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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. H. Lewes   28 July [1868]1

Freshwater I. of Wight

July 28

My dear Mr Lewes

I need not say that I have been much pleased by your note.2 The friendless value friends, & Pangenesis has but few, though deserving I feel sure some good friends. Hooker seems to think that the whole view is almost self-obvious, but I cannot agree to this, for it is now about 28 years since I began to try to tie together the various forms of generation, the repairs of injuries, inheritance &c. & succeeded only about two years ago.3

You will see that I am away from home: my health failed about a month ago, so that I cd do nothing, & I came here for absolute idleness. Nevertheless I sent this morning to my servant at Down in the hope that he wd be able to find the Fort. Rev.4 If he succeeds I shall enjoy slowly beginning to read all the articles again & will make any notes which may occur to me, but as I do not suppose I shall read for more than 12 an hour a day I shall be very slow. I fear moreover that we differ so fundamentally on one important point that my remarks will be of no use to you, & I do not think I shall have many on any other point to make—

I am delighted to hear that you intend publishing the articles as a separate book;—whilst reading them I thought over & over again what a pity it was that they shd be almost lost in a periodical.5

When I return home in about a month’s time I will not forget to send you a photograph, & I shd be very much obliged if you wd send me yours, as it is always very satisfactory to have an image of one’s correspondent in one’s mind.6

Believe me | yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the address of the letter: the Darwins were at Freshwater on the Isle of Wight from 17 July to 20 August 1868 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
See letter from G. H. Lewes, 26 July 1868 and n. 2. CD refers to Joseph Dalton Hooker; see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 26[–7] February 1868. For more on CD’s ideas on heredity and generation, which developed over a thirty-year period, see Kohn 1980, Hodge 1985, and Olby 1985. On CD’s hypothesis of pangenesis, see Geison 1969 and Endersby 2003.
Lewes had asked CD to send him notes on his articles on CD in the Fortnightly Review (Lewes 1868b; see letter from G. H. Lewes, 26 July 1868). The servant was probably Joseph Parslow.
See letter from G. H. Lewes, 26 July 1868. No photograph of Lewes has been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL.


Endersby, Jim. 2003. Darwin on generation, pangenesis and sexual selection. In The Cambridge companion to Darwin, edited by Jonathan Hodge and Gregory Radick. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Geison, Gerald L. 1969. Darwin and heredity: the evolution of his hypothesis of pangenesis. Journal of the History of Medicine 24: 375–411.

Hodge, M. J. S. 1985. Darwin as a lifelong generation theorist. In The Darwinian heritage, edited by David Kohn. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press in association with Nova Pacifica (Wellington, NZ).

Kohn, David. 1980. Theories to work by: rejected theories, reproduction, and Darwin’s path to natural selection. Studies in History of Biology 4: 67–170.

Lewes, George Henry. 1868b. Mr. Darwin’s hypotheses. Fortnightly Review n.s. 3: 353–73, 611–28; 4: 61–80, 492–509.

Olby, Robert. 1985. Origins of Mendelism. 2d edition. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.


Thanks GHL for his support of Pangenesis.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Henry Lewes
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 185: 41
Physical description
LS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6293,” accessed on 23 June 2024,

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