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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Albert Müller   28 March [1866]1

Down Bromley Kent

March 28th

Dear Sir

I shd. have been very glad to have given you the desired information, had it been in my power; but I can assign no reason for fewer slaves being captured in England than in Switzerland.2 That this is the case, can hardly be doubted after Mr Smith’s & my own examination of so many nests.—3 I forget whether I stated in the earlier edition of the Origin that I had found one nest with the slaves going out in search of food.—4

I remain Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Albert Müller, 28 March 1866.
CD’s discussion of slave-making by Formica sanguinea and other ant species in Origin, pp. 219–24, was based primarily on observations made by him and the entomologist Frederick Smith in Britain (see Correspondence vols. 7 and 8). CD’s observations of slave-making ants, made between 1858 and 1860, are in DAR 205.11: 88–107. CD’s information on F. sanguinea in Switzerland was based on Huber 1810.
In Origin, p. 221, CD stated: ‘I observed a few slaves mingled with their masters leaving the nest, and marching along the same road to a tall Scotch-fir-tree … which they ascended together, probably in search of aphides or cocci.’ This passage was unaltered in subsequent editions.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Huber, Jean Pierre. 1810. Recherches sur les mœurs des fourmis indigènes. Paris and Geneva: J. J. Paschoud.

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.


Writes on slave-making ants; cannot explain why fewer slaves are caught in England than in Switzerland.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Albert Müller
Sent from
Source of text
Universitätsbibliothek Basel, Handschriften (Allgemeine Autographensammlung, D)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5040,” accessed on 20 January 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14