skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From H. W. Bates   29 September 1868

Royal Geographical Society | 15, Whitehall Place, S.W.

Sept 29 1868

My dear Mr Darwin

Have you heard of a Dr Semper, a Naturalist who spent 7 years in the Philippines & Caroline Archo; & who published some observations on coral reefs in Kœlliker & Siebold’s Zeitschrift?1

He is now in London for a few days & much wishes to be allowed to visit you for an hour or so. I find him a most pleasant young man, brim full of new & interesting information concerning volcanic phenomena, geographical distribution of animals &c. He sent large collections to Europe.

If you are able to see him any day during the next 10 or 12, please write to me & I will convey the answer to him.2

Yours sincerely | H W Bates


The zoologist Karl Gottfried Semper travelled in the Phillipines and Palau Islands from 1858 to 1865 (DSB). Bates probably refers to Semper 1863, which contained some remarks on coral reefs that CD cited in 1874 in the second edition of Coral reefs, pp. 228, 242. Semper 1863 was published in Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Zoologie, edited by Rudolf von Albert Kölliker and Karl Theodor Ernst von Siebold.
No reply to Bates has been found. There is no record of a visit from Semper.


Coral reefs: The structure and distribution of coral reefs. Being the first part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1842.

DSB: Dictionary of scientific biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie and Frederic L. Holmes. 18 vols. including index and supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1970–90.

Semper, Carl. 1863. Reisebericht. Briefliche Mittheilung an A. Kölliker. Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Zoologie 13: 558–69.


Informs CD of K. G. Semper’s desire to meet him and to discuss new information on volcanic phenomena, geographical distribution, etc.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henry Walter Bates
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
R. Geogr. Soc.
Source of text
DAR 160: 86
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6399,” accessed on 27 October 2021,

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