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Darwin Correspondence Project

To P. L. Sclater   11 November [1870]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Nov. 11

My dear Mr. Sclater

I will most gladly accept your kindness.—2 I look at the delay caused as nothing comparatively to the great benefit.— I never expected or hoped for many criticisms, but I still hope you will point out any serious error,—whatever trouble this may cause to my Printers.— I suppose I shall soon receive Revises, but Messrs Clowes3 sometimes delay the 2d proofs till 23 of a whole vol. is corrected in first proof.—

Mr Hudson’s paper is very interesting & it pleases me to see so staunch a hater of evolution a little staggered at the end of his paper.—4

Yours very truly obliged | Ch. Darwin

I will not now waste quite so much time in trying to find every name quoted in some book; so you will doubly help me.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to P. L. Sclater, 9 November 1870.
Sclater’s letter to CD has not been found, but he had evidently reiterated his offer to read the proof-sheets of the chapters on birds and mammals in Descent (see letter to P. L. Sclater, 9 November 1870).
William Clowes & Sons were printing Descent.
Sclater had sent CD proofs of William Henry Hudson’s letters to the Zoological Society of London (Hudson 1870; see letter to P. L. Sclater, 9 November 1870). CD may refer to a passage at the end of a letter read at the Zoological Society on 23 June 1870 (Hudson 1870, p. 550), on the waste of other birds’ eggs caused by Molothrus bonariensis: I often wonder that the little birds in whose nests they lay do not become extinct, or all but extinct, by their means.... How strange that it should be so disorderly in the midst of the general order of nature! Or must we come to consider these habits of the Molothrus bonariensis ‘not as especially endowed or created instincts, but as small consequences of one general law,’ namely, transition? The quotation is from Origin, p. 244, where CD had said that it was more satisfactory to him to see such instincts as the cuckoo ejecting other birds from the nest, ants making slaves, and ichneumonidae larvae feeding within the bodies of live caterpillars as the consequences of one general law, ‘namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die’, rather than as specially endowed or created instincts. Molothrus bonariensis is the shiny cowbird.


Accepts PLS’s offer to read proofs of [Descent].

W. H. Hudson’s paper is interesting.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Philip Lutley Sclater
Sent from
Source of text
Edward Ford (private collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7366,” accessed on 23 July 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18