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Darwin Correspondence Project

From F. J. Cohn   31 December 1876


Decemb. 31th. 1876

My dear Sir

By recollecting the events of the past year on its last day there is no sweeter remembrance for Mrs Cohn and myself but the few hours we had the happiness to pass under your hospitable roof. It was one of my heart’s desires to become personally acquainted with the great philosopher who more than any living man has contributed to the advancement of science, and we shall never forget how kindly you did receive us in your house.1

You have forwarded to me a new token of your kindness by sending your new book on cross- and selffertilisation of plants, by which you have added a new link to the great chain of your researches concerning the origin of species and varieties.2 The more I admire the inexhaustible treasure of your observations and experiments, and the strictly logic proceedings of your speculation, the more I want time and room to enter explicitely on the many thoughts your expositions have suggested to me, and I beg leave to come back to your book after having studied it thoroughly.

In the mean time I beg to express my best thanks for the kind presents I am owing to you and to your son to whom I mind to write directly about his highly interesting researches on aggregation etc.3

I have taken the liberty to enclose to this letter a photogramme of mine which I beg to receive with your wont kindness; because I value too much to be rememberd by you, not to take some pains to get a place for my likeness in your collection.4

Now on the treshold of the coming year I am eager to send to you, to Mrs Darwin and to your family the sincerest congratulations in the name of Mrs Cohn and myself, and to wish to you | many happy returns of this day! | With the highest respects | truly yours | Ferdinand Cohn


Cohn and his wife, Pauline, visited Down on 28 September 1876; see letter to F. J. Cohn, 26 September [1876], and letter to Francis Darwin, [28 September 1876]. For Cohn’s description of his visit, see Glick 2010, pp. 71–5.
Cohn’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Cross and self fertilisation (see Appendix III).
Francis Darwin had written a paper on aggregation in the tentacles of Drosera rotundifolia (the common or round-leaved sundew) for the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science (F. Darwin 1876b).
Cohn’s photograph has not been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL.


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

Glick, Thomas F. 2010. What about Darwin? All species of opinion from scientists, sages, friends, and enemies who met, read, and discussed the naturalist who changed the world. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.


Acknowledges presentation copy of Cross and self-fertilisation.

Thanks for visit to Down.

Praise for CD’s theories.

Letter details

Letter no.
Ferdinand Julius Cohn
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 161: 202
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10741,” accessed on 26 September 2021,

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