From George Henslow 5 December 1871
17, Colville Terrace West, | Notting Hill, | W.
I have frequently been compelled to stand up amongst my clerical brethren & others on behalf not only of Evolution, but to condemn the wild & false assertions of your being an Atheist and all the rest of it!1 But I should very much like to hear from you if the following impression which I have is correct: viz. that when you speak of Chance in connection with Nat: Selection you leave it to be understood that higher natural laws (but undiscoverable at present) cause the issue of specific forms out of those ‘chance’ variations &c.2
If this be correct:—& I gather corroboration of such being your idea, from the topmost paragraph on p. 396. Vol II Descent of Man:3—all those calculations of Mathematicians (vide: to wit Mivart’s Genesis of Sp: pp 59 &c) are beside the real question entirely:4 Moreover if my idea be true, it removes the “Lucretian” colour to your opinions I have so frequently heard stated: and steadily oppose5
truly yours | Geo: Henslow
Has frequently defended evolution and natural selection among his clergy brethren.
Now elicits CD’s views on chance.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8097,” accessed on 19 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-8097