Has finished vol. 1 [of Naturalist on the river Amazons]. CD praises book as "best ever published in England".
The review in the Athenæum was cold, as always, and insolent.
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
I have finished vol. I. My criticisms may be condensed into a single sentence, namely that it is the best book of Natural History Travels ever published in England. Your style seems to me admirable. Nothing can be better than the discussion on the struggle for existence & nothing better than the descriptions on the Forest scenery. It is a grand book, & whether or not it sells quickly it will last. You have spoken out boldly on Species; & boldness on this subject seems to get rarer & rarer.— How beautifully illustrated it is. The cut on the back is most tasteful. I heartily congratulate you on its publication.—
The Athenæum was rather cold, as it always is, & insolent in highest degree about your bending facts.— Have you seen the ``Reader'': I can send it you, if you have not seen it.
I have got spare copies of my article in N. Hist Review, which I will send you on Monday & you can use or burn them as you like.
I look forward with real pleasure to vol. 2.—
Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin
I will keep copies of Review till I know your London address.
- f1 4107.f1The year is established by the reference to Bates 1863.
- f2 4107.f2Bates 1863. Bates's account of his eleven years in South America was published in two volumes; CD received a presentation copy (see letter to H. W. Bates, 9 April ).
- f3 4107.f3CD's annotated copy of Bates 1863 is in the Darwin Library--CUL (see Marginalia 1: 35--7). CD wrote notes on a sheet pasted into the back of the first volume of Bates 1863; these include a note relating to p. 55, `competition in the Tropics', where Bates described (Bates 1863, 1: 54--5):
the struggle which necessarily exists amongst vegetable forms in these crowded forests, where individual is competing with individual and species with species, all striving to reach light and air in order to unfold their leaves and perfect their organs of fructification.The forest scenery of Par´a is described on pages 44--9; see also pp. 290--3.
- f4 4107.f4See, for example, Bates 1863, 1: 255--65, in which he discusses the origin of species and natural selection.
- f5 4107.f5In the preface to The naturalist on the river Amazons, Bates acknowledged his indebtedness to Edward W. Robinson for the illustrations of smaller animals, and to Josef Wolf and Johann Baptist Zwecker for depicting most of the larger subjects and scenes (Bates 1863 1: vi). The first volume included eighteen illustrations.
- f6 4107.f6There is no woodcut on the back of CD's existing copy. However, each of the two volumes of Bates 1863 bears on its front cover a gold-embossed illustration of a forest house surrounded by palms; standing in the foreground is a person holding a container on his or her head.
- f7 4107.f7See letter to J. D. Hooker, [17 April 1863] and n. 15. The reference is to the Athenæum, 25 April 1863, p. 489.
- f8 4107.f8A favourable review of Bates 1863 appeared in the Reader, 18 April 1863, p. 378.
- f9 4107.f9CD's anonymous `Review of Bates on mimetic butterflies' appeared in the April 1863 number of the Natural History Review.