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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Andrew Murray   5 May [1860]1

Down Bromley Kent

May 5th

My dear Sir

I must thank you again for your kindness,—or rather I should say generosity. I find that I did not understand you about “prepotency”;2 I thought that you referred to fertility,— with respect to resemblance I fully believe there is often the greatest difference both in crossed species (as has been proved) & in crossed varieties in impressing likeness on offspring. I do not yet understand about marrying hermaphrodite opposites.

It is very kind in you to put in a note about the “abominable animal”—3 the case has been struck out in my 2d. Edition,—the main fact left in as illustration of diversified habits.—

With respect to the cave animals, reflect on the cave-Rat, the fish Amblyopsis & Astacus in America—the Proteus in caves of Europe,4 & you will admit that on creation doctrine, there has been surprising diversity for such similar habitations.— Thank you very much for famous list of references.—

I blundered about the Ant-insect— I remembered that some were blind & thought it was Paussus. What a noble thing would natural science be, if all its followers were actuated by your kind & liberal spirit. If ever I feel inclined to write spitefully about an antagonist, I will try & remember & learn a lesson from you, my antagonist.

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

Since last writing I have heard from capital Geologist Count Keyserling & he makes no difficulty about imperfection of Geological Record.—5


Dated by the relationship to the letter from Andrew Murray, 3 May 1860.
CD refers to the bear–whale example given in Origin, p. 184. See the enclosure with the letter to Andrew Murray, 28 April [1860].
Proteus is the blind cave salamander.
Murray referred to the imperfection of the fossil record as a great difficulty for CD’s theory in his review of Origin (Murray 1860a, pp. 281–4). CD refers to Alexandr Andreevich Keyserling. See letters to RIMurchison, 1 May [1860], and to Charles Lyell, 4 May [1860].


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.


Thanks for AM’s kindness.

CD did not understand him about "prepotency".

With respect to cave animals CD believes that on reflection AM will admit "that on creation doctrine, there has been surprising diversity for such similar habitation".

Has heard from A. von Keyserling who "makes no difficulty about imperfection of Geological Record".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Andrew Dickson (Andrew) Murray
Sent from
Source of text
R. D. Pyrah (private collection)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2784,” accessed on 1 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8