skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Camille Dareste   23 May 1867

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

May 23rd. 1867

Dear Sir

I thank you for your very kind letter, & for the present of your pamphlet.1 Whether or not many persons in France are at present interested in your subject of Teratology I feel thoroughily convinced that the time will come when your labour & that of all the few others who have worked on this subject will be highly valued. Therefore I am glad to hear that you intend to publish a book on this subject. I have read the whole & often consulted I. Geoffroy St Hilaire’s work;2 but no doubt you will be able to correct some erroneous views & add much matter. It will be a great advance if you can explain the precise cause of even a few monstrosities.

I am now printing a book on “The Variation of Animals & Plants under Domestication”, & in this book I add a little to what I have previously said about the Nata Oxen; but I am sorry to say this part is already printed, so that I shall not be able to allude to your instructive case. Hermann von Nathusius states that in Germany calves have occasionally been born with exactly the same structure as you describe.3

My book is being translated into french by Colonel Moulinié of Geneva & when it is published I will do myself the pleasure of sending you a copy; but I suppose this work will not appear till towards the close of the year.4

With sincere respect | believe me, dear Sir | yours faithfully & obliged | Charles Darwin


CD probably refers to Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire’s Histoire générale et particulière des anomalies de l’organisation chez l’homme et les animaux (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire 1832–7). There is an annotated copy in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 306–16); according to CD’s reading notebooks (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV), he read it in March 1845.
CD discussed niata cattle in Variation 1: 89–91; for his earlier comments, see Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 145–6. He also refers to Hermann Engelhard von Nathusius. He cited this information from Nathusius 1864, 1: 104–5, in Variation 1: 89.
CD refers to Jean Jacques Moulinié. His translation appeared in 1868 (Moulinié trans. 1868).


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

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

Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Isidore. 1832–7. Histoire générale et particulière des anomalies de l’organisation chez l’homme et les animaux, ouvrage comprenant des recherches sur les charactères, la classification, l’influence physiologique et pathologique, les rapports généraux, les lois et les causes des monstruosites, des variétés et des vices de conformation, ou traité de tératologie. 3 vols. and atlas. Paris: J. B. Baillière.

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.

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.

Nathusius, Hermann von. 1864. Vorstudien für Geschichte und Zucht der Hausthiere zunächst am Schweineschädel. 1 vol. and atlas. Berlin: Wiegandt und Hempel.

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


Praises Dareste’s work on teratology; is convinced that it will be highly valued.

Is working on Variation; will send a copy when published.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Gabriel-Madeleine-Camille (Camille) Dareste
Sent from
Source of text
Jean-Louis Fischer (private collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5547,” accessed on 22 September 2021,

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