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Letter 2603

Darwin, C. R. to Huxley, T. H.

25 Dec [1859]

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    Henry Holland and others have attacked his reasoning from analogy to one primordial created form – by which CD means only that we know nothing of how life originated. The reasoning seems probable to him, so he has kept it in.

Transcription

Down Bromley Kent

Dec. 25th

My dear Huxley

One part of your note has pleased me so much that I must thank you for it. Not only Sir H. H. but several others have attacked me about analogy leading to belief in one primordial created form. (By which I mean only that we know nothing as yet how life originates). I thought I was universally condemned on this head.— But I answered, that though perhaps it would have been more prudent not to have put it in, I would not strike it out, as it seemed to me probable & I give it on no other grounds.— You will see in your mind the kind of arguments which made me think it probable; & no one fact had so great an effect on me, as your most curious remarks on the apparent homologies of the heads of Vertebrata & Articulata.—

You have done a real good turn in the Agency business (I never before heard of a hard-working unpaid agent besides yourself) in talking with Sir H. H; for he will have great influence over many. He floored me from my ignorance about bones of Ear, &I made a mental note to ask you what the facts were.—

With hearty thanks & real admiration for your generous zeal for the subject.— | Yours most truly | C. Darwin

You may smile about the care & precautions I have taken about my ugly M.S. It is not so much the value I set on them; but the remembrance of the intolerable labour, for instance in tracing the History of the Breeds of Pigeons.—

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 2603.f1
    The year is given by the reference to Henry Holland, whom CD had visited in London on9 December 1859. See letter from Henry Holland, 10 December [1859].
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    f2 2603.f2
    The point was not raised by Henry Holland in his letter to CD of 10 December [1859] and may have been discussed during CD's visit to Holland (see n. 1, above). In Origin, p. 484, CD stated that analogy would lead him to the belief that all animals and plants have descended from one ‘prototype’: Holland's point was presumably that the whole range of living organisms was too diverse to have descended from a single ancestral form.
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    f3 2603.f3
    T. H. Huxley 1858, p. 235. CD commented on this apparent relationship in the letter to T. H. Huxley, 8 March [1859]. See also Huxley's response in his letter of [9–12 March 1859].
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    f4 2603.f4
    See letter from Henry Holland, 10 December [1859].
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    f5 2603.f5
    CD sent Huxley the manuscript chapters on hybridism and on pigeons from his species book, along with other material, for Huxley's use in preparing his lecture on Origin (T. H. Huxley 1860). See letters to T. H. Huxley, 13 December [1859] and 16 December [1859].
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