Sent by Charles Robert Darwin, Down, Bromley, Kent to Alfred Russel Wallace, [9 St Mark’s Crescent, Regent’s Park, NW] on 23 February .
Asking ARW's opinion, at H. W. Bates's suggestion, on the reason for the bright colouration of some caterpillars; says his health has been bad.
A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.
An original MS
Pages with text: 4
Transcriber: Beccaloni, George
Transcription date: August 17, 2011
Scrutiny: 15/01/2013 - Catchpole, Caroline;
Signed off: no
I much regretted that I was unable to call on you, but after Monday I was unable even to leave the house. On Monday evening I called on Bates & put a difficulty before him, which he could not answer, & as on some former similar occasion, his first suggestion was, "you had better ask [] Wallace". My difficulty is, why are caterpillars sometimes so beautifully & artistically coloured? Seeing that many are coloured to escape danger I can hardly attribute their bright colour in other cases to mere physical conditions. Bates says the most gaudy caterpillar he ever saw in Amazonia (of a Sphinx) was conspicuous at the distance of yards [] from its black & red colouring whilst feeding on large green leaves. If anyone objected to male butterflies having been made beautiful by sexual selection, & asked why sh[oul]d. they not have been made beautiful as well as their caterpillars; what would you answer? I could not answer, but sh[oul]d. maintain my ground. Will you think over this, & some time, either by letter or when we meet, [] tell me what you think. Also, I want to know whether your female mimetic butterfly is more beautiful & brighter than the male?
When next in London I must get you to show me your Kingfishers.--
My health is a dreadful evil, I failed in half my engagements during this last visit to London.--
Believe me | yours very sincerely | C. Darwin [signature]
1. The year "1867" has been written in red pencil after the day in an unidentified hand.
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