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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Karl Scherzer   28 May 1871

Ministry for foreign Affairs | Vienna,

May 28th. 1871

Dear Sir,

Since my return from the East I have not yet had the honour of addressing you again.1 I came back very poorly from my last voyage and am even now only recruiting. Last autumn I saw your venerated name in the foreigner’s book of a small inn at Amsteg—and learnt that two of your sons and daughters had spent the night in that place on their way to the Maderaner thal (Switzerland) but when I learned the fact the lively party had gone.—2

The whole winter I was very much occupied to prepare my Report for print, which however will not interest you much as my last mission had more a political and national–economical—than a scientific character.3 I hope to finish this account in about a month and then shall go to the Styrian Alps to restore my health and prepare for more work and new struggles …

It will be perhaps some satisfaction to you to learn that the last book which was read or rather studied by my dear departed friend, Admiral Tegetthoff the Hero of Lissa was your newest work on the descent of man—4 he frequently discussed the subject with me and was the first reader of the first copy of your Work which came to Vienna.

The principal reason of writing to you is to express to you my sincerest satisfaction that our Academy of Sciences at Vienna has just elected you his foreign honorary Member: I dare not congratulate you to this election for I think it does more honor to the electors than to the Elected. Your Election will only be proclaimed when sanctioned by the Emperor, but this is only a formality …5

Believe me, dear Sir, with my best wishes for your welfare and happiness | Your very devoted | Dr Karl v. Scherzer.

PS. | The craniological Part of the Novara publications is just finished in MS. and will be printed soon.—6


Scherzer was on the Austro-Hungarian East Asian expedition. See Correspondence vol. 16, letter from Karl von Scherzer, 20 October 1868.
Maderanertal is a valley in central Switzerland in the canton of Uri. Amsteg is a hamlet in the same canton. William Erasmus Darwin, George Howard Darwin, and Henrietta Emma Darwin were on the continent in April 1870, visiting parts of Italy and Switzerland (letters from Emma Darwin to H. E. Darwin, [19–20 April 1870] and [20 April 1870] (DAR 219.9: 87–8); letter from Emma Darwin to H. E. Darwin, 14 April [1870] (DAR 245: 39)).
The reference is to Scherzer ed. 1872.
Wilhelm von Tegetthoff commanded the Austrian fleet in the battle of Lissa (or Vis, a Croatian island in the Adriatic sea) on 20 July 1866. The battle was fought as part of a war between Italy and the Austrian empire (EB).
CD’s election was confirmed by the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I in July. See letter from the Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften, 16 July 1871.
A series of scientific publications from the Novara expedition appeared from 1861 to 1875. The volume on craniology (Zuckerkandl 1875) was the last to be published. CD received a copy in 1876 (letter to Karl von Scherzer, 24 December 1876 (Calendar no. 10733)). Three other volumes from the series are in the Darwin Library–CUL (Hochstetter 1864–6, Weisbach 1867, Friedrich Müller 1868).


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

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

EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.

Hochstetter, Ferdinand von. 1864–6. Reise der österreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde in den Jahren 1857, 1858, 1859 unter den Befehlen des Commodore B. von Wüllerstorf-Urbair. Geologischer Theil. Vol. 1 (part 1) Geologie von Neu-Seeland. Vol. 2 (part 1) Geologische Beobachtungen. Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei.

Weisbach, A. 1867. Reise der österreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde in den Jahren 1857, 1858, 1859 unter den Befehlen des Commodore B. von Wüllerstorf-Urbair: Anthropologischer Theil. Zweite Abtheilung, ‘Körpermessungen’. Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei.

Zuckerkandl, E. 1875. Reise der Österreichischen Fregatte Novara: 1. Abtheilung: Cranien der Novara-Sammlung. Vienna: Carl Gerold’s Sohn.


Craniological part of Novara voyage report is done.

Expresses his satisfaction at CD’s election as a Foreign Honorary Member of the Academy of Sciences, Vienna.

Letter details

Letter no.
Karl von Scherzer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vienna
Source of text
DAR 177: 51
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9998,” accessed on 30 July 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19