References to works on probability;
statistics on proportion of sexes in births in England and Wales.
My Dear Erasmus
If Charles has not yet gone will you put this note into his hands,—otherwise forward it to him.
Looking at some old notes, I find that Quetelet's work—``Sur la Theories des Probabilités &c'' was published in 1846, & reviewed by Sir J Herschel in one of the Edinburgh Reviews of the year 1850
Lacroix, as well as Laplace, has written a work sur ``le Calcul des Probabilités''. I have read the latter only. It is a very interesting volume like every thing that comes from the hands of Laplace
As far as I recollect Herschel's Review of Quetelet, it will give Charles most of the facts that would interest him for his particular objects. But I may be mistaken in this
My old notes furnish me with some other facts
Out of 3,630,000 registered births in England & Wales the excess
of Males is very little more than 2
I see that in England, France & Belgium the rates of illegitimate children to others is as 1. to 13
Either in Quetelet's work, or elsewhere, I have seen some curious
facts, as to the mean type of stature in different countries or
districts. I recollect that the French mean stature is consid
I shall be glad if anything I have thus hastily written is worth having
Ever yours very sincerely | H. Holland
- f1 6632.f1The year is established from the date and subject matter of the letter. CD worked on the proportion of the sexes in various animals between 1868 and 1870 as part of his research for Descent, which was published on 24 February 1871 (CD's `Journal' (DAR 158)). The only year during this period when he visited London around 24 February was 1869, when he was in London from 16 to 24 February (CD's `Journal' (Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix II)).
- f2 6632.f2Holland refers to Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet and to Quetelet's study on the theory of probability applied to moral and political science (Quetelet 1846). He also refers to John Frederick William Herschel and probably to an anonymous essay review of Quetelet 1846 published in the Edinburgh Review for July 1850 ([Herschel] 1850), which Holland evidently knew had been written by Herschel. CD may have already read either the translation of Quetelet 1846 (Quetelet 1849) or the review (see Correspondence vol. 4, letter to W. D. Fox, 4 September ).
- f3 6632.f3Holland refers to Sylvestre François Lacroix and Lacroix 1816, and to Pierre Simon Marquis de Laplace and Laplace 1814.
- f4 6632.f4Holland may refer to Quetelet 1835.
- f5 6632.f5CD refers to Charles Babbage and Babbage 1829. CD cited this work in Descent 1: 302.