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Darwin Correspondence Project

From László Dapsy   1 June 1873

Pesth | Mészáros utsra 8 / 359

873. Juni 1.

Dear Sir!

As I had the honour to mention you that I intend to translate the Descents of Man,1 the natural philosophical society accepted my proposal: to translate the most conspicious foreign authors on the hungarian language, and for the first instance the society received after my own motion to publish first of all The Origin of Species,2 and only after that the Descent of Man, and I was commited with the translation, and the first volume of it schall be publisched in August, and the second part, from the Chapter VIII at the end of the year.3 It is very elegantly printed, and we shall have the honour to present to you one copy of it when quite ready.

We should to publisch your portrait too on the head of the translation, therefore we should be much obliged to have some information where to get some authentic electrotype copies? If you could be so kind to direct your publisher to let me know the terms how to get them, but very speedily, we should order them.

For the last winter session of the hungarian parliament a very conspicious member of it, Mr Paul Somsich on an occasion attacked your whole theory.4 Because he was in the last year president of the parliament, and now very influential member of the Right, I answered to him publicly in the “Reform” (: one of the the largest hungarian newspaper:)5 very severly attacking him again for his groundless assertion, and he answerd to me also publicly, recalling his former assertion,—and in all this it is the most interesting to me, that the public with many sign of sympathi have receaved me for your defence;— it is therefore not to be doubted that the Origin of Species shall exercise great influence here. I was last summer in Scandinavia, but as I have experienced it of many side, they are yet afraid of it!

With my greatest and sincere respect I remain | Dear Sir! | truly yours | L. Dapsy &c

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Answer when I get home’6pencil del pencil


Dapsy had requested permission to translate Descent into Hungarian in 1871 (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter from László Dapsy, 12 June 1871). He published a translation of the last chapter of Descent in the July 1871 issue of the journal Természettudományi Közlöny (3: 372–84).
Dapsy’s translation of Origin (Dapsy trans. 1873–4) was commissioned by the Királyi Természettudományi Társulat (Royal Hungarian Natural Science Association; see Soós 2008, p. 431). It was the second volume in a series of Hungarian translations of scientific works; the idea for the series had been proposed by Dapsy in 1871.
Dapsy never completed the translation of Descent. A full translation was published in 1884 (Aurel and Géza trans. 1884).
Pál Somssich was a Catholic politician. On the reception of CD’s work in Hungary, see Soós 2008 and Mund 2008.
The articles by Somssich and Dapsy in the Reform have not been found.
CD received this letter while he was at Leith Hill Place; see letter to Lázló Dapsy, 9 June 1873.


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

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

Mund, Katalin. 2008. The reception of Darwin in nineteenth-century Hungarian society. In The reception of Charles Darwin in Europe, edited by Eve-Marie Engels and Thomas F. Glick. London: Continuum.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Soós, Sándor. 2008. The scientific reception of Darwin’s work in nineteenth-century Hungary. In The reception of Charles Darwin in Europe, edited by Eve-Marie Engels and Thomas F. Glick. London: Continuum.


The Natural Philosophical Society [Academy of Sciences] will publish his translation of Origin in August, before Descent.

A distinguished member of the Hungarian Parliament attacked CD’s theory. LD answered, and a controversy ensued.

LD has noted many signs of public support for CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
Laszlo Dapsy
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 41
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8931,” accessed on 18 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21