Letters from John Curtis to Alexander Henry Haliday 13th February 1833
Curtis to Haliday 13th February 1833,
I received your kind and interesting letter dated Clifden 6th Jan. and another from Dublin 16th Jan, both of which I shall endeavour to answer and send it per post as soon as I can get your packet ready. The Bracon dissected was a fem. of desertor I have every reason to believe but I will, if possible find my dissections to send you, for at the early period at which the genus was published I might have been mistaken in the species. I regret to see a blunder in my description, it ought to be ‘3 submarginal cells’ and the inferior wings have 1 radial and 2 subcubital cells. Did I give you both sexes of castrator if not tell me which you want and I will set it aside for you. I am delighted to hear that you will undertake to describe the Magellan Hymenops .. which I shall therefore have the pleasure of sending you, I shall send the whole although it is the nondescript that you will do me the favour to describe, but the names of any of them should you accidentally ascertain in your investigations you would be kind enough perhaps to stick under them as it would be a pity to lose any part of your valuable labours, but this I do not mean as a hint to name them with any trouble for the Collection (excepting my share of it) will pass out of my hands when I have done with it. I must again beg that you will keep, if you please, the 2nd specimens to which you will be most assuredly entitled, unless indeed you do not sufficiently value exotic insects. With regard to the style I shall merely give a short description of the Coleops and Lepidops. in Latin and any necessary observations or particular distinctions or peculiarities in English as Capt. King and Mr. Broderip  have done the shells in the Zoological Journal, the length ought to be given and any of the characters in any new genera ought to be in Latin, indeed your own papers in the Ent. Mag. are very similar to that of the shells. I should like the beautiful Pompilus with crimson thorax to be named after Capt. King and some other handsome one after Lieutenant Graves. You will be good enought not to take the tickets from them as they indicate where they were taken as SP = Saint Pauls, P.F., Port Famine. I have some idea of publishing the whole in 8 vol with a couple of plates, if I can secure myself from being a loan by it and Mr. Walker  has kindly undertaken the Diptera so that we shall I trust make an interesting volume out of it. I hope your brother will arive safe from abroad and that he may surprise you with a pretty collection of Hymenops, and if you have any duplicates I shall be most thankful for them. I often wish you were my neighbour that I might have the pleasure of looking over with you some of the wonders that delight me so much from the tropical climates, as well as to look over new works and have the benefit of your opinion on many subjects, you may therefore guess how disappointed I am to learn that you have no prospect of visiting London at present. Many thanks for your remarks on the Sierra Leona insects, it is twice as much as he must expect to get for them and I should say 60 pounds is the most I could give favourable as Mr. Templeton’s  report is, even if they were large handsome insects generally, principally Coleops and Lepidops if I could afford it I should way more, but I find the richest naturalists the most stingy, I can never find any one who will even go halves with me in a collection unless it is so cheap that I can take it all myself, this is to be regretted for the consequence is that we have only the leavings of other Nations 9 times out of 10. I never intended to state that I had gone to any trouble to get the insects you wanted and if I had it would have been the more gratifying to me had I suceeded but I have not obtained one for you at present. I shall put into the box the Ichneumonidae you have promised to look over and if you can help me to the genera I shall be contented and most thankful and as I before said wherever there are two pray take one and any you want if you will mark them I may be able to help you hereafter. I send you Spinola  vol 2 [Insectorum Liguriæ Species Novæ aut Rariores] the only one you asked for and also 6 nos, of my B.E. I also have enclosed a little parcel for Mr. Templeton and if he should offer to pay you at any time for my Nos will you be kind enough to keep the money for me until an opportunity occurs of sending it on or I see you, of course the sum is of no consequence at the same time I am happy to supply any Subscribers when they are annoyed and disappointed by the booksellers, as in that way I lose many of my supporters. Thanks for description etc.of Callicerus which I shall publish next If your species of Rogas be