From Henry Holland to Erasmus Alvey Darwin 24 February 1
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 18502
Lacroix, as well as Laplace, has written a work sur “le Calcul des Probabilités”.3 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 per cent. It results from this, as matter of exact calculation, that a deviation of 2 per cent from the law so determined, would involve the same improbability as an ace being thrown 643 times in succession from a single die.
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.4 I recollect that the French mean stature is considy below both Belgian & English.—the highest at that time the adult agricultural type in Lancashire.
I shall be glad if anything I have thus hastily written is worth having
Ever yours very sincerely | H. Holland
References to works on probability;
statistics on proportion of sexes in births in England and Wales.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6632,” accessed on 29 April 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6632