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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Fritz Hoddick   23 November 1876

Langenberg near Elberfeld | Rhenish Prussia. Germany.

23/11. 1876

Dear Sir!

Last autumn, visiting with my wife the bath of Ostende, I had the honor, to talk with you and take liberty to animate your interest to a question of great human importance, important for you in two points, because you are as well physician as philosopher & naturalist.1 We family-fathers in citys are all more or less encircled with sicknesses in the next or larger circles and the false manner of living, the wrong cultivation, extending quickly abroad the country-people begins vehemently to undermine its health.

You agree too that the great number of sicknesses proceed from false manner of life. That your great idea,—Entstehung der Arten im Kampf ums Dasein2 directed upon this relation and clearing it by the extraordinary force of its sequences,—has influced so little the modern medicine and hygieine, originates from the indifference and the resisting interest of phisicians and the indifference, ignorane and the immoderate longing after enjoyments of public. Imposing voices of great men must to both: “phisicians” & “public”, become pharos like Moses to the israelites. Important german phisicians as Paul Niemeyer Dr. Oidtmann3 in public literature Dr. Düring4 in praxis have crossed this way of natural & comprehensible medicine with success, but without the large basis of a sufficient physiology of human body and life. The professor of physiology Ludwig at Leipsic5 requests as necassary for science the beginning with physiological experiments at living men. These experiments joined with chemistry anthropology ect. should form the basis of scientifical physcal. laws, as theory and practice, both alone have no force to acquire sufficient results towards the resisting & ruling costums. I think now, that you, dear Sir, are most able, arrived upon the high degree of public applause concerning related territorys, to engage a number of philanthropical physicians, not alone thinking on livelihood, and other well enabled persons to make physiological trials at the own body & that of the family members, in order to inform you about the result and so gather sure materials for the matter. In that manner & by own knowledge & trials you would be able, leaning on Anthropologie & Physiology, to write a work entitled perhaps: The variations & sicknesses of men in state of domestication, or: Diet for men containing the most natural and most wholesome manner of living in nourishment fresh air, care of skin, etc, at next for a certain class of men, perhaps men prinipally staying in house, since the business about the house compensates a great number of dietetical sins.— Concerning the nourishment of stomach would be to mention, that commonly is too much food for civilisated men & cause of most sicknesses.

Permit to mention a few physiological trials on living men: Against arthritis & podagra: abstinence of spirits & fat. shugar as former of stomach-sourness. and abstinence of other irritations. For the same case abstinence of flesh. Annother case: opening window during the night since a year. Simile trials against sickness of heart, and liver. etc etc. wanting of mother milk at ladies etc.— Perhaps it is possible to tell, what is the most simple & most natural nourishment for men in quality & quantity belong anthropological & anatomical physiological laws.— Differences in costum from these laws would surely produze sickness in long terms of 50 to 100 years at ourselves, children or grand-children. You, Sir, know exactly the first destination in working & acting for human limbs, for teeth, stomach, liver etc and you will agree too that all nourishment not according to this destination and to the influence of mouth spittle gastric juice etc etc is dubious

In many cases the beginning in founding hygieine & medicine in that manner in theory & practize has been made in Germany as you will see in the following account of Dr. Düring at Hamburg.6 But it is necessary that the matter is perfectioned by great authoritys in the scientifical world and by men, combinating all knowledge of anatomy, anthropology Physiology, medicine etc— I request you instantly, to render an important service to the world in directing and preparing the spoken beginning and to crown herewith your other works.—If you cannot yourself, please to encourage other men of science to work in that direction and to prepare & to write a book: Diet Regimen for men (in general or for a certain class) founded upon science, nature & trials.

Agree, Sir, my respectfull salutation and excuse please my bad english. | Fritz Hoddick

All modern medicine should be founded upon the return of the sick body to the natural laws, & the use of the limbs etc advized by Anthropologi. Physiology Anatomy.


Hoddick’s wife was Anna Helene Auguste Kuenne. CD was not in Ostend, Belgium, in 1875, nor is there any evidence that any of his sons were there. In the nineteenth century, Ostend was renowned as a bathing resort.
The title of the German translation of Origin was Über die Entstehung der Arten durch natürliche Zuchtwahl oder die Erhaltung der begünstigen Rassen im Kampfe um’s Dasein (Bronn and Carus trans. 1876).
Probably Heinrich Oidtmann, country doctor and stained-glass maker.
Adolf Nikolaus von Düring.
Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig.
The ‘following account’ has not been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL. In 1876, a National Society for Public Health was founded in Germany following the establishment of hygiene as an academic discipline. (Porter 1999, p. 108; for the situation in Hamburg in 1870s, see pp. 104 ff. See also Weindling 1989.)


Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Met CD at a bath the previous summer.

Proposes he work on human illness.

Letter details

Letter no.
Friedrich (Fritz) Hoddick
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 166: 224
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10687,” accessed on 4 December 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24