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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Armand de Quatrefages1   25 March 1863

Paris

25 Mars 63

Monsieur et cher confrère

Au reçu de votre lettre je me suis occupé de votre commission.2 J’ai écrit ‘a un de mes amis dans le midi mais sa réponse n’était pas des plus satisfaisantes.3 Heureusement j’ai pu la remettre en très bonnes mains. M’ Martins, professeur de Botanique et Dr. du Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier, récemment nommé correspondant de notre académie a bien voulu s’en charger.4 Il m’a promis de faire lui même et de faire faire par ses collegues de la Soc. d’agriculture une collection aussi complete que possible de toutes les races de vers ‘a soie elevés aux environs de Montpellier.5 Cette collection comprendra la chenille la chrysalide et le papillon—les deux premieres conservées dans l’alcool, le 3eme piqué comme ‘a l’ordinaire. Le tout doit m’être envoyé, et je vous le ferai parvenir par le chemin de fer ou par toute autre voie que vous voudriez bien m’indiquer. De cette facon vous pourrez étudier par vous même les questions qui vous intéressent. Il m’a paru que ce serait le meilleur moyen de répondre ‘a vos intentions.6

Je vous remercie des choses aimables que vous voulez bien me dire au sujet de mes Metamorphoses.7 Un suffrage comme le vôtre en vaut ‘a lui seul beaucoup d’autres.

J’ai été plus sensible que je ne saurais le dire ‘a l’honneur que m’a fait votre Soc. d’Anthropologie en placant mon Unité de l’espece humaine presque en tête des travaux etrangers qu’elle se propose de traduire.8 Vous faites certainement partie de cette Société et je suis heureux de penser que votre suffrage a pu être pour une part dans cette résolution de vos collègues.9 Agréez en de nouveau mes remerciements.

Je suis en ce moment en grande lutte avec les Polygénistes de notre Société. Ils nient l’influence du milieu comme pouvant donner naissance ‘a des races nouvelles. Mais je soutiens la variabilité de l’espèce sous cette influence.10 Vous voyez, mon cher confrere, combien est vrai ce que je vous disais qu’entre nous il n’y a d’autre différence qu’une question de limite.11 Mais il est bien étrange que ce soit au nom de la philosophie qu’on prétende nier l’action des agents extérieurs sur les êtres organisés et vivants. Lamarck, Geoffroy St-Hilaire … seraient bien surpris de se voir de semblables disciples.12

Recevez Monsieur et cher confrere l’expression de mon affectueux devouement | De Quatrefages

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol.11, Appendix I.
CD’s letter has not been found. In the summer of 1862, CD had requested information from Quatrefages on the varieties of the common silkworm (Bombyx mori), when writing the section of Variation dealing with this subject (Variation 1: 300–4; see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Armand de Quatrefages, 11 July 1862 and n. 2). CD was particularly interested in the fact that, while the different varieties of silkworm varied greatly in the larval and pupal stages, they showed no constant differences in the adult stage. In a letter that is now missing, Quatrefages provided CD with information on this subject, which is quoted in Variation 1: 303. In a further letter to Quatrefages of 11 July 1862 (Correspondence vol. 10), CD asked him to send any ‘fresh information’ he might acquire in the ensuing year ‘on the similarity of the moths of distinct races’. The season being too late to procure such information, Quatrefages asked CD to remind him of his request before the new season’s eggs hatched the following April (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from Armand de Quatrefages, [after 11 July 1862]).
This individual has not been identified.
Charles Frédéric Martins was elected as a corresponding member for the rural economy section of the Académie des Sciences, Paris, on 29 February 1863 (Index biographique de l’académie des sciences).
The reference is probably to the Société d’agriculture of Montpellier, which was founded in 1807 (Grande encyclopédie).
No such specimens are mentioned in Variation 1: 300–4, and it appears that they were never sent. Information from Martins is cited in Variation 1: 304 from an intermediate source (Godron 1859, p. 462); however, no information provided directly by Martins is included. An annotated copy of Godron 1859 is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 331–5).
CD’s letter has not been found. Quatrefages promised to send CD a copy of Quatrefages 1862 in his letter of [after 11 July 1862] (Correspondence vol. 10); there is an annotated copy of this work in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 691).
An annotated copy of Quatrefages 1861 is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 693–4). Quatrefages refers to the announcement by the Anthropological Society of London, which was founded in 1863, that it hoped to publish an English translation of Quatrefages 1861. No copy of the first prospectus of the society has been found; however, in the ‘Anthropological Review Advertising Sheet’ issued with the first number of the society’s Anthropological Review in May 1863, it was announced that the society intended to publish a series of works on anthropology, chiefly translations. Only one publication was described as ‘in preparation’; Quatrefages 1861 headed a list of six other titles under the caption: ‘translations will be recommended’. In subsequent prospectuses, the book was listed among those of which publication was contemplated, with George Frederick Rolph named as the prospective editor. However, the society’s translation never appeared, and Quatrefages 1861 was not translated into English until 1879 (Quatrefages 1879). There is a copy of the ‘Anthropological Review Advertising Sheet’ in the unbound pamphlet collection in the Darwin Library–CUL.
CD was an honorary member, although not an active one, of the Anthropological Society of London (see letter to Armand de Quatrefages, 27 March [1863]).
Between February and August 1863, Quatrefages, who was president of the Société d’Anthropologie of Paris, engaged in extended discussions with the polygenists in the society over the question of the influence of the environment in modifying races. The substance of the discussions, together with Quatrefages’s discourses on the subject on 5 March and 16 April 1863, are recorded in the Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris 4 (1863). See also Stocking 1968 and J. Harvey 1997, pp. 105–13.
Quatrefages apparently made this observation in 1862 in a letter that has not been found (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Armand de Quatrefages, 11 July 1862, and letter from Armand de Quatrefages, [after 11 July 1862]).
Quatrefages refers to Jean Baptiste de Lamarck and Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, both of whom had adopted theories of species transmutation in which environmental influence played an important role (DSB). See also Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris 4 (1863): 149.

