skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From F. W. Hope   15 January 1834

37 Upper Seymour St. | London.

Jany: 15th. 1834

Dear Darwin

Your letter of Nov 1st. 1833, has just come to hand, & I am glad to find the old Adage is true, “caelum non animum mutant qui transmare curraent”1 I anxiously expected intelligence from you last year particularly so as Eyton I understand received a letter from you, “better late than never” is sufficient for me. Your description of Terra del Fuego with respect to Alpine Entomology I expected. I still think however it must have some peculiarities & particularly so if Volcanoes are in a state of activity there. It appears to me that the extremes of North & South will yield us the same forms the greater number of families of the Insect world are guided more by Vegetable than by Geological situation. With regard to temperature we want facts, to guide us; from some little attention to Geographical distribution I find it no certain rule at least very liable to exceptions. It chiefly holds good with respect to altitude which is variable in many places. In some places on Mountains at certain heights the same genera will be found, but here again we cannot fail to remark discrepancies, take for instance two Hills at the distance of 10 miles apart, at the same height & temperature you will find the forms differ considerably & often in toto if the Vegetation is different. You must however always observe on what side of a Mountain you capture your Insects as the South side has vegetation differing generally with north. It is probable also that the Strata have much to do in reference to certain families, some Rocks retain the Heat longer than others & drive Insects to the plains for want of moisture, many families delight in burning sands witness the Cicindelidae The Basaltic hills (if such) of Terra del Fuego are barren of Insects, so indeed are all Basaltic regions as far as I can learn. If you can send any facts respecting Insects in the vicinity of Volcanoes I shall be much obliged to you Several genera love volcanic situations, many others are not found in such places. You will find genera extend longitudinally to 3000 miles or more as to latitude, they vary considerably. In a word my good fellow if you are not tired with the above, I wish you to obtain & even draw up a Geographical chart of the Genera as far as it is in your power & as you are a Geologist & Botanist you can illumine our darkness by your attention to the Vegetable & Geological distribution of Insects—

You will be glad to hear that We have established an Entomological Society. We meet the first Monday in every Month, at present we have had two Meetings & we muster 110 Members without foreign Honorary Members, their number is limited to 10. Mr. Children is President. Vigors, Horsefield Stephens Hope, Vice Presidents, Foreign Secretary Spence, Treasurer, Hope Secretary Gray, Curator, Waterhouse.2 The objects of the Society, are the extension of Entomological Science & the formation of a Cabinet & Library to assist students &c. Pray attend to Larvae, & collect Hymenoptera from the Brazils &c all of which are valuable particularly the Chalcididæ i:e Insects from Galls, of Trees Shrubs &c.. The Diptera are also much wanted, do not fail to collect wholesale. I promise you all assistance in my power & I hope by the time you reach England Committees will be established for each Order.

My visit to the Continent enabled me to judge of the state of Science in Germany France & Holland. In our favourite pursuit, We are likely to take the lead, Our Cabinets are very rich but unfortunately not every One is so assiduous as a Darwin or a Stephens. The English in general will let foreigners describe for them what they are capable of doing themselves. Parasitic Insects are also much wanted. Pray do not be afraid of collecting for fear of having No One to describe your captures, attend to what I have said above; & I am sure I can find some of our Society who wd willingly describe the Hymenoptera    In Coleoptera I will do my best. In the other Orders there are zealous persons to assist you therefore “nil desperandum”. Before you left London Rennie had pirated Stephenss work, they both went to Law, the question was referred to Arbitration & it terminated as such cases generally do, in each person paying their own expenses Stephens’s expenses amount to £400 there has been a Subscription set on foot for him in London which amounts at present to 80£. There is another at Cambridge which is nearly the same, it will close next September & I hope by that time the Sum will nearly reach the £400.

As to Geology from sending home the much desired bones of Megatherium your name is likely to be immortalized at the Cambridge Meeting of naturalists your name was in every mouth & Buckland applauded you as you deserved. I forgot to say Stephenss work was stopped it is now going on. The Coleoptera are nearly finished, only some few Staphilinidae to describe. There is chance when they are finished that it will stop I hope however the Public scientific world will then support him As to Science in general particularly Zoological, there never was a period when England had such leading men in all its branches as at present. Owen of the College of Surgeons has published some fine anatomical internal Structure of Animals.3 your friend Dr Grant is working away at the Mollusca & Infusoria publishing at a great rate. He gave a Course of Lectures on the Regne Animal but did not elicit much novel matter As a Lecturer he is rather too grave, & rather too pedantic, too much given to coin hard words, at times He was eloquent & animated, generally verbose & lengthy. He is however what is more valuable a very amiable Man & strictly consciencious

Wishing you my dear Fellow all success in collecting & Health to enjoy yourself & a safe return to Old England with 1,0000,000,0000 Insects I remain Yours very truly & sincerely F W. Hope

P.S After consulting Eyton I took the liberty of putting your name down as a member of the Entomological Society


‘They change their clime, not their mind, who rush across the sea’. Horace, Epistles I. 11. 27 (translated by H. R. Fairclough. Loeb Classical Library. 1978.).
John George Children, Nicholas Aylward Vigors, Thomas Horsfield, James Francis Stephens, Frederick William Hope, William Spence, George Robert Gray, George Robert Waterhouse.
See the bibliography of Owen’s papers in R. S. Owen 1894, 2: 335–6.


Owen, Richard Startin. 1894. The life of Richard Owen … With the scientific portions revised by C. Davies Sherborn; also an essay on Owen’s position in anatomical science by the Right Hon. T. H. Huxley, F.R.S. 2 vols. London: John Murray.


Acknowledges CD’s letter about alpine entomology of Tierra del Fuego; discusses geographical distribution; urges CD to make a chart of vegetable and geological distribution of insects. Advises him on species to collect and assures him of all assistance in describing his captures on his return.

Tells of founding of Entomological Society, and enrolls CD.

News of J. F. Stephens’ lawsuit and continuation of his Illustrations of British entomology [1827–46]. Praises general state of zoological science in England.

Letter details

Letter no.
Frederick William Hope
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Upper Seymour St, 37
Source of text
DAR 204: 127
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 235,” accessed on 24 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1