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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. S. Dallas   19 February 1868


19 Feb. 1868.

My dear Sir

Your book packets with M. Piderit, although having the Bromley Post Mark of 16 Feb., had the London stamp of 18 Feb. upon it & did not reach this until last evening.—1 I shall be unable to send you the translated bits until tomorrow, as I have a Lecture to attend tonight.— I see it is one of those horrible semi-metaphysical works of which the Germans are so fond:—

I have been to look at the Athenæum & can only say that the article is a disgrace to the journal.—2 Though perhaps this is hardly true, for, as regards scientific matters, the Athenæum is so perfectly contemptible, that it is almost a compliment to be abused by it.— So you see it is rather a matter of congratulation than otherwise.—

I must thank you for all the kind consideration which you show in offering to pay the postage &c of books after pieces have been translated from them.— I think as a rule, I may afford to pay these expenses, but we shall see.—

I will bear in mind your queries about Hemiptera & endeavour to send you some information upon them soon.—3 But it is something like 15 years since I seriously worked at them, so that, as you may suppose, I have got rather rusty, & I fear I shall be able to do little to help you.— Mr. Douglas4 (although I don’t believe in him as a systematic entomologist) has worked very hard, in the field, upon our British species, & I should think might furnish you with some information,—but the secondary sexual characters are certainly more strongly marked in the exotic than in the British forms.—

Believe me | Your’s always truly | W. S. Dallas.


CD had asked Dallas to translate a part of Piderit 1867. See letter from W. S. Dallas, 14 February 1868.
A review of Variation appeared in the Athenaeum, 15 February 1868 ([Robertson] 1868a).
CD’s letter to Dallas has not been found. CD discussed the order Hemiptera in Descent 1: 349–50, relying largely on information from John William Douglas. The order Hemiptera (true bugs) now encompasses the former order Homoptera.
John William Douglas.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Piderit, Theodor. 1867. Wissenschaftliches System der Mimik und Physiognomik. Detmold: Klingenberg’sche Buchhandlung.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


The Athenæum article [review of Variation, 15 Feb 1868, pp. 243–4] is a disgrace.

WSD will keep CD’s queries about Hemiptera in mind. Secondary sexual characters are certainly more marked in exotic than in British species.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Sweetland Dallas
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 14
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5898,” accessed on 18 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16