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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Camille Dareste1   3 April 1868

Ville de Lille | (Nord) | Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle | rue des Fleurs, 1 | Lille,

le 3 avril 1868

Monsieur

Je viens de recevoir le bel ouvrage que vous venez de publier; je me suis hâté d’en faire la lecture, et je tiens à vous dire combien j’ai été heureux non seulement du don que vous m’avez fait, mais encore du nombre considérable de notions intéressantes que j’ai puisées dans ce livre.2 Vos travaux sont appelés à renouveller entièrement les sciences naturelles. On est seulement effrayé de l’immensité des questions qu’ils soulèvent et du nombre considérable d’années, peut être de siècles qu’il faudra pour en donner la solution.

Vous devez être heureux, Monsieur, de voir combien les naturalistes ont actuellement de tendance à se rapprocher de vos idées. Il est regrettable que la France où les sciences naturelles ont jeté un sivif éclat, soit fort en retard à cet égard. Toutefois il est bien évident que les esprits, même les plus arriérés, commencent un peu à modifier leurs vieilles ideés.3 Mais pour le moment, ces questions sont fort peu comprises chez nous; parce que tous les efforts se portent actuellement vers la physiologie expérimentale.

Pour moi, Monsieur, je serais heureux si je pouvais un jour placer mon nom à la suite de vôtre, même à une très grande distance. Mes travaux sur la production artificielle des monstruosités se rattachent à la question de l’origine de l’espèce par un lien tout naturel, et pourront peut être, quelque jour, fournir des élémens utiles pour la discussion de cette grave question.4 Malheureusement l’extrème difficulté du sujet ne me permet d’aller qu’avec une excessive lenteur. J’ai d’ailleurs à lutter contre l’indifférence des physiologistes dont l’attention se porte tout entière sur des études d’une autre nature5

Veuillez recevoir, Monsieur, avec l’expression de ma reconnaissance, l’assurance de mes sentiments les plus devoués | Camille Dareste.

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix I.
Dareste refers to the French edition of Variation (Moulinié trans. 1868); Dareste’s name is on CD’s presentation list for the book (see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix IV).
On the reception of CD’s work in France, see Corsi and Weindling 1985, Stebbins 1988, Tort 1996, and J. Harvey 1997.
CD had received three papers by Dareste on monstrosities; in the most recent of these Dareste suggested that monstrous forms, under the right conditions of natural selection, could originate new races (Dareste 1862, 1863, and 1867; see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Camille Dareste, 8 February 1863 and n. 4, and Correspondence vol. 15, letter from Camille Dareste, 19 May 1867 and n. 8).
For more on French experimental physiology and the reception of CD’s transmutation theory in nineteenth-century France, see Conry 1974, pp. 359–92.

Translation

From Camille Dareste1   3 April 1868

Ville de Lille | (Nord) | Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle | rue des Fleurs, 1 | Lille,

3 April 1868

Dear Sir,

I have just received the fine work that you have just published; I hastened to read it, and I must tell you how pleased I have been not only by your gift to me but also by the great many interesting notions that I have drawn from this book.2 Your works are destined to renew the natural sciences entirely. Only the immensity of the questions that they raise is alarming, and the considerable number of years, perhaps centuries, that their solution will require.

You must be pleased, Sir, to see the extent to which naturalists are currently tending towards your ideas. It is to be regretted that France, where the natural sciences have shone so brightly, should be so far behind in this respect. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that even the most outdated minds are beginning to alter their old views a little.3 But for the moment, these questions are very poorly understood here, because all efforts are currently turned to experimental physiology.

For my part, Sir, I should be happy if I could place my name after yours one day, even at a very great distance. My work on the artificial production of monstrosities is connected with the question of the origin of species by a very natural link, and might one day perhaps provide useful elements for the discussion of this weighty question.4 Unfortunately, the extreme difficulty of the subject only allows me to proceed exceedingly slowly. I have besides to struggle against the indifference of the physiologists, whose attention is wholly turned towards studies of quite a different sort.5

Please receive, dear Sir, together with my gratitude, the assurance of my most devoted regards | Camille Dareste

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original French, see part I: 361–2.
Dareste refers to the French edition of Variation (Moulinié trans. 1868); Dareste’s name is on CD’s presentation list for the book (see Correspondence vol.16, Appendix IV).
On the reception of CD’s work in France, see Corsi and Weindling 1985, Stebbins 1988, Tort 1996, and J. Harvey 1997.
CD had received three papers by Dareste on monstrosities; in the most recent of these Dareste suggested that monstrous forms, under the right conditions of natural selection, could originate new races (Dareste 1862, 1863, and 1867; see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Camille Dareste, 8 February 1863 and n. 4, and Correspondence vol. 15, letter from Camille Dareste, 19 May 1867 and n. 8).
For more on French experimental physiology and the reception of CD’s transmutation theory in nineteenth-century France, see Conry 1974, pp. 359–92.

Summary

Thanks for Variation.

CD must be happy about the tendency toward acceptance of his views, though it is regrettable that France is backward in this regard.

His own work goes slowly, but he still hopes his work on artificially produced monstrosities will help to answer the question of the origin of species.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-6088
From
Gabriel-Madeleine-Camille (Camille) Dareste
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Mus. Hist. Nat., Lille
Source of text
DAR 162: 44
Physical description
3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6088,” accessed on 25 August 2019, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6088

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

letter