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Darwin Correspondence Project

From S. A. Merrell   28 October 1870

US | Council Bluffs Iowa

Oct 28/1870

Mr Darwin

Dear Sir

Your kind note of reply to the one I sent you regarding the American Cuckoo, came duly to hand—1 I did not deem it needful to carry the correspondence farther at the time, as I supposed you had no time to spend on irrelavant matters—and have not.

Since that time however I have prepared a short article on the “Unity of Generation” designed to show that the principle is one and the same throughout the entire natural world—also as bearing upon physical progress—2

It is in direct relation and support of the Development Theory which I had in view in preparing the paper—

If it does not seem to be an act of presumption on my part to offer you for your inspection the crude reflections of a homunculus3—one who has devoted his time mainly to other pursuits, I should be happy to send you the article at some future time

In conversing with an old friend not long since, Major Hoffman,4 he stated to me he had been observant of the peculiar habits of our cuckoo on two or three distinct occasions

Have not had the pleasure of seeing your new edition of the Origin of Species5

With profound respect I remain | Most Truly Yours | S A Merrell MD | Box 325. Council Bluffs | Iowa | US


For Merrell’s letter on the American cuckoo, see Correspondence vol. 17, letter from S. A. Merrell, 1 February 1869. CD’s reply has not been found.
No published paper by Merrell has been found. No manuscript by Merrell has been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL.
Homunculus: a little or weak man (Latin).
Major Hoffman has not been identified.


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

Origin 2d US ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. From the fifth London edition, with additions and corrections. New York: D. Appleton. 1870.


Offers to send his short article on the "Unity of generation" which supports the developmental hypothesis.

Letter details

Letter no.
S. A. Merrell
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Source of text
DAR 171: 158
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7352,” accessed on 13 May 2021,

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