RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1921. [Letters to Fritz Müller]. In Alfred Möller ed., Fritz Müller. Werke, Briefe und Leben. 3 vols. in 5. Jena: Gustav Fischer, vol. 2 Briefe.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 5.2022, additions 10.2022. RN2

NOTE: See record in the Freeman Bibliographical Database, enter its Identifier here.

"Müller, Johann Friederich Theodor, 1821-97. Elder brother of (Heinrich Ludwig) Hermann M. Known as and writing as "Fritz". German schoolmaster in Brazil and naturalist. CD and M never met, but "of all his unseen friends Fritz Müller was the one for whom he had the strongest regard". "Uninterrupted friendship and scientific comradeship". "He had for Müller a stronger personal regard than that which bound him to his other unseen friends". Francis Darwin, Annals of Botany, 13: p. xiii, 1899. CD to Hermann M, "One of the most able naturalists living". Photograph ML 2: 344. Biography ML 1: 382. Married and had 7 daughters and 1 son, who died young. One daughter, Rosa, observed circumnutation in Linum usitatissimum. 1852 Emigrated to Brazil. Teacher of mathematics at Gymnasium, Blumenau, Santa Catarina. Lived in Itajaí, Desterro (later Florianópolis) on the island Santa Catarina, and Itajaí again. Dismissed because he refused to live in Rio de Janeiro. 1864, 1869 M was author of Für Darwin, translated by W.S. Dallas, at CD's expense on commission, 1869, Facts and arguments for Darwin. It contains one of the earliest statements of the recapitulation theory and Haeckel took the theory from here without acknowledgement. It also contains a joke classification of the Crustacea. 1865-81 Many letters to and from M, first 1865 Aug. 10, last 1881 Dec. 19. 1874-81 CD wrote introductory notes to six short papers by M in Nature. 1880 M was nearly drowned in a flood of the Hajahy river. CD to Hermann M, offering financial help to replace books etc. (£100), but not needed. See Shorter publications, F1811, F1781, F1784." (Paul van Helvert & John van Wyhe, Darwin: A Companion, 2021)

For complete letters with important editorial notes see:

20 September 1865, in Correspondence vol. 13, pp. 234-5.

17 October 1865, in ML 2: 344-5.

9 December 1865, in Correspondence vol. 13, pp. 323-5.

11 January 1866, in ML 1: 264.

23 August 1866, in Correspondence vol. 14, pp. 299-300.

25 September 1866, in ML 2: 346-7.

? (received 24 February 1867), in ML 2: 350-1.

22 February 1867, in Correspondence vol. 15, pp. 92-3.

22 April 1867, in Correspondence vol. 15, pp. 230-1.

2 November 1867, in Correspondence vol. 15, pp. 417-8.

30 January 1868, in ML 2: 352-3.

3 June 1868, in ML 2, p. 82-3.

28 November 1868, dated 19 March in ML 2, p. 63.

18 March 1869, in ML 1: 312.

12 May 1870, in ML 2: 358-9.

28 August 1870, in ML 2: 91-2.

Correspondence vol. 29.


[page] 73

An Fritz Müller von Darwin).

Down-Bromley. Kent S. E. Sept. 20 (1865)

(received Oct. 26)

My dear Sir!

I am very much obliged for your interesting letter written in such wonderfully good English about climbing plants. The case of Haplolophium) is new to me and I am glad to have seen the tendril of Strychnos. I do not suppose I shall attend any more to climbing plants, but I should like to hear if you ever meet with 2 species of the same genus, twining in opposite directions I should further like much to hear whether any twiners can ascend thick trunks. How wonderfully rich you are in climbing plants! As I see you know much more about plants than I do, I sent off by the post yesterday a German copy of my Orchis book and two papers on Dimorphism. The latter will I think interest you and perhaps one Chapter, for instance that on Catasetum in my Orchis book would be worth your reading to shew how perfect the contrivances are. Your remarks on the spines in Acasta are quite new to me and seem very probable. In my last letter I alluded to Anelasma; I am not sure, but I think I speculated on the relation of the branchian filaments to cement tubes, but rejected the idea on account of the apparent continuity of the filaments with the outer membrane of this Capitulum. Perhaps I may have made some mistake for your view now seems to me probable. My specimen unfortunately had been removed out of the Sharks flesh.

The difficulty which you quote from A. Agassiz on the embryology of the Echinodermata is quite beyond me and I should think would be just the subject for you. Any how the difficulty is quite as great to L. Agassiz on his views of classification as to us on descent and modification, and that is some comfort.

