To H. W. Bates 4 May 1
My dear Mr Bates.
Hearty thanks for your most interesting letter & three very valuable extracts.2 I am very glad that you have been looking at the S. temperate insects. I wish that the materials in B. Museum had been richer, but I should think the case of the S. American Carabi, supported by some other case, would be worth a paper. To us who theorise I am sure the case is very important. Do the S. American Carabi differ more from the other species, than do, for instance, the Siberian & European & N. American & Himalayan (if the genus exists there); if they do, I entirely agree with you that the difference would be too great to account for by the recent Glacial period. I agree, also, with you in utterly rejecting an independent origin for these Carabi.—
There is a difficulty, as far as I know, in our ignorance whether insects change quickly in time; you could judge of this by knowing how far closely allied Coleoptera generally have much restricted ranges, for this almost implies rapid change. What a curious case is offered by Land-Shells, which become modified in every sub-district, & have yet retained the same general structure from very remote geological periods. When working at glacial period, I remember feeling much suprise how few Birds, no mammals & very few sea-mollusca seemed to have crossed, or deeply entered, the intertropical regions during the cold period. Insects, from what you say, seem to come under the same category. Plants seem to migrate more readily than animals.3 Do not underrate the length of Glacial period; Forbes used to argue that it was equivalent to the whole of the pleistocene period in the warmer latitudes.—4 I believe with you that we shall be driven to an older Glacial period.—5
I am very sorry to hear about B. Museum; it would be hopeless to contend against any one supported by Owen.6 Perhaps another chance might occur before very long. How would it be to speak to Owen, as soon as your own mind is made up? From what I have heard, since talking to you, I fear strongest personal interest with Minister is requisite for Pension.—
Farewell & may success attend the “acerrimo propugnatori”7 Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin
I deeply wish you could find some situation in which you could give your time to Science; it would be a great thing for science & for yourself.—
Thanks for letter and "valuable" extracts.
If S. American Carabi differ more from other species than do those from other distant locations (e.g., Siberia, Europe, etc.), CD agrees that difference would be too great to have occurred in the recent glacial age; CD also rejects independent origin. Plants seem to migrate more readily than animals. HWB should not underrate length of glacial period; CD also believes they will be driven to an older glacial period.
Sorry about news of British Museum – hopeless to contend against anyone supported by Owen.
CD dearly wishes HWB could find a situation in which he could give time to science.
- Letter no.
- Darwin, C. R.
- Bates, H. W.
- Sent from
- Source of text
- Cleveland Health Sciences Library (Robert M. Stecher collection).
- Physical description
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3532,” accessed on 16 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3532