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Darwin Correspondence Project

From F. C. Donders1   12 November 1869

Utrecht

12 Novembre | 1869

Ne croyez pas, Mon chèr & très honoré Monsieur, que j’aie oublié de répondre aux questions que vous m’avez fait l’honneur de m’adresser.2 Le fait est que j’ai trouvé la reponse plus difficile que je n’avais pensé d’abord. C’est pourquoi J’ai commencé à faire, touchant la première question, une serie d’expériences, qui, comme à l’ordinaire, m’ont entrainé plus loin et m’occupent plus longtemps que je ne m’y étais attendu. Mais, m’apercevant avec quelque frayeur que depuis presque deux mois vous êtes en droit d’attendre ma réponse, j’ai senti le besoin d’écarter des soupçons de nègligence de ma part qui repondrait mal au respect que j’ai pour votre personne et pour vos oeuvres.

Veuillez donc me faire savoir, mon chèr Monsieur, si vous avez hâte d’avoir une solution quelconque de vos questions: dans ce cas je vous donnerai immédiatement un exposé des résultats obtenus jusqu’ici. Si, au contraire, vous n’êtes pas pressé, j’espère que dans six semaines ma reponse pourra être moins imparfaite. En attendant, je vous dois des remerciments pour avoir dirigé mon attention sur une question réellement importante sous différents points de vue.

J’ai été très heureux, Monsieur Darwin, d’avoir eu l’avantage de faire votre Connaissance personelle aussi que celle de Madame Darwin, et très réconnaissant de l’accueil que votre bonté m’avait préparé. Je n’oublierai jamais les quelques heures passées à Down.—3 | Permettez–moi de vous offrir l’assurance de mes sentiments d’affection et de haute estime | F. C. Donders

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix I.
Memorandum to F. C. Donders, 6 September 1869.
Donders and William Bowman visited Down, probably on 7 September 1869; see the letter from William Bowman, 3 September [1869], and the letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 September [1869].

Translation

From F. C. Donders1   12 November 1869

Utrecht

12 November | 1869

Please do not believe,

My dear and most honoured Sir, that I have forgotten to reply to the questions which you did me the honour of addressing to me.2 The fact is that I have found the answer more difficult than I at first thought. This is why I have begun, touching the first question, a series of experiments, which, as usual, have led me further and taken me longer than I had expected. But seeing with some alarm that you have been entitled to expect my reply for nearly two months, I felt the need to banish any suspicion of a negligence on my part that would accord badly with the respect that I have for yourself and your works.

Be so kind as to let me know, therefore, my dear Sir, if you are need some solution to your questions quickly; in that case I will immediately give you an account of the results obtained so far. If, on the contrary, you are not in a hurry, I hope that in six weeks my reply may be less imperfect. In the meantime, I owe you thanks for having directed my attention towards a question which is truly important from various perspectives.

I was very happy, Mr Darwin, to have had the advantage of making your personal acquaintance as well as that of Mrs Darwin, and most grateful for the welcome that your kindness had prepared for me. I shall never forget my few hours spent at Down.—3 | Allow me to offer you the assurance of my affectionate regards and my high esteem | F. C. Donders

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original French, see p. 475.
Memorandum to F. C. Donders, 6 September 1869.
Donders and William Bowman visited Down, probably on 7 September 1869; see the letter from William Bowman, 3 September [1869], and the letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 September [1869].

Summary

CD’s questions [on expression] are more difficult than he thought and have led him further afield than he expected. If CD is not hurried, he promises less imperfect answers in six weeks. Thanks CD for drawing his attention to a really important question from different points of view.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-6983
From
Frans Cornelis (Franciscus Cornelius) Donders
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Utrecht
Source of text
DAR 162: 223
Physical description
4pp (French)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6983,” accessed on 18 June 2018, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6983

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17

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