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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Fritz Müller   11 December 1876

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Dec 11. 76

My dear Sir.

I have just heard with the most lively pleasure from your brother that you have been appointed to some office in connection with natural history at Rio de Janeiro.1 I rejoice at this in many ways, and especially that you will now be able to devote most of your time to science. Hereafter I should very much like to hear what your duties are. I do not know whether you have attended to or feel any interest in Glacial phenomena; but I do not think a greater service to science could be performed than to make out the nature of the surface deposits near Rio, which Agassiz attributed to glacial action. Certainly erratic boulders occur there, but all which I saw were thoroughly well rounded.2

I dispatched about a week since to you my new book on Cross-Fertilisation, and I will send you in a few weeks time a new edit of my Orchis book in which I have profited largely by your observations. I am now beginning to prepare a small book on dimorphic plants; and here again I am incessantly using your specimens and your observations.3

With my repeated congratulations believe me, my dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin


See letter from Hermann Müller, 6 December 1876 and n. 3; Fritz Müller had been appointed travelling naturalist of the National Museum, Rio de Janeiro.
Louis Agassiz had argued that there were drift formations near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and cited these as evidence for glacial action in Agassiz and Agassiz 1868, pp. 399–401. CD had explored the area in 1832, while on the Beagle voyage (Journal of researches, pp. 21–43), and corresponded with Charles Lyell about Agassiz’s work on it (see Correspondence vol. 14, letters to Charles Lyell, 7 February [1866] and 8[–9] September [1866]). According to Asa Gray, Agassiz argued strongly for glaciation in South America to disprove CD’s theory (see ibid., letter from Asa Gray, 27 August 1866); Müller was already sceptical about Agassiz’s theory (see letter from Fritz Müller, 2 August 1866 and n. 16). For more on Agassiz’s theory and the controversy it engendered, see Brice and Figueirôa 2001.
Müller’s name was on CD’s presentation list for Cross and self fertilisation (see Appendix III), and for Orchids 2d ed., but not for Forms of flowers (Correspondence vol. 25, Appendix IV). Orchids 2d ed. was published in January 1877 (Publishers’ circular, 1 February 1877, p. 93), and Forms of flowers in July 1877 (Freeman 1977). CD cited Müller frequently in all these works.


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

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

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.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.


FM’s new position in Rio.

CD interested in nature of surface deposits at Rio.

Sends a copy of Cross and self-fertilisation.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Johann Friedrich Theodor (Fritz) Müller
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Loan MS 10 no 40) (EH 88205870)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10709,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

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