Letter icon
Letter 7197

Bates, H. W. to Darwin, C. R.

20 May 1870

Summary

Concern over Wallace’s book [Contributions to the theory of natural selection (1870)] and its apparent backsliding from Darwinian theory. HWB suggests that only CD is capable of criticising the book.

HWB hopes not too much was made over his few comments on man in M. F. Somerville’s book [Physical geography, revised ed. (1870)].

Transcription

Royal Geographic Society | 15, Whitehall Place, S.W.

May 20 1870

My dear Mr Darwin

I have been having some conversation with the Editor of the“Academy” about Mr Wallace’s last book & the appearance ofbacksliding from the Darwinian theory which it contains.f1 Other sincerefriends of the pure truth have expressed a little surprise & bewildermentat the same phenomenon. The views of friend Wallace are so plausible& suit so well wide-spread prejudices that you no doubt think with methey ought to be controverted. But who is to criticise them? No onebut yourself. I do not think anyone else would have the presentinsight into the fallacy but yourself: to others it would requiremuch study & labour to marshal the arguments. I said so to Mr Appleton& he begged of me to write to you in support of a request he isgoing to make to you to write him a short article as review of thebook.f2

When you were last in town I spoke to you about some sentences I hadwritten on Man, interwoven in last chapter of Mrs Somerville’s book.f3It weighs on my conscience to think that you took too much noticeof what I said: for I do not really think there is much in the matterworthy of your attention

Yours sincerely | H W Bates

DAR 160: 88

true

Footnotes

f1
Bates refers to Charles Edward Cutts Birchall Appleton, AlfredRussel Wallace, and Wallace 1870a. See letter fromC. E. C. B. Appleton, 18 May [1870] and nn. 2 and 3.
f2
See letter from C. E. C. B. Appleton, 18 May [1870].
f3
CD was in London from 5 to 12 March 1870 (EmmaDarwin’s diary (DAR 242)). Bates had revised the sixth edition of Mary Somerville’s bookPhysical geography (Somerville 1870).
Maximized viewPrint letter