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Letter 1861

Darwin, C. R. to Holland, Miss

[May 1856]

    Summary Add

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    An entomologist who has been staying with CD [T. V. Wollaston] says the pupa she sent would turn into a lackey moth.

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    Adds that the great destruction of birds in the winter preceding the last is probable cause of survival of caterpillars and resulting numerous cocoons.

Transcription

[Down]

My dear Miss Holland

Fortunately for my entomological credit, a first-rate Entomologist has been staying with me, to whom I showed the pupa which you sent me, & he says it would turn into one of the Lackey moths, probably the Eriogaster lanestris.— Last summer moths & butterflies abounded in an unprecedented degree, & entomologists attribute this abundance, I believe rightly, to the great destruction of birds during the winter previous to that just passed; & the scarcity of birds saved many caterpillars which otherwise would have been devoured, & hence the numerous cocoons on your Hawthorn Hedges.—

Emma demands the rest of this note, so pray believe me, dear Miss Holland, yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 1861.f1
    Miss Holland has not been identified. The Darwins and Wedgwoods were related to the Holland family.
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    f2 1861.f2
    Dated by the reference to Thomas Vernon Wollaston, who visited the Darwins from 25 to 28 April 1856 (Emma Darwin's diary).
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    f3 1861.f3
    See n. 2, above. In the manuscript, ‘Mr Wollaston’ was interlined in a different hand, possibly Emma Darwin's, after ‘first-rate Entomologist’ and, in the same hand, ‘Eriogaster lanestris’ was written above CD's text.
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    f4 1861.f4
    The weather in January and February 1855 had been particularly severe (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to W. D. Fox, 19 March [1855] and n. 7). CD refers to the large-scale destruction of birds in his garden during that winter in Origin, p. 68.
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    f5 1861.f5
    Emma Darwin's note has been excised.
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