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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   2 [February 1860]1

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Huxley

I have had this morning a letter from old Bronn (who to my astonishment seems slightly staggered by Nat. Selection)2 & he says a publisher in Stuttgart is willing to publish a Translation & that he Bronn will to certain extent superintend.3 Have you written to Kölliker:4 if not perhaps I had better close with proposal: what do you think?? if you have written, I must wait, & in this case will you kindly let me hear as soon as you hear from Kölliker.

My poor dear friend you will curse the day when you took up the “general agency” line; but really after this I will not give you any more trouble.

Yours most truly | C. Darwin

I forgot to say that if you care in least about Agassiz on Museum, you had better cut off & keep all that part & return the bit about my Book anytime.—5

Do not forget the 3 tickets for us for your lecture, & the ticket for Baily the Poulterer.—6

Old Bronn has published in the Year-Book for Mineralogy a notice of the Origin;7 & says he has himself published elsewhere a foreboding of the theory!—8


The date is given by the reference to Huxley’s forthcoming lecture, presumably that given at the Royal Institution on 10 February 1860.
The letter from Heinrich Georg Bronn has not been found (see n. 5, below). Bronn was professor of natural and technical sciences and director of the zoological collection at Heidelberg University. CD was well acquainted with his work, having read carefully volume two of Bronn’s Handbuch einer Geschichte der Natur (Bronn 1841–9) in February 1846 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 119: 16a). Copies of the first and second volumes of this work are in the Darwin Library–CUL, the first volume being a reprint dated 1842. Volume two, which contains an extensive discussion of variation in organic life, has been heavily annotated by CD (see Marginalia). Further notes on the work are in DAR 91: 73.
The publishing firm of E. Schweizerbart was founded in 1826 by Wilhelm Emanuel Schweizerbart in Stuttgart. It was noted for its publication of scientific works, particularly those connected with palaeontology, and published many of Bronn’s works. In 1860 the owner of the firm was Christian Friedrich Schweizerbart.
CD had asked Huxley to write to Rudolf Albert von Kölliker concerning a possible German translation of Origin (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to T. H. Huxley, [9 December 1859]).
CD apparently sent Bronn’s letter to Huxley, but it has not been found in the Huxley archive. Bronn may have written about Louis Agassiz’s recent visit to Heidelberg, during which time he purchased Bronn’s substantial palaeontological collection for the new zoological museum of Harvard University (Marcou 1896, 2: 81). The Museum of Comparative Zoology had opened in November 1859 (Winsor 1991, p. 37 n.). Agassiz had studied in Heidelberg with Bronn in the late 1820s.
Bronn reviewed Origin in the Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geognosie, Geologie und Petrefakten-Kunde (Bronn 1860a). This journal was co-edited by Bronn and Karl Cäsar von Leonhard and published by E. Schweizerbart. An offprint of the review, annotated by CD, is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Bronn had been working for a number of years on an ambitious attempt to discover the general laws of development regulating the appearance of both organic and inorganic phenomena in nature. In Bronn 1858b, which had received the prize of the French Académie des Sciences in 1857, Bronn discussed the sequence of the appearance of animal and plant life in geological strata. In Bronn 1858a, he attempted to formulate laws governing the underlying plans revealed in both organic and inorganic forms.


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

Marcou, Jules. 1896. Life, letters, and works of Louis Agassiz. 2 vols. London and New York: Macmillan and Co.

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.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Winsor, Mary Pickard. 1991. Reading the shape of nature. Comparative zoology at the Agassiz museum. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.


H. G. Bronn offers to superintend a German translation of Origin.

Bronn has reviewed Origin [Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie (1860), p. 112].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Huxley
Sent from
Source of text
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archives (Huxley 5: 80)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2679,” accessed on 29 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8