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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. V. Carus   15 April 1867


Apr. 15th. 1867

My dear Sir,

Many thanks for your kind letter which I received last night.1 I answer it at once because I think it fair to ask you frankly which translator you would prefer for your work. After consideration I see I can manage it to have the first volume ready for November, so that the first half of the translation can be published at the same time with the whole of the original〈.〉 But as C. Vogt offered himself to do it, it depends, at least as far as the publishers will arrange it, on your will.2 C. Vogt has most certainly a greater name than I. But by his unmeasured satyrical and I am sorry to say sometimes quite cynical extravagances he lost a good deal of the influence, his judgement could otherwise still have. Although I am not impartial, yet I don’t think for the reason just mentioned that he is the fit person to introduce your work to the German public.

Just now he travels over Germany and delivers lectures like a travelling preacher, but not “ad propagandam fidem”, but in favour of the materialism in the absurdest form.3 I trust you understand me. I should most gladly desist from translating your work if you find an abler man to do it. But on the other hand I should be sorry for your work’s sake, if it should be associated with the name of a man, who would contrast by his fighting and scoulding manners most singularly with the sober and earnest tenor of a book full of observations. I know, many of our younger naturalists are losing that feeling of scientific decency which according to 〈my〉 opinion is utterly indispensable with a true mind of research. Yet I should not think that I am standing alone with the judgment given above. Now you will decide and let me kindly know your will

I am very happy to see that you agree with me about Haeckel’s book.4

Believe my dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Prof J. Victor Carus


Carus refers to CD’s letter to him of 11 April [1867].
CD had planned to publish the two volumes of Variation in November 1867 (see letter to J. V. Carus, 11 April [1867]). It was eventually published on 30 January 1868 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). Carl Vogt had also offered to translate Variation (see letter from Carl Vogt, 8 April 1867), and CD had written to him on 12 April [1867], suggesting that if Carus was too busy to make the translation, Vogt might do it instead. For more on Vogt, see F. Gregory 1977 and Montgomery 1988.
Ad propagandam fidem: for the propagation of the faith (Latin). For more on Vogt’s controversial lectures, given in various European countries between 1867 and 1869, see W. Vogt 1896, pp. 177–84.
Carus refers to Ernst Haeckel’s Generelle Morphologie (Haeckel 1866); see letter from J. V. Carus, 5 April 1867, and letter to J. V. Carus, 11 April [1867].


Gregory, Frederick. 1977. Scientific materialism in nineteenth century Germany. Dordrecht, Netherlands, and Boston, Mass.: D. Reidel Publishing Company.

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.

Montgomery, William M. 1988. Germany. In The comparative reception of Darwinism, with a new preface, edited by Thomas F. Glick. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

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

Vogt, William. 1896. La vie d’un homme: Carl Vogt. Paris: Schleicher Frères. Stuttgart: Erwin Nägele.


Asks CD to decide which translator he would prefer for Variation. JVC frankly thinks Carl Vogt not the best man to introduce CD to the German public, though he has a greater name than JVC.

Vogt now preaches materialism in its most absurd form.

Letter details

Letter no.
Julius Victor Carus
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 161: 59
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5503,” accessed on 20 September 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15