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Darwin Correspondence Project

To H. W. Bates   2 October 1861


Oct. 2, 1861

My dear Sir

I write one line to thank you for your curious additional information on the Volucella; It will probably be years before I use the facts, but I shall be very curious to see the specimens and have so curious a case in my mind.1

I am very glad to hear that you have begun your Book;2 it will no doubt be a difficult Book to write and will require much rewriting; but I fully believe that you will succeed and make an excellent Book— I am heartily glad that you have undertaken the work. At any time I will write to Mr. Murray.

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

I have been so far rather idle of late, that I have been indulging in some extraneous work, and am going to publish a little work on the Fertilization of Orchids by Insects.


See letter from H. W. Bates, 30 September 1861. CD does not appear ever to have made use of the information on Volucella. In the fourth edition of Origin he included a lengthy discussion of Bates’s cases of mimicry in certain butterflies of the Amazon valley, referring to these as the ‘most remarkable case of analogical resemblance ever recorded’ and an ‘excellent illustration of the principle of natural selection’ (Origin 4th ed., pp. 502–6).
See letter to H. W. Bates, 25 September [1861]. Bates’s description of his travels, The naturalist on the river Amazons, was published by John Murray in 1863.


Thanks HWB for information on Volucella, although he does not know when he will use it.

Is glad HWB is beginning his book.

CD is beginning work on his orchid book.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Henry Walter Bates
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 143
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3274,” accessed on 18 August 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9