skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Hermann Kindt   11 October 1864

Yarm, Yorkshire

11. October 1864.


My German friend has requested me to thank you very warmly for your great kindness; The lines you sent me for him are very welcome and corresponding with his feelings and views.1 As he begs of me to send him a photograph likeness of yours, I should feel greatly obliged to you for naming the photographer where I can obtain the best and most faithful of your portraits. Pardon this new trouble I am herewith giving you with the same kindness you have shown before; you will know but too well that celebrated men are the very centre of gravity to which the minor beings that form their periphery are constantly and irresistably drawn—and you may perhaps agree with me that in our faculty of enthusiasm and admiration lies much seed for our own mental improvement.

My friend has also sent me a number of Brockhaus’s supplementary “Conversations-Lexikon”— “Unsere Zeit”, in which there is a very interesting article on your works etc. (Unsere Zeit, 1863 VII. vol.; pp 699–718)2 This article is the more interesting for German readers in general, as the author gives translated extracts from those of your works which have not yet been translated into German (Zoology of the Voyage etc.; The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs etc.)3 Thus for instance translations of your graphic descriptions of “Canis Magellanicus”,4 “Diodon antennatus”,5 the “Pumas” and “Guanacos”; also of your excellent and humane remarks on slavery in South-America, (the slaves at Fayenda, Rio de Janeiro, etc.) etc.6 Your many German friends will, I trust, read this article with much pleasure, though they will learn from it that the dissatisfactory state of your health has been the cause of your not yet publishing your great work on Natural History in general, of which “the Origin of Species” has been such a noble and worthy introduction.7

If you should like to read the above article, I should have great pleasure in sending you the number of the publication in question, for I understand that you perfectly understand my own beloved German language.8

I have but one excuse for my troubling you with my letter: my great admiration for the man to whom it is directed, and with this admiration I ever remain | Sir, | Your’s very obliged | Hermann Kindt


CD had written out the last sentence of Origin 2d ed. for Kindt’s friend. See letter from Hermann Kindt, 16 September 1864, and letter to Hermann Kindt, 17 September 1864.
The reference is to Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus’s Unsere Zeit, Jahrbuch zum Conversations-Lexikon (Our Times: yearbook to the universal encyclopaedia) for 1863, which was published as a supplement to Allgemeine Deutsche Real-Encyklopädie für die gebildeten Stände. Conversations-Lexikon (General German encyclopaedia for the educated classes. Universal encyclopaedia), published in Leipzig from 1851 to 1855. The article containing information on CD’s work was Schönemann 1863.
Kindt refers to Zoology (1838–43) and Coral reefs (1842), neither of which were available in German until 1876, when a German edition of Coral reefs was published (see Freeman 1977, p. 62).
CD’s description of the habits of the fox Canis Magellanicus appeared in Zoology, pt 2, pp. 10–12; he collected a specimen in the valley of Copiapó in northern Chile.
CD’s observations of Diodon antennatus were published in Journal of researches, pp. 13–14. CD collected a specimen of this fish, a species in the family Tetrodontidae, at Bahia Blanca, Argentina; the specimen is described in Zoology, pt 4, p. 151.
Kindt refers to extracts from the second edition of Journal of researches: pumas in Chile were discussed on pp. 269–70, and guanacos on the plains of Patagonia were described on pp. 166–8. CD’s remarks on slavery on an estate at Rio de Janeiro appeared on pp. 24–5. See also ibid., pp. 19–20, 499–500; the latter section was written especially for the second edition, and was a powerful denunciation of slavery. For a discussion of CD’s opposition to slavery, see Browne 1995, pp. 196–9, 213–4, and 244–6. See also Correspondence vol. 13, letter to Asa Gray, 19 April [1865].
In his introduction to Origin CD had stressed that his work was ‘an abstract’ of a larger work on species that had not yet been completed (Origin, p. 1).
CD could not read German with ease and for complex passages he often relied on translations made for him by his children’s governesses, Camilla and Louisa Ludwig (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 8, letter to C. Lyell, 5 [October 1860], and CD’s Classed Accounts (Down House MS), entry under ‘Science’ for 10 June 1865: ‘Miss Ludwig translate [£]5’). See also Correspondence vol. 11, letter to Hugh Falconer, 4 [September 1863].


Browne, Janet. 1995. Charles Darwin. Voyaging. Volume I of a biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Coral reefs: The structure and distribution of coral reefs. Being the first part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1842.

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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Origin 2d ed.: 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. 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.

Schönemann, J. 1863. Charles Darwin, englischer Naturforscher. Unsere Zeit. Jahrbuch zum Conversations-Lexikon 7: 699–718.

Zoology: The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. 5 pts. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1838–43.


Requests photograph.

Letter details

Letter no.
Hermann Adolph Christian August (Hermann) Kindt
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 169: 14
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4632,” accessed on 23 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12