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Title: Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscences, Vol. 1
Author: Marchant, James
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscences, Vol. 1" ***

University Libraries., Marilynda Fraser-Cunliffe, Josephine
Paolucci, Joshua Hutchinson and the Online Distributed

[Transcriber's note: Footnotes moved to end of book.]


Alfred Russel Wallace

Letters and Reminiscences


James Marchant

_With Two Photogravures and Eight Half-tone Plates_


Volume I


London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne


To the Memory of



These two volumes consist of a selection from several thousands of
letters entrusted to me by the Wallace family and dating from the dawn
of Darwinism to the second decade of the twentieth century, supplemented
by such biographical particulars and comments as are required for the
elucidation of the correspondence and for giving movement and continuity
to the whole.

The wealth and variety of Wallace's own correspondence, excluding the
large collection of letters which he received from many eminent men and
women, and the necessity for somewhat lengthy introductions and many
annotations, have expanded the work to two (there was, indeed, enough
good material to make four) volumes. The family has given me unstinted
confidence in using or rejecting letters and reminiscences, and although
I have consulted scientific and literary friends, I alone must be blamed
for sins of omission or commission. Nothing has been suppressed in the
unpublished letters, or in any of the letters which appear in these
volumes, because there was anything to hide. Everything Wallace wrote,
all his private letters, could be published to the world. His life was
an open book--"no weakness, no contempt, dispraise, or blame, nothing
but well and fair."

The profoundly interesting and now historic correspondence between
Darwin and Wallace, part of which has already appeared in the "Life and
Letters of Charles Darwin" and "More Letters," and part in Wallace's
autobiography, entitled "My Life," is here published, with new
additions, for the first time as a whole, so that the reader now has
before him the necessary material to form a true estimate of the origin
and growth of the theory of Natural Selection, and of the personal
relationships of its noble co-discoverers.

My warmest thanks are offered to Sir Francis Darwin for permission to
use his father's letters, for his annotations, and for rendering help in
checking the typescript of the Darwin letters; to Mr. John Murray,
C.V.O., for permission to use letters and notes from the "Life and
Letters of Charles Darwin" and from "More Letters"; to Messrs. Chapman
and Hall for their great generosity in allowing the free use of letters
and material in Wallace's "My Life"; to Prof. E.B. Poulton, Prof. Sir
W.F. Barrett, Sir Wm. Thiselton-Dyer, Dr. Henry Forbes, and others for
letters and reminiscences; and to Prof. Poulton for reading the proofs
and for valuable suggestions. An intimate chapter on Wallace's Home Life
has been contributed by his son and daughter, Mr. W.G. Wallace and Miss
Violet Wallace.


_March, 1916._


Volume I








Volume II


















A.R. WALLACE (1912)




Alfred Russel Wallace

Letters and Reminiscences


In Westminster Abbey there repose, almost side by side, by no conscious
design yet with deep significance, the mortal remains of Isaac Newton
and of Charles Darwin. "'The Origin of Species,'" said Wallace, "will
live as long as the 'Principia' of Newton." Near by are the tombs of Sir
John Herschel, Lord Kelvin and Sir Charles Lyell; and the medallions in
memory of Joule, Darwin, Stokes and Adams have been rearranged so as to
admit similar memorials of Lister, Hooker and Alfred Russel Wallace. Now
that the plan is completed, Darwin and Wallace are together in this
wonderful galaxy of the great men of science of the nineteenth century.
Several illustrious names are missing from this eminent company;
foremost amongst them being that of Herbert Spencer, the lofty master of
that synthetic philosophy which seemed to his disciples to have the
proportions and qualities of an enduring monument, and whose
incomparable fertility of creative thought entitled him to share the
throne with Darwin. It was Spencer, Darwin, Wallace, Hooker, Lyell and
Huxley who led that historic movement which garnered the work of Lamarck
and Buffon, and gave new direction to the ceaseless interrogation of
nature to discover the "how" and the "why" of the august progression of

Looking over the long list of the departed whose names are enshrined in
our Minster, one has sorrowfully to observe that contemporary opinion of
their place in history and abiding worth was not infrequently astray;
that memory has, indeed, forgotten their works; and their memorials
might be removed to some cloister without loss of respect for the dead,
perhaps even with the silent approval of their own day and generation
could it awake from its endless sleep and review the strange and
eventful course of human life since they left "this bank and shoal of
time." But may it not be safely prophesied that of all the names on the
starry scroll of national fame that of Charles Darwin will, surely,
remain unquestioned? And entwined with his enduring memory, by right of
worth and work, and we know with Darwin's fullest approval, our
successors will discover the name of Alfred Russel Wallace. Darwin and
Wallace were pre-eminent sons of light.

Among the great men of the Victorian age Wallace occupied a unique
position. He was the co-discoverer of the illuminating theory of Natural
Selection; he watched its struggle for recognition against prejudice,
ignorance, ridicule and misrepresentation; its gradual adoption by its
traditional enemies; and its final supremacy. And he lived beyond the
hour of its signal triumph and witnessed the further advance into the
same field of research of other patient investigators who are disclosing
fresh phases of the same fundamental laws of development, and are
accumulating a vast array of new facts which tell of still richer light
to come to enlighten every man born into the world. To have lived
through that brilliant period and into the second decade of the
twentieth century; to have outlived all contemporaries, having been the
co-revealer of the greatest and most far-reaching generalisation in an
era which abounded in fruitful discoveries and in revolutionary
advances in the application of science to life, is verily to have been
the chosen of the gods.

Who and what manner of man was Alfred Russel Wallace? Who were his
forbears? How did he obtain his insight into the closest secrets of
nature? What was the extent of his contributions to our stock of human
knowledge? In which directions did he most influence his age? What is
known of his inner life? These are some of the questions which most
present-day readers and all future readers into whose hands this book
may come will ask.

As to his descent, his upbringing, his education and his estimate of his
own character and work, we can, with rare good fortune, refer them to
his autobiography, in which he tells his own story and relates the
circumstances which, combined with his natural disposition, led him to
be a great naturalist and a courageous social reformer; nay more, his
autobiography is also in part a peculiar revelation of the inner man
such as no biography could approach. We are also able to send inquirers
to the biographies and works of his contemporaries--Darwin, Hooker,
Lyell, Huxley and many others. All this material is already available to
the diligent reader. But there are other sources of information which
the present book discloses--Wallace's home life, the large collection of
his own letters, the reminiscences of friends, communications which he
received from many co-workers and correspondents which, besides being of
interest in themselves, often cast a sidelight upon his own mind and
work. All these are of peculiar and intimate value to those who desire
to form a complete estimate of Wallace. And it is to help the reader to
achieve this desirable result that the present work is published.

It may be stated here that Wallace had suggested to the present writer
that he should undertake a new work, to be called "Darwin and Wallace,"
which was to have been a comparative study of their literary and
scientific writings, with an estimate of the present position of the
theory of Natural Selection as an adequate explanation of the process of
organic evolution. Wallace had promised to give as much assistance as
possible in selecting the material without which the task on such a
scale would obviously have been impossible. Alas! soon after the
agreement with the publishers was signed and in the very month that the
plan of the work was to have been shown to Wallace, his hand was
unexpectedly stilled in death; and the book remains unwritten. But as
the names of Darwin and Wallace are inseparable even by the scythe of
time, a slight attempt is here made, in the first sections of Part I.
and Part II., to take note of their ancestry and the diversities and
similarities in their respective characters and environments--social and
educational; to mark the chief characteristics of their literary works
and the more salient conditions and events which led them,
independently, to the idea of Natural Selection.

Finally, it may be remarked that up to the present time the unique work
and position of Wallace have not been fully disclosed owing to his great
modesty and to the fact that he outlived all his contemporaries. "I am
afraid," wrote Sir W.T. Thiselton-Dyer to him in one of his letters
(1893), "the splendid modesty of the big men will be a rarer commodity
in the future. No doubt many of the younger ones know an immense deal;
but I doubt if many of them will ever exhibit the grasp of great
principles which we owe to you and your splendid band of
contemporaries." If this work helps to preserve the records of the
influence and achievements of this illustrious and versatile genius and
of the other eminent men who brought the great conception of Evolution
to light, it will surely have justified its existence.


I.--Wallace and Darwin--Early Years

As springs burst forth, now here, now there, on the mountain side, and
find their way together to the vast ocean, so, at certain periods of
history, men destined to become great are born within a few years of
each other, and in the course of life meet and mingle their varied gifts
of soul and intellect for the ultimate benefit of mankind. Between the
years 1807 and 1825 at least eight illustrious scientists "saw the
light"--Sir Charles Lyell, Sir Joseph Hooker, T.H. Huxley, Herbert
Spencer, John Tyndall, Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace and Louis
Agassiz; whilst amongst statesmen and authors we recall Bismarck,
Gladstone, Lincoln, Tennyson, Longfellow, Robert and Elizabeth Browning,
Ruskin, John Stuart Blackie and Oliver Wendell Holmes--a wonderful
galaxy of shining names.

The first group is the one with which we are closely associated in this
section, in which we have brought together the names of Charles Darwin
and Alfred Russel Wallace--between whose births there was a period of
fourteen years, Darwin being born on the 12th of February, 1809, and
Wallace on the 8th of January, 1823.

In each case we are indebted to an autobiography for an account of their
early life and work, written almost entirely from memory when at an age
which enabled them to take an unbiased view of the past.

The autobiography of Darwin was written for the benefit of his family
only, when he was 67; while the two large volumes entitled "My Life"
were written by Wallace when he was 82, for the pleasure of reviewing
his long career. These records are characterised by that charming
modesty and simplicity of life and manner which was so marked a feature
of both men.

In the circumstances surrounding their early days there was very little
to indicate the similarity in character and mental gifts which became so
evident in their later years. A brief outline of the hereditary
influences immediately affecting them will enable us to trace something
of the essential differences as well as the similarities which marked
their scientific and literary attainments.

The earliest records of the Darwin family show that in 1500 an ancestor
of that name (though spelt differently) was a substantial yeoman living
on the borders of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. In the reign of James I.
the post of Yeoman of the Royal Armoury of Greenwich was granted to
William Darwin, whose son served with the Royalist Army under Charles I.
During the Commonwealth, however, he became a barrister of Lincoln's
Inn, and later the Recorder of the City of Lincoln.

Passing over a generation, we find that a brother of Dr. Erasmus Darwin
"cultivated botany," and, when far advanced in years, published a volume
entitled "Principia Botanica," while Erasmus developed into a poet and
philosopher. The eldest son of the latter "inherited a strong taste for
various branches of science ... and at a very early age collected
specimens of all kinds." The youngest son, Robert Waring, father of
Charles Darwin, became a successful physician, "a man of genial
temperament, strong character, fond of society," and was the possessor
of great psychic power by which he could readily sum up the characters
of others, and even occasionally read their thoughts. A judicious use of
this gift was frequently found to be more efficacious than actual
medicine! To the end of his life Charles Darwin entertained the greatest
affection and reverence for his father, and frequently spoke of him to
his own children.

From this brief summary of the family history it is easy to perceive the
inherited traits which were combined in the attractive personality of
the great scientist. From his early forbears came the keen love of sport
and outdoor exercise (to which considerable reference is made in his
youth and early manhood); the close application of the philosopher; and
the natural aptitude for collecting specimens of all kinds. To his
grandfather he was doubtless indebted for his poetic imagination, which,
consciously or unconsciously, pervaded his thoughts and writings, saving
them from the cold scientific atmosphere which often chills the lay
mind. Lastly, the geniality of his father was strongly evidenced by his
own love of social intercourse, his courtesy and ready wit, whilst the
gentleness of his mother--who unfortunately died when he was 7 years
old--left a delicacy of feeling which pervaded his character to the very

No such sure mental influences, reaching back through several
generations, can be traced in the records of the Wallace family,
although what is known reveals the source of the dogged perseverance
with which Wallace faced the immense difficulties met with by all early
pioneer travellers, of that happy diversity of mental interests which
helped to relieve his periods of loneliness and inactivity, and of that
quiet determination to pursue to the utmost limit every idea which
impressed his mind as containing the germ of a wider and more
comprehensive truth than had yet been generally recognised and accepted.

The innate reticence and shyness of manner which were noticeable all
through his life covered a large-heartedness even in the most careful
observation of facts, and produced a tolerant disposition towards his
fellow-men even when he most disagreed with their views or dogmas. He
was one of those of whom it may be truly said in hackneyed phrases that
he was "born great," whilst destined to have "greatness thrust upon him"
in the shape of honours which he received with hesitation.

From his autobiography we gather that his father, though dimly tracing
his descent from the famous Wallace of Stirling, was born at Hanworth,
in Middlesex, where there appears to have been a small colony of
residents bearing the same name but occupying varied social positions,
from admiral to hotel-keeper--the grandfather of Alfred Russel Wallace
being known as a victualler. Thomas Vere Wallace was the only son of
this worthy innkeeper; and, being possessed of somewhat wider ambitions
than a country life offered, was articled to a solicitor in London, and
eventually became an attorney-at-law. On his father's death he inherited
a small private income, and, not being of an energetic disposition, he
preferred to live quietly on it instead of continuing his practice. His
main interests were somewhat literary and artistic, but without any
definite aim; and this lack of natural energy, mental and physical,
reappeared in most of the nine children subsequently born to him,
including Alfred Russel, who realised that had it not been for the one
definite interest which gradually determined his course in life (an
interest demanding steady perseverance and concentrated thought as well
as physical enterprise), his career might easily have been much less

It was undoubtedly from his father that he acquired an appreciation of
good literature, as they were in the habit of hearing Shakespeare and
similar works read aloud round the fireside on winter nights; whilst
from his mother came artistic and business-like instincts--several of
her relatives having been architects of no mean skill, combining with
their art sound business qualities which placed them in positions of
civic authority and brought them the respect due to men of upright
character and good parts.

During the chequered experiences which followed the marriage of Thomas
Vere Wallace and Mary Ann Greenell there appears to have been complete
mutual affection and understanding. Although Wallace makes but slight
reference to his mother's character and habits, one may readily conclude
that her disposition and influence were such as to leave an indelible
impression for good on the minds of her children, amongst her qualities
being a talent for not merely accepting circumstances but in a quiet way
making the most of each experience as it came--a talent which we find
repeated on many occasions in the life of her son Alfred.

It is a little curious that each of these great scientists should have
been born in a house overlooking a well-known river--the home of the
Darwins standing on the banks of the Severn, at Shrewsbury, and that of
the Wallaces a stone's throw from the waters of the romantic and
beautiful Usk, of Monmouthshire.

With remarkable clearness Dr. Wallace could recall events and scenes
back to the time when he was only 4 years of age. His first childish
experiment occurred about that time, due to his being greatly impressed
by the story of the "Fox and the Pitcher" in Æsop's Fables. Finding a
jar standing in the yard outside their house, he promptly proceeded to
pour a small quantity of water into it, and then added a handful of
small stones. The water not rising to the surface, as it did in the
fable, he found a spade and scraped up a mixture of earth and pebbles
which he added to the stones already in the jar. The result, however,
proving quite unsatisfactory, he gave up the experiment in disgust and
refused to believe in the truth of the fable. His restless brain and
vivid imagination at this early period is shown by some dreams which he
could still recall when 82 years of age; whilst the strong impression
left on his mind by certain localities, with all their graphic detail of
form and colour, enabled him to enjoy over again many of the simple
pleasures that made up his early life in the beautiful grounds of the
ancient castle in which he used to play.

The first great event in his life was the journey undertaken by
ferry-boat and stage-coach from Usk to Hertford, to which town the
family removed when he was 6 years old, and where they remained for the
next eight years, until he left school.

The morning after their arrival an incident occurred which left its
trace as of a slender golden thread running throughout the fabric of his
long life. Alfred, with child-like curiosity about his new surroundings,
wandered into the yard behind their house, and presently heard a voice
coming from the other side of the low wall, saying, "Hallo! who are
you?" and saw a boy about his own age peering over the top. Explanations
followed, and soon, by the aid of two water-butts, the small boys found
themselves sitting side by side on the top of the wall, holding a long
and intimate conversation. Thus began his friendship with George Silk,
and by some curious trend of circumstances the two families became
neighbours on several subsequent occasions,[1] so that the friendship
was maintained until in due course the boys separated each to his own
way in life--the one to wander in foreign lands, the other to occupy a
responsible position at home.

After spending about a year at private schools, Alfred Wallace was sent
with his brother John to Hertford Grammar School. His recollections of
these school days are full of interest, especially as contrasted with
the school life of to-day. He says: "We went to school even in the
winter at seven in the morning, and three days a week remained till five
in the afternoon; some artificial light was necessary, and this was
effected by the primitive method of every boy bringing his own candle or
candle-ends with any kind of candlestick he liked. An empty ink-bottle
was often used, or the candle was even stuck on to the desk with a
little of its own grease. So that it enabled us to learn our lessons or
do our sums, no one seemed to trouble about how we provided the light."

Though never robust in health, he enjoyed all the usual boyish sports,
especially such as appealed to his imagination and love of adventure.
Not far from the school a natural cave, formed in a chalky slope and
partially concealed by undergrowth, made an excellent resort for
"brigands"; and to this hiding place were brought potatoes and other
provisions which could be cooked and eaten in primitive fashion, with an
air of secrecy which added to the mystery and attraction of the boyish

It is curious to note that one destined to become a great traveller and
explorer should have found the study of geography "a painful subject."
But this was, as he afterwards understood, entirely due to the method of
teaching then, and sometimes now, in vogue, which made no appeal
whatever to the imagination by creating a mental picture of the peoples
and nations, or the varied wonders and beauties of nature which
distinguish one country from another. "No interesting facts were ever
given, no accounts of the country by travellers were ever read, no good
maps ever given us, nothing but the horrid stream of unintelligible
place names to be learnt." The only subjects in which he considered that
he gained some valuable grounding at school were Latin, arithmetic, and

This estimate of the value of the grammar-school teaching is echoed in
Darwin's own words when describing his school days at precisely the same
age at Shrewsbury Grammar School, where, he says, "the school as a means
of education to me was simply a blank." It is therefore interesting to
notice, side by side, as it were, the occupation which each boy found
for himself out of school hours, and which in both instances proved of
immense value in their respective careers in later life.

Darwin, even at this early age, found his "taste for natural history,
and more especially for collecting," well developed. "I tried," he says,
"to make out the names of plants, and collected all sorts of things,
shells, seals, franks, coins and minerals. The passion for collecting
which leads a man to be a systematic naturalist ... was very strong in
me, and was clearly innate, as none of my sisters or brothers ever had
this taste."

He also speaks of himself as having been a very "simple little fellow"
by the manner in which he was either himself deceived or tried to
deceive others in a harmless way. As an instance of this, he remembered
declaring that he could "produce variously coloured polyanthuses and
primroses by watering them with certain coloured fluids," though he knew
all the time it was untrue. His feeling of tenderness towards all
animals and insects is revealed in the fact that he could not
remember--except on one occasion--ever taking more than one egg out of a
bird's nest; and though a keen angler, as soon as he heard that he
could kill the worms with salt and water he never afterwards "spitted a
living worm, though at the expense, probably, of some loss of success!"

Nothing thwarted young Darwin's intense joy and interest in collecting
minerals and insects, and in watching and making notes upon the habits
of birds. In addition to this wholesome outdoor hobby, the tedium of
school lessons was relieved for him by reading Shakespeare, Byron and
Scott--also a copy of "Wonders of the World" which belonged to one of
the boys, and to which he always attributed his first desire to travel
in remote countries, little thinking how his dreams would be fulfilled.

Whilst Charles Darwin occupied himself with outdoor sport and
collecting, with a very moderate amount of reading thrown in at
intervals, Wallace, on the contrary, devoured all the books he could
get; and fortunately for him, his father having been appointed Librarian
to the Hertford Town Library, Alfred had access to all the books that
appealed to his mental appetite; and these, especially the historical
novels, supplemented the lack of interesting history lessons at school,
besides giving him an insight into many kinds of literature suited to
his varied tastes and temperament. In addition, however, to the hours
spent in reading, he and his brother John found endless delight in
turning the loft of an outhouse adjoining their yard into a sort of
mechanical factory. Here they contrived, by saving up all their pence
(the only pocket-money that came to them), to make crackers and other
simple fireworks, and to turn old keys into toy cannon, besides making a
large variety of articles for practical domestic purposes. Thus he
cultivated the gift of resourcefulness and self-reliance on which he had
so often to depend when far removed from all civilisation during his
travels on the Amazon and in the Malay Archipelago.

A somewhat amusing instance of this is found in a letter to his sister,
dated June 25th, 1855, at a time when he wanted a really capable man for
his companion, in place of the good-natured but incapable boy Charles,
whom he had brought with him from London to teach collecting. In reply
to some remarks by his sister about a young man who she thought would be
suitable, he wrote: "Do not tell me merely that he is 'a very nice young
man.' Of course he is.... I should like to know whether he can live on
rice and salt fish for a week on occasion.... Can he sleep on a
board?... Can he walk twenty miles a day? Whether he can work, for there
is sometimes as hard work in collecting as in anything. Can he saw a
piece of wood straight? Ask him to make you anything--a little card box,
a wooden peg or bottle-stopper, and see if he makes them neat and

In another letter he describes the garden and live stock he had been
able to obtain where he was living; and in yet another he gives a long
list of his domestic woes and tribulations--which, however, were
overcome with the patience inculcated in early life by his hobbies, and
also by the fact that the family was always more or less in straitened
circumstances, so that the children were taught to make themselves
useful in various ways in order to assist their mother in the home.

As he grew from childhood into youth, Alfred Wallace's extreme
sensitiveness developed to an almost painful degree. He grew rapidly,
and his unusual height made him still more shy when forced to occupy any
prominent position amongst boys of his own age. During the latter part
of his time at Hertford Grammar School his father was unable to pay the
usual fees, and it was agreed that Alfred should act as pupil teacher
in return for the lessons received. This arrangement, while acceptable
on the one hand, caused him actual mental and physical pain on the
other, as it increased his consciousness of the disabilities under which
he laboured in contrast with most of the other boys of his own age.

At the age of 14 Wallace was taken away from school, and until something
could be definitely decided about his future--as up to the present he
had no particular bent in any one direction--he was sent to London to
live with his brother John, who was then working for a master builder in
the vicinity of Tottenham Court Road. This was in January, 1837, and it
was during the following summer that he joined his other brother,
William, at Barton-on-the-Clay, Bedfordshire, and began land surveying.
In the meantime, while in London, he had been brought very closely into
contact with the economics and ethics of Robert Owen, the well-known
Socialist; and although very young in years he was so deeply impressed
with the reasonableness and practical outcome of these theories that,
though considerably modified as time went on, they formed the foundation
for his own writings on Socialism and allied subjects in after years.

As one of our aims in this section is to suggest an outline of the
contrasting influences governing the early lives of Wallace and Darwin,
it is interesting to note that at the ages of 14 and 16 respectively,
and immediately on leaving school, they came under the first definite
mental influence which was to shape their future thought and action. Yet
how totally different from Wallace's trials as a pupil teacher was the
removal of Darwin from Dr. Butler's school at Shrewsbury because "he was
doing no good" there, and his father thought it was "time he settled
down to his medical study in Edinburgh," never heeding the fact that
his son had already one passion in life, apart from "shooting, dogs, and
rat-catching," which stood a very good chance of saving him from
becoming the disgrace to the family that his good father feared. So that
while Wallace was imbibing his first lessons in Socialism at 14 years of
age, Darwin at 16 found himself merely enduring, with a feeling of
disgust, Dr. Duncan's lectures, which were "something fearful to
remember," on materia medica at eight o'clock on a winter's morning,
and, worse still, Dr. Munro's lectures on human anatomy, which were "as
dull as he was himself." Yet he always deeply regretted not having been
urged to practise dissection, because of the invaluable aid it would
have been to him as a naturalist.

By mental instinct, however, Darwin soon found himself studying marine
zoology and other branches of natural science. This was in a large
measure due to his intimacy with Dr. Grant, who, in a later article on
Flustra, made some allusion to a paper read by Darwin before the Linnean
Society on a small discovery which he had made by the aid of a "wretched
microscope" to the effect that the so-called ova of Flustra were really
larvæ and had the power of independent action by means of cilia.

During his second year in Edinburgh he attended Jameson's lectures on
geology and zoology, but found them so "incredibly dull" that he
determined never to study the science.

Then came the final move which, all unknowingly, was to lead Darwin into
the pursuit of a science which up to that time had only been a hobby and
not in any sense the serious profession of his life. But again how wide
the difference between his change from Edinburgh to Cambridge, and that
of Wallace from a month's association with a working-class Socialistic
community in London to land surveying under the simplest rural
conditions prevalent amongst the respectable labouring farmers of
Bedfordshire--Darwin to the culture and privileges of a great University
with the object of becoming a clergyman, and Wallace taking the first
road that offered towards earning a living, with no thought as to the
ultimate outcome of this life in the open and the systematic observation
of soils and land formation.

But the inherent tendencies of Darwin's nature drew him away from
theology to the study of geology, entomology and botany. The ensuing
four years at Cambridge were very happy ones. While fortunate in being
able to follow his various mental and scientific pursuits with the
freedom which a good social and financial position secured for him, he
found himself by a natural seriousness of manner, balanced by a cheerful
temperament and love of sport, the friend and companion of men many
years his seniors and holding positions of authority in the world of
science. Amongst these the name of Professor Henslow will always take
precedence. "This friendship," says Darwin, "influenced my whole career
more than any other." Henslow's extensive knowledge of botany, geology,
entomology, chemistry and mineralogy, added to his sincere and
attractive personality, well-balanced mind and excellent judgment,
formed a strong and effective bias in the direction Darwin was destined
to follow.

Apart, however, from the strong personal influence of Henslow, Sedgwick
and others with whom he came much in contact, two books which he read at
this time aroused his "burning zeal to add the most humble contribution
to the noble structure of Natural Science"; these were Sir J. Herschel's
"Introduction to the Study of Natural Philosophy," and Humboldt's
"Personal Narrative." Indeed, so fascinated was he by the description
given of Teneriffe in the latter that he at once set about a plan
whereby he might spend a holiday, with Henslow, in that locality, a
holiday which was, indeed, to form part of his famous voyage.

By means of his explorations in the neighbourhood of Cambridge, and one
or two visits to North Wales, Darwin's experimental knowledge of geology
and allied sciences was considerably increased. In his zeal for
collecting beetles he employed a labourer to "scrape the moss off old
trees in winter, and place it in a bag, and likewise to collect the
rubbish at the bottom of the barges in which reeds were brought from the
fens, and thus ... got some very rare species."

During the summer vacation of 1831, at the personal request of Henslow,
he accompanied Professor Sedgwick on a geological tour in North Wales.
In order, no doubt, to give him some independent experience, Sedgwick
sent Darwin on a line parallel with his own, telling him to bring back
specimens of the rocks and to mark the stratification on a map. In later
years Darwin was amazed to find how much both of them had failed to
observe, "yet these phenomena were so conspicuous that ... a house burnt
down by fire could not tell its story more plainly than did the valley
of Cwm Idwal."

This tour was the introduction to a momentous change in his life. On
returning to Shrewsbury he found a letter awaiting him which contained
the offer of a voyage in H.M.S. _Beagle_. But owing to several
objections raised by Dr. Darwin, he wrote and declined the offer; and if
it had not been for the immediate intervention of his uncle, Mr. Josiah
Wedgwood (to whose house he went the following day to begin the shooting
season), who took quite a different view of the proposition, the
"Journal of Researches during the Voyage of H.M.S. _Beagle_," by Charles
Darwin, would never have been written.

At length, however, after much preparation and many delays, the
_Beagle_ sailed from Plymouth on December 27th, 1831, and five years
elapsed before Darwin set foot again on English soil. The period,
therefore, in Darwin's life which we find covered by his term at
Edinburgh and Cambridge, until at the age of 22 he found himself
suddenly launched on an entirely new experience full of adventure and
fresh association, was spent by Wallace in a somewhat similar manner in
so far as his outward objective in life was more or less distinct from
the pursuits which gradually dawned upon his horizon, though they were
followed as a "thing apart" and not as an ultimate end.

With Wallace's removal into Bedfordshire an entirely new life opened up
before him. His health, never very good, rapidly improved; both brain
and eye were trained to practical observations which proved eminently
valuable. His descriptions of the people with whom he came in contact
during these years of country life reveal the quiet toleration of the
faults and foibles of others, not devoid of the keen sense of humour and
justice which characterised his lifelong attitude towards his

The many interests of his new life, together with the use of a pocket
sextant, prompted him to make various experiments for himself. The only
sources from which he could obtain helpful information, however, were
some cheap elementary books on mechanics and optics which he procured
from the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge; these he studied
and "puzzled over" for several years. "Having no friends of my own age,"
he wrote, "I occupied myself with various pursuits in which I had begun
to take an interest. Having learnt the use of the sextant in surveying,
and my brother having a book on Nautical Astronomy, I practised a few of
the simpler observations. Among these were determining the meridian by
equal altitudes of the sun, and also by the pole-star at its upper or
lower culmination; finding the latitude by the meridian altitude of the
sun, or of some of the principal stars; and making a rude sundial by
erecting a gnomon towards the pole. For these simple calculations I had
Hannay and Dietrichsen's Almanac, a copious publication which gave all
the important data in the Nautical Almanac, besides much other
interesting matter useful for the astronomical amateur or the ordinary
navigator. I also tried to make a telescope by purchasing a lens of
about 2 ft. focus at an optician's in Swansea, fixing it in a paper tube
and using the eye-piece of a small opera-glass. With it I was able to
observe the moon and Jupiter's satellites, and some of the larger
star-clusters; but, of course, very imperfectly. Yet it served to
increase my interest in astronomy, and to induce me to study with some
care the various methods of construction of the more important
astronomical instruments; and it also led me throughout my life to be
deeply interested in the grand onward march of astronomical

At the same time Wallace became attracted by, and interested in, the
flowers, shrubs and trees growing in that part of Bedfordshire, and he
acquired some elementary knowledge of zoology. "It was," he writes,
"while living at Barton that I obtained my first information that there
was such a science as geology.... My brother, like most land-surveyors,
was something of a geologist, and he showed me the fossil oysters of the
genus Gryphæa and the Belemnites ... and several other fossils which
were abundant in the chalk and gravel around Barton.... It was here,
too, that during my solitary rambles I first began to feel the influence
of nature and to wish to know more of the various flowers, shrubs and
trees I daily met with, but of which for the most part I did not even
know the English names. At that time I hardly realised that there was
such a science as systematic botany, that every flower and every meanest
and most insignificant weed had been accurately described and
classified, and that there was any kind of system or order in the
endless variety of plants and animals which I knew existed. This wish to
know the names of wild plants, to be able to speak ... about them, had
arisen from a chance remark I had overheard about a year before. A lady
... whom we knew at Hertford, was talking to some friends in the street
when I and my father met them ... [and] I heard the lady say, 'We found
quite a rarity the other day--the Monotropa; it had not been found here
before.' This I pondered over, and wondered what the Monotropa was. All
my father could tell me was that it was a rare plant; and I thought how
nice it must be to know the names of rare plants when you found

One can picture the tall quiet boy going on these solitary rambles, his
eye becoming gradually quickened to perceive new forms in nature,
contrasting them one with another, and beginning to ponder over the
_cause_ which led to the diverse formation and colouring of leaves
apparently of the same family.

It was in 1841, four years later, that he heard of, and at once
procured, a book published at a shilling by the S.P.C.K. (the title of
which he could not recall in after years), to which he owed his first
scientific glimmerings of the vast study of botany. The next step was to
procure, at much self-sacrifice, Lindley's "Elements of Botany,"
published at half a guinea, which to his immense disappointment he found
of very little use, as it did not deal with British plants! His
disappointment was lessened, however, by the loan from a Mr. Hayward of
London's "Encyclopedia of Plants," and it was with the help of these two
books that he made his first classification of the specimens which he
had collected and carefully kept during the few preceding years.

"It must be remembered," he says in "My Life," "that my ignorance of
plants at this time was extreme. I knew the wild rose, bramble,
hawthorn, buttercup, poppy, daisy and foxglove, and a very few others
equally common.... I knew nothing whatever as to genera and species, nor
of the large number of distinct forms related to each and grouped into
natural orders. My delight, therefore, was great when I was ... able to
identify the charming little eyebright, the strange-looking cow-wheat
and louse-wort, the handsome mullein and the pretty creeping toad-flax,
and to find that all of them, as well as the lordly foxglove, formed
parts of one great natural order, and that under all their superficial
diversity of form was a similarity of structure which, when once clearly
understood, enabled me to locate each fresh species with greater ease."
This, however, was not sufficient, and the last step was to form a

"I soon found," he wrote, "that by merely identifying the plants I found
in my walks I lost much time in gathering the same species several
times, and even then not being always quite sure that I had found the
same plant before. I therefore began to form a herbarium, collecting
good specimens and drying them carefully between drying papers and a
couple of boards weighted with books or stones.... I first named the
species as nearly as I could do so, and then laid them out to be pressed
and dried. At such times," he continues--and I have quoted the passage
for the sake of this revealing confession--"I experienced the joy which
every discovery of a new form of life gives to the lover of nature,
almost equal to those raptures which I afterwards felt at every capture
of new butterflies on the Amazon, or at the constant stream of new
species of birds, beetles and butterflies in Borneo, the Moluccas, and
the Aru Islands."[4]

Anything in the shape of gardening papers and catalogues which came in
his way was eagerly read, and to this source he owed his first interest
in the fascinating orchid.

"A catalogue published by a great nurseryman in Bristol ... contained a
number of tropical orchids, of whose wonderful variety and beauty I had
obtained some idea from the woodcuts in Loudon's 'Encyclopedia.' The
first epiphytal orchid I ever saw was at a flower show in Swansea ...
which caused in me a thrill of enjoyment which no other plant in the
show produced. My interest in this wonderful order of plants was further
enhanced by reading in the _Gardener's Chronicle_ an article by Dr.
Lindley on one of the London flower shows, where there was a good
display of orchids, in which ... he added, 'and _Dendrobium Devonianum_,
too delicate and beautiful for a flower of earth.' This and other
references ... gave them, in my mind, a weird and mysterious charm ...
which, I believe, had its share in producing that longing for the
tropics which a few years later was satisfied in the equatorial forests
of the Amazon."[5]

For a brief period, when there was a lull in the surveying business and
his prospects of continuing in this profession looked uncertain, he
tried watchmaking, and would probably--though not by choice--have been
apprenticed to it but for an unexpected circumstance which caused his
master to give up his business. Alfred gladly, when the occasion
offered, returned to his outdoor life, which had begun to make the
strongest appeal to him, stronger, perhaps, than he was really aware.

Early in 1844 another break occurred, due to the sudden falling off of
land surveying as a profitable business. His brother could no longer
afford to keep him as assistant, finding it indeed difficult to obtain
sufficient employment for himself. As Wallace knew no other trade or
profession, the only course which occurred to his mind as possible by
which to earn a living was to get a post as school teacher.

After one or two rather amusing experiences, he eventually found himself
in very congenial surroundings under the Rev. Abraham Hill, headmaster
of the Collegiate School at Leicester. Here he stayed for a little more
than a year, during which time--in addition to his school work and a
considerable amount of hard reading on subjects to which he had not
hitherto been able to devote himself--he was led to become greatly
interested in phrenology and mesmerism, and before long found himself
something of an expert in giving mesmeric demonstrations before small
audiences. Phrenology, he believed, proved of much value in determining
his own characteristics, good and bad, and in guiding him to a wise use
of the faculties which made for his ultimate success; while his
introduction to mesmerism had not a little to do with his becoming
interested and finally convinced of the part played by spiritualistic
forces and agencies in human life.

The most important event, however, during this year at Leicester was his
meeting with H.W. Bates, through whom he was introduced to the absorbing
study of beetles and butterflies, the link which culminated in their
mutual exploration of the Amazon. It is curious that Wallace retained no
distinct recollection of how or when he met Bates for the first time,
but thought that "he heard him mentioned as an enthusiastic
entomologist and met him at the Library." Bates was at this time
employed by his father, who was a hosiery manufacturer, and he could
therefore only devote his spare time to collecting beetles in the
surrounding neighbourhood. The friendship brought new interests into
both lives, and though Wallace was obliged a few months later to leave
Leicester and return to his old work of surveying (owing to the sudden
death of his brother William, whose business affairs were left in an
unsatisfactory condition and needed personal attention), he no longer
found in it the satisfaction he had previously experienced, and his
letters to Bates expressed the desire to strike out on some new line,
one which would satisfy his craving for a definite pursuit in the
direction of natural science.

Somewhere about the autumn of 1847, Bates paid a visit to Wallace at
Neath, and the plan to go to the Amazon which had been slowly forming
itself at length took shape, due to the perusal of a little book
entitled "A Voyage up the River Amazon," by W.H. Edwards. Further
investigations showed that this would be particularly advantageous, as
the district had only been explored by the German zoologist, von Spix,
and the botanist von Martins, in 1817-20, and subsequently by Count de

During this interval we find, in a letter to Bates, the following
allusion to Darwin, which is the first record of Wallace's high estimate
of the man with whom his own name was to be dramatically associated ten
years later. "I first," he says, "read Darwin's Journal three or four
years ago, and have lately re-read it. As the journal of a scientific
traveller it is second only to Humboldt's Narrative; as a work of
general interest, perhaps superior to it. He is an ardent admirer and
most able supporter of Mr. Lyell's views. His style of writing I very
much admire, so free from all labour, or egotism, yet so full of
interest and original thought."[6]

The early part of 1848 was occupied in making arrangements with Mr.
Samuel Stevens, of King Street, Covent Garden, to act as their agent in
disposing of a duplicate collection of specimens which they proposed
sending home; by this means paying their expenses during the time they
were away, any surplus being invested against their return. This and
other matters being satisfactorily settled, they eventually sailed from
Liverpool on April 20th in a barque of 192 tons, said to be "a very fast
sailer," which proved to be correct. On arriving at Para about a month
later, they immediately set about finding a house, learning something of
the language, the habits of the people amongst whom they had come to
live, and making short excursions into the forest before starting on
longer and more trying explorations up country.

Wallace's previous vivid imaginings of what life in the tropics would
mean, so far as the surpassing beauty of nature was concerned, were not
immediately fulfilled. As a starting-point, however, Para had many
advantages. Besides the pleasant climate, the country for some hundreds
of miles was found to be nearly level at an elevation of about 30 or 40
ft. above the river; the first distinct rise occurring some 150 miles up
the river Tocantins, south-west of Para; the whole district was
intersected by streams, with cross channels connecting them, access by
this means being comparatively easy to villages and estates lying
farther inland.

Before making an extensive excursion into the interior, he spent some
time on the larger islands at the mouth of the Amazon, on one of which
he immediately noticed the scarcity of trees, while "the abundance of
every kind of animal life crowded into a small space was here very
striking, compared with the sparse manner in which it is scattered in
the virgin forests. It seems to force us to the conclusion that the
luxuriance of tropical vegetation is not favourable to the production of
animal life. The plains are always more thickly peopled than the forest;
and a temperate zone, as has been pointed out by Mr. Darwin, seems
better adapted to the support of large land animals than the tropics."

