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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Henry Holland   15 January [1862]1

Brook Street

Jany 15

My dear Charles.

I have read with very great interest your Paper on the sexual relations of the two Forms of the Primula.2 You are right in speaking of the result of these observations as a most surprising fact;3 for such in truth it is, in every sense & sort— A fact, moreover, tending to expound various anomalies, which surround this great problem of the propagation of life.

The essential mystery of generation,—(whether of the like or unlike)—may never be solved. I can myself see no road to it. But researches of this kind carry us closer to the point; & better define, that which our faculties may be unable to reach

I am sorry to hear from Erasmus4 of the subjugation of yourself & all your family, by this Epidemic, which we call Influenza. It continues to be very rife both in London & the country. My theory of it, is the same I have more fully propounded for Asiatic Cholera.5

I have still no letter from Lord Tankerville.6 But that I think he will be in Town for the meeting of Parliament, when I can see him personally, I would take the chance of sending another letter.

Ever your’s very truly | H Holland


The year is established by the reference to CD’s paper, ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula (see nn. 2 and 3, below).
‘Dimorphic condition in Primula; Holland’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for this paper (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix III).
Holland refers to CD’s brother, Erasmus Alvey Darwin.
Holland refers to his ‘hypothesis of organic or animalcule life as the source of the Asiatic Cholera’ (Holland 1855, p. 333; see also pp. 562–608). He stated that the arguments in favour of this hypothesis, ‘if valid, must apply equally to the epidemic influenzas now under our notice’ (p. 333). There is a copy of Holland 1855 in the Darwin Library–CUL.
The reference is to Charles Augustus Bennet, sixth earl of Tankerville (see letter from Henry Holland, [3–14] January [1862]).


Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]


Has read CD’s Primula paper.

Regrets to hear that CD and family are victims to the influenza epidemic.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henry Holland
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Brook St
Source of text
DAR 166.2: 239
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3390,” accessed on 2 March 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10