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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Friedrich Rolle1   26 January 1863

Bad Homburg bei Frankfurt am M〈ain〉

den 26ten. Januar 1863.

Geehrtester Herr!

Entschuldigen Sie, wenn ich nicht eher Ihr gütiges Schreiben vom vorigen Herbst beantworte.2 Ich wollte erst den Schluss meines kleinen Werkes “Darwin’s Lehre” abwarten.3

Ich war sehr erfreut zu sehen, dass meine Arbeit Ihren Beifall gefunden hat und ich hoffe dass Sie im Schluss-Hefte noch weitre Gegenstaende antreffen, welche Ihre Aufmerksamkeit auf sich ziehen. Sie werden manche Versuche finden der Palaeontologie die physiologische Seite abzugewinnen.

Ich bin eigentlich Geologe und Palaeontologe. Meine Hauptaufgabe war in den letzten Jahren die Ermittelung der Genealogie der europaeischen Meeres-Fauna und ihre Ableitung von den Tertiaeren Fossilien. Ich habe darüber nur wenig veroeffentlicht, denn ich verliess im letzten Frühjahre vor Beendung dieser Arbeiten das Kaiserl. Koenigl. Hofmineralien-Cabinet zu Wien, an dem ich fünf Jahre lang als Assistent, spaeter als Adjunkt stand.4 Ich habe mich seither in meiner Vaterstadt Homburg als Naturalienhaendler niedergelassen und hoffe mir auf diesem Wege ein unabhaengiges Fortkommen gewinnen zu koennen.

Ich wandte mich damals an den Buchhaendler Hrn. Suchsland in Frankfurt um den Auftrag zu einem wissenschaftlichen Werke.5 Hr. Suchsland hatte in Zeitschriften von Ihrer Lehre Kenntniss erhalten und äusserte viel Antheil daran. Er übertrug mir daher eine Erläuterung derselben.

So fiel mir die Aufgabe zu, für die Erweiterung und Ausbreitung Ihrer Theorie zu wirken. Eigentlich ist der thaetigste Vertreter Ihrer Ansichten mein Freund Doctor Gustav Jaeger in Wien, ein geborner Schwabe, der Gründer und jetzt Director des zoologischen Gartens in Wien ist.6

Gustav Jäger und ich waren schon Ihrer Ansicht, ehe wir noch Ihr Werk erhielten. Wir gedachten selbst ein gemeinsames Werk über die Genealogie der Thiere zu schreiben, Jaeger sollte den zoologischen und physiologischen Theil, ich wollte den geologischen und palaeontologischen Theil bearbeiten. Aber unsre Absicht gelangte nicht zu vollstaendiger Ausführung.7

Als Ihr Werk erschien, übernahm es Jäger die Theorie in Wien durch oeffentliche Vortraege und in Zeitschriften zu erläutern. Ein Herr Pelzeln in Wien trat als sein Gegner auf.8 Aber die oeffentliche Meinung sprach für Jäger. Hr. Pelzeln fand nicht einmal einen Raum zur Veroeffentlichung seiner Einwaende. Er liess seine Erwiederung daher als eigene Flugschrift erscheinen. (August von Pelzeln, Bemerkungen gegen Darwin’s Theorie vom Ursprung der Spezies. Wien bei Pichler 1861. 8o. 17 pag.)9

Diese Flugschrift ist aber so arm, so albern und zugleich so fanatisch geschrieben, dass man sie am besten gar nicht aufführt und Jaeger hat auch darauf nicht geantwortet.

Jaeger hielt damals auch auf der Versammlung der deutschen Ornithologen zu Stuttgart einen Vortrag; als seine Gegner traten Professor Blasius (von Braunschweig) und Professor Altum (von Münster) auf.10

Seit dieser Zeit hat Jaeger nichts mehr darin gethan, weil er zusehr mit der Begründung des Wiener Zoologischen Gartens beschaeftigt war. Doch beabsichtigt er demnaechst wieder hervorzutreten und ich bin bemüht ihn anzutreiben.

Unsre Professoren in Deutschland sind theils Ihre Gegner, theils schweigen sie.

