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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Oskar Schmidt1   22 June 1868

Gratz (Oesterreich)

22. Juni 1868.

Hochverehrter Herr

Ich habe Ihnen für die von Stuttgart aus geschehene Zusendung Ihres Werkes über das Variiren meinen Dank zu sagen.2 Auch ich gehöre zu der grossen Majorität der deutschen Naturforscher welche durch das Studium Ihrer Schriften wissenschaftlich neu geboren sind und glücklich darin sind, die selbst empfangenen Anregungen einer entzündbaren Jugend mittheilen zu können.

Ich habe vor wenigen Wochen durch den Buchhändler 〈    〉 in Leipzig, meinen Verleg〈  〉 〈  〉handlung über die 〈1 or 2 words〉 von Algier an Sie gesendet, worin, wie 〈mi〉r scheint, eine Reihe von solchen Gra〈den〉 des Variiens dargelegt wird, welche 〈    〉 Entstehen neuer Species auf das Deutlichste illustriren.3 Es handelt sich dort, bei diesen niederen Geschöpfen, durchaus nicht um das Entstehen blosser Varietäten, sondern um das sichtbare Hervorbilden neuer Formen, welche im Sinne des strengen naturhistorischen Handwerkes neue Arten sind. Ich setze auf die Aufschlüsse, welche die Spongien uns für einige Cardinalfragen geben werden, grosse Hoffnungen, bedaure aber immer, dass so wenige Zoologen (oder Botani〈ker)〉 〈    〉 mit ihnen befassen und 〈1 or 2 words〉 diejenigen englischen Naturforscher, welche die grössten Specialkenntnisse darin haben, die Herren Bowerbank und Gray4 für die Behandlung derselben mit Rücksicht auf die Transformationslehre keinen Sinn haben.

Ich fürchte, dass Ihnen manche unter den jüngeren deutschen Naturforschern etwas zu “hotspur” sind. Auch ich gehe vielleicht etwas zu schnell; ich glaube aber nicht, dass die Sache darunter leidet.

Genehmigen Sie, hochverehrter Herr, den Ausdruck der hohen Achtung, womit ich verbleibe | Ihr | ergebener | Oscar Schmidt | Prof. der Zoologie

CD annotations

3.1 unter … schnell; 3.2] scored pencil
End of letter: ‘Sponges— present— too low organisms. not really | Bad German Scholar’5 pencil

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix I.
Schmidt appears on CD’s presentation list for the German edition of Variation, which was published in Stuttgart (see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix IV).
Schmidt refers to his Spongien der Kuste von Algier (Sponges of the coast of Algier; Schmidt 1868). No copy has been found in the Darwin Library–CUL or the Darwin Library–Down.
James Scott Bowerbank and John Edward Gray. The animal nature of sponges was first clearly described in 1755 (EB (1970)).
CD’s annotations were probably for his reply to Schmidt, which has not been found. CD was in the habit of warning those who sent him German works that he was a ‘poor German scholar’ (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 14, letter to C. W. von Nägeli, 12 June [1866]).

Bibliography

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

EB (1970): Encyclopaedia Britannica. 24 vols. Chicago and London: Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1970.

Schmidt, Oskar. 1868. Die Spongien der Kuste von Algier, mit Nachtragen zu den Spongien des Adriatischen Meeres. (3d supplement to Die Spongien des Adriatischen Meeres.) Leipzig: W. Engelmann.

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

Translation

From Oskar Schmidt1   22 June 1868

Gratz (Austria)

22 June 1868

Most esteemed Sir

Thank you very much for your work on variation sent from Stuttgart.2 I too belong to the great majority of German naturalists who through the study of your writings have felt scientifically reborn and are happy to be able to pass on the ideas they themselves have received to a youth ready to be fired with enthusiasm.

I sent you a few weeks ago, through the bookseller 〈    〉 in

Leipzig, my 〈publisher, my discussion〉 of the 〈1 or 2 words〉 of Algiers, in which, it would seem to 〈me〉, a series of such degrees of variation is exhibited, which illustrate in the clearest fashion the 〈    〉 formation of new species.3 Regarding these lower creatures, it is by no means a case of the creation of mere varieties but rather of the visible production of new forms which in the strict natural historical sense are new species. I place great hope in the explanations that sponges will provide for some of the cardinal questions, but I still regret that so few zoologists (or botanists) 〈    〉 concern themselves with them and that 〈1 or 2 words〉 those English naturalists who have the greatest specialist knowledge of sponges, Messrs. Bowerbank and Gray,4 are not interested in treating them from the perspective of the theory of transformation.

I am afraid that too many of the younger German naturalists may be too “hotspur” for you. Also, I may be going a bit too fast; but I don’t think that the essentials of the matter suffer thereby.

Please accept, most esteemed Sir, the expression of the high regard with which I remain | yours | truly | Oscar Schmidt | Prof. of Zoology

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original German, see part I: 600.
Schmidt appears on CD’s presentation list for the German edition of Variation, which was published in Stuttgart (see Correspondence vol.16, Appendix IV).
Schmidt refers to his Spongien der Kuste von Algier (Sponges of the coast of Algier; Schmidt 1868). No copy has been found in the Darwin Library–CUL or the Darwin Library–Down.
James Scott Bowerbank and John Edward Gray. The animal nature of sponges was first clearly described in 1755 (EB (1970)).

Bibliography

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

EB (1970): Encyclopaedia Britannica. 24 vols. Chicago and London: Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1970.

Schmidt, Oskar. 1868. Die Spongien der Kuste von Algier, mit Nachtragen zu den Spongien des Adriatischen Meeres. (3d supplement to Die Spongien des Adriatischen Meeres.) Leipzig: W. Engelmann.

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

Summary

Has received copy of Variation.

Sends copy of his book [Die Spongien der Küste von Algier (1868)]. Comments on it.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-6256
From
Eduard Oskar (Oskar) Schmidt
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Graz
Source of text
DAR 177: 58
Physical description
3pp (German) damaged †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6256,” accessed on 25 September 2021, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-6256.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16

letter