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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Louis Agassiz   11 November [1859]

Down Bromley Kent [Ilkley]

Nov. 11th

My dear Sir

I have ventured to send you, a copy of my Book (as yet only an abstract) on the origin of species.1 As the conclusions at which I have arrived on several points differ so widely from yours, I have thought (should you at any time read my volume) that you might think that I had sent it to you out of a spirit of defiance or bravado;2 but I assure you that I act under a wholly different frame of mind. I hope that you will at least give me credit, however erroneous you may think my conclusion, for having earnestly endeavoured to arrive at the truth.

With sincere respect, I beg leave to remain | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin


Agassiz’s presentation copy of Origin is in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University. It was extensively annotated by Agassiz.
Agassiz held the view that species were created en masse in the locations they currently inhabit. He had corresponded with CD since 1841 and had, in 1858, presented him with a copy of his own views on species, the first part of Agassiz 1857–62. CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL.


Agassiz, Louis. 1857–62. Contributions to the natural history of the United States of America. 4 vols. Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown & Company. London: Trübner.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Sends copy of Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Jean Louis Rodolphe (Louis) Agassiz
Sent from
Ilkley Down letterhead
Source of text
Houghton Library, Harvard University (MS Am 1419: 276)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2519,” accessed on 27 January 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7