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

DSB: Dictionary of scientific biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie and Frederic L. Holmes. 18 vols. including index and supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1970–90.

Godron, Dominique Alexandre. 1859. De l’espèce et des races dans les êtres organisés et spécialement de l’unité de l’espèce humaine. 2 vols. Paris: J. B. Baillière.

Grande encyclopédie: La grande encyclopédie inventaire raisonné des sciences, des lettres et des arts. Edited by F. Camille Dreyfus et al. 31 vols. Paris: H. Lamirault; Société Anonyme de la Grande Encyclopédie. [1886–1902.]

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Stocking, George W. Jr. 1968. Race, culture, and evolution: essays in the history of anthropology. New York: The Free Press. London: Collier Macmillan.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.

Translation

From Armand de Quatrefages1   25 March 1863

Paris

25 March 63

Sir and dear colleague

As soon as I received your letter I concerned myself with your request.2 I wrote to a friend of mine in the South of France, but his reply was not entirely satisfactory.3 Fortunately, I have been able to place the matter in very capable hands. M. Martins, professor of botany and director of the Jardin des Plantes at Montpellier, recently elected a corresponding member of our academy, has agreed to take care of the matter.4 He promised me that with his colleagues at the Societé d’Agriculture, he would personally make as complete a collection as possible of all species of silkworm bred in the vicinity of Montpellier.5 This collection will include the caterpillar, the chrysalis, and the butterfly—the first two preserved in alcohol, the third mounted in the usual way. It should all be sent to me, and I will have it sent to you by train or any other means that you care to specify.6 In this way you will be able to study for yourself the questions that interest you. It seemed to me that this would be the best way to meet your requirements.

I thank you for the pleasant things which you are kind enough to say on the subject of my Métamorphoses.7 Approval from someone like you is, on its own, worth more than that of many others put together.

I was more touched than I can say by the great honour that your Society of Anthropology has done me by placing my Unité de l’espèce humaine almost at the top of the list of foreign works that it intends to translate.8 You are of course a member of that society and it pleases me to think that your support might have played a part in the decision of your colleagues.9 Please accept my thanks once again.

I am at present engaged in a mighty struggle with the polygenists in our Society. They deny the effect of the environment in the creation of new races. But I maintain the variability of species under this influence.10 You see, my dear colleague, the truth of what I said to you, that the only difference between us is one of degree.11 But it is quite strange that it should be in the name of philosophy that the action of external influences on organised and living beings is being denied. Lamarck, Geoffroy St- Hilaire … would be quite surprised to see themselves such disciples.12

Please accept, Sir and dear colleague, my most affectionate regards. | De Quatrefages

