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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Ernst Haeckel   20 January [1866]

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

Jan 20

My dear Sir

I thank you for your kind note of Jan. 11.1 You think much too highly of my work, but I confess it gratifies me not a little to read your frequently repeated expressions about my Origin of Species. No other photographs have been taken of me besides that published by Bronn & that by my son of which I enclose half a dozen copies.2 Do not trouble yourself to make up an equal number but I shd value greatly photographs of some of the leading naturalists in whom your country so abounds. I have only yourself Fritz Muller, Rütemeyer, & the Philolog. Schleicher.3

I am heartily glad that your book is making such good progress:4 I shall try & read it through, but it will take me an immense time, for I am a wretched German scholar & never improve. I wish I cd get it translated & will keep it in mind, but fear it will be impossible as there is but little sale for purely scientific works in England.5

I have read your account of the protogenes primordialis with much interest: nothing can be so wonderful as the vitality & movements of these fluid bodies.6 I have not yet read your larger paper on Medusæ.7 My health is better & I am now able to work one or two hours a day on the Variation of Domestic Animals & Plants; but I make slow progress.8

Pray believe me with every good wish yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

The photographs are in a separate envelope as the postage is less—9


See letter from Ernst Haeckel, 11 January 1866 and n. 15. CD refers to Heinrich Georg Bronn and the frontispiece to Bronn trans. 1863. The photographs sent by CD to Haeckel with this letter were probably copies of the portrait taken in spring 1864 by his son, William Erasmus Darwin (see Correspondence vol. 12, frontispiece, and letter from W. E. Darwin, [19 May 1864] and n. 8). William also photographed CD in 1861 (Correspondence vol. 9, frontispiece, and letter to Asa Gray, 11 April [1861] and n. 19).
Haeckel had offered to send CD photographs of German scientists who admired him (see letter from Ernst Haeckel, 11 January 1866). Haeckel sent his own photograph to CD in summer 1864 (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from Ernst Haeckel, 10 August 1864 and nn. 2 and 3), and also enclosed a photograph taken in October 1865 with his letter of 11 January 1866. Fritz Müller sent a photograph of himself in 1865 (see letter to Fritz Müller, 11 January 1866 and n. 5). There is no reference in CD’s extant correspondence with Ludwig Rütimeyer to a photograph of Rütimeyer. August Schleicher enclosed his photograph with his letter to CD of 9 February 1865 (see Correspondence vol. 13). He was a philologist.
The reference is to Haeckel 1866 (see letter from Ernst Haeckel, 11 January 1866 and nn. 7–9).
Haeckel 1866, a two-volume work of over 1000 pages, was published on or after 14 September 1866, the date appearing at the end of the foreword; it has never been translated into English.
See letter from Ernst Haeckel, 11 January 1866 and nn. 6 and 7. Protogenes primordialis was not mentioned by name in Variation. However, the question of whether cell-like bodies without walls and nuclei might be classified as cells was raised by CD, with a reference to Haeckel’s recent classification of cells (Variation 2: 370 and n. 25). For Haeckel’s classification, see Haeckel 1866, 1: 269–88.
The monograph (Haeckel 1865b), on the Geryonidae (now called Geryoniidae), was one of three papers by Haeckel sent to CD on Haeckel’s behalf by Wilhelm Engelmann (see letter from Ernst Haeckel, 11 January 1866 and n. 4). For CD’s interest in Haeckel’s work on the medusae, see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to J. D. Hooker, 4 May [1865] and n. 10.
For CD’s health in the preceding months, see the letter to H. B. Jones, 3 January [1866] and nn. 2–8. For CD’s work on Variation in 1866, see the letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 16 January [1866] and n. 1.
See n. 3, above. A letter to Germany weighing half an ounce cost 6d.; printed papers, probably including photographs, were charged at a lesser rate if not accompanied by a letter (Post Office London directory 1866).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Haeckel, Ernst. 1866. Generelle Morphologie der Organismen. Allgemeine Grundzüge der organischen Formen-Wissenschaft, mechanisch begründet durch die von Charles Darwin reformirte Descendenz-Theorie. 2 vols. Berlin: Georg Reimer.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.

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


Sends copies of photographs of himself. Asks for photographs of German naturalists.

Comments on EH’s account of Protogenes primordialis.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Ernst Philipp August (Ernst) Haeckel
Sent from
Source of text
Ernst-Haeckel-Haus (Bestand A-Abt. 1-52/8)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4980,” accessed on 17 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14