We have already referred to the fact that at the very early age of 14
Wallace had imbibed his first ideas of Socialism, or how the
"commonwealth" of a people or nation was the outcome of cause and
effect, largely due to the form of government, political economy and
progressive commerce best suited to any individual State or country. The
seed took deep root, and during the years spent for the most part
amongst an agricultural people in England and Wales his interest in
these questions had been quickened by observation and intelligent
inquiry. It is no wonder, therefore, that during the whole of his
travels we find many intimate references to such matters regarding the
locality in which he happened to find himself, but which can only be
noticed in a very casual manner in this section. For instance, he soon
discovered that the climate and soil round Para conduced to the
cultivation of almost every kind of food, such as cocoa, coffee, sugar,
farinha (the universal bread of the country) from the mandioca plant,
with vegetables and fruits in inexhaustible variety; while the articles
of export included india-rubber, Brazil nuts, and piassaba (the coarse,
stiff fibre of a palm, used for making brooms for street sweeping), as
well as sarsaparilla, balsam-capivi, and a few other drugs.

The utter lack of initiative, or even ordinary interest, in making the
most of the opportunities lying at hand, struck him again and again as
he went from place to place and was entertained hospitably by hosts of
various nationalities; until at times the impression is conveyed that
apart from his initial interest as a naturalist, a longing seized him to
arouse those who were primarily responsible for these conditions out of
the apathy into which they had fallen, and to make them realise the
larger pleasure which life offers to those who recognise the
opportunities at hand, not only for their own advancement but also for
the benefit of those placed under their control. All of which we find
happily illustrated during his visit to Sarawak, in the Malay

The whole of these four years was crowded with valuable experiences of
one sort and another. Some of the most toilsome journeys proved only a
disappointment, while others brought success beyond his most sanguine
dreams. At the end of two years it was agreed between himself and Bates
that they should separate, Wallace doing the northern parts and
tributaries of the Amazon, and Bates the main stream, which, from the
fork of the Rio Negro, is called the Upper Amazon, or the Solimoes. By
this arrangement they were able to cover more ground, besides devoting
themselves to the special goal of research on which each was bent.

In the meantime, Wallace's younger brother, Herbert, had come out to
join him, and for some time their journeys were made conjointly; but
finding that his brother was not temperamentally fitted to become a
naturalist, it was decided that he should return to England.
Accordingly, they parted at Barra when Wallace started on his long
journey up the Rio Negro, the duration of which was uncertain; and it
was not until many months after the sad event that he heard the
distressing news that Herbert had died of yellow fever on the eve of his
departure from Para for home. Fortunately, Bates was in Para at the
time, and did what he could for the boy until stricken down himself with
the same sickness, from which, however, his stronger constitution
enabled him to recover.

Perhaps the most eventful and memorable journey during this period was
the exploration of the Uaupés River, of which Wallace wrote nearly sixty
years later: "So far as I have heard, no English traveller has to this
day ascended the Uaupés River so far as I did, and no collector has
stayed at any time at Javita, or has even passed through it."

From a communication received from the Royal Geographical Society it
appears that the first complete survey of this river (a compass traverse
supplemented by astronomical observations) was made (1907-8) by Dr.
Hamilton Rice, starting from the side of Colombia, and tracing the whole
course of the river from a point near the source of its head-stream. The
result showed that the general course of the lower river was much as
represented by Wallace, though considerable corrections were necessary
both in latitude and longitude. "I am assured by authorities on the Rio
Negro region," writes Dr. Scott Keltie to Mr. W.G. Wallace, under date
May 21, 1915, "that your father's work still holds good."

In May, 1852, Wallace returned to Para, and sailed for England the
following July. The ship took fire at sea, and all his treasures (not
previously sent to England) were unhappily lost. Ten days and nights
were spent in an open boat before another vessel picked them up, and in
describing this terrible experience he says: "When the danger appeared
past I began to feel the greatness of my loss. With what pleasure had I
looked upon every rare and curious insect I had added to my collection!
How many times, when almost overcome by the ague, had I crawled into the
forest and been rewarded by some unknown and beautiful species! How
many places, which no European foot but my own had trodden, would have
been recalled to my memory by the rare birds and insects they had
furnished to my collection! How many weary days and weeks had I passed,
upheld only by the fond hope of bringing home many new and beautiful
forms from these wild regions ... which would prove that I had not
wasted the advantage I had enjoyed, and would give me occupation and
amusement for many years to come! And now ... I had not one specimen to
illustrate the unknown lands I had trod, or to call back the
recollection of the wild scenes I had beheld! But such regrets were vain
... and I tried to occupy myself with the state of things which actually

On reaching London, Wallace took a house in Upper Albany Street, where
his mother and his married sister (Mrs. Sims), with her husband, a
photographer, came to live with him. The next eighteen months were fully
occupied with sorting and arranging such collections as had previously
reached England; writing his book of travels up the Amazon and Rio Negro
(published in the autumn of 1853), and a little book on the palm trees
based on a number of fine pencil sketches he had preserved in a tin box,
the only thing saved from the wreck.

In summing up the most vivid impressions left on his mind, apart from
purely scientific results, after his four years in South America, he
wrote that the feature which he could never think of without delight was
"the wonderful variety and exquisite beauty of the butterflies and birds
... ever new and beautiful, strange and even mysterious," so that he
could "hardly recall them without a thrill of admiration and wonder."
But "the most unexpected sensation of surprise and delight was my first
meeting and living with man in a state of nature--with absolute
uncontaminated savages!... and the surprise of it was that I did not
expect to be at all so surprised.... These true wild Indians of the
Uaupés ... had nothing that we call clothes; they had peculiar
ornaments, tribal marks, etc.; they all carried tools or weapons of
their own manufacture.... But more than all, their whole aspect and
manner was different--they were all going about their own work or
pleasure, which had nothing to do with white men or their ways; they
walked with the free step of the independent forest-dweller, and, except
the few that were known to my companion, paid no attention whatever to
us, mere strangers of an alien race! In every detail they were original
and self-sustaining as are the wild animals of the forest, absolutely
independent of civilisation.... I could not have believed that there
would have been so much difference in the aspect of the same people in
their native state and when living under European supervision. The true
denizen of the Amazonian forest, like the forest itself, is unique and
not to be forgotten."

The foregoing "impressions" recall forcibly those expressed by Darwin in
similar terms at the close of his "Journal": "Delight ... is a weak term
to express the feelings of a naturalist who, for the first time, has
wandered by himself in a Brazilian forest. The elegance of the grasses,
the novelty of the parasitical plants, the beauty of the flowers, the
glossy green of the foliage ... the general luxuriance of the
vegetation, filled me with admiration. A paradoxical mixture of sound
and silence pervades the shady parts of the wood ... yet within the
recesses ... a universal silence appears to reign ... such a day as this
brings with it a deeper pleasure than he (a naturalist) can ever hope to
experience again,"[8] And in another place: "Among the scenes which are
deeply impressed on my mind, none can exceed in sublimity the primeval
forests undefaced by the hand of man; ... temples filled with the
various productions of the God of Nature; ... no one can stand in these
solitudes unmoved, and not feel that there is more in man than the mere
breath of his body."[9]

In complete contrast to the forest, the bare, treeless, and uninhabited
plains of Patagonia "frequently crossed before" Darwin's eyes. Why, he
could not understand, except that, being so "boundless," they left "free
scope for the imagination."

As these travels,[10] undertaken at comparatively the same age, represent
the foundation upon which their scientific work and theories were based
during the long years which followed, a glance at the conditions
governing the separate expeditions--both mental and physical--may be of
some value. The most obvious difference lies, perhaps, in the fact that
Darwin was free from the thought of having to "pay his way" by the
immediate result of his efforts, and likewise from all care and anxiety
regarding domestic concerns; the latter being provided for him when on
board the _Beagle_, or arranged by those who accompanied him on his
travels overland and by river. The elimination of these minor cares
tended to leave his mind free and open to absorb and speculate at
comparative leisure upon all the strange phenomena which presented
themselves throughout the long voyage.

A further point of interest in determining the ultimate gain or loss
lies in the fact that Darwin's private excursions had to be somewhat
subservient to the movements of the _Beagle_ under the command of
Captain Fitz-Roy. This, in all probability, was beneficial to one of his
temperament--unaccustomed to be greatly restricted by outward
circumstances or conditions, though never flagrantly (or, perhaps,
consciously) going against them. The same applies in a measure to
Wallace, who, on more than one occasion, confessed his tendency to a
feeling of semi-idleness and dislike to any form of enforced physical
exertion; but as every detail, involving constant forethought and
arrangement, as well as the execution, devolved upon himself, the latent
powers of methodical perseverance, which never failed him, no matter
what difficulties barred his way, were called forth. Darwin's estimate
of the "habit of mind" forced upon himself during this period may not
inaptly be applied to both men: "Everything about which I thought or
read was made to bear directly on what I had seen, or was likely to see;
and this habit of mind was continued during the five years of the
voyage. I feel sure that it was this training which enabled me to do
whatever I have done in science."

It may be further assumed that Darwin was better equipped mentally--from
a scientific point of view--owing to his personal intercourse with
eminent scientific men previous to his assuming this responsible
position. Wallace, on the contrary, had practically little beyond
book-knowledge and such experience as he had been able to gain by
solitary wanderings in the localities in which he had, by circumstances,
been forced to reside. His plan of operations must, therefore, have been
largely modified and adapted as time went on, and as his finances
allowed. To both, therefore, credit is due for the adaptability evinced
under conditions not always congenial or conducive to the pursuits they
had undertaken.

Although the fact is not definitely stated by Wallace, it may readily be
inferred that the idea of making this the starting-point of a new life
was clearly in his mind; while Darwin simply accepted the opportunity
when it came, and was only brought to a consciousness of its full
meaning and bearing on his future career whilst studying the geological
aspect of Santiago when "the line of white rock revealed a new and
important fact," namely, that there had been afterwards subsidence round
the craters, which had since been in action and had poured forth lava.
"It then," he says, "first dawned on me that I might perhaps write a
book on the geology of the various countries visited, and this made me
thrill with delight. That was a memorable hour to me; and how distinctly
I can call to mind the low cliff of lava, beneath which I rested, with
the sun glaring hot, a few strange desert plants growing near, and with
living corals in the tidal pools at my feet!"[11]

Another point of comparison lies in the fact that at no time did the
study of man or human nature, from the metaphysical and psychological
point of view, appeal to Darwin as it did to Wallace; and this being so,
the similarity between the impression made on them individually by their
first contact with primitive human beings is of some interest.

Wallace's words have already been quoted; here are Darwin's: "Nothing is
more certain to create astonishment than the first sight in his native
haunt of a barbarian, of man in his lowest and most savage state. One
asks: 'Could our progenitors have been men like these--men whose very
signs and expressions are less intelligible to us than those of the
domesticated animals; men who do not possess the instinct of those
animals, nor yet appear to boast of human reason, or at least of arts
consequent on that reason?' I do not believe it is possible to describe
or paint the difference between a savage and civilised man. It is the
difference between a wild and tame animal."[12]

The last words suggest the seed-thought eventually to be enlarged in
"The Descent of Man," and there is also perhaps a subtle suggestion of
the points in which Wallace differed from Darwin when the time came for
them to discuss this important section of the theory of Evolution. It
needed, however, the further eight years spent by Wallace in the Malay
Archipelago to bring about a much wider knowledge of nature-science
before he was prepared in any way to assume the position of exponent of
theories not seriously thought of previously in the scientific world.

In the autumn of 1853, on the completion of his "Travels on the Amazon
and Rio Negro," Wallace paid his first visit to Switzerland, on a
walking tour in company with his friend George Silk. On his return, and
during the winter months, he was constant in his attendance at the
meetings of the Entomological and Zoological Societies. It was at one of
these evening gatherings that he first met Huxley, and he also had a
vague recollection of once meeting and speaking to Darwin at the British
Museum. Had it not been for his extreme shyness of disposition, and
(according to his own estimation) "lack of conversational powers," he
would doubtless have become far more widely known, and have enjoyed the
friendship of not a few of the eminent men who shared his interests,
during this interval before starting on his journey to Singapore.

It was due to his close study of the Insect and Bird Departments of the
British Museum that he decided on Singapore as a new starting-point for
his natural history collections. As the region was generally healthy,
and no part of it (with the exception of the Island of Java) had been
explored, it offered unlimited attractions for his special work. But as
the journey out would be an expensive one, he was advised to lay his
plans before Sir Roderick Murchison, then President of the Royal
Geographical Society, and it was through his kindly interest and
personal application to the Government that a passage was provided in
one of the P. and O. boats going to Singapore. He left early in 1854.
Arrived at Singapore, an entirely new world opened up before him. New
peoples and customs thronged on all hands, a medley of nationalities
such as can only be seen in the East, where, even to-day, and though
forming part of one large community, each section preserves its native
dress, customs and religious habits. After spending some time at
Singapore he moved from place to place, but finally decided upon making
Ternate his head-quarters, as he discovered a comfortable bungalow, not
too large, and adaptable in every way as a place in which to collect and
prepare his specimens between the many excursions to other parts of the
Archipelago. The name is now indelibly associated with that particular
visit which ended after a trying journey in an attack of intermittent
fever and general prostration, during which he first conceived the idea
which has made Ternate famous in the history of natural science.

[Illustration: A.R. WALLACE Singapore, 1862]

One or two points in the following letters recall certain contrasts
similar to those already drawn between Darwin's impression of places and
people and those made on the mind of Wallace by practically the same
conditions. A typical instance is found in their estimate of the life
and work of the missionaries whom they met and from whom they received
the warmest hospitality. Their experience included both Protestant and
Roman Catholic, and from Darwin's account the former appeared to him to
have the more civilising effect on the people, not only from a
religious but also from the economic and industrial points of view.

In the "Journal" (p. 419) we find a detailed account of a visit to the
missionary settlement at Waimate, New Zealand. After describing the
familiar English appearance of the whole surroundings, he adds: "All
this is very surprising when it is considered that five years ago
nothing but the fern flourished here. Moreover, native workmanship,
taught by these missionaries, has effected this change--the lesson of
the missionary is the enchanter's wand. The house had been built, the
windows framed, the fields ploughed, and even the trees grafted, by the
New Zealander. When I looked at the whole scene it was admirable. It was
not that England was brought vividly before my mind; ... nor was it the
triumphant feeling at seeing what Englishmen could effect; but rather
the high hopes thus inspired for the future progress of this fine

No such feeling was inspired by the conditions surrounding the Roman
Catholic missionaries whom he met from time to time. In an earlier part
of the "Journal" he records an evening spent with one living in a lonely
place in South America who, "coming from Santiago, had contrived to
surround himself with some few comforts. Being a man of some little
education, he bitterly complained of the total want of society. With no
particular zeal for religion, no business or pursuit, how completely
must this man's life be wasted."

In complete opposition to these views, passages occur in the following
letters which show that Wallace thought more highly of the Roman
Catholic than of the Protestant missionaries. In one place, speaking of
the former, he says: "Most are Frenchmen ... well-educated men who give
up their lives for the good of the people they live among, I think
Catholics and Protestants are equally wrong, but as missionaries I think
Catholics are the best, and I would gladly see none others rather than
have, as in New Zealand, sects of native Dissenters more rancorous
against each other than in England. The unity of the Catholics is their
strength, and an unmarried clergy can do as missionaries what married
men never can undertake."

As a sidelight on these contradictory estimates of the same work, it
should be borne in mind that Darwin had but recently given up the idea
of becoming a clergyman, and doubtless retained some of the instinctive
regard for sincere Christian Protestantism (whether represented by the
Church of England or by Nonconformists), while Wallace had long since
relinquished all doctrinal ideas on religion and all belief in the
beneficial effect produced by forms of worship on the individual.

Among the regions Wallace visited was Sarawak. Of one of his sojourns
here some interesting reminiscences have been sent to me by Mr. L.V.
Helmes. He says:

    It was in 1854 that Wallace came to Sarawak. I was there then,
    sent by a private firm, which later became the Borneo Company, to
    open up, by mining, manufacture and trade, the resources of the
    country, and amongst these enterprises was coal-mining on the
    west. Wallace came in search of new specimens of animal and
    especially insect life. The clearing of ancient forests at these
    mines offered a naturalist great opportunities, and I gave Wallace
    an introduction to our engineer in charge there. His collections
    of beetles and butterflies there were phenomenal; but the district
    was also the special home of the great ape, the orang-utan, or
    meias, as the natives called them, of which he obtained so many
    valuable specimens. Many notes must at that time have passed
    between us, for I took much interest in his work. We had put up a
    temporary hut for him at the mines, and on my occasional visits
    there I saw him and his young assistant, Charles Allen, at work,
    admired his beautiful collections, and gave my help in forwarding

    But it was mainly in social intercourse that we met, when Wallace,
    in intervals of his labours, came to Ku-ching, and was the Rajah's
    guest. Then occurred those interesting discussions at social
    gatherings to which he refers in a letter to me in 1909, when he
    wrote: "I was pleased to receive your letter, with reminiscences
    of old times. I often recall those pleasant evenings with Rajah
    Brooke and our little circle, but since the old Rajah's death I
    have not met any of the party."

    Wallace was in Sarawak at the happy period in the country's
    history. It was beginning to emerge from barbarism. The Borneo
    Company was just formed, and the seed of the country's future
    prosperity was sown. Wallace, therefore, found us all sanguine and
    cheerful; yet we were on the brink of a disaster which brought
    many sorrows in its train. But the misfortunes of the Chinese
    revolt had not yet cast their shadows before them. The Rajah's
    white guests round his hospitable table; the Malay chiefs and
    office-holders, who made evening calls from curiosity or to pay
    their respects; Dyaks squatting in dusky groups in corners of the
    hall, with petitions to make or advice to seek from their white
    ruler--such would be the gathering of which Wallace would form a
    part. No suspicion or foreboding would trouble the company; yet
    within a few months that hall would be given to the flames of an
    enemy's torch, and the Rajah himself and many of those who formed
    that company would be fugitives in the jungle....

    The Malay Archipelago, in the unregenerated days when Wallace
    roamed the forests, and sailed the Straits in native boats and
    canoes, was full of danger to wanderers of the white race. Anarchy
    prevailed in many parts; usurping nobles enslaved the people in
    their houses; and piratical fleets scoured the sea, capturing and
    enslaving yearly thousands of peaceful traders, women and
    children. The writer was himself in 1862 besieged in a Bornean
    river by a pirate fleet, which was eventually destroyed by a
    Sarawak Government steamer with the following result of the fight:
    190 pirates and 140 captives were killed or drowned, and 250 of
    the latter were liberated and sent to their homes; showing how
    formidable these pirates were. But Wallace, absorbed in his
    scientific pursuits, minded not these dangers, nor the hardships
    of any kind which a roving life in untrodden jungles and feverish
    swamps brings.

    When Wallace left Sarawak after his fifteen months' residence in
    the country, he left his young assistant, Charles Allen, there. He
    entered my service, and remained some time after the formation of
    the Borneo Company. Later, he again joined Wallace, and then went
    to New Guinea, doing valuable collecting and exploring work. He
    finally settled in Singapore, where I met him in 1899. He had
    married and was doing well; but died not long after my interview
    with him. He had come to the East with Wallace as a lad of 16, and
    had been his faithful companion and assistant during years of
    arduous work.--L.V.H.

The eight years spent by Wallace in this almost unknown part of the
world were times of strenuous mental and physical exertion, resulting in
the gathering together of an enormous amount of matter for future
scientific investigation, but counterbalanced unfortunately by more or
less continuous ill-health--which at times made the effort of clear
reasoning and close application to scientific pursuits extremely

An indication of the unwearying application with which he went about his
task is seen in the fact that during this period he collected 125,660
specimens of natural history, travelled about 14,000 miles within the
Archipelago, and made sixty or seventy journeys, "each involving some
preparation and loss of time," so that "not more than six years were
really occupied in collecting."

A faint idea of this long and solitary sojourn in lonely places is
given in a letter to his old friend Bates, dated December 24th, 1860, in
which he says: "Many thanks for your long and interesting letter. I have
myself suffered much in the same way as you describe, and I think more
severely. The kind of _tædium vitæ_ you mention I also occasionally
experience here. I impute it to a too monotonous existence." And again
when he begs his friend to write, as he is "half froze for news."

As already stated, Wallace, at no time during these wanderings, had any
escort or protection, having to rely entirely upon his own tact and
patience, combined with firmness, in his dealings with the natives. On
one occasion he was taken ill, and had to remain six weeks with none but
native Papuans around him, and he became so attached to them that when
saying good-bye it was with the full intention of returning amongst them
at a later period. In another place he speaks of sleeping under cover of
an open palm-leaf hut as calmly as under the protection of the
Metropolitan Police!

Up to that time, also, he was the only Englishman who had actually seen
the beautiful "birds of paradise in their native forests," this success
being achieved after "five voyages to different parts of the district
they inhabit, each occupying in its preparation and execution the larger
part of a year." And then only five species out of a possible fourteen
were procured. His enthusiasm as a naturalist and collector knew no
bounds, butterflies especially calling into play all his feelings of joy
and satisfaction. Describing his first sight of the _Ornithoptera
croesus_, he says that the blood rushed to his head and he felt much
more like fainting than he had done when in apprehension of immediate
death; a similar sensation being experienced when he came across another
large bird-winged butterfly, _Ornithoptera poseidon_.

"It is one thing," he says, "to see such beauty in a cabinet, and quite
another to feel it struggling between one's fingers, and to gaze upon
its fresh and living beauty, a bright-green gem shining out amid the
silent gloom of a dark and tangled forest. The village of Dobbo held
that evening at least one contented man."

These thrills of joy may be considered as some compensation for such
experiences as those contained in his graphic account of a single
journey in a "prau," or native boat. "My first crew," he wrote, "ran
away; two men were lost for a month on a desert island; we were ten
times aground on coral reefs; we lost four anchors; our sails were
devoured by rats; the small boat was lost astern; we were thirty-eight
days on the voyage home which should have taken twelve; we were many
times short of food and water; we had no compass-lamp owing to there not
being a drop of oil in Waigiou when we left; and to crown it all, during
the whole of our voyage, occupying in all seventy-eight days (all in
what was supposed to be the favourable season), we had not one single
day of fair wind."

The scientific discoveries arising out of these eight years of laborious
work and physical hardship were first--with the exception of the
memorable Essay on Natural Selection--included in his books on the Malay
Archipelago, the Geographical Distribution of Animals, Island Life, and
Australasia, besides a number of papers contributed to various
scientific journals.

A bare catalogue of the places visited and explored includes Sumatra,
Java, Borneo, Celebes, the Moluccas, Timor, New Guinea, the Aru and Ké
Islands. Comparing this list with that given by Darwin at the close of
the "Journal," we find that though in some respects the ground covered
by the two men was similar, it never actually overlapped. The countries
and islands visited by the _Beagle_ came in the following order: Cape de
Verde Islands, St. Paul's Rocks, Fernando Noronha, South America
(including the Galapagos Archipelago, the Falkland Isles, and Tierra del
Fuego), Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, Keeling Island,
Maldive coral atolls, Mauritius, St. Helena, Ascension. Brazil was
revisited for a short time, and the _Beagle_ touched at the Cape de
Verde Islands and the Azores on the homeward voyage.

The very nature of this voyage did not permit Darwin to give unlimited
time to the study of any particular spot or locality; but his accurate
observation of every detail, together with his carefully kept journal,
afforded ample scope and foundation for future contemplation. To
Wallace, the outstanding result may be summed up in the fact that he
discovered that the Malay Archipelago is divided into a western group of
islands, which in their zoological affinities are Asiatic, and an
eastern, which are Australian. The Oriental Borneo and Bali are
respectively divided from the Australian Celebes and Lombok by a narrow
belt of sea known as "Wallace's line," on the opposite side of which the
indigenous mammalia are as widely divergent as in any two parts of the

To both men Darwin's estimate of the influence of travel may aptly apply
in the sense that from a geographical point of view "the map of the
world ceases to be a blank ... each part assumes its proper dimensions,"
continents are no longer considered islands, nor islands as mere specks.

Wallace's homeward journey was not so eventful as the previous one had
been, except for the unsuccessful efforts to bring back several species
of live birds, which, with the exception of his birds of paradise, died
on the way. On reaching London in the spring of 1862, he again made his
home with his married sister, Mrs. Sims (who was living in Westbourne
Grove). In a large empty room at the top of the house he found himself
surrounded with packing-cases which he had not seen for five or six
years, and which, together with his recent collections, absorbed his
time and interest for the first few weeks. Later, he settled down to his
literary work, and, with the exception of one or two visits to the
Continent and America, spent the remainder of his life in England--a
life full of activity, the results of which still permeate scientific

PART I (_Continued_)

II.--Early Letters


Of the few letters which have been preserved relating to this period, a
number have already been published in "My Life," and need not be
reprinted here. But in some cases portions of these letters have been
given because they bring out aspects of Wallace's character which are
not revealed elsewhere. The various omissions which have been made in
other letters refer either to unimportant personal matters or to
technical scientific details. The first of the letters was written
during Wallace's voyage to the Malay Archipelago.

       *       *       *       *       *


_Steamer "Bengal," Red Sea. March 26, [1854]._

My dear George,-- ... Of all the eventful days of my life my first in
Alexandria was the most striking. Imagine my feelings when, coming out
of the hotel (whither I had been conveyed in an omnibus) for the purpose
of taking a quiet stroll through the city, I found myself in the midst
of a vast crowd of donkeys and their drivers, all thoroughly determined
to appropriate my person to their own use and interest, without in the
least consulting my inclinations. In vain with rapid strides and waving
arms I endeavoured to clear a way and move forward; arms and legs were
seized upon, and even the Christian coat-tails were not sacred from the
profane Mahometans. One would hold together two donkeys by their tails
while I was struggling between them, and another, forcing together their
heads, would thus hope to compel me to mount upon one or both of them;
and one fellow more impudent than the rest I laid flat upon the ground,
and sending the donkey staggering after him, I escaped a moment midst
hideous yells and most unearthly cries. I now beckoned to a fellow more
sensible-looking than the rest, and told him that I wished to walk and
would take him for a guide, and hoped now to be at rest; but vain
thought! I was in the hands of the Philistines, and getting us up
against a wall, they formed an impenetrable phalanx of men and brutes
thoroughly determined that I should only get away from the spot on the
legs of a donkey. Bethinking myself now that donkey-riding was a
national institution, and seeing a fat Yankee (very like my Paris
friend) mounted, being like myself hopeless of any other means of
escape, I seized upon a bridle in hopes that I should then be left in
peace. But this was the signal for a more furious onset, for, seeing
that I would at length ride, each one was determined that he alone
should profit by the transaction, and a dozen animals were forced
suddenly upon me and a dozen hands tried to lift me upon their
respective beasts. But now my patience was exhausted, so, keeping firm
hold of the bridle I had first taken with one hand, I hit right and left
with the other, and calling upon my guide to do the same, we succeeded
in clearing a little space around us. Now then behold your friend
mounted upon a jackass in the streets of Alexandria, a boy behind
holding by his tail and whipping him up, Charles (who had been lost
sight of in the crowd) upon another, and my guide upon a third, and off
we go among a crowd of Jews and Greeks, Turks and Arabs, and veiled
women and yelling donkey-boys to see the city. We saw the bazaars and
the slave market, where I was again nearly pulled to pieces for
"backsheesh" (money), the mosques with their elegant minarets, and then
the Pasha's new palace, the interior of which is most gorgeous.

We have seen lots of Turkish soldiers walking in comfortable
irregularity; and, after feeling ourselves to be dreadful guys for two
hours, returned to the hotel whence we were to start for the canal
boats. You may think this account is exaggerated, but it is not; the
pertinacity, vigour and screams of the Alexandrian donkey-drivers no
description can do justice to....--Yours sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Singapore, April 30, 1854_.

My dear Mother,--We arrived here safe on the 20th of this month, having
had very fine weather all the voyage. On shore I was obliged to go to a
hotel, which was very expensive, so I tried to get out into the country
as soon as I could, which, however, I did not manage in less than a
week, when I at last got permission to stay with a French Roman Catholic
missionary who lives about eight miles out of the town and close to the
jungle. The greater part of the inhabitants of Singapore are Chinese,
many of whom are very rich, and all the villages about are almost
entirely of Chinese, who cultivate pepper and gambir. Some of the
English merchants here have splendid country houses. I dined with one to
whom I brought an introduction. His house was most elegant, and full of
magnificent Chinese and Japanese furniture. We are now at the Mission of
Bukit Tima. The missionary speaks English, Malay and Chinese, as well as
French, and is a very pleasant man. He has built a very pretty church
here, and has about 300 Chinese converts. Having only been here four
days, I cannot tell much about my collections yet. Insects, however,
are plentiful....

Charles gets on pretty well in health, and catches a few insects; but he
is very untidy, as you may imagine by his clothes being all torn to
pieces by the time we arrived here. He will no doubt improve and will
soon be useful.

Malay is the universal language, in which all business is carried on. It
is easy, and I am beginning to pick up a little, but when we go to
Malacca shall learn it most, as there they speak nothing else.

I am very unfortunate with my watch. I dropped it on board and broke the
balance-spring, and have now sent it home to Mr. Matthews to repair, as
I cannot trust anyone here to do it....

Love to Fanny and Thomas,--I remain your affectionate son,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Bukit Tama, Singapore. May 28, 1854._

My dear Mother,--I send you a few lines through G. Silk as I thought you
would like to hear from me. I am very comfortable here living with a
Roman Catholic missionary.... I send by this mail a small box of insects
for Mr. Stevens--I think a very valuable one--and I hope it will go
safely. I expected a letter from you by the last mail, but received only
two _Athenoeums_ of March 18 and 25....

The forest here is very similar to that of South America. Palms are very
numerous, but they are generally small and horridly spiny. There are
none of the large and majestic species so abundant on the Amazon. I am
so busy with insects now that I have no time for anything else, I send
now about a thousand beetles to Mr. Stevens, and I have as many other
insects still on hand which will form part of my next and principal
consignment. Singapore is very rich in beetles, and before I leave I
think I shall have a most beautiful collection.

[Illustration: A.R. WALLACE'S MOTHER]

I will tell you how my day is now occupied. Get up at half-past five.
Bath and coffee. Sit down to arrange and put away my insects of the day
before, and set them safe out to dry. Charles mending nets, filling
pincushions, and getting ready for the day. Breakfast at eight. Out to
the jungle at nine. We have to walk up a steep hill to get to it, and
always arrive dripping with perspiration. Then we wander about till two
or three, generally returning with about 50 or 60 beetles, some very
rare and beautiful. Bathe, change clothes, and sit down to kill and pin
insects. Charles ditto with flies, bugs and wasps; I do not trust him
yet with beetles. Dinner at four. Then to work again till six. Coffee.
Read. If very numerous, work at insects till eight or nine. Then to bed.

Adieu, with love to all.--Your affectionate son,


       *       *       *       *       *


_In the Jungle near Malacca. July, 1854._

My dear Mother,--As this letter may be delayed getting to Singapore I
write at once, having an opportunity of sending to Malacca to-morrow. We
have been here a week, living in a Chinese house or shed, which reminds
me remarkably of my old Rio Negro habitation. I have now for the first
time brought my "rede" into use, and find it very comfortable.

We came from Singapore in a small schooner with about fifty Chinese,
Hindoos and Portuguese passengers, and were two days on the voyage,
with nothing but rice and curry to eat, not having made any provision,
it being our first experience of these country vessels. Malacca is an
old Dutch city, but the Portuguese have left the strongest mark of their
possession in the common language of the place being still theirs. I
have now two Portuguese servants, a cook and a hunter, and find myself
thus almost brought back again to Brazil by the similarity of language,
the people, and the jungle life. In Malacca we stayed only two days,
being anxious to get into the country as soon as possible. I stayed with
a Roman Catholic missionary; there are several here, each devoted to a
particular part of the population, Portuguese, Chinese and wild Malays
of the jungle. The gentleman we were with is building a large church, of
which he is architect himself, and superintends the laying of every
brick and the cutting of every piece of timber. Money enough could not
be raised here, so he took a voyage _round the world!_ and in the United
States, California, and India got subscriptions sufficient to complete

It is a curious and not very creditable thing that in the English
colonies of Singapore and Malacca there is not a single Protestant
missionary; while the conversion, education and physical and moral
improvement of the inhabitants (non-European) is entirely left to these
French missionaries, who without the slightest assistance from our
Government devote their lives to the Christianising and civilising of
the varied populations which we rule over.

Here the birds are abundant and most beautiful, more so than on the
Amazon, and I think I shall soon form a most beautiful collection. They
are, however, almost all common, and so are of little value except that
I hope they will be better specimens than usually come to England. My
guns are both very good, but I find powder and shot in Singapore
cheaper than in London, so I need not have troubled myself to take any.
So far both I and Charles have enjoyed excellent health. He can now
shoot pretty well, and is so fond of it that I can hardly get him to do
anything else. He will soon be very useful, if I can cure him of his
incorrigible carelessness. At present I cannot trust him to do the
smallest thing without watching that he does it properly, so that I
might generally as well do it myself. I shall remain here probably two
months, and then return to Singapore to prepare for a voyage to Cambodia
or somewhere else, so do not be alarmed if you do not hear from me
regularly. Love to all.--Your affectionate son,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Singapore. September 30, 1854._

My dear Mother,--I last wrote to you from Malacca in July. I have now
just returned to Singapore after two months' hard work. At Malacca I had
a pretty strong touch of fever with the old Rio Negro symptoms, but the
Government doctor made me take a great quantity of quinine every day for
a week together and so killed it, and in less than a fortnight I was
quite well and off to the jungle again. I see now how to treat the
fever, and shall commence at once when the symptoms again appear. I
never took half enough quinine in America to cure me. Malacca is a
pretty place, and I worked very hard. Insects are not very abundant
there, still by perseverance I got a good number and many rare ones. Of
birds, too, I made a good collection. I went to the celebrated Mount
Ophir and ascended to the top. The walk was terrible--thirty miles
through jungle, a succession of mud holes. My boots did good service. We
lived there a week at the foot of the mountain, in a little hut built
by our men, and I got some fine new butterflies there and hundreds of
other new and rare insects. We had only rice and a little fish and tea,
but came home quite well. The height of the mountain is about 4,000
feet.... Elephants and rhinoceroses, as well as tigers, are abundant
there, but we had our usual bad luck in not seeing any of them.

On returning to Malacca I found the accumulations of two or three posts,
a dozen letters and fifty newspapers....

I am glad to be safe in Singapore with my collections, as from here they
can be insured. I have now a fortnight's work to arrange, examine, and
pack them, and then in four months hence there will be some work for Mr.

Sir James Brooke is here. I have called on him. He received me most
cordially, and offered me every assistance at Sarawak. I shall go there
next, as the missionary does not go to Cambodia for some months.
Besides, I shall have some pleasant society at Sarawak, and shall get on
in Malay, which is very easy, but I have had no practice--though still I
can ask for most common things. My books and instruments arrived in
beautiful condition. They looked as if they had been packed up but a
day. Not so the unfortunate eatables....--I remain your affectionate


       *       *       *       *       *


_Singapore. October 15, 1854._

Dear G.,--To-morrow I sail for Sarawak. Sir J. Brooke has given me a
letter to his nephew, Capt. Brooke, to make me at home till he arrives,
which may be a month, perhaps. I look forward with much interest to see
what he has done and how he governs. I look forward to spending a very
pleasant time at Sarawak....

Sir W. Hooker's remarks are encouraging, but I cannot afford to collect
plants. I have to work for a living, and plants would not pay unless I
collect nothing else, which I cannot do, being too much interested in
zoology. I should like a botanical companion like Mr. Spruce very much.
We are anxiously expecting accounts of the taking of Sebastopol.

I am much obliged to Latham for quoting me, and hope to see it soon.
That ought to make my name a little known. I have not your talent at
making acquaintances, and find Singapore very dull. I have not found a
single companion. I long for you to walk about with and observe the
queer things in the streets of Singapore. The Chinamen and their ways
are inexhaustibly amusing. My revolver is too heavy for daily use. I
wish I had had a small one.--Yours sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Si Munjon Coal Works, Borneo. May, 1855._

One of the principal reasons which induced me to come here was that it
is the country of those most strange and interesting animals, the
orang-utans, or "mias" of the Dyaks. In the Sarawak district, though
scarce twenty miles distant, they are quite unknown, there being some
boundary line in this short space which, obeying the inexplicable laws
of distribution, they never pass. The Dyaks distinguish three different
kinds, which are known in Europe by skulls or skeletons only, much
confusion still existing in their synonymy, and the external characters
of the adult animals being almost or quite unknown. I have already been
fortunate enough to shoot two young animals of two of the species,
which were easily distinguishable from each other, and I hope by staying
here some time to get adult specimens of all the species, and also to
obtain much valuable information as to their habits. The jungle here is
exceedingly monotonous; palms are scarce and flowers almost wanting,
except some species of dwarf gingerwort. It is high on the trees that
flowers are alone to be found.... Oak trees are rather plentiful, as I
have already found three species with red, brown, and black acorns. This
is confirmatory of Dr. Hooker's statement that, contrary to the
generally received opinion, oaks are equally characteristic of a
tropical as of a temperate climate. I must make an exception to the
scarcity of flowers, however, tall slender trees occurring not
unfrequently, whose stems are flower-bearing. One is a magnificent
object, 12 or 15 ft. of the stem being almost hidden by rich
orange-coloured flowers, which in the gloomy forest have, as I have
before remarked of tropical insects under similar circumstances, an
almost magical effect of brilliancy. Not less beautiful is another tree
similarly clothed with spikes of pink and white berries.

The only striking features of the animal world are the hornbills, which
are very abundant and take the place of the toucans of Brazil, though I
believe they have no real affinity with them; and the immense flights of
fruit-eating bats which frequently pass over us. They extend as far as
the eye can reach, and continue passing for hours. By counting and
estimation I calculated that at least 30,000 passed one evening while we
could see them, and they continued on some time after dark. The species
is probably the _Pteropus edulis_; its expanded wings are near 5 ft.
across, and it flies with great ease and rapidity. Fruit seems so scarce
in these jungles that it is a mystery where they find enough to supply
such vast multitudes.

