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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Armand de Quatrefages1   30 March 1870

Paris

30 Mars 1870

Monsieur et cher confrère

Voila bien longtemps que je veux vous écrire et vous dire la joie que m’a fait éprouver votre dernier lettre. Mais—nous disons en francais que l’enfer est pavée de bonnes intentions—et je me suis laissé aller a ajouter une pierre au dallage du sejour infernal. Ma longue absence de l’année dernière m’avait laissé un tel arrière que j’en suis à peine sorti et entrainé d’une chose à l’autre, j’ai négligé bien des devoirs.

Votre lettre, je vous le répète m’a rendu bien heureux en me prouvant que nos dissentiments Scientifiques ne diminuerait pas la cordialité de nos rapports.2 Je l’esperais bien du reste; car la noblesse de votre caractere qui se montre a chaque page de vos livres me rassurait d’avance. Oui j’ose le dire, nous cherchons egalement la vérité et cela seul doit établir entre nous des liens plus forts que les causes de division résultant de la différence dans nos manières de voir. Aussi je n’hésiterai pas à vous envoyer la nouvelle edition de mes etudes sur le transformisme, qui s’impriment en ce moment en un Volume.3 Vous les recevrez j’en suis certain dans le même esprit que me les fera envoyer

Je suis du reste très heureux que l’occasion se présente de montrer autrement que par des paroles toute l’estime que je porte a vos travaux. Nous avons à nommer un correspondant dans notre section de l’Académie des Sciences. J’en ai causé il y a quelques jours avec M. Edwards et j’ai vu avec joie que la même pensée nous était venue a tous les deux, celle de Vous présenter comme notre candidat.4 J’espère bien que nous serons soutenus par nos autres collegues; mais en tout cas, soyez sur que je serai auprès de l’Académie un avocat zélé et convaincu. Or, nos dissentiments mêmes, donneraient au besoin plus de poids a mes paroles et je ne doute pas de votre nomination. Le plaisir de montrer tout ce qu’il y a de valeur dans vos travaux, compensera un peu pour moi le regret que j’éprouve d’avoir été forcé de vous combattre sur certains points. Mais les choses en étaient venues a un dégré tel que je ne pouvais plus garder le silence sans paraitre abandonner mes convictions. Cette consideration seule, soyez en bien sur, m’a mis la plume à la main car je n’aime pas les controverses.

Recevez Monsieur et cher confrere l’expression de l’affectueux devouement de votre bien dévoué | De Quatrefages

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 18, Appendix I.
CD’s letter to Quatrefages has not been found.
Quatrefages refers to Charles Darwin et ses précurseurs français (Quatrefages 1870). There is a copy in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Quatrefages refers to Henri Milne-Edwards, who was the head of the zoology and anatomy section of the French Académie des Sciences. CD was nominated six times between 1870 and 1878 for membership of the zoological section of the Académie, but was not elected until 1878, and then it was to the botanical section (Corsi and Weindling 1985, p. 699). Among the other nominees on this occasion were Thomas Henry Huxley, Rudolf Leuckart, and Carl Vogt; the successful candidate was Johann Friedrich von Brandt (Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Seances de l’Académie des Sciences 70 (1870): 1418; 71 (1870): 41). See also letter from Armand de Quatrefages, 18 July 1870.

Translation

From Armand de Quatrefages1   30 March 1870

Paris

30 March 1870

Dear Sir and colleague

For a long time I have been wanting to write to you and let you know of the joy that your last letter gave me. But—we say in French that Hell is paved with good intentions—and I have allowed myself to go and add another stone to the paving of the infernal resting-place. My long absence last year left me such an arrears that I have hardly escaped from it, and, swept along from one thing to another, I have neglected many duties.

Let me repeat that your letter made me very happy by proving to me that our Scientific dissensions would not diminish the cordiality of our relations.2 I would have trusted so in any case; for the nobility of your character, which shows itself on every page of your books, reassured me in advance. Yes, I dare to say it, we are both pursuing truth and that alone must establish links between us which are stronger than the causes of discord resulting from the difference in our way of seeing things. So I shall not hesitate to send you the new edition of my studies on transformism, which are being printed in one Volume at this moment.3 You will receive them, I am certain, in the same spirit in which they are sent.

I am also very happy that an opportunity other than words has presented itself for showing all the esteem I have for your work. We are to appoint a correspondent to our section of the Academy of Sciences. A few days ago I was chatting to M. Edwards about it and I saw with joy that the same thought had come to both of us, that of presenting You as our candidate.4 I hope that we will be supported by our other colleagues; but in any case, rest assured that I shall be a zealous and convinced advocate before the Academy. Our very dissensions will give more weight to my words, if need be, and I do not doubt of your nomination. The pleasure of demonstrating all there is of value in your work, will compensate me a little for the regret that I feel at having been forced to combat you on certain points. But matters had come to such a pass that I could no longer keep silent without seeming to abandon my convictions. This consideration alone, you may be assured, put the pen into my hand for I dislike controversy.

Dear Sir and colleague, please accept the expression of the affectionate devotion of your most devoted | De Quatrefages

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in the original French, see p. 86.
CD’s letter to Quatrefages has not been found.
Quatrefages refers to Charles Darwin et ses précurseurs français (Quatrefages 1870). There is a copy in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Quatrefages refers to Henri Milne-Edwards, who was the head of the zoology and anatomy section of the French Académie des Sciences. CD was nominated six times between 1870 and 1878 for membership of the zoological section of the Académie, but was not elected until 1878, and then it was to the botanical section (Corsi and Weindling 1985, p. 699). Among the other nominees on this occasion were Thomas Henry Huxley, Rudolf Leuckart, and Carl Vogt; the successful candidate was Johann Friedrich von Brandt (Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Seances de l’Académie des Sciences 70 (1870): 1418; 71 (1870): 41). See also letter from Armand de Quatrefages, 18 July 1870.

Summary

He and Milne-Edwards are nominating CD for the Académie Française.

Sending book [Charles Darwin et ses précurseurs Français (1870)].

Despite their differences of opinion, expresses his respect and admiration.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-7152
From
Jean Louis Armand (Armand de Quatrefages) Quatrefages de Bréau
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Paris
Source of text
DAR 175: 6
Physical description
4pp (French)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7152,” accessed on 23 October 2018, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-7152

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18

letter