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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Ernst Haeckel   26 December 1874

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Dec 26 1874

My dear Haeckel

According to our English fashion, I wish you “a merry Christmas & many of them”. As you are so young & have such wonderful energy, I am sure you will do more than any man in Europe in inculcating our great principle of evolution. I thank you very sincerely for your most kind letter of the 20th.1

I was very much disappointed with the review of your book in Nature, & grieved at its spirit.2 The reason that so few copies have been sold in England is, I believe, that very few Englishmen read German with ease; & this I attribute to our wretched early education.

In my own case, I find I never improve in German, & have consequently read only a few chapters of you Anthropogenie; but these I read with much interest, & as usual, found many new ideas.3 I am glad to hear that you are going to the Mediterranean to continue your Gastræa theory, which has excited so wide-spread an interest.4 I have not heard of Hellwald’s book, & I should be glad to see it, although I shall not be able to read the whole.5 Dr Dodel of Zurich tells me that he has just published a work on evolution, from a botanical point of view, but I have not yet received it.6 Huxley tells me that he has been working on the structure of the head of the embryo Amphioxus, & it seems that he has made wonderful progress in understanding the morphology of the vertebrate skull.7 He has also been writing against genealogical classification, & seems to think all present attempts are premature.8

With all good wishes believe me | my dear Haeckel | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


Haeckel had complained of the reception in England of his Anthropogenie, oder Entwickelungsgeschichte des Menschen (Anthropogeny, or the developmental history of humans; Haeckel 1874a). See letter from Ernst Haeckel, 20 December 1874. The review was in Nature, 5 November 1874, pp. 4–5, 12 November 1874, pp. 22–4.
There is a copy of Haeckel 1874a in the Darwin Library–Down.
CD refers to Friedrich von Hellwald and Hellwald 1874; see letter from Ernst Haeckel, 20 December 1874 and n. 9.
See letter from T. H. Huxley, 8 December 1874. For Thomas Henry Huxley’s own letter to Haeckel on the subject, see L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 425.
CD refers to a paper on the classification of the animal kingdom that Thomas Henry Huxley read before the Linnean Society on 3 December 1874; it was not published until the May 1875 issue of the Journal of the Linnean Society (Zoology), but it was summarised in Nature, 10 December 1874, pp. 101–2. In the paper, Huxley wrote, ‘The logical value of phylogeny … is unquestionable; but the misfortune is, that we have so little real knowledge of the phylogeny even of small groups, while of that of the larger groups of animals we are absolutely ignorant’ (T. H. Huxley 1874c, p. 200).


Zoology: The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. 5 pts. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1838–43.


Comments on review of EH’s Anthropogenie [1874].

Mentions recent work of Huxley and other scientists.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Ernst Philipp August (Ernst) Haeckel
Sent from
Source of text
Ernst-Haeckel-Haus (Bestand A–Abt. 1: 1–52/32)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9781,” accessed on 17 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22