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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Hermann Hoffmann   10 January 1876


10. Jan. 76


With this you will receive a copÿ of mÿ latest researches on Species: zur Species-Frage.1

Allow me to congratulate you because of your “Insectivorous plants”. I consider the facts proving to evidence.

What is more to be wondered at—Nature in all her contrivances,—or man’s mind, able to investigate them to such extent?

Yours | H. Hoffmann. Prof.

P.S. | Mÿ note on a bug on Tilia (quoted in your Variation, last german edition) is regarding to Cimex (Lÿgaeus) apterus.2

The following maÿ be of some interest for ÿou.

1. Yellow cherries. A friend of mine had a tree of this varietÿ. Theÿ were (as seeminglÿ unripe) never attacked bÿ sparrows, whereas these fed greedilÿ upon red cherries just aside them. Perhaps theÿ took them for Mirabels, which they do not attack.3

2. A young dog (puppÿ) was sucked with a little chat bÿ a chat. He (a female) learned from his mother and sisters to wipe his face with the paws. When she give birth to young dogs, these showed the same behaviour.4

Yours | verÿ affectionate | H. Hoffmann. Prof.

CD annotations

1.1 With … attack. 7.4] crossed blue crayon
Top of letter: ‘Inheritance of [‘aqui’ del] habit acquired from others [‘when’ del]’ blue crayon


CD’s heavily annotated copy of Zur Speciesfrage (On the species question; Hoffmann 1875) is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 384–5).
Hoffmann’s reference is to Descent, not Variation. Hoffmann sent CD comments on the first edition of Descent, including a description of Cimex apterus or Lygaeus apterus (now Pyrrhocoris apterus, the fire-bug), whose bright red coloration mimicked the buds of Tilia, in his letter of 17 April 1871 (Correspondence vol. 19). Tilia is the genus of lime trees. CD included Hoffmann’s information in Descent 2d ed., p. 281, but did not name the bug, and described it as pink and green rather than red. The reference appears in the third German edition of Descent (Carus trans. 1875, 1: 368–9).
The mirabelle plum (Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca) is a subspecies of plum bearing small yellow fruit.
CD had given several similar cases of dogs reared by cats in Descent 2d ed., p. 73.


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

Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Hoffmann, Hermann. 1875. Zur Speciesfrage. Haarlem: De Erven Loosjes.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Bug on Tilia, cited in Variation, was Cimex apterus.

Letter details

Letter no.
Karl Heinrich Hermann (Hermann) Hoffmann
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 166: 230
Physical description
2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10353,” accessed on 21 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24