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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George Bentham   23 June 1868

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

June 23 /68/

My dear Mr. Bentham

As your Address is somewhat of the nature of a verdict from a Judge, I do not know whether it is proper for me to do so, but I must and will thank you for the pleasure which you have given me.1 I am delighted at what you say about my book.2 I got so tired of it, that for months together I thought myself a perfect fool for having given up so much time in collecting & observing little facts, but now I do not care if a score of common critics speak as contemptuously of the book as did the Athenæum.3 I feel justified in this, for I have so complete a reliance on your judgment that I feel certain that I should have bowed to your judgment had it been as unfavourable, as it is the contrary.— What you say about the pangenesis quite satisfies me, & is as much, perhaps, as any one is justified in saying—4 I have read your whole Address with the greatest interest. It must have cost you a vast amount of trouble.—

With cordial thanks | Pray believe me | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

I fear that it is not likely that you have a superfluous copy of your address: if you have I shd much like to send one to Fritz Müller5 in the interior of Brazil.

By the way let me add that I discussed bud-variation chiefly from belief which is common to several persons, that all variability is related to sexual generation; I wished to show clearly that this was an error.—6


There is an annotated copy of an offprint of Bentham’s anniversary address to the Linnean Society, delivered on 25 May 1868, in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Bentham discussed Variation at the end of his address (Bentham 1868, pp. xciii–c). He closed the address with an account of how he thought scientific work should be undertaken, ending: ‘in this course it appears to me that no better model can be chosen than Charles Darwin’s “Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication”.’
The Athenæum published a scathing review of Variation on 15 February 1868, pp. 243–4.
Bentham said in his address that CD’s suppositions about pangenesis would be admitted by many as a provisional hypothesis, to be further tested, and to be discarded only when a more plausible one was brought forward (Bentham 1868, p. xcix). On pangenesis, see Variation 2: 357–404, and Correspondence vol. 13, letter to T. H. Huxley, 27 May [1865] and n. 7.
Fritz Müller.
CD discussed bud-variation in Variation 1: 373–411. In his address, Bentham commented that the examples CD chose of bud-variation seemed to have little bearing on the general question of origin by selection (Bentham 1868, p. xcvii). CD wrote at this point on his copy: ‘These facts show that variability independent of sexual reproduction’.


Expresses thanks and pleasure at what GB has said about his book [Variation] in GB’s [Presidential] Address [to the Linnean Society, 1868, Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. (1868): lvii–c]. "What you say about Pangenesis quite satisfies me".

CD discussed "bud-variation" to show that it was an error to believe all variability is due to sexual generation.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Bentham
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (GEB/1/3 f. 677)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6258,” accessed on 26 June 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16