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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Henry Holland   [10 February 1863]1

Q Anne Street2


My dear Charles,

After you left me yesterday I found the note, which I had sought for unsuccessfully, touching the particular form of Atavism, in alternate generations.3

It was Burdach (whose name you well know) who described this result from averages largely taken.4 My note does not go beyond this mere fact; but having the name of the observer, you will be able easily to find further information, if the point is of any value to you.

When you happen to be in Town again, let me know it, that I may have the satisfaction of talking over with you many matters of fact & thought, on this most interesting & obscure of all subjects—the hereditary transmission of physical characters, of instincts, & of mental faculties.

Ever yours affy | H Holland


The date is established by the reference to CD’s stay in London (see n. 3, below); the only Tuesday during this time was 10 February.
Holland had apparently called at Erasmus Alvey Darwin’s house, 6 Queen Anne Street, where CD was staying at that time (see n. 3, below), and left this note.
CD was in London from 4 to 14 February 1863. Between January and April 1863, CD wrote a draft of the chapters on inheritance for Variation (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix II)).
Reversion, or atavism, is discussed in Variation 2: 28–61; however, the work of Karl Friedrich Burdach is not cited in this discussion, and the reference has not been identified.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Cites [C. F.?] Burdach as the source of a note on atavism in alternate generations.

Wants to talk to CD about inheritance.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henry Holland, 1st baronet
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Queen Anne St
Source of text
DAR 166: 243
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3959,” accessed on 4 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11