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Letter 3245

Darwin, C. R. to Rolleston, George

5 Sept [1861]

    Summary Add

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    GR's letter is a gold-mine.

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    Pleased to have Pierre Gratiolet's comment on the embryology of greatly modified organs

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    and GR's valuable cases of analogous variation.

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    Doubts craniologists, but recounts his father's opinion that the shape of CD's head was altered when he returned from the Beagle.


Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Sept. 5th

My dear Sir

You are very kind in telling me not to write; & though I am too hard worked, it is a pleasure to me to write, otherwise I would not do so.— Your note is a real gold-mine of facts & suggestions, all new to me. I am very glad to hear of Gratiolets remark, for I remember being very anxious to know how the case was; & I remember wishing to know how early an organ modified in a very unusual manner in its class appeared, relatively to its homologue in other members of the same class: & I thought that a Bat's wing would be good case, but I could not find any description.—

Your cases of analogous variations are very valuable to me, & indeed all your note.— I do not know whether Craniologists can be at all believed, who assert that the Head alters in shape after peculiar studies in the adult.— I may mention a little personal anecdote. I worked hard during voyage of the Beagle & was a very idle sportsman before; & when I returned after 5 years, my Father almost immediately exclaimed, ``Why the shape of your head is altered.''—

I was much interested by your papers in Nat. Hist. R. & I was pleased to see in Silliman's Journal that your article was specially noticed.—

I have had a hard morning's dissection at some plants & am tired & will not amuse myself, by scribbling any more.

With hearty thanks for favours past & to come! | Yours sincerely | Charles Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 3245.f1
    Dated by the relationship to the letter from George Rolleston, 1 September 1861.
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    f2 3245.f2
    Letter from George Rolleston, 1 September 1861.
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    f3 3245.f3
    Gratiolet 1854. See letter from George Rolleston, 1 September 1861 and n. 8.
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    f4 3245.f4
    See Correspondence vol. 6, letters to T. H. Huxley, 5 July [1857] and 9 July [1857], and letter from T. H. Huxley, 7 July 1857.
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    f5 3245.f5
    Rolleston published two papers in the Natural History Review in 1861. The first, `On the affinities of the brain of the orang utang' (Rolleston 1861a), was published in April. For CD's opinion of the work, see the letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 [April 1861]. The second, `On correlations of growth, with a special example from the anatomy of a porpoise' (Rolleston 1861b), did not appear until October 1861.
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    f6 3245.f6
    In the notice of the new series of the Natural History Review published in the July 1861 issue of the American Journal of Science and Arts 2d ser. 32 (1861): 130--2, Rolleston 1861a was singled out, being described as `a well-considered and in every way most admirable communication.'
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