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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Ernst Haeckel   6 February [1868]1

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

Feb 6

My dear Haeckel

I was delighted to receive your cordial & very interesting letter. The photograph is so good that it is like having you in the room.2

I am delighted to hear of the splendid success of your lectures;3 but this must depend far more on the lecturer than on the subject— I fear you take much too sanguine a view of the progress of our belief in the descent-theory. I have just read a little book by Ernest Faivre who is very courteous & evidently sincere, but he cannot see a shadow of a reason in favour of the common descent of allied species.4 I am in a little confusion whether you have received the English or German Edition of my book; I first ordered the German edition to be sent to you, forgetting that you read English easily, but I subsequently directed the English to be sent to you. If you have both perhaps you will pass on the German edition with my compliments to Prof. Gegenbaur.5 If ever you have time to read my book I think you will find it of use in giving you a large body of facts on certain subjects.

Pray give my compliments to yr Russian friend Mikluska: I do not quite understand what you tell me about his discovery in regard to the swim-bladder; for I thought every one admitted that it was the homologue of the lungs.6 I am sorry to read what you say about Dohrn; but I was fearful, from a little paper that he sent me, that he was rather wild in his views.7 I have not yet recd the paper from yr relation Dr Bleek;8 I wish he had ever attended to the Australian languages, for I am very curious to know whether they shew any affinity with the languages of Africa. Pray keep the book on the Canary I’s as long as you like.9 As for myself I keep in much the same state as during the last year & am able to do a fair share of work. I have just finished 2 papers on the fertilization of plants, & have now begun a small book on the Descent of Man & on sexual selection, which will appear to you an incongruous union.10

I am delighted to hear that you are so well in health & so happy. How fortunate it was that yr career was not cut short by falling down from that lofty Alpine pinnacle.

Believe me my dear Häckel | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to the published volumes of Variations (see n. 5, below).
CD refers to Faivre 1868. An annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 225).
Haeckel had received the first volume of the German edition of Variation (Carus trans. 1868; see letter from Ernst Haeckel, 23 March 1868). Haeckel’s name appears on the presentation list for the English edition of Variation; Carl Gegenbaur’s name appears on the presentation list for the German edition (see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix IV).
CD refers to Nikolai Nikolaevich Miklucho-Maclay. See letter from Ernst Haeckel, [before 6 February 1868] and n. 6.
See letter from Ernst Haeckel, [before 6 February 1868] and n. 9. Anton Dohrn sent CD a copy of his paper on the morphology of arthropods in November 1867 (Dohrn 1867; Correspondence vol. 15, letter to Anton Dohrn, 26 November [1867] and n. 1). See also Correspondence vol. 14, letter from Ernst Haeckel, 28 January 1866.
William Heinrich Immanuel Bleek. See letter from Ernst Haeckel [before 6 February 1868] and n. 10.
CD refers to ‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’, ‘Specific difference in Primula’, and Descent.


Delighted to hear of success of EH’s lectures.

Ernest Faivre [La variabilité des espèces (1868)] sees no reason to favour common descent of allied species.

Asks EH to pass German edition of Variation on to Gegenbaur.

Comments on work of Miklucho[-Maclay], Dohrn, and Bleek.

Has begun work on Descent.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Ernst Philipp August (Ernst) Haeckel
Sent from
Source of text
Ernst-Haeckel-Haus (Bestand A-Abt. 1: 1–52/16)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5841,” accessed on 19 August 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16