skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Lubbock   12 February [1868]1

High Elms, | Farnborough, | Kent.

12 Feb.

My dear Mr. Darwin

Many thanks for Muller, which I return.

His views scarcely seem to have been clear on the subject since he says “Germs which are produced without sexual influence are essentially of the nature of buds”, and again “The germs of ova, however, not unfrequently acquire the nature of buds or spores”2

Both these passages seem to imply an essential difference between the two.3

Anyhow I believe that the structural idendity of pseudova & ova was first demonstrated in my paper on Daphnia.4

In one little point I think you use an expression which will be misunderstood. In P. 101 you speak of the goat in the “Early Stone Age”. Rutimeyer only means the earlier neolithic Lake Villages. No Palæolithic remains have yet been found in Switzerland.5

I hope you were none the worse for your visit to us on Sunday & that you will come again soon.

Believe me, dear Mr Darwin, | Yours most sincerely | John Lubbock

CD annotations

End of letter: ‘p 360 [pencil]; & Sir J Lubbock first [above del ‘has’] showed that the ova & pseudova of Daphnia [‘cannot be’ del] are identical in structure [pencil, del pencil]; & in the case of the Daphnia | & in the case of Daphnia Sir J L first show that ova & pseudova are identical in structure.’6 pencil


The year is established from the fact that the letter contains information that was included in the second printing of Variation, which appeared in February 1868 (see n. 4, below).
Lubbock refers to Johannes Müller’s Elements of physiology (J. Müller 1838–42, 2: 1445). CD’s heavily annotated copy of the book is in the Darwin Library–CUL, and includes annotations on ova and buds (see Marginalia 1: 614–21).
In Variation 2: 360, CD had written, ‘J. Müller and others admit that ovules and buds have the same essential nature’. This passage was unchanged in the second printing; however, it was removed in the second edition (Variation 2d ed., 2: 352).
Lubbock had published two papers on reproduction in the water-flea Daphnia, a freshwater crustacean; he concluded that the common eggs destined to develop without fertilisation (the agamic ova) were morphologically identical to the less common so-called ‘ephippial’ eggs (see Lubbock 1857 and 1858, and Correspondence vol. 6). CD acknowledged Lubbock’s discovery in the second printing of Variation (Variation 2: 360). See CD’s annotation.
In Variation 1: 101, CD had given Ludwig Rütimeyer as his authority for the fact that domestic goats were more numerous than sheep in Switzerland during ‘the early Stone period’. This passage was unchanged in the second printing; however, it was changed to ‘Neolithic period’ in the second edition (Variation 2d ed., 1: 105). Lubbock had published several papers on the ancient lake dwellings of Switzerland (for example, Lubbock 1862 and 1863).
See n. 4, above.


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

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Müller, Johannes. 1838–42. Elements of physiology. Translated from the German by William Baly. 2 vols. London: Taylor and Walton.

Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.

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


Discusses [Fritz?] Müller’s confusion about ova and pseudova; JL’s Daphnia paper [Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. 147 (1857): 79–100; see 1979] first demonstrated their structural identity.

Points out a misleading statement in Variation.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
High Elms
Source of text
DAR 170: 62
Physical description
ALS 3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5868,” accessed on 10 June 2023,

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