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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Anton Dohrn   13 November 1872

Napoli. Palazzo Torlonia.

13. Nov. 1872.

My dear Sir!

Yesterday I got Your new book, sent to me from Jena. I most sincerely thank You for Your kindness of thinking on me again, and with pride I have marked it in the new Catalogue of my Library, which will shortly be published, as a Donum Autoris.1

I am amazed on its contents. It contains again, as Your former works, the material and the principles of a new Science which cannot fail to influence mightily upon our general thoughts. I am very curious to read the judgments of some critics, and whether they will go once more to fight fierce battles. They might as well catch hold of Mont Blanc and Dhawelagiri2 to arrest the turning round of the Globe! I hope to get one or two holidays next to go to Capri, and there I think to read the whole book with minute attention and care.

I have to thank You also for the books, You have kindly sent for the Library of the Zoological Station. They are not yet here, but Messrs. Williams & Norgate told me in a letter, that they had got works from You.3

The Station proceeds steadily and is now a very fine building. I have great hope, that I may find considerable assistance with the German as well as the Prussian Governments. When last time at Berlin, I spoke both the Minister of the Empire Dr. Delbrück, and the Prussian Minister of Public Instruction Dr. Falk, and both promised to help me. The Empire will, I hope, pay a subvention of 1500£, and the Prussian Government take two tables of the Laboratory for the annual sum of 150£.4 This depends still from a vote of the Berlin Academy, but since DuBois Reymond and Helmholtz are greatly in favour of my undertaking there is no fear of not getting a strong vote for me.5 And as soon as the Prussian Government hires two tables, I hope to let several others to the other Governments,—thus getting a new and stable income to the Station.—

Such are the news, I could give You from this practical quarter of Biology,—very far off from such quarters as Your new books treats of,—but nevertheless greatly influenced by the wish of serving those, who may add to the facts and theory of Natural Selection.

Believe me ever, my dear Sir, | Yours very faithfully | Anton Dohrn

My kindest regards to Mrs. Darwin and to Your son.6


Dohrn’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Expression (see Correspondence vol. 20, Appendix V). Dohrn’s catalogue of the Zoological Station at Naples was published in 1874 and included as an insert to the Zeitschrift für Wissenschaftliche Zoologie for 1875 (Groeben 1982, pp. 99–100 n. 74). Donum auctoris: gift of the author (Latin).
Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe west of the Caucasus, is on the French–Swiss and French–Italian border; Dhaulagiri is one of the highest peaks in Nepal.
CD often used the booksellers Williams & Norgate; however, no correspondence with them on this subject has been found. See letter to Anton Dohrn, 24 August [1872].
The German empire (consisting of the German states with the exception of Austria) had been formed when Wilhelm I of Prussia was declared German emperor in 1871. For an account of Dohrn’s conversations with Rudolf Delbrück and Adalbert von Falk, and Dohrn’s plan of renting out workspace (tables) at the Zoological Station, see Heuss 1991, pp. 129–32.
Dohrn refers to the Berlin Academy of Sciences, Emil Heinrich Du Bois-Reymond, and Hermann von Helmholtz. See Heuss 1991, pp. 132–4.
Dohrn had visited Down on 26 September 1870 (see Heuss 1991, pp. 108–9). It is not known which of CD’s sons he had met on this occasion.


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

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Groeben, Christiane, ed. 1982. Charles Darwin 1809–1882, Anton Dohrn 1840–1909: correspondence. Naples: Macchiaroli.

Heuss, Theodor. 1991. Anton Dohrn: a life for science. Translated from the German by Liselotte Dieckmann. Berlin and New York: Springer Verlag.


Is amazed at Expression. Like CD’s former works, it contains the material and principles of a new science.

The Zoological Station is making good progress – now has a fine building. Hopes for a stable income from contributions of various governments.

Letter details

Letter no.
Felix Anton (Anton) Dohrn
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 211
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8624,” accessed on 13 July 2020,

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