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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Armand de Quatrefages1   29 March 1869

Paris

29 Mars 69

Mon cher Confrere

Je voulais ne répondre à votre lettre que lorsque j’aurais eu le plaisir de voir Mr votre fils.2 Mais il parait que le destin ne veut pas que j’aie ce plaisir. Il est venu deux fois chez moi, je suis allé deux fois chez lui, toujours sans que nous nous soyons rencontrés. Et pourtant je passe des trois mois entiers sans sortir si ce n’est pour aller à l’Institut au le soir.3 J’espère que je finirai par être plus heureux et que j’aurai le plaisir de faire sa connaissance un de ces jours.

Je vous remercie de la manière dont vous avez apprécié mes études sur votre théorie. Il m’était devenu impossible de ne pas entreprendre cette discussion. Au nom du transformisme en général, au nom de vos idées en particulier, je voyais chaque jour attaquer et représenter comme des vieilleries usées, ce que je regarde précisément comme les fondements des Sciences naturelles. J’avais été souvent personnellement désigné comme un homme arrièré et qui fermait volontairement les yeux aux progrès de la Science.4 J’ai donc été obligé de me défendre. A mon tour, j’ai du discuter les théories qu’on m’opposait. Vous êtes incontestablement le chef de toutes les théories transformistes, le seul qui ayez proposé une théorie fondée uniquement sur des considérations scientifiques et embrassant l’ensemble des problêmes posés par la nature vivante. C’est donc avec vous que j’avais surtout à lutter. J’ai fait mon possible pour montrer que la raison scientifique est de mon coté. Mais j’espère n’avoir jamais méconnu la grandeur de votre œuvre, et en terminant cette longue etude dans un dernier article qui paraitra le 1er Avril, j’ai été heureux d’exprimer publiquement toute l’estime que je porte en vous à l’homme et au savant— Dès que j’aurai reçu mes tirés-à-pàrt le premier exemplaire vous sera envoyé.5

Je profite de l’occasion pour vous exprimer mes regrets au sujet d’une inexactitude qui s’est glissée dans mon troisieme article.— En examinant ce que vous dites de la mesange et du casse-noix dans votre livre sur l’espèce, j’avais mis une note dans la quelle je faisais remarquer que vous ne parliez pas précisément d’une généalogie; que vous n’affirmiez rien positivement. Cette note a disparu à l’impression définitive avec beaucoup d’autres. Probablement des arrangements typographiques auront été cause de sa disparition. Elle sera rétablie dans l’édition en volume qui sera faite de mes articles Mais je tiens à vous dire dès à présent que je ne suis pas coupable du fait.6

J’espère bien, Monsieur et cher confrere, que des dissidences d’opinion n’altereront jamais nos relations. C’est dans cet espoir que je vous prie d’agréer l’expression de mes sentiments les plus cordialement dévoués | De Quatrefages

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix I.
CD’s letter has not been found. George Howard Darwin had probably travelled to Paris on 5 March 1869 (see letter from G. H. Darwin, [23 February 1869] and n. 7).
Quatrefages refers to the Institut de France. The institute was the home of five learned societies, including the Académie des Sciences, of which Quatrefages was a member (DSB).
For more on the French debates over transformism, see Conry 1974, pp. 359–92. See also Correspondence vol. 16, letter from Camille Dareste, 3 April 1868.
Quatrefages later sent CD an offprint of a series of five articles he had written for the Revue des Deux Mondes between December 1868 and April 1869, ‘Origines des espèces animales et végétales’ (Quatrefages 1868–9). CD’s annotated copy of the offprint is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
In Quatrefages 1868–9, p. 63, Quatrefages had questioned whether CD had demonstrated that the nuthatch was the ‘grandson’ of the titmouse. When Quatrefages later published a book based on these articles, a note was added giving a reference to the section of Origin where CD had commented on the titmouse and nuthatch (see Origin 4th ed., p. 281), but there was no mention in the note that CD had not, in fact, suggested a genealogical connection between these species (Quatrefages 1870, p. 156).

Bibliography

Conry, Yvette. 1974. L’introduction du Darwinisme en France au XIXe siècle. Paris: J. Vrin.

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

DSB: Dictionary of scientific biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie and Frederic L. Holmes. 18 vols. including index and supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1970–90.

Origin 4th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 4th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1866.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Quatrefages, Armand de. 1868–9a. Origines des espèces animales et végétales. Revue des deux mondes 2d ser. 78 (1868): 832–60; 79 (1869): 208–40; 80 (1869): 64–95, 397–432, 638–72.