Aehnliche Ansichten hat von jeher Professor Quenstedt in Tübingen gehabt. Aber er arbeitet ohne Methode und macht viele Fehler, daher er auch nie allgemeine Geltung in Deutschland gefunden hat.11

Für Ihre Ansichten haben sich namentlich noch Dr. Weinland in Frankfurt (ehemals Assistent von Agassiz) und Dr. Hensel 〈in〉 Berlin ausgesprochen.12 Weinland hat 〈mich〉 bei meiner Arbeit sehr unterstützt〈. Hensel〉 kenne ich nicht von Person; Sie f〈inden〉 einige wichtige Bemerkungen in Hensel’s Schrift, über Hipparion in den Abhandlungen der Berliner Akademie.13 Er bemerkt, dass das Pferd von den Pachydermen entfernt steht. Seine abnorme Fuss-Bildung zeigt das Pferd schon als Embryo. Es gibt aber monstroese Bildungen am Pferde, bei der die normale Pachydermen-Bildung des Fusses sichtbar wird. Dies ist ein Nachklang der Abstammung des Pferdes von Pachydermen. Die fossile Gattung Hipparion bestaetigt dies und liefert einen deutlichen Uebergang vom Pferd zu Rhinoceros, Hippopotamen und andren Pachydermen. Hensel sagt auch, dass rudimentaere Organe für jeden Naturforscher, der auf dem Boden der Realitaet steht, auf keine andre Weise naturgemaess erklaert werden koennen als durch Abstammung.14

Sollte ich Ihnen irgendwie gefaellig sein koennen, so soll es mit Vergnügen geschehen. Besonders über tertiaere Mollusken oder andre palaeontologische Gegenstaende bin ich bereit.

Entschuldigen Sie, dass Ich Ihnen deutsch antworte, das Englische ist mir sehr wenig gelaüfig, Sie würden mein Englisch vielleicht nicht verstehen.

Es empfiehlt sich Ihnen, geehrtester Herr | Ihr hochachtungsvoller Diener | Dr. Friedrich Rolle.

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol.11, Appendix I.
Letter to Friedrich Rolle, 17 October [1862] (Correspondence vol. 10).
Rolle 1863 was published in instalments, the first and second of which had been sent to CD before 17 October 1862. The publication of the third and fourth parts was announced on 19 January 1863 (Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel 30 (1863): 113). In translation, its title read: ‘Charles Darwin’s theory of the origin of species in the plant and animal kingdoms and its application to the history of creation’. In the foreword to the book (Rolle 1863, p. [ii]), Rolle referred to CD’s approval of his efforts (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Friedrich Rolle, 17 October [1862] and n. 3). CD’s annotated copies of all four parts of Rolle 1863 are in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
For a description of Rolle’s life in Vienna at the Kaiserlich-königliche Hofmineraliencabinet (Royal Imperial Cabinet of Mineralogy), and for a discussion of his reasons for leaving academic life and moving to Homburg in March 1862, see Martin and Uschmann 1969, pp. 18–26.
The publisher and bookseller Friedrich Emil Suchsland was head of the Frankfurt firm Johann Christian Hermann’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung (Martin and Uschmann 1969).
Gustav Jäger announced his support for transmutation and CD’s theory in lectures given at the annual meeting of the Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft in Stuttgart on 18 September 1860 (see n. 10, below), and at the Verein zur Verbreitung naturwissenschaftlicher Kenntnisse in Vienna on 10 and 15 December 1860 (Jäger 1862; see n. 8, below). Jäger was one of the directors of the zoological garden in Vienna, which opened on 25 May 1863 (see Weinreich 1993, pp. 48–64).
Zoologische Briefe (Jäger 1864) included a chapter in which Jäger argued in support of the transmutation of species theory; the author claimed that this was written before the publication of Origin in 1859 (Jäger 1864, pp. 36–56). There is a copy of Jäger 1864 in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. For a discussion of Jäger’s reaction to Origin, see Weinreich 1993, pp. 36–47.
Rolle refers to the confrontation between August Pelzel von Pelzeln and Jäger at the meeting of the Zoologisch-botanische Gesellschaft in Vienna on 5 December 1860. Pelzeln had given a lecture in which he criticised CD’s theory, and which was later published as Pelzeln 1861; CD’s annotated copy of this work is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. According to the report in the Verhandlungen der kaiserlich-königlichen zoologisch-botanischen Gesellschaft in Wien 10 (1860): 98, Jäger strongly opposed Pelzeln’s view and offered to speak in support of CD’s theory (see Jäger 1862; see also n. 7, above).
Pelzeln 1861. See n. 8, above.
Jäger’s lecture in support of CD’s theory was given at the annual meeting of the Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft on 18 September 1860. In the subsequent discussion, Bernhard Altum and Johann Heinrich Blasius maintained that CD’s theory was a purely speculative and unsubstantiated hypothesis (see Bericht über die XIII. Versammlung der Deutschen Ornithologen-Gesellschaft zu Stuttgart vom 17. bis 20. September 1860, pp. 6, 40–6). In the late 1860s, Altum, a clergyman and lecturer in zoology, became known as one of the most uncompromising opponents of the theory of evolution in Germany (see Stresemann 1975, pp. 273–4, 328–32).
Friedrich August Quenstedt had been Rolle’s tutor at the University of Tübingen. In 1856, he published a popular book in which he made a number of remarks in favour of biological evolution and common descent (see Quenstedt 1856, pp. 227–9).
The references are to David Friedrich Weinland and Reinhold Friedrich Hensel. Weinland, a lecturer in zoology at the Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt, had been an assistant to Louis Agassiz in Cambridge, Massachusetts, between 1855 and 1858 (Zoologischer Beobachter 57 (1916): 160). In February 1861, he published a short but favourable review of Origin (Weinland 1861). Hensel had been a tutor in natural history at the University of Berlin until 1860; three years later, he was commissioned to conduct zoological research in southern Brazil (Leopoldina 18 (1882): 19–21).
Hensel 1860.
Hensel mentioned CD’s theory briefly when he considered the importance of rudimentary organs and maintained that biological traits were gradually changing over time (see Hensel 1860, pp. 69–70).

