RECORD: Darwin, C.R. 1892. [Advice to H.W. Bates.] in: Anon. Obituary: Henry Walter Bates. Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society 14 (4): 245-257, pl. I, p. 251. F2162

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed and edited by John van Wyhe 9.2013. RN1

[page] 251

Of his 'Naturalist on the Amazons' there is little to be said, for the book is universally read, no naturalist's library is without it, and it will go down to posterity between Darwin's 'Naturalist's Voyage,' and Wallace's 'Malayan Archipelago.' Bates has often told the writer of Mr. Darwin's advice before he commenced his work: "Write the book carefully and then go over it again, crossing out every sentence that looks like particularly fine composition." One cannot read many pages without noticing the echo of Darwin's "Natural Selection." only published a few years previously. Butterflies are no longer the simple ornaments of a collector's cabinet, or an illustration of the teleologist, but on their wings the author sees that "nature writes, as on a tablet, the story of the modifications of species, so truly do all changes of the organisation register themselves thereon."1

1 This recollection of Darwin's words is probably derived from a remark in Darwin's 25 Sept [1861] letter to Henry Walter Bates: "As an old hackneyed author, let me give you a bit of advice, viz. to strike out every word which is not quite necessary to the current subject, and which could not interest a stranger." LL2:380. And as published in the Correspondence of Charles Darwin: "As an old hackneyed author let me give you a bit of advice, viz to strike out every word, which is not quite necessary to connect subjects & which would not interest a stranger."

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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 3 September, 2013