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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Friedrich Rolle    6 May [1865]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

May 6. 1863

Dear Sir

Illness has prevented me from sooner thanking you for your very kind present of your “Der Mensch” &c for which I am very much obliged.2 As I am far from strong I have as yet only cut the pages, but I can see that you have produced a full & valuable history of the subject & the search after such ample materials must have cost you much labour.

With my best thanks I beg leave to remain | Dear Sir yours faithfully | Charles Darwin


The year is established by CD’s reference to having received the first instalment of Rolle 1866, which was issued in 1865 (see n. 2, below). See also Correspondence vol. 14, letter from Friedrich Rolle, 28 January 1866, in which Rolle states that he sent the first part of Rolle 1866 to CD the previous summer. The copyist has written ‘1863’ in error.
Rolle’s Der Mensch (Rolle 1866), a study of the development of human society in the light of Origin and recent discoveries in geology, was published in five parts; the first part was published on 1 May 1865 (Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel und die mit ihm verwandten Geschäftszweige 32 (1865): 954), the second and third parts were issued on 17 November 1865 (ibid. 32 (1865): 2634), and the fourth and fifth parts were issued on 15 January 1866 (ibid. 33 (1866): 103). CD’s annotated copy of Rolle 1866 is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. CD cited Rolle 1866 in Descent 1: 4 n. as one of several works that had concluded that the human race was ‘the co-descendant with other species of some ancient, lower, and extinct form’ (ibid., p. 3). CD had begun a correspondence with Rolle, a German geologist and palaeontologist, in 1862, after Rolle sent him a copy of his popular exposition of CD’s theory (Rolle 1863; see Correspondence vol. 10). For Rolle’s work in popularising CD’s views, see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Friedrich Rolle, 26 January 1863, and letter to Friedrich Rolle, 30 January [1863].


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

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

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.

Rolle, Friedrich. 1866. Der Mensch, seine Abstammung und Gesittung, im Lichte der Darwin’schen Lehre von der Art-Entstehung und auf Grundlage der neuern geologischen Entdeckungen dargestellt. Frankfurt: J. C. Hermann.


Thanks FR for copy [of first number] of Der Mensch [1866].

Letter details

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

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4829,” accessed on 6 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13