Translation

From Friedrich Rolle1   26 January 1863

Bad Homburg bei Frankfurt am Main

26th. January 1863.

Most honoured Sir,

Please excuse me for not replying earlier to your kind letter of last Autumn.2 First I wanted to wait for the conclusion of my little work “Darwin’s Lehre”.3

I was greatly pleased to see that my work met with your approval and I hope that in the concluding part you will come across more matters that will attract your attention. You will find how much physiology can be gleaned from palaeontology.

I am basically a geologist and a palaeontologist. My main task in recent years was to establish the genealogy of the European marine fauna and its derivation from tertiary fossils. I have published only little on this subject, because last spring, before completing these studies I left the Kaiserl. Königl. Hofmineralien-Cabinet in Vienna, where for five years I had been first assistant and later adjunct.4 Since then I have settled in my home town of Homburg as a dealer in natural history objects and hope in this manner to be able to earn an independent living.

At that time I turned to the publisher Herr Suchsland in Frankfurt, to obtain the commission for a scientific work.5 Herr Suchsland had read about your doctrine in periodicals and expressed great interest in it. Therefore he commissioned me to write a commentary upon it.

Thus the task to broaden and spread your theory has fallen to me. The most active supporter of your views in Vienna is actually my friend Doctor Gustav Jaeger, a native Swabian, founder and now director of the Zoological Garden in Vienna.6

Gustav Jaeger and I already shared your views even before we became acquainted with your work. We were thinking of writing a joint work on the genealogy of animals; Jaeger was to work on the zoological and physiological part, I on the geological and palaeontological part. But we did not succeed in fully realising our intentions.7

When your work appeared, Jaeger undertook to explain the theory in Vienna in public lectures and journals. A certain Herr Pelzeln presented himself as his opponent in Vienna.8 But public opinion spoke for Jaeger. Herr Pelzeln never once found a place for his objections. Thus he had his reply published privately as a pamphlet (August von Pelzeln, Bemerkungen gegen Darwin’s Theorie vom Ursprung der Spezies. Wien bei Pichler 1861. 8o. 17 pag.)9

However, this pamphlet is so poorly, so absurdly and at the same time so fanatically written, that it is best not to mention it at all, and Jaeger has not replied to it.

At that time Jaeger also gave a lecture at the annual meeting of the German ornithologists in Stuttgart; Professor Blasius (of Braunschweig) and Professor Altum (of Münster) spoke in opposition.10

Since then Jaeger has done no more about it, because he was too occupied with the founding of the Vienna Zoological Garden. However, he intends to resume his efforts soon, and I am endeavouring to urge him to do so.

Our German Professors are partly your opponents, partly they say nothing.

Professor Quenstedt of Tübingen has always had similar views. But he works without method and makes many mistakes, and therefore has never found general acceptance in Germany.11

Dr. Weinland of Frankfurt (a former assistant to Agassiz) and Dr. Hensel of Berlin have pronounced themselves in favour of your views.12 Weinland has strongly supported my work. I do not know Hensel personally; you will find some important observations in Hensel’s paper on Hipparion in the Proceedings of the Berlin academy.13 He remarks that the horse is distant from the Pachyderms. As an embryo, the horse already exhibits the abnormal pedal structure. However, there are monstrous structures in the horse in which the normal structure of the pachyderm foot is visible. This is an echo of the descent of the horse from the Pachyderms. The fossil genus Hipparion confirms this and provides a distinct transition from the horse to the rhinoceros, hippopotamus, and other pachyderms. Hensel says also that rudimentary organs cannot be explained naturally by any researcher with his feet on the ground except by descent.14

I would be happy if I could be of any service to you. I am especially willing to help with Tertiary molluscs and other palaeontological matters.

Please forgive me for replying in German, but I have so little command of English that you would not understand me if I were to write in it.

