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Letter 227

Darwin, C. R. to Hope, F. W.

1 Nov 1833

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    Tierra del Fuego and the barren coasts of Patagonia are "singularly unfavourable to the insect world". In the tropics, however, CD captured minute Coleoptera by the hundreds – which should result in his bringing home many undescribed species.

Transcription

Buenos Ayres

November 1st. 1833

My dear Hope

I have many times, since leaving England, intended writing to you.—but as many times put it off.— I believe the chief cause has been a conscience not quite free from shame.— I am not the worthy slayer of sufficient Hecatombs to venture to write to my old Instructor.— When I last saw you in London my promises were great, my performance I grieve to say does not equal them.— The Beagle for the last year has been cruizing either amongst the islands of Tierra del Fuego or on the barren coast of Patagonia.— Both these regions are most singularly unfavourable to the insect world:— In Tierra del I captured several Alpine Carabidous beetles, & one Carabus: & on the sandy desarts of the latter country, there are many of the Heteromeri.— But these in absolute numbers are not to be compared to the booty in one of your Achilles-like onsets. Before we came to these Southern regions inhospitable to Entomologists & Insects, I did pretty well amongst the Coleoptera.— I often thought of you, when sweeping the rich vegetation of the Tropics I captured the smaller Coleoptera by hundreds.— If, as I believe you told me, Europæan cabinets contain few of the minuter Beetles from tropical countries, I shall bring home a very great number of undescribed species both from Brazil & the Rio Plata.— It may be a foolish fear, but I often wonder, if any person will be found who will describe so many minute insects. This fear is rather a drawback in my collecting.— Excepting Coleoptera, pudet pigetque mihi, I have done scarcely anything. The incumbrance of a box & fly net is not trifling.—when I have to carry Geological tools fire-arms, spirit-bottle for reptiles &c &c. I hope however to improve, & be more diligent in this respect.— At Rio de Janeiro I took many water beetles, most exceedingly small Hydropori, Hyphidri, Hydrobii &c &c.— Also a fine species of that curious sculptured genus (I forget the name) which lives beneath stones in running water.— I was much interested by finding this; it could not fail vividly to recall some of our walks at Netley; in a like manner chacing Cicindela niveas amongst the burning san<d> hills most forcibly reminded me of the Hybri< > at Barmouth.— Judging from the Pamphlet, you gave me & which I have found very useful, the insects of the Rio Plata are tolerably well-known. I regret therefore the less, not having worked as hard as I could have done.—

I took, the other day, a fine Leionotus.—

If you feel inclined I should much enjoy hearing from you. I know nothing of the scientific world of London.— The last thing I heard about you, was an age since, viz, that you were on your road to Germany & that Eyton failed to accompany you.— What is Eyton doing? He must be by this time a famous naturalist. remember me most kindly to him. I had hoped he would have by this time been wandering in some Terra incognita.— My direction is H.M.S. Beagle Valparaiso, if you will condescend to write to so recreant an Entomologist, I shall be very much obliged.— Remember me to the few friends I have amongst the Naturalists & Believe me dear Hope.— Your most obliged disciple. | Chas Darwin.—

Remember me most kindly to all your family, & my congratulations (although they arrive rather late) to your brother.—

Floreat Entomologia

I shall much enjoy some scientifico-entomologico-Gossip.— Once more Farewell.—

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 227.f1
    Probably Lacordaire 1830. A copy in the Darwin Library--CUL (`Philosophical tracts') is lightly annotated.
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