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Darwin Correspondence Project

To H. W. Bates   30 April [1863]1

C. Darwin | at Revd. C. Langton’s | Hartfield | Tonbridge Wells2

April 30th

Dear Bates

You will have received before this the note which I addressed to Leicester, after finishing vol. I, & you will have received copies of my little Review of your paper.3 By the way I heard yesterday from Asa Gray that his article on same is delayed till next number in Silliman’s Journal.—4 I have now finished vol. 2. & my opinion remains the same; that you have written a truly admirable work, with capital original remarks, first-rate descriptions, & the whole in a style which could not be improved.5 My family are now reading the book & admire it extremely; & as my wife remarks, it has so strong an air of truthfulness.—

I had a letter from a person the other day, unknown to you, full of praise of the book.—6 I do hope it may get extensively heard of & circulated; but to a certain extent this, I think, always depends on chance.

I suppose the clicking noise of surprise made by the Indian, is that which end of tongue applied to palate of mouth & suddenly withdrawn makes?7

I have not written since receiving your note of April 20th, in which you confide in me & tell me your prospects—8 I heartily wish they were better & especially more certain; but with your abilities & powers of writing it will be strange if you cannot add what little you require for your income. I am glad that you have got a retired & semi-rural situation.9

What a grand ending you give to your book contrasting civilisation & wild life!10 I quite regret that I have finished it: every evening it was a real treat to me to have my half hour in the grand Amazonian forest, & picture to myself your vivid descriptions. There are heaps of facts of value to me in a Nat. Hist. point of view— It is a great misfortune that you were prevented giving the discussion on species.—11 But you will, I hope, be able to give your views & facts somewhere else.—

Once again I congratulate you & believe me | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

We shall stay here till Wednesday & then move for a week to

J. Wedgwood’s Esqr 12

Leith Hill Place



We have come for change for my Boy & own health-sake13


The year is established by the reference to Bates 1863 (see n. 3, below).
See letter to A. C. Ramsay, 29 April [1863], n. 2. The reference is to Charles Langton.
See letter to H. W. Bates, 18 April [1863]. The references are to the first volume of Bates 1863 and to CD’s review of Bates 1861 (‘Review of Bates on mimetic butterflies’).
See letter from Asa Gray, 13 April 1863. Gray’s review (A. Gray 1863a) of Bates’s account of mimetic butterflies (Bates 1861) appeared in the September number of the American Journal of Science and Arts, commonly known as ‘Silliman’s journal’ after its founder, Benjamin Silliman.
CD refers to the second volume of Bates 1863. For CD’s opinion of the first volume, see the letter to H. W. Bates, 18 April [1863].
This letter has not been identified.
CD refers to a discussion in Bates 1863, pp. 128–9. In CD’s copy of Bates 1863, he noted (and crossed out) the following on a sheet pasted into the back of volume 2: ‘close mouth & part front of tongue forming the palate & open mouth suddenly & this makes the click— open mouth sign of surprise’ (see Marginalia 1: 35–7). CD’s copy of Bates 1863 is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
In closing, Bates described his mixed feelings about leaving the Amazon, contrasting England with the tropics. Before concluding with his final view of the ‘Great River’, he wrote (Bates 1863, p. 417): The superiority of the bleak north to tropical regions however is only in their social aspect, for I hold to the opinion that although humanity can reach an advanced state of culture only by battling with the inclemencies of nature in high latitudes, it is under the equator alone that the perfect race of the future will attain to complete fruition of man’s beautiful heritage, the earth.
Josiah Wedgwood III was CD’s first cousin and brother-in-law. According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), the Darwins stayed with Charles Langton from 27 April until 6 May 1863, when they moved to Leith Hill Place.
Both CD and Horace Darwin were ill at this time (see Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).


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.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

‘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.]


After finishing vol. 2 [of Naturalist on the river Amazons], CD still has only praise. Remarks that his family is also enjoying the book. He regrets having finished, since he so enjoyed the descriptions.

Letter details

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

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4132,” accessed on 4 December 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11