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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Paul Broca1   4 August 1870

Paris,

4 août 1870

Monsieur,

Je suis heureux du témoignage de bienveillance que vous avez bien voulu me donner; mais je crains bien que la seconde partie de mon discours, qui a paru le lendemain du jour où vous m’écriviez n’ait eu le malheur de vous déplaire.2 La première partie etait un exposé historique et j ai dû y parler de vous avec les égards dus à un grand naturaliste; mais la seconde partie était une discussion critique et vous aurez peut être à me pardonner quelques passages un peu vifs contre la Selection naturelle.3 Je vous prie, malgré cela, de ne pas me confondre avec le troupeau de vos adversaires systématiques, pas plus que Quatrefages et Milne-Edwards, qui soutiennent actuellement votre candidature, et aux efforts des quels je joindrais les miens si j’avais l’honneur d’appartenir à l’Academie des Sciences4

Veuillez agreer, Monsieur, avec mes remerciements pour votre aimable lettre, l’expression respectueux de mes sentiments de haute estime | P Broca

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 18, Appendix I.
CD’s letter has not been found, but was evidently written on 29 July 1870. Broca refers to his lecture ‘Sur le transformisme’, delivered at the Société d’Anthropologie de Paris in April 1870 and published in the 23 July and 30 July 1870 issues of the Revue des Cours Scientifiques (Broca 1870a). A longer version of Broca’s paper appeared later in the Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris (Broca 1870b).
See Broca 1870a, pp. 553–8. Broca argued that natural selection could only influence functional characteristics, and that many features in an organism had no functional significance; he concluded that while species were not fixed, the causes of their evolution remained undiscovered.
Broca refers to Armand de Quatrefages and Henri Milne-Edwards, both of whom were supporting CD’s candidacy for corresponding membership in the zoological section of the French Académie des Sciences. See letter from Armand de Quatrefages, 18 July 1870.

Translation

From Paul Broca1   4 August 1870

Paris,

4 August 1870

Dear Sir,

I am pleased by the mark of benevolence you were so good as to give me; but I do fear that the second part of my discourse, which appeared the day after you had written to me, may have had the misfortune of displeasing you.2 The first part was a historical summary, and here I had to speak of you with the regard that is due to a great naturalist; but the second part was a critical discussion and you may have to excuse me some rather lively passages against Natural Selection.3 Despite this, I beg you not to confound me with the herd of your systematic adversaries, any more than Quatrefages and Milne-Edwards, who are currently supporting your candidature, and whose efforts I would second if I had the honour of belonging to the Academy of Sciences4

Please accept, dear Sir, along with my thanks for your amiable letter, the respectful expression of my high esteem | P Broca

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original French, see p. 224–5.
CD’s letter has not been found, but was evidently written on 29 July 1870. Broca refers to his lecture ‘Sur le transformisme’, delivered at the Société d’Anthropologie de Paris in April 1870 and published in the 23 July and 30 July 1870 issues of the Revue des Cours Scientifiques (Broca 1870a). A longer version of Broca’s paper appeared later in the Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris (Broca 1870b).
See Broca 1870a, pp. 553–8. Broca argued that natural selection could only influence functional characteristics, and that many features in an organism had no functional significance; he concluded that while species were not fixed, the causes of their evolution remained undiscovered.
Broca refers to Armand de Quatrefages and Henri Milne-Edwards, both of whom were supporting CD’s candidacy for corresponding membership in the zoological section of the French Académie des Sciences. See letter from Armand de Quatrefages, 18 July 1870.

Summary

Thanks CD for compliments on the first part of his "discours",

but the later part was critical of natural selection. Nevertheless, CD should see him not as a systematic adversary, but in the camp of Quatrefages de Bréau and Milne-Edwards.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-7294
From
Pierre Paul (Paul) Broca
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Paris
Source of text
DAR 160: 313
Physical description
2pp (French)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7294,” accessed on 17 June 2019, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-7294

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18

letter