Our mode of life here is very simple--rather too much so, as we have a
continual struggle to get enough to eat. The Sarawak market is to a
great extent supplied with rice, fowls, and sweet potatoes from this
river, yet I have been obliged to send to Sarawak to purchase these very
articles. The reason is that the Dyaks are almost all in debt to the
Malay traders, and will therefore not sell anything, fearful of not
having sufficient to satisfy their creditors. They have now just got in
their rice harvest, and though it is not a very abundant one there is no
immediate pressure of hunger to induce them to earn anything by hunting
or snaring birds, etc. This also prevents them from being very
industrious in seeking for the "mias," though I have offered a high
price for full-grown animals. The old men here relate with pride how
many heads they have taken in their youth, and though they all
acknowledge the goodness of the present Rajah's government, yet they
think that if they could still take a few heads they would have better
harvests. The more I see of uncivilised people, the better I think of
human nature on the whole, and the essential differences between
so-called civilised and savage man seem to disappear. Here are we, two
Europeans surrounded by a population of Chinese, Malays, and Dyaks. The
Chinese are generally considered, and with some truth, to be thieves,
liars, and careless of human life, and these Chinese are coolies of the
very lowest and least educated class. The Malays are invariably
characterised as treacherous and bloodthirsty, and the Dyaks have only
recently ceased to think head-taking an absolute necessity. We are two
days' journey from Sarawak, where, though the Government is European,
yet it only exists by the consent and support of the native population.
Now I can safely say that in any part of Europe, if the same facilities
for crime and disturbance existed, things would not go on so smoothly
as they do here. We sleep with open doors and go about constantly
unarmed; one or two petty robberies and a little private fighting have
taken place among the Chinese, but the great proportion of them are
quiet, honest, decent sort of men. They did not at first like the
strictness and punctuality with which the English manager kept them to
their work, and two or three ringleaders tried to get up a strike for
short hours and higher wages, but Mr. G.'s energy and decision soon
stopped this by sending off the ringleaders at once, and summoning all
the Dyaks and Malays in the neighbourhood to his assistance in case of
any resistance being attempted. It was very gratifying to see how
rapidly they came up at his summons, and this display of power did much
good, for since then everything has gone on smoothly. Preparations are
now making for building a "joss house," a sure sign that the Chinese
have settled to the work, and giving every promise of success in an
undertaking which must have a vast influence on the progress of commerce
and civilisation of Borneo and the surrounding countries. India,
Australia, and every country with which they have communication must
also be incalculably benefited by an abundant supply of good coal within
two days' steam of Singapore. Let us wish success, then, to the Si
Munjon Coal Works!--A.R.W.

       *       *       *       *       *


_Sadong River Borneo]. June 25, 1855._

My dear Fanny,-- ... I am now obliged to keep fowls and pigs, or we
should get nothing to eat. I have three pigs now and a China boy to
attend to them, who also assists in skinning "orang-utans," which he and
Charles are doing at this moment. I have also planted some onions and
pumpkins, which were above ground in three days and are growing
vigorously. I have been practising salting pork, and find I can make
excellent pickled pork here, which I thought was impossible, as everyone
I have seen try has failed. It is because they leave it to servants, who
will not take the necessary trouble. I do it myself. I shall therefore
always keep pigs in the future. I find there will not be time for
another box round the Cape, so must have a small parcel overland. I
should much like my _lasts_, but nothing else, unless some canvas shoes
are made.

If the young man my mother and Mr. Stevens mentioned comes, he can bring
them. I shall write to Mr. Stevens about the terms on which I can take
him. I am, however, rather shy about it, having hitherto had no one to
suit me. As you seem to know him, I suppose he comes to see you
sometimes. Let me know what you think of him. Do not tell me merely that
he is "a very nice young man." Of course he is. So is Charles a very
nice boy, but I could not be troubled with another like him for any
consideration whatever. I have written to Mr. Stevens to let me know his
character, as regards _neatness_ and _perseverance_ in doing anything he
is set about. From you I should like to know whether he is quiet or
boisterous, forward or shy, talkative or silent, sensible or frivolous,
delicate or strong. Ask him whether he can live on rice and salt fish
for a week on an occasion--whether he can do without wine or beer, and
sometimes without tea, coffee or sugar--whether he can sleep on a
board--whether he likes the hottest weather in England--whether he is
too delicate to skin a stinking animal--whether he can walk twenty miles
a day--whether he can work, for there is sometimes as hard work in
collecting as in anything. Can he draw (not copy)? Can he speak French?
Does he write a good hand? Can he make anything? Can he saw a piece of
board straight? (Charles cannot, and every bit of carpenter work I have
to do myself.) Ask him to make you anything--a little card box, a
wooden peg or bottle-stopper, and see if he makes them neat, straight
and square. Charles never does anything the one or the other. Charles
has now been with me more than a year, and every day some such
conversation as this ensues: "Charles, look at these butterflies that
you set out yesterday." "Yes, sir." "Look at that one--is it set out
evenly?" "No, sir." "Put it right then, and all the others that want
it." In five minutes he brings me the box to look at. "Have you put them
all right?" "Yes, sir." "There's one with the wings uneven, there's
another with the body on one side, then another with the pin crooked.
Put them all right this time." It most frequently happens that they have
to go back a third time. Then all is right. If he puts up a bird, the
head is on one side, there is a great lump of cotton on one side of the
neck like a wen, the feet are twisted soles uppermost, or something
else. In everything it is the same, what ought to be straight is always
put crooked. This after twelve months' constant practice and constant
teaching! And not the slightest sign of improvement. I believe he never
will improve. Day after day I have to look over everything he does and
tell him of the same faults. Another with a similar incapacity would
drive me mad. He never, too, by any chance, puts anything away after
him. When done with, everything is thrown on the floor. Every other day
an hour is lost looking for knife, scissors, pliers, hammer, pins, or
something he has mislaid. Yet out of doors he does very well--he
collects insects well, and if I could get a neat, orderly person in the
house I would keep him almost entirely at out-of-door work and at
skinning, which he does also well, but cannot put into shape....--Your
affectionate brother,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Sarawak. Christmas Day, 1855._

My dear Mother,--You will see I am spending a second Christmas Day with
the Rajah.... I have lived a month with the Dyaks and have been a
journey about sixty miles into the interior. I have been very much
pleased with the Dyaks. They are a very kind, simple and hospitable
people, and I do not wonder at the great interest Sir J. Brooke takes in
them. They are more communicative and lively than the American Indians,
and it is therefore more agreeable to live with them. In moral character
they are far superior to either Malays or Chinese, for though
head-taking has been a custom among them it is only as a trophy of war.
In their own villages crimes are very rare. Ever since Sir J. has been
here, more than twelve years, in a large population there has been but
one case of murder in a Dyak tribe, and that one was committed by a
stranger who had been adopted into the tribe. One wet day I got a piece
of string to show them how to play "scratch cradle," and was quite
astonished to find that they knew it better than I did and could make
all sorts of new figures I had never seen. They were also very clever
with tricks with string on their fingers, which seemed to be a favourite
amusement. Many of the distant tribes think the Rajah cannot be a man.
They ask all sorts of curious questions about him, whether he is not as
old as the mountains, whether he cannot bring the dead to life, and I
have no doubt for many years after his death he will be looked upon as a
deity and expected to come back again. I have now seen a good deal of
Sir James, and the more I see of him the more I admire him. With the
highest talents for government he combines the greatest goodness of
heart and gentleness of manner. At the same time he has such confidence
and determination, that he has put down with the greatest ease some
conspiracies of one or two Malay chiefs against him. It is a unique case
in the history of the world, for a European gentleman to rule over two
conflicting races of semi-savages with their own consent, without any
means of coercion, and depending solely upon them for protection and
support, and at the same time to introduce the benefits of civilisation
and check all crime and semi-barbarous practices. Under his government,
"running amuck," so frequent in all other Malay countries, has never
taken place, and with a population of 30,000 Malays, all of whom carry
their "creese" and revenge an insult by a stab, murders do not occur
more than once in five or six years.

The people are never taxed but with their own consent, and Sir J.'s
private fortune has been spent in the government and improvement of the
country; yet this is the man who has been accused of injuring other
parties for his own private interests, and of wholesale murder and
butchery to secure his government!...--Your ever affectionate son,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Singapore.. February 20, 1856._

My dear Fanny,-- ... I have now left Sarawak, where I began to feel
quite at home, and may perhaps never return to it again; but I shall
always look back with pleasure to my residence there and to my
acquaintance with Sir James Brooke, who is a gentleman and a nobleman in
the noblest sense of both words....

Charles has left me. He has stayed with the Bishop of Sarawak, who wants
teachers and is going to try to educate him for one. I offered to take
him on with me, paying him a fair price for all the insects, etc., he
collected, but he preferred to stay. I hardly know whether to be glad
or sorry he has left. It saves me a great deal of trouble and annoyance,
and I feel it quite a relief to be without him. On the other hand, it is
a considerable loss for me, as he had just begun to be valuable in
collecting. I must now try and teach a China boy to collect and pin
insects. My collections in Borneo have been very good, but some of them
will, I fear, be injured by the long voyages of the ships. I have
collected upwards of 25,000 insects, besides birds, shells, quadrupeds,
and plants. The day I arrived here a vessel sailed for Macassar, and I
fear I shall not have another chance for two months unless I go a
roundabout way, and perhaps not then, so I have hardly made up my mind
what to do,--Your affectionate brother,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Singapore. [Probably about March, 1856.]_

Dear Thomas,-- ... You and Fanny talk of my coming back for a trifling
sore as if I was within an omnibus ride of Conduit St. I am now
perfectly well, and only waiting to go eastward. The far east is to me
what the far west is to the Americans. They both meet in California,
where I hope to arrive some day. I quite enjoy being a few days at
Singapore now. The scene is at once so familiar and strange. The
half-naked Chinese coolies, the neat shopkeepers, the clean, fat, old,
long-tailed merchants, all as busy and full of business as any
Londoners. Then the handsome Klings, who always ask double what they
take, and with whom it is most amusing to bargain. The crowd of boatmen
at the ferry, a dozer begging and disputing for a farthing fare, the
Americans, the Malays, and the Portuguese make up a scene doubly
interesting to me now that I know something about them and can talk to
them in the general language of the place. The streets of Singapore on a
fine day are as crowded and busy as Tottenham Court Road, and from the
variety of nations and occupations far more interesting. I am more
convinced than ever that no one can appreciate a new country in a short
visit. After two years in the country I only now begin to understand
Singapore and to marvel at the life and bustle, the varied occupations,
and strange population, on a spot which so short a time ago was an
uninhabited jungle....--Yours affectionately,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Singapore. April 21, 1856._

My dear Fanny,--I believe I wrote to you last mail, and have now little
to say except that I am still a prisoner in Singapore and unable to get
away to my land of promise, Macassar, with whose celebrated oil you are
doubtless acquainted. I have been spending three weeks with my old
friend the French missionary, going daily into the jungle, and fasting
on Fridays on omelet and vegetables, a most wholesome custom which I
think the Protestants were wrong to leave off. I have been reading Huc's
travels in China in French, and talking with a French missionary just
arrived from Tonquin. I have thus obtained a great deal of information
about these countries and about the extent of the Catholic missions in
them, which is astonishing. How is it that they do their work so much
more thoroughly than the Protestant missionaries? In Cochin China,
Tonquin, and China, where all Christian missionaries are obliged to live
in secret and are subject to persecution, expulsion, and often death,
yet every province, even those farthest in the interior of China, have
their regular establishment of missionaries constantly kept up by fresh
supplies who are taught the languages of the countries they are going to
at Penang or Singapore. In China there are near a million Catholics, in
Tonquin and Cochin China more than half a million! One secret of their
success is the cheapness of their establishments. A missionary is
allowed about £30 a year, on which he lives, in whatever country he may
be. This has two good effects. A large number of missionaries can be
employed with limited funds, and the people of the countries in which
they reside, seeing they live in poverty and with none of the luxuries
of life, are convinced they are sincere. Most are Frenchmen, and those I
have seen or heard of are well-educated men, who give up their lives to
the good of the people they live among. No wonder they make converts,
among the lower orders principally. For it must be a great comfort to
these poor people to have a man among them to whom they can go in any
trouble or distress, whose sole object is to comfort and advise them,
who visits them in sickness, who relieves them in want, and whom they
see living in daily danger of persecution and death only for their

You will think they have converted me, but in point of doctrine I think
Catholics and Protestants are equally wrong. As missionaries I think
Catholics are best, and I would gladly see none others, rather than
have, as in New Zealand, sects of native Dissenters more rancorous
against each other than in England. The unity of the Catholics is their
strength, and an unmarried clergy can do as missionaries what married
men can never undertake. I have written on this subject because I have
nothing else to write about. Love to Thomas and Edward.--Believe me,
dear Fanny, your ever affectionate brother,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Macassar. December 10, 1856._

My dear Fanny,--I have received yours of September, and my mother's of
October, and as I am now going out of reach of letters for six months I
must send you a few lines to let you know that I am well and in good
spirits, though rather disappointed with the celebrated Macassar.... For
the last fortnight, since I came in from the country, I have been living
here rather luxuriously, getting good rich cow's milk to my tea and
coffee, very good bread and excellent Dutch butter (3s. a lb.). The
bread here is raised with toddy just as it is fermenting, and it imparts
a peculiar sweet taste to the bread which is very nice. At last, too,
there is some fruit here. The mangoes have just come in, and they are
certainly magnificent. The flavour is something between a peach and a
melon, with the slightest possible flavour of turpentine, and very
juicy. They say they are unwholesome, and it is a good thing for me I am
going away now. When I come back there will be not one to be had....--I
remain, dear Fanny, your ever affectionate brother,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Tunantins, Upper Amazon. November 19, 1856._

Dear Wallace,-- ... I received about six months ago a copy of your paper
in the _Annals_ on "The Laws which have Governed the Introduction of New
Species." I was startled at first to see you already ripe for the
enunciation of the theory. You can imagine with what interest I read and
studied it, and I must say that it is perfectly well done. The idea is
like truth itself, so simple and obvious that those who read and
understand it will be struck by its simplicity; and yet it is perfectly
original. The reasoning is close and clear, and although so brief an
essay, it is quite complete, embraces the whole difficulty, and
anticipates and annihilates all objections.

Few men will be in a condition to comprehend and appreciate the paper,
but it will infallibly create for you a high and sound reputation. The
theory I quite assent to, and, you know, was conceived by me also, but I
profess that I could not have propounded it with so much force and

Many details I could supply, in fact a great deal remains to be done to
illustrate and confirm the theory: a new method of investigating and
propounding zoology and botany inductively is necessitated, and new
libraries will have to be written; in part of this task I hope to be a
labourer for many happy and profitable years. What a noble subject would
be that of a monograph of a group of beings peculiar to one region but
offering different species in each province of it--tracing the laws
which connect together the modifications of forms and colour with the
_local_ circumstances of a province or station--tracing as far as
possible the actual _affiliation_ of the species.

Two of such groups occur to me at once, in entomology, in Heliconiidæ
and Erotylidæ of South America; the latter I think more interesting than
the former for one reason--the species are more local, having feebler
means of locomotion than the Heliconiidæ....--Yours very truly,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Amboyna. January 4, 1858._

My dear Bates,--My delay of six months in answering your very
interesting and most acceptable letter dated an ideal absurdity put
forth when such a simple hypothesis will explain _all the facts_.

I have been much gratified by a letter from Darwin, in which he says
that he agrees with "almost every word" of my paper. He is now preparing
for publication his great work on species and varieties, for which he
has been collecting information twenty years. He may save me the trouble
of writing the second part of my hypothesis by proving that there is no
difference in nature between the origin of species and varieties, or he
may give me trouble by arriving at another conclusion, but at all events
his facts will be given for me to work upon. Your collections and my own
will furnish most valuable material to illustrate and prove the
universal applicability of the hypothesis. The connection between the
succession of affinities and the geographical distribution of a group,
worked out species by species, has never yet been shown as we shall be
able to show it. In this Archipelago there are two distinct faunas
rigidly circumscribed, which differ as much as those of South America
and Africa, and more than those of Europe and North America: yet there
is nothing on the map or on the face of the islands to mark their
limits. The boundary line often passes between islands closer than
others in the same group. I believe the western part to be a separated
portion of continental Asia, the eastern the fragmentary prolongation of
a former Pacific continent. In mammalia and birds the distinction is
marked by genera, families, and even orders confined to one region; in
_insects_ by a number of genera and little groups of peculiar species,
the _families_ of insects having generally a universal distribution.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Ternate, January 25, 1858._

I have not done much here yet, having been much occupied in getting a
house repaired and put in order. This island is a volcano with a sloping
spur on which the town is situated. About ten miles to the east is the
coast of the large Island of Gilolo, perhaps the most perfect
entomological _terra incognita_ now to be found. I am not aware that a
single insect has ever been collected there, and cannot find it given as
the locality of any insects in my catalogues or descriptions. In about a
week I go for a month collecting there, and then return to prepare for a
voyage to New Guinea. I think I shall stay in this place two or three
years, as it is the centre of a most interesting and almost unknown
region. Every house here was destroyed in 1840 by an earthquake during
an eruption of the volcano....

What great political events have passed since we left England together!
And the most eventful for England, and perhaps the most glorious, is the
present mutiny in India, which has proved British courage and pluck as
much as did the famed battles of Balaclava and Inker-man. I believe that
both India and England will gain in the end by the fearful ordeal. When
do you mean returning for good? If you go to the Andes you will, I
think, be disappointed, at least in the number of species, especially of
Coleoptera. My experience here is that the low grounds are much the most
productive, though the mountains generally produce a few striking and
brilliant species....--Yours sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Ternate. March 2, 1858._

My dear Mr. Bates,--When I received your very acceptable letter (a month
ago) I had just written one to your brother, which I thought I could not
do better than send to you to forward to him, as I shall thereby be able
to confine myself solely to the group you are studying and to other
matters touched upon in your letter. I had heard from Mr. Stevens some
time ago that you had begun collecting exotic Geodephaga, but were
confining yourself to one or two illustrations of each genus. I was
sure, however, that you would soon find this unsatisfactory. Nature must
be studied in detail, and it is the wonderful variety of the species of
a group, their complicated relations and their endless modification of
form, size and colours, which constitute the pre-eminent charm of the
entomologist's study. It is with the greatest satisfaction, too, I hail
your accession to the very limited number of collectors and students of
exotic insects, and sincerely hope you may be sufficiently favoured by
fortune to enable you to form an extensive collection and to devote the
necessary time to its study and ultimately to the preparation of a
complete and useful work. Though I cannot but be pleased that you are
able to do so, I am certainly surprised to find that you indulge in the
expensive luxury of from three to seven specimens of a species. I should
have thought that in such a very extensive group you would have found
one or, at most, a pair quite sufficient. I fancy very few collectors of
exotic insects do more than this, except where they can obtain
additional specimens by gift or by exchange. Your remarks on my
collections are very interesting to me, especially as I have kept
descriptions with many outline figures of my Malacca and Sarawak
Geodephaga, so that with one or two exceptions I can recognise and
perfectly remember every species you mention....

Now with regard to your request for notes of habits, etc. I shall be
most willing to comply with it to some extent, first informing you that
I look forward to undertaking on my return to England a "Coleoptera
Malayana," to contain descriptions of the known species of the whole
Archipelago, with an essay on their geographical distribution, and an
account of the habits of the genera and species from my own
observations. Of course, therefore, I do not wish any part of my notes
to be published, as this will be a distinctive feature of the work, so
little being known of the habits, stations and modes of collecting
exotic Coleoptera, ...

You appear to consider the state of entomological literature flourishing
and satisfactory: to _me_ it seems quite the contrary. The number of
unfinished works and of others with false titles is disgraceful to

I think ... on the whole we may say that the Archipelago is _very rich_,
and will bear a comparison even with the richest part of South America.
In the country between Ega and Peru there is work for fifty collectors
for fifty years. There are hundreds and thousands of Andean valleys
every one of which would bear exploring. Here it is the same with
islands. I could spend twenty years here were life long enough, but feel
I cannot stand it, away from home and books and collections and
comforts, more than four or five, and then I shall have work to do for
the rest of my life. What would be the use of accumulating materials
which one could not have time to work up? I trust your brother may give
us a grand and complete work on the Coleoptera of the Amazon Valley, if
not of all South America....--Yours faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *


_October 6, 1858._

My dear Mother,-- ... I have just returned from a short trip, and am now
about to start on a longer one, but to a place where there are some
soldiers, a doctor and engineer who speak English, so if it is good for
collecting I shall stay there some months. It is Batchian, an island on
the south-west side of Gilolo, about three or four days' sail from
Ternate. I am now quite recovered from my New Guinea voyage and am in
good health.

I have received letters from Mr. Darwin and Dr. Hooker, two of the most
eminent naturalists in England, which has highly gratified me. I sent
Mr. Darwin an essay on a subject on which he is now writing a great
work. He showed it to Dr. Hooker and Sir C. Lyell, who thought so highly
of it that they immediately read it before the Linnean Society. This
assures me the acquaintance and assistance of these eminent men on my
return home.

Mr. Stevens also tells me of the great success of the Aru collection, of
which £1,000 worth has actually been sold. This makes me hope I may soon
realise enough to live upon and carry out my long cherished plans of a
country life in old England.

If I had sent the large and handsome shells from Aru, which are what you
expected to see, they would not have paid expenses, whereas the cigar
box of small ones has sold for £50. You must not think I shall always do
so well as at Aru; perhaps never again, because no other collections
will have the novelty, all the neighbouring countries producing birds
and insects very similar, and many even the very same. Still, if I have
health I fear not to do very well. I feel little inclined now to go to
California; as soon as I have finished my exploration of this region I
shall be glad to return home as quickly and cheaply as possible. It
will certainly be by way of the Cape or by second class overland. May I
meet you, dear old Mother, and all my other relatives and friends, in
good health. Perhaps John and his trio will have had the start of me....

       *       *       *       *       *


_Ceram, November 25, 1859._

Dear Bates,--Allow me to congratulate you on your safe arrival home with
all your treasures; a good fortune which I trust is this time[14]
reserved for me. I hope you will write to me and tell me your projects.
Stevens hinted at your undertaking a "Fauna of the Amazon Valley." It
would be a noble work, but one requiring years of labour, as of course
you would wish to incorporate all existing materials and would have to
spend months in Berlin and Milan and Paris to study the collections of
Spix, Natterer, Oscolati, Castituan and others, as well as most of the
chief private collections of Europe. I hope you may undertake it and
bring it to a glorious conclusion. I have long been contemplating such a
work for this Archipelago, but am convinced that the plan must be very
limited to be capable of completion....--I remain, dear Bates, yours
very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Ternate. December 24, 1860._

Dear Bates,--Many thanks for your long and interesting letter. I have
myself suffered much in the same way as you describe, and I think more
severely. The kind of _tædium vitæ_ you mention I also occasionally
experience here. I impute it to a too monotonous existence.

I know not how or to whom to express fully my admiration of Darwin's
book. To him it would seem flattery, to others self-praise; but I do
honestly believe that with however much patience I had worked up and
experimented on the subject, I could never have _approached_ the
completeness of his book--its vast accumulation of evidence, its
overwhelming argument, and its admirable tone and spirit. I really feel
thankful that it has not been left to me to give the theory to the
public. Mr. Darwin has created a new science and a new philosophy, and I
believe that never has such a complete illustration of a new branch of
human knowledge been due to the labours and researches of a single man.
Never have such vast masses of widely scattered and hitherto utterly
disconnected facts been combined into a system, and brought to bear upon
the establishment of such a grand and new and simple philosophy!...--In
haste, yours faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *


_Delli, Timor. March 15, 1861_[15]

My dear Thomas,--I will now try and write you a few lines in reply to
your last three letters, which I have not before had time and
inclination to do. First, about your _one-eyed_ and _two-eyed_ theory of
art, etc. etc. I do not altogether agree with you. We do not see _all
objects_ wider with two eyes than with one. A spherical or curved object
we do see so, because our right and left eye each see a portion of the
surface not seen by the other, but for that very reason the portion seen
perfectly with both eyes is _less_ than with one. Thus [_see_ diagram on
next page] we only see from A to A with both our eyes, the two side
portions Ab Ab being seen with but one eye, and therefore (when we are
using both eyes) being seen obscurely. But if we look at a flat object,
whether square or oblique to the line of vision, we see it of exactly
the same size with two eyes as with one because the one eye can see no
part of it that the other does not see also. But in painting I believe
that this difference of proportion, where it does exist, is far too
small to be _given_ by any artist and also too small to affect the
picture if given.


Again, I entirely deny that by _any means_ the exact effect of a
landscape with objects at various distances from the eye can be given on
a fiat surface; and moreover that the monocular clear outlined view is
quite as true and good on the whole as the binocular hazy outlined view,
and for this reason: we cannot and do not see clearly or look at two
objects at once, if at different distances from us. In a real view our
eyes are directed successively at every object, which we then see
clearly and with distinct outlines, everything else--nearer and
farther--being indistinct; but being able to change the focal angle of
our two eyes and their angle of direction with great rapidity, we are
enabled to glance rapidly at each object in succession and thus obtain a
general and detailed view of the whole. A house, a tree, a spire, the
leaves of a shrub in the foreground, are each seen (while we direct our
eyes to them) with perfect definition and sharpness of outline. Now a
monocular photo gives the clearness of outline and accuracy of
definition, and thus represents every individual part of a landscape
just as we see it when looking at that part. Now I maintain that this is
_right_, because no painting can represent an object both distinct and
indistinct. The only question is, Shall a painting show us objects as we
see them when looking at them, or as we see them when looking at
_something else_ near them? The only approach painters can make to this
varying effect of binocular vision, and what they often do, is to give
the most important and main feature of their painting _distinct_ as we
should see it when looking at it in nature, while all around has a
subdued tone and haziness of outline like that produced by seeing the
real objects when our vision is not absolutely directed to them. But
then if, as in nature, when you turn your gaze to one of these objects
in order to see it clearly, you cannot do so, this is a defect. Again, I
believe that we actually see in a good photograph better than in nature,
because the best camera lenses are more perfectly adjusted than our
eyes, and give objects at varying distances with better definition. Thus
in a picture we see at the same time near and distinct objects easily
and clearly, which in reality we cannot do. If we could do so, everyone
must acknowledge that our vision would be so much the more perfect and
our appreciation of the beauties of nature more intense and complete;
and in so far as a good landscape painting gives us this power it is
better than nature itself; and I think this may account for that
excessive and entrancing beauty of a good landscape or of a good
panorama. You will think these ideas horribly heterodox, but if we all
thought alike there would be nothing to write about and nothing to
learn. I quite agree with you, however, as to artists using both eyes to
paint and to see their paintings, but I think you quite mistake the
theory of looking through the "catalogue"; it is not because the picture
can be seen better with one eye, but because its effect can be better
seen when all lateral objects are hidden--the catalogue does this. A
double tube would be better, but that cannot be extemporised so easily.
Have you ever tried a stereograph taken with the camera only the
distance apart of the eyes? That must give _nature_. When the angle is
greater the views in the stereoscope show us, not nature, but a perfect
reduced model of nature seen nearer the eye.

It is curious that you should put Turner and the Pre-Raphaelites as
_opposed_ and representing _binocular_ and _monocular_ painting when
Turner himself praises up the Pre-Raphaelites and calls Holman Hunt the
greatest living painter!!...

Now for Mr. Darwin's book. You quite misunderstand Mr. D.'s statement in
the preface and his sentiments. I have, of course, been in
correspondence with him since I first sent him my little essay. His
conduct has been most liberal and disinterested. I think anyone who
reads the Linnean Society papers and his book will see it. I _do_ back
him up in his whole round of conclusions and look upon him as the
_Newton of Natural History_.

You begin by criticising the _title_. Now, though I consider the title
admirable, I believe it is not Mr. Darwin's but the Publisher's, as you
are no doubt aware that publishers _will_ have a taking title, and
authors must and do give way to them. Mr. D. gave me a different title
before the book came out. Again, you misquote and misunderstand Huxley,
who is a complete convert. Prof. Asa Gray and Dr. Hooker, the two first
botanists of Europe and America, are converts. And Lyell, the first
geologist living, who has all his life written against such conclusions
as Darwin arrives at, is a convert and is about to declare or already
has declared his conversion--a noble and almost unique example of a man
yielding to conviction on a subject which he has taught as a master all
his life, and confessing that he has all his life been wrong.

It is clear that you have not yet sufficiently read the book to enable
you to criticise it. It is a book in which every page and almost every
line has a bearing on the main argument, and it is very difficult to
bear in mind such a variety of facts, arguments and indications as are
brought forward. It was only on the _fifth_ perusal that I fully
appreciated the whole strength of the work, and as I had been long
before familiar with the same subjects I cannot but think that persons
less familiar with them cannot have any clear idea of the accumulated
argument by a single perusal.

Your objections, so far as I can see anything definite in them, are so
fully and clearly anticipated and answered in the book itself that it is
perfectly useless my saying anything about them. It seems to me,
however, as clear as daylight that the principle of Natural Selection
_must_ act in nature. It is almost as necessary a truth as any of
mathematics. Next, the effects produced by this action _cannot be
limited._ It cannot be shown that there _is_ any limit to them in
nature. Again, the millions of facts in the numerical relations of
organic beings, their geographical distribution, their relations of
affinity, the modification of their parts and organs, the phenomena of
intercrossing, embryology and morphology--all are in accordance with his
theory, and almost all are necessary results from it; while on the other
theory they are all isolated facts having no connection with each other
and as utterly inexplicable and confusing as fossils are on the theory
that they are special creations and are not the remains of animals that
have once lived. It is the vast _chaos_ of facts, which are explicable
and fall into beautiful order on the one theory, which are inexplicable
and remain a chaos on the other, which I think must ultimately force
Darwin's views on any and every reflecting mind. Isolated difficulties
and objections are nothing against this vast cumulative argument. The
human mind cannot go on for ever accumulating facts which remain
unconnected and without any mutual bearing and bound together by no law.
The evidence for the production of the organic world by the simple laws
of inheritance is exactly of the same nature as that for the production
of the present surface of the earth--hills and valleys, plains, rocks,
strata, volcanoes, and all their fossil remains--by the slow and natural
action of natural causes now in operation. The mind that will ultimately
reject Darwin must (to be consistent) reject Lyell also. The same
arguments of apparent stability which are thought to disprove that
organic species can change will also disprove any change in the
inorganic world, and you must believe with your forefathers that each
hill and each river, each inland lake and continent, were created as
they stand, with their various strata and their various fossils--all
appearances and arguments to the contrary notwithstanding. I can only
recommend you to read again Darwin's account of the horse family and its
comparison with pigeons; and if that does not convince and stagger you,
then you are unconvertible. I do not expect Mr. Darwin's larger work
will add anything to the general strength of his argument. It will
consist chiefly of the details (often numerical) and experiments and
calculations of which he has already given the summaries and results. It
will therefore be more confusing and less interesting to the general
reader. It will prove to scientific men the accuracy of his details, and
point out the sources of his information, but as not one in a thousand
readers will ever test these details and references the smaller work
will remain for general purposes the best....

I see that the Great Exhibition for 1862 seems determined on. If so it
will be a great inducement to me to cut short the period of my
banishment and get home in time to see it. I assure you I now feel at
times very great longings for the peace and quiet of home--very much
weariness of this troublesome, wearisome, wandering life. I have lost
some of that elasticity and freshness which made the overcoming of
difficulties a pleasure, and the country and people are now too familiar
to me to retain any of the charms of novelty which gild over so much
that is really monotonous and disagreeable. My health, too, gives way,
and I cannot now put up so well with fatigue and privations as at first.
All these causes will induce me to come home as soon as possible, and I
think I may promise, if no accident happens, to come back to dear and
beautiful England in the summer of next year. C. Allen will stay a year
longer and complete the work which I shall not be able to do.

I have been pretty comfortable here, having for two months had the
society of Mr. Geach, a Cornish mining engineer who has been looking for
copper here. He is a very intelligent and pleasant fellow, but has now
left. Another Englishman, Capt. Hart, is a resident here. He has a
little house on the foot of the hills two miles out of town; I have a
cottage (which was Mr. Geach's) a quarter of a mile farther. He is what
you may call a _speculative_ man: he reads a good deal, knows a little
and wants to know more, and is fond of speculating on the most abstruse
and unattainable points of science and philosophy. You would be
astonished at the number of men among the captains and traders of these
parts who have more than an average amount of literary and scientific
taste; whereas among the naval and military officers and various
Government officials very few have any such taste, but find their only
amusements in card-playing and dissipation. Some of the most
intelligent and best informed Dutchmen I have met with are trading
captains and merchants.

This country much resembles Australia in its physical features, and is
very barren compared with most of the other islands.... It is very
rugged and mountainous, having no true forests, but a scanty vegetation
of gum trees with a few thickets in moist places. It is consequently
very poor in insects, and in fact will hardly pay my expenses; but
having once come here I may as well give it a fair trial. Birds are
tolerably abundant, but with few exceptions very dull coloured. I really
believe the whole series of birds of the tropical island of Timor are
less beautiful and bright-coloured than those of Great Britain. In the
mountains potatoes, cabbages and wheat are grown in abundance, and so we
get excellent pure bread made by Chinamen in Delli. Fowls, sheep, pigs
and onions are also always to be had, so that it is the easiest country
to live in I have yet met with, as in most other places one is always
doubtful whether a dinner can be obtained. I have been a trip to the
hills and stayed ten days in the clouds, but it was very wet, being the
wrong season....

Having now paid you off my literary debts, I trust you will give me
credit again for some long letters on things in general. Address now to
care of Hamilton, Gray and Co., Singapore, and with love and
remembrances to all friends, I remain, my dear Thomas, yours very


P.S.-- ... Will you, next time you visit my mother, make me a little
plan of her cottage, showing the rooms and their dimensions, so that I
may see if there will be room enough for me on my return? I shall want a
good-sized room for my collections, and when I can decide exactly on my
return it would be as well to get a little larger house beforehand if
necessary. Please do not forget this.--Yours, A.R.W.

P.S.--Write by next mail, as circumstances have occurred which make it
possible I may return home this year.--A.R.W.

P.S.--You allude in your last letter to a subject I never touch upon
because I know we cannot agree upon it. However, I will now say a few
words, that you may know my opinions, and if you wish to convert me to
your way of thinking, take more vigorous measures to effect it. You
intimate that the happiness to be enjoyed in a future state will depend
upon, and be a reward for, our belief in certain doctrines which you
believe to constitute the essence of true religion. You must think,
therefore, that belief is _voluntary_ and also that it is _meritorious_.
But I think that a little consideration will show you that belief is
quite independent of our will, and our common expressions show it. We
say, "I wish I could believe him innocent, but the evidence is too clear
"; or, "Whatever people may say, I can never believe he can do such a
mean action." Now, suppose in any similar case the evidence on both
sides leads you to a certain belief or disbelief, and then a reward is
offered you for changing your opinion. Can you really change your
opinion and belief, for the hope of reward or the fear of punishment?
Will you not say, "As the matter stands I can't change my belief. You
must give me proofs that I am wrong or show that the evidence I have
heard is false, and then I may change my belief "? It may be that you do
get more and do change your belief. But this change is not voluntary on
your part. It depends upon the force of evidence upon your individual
mind, and the evidence remaining the same and your mental faculties
remaining unimpaired--you cannot believe otherwise any more than you can

Belief, then, is not voluntary. How, then, can it be meritorious? When
a jury try a case, all hear the same evidence, but nine say "Guilty" and
three "Not guilty," according to the honest belief of each. Are either
of these more worthy of reward on that account than the others?
Certainly you will say No! But suppose beforehand they all know or
suspect that those who say "Not guilty" will be punished and the rest
rewarded: what is likely to be the result? Why, perhaps six will say
"Guilty" honestly believing it, and glad they can with a clear
conscience escape punishment; three will say "Not guilty" boldly, and
rather bear the punishment than be false or dishonest; the other three,
fearful of being convinced against their will, will carefully stop their
ears while the witnesses for the defence are being examined, and delude
themselves with the idea they give an honest verdict because they have
heard only one side of the evidence. If any out of the dozen deserve
punishment, you will surely agree with me it is these. Belief or
disbelief is therefore not meritorious, and when founded on an unfair
balance of evidence is blameable.

Now to apply the principles to my own case. In my early youth I heard,
as ninety-nine-hundredths of the world do, only the evidence on one
side, and became impressed with a veneration for religion which has left
some traces even to this day. I have since heard and read much on both
sides, and pondered much upon the matter in all its bearings. I spent,
as you know, a year and a half in a clergyman's family and heard almost
every Tuesday the very best, most earnest and most impressive preacher
it has ever been my fortune to meet with, but it produced no effect
whatever on my mind. I have since wandered among men of many races and
many religions. I have studied man, and nature in all its aspects, and I
have sought after truth. In my solitude I have pondered much on the
incomprehensible subjects of space, eternity, life and death. I think I
have fairly heard and fairly weighed the evidence on both sides, and I
remain an _utter disbeliever_ in almost all that you consider the most
sacred truths. I will pass over as utterly contemptible the oft-repeated
accusation that sceptics shut out evidence because they will not be
governed by the morality of Christianity. You I know will not believe
that in my case, and _I_ know its falsehood as a general rule. I only
ask, Do you think I can change the self-formed convictions of
twenty-five years, and could you think such a change would have anything
in it to merit _reward_ from _justice_? I am thankful I can see much to
admire in all religions. To the mass of mankind religion of some kind is
a necessity. But whether there be a God and whatever be His nature;
whether we have an immortal soul or not, or whatever may be our state
after death, I can have no fear of having to suffer for the study of
nature and the search for truth, or believe that those will be better
off in a future state who have lived in the belief of doctrines
inculcated from childhood, and which are to them rather a matter of
blind faith than intelligent conviction.--A.R.W.

This for yourself; show the _letter only_ to my mother.

       *       *       *       *       *


_Sourabaya, Java. July 20, 1861._

My dear Mother,--I am, as you will see, now commencing my retreat
westwards, and have left the wild and savage Moluccas and New Guinea for
Java, the Garden of the East, and probably without any exception the
finest island in the world. My plans are to visit the interior and
collect till November, and then work my way to Singapore so as to return
home and arrive in the spring. Travelling here will be a much pleasanter
business than in any other country I have visited, as there are good
roads, regular posting stages, and regular inns or lodging-houses all
over the interior, and I shall no more be obliged to carry about with me
that miscellaneous lot of household furniture--bed, blankets, pots,
kettles and frying pan, plates, dishes and wash-basin, coffee-pots and
coffee, tea, sugar and butter, salt, pickles, rice, bread and wine,
pepper and curry powder, and half a hundred more odds and ends, the
constant looking after which, packing and repacking, calculating and
contriving, have been the standing plague of my life for the last seven
years. You will better understand this when I tell you that I have made
in that time about eighty movements, averaging one a month, at every one
of which all of these articles have had to be rearranged and repacked by
myself according to the length of the trip, besides a constant personal
supervision to prevent waste or destruction of stores in places where it
is impossible to supply them.

Fanny wrote me last month to know about how I should like to live on my
return. Of course, my dear mother, I should not think of living anywhere
but with you, after such a long absence, if you feel yourself equal to
housekeeping for us both; and I have always understood that your cottage
would be large enough. The accommodation I should require is, besides a
small bedroom, one large room, or a small one if there is, besides, a
kind of lumber room where I could keep my cases and do rough and dirty
work. I expect soon from Thomas a sketch-plan of your cottage, by which
I can at once tell if it will do. If not, I must leave you and Fanny to
arrange as you like about a new residence. I should prefer being a
little way out of town in a quiet neighbourhood and with a garden, but
near an omnibus route, and if necessary I could lodge at any time for a
week in London. This, I think, will be better and much cheaper than
living close to town, and rents anywhere in the West End are sure now to
rise owing to the approaching Great Exhibition. I must of course study
economy, as the little money I have made will not be all got in for a
year or two after my return....

