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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. V. Wollaston1   [27 June 1856]2

it sd. have in any way affected (for even a single night) the functions of your alimentary canal; &, could I have foreseen this, I should most certainly have given an anti-dyspeptic chapter, of a sedative tendency.—3

As regards your question about the other Orders of Madeiran insects, I believe I can say thus much: that they do not, apparently, include forms generally anomalous, or at all comparable with the Coleoptera. Indeed that Atlantic region (that continuous Atlantic province which it puts you in such a rage to think about) was I believe, strictly, a Beetle-land (what a glorious place it must have been!),—a Scarabæoideous area of radiation; numbering amongst its endemic forms few remarkable modifications (I mean primary modifications, of course) which were not Coleopterous. It might be defined as a Scarabæo- and Helico-metropolis;4 & magnificent sport it must have been, to our Atlantic ancestors, to give free scope to their hunting propensities in such a land: it makes one’s modern entomological blood curdle

CD annotations

1.1 it sd… . tendency.— 1.3] crossed pencil
2.3 Indeed … curdle 2.11] crossed pencil
Top of first page: ‘June 27/56’


Wollaston is identified from the handwriting.
Dated by CD’s annotation.
A reference to CD’s criticism of theories of land-bridges as proposed by Edward Forbes, Joseph Dalton Hooker, Wollaston, and Charles Lyell, which he expressed in the letter to Charles Lyell, 16 [June 1856].
CD discussed this view in Natural selection, p. 253.


Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.


Madeiran insects. Regards the "Atlantic province" as a centre of the Coleoptera.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Vernon Wollaston
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 181: 137
Physical description
inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1912,” accessed on 25 June 2022,

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