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Letter 6036

Darwin, C. R. to Carus, J. V.

21 Mar [1868]

    Summary Add

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    Corrections for German translation of Variation.

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    Discusses Pangenesis. CD not surprised at JVC's unfavourable opinion. Huxley's joke that it is more difficult to believe than Genesis. Lyell's and Sir H. Holland's opinions. For CD, it provides a bond for connecting many phenomena.


Down Bromley Kent [4 Chester Place]

March 21st

My dear Sir—

Many thanks for your corrections  Lucaze is very bad.— I am writing this letter in London & have not here the first Edit.; but in the Reprint vol. 2 p.294, the number of the note is given 7 & is ``Pagets Lectures &c p.257'', but by mistake is added to end of the previous note 6.— When I return home I shall find no doubt Prof. Hartmanns work; & if you have any communication with him please give him my sincere thanks.

I am very much obliged to you for sending me so frankly your opinion on pangenesis, & I am <sorry> it is unfavourable; but I cannot quite understand your remark on pangenesis selection & the struggle for life not being more methodical.— I am not at all surprised at your unfavourable verdict; I know many, probably most, will come to the same conclusion. One English Review says it is much too complicated. I must tell you Huxley's joke: ``Genesis is difficult to believe, but Pangenesis is a deuced deal more difficult''.— Some of my friends are enthusiastic on the hypothesis, & to me it has been a great relief, as affording some material bond by which so many phenomena can be connected. Sir C. Lyell says to everyone, ``you may not believe in pangenesis, but if you once <understand> it, you will never get it out of your mind''. And with this criticism I am perfectly content. All cases of inheritance & reversion & development now appear to me under a new light;—whether this is false or true. Sir H. Holland maintains that it will be accepted until some better hypothesis is invented; & with this also I am perfectly content. But I shall weary you.— I do hope that my book may be at least successful enough that you may not regret the great labour which you have bestowed on it.

With cordial thanks, believe me | My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 6036.f1
    The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. V. Carus, 17 March 1868.
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    f2 6036.f2
    See letter from J. V. Carus, 17 March 1868 and n. 2.
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    f3 6036.f3
    See letter from J. V. Carus, 17 March 1868 and n. 3.
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    f4 6036.f4
    See letter from J. V. Carus, 17 March 1868 and n. 4. CD refers to Robert Hartmann and Hartmann 1864.
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    f5 6036.f5
    See letter from J. V. Carus, 17 March 1868.
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    f6 6036.f6
    CD probably refers to the article `Mr. Darwin on pangenesis', which appeared in the London Review, 7 March 1868, pp. 227--8. The anonymous reviewer argued that this part of CD's book was not so satisfactory to the general reader, because the successive steps in the argument were `indistinctly formulated' (p. 227). CD's copy of the review is in DAR 226.1: 90.
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    f7 6036.f7
    Thomas Henry Huxley.
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    f8 6036.f8
    For Charles Lyell's initial reaction to CD's theory of pangenesis, see also Correspondence vol. 15, letter from A. R. Wallace, 22 October [1867]. Lyell had mentioned the theory in the latest edition of Principles of geology (Lyell 1867--8; see letter to Charles Lyell, [19 March 1868] and n. 4).
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    f9 6036.f9
    CD and Henry Holland may have discussed pangenesis while CD was in London, see letter from Henry Holland, 11 February [1868].
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