on the feet of the Chinese.

Will esteem it an honour if Welcker dedicates his next book to him.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Hermann Welcker
Sent from
Source of text
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Universitätsarchiv (Rep. 29, Nr. 715)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12442G,” accessed on 2 October 2023,