Quatrefages, Armand de. 1870. Charles Darwin et ses précurseurs français. Etude sur le transformisme. Paris: Germer Baillière.

Translation

From Armand de Quatrefages1   29 March 1869

Paris

29 March 69

My dear Colleague

I wanted to put off replying to your letter until after I had had the pleasure of seeing your son.2 But it seems that fate does not want me to have that pleasure. He came twice to my house and I went twice to his, without our ever meeting each other. And yet for three months in a row I do not go out except to visit the Institute in the evenings.3 I hope that I shall end by being more fortunate and that I shall have the pleasure of making his acquaintance one of these days.

I must thank you for the way in which you have appreciated my studies concerning your theory. It had become impossible for me not to undertake this discussion. In the name of transformism in general, in the name of your ideas in particular, I saw what I regarded as the very foundations of the natural sciences attacked every day and represented as outworn ideas. I have often personally been pointed out as a man behind the times, wilfully shutting his eyes to scientific progress.4 So I was obliged to defend myself. In my turn, I had to discuss the theories with which I was being opposed. You are incontestably the leader of all transformist theories, the only person to have proposed a theory founded solely on scientific considerations and embracing all the problems posed by living nature. So I had to combat you above all. I did what I could to show that scientific reason is on my side. But I hope that I have never failed to recognise the greatness of your work, and on completing this lengthy study with one final article, which is due to appear on the 1st of April, I was happy to express publicly all my esteem for you as a man and a man of science— As soon as I have received my offprints the first copy shall be sent to you.5

I shall take the opportunity to express my regrets about an inaccuracy that has crept into my third article.— In examining what you say concerning the titmouse and the nuthatch in your book on species, I had added a note in which I drew attention to the fact that you were not precisely speaking of a genealogy; that you were not affirming anything positively. This note vanished in the final printing along with many others. Probably some typographical arrangement was the cause of its disappearance. It will be restored in the book edition in which these articles are due to appear But I am anxious to let you know at this point that I am not guilty of the matter.6

I dearly hope, dear Sir and colleague, that schisms of opinion will never affect our relationship. It is in that hope that I beg you to accept my most cordial and devoted regards | De Quatrefages

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original French, see pp. 162–3.
CD’s letter has not been found. George Howard Darwin had probably travelled to Paris on 5 March 1869 (see letter from G. H. Darwin, [23 February 1869] and n. 7).
Quatrefages refers to the Institut de France. The institute was the home of five learned societies, including the Académie des Sciences, of which Quatrefages was a member (DSB).
For more on the French debates over transformism, see Conry 1974, pp. 359–92. See also Correspondence vol. 16, letter from Camille Dareste, 3 April 1868.
Quatrefages later sent CD an offprint of a series of five articles he had written for the Revue des Deux Mondes between December 1868 and April 1869, ‘Origines des espèces animales et végétales’ (Quatrefages 1868–9). CD’s annotated copy of the offprint is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
In Quatrefages 1868–9, p. 63, Quatrefages had questioned whether CD had demonstrated that the nuthatch was the ‘grandson’ of the titmouse. When Quatrefages later published a book based on these articles, a note was added giving a reference to the section of Origin where CD had commented on the titmouse and nuthatch (see Origin 4th ed., p. 281), but there was no mention in the note that CD had not, in fact, suggested a genealogical connection between these species (Quatrefages 1870, p. 156).

Bibliography

Conry, Yvette. 1974. L’introduction du Darwinisme en France au XIXe siècle. Paris: J. Vrin.

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

DSB: Dictionary of scientific biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie and Frederic L. Holmes. 18 vols. including index and supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1970–90.

Origin 4th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 4th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1866.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Quatrefages, Armand de. 1868–9a. Origines des espèces animales et végétales. Revue des deux mondes 2d ser. 78 (1868): 832–60; 79 (1869): 208–40; 80 (1869): 64–95, 397–432, 638–72.

Quatrefages, Armand de. 1870. Charles Darwin et ses précurseurs français. Etude sur le transformisme. Paris: Germer Baillière.

Summary

Comments on their differences regarding evolution. Acknowledges that CD alone has produced an evolutionary theory that is scientific and all-embracing. Appreciates grandeur of CD’s work.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-6686
From
Jean Louis Armand (Armand de Quatrefages) Quatrefages de Bréau
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Paris
Source of text
DAR 175: 5
Physical description
4pp (French)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6686,” accessed on 22 October 2019, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-6686.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17

letter