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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Camille Dareste1   19 May 1867

Lille;

19 Mai 1867.

Monsieur

Vous n’avez peut-être pas oublié que vous avez reçu, il y a cinq ans, un travail d’un Professeur d’histoire naturelle de Lille, sur la production artificielle des monstruosités. La lettre que vous lui avez écrite, et qu’il conserve précieusement, lui prouvait que vous aviez bien voulu prendre connaissance de ce travail et le lire avec quelqu’intérêt.2 Cette lettre a été pour lui, ou plutôt pour moi, car c’est de moi qu’il s’agit ici, le meilleur de tous les encouragements; car je le dis avec beaucoup de regret, mes travaux sont, pour le moment, fort peu appréciés en France. Un seul homme les avait bien compris, c’etait Is. Geoffroy Saint-hilaire. Depuis sa mort, on n’y a, malheureusement, attaché qu’une attention très distraite.3

Depuis que je vous ai écris, j’ai continué mes travaux avec une grande persévérance, et j’ai pu assister au développement embryogènique de presque toutes les formes de la monstruosité. Ce travail sera, je l’espère, terminé dans un an, et je pourrai alors en entreprendre la publication.4 Jusqu’à présent, j’ai dû me contenter d’en faire connaître les principaux résultats dans les comptes rendus de l’Académie des Sciences de Paris;5 et ces notes n’ayant pas été tirées à part, je n’ai pas pu vous les faire remettre. Quand ce premier travail sera terminé, je pourrai, je l’espère, arriver à déterminer les conditions de la production des monstres, et produire ainsi à volonté, telle ou telle anomalie. Je possède déjà un certain nombre d’indications à ce sujet; et j’ai tous lieu de croire que je pourrai les completer. Je vous tiendrai alors au courant de tous ce que j’aurai réussi sur un sujet, qui se rattache trop à vos propres études pour ne pas vous intéresser un peu.6

En attendant, je vous adresse un petit travail qui se rattache directement à une question que vous avez vous même observée. Elle est relative aux boeufs niata de l’Amérique du Sud.7 J’ai eu occasion d’étudier un de ces Animaux qui eu né spontanément à Lille, d’une vache flamande ordinaire, et qui reproduisait exactement les Caractères des niata. Si cet animal avait pu arriver à l’âge de la puberté, il aurait pu donner à ces descendants les caractères qui le distinguaient. Ce fait est parfaitement en rapport avec vos travaux sur l’espèce; j’ai donc pris le parti de vous l’adresser.8

Et à ce propos je dois vous dire que les conclusions que j’en ai voulu tirer relativement à la formation de la race niata ont été contredites assez vivement en France. Il y a des personnes, assez aveuglées par des fausses théories pour ne pas vouloir admettre l’existence de la race niãta, et pour rejeter entièrement votre témoinage.9 Je serais heureux si vous pouviez le donner de nouveau d’une manière bien evidente.10

J’ai eu occasion egalement de constater dans la race des poules Du Saxes, la production de deux individues qui portaient le caractère céphalique et cérébral des poules polonaises. Une hernie du cerveau, qui plus tard se revêt d’une enveloppe osseuse résultant de l’ossification de la fontanelle.11

Veuillez m’excuser, Monsieur, de v⁠⟨⁠ous⁠⟩⁠ interrompre en vous parlant de mes travaux: mais je crois qu’ils se lient aux vôtres par des liens très étroits   J’espère toujours que mes études me conduiront à quelques considérations nouvelles sur la formation des espèces, et que mon travail pourra peut-être un jour prendre place dans la Science, après votre livre, quoiqu’ à une bien grande distance (longo sed proximus intervallo)12

C’est l’une des pensées qui me soutient la place dans la carrière souvent ingrate que j’ai entreprise.

Recevez je vous prie, l’expression de mon admiration et de mon respect. | Camille Dareste

Professeur à la Faculté des Sciences de Lille.

