skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Hermann Müller   [after 23 February 1868]1


〈    〉

My dear Sir

I was just about to write 〈    〉 and to return my sincere 〈thanks〉 for having sent me your new w〈ork〉2 when your letter from the 23th. febr. arrived in my hands. I hasten to answer it meanwhile; as soon as my negotiations with Engelmann in Leipzig will have had a result, I shall give you further account.3

I am perfectly sure that my brother will like to see his work “Für Darwin” translated in English.4 For when I engaged him to publish his various observations on Orchids, mentioned in his letters to me, in a detailed work, he declared, that he did not intend to publish some unconnected facts, but if in future he should succeed in detecting facts worth of being published separately, he would wait till he were capable of writing the work in English, his pri〈ncipal〉 correspondents being Engli〈sh〉5

〈    〉 besides this motive I am fully 〈convi〉nced that my brother would 〈agre〉e with all his heart to this 〈tra〉nslation, barely because you 〈express〉 〈i〉nterest in it and he feels the 〈hi〉ghest respect for you.

Therefore as far as my brother is concerned you can effect the translation without any scruple and without any suspence. In order to reduce as far as possible the delay effected by the slow expedition of letters to and from Brasilia (commonly nearly three months pass away before answer from Brasilia arrives.) I have communicated to my brother the contents of your letter, immedately after having received it; I have entreated him to send you as soon as possible the corrections he has possibly to make and some additions. In the mean time Mr. Dallas could effect his translation.6

Also to Engelmann of Leipzig I have written immediately and though I do not know on what terms he has 〈pub〉lished m〈y〉 brothers book I cannot think that he could have any motive of refusing the use of the woodcuts. I think it will be only very honorable and profitable to his publications if they are translated in English. I hope I shall be able to send you soon the result of my negotiations with him.

Your thanks for the Bot. Zeitung depend I suppose on a mistake, as I never have sent you one. Prof. de Bary, editor of the Bot. Zeitung, has given lately a review of the Article which I formerly have sent to you. Perhaps he has sent you a copy of it?7

The translation of your new work which you have had the kindness to send me, has been to me an abundant source of delight and of information. I cannot but pay you anew my fullest admiration. You have not only led over the whole consideration of the organic world from a though[t]less description of forms to an understanding of the causal connection, but at the same time you have given to the science a plenty of new and important facts the investigation of which would have required the whole energy of at least a dozen excellent naturalists. The good effects of your theorie on the Origine of species are to be remarked in ever larger circles. Lately again I have had the pleasure to hear that two of my correspondents have become ardent followers of your theories: Dr Speyer, known as a perfect connoisseur of Germain Lepidoptera is about to show the descent of the Lepidoptera from the Phryganidae8 (I have sent him my collection of Westfalian Phryganidae for his exploration); another friend of mine, Röse, is about to explain the genealogical connection of some mosses.9 Every one who has been instructed by the reading of your works is full of admiration and of thanks for you.

Receive, my dear Sir, also my sincere thanks and the assurance of my greatest respect. | I remain | Yours very faithfully | H Müller.


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Hermann Müller, 23 February [1868].
Müller refers to the German edition of Variation, the first volume of which was printed in December 1867 (Correspondence vol. 15, letter from Eduard Koch, 11 December 1867). Müller’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for the book (see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix IV).
Müller refers to Wilhelm Engelmann. See letter to Hermann Müller, 23 February [1868] and n. 5.
Müller refers to Fritz Müller and to F. Müller 1864.
CD had corresponded extensively with Fritz Müller on orchids and later incorporated a number of Müller’s observations into the second edition of Orchids (see Correspondence vols. 14 and 15). On Müller’s reluctance to publish his work on orchids, see Möller 1921, 2: 88 n., and West 2003, p. 162.
William Sweetland Dallas had agreed to translate F. Müller 1864. See letter from W. S. Dallas, 22 February 1868.
See letter to Hermann Müller, 23 February [1868] and n. 6. Anton de Bary was co-editor of Botanische Zeitung.
Adolf Speyer argued, largely on the basis of morphological similarities, that Lepidoptera and the Phryganidae were descended from a common ancestor; he discussed the work of Ernst Haeckel and Anton Dohrn, but not that of CD (Speyer 1869). The Phryganidae are now Phryganeidae, a family in the order Trichoptera (caddisflies).
August Röse explicitly applied Darwinian principles to plant geography in his paper on the distribution of Thuringian mosses (Röse 1868).


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

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

Röse, August. 1868. Über die Verbreitung der Laubmoose in Thüringen und die Bedeutung der Moose für die Pflanzen-Geographie überhaupt. Mittheilungen aus Justus Perthes’ Geographischer Anstalt über wichtige neue Erforschungen auf dem Gesammtgebiete der Geographie von Dr. A. Petermann (1868): 409–12.

Speyer, Adolf. 1869. Zur Genealogie der Schmetterlinge. [Read September 1869.] Entomologische Zeitung 31 (1870): 202–23.

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

West, David A. 2003. Fritz Müller. A naturalist in Brazil. Blacksburg, Va.: Pocahontas Press.


HM is certain his brother Fritz would like to see Für Darwin translated into English by Dallas. He will make arrangements with the German publisher.

Two friends are writing Darwinian works: Adolf Speyer on phylogeny of Lepidoptera

and August Röse on genealogy of mosses.

Letter details

Letter no.
Heinrich Ludwig Hermann (Hermann) Müller
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 171: 292
Physical description
4pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5920,” accessed on 17 November 2019,

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