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Darwin Correspondence Project

DCP-LETT-6063

From George Henslow   28 March 1868

St Joh〈ns Pars〉onage | St Johnswood | NW

3/28/68

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

Footnotes

1
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.
2
Henslow refers to Variation 2: 250–92. The chapters concern the causes of variability and the direct action of external conditions.
3
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.
4
See Henslow 1867, p. 269. Henslow refers to George Douglas Campbell and Campbell 1867, p. 230.
5
For Henslow’s remarks on humorous and grotesque elements in nature, see Henslow 1867, pp. 268–9.
6
The Tuesday following 28 March 1868 was 31 March. CD returned to Down on 1 April (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix II)).

Summary

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.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-6063
From
Henslow, George
To
Darwin, C. R.
Sent from
St John’s Wood
Source of text
DAR 166: 165
Physical description
4pp damaged

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6063,” accessed on 23 July 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6063

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