LETTER 219. TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, February 27th .
You cannot well imagine how much I have been pleased by what you say about pangenesis. None of my friends will speak out, except to a certain extent Sir H. Holland, who found it very tough reading, but admits that some view "closely akin to it" will have to be admitted. Hooker, as far as I understand him, which I hardly do at present, seems to think that the hypothesis is little more than saying that organisms have such and such potentialities. What you say exactly and fully expresses my feelings-- viz., that it is a relief to have some feasible explanation of the various facts, which can be given up as soon as any better hypothesis is found. It has certainly been an immense relief to my mind; for I have been stumbling over the subject for years, dimly seeing that some relation existed between the various classes of facts. I now hear from H. Spencer that his views quoted in my footnote refer to something quite distinct, as you seem to have perceived. (219/1. This letter is published in "Life and Letters," III., page 79.)
LETTER 220. A.R. WALLACE TO CHARLES DARWIN. Hurstpierpoint, March 1st, 1868.
...Sir C. Lyell spoke to me as if he has greatly admired pangenesis. I am very glad H. Spencer at once acknowledges that his view was something quite distinct from yours. Although, as you know, I am a great admirer of his, I feel how completely his view failed to go to the root of the matter, as yours does. His explained nothing, though he was evidently struggling hard to find an explanation. Yours, as far as I can see, explains everything in growth and reproduction--though, of course, the mystery of life and consciousness remains as great as ever.
Parts of the chapter on pangenesis I found hard reading, and have not quite mastered yet, and there are also throughout the discussions in Volume II. many bits of hard reading, on minute points which we, who have not worked experimentally at cultivation and crossing, as you have done, can hardly see the importance of, or their bearing on the general question.
If I am asked, I may perhaps write an article on the book for some periodical, and, if so, shall do what I can to make "Pangenesis" appreciated...
(220/1. In "Nature," May 25th, 1871, page 69, appeared a letter on pangenesis from Mr. A.C. Ranyard, dealing with the difficulty that the "sexual elements produced upon the scion" have not been shown to be affected by the stock. Mr. Darwin, in an annotated copy of this letter, disputes the accuracy of the statement, but adds: "THE BEST OBJECTION YET RAISED." He seems not to have used Mr. Ranyard's remarks in the 2nd edition of the "Variation of Animals and Plants," 1875.)
LETTER 221. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, May 21st .