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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Darwin   6 June [1871]1


June 6th

My dear old Backy

Very many thanks for all that you have done for me.— What on earth Mivart can mean by the identity between eyes of Cephelopods & Vertebrata I cannot conceive: they must be transparent & furnished with nerves, & with a lens of some kind.2 The striking resemblance seems to be only external, as I believe is always the case when analogous or homoplastic structures are understood.

I do not want anything more from British Review.—3

I have had such an extraordinary kind letter and little Essay from Michael Foster:4 he offers to come down here to talk to me, & I have consequently begged him to come for a Sunday if so inclined, & you must come, if you possibly can, & meet him.— Is he a nice man? I hope so, for he seems inclined to like me.—

Good-bye my dear old Doctor Darwin5 | C. D.

P.S. | You have omitted one important, reference to Vol. & series & Page to Hensen’s paper in Annales des Sci Nat. as I might wish hereafter to look at it—6


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to Francis Darwin, 21 May [1871].
CD had asked Francis to assist him in finding material on the eyes of cephalopods (octopuses and squids) so he could respond to St George Jackson Mivart’s claims in Mivart 1871a (see letter to Francis Darwin, 21 May [1871] and n. 4).
CD may refer to the North British Review.
Francis was studying medicine at St George’s Hospital, London (ODNB).
CD refers to the summary in French of Victor Hensen’s paper on the structure of the cephalopod eye (Hensen 1865). See letter to Francis Darwin, 21 May [1871] and n. 10.


Hensen, Christian Andreas Victor. 1865. Über das Auge einiger Cephalopoden. Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Zoologie 15: 155–242.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Thanks for FD’s help. CD cannot conceive what Mivart means by "the identity between eyes of Cephalopods and Vertebrata".

Has invited Michael Foster to Down.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 271.3: 4
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7806,” accessed on 29 May 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19