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Darwin Correspondence Project

From C. L. Bernays   7 July 1877

St. Louis.

Juli 7th1877

Dear Sir

After an interval, during which I was too deeply involved in politics, to think of almost any other study, I take the liberty of thanking you for the great pleasure I had in reading your last publications especially the one on the self fertilisation of plants. I had an english edition but the wonderful book has since been reprinted in the United states.1

Shall we never be so happy as to see you here? As matters now stand, I believe the conquest of this country for your theories would be easier than ever before. But for this desirable result as for any moral or intellectual conquest the American people require strong external impulses. I can not imagine any stronger one, than your presence among us, were it only for a few short months.

At the same time I take the liberty of joining to these rapidly written lines a report of Mr. Riley on his campaign against the migratory locusts. I suppose that you know that the federal government has put him deservedly at the head of the entomological commission, which was created last fall.2 I thought that you would read a report on our warfare against the great enemy of the western farmer with some interest.

In begging you to excuse the liberty of addressing you by my unalterable admiration of you I remain your most obediant servant and friend.

Chas. L. Bernays | Col. Lt. Cal. U.S.A.


Cross and self fertilisation was published in the US by D. Appleton and Company in 1877 (Cross and self fertilisation US ed.).
Bernays probably sent a copy of Charles Valentine Riley’s latest Annual report on the noxious, beneficial, and other insects of the State of Missouri (Riley 1869–77). CD’s copies of the reports from 1871 to 1877 are in the Darwin Library–CUL. The report for 1877 contains Riley’s compliments slip (see also letter to C. V. Riley, 19 May 1877). Riley was chief of the Department of the Interior’s US Entomological Commission (formed to deal with outbreaks of the Rocky Mountain locust) from 1877 until 1882 (ANB).


ANB: American national biography. Edited by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. 24 vols. and supplement. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1999–2002.

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

Cross and self fertilisation US ed.: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. New York: D. Appleton and Company. 1877.

Riley, Charles Valentine. 1869–77. Annual reports on the noxious, beneficial, and other, insects of the State of Missouri. Jefferson City, Mo.: Regan & Edwards, public printer [and others].


Has enjoyed CD’s last publications, especially on self-fertilisation of plants.

Believes a visit by CD to the U. S. would do much to promote his theories.

Reports on American campaign against locusts [by C. V. Riley].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Louis Bernays
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
St Louis, Mo.
Source of text
DAR 160: 176
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11040,” accessed on 23 January 2022,