handsome as well as curious I shall be most happy to figure it for I fear that bicolor is represented in the Berlin Transactions. By the bye in the Nova Acta Medica-Physico v.12 are 12 Diptera figured and described some of them Dolichopidae: it is a most valuable work. I am much obliged to you for your sketch of Leiophron, it is the same as mine and the apicalis is a pretty and distinct species ‘ ochreous, tip of abd. piceous! I am quite agreeable to your views of Zele, I only intended to say that testaceator and albitarsus both offered a curious character not found in any of the others viz. the additional costal cell of the underwings. Indeed they appeared to me so much alike that I began to think one was only a dark form of the other. I have carefully looked through my boxes and cannot find the insect from the Ageilegia but have sent you one from a card at the top of the genus Encyrtus, which I hope may be what you want, it is Microma latipennis. I regret that your paper in the hands of the Ent. Mag. was not published before the one on Diptera, for Westwood will give one in the March No, of London I understand that will I fear interfere very much with yours and of course with my nomenclature. Perhaps I have made some mistake about Lucina for if you remember I said I feared I might, in consequence of the insects not being arranged in the box, I will look at it tomorrow and add the result I am glad you made the observations you did on Lucina for I find I had transposed Tetanocera lineata and Lucina fasciata for which I am very sorry and must correct Dale  and Walker to whom I gave 2 of your specimens. I shall be exceeding glad of Crabro palmipes which I do not know I have only cribrarius and palmator with dilated tarsi and they are the same. I will illustrate Prosophonia with pleasure if you will favour me with your observations, indeed if it were not for Capt. Kings insects I would write a monograph on the Neuroptera and Trichoptera. Mr. Templeton has been so good as to send me a few insects amongst them Phosphuga subrotundata which are so like our atrata that I think as mine you must have both species in Ireland, he also enclosed some of Dorthesia cataphracta, my onisciformis is stuck through with a pin which gives it London milk colour and it is very convex, but as I presume these are accidental it is no doubt the same as yours. Do you know the sexes, the male I have found is winged. Fearing you might forget to change the name Ephedius I took upon me to request Mr. Newman  to substitute my name, a liberty which I hope you will excuse. My notion respecting Tipula dispar was natural enough and not knowing the male I had no means of ascertaining that it was a distinct species and I am exceedingly pleased that you have proved the fact. Like most system-makers Mr. Newman has assumed a great deal, which like mortar in a stone -wall may make the most heterogenous masses unite until the true labourer comes when a single blow will knock it to pieces and show all its deformity. I respect Newman and therefore regret that he has committed himself by writing a learned book with very little knowledge and with a good opinion of his work and a very moderate one of others as is evidenced when he says ‘no-one has thought on the subject’, excepting himself we may add. If he be not blinded by vanity and pursues his researches with the talent he possesses he will in a few years repent of his Sphinx vespiformis at least such is my opinion although at present it may be treason to say so. I really think your Thrips must be the larva of a new Hemip. I have seen but have nothing like it (what is the size) except one with two setae at the tail. I always considered that the larva of the Thrips was apterous; the pupa imperfectly winged and the male as we know amply so but I should think under the bark of an old Elm you might soon ascertain something satisfactory, for I have found them there in all stages and have only been waiting to find a few large and alive to attack and publish this curious genus. ….. latin descrips….. I enclose a rough sketch (A) which I must request you to return, as I have not the insect but Mr. Walker has, pray tell me what it is ... it struck me now you had a Cynips with similar antennae. Is it near to Hormius? By accident Cynips strepticera has a + before it in my Guide but it was you and not Dale, I think, who first found it, I know not who has it excepting yourself. As I have several boxes of yours which may be useful to you I shall endeavour to pack my insects into them and when you return them they can be put into Mr. Dales box which I now send with a present of insects from him and a letter.As it is not full I shall add some from Mr. Walker and some of my own. I also send you a letter from the Rev. G.T. Rudd, he has also asked me to forward