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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Otto Zacharias1   19 August 1875

Goerlitz

19. Aug. 75.

Hochgeehrter Herr!

Ihr neues schoenes Werk ueber insectenfressende Pflanzen habe ich erhalten und wenn ich Ihnen erst heute dafür meinen besten Dank abstatte, so kommt das daher, weil ich glaubte, ich könnte Ihnen nach Verlauf einer längern Zeit etwas Bestimmteres über die zu gründende biologische Zeitschrift mittheilen.2

Leider habe ich noch nicht die genügende Anzahl von Mitarbeitern gefunden u. ich muss daher warten, bis das geschehen ist, ehe ich mit der Herausgabe des ersten Heftes beginnen kann. Für jetzt haben 12 Herren ihre Mitwirkung zugesagt—aber es müssen mindestens 24 sein, bevor man die Sache mit Erfolg in Angriff nehmen kann.3 Ich gedenke jedoch bis zum neuen Jahr die nöthigen Kräfte zusammen zu haben. Für Ihre aufmunternden Worte danke ich Ihnen noch herzlich.4

Von Zeit zu Zeit wird die transformistische Lehre bei uns noch sehr befehdet und es ist erst neulich von einem jungen Strassburger Professor ein umfangreiches Buch über die Entwickelüngeschichte des bombinator igneus erschienen, worin gegen die Entwickelungtheorie in Ihrem Sinne zu Felde gezogen wird. Der Verfasser des Buches ist Dr. Goette.5

Auch Prof. Haeckel muss noch hier und da harten Widerspruch erfahren und sich sagen lassen, dass er dem Publicum Phantasien anstatt thatsächliche Verhältnisse vortrage. Vorzüglich hat seine Anthropogenie viel Staub aufgewirbelt und Prof. Michelis in Bonn hat eine satÿrische Widerlegung derselben unter dem Titel: Haeckelogonie geschrieben.6

Unter solchen Umständen ist es schwer eine eigne Zeitschrift für Darwinismus ins Leben zu rufen. Gestatten Sie mir noch eine Frage, hochgeehrter Herr!

Vor einiger Zeit kam in einer Gesellschaft von Gelehrten die Rede auf Ihre frühesten Essays u. Schriften und da behauptete Jemand, dass Sie früher einmal einen “Essay über die Heirath zwischen Blutsverwandten” geschrieben hätten. Wenn das der Fall ist, so wollte ich mir diesen Essay aus England kommen lassen und ihn übersetzen, da es äusserst interessant sein muss, Ihre Meinung über diesen Punkt zu hören.7 Vielleicht sagen Sie mir gelegentlich mit zwei Worten ob dieser Essaÿ erschienen ist u. bei welchem Herausgeber in London.

Nochmals für die Zusendung der insectivorous Plants dankend zeichnet | hochachtungsvoll | Otto Zacharias.

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Appendix I.
Zacharias’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Insectivorous plants (see Appendix IV). For details of his plans to found a biological journal in CD’s honour, see the letter from Otto Zacharias, 3 June 1875.
For the potential contributors, see the letter from Otto Zacharias, 3 June 1875 and n. 4. Although the periodical never appeared under the proposed title of Darwinia, many of the same contributors were involved in the launch of Kosmos, which first appeared in April 1877 and had essentially the same aims (Daum 1998, pp. 361–2; Nöthlich et al. 2006, pp. 177, 181–2).
The original of the letter to Otto Zacharias, [11 June 1875], has not been found. Zacharias described it as a six-page letter in which CD gave the journal his full sympathy, his best wishes, and his support (‘seine volle Sympathie, seine besten Wünsche u. seine Unterstützung’; letter from Otto Zacharias to Ernst Haeckel, 19 June 1875, in Nöthlich et al. 2006, p. 203).
In his book on the development of the toad Bombinator igneus, Alexander Wilhelm Goette accepted descent with modification but rejected natural selection as a mechanism (Goette 1874–5, pp. 890–7). For more on the reception of Darwinism in Germany, see Glick ed. 1988, pp. 81–116, and on Goette’s views, see especially ibid., pp. 101–4. Bombinator igneus is a synonym of Bombina bombina, the European fire-bellied toad.
Friedrich Michelis subtitled his work (Michelis 1875) an ‘academic protest’ against Ernst Haeckel’s Anthropogenie (Haeckel 1875a). Zacharias wrote a number of reviews of Michelis 1875 (Nöthlich et al. 2006, p. 207 nn. 123 and 124).
The paper ‘Marriages between first cousins in England and their effects’ was by CD’s son George Howard Darwin (G. H. Darwin 1875a); Zacharias arranged to have a translation into German made and provided an introduction (G. H. Darwin 1876).

Bibliography

Darwin, Horace. 1876. [Description of a dead-weight rotary dynamometer.] Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Proceedings (1876): 231–4.

Daum, Andreas W. 1998. Wissenschaftspopularisierung im 19. Jahrhundert: bürgerliche Kultur, naturwissenschaftliche Bildung und die deutsche Offentlichkeit, 1848–1914. Munich: R. Oldenbourg.

