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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. V. Carus   21 March [1868]1

Down Bromley Kent [4 Chester Place]

March 21st

My dear Sir—

Many thanks for your corrections   Lucaze is very bad.—2 I am writing this letter in London & have not here the first Edit.; but in the Reprint vol. 2 p.294, the number of the note is given 7 & is “Pagets Lectures &c p.257”, but by mistake is added to end of the previous note 6.—3 When I return home I shall find no doubt Prof. Hartmanns work; & if you have any communication with him please give him my sincere thanks.4

I am very much obliged to you for sending me so frankly your opinion on pangenesis, & I am ⁠⟨⁠sorry⁠⟩⁠ it is unfavourable; but I cannot quite understand your remark on pangenesis selection & the struggle for life not being more methodical.—5 I am not at all surprised at your unfavourable verdict; I know many, probably most, will come to the same conclusion. One English Review says it is much too complicated.6 I must tell you Huxley’s7 joke: “Genesis is difficult to believe, but Pangenesis is a deuced deal more difficult”.— Some of my friends are enthusiastic on the hypothesis, & to me it has been a great relief, as affording some material bond by which so many phenomena can be connected. Sir C. Lyell says to everyone, “you may not believe in pangenesis, but if you once ⁠⟨⁠understand⁠⟩⁠ it, you will never get it out of your mind”.8 And with this criticism I am perfectly content. All cases of inheritance & reversion & development now appear to me under a new light;—whether this is false or true. Sir H. Holland maintains that it will be accepted until some better hypothesis is invented;9 & with this also I am perfectly content. But I shall weary you.— I do hope that my book may be at least successful enough that you may not regret the great labour which you have bestowed on it.

With cordial thanks, believe me | My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. V. Carus, 17 March 1868.
CD probably refers to the article ‘Mr. Darwin on pangenesis’, which appeared in the London Review, 7 March 1868, pp. 227–8. The anonymous reviewer argued that this part of CD’s book was not so satisfactory to the general reader, because the successive steps in the argument were ‘indistinctly formulated’ (p. 227). CD’s copy of the review is in DAR 226.1: 90.
For Charles Lyell’s initial reaction to CD’s theory of pangenesis, see also Correspondence vol. 15, letter from A. R. Wallace, 22 October [1867]. Lyell had mentioned the theory in the latest edition of Principles of geology (Lyell 1867–8; see letter to Charles Lyell, [19 March 1868] and n. 4).
CD and Henry Holland may have discussed pangenesis while CD was in London, see letter from Henry Holland, 11 February [1868].


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

Hartmann, Robert. 1864. Die Haussäugethiere der Nilländer. Nach eigenen Beobachtungen geschildert. Annalen der Landwirtschaft in den Königlich Preußischen Staaten 43: 281–310, 44: 7–38, 208–29.

Lyell, Charles. 1867–8. Principles of geology or the modern changes of the earth and its inhabitants considered as illustrative of geology. 10th edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray.


Corrections for German translation of Variation.

Discusses Pangenesis. CD not surprised at JVC’s unfavourable opinion. Huxley’s joke that it is more difficult to believe than Genesis. Lyell’s and Sir H. Holland’s opinions. For CD, it provides a bond for connecting many phenomena.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Julius Victor Carus
Sent from
London, Chester Place, 4 Down letterhead
Source of text
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Slg. Darmstaedter Lc 1859: Darwin, Charles, Bl. 31–32)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6036,” accessed on 4 March 2024,

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