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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Chapman   19 July 1873

London, | 25, Somerset St., | Portman Square. | W.

19 July 1873

Dear Sir,

Referring to your kindness in the matter of the Westminster Review, on behalf of which you were good enough to join in an appeal to persons interested in the cause of liberal and scientific thought, I beg to enquire whether you can manage to spare a few minutes to see my friend Dr Wild who desires to speak with you respecting the Review, and who would be glad to call upon you at any time you may be good enough to appoint.1

Please to present my respects to Mrs. Darwin and believe me, dear Sir, Very truly yours | John Chapman

Charles Darwin Esq. | F.R.S. &c &c

P.S. The following passage which I have just met with may interest you:—

“The Maories, who are distinguished for the habit of accurately observing the facts of nature, have remarked that some of the small native birds are gradually disappearing, and they allege that those birds are in the habit of gathering their food by dipping their long tongues into the blossoms of native trees, but that since the introduction of bees the latter have likewise sought the same blossoms for honey, and while concealed in the flower have stung the tongues of the birds, and so caused their death.”

New Zealand. By Alexander Kennedy. London: 1873.2


Chapman was editor and proprietor of the Westminster Review. He refers to George Wyld. Wyld’s business about the Review has not been identified, but for the journal’s need to raise £800 in 1873, see Ashton 2008, pp. 294–5, and Rosenberg 1982, p. 188. CD gave £5 to the journal in 1869 (see Correspondence vol. 17, letter to Dudley Campbell, 29 July [1869]).
In Kennedy 1873, p. 17, the text quoted is followed by a statement comparing the Maories’ decline to that of the birds. CD discussed the declining population of the Maories, citing Kennedy 1873, in Descent 2d ed, pp. 184–5 and n. 41.


Ashton, Rosemary. 2008. 142 Strand: a radical address in Victorian London. London: Vintage.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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

Kennedy, Alexander. 1873. New Zealand. London: Longmans, Green, and Co.

Rosenberg, Sheila. 1982. The financing of radical opinion: John Chapman and the Westmister Review. In The Victorian periodical press: samplings and soundings, edited by Joanne Shattock and Michael Wolff. Leicester: Leicester University Press.


Asks CD to meet with Dr Wild to discuss the Westminster Review, which CD has supported.

Quotes from Alexander Kennedy on Maori observations on competition between native New Zealand birds and introduced bees for nectar of tree blossoms.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Chapman
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Somerset St, 25
Source of text
DAR 161: 132, 132/1
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8983,” accessed on 24 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21