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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Julius von Haast   18 July [1863]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

July 18th.

My dear Sir

I received about a fortnight ago a copy of your letter of Dec. 9th. & your note of March 5th,2 & now I have received a brief & very kind note of May 12th.—3 with the latter came the Report of your expedition to the west coast.4 I heartily congratulate you on your success. What fearful labour you have undergone & how well you must have managed the whole affair to have been so successful under such extreme difficulties.

On receiving your letter of December 9th (i.e. the copy of it) in which you say you would like a copy of the “Origin of species”; I wrote to my publisher to send one to you & I hope you will have received it before this reaches you.5 I shd. be the most insensible & dull man if I were not highly pleased by what an observer like you says of the “Origin”.— I have already expressed my sincere opinion on your admirable Address to your Society.6 I wonder whether you were the Author of a very amusing & really excellently done Dialogue on Natural Selection, in a New Zealand paper, which was sent to me?—7 I thank you for your information about the New Zealand Vertebrata:8 I really think there is hardly a point in the world so interesting with respect to geographical distribution as New Zealand. I have been very glad to hear of the curious case of change in habits of nesting in the New Zealand Duck; & it is a case which I shall at some future time quote.

I am at present working very hard on Variation under Domestication & hope in six months to begin printing.9 My weak health makes me live the life of a hermit & I really have no scientific news to communicate.

So you must, if you can, excuse this very dull letter, & believe me, my dear Sir, with sincere respect & my thanks | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Julius von Haast, 5 March 1863.
Haast had enclosed a copy of his letter to CD of 9 December 1862 (Correspondence vol. 10), the original of which he feared lost, with his letter to CD of 5 March 1863. The original of the letter from Julius von Haast, 9 December 1862 (Correspondence vol. 10) had indeed failed to reach CD (see letters from J. D. Hooker, [30 April 1863] and n. 2, and 19 June 1863 and n. 1).
CD refers to Haast’s geological expedition across the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s Middle Island (now South Island) to the west coast (see letter from Julius von Haast, 5 March 1863, n. 2). The enclosure to the letter from Julius von Haast, 13 May 1863, has not been found; however, it was probably the account of Haast’s expedition published in the Christchurch Press, 1 April 1863, pp. 1–2, and 2 April 1863, pp. 2–3.
See the enclosure to the letter from Julius von Haast, 5 March 1863. The letter to John Murray, CD’s publisher, has not been found.
CD commented on Haast’s address to the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury (J. F. J. von Haast 1862a) in his letter to Haast of 22 January 1863. See also enclosure to letter from Julius von Haast, 5 March 1863 and n. 12. There is an annotated copy of the address in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
CD refers to Samuel Butler’s anonymous article entitled ‘Darwin on the origin of species: a dialogue’, which was published in the Christchurch Press, on 20 December 1862 (see letter to an editor, 24 March [1863] and n. 3).
Variation was not published until 1868.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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


Acknowledges receipt of JvH’s letters and report of his expedition. Congratulates him on its success.

Has sent Origin.

There is hardly a place in the world as interesting as New Zealand with respect to geographical distribution.

Will quote the case of the ducks that nest in trees.

Is working hard on Variation.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4245,” accessed on 21 March 2023,

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