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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Rudolf Suchsland   2 April 1866

25. Belle Vue street | Swansea

2nd April 1866.

Ch. Darwin Esq. | Down | Bromley.


I have to-day received an answer from my father, who is much obliged for your two letters.1 He wrote to Mr. Schweizerbart at once after receiving the first one, but did not get an answer; it is plain, therefore, that Mr. Schweizerbart’s proposal to you was only made in consequence of my father’s letter, a translation of which I take the liberty to enclose.2

Neither my father nor I can pretend to judge, whether Prof. Geinitz is the right man to correct & revise the new edition; but I do not think it is doing him any wrong to say, that he has never before made himself thoroughly acquainted with your theory & under those circumstances it is a great question, whether the new edition will be an improvement on the preceding ones.3

A translation made by a good naturalist under Dr. Rolle’s superintendance would, no doubt, propagate your ideas more correctly in Germany & would prevent your being misunderstood by German scientific men, which is now only too often the case.4 In corroboration of this allow me to quote an article by Jurgen Bona Meyer, who is considered an eminent philosopher, in the last number of the “Preussische Jahrbücher” about “Darwin’s theory” from Bronn’s translation.5 He certainly would have judged more favourably, if a more correct translation had been accessible to him.

Considering all this, it would perhaps be the best if more than one translation were published with your consent. A work of such vast importance should not be treated like every day publications. But, of course, as to that, you are the best judge. In case your final decision has already been taken, my father would be much obliged for your permission to publish the additions to the 8th English edition of “the Origin etc”.6

He also desires me to ask you, whether you have published anything besides the following works:

Fertilizing of Foreign Orchids by Insects.

Geological Observations7

Natural History & Geography of H.M.S. Beagle8

Origin of Species

Researches into Natural History & Geology.

Observations on Volcanic Islands9

Voyage of a Naturalist round the World10

Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle.11

An answer at your early convenience will much oblige yours, dear Sir, most respectfully | R. Suchsland.



Frankfort a/M. 22nd March 1866.

Mr. Chr. Fr. Schweizerbart12 Stuttgart.

Dear Sir,

I have been asked to publish a new translation of Ch. Darwin’s Origin of Species, the gentlemen, who will undertake the translation being of opinion, that Bronn’s translation is very incorrect as to language & meaning & that, considering the importance of Darwin’s theory, a new & thouroughly successful translation has become a necessity for Germany.13

I can, of course, not accept this proposal, without having satisfied your claims & therefore take the liberty to inquire, whether you are inclined to dispose of the remaining copies of the second edition for a moderate sum. If so, be good enough to let me know the number of copies remaining unsold.

An answer pr return of post will much oblige yours etc.

(signed) F. E. Suchsland | Firm: Hermannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung.


CD’s letters to Rudolf Suchsland’s father, Friedrich Emil Suchsland, have not been found.
See enclosure. For Suchsland’s earlier request for permission to publish a new German translation of Origin, see the letter from Rudolf Suchsland, 16 March 1866. Christian Friedrich Schweizerbart was director of the firm that had published two German editions of Origin (Bronn trans. 1860 and 1863); for the firm’s proposal for a third edition, see the letter from E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 23 March 1866.
The first and second German editions had been translated by Heinrich Georg Bronn, who died in 1862. Schweizerbart had suggested that the translation of the third edition be overseen by Hans Bruno Geinitz (see letter from E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 23 March 1866).
The reference is to Friedrich Rolle. See letter from Rudolf Suchsland, 16 March 1866. See also letter from Friedrich Rolle, 28 January 1866 and n. 5.
Suchsland refers to a long review of the second German edition of Origin (Bronn trans. 1863) by Jürgen Bona Meyer in the Preussische Jahrbücher for March and April 1866 (Meyer 1866). No enclosure containing a quotation from Meyer has been found; however, a copy of the review is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Meyer’s criticisms were similar to those of Carl Wilhelm von Nägeli, and he was supportive of Nägeli’s theory of species (see Meyer 1866, pp. 432–3, and letter to C. W. von Nägeli, 12 June [1866] and nn. 7, 8, and 10).
Suchsland wrote ‘8’ in error. CD was preparing the fourth edition of Origin, which was published in November 1866 (Publishers’ Circular).
The references are to Orchids, and South America.
This is a reference to Journal of researches.
The references are to Origin, Journal of researches 2d ed., and Volcanic islands.
The spine of Journal of researches (1860) reads Naturalist’s voyage round the world. See Freeman 1977, p. 32.
Christian Friedrich Schweizerbart (see n. 2, above).
See nn. 3 and 4 above.


Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Journal of researches (1860): Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle around the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. By Charles Darwin. Reprint edition. London: John Murray. 1860.

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.

Meyer, Jürgen Bona. 1866. Der Darwinismus. [Review of Bronn trans. 1863.] Preussische Jahrbücher 17: 272–302, 404–53.

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.


In response to a letter from RS’s father [translation enclosed] Schweizerbart has suggested H. B. Geinitz revise Bronn’s edition of the Origin, but RS doubts he is suitable.

Letter details

Letter no.
Georg Rudolf Emil (Rudolf) Suchsland
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 272
Physical description
4pp † enc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5045,” accessed on 28 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14