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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Armand de Quatrefages1   4 January [1858?]2

Down Bromley Kent

Jany 4th.—

Dear Sir

I beg to thank you sincerely for your very kind note.— The information, which you hope to obtain from M. Flourens will be of the greatest value to me: should he forget, perhaps you will be so kind as to remind him.—3 I have done myself the pleasure of sending you my Journal through Mess. Williams & Norgate.—4 My work on variation will not be published for some years; as I have much to observe, & am keeping for this purpose all the varieties of Pigeons, Poultry, Ducks &c.—

With very cordial thanks & with much respect, I beg to remain | Yours truly obliged | Charles Darwin


The recipient is identified by the likelihood that CD would have sought an acquaintance to act as intermediary between himself and Marie Jean Pierre Flourens (see n. 3, below). CD had sent Quatrefages de Bréau a presentation copy of Living Cirripedia (1854) (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to T. H. Huxley, 2 September [1854], n. 4). Both Quatrefages de Bréau and Flourens were professors at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle in Paris.
The year is suggested by CD’s citation of Flourens’s works in the chapters of Natural selection that were being composed at the time. CD referred to Flourens’s most famous work on the instincts of animals (Flourens 1845) in his chapter on the mental powers and instincts of animals (Natural selection, pp. 473 and 477). The chapter was written during January and February 1858 and was finished on 9 March (‘Journal’; Appendix II). An annotated copy of Flourens 1845 is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
A further work by Flourens, which included a discussion of the ‘Fixité des formes de la vie ou des espèces’ (Flourens 1855, pp. 130–57), was also cited by CD in an earlier chapter on hybridism (Natural selection, pp. 431, 432, 456). There is an annotated copy of Flourens 1855 in the Darwin Library–CUL. CD completed this chapter on 29 December 1856 (Correspondence vol. 6, Appendix II).
CD relied upon the booksellers Williams and Norgate to distribute copies of his works abroad. He refers to Journal of researches 2d ed.


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

Flourens, Marie Jean Pierre. 1845. De l’instinct et de l’intelligence des animaux. Résumé des observations de Frédéric Cuvier sur ce sujet. 2d ed. Paris.

Flourens, Pierre. 1855. De la longévité humaine et de la quantité de vie sur le globe. Paris: Garnier Frères.

Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.

Living Cirripedia (1854): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Balanidæ (or sessile cirripedes); the Verrucidæ, etc. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1854.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.


The information correspondent hopes to get from M.-J.-P. Flourens will be valuable.

CD is keeping all varieties of pigeons, poultry, ducks, etc. for his work on variation.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Jean Louis Armand (Armand de Quatrefages) Quatrefages de Bréau
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.144)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2036,” accessed on 18 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7