you some insects and as I cannot tell but he may take advantage of this to insinuate that he is my friend I must explain. He was and still is I believe the intimate friend of Messrs Hope , Stephens  and Westwood, he once behaved in my own Chambers so cavalierly that I did not speak to him for some time and he has lately treated Mr. Davis in an equally ungentlemanly manner which has led to a correspondence. There were things stated by Stephens in his work years since which I am pretty certain were obtained by the same Revd. Gentmn. from my cabinet and he is now every Friday bringing me information from some of the first-mentioned trio. All this I should put a stop to at once ‘for those that fetch can carry’ and I believe him to be only a spy and it is difficult for a man publishing a periodical work to act as independently as he would wish at all times, indeed he must not make enemies for this very man once at Dale's table denied my work and eulogised Stephen's so much that Dale says he convinced his friend declined taking the BE and he felt so hurt at Mr. Rudds conduct that he silenced him by saying ‘I wish Curtis were here to speak for himself’ and it was curious enough that I entered the room before the party broke up, I am the last Man in the World to embarass science by petty factions or to dictate to my friends but as men behave so will I speak of them. Everyone who knows me I believe will say I am sincere in in friendship and probably I may be a bitter enemy but even that is better than hypocrisy which I detest - so much I never can suffer it to pass current. Whenever you send my friends Dale and Walker I am delighted to know I have been the means of their introduction to you knowing that like myself they would give you anything you wanted but I should grieve if you devoted one hour to anyone on my account who gained your correspondence from selfish motives and this must be my apology for detaining you so long about so unpleasant a subject. I return Illiger  [Nachlese zu den Bemerkungen, Berichtigungen und Zusätzen zu Fabricii Systema Eleutheratorum Mag. fur Insektenkunde] with many thanks. The Deal box belonging to him to be returned to me contains 1st a great number for you from him 2d some from Mr. Walker 3d a few I think may be useful and if they be so I beg you accept them they are 1. Plecinus polycerata. 2, Stephanus, I believe, from Brazil 3. Ibalia cultellator ? France. I wish these were better but I have only one of each myself. 4. Foenus assectator ? Isle of Wight I wish I could give you the female. 5. Scelis, France. 6. Cleptis auratis Britain. 7. Microma latipennis. I would send you more but they have no heads excepting I believe 1 other specimen. 8. Reduvius subapterous, this and the following are British specimens and I shall publish it soon, it seems to unite Reduvius and Nabis. 9. Molophilus brevipennis, this I shall publish soon, is it not a curious insect. 10. This is my Anisomena obscura ? Tell me if you please if you think it is of that genus as I should like to publish it, I send two imperfect ones which they all are excepting my Cabinet specimens, they were on the lid of a box and someone opened it arelessly and broke the whole row: it seems to be very rare the female is like the male excepting the pointed abdomen 11 Tephritis marginata 12 T. sonchi. There follow 2 Diptera and 5 dissections you were so kind as to lend me. Your oval box contains the insects you wished to examine. I hope they will arrive safe as I have no other specimens of any of them. I have attached a number to each which refers to my Guide  they will be useful to you and enable me to put them in their places again, at the same time I shall be most grateful for your observations upon them and do not fail to let me have a list of your corrections. Also 6 Beetles and 2 Spiders for Mr. Templeton. The mahogany box is filled with the S.American insects. I have put a number on each ticket thinking it might save you trouble. What a beautiful thing No.9 is No.20 I fear is figured? & look out for it 21 Dorylus ns. 26 I bought a specimen, do you wish for one? is not 27 a faded one of the same. 34 is my specimen and as it was given to me by Lieut. Graves please to name it after him. 35 Sphex heros Fab.  Supp. 44 I have the rest. 51, 52 and 53 take a pair if you please, as these are mine. 61 Trigona amalthea. The tin box contains my Ichneumonidae for you to look over as before observed also the specimen of Bracon I dissected for you to see. Have you L. silphoides and depressus. If not I will save them for you. I hope to send the packet on Saturday 16th inst. to the Steam Packet Office directed to Mr. Robert Grimshaw, Belfast, but as it is of importance I I send this per post and if I cannot get a Frank  I shall enclose the rest of this letter in the parcel.