You must remember to write to me by the middle of November mail, as that
is probably the last letter I can receive from you.

I send the letter to Fanny, who will most likely call on you and talk
over matters. I am a little confused arriving in a new place with a
great deal to do and living in a noisy hotel, so different to my usual
solitary life, so that I cannot well collect my ideas to write any more,
but must remain, my dear mother, your ever affectionate son,


       *       *       *       *       *


_In the Mountains of Java. October 10, 1861._

My dear Fanny,--I have just received your second letter in praise of
your new house. As I have said my say about it in my last, I shall now
send you a few lines on other subjects.

I have been staying here a fortnight 4,000 feet above the sea in a fine
cool climate, but it is unfortunately dreadfully wet and cloudy. I have
just returned from a three days' excursion to one of the great Java
volcanoes 10,000 feet high. I slept two nights in a house 7,500 feet
above the sea. It was bitterly cold at night, as the hut was merely of
plaited bamboo, like a sieve, so that the wind came in on all sides. I
had flannel jackets and blankets and still was cold, and my poor men,
with nothing but their usual thin cotton clothes, passed miserable
nights lying on a mat on the ground round the fire which could only warm
one side at a time. The highest peak is an extinct volcano with the
crater nearly filled up, forming merely a saucer on the top, in which
is a good house built by the Government for the old Dutch naturalists
who surveyed and explored the mountain. There are a lot of strawberries
planted there, which do very well, but there were not many ripe. The
common weeds and plants of the top were very like English ones, such as
buttercups, sow-thistle, plantain, wormwood, chickweed, charlock, St.
John's wort, violets and many others, all closely allied to our common
plants of those names, but of distinct species. There was also a
honey-suckle, and a tall and very pretty kind of cowslip. None of these
are found in the low tropical lands, and most of them only on the tops
of these high mountains. Mr. Darwin supposed them to have come there
during a glacial or very cold period, when they could have spread over
the tropics and, as the heat increased, gradually rose up the mountains.
They were, as you may imagine, most interesting to me, and I am very
glad that I have ascended _one_ lofty mountain in the tropics, though I
had miserable wet weather and had no view, owing to constant clouds and

I also visited a semi-active volcano close by continually sending out
steam with a noise like a blast-furnace--quite enough to give me a
conception of all other descriptions of volcanoes.

The lower parts of the mountains of Java, from 3,000 to 6,000 feet, have
the most beautiful tropical vegetation I have ever seen. Abundance of
splendid tree ferns, some 50 ft. high, and some hundreds of varieties of
other ferns, beautiful-leaved plants as begonias, melastomas, and many
others, and more flowers than are generally seen in the tropics. In
fact, this region exhibits all the beauty the tropics can produce, but
still I consider and will always maintain that our own meadows and woods
and mountains are more beautiful. Our own weeds and wayside flowers are
far prettier and more varied than those of the tropics. It is only the
great leaves and the curious-looking plants, and the deep gloom of the
forests and the mass of tangled vegetation that astonish and delight
Europeans, and it is certainly grand and interesting and in a certain
sense beautiful, but not the calm, sweet, warm beauty of our own fields,
and there is none of the brightness of our own flowers; a field of
buttercups, a hill of gorse or of heather, a bank of foxgloves and a
hedge of wild roses and purple vetches surpass in _beauty_ anything I
have ever seen in the tropics. This is a favourite subject with me, but
I cannot go into it now.

Send the accompanying note to Mr. Stevens immediately. You will see what
I say to him about my collections here. Java is the richest of all the
islands in birds, but they are as well known as those of Europe, and it
is almost impossible to get a new one. However, I am adding fine
specimens to my collection, which will be altogether the finest known of
the birds of the Archipelago, except perhaps that of the Leyden Museum,
who have had naturalists collecting for them in all the chief islands
for many years with unlimited means.

Give my kind love to mother, to whom I will write next time.--Your
affectionate brother,


       *       *       *       *       *

TO G. SILK[16]

_Singapore. January 20, 1862._

My dear George,-- ... On the question of marriage we probably differ
much. I believe a good wife to be the greatest blessing a man can enjoy,
and the only road to happiness, but the qualifications I should look for
are probably not such as would satisfy you. My opinions have changed
much on this point: I now look at intellectual companionship as quite a
secondary matter, and should my good stars ever send me an affectionate,
good-tempered and domestic wife, I shall care not one iota for
accomplishments or even for education.

I cannot write more now. I do not yet know how long I shall be here,
perhaps a month. Then ho! for England!--In haste, yours most



I.--The Discovery of Natural Selection

    "There are not many joys in human life equal to the joy of the
    sudden birth of a generalisation, illuminating the mind after a
    long period of patient research. What has seemed for years so
    chaotic, so contradictory, and so problematic takes at once its
    proper position within an harmonious whole. Out of the wild
    confusion of facts and from behind the fog of
    guesses--contradicted almost as soon as they are born--a stately
    picture makes its appearance, like an Alpine chain suddenly
    emerging in all its grandeur from the mists which concealed it the
    moment before, glittering under the rays of the sun in all its
    simplicity and variety, in all its mightiness and beauty. And when
    the generalisation is put to a test, by applying it to hundreds of
    separate facts which seemed to be hopelessly contradictory the
    moment before, each of them assumes its due position, increasing
    the impressiveness of the picture, accentuating some
    characteristic outline, or adding an unsuspected detail full of
    meaning. The generalisation gains in strength and extent; its
    foundations grow in width and solidity; while in the distance,
    through the far-off mist on the horizon, the eye detects the
    outlines of new and still wider generalisations. He who has once
    in his life experienced this joy of scientific creation will never
    forget it; he will be longing to renew it; and he cannot but feel
    with pain that this sort of happiness is the lot of so few of us,
    while so many could also live through it--on a small or on a grand
    scale--if scientific methods and leisure were not limited to a
    handful of men."--PRINCE KROPOTKIN, "Memoirs of a Revolutionist."

The social and scientific atmosphere in which Wallace found himself on
his return from his eight years' exile in the Malay Archipelago was
considerably more genial than that which he had enjoyed during his
previous stay in London following his exploration of the Amazon. His
position as one of the leading scientists of the day was already
recognised, dating from the memorable 1st of July, 1858, when the two
Papers, his own and Darwin's, on the theory of Natural Selection had
been read before the Linnean Society.

During the four years which had elapsed since that date the storm of
criticism had waxed and waned; subsiding for a time only to burst out
afresh from some new quarter where the theory bade fair to jeopardise
some ancient belief in which scientist or theologian had rested with
comparative satisfaction until so rudely disturbed.

During this period Wallace had been quietly pursuing his researches in
the Malay Archipelago, though not without a keen interest in all that
was taking place at home in so far as this reached him by means of
correspondence and newspaper reports--his only means of keeping in touch
with the world beyond the boundaries of the semi-civilised countries in
which he was then living.

In order to follow the story of how the conception of the theory of
Natural Selection grew and eventually took definite form in Wallace's
mind, independently of the same development in the mind of Darwin, we
must go back to a much earlier period in his life, and as nearly as
possible link up, the scattered remarks which here and there act as
signposts pointing towards the supreme solution which has made his name
famous for all time.

In Part I., Section I., many passages occur which clearly reveal his
awakening to the study of nature. A chance remark overheard in
conversation in the quiet street of Hertford touched the hidden spring
of interest in a subject which was to become the one great purpose of
his life. Then his enthusiastic yielding to the simple and natural
attraction which flowers and trees have always exerted upon the
sympathetic observer led step by step to the study of groups and
families, until, on his second sojourn at Neath, and about a year before
his journey to South America with H.W. Bates, we find him deliberately
pondering over the problem which many years later he described by saying
that he "had in fact been bitten by the passion for species and their

In a letter to Bates dated November 9th, 1847, he concludes by asking,
"Have you read 'Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation,' or is it
out of your line?" and in the next (dated December 28th), in reply to
one from his friend, he continues, "I have a rather more favourable
opinion of the 'Vestiges' than you appear to have, I do not consider it
a hasty generalisation, but rather an ingenious hypothesis strongly
supported by some striking facts and analogies, but which remains to be
proved by more facts and the additional light which more research may
throw upon the problem.... It furnishes a subject for every observer of
nature to attend to; every fact," he observes, "will make either for or
against it, and it thus serves both as an incitement to the collection
of facts, and an object to which they can be applied when collected.
Many eminent writers support the theory of the progressive development
of animals and plants. There is a very philosophical work bearing
directly on the question--Lawrence's 'Lectures on Man'.... The great
object of these 'Lectures' is to illustrate the different races of
mankind, and the manner in which they probably originated, and he
arrives at the conclusion (as also does Prichard in his work on the
'Physical History of Man') that the varieties of the human race have not
been produced by any external causes, but are due to the development of
certain distinctive peculiarities in some individuals which have
thereafter become propagated through an entire race. Now, I should say
that a permanent peculiarity not produced by external causes is a
characteristic of 'species' and not of mere 'variety,' and thus, if the
theory of the 'Vestiges' is accepted, the Negro, the Red Indian, and the
European are distinct species of the genus Homo.

"An animal which differs from another by some decided and permanent
character, however slight, which difference is undiminished by
propagation and unchanged by climate and external circumstances, is
universally held to be a distinct _species_; while one which is not
regularly transmitted so as to form a distinct race, but is occasionally
reproduced from the parent stock (like albinoes), is generally, if the
difference is not very considerable, classed as a _variety_. But I would
class both these as distinct _species_, and I would only consider those
to be _varieties_ whose differences are produced by external causes, and
which, therefore, are not propagated as distinct races."

Again, writing about the same period, he adds: "I begin to feel rather
dissatisfied with a mere local collection; little is to be learnt by it.
I should like to take some one family to study thoroughly, principally
with a view to the theory of the origin of species. By that means I am
strongly of opinion that some definite results might be arrived at." And
he further alludes to "my favourite subject--the variations,
arrangements, distribution, etc., of species."[17]

It is evident that in Bates Wallace found his first real friend and
companion in matters scientific; for in another letter he says: "I quite
envy you, who have friends near you attracted to the same pursuits. I
know not a single person in this little town who studies any one branch
of natural history, so that I am quite alone in this respect." In fact,
except for a little friendly help now and then, as in the case of Mr.
Hayward lending him a copy of Loudon's Encyclopedia of Plants, he had
always pondered over his nature studies without any assistance up to the
time of his meeting Bates at Leicester.

From the date of the above letter (1847) on to the early part of
1855--nearly eight years later--no reference is found either in his Life
or correspondence to the one absorbing idea towards which all his
reflective powers were being directed. Then, during a quiet time at
Sarawak, the accumulation of thought and observation found expression in
an essay entitled "The Law which has regulated the Introduction of
Species," which appeared in the _Annals and Magazine of Natural History_
in the following September (1855).

From November, 1854, the year of his arrival in the East, until January
or February, 1856, Sarawak was the centre from which Wallace made his
explorations inland, including some adventurous excursions on the Sadong
River. During the wet season--or spring--of 1855, while living in a
small house at the foot of the Santubong Mountains (with one Malay boy
who acted as cook and general companion), he tells us how he occupied
his time in looking over his books and pondering "over the problem which
was rarely absent from [his] thoughts." In addition to the knowledge he
had acquired from reading such books as those by Swainson and Humboldt,
also Lucien Bonaparte's "Conspectus," and several catalogues of insects
and reptiles in the British Museum "giving a mass of facts" as to the
distribution of animals over the whole world, and having by his own
efforts accumulated a vast store of information and facts direct from
nature while in South America and since coming out East, he arrived at
the conclusion that this "mass of facts" had never been properly
utilised as an indication of the way in which species had come into
existence. Having no fellow-traveller to whom he could confide these
conclusions, he was almost driven to put his thoughts and ideas on
paper--weighing each argument with studious care and open-eyed
consideration as to its bearing on the whole theory. As the "result
seemed to be of some importance," it was sent, as already mentioned, to
the _Annals and Magazine of Natural History_ as one of the leading
scientific journals in England.

In the light of future events it is not surprising that Huxley (many
years later), in referring to this "powerful essay," adds: "On reading
it afresh I have been astonished to recollect how small was the
impression it made."

As this earliest contribution by Wallace to the doctrine of Evolution[18]
is of peculiar historical value, and has not been so fully recognised as
it undoubtedly deserves, and is now almost inaccessible, it will be
useful to indicate in his own words the clear line of argument put forth
by him two years before his second essay with which many readers are
more familiar. He begins:

    Every naturalist who has directed his attention to the subject of
    the geographical distribution of animals and plants must have been
    interested in the singular facts which it presents. Many of these
    facts are quite different from what would have been anticipated,
    and have hitherto been considered as highly curious but quite
    inexplicable. None of the explanations attempted from the time of
    Linnæus are now considered at all satisfactory; none of them have
    given a cause sufficient to account for the facts known at the
    time, or comprehensive enough to include all the new facts which
    have since been and are daily being added. Of late years, however,
    a great light has been thrown upon the subject by geological
    investigations, which have shown that the present state of the
    earth, and the organisms now inhabiting it, are but the last stage
    of a long and uninterrupted series of changes which it has
    undergone, and consequently, that to endeavour to explain and
    account for its present condition without any reference to those
    changes (as has frequently been done) must lead to very imperfect
    and erroneous conclusions.... The following propositions in
    Organic Geography and Geology give the main facts on which the
    hypothesis [_see_ p. 96] is founded.


    (1) Large groups, such as classes and orders, are generally spread
    over the whole earth, while smaller ones, such as families and
    genera, are frequently confined to one portion, often to a very
    limited district.

    (2) In widely distributed families the genera are often limited in
    range; in widely distributed genera, well-marked groups of species
    are peculiar to each geographical district.

    (3) When a group is confined to one district and is rich in
    species, it is almost invariably the case that the most closely
    allied species are found in the same locality or in closely
    adjoining localities, and that therefore the natural sequence of
    the species by affinity is also geographical.

    (4) In countries of a similar climate, but separated by a wide sea
    or lofty mountains, the families, genera and species of the one
    are often represented by closely allied families, genera and
    species peculiar to the other.


    (5) The distribution of the organic world in time is very similar
    to its present distribution in space.

    (6) Most of the larger and some of the smaller groups extend
    through several geological periods.

    (7) In each period, however, there are peculiar groups, found
    nowhere else, and extending through one or several formations.

    (8) Species of one genus, or genera of one family, occurring in
    the same geological time are more closely allied than those
    separated in time.

    (9) As generally in geography no species or genus occurs in two
    very distant localities without being also found in intermediate
    places, so in geology the life of a species or genus has not been
    interrupted. In other words, no group or species has come into
    existence twice.

    (10) The following law may be deduced from these facts: _Every
    species has come into existence coincident both in time and space
    with a pre-existing closely allied species_.

    This law agrees with, explains and illustrates all the facts
    connected with the following branches of the subject: 1st, the
    system of natural affinities; 2nd, the distribution of animals and
    plants in space; 3rd, the same in time, including all the
    phenomena of representative groups, and those which Prof. Forbes
    supposed to manifest polarity; 4th, the phenomena of rudimentary
    organs. We will briefly endeavour to show its bearing upon each of

    If [this] law be true, it follows that the natural series of
    affinities will also represent the order in which the several
    species came into existence, each one having had for its immediate
    antetype a clearly allied species existing at the time of its
    origin.... If two or more species have been independently formed
    on the plan of a common antetype, then the series of affinities
    will be compound, and can only be represented by a forked or
    many-branched line.... Sometimes the series of affinities can be
    well represented for a space by a direct progression from species
    to species or from group to group, but it is generally found
    impossible so to continue. There constantly occur two or more
    modifications of an organ or modifications of two distinct organs,
    leading us on to two distinct series of species, which at length
    differ so much from each other as to form distinct genera or
    families. These are the parallel series or representative groups
    of naturalists, and they often occur in different countries, or
    are found fossil in different formations.... We thus see how
    difficult it is to determine in every case whether a given
    relation is an analogy or an affinity, for it is evident that as
    we go back along the parallel or divergent series, towards the
    common antetype, the analogy which existed between the two groups
    becomes an affinity.... Again, if we consider that we have only
    the fragments of this vast system, the stems and main branches
    being represented by extinct species of which we have no
    knowledge, while a vast mass of limbs and boughs and minute twigs
    and scattered leaves is what we have to place in order, and
    determine the true position each originally occupied with regard
    to the others, the whole difficulty of the true Natural System of
    classification becomes apparent to us.

    We shall thus find ourselves obliged to reject all those systems
    of classification which arrange species or groups in circles, as
    well as those which fix a definite number for the division of each
    group.... We have ... never been able to find a case in which the
    circle has been closed by a direct affinity. In most cases a
    palpable analogy has been substituted, in others the affinity is
    very obscure or altogether doubtful....

    If we now consider the geographical distribution of animals and
    plants upon the earth, we shall find all the facts beautifully in
    accordance with, and readily explained by, the present hypothesis.
    A country having species, genera, and whole families peculiar to
    it will be the necessary result of its having been isolated for a
    long period, sufficient for many series of species to have been
    created on the type of pre-existing ones, which, as well as many
    of the earlier-formed species, have become extinct, and made the
    groups appear isolated....

    Such phenomena as are exhibited by the Galapagos Islands, which
    contain little groups of plants and animals peculiar to
    themselves, but most nearly allied to those of South America, have
    not hitherto received any, even a conjectural explanation. The
    Galapagos are a volcanic group of high antiquity and have probably
    never been more closely connected with the continent than they are
    at present.

He then proceeds at some length to explain how the Galapagos must have
been at first "peopled ... by the action of winds and currents," and
that the modified prototypes remaining are the "new species" which have
been "created in each on the plan of the pre-existing ones." This is
followed by a graphic sketch of the general effect of volcanic and
other action as affecting the distribution of species, and the exact
form in which they are found, even fishes giving "evidence of a similar
kind: each great river [having] its peculiar genera, and in more
extensive genera its groups of closely allied species."

After stating a number of practical examples he continues:

    The question forces itself upon every thinking mind--Why are these
    things so? They could not be as they are, had no law regulated
    their creation and dispersion. The law here enunciated not merely
    explains, but necessitates the facts we see to exist, while the
    vast and long-continued geological changes of the earth readily
    account for the exceptions and apparent discrepancies that here
    and there occur. The writer's object in putting forward his views
    in the present imperfect manner is to submit them to the tests of
    other minds, and to be made aware of all the facts supposed to be
    inconsistent with them. As his hypothesis is one which claims
    acceptance solely as explaining and connecting facts which exist
    in nature, he expects facts alone to be brought forward to
    disprove it, not _a priori_ arguments against its probability.

He then refers to some of the geological "principles" expounded by Sir
Charles Lyell on the "extinction of species," and follows this up by

    To discover how the extinct species have from time to time been
    replaced by new ones down to the very latest geological period, is
    the most difficult, and at the same time the most interesting,
    problem in the natural history of the earth. The present inquiry,
    which seeks to eliminate from known facts a law which has
    determined, to a certain degree, what species could and did appear
    at a given epoch, may, it is hoped, be considered as one step in
    the right direction towards a complete solution of it.... Admitted
    facts seem to show ... a general, but not a detailed
    progression.... It is, however, by no means difficult to show
    that a real progression in the scale of organisation is perfectly
    consistent with all the appearances, and even with apparent
    retrogression should such occur.

Using once more the analogy of a branching tree to illustrate the
natural arrangement of species and their successive creation, he clearly
shows how "apparent retrogression may be in reality a progress, though
an interrupted one"; as "when some monarch of the forest loses a limb,
it may be replaced by a feeble and sickly substitute." As an instance he
mentions the Mollusca, which at an early period had reached a high state
of development of forms and species, while in each succeeding age
modified species and genera replaced the former ones which had become
extinct, and "as we approach the present era but few and small
representatives of the group remain, while the Gasteropods and Bivalves
have acquired an immense preponderance." In the long series of changes
the earth had undergone, the process of peopling it with organic beings
had been continually going on, and whenever any of the higher groups had
become nearly or quite extinct, the lower forms which better resisted
the modified physical conditions served as the antetype on which to
found new races. In this manner alone, it was believed, could the
representative groups of successive periods, and the risings and
fallings in the scale of organisations, be in every case explained.

Again, attending to a recent article by Prof. Forbes, he points out
certain inaccuracies and how they may be proved to be so; and continues:

    We have no reason for believing that the number of species on the
    earth at any former period was much less than at present; at all
    events the aquatic portion, with which the geologists have most
    acquaintance, was probably often as great or greater. Now we know
    that there have been many complete changes of species, new sets of
    organisms have many times been introduced in place of old ones
    which have become extinct, so that the total amount which have
    existed on the earth from the earliest geological period must have
    borne about the same proportion to those now living as the whole
    human race who have lived and died upon the earth to the
    population at the present time.... Records of vast geological
    periods are entirely buried beneath the ocean ... beyond our
    reach. Most of the gaps in the geological series may thus be
    filled up, and vast numbers of unknown and unimaginable animals
    which might help to elucidate the affinities of the numerous
    isolated groups which are a perpetual puzzle to the zoologist may
    be buried there, till future revolutions may raise them in turn
    above the water, to afford materials for the study of whatever
    race of intelligent beings may then have succeeded us. These
    considerations must lead us to the conclusion that our knowledge
    of the whole series of the former inhabitants of the earth is
    necessarily most imperfect and fragmentary--as much as our
    knowledge of the present organic world would be, were we forced to
    make our collections and observations only in spots equally
    limited in area and in number with those actually laid open for
    the collection of fossils.... The hypothesis of Prof. Forbes is
    essentially one that assumes to a great extent the _completeness_
    of our knowledge of the _whole series_ of organic beings which
    have existed on earth.... The hypothesis put forward in this paper
    depends in no degree upon the completeness of our knowledge of the
    former condition of the organic world, but takes what facts we
    have as fragments of a vast whole, and deduces from them something
    of the nature and proportion of that whole which we can never know
    in detail....

    Another important series of facts, quite in accordance with, and
    even necessary deductions from, the law now developed, are those
    of _rudimentary organs_. That these really do exist, and in most
    cases have no special function in the animal economy, is admitted
    by the first authorities in comparative anatomy. The minute limbs
    hidden beneath the skin in many of the snake-like lizards, the
    anal hooks of the boa constrictor, the complete series of jointed
    finger-bones in the paddle of the manatee and the whale, are a few
    of the most familiar instances. In botany a similar class of facts
    has been long recognised. Abortive stamens, rudimentary floral
    envelope and undeveloped carpels are of the most frequent
    occurrence. To every thoughtful naturalist the question must
    arise, What are these for? What have they to do with the great
    laws of creation? Do they not teach us something of the system of
    nature? If each species has been created independently, and
    without any necessary relation with pre-existing species, what do
    these rudiments, these apparent imperfections, mean? There must be
    a cause for them; they must be the necessary result of some great
    natural law. Now, if ... the great law which has regulated the
    peopling of the earth with animal and vegetable life is, that
    every change shall be gradual; that no new creature shall be
    formed widely different from anything before existing; that in
    this, as in everything else in nature, there shall be gradation
    and harmony--then these rudimentary organs are necessary and are
    an essential part of the system of nature. Ere the higher
    vertebrates were formed, for instance, many steps were required,
    and many organs had to undergo modifications from the rudimental
    condition in which only they had as yet existed.... Many more of
    these modifications should we behold, and more complete series of
    them, had we a view of all the forms which have ceased to live.
    The great gaps that exist ... would be softened down by
    intermediate groups, and the whole organic world would be seen to
    be an unbroken and harmonious system.

The article, in which we can see a great generalisation struggling to be
born, ends thus:

    It has now been shown, though most briefly and imperfectly, how
    the law that "every species has come into existence coincident
    both in time and space with a pre-existing closely allied
    species," connects together and renders intelligible a vast number
    of independent and hitherto unexplained facts. The natural system
    of arrangement of organic beings, their geographical distribution,
    their geological sequence, the phenomena of representative and
    substituted groups in all their modifications, and the most
    singular peculiarities of anatomical structure, are all explained
    and illustrated by it, in perfect accordance with the vast mass of
    facts which the researches of modern naturalists have brought
    together, and, it is believed, not materially opposed to any of
    them. It also claims a superiority over previous hypotheses, on
    the ground that it not merely explains but necessitates what
    exists. Granted the law, and many of the most important facts in
    nature could not have been otherwise, but are almost as necessary
    deductions from it as are the elliptic orbits of the planets from
    the law of gravitation.

Some time after the appearance of this article, Wallace was informed by
his friend and agent, Mr. Stevens, that several naturalists had
expressed regret that he was "theorising," when what "was wanted was to
collect more facts." Apart from this the only recognition which reached
him in his remote solitude was a remark in an approving letter from
Darwin (_see_ p. 129).

As Wallace wrote nothing further of importance until the second essay
which more fully disclosed his view of the origin of species, we will
now briefly trace the growth of the theory of Natural Selection up to
1858, as it came to Darwin.

It is well known that during Darwin's voyage in the _Beagle_ he was
deeply impressed by discovering extinct armadillo-like fossil forms in
South America, the home of armadilloes, and by observing the
relationship of the plants and animals of each island in the Galapagos
group to those of the other islands and of South America, the nearest
continent. These facts suggested evolution, and without evolution
appeared to be meaningless.

Evolution and its motive cause were the problems which "haunted" him for
the next twenty years. The first step towards a possible solution was
the "opening of a notebook for facts in relation to the origin of
species" in 1837, two years before the publication of his Journal. From
the very commencement of his literary and scientific work, a rule
rigidly adhered to was that of interspersing his main line of thought
and research by reading books touching on widely diverging subjects; and
it was thus, no doubt, that during October, 1838, he read "for
amusement" Malthus's "Essay on Population"; not, as he himself affirms,
with any definite idea as to its intimate bearing on the subject so near
his heart. But the immediate result was that the idea of Natural
Selection at once arose in his mind, and, in his own words, he "had a
theory by which to work."

In May and June, 1842, during a visit to Maer and Shrewsbury, he wrote
his first "pencil sketch of Species theory," but not until two years
later (1844) did he venture to enlarge this to one of 230 folio pages,
"a wonderfully complete presentation of the arguments familiar to us in
the 'Origin.'"[19]

Already, in addition to the mass of facts collected, Darwin was busy
with some of the experiments which he described in a letter to Sir
Joseph Hooker (in 1855) as affording the latter a "good right to sneer,
for they are so _absurd_, even in _my_ opinion, that I dare not tell
you." While a sentence in another letter (dated 1849) throws a sidelight
on all this preparatory work: "In your letter you wonder what
'ornamental poultry' has to do with barnacles; but do not flatter
yourself that I shall not yet live to finish the barnacles, and then
make a fool of myself on the subject of species, under which head
ornamental poultry are very interesting."

Somewhere about this time (1842-44), Darwin, referring to the idea of
Natural Selection which arose in his mind after reading Malthus on
"Population" four years earlier, continues: "But at that time I
overlooked one problem of great importance ... the tendency in organic
beings descended from the same stock to diverge in character as they
become modified ... and I can remember the very spot in the road, whilst
in my carriage, when to my joy the solution occurred to me.... The
solution, as I believe, is that the modified offspring of all dominant
and increasing forms tend to become adapted to many and highly
diversified places in the economy of nature."[20]

So convinced was he of the truth of his ideas as expressed in the 1844
MS., that immediately after its completion he wrote the memorable letter
to Mrs. Darwin telling her what he would wish done regarding its
publication in the event of his death.

It was probably about two years later (1846) that he first confided his
completed work--up to that date--to Sir Joseph Hooker, and later to Sir
Charles Lyell; refraining, however, except in general conversation with
other scientists, from informing anyone of the progress he was making
towards a positive solution of the problem. His attitude of mind and
manner at this period is happily illustrated by Huxley, who, speaking of
his early acquaintance with Darwin, says: "I remember in the course of
my first interview with Darwin expressing my belief in the sharpness of
the line of demarcation between natural groups and in the absence of
transitional forms, with all the confidence of youth and imperfect
knowledge. I was not aware, at that time, that he had then been many
years brooding over the Species question; and the humorous smile which
accompanied his gentle answer, that such was not altogether his view,
long haunted and puzzled me."

Little did Charles Darwin dream that, only three years after this first
MS. was written (in 1844), a youthful naturalist--known only as a
surveyor at Neath--was deliberately pondering over the same issue, and
writing to his only scientific friend on the subject. As, however, the
different methods of thought by which they arrived at the same
conclusion is so aptly related by Wallace himself, we will leave it for
him to tell the story in its appointed place.[21]

In 1856, the year following the appearance of Wallace's essay in the
_Annals and Magazine of Natural History_, both Hooker and Lyell urged
Darwin to publish the result of his long and patient research. But he
was still reluctant to do so, not having as yet satisfied himself with
regard to certain conclusions which, he felt, must be stoutly maintained
in face of the enormous amount of criticism which would arise
immediately his theory was launched on the scientific world. And thus
the event was postponed until the memorable year 1858.

Up to the year 1856 no correspondence had passed between Wallace and
Darwin, so far, at least, as the former could remember, for he says, in
a letter dated Frith Hill, Godalming, December 3, 1887 (written to Mr.
A. Newton): "I had hardly heard of Darwin before going to the East,
except as connected with the voyage of the _Beagle_.... I saw him _once_
for a few minutes in the British Museum before I sailed. Through
Stevens, my agent, I heard that he wanted curious _varieties_ which he
was studying. I _think_ I wrote about some varieties of ducks I had
sent, and he must have written once to me.... But at that time I had
not the remotest notion that he had already arrived at a definite
theory--still less that it was the same as occurred to me, suddenly, in
Ternate in 1858." It is clear, therefore, that the essay written at
Sarawak formed the first real link with Darwin, although not fully
recognised at the time. In May, 1857, Darwin wrote to Wallace: "I am
much obliged for your letter ... and even still more by your paper in
the _Annals_, a year or more ago. I can plainly see that we have thought
much alike and to a certain extent have come to similar conclusions....
I agree to almost every word of your paper; and I dare say that you will
agree with me that it is very rare to find oneself agreeing pretty
closely with any theoretical paper." He concludes: "You have my very
sincere and cordial good wishes for success of all kinds, and may all
your theories succeed, except that on Oceanic Islands, on which subject
I will do battle to the death."

The three years from 1855 to 1858 were for Wallace crowded with hard
work, and perilous voyages by sea and hardships by land. January, 1858,
found him at Amboyna, where, in all probability, he found a pile of
long-delayed correspondence awaiting him, and among this a letter from
Bates referring to the article which had appeared in print September,
1855. In reply he says: "To persons who have not thought much on the
subject I fear my paper on the 'Succession of Species' will not appear
so clear as it does to you. That paper is, of course, merely the
announcement of the theory, not its development. I have prepared the
plan and written portions of a work embracing the whole subject, and
have endeavoured to prove in detail what I have as yet only
indicated.... I have been much gratified by a letter from Darwin, in
which he says that he agrees with 'almost every word' of my paper. He
is now preparing his great work on 'Species and Varieties,' for which he
has been preparing materials for twenty years. He may save me the
trouble of writing more on my hypothesis, by proving that there is no
difference in nature between the origin of species and of varieties; or
he may give me trouble by arriving at another conclusion; but, at all
events, his facts will be given for me to work upon. Your collections
and my own will furnish most valuable material to illustrate and prove
the universal application of the hypothesis. The connection between the
succession of affinities and the geographical distribution of a group,
worked out species by species, has never yet been shown as we shall be
able to show it."

"This letter proves," writes Wallace,[22] "that at this time I had not
the least idea of the nature of Darwin's proposed work nor of the
definite conclusions he had arrived at, nor had I myself any
expectations of a complete solution of the great problem to which my
paper was merely the prelude. Yet less than two months later that
solution flashed upon me, and to a large extent marked out a different
line of work from that which I had up to this time anticipated.... In
other parts of this letter I refer to the work I hoped to do myself in
describing, cataloguing, and working out the distribution of my insects.
I had in fact been bitten by the passion for species and their
description, and if neither Darwin nor myself had hit upon 'Natural
Selection,' I might have spent the best years of my life in this
comparatively profitless work. But the new ideas swept all this away."

This letter was finished after his arrival at Ternate, and a few weeks
later he was prostrated by a sharp attack of intermittent fever which
obliged him to take a prolonged rest each day, owing to the exhausting
hot and cold fits which rapidly succeeded one another.

The little bungalow at Ternate had now come to be regarded as "home" for
it was here that he stored all his treasured collections, besides making
it the goal of all his wanderings in the Archipelago. One can
understand, therefore, that, in spite of the fever, there was a sense of
satisfaction in the feeling that he was surrounded with the trophies of
his arduous labours as a naturalist, and this passion for species and
their descriptions being an ever-present speculation in his mind, his
very surroundings would unconsciously conduce towards the line of
thought which brought to memory the argument of "positive checks" set
forth by Malthus in his "Principles of Population" (read twelve years
earlier) as applied to savage and civilised races. "It then," he says,
"occurred to me that these causes or their equivalents are continually
acting in the case of animals also; and as animals usually breed much
more rapidly than does mankind, the destruction every year from these
causes must be enormous in order to keep down the numbers of each
species, since they evidently do not increase regularly from year to
year, as otherwise the world would have been densely crowded with those
that breed most quickly.... Then it suddenly flashed upon me that this
self-acting process would necessarily _improve the race_, because in
every generation the inferior would inevitably be killed off and the
superior would remain--that is, the _fittest would survive_. Then at
once I seemed to see the whole effect of this, that when changes of land
and sea, or of climate, or of food-supply, or of enemies occurred--and
we know that such changes have always been taking place--and considering
the amount of individual variation that my experience as a collector had
shown me to exist, then it followed that all the changes necessary for
the adaptation of the species to the changing conditions would be
brought about; and as great changes in the environment are always slow,
there would be ample time for the change to be effected by the survival
of the best fitted in every generation. In this way every part of an
animal's organism could be modified as required, and in the very process
of this modification the unmodified would die out, and thus the
_definite_ characters and the clear _isolation_ of each new species
would be explained. The more I thought over it the more I became
convinced that I had at length found the long-sought-for law of nature
that solved the problem of the origin of species. For the next hour I
thought over the deficiencies in the theories of Lamarck and of the
author of the 'Vestiges,' and I saw that my new theory supplemented
these views and obviated every important difficulty. I waited anxiously
for the termination of my fit (of fever) so that I might at once make
notes for a paper on the subject. The same evening I did this pretty
fully, and on the two succeeding evenings wrote it out carefully in
order to send it to Darwin by the next post, which would leave in a day
or two."[23]

The story of the arrival of this letter at Down, and of the swift
passage of events between the date on which Darwin received it and the
reading of the "joint communications" before the Linnean Society, has
been often told. But few, perhaps, have enjoyed the privilege of reading
the account of this memorable proceeding as related by Sir Joseph Hooker
at the celebration of the event held by the Linnean Society in 1908.

As, therefore, the correspondence (pp. 127-320) between Wallace and
Darwin during a long series of years conveys many expressions of their
mutual appreciation of each other's work in connection with the origin
of species, it will avoid a possible repetition of these if we take a
long leap forward and give the notable speeches made by Wallace, Sir
Joseph Hooker, Sir E. Ray Lankester, and others at this historical
ceremony, which have not been published except in the _Proceedings_ of
the Society, now out of print.

The gathering was held on July 1, 1908, at the Institute of Civil
Engineers, Great George Street, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of
the joint communication made by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace
to the Linnean Society, "On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties;
and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of
Selection." The large gathering included the President, Dr. Dukinfield
H. Scott, distinguished representatives of many scientific Societies and
Universities, the Danish and Swedish Ministers, and a representative
from the German Embassy. Most of the members of Dr. Wallace's and Mr.
Darwin's family were also present.[24] The President opened with some
explanatory observations, and then invited Wallace to come forward in
order to receive the first Darwin-Wallace Medal. In presenting it he

    Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace,--We rejoice that we are so happy as to
    have with us to-day the survivor of the two great naturalists
    whose crowning work we are here to commemorate.

    Your brilliant work in natural history and geography, and as one
    of the founders of the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection,
    is universally honoured and has often received public recognition,
    as in the awards of the Darwin and Royal Medals of the Royal
    Society, and of our Medal in 1892.

    To-day, in asking you to accept the first Darwin-Wallace Medal, we
    are offering you of your own, for it is you, equally with your
    great colleague, who created the occasion we celebrate.

    There is nothing in the history of science more delightful or more
    noble than the story of the relations between yourself and Mr.
    Darwin, as told in the correspondence now so fully published--the
    story of a generous rivalry in which each discoverer strives to
    exalt the claims of the other. We know that Mr. Darwin wrote
    (April 6th, 1859): "You cannot tell how much I admire your spirit
    in the manner in which you have taken all that was done about
    publishing our papers. I had actually written a letter to you
    stating that I would not publish anything before you had
    published." Then came the letters of Hooker and Lyell, leading to
    the publication of the joint papers which they communicated.

    You, on your side, always gave the credit to him, and
    underestimated your own position as the co-discoverer. I need only
    refer to your calling your great exposition of the joint theory
    "Darwinism," as the typical example of your generous emphasising
    of the claims of your illustrious fellow-worker.

    It was a remarkable and momentous coincidence that both you and he
    should have independently arrived at the idea of Natural Selection
    after reading Malthus's book, and a most happy inspiration that
    you should have selected Mr. Darwin as the naturalist to whom to
    communicate your discovery. That theory, in spite of changes in
    the scientific fashion of the moment, you have always
    unflinchingly maintained, and still uphold as unshaken by all

    Like Mr. Darwin, you, if I may say so, are above all a naturalist,
    a student and lover of living animals and plants, as shown in
    later years by your enthusiasm and success in gardening. It is to
    such men, those who have learnt the ways of Nature, as Nature
    really is in the open, to whom your doctrine of Natural Selection
    specially appeals, and therein lies its great and lasting

    Finally, you must allow me to allude to the generous interest you
    have always shown, and continue to show, in the careers of
    younger men who are endeavouring to follow in your steps.

    I ask you, Dr. Wallace, to accept this Medal, struck in your
    honour and in that of the great work inaugurated fifty years ago
    by Mr. Darwin and yourself.

Wallace began his reply by thanking the Council of the Society for the
Honour they had done him, and then proceeded:

    Since the death of Darwin, in 1882, I have found myself in the
    somewhat unusual position of receiving credit and praise from
    popular writers under a complete misapprehension of what my share
    in Darwin's work really amounted to. It has been stated (not
    unfrequently) in the daily and weekly press, that Darwin and
    myself discovered "Natural Selection" simultaneously, while a more
    daring few have declared that I was _the first_ to discover it,
    and I gave way to Darwin!

    In order to avoid further errors of this kind (which this
    Celebration may possibly encourage), I think it will be well to
    give the actual facts as simply and clearly as possible.

