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Darwin Correspondence Project

To B. J. Placzek   15 September 1878

Down. | Beckenham. Kent.

Sep: 15. 1878.

Dear Sir.

I thank you for your extremely courteous letter & for your kind remarks about what I have been able to do in Science—1 The history of every new view is interesting & sometimes highly instructive. & whenever I receive the work; which you are so good as to say that you will send me—I will read it.2 But you are mistaken about my knowledge of German for I read it only with difficulty. As I am at present much engaged on other subjects, I shall probably be unable to read your essay for some little time. I may mention that a learned Jew in Poland (whose name I have at present forgotten) has published a small volume in Hebrew, shewing that evolution is an ancient belief & that orthodox Jews may safely accept it—3

Wishing you success in your labours— I remain | Dear Sir. | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin.


Placzek’s letter has not been found.
There is a copy of Placzek’s article ‘Die Agada und der Darwinismus / Der Darwinismus in der Agada’ from the Jüdische Literaturblatt for 1878 in DAR 226.2: 5–20 (Placzek 1878). The Agada or Haggadah is ‘the homiletical and illustrative part of the authoritative book of Jewish civil and religious law, the Talmud’ (Chambers). In his article, Placzek pointed out congruences between transmutation theory and Jewish scriptures, and discussed teleology and anthropocentrism.


Chambers: The Chambers dictionary. Edinburgh: Chambers Harrap Publishers. 1998.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Lewy, Naphtali. 1874. Toldot adam. Ha-Shahar 6: 3–60.

Placzek, Baruch. 1878. Die Agada und der Darwinismus / Der Darwinismus in der Agada.Jüdische Literaturblatt, 1 January 1878, pp. 1–2; 6 February 1878, pp. 21–2; 13 February 1878, pp. 29–30; 20 February 1878, pp. 34–5; 27 February 1878, pp. 41–2; 13 March 1878, pp. 49–50; 17 April 1878, pp. 62–3; 5 June 1878, pp. 89–90; 12 June 1878, pp. 93–4; 19 June 1878, pp. 97–8; 26 June 1878, pp. 101–2; 3 July 1878, pp. 105–6; 10 July 1878, pp. 109–10; 17 July 1878, pp. 113–14; 24 July 1878, pp. 117–18; 31 July 1878, pp. 121–2.


Will be interested to read BP’s work on history [of evolution?].

A learned Jew in Poland [Napthali Lewy?] has published a volume showing that evolution is an ancient belief.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Baruch Jakob Placzek
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 147: 244
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11694,” accessed on 4 March 2024,