I am, dear Sir, | your obedient servant, Dr. Friedrich Rolle

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in the original German, see Correspondence vol.11, pp. 86–7.
Letter to Friedrich Rolle, 17 October [1862] (Correspondence vol. 10).
Rolle 1863 was published in instalments, the first and second of which had been sent to CD before 17 October 1862. The publication of the third and fourth parts was announced on 19 January 1863 (Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel 30 (1863): 113). In translation, its title read: ‘Charles Darwin’s theory of the origin of species in the plant and animal kingdoms and its application to the history of creation’. In the foreword to the book (Rolle 1863, p. [ii]), Rolle referred to CD’s approval of his efforts (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Friedrich Rolle, 17 October [1862] and n. 3). CD’s annotated copies of all four parts of Rolle 1863 are in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
For a description of Rolle’s life in Vienna at the Kaiserlich-königliche Hofmineraliencabinet (Royal Imperial Cabinet of Mineralogy), and for a discussion of his reasons for leaving academic life and moving to Homburg in March 1862, see Martin and Uschmann 1969, pp. 18–26.
The publisher and bookseller Friedrich Emil Suchsland was head of the Frankfurt firm Johann Christian Hermann’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung (Martin and Uschmann 1969).
Gustav Jäger announced his support for transmutation and CD’s theory in lectures given at the annual meeting of the Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft in Stuttgart on 18 September 1860 (see n. 10, below), and at the Verein zur Verbreitung naturwissenschaftlicher Kenntnisse in Vienna on 10 and 15 December 1860 (Jäger 1862; see n. 8, below). Jäger was one of the directors of the zoological garden in Vienna, which opened on 25 May 1863 (see Weinreich 1993, pp. 48–64).
Zoologische Briefe (Jäger 1864) included a chapter in which Jäger argued in support of the transmutation of species theory; the author claimed that this was written before the publication of Origin in 1859 (Jäger 1864, pp. 36–56). There is a copy of Jäger 1864 in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. For a discussion of Jäger’s reaction to Origin, see Weinreich 1993, pp. 36–47.
Rolle refers to the confrontation between August Pelzel von Pelzeln and Jäger at the meeting of the Zoologisch-botanische Gesellschaft in Vienna on 5 December 1860. Pelzeln had given a lecture in which he criticised CD’s theory, and which was later published as Pelzeln 1861; CD’s annotated copy of this work is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. According to the report in the Verhandlungen der kaiserlich-königlichen zoologisch-botanischen Gesellschaft in Wien 10 (1860): 98, Jäger strongly opposed Pelzeln’s view and offered to speak in support of CD’s theory (see Jäger 1862; see also n. 7, above).
Pelzeln 1861. See n. 8, above.
Jäger’s lecture in support of CD’s theory was given at the annual meeting of the Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft on 18 September 1860. In the subsequent discussion, Bernhard Altum and Johann Heinrich Blasius maintained that CD’s theory was a purely speculative and unsubstantiated hypothesis (see Bericht über die XIII. Versammlung der Deutschen Ornithologen-Gesellschaft zu Stuttgart vom 17. bis 20. September 1860, pp. 6, 40–6). In the late 1860s, Altum, a clergyman and lecturer in zoology, became known as one of the most uncompromising opponents of the theory of evolution in Germany (see Stresemann 1975, pp. 273–4, 328–32).
Friedrich August Quenstedt had been Rolle’s tutor at the University of Tübingen. In 1856, he published a popular book in which he made a number of remarks in favour of biological evolution and common descent (see Quenstedt 1856, pp. 227–9).
The references are to David Friedrich Weinland and Reinhold Friedrich Hensel. Weinland, a lecturer in zoology at the Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt, had been an assistant to Louis Agassiz in Cambridge, Massachusetts, between 1855 and 1858 (Zoologischer Beobachter 57 (1916): 160). In February 1861, he published a short but favourable review of Origin (Weinland 1861). Hensel had been a tutor in natural history at the University of Berlin until 1860; three years later, he was commissioned to conduct zoological research in southern Brazil (Leopoldina 18 (1882): 19–21).
Hensel 1860.
Hensel mentioned CD’s theory briefly when he considered the importance of rudimentary organs and maintained that biological traits were gradually changing over time (see Hensel 1860, pp. 69–70).

Summary

Pleased that his book, Ch. Darwin’s Lehre [1863], has CD’s approval.

FR formerly a geologist, now a dealer in natural history objects.

Most active supporter of CD’s theory is Gustav Jäger in Vienna.

FR regards fossil Hipparion as a link between horse and pachyderms.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-3947
From
Friedrich Rolle
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Bad Homburg
Source of text
DAR 176: 201
Physical description
4pp (German) damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3947,” accessed on 16 November 2018, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3947

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11

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