    The _one fact_ that connects me with Darwin, and which, I am happy
    to say, has never been doubted, is that the idea of what is now
    termed "natural selection" or "survival of the fittest," together
    with its far-reaching consequences, occurred to us
    _independently_, and was first jointly announced before this
    Society fifty years ago.

    But, what is often forgotten by the Press and the public is, that
    the idea occurred to Darwin in 1838, nearly twenty years earlier
    than to myself (in February, 1858); and that during the whole of
    that twenty years he had been laboriously collecting evidence from
    the vast mass of literature of biology, of horticulture, and of
    agriculture; as well as himself carrying out ingenious experiments
    and original observations, the extent of which is indicated by the
    range of subjects discussed in his "Origin of Species," and
    especially in that wonderful storehouse of knowledge, his "Animals
    and Plants under Domestication," almost the whole materials for
    which work had been collected, and to a large extent systematised,
    during that twenty years.

    So far back as 1844, at a time when I had hardly thought of any
    serious study of nature, Darwin had written an outline of his
    views, which he communicated to his friends Sir Charles Lyell and
    Dr. (now Sir Joseph) Hooker. The former strongly urged him to
    publish an abstract of his theory as soon as possible, lest some
    other person might precede him; but he always refused till he had
    got together the whole of the materials for his intended great
    work. Then, at last, Lyell's prediction was fulfilled, and,
    without any apparent warning, my letter, with the enclosed essay,
    came upon him, like a thunderbolt from a cloudless sky! This
    forced him to what he considered a premature publicity, and his
    two friends undertook to have our two papers read before this

    How different from this long study and preparation--this
    philosophical caution--this determination not to make known his
    fruitful conception till he could back it up by overwhelming
    proofs--was my own conduct.

    The idea came to me as it had come to Darwin, in a sudden flash of
    insight; it was thought out in a few hours--was written down with
    such a sketch of its various applications and developments as
    occurred to me at the moment--then copied on thin letter paper and
    sent off to Darwin--all within one week. _I_ was then (as often
    since) the "young man in a hurry": _he_, the painstaking and
    patient student seeking ever the full demonstration of the truth
    that he had discovered, rather than to achieve immediate personal

    Such being the actual facts of the case, I should have had no
    cause for complaint if the respective shares of Darwin and myself
    in regard to the elucidation of Nature's method of organic
    development had been henceforth estimated as being, roughly,
    proportional to the time we had each bestowed upon it when it was
    thus first given to the world--that is to say, as twenty years is
    to one week. For, he had already made it his own. If the
    persuasion of his friends had prevailed with him, and he had
    published his theory after ten years'--fifteen years'--or even
    eighteen years' elaboration of it--_I_ should have had no part in
    it whatever, and _he_ would have been at once recognised as the
    sole and undisputed discoverer and patient investigator of this
    great law of "Natural Selection" in all its far-reaching

    It was really a singular piece of good luck that gave to me any
    share whatever in the discovery. During the first half of the
    nineteenth century (and even earlier) many great biological
    thinkers and workers had been pondering over the problem and had
    even suggested ingenious but inadequate solutions. Some of these
    men were among the greatest intellects of our time, yet, till
    Darwin, all had failed; and it was only Darwin's extreme desire to
    perfect his work that allowed me to come in, as a very bad second,
    in the truly Olympian race in which all philosophical biologists,
    from Buffon and Erasmus Darwin to Richard Owen and Robert
    Chambers, were more or less actively engaged.

    And this brings me to the very interesting question: Why did so
    many of the greatest intellects fail, while Darwin and myself hit
    upon the solution of this problem--a solution which this
    Celebration proves to have been (and still to be) a satisfying one
    to a large number of those best able to form a judgment on its
    merits? As I have found what seems to me a good and precise answer
    to this question, and one which is of some psychological interest,
    I will, with your permission, briefly state what it is.

    On a careful consideration, we find a curious series of
    correspondences, both in mind and in environment, which led Darwin
    and myself, alone among our contemporaries, to reach identically
    the same theory.

    First (and most important, as I believe), in early life both
    Darwin and myself became ardent beetle-hunters. Now there is
    certainly no group of organisms that so impresses the collector by
    the almost infinite number of its specific forms, the endless
    modifications of structure, shape, colour, and surface-markings
    that distinguish them from each other, and their innumerable
    adaptations to diverse environments. These interesting features
    are exhibited almost as strikingly in temperate as in tropical
    regions, our own comparatively limited island-fauna possessing
    more than 3,000 species of this one order of insects.

    Again, both Darwin and myself had what he terms "the mere passion
    for collecting," not that of studying the minutiæ of structure,
    either internal or external. I should describe it rather as an
    intense interest in the variety of living things--the variety that
    catches the eye of the observer even among those which are very
    much alike, but which are soon found to differ in several distinct

    Now it is this superficial and almost child-like interest in the
    outward forms of living things which, though often despised as
    unscientific, happened to be _the only one_ which would lead us
    towards a solution of the problem of species. For Nature herself
    distinguishes her species by just such characters--often
    exclusively so, always in some degree--very small changes in
    outline, or in the proportions of appendages--as give a quite
    distinct and recognisable facies to each, often aided by slight
    peculiarities in motion or habit; while in a larger number of
    cases differences of surface-texture, of colour, or in the details
    of the same general scheme of colour-pattern or of shading, give
    an unmistakable individuality to closely allied species.

    It is the constant search for and detection of these often
    unexpected differences between very similar creatures that gives
    such an intellectual charm and fascination to the mere collection
    of these insects; and when, as in the case of Darwin and myself,
    the collectors were of a speculative turn of mind, they were
    constantly led to think upon the "why" and the "how" of all this
    wonderful variety in nature--this overwhelming and, at first
    sight, purposeless wealth of specific forms among the very
    humblest forms of life.

    Then, a little later (and with both of us almost accidentally) we
    became travellers, collectors, and observers, in some of the
    richest and most interesting portions of the earth; and we thus
    had forced upon our attention all the strange phenomena of local
    and geographical distribution, with the numerous problems to
    which they give rise. Thenceforward our interest in the great
    mystery of _how_ species came into existence was intensified,
    and--again to use Darwin's expression--"haunted" us.

    Finally, both Darwin and myself, at the critical period when our
    minds were freshly stored with a considerable body of personal
    observation and reflection bearing upon the problem to be solved,
    had our attention directed to the system of _positive checks_ as
    expounded by Malthus in his "Principles of Population." The effect
    of that was analogous to that of friction upon the specially
    prepared match, producing that flash of insight which led us
    immediately to the simple but universal law of the "survival of
    the fittest," as the long-sought _effective_ cause of the
    continuous modification and adaptations of living things.

    It is an unimportant detail that Darwin read this book two years
    _after_ his return from his voyage, while I read it _before_ I
    went abroad, and it was a sudden recollection of its teachings
    that caused the solution to flash upon me. I attach much
    importance, however, to the large amount of solitude we both
    enjoyed during our travels, which, at the most impressionable
    period of our lives, gave us ample time for reflection on the
    phenomena we were daily observing.

    This view, of the combination of certain mental faculties and
    external conditions that led Darwin and myself to an identical
    conception, also serves to explain why none of our precursors or
    contemporaries hit upon what is really so very simple a solution
    of the great problem. Such evolutionists as Robert Chambers,
    Herbert Spencer, and Huxley, though of great intellect, wide
    knowledge, and immense power of work, had none of them the special
    turn of mind that makes the collector and the species-man; while
    they all--as well as the equally great thinker on similar lines,
    Sir Charles Lyell--became in early life immersed in different
    lines of research which engaged their chief attention.

    Neither did the actual precursors of Darwin in the statement of
    the principle--Wells, Matthews and Prichard--possess any adequate
    knowledge of the class of facts above referred to, or sufficient
    antecedent interest in the problem itself, which were both needed
    in order to perceive the application of the principle to the mode
    of development of the varied forms of life.

    And now, to recur to my own position, I may be allowed to make a
    final remark. I have long since come to see that no one deserves
    either praise or blame for the _ideas_ that come to him, but only
    for the actions resulting therefrom. Ideas and beliefs are
    certainly not voluntary acts. They come to us--we hardly know
    _how_ or _whence_, and once they have got possession of us we
    cannot reject or change them at will. It is for the common good
    that the promulgation of ideas should be free--uninfluenced either
    by praise or blame, reward or punishment.

    But the _actions_ which result from our ideas may properly be so
    treated, because it is only by patient thought and work that new
    ideas, if good and true, become adapted and utilised; while if
    untrue, or if not adequately presented to the world, they are
    rejected or forgotten.

    I therefore accept the crowning honour you have conferred on me
    to-day, not for the happy chance through which I became an
    independent originator of the doctrine of "survival of the
    fittest," but as a too liberal recognition by you of the moderate
    amount of time and work I have given to explain and elucidate the
    theory, to point out some novel applications of it, and (I hope I
    may add) for my attempts to extend those applications, even in
    directions which somewhat diverged from those accepted by my
    honoured friend and teacher Charles Darwin.

Sir Joseph Hooker was now called upon by the President to receive the
Darwin-Wallace Medal. In acknowledging the honour that had been paid
him, he said:

    No thesis or subject was vouchsafed to me by the Council, but,
    having gratefully accepted the honour, I was bound to find one for
    myself. It soon dawned upon me that the object sought by my
    selection might have been that, considering the intimate terms
    upon which Mr. Darwin extended to me his friendship, I could from
    my memory contribute to the knowledge of some important events in
    his career. It having been intimated to me that this was in a
    measure true, I have selected as such an event one germane to this
    Celebration and also engraven on my memory, namely, the
    considerations which determined Mr. Darwin to assent to the course
    which Sir Charles Lyell and myself had suggested to him, that of
    presenting to the Society, in one communication, his own and Mr.
    Wallace's theories on the effect of variation and the struggle for
    existence on the evolution of species.

    You have all read Francis Darwin's fascinating work as editor of
    his father's "Life and Letters," where you will find (Vol. II., p.
    116) a letter addressed, on the 18th of June, 1858, to Sir Charles
    Lyell by Mr. Darwin, who states that he had on that day received a
    communication from Mr. Wallace written from the Celebes Islands
    requesting that it might be sent to him (Sir Charles).

    In a covering letter Mr. Darwin pointed out that the enclosure
    contained a sketch of a theory of Natural Selection as depending
    on the struggle for existence so identical with one he himself
    entertained and fully described in MS. in 1842 that he never saw a
    more striking coincidence: had Mr. Wallace seen his sketch he
    could not have made a better short abstract, even his terms
    standing "as heads of chapters." He goes on to say that he would
    at once write to Mr. Wallace offering to send his MS. to any
    journal; and concludes: "So my originality is smashed, though my
    book [the forthcoming 'Origin of Species'], if it will have any
    value will not be deteriorated, as all know the labour consists in
    the application of the theory."

    After writing to Sir Charles Lyell, Mr. Darwin informed me of Mr.
    Wallace's letter and its enclosure, in a similar strain, only more
    explicitly announcing his resolve to abandon all claim to priority
    for his own sketch. I could not but protest against such a course,
    no doubt reminding him that I had read it and that Sir Charles
    knew its contents some years before the arrival of Mr. Wallace's
    letter; and that our withholding our knowledge of its priority
    would be unjustifiable. I further suggested the simultaneous
    publication of the two, and offered--should he agree to such a
    compromise--to write to Mr. Wallace fully informing him of the
    motives of the course adopted.

    In answer Mr. Darwin thanked me warmly for my offer to explain all
    to Mr. Wallace, and in a later letter he informed me that he was
    disposed to look favourably on my suggested compromise, but that
    before making up his mind he desired a second opinion as to
    whether he could honourably claim priority, and that he proposed
    applying to Sir Charles Lyell for this. I need not say that this
    was a relief to me, knowing as I did what Sir Charles's answer
    must be.

    In Vol. II., pp. 117-18, of the "Life and Letters," Mr. Darwin's
    application to Sir Charles Lyell is given, dated June 26th, with a
    postscript dated June 27th. In it he requests that the answer
    shall be sent to me to be forwarded to himself. I have no
    recollection of reading the answer, which is not to be found
    either in Darwin's or my own correspondence; it was no doubt

    Further action was now left in the hands of Sir Charles and
    myself, we all agreeing that, whatever action was taken, the
    result should be offered for publication to the Linnean Society.

    On June 29th Mr. Darwin wrote to me in acute distress, being
    himself very ill, and scarlet fever raging in the family, to which
    one infant son had succumbed on the previous day, and a daughter
    was ill with diphtheria. He acknowledged the receipt of the letter
    from me, adding, "I cannot think now of the subject, but soon
    will: you shall hear as soon as I can think"; and on the night of
    the same day he writes again, telling me that he is quite
    prostrated and can do nothing but send certain papers for which I
    had asked as essential for completing the prefatory statement to
    the communication to the Linnean Society of Mr. Wallace's

    The communications were read, as was the custom in those days, by
    the Secretary to the Society. Mr. Darwin himself, owing to his
    illness and distress, could not be present. Sir Charles Lyell and
    myself said a few words to emphasise the importance of the
    subject, but, as recorded in the "Life and Letters" (Vol. II., p.
    126), although intense interest was excited, no discussion took
    place: "the subject was too novel, too ominous, for the old school
    to enter the lists before armouring." ...

    It must also be noticed that for the detailed history given above
    there is no documentary evidence beyond what Francis Darwin has
    produced in the "Life and Letters." There are no letters from
    Lyell relating to it, not even answers to Mr. Darwin's of the
    18th, 25th, and 26th of June; and Sir Leonard Lyell has at my
    request very kindly but vainly searched his uncle's correspondence
    for any relating to this subject beyond the two above mentioned.
    There are none of my letters to either Lyell or Darwin, nor other
    evidence of their having existed beyond the latter's
    acknowledgment of the receipt of some of them; and, most
    surprising of all, Mr. Wallace's letter and its enclosure have
    disappeared. Such is my recollection of this day, the fiftieth
    anniversary of which we are now celebrating, and of the fortnight
    that immediately preceded it.

    It remains for me to ask your forgiveness for intruding upon your
    time and attention with the half-century-old real or fancied
    memories of a nonagenarian as contributions to the history of the
    most notable event in the annals of Biology that had followed the
    appearance in 1735 of the "Systema Naturæ" of Linnæus.

Following Sir J. Hooker, the President, referring to Prof. Haeckel, who
was unable to be present, said that he was "the great apostle of the
Darwin-Wallace theory in Germany ... his enthusiastic and gallant
advocacy [having] chiefly contributed to its success in that country....
A man of world-wide reputation, the leader on the Continent of the 'Old
Guard' of evolutionary biologists, Prof. Haeckel was one whom the
Linnean Society delighted to honour." Two more German scientists were
honoured with the Medal, namely Prof. August Weismann (who was also
absent), and Prof. Eduard Strasburger, the latter paying a special
tribute to Wallace in saying: "When I was young the investigations and
the thought of Alfred Russel Wallace brought me a great stimulus.
Through his 'Malay Archipelago' a new world of scientific knowledge was
unfolded before me. On this occasion I feel it my duty to proclaim it
with gratitude." The Medal was then presented to Sir Francis Galton, who
delivered a notable speech in responding. The last on this occasion to
receive the Medal was Sir E. Ray Lankester, who, in replying to the
President's graceful speech, referred to the happy relationships which
had existed between the contemporary men of science of his own time, but
with special reference to Darwin and Wallace he said:

    Never was there a more beautiful example of modesty, of unselfish
    admiration for another's work, of loyal determination that the
    other should receive the full merit of his independent labours and
    thoughts, than was shown by Charles Darwin on that occasion....

    Subsequently, throughout all their arduous work and varied
    publications upon the great doctrine which they on that day
    unfolded to humanity ... the same complete absence of rivalry
    characterised these high-minded Englishmen, even when in some
    outcomes of their doctrine they were not in perfect agreement....
    I think I am able to say that great as was the interest excited by
    the new doctrine in the scientific world, and wild and angry as
    was the opposition to it in some quarters, few, if any, who took
    part in the scenes attending the birth and earlier reception of
    Darwin's "Origin of Species" had a prevision of the enormous and
    all-important influence which that doctrine was destined to
    exercise upon every line of human thought.... It is in its
    application to the problems of human society that there still
    remains an enormous field of work and discovery for the
    Darwin-Wallace doctrine.

    In the special branch of study which Wallace himself set
    going--the inquiry into the local variations, races, and species
    of insects as evidence of descent with modification, and of the
    mechanism by which that modification is brought about--there is
    still great work in progress, still an abundant field to be
    reaped.... Several able observers and experimenters have set
    themselves the task of improving, if possible, the theoretical
    structure raised by Darwin and Wallace.... But I venture to
    express the opinion that they have none of them resulted in any
    serious modification of the great doctrine submitted to the
    Linnean Society on July 1st, 1858, by Charles Darwin and Alfred
    Russel Wallace. Not only do the main lines of the theory of Darwin
    and Wallace remain unchanged, but the more it is challenged by new
    suggestions and new hypotheses the more brilliantly do the
    novelty, the importance, and the permanent value of the work by
    those great men, to-day commemorated by us, shine forth as the one
    great epoch-making effort of human thought on this subject.

Sir Francis Darwin and Sir William Thiselton-Dyer spoke on behalf of
Schools which had sent representatives to the meeting; Prof. Lönnberg
and Sir Archibald Geikie on behalf of the Academies and Societies; while
Lord Avebury delivered the concluding address.

Any summary of this period in the lives of Darwin and Wallace would be
incomplete without some distinct reference to one other name, namely,
that of Herbert Spencer, whom I have linked with them in the

While we owe to Darwin and Wallace a definite theory of organic
development, it must be remembered that Spencer included this in the
general scheme of Evolution which grew as slowly but surely in his
mind--and as independently as did that of the origin of species in the
minds of Darwin and Wallace. Huxley recalls: "Within the ranks of
biologists, at that time, I met with nobody except Dr. Grant, of
University College, who had a word to say for Evolution--and his
advocacy was not calculated to advance the cause. Outside these ranks,
the only person known to me whose knowledge and capacity compelled
respect, and who was, at the same time, a thorough-going evolutionist,
was Mr. Herbert Spencer.... Many and prolonged were the battles we
fought on this topic.... I took my stand upon two grounds: first, that
up to that time the evidence in favour of transmutation was wholly
insufficient; and, secondly, that no suggestions respecting the causes
of the transmutations assumed ... were in any war adequate to explain
the phenomena. Looking back at the state of knowledge at that time, I
really do not see that any other conclusion was justifiable."[25]

And Prof. Raphael Meldola, in a lecture on Evolution wherein he compares
the impression left by each of these great founders of that school upon
the current of modern thought, says: "Through all ... his [Spencer's]
writings the underlying idea of development can be traced with
increasing depth and breadth, expanding in 1850 in his 'Social Statics'
to a foreshadowing of the general doctrine of Evolution. In 1852 his
views on organic evolution had become so definite that he gave public
expression to them in that well-known and powerful essay on 'The
Development Hypothesis.' ... In the 'Principles of Psychology,' the
first edition of which was published in 1855, the evolutionary principle
was dominant. By 1858--the year of the announcement of Natural Selection
by Darwin and Wallace--he had conceived the great general scheme and had
sketched out the first draft of the prospectus of the Synthetic
Philosophy, the final and amended syllabus [being] issued in 1860. The
work of Darwin and Spencer from that period, although moving along
independent lines, was directed towards the same end, notwithstanding
the diversity of materials which they made use of and the differences in
their methods of attack; that end was the establishment of Evolution as
a great natural principle or law."[26]

In this connection it is especially interesting to note how near Spencer
had come to the conception of Natural Selection without grasping its
full significance. In an article on a "Theory of Population" (published
in the _Westminster Review_ for April, 1852) he wrote: "And here,
indeed, without further illustration, it will be seen that premature
death, under all its forms and from all its causes, cannot fail to work
in the same direction. For as those prematurely carried off must, in the
average of cases, be those in whom the power of self-preservation is the
least, it unavoidably follows that those left behind to continue the
race must be those in whom the power of self-preservation is the
greatest--must be the select of their generation. So that whether the
dangers of existence be of the kind produced by excess of fertility, or
of any other kind, it is clear that by the ceaseless exercise of the
faculties needed to contend with them, and by the death of all men who
fail to contend with them successfully, there is ensured a constant
progress towards a higher degree of skill, intelligence,
self-regulation--a better co-ordinance of actions--a more complete

Up to the period of the publication of the "Origin of Species" and the
first conception of the scheme of the Synthetic Philosophy there had
been no communication between Darwin and Spencer beyond the presentation
by Spencer of a copy of his Essays to Darwin in 1858, which was duly
acknowledged. But by the time the "Origin of Species" had been before
the public for eight years, the Darwinian principle of selection had
become an integral part of the Spencerian mechanism of organic
evolution. Indeed the term "survival of the fittest," approved by both
Darwin and Wallace as an alternative for "natural selection," was, as is
well known, introduced by Spencer.

Wallace's relations with Spencer, though somewhat controversial at
times, were nevertheless cordial and sympathetic. In "My Life" he tells
of his first visit, and the impression left upon his mind by their
conversation. It occurred somewhere about 1862-3, shortly after he and
Bates had read, and been greatly impressed by, Spencer's "First
Principles." "Our thoughts," he says, "were full of the great unsolved
problem of the origin of life--a problem which Darwin's 'Origin of
Species' left in as much obscurity as ever--and we looked to Spencer as
the one man living who could give us some clue to it. His wonderful
exposition of the fundamental laws and conditions, actions and
interactions of the material universe seemed to penetrate so deeply into
that 'nature of things' after which the early philosophers searched in
vain ... that we hoped he would throw some light on that great problem
of problems.... He was very pleasant, spoke appreciatively of what we
had both done for the practical exposition of evolution, and hoped we
would continue to work at the subject. But when we touched upon the
great problem, and whether he had arrived at even one of the first steps
towards its solution, our hopes were dashed at once. That, he said, was
too fundamental a problem to even think of solving at present. We did
not yet know enough of matter in its essential constitution nor of the
various forces of nature; and all he could say was that everything
pointed to its having been a development out of matter--a phase of that
continuous process of evolution by which the whole universe had been
brought to its present condition. And so we had to wait and work
contentedly at minor problems. And now, after forty years, though
Spencer and Darwin and Weismann have thrown floods of light on the
phenomena of life, its essential nature and its origin remain as great a
mystery as ever. Whatever light we do possess is from a source which
Spencer and Darwin neglected or ignored."[27]

In his presidential address to the Entomological Society in 1872 Wallace
made some special allusion to Spencer's theory of the origin of
instincts, and on receiving a copy of the address Spencer wrote: "It is
gratifying to me to find that your extended knowledge does not lead you
to scepticism respecting the speculation of mine which you quote, but
rather enables you to cite further facts in justification of it.
Possibly your exposition will lead some of those, in whose lines of
investigation the question lies, to give deliberate attention to it." A
further proof of his confidence was shown by asking Wallace (in 1874) to
look over the proofs of the first six chapters of his "Principles of
Sociology" in order that he might have the benefit of his criticisms
alike as naturalist, anthropologist, and traveller.

This brief reference to the illustrious group of men to whom we owe the
foundations of this new epoch of evolutionary thought--and not the
foundations only, but also the patient building up of the structure upon
which each one continued to perform his allotted task--and the prefatory
notes and the footnotes attached to the letters will serve to elucidate
the historical correspondence between Darwin and Wallace which follows.

PART II (_Continued_)

II.--The Complete Extant Correspondence between Wallace and Darwin


    "I hope it is a satisfaction to you to reflect--and very few
    things in my life have been more satisfactory to me--that we have
    never felt any jealousy towards each other, though in some senses
    rivals. I believe I can say this of myself with truth, and I am
    absolutely sure that it is true of you."--DARWIN to Wallace.

    "To have thus inspired and retained this friendly feeling,
    notwithstanding our many differences of opinion, I feel to be one
    of the greatest honours of my life."--WALLACE to Darwin.

    "I think the way he [Wallace] carries on controversy is perfectly
    beautiful, and in future histories of science the Wallace-Darwin
    episode will form one of the few bright points among rival
    claimants."--ERASMUS DARWIN to his niece, Henrietta Darwin, 1871.

The first eight letters from Darwin to Wallace were found amongst the
latter's papers, carefully preserved in an envelope on the outside of
which he had written the words reproduced on the next page. Neither
Wallace's part of this correspondence, nor the original MS. of his essay
"On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original
Type," which he sent to Darwin from Ternate, has been discovered. But
these eight letters from Darwin explain themselves and reveal the inner
story of the independent discovery of the theory of Natural Selection.

With respect to the letters which follow the first eight, both sides of
the correspondence, with few exceptions, have been brought together.
Some of the letters have already appeared in "The Life and Letters of
Charles Darwin" and "More Letters," others in "My Life," by A.R.
Wallace, whilst many have not before been published.

Some of these letters, in themselves, have little more than ephemeral
interest, and parts of other letters could have been eliminated, from
the point of view of lightening this volume and of economising the
reader's attention. But I decided, with the fullest approval of the
Wallace and Darwin families, that the letters of these illustrious
correspondents should be here presented as a whole, without mutilation.


Many of the notes of explanation to the Wallace letters have been
gathered from his own writings, and are mainly in his own words, and in
such cases the reader has the advantage of perusing letters annotated by
their author, while most of the notes to the Darwin letters are by Sir
F. Darwin.

       *       *       *       *       *



_Down, Bromley, Kent, May 1, 1857._

My dear Sir,--I am much obliged for your letter of Oct. 10th from
Celebes, received a few days ago: in a laborious undertaking, sympathy
is a valuable and real encouragement. By your letter, and even still
more by your paper in the _Annals_,[28] a year or more ago, I can plainly
see that we have thought much alike and to a certain extent have come to
similar conclusions. In regard to the paper in the _Annals_, I agree to
the truth of almost every word of your paper; and I daresay that you
will agree with me that it is very rare to find oneself agreeing pretty
closely with any theoretical paper; for it is lamentable how each man
draws his own different conclusions from the very same fact. This summer
will make the twentieth year (!) since I opened my first note-book on
the question how and in what way do species and varieties differ from
each other. I am now preparing my work for publication, but I find the
subject so very large, that though I have written many chapters, I do
not suppose I shall go to press for two years.

I have never heard how long you intend staying in the Malay Archipelago;
I wish I might profit by the publication of your Travels there before my
work appears, for no doubt you will reap a large harvest of facts.

I have acted already in accordance with your advice of keeping domestic
varieties, and those appearing in a state of nature, distinct; but I
have sometimes doubted of the wisdom of this, and therefore I am glad to
be backed by your opinion. I must confess, however, I rather doubt the
truth of the now very prevalent doctrine of all our domestic animals
having descended from several wild stocks; though I do not doubt that it
is so in some cases. I think there is rather better evidence on the
sterility of hybrid animals than you seem to admit: and in regard to
plants, the collection of carefully recorded facts by Kölreuter and
Gaertner (and Herbert) is _enormous_. I most entirely agree with you on
the little effect of "climatic conditions" which one sees referred to
_ad nauseam_ in all books: I suppose some very little effect must be
attributed to such influences, but I fully believe that they are very
slight. It is really _impossible_ to explain my views in the compass of
a letter as to causes and means of variation in a state of nature; but I
have slowly adopted a distinct and tangible idea--whether true or false
others must judge; for the firmest conviction of the truth of a doctrine
by its author seems, alas, not to be the slightest guarantee of truth.

I have been rather disappointed at my results in the poultry line; but
if you should, after receiving this, stumble on any curious domestic
breed, I should be very glad to have it; but I can plainly see that the
result will not be at all worth the trouble which I have taken. The case
is different with the domestic pigeons; from its study I have learned
much. The Rajah has sent me some of his pigeons and fowls and _cats'_
skins from the interior of Borneo and from Singapore. Can you tell me
positively that black jaguars or leopards are believed generally or
always to pair with black? I do not think colour of offspring good
evidence. Is the case of parrots fed on fat of fish turning colour
mentioned in your Travels? I remember a case of parrots with (I think)
poison from some toad put into hollow whence primaries had been removed.

One of the subjects on which I have been experimenting, and which cost
me much trouble, is the means of distribution of all organic beings
found on oceanic islands; and any facts on this subject would be most
gratefully received.

Land-molluscs are a great perplexity to me. This is a very dull letter,
but I am a good deal out of health, and am writing this, not from my
home, as dated, but from a water-cure establishment.

With most sincere good wishes for your success in every way, I remain,
my dear Sir, yours sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *



_Down, Bromley, Kent. December 22, 1867._

My dear Sir,--I thank you for your letter of Sept. 27th. I am extremely
glad to hear that you are attending to distribution in accordance with
theoretical ideas. I am a firm believer that without speculation there
is no good and original observation. Few travellers have attended to
such points as you are now at work on; and indeed the whole subject of
distribution of animals is dreadfully behind that of plants. You say
that you have been somewhat surprised at no notice having been taken of
your paper in the _Annals_. I cannot say that I am; for so very few
naturalists care for anything beyond the mere description of species.
But you must not suppose that your paper has not been attended to: two
very good men, Sir C. Lyell, and Mr. E. Blyth at Calcutta, specially
called my attention to it. Though agreeing with you on your conclusions
in the paper, I believe I go much further than you; but it is too long a
subject to enter on my speculative notions. I have not yet seen your
paper on distribution of animals in the Aru Islands: I shall read it
with the _utmost_ interest; for I think that the most interesting
quarter of the whole globe in respect to distribution; and I have long
been very imperfectly trying to collect data from the Malay Archipelago.
I shall be quite prepared to subscribe to your doctrine of subsidence:
indeed from the quite independent evidence of the coral reefs I coloured
my original map in my Coral volumes colours [_sic_] of the Aru Islands
as one of subsidence, but got frightened and left it uncoloured. But I
can see that you are inclined to go _much_ further than I am in regard
to the former connection of oceanic islands with continents. Ever since
poor E. Forbes propounded this doctrine, it has been eagerly followed;
and Hooker elaborately discusses the former connection of all the
Antarctic islands and New Zealand and South America. About a year ago I
discussed the subject much with Lyell and Hooker (for I shall have to
treat of it) and wrote out my arguments in opposition; but you will be
glad to hear that neither Lyell nor Hooker thought much of my arguments;
nevertheless, for once in my life I dare withstand the almost
preternatural sagacity of Lyell. You ask about land-shells on islands
far distant from continents: Madeira has a few identical with those of
Europe, and here the evidence is really good, as some of them are
sub-fossil. In the Pacific islands there are cases of identity, which I
cannot at present persuade myself to account for by introduction through
man's agency; although Dr. Aug. Gould has conclusively shown that many
land-shells have thus been distributed over the Pacific by man's agency.
These cases of introduction are most plaguing. Have you not found it so
in the Malay Archipelago? It has seemed to me, in the lists of mammals
of Timor and other islands, that _several_ in all probability have been

Since writing before, I have experimented a little on some
land-molluscs, and have found sea-water not quite so deadly as I
anticipated. You ask whether I shall discuss Man: I think I shall avoid
the whole subject, as so surrounded with prejudices, though I fully
admit that it is the highest and most interesting problem for the
naturalist. My work, on which I have now been at work more or less for
twenty years, will _not_ fix or settle anything; but I hope it will aid
by giving a large collection of facts with one definite end. I get on
very slowly, partly from ill-health, partly from being a very slow
worker. I have got about half written; but I do not suppose I shall
publish under a couple of years. I have now been three whole months on
one chapter on hybridism!

I am astonished to see that you expect to remain out three or four years
more: what a wonderful deal you will have seen; and what an interesting
area, the grand Malay Archipelago and the richest parts of South
America! I infinitely admire and honour your zeal and courage in the
good cause of natural science; and you have my very sincere and cordial
good wishes for success of all kinds; and may all your theories succeed,
except that on oceanic islands, on which subject I will do battle to the
death.--Pray believe me, my dear Sir, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *



_Down, Bromley, Kent. January 25, 1859._

My dear Sir,--I was extremely much pleased at receiving three days ago
your letter to me and that to Dr. Hooker. Permit me to say how heartily
I admire the spirit in which they are written. Though I had absolutely
nothing whatever to do in leading Lyell and Hooker to what they thought
a fair course of action, yet I naturally could not but feel anxious to
hear what your impression would be. I owe indirectly much to you and
them; for I almost think that Lyell would have proved right and I should
never have completed my larger work, for I have found my abstract[29]
hard enough with my poor health; but now, thank God, I am in my last
chapter but one. My abstract will make a small volume of 400 or 500
pages. Whenever published, I will of course send you a copy, and then
you will see what I mean about the part which I believe selection has
played with domestic productions. It is a very different part, as you
suppose, from that played by "natural selection."

I sent off, by same address as this note, a copy of the _Journal of the
Linnean Society_, and subsequently I have sent some half-dozen copies of
the Paper. I have many other copies at your disposal; and I sent two to
your friend Dr. Davies (?), author of works on men's skulls.

I am glad to hear that you have been attending to birds' nests; I have
done so, though almost exclusively under one point of view, viz. to show
that instincts vary, so that selection could work on and improve them.
Few other instincts, so to speak, can be preserved in a museum.

Many thanks for your offer to look after horses' stripes; if there are
any donkeys', pray add them.

I am delighted to hear that you have collected bees' combs; when next in
London I will inquire of F. Smith and Mr. Saunders. This is an especial
hobby of mine, and I think I can throw light on the subject. If you can
collect duplicates at no very great expense, I should be glad of
specimens for myself, with some bees of each kind. Young growing and
irregular combs, and those which have not had pupæ, are most valuable
for measurements and examination; their edges should be well protected
against abrasion.

Everyone whom I have seen has thought your paper very well written and
interesting. It puts my extracts (written in 1839, now just twenty years
ago!), which I must say in apology were never for an instant intended
for publication, in the shade.

You ask about Lyell's frame of mind. I think he is somewhat staggered,
but does not give in, and speaks with horror often to me of what a thing
it would be and what a job it would be for the next edition of the
Principles if he were "perverted." But he is most candid and honest, and
I think will end by being perverted. Dr. Hooker has become almost as
heterodox as you or I--and I look at Hooker as _by far_ the most capable
judge in Europe.

Most cordially do I wish you health and entire success in all your
pursuits; and God knows, if admirable zeal and energy deserve success,
most amply do you deserve it. I look at my own career as nearly run out;
if I can publish my abstract, and perhaps my greater work on the same
subject, I shall look at my course as done.--Believe me, my dear Sir,
yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *



_Down, Bromley, Kent. April 6, 1859._

My dear Mr. Wallace,--I this morning received your pleasant and friendly
note of Nov. 30th. The first part of my MS.[30] is in Murray's hands, to
see if he likes to publish it. There is no Preface, but a short
Introduction, which must be read by everyone who reads my book. The
second paragraph in the Introduction[31] I have had copied _verbatim_
from my foul copy, and you will, I hope, think that I have fairly
noticed your papers in the _Linnean Transactions_.[32] You must remember
that I am now publishing only an Abstract, and I give no references. I
shall of course allude to your paper on Distribution;[33] and I have
added that I know from correspondence that your explanation of your law
is the same as that which I offer. You are right, that I came to the
conclusion that Selection was the principle of change from study of
domesticated productions; and then reading Malthus I saw at once how to
apply this principle. Geographical distribution and geographical
relations of extinct to recent inhabitants of South America first led me
to the subject. Especially the case of the Galapagos Islands.

I hope to go to press in early part of next month. It will be a small
volume of about 500 pages or so. I will, of course, send you a copy.

I forget whether I told you that Hooker, who is our best British
botanist, and perhaps the best in the world, is a _full_ convert, and is
now going immediately to publish his confession of faith; and I expect
daily to see the proof-sheets. Huxley is changed and believes in
mutation of species: whether a _convert_ to us, I do not quite know. We
shall live to see all the _younger_ men converts. My neighbour and
excellent naturalist, J. Lubbock, is an enthusiastic convert. I see by
Natural History notices that you are doing great work in the
Archipelago; and most heartily do I sympathise with you. For God's sake
take care of your health. There have been few such noble labourers in
the cause of natural science as you are. Farewell, with every good
wish.--Yours sincerely,


P.S.--You cannot tell how I admire your spirit, in the manner in which
you have taken all that was done about publishing our papers. I had
actually written a letter to you, stating that I would _not_ publish
anything before you had published. I had not sent that letter to the
post when I received one from Lyell and Hooker, _urging_ me to send some
MS. to them, and allow them to act as they thought fair and honourably
to both of us. I did so.

       *       *       *       *       *



_Down, Bromley, Kent. August 9, 1859._

My dear Mr. Wallace,--I received your letter and memoir[34] on the 7th,
and will forward it to-morrow to the Linnean Society. But you will be
aware that there is no meeting till beginning of November. Your paper
seems to me _admirable_ in matter, style and reasoning; and I thank you
for allowing me to read it. Had I read it some months ago I should have
profited by it for my forthcoming volume. But my two chapters on this
subject are in type; and though not yet corrected, I am so wearied out
and weak in health that I am fully resolved not to add one word, and
merely improve style. So you will see that my views are nearly the same
with yours, and you may rely on it that not one word shall be altered
owing to my having read your ideas. Are you aware that Mr. W. Earl
published several years ago the view of distribution of animals in the
Malay Archipelago in relation to the depth of the sea between the
islands? I was much struck with this, and have been in habit of noting
all facts on distribution in the Archipelago and elsewhere in this
relation. I have been led to conclude that there has been a good deal of
naturalisation in the different Malay islands, and which I have thought
to certain extent would account for anomalies. Timor has been my
greatest puzzle. What do you say to the peculiar _Felis_ there? I wish
that you had visited Timor: it has been asserted that a fossil mastodon
or elephant's tooth (I forget which) had been found there, which would
be a grand fact. I was aware that Celebes was very peculiar; but the
relation to Africa is quite new to me and marvellous, and almost passes
belief. It is as anomalous as the relation of plants in South-West
Australia to the Cape of Good Hope.

I differ _wholly_ from you on colonisation of _oceanic_ islands, but you
will have _everyone_ else on your side. I quite agree with respect to
all islands not situated far in ocean. I quite agree on little
occasional internavigation between lands when once pretty well stocked
with inhabitants, but think this does not apply to rising and
ill-stocked islands.

Are you aware that _annually_ birds are blown to Madeira, to Azores (and
to Bermuda from America). I wish I had given fuller abstract of my
reasons for not believing in Forbes's great continental extensions; but
it is too late, for I will alter nothing. I am worn out, and must have

Owen, I do not doubt, will bitterly oppose us; but I regard that very
little, as he is a poor reasoner and deeply considers the good opinion
of the world, especially the aristocratic world.

Hooker is publishing a grand Introduction to the Flora of Australia, and
goes the whole length. I have seen proofs of about half.--With every
good wish, believe me yours very sincerely,


Excuse this brief note, but I am far from well.

