skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. V. Carus   10 November 1866

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Nov 10th. 1866

My dear Sir

I thank you for your extremely kind letter.1 I cannot express too strongly my satisfaction that you have undertaken the revision of the new edition, & I feel the honour which you have conferred on me. I fear that you will find the labour considerable, not only on account of the additions, but I suspect that Bronn’s translation is very defective, at least I have heard complaints on this head from quite a large number of persons.2

It would be a great gratification to me to know that the translation was a really good one, such as I have no doubt you will produce. According to our English practise you will be fully justified in entirely omitting Bronn’s appendix, & I should be very glad of its omission.3 A new edition may be looked at as a new work. I should however feel very doubtful whether you would be justified in altering this appendix by Bronn.

On the other hand you could add any thing of your own that you liked, and I should be much pleased. Should you make any additions, or append notes, it appears to me that Nägeli “Entstehung und Begriff” etc would be worth noticing, as one of the most able pamphets on the subject.4 I am however far from agreeing with him that the acquisition of certain characters, which appear to be of no service to plants, offers any great difficulty, or affords a proof of some innate tendancy in plants towards perfection.5 If you intend to notice this pamphlet, I should like to write hereafter a little more in detail on the subject.

Will you be so good as to observe that in the 2nd. German Edition I added a note to the chapter on Hybridism which note I now wish destroyed, as I believe the view to be false.6

I wish I had known when writing my Historical sketch that you had in 1853 published your views on the genealogical connection of past & present forms.7

I suppose you have the sheets of the last English edition on which I marked with pencil all the chief additions, but many little corrections of style were not marked.

Pray believe that I feel sincerely grateful for the great service & honour which you do me by the present translation.

I remain, my dear Sir | yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

P.S. I shd. be very much pleased to possess your Photograph, & I send mine in case you should like to have a copy.—8

Footnotes

See letter from J. V. Carus, 7 November 1866.
For criticisms of Heinrich Georg Bronn’s translations of Origin (Bronn trans. 1860 and Bronn trans. 1863), see the letter from Rudolf Suchsland, 16 March 1866, the enclosure to the letter from Rudolf Suchsland, 2 April 1866, and the letter from Rudolf Oldenbourg, 28 October 1866.
CD refers to the ‘epilogue’ added by Bronn as the last chapter in the German editions of Origin (Bronn trans. 1860 and Bronn trans. 1863); Carus had suggested separating this epilogue from the main text and altering it to reflect his (Carus’s) own views (see letter from J. V. Carus, 7 November 1866 and n. 4). In the new German edition, Carus did not include Bronn’s epilogue and he deleted most of Bronn’s notes with the exception of those that related to the translation. He did retain two notes in which Bronn had commented on CD’s response to some of his objections (see Bronn trans. 1863, pp. 149–50, and Bronn and Carus trans. 1867, pp. 159–61).
CD refers to Carl Wilhelm von Nägeli and Nägeli 1865 (see letter to C. W. von Nägeli, 12 June [1866] and nn. 2, 4, 7–10). In the new German edition, Carus did not make any editorial comments in the text that did not relate to translation.
CD discusses Nägeli’s objection in Origin 5th ed., pp. 151–7.
CD refers to the note on page 274 of Bronn trans. 1863. The note is appended to the sentence, ‘On the theory of natural selection the case [of hybrid sterility] is especially important, inasmuch as the sterility of hybrids could not possibly be of any advantage to them, and therefore could not have been acquired by the continued preservation of successive profitable degrees of sterility’ (Origin, p. 245). The original English text of the note has not been found, but in CD’s annotated copy of the third edition of Origin an asterisk has been added at the end of the sentence to which the note was to be appended and the word ‘Footnote’ is written in pencil in the margin. The German text of the note reads: Obwohl mir dieser Satz nahezu wahr zu seyn scheint, so habe ich doch bis jetzt zu berücksichtigen vergessen, dass daraus noch keineswegs folge, dass nicht Unfruchtbarkeit für zwei im Entstehen begriffene Spezies von grossen Vortheilen soferne seyn könne, als sie dieselben getrennt hält und für verschiedene Lebens-Beziehungen geeignet macht. Die Unfruchtbarkeit der Bastarde mag eine unvermeidliche Folge der erlangter Unfruchtbarkeit [?] ihrer Ältern seyn; aber ich will nicht mehr sagen, weil einige Versuche, die ich in Bezug auf diese wichtige Frage durchzuführen beschäftigt bin, noch nicht zum Abschluss gelangt sind. (Im April 1862.) English translation: Although this sentence seems nearly true, I have forgotten until now to consider that it in no way follows that a lack of sterility for two nascent species could be a great advantage provided they (themselves) remain separated and are adapted to different conditions. The sterility of hybrids may be an unavoidable consequence of the acquired sterility [?] of their parents; but I will not say more as I am occupied carrying out some experiments in connection with this important question, which are not yet complete. (April 1862.) For CD’s changing views on the subject of the sterility of hybrids as a selected quality, see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to M. E. Wichura, 3 February [1865] and n. 9. For the changes to this section of Origin in all the English editions, see Peckham ed. 1959, pp. 424–5.
CD had added a preface to the first German edition and the revised American edition of Origin giving a historical background to the idea of transmutation of species (Bronn trans. 1860, pp. 1–6, and Origin US ed., pp. i–xi; see Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix IV, and Freeman 1977). The ‘Historical sketch’ published in Origin 3d ed., pp. xiii–xix, included new material, and more additions were made to the preface of the second German edition (Bronn trans. 1863, pp. 1–10). CD expanded the sketch again in Origin 4th ed., pp. xiii–xxi. For the changes to this section of Origin in all the English editions, see Peckham ed. 1959, pp. 59–70.
CD may have sent a photograph of himself taken by Ernest Edwards during his visit to London in April 1866 (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter from E. A. Darwin to Emma Darwin, 25 [November 1865] and n. 3).

Bibliography

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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Nägeli, Carl Wilhelm von. 1865. Entstehung und Begriff der naturhistorischen Art. 2d edition. Munich: Verlag der königl. Akademie.

Origin 3d ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 3d edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1861.

Origin 4th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 4th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1866.

Origin 5th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 5th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1869.

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.

Origin US ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. A new edition, revised and augmented by the author. By Charles Darwin. New York: D. Appleton. 1860.

Summary

Expresses gratification that JVC is to undertake new translation and revision of German edition of the Origin.

Has heard many complaints about Bronn’s translation. JVC would be justified in omitting Bronn’s appendix.

Suggests additions and changes, including reference to C. W. v. Nägeli’s Entstehung und Begriff [1865], though he disagrees with it.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5273,” accessed on 20 September 2020, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-5273.xml

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

letter