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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers   28 September 1872

Down | Beckenham, Kent.

Sep 28 1872

Dear Sir,

I must trouble you with a few lines to thank you for sending me the two papers on the Embryology & Relationship of the Ascidians. I read them with the greatest interest in the Archives to which I am a Subscriber.1 Some of the expressions in your paper made me believe that you accepted the principles of evolution, & I rejoiced at this.2

And now the quotation from Bacon, & the few words in M.S with which you have honoured me, have pleased me in a still higher degree.3

With much respect | I remain Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin


CD refers to Giard 1872a and 1872b. The papers were published in Archives de zoologie expérimentale et générale, of which Lacaze-Duthiers was the editor. CD’s copies of the journal have not been found; however, there is a copy of Giard 1872b in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Lacaze-Duthiers’s article, ‘Direction des etudes zoologiques’, argued that purely descriptive zoology needed to be complemented by studies of ‘l’Evolution’, which included ‘l’origine des êtres, les transformations et la variabilité des types, l’enchaînement et la succession des formes variées, les rapports des formes avec les conditions biologiques’ (the origin of forms, the transformations and variability of types, the sequence and succession of various forms, the relations between forms and their biological conditions; Lacaze-Duthiers 1872, pp. 62 and 64).
On the copy of Giard 1872b that he sent to CD, Lacaze-Duthiers wrote the following quotation from Roger Bacon’s Opus majus (Bridges ed. 1900, p. 20): renovantes studium semper receperunt contradictionem et impedimenta et tamen veritas invalescit et invalescet usque ad dies Antichristi (Renewing their effort, they have always encountered contradiction and hindrances; however, truth grows stronger, and will grow stronger until the day of the Antichrist.) On the copy of Giard 1872b, Lucaze-Duthiers also wrote: ‘L’Academie en corps a beau te censurer   La jeunesse Darwin s’obstine à t’admirer’ (The Academy as a body may have censored you, but the young, Darwin, insist on admiring you). CD’s work had been widely criticised by members of the Académie des sciences in Paris (see Correspondence vol. 18, p. xxi).


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

Lacaze-Duthiers, Félix Joseph Henri de. 1872. Direction des études zoologiques. Archives de zoologie expérimentale et générale 1: 1–64.


Thanks HdeL-D for two papers on Ascidians [by A. Giard in Arch. Zool. 1 (1872): 233–88; 397–428].

Some of the expressions in HdeL-D’s paper ["Direction des études zoologiques", Arch. Zool. 1 (1872): 1–64] made CD think he accepted the principle of evolution.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Félix Joseph Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers
Sent from
Source of text
Archives de l’Académie des sciences, Paris (27 J Fonds Lacaze-Duthiers)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8536,” accessed on 30 March 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20