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Letter 6063

Henslow, George to Darwin, C. R.

28 Mar 1868

    Summary Add

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    Thanks for criticism of his paper [on Variation].

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    If external conditions induce variability, what is the internal cause?

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    Does not agree with Duke of Argyll that "Origin of Species" is an incorrect term.

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    Sees playfulness of animals as a mark of the Deity's creative playfulness.

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    Will visit soon.


St Joh<ns Pars>onage | St Johnswood | NW


My dear Sir

let me thank you very much for your candid critcisms on my paper: they shew me where I have not only failed to convey my meaning but I think failed in reasoning also. Still on carefully reading your chapters 22 & 23 in yr new Book: I think your conclusions are in reality not different from mine

I wished to imply <    > paper is so cramped???? that I have not expressed myself clearly.

1.) With regard to variation I wish for no better guide than yourself. What I meant to imply was, that if external circumstances,—especially you add perhaps, lots of food,—induce variation; What is the link between the former & the latter? upon what in the body do they act? if, on reproductive system, how? What is the internal cause of variability <    > offspring? This I <    > from your book is a question at present unanswerable. With regard to the Duke of Argyll saying your term ``Origin of Species'' is incorrect; it seems to me optional upon what link in the chain you set your finger & call it the ``Origin''.!

<2.> With regard to ``Grotesque & Fun'', I said that we are not called upon to say whether the Deity sees or appreciates the grotesque forms of organisms; but what I should look upon as intentional is the love of fun: in the creature, & for its benefit.— the playfulness of animals seems referable to law as much as everything else; if at least the stereotyped way in which all of the same species amuse themselves is any ground for assuming it e.g. Flies pirouetting near the ceiling— gnats on a summer eveng—Kittens after their own tails: but as a rule I think not puppies(?) porpoises, shrimps &c &c &c—& so on throughout animal life.

I shall hope to find you at home about 12.45 p.m. on Tuesday next: if unsuccessful I will call again

yrs very sincerely | Geo: Henslow

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 6063.f1
    See letter from George Henslow, 20 March 1868 and nn. 1 and 2. CD evidently returned Henslow's article (Henslow 1867) with his comments, but these have not been found.
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    f2 6063.f2
    Henslow refers to Variation 2: 250--92. The chapters concern the causes of variability and the direct action of external conditions.
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    f3 6063.f3
    For Henslow's discussion of the causes of variation, see Henslow 1867, p. 270. Henslow had argued that no one could explain the immediate origin of variation.
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    f4 6063.f4
    See Henslow 1867, p. 269. Henslow refers to George Douglas Campbell and Campbell 1867, p. 230.
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    f5 6063.f5
    For Henslow's remarks on humorous and grotesque elements in nature, see Henslow 1867, pp. 268--9.
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    f6 6063.f6
    The Tuesday following 28 March 1868 was 31 March. CD returned to Down on 1 April (see `Journal' (Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix II)).
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