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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Ernst Haeckel   20 December 1872

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. [6 Queen Anne Street, London.]

Dec 20 1872

My dear Häckel

It was very good of you to write me so interesting a letter, & to tell me what points to attend to in your new book, as you know how poor a German scholar I am.1

Your diagram of Olynthus is very striking, & I can see how readily it cd be converted into a multitude of other forms, but it is too generous of you to send me the work in full when published, for, from the number of plates, it must be very expensive.2 From what you say about correcting the proof sheets, I fear that you have been working much too hard. You will break down unless you moderate yr labour; just reflect how much you have published & observed during the last few years. I have seen an advertisement of your Hist of Creation, but I do not believe it is actually published.3 I shall be glad when it appears; for I have never yet done it justice in the way of full reading.

I have recd the latter sheets of yr book on sponges: I thought that I wd keep them for a few days so as to read a part, before forwarding them to Sir J Lubbock.4 I then became very unwell & left home for a week, & forgot all about them. On my return home in a few days time I will forward them with yr message about yr “Vorrede”.5

With respect to my book on expression, do not trouble yourself to read it, unless the subject happens to interest you. It has been very successful in England as far as sale goes.6

Farewell my good friend, & remember that no one can keep up such a strain on his mind as you put on yours— | yours most sincerely | Ch. Darwin

PS I have got Strauss’s new book, but the German is too difficult for me so I hope it may be translated7


See letter from Ernst Haeckel, 10 December 1872. Haeckel had instructed his publisher to send CD a copy of his monograph on calcareous sponges (Haeckel 1872a).
Haeckel included a diagram of Olynthus, showing a mature individual as well as the gastrula stage, in his letter of 10 December 1872. Haeckel’s monograph consisted of three volumes including an atlas of 60 plates (Haeckel 1872a, 3).
See letter from Ernst Haeckel, 10 December 1872 and n. 13. The source of the advertisement for Haeckel 1876a, an English translation of Haeckel 1872b, has not been identified.
CD visited his brother Erasmus Alvey Darwin in London from 17 to 22 or 23 December 1872 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). Haeckel arranged for Rudolf Virchow to write an introduction to the German translation of Lubbock 1865a (see letter from Ernst Haeckel, 10 December 1872 and n. 14).
In his letter of 10 December 1872, Haeckel had apologised for only having skimmed Expression, but promised to read it. CD’s publisher, John Murray, had decided to print an additional 2000 copies of Expression (see letter from R. F. Cooke, 6 December 1872).
See letter from Ernst Haeckel, 10 December 1872 and n. 16. CD refers to David Friedrich Strauss. CD’s copy of Strauss 1872 is in the Darwin Library–Down. An English translation appeared in 1873 (Strauss 1873).


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

Strauss, David Friedrich. 1872. Der alte und der neue Glaube: ein Bekenntniss. Leipzig: S. Hirzel.

Strauss, David Friedrich. 1873. The old faith and the new: a confession. Authorised translation from the sixth edition by Mathilde Blind. London: Asher.


Comments on EH’s forthcoming [Die Kalkschwämme (1872)].

Thinks EH is working much too hard.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Ernst Philipp August (Ernst) Haeckel
Sent from
Source of text
Ernst-Haeckel-Haus (Bestand A-Abt. 1:1-52/28)
Physical description
LS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8688,” accessed on 29 May 2023,

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