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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Ludwig Rütimeyer   25 February [1868]1

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

Feb 25

My dear Sir

I am very glad that you have sent to England your memoir for the Earl of Tankerville. He is so much interested about his wild Cattle that I do not doubt he will like to have a copy in his library.2 As soon as I receive it from Messrs Williams,3 I will forward it to him. You say that you have added a pamphlet “zur Darwin lehre”; but I received a copy of this 2 or 3 weeks ago.4 I have been very tardy in thanking you for it & for your Herkunft unserer Thierwelt, & for your Nat. Geschichte des Rindes.5 All of which I owe to your great kindness. My only excuse is that I have lately been much engaged.

As there is no man in Europe whose opinion on the modification of species I value more than yours, I was extremely anxious to read your pamphlet. But your style is very difficult for me to understand, so that I despatched it immediately to a young German lady whom I sometimes employ to translate for me, & as she has not much spare time, I do not suppose I shall receive the translation for a month, when I shall read it eagerly.6

I am very sorry to disagree with you on any point, but I cannot agree that there is any innate principle of progressive perfection;7 it seems to me that this will inevitably follow from natural selection.

With sincere thanks for all your kindness believe me | my dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to Rütimeyer 1868 (see n. 4, below).
No letter from Rütimeyer to CD on this subject has been found. CD refers to Rütimeyer’s two-part monograph on the natural history of cattle; Rütimeyer discussed an ancient breed, the Chillingham cattle, that lived on the estate of Charles August Bennet, sixth earl of Tankerville (Rütimeyer 1867a, p. 54, and Rütimeyer 1867b, pp. 130–3, 146–9). Rütimeyer’s description of the breed was based on a skull obtained from Tankerville by CD (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter from Ludwig Rütimeyer, 3 January 1865). CD discussed the Chillingham cattle in Variation 1: 81–4 and 2: 119.
Williams and Norgate were booksellers and publishers specialising in foreign scientific literature.
CD refers to Die Grenzen der Theirwelt. Eine Betrachtung zu Darwin’s Lehre (The boundaries of the animal world. A reflection on Darwin’s theory; Rütimeyer 1868). A copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Rütimeyer 1867a and 1867b; and Rütimeyer 1867c. CD’s copies are in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. CD had thanked Rütimeyer for sending various publications, including Rütimeyer 1867b, in his letter of 4 May [1867] (Correspondence vol. 15).
CD had occasionally employed Camilla Ludwig, a former governess at Down House, to translate German works. No translation of Rütimeyer 1868 has been found.
This comment on the progressive principle of development was evidently in the missing letter from Rütimeyer.


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

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


Will forward LR’s memoir to Earl of Tankerville. Has sent LR’s pamphlet on "Darwin Lehre" [Die Grenzen der Thierwelt (1868)] to a German lady he employs as a translator. Cannot agree that there is an innate principle of perfection.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Karl Ludwig (Ludwig) Rütimeyer
Sent from
Source of text
Universitätsbibliothek Basel, Handschriften (G IV 91, 5)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5930,” accessed on 9 July 2020,

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