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Letter 7135

Darwin, C. R. to Lankester, E. R.

15 Mar [1870]

Summary

CD much interested by ERL’s book [On comparative longevity (1870)]. Is pleased to find ERL refers to CD’s “despised child” Pangenesis, and is also pleased how thoroughly ERL appreciates Herbert Spencer, a philosopher perhaps equal to any that has lived.

Transcription

Down Beckenham Kent

March 15.

My dear Sir

I do not know whether you will consider me a very troublesomeman, but I have just finished your book & cannot resist telling youhow the whole has much interested me.—f2 No doubt, as you say, theremust be much speculation on such a subject, & certain resultscannot be reached; but all your views are highly suggestive, &to my mind that is high praise. I have been all the moreinterested as I am now writing on closely allied though notquite identical points. I was pleased to see you refer to my muchdespised child, Pangenesis who, I think, will some day undersome better nurse turn out a fine stripling.—f3

It has also much pleasedme to see how thoroughly you appreciate (& I do not think thatthis is general with the men of science) H. Spencer:f4 I suspectthat hereafter he will be looked at as by far the greatest livingphilosopher in England, perhaps equal to any that have lived.— ButI have no business to trouble you with my notions.— With sincerethanks for the interest which your work has given me, I remain, | yours veryfaithfully, | Ch. Darwin

DAR 249: 92

true

Footnotes

f1
The year is established by the reference to Lankester’s Oncomparative longevity in man and the lower animals, which waspublished in 1870 (Lankester 1870).
f2
There is an annotated copy of Lankester 1870 in the DarwinLibrary–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 482).
f3
Lankester discussed CD’s hypothesis of pangenesis (see Variation2: 357–404) in Lankester 1870, pp. 30–1, 35.
f4
Lankester discussed Herbert Spencer’s ‘physiological units’ as analternative to CD’s ‘gemmules’ in Lankester 1870, pp. 32, 35–8.
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