       *       *       *       *       *



_Ilkley. November 13, 1859._

My dear Sir,--I have told Murray to send you by post (if possible) a
copy of my book, and I hope that you will receive it at nearly the same
time with this note. (N.B.--I have got a bad finger, which makes me
write extra badly.) If you are so inclined, I should very much like to
hear your general impression of the book, as you have thought so
profoundly on the subject and in so nearly the same channel with myself.
I hope there will be some little new to you, but I fear not much.
Remember, it is only an abstract, and very much condensed. God knows
what the public will think. No one has read it, except Lyell, with whom
I have had much correspondence. Hooker thinks him a complete convert,
but he does not seem so in his letters to me. But he is evidently deeply
interested in the subject. I do not think your share in the theory will
be overlooked by the real judges, as Hooker, Lyell, Asa Gray, etc.

I have heard from Mr. Sclater that your paper on the Malay Archipelago
has been read at the Linnean Society, and that he was _extremely_ much
interested by it.

I have not seen one naturalist for six or nine months owing to the state
of my health, and therefore I really have no news to tell you. I am
writing this at Ilkley Wells, where I have been with my family for the
last six weeks, and shall stay for some few weeks longer. As yet I have
profited very little. God knows when I shall have strength for my bigger

I sincerely hope that you keep your health: I suppose that you will be
thinking of returning soon with your magnificent collection and still
grander mental materials. You will be puzzled how to publish. The Royal
Society Fund will be worth your consideration.--With every good wish,
pray believe me yours very sincerely,


I think that I told you before that Hooker is a complete convert. If I
can convert Huxley I shall be content.

       *       *       *       *       *



_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. March 7, 1860._

My dear Wallace,--The addresses which you have sent me are capital,
especially that to the Rajah; and I have dispatched two sets of queries.
I now enclose a copy to you, and should be very glad of any answers; you
must not suppose the P.S. about memory has lately been inserted; please
return these queries, as it is my standard copy. The subject is a
curious one; I fancy I shall make a rather interesting appendix to my
Essay on Man.

I fully admit the probability of "protective adaptation" having come
into play with female butterflies as well as with female birds. I have a
good many facts which make me believe in sexual selection as applied to
man, but whether I shall convince anyone else is very doubtful.--Dear
Wallace, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *



_Down, Bromley, Kent. May 18, 1860._

My dear Mr. Wallace,--I received this morning your letter from Amboyna
dated Feb. 16th, containing some remarks and your too high approbation
of my book. Your letter has pleased me very much, and I most completely
agree with you on the parts which are strongest and which are weakest.
The imperfection of the geological record is, as you say, the weakest of
all; but yet I am pleased to find that there are almost more geological
converts than of pursuers of other branches of natural science. I may
mention Lyell, Ramsay, Jukes, Rogers, Keyerling, all good men and true.
Pictet of Geneva is not a convert, but is evidently staggered (as I
think is Bronn of Heidelberg), and he has written a perfectly fair
review in the _Bib. Universelle_ of Geneva. Old Bronn has translated my
book, well done also into German, and his well-known name will give it
circulation. I think geologists are more converted than simple
naturalists because more accustomed to reasoning.

Before telling you about the progress of opinion on the subject, you
must let me say how I admire the generous manner in which you speak of
my book: most persons would in your position have felt bitter envy and
jealousy. How nobly free you seem to be of this common failing of
mankind. But you speak far too modestly of yourself; you would, if you
had had my leisure, have done the work just as well, perhaps better,
than I have done it. Talking of envy, you never read anything more
envious and spiteful (with numerous misrepresentations) than Owen is in
the _Edinburgh Review_. I must give one instance; he throws doubts and
sneers at my saying that the ovigerous frena of cirripedes have been
converted into branchiæ, because I have not found them to be branchiæ;
whereas _he himself_ admits, before I wrote on cirripedes, without the
least hesitation, that their organs are branchiæ. The attacks have been
heavy and incessant of late. Sedgwick and Prof. Clarke attacked me
savagely at the Cambridge Philosophical Society, but Henslow defended me
well, though not a convert. Phillips has since attacked me in a lecture
at Cambridge; Sir W. Jardine in the _Edinburgh New Philosophical
Journal_, Wollaston in the _Annals of Nat. History_, A. Murray before
the Royal Soc. of Edinburgh, Haughton at the Geological Society of
Dublin, Dawson in the _Canadian Nat. Magazine_, and _many others_. But I
am getting case-hardened, and all these attacks will make me only more
determinedly fight. Agassiz sends me personal civil messages, but
incessantly attacks me; but Asa Gray fights like a hero in defence.
Lyell keeps as firm as a tower, and this autumn will publish on the
Geological History of Man, and will then declare his conversion, which
now is universally known. I hope that you have received Hooker's
splendid essay. So far is bigotry carried that I can name three
botanists who will not even read Hooker's essay!! Here is a curious
thing: a Mr. Pat. Matthews, a Scotchman, published in 1830 a work on
Naval Timber and Arboriculture, and in the appendix to this he gives
_most clearly_ but very briefly in half-dozen paragraphs our view of
Natural Selection. It is a most complete case of anticipation. He
published extracts in the _Gardeners' Chronicle_. I got the book, and
have since published a letter acknowledging that I am fairly
forestalled. Yesterday I heard from Lyell that a German, Dr.
Schaffhausen, has sent him a pamphlet published some years ago, in
which the same view is nearly anticipated, but I have not yet seen this
pamphlet. My brother, who is a very sagacious man, always said, "You
will find that someone will have been before you." I am at work at my
larger work, which I shall publish in separate volumes. But for
ill-health and swarms of letters I get on very, very slowly. I hope that
I shall not have wearied you with these details.


With sincere thanks for your letter, and with most deeply-felt wishes
for your success in science and in every way, believe me your sincere


       *       *       *       *       *

Of the letters from Wallace to Darwin which have been preserved, the
earliest is the following:

_5 Westbourne Grove Terrace, W. April 7, 1862._

My dear Mr. Darwin,--I was much pleased to receive your note this
morning. I have not yet begun work, but hope to be soon busy. As I am
being doctored a little I do not think I shall be able to accept your
kind invitation at present, but trust to be able to do so during the

I beg you to accept a wild honeycomb from the island of Timor, not quite
perfect but the best I could get. It is of a small size, but of
characteristic form, and I think will be interesting to you. I was quite
unable to get the honey out of it, so fear you will find it somewhat in
a mess; but no doubt you will know how to clean it. I have told Stevens
to send it to you.

Hoping your health is now quite restored and with best wishes, I remain,
my dear Mr. Darwin, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_5 Westbourne Grove Terrace, W. May 23, 1862._

My dear Mr. Darwin,--Many thanks for your most interesting book on the
Orchids. I have read it through most attentively, and have really been
quite as much staggered by the wonderful adaptations you show to exist
in them as by the _Eye_ in animals or any other complicated organs. I
long to get into the country and have a look at some orchids guided by
your new lights, but I have been now for ten days confined to my room
with what is disagreeable though far from dangerous--boils.

I have been reading several of the Reviews on the "Origin," and it seems
to me that you have assisted those who want to criticise you by your
overstating the difficulties and objections. Several of them quote your
own words as the strongest arguments against you.

I think you told me Owen wrote the article in the _Quarterly_. This
seems to me hardly credible, as he speaks so much of Owen, quotes him as
such a great authority, and I believe even calls him a profound
philosopher, etc. etc. Would Owen thus speak of himself?

Trusting your health is good, I remain, my dear Mr. Darwin, yours very


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. May 24, 1862._

My dear Mr. Wallace,--I write one line to thank you for your note and to
say that the Bishop of Oxford[35] wrote the _Quarterly Review_ (paid
£60), aided by Owen. In the _Edinburgh_ Owen no doubt praised himself.
Mr. Maw's Review in the _Zoologist_ is one of the best, and staggered me
in parts, for I did not see the sophistry of parts. I could lend you any
which you might wish to see; but you would soon be tired. Hopkins and
Pictet in France are two of the best.

I am glad you approve of my little Orchid book; but it has not been
worth, I fear, the ten months it has cost me: it was a hobby-horse, and
so beguiled me.

I am sorry to hear that you are suffering from boils; I have often had
fearful crops: I hope that the doctors are right in saying that they are

How puzzled you must be to know what to begin at. You will do grand
work, I do not doubt.

My health is, and always will be, very poor: I am that miserable animal
a regular valetudinarian.--Yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_5 Westbourne Grove Terrace, W. August 8, 1862._

My dear Mr. Darwin,--I sincerely trust that your little boy is by this
time convalescent, and that you are therefore enabled to follow your
favourite investigations with a more tranquil mind.

I heard a remark the other day which may not perhaps be new to you, but
seemed to me a fact, if true, in your favour. Mr. Ward (I think it was),
a member of the Microscopical Society, mentioned as a fact noticed by
himself with much surprise that "the muscular fibres of the whale were
no larger than those of the bee!"--an excellent indication of community
of origin.

While looking at the ostriches the other day at the Gardens, it occurred
to me that they were a case of special difficulty, as, inhabiting an
ancient continent, surrounded by numerous enemies, how did their wings
ever become abortive, and if they did so before the birds had attained
their present gigantic size, strength and speed, how could they in the
transition have maintained their existence? I see Westwood in the
_Annals_ brings forward the same case, arguing that the ostriches should
have acquired better wings within the historic period; but as they are
now the swiftest of animals they evidently do not want their wings,
which in their present state may serve some other trifling purpose in
their economy such as fans, or balancers, which may have prevented their
being reduced to such rudiments as in the cassowaries. The difficulty
to me seems to be, how, if they once had flight, could they have lost
it, surrounded by swift and powerful carnivora against whom it must have
been the only defence?

This probably is all clear to you, but I think it is a point you might
touch upon, as I think the objection will seem a strong one to most

In a day or two I go to Devonshire for a few weeks and hope to lay in a
stock of health to enable me to stick to work at my collections during
the winter. I begin to find that large collections involve a heavy
amount of manual labour which is not very agreeable.

Present my compliments to Mrs. and Miss Darwin, and believe me yours
very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_1 Carlton Terrace, Southampton. August 20, 1862._

My dear Mr. Wallace,--You will not be surprised that I have been slow in
answering when I tell you that my poor boy[36] became frightfully worse
after you were at Down; and that during our journey to Bournemouth he
had a slight relapse here and my wife took the scarlet fever rather
severely. She is over the crisis. I have had a horrid time of it, and
God only knows when we shall be all safe at home again--half my family
are at Bournemouth.

I have given a piece of the comb from Timor to a Mr. Woodbury (who is
working at the subject), and he is _extremely_ interested by it (I was
sure the specimen would be valuable) and has requested me to ascertain
whether the bee (_A. testacea_) is domesticated when it makes its combs.
Will you kindly inform me?

Your remarks on ostriches have interested me, and I have alluded to the
case in the Third Edition. The difficulty does not seem to me so great
as to you. Think of bustards, which inhabit wide open plains, and which
so seldom take flight: a very little increase in size of body would make
them incapable of flight. The idea of ostriches acquiring flight is
worthy of Westwood; think of the food required in these inhabitants of
the desert to work the pectoral muscles! In the rhea the wings seem of
considerable service in the first start and in turning.[37] ...

       *       *       *       *       *

_5 Westbourne Grove Terrace, W. September 30, 1862._

My dear Mr. Darwin,--Many thanks for the third edition of the "Origin,"
which I found here on my return from Devonshire on Saturday. I have not
had time yet to read more than the Historical Sketch, which is very
interesting, and shows that the time had quite come for your book.

I am now reading Herbert Spencer's "First Principles," which seems to me
a truly great work, which goes to the root of everything.

I hope you will be well enough to come to Cambridge.

I remain, my dear Mr. Darwin, yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_5 Westbourne Grove Terrace, W. January 14 [1863?]._

My dear Mr. Darwin,--I am very sorry indeed to hear you are still in
weak health. Have you ever tried mountain air? A residence at 2,000 or
3,000 ft. elevation is very invigorating.

I trust your family are now all in good health, and that you may be
spared any anxiety on that score for some time. If you come to town I
shall hope to have the pleasure of seeing you.

I am now in much better health, but find sudden changes of weather
affect me very much, bringing on ague and fever fits. I am now working a
little, but having fresh collections still arriving from correspondents
in the East, it is principally the drudgery of cleaning, packing, and

On the opposite page I give all the information I can about the Timor
fossils, so that you can send it entire to Dr. Falconer.

With best wishes for the speedy recovery of your health, I remain, my
dear Mr. Darwin, yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. January 1, 1864._

Dear Wallace,--I am still unable to write otherwise than by dictation.
In a letter received two or three weeks ago from Asa Gray he writes: "I
read lately with gusto Wallace's exposé of the Dublin man on Bee cells,

Now though I cannot read at present, I much want to know where this is
published, that I may procure a copy. Further on Asa Gray says (after
speaking of Agassiz's paper on Glaciers in the _Atlantic Magazine_ and
his recent book entitled "Method of Study"): "Pray set Wallace upon
these articles." So Asa Gray seems to think much of your powers of
reviewing, and I mention this as it assuredly is _laudari a laudato_.

I hope you are hard at work, and if you are inclined to tell me I should
much like to know what you are doing.

It will be many months, I fear, before I shall do anything.

Pray believe me yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_5 Westbourne Grove Terrace, W. January 2, 1864._

My dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your kind letter. I was afraid to write
because I heard such sad accounts of your health, but I am glad to find
that you can write, and I presume read, by deputy. My little article on
Haughton's paper was published in the _Annals of Natural History_ about
August or September last, I think, but I have not a copy to refer to. I
am sure it does not deserve Asa Gray's praises, for though the matter
may be true enough, the manner I know is very inferior. It was written
hastily, and when I read it in the _Annals_ I was rather ashamed of it,
as I knew so many could have done it so much better.

I will try and see Agassiz's paper and book. What I have hitherto seen
of his on Glacial subjects seems very good, but in all his Natural
History _theories_, he seems so utterly wrong and so totally blind to
the plainest deduction from facts, and at the same time so vague and
obscure in his language, that it would be a very long and wearisome task
to answer him.

With regard to work, I am doing but little--I am afraid I have no good
habit of systematic work. I have been gradually getting parts of my
collections in order, but the obscurities of synonymy and descriptions,
the difficulty of examining specimens, and my very limited library, make
it wearisome work.

I have been lately getting the first groups of my butterflies in order,
and they offer some most interesting facts in variation and
distribution--in variation some very puzzling ones. Though I have very
fine series of specimens, I find in many cases I want more; in fact if I
could have afforded to have all my collections kept till my return I
should, I think, have found it necessary to retain twice as many as I
now have.

I am at last making a beginning of a small book on my Eastern journey,
which, if I can persevere, I hope to have ready by next Christmas. I am
a very bad hand at writing anything like narrative. I want something to
argue on, and then I find it much easier to go ahead. I rather despair,
therefore, of making so good a book as Bates's, though I think my
subject is better. Like every other traveller, I suppose, I feel
dreadfully the want of copious notes on common everyday objects, sights
and sounds and incidents, which I imagined I could never forget but
which I now find it impossible to recall with any accuracy.

I have just had a long and most interesting letter from my old companion
Spruce. He says he has had a letter from you about Melastoma, but has
not, he says, for three years seen a single melastomaceous plant! They
are totally absent from the Pacific plains of tropical America, though
so abundant on the Eastern plains. Poor fellow, he seems to be in a
worse state than you are. Life has been a burden to him for three years
owing to lung and heart disease, and rheumatism, brought on by exposure
in high, hot, and cold damp valleys of the Andes. He went down to the
dry climate of the Pacific coast to die more at ease, but the change
improved him, and he thinks to come home, though he is sure he will not
survive the first winter in England. He had never been able to get a
copy of your book, though I am sure no one would have enjoyed or
appreciated it more.

If you are able to bear reading, will you allow me to take the liberty
of recommending you a book? The fact is I have been so astonished and
delighted with the perusal of Spencer's works that I think it a duty to
society to recommend them to all my friends who I think can appreciate
them. The one I particularly refer to now is "Social Statics," a book
which is by no means hard to read; it is even amusing, and owing to the
wonderful clearness of its style may be read and understood by anyone. I
think, therefore, as it is quite distinct from your special studies at
present, you might consider it as "light literature," and I am pretty
sure it would interest you more than a great deal of what is now
considered very good. I am utterly astonished that so few people seem to
read Spencer, and the utter ignorance there seems to be among
politicians and political economists of the grand views and logical
stability of his works. He appears to me as far ahead of John Stuart
Mill as J.S.M. is of the rest of the world, and, I may add, as Darwin is
of Agassiz. The range of his knowledge is no less than its accuracy. His
nebular hypothesis in the last volume of his essays is the most masterly
astronomical paper I have ever read, and in his forthcoming volume on
Biology he is I understand going to show that there is something else
besides Natural Selection at work in nature. So you must look out for a
"foeman worthy of your steel"! But perhaps all this time you have read
his books. If so, excuse me, and pray give me your opinion of him, as I
have hitherto only met with one man (Huxley) who has read and
appreciated him.

Allow me to say in conclusion how much I regret that unavoidable
circumstances have caused me to see so little of you since my return
home, and how earnestly I pray for the speedy restoration of your
health.--Yours most sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Malvern Wells. Tuesday, March, 1864._

My dear Mr. Wallace,--Your kindness is neverfailing. I got worse and
worse at home and was sick every day for two months; so came here, when
I suddenly broke down and could do nothing; but I hope I am now very
slowly recovering, but am very weak.

Sincere thanks about Melastoma: these flowers have baffled me, and I
have caused several friends much useless labour; though, Heaven knows, I
have thrown away time enough on them myself.

The gorse case is very valuable, and I will quote it, as I presume I

I was very glad to see in the _Reader_ that you have been giving a
grand paper (as I infer from remarks in discussion) on Geographical

I am very weak, so will say no more.--Yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

In Vol. I., p. 93, of the "Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," Darwin
states the circumstances which led to his writing the "Descent of Man."
He says that his collection of facts, begun in 1837 or 1838, was
continued for many years without any definite idea of publishing on the
subject. The letter to Wallace of May 28, 1864, in reply to the latter's
of May 10, shows that in the period of ill-health and depression about
1864 he despaired of ever being able to do so.

_5 Westbourne Grove Terrace, W. May 10, 1864._

My dear Darwin,--I was very much gratified to hear by your letter of a
month back that you were a little better, and I have since heard
occasionally through Huxley and Lubbock that you are not worse. I
sincerely hope the summer weather and repose may do you real good.

The Borneo Cave exploration is to go on at present without a
subscription. The new British consul who is going out to Sarawak this
month will undertake to explore some of the caves nearest the town, and
if anything of interest is obtained a good large sum can no doubt be
raised for a thorough exploration of the whole country. Sir J. Brooke
will give every assistance, and will supply men for the preliminary

I send you now my little contribution to the _theory_ of the origin of
man. I hope you will be able to agree with me. If you are able, I shall
be glad to have your criticisms.

I was led to the subject by the necessity of explaining the vast mental
and cranial differences between man and the apes combined with such
small structural differences in other parts of the body, and also by an
endeavour to account for the diversity of human races combined with
man's almost perfect stability of form during all historical epochs.

It has given me a settled opinion on these subjects, if nobody can show
a fallacy in the argument.

The Anthropologicals did not seem to appreciate it much, but we had a
long discussion which appears almost verbatim in the _Anthropological

As the _Linnean Transactions_ will not be out till the end of the year I
sent a pretty full abstract of the more interesting parts of my
Papilionidæ paper[40] to the _Reader_, which, as you say, is a splendid

Trusting Mrs. Darwin and all your family are well, and that you are
improving, believe me yours most sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent. May 28, 1864._

Dear Wallace,--I am so much better that I have just finished a paper for
the Linnean Society; but as I am not yet at all strong I felt much
disinclination to write, and therefore you must forgive me for not
having sooner thanked you for your paper on Man received on the 11th.
But first let me say that I have hardly ever in my life been more struck
by any paper than that on variation, etc. etc., in the _Reader_. I feel
sure that such papers will do more for the spreading of our views on the
modification of species than any separate treatises on the single
subject itself. It is really admirable; but you ought not in the Man
paper to speak of the theory as mine; it is just as much yours as mine.
One correspondent has already noticed to me your "high-minded" conduct
on this head.

But now for your Man paper, about which I should like to write more than
I can. The great leading idea is quite new to me, viz. that during late
ages the mind will have been modified more than the body; yet I had got
as far as to see with you that the struggle between the races of man
depended entirely on intellectual and _moral_ qualities. The latter part
of the paper I can designate only as grand and most eloquently done. I
have shown your paper to two or three persons who have been here, and
they have been equally struck with it.

I am not sure that I go with you on all minor points. When reading Sir
G. Grey's account of the constant battles of Australian savages, I
remember thinking that Natural Selection would come in, and likewise
with the Esquimaux, with whom the art of fishing and managing canoes is
said to be hereditary. I rather differ on the rank under the
classificatory point of view which you assign to Man: I do not think any
character simply in excess ought ever to be used for the higher
division. Ants would not be separated from other hymenopterous insects,
however high the instinct of the one and however low the instincts of
the other.

With respect to the differences of race, a conjecture has occurred to me
that much may be due to the correlation of complexion (and consequently
hair) with constitution. Assume that a dusky individual best escaped
miasma and you will readily see what I mean. I persuaded the
Director-General of the Medical Department of the Army to send printed
forms to the surgeons of all regiments in tropical countries to
ascertain this point, but I daresay I shall never get any returns.
Secondly, I suspect that a sort of sexual selection has been the most
powerful means of changing the races of man. I can show that the
different races have a widely different standard of beauty. Among
savages the most powerful men will have the pick of the women, and they
will generally leave the most descendants.

I have collected a few notes on Man, but I do not suppose I shall ever
use them. Do you intend to follow out your views, and if so would you
like at some future time to have my few references and notes?

I am sure I hardly know whether they are of any value, and they are at
present in a state of chaos.

There is much more that I should like to write but I have not
strength.--Believe me, dear Wallace, yours very sincerely,


Our aristocracy is handsomer? (more hideous according to a Chinese or
negro) than the middle classes, from pick of women; but oh what a scheme
is primogeniture for destroying Natural Selection! I fear my letter will
be barely intelligible to you.

       *       *       *       *       *

_5 Westbourne Grove Terrace, W. May 29 [1864]._

My dear Darwin,--You are always so ready to appreciate what others do,
and especially to overestimate my desultory efforts, that I cannot be
surprised at your very kind and flattering remarks on my papers. I am
glad, however, that you have made a few critical observations, and am
only sorry you were not well enough to make more, as that enables me to
say a few words in explanation.

My great fault is haste. An idea strikes me, I think over it for a few
days, and then write away with such illustrations as occur to me while
going on. I therefore look at the subject almost solely from one point
of view. Thus in my paper on Man[41] I aim solely at showing that brutes
are modified in a _great variety_ of ways by Natural Selection, but that
in _none of these particular_ ways can man be modified, because of the
superiority of his intellect. I therefore no doubt overlook a few
smaller points in which Natural Selection may still act on men and
brutes alike. Colour is one of them, and I have alluded to this in
correlation to constitution in an abstract I have made at Sclater's
request for the _Natural History Review_.[42] At the same time, there is
so much evidence of migrations and displacements of races of man, and so
many cases of peoples of distinct physical characters inhabiting the
same or similar regions, and also of races of uniform physical
characters inhabiting widely dissimilar regions, that the external
characteristics of the chief races of man must I think be older than his
present geographical distribution, and the modifications produced by
correlation to favourable variations of constitution be only a secondary
cause of external modification.

I hope you may get the returns from the Army. They would be very
interesting, but I do not expect the results would be favourable to your

With regard to the constant battles of savages leading to selection of
physical superiority, I think it would be very imperfect, and subject to
so many exceptions and irregularities that it could produce no
_definite_ result. For instance, the strongest and bravest men would
lead, and expose themselves most, and would therefore be most subject to
wounds and death. And the physical energy which led to any one tribe
delighting in war might lead to its extermination by inducing quarrels
with all surrounding tribes and leading them to combine against it.
Again, superior cunning, stealth and swiftness of foot, or even better
weapons, would often lead to victory as well as mere physical strength.
Moreover this kind of more or less perpetual war goes on among all
savage peoples. It could lead therefore to no differential characters,
but merely to the keeping up of a certain average standard of bodily and
mental health and vigour. So with selection of variations adapted to
special habits of life, as fishing, paddling, riding, climbing, etc.
etc., in different races: no doubt it must act to some extent, but will
it be ever so rigid as to induce a definite physical modification, and
can we imagine it to have had any part in producing the distinct races
that now exist?

The sexual selection you allude to will also, I think, have been equally
uncertain in its results. In the very lowest tribes there is rarely much
polygamy, and women are more or less a matter of purchase. There is also
little difference of social condition, and I think it rarely happens
that any healthy and undeformed man remains without wife and children. I
very much doubt the often-repeated assertion that our aristocracy are
more beautiful than the middle classes. I allow that they present
_specimens_ of the highest kind of beauty, but I doubt the average. I
have noticed in country places a greater average amount of good looks
among the middle classes, and besides, we unavoidably combine in our
idea of beauty, intellectual expression and refinement of _manner_,
which often make the less appear the more beautiful. Mere physical
beauty--that is, a healthy and regular development of the body and
features approaching to the _mean_ or _type_ of European man--I believe
is quite as frequent in one class of society as the other, and much more
frequent in rural districts than in cities.

With regard to the rank of man in zoological classification, I fear I
have not made myself intelligible. I never meant to adopt Owen's or any
other such views, but only to point out that from _one_ point of view he
was right. I hold that a distinct _family_ for man, as Huxley allows, is
all that can possibly be given him zoologically. But at the same time,
if my theory is true--that while the animals which surrounded him have
been undergoing modification in _all_ parts of their bodies to a
_generic_ or even _family_ degree of difference, he has been changing
almost wholly in the brain and head--then, in geological antiquity the
_species_ of man may be as old as many mammalian _families_, and the
origin of the _family_ man may date back to a period when some of the
orders first originated.

As to the theory of Natural Selection itself, I shall always maintain it
to be actually yours and yours only. You had worked it out in details I
had never thought of, years before I had a ray of light on the subject,
and my paper would never have convinced anybody or been noticed as more
than an ingenious speculation, whereas your book has revolutionised the
study of natural history, and carried away captive the best men of the
present age. All the merit I claim is the having been the means of
inducing _you_ to write and publish at once.

I may possibly some day go a little more into this subject (of Man),
and, if I do, will accept the kind offer of your notes. I am now,
however, beginning to write the "Narrative of my Travels" which will
occupy me a long time, as I hate writing narrative, and after Bates's
brilliant success rather fear to fail. I shall introduce a few chapters
on geographical distribution and other such topics.

Sir C. Lyell, while agreeing with my main argument on Man, thinks I am
wrong in wanting to put him back into Miocene times, and thinks I do not
appreciate the immense interval even to the later Pliocene. But I still
maintain my view, which in fact is a logical result of my theory, for if
man originated in later Pliocene times, when almost all mammalia were of
closely allied species to those now living, and many even identical,
then man has _not_ been stationary in bodily structure while animals
have been varying, and my theory will be proved to be all wrong.

In Murchison's address to the Geographical Society just delivered he
points out Africa, as being the _oldest_ existing land. He says there is
_no_ evidence of its having been ever submerged during the tertiary
epoch. Here, then, is evidently the place to find _early man_. I hope
something good may be found in Borneo, and that then means may be found
to explore the still more promising regions of tropical Africa, for we
can expect nothing of man _very_ early in Europe.

It has given me great pleasure to find that there are symptoms of
improvement in your health. I hope you will not exert yourself too soon
or write more than is quite agreeable to you. I think I made out every
word of your letter though it was not always easy.--Believe me, my dear
Darwin, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. June 15, 1864._

Dear Wallace,--You must not suppose from my delay that I have not been
much interested by your long letter. I write now merely to thank you,
and just to say that probably you are right on all the points you touch
on except, as I think, about sexual selection, which I will not give up.

My belief in it, however, is contingent on my general beliefs in sexual
selection. It is an awful stretcher to believe that a peacock's tail was
thus formed; but believing it, I believe in the same principle somewhat
modified applied to man.

I doubt whether my notes would be of any use to you, and as far as I
remember they are chiefly on sexual selection.

I am very glad to hear that you are on your Travels. I believe you will
find it a very convenient vehicle for miscellaneous discussion. With
your admirable powers of writing, I cannot doubt that you will make an
excellent book.--Believe me, dear Wallace, yours sincerely,


P.S.--A great gun, Flourens, has written a little dull book against me;
which pleases me much, for it is plain that our good work is spreading
in France. He speaks of the _engouement_ about this book, "so full of
empty and presumptuous thoughts."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. January 29, 1865._

My dear Wallace,--I must ease my mind by saying how much I admire the
two papers you have sent me.

That on parrots[43] contained most new matter to me, and interested me
_extremely_; that in the _Geographical Journal_[44] strikes me as an
epitome of the whole theory of geographical distribution: the comparison
of Borneo and New Guinea, the relation of the volcanic outbursts and the
required subsidence, and the comparison of the supposed conversion of
the Atlantic into a great archipelago, seemed to me the three best hits.
They are both indeed excellent papers.--Believe me yours very sincerely,


Do try what hard work will do to banish painful thoughts.[45]

P.S.--During one of the later French voyages, a _wild_ pig was killed
and brought from the Aru Islands to Paris. Am I not right in inferring
that this must have been introduced and run wild? If you have a clear
opinion on this head, may I quote you?

       *       *       *       *       *

_5 Westbourne Grove Terrace, W. January 31, [1865?]._

Dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your kind letter. I send you now a few
more papers. One on Man is not much in your line. The other three are
bird lists, but in the introductory remarks are a few facts of
distribution that may be of use to you, and as you have them already in
the _Zoological Proceedings_, you can cut these up if you want

I hope you do not very much want the Aru pig to be a domestic animal run
wild, because I have no doubt myself it was the species peculiar to the
New Guinea fauna (_Sus papuensis_, Less.), a very distinct form. I have
no doubt it is this species, though I did not get it myself there,
because I was told that on a small island near, called there Pulo babi
(Pig Island), was a race of pigs (different from and larger than those
of the large islands) which had originated from the wreck of a large
ship near a century ago. The productions of the Aru Islands closely
resemble those of New Guinea, more than half the species of birds being
identical, as well as about half of the few known mammals.

I am beginning to work at some semi-mechanical work, drawing up
catalogues of parts of my collection for publication.

I enclose my "carte." Have you a photograph of yourself of any kind you
can send me? When you come to town next, may I beg the honour of a
sitting for my brother-in-law, Mr. Sims, 73 Westbourne Grove?--Yours
very sincerely,


P.S.--Your paper on _Lythrum salicaria_[46] is most beautiful. What a
wonderful plant it is! I long to hear your paper on Tendrils and hear
what you have got out of them. My old friend Spruce, a good botanist and
close observer, could probably supply you with some facts on that or
other botanical subjects if you would write to him. He is now at Kew,
but almost as ill as yourself.--A.R.W.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. February 1, 1865._

My dear Wallace,--I am much obliged for your photograph, for I have
lately set up a scientific album; and for the papers, which I will read
before long. I enclose my own photo, taken by my son, and I have no

I fear it will be a long time before I shall be able to sit to a
photographer, otherwise I should be happy to sit to Mr. Sims.

Thanks for information about the Aru pig, which will make me very

It is a perplexing case, for Nathusius says the skull of the Aru
resembles that of the Chinese breed, and he thinks that _Sus papuensis_
has been founded on a young skull; D. Blainville stating that an old
skull from New Guinea resembles that of the wild pigs of Malabar, and
these belong to the _S. scrofa_ type, which is different from the
Chinese domestic breed. The latter has not been found in a wild
condition.--Believe me, dear Wallace, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, Regent's Park, N.W. Sept. 18, 1865._

Dear Darwin,--I should have written before to thank you for the copy of
your paper on climbing plants, which I read with great interest; I can
imagine how much pleasure the working out must have given you. I was
afraid you were too ill to make it advisable that you should be bothered
with letters.

I write now, in hopes you are better, to communicate a curious case of
_variation_ becoming at once _hereditary_, which was brought forward at
the British Association. I send a note of it on the other side, but if
you would like more exact particulars, with names and dates and a
drawing of the bird, I am sure Mr. O'Callaghan would send them to you.

I hope to hear that you are better, and that your new book is really to
come out next winter.--Believe me yours very faithfully,


NOTE.--Last spring Mr. O'Callaghan was told by a country boy that he had
seen a blackbird with a topknot; on which Mr. O'C. very judiciously told
him to watch it and communicate further with him. After a time the boy
told him he had found a blackbird's nest, and had seen this crested bird
near it and believed he belonged to it. He continued watching the nest
till the young were hatched. After a time he told Mr. O'C. that two of
the young birds seemed as if they would have topknots. He was told to
get one of them as soon as it was fledged. However, he was too late, and
they left the nest, but luckily he found them near and knocked one down
with a stone, which Mr. O'C. had stuffed and exhibited. It has a fine
crest, something like that of a Polish fowl, but _larger_ in proportion
to the bird, and very regular and well formed. The male must have been
almost like the Umbrella bird in miniature, the crest is so large and

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. September 22, 1865._

Dear Wallace,--I am much obliged for your extract; I never heard of such
a case, though such a variation is perhaps the most likely of any to
occur in a state of nature and be inherited, inasmuch as all
domesticated birds present races with a tuft or with reversed feathers
on their heads. I have sometimes thought that the progenitor of the
whole class must have been a crested animal.

Do you make any progress with your Journal of travels? I am the more
anxious that you should do so as I have lately read with much interest
some papers by you on the ouran-outang, etc., in the _Annals_, of which
I have lately been reading the latter volumes, I have always thought
that Journals of this nature do considerable good by advancing the taste
for natural history; I know in my own case that nothing ever stimulated
my zeal so much as reading Humboldt's Personal Narrative. I have not yet
received the last part of _Linnean Transactions_, but your paper[47] at
present will be rather beyond my strength, for though somewhat better I
can as yet do hardly anything but lie on the sofa and be read aloud to.
By the way, have you read Tylor and Lecky?[48] Both these books have
interested me much. I suppose you have read Lubbock?[49] In the last
chapter there is a note about you in which I most cordially concur.[50] I
see you were at the British Association, but I have heard nothing of it
except what I have picked up in the _Reader_. I have heard a rumour that
the _Reader_ is sold to the Anthropological Society. If you do not
begrudge the trouble of another note (for my sole channel of news
through Hooker is closed by his illness), I should much like to hear
whether the _Reader_ is thus sold. I should be very sorry for it, as the
paper would thus become sectional in its tendency. If you write, tell me
what you are doing yourself.

The only news which I have about the "Origin" is that Fritz Müller
published a few months ago a remarkable book[51] in its favour, and
secondly that a second French edition is just coming out.--Believe me,
dear Wallace, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, Regents Park. October 2, 1865._

Dear Darwin,--I was just leaving town for a few days when I received
your letter, or should have replied at once.

The _Reader_ has no doubt changed hands, and I am inclined to think for
the better. It is purchased, I believe, by a gentleman who is a Fellow
of the Anthropological Society, but I see no signs of its being made a
special organ of that Society. The Editor (and, I believe, proprietor)
is a Mr. Bendyshe, the most talented man in the Society, and, judging
from his speaking, which I have often heard, I should say the articles
on "Simeon and Simony," "Metropolitan Sewage," and "France and Mexico,"
are his, and these are in my opinion superior to anything that has been
in the _Reader_ for a long time; they have the point and brilliancy
which are wanted to make leading articles readable and popular. The
articles on Mill's Political Economy and on Mazzini are also first-rate.
He has introduced also the plan of having two, and now three, important
articles in each number--one political or social, one literary, and one
scientific. Under the old regime they never had an editor above
mediocrity, except Masson (? Musson); there was a want of unity among
the proprietors as to the aims and objects of the journal; and there was
a want of capital to secure the services of good writers. This seems to
me to be now all changed for the better, and I only hope the rumour of
that _bête noire_, the Anthropological Society, having anything to do
with it may not cause our best men of science to withdraw their support
and contributions.

I have read Tylor, and am reading Lecky. I found the former somewhat
disconnected and unsatisfactory from the absence of any definite result
or any decided opinion on most of the matters treated of.

Lecky I like much, though he is rather tedious and obscure at times.
Most of what he says has been said so much more forcibly by Buckle,
whose work I have read for the second time with increased admiration,
although with a clear view of some of his errors. Nevertheless, his is I
think unapproachably the grandest work of the present century, and the
one most likely to liberalise opinion. Lubbock's book is very good, but
his concluding chapter very weak. Why are men of science so dreadfully
afraid to say what they think and believe?

In reply to your kind inquiries about myself, I can only say that I am
ashamed of my laziness. I have done nothing lately but write a paper on
Pigeons for the _Ibis_, and am drawing up a Catalogue of my Collection
of Birds.

As to my "Travels," I cannot bring myself to undertake them yet, and
perhaps never shall, unless I should be fortunate enough to get a wife
who would incite me thereto and assist me therein--which is not likely.

I am glad to hear that the "Origin" is still working its revolutionary
way on the Continent. Will Müller's book on it be translated?

I am glad to hear you are a little better. My poor friend Spruce is
still worse than you are, and I fear now will not recover. He wants to
write a book if he gets well enough.--With best wishes, believe me yours
very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. January 22, 1866._

My dear Wallace,--I thank you for your paper on Pigeons,[52] which
interested me, as everything that you write does. Who would ever have
dreamed that monkeys influenced the distribution of pigeons and parrots!
But I have had a still higher satisfaction; for I finished yesterday
your paper in the _Linnean Transactions_.[53] It is admirably done. I
cannot conceive that the most firm believer in Species could read it
without being staggered. Such papers will make many more converts among
naturalists than long-winded books such as I shall write if I have

I have been particularly struck with your remarks on dimorphism; but I
cannot quite understand one point (p. 22), and should be grateful for an
explanation, for I want fully to understand you.[54] How can one female
form be selected and the intermediate forms die out, without also the
other extreme form also dying out from not having the advantages of the
first selected form? for, as I understand, both female forms occur on
the same island. I quite agree with your distinction between dimorphic
forms and varieties; but I doubt whether your criterion of dimorphic
forms not producing intermediate offspring will suffice; for I know of
a good many varieties, which must be so called, that will not blend or
intermix, but produce offspring quite like either parent.

I have been particularly struck with your remarks on geological
distribution in Celebes. It is impossible that anything could be better
put, and [it] would give a cold shudder to the immutable naturalists.

And now I am going to ask a question which you will not like. How does
your Journal get on? It will be a shame if you do not popularise your

My health is so far improved that I am able to work one or two hours a
day.--Believe me, dear Wallace, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, Regent's Park, N.W. February 4, 1866._

My dear Darwin,--I am very glad to hear you are a little better, and
hope we shall soon have the pleasure of seeing your volume on "Variation
under Domestication." I do not see the difficulty you seem to feel about
two or more female forms of one species. The _most common_ or _typical_
female form must have certain characters or qualities which are
sufficiently advantageous to it to enable it to maintain its existence;
in general, such as vary much from it die out. But occasionally a
variation may occur which has special advantageous characters of its own
(such as mimicking a protected species), and then this variation will
maintain itself by selection. In no less than three of my _polymorphic_
species of Papilio, one of the female forms mimics the _Polydorus_
group, which, like the _Æneas_ group in America, seems to have some
special protection. In two or three other cases one of the female forms
is confined to a restricted locality, to the conditions of which it is
probably specially adapted. In other cases one of the female forms
resembles the male, and perhaps receives a protection from the
abundance of the males, in the crowd of which it is passed over. I think
these considerations render the production of two or three forms of
female very conceivable. The physiological difficulty is to me greater,
of how each of two forms of female produces offspring like the other
female as well as like itself, but no intermediates?

