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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. D. Mantell   5 June [1856–9]1

Down Bromley Kent

June 5th

My dear Sir

I am much obliged for your kind remembrance of my wish to hear particulars in regard to the iceberg seen by you & I thank you for having sent them to me.—2

I think that you were so kind as to answer fully all my previous questions.—

I am not now at work on Barnacles, but I shall like someday to see at Brit Museum, the specimens to which you refer.—

With many thanks, Pray believe me, My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. | When you return to N. Zealand, I hope that you will kindly remember that the aboriginal rat3 (& the Frog)4 are great desiderata in Natural History.


Mantell, normally resident in New Zealand, was in England during this period.
See letters to W. B. D. Mantell, 3 April [1856] and 10 April [1856].
Rattus exulans Peale, a small brown rat, was evidently introduced into New Zealand at an early period since its bones have been found with those of the moa. When CD visited New Zealand, the species was disappearing rapidly as a result of the arrival of the Norway rat (see Journal of researches, p. 511).
In Origin, p. 393, after stating that frogs are never found on oceanic islands, CD wrote: ‘I have, however, been assured that a frog exists on the mountains of the great island of New Zealand; but I suspect that this exception (if the information be correct) may be explained through glacial agency.’


Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Thanks WBDM for the particulars on the iceberg.

Will look up the barnacle specimen to which he refers at British Museum.

WBDM should remember when he returns to New Zealand that aboriginal rat and frog are "great desiderata in Natural History".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Walter Baldock Durrant Mantell
Sent from
Source of text
Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand (MS-Papers-0083-268)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1892,” accessed on 28 November 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6