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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. S. Dallas   27 January [1871]1


Jan 27,

My dear sir,—

I was so ill yesterday I hardly knew what I wrote. I am infinitely obliged to you. I should be grateful for any other corrections in Vol. 2, but never mind mere ordinary words misspelt, as reader will see oversight.2 But any names or scientific terms wrongly spelt ought to be corrected. I find Sir J. Lubbock spells Chloeon (?) as I do, so I have left it.3 Trostritica (?) is an awful blunder and … I felt I was in error, but stupidly I did not look to any book.4 I am always blundering in names and scientific terms. About Snipes gross oversight in reasoning, but this must stand till new edit. if there ever is one.5 In Vol 2 I remember in 2d revise correcting Callhorrhinus (?) and Delianus (?) so I hope they are correct in clean sheets.—6 Again accept my cordial thanks

Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Good God how glad I shall be when I can drive the whole of the confounded book out of my head—

So you will be the Index—   I have, of course, accepted all your corrections except Chloëon.—


The year is established by the references to Descent, which was published on 24 February 1871 (Freeman 1977).
Dallas, who was indexing Descent, had evidently sent corrections to vol. 1; his letter has not been found. CD’s letter to Dallas of 26 January 1871 has also not been found.
See Descent 1: 341. John Lubbock discussed Chloëon (a member of the order Ephemoptera, mayflies) in Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 25 (1866): 484; his article is cited by CD. The word was originally and is now spelled Cloeon; Lubbock’s usage was an incorrect subsequent spelling.
The reference has not been identified.
CD probably refers to Descent 1: 260, where he argued that in migratory animals, males arrived at their breeding grounds before females because early arrivals had a reproductive advantage over late-comers, and wrote, ‘Mr. Gould has ascertained by dissection … that male snipes arrive in this country before the females.’ In the second printing, he added, ‘but this hardly concerns us, as snipes do not breed here.’ In Descent 2d ed., he removed the added phrase, having received letters that asserted that snipes did breed in the British Isles (see, for example, letter from C. H. Brett, 1 May 1871).
CD referred to Callorhinus ursinus (a seal) in Descent 2: 260, 269. The reference to ‘Delianus’ has not been identified.


Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.

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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Joline, Adrian H. 1902. Meditations of an autograph collector. New York and London: Harper & Brothers.


Accepts the proposed corrections of his spelling except for "chloèn". [WSD was preparing the index for Descent, vol. 2.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Sweetland Dallas
Sent from
Source of text
Joline 1902, pp. 256–7

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7461A,” accessed on 15 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19