If you "know varieties that will not blend or intermix, but produce
offspring quite like either parents," is not that the very physiological
test of a species which is wanting for the _complete proof_ of the
origin of species?

I have by no means given up the idea of writing my Travels, but I think
I shall be able to do it better for the delay, as I can introduce
chapters giving popular sketches of the subjects treated of in my
various papers.

I hope, if things go as I wish this summer, to begin work at it next
winter. But I feel myself incorrigibly lazy, and have no such system of
collecting and arranging facts or of making the most of my materials as
you and many of our hard-working naturalists possess in
perfection.--With best wishes, believe me, dear Darwin, yours most


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, S.E. Tuesday, February, 1866._

My dear Wallace,--After I had dispatched my last note, the simple
explanation which you give had occurred to me, and seems satisfactory. I
do not think you understand what I mean by the non-blending of certain
varieties. It does not refer to fertility. An instance will explain. I
crossed the Painted Lady and Purple sweet peas, which are very
differently coloured varieties, and got, even out of the same pod, both
varieties perfect, but none intermediate. Something of this kind, I
should think, must occur at first with your butterflies and the three
forms of Lythrum; though these cases are in appearance so wonderful, I
do not know that they are really more so than every female in the world
producing distinct male and female offspring.

I am heartily glad that you mean to go on preparing your
Journal.--Believe me yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Hurstpierpoint, Sussex. July 2, 1866._

My dear Darwin,--I have been so repeatedly struck by the utter inability
of numbers of intelligent persons to see clearly, or at all, the
self-acting and necessary effects of Natural Selection, that I am led to
conclude that the term itself, and your mode of illustrating it, however
clear and beautiful to many of us, are yet not the best adapted to
impress it on the general naturalist public. The two last cases of this
misunderstanding are (1) the article on "Darwin and his Teachings" in
the last _Quarterly Journal of Science_, which, though very well written
and on the whole appreciative, yet concludes with a charge of something
like blindness, in your not seeing that Natural Selection requires the
constant watching of an intelligent "chooser," like man's selection to
which you so often compare it; and (2) in Janet's recent work on the
"Materialism of the Present Day," reviewed in last Saturday's _Reader_,
by an extract from which I see that he considers your weak point to be
that you do not see that "thought and direction are essential to the
action of Natural Selection." The same objection has been made a score
of times by your chief opponents, and I have heard it as often stated
myself in conversation. Now, I think this arises almost entirely from
your choice of the term Natural Selection, and so constantly comparing
it in its effects to man's selection, and also to your so frequently
personifying nature as "selecting," as "preferring," as "seeking only
the good of the species," etc., etc. To the few this is as clear as
daylight, and beautifully suggestive, but to many it is evidently a
stumbling-block. I wish, therefore, to suggest to you the possibility of
entirely avoiding this source of misconception in your great work (if
not now too late), and also in any future editions of the "Origin," and
I think it may be done without difficulty and very effectually by
adopting Spencer's term (which he generally uses in preference to
Natural Selection), viz. "Survival of the Fittest." This term is the
plain expression of the _fact_; "Natural Selection" is a metaphorical
expression of it, and to a certain degree _indirect_ and _incorrect_,
since, even personifying Nature, she does not so much select special
variations as exterminate the most unfavourable ones.

Combined with the enormous multiplying powers of all organisms, and the
"struggle for existence," leading to the constant destruction of by far
the largest proportion--facts which no one of your opponents, as far as
I am aware, has denied or misunderstood--"the survival of the fittest,"
rather than of those which were less fit, could not possibly be denied
or misunderstood. Neither would it be possible to say that to ensure the
"survival of the fittest" any _intelligent chooser_ was necessary,
whereas when you say "Natural Selection" acts so as to choose those that
are fittest it _is_ misunderstood, and apparently always will be.
Referring to your book, I find such expressions as "Man selects only for
his own good; Nature only for that of the being which she tends." This,
it seems, will always be misunderstood; but if you had said, "Man
selects only for his own good; Nature, by the inevitable survival of the
fittest, only for that of the being she tends," it would have been less
liable to be so.

I find you use the term Natural Selection in two senses--(1) for the
simple preservation of favourable and rejection of unfavourable
variations, in which case it is equivalent to "survival of the fittest";
(2) for the _effect or change_ produced by this preservation, as when
you say, "To sum up the circumstances favourable or unfavourable to
natural selection," and, again, "Isolation, also, is an important
element in the process of natural selection": here it is not merely
"survival of the fittest," but _change_ produced by survival of the
fittest, that is meant. On looking over your fourth chapter, I find that
these alterations of terms can be in most cases easily made, while in
some cases the addition of "or survival of the fittest" after "natural
selection" would be best; and in others, less likely to be
misunderstood, the original term might stand alone.

I could not venture to propose to any other person so great an
alteration of terms, but you, I am sure, will give it an impartial
consideration, and, if you really think the change will produce a better
understanding of your work, will not hesitate to adopt it. It is
evidently also necessary not to personify "nature" too much, though I am
very apt to do it myself, since people will not understand that all such
phrases are metaphors. Natural Selection is, when understood, so
necessary and self-evident a principle that it is a pity it should be in
any way obscured; and it therefore occurs to me that the free use of
"survival of the fittest", which is a compact and accurate definition of
it, would tend much to its being more widely accepted and prevent its
being so much misrepresented and misunderstood.

There is another objection made by Janet which is also a very common
one. It is that the chances are almost infinite against the particular
kind of variation required being coincident with each change of external
conditions, to enable an animal to become modified by Natural Selection
in harmony with such changed conditions; especially when we consider
that, to have produced the almost infinite modifications of organic
beings, this coincidence must have taken place an almost infinite number
of times.

Now it seems to me that you have yourself led to this objection being
made by so often stating the case too strongly against yourself. For
example, at the commencement of Chapter IV. you ask if it is "improbable
that useful variations should sometimes occur in the course of thousands
of generations"; and a little further on you say, "unless profitable
variations do occur, natural selection can do nothing." Now, such
expressions have given your opponents the advantage of assuming that
_favourable_ variations are _rare accidents_, or may even for long
periods never occur at all, and thus Janet's argument would appear to
many to have great force. I think it would be better to do away with all
such qualifying expressions, and constantly maintain (what I certainly
believe to be the fact) that _variations of every kind_ are _always
occurring_ in _every part_ of _every species_, and therefore that
favourable variations are _always ready_ when wanted. You have, I am
sure, abundant materials to prove this, and it is, I believe, the grand
fact that renders modification and adaptation to conditions almost
always possible. I would put the burthen of proof on my opponents to
show that any one organ, structure, or faculty does _not vary_, even
during one generation, among all the individuals of a species; and also
to show any _mode or way_ in which any such organ, etc., does not vary.
I would ask them to give any reason for supposing that any organ, etc.,
is ever _absolutely identical_ at any _one time in all the individuals_
of a species, and if not, then it is always varying, and there are
always materials which, from the simple fact that the "fittest survive,"
will tend to the modification of the race into harmony with changed

I hope these remarks may be intelligible to you, and that you will be so
kind as to let me know what you think of them.

I have not heard for some time how you are getting on. I hope you are
still improving in health, and that you will be able now to get on with
your great work, for which so many thousands are looking with
interest.--With best wishes, believe me, my dear Darwin, yours very


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. July 5, [1866]._

My dear Wallace,--I have been much interested by your letter, which is
as clear as daylight. I fully agree with all that you say on the
advantages of H. Spencer's excellent expression of "the survival of the
fittest." This, however, had not occurred to me till reading your
letter. It is, however, a great objection to this term that it cannot be
used as a substantive governing a verb; and that this is a real
objection I infer from H. Spencer continually using the words "Natural

I formerly thought, probably in an exaggerated degree, that it was a
great advantage to bring into connection natural and artificial
selection; this indeed led me to use a term in common, and I still think
it some advantage. I wish I had received your letter two months ago, for
I would have worked in "the survival," etc., often in the new edition of
the "Origin," which is now almost printed off, and of which I will, of
course, send you a copy. I will use the term in my next book on Domestic
Animals, etc., from which, by the way, I plainly see that you expect
_much_ too much. The term Natural Selection has now been so largely used
abroad and at home that I doubt whether it could be given up, and with
all its faults I should be sorry to see the attempt made. Whether it
will be rejected must now depend on the "survival of the fittest."

As in time the term must grow intelligible, the objections to its use
will grow weaker and weaker. I doubt whether the use of any term would
have made the subject intelligible to some minds, clear as it is to
others; for do we not see, even to the present day, Malthus on
Population absurdly misunderstood? This reflection about Malthus has
often comforted me when I have been vexed at the misstatement of my

As for M. Janet,[55] he is a metaphysician, and such gentlemen are so
acute that I think they often misunderstand common folk. Your criticism
on the double sense in which I have used Natural Selection is new to me
and unanswerable; but my blunder has done no harm, for I do not believe
that anyone excepting you has ever observed it. Again, I agree that I
have said too much about "favourable variations," but I am inclined to
think you put the opposite side too strongly; if every part of every
being varied, I do not think we should see the same end or object gained
by such wonderfully diversified means.

I hope you are enjoying the country and are in good health, and are
working hard at your Malay Archipelago book, for I will always put this
wish in every note I write to you, like some good people always put in a
text. My health keeps much the same, or rather improves, and I am able
to work some hours daily.--With many thanks for your interesting letter,
believe me, my dear Wallace, yours sincerely,


P.S.--I suppose you have read the last number of H. Spencer; I have been
struck with astonishment at the prodigality of original thought in it.
But how unfortunate it is that it seems scarcely ever possible to
discriminate between the direct effect of external influences and the
"survival of the fittest."

       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, Regent's Park, N.W. Nov. 19, 1866._

Dear Darwin,--Many thanks for the fourth edition of the "Origin," which
I am glad to see grows so vigorously at each moult, although it
undergoes no metamorphosis. How curious it is that Dr. Wells should so
clearly have seen the principle of Natural Selection fifty years ago,
and that it should have struck no one that it was a great principle of
universal application in nature!

We are going to have a discussion on "Mimicry, as producing Abnormal
Sexual Characters," at the Entomological to-night. I have a butterfly
(Diadema) of which the female is metallic blue, the male dusky brown,
contrary to the rule in all other species of the genus, and in almost
all insects; but the explanation is easy--it mimics a metallic
_Euploea_, and so gets a protection perhaps more efficient than its
allies derive from their sombre colours, and which females require much
more than males. I read a paper on this at the British Association. Have
you the report published at Nottingham in a volume by Dr. Robertson? If
so, you can tell me if my paper is printed in full.

I suppose you have read Agassiz's marvellous theory of the Great
Amazonian glacier, 2,000 miles long! I presume that will be a _little_
too much, even for you. I have been writing a little popular paper on
"Glacial Theories" for the _Quarterly Journal of Science_ of January
next, in which I stick up for glaciers in North America and icebergs in
the Amazon!

I was very glad to hear from Lubbock that your health is permanently
improved. I hope therefore you will be able to give us a volume per
annum of your _magnum opus_, with all the facts as you now have them,
leaving additions to come in new editions.

I am working a little at another family of my butterflies, and find the
usual interesting and puzzling cases of variation, but no such phenomena
as in the Papilionidæ.--With best wishes, believe me, my dear Darwin,
yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_6 Queen Anne Street, W. Monday, January, 1867._

My dear Wallace,--I return by this post the _Journal_.[56] Your résumé of
glacier action seems to me very good, and has interested my brother
much, and as the subject is new to him he is a better judge. That is
quite a new and perplexing point which you specify about the freshwater
fishes during the glacial period.

I have also been very glad to see the article on Lyell, which seems to
me to be done by some good man.

I forgot to say when with you--but I then indeed did not know so much as
I do now--that the sexual, i.e. _ornamental_, differences in fishes,
which differences are sometimes very great, offer a difficulty in the
wide extension of the view that the female is not brightly coloured on
account of the danger which she would incur in the propagation of the

I very much enjoyed my long conversation with you; and to-day we return
home, and I to my horrid dull work of correcting proof-sheets.--Believe
me, my dear Wallace, yours very sincerely,


P.S.--I had arranged to go and see your collection on Saturday evening,
but my head suddenly failed after luncheon, and I was forced to lie down
all the rest of the day.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. February 23, 1867._

Dear Wallace,--I much regretted that I was unable to call on you, but
after Monday I was unable even to leave the house. On Monday evening I
called on Bates and put a difficulty before him, which he could not
answer, and, as on some former similar occasion, his first suggestion
was, "You had better ask Wallace." My difficulty is, why are
caterpillars sometimes so beautifully and artistically coloured? Seeing
that many are coloured to escape danger, I can hardly attribute their
bright colour in other cases to mere physical conditions. Bates says the
most gaudy caterpillar he ever saw in Amazonia (of a Sphinx) was
conspicuous at the distance of yards from its black and red colouring
whilst feeding on large green leaves. If anyone objected to male
butterflies having been made beautiful by sexual selection, and asked
why should they not have been made beautiful as well as their
caterpillars, what would you answer? I could not answer, but should
maintain my ground. Will you think over this, and some time, either by
letter or when we meet, tell me what you think? Also, I want to know
whether your _female_ mimetic butterfly is more beautiful and brighter
than the male?

When next in London I must get you to show me your Kingfishers.

My health is a dreadful evil; I failed in half my engagements during
this last visit to London.--Believe me, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

The answer to this letter is missing, but in Vol. II. of "My Life," p.
3, Wallace writes:

    "On reading this letter I almost at once saw what seemed to be a
    very easy and probable explanation of the facts. I had then just
    been preparing for publication (in the _Westminster Review_) my
    rather elaborate paper on 'Mimicry and Protective Colouring,' and
    the numerous cases in which specially showy and slow-flying
    butterflies were known to have a peculiar odour and taste which
    protected them from the attacks of insect-eating birds and other
    animals led me at once to suppose that the gaudily coloured
    caterpillars must have a similar protection. I had just
    ascertained from Mr. Jenner Weir that one of our common white
    moths (_Spilosoma menthastri_) would not be eaten by most of the
    small birds in his aviary, nor by young turkeys. Now, as a _white_
    moth is as conspicuous in the dusk as a coloured caterpillar in
    the daylight, this case seemed to me so much on a par with the
    other that I felt almost sure my explanation would turn out
    correct. I at once wrote to Mr. Darwin to this effect."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. February 26, 1867._

My dear Wallace,--Bates was quite right, you are the man to apply to in
a difficulty. I never heard anything more ingenious than your
suggestion, and I hope you may be able to prove it true. That is a
splendid fact about the white moths; it warms one's very blood to see a
theory thus almost proved to be true.[57] With respect to the beauty of
male butterflies, I must as yet think that it is due to sexual
selection; there is some evidence that dragonflies are attracted by
bright colours; but what leads me to the above belief is so many male
Orthoptera and Cicadas having musical instruments. This being the case,
the analogy of birds makes me believe in sexual selection with respect
to colour in insects. I wish I had strength and time to make some of the
experiments suggested by you; but I thought butterflies would not pair
in confinement; I am sure I have heard of some such difficulty. Many
years ago I had a dragonfly painted with gorgeous colours, but I never
had an opportunity of fairly trying it.

The reason of my being so much interested just at present about sexual
selection is that I have almost resolved to publish a little essay on
the Origin of Mankind, and I still strongly think (though I failed to
convince you, and this to me is the heaviest blow possible) that sexual
selection has been the main agent in forming the races of man.

By the way, there is another subject which I shall introduce in my
essay, viz. expression of countenance. Now, do you happen to know by any
odd chance a very good-natured and acute observer in the Malay
Archipelago who, you think, would make a few easy observations for me on
the expression of the Malays when excited by various emotions. For in
this case I would send to such person a list of queries.--I thank you
for your most interesting letters, and remain yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. March 11, 1867._

Dear Darwin,--I return your queries, but cannot answer them with any
certainty. For the Malays I should say Yes to 1, 3, 8, 9, 10 and 17, and
No to 12, 13 and 16; but I cannot be _certain_ in any one. But do you
think these things are of much importance? I am inclined to think that
if you could get good direct observations you would find some of them
often differ from tribe to tribe, from island to island, and sometimes
from village to village. Some no doubt may be deep-seated, and would
imply organic differences; but can you tell beforehand which these are?
I presume the Frenchman shrugs his shoulders whether he is of the
Norman, Breton, or Gaulish stock. Would it not be a good thing to send
your List of Queries to some of the Bombay and Calcutta papers? as there
must be numbers of Indian judges and other officers who would be
interested and would send you hosts of replies. The Australian papers
and New Zealand might also publish them, and then you would have a fine
basis to go on.

Is your essay on Variation in Man to be a supplement to your volume on
Domesticated Animals and Cultivated Plants? I would rather see your
second volume on "The Struggle for Existence, etc.," for I doubt if we
have a sufficiency of fair and accurate facts to do anything with man.
Huxley, I believe, is at work upon it.

I have been reading Murray's volume on the Geographical Distribution of
Mammals. He has some good ideas here and there, but is quite unable to
understand Natural Selection, and makes a most absurd mess of his
criticism of your views on oceanic islands.

By the bye, what an interesting volume the whole of your materials on
that subject would, I am sure, make.--Yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. March, 1867._

My dear Wallace,--I thank you much for your two notes. The case of Julia
Pastrana[58] is a splendid addition to my other cases of correlated teeth
and hair, and I will add it in correcting the proof of my present
volume. Pray let me hear in course of the summer if you get any evidence
about the gaudy caterpillars. I should much like to give (or quote if
published) this idea of yours, if in any way supported, as suggested by
you. It will, however, be a long time hence, for I can see that sexual
selection is growing into quite a large subject, which I shall introduce
into my essay on Man, supposing that I ever publish it.

I had intended giving a chapter on Man, inasmuch as many call him (not
_quite_ truly) an eminently _domesticated_ animal; but I found the
subject too large for a chapter. Nor shall I be capable of treating the
subject well, and my sole reason for taking it up is that I am pretty
well convinced that sexual selection has played an important part in the
formation of races, and sexual selection has always been a subject which
has interested me much.

I have been very glad to see your impression from memory on the
expressions of Malays. I fully agree with you that the subject is in no
way an important one: it is simply a "hobby-horse" with me about
twenty-seven years old; and after thinking that I would write an essay
on Man, it flashed on me that I could work in some "supplemental remarks
on expression." After the horrid, tedious, dull work of my present huge
and, I fear, unreadable book, I thought I would amuse myself with my
hobby-horse. The subject is, I think, more curious and more amenable to
scientific treatment than you seem willing to allow. I want, anyhow, to
upset Sir C. Bell's view, given in his most interesting work, "The
Anatomy of Expression," that certain muscles have been given to man
solely that he may reveal to other men his feelings. I want to try and
show how expressions have arisen.

That is a good suggestion about newspapers; but my experience tells me
that private applications are generally most fruitful. I will, however,
see if I can get the queries inserted in some Indian paper. I do not
know names or addresses of any other papers.

I have just ordered, but not yet received, Murray's book: Lindley used
to call him a blunder-headed man. It is very doubtful whether I shall
ever have strength to publish the latter part of my materials.

My two female amanuenses are busy with friends, and I fear this scrawl
will give you much trouble to read.--With many thanks, yours very


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. April 29, 1867._

Dear Wallace,--I have been greatly interested by your letter;[59] but
your view is not new to me. If you will look at p. 240 of the fourth
edition of the "Origin," you will find it very briefly given with two
extremes of the peacock and black grouse. A more general statement is
given at p. 101, or at p. 89 of the first edition, for I have long
entertained this view, though I have never had space to develop it. But
I had not sufficient knowledge to generalise as far as you do about
colouring and nesting. In your paper, perhaps you will just allude to my
scanty remark in the fourth edition, because in my essay upon Man I
intend to discuss the whole subject of sexual selection, explaining, as
I believe it does, much with respect to man. I have collected all my old
notes and partly written my discussion, and it would be flat work for me
to give the leading idea as exclusively from you. But as I am sure from
your greater knowledge of ornithology and entomology that you will write
a much better discussion than I could, your paper will be of great use
to me. Nevertheless, I must discuss the subject fully in my essay on
Man. When we met at the Zoological Society and I asked you about the
sexual differences in kingfishers, I had this subject in view; as I had
when I suggested to Bates the difficulty about gaudy caterpillars which
you have so admirably (as I believe it will prove) explained. I have got
one capital case (genus forgotten) of an [Australian] bird in which the
female has long-tailed plumes and which consequently builds a different
nest from all her allies.[60] With respect to certain female birds being
more brightly coloured than the males, and the latter incubating, I have
gone a little into the subject and cannot say that I am fully satisfied.
I remember mentioning to you the case of Rhynchæa, but its nesting seems
unknown. In some other cases the difference in brightness seemed to me
hardly sufficiently accounted for by the principle of protection. At the
Falkland Islands there is a carrion hawk in which the female (as I
ascertained by dissection) is the brightest coloured, and I doubt
whether protection will here apply; but I wrote several months ago to
the Falklands to make inquiries. The conclusion to which I have been
leaning is that in some of these abnormal cases the colour happened to
vary in the female alone, and was transmitted to females alone, and that
her variations have been selected through the admiration of the male.

It is a very interesting subject, but I shall not be able to go on with
it for the next five or six months, as I am fully employed in correcting
dull proof-sheets; when I return to the work I shall find it much better
done by you than I could have succeeded in doing.

With many thanks for your very interesting note, believe me, dear
Wallace, yours very sincerely,


It is curious how we hit on the same ideas. I have endeavoured to show
in my MS. discussion that nearly the same principles account for young
birds _not_ being gaily coloured in many cases--but this is too complex
a point for a note.

_Postscript. Down. April 29._

My dear Wallace,--On reading over your letter again, and on further
reflection, I do not think (as far as I remember my words) that I
expressed myself _nearly strongly_ enough as to the value and beauty of
your generalisation, viz. that all birds in which the female is
conspicuously or brightly coloured build in holes or under domes. I
thought that this was the explanation in many, perhaps most cases, but
do not think I should ever have extended my view to your generalisation.
Forgive me troubling you with this P.S.--Yours,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. May 5, 1867._

My dear Wallace,--The offer of your valuable notes is _most_ generous,
but it would vex me to take so much from you, as it is certain that you
could work up the subject very much better than I could. Therefore I
earnestly and without any reservation hope that you will proceed with
your paper, so that I return your notes.

You seem already to have well investigated the subject. I confess on
receiving your note that I felt rather flat at my recent work being
almost thrown away, but I did not intend to show this feeling. As a
proof how little advance I had made on the subject, I may mention that
though I had been collecting facts on the colouring and other sexual
differences in mammals, your explanation with respect to the females had
not occurred to me. I am surprised at my own stupidity, but I have long
recognised how much clearer and deeper your insight into matters is than

I do not know how far you have attended to the laws of inheritance, so
what follows may be obvious to you. I have begun my discussion on sexual
selection by showing that new characters often appear in one sex and are
transmitted to that sex alone, and that from some unknown cause such
characters apparently appear oftener in the male than in the female.
Secondly, characters may be developed and be confined to the male, and
long afterwards be transferred to the female. Thirdly, characters may,
again, arise in either sex and be transmitted to both sexes, either in
an equal or unequal degree. In this latter case I have supposed that the
survival of the fittest has come into play with female birds and kept
the female dull-coloured. With respect to the absence of spurs in female
gallinaceous birds, I presume that they would be in the way during
incubation; at least, I have got the case of a German breed of fowls in
which the hens were spurred, and were found to disturb and break their
eggs much.

With respect to the females of deer not having horns, I presume it is to
save the loss of organised matter.

In your note you speak of sexual selection and protection as sufficient
to account for the colouring of all animals; but it seems to me doubtful
how far this will come into play with some of the lower animals, such as
sea anemones, some corals, etc. etc.

On the other hand, Haeckel has recently well shown that the transparency
and absence of colour in the lower oceanic animals, belonging to the
most different classes, may be well accounted for on the principle of

Some time or other I should like much to know where your paper on the
nests of birds has appeared, and I shall be extremely anxious to read
your paper in the _Westminster Review_.

Your paper on the sexual colouring of birds will, I have no doubt, be
very striking.

Forgive me, if you can, for a touch of illiberality about your paper,
and believe me yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. July 6, 1867._

My dear Wallace,--I am very much obliged for your article on Mimicry,[61]
the whole of which I have read with the greatest interest. You certainly
have the art of putting your ideas with remarkable force and clearness;
now that I am slaving over proof-sheets it makes me almost envious.

I have been particularly glad to read about the birds' nests, and I must
procure the _Intellectual Observer_; but the point which I think struck
me most was about its being of no use to the Heliconias to acquire in a
slight degree a disagreeable taste. What a curious case is that about
the coral snakes. The summary, and indeed the whole, is excellent, and I
have enjoyed it much.--With many thanks, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. Wednesday, [August or September, 1867]._

Dear Darwin,--I am very sorry I was out when you called yesterday. I had
just gone to the Zoological Gardens, and I met Sir C. Lyell, who told me
you were in town.

If you should have time to go to Bayswater, I think you would be pleased
to see the collections which I have displayed there in the form of an
_exhibition_ (though the public will not go to see it).

If you can go, with any friends, I should like to meet you there if you
can appoint a time.

I am glad to find you continue in tolerable health.--Believe me yours
very faithfully,


What do you think of the Duke of Argyll's criticisms, and the more
pretentious one in the last number of the _North British Review_?

I have written a little article answering them both, but I do not yet
know where to get it published.--A.R.W.

       *       *       *       *       *

_76-1/2 Westbourne Grove, Bayswater, W. October 1, 1867._

Dear Darwin,--I am sorry I was not in town when your note came. I took a
short trip to Scotland after the British Association Meeting, and went
up Ben Lawers. It was very cold and wet, and I could not find a
companion or I should have gone as far as Glen Roy.

My article on "Creation by Law," in reply to the Duke of Argyll and the
_North British_ reviewer, is in the present month's number of the
_Quarterly Journal of Science_. I cannot send you a copy because they do
not allow separate copies to be printed.

There is a nice illustration of the _predicted_ Madagascar moth and
_Angræcum sesquipedale_.

I shall be glad to know whether I have done it satisfactorily to you,
and hope you will not be so very sparing of criticism as you usually

I hope you are getting on well with your great book. I hear a rumour
that we are to have _one_ vol. of it about Christmas.

I quite forget whether I told you that I have a little boy, now three
months old, and have named him Herbert Spencer (having had a brother
Herbert). I am now staying chiefly in the country, at Hurstpierpoint,
but come up to town once a month at least. You may address simply,
"Hurstpierpoint, Sussex."

Hoping your health is tolerable and that all your family are well,
believe me, dear Darwin, yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. October 12 and 13, 1867._

My dear Wallace,--I ordered the journal a long time ago, but by some
oversight received it only yesterday and read it. You will think my
praise not worth having from being so indiscriminate, but if I am to
speak the truth, I must say I admire every word.

You have just touched on the points which I particularly wished to see
noticed. I am glad you had the courage to take up _Angræcum_[62] after
the Duke's attack; for I believe the principle in this case may be
widely applied. I like the figure, but I wish the artist had drawn a
better sphinx.

With respect to beauty, your remarks on hideous objects and on flowers
not being made beautiful except when of practical use to them strike me
as very good.

On this one point of beauty, I can hardly think that the Duke was quite
candid. I have used in the concluding paragraph of my present book
precisely the same argument as you have, even bringing in the
bulldog,[63] with respect to variations not having been specially
ordained. Your metaphor of the river[64] is new to me, and admirable;
but your other metaphor, in which you compare classification and complex
machines, does not seem to me quite appropriate, though I cannot point
out what seems deficient. The point which seems to me strong is that all
naturalists admit that there is a _natural_ classification, and it is
this which descent explains. I wish you had insisted a little more
against the _North British_[65] reviewer assuming that each variation
which appears is a strongly marked one; though by implication you have
made this _very_, plain. Nothing in your whole article has struck me
more than your view with respect to the limit of fleetness in the
racehorse and other such cases; I shall try and quote you on this head
in the proof of my concluding chapter. I quite missed this explanation,
though in the case of wheat I hit upon something analogous. I am glad
you praise the Duke's book, for I was much struck with it. The part
about flight seemed to me at first very good, but as the wing is
articulated by a ball-and-socket joint, I suspect the Duke would find it
very difficult to give any reason against the belief that the wing
strikes the air more or less obliquely. I have been very glad to see
your article and the drawing of the butterfly in _Science Gossip_. By
the way, I cannot but think that you push protection too far in some
cases, as with the stripes on the tiger. I have also this morning read
an excellent abstract in the _Gardeners' Chronicle_ of your paper on
nests;[66] I was not by any means fully converted by your letter, but I
think now I am so; and I hope it will be published somewhere _in
extenso_. It strikes me as a capital generalisation, and appears to me
even more original than it did at first.

I have had an excellent and cautious letter from Mr. Geach of Singapore
with some valuable answers on expression, which I owe to you.

I heartily congratulate you on the birth of "Herbert Spencer," and may
he deserve his name, but I hope he will copy his father's style and not
his namesake's. Pray observe, though I fear I am a month too late, when
tears are first secreted enough to overflow; and write down date.

I have finished Vol. I. of my book, and I hope the whole will be out by
the end of November; if you have the patience to read it through, which
is very doubtful, you will find, I think, a large accumulation of facts
which will be of service to you in your future papers, and they could
not be put to better use, for you certainly are a master in the noble
art of reasoning.

Have you changed your house to Westbourne Grove?

Believe me, my dear Wallace, yours very sincerely,


This letter is so badly expressed that it is barely intelligible, but I
am tired with proofs.

P.S.--Mr. Warington has lately read an excellent and spirited abstract
of the "Origin" before the Victoria Institute, and as this is a most
orthodox body he has gained the name of the devil's advocate. The
discussion which followed during three consecutive meetings is very rich
from the nonsense talked. If you would care to see the number I could
lend it you.

I forgot to remark how capitally you turn the table on the Duke, when
you make him create the _Angræcum_ and moth by special creation.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Hurstpierpoint. October 22, 1867._

Dear Darwin,--I am very glad you approve of my article on "Creation by
Law" as a whole.

The "machine metaphor" is not mine, but the _North British_ reviewer's.
I merely accept it and show that it is on our side and not against us,
but I do not think it at all a good metaphor to be used as an _argument_
either way. I did not half develop the argument on the limits of
variation, being myself limited in space; but I feel satisfied that it
is the true answer to the very common and very strong objection, that
"variation has strict limits." The fallacy is the requiring variation in
domesticity to go beyond the limits of the same variation under nature.
It does do so sometimes, however, because the conditions of existence
are so different. I do not think a case can be pointed out in which the
limits of variation under domestication are not up to or beyond those
already marked out in nature, only we generally get in the _species_ an
amount of change which in nature occurs only in the whole range of the
_genus_ or _family_.

The many cases, however, in which variation has gone far beyond nature
and has not yet stopped are ignored. For instance, no wild pomaceous
fruit is, I believe, so large as our apples, and no doubt they could be
got much larger if flavour, etc., were entirely neglected.

I may perhaps push "protection" too far sometimes, for it is my hobby
just now, but as the lion and the tiger are, I think, the only two
non-arboreal cats, I think the tiger stripe agreeing so well with its
usual habitat is at least a probable case.

I am rewriting my article on Birds' Nests for the new _Natural History

I cannot tell you about the first appearance of _tears_, but it is very
early--the first week or two, I think. I can see the _Victoria Institute
Magazine_ at the London Library.

I shall read your book, _every word_. I hear from Sir C. Lyell that you
come out with a grand new theory at the end, which even the _cautious_
(!) Huxley is afraid of! Sir C. said he could think of nothing else
since he read it. I long to see it.

My address is Hurstpierpoint during the winter, and, when in town,
76-1/2 Westbourne Grove.

I suppose you will now be going on with your book on Sexual Selection
and Man, by way of relaxation! It is a glorious subject, but will
require delicate handling,--Yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_10 Duchess Street, W. February 7, 1868._

Dear Darwin,--I have to thank you for signing the Memorial as to the
East London Museum, and also for your kindness in sending me a copy of
your great book, which I have only just received. I shall take it down
in the country with me next week, and enjoy every line at my leisure.

Allow me also to congratulate you on the splendid position obtained by
your second son at Cambridge.

You will perhaps be glad to hear that I have been for some time
hammering away at my Travels, but I fear I shall make a mess of it. I
shall leave most of the Natural History generalisation, etc., for
another work, as if I wait to incorporate all, I may wait for
years.--Hoping you are quite well, believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. February 22, [1868?]._

My dear Wallace,--I am hard at work on sexual selection and am driven
half mad by the number of collateral points which require investigation,
such as the relative numbers of the two sexes, and especially on
polygamy. Can you aid me with respect to birds which have strongly
marked secondary sexual characters, such as birds of paradise,
humming-birds, the rupicola or rock-thrush, or any other such cases?
Many gallinaceous birds certainly are polygamous. I suppose that birds
may be known not to be polygamous if they are seen during the whole
breeding season to associate in pairs, or if the male incubates, or aids
in feeding the young. Will you have the kindness to turn this in your
mind? but it is a shame to trouble you now that, as I am _heartily_ glad
to hear, you are at work on your Malayan Travels. I am fearfully puzzled
how far to extend your protective views with respect to the females in
various classes. The more I work, the more important sexual selection
apparently comes out.

Can butterflies be polygamous?--i.e. will one male impregnate more than
one female?

Forgive me troubling you, and I daresay I shall have to ask your
forgiveness again, and believe me, my dear Wallace, yours most


P.S.--Baker has had the kindness to set the Entomological Society
discussing the relative numbers of the sexes in insects, and has brought
out some very curious results.

Is the orang polygamous? But I daresay I shall find that in your papers
in (I think) the _Annals and Magazine of Natural History_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following group of letters deals with the causes of the sterility of
hybrids (_see_ note in "More Letters," p. 287). Darwin's final view is
given in the "Origin," 6th edit., 1900, p. 384. He acknowledges that it
would be advantageous to two incipient species if, by physiological
isolation due to mutual sterility, they could be kept from blending; but
he continues: "After mature reflection, it seems to me that this could
not have been effected through Natural Selection." And finally he
concludes (p. 386): "But it would be superfluous to discuss this
question in detail; for with plants we have conclusive evidence that the
sterility of crossed species must be due to some principle quite
independent of Natural Selection. Both Gäartner and Kolreuter have
proved that in genera including numerous species a series can be formed
from species which, when crossed, yield fewer and fewer seeds, to
species which never produce a single seed, but yet are affected by the
pollen of certain other species, for the germen swells. It is here
manifestly impossible to select the more sterile individuals, which have
already ceased to yield seeds; so that this acme of sterility, when the
germen alone is affected, cannot have been gained through selection; and
from the laws governing the various grades of sterility being so uniform
throughout the animal and vegetable kingdoms, we may infer that the
cause, whatever it may be, is the same or nearly the same in all cases."

Wallace still adhered to his view (_see_ "Darwinism," 1889, p. 174,
_also_ p. 292 of "More Letters," note 1, and Letter 211, p. 299). The
discussion of 1868 began with a letter from Wallace, written towards the
end of February, giving his opinion on the "Variation of Animals and
Plants"; the discussion on the sterility of hybrids is at p. 185, Vol.
II., 1st edit.

       *       *       *       *       *

(_Second and third sheets of a letter from Wallace, apparently of
February, 1868._)

I am in the second volume of your book, and I have been astonished at
the immense number of interesting facts you have brought together. I
read the chapter on Pangenesis first, for I could not wait. I can hardly
tell you how much I admire it. It is a positive _comfort_ to me to have
any feasible explanation of a difficulty that has always been haunting
me, and I shall never be able to give it up till a better one supplies
its place, and that I think hardly possible. You have now fairly beaten
Spencer on his own ground, for he really offered no solution of the
difficulties of the problem. The incomprehensible minuteness and vast
numbers of the physiological germs or atoms (Which themselves must be
compounded of numbers of Spencer's physiological units) is the only
difficulty, but that is only on a par with the difficulties in all
conceptions of matter, space, motion, force, etc. As I understood
Spencer, his physiological units were identical throughout each species,
but slightly different in each different species; but no attempt was
made to show how the identical form of the parent or ancestors came to
be built up of such units.

The only parts I have yet met with where I somewhat differ from your
views are in the chapter on the Causes of Variability, in which I think
several of your arguments are unsound: but this is too long a subject to
go into now.

Also, I do not see your objection to _sterility_ between allied species
having been aided by Natural Selection. It appears to me that, given a
differentiation of a species into two forms, each of which was adapted
to a special sphere of existence, every slight degree of sterility would
be a positive advantage, not to the _individuals_ who were sterile, but
to _each form_. If you work it out, and suppose the two incipient
species A, B to be divided into two groups, one of which contains those
which are fertile when the two are crossed, the other being slightly
sterile, you will find that the latter will certainly supplant the
former in the struggle for existence, remembering that you have shown
that in such a cross the offspring would be _more vigorous_ than the
pure breed, and would therefore certainly soon supplant them, and as
these would not be so well adapted to any special sphere of existence as
the pure species A and B, they would certainly in their turn give way to
A and B.

I am sure all naturalists will be disgusted at the malicious and
ignorant article in the _Athenæum_. It is a disgrace to the paper, and I
hope someone will publicly express the general opinion of it. We can
expect no good reviews of your book till the quarterlies or best
monthlies come out.... I shall be anxious to see how Pangenesis is
received.--Believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. February 27, 1868._

My dear Wallace,--You cannot well imagine how much I have been pleased
by what you say about Pangenesis. None of my friends will speak out,
except, to a certain extent, Sir H. Holland,[67] who found it very tough
reading, but admits that some view "closely akin to it" will have to be
admitted. Hooker, as far as I understand him, which I hardly do at
present, seems to think that the hypothesis is little more than saying
that organisms have such and such potentialities. What you say exactly
and fully expresses my feeling, viz. that it is a relief to have some
feasible explanation of the various facts, which can be given up as soon
as any better hypothesis is found. It has certainly been an immense
relief to my mind; for I have been stumbling over the subject for years,
dimly seeing that some relation existed between the various classes of
facts. I now hear from H. Spencer that his views quoted in my footnote
refer to something quite distinct, as you seem to have perceived.

I shall be very glad to hear, at some future day, your criticisms on the
causes of variability.