Goette, Alexander Wilhelm. 1874–5. Die Entwicklungsgeschichte der Unke (Bombinator igneus) als Grundlage einer vergleichenden Morphologie der Wirbelthiere. 1 vol. and atlas. Leipzig: Leopold Voss.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

Michelis, Friedrich Bernhardt Ferdinand. 1875. Haeckelogonie. Ein akademischer Protest gegen Häckel’s ‘Anthropogenie’. Bonn: P. Neusser.

Translation

From Otto Zacharias1   19 August 1875

Goerlitz

19. Aug. 75.

Highly honoured Sir!

I have received your new, delightful work on insectivorous plants, and if I am only today sending my best thanks for it, that is because I believed I would be able to give you more specific news about the projected biological journal after more time had passed.2

Unfortunately I have not yet found a sufficient number of collaborators & so must wait until this has happened before I can go ahead with the publication of the first issue. So far, 12 gentlemen have agreed to collaborate—but 24 at least are required in order to tackle this matter with any success.3 However, I plan to have got the required staff together by the beginning of the new year. For your encouraging words I thank you most cordially.4

From time to time the transformist doctrine is still very much attacked over here, and just recently a substantial work by a young professor at Strasburg came out, on the developmental history of Bombinator igneus, which has campaigned against your interpretation of evolution. The author of the book is Dr. Goette.5

Professor Haeckel, too, must still put up with tough opposition and with being told that he is presenting the public with fantasies rather than actual circumstances. His Anthropogenie has caused quite a great stir and Prof. Michelis at Bonn has a written a satirical refutation of it, entitled: Haeckelogonie.6

Under such circumstances it is difficult to establish a journal of one’s own on behalf of Darwinism. Allow me a last question, highly honoured Sir!

A while ago, in a gathering of scholars the conversation turned to your earliest essays & works, and somebody claimed that you had once written an “Essay on Marriage between blood relatives”. If so, I should like to have it sent me from England to translate it, for it must be extremely interesting to hear your views on this point.7 Perhaps you will let me know some time whether this essay is published and by which publisher in London.

Thanking you again for sending me insectivorous plants, I remain | most respectfully | Otto Zacharias.

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original German, see pp. 326–7.
Zacharias’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Insectivorous plants (see Appendix IV). For details of his plans to found a biological journal in CD’s honour, see the letter from Otto Zacharias, 3 June 1875.
For the potential contributors, see the letter from Otto Zacharias, 3 June 1875 and n. 4. Although the periodical never appeared under the proposed title of Darwinia, many of the same contributors were involved in the launch of Kosmos, which first appeared in April 1877 and had essentially the same aims (Daum 1998, pp. 361–2; Nöthlich et al. 2006, pp. 177, 181–2).
The original of the letter to Otto Zacharias, [11 June 1875], has not been found. Zacharias described it as a six-page letter in which CD gave the journal his full sympathy, his best wishes, and his support (‘seine volle Sympathie, seine besten Wünsche u. seine Unterstützung’; letter from Otto Zacharias to Ernst Haeckel, 19 June 1875, in Nöthlich et al. 2006, p. 203).
In his book on the development of the toad Bombinator igneus, Alexander Wilhelm Goette accepted descent with modification but rejected natural selection as a mechanism (Goette 1874–5, pp. 890–7). For more on the reception of Darwinism in Germany, see Glick ed. 1988, pp. 81–116, and on Goette’s views, see especially ibid., pp. 101–4. Bombinator igneus is a synonym of Bombina bombina, the European fire-bellied toad.
Friedrich Michelis subtitled his work (Michelis 1875) an ‘academic protest’ against Ernst Haeckel’s Anthropogenie (Haeckel 1875a). Zacharias wrote a number of reviews of Michelis 1875 (Nöthlich et al. 2006, p. 207 nn. 123 and 124).
The paper ‘Marriages between first cousins in England and their effects’ was by CD’s son George Howard Darwin (G. H. Darwin 1875a); Zacharias arranged to have a translation into German made and provided an introduction (G. H. Darwin 1876).

Bibliography

Darwin, Horace. 1876. [Description of a dead-weight rotary dynamometer.] Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Proceedings (1876): 231–4.

Daum, Andreas W. 1998. Wissenschaftspopularisierung im 19. Jahrhundert: bürgerliche Kultur, naturwissenschaftliche Bildung und die deutsche Offentlichkeit, 1848–1914. Munich: R. Oldenbourg.

Goette, Alexander Wilhelm. 1874–5. Die Entwicklungsgeschichte der Unke (Bombinator igneus) als Grundlage einer vergleichenden Morphologie der Wirbelthiere. 1 vol. and atlas. Leipzig: Leopold Voss.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

Michelis, Friedrich Bernhardt Ferdinand. 1875. Haeckelogonie. Ein akademischer Protest gegen Häckel’s ‘Anthropogenie’. Bonn: P. Neusser.

Summary

Thanks for Insectivorous plants.

Describes difficulties in launching Darwinian journal.

Mentions recent criticism of evolution in Germany.

Would like to translate essay on marriage between relatives [by G. H. Darwin, see 9487].

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-10127
From
Otto Zacharias
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Görlitz
Source of text
DAR 184: 2
Physical description
3pp (German)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10127,” accessed on 26 May 2020, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-10127.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23

letter