To G. R. Waterhouse 8 July 
Down Farnborough Kent
My dear Waterhouse
Two of my Boys1 are become ardent Lepidopterists, & I want much to know whether there is any systematic work on Lepidoptera, tolerably easy. I really shd be very much obliged if you could inform me. I look at it as fine practice for the intellect making out the names from descriptions, & but idle work, mere collecting or comparing with mere figures.— I have Stephens work,2 but he uses such dreadfully hard words; & there is no Synopsis. Westwood in his “Modern Classification”3 has a Synopsis at end, but there it is most extraordinary but he gives no characters for the Families & Sub-families, only generic descriptions.—
John Lubbock has lent me Humphreys & Westwoods magnificent work,4 but here again there is nothing like a Synopsis; & it would take hours to go dipping through the volume to find the several Families, & pick out the essential characters out of the diffuse descriptions. Does a Book such as I want, exist on British Lepidoptera?
How strange if such does not exist. Will you be so kind as to illuminate me.—
Yours most truly | C. Darwin
For the Butterflies Stephens does pretty well, as he gives some sort of a Synopsis; but what wretched latinised English he does use.5
Asks GRW if there is any easy systematic work on Lepidoptera for his sons. Considers making out the names from descriptions fine practice for the intellect; mere collecting is idle work.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1713,” accessed on 27 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1713