Letter 117 To Dt Ansted

(117/1. The following letter was published in Professor Meldola's presidential address to the Entomological Society, 1897, and to him we are indebted for a copy.)

15, Marine Parade, Eastbourne, October 27th [1860].

As I am away from home on account of my daughter's health, I do not know your address, and fly this at random, and it is of very little consequence if it never reaches you.

I have just been reading the greater part of your "Geological Gossip," and have found part very interesting; but I want to express my admiration at the clear and correct manner in which you have given a sketch of Natural Selection. You will think this very slight praise; but I declare that the majority of readers seem utterly incapable of comprehending my long argument. Some of the reviewers, who have servilely stuck to my illustrations and almost to my words, have been correct, but extraordinarily few others have succeeded. I can see plainly, by your new illustrations and manner and order of putting the case, that you thoroughly comprehend the subject. I assure you this is most gratifying to me, and it is the sole way in which the public can be indoctrinated. I am often in despair in making the generality of NATURALISTS even comprehend me. Intelligent men who are not naturalists and have not a bigoted idea of the term species, show more clearness of mind. I think that you have done the subject a real service, and I sincerely thank you. No doubt there will be much error found in my book, but I have great confidence that the main view will be, in time, found correct; for I find, without exception, that those naturalists who went at first one inch with me now go a foot or yard with me.

This note obviously requires no answer.

LETTER 118. TO H.W. BATES. Down, November 22nd [1860].

I thank you sincerely for writing to me and for your very interesting letter. Your name has for very long been familiar to me, and I have heard of your zealous exertions in the cause of Natural History. But I did not know that you had worked with high philosophical questions before your mind. I have an old belief that a good observer really means a good theorist (118/1. For an opposite opinion, see Letter 13.), and I fully expect to find your observations most valuable. I am very sorry to hear that your health is shattered; but I trust under a healthy climate it may be restored. I can sympathise with you fully on this score, for I have had bad health for many years, and fear I shall ever remain a confirmed invalid. I am delighted to hear that you, with all your large practical knowledge of Natural History, anticipated me in many respects and concur with me. As you say, I have been thoroughly well attacked and reviled (especially by entomologists--Westwood, Wollaston, and A. Murray have all reviewed and sneered at me to their hearts' content), but I care nothing about their attacks; several really good judges go a long way with me, and I observe that all those who go some little way tend to go somewhat further. What a fine philosophical mind your friend Mr. Wallace has, and he has acted, in relation to me, like a true man with a noble spirit. I see by your letter that you have grappled with several of the most difficult problems, as it seems to me, in Natural History--such as the distinctions between the different kinds of varieties, representative species, etc. Perhaps I shall find some facts in your paper on intermediate varieties in intermediate regions, on which subject I have found remarkably little information. I cannot tell you how glad I am to hear that you have attended to the curious point of equatorial refrigeration. I quite agree that it must have been small; yet the more I go into that question the more convinced I feel that there was during the Glacial period some migration from north to south. The sketch in the "Origin" gives a very meagre account of my fuller MS. essay on this subject.

I shall be particularly obliged for a copy of your paper when published (118/2. Probably a paper by Bates entitled "Contributions to an Insect Fauna of the Amazon Valley" ("Trans. Entomol. Soc." Volume V., page 335, 1858-61).); and if any suggestions occur to me (not that you require any) or questions, I will write and ask.

I have at once to prepare a new edition of the "Origin," (118/3. Third Edition, March, 1861.), and I will do myself the pleasure of sending you a copy; but it will be only very slightly altered.

Cases of neuter ants, divided into castes, with intermediate gradations (which I imagine are rare) interest me much. See "Origin" on the driver-ant, page 241 (please look at the passage.)

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