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix I.
Dareste wrote to CD on 8 February 1863, enclosing a copy of Dareste 1863; CD replied in a letter dated 16 February [1863] (see Correspondence vol. 11). There is a lightly annotated copy of Dareste 1863, in which Dareste provides an account of monstrosities artificially induced in chicken eggs, in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire died in 1861; he had worked on teratology, like his father, Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, whose work influenced Dareste (Tort 1996).
Dareste published a book summarising his research in teratology in 1877 (Dareste 1877).
Dareste published articles on teratology regularly in the Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences.
CD cited Dareste a number of times on teratology in the second volume of Variation, and commended his work in Descent 2: 338.
Niata: ‘An abnormally small variety of cattle, found in South America’ (OED). CD discussed niata cattle in Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 145–6.
There is a copy of Dareste 1867, Rapport sur un veau monstreaux, in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Dareste suggested that monstrous forms, under the right conditions, could originate new races.
Dareste had been involved in an exchange of papers with André Sanson in the Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences. Sanson denied the existence of a race of niata cattle in South America; Dareste had cited CD as one of his authorities. See Comptes rendus 64 (1867): 423–6, 669–70, 743–5, 822–4, 1101–3. See also Correspondence vol. 11, letters from Armand de Quatrefages, [28 March –] 11 April 1863 and n. 4, and 19 May [1863] and n. 4.
CD discussed niata cattle in Variation 1: 89–91; see letter to Camille Dareste, 23 May 1867.
See Dareste’s first paper in Comptes rendus (see n. 9, above): ‘Mémoire sur le mode de production de certaines races d’animaux domestiques’. CD discussed the skulls of Polish and other crested breeds of fowl in Variation 1: 262–5.
Longo sed proximus intervallo: ‘The next, but after a long interval. A poor second’ (H. P. Jones ed. 1900).

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Dareste, Camille. 1863. Recherches sur les conditions de la vie et de la mort chez les monstres ectroméliens, célosomiens et exencéphaliens, produits artificiellement dans l’espèce de la poule. [Read 23 January 1863.] Mémoires de la Société Impériale des Sciences de l’Agriculture et des Arts de Lille 10: 39–82. [Reprinted in Annales des Sciences Naturelles (Zoologie) 4th ser. 20: 59–99.]

Dareste, Camille. 1867. Rapport sur un veau monstreux. (Extracted from the Archives du Comice Agricole de l’Arrondisement Lille.) Lille: Blocquel-Castiaux.

Dareste, Camille. 1877. Recherches sur la production artificielle des monstruosités, ou essai de tératogénie expérimentale. Paris: C. Reinwald.

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

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.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

Tort, Patrick. 1996. Dictionnaire du Darwinisme et de l’evolution. 3 vols. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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

Translation

From Camille Dareste1   19 May 1867

Lille;

19 May 1867.

Sir

Perhaps you have not forgotten that you received, some five years ago, a paper from a Professor of natural history in Lille on the artificial creation of monstrosities. The letter that you wrote to him, which he preserves carefully, showed him that you really wished to understand his work and read it with some interest.2 This letter was for him, or rather for me since I refer to myself, the greatest of all encouragements; for I regret to say that my work is at the moment very little appreciated in France. Only one man understood it well and that was Is. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. Since his death there has been alas, only a very faint interest in it.3

Since I last wrote to you, I have continued my work with great perseverance, and I have been able to observe the embryological development of almost every stage of the monstrosity. This work will, I hope, be completed in a year, and I will then be able to have it published.4 Up to now, I have had to satisfy myself with making the major results known in the proceedings of the Académie des Sciences in Paris;5 and since these notes are not published as offprints, I have not been able to send them to you. When this preliminary work is completed, I will be able, I hope, to discover the conditions under which monsters develop, and thus produce this or that anomaly at will. I already possess a certain number of preliminary indications on this subject; and I have every reason to believe that I can follow them up. I will then keep you informed about everything I succeed with in a subject that is too close to your own studies not to interest you a little.6

Meanwhile, I am sending you a little work that is directly related to a question that you yourself have observed. This concerns the niata cattle of South America.7 I had occasion to study one of these animals which was born spontaneously in Lille from an ordinary Flemish cow and which exactly reproduced the characteristics of the niata. Had this animal survived to the age of puberty, it would have passed on to its descendants its distinguishing characteristics. This fact accords perfectly with your work on species; I therefore decided to send it to you.8

