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Letter 5918

Darwin, C. R. to Hooker, J. D.

23 Feb [1868]

    Summary Add

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    Review in Athenæum full of contempt. Is sure Owen wrote it [see 5931].

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    Gardeners' Chronicle review [(1868): 184] favourable.

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    Fears Pangenesis is still-born. Cites Bates, Spencer, Lubbock, and Sir Henry Holland. Is sure Pangenesis will sometime reappear. Questions that are connected and answered by Pangenesis.



Feb. 23d

My dear Hooker

I have had almost as many letters to write of late, as you can have—viz from 8--10 per diem,—chiefly getting up facts on sexual selection; therefore I have felt no inclination to write to you, & now I mean to write solely about my Book, for my own satisfaction, & not at all for yours.— The first Edit was 1500 copies, & now the second is printed off,—sharp work. Did you look at the Review in the Athenæum, showing profound contempt of me. I feel convinced it is by Owen— Pouchet— Mr. Charles Darwin, always in full & other little strokes. It is a shame that he shd have said that I have taken much from Pouchet without acknowledgement; for I took literally nothing, there being nothing to take. There is capital R. in Gardeners Chronicle—which will sell the book, if anything will— I do not quite see whether I or the writer is in a muddle about man causing variability. If a man drops a bit of iron into Sulphuric acid he does not cause the affinities to come into play, yet he may be said to make Sulphate of Iron. I do not know how to avoid ambiguity. After what Pall Mall & G. Chronicle have said, I do not care a d—. for Owen.—

I fear Pangenesis is still-born. Bates says he has read it twice & is not sure that he understands it.— H. Spencer says the view is quite different from his (& this a great relief to me, as I feared to be accused of plagiarism, but utterly failed to be sure what he meant, so thought it safest to give my view as almost same as his) & he says he is not sure he understands it. Sir J. Lubbock says he shall wait, before he expresses his opinion, & see what the Reviews say. Am I not a poor Devil; yet I took such pains, I must think that I expressed myself clearly  Old Sir H. Holland says he has read it twice & thinks it very tough, but believes that sooner or later ``some view akin to it'' will be accepted.

You will think me very self-sufficient, when I declare that I feel sure if Pangenesis is now still born it will thank God at some future time reappear, begotten by some other Father, & christened by some other name.—

Have you ever met with any tangible & clear view of what takes place in generation, whether by seeds or buds.— Or how a long-lost character can possibly reappear—or how the male element can possibly affect the mother-plant—or the mother animal so that her future progeny are affected. Now all these points & many others are connected to-gether,—whether truly or falsely is another question—by Pangenesis.— You see I die hard, & stick up for my poor child.—

This letter is written for my own satisfaction & not for yours—so bear it.

Yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 5918.f1
    On the sales of Variation, see the letter from John Murray, 6 February [1868].
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    f2 5918.f2
    CD mistakenly attributed the review of Variation published in the Athenaeum ([Robertson] 1868a) to Richard Owen.
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    f3 5918.f3
    CD had remarked on a claim by Félix Archimède Pouchet that variation under domestication threw no light on the modification of species in nature: `I cannot perceive the force of his arguments, or, to speak more accurately, of his assertions to this effect' (Variation 1: 2 n. 2). The Athenæum reviewer commented that CD had `perceived, felt, and yielded to the force' of Pouchet's claim by postponing `to future works the consideration of the natural modification of species' ([Robertson] 1868a, p. 243).
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    f4 5918.f4
    A review of Variation appeared in the Gardeners' Chronicle, 22 February 1868, p. 184. The reviewer wrote: `there is not a gardener in the country who has any taste for the history or theory of his art but will peruse it with pleasure and profit'.
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    f5 5918.f5
    The reviewer claimed that CD argued ambiguously with regard to the role of human agency in the production of variations: `if altered conditions cause variability, and man alters a plant's condition, he may fairly be charged with causing variability—just as fairly as a man who so places a sovereign before a thievish boy, as that boy will surely steal it' (Gardeners' Chronicle, p. 184).
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    f6 5918.f6
    The review of Variation in the Pall Mall Gazette was by George Henry Lewes ([Lewes] 1868a).
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    f7 5918.f7
    CD refers to Henry Walter Bates; see letter from H. W. Bates, 18 February 1868. CD discussed his provisional hypothesis of pangenesis in Variation 2: 357--404.
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    f8 5918.f8
    See letter from Herbert Spencer, 8 February 1868.
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    f9 5918.f9
    See letter from John Lubbock, 20 February 1868.
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    f10 5918.f10
    See letter from Henry Holland, 11 February [1868].
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