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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Roland Trimen   14 April [1868]1

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

April 14th.—

My dear Mr Trimen

It is very kind of you to take the trouble of making so long an extract, which I am very glad to possess, as the case is certainly a very striking one.2 Blanchard’s argument about the males not smelling the females, because we can perceive no odour, seems to me curiously weak.3 It is wonderful that he shd not have remembered at what great distances Deer & many other animals can scent the cleanest man.—

Many thanks for your Photograph, & I send mine, but it is a hideous affair—merely a modified, hardly an improved, Gorilla.—4

Mr Doubleday has suggested a capital scheme for estimating the number of sexes in Lepidoptera, viz by a German List, in which in many cases the sexes are differently priced.5 With Butterflies, out of a list of about 300 Sp. & Vars. 114 have sexes of different prices, & in all of these, with one single exception, the male is the cheapest. On an average judging from price for every 100 females of each species there ought to be 143 males of the same species.— So I firmly believe that you field collectors are correct.— Nearly the same result with moths.

I sincerely wish you health, happiness & success in Nat. History in S. Africa.6 I should have much liked to have asked you, if you could have spared time, to come down here for a day or two; but Mrs. Huxley is coming here in a few days with all her six children & nurses, for health sake, & stays some weeks. And our House will be, with others, so absolutely full, that today we have had to tell our Brother-in-law, that we cannot possibly receive him.—7

Most truly do I thank you for your great kindness in aiding me in so many ways.8 Yesterday I was working in much of your information.—

Believe me | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Roland Trimen, 13 April 1868.
Trimen had included extracts from Emile Blanchard’s book on the metamorphoses, habits, and instincts of insects (Blanchard 1868, pp. 225–6, 282; see letter from Roland Trimen, 13 April 1868 and nn. 5 and 6 for the extracts).
It is not known which photograph of himself CD sent, but he had cartes de visite made of some recent photographs (see letter to A. R. Wallace, 17 [March 1868], n. 3).
Trimen was about to return to Cape Town in southern Africa.
CD refers to Henrietta Anne Huxley and her children, Jessie Oriana, Marian, Leonard, Nettie, Henry, and Ethel Gladys. The nurses have not been identified. CD refers to Charles Langton.
Trimen had recently provided CD with information on sexual differences in Lepidoptera (see, for example, letter from Roland Trimen, 26 March 1868).


Blanchard, Emile. 1868. Métamorphoses moeurs et instincts des insectes (insectes, myriapodes, arachnides, crustacées). Paris: Germer Baillière.


Has tried using dealers’ price-lists as a guide to sex ratios in Lepidoptera; finds numerous cases in which the sexes bring different prices and in virtually all of them the males are cheaper. This seems to confirm the impression of the field collectors.

Wishes RT good luck with natural history in S. Africa.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Roland Trimen
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Entomological Society (Trimen papers, box 21: 68)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6117,” accessed on 4 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16