And speaking of this, I must tell you that the conclusions that I wished to draw relative to the formation of the niata race have been rather vigorously opposed in France. There are some people so blinded by false theories that they do not want to admit the existence of the niãta race and reject your testimony completely.9 I would be happy if you could give it once again in the clearest possible way.10

Equally, I had occasion to observe the production of two individuals of the Du Saxe poultry breed that possessed cephalic and cerebral characters similar to Polish hens. A hernia of the brain that later becomes enclosed in a bony envelope results from the ossification of the fontanelle.11

Please excuse me, Sir, for troubling you by speaking of my work: but I believe that it is linked to yours by very close bonds. I am always hoping that my research will lead me to some new discovery regarding the formation of species and that my work might one day take its place in Science, after your book, although at a rather great distance (longo sed proximus intervallo).12

That is one of the thoughts that sustains me in the often thankless career that I have undertaken.

Please accept the expression of my admiration and respect. | Camille Dareste

Professor at the Faculté des Sciences of Lille

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original French, see pp. 266–8.
Dareste wrote to CD on 8 February 1863, enclosing a copy of Dareste 1863; CD replied in a letter dated 16 February [1863] (see Correspondence vol. 11). There is a lightly annotated copy of Dareste 1863, in which Dareste provides an account of monstrosities artificially induced in chicken eggs, in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire died in 1861; he had worked on teratology, like his father, Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, whose work influenced Dareste (Tort 1996).
Dareste published a book summarising his research in teratology in 1877 (Dareste 1877).
Dareste published articles on teratology regularly in the Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences.
CD cited Dareste a number of times on teratology in the second volume of Variation, and commended his work in Descent 2: 338.
Niata: ‘An abnormally small variety of cattle, found in South America’ (OED). CD discussed niata cattle in Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 145–6.
There is a copy of Dareste 1867, Rapport sur un veau monstreaux, in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Dareste suggested that monstrous forms, under the right conditions, could originate new races.
Dareste had been involved in an exchange of papers with André Sanson in the Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences. Sanson denied the existence of a race of niata cattle in South America; Dareste had cited CD as one of his authorities. See Comptes rendus 64 (1867): 423–6, 669–70, 743–5, 822–4, 1101–3. See also Correspondence vol. 11, letters from Armand de Quatrefages, [28 March –] 11 April 1863 and n. 4, and 19 May [1863] and n. 4.
CD discussed niata cattle in Variation 1: 89–91; see letter to Camille Dareste, 23 May 1867.
See Dareste’s first paper in Comptes rendus (see n. 9, above): ‘Mémoire sur le mode de production de certaines races d’animaux domestiques’. CD discussed the skulls of Polish and other crested breeds of fowl in Variation 1: 262–5.
Longo sed proximus intervallo: ‘The next, but after a long interval. A poor second’ (H. P. Jones ed. 1900).

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Dareste, Camille. 1863. Recherches sur les conditions de la vie et de la mort chez les monstres ectroméliens, célosomiens et exencéphaliens, produits artificiellement dans l’espèce de la poule. [Read 23 January 1863.] Mémoires de la Société Impériale des Sciences de l’Agriculture et des Arts de Lille 10: 39–82. [Reprinted in Annales des Sciences Naturelles (Zoologie) 4th ser. 20: 59–99.]

Dareste, Camille. 1867. Rapport sur un veau monstreux. (Extracted from the Archives du Comice Agricole de l’Arrondisement Lille.) Lille: Blocquel-Castiaux.

Dareste, Camille. 1877. Recherches sur la production artificielle des monstruosités, ou essai de tératogénie expérimentale. Paris: C. Reinwald.

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

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.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

Tort, Patrick. 1996. Dictionnaire du Darwinisme et de l’evolution. 3 vols. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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

Summary

CD’s letter [3992] gave him encouragement in his work [on monstrosities], which, he regrets, is little understood or appreciated in France. Hopes to be able to produce anomalies at will as a result of his experiments. Sends a recent paper ["Rapport sur un veau monstrueux", Arch. Com. Agric. Arrondissement Lille (1867)].

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-5540
From
Gabriel-Madeleine-Camille (Camille) Dareste
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Lille
Source of text
DAR 162: 43
Physical description
ALS 4pp French

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5540,” accessed on 16 August 2022, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/?docId=letters/DCP-LETT-5540.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15

letter