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Record number: WCP3893

Sent by:
Henry Walter Bates
Sent to:
Joseph Dalton Hooker
16 May 

Sent by Henry Walter Bates, 22 Harmood Street, Haverstock Hill, N.W. to Joseph Dalton Hooker, [Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew] on 16 May .

Record created:
08 February 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline


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LETTER (WCP3893.3813)

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

Held by:
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Finding number:
Copyright owner:
Copyright of the Henry Walter Bates Literary Estate.

Physical description

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22, Harmood S[tree]t. Haverstock Hill, [London] N. W.

May 16 [no year]

My dear Dr. Hooker2

I am glad to say that the storm appears to have blown over, for Dr Gray3 in the kindest manner possible has confessed that the data on which he was about forming his judgement on my errors were not complete & I conclude he thinks I have not exaggerated. A little opposition & criticism is what I expect but I thank you for reminding me of the necessity of preserving equanimity, for unless one's resolution to do so is repeatedly strengthened by such reminders, it is apt to give way. With regard to the difficulty of climbing the scientific & social tree, all that you say does [[2]] not depress me; for I have a settled conviction that the [overwritten illeg. word] reputation & friendships I have already acquired, are more than I had a right to expect. The hardships of foreign travel have the good effect of cooling the ardour of one's expectations & ambition; I do not know whether it is the same with other travellers as myself but these tough experiences seem to bring me under the truest of the beatitudes namely "Blessed are those who expect little or nothing, for they shall not be disappointed".

I am now trying to write a paper for Natural History review4; on the "Geographical relations of species & their varieties". The main [[3]] To bring Entomological facts into comparison with Botanical I am again reading your wonderful treatises on New Zealand5, Australian6 & Arctic7 floras. Wallace, the other day told me was reading your Arctic paper & it convinced him that plants alone offered satisfactory data for generalizations on distribution & recent geological changes &c. I think it is rash to say so al presenl [sic], seeing thal [sic] this branch of science is al [sic] present in its youngesl [sic] infancy; am I nol righl [sic] in saying that you are the originator of it? --

But what I want to do now is to ask you a question or two relative to some of your published statements.

[[4]]8 You say in Flora of Australia6 that the best marked varieties of a species occur in the confines of the specific area, & that the mean form of the species [is] towards its centre; giving a species of Rhododendron as an example. No doubt this point has been thoughl [sic] on by you many times since you published therefore I should very much like to know whether you still consider it the rule in plants. I fancy il is nol [sic] the rule in insects sufficient to be called a law for application in Biological science; it may be a pretty general that varieties occurring al [sic] the extreme points of the area of a species diverge mosl [sic] from the assumed type; bul [sic] there are very numerous cases in which small areas within the larger area contain very divergent varieties or races, producing the impression that such areas exerl [sic] a strong perverting influence on species; such are the islands Corsica & Sardinia in the Medilerranean [sic] fauna; the Sula islands in the Malayan &c.. If this subject bores you jusl [sic] now, pray do not waste time in answering.

Yours sincerely | H W Bates9 [signature]


1. Page stamped number "53" in top RH corner.

2. Hooker, Joseph Dalton (1817-1911). British botanist and explorer, founder of geographical botany. He succeeded his father William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865) as Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew on his death and held the post for 20 years.

3. Gray, Asa (1810-1888). Professor of Botany at Harvard University, considered the most important American botanist of the 19th century. His book Darwiniana was also considered an important explanation of how religion and science were not necessarily mutually exclusive.

4. The Natural History review was a quarterly founded in 1854 by Edward Perceval Wright, an undergraduate at Trinity College Dublin. In 1860 it was acquired by Thomas Henry Huxley, who preserved the title, but recruited some of his like-minded colleagues to the editorial team. The Natural History review featured in correspondence between them 1861-1865. By the end of 1862 Huxley had resigned, but the periodical survived until July 1865 with Joseph Hooker at the head.

5. Hooker, J. D. (1853) Introductory Essay to the Flora of New Zealand. London, Lovell Reeve.

6. Hooker, J. D. (1859) On the Flora of Australia, its origin, affinities and distribution, being an introductory essay to the flora of Tasmania. London, Lovell Reeve.

7. Hooker, J. D. (1862) Outlines of the Distribution of Arctic Plants. Transactions of the Linnean Society, Volume 23, pp. 251-348.

8. The number "53" is written in red ink in the top LH corner of the page.

9. 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.

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