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Darwin Correspondence Project

To H. W. Bates   30 March [1867]1

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

March 30

Dear Bates

Would not the tabulating the Horned Beetles be very troublesome:2 if not I certainly shd. like to hear the result. But in truth it would be a pity for you to waste or take up much time over the job, for some general remarks would do very well for my object.

Your remarks in answer to my lady-friend (Miss Tollet daughter of late Mr Tollet of Betley Hall)3 are interesting & fairly satisfactory; but it would have been better if it could have been stated what “other objects” they first mocked; or if it could be shown that some species mocked dull-coloured Heliconidæ, for then as the latter gained their splendid colours so would the mockers.—4 Not that I feel a shadow of doubt about the truth of your theory— it must be true.5 Wallace told me in a letter of the pretty case of the white moth & the young Turkeys.6

I suppose you have, of course, seen his letter to the Field; but I enclose a couple of copies.—7

Many thanks about Junonia— whenever I go to B. Museum, I will ask to see the genus & will look at the differences & similarities in the sexes.—; it seems a capital case. You have indeed given me most valuable information:—8

Dear Bates | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

I have just finished hearing read aloud your Amazon Book, & liked it better 2d time even than 1st time.9

I shall send your letter to Miss. T, as she begged me to do.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from H. W. Bates, 29 March 1867.
See letter from H. W. Bates, 29 March 1867. Emma Darwin recorded in her diary (DAR 242) that Georgina Tollet visited Down House from 7 to 21 March 1867. Georgina’s father, George Tollet, had resided at Betley Hall, Staffordshire (Freeman 1978). Georgina, a childhood friend of Emma, had read and commented on a manuscript of Origin (see Correspondence vol. 7).
CD mentioned this idea in Descent 1: 412. Bates had speculated about the early stages of mimicry in the development of Leptalis butterfly species that came to resemble Heliconidae species (see letter from H. W. Bates, 29 March 1867 and n. 7).
CD had praised Bates’s paper on mimicry (Bates 1861), and had written a positive review of it (see Correspondence vol. 11, and ‘Review of Bates on mimetic butterflies’). CD added a discussion of Bates’s discovery of mimicry in butterflies to the fourth edition of Origin (see Origin 4th ed., pp. 503–6).
For the case of turkeys rejecting a moth, see the letter from A. R. Wallace, 24 February [1867] and nn. 5 and 6. This case had been discussed at the 3 December 1866 meeting of the Entomological Society of London; in Descent 1: 411, CD cited the report of this meeting as confirming Bates’s hypothesis that the Heliconidae were protected from attack by birds by a secretion or odour.
For CD’s earlier praise of The naturalist on the river Amazons (Bates 1863), see Correspondence vol. 11.


Bates, Henry Walter. 1861. Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon valley. Lepidoptera: Heliconidæ. [Read 21 November 1861.] Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 23 (1860–2): 495–566.

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.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Origin 4th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 4th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1866.

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.

‘Review of Bates on mimetic butterflies’: [Review of "Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon valley", by Henry Walter Bates.] [By Charles Darwin.] Natural History Review n.s. 3 (1863): 219–24. [Collected papers 2: 87–92.]


Would like tabulation of horned beetles if not too troublesome, but would easily settle for general remarks.

On the subject of other species mocking Heliconidae, asks whether full-coloured ones were mocked. Expresses full belief in HWB’s theory.

Encloses a copy of A. R. Wallace’s letter to the Field requesting observations on which caterpillars birds devour.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Henry Walter Bates
Sent from
Source of text
Cleveland Health Sciences Library (Robert M. Stecher collection), FF7
Physical description
4pp enc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5476,” accessed on 25 January 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15