Indeed, I feel sure that I am right about sterility and Natural
Selection. Two of my grown-up children who are acute reasoners have two
or three times at intervals tried to prove me wrong, and when your
letter came they had another try, but ended by coming back to my side. I
do not quite understand your case, and we think that a word or two is
misplaced. I wish some time you would consider the case under the
following point of view. If sterility is caused or accumulated through
Natural Selection, then, as every degree exists up to absolute
barrenness, Natural Selection must have the power of increasing it. Now
take two species, A and B, and assume that they are (by any means)
half-sterile, i.e. produce half the full number of offspring. Now try
and make (by Natural Selection) A and B absolutely sterile when crossed,
and you will find how difficult it is. I grant, indeed it is certain,
that the degree of sterility of the individuals of A and B will vary,
but any such extra-sterile individuals of, we will say, A, if they
should hereafter breed with other individuals of A, will bequeath no
advantage to their progeny, by which these families will tend to
increase in number over other families of A, which are not more sterile
when crossed with B. But I do not know that I have made this any clearer
than in the chapter in my book. It is a most difficult bit of reasoning,
which I have gone over and over again on paper with diagrams.

I shall be intensely curious to see your article in the _Journal of

Many thanks for such answers as you could give. From what you say I
should have inferred that birds of paradise were probably polygamous.
But after all, perhaps it is not so important as I thought. I have been
going through the whole animal kingdom in reference to sexual selection,
and I have just got to the beginning of Lepidoptera, i.e. to end of
insects, and shall then pass on to Vertebrata. But my ladies next week
are going (ill-luck to it) to take me nolens-volens to London for a
whole month.

I suspect Owen wrote the article in the _Athenæum_, but I have been told
that it is Berthold Seeman. The writer despises and hates me.

Hearty thanks for your letter--you have indeed pleased me, for I had
given up the great god Pan as a stillborn deity. I wish you could be
induced to make it clear with your admirable powers of elucidation in
one of the scientific journals.

I think we almost entirely agree about sexual selection, as I now follow
you to large extent about protection to females, having always believed
that colour was often transmitted to both sexes; but I do not go quite
so far about protection.--Always yours most sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Hurstpierpoint. March 1, 1868._

My dear Darwin,--I beg to enclose what appears to me a demonstration,
_on your own principles_, that Natural Selection _could_ produce
_sterility of hybrids_.

If it does not convince you I shall be glad if you will point out where
the fallacy lies. I have taken the two cases of a slight sterility
overcoming a perfect fertility, and of a perfect sterility overcoming a
partial fertility--the beginning and end of the process. You admit that
variations in fertility and sterility occur, and I think you will also
admit that if I demonstrate that a considerable amount of sterility
would be advantageous to a variety, that is sufficient proof that the
slightest variation in that direction would be useful also, and would go
on accumulating.

Sir C. Lyell spoke to me as if he greatly admired pangenesis. I am very
glad H. Spencer at once acknowledges that his view was something quite
distinct from yours. Although, as you know, I am a great admirer of his,
I feel how completely his view failed to go to the root of the matter,
as yours does. His explained nothing, though he was evidently struggling
hard to find an explanation. Yours, as far as I can see, explains
everything in _growth and reproduction_, though of course the mystery of
_life_ and _consciousness_ remains as great as ever.

Parts of the chapter on Pangenesis I found hard reading, and have not
quite mastered yet, and there are also throughout the discussions in
Vol. II. many bits of hard reading on minute points which we, who have
not worked experimentally at cultivation and crossing as you have done,
can hardly see the importance of, or their bearing on the general

If I am asked, I may perhaps write an article on the book for some
periodical, and if so shall do what I can to make pangenesis

I suppose Mrs. Darwin thinks you _must_ have a holiday, after the
enormous labour of bringing out such a book as that. I am sorry I am not
now staying in town. I shall, however, be up for two days on Thursday,
and shall hope to see you at the Linnean, where Mr. Trimen has a paper
on some of his wonderful South African mimetic butterflies.

I hope this will reach you before you leave.--Believe me yours very


       *       *       *       *       *

_Hurstpierpoint. March 8, 1868._

Dear Darwin,--I am very sorry your letter came back here while I was
going to town, or I should have been very pleased to have seen you.

Trimen's paper at the Linnean was a very good one, but the only
opponents were Andrew Murray and B. Seeman. The former talked utter
nonsense about the "harmony of nature" produced by "polarisation," alike
in "rocks, plants and animals," etc. etc. etc. And Seeman objected that
there was mimicry among plants, and that our theory would not explain

Lubbock answered them both in his best manner.

Pray take your rest, and put my last notes by till you return to Down,
or let your son discover the fallacies in them.

Would you like to see the specimens of pupæ of butterflies whose colours
have changed in accordance with the colour of the surrounding objects?
They are very curious, and Mr. T.W. Wood, who bred them, would, I am
sure, be delighted to bring them to show you. His address is 89 Stanhope
Street, Hampstead Road, N.W.--Believe me yours very faithfully,


Darwin had already written a short note to Wallace expressing a general
dissent from his views.

       *       *       *       *       *

_4 Chester Place, Regent's Park, N.W. March 17, 1868._

My dear Wallace,--Many thanks about Pieridæ. I have no photographs up
here, but will remember to send one from Down. Should you care to have a
large one, of treble or quadruple common size, I will with pleasure send
you one under glass cover, to any address you like in London, either now
or hereafter. I grieve to say we shall not be here on April 2nd, as we
return home on the 31st. In summer I hope that Mrs. Wallace and
yourself will pay us a visit at Down, soon after you return to London;
for I am sure you will allow me the freedom of an invalid.

My paper to-morrow at the Linnean Society is simply to prove, alas! that
primrose and cowslip are as good species as any in the world, and that
there is no trustworthy evidence of one producing the other. The only
interesting point is the frequency of the production of natural hybrids,
i.e. oxlips, and the existence of one kind of oxlip which constitutes a
third good and distinct species. I do not suppose that I shall be able
to attend the Linnean Society to-morrow.

I have been working hard in collecting facts on sexual selection every
morning in London, and have done a good deal; but the subject grows more
and more complex, and in many respects more difficult and doubtful. I
have had grand success this morning in tracing gradational steps by
which the peacock tail has been developed: I quite feel as if I had seen
a long line of its progenitors.

I do not feel that I shall grapple with the sterility argument till my
return home; I have tried once or twice and it has made my stomach feel
as if it had been placed in a vice. Your paper has driven three of my
children half-mad--one sat up to twelve o'clock over it. My second son,
the mathematician, thinks that you have omitted one almost inevitable
deduction which apparently would modify the result. He has written out
what he thinks, but I have not tried fully to understand him. I suppose
that you do not care enough about the subject to like to see what he has

I hope your book progresses.

I am intensely anxious to see your paper in _Murray's Journal_.--My dear
Wallace, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Hurstpierpoint. March 19, 1868._

Dear Darwin,--I should very much value a _large_ photograph of you, and
also a carte for my album, though it is too bad to ask you for both, as
you must have so many applicants.

I am sorry I shall not see you in town, but shall look forward with
pleasure to paying you a visit in the summer.

I am sorry about the Primulas, but I feel sure some such equally good
case will some day be discovered, for it seems impossible to understand
how all natural species whatever should have acquired sterility. Closely
allied forms from adjacent islands would, I should think, offer the best
chance of finding good species fertile _inter se_; since even if Natural
Selection induces sterility I do not see how it could affect them, or
why they should _always_ be sterile, and varieties _never_.

I am glad you have got good materials on sexual selection. It is no
doubt a difficult subject. One difficulty to me is, that I do not see
how the constant _minute_ variations, which are sufficient for Natural
Selection to work with, could be _sexually_ selected. We seem to require
a series of bold and abrupt variations. How can we imagine that an inch
in the tail of a peacock, or a quarter of an inch in that of the bird of
paradise, would be noticed and preferred by the female?

Pray let me see what your son says about the sterility selection
question. I am deeply interested in all that concerns the powers of
Natural Selection, but, though I admit there are a few things it cannot
do, I do not yet believe sterility to be one of them.

In case your son has turned his attention to mathematical physics, will
you ask him to look at the enclosed question, which I have vainly
attempted to get an answer to?--Believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_4 Chester Place, Regent's Park, N.W. March 19-24, 1868._

My dear Wallace,--I have sent your query to Cambridge to my son. He
ought to answer it, for he got his place of Second Wrangler chiefly by
solving very difficult problems. I enclose his remarks on two of your
paragraphs: I should like them returned some time, for I have not
studied them, and let me have your impression.

I have told E. Edwards to send one of my large photographs to you
addressed to 76-1/2 Westbourne Grove, not to be forwarded. When at home
I will send my carte.

The sterility is a most [? puzzling] problem. I can see so far, but I am
hardly willing to admit all your assumptions, and even if they were all
admitted, the process is so complex and the sterility (as you remark in
your note) so universal, even with species inhabiting quite distinct
countries (as I remarked in my chapter), together with the frequency of
a difference in reciprocal unions, that I cannot persuade myself that it
has been gained by Natural Selection, any more than the difficulty of
grafting distinct genera and the impossibility of grafting distinct
families. You will allow, I suppose, that the capacity of grafting has
not been directly acquired through Natural Selection.

I think that you will be pleased with the second volume or part of
Lyell's Principles, just out.

In regard to sexual selection. A girl sees a handsome man, and without
observing whether his nose or whiskers are the tenth of an inch longer
or shorter than in some other man, admires his appearance and says she
will marry him. So, I suppose, with the pea-hen; and the tail has been
increased in length merely by, on the whole, presenting a more gorgeous
appearance. Jenner Weir, however, has given me some facts showing that
birds apparently admire details of plumage.--Yours most sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Hurstpierpoint. March 24, [1868?]._

Dear Darwin,--Many thanks for the photo, which I shall get when I go to

I return your son's notes with my notes on them.

Without going into any details, is not this a strong general argument?--

1. A species varies occasionally in two directions, but owing to their
free intercrossing they (the variations) never increase.

2. A change of conditions occurs which threatens the existence of the
species, but the _two varieties_ are adapted to the changing conditions,
and, if accumulated, will form two new _species adapted to the new

3. Free crossing, however, renders this impossible, and so the species
is in danger of extinction.

4. If _sterility_ could be induced, then the pure races would increase
more rapidly and replace the old species.

5. It is admitted that _partial sterility_ between _varieties_ does
occasionally occur. It is admitted the _degree_ of this sterility
_varies_. Is it not probable that Natural Selection can accumulate these
variations and thus save the species?

If Natural Selection can _not_ do this, how do species ever arise,
except when a variety is isolated?

Closely allied species in distinct countries being sterile is no
difficulty, for either they diverged from a common ancestor in contact,
and Natural Selection increased the sterility, or they were isolated,
and have varied since, in which case they have been for ages influenced
by distinct conditions which may well produce sterility.

If the difficulty of _grafting_ was as great as the difficulty of
_crossing_, and as _regular_, I admit it would be a most serious
objection. But it is not. I believe many distinct species can be grafted
while others less distinct cannot. The regularity with which natural
species are sterile together, even when _very much alike_, I think is an
argument in favour of the sterility having been generally produced by
Natural Selection for the good of the species.

The other difficulty, of unequal sterility of reciprocal crosses, seems
none to me; for it is a step to more complete sterility, and as such
would be useful and would be increased by selection.

I have read Sir C. Lyell's second volume with great pleasure. He is, as
usual, very cautious, and hardly ever expresses a positive opinion, but
the general effect of the whole book is very strong, as the argument is
all on our side.

I am in hopes it will bring in a new set of converts to Natural
Selection, and will at all events lead to a fresh ventilation of the
subject.--Believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_4 Chester Place, Regent's Park, N.W. March 27, 1868._

My dear Wallace,--My son has failed in your problem, and says that it is
"excessively difficult": he says you will find something about it in
Thomson and Tait, "Natural Philosophy" (art. 649). He has, however, sent
the solution, if the plate rested on a square rim, but he supposes this
will not answer your purpose; nevertheless, I have forwarded it by this
same post. It seems that the rim being round makes the problem much more

I enclose my photograph, which I have received from Down. I sent your
answer to George on his objection to your argument on sterility, but
have not yet heard from him. I dread beginning to think over this
fearful problem, which I believe beats the plate on the circular rim;
but I will sometime. I foresee, however, that there are so many doubtful
points that we shall never agree. As far as a glance serves it seems to
me, perhaps falsely, that you sometimes argue that hybrids have an
advantage from greater vigour, and sometimes a disadvantage from not
being so well fitted to their conditions. Heaven protect my stomach
whenever I attempt following your argument!--Yours most sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent. April 6, 1868._

My dear Wallace,--I have been considering the terrible problem. Let me
first say that no man could have more earnestly wished for the success
of Natural Selection in regard to sterility than I did, and when I
considered a general statement (as in your last note) I always felt sure
it could be worked out, but always failed in detail, the cause being, as
I believe, that Natural Selection cannot effect what is not good for the
individual, including in this term a social community. It would take a
volume to discuss all the points; and nothing is so humiliating to me as
to agree with a man like you (or Hooker) on the premises and disagree
about the result.

I agree with my son's argument and not with rejoinder. The cause of our
difference, I think, is that I look at the number of offspring as an
important element (all circumstances remaining the same) in keeping up
the average number of individuals within any area. I do not believe that
the amount of food by any means is the sole determining cause of number.
Lessened fertility is equivalent to a new source of destruction. I
believe if in one district a species produce _from any cause_ fewer
young, the deficiency would be supplied from surrounding districts. This
applies to your par. 5. If the species produced fewer young from any
cause in _every_ district, it would become extinct unless its fertility
were augmented through Natural Selection (_see_ H. Spencer).

I demur to the probability and almost to the possibility of par. 1, as
you start with two forms, within the same area, which are not mutually
sterile, and which yet have supplanted the parent-form (par. 6). I know
of no ghost of a fact supporting belief that disinclination to cross
accompanies sterility. It cannot hold with plants, or the lower fixed
aquatic animals. I saw clearly what an immense aid this would be, but
gave it up. Disinclination to cross seems to have been independently
acquired, probably by Natural Selection; and I do not see why it would
not have sufficed to have prevented incipient species from blending to
have simply increased sexual disinclination to cross.

Par. 11: I demur to a certain extent to amount of sterility and
structural dissimilarity necessarily going together, except indirectly
and by no means strictly. Look at the case of pigeons, fowls, and

I overlooked the advantage of the half-sterility of reciprocal crosses;
yet, perhaps from novelty, I do not feel inclined to admit the
probability of Natural Selection having done its work so clearly.

I will not discuss the second case of utter sterility; but your
assumptions in par. 13 seem to me much too complicated. I cannot believe
so universal an attribute as utter sterility between remote species was
acquired in so complex a manner. I do not agree with your rejoinder on
grafting; I fully admit that it is not so closely restricted as
crossing; but this does not seem to me to weaken the case as one of
analogy. The incapacity of grafting is likewise an invariable attribute
of plants sufficiently remote from each other, and sometimes of plants
pretty closely allied.

The difficulty of increasing the sterility, through Natural Selection,
of two already sterile species seems to me best brought home by
considering an actual case. The cowslip and primrose are moderately
sterile, yet occasionally produce hybrids: now these hybrids, two or
three or a dozen in a whole parish, occupy ground which _might_ have
been occupied by either pure species, and no doubt the latter suffer to
this small extent. But can you conceive that any individual plants of
the primrose and cowslip, which happened to be mutually rather more
sterile (i.e. which when crossed yielded a few less seeds) than usual,
would profit to such a degree as to increase in number to the ultimate
exclusion of the present primrose and cowslip? I cannot.

My son, I am sorry to say, cannot see the full force of your rejoinder
in regard to the second head of continually augmented sterility. You
speak in this rejoinder, and in par. 5, of all the individuals becoming
in some slight degree sterile in certain districts; if you were to admit
that by continued exposure to these same conditions the sterility would
inevitably increase, there would be no need of Natural Selection. But I
suspect that the sterility is not caused so much by any particular
conditions, as by long habituation to conditions of any kind. To speak
according to pangenesis, the gemmules of hybrids are not injured, for
hybrids propagate freely by buds; but their reproductive organs are
somehow affected, so that they cannot accumulate the proper gemmules, in
nearly the same manner as the reproductive organs of a pure species
become affected when exposed to unnatural conditions.

This is a very ill-expressed and ill-written letter. Do not answer it,
unless the spirit urges you. Life is too short for so long a discussion.
We shall, I _greatly_ fear, never agree.--My dear Wallace, most
sincerely yours,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Hurstpierpoint. [?] April 8, 1868._

Dear Darwin,--I am sorry you should have given yourself the trouble to
answer my ideas on Sterility. If you are not convinced, I have little
doubt but that I am wrong; and in fact I was only _half convinced_ by my
own arguments, and I now think there is about an even chance that
Natural Selection may or not be able to accumulate sterility. If my
first proposition is modified to _the existence of a species and a
variety in the same area_, it will do just as well for my argument. Such
certainly do exist. They are fertile together, and yet each maintains
itself tolerably distinct. How can this be, if there is no
disinclination to crossing? My belief certainly is that number of
offspring is not so important an element in keeping up population of a
species as supply of food and other favourable conditions, because the
numbers of a species constantly vary greatly in different parts of its
area, whereas the average number of offspring is not a very variable

However, I will say no more but leave the problem as insoluble, only
fearing that it will become a formidable weapon in the hands of the
enemies of Natural Selection.

While writing a few pages on the northern alpine forms of plants on the
Java mountains I wanted a few cases to refer to like Teneriffe, where
there are no _northern_ forms, and scarcely any alpine. I expected the
volcanoes of Hawaii would be a good case, and asked Dr. Seeman about
them. It seems a man has lately published a list of Hawaiian plants, and
the mountains swarm with European alpine genera and some species![68] Is
not this most extraordinary and a puzzler? They are, I believe, truly
oceanic islands in the absence of mammals and the extreme poverty of
birds and insects, and they are within the tropics. Will not that be a
hard nut for you when you come to treat in detail on geographical

I enclose Seeman's note, which please return when you have copied the
list, if of any use to you.

Many thanks for your carte, which I think very good. The large one had
not arrived when I was in town last week.

Sir C. Lyell's chapter on Oceanic Islands I think very good.--Believe
me, dear Darwin, yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. April 9, 1868._

My dear Wallace,--You allude in your note to several points which I
should much enjoy discussing with you did time and strength permit. I
know Dr. Seeman is a good botanist, but I most strongly advise you to
show the list to Hooker before you make use of the materials in print.
Hooker seems much overworked, and is now gone a tour, but I suppose you
will be in town before very long, and could see him. The list is quite
unintelligible to me; it is not pretended that the same species exist in
the Sandwich Islands and Arctic regions; and as far as the genera are
concerned, I know that in almost every one of them species inhabit such
countries as Florida, North Africa, New Holland, etc. Therefore these,
genera seem to me almost mundane, and their presence in the Sandwich
Islands will not, as I suspect in my ignorance, show any relation to the
Arctic regions. The Sandwich Islands, though I have never considered
them much, have long been a sore perplexity to me: they are eminently
oceanic in position and productions; they have long been separated from
each other; and there are only slight signs of subsidence in the islets
to the westward. I remember, however, speculating that there must have
been some immigration during the glacial period from North America or
Japan; but I cannot remember what my grounds were. Some of the plants, I
think, show an affinity with Australia. I am very glad that you like
Lyell's chapter on Oceanic Islands, for I thought it one of the best in
the part which I have read. If you do not receive the big photo of me in
due time, let me hear.--Yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

The following refers to Wallace's article, "A Theory of Birds' Nests,"
in Andrew Murray's _Journal of Travel_, i. 73. He here treats in fuller
detail the view already published in the _Westminster Review_ for July,
1867, p. 38. The rule which Wallace believes, with very few exceptions,
to hold good is, "that when both sexes are of strikingly gay and
conspicuous colours, the nest is ... such as to conceal the sitting
bird; while, whenever there is a striking contrast of colours, the male
being gay and conspicuous, the female dull and obscure, the nest is open
and the sitting bird exposed to view." At this time Wallace allowed
considerably more influence to _sexual_ selection (in combination with
the need of protection) than in his later writings. See his letter to
Darwin of July 23, 1877 (p. 298), which fixes the period at which the
change in his views occurred. He finally rejected Darwin's theory that
colours "have been developed by the preference of the females, the more
ornamented males becoming the parents of each successive generation."
(_See_ "Darwinism," 1889, p. 285.)

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. April 15, 1868._

My dear Wallace,--I have been deeply interested by your admirable
article on Birds' Nests. I am delighted to see that we really differ
very little--not more than two men almost always will. You do not lay
much or any stress on new characters spontaneously appearing in one sex
(generally the male) and being transmitted exclusively, or more commonly
only in excess, to that sex. I, on the other hand, formerly paid far too
little attention to protection. I had only a glimpse of the truth. But
even now I do not go quite as far as you. I cannot avoid thinking rather
more than you do about the exceptions in nesting to the rule, especially
the partial exceptions, i.e. when there is some little difference
between the sexes in species which build concealed nests. I am now quite
satisfied about the incubating males; there is so little difference in
conspicuousness between the sexes. I wish with all my heart I could go
the whole length with you. You seem to think that such birds probably
select the most beautiful females: I must feel some doubt on this head,
for I can find no evidence of it. Though I am writing so carping a note,
I admire the article _thoroughly_.

And now I want to ask a question. When female butterflies are more
brilliant than their males, you believe that they have in most cases, or
in all cases, been rendered brilliant so as to mimic some other species
and thus escape danger. But can you account for the males not having
been rendered equally brilliant and equally protected? Although it may
be most for the welfare of the species that the female should be
protected, yet it would be some advantage, certainly no disadvantage,
for the unfortunate male to enjoy an equal immunity from danger. For my
part, I should say that the female alone had happened to vary in the
right manner, and that the beneficial variations had been transmitted to
the same sex alone. Believing in this, I can see no improbability (but
from analogy of domestic animals a strong probability): the variations
leading to beauty must _often_ have occurred in the males alone, and
been transmitted to that sex alone. Thus I should account in many cases
for the greater beauty of the male over the female, without the need of
the protective principle. I should be grateful for an answer on this

I hope that your Eastern book progresses well.--My dear Wallace, yours


       *       *       *       *       *

Sir Clifford Allbutt's view, referred to in the following letter,
probably had reference to the fact that the sperm-cell goes, or is
carried, to the germ-cell, never vice versa. In this letter Darwin gives
the reason for the "law" referred to. Wallace has been good enough to
supply the following note (May 27, 1902): "It was at this time that my
paper on 'Protective Resemblance' first appeared in the _Westminster
Review_, in which I adduced the greater, or, rather, the more
continuous, importance of the female (in the lower animals) for the
race, and my 'Theory of Birds' Nests' (_Journal of Travel and Natural
History_, No. 2), in which I applied this to the usually dull colours of
female butterflies and birds. It is to these articles, as well as to my
letters, that Darwin chiefly refers."

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. April 30, 1868._

My dear Wallace,--Your letter, like so many previous ones, has
interested me much. Dr. Allbutt's view occurred to me some time ago, and
I have written a short discussion on it. It is, I think, a remarkable
law, to which I have found no exception. The foundation lies in the fact
that in many cases the eggs or seeds require nourishment and protection
by the mother-form for some time after impregnation. Hence the
spermatozoa and antherozoids travel in the lower aquatic animals and
plants to the female, and pollen is borne to the female organ. As
organisms rise in the scale it seems natural that the male should carry
the spermatozoa to the females in his own body. As the male is the
searcher he has received and gained more eager passions than the female;
and, very differently from you, I look at this as _one_ great difficulty
in believing that the males select the more attractive females; as far
as I can discover they are always ready to seize on any female, and
sometimes on many females. Nothing would please me more than to find
evidence of males selecting the more attractive females [? _in
pigeons_[69]]: I have for months been trying to persuade myself of this.
There is the case of man in favour of this belief, and I know in hybrid
[_lizards'_[69]] unions of males preferring particular females, but alas!
not guided by colour. Perhaps I may get more evidence as I wade through
my twenty years' mass of notes.

I am not shaken about the female protected butterflies: I will grant
(only for argument) that the life of the male is of _very_ little value;
I will grant that the males do not vary; yet why has not the protective
beauty of the female been transferred by inheritance to the male? The
beauty would be a gain to the male, as far as we can see, as a
protection; and I cannot believe that it would be repulsive to the
female as she became beautiful. But we shall never convince each other.
I sometimes marvel how truth progresses, so difficult is it for one man
to convince another unless his mind is vacant. Nevertheless, I myself to
a certain extent contradict my own remark; for I believe _far more_ in
the importance of protection than I did before reading your articles.

I do not think you lay nearly stress enough in your articles on what you
admit in your letter, viz. "there seems to be some production of
vividness ... of colour in the male independent of protection." This I
am making a chief point; and have come to your conclusion so far that I
believe that intense colouring in the female sex is often checked by
being dangerous.

That is an excellent remark of yours about no known case of the male
_alone_ assuming protective colours; but in the cases in which
protection has been gained by dull colours, I presume that sexual
selection would interfere with the male losing his beauty. If the male
alone had acquired beauty as a protection, it would be most readily
overlooked, as males are so often more beautiful than their females.
Moreover, I grant that the loss of the male is somewhat less precious
and thus there would be less rigorous selection with the male, so he
would be less likely to be made beautiful through Natural Selection for
protection. (This does not apply to sexual selection, for the greater
the excess of males and the less precious their lives, so much the
better for sexual selection.) But it seems to me a good argument, and
very good if it could be thoroughly established.--Yours most sincerely,


I do not know whether you will care to read this scrawl.

P.S.--I heard yesterday that my photograph had been sent to your London
address--Westbourne Grove.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. May 5, 1868._

My dear Wallace,--I am afraid I have caused you a great deal of trouble
in writing to me at such length. I am glad to say that I agree almost
entirely with your summary, except that I should put sexual selection as
an equal or perhaps as even a more important agent in giving colour than
natural selection for protection. As I get on in my work I hope to get
clearer and more decided ideas. Working up from the bottom of the scale
I have as yet only got to fishes. What I rather object to in your
articles is that I do not think anyone would infer from them that you
place sexual selection even as high as No. 4 in your summary. It was
very natural that you should give only a line to sexual selection in
the summary to the _Westminster Review_, but the result at first to my
mind was that you attributed hardly anything to its power. In your
penultimate note you say: "In the great mass of cases in which there is
_great_ differentiation of colour between the sexes, I believe it is due
_almost wholly_ to the need of protection to the female." Now, looking
to the whole animal kingdom I can at present by no means admit this
view; but pray do not suppose that because I differ to a certain extent,
I do not thoroughly admire your several papers and your admirable
generalisation on birds' nests. With respect to this latter point,
however, although following you, I suspect that I shall ultimately look
at the whole case from a rather different point of view.

You ask what I think about the gay-coloured females of Pieris:[70] I
believe I quite follow you in believing that the colours are wholly due
to mimicry; and I further believe that the male is not brilliant from
not having received through inheritance colour from the female, and from
not himself having varied; in short, that he has not been influenced by

I can make no answer with respect to the elephants. With respect to the
female reindeer, I have hitherto looked at the horns simply as the
consequence of inheritance _not_ having been limited by sex.

Your idea about colour being concentrated in the smaller males seems
good, and I presume that you will not object to my giving it as your
suggestion.--Believe me, my dear Wallace, with many thanks, yours very


       *       *       *       *       *

Wallace's more recent views on the question of Natural Selection and
Sterility may be found in a note written by him in 1899: "When writing
my 'Darwinism' and coming again to the consideration of the problem of
the effect of Natural Selection in accumulating variations in the amount
of sterility between varieties or incipient species, twenty years later,
I became more convinced than I was when discussing with Darwin, of the
substantial accuracy of my argument. Recently a correspondent who is
both a naturalist and a mathematician has pointed out to me a slight
error in my calculation at p, 183 (which does not, however, materially
affect the result) disproving the physiological selection of the late
Dr. Romanes, but he can see no fallacy in my argument as to the power of
Natural Selection to increase sterility between incipient species, nor,
so far as I am aware, has anyone shown such fallacy to exist.

"On the other points on which I differed from Mr. Darwin in the
foregoing discussion--the effect of high fertility on population of a
species, etc.--I still hold the views I then expressed, but it would be
out of place to attempt to justify them here."--A.R.W.

       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. August 16, [1868?]._

Dear Darwin,--I ought to have written before to thank you for the copies
of your paper on "Primula" and on "Cross Unions of Dimorphic Plants,
etc." The latter is particularly interesting, and the conclusion most
important; but I think it makes the difficulty of _how_ these forms,
with their varying degrees of sterility, originated, greater than ever.
If Natural Selection could not accumulate varying degrees of sterility
for the plant's benefit, then how did sterility ever come to be
associated with _one cross_ of a trimorphic plant rather than another?
The difficulty seems to be increased by the consideration that the
advantage of a cross with a _distinct individual_ is gained just as well
by illegitimate as by legitimate unions. By what means, then, did
illegitimate unions ever become sterile? It would seem a far simpler way
for each plant's pollen to have acquired a prepotency on another
individual's stigma over that of the same individual, without the
extraordinary complication of three differences of structure and
eighteen different unions with varying degrees of sterility!

However, the fact remains an excellent answer to the statement that
sterility of hybrids proves the absolute distinctness of the parents.

I have been reading with great pleasure Mr. Bentham's last admirable
address,[71] in which he so well replies to the gross misstatements of
the _Athenæum_; and also says a word in favour of pangenesis. I think we
may now congratulate you on having made a valuable convert, whose
opinions on the subject, coming so late and being evidently so well
considered, will have much weight.

I am going to Norwich on Tuesday to hear Dr. Hooker, who I hope will
boldly promulgate "Darwinianism" in his address. Shall we have the
pleasure of seeing you there?

I am engaged in negotiations about my book.

Hoping you are well and getting on with your next volumes, believe me
yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Freshwater, Isle of Wight. August 19, 1868._

My dear Wallace,--Thanks for your note. I did sometimes think of going
to Norwich, for I should have very much liked it, but it has been quite
out of the question. We have been here for five weeks for a change, and
it has done me some little good; but I have been forced to live the life
of a drone, and for a month before leaving home I was unable to do
anything and had to stop all work.

We return to Down to-morrow.

Hooker has been here for two or three days, so that I have had much
talk about his Address. I am glad that you will be there.

It is real good news that your book is so advanced that you are
negotiating about its publication.

With respect to dimorphic plants: it is a great puzzle, but I _fancy_ I
partially see my way--too long for a letter and too speculative for
publication. The groundwork of the acquirement of such peculiar
fertility (for what you say about any other distinct individual being,
as it would appear, sufficient, is very true) rests on the stamens and
pistil having varied first in relative length, _as actually occurs_
irrespective of dimorphism, and the peculiar kind of fertility
characteristic of dimorphic and the trimorphic plants having been
_secondarily_ acquired. Pangenesis makes _very_ few converts: G.H. Lewes
is one.

I had become, before my nine weeks' horrid interruption of all work,
extremely interested in sexual selection and was making fair progress.
In truth, it has vexed me much to find that the further I get on, the
more I differ from you about the females being dull-coloured for
protection. I can now hardly express myself as strongly even as in the
"Origin." This has _much decreased_ the pleasure of my work.

In the course of September, if I can get at all stronger, I hope to get
Mr. J. Jenner Weir (who has been _wonderfully_ kind in giving me
information) to pay me a visit, and I will then write for the chance of
your being able to come and, I hope, bring with you Mrs. Wallace. If I
could get several of you together, it would be less dull for you, for of
late I have found it impossible to talk with any human being for more
than half an hour, except on extraordinarily good days.--Believe me, my
dear Wallace, ever yours sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent. August 30, [1868?]._

Dear Darwin,--I was very sorry to hear you had been so unwell again, and
hope you will not exert yourself to write me such long letters.
Darwinianism was in the ascendant at Norwich (I hope you do not dislike
the word, for we really _must_ use it), and I think it rather disgusted
some of the parsons, joined with the amount of _advice_ they received
from Hooker and Huxley. The worst of it is that there are no opponents
left who know anything of natural history, so that there are none of the
good discussions we used to have. G.H. Lewes seems to me to be making a
great mistake in the _Fortnightly_, advocating _many distinct_ origins
for different groups, and even, if I understand him, distinct origins
for some allied groups, just as the anthropologists do who make the red
man descend from the orang, the black man from the chimpanzee--or rather
the Malay and orang one ancestor, the negro and chimpanzee another. Vogt
told me that the Germans are all becoming converted by your last book.

I am certainly surprised that you should find so much evidence against
protection having checked the acquirement of bright colour in females;
but I console myself by presumptuously hoping that I can explain your
facts, unless they are derived from the very groups on which I chiefly
rest--birds and insects. There is nothing _necessarily_ requiring
protection in females; it is a matter of habits. There are groups in
which both sexes require protection in an exactly equal degree, and
others (I think) in which the male requires most protection, and I feel
the greatest confidence that these will ultimately support my view,
although I do _not_ yet know the facts they may afford.

Hoping you are in better health, believe me, dear Darwin, yours


       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. September 5, [1868?]._

Dear Darwin,--It will give me great pleasure to accept your kind
invitation for next Saturday and Sunday, and my wife would very much
like to come too, and will if possible. Unfortunately, there is a new
servant coming that very day, and there is a baby at the mischievous age
of a year and a quarter to be left in somebody's care; but I daresay it
will be managed somehow.

I will drop a line on Friday to say if we are coming the time you
mention.--Believe me yours very faithfully,



My dear Darwin,--My wife has arranged to accompany me to-morrow, and we
hope to be at Orpington Station at 5.44, as mentioned by you.--Very
truly yours,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. September 16, 1868._

My dear Wallace,--The beetles have arrived, and cordial thanks: I never
saw such wonderful creatures in my life. I was thinking of something
quite different. I shall wait till my son Frank returns, before soaking
and examining them. I long to steal the box, but return it by this post,
like a too honest man.

I am so much pleased about the male musk Callichroma; for by odd chance
I told Frank a week ago that next spring he must collect at Cambridge
lots of Cerambyx moschatus, for as sure as life he would find the odour

You will be pleased to hear that I am undergoing severe distress about
protection and sexual selection: this morning I oscillated with joy
towards you; this evening I have swung back to the old position, out of
which I fear I shall never get.

I did most thoroughly enjoy my talk with you three gentlemen, and
especially with you, and to my great surprise it has not knocked me up.
Pray give my kindest remembrances to Mrs. Wallace, and if my wife were
at home she would cordially join in this.--Yours very sincerely,


I have had this morning a capital letter from Walsh of Illinois; but
details too long to give.

       *       *       *       *       *

Among Wallace's papers was found the following draft of a letter of his
to Darwin:

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. September 18, 1868._

Dear Darwin,--The more I think of your views as to the colours of
females, the more difficulty I find in accepting them, and as you are
now working at the subject I hope it will not interrupt you to hear
"counsel on the other side."

I have a "general" and a "special" argument to submit.

1. Female birds and insects are generally exposed to more danger than
the male, and in the case of insects their existence is necessary for a
longer period.

2. They therefore require in some way or other a special balance of

3. Now, if the male and female were distinct species, with different
habits and organisations, you would, I think, at once admit that a
difference of colour serving to make that one less conspicuous which
evidently required more protection than the other had been acquired by
Natural Selection.

4. But you admit that variations appearing in one sex are transmitted
(often) to that sex only: there is therefore nothing to prevent Natural
Selection acting on the two sexes as if they were two species.

5. Your objection that the same protection would to a certain extent be
useful to the male, seems to me utterly unsound, and directly opposed to
your own doctrine so convincingly urged in the "Origin," "_that Natural
Selection never can improve an animal beyond its needs_." So that
admitting abundant variation of colour in the male, it is impossible
that he can be brought by Natural Selection to resemble the female
(unless _her_ variations are always transmitted to _him_), because the
_difference_ of their colours is to balance the _difference_ in their
organisations and habits, and Natural Selection cannot give to the male
_more_ than is needed to effect that balance.

6. The fact that in almost all protected groups the females perfectly
resemble the males shows, I think, a tendency to transference of colour
from one sex to the other when this tendency is not injurious.

Or perhaps the _protection_ is acquired because this tendency exists. I
admit therefore in the case of concealed nests they [habits] may have
been acquired for protection.

Now for the special case.

7. In the very weak-flying Leptalis both sexes mimic Heliconidæ.

8. In the much more powerful Papilio, Pieris, and Diadema it is
generally the _female only_ that mimics Danaida.

9. In these cases the females often acquire more bright and varied
colours than the male. Sometimes, as in _Pieris pyrrha_, conspicuously

10. No single case is known of a male Papilio, Pieris, Diadema (or any
other insect?) _alone_ mimicking a Danais, etc.

11. But colour is more frequent in males, and _variations_ always seem
ready for purposes of sexual or other selection.

12. The fair inference seems to be that given in proposition 5 of the
general argument, viz. that _each species_ and _each sex_ can only be
modified by selection just as far as is absolutely necessary, not a step
farther. A male, being by structure and habits less exposed to danger
and less requiring protection than the female, cannot have more
protection given to it by Natural Selection, but a female must have some
extra protection to balance the greater danger, and she rapidly acquires
it in one way or another.

13. An objection derived from cases like male fish, which seem to
require protection, yet having brighter colours, seems to me of no more
weight than is that of the existence of many white and unprotected
species of Leptalis to Bates's theory of mimicry, that only one or two
species of butterflies perfectly resemble leaves, or that the instincts
or habits or colours that seem essential to the preservation of one
animal are often totally absent in an allied species.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent. September 23, 1868._

My dear Wallace,--I am very much obliged for all your trouble in writing
me your long letter, which I will keep by me and ponder over. To answer
it would require at least 200 folio pages! If you could see how often I
have rewritten some pages, you would know how anxious I am to arrive as
near as I can to the truth. We differ, I think, chiefly from fixing our
minds perhaps too closely on different points, on which we agree: I lay
great stress on what I know takes place under domestication: I think we
start with different fundamental notions on inheritance. I find it most
difficult, but not, I think, impossible, to see how, for instance, a few
red feathers appearing on the head of a male bird, and which _are at
first transmitted to both sexes_, could come to be transmitted to males
alone;[72] but I have no difficulty in making the whole head red if the
few red feathers in the male from the first tended to be sexually
transmitted. I am quite willing to admit that the female may have been
modified, either at the same time or subsequently, for protection, by
the accumulation of variations limited in their transmission to the
female sex. I owe to your writings the consideration of this latter
point. But I cannot yet persuade myself that females _alone_ have often
been modified for protection. Should you grudge the trouble briefly to
tell me whether you believe that the plainer head and less bright
_colours_ of [female symbol][73] chaffinch, the less red on the head and
less clean colours of [female symbol] goldfinch, the much less red on
breast of [female symbol] bullfinch, the paler crest of goldencrest
wren, etc., have been acquired by them for protection? I cannot think
so; any more than I can that the considerable differences between
[female symbol] and [male symbol] house-sparrow, or much greater
brightness of [male symbol] _Parus cæruleus_ (both of which build under
cover) than of [female symbol] Parus are related to protection. I even
misdoubt much whether the less blackness of blackbird is for protection.

Again, can you give me reason for believing that the merest differences
between female pheasants, the female _Gallus bankiva_, the female of
black grouse, the pea-hen, female