RECORD: Mengden, Nikolai von, Baron. 1882. [Recollection of Darwin in a letter to Francis Darwin]. CUL-DAR198.139. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 4.2021. RN1

NOTE: There is a draft reply to Mengden by Francis Darwin in CUL-DAR198:

Mengden May 12

Dear Sir I am obliged to you for your courteous note asking permission to publish a letter of my f

As the translation of the letter from my father is written in German hand-writing I can unfortunately only guess at its contents. But it may relate to I should strongly object to its being published especially soon after my father's death. I therefore regret to say I must definitely refuse the permission which is needed for its publication.


The letter was however published, in one of Haeckel's books and in many newspapers: [Darwin, C. R. Letter to N. A. von Mengden 'Science has nothing to do with Christ']. In Haeckel, Die Naturanschauung von Darwin, Goethe und Lamarck, 1882. F1998

Reproduced with permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library.



As I am in possession of a letter of Charles Darwin which will certainly excite a general interest and as I conceive that I am not acting contrary to the wish of the deceased by its publication, I will hand it over to publicity.

I should wish however in the first place to be permitted to say a few words as to how I became possessed of this letter.

Some years ago I began to collect autographs and as I soon found that the most remarkable men were the most friendly towards collectors, I wrote to Charles Darwin and 8 days afterwards was in possession of his autograph.

Charles Darwin

Down Kent

7 Feb. 1878

A year later religious doubts arose in me through the reading of his writings. And as I had already once had an opportunity of learning Darwin’s kindness, I turned to him with the request that he would have the great kindness to write me whether the belief in God was reconcilable with the theory of evolution? A short time after I received the following letter from his wife (??)

(Letter follows)

[CUL-DAR146.467, Correspondence vol. 27, p. 160]


Notwithstanding that, or rather because I had at that time given verbal offence to the principal representative of these doctrines in Germany, I was not yet satisfied, not yet at one with myself, and I wrote for the third time and begged him again to answer me a few questions, which he answered in the following terms: —

(letter follows)

[See F1998 / CUL-DAR139.12.14]

The original M.S. is to be found, as is evidenced by the [super…] , in my collection

Jena S/S 1882

Nicolas Baron Mengden

(The preceding copies correspond exactly with M originals of the letters written by Charles Darwin

Jena 6 Jun. 82

Dr Ernst Haeckel)

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