From George Henslow 28 March 1868
St Joh〈ns Pars〉onage | St Johnswood | NW
My dear Sir
let me thank you very much for your candid critcisms on my paper:1 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 mine2
I wished to imply 〈 〉 paper is so crampedQQQQ 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?3 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”.!4
〈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.5
I shall hope to find you at home about 12.45 p.m. on Tuesday next: if unsuccessful I will call again6
yrs very sincerely | Geo: Henslow
Thanks for criticism of his paper [on Variation].
If external conditions induce variability, what is the internal cause?
Does not agree with Duke of Argyll that "Origin of Species" is an incorrect term.
Sees playfulness of animals as a mark of the Deity’s creative playfulness.
Will visit soon.
- climate and conditions
- creationism, religion
- reception of Darwinism
- species, speciation
- theory (including philosophy)
- wild vs domestic forms
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6063,” accessed on 23 July 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6063