Does it not often strike you that Natural History is rendered extremely interesting by such views as we both hold. This frequently occurred to me when reading your work. I am sorry to say my health keeps so weak that I am not able to do any scientific work. If you write again I should very much like to hear whether you intend to remain long at Desterro and how you like your new home. I have always heard the Island is most beautiful. Have you ever read my Journal of Researches on Travels and if not would you like to have a copy?

With sincere respect my dear Sir yours very faithfully Ch. Darwin.

[page] 76

An Fritz Müller von Darwin

Down-Bromley. Kent S. E. Dec. 9 (1865)

received Jan. 25 (1866).

…..I knew of the difference in the spicula, but your difficulty had not occurred to me; from analogy I should rather expect that spunges have existed with spicula of the two kinds, and that the one had ultimately preponderated over the other….That is a curious observation of your daughter about the movement of the apex of the stem of Linum and would I think be worth following out; I suspect many plants move a little, following the sun; but all do not for I have watched some pretty carefully.

I can give you no Zoological news for I live the life of the most secluded hermit….

[page] 89

An Fritz Müller von Darwin

Down-Bromley. Kent S. E. Aug. 23 (1866)

received Oct. 25 (1866).

My dear Sir, I have been very neglectful in not having thanked you sooner for your valuable letter of June 1th (nicht mehr vorhanden, der Herausgeber)… Many of the facts which you mention are very curious and interesting, and if ever I publish a supplement to my Orchis book I shall make use of some of them. I am much surprised at what you say about those with large flowers seeding so badly. I am especially interested in the case of one of the Epidendreae which has pollinia for removal by insects and others for self-fertilization. Your letter with its elegant drawings and dried flowers is quite a pretty object. The case of the Bourlingtonia is entirely new. As for the course of the vessels in the various organs of the flower I dare say your interpretation may be right, and I have little doubt that mine was wrong…

P. S. I have forgotten to thank you for the beautiful drawing of the Vanilla-like plant.

[page] 109

An Fritz Müller von Darwin.

Down-Bromley Kent. 22. February (1867)

received March 24/67.

My dear Sir

Your last letter of Jan. 1 is more valuable to me even than some of your previous ones. The fact about the own pollen being poisonous is quite extraordinary; I will quote your remarks and explanation after giving your former facts. Can the cause of the decay be due to parasitic cryptogams? I should be very much obliged to you if you would informe [sic] me soon whether Oncidium flexuosum is a native of your district. These observations of yours will be a most valuable addition to my discussion on self-impotent plants. There never was a more curious case than that of the rudimentary condition of the organs in Catasetum. It explains the fact, which I have been assured of, that Catasetum in some countries not rarely produces seed-capsules. Your facts also about the sucking in of the pollen-masses and of the dispersal of the seeds in Gesneria are all quite new to me. I hope you keep a record of all your miscellaneous observations, for you might thus hereafter publish a wonderful book…

Die Fortsetzung dieses Briefes findet sich in Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol. III, p. 111.

[page] 118

Down-Bromley Kent. April 22 (1867)

received May 27.

…Your letter of March 4th contained much interesting matter, but I have to say this of all your letters. I am particularly glad to hear that Oncidium flexuosum is endemic, for I always thought that the cases of self-sterility with Orchids in hot-houses might have been caused by their unnatural conditions. I am glad also to hear of the other analogous cases, all of which I will give briefly in my book that is now printing. The lessened number of good seeds in the self-fertilized Epidendrons is to a certain extent a new case. You suggest the comparison of the growth of plants produced from self-fertilized and crossed seeds. I began this work last autumn and the result in some cases has been very striking, but only as far as I can yet judge with exotic plants which do not get freely crossed by insects in this country. In some of these cases it is really a wonderful physiological fact to see the difference of growth in the plants produced from self-fertilized and crossed seeds, both produced by the same parent-plant; the pollen which has been used for the cross having been taken from a distinct plant that grew in the same flower-pot. — — Have you ever thought of publishing a work which might contain miscellaneous observations on all branches of natural history, with a short description of the country and of any excursions which you might take. I feel certain that you might make a very valuable and interesting book, for every one of your letters is so full of good observations…

[page] 132

An Fritz Muller von Darwin.

Down-Bromley Kent. Nov. 2. 1867.

. . . . . Eschscholtzia californica has proved with me self-fertile; therefore your experiment would be worth trying again. From what you will see in my book about Passiflora it would be interesting to observe, whether any not annual endemic species is self-sterile like your Orchids ....

[page] 172

Darwin schreibt mir ueber ihn: "We liked him very much. He is a great admirer of yours, and he tells me that your correspondence and book first made him believe in evolution. This must have been a great blow to his father etc."


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