From Henry Holland 11 February 1
My dear Charles,
First let me thank you, which I do heartily, for the two volumes.2 I need not tell you how much they interest me, both as appertains to their subject, & to their Author.
I am reading them, partly on your suggestion, in a detached way,—that is, the Introduction, & a few following Chapters of the 1st vol, to gain the method of the work;—then passing on to the later Chapters of the 2d volume, to catch hold of the Hypothesis, which you point out to me in your letter, with a ? attached to it.3
The Introduction, in its relation to the principle of Natural Selection, I think exceedy good. And I may say the same of the Chapter of “Concluding Remarks”, which embodies well what has gone before, both of facts & inferences. The last two pages might however admit of some alteration, but the matter is a difficult one to handle & you could in no way deal with it, so as to obviate criticism & censure.4
The hypothetical Chapter on Pangenesis I have twice read, & I believe that I understand it, both in its principle & applications. The latter are apposite, & ably put forwards; & the principle, though purely hypothetical, has this vindication, that something analogous or akin to it, is absolutely necessary to the explanation of phenomena.— I could say a good deal more on this matter; but it is too voluminous & tough for a letter, & I therefore hold it in hand for future conversation; if not indeed antedated by others. You do not love writing, & I like it as little.
I may have overlooked it, but I do not see that you allude to those singular cases, where a whole family of children shew some strongly marked peculiarity or defect, not existing in Father or Mother, or as far as can be known, in the ancestors on either side. I have a striking instance of this now under my knowledge;—four children dumb & half idiotic, from parents without any one peculiarity. This might come to the Chapter on Pangenesis for explanation, through incongruous admixture of gemmules.5
You will lament, as I do, over the dangerous illness of Lady Cranworth6
Ever, my dear Charles, affect your’s | H Holland
Thanks for copy of Variation. Comments on it, especially on Pangenesis.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5862,” accessed on 27 May 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5862