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Darwin Correspondence Project

To H. W. Bates   15 December [1862]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Dec. 15th

Dear Bates

Many thanks for the paper & references on pairing of vars,—a subject which interests me much.— If I do not hear to contrary I will keep the paper sent, though I do not see in it much on pairing of varieties.2

I would not on any account give you trouble to copy the passages out of Zoologist;3 when I come to subject I can consult the volume in London.—

I am sorry for all your trouble & delay about artists &c; but it is a law of nature that they will give trouble & it is of no use fighting against a law of nature.4

Good luck to you. | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

By any chance did you ever come across Indians, hardly pressed by famine,— who were thus compelled to cook in new ways & try new vegetable productions?—5 If by any odd chance, you have, I shd be glad to hear; otherwise do not write to say that you do not know.—


The year is established by the relationship to the letter to H. W. Bates, 25 November [1862] (see n. 2, below).
In his letter to Bates of 25 November [1862], CD asked for information on the Lepidoptera, including ‘facts about similar varieties pairing’, and an estimate of how many he had caught and how many were in his collection. The paper and references sent by Bates are now missing. In the catalogue of his collection of offprints, CD listed a paper of Bates’s with the title ‘On Non-Crossing of Varieties’, recording that it was in the Transactions of the Entomological Society of London for 1858 (Vorzimmer 1964); the offprint corresponding to this description is absent from the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL, but it is likely that it was Bates 1857, which comprised notes on a wide range of South American Lepidoptera.
CD refers to the Zoologist: a popular miscellany of natural history; the reference may be to some of Bates’s own communications. In addition to several more formal papers, the Zoologist carried numerous letters from Bates between 1850 (volume 8) and 1857 (volume 15), describing his travels and collecting activities in the Amazonian region.
Bates was in the final stages of preparing for publication an account of his travels as a naturalist in South America (Bates 1863). In his preface (p. vi), Bates acknowledged the assistance of three artists in preparing the illustrations: Edward W. Robinson, Joseph Wolf, and Johann Baptist Zwecker.


Bates, Henry Walter. 1857. Notes on South American butterflies. [Read 7 September 1857.] Transactions of the Entomological Society of London n.s. 5 (1858–61): 1–11.

Bates, Henry Walter. 1863. The naturalist on the River Amazons. A record of adventures, habits of animals, sketches of Brazilian and Indian life, and aspects of nature under the equator, during eleven years of travel. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Vorzimmer, Peter James. 1964. The development of Darwin’s evolutionary thought after 1859. 2 vols. (PhD thesis: University of Cambridge).


Thanks for paper and references on variations [missing].

Regrets HWB’s trouble about artists, etc., saying such trouble is a law of nature.

Asks whether HWB has heard of starving Indians who are forced to cook in different ways, and eat new things.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Henry Walter Bates
Sent from
Source of text
Cleveland Health Sciences Library (Robert M. Stecher collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3861,” accessed on 28 February 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10