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Record number: WCP3568

Sent by:
Francis Galton
Sent to:
Henry Walter Bates
26 January 1883

Sent by Francis Galton, Rutland Gate, S.W. to Henry Walter Bates [none given] on 26 January 1883.

Record created:
13 December 2011 by Catchpole, Caroline


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LETTER (WCP3568.3467)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
Royal Geographical Society
Finding number:
RGS Corr. Block CB7 1881-1910 A. R. WALLACE
Copyright owner:
With permission of the rights holder

Physical description

Transcription information




42 Rutland Gate S W

Jan[uary] 26 / [18]832

Dear Bates3

I have received the enclosed from Wallace and agree generally very cordially with him in both the points he raises. As regards the first; -- Could you get written out for Council4 the titles of the papers, & the number of pages in each and the probable cost of an edition the whole of (a) 500 copies (b) 1000 copies suitable for one of our "additional publications".

As regards the second point; -- I have not energy or leisure enough to recommence a campaign to get [[2]] improvement, made in the ordnance maps, some of which you probably may recollect I spoke of at Brighton in the Pres[idential]: Address to Section E of the Brit[ish]: Assoc[iatio]n.5

What I tried then was against the grain of both Sir H. James6 of the ordnance7 & Mr. Grey8 of the Stationery department9, but things have changed since then.

Long ago, it was a feature of the Geograph[ical Journal]:10 that Sir R Murchison11 would dwell on the slowness of production & in other senses the shortcomings of our ordnance maps & I wish we could recommence the agitation. We want [[3]] first what Wallace says; secondly (as I think) quarter sheets on thin strong paper easily procurable & portable; thirdly a reduction of the ordnance map to a scale like that of the French government carte postale12, which is the basis of I dare[correction] not say how many statistical, geological and other maps, & for which we have no equivalent. But it would require some energy to get up a general conviction of the use of all this and to resist the interested opposition of map makers who do not like the public (through their government) [1 word illeg. struck through] making maps for themselves [[4]]13 but think that their own industries should be "protected" at the cost of the public.

Very faithfully | Francis Galton14 [signature]


1. Page numbered "2", encircled, in pencil in top RH corner.

2. Year deduced from birth and death dates of author. The words "with enclosure Jan 25, 83. A. R. WALLACE." are written in pencil to the right of the date.

3. Bates, Henry Walter (1825-1892). English naturalist and explorer, most famous for his expedition to the rainforests of the Amazon with ARW, starting in 1848. ARW returned in 1852, but lost his collection on the return voyage when his ship caught fire. When Bates arrived home in 1859, he had sent back over 14,712 species (mostly of insects) of which 8,000 were new to science.

4. Council of the Royal Geographical Society, a learned society and professional body for geography and geographers, founded in 1830.

5. The British Association for the Advancement of Science (founded 1831) is a learned society promoting science, directing general attention to scientific matters and facilitating interaction between scientific workers.

6. James, Henry (1803-1877). Director-General of the Ordnance Survey (see Endnote 7) from 1854 to 1875. Upon assuming the directorship, he became involved in the "battle of the scales". While the Ordnance Survey had surveyed a large part of the country, the scale at which the maps should be made had yet to be decided. Sir Henry was a firm believer in the 1.2500 scale, and he used his position to effect this change despite the less than full approval of his superiors.

7. Ordnance Survey, the British Government mapping agency.

8. Not identified.

9. His Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO) was established as a new department of HM Treasury in 1786. From 1822, all government departments were required to buy stationery through the open competitions and tenders operated by HMSO.

10. The Geographical Journal is a scholarly journal established in 1831, published by the Royal Geographical Society of London.

11. Murchison, Roderick Impey, 1st Baronet (1792-1871). Scottish geologist who first described and investigated the Silurian system. During the later years of his life a large part of his time was devoted to the affairs of the Royal Geographical Society, (see Endnote 4) of which he was in 1830 one of the founders, and elected president on four occasions between 1843 and 1871.

12. (Fr.) Post card.

13. "Galton F. Con. 1881-1910" is written in ink in a different hand to the author at the foot of the page.

14. Galton, Francis (1822-1911). English progressive, polymath, socialist, psychologist, anthropologist, anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician and statistician.

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