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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   5 September [1856]1


Sept 5

Dear Lubbock

In a wretched Brochure by Gerard2 I find the following, but he is not to be trusted & he does not give authority “Le Lycus miniatus, Lepidopt. des parties boréales de l’Europe, se trouve sur le Cantal,3 et l’on a decouvert en Suisse le Prionus depsacarius de la Suède. On retrouve sous notre climat a une élévation de 12 a 1,500 metres l’Apollon qui est commun dans les montagnes de Suède.”4

Ever yours | C. D.

Please do not forget acreage of Larch Wood

Georgy wd. delight to see your insects, but do not send them, without you can quite safely.—5

I forgot to ask after the Railway,6 my invariable question.—


The year is provided by CD’s reference to the geographical distribution of alpine butterflies, which was relevant for his work on chapter 11 of his species book (see n. 4, below).
CD refers to Frédéric Gérard’s pamphlet, an extract from the Dictionnaire universel d’histoire naturelle, on ‘Géographie zoologique’ (Gérard 1845). CD first read the work in 1845 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 119: 16a). His copy of the pamphlet is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
A region of south central France.
Quoted, with some minor errors, from Gérard 1845, p. 136 (p. 27 of CD’s reprint). The passage is marked in CD’s copy. CD was interested in these beetles and butterflies as evidence that northern species had migrated south during the cold period and remained behind at higher altitudes when the ice retreated toward the pole. The information from Gérard 1845 is cited in Natural selection, p. 535 n. 2, without attribution.
George Howard Darwin, aged 11, was an ardent Lepidopterist.
John Lubbock’s father, John William Lubbock, was chairman of the railway company set up to build an extension to Beckenham (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to W. E. Darwin, [25 April 1855]). CD was a stock holder in the venture.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Gérard, Frédéric. 1845. Géographie zoologique. Vol. 6, pp. 112–92, of Orbigny, Alcide Charles Victor Dessalines d’, ed., Dictionnaire universel d’histoire naturelle. 13 vols. and 3 vols. atlas. Paris. 1841–9.

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.


Quotes passage from [Frédéric?] Gerard on distribution of certain Lepidoptera.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 263: 9 (EH 88206458)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1949,” accessed on 23 July 2024,

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