RECORD: Haeckel, Ernst. 1866. [Recollection of Darwin]. In Bölsche, Wilhelm. 1909. Ernst Haeckel: ein Lebensbild. Berlin: Georg Bondi, p. 179, quoted in Richards, Robert J. 2008. The tragic sense of life: Ernst Haeckel and the struggle over evolutionary thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 174.

REVISION HISTORY: Text prepared by Kees Rookmaaker 11.2010. RN1

NOTE: This recollection is reprinted in Thomas Glick, What about Darwin? Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press 2010.

[page 174]

Haeckel's Visit to Down, October 1866

As the coach pulled up to Darwin's ivy-covered house, shaded by elms, out of the shadows of the vine-covered entrance came the great scientist to meet me. He had a tall, worthy form with the broad shoulders of Atlas, who carries a world of thought. He had a Jupiter-like forehead, high and broadly domed, similar to Goethe's, and with deep furrows from the habit of mental work. His eyes were the friendliest and kindest, beshadowed by the roof of a protruding brow. His sensitive mouth was surrounded by a great silver-white full beard. The welcoming, warm expression of his whole face, the quiet and soft voice, the slow and thoughtful speech, the natural and open flow of ideas in conversation—all of this captured my whole heart during the first hours of our discussion. It was similar to the way his great book on first reading conquered my understanding by storm. I believed I had before me the kind of noble worldly wisdom of the Greek ancients, that of a Socrates or an Aristotle.

Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), German zoologist.

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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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