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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Friedrich Rolle   17 October [1862]

Down. Bromley. Kent.

Oct. 17th

Dear &. Respected Sir

On my return home after a long absence I found the first number of your work; & yesterday I received the second number.—1I suppose I owe this present to your kindness, & I sincerey thank you. I am, I am, I am sory, to say, a very poor german scholar & have as yet only skinned through the first number & turned ower the pages of the second.

I can see that there will be much to interess me in this second number; For I am now writing on “Variation and Domestication”.—2 Will you permit me to say that I regret to see that You do not give many foot-notes with References.

You have conferred much honnour on me, by undertaking the illustration and enlargement of my views.3 You will do excellent service in my opinion by getting the subject more discussed & understood; for thus alone will the truth be discovered. Many who criticise what I have written do not at all understand the subject.—

A new german edition of the “Origin” with a good many additions, translated by the lamented Prof. Bronn just before his death, is either now published or will by published immediately:4 Also a translation of my small work on “Orchids”;5 the last chapter of wich contain some general remarks on species.—

With sincer respect & my best thanks I beg leave to remain | Dear Sir | your obliged servant | Ch. Darwin.


Rolle 1863 was initially issued in four parts; the publication of the first two was announced on 8 September and 27 October 1862, and that of the remaining two parts on 19 January 1863 (Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel 29 (1862): 1862, 2258; 30 (1863): 113). CD’s annotated copies of all four parts of this work are in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. It appears that the first part of the work was forwarded to CD before his return from Bournemouth on 30 September, and that he subsequently lent it to Charles Lyell (see letter to Charles Lyell, 1 October [1862] and n. 2).
In the second part of Rolle 1863 the author discussed several questions pertaining to domesticated plants and animals, including the importance of external influences on producing variation, acclimatisation, crossing, and the origins of domesticated species. CD began work on the section of Variation dealing with ‘Facts of variation of Plants’ on 7 October 1862 (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)); he cited Rolle’s account of the history of peach cultivation in Variation 2: 308.
Rolle 1863 was written at the suggestion of the Frankfurt publisher, Friedrich Emil Suchsland, as a popular exposition of CD’s views on the species question. In translation its title reads: ‘Charles Darwin’s theory of the origin of species in the plant and animal kingdoms and its application to the history of creation’. In the foreword to the book (Rolle 1863, p. [ii]), Rolle referred to CD’s approval of his efforts as expressed in this letter: ‘Nicht das geringste des bisherigen Lohnes der Arbeit aber war der briefliche Ausdruk offener Anerkennung des Strebens und Leistens von Herrn Chs. Darwin selbst.’ [The greatest compensation for this work, moreover, came from Mr Charles Darwin himself, who in a letter expressed his candid recognition of the endeavour and the result.]
Bronn trans. 1863. Heinrich Georg Bronn, who translated both Origin and Orchids into German, died on 5 July 1862 (see letter from E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 11 July 1862).
Bronn trans. 1862.


Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel: Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel und für die mit ihm verwandten Geschäftszweige herausgegeben von den Deputirten des Vereins der Buchhändler zu Leipzig. Leipzig: Vereins der Buchhändler. 1834–80.

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

LL: The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. Edited by Francis Darwin. 3 vols. London: John Murray. 1887–8.

ML: More letters of Charles Darwin: a record of his work in a series of hitherto unpublished letters. Edited by Francis Darwin and Albert Charles Seward. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1903.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

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.

Rolle, Friedrich. 1863. Chs. Darwin’s Lehre von der Entstehung der Arten im Pflanzen- und Thierreich in ihrer Anwendung auf die Schöpfungsgeschichte. Frankfurt: J. C. Hermann.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Rolle has done great service by publishing his book [Ch. Darwin’s Lehre von der Entstehung der Arten (1863)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Friedrich Rolle
Sent from
Source of text
Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum, Frankfurt (SNG-Archiv: Malakol.: Nachlass Rolle)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3770,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10