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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Alpheus Hyatt   14 December [1872]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Dec 14th

Dear Sir

Notwithstanding the kind consideration shown in your last sentence I must thank you for your interesting & clearly-expressed letter.—2 I have directed my publisher to send you a copy of the last Edit. of the Origin3 & you can, if you like, paste in the “From the author”, on next page—

In relation to your & Profr. Cope’s view on “acceleration” causing the development of new characters, it wd, I think, be well if you were to compare the Decapods which pass & do not pass through the Zoea stage, & the one group which does (according to Fritz Müller) pass through the still earlier Nauplius stage, & see if they present any marked differences.—4 You will I believe find that this is not the case.— I wish it were, for I have often been perplexed at the omission of embryonic stages (, as well as the acquirement of peculiar stages) appearing to produce no special result on the mature form.— I have been very unwell since writing to you before, & must leave home for a 〈    〉.—5

Believe me 〈    〉


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Alpheus Hyatt, 8 December 1872.
See letter from Alpheus Hyatt, 8 December 1872 (the copy is incomplete). Hyatt had acknowledged that his theory of acceleration was inadequate as an explanation of the origin of differences in succeeding species.
See letter to Alpheus Hyatt, 4 December [1872] and n. 4, and letter from Alpheus Hyatt, 8 December 1872 and n. 4. CD refers to Edward Drinker Cope. Fritz Müller had discovered that one family of Decapoda, the Penaeidae, had a free-living nauplius stage (F. Müller 1863 and 1864b; see also F. Müller 1864a, pp. 8–9 and 86, and Dallas trans. 1869, pp. 17 and 98).
CD visited Erasmus Alvey Darwin in London from 17 to 22 to 23 December 1872 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).


Müller, Fritz. 1863. Die Verwandlung der Garneelen. Archiv für Naturgeschichte 29: 8–23.

Origin 6th ed.: The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 6th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


Sends copy of last edition of Origin.

Respecting AH’s theory that acceleration of growth produces new characters, urges AH to examine decapods that do and do not pass through zoea stage. Believes there are no marked differences between them.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alpheus Hyatt
Sent from
Source of text
Maryland Historical Society (Alpheus Hyatt Papers MS 1007)
Physical description
& damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8678,” accessed on 27 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20