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in the original French, see Correspondence vol.11, pp. 263–4.
CD’s letter has not been found. In the summer of 1862, CD had requested information from Quatrefages on the varieties of the common silkworm (Bombyx mori), when writing the section of Variation dealing with this subject (Variation 1: 300–4; see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Armand de Quatrefages, 11 July 1862 and n. 2). CD was particularly interested in the fact that, while the different varieties of silkworm varied greatly in the larval and pupal stages, they showed no constant differences in the adult stage. In a letter that is now missing, Quatrefages provided CD with information on this subject, which is quoted in Variation 1: 303. In a further letter to Quatrefages of 11 July 1862 (Correspondence vol. 10), CD asked him to send any ‘fresh information’ he might acquire in the ensuing year ‘on the similarity of the moths of distinct races’. The season being too late to procure such information, Quatrefages asked CD to remind him of his request before the new season’s eggs hatched the following April (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from Armand de Quatrefages, [after 11 July 1862]).
This individual has not been identified.
Charles Frédéric Martins was elected as a corresponding member for the rural economy section of the Académie des Sciences, Paris, on 29 February 1863 (Index biographique de l’académie des sciences).
The reference is probably to the Société d’agriculture of Montpellier, which was founded in 1807 (Grande encyclopédie).
No such specimens are mentioned in Variation 1: 300–4, and it appears that they were never sent. Information from Martins is cited in Variation 1: 304 from an intermediate source (Godron 1859, p. 462); however, no information provided directly by Martins is included. An annotated copy of Godron 1859 is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 331–5).
CD’s letter has not been found. Quatrefages promised to send CD a copy of Quatrefages 1862 in his letter of [after 11 July 1862] (Correspondence vol. 10); there is an annotated copy of this work in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 691).
An annotated copy of Quatrefages 1861 is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 693–4). Quatrefages refers to the announcement by the Anthropological Society of London, which was founded in 1863, that it hoped to publish an English translation of Quatrefages 1861. No copy of the first prospectus of the society has been found; however, in the ‘Anthropological Review Advertising Sheet’ issued with the first number of the society’s Anthropological Review in May 1863, it was announced that the society intended to publish a series of works on anthropology, chiefly translations. Only one publication was described as ‘in preparation’; Quatrefages 1861 headed a list of six other titles under the caption: ‘translations will be recommended’. In subsequent prospectuses, the book was listed among those of which publication was contemplated, with George Frederick Rolph named as the prospective editor. However, the society’s translation never appeared, and Quatrefages 1861 was not translated into English until 1879 (Quatrefages 1879). There is a copy of the ‘Anthropological Review Advertising Sheet’ in the unbound pamphlet collection in the Darwin Library–CUL.
CD was an honorary member, although not an active one, of the Anthropological Society of London (see letter to Armand de Quatrefages, 27 March [1863]).
Between February and August 1863, Quatrefages, who was president of the Société d’Anthropologie of Paris, engaged in extended discussions with the polygenists in the society over the question of the influence of the environment in modifying races. The substance of the discussions, together with Quatrefages’s discourses on the subject on 5 March and 16 April 1863, are recorded in the Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris 4 (1863). See also Stocking 1968 and J. Harvey 1997, pp. 105–13.
Quatrefages apparently made this observation in 1862 in a letter that has not been found (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Armand de Quatrefages, 11 July 1862, and letter from Armand de Quatrefages, [after 11 July 1862]).
Quatrefages refers to Jean Baptiste de Lamarck and Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, both of whom had adopted theories of species transmutation in which environmental influence played an important role (DSB). See also Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris 4 (1863): 149.

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

DSB: Dictionary of scientific biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie and Frederic L. Holmes. 18 vols. including index and supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1970–90.

Godron, Dominique Alexandre. 1859. De l’espèce et des races dans les êtres organisés et spécialement de l’unité de l’espèce humaine. 2 vols. Paris: J. B. Baillière.

Grande encyclopédie: La grande encyclopédie inventaire raisonné des sciences, des lettres et des arts. Edited by F. Camille Dreyfus et al. 31 vols. Paris: H. Lamirault; Société Anonyme de la Grande Encyclopédie. [1886–1902.]

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Stocking, George W. Jr. 1968. Race, culture, and evolution: essays in the history of anthropology. New York: The Free Press. London: Collier Macmillan.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.

Summary

Charles Martins of Montpellier will collect the varieties of silkworm for CD.

QdeB is battling with the polygenists in the Société d’Anthropologie.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-4066
From
Jean Louis Armand (Armand de Quatrefages) Quatrefages de Bréau
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Paris
Source of text
DAR 175: 2
Physical description
4pp (French)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4066,” accessed on 18 October 2019, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-4066.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11

letter