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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Henry Holland   6 November [1872]1

72 Brook Street

Nov 6th

My dear Charles,

Having now reached the last Chapter of the volume, for which I am indebted to your kindness, I may fairly speak of the interest with which I have read it throughout.2 It perhaps adds somewhat less than I expected, to the evidence of the derivation of Man; but this you allude to yourself in the last sentence of the volume;3 & I am much disposed to think with you, that the confirmation was hardly needed.

Some detached comments I may make, when I have the pleasure of seeing you.

I have myself had a somewhat busy autumn of travel; going round the North Cape,4 under the light of the midnight sun, & 200 miles beyond, to the borders of Russian Lapland—reaching 71"30 of Latitude. Since that time I have been to Lord Rosse’s great Reflectors in Ireland,5 and still-more lately, have passed three weeks in the delicious Island of Madeira, warming myself there after the Arctic Seas: This is tolerable work for a gentleman in his 85th year.

Let me see you when you come to Town. Ever my dear Charles, your’s | affecly | H Holland


The year is established by Holland’s reference to his age; his 84th birthday was on 27 October 1872.
Holland had received a copy of Descent in February 1871 (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter from Henry Holland, 19 February [1871]). Holland’s name also appears on CD’s presentation list for Expression (Appendix V); it is possible that Holland refers to Expression, although the last sentence of Expression fits his description less well than the last sentence of Descent (see n. 3, below).
Descent 2: 405: I have given the evidence to the best of my ability; and we must acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system—with all these exalted powers—Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.
The North Cape is on an island off the north coast of Norway.
The late William Parsons, third earl of Rosse, had built two large reflecting telescopes on his estate in Ireland. The title and estate were inherited by his son Laurence, who was also an astronomer.


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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


Has finished reading Descent and sends some comments [missing].

Letter details

Letter no.
Henry Holland
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Brook St, 72
Source of text
DAR 166: 254
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8604,” accessed on 2 December 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20