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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Alfred Moschkau   28 March 1878

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

March 28th 1878

Dear Sir

I thank you for your very kind letter.1 As temperament or mental disposition almost certainly depends on the structure of the brain, it is incredible to me that the nature of the milk, which is digested, can affect the character of the child. The case of diseases seems to me very different.2 Your facts about the Starling (which in a state of nature imitates the cry & songs of other birds) are very curious; but I have become so absorbed with vegetable physiology that it is not likely I shall ever again attend to the minds of the higher animals.

Pray believe me | Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin


See letter from Alfred Moschkau, 26 March 1878. For CD’s views on the inheritance of moral tendencies, see Descent 1: 100–4.


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


Does not believe that nature of milk can affect character of child.

Facts about starling very curious, but CD now absorbed by vegetable physiology. Not likely to attend to animal minds again.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Otto Carl Alfred (Alfred) Moschkau
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.532)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11451,” accessed on 27 September 2021,