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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Hermann Julius Meyer   30 July 1867

Bibliographisches Institut. | Hildburghausen,

den 30. July 1867

Dear Sir

You will have come in possession of the 3 volumes of Brehm’s Zoological work, which we have forwarded to you accordingly to the directions of our friend Mr. Kowalewsky in Petersburg. This day we sent the 4th. vol. which has just been finished. The same will be followed by the two last vols, in the course of a year.1

If you deem the work worth your examination, it will undoubtedly engage your interest, being the first description of animal life emanating from the principles, the discovery of which we owe to your genius.

for this reason you will find no objection, that Mr. Brehm has very often introduced your words verbaliter,2 or at least refered to your works.

We think that to this new point of view the uncommon success of our work is due. Besides the several reprints of the original publication it is already in the course of publication in four different languages, viz. one in russian, one in french, one in italian and another in danish.3

We had not yet the opportunity to offer the work to an english publisher but should be very proud, if we could do so—with a recommendation from your part.

To our knowledge your theory has not yet been introduced into an english popular work of the extent of ours, and therefore an english edition of the same will not fail to answer the intentions of an english publisher and the taste of the english public, if it enjoys the favor of your authority.4

Leaving the matter to your kind attention we are, Sir, | your’s very respectfully | The Bibliographic Institute | H J Meyer


Meyer refers to Alfred Edmund Brehm’s Illustrirtes Thierleben (Illustrated animal life; Brehm et al. 1864–9) and to Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky. Kovalevsky had arranged for the volumes to be sent to CD so that he could assess the suitability of the illustrations for inclusion in Kovalevsky’s Russian translation of Variation (see letter to V. O. Kovalevsky, 24 June [1867] and n. 2). Four of the six volumes of Brehm et al. 1864–9 (dated 1864 to 1867) are in the Darwin Library–Down; they are annotated (see Marginalia 1: 69–71).
‘Verbaliter’: i.e. verbatim.
The first Russian translation of Brehm et al. 1864–9 was [V. O. Kovalevsky] trans. 1866–70; the French was Gerbe trans. 1869–73; and the Italian was Branca and Travella trans. 1869–74. Several Danish works were derived from Brehm’s publications; see Mariager trans. 1871 and 1873, and Mariager and Feddersen trans. 1879. On the popularity of Brehm et al. 1864–9, see Tort 1996.
CD forwarded Meyer’s letter to John Murray; see letter to John Murray, 4 August [1867]; see also Correspondence vol 16, letter to the Bibliographisches Institut, Hildburghausen, 8 June 1868. The first English translation of part of Brehm et al. 1864–9 was Cassell’s book of birds (T. R. Jones trans. [1869–73]).


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

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.

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.


Sends fourth volume of A. E. Brehm’s Thierleben. First three sent at V. O. Kovalevsky’s request. Asks CD’s support for an English edition, since this is the first extensive popular work based on CD’s theory.

Letter details

Letter no.
Hermann Julius Meyer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Bibliogr. Inst., Hildburghausen
Source of text
DAR 171: 169
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5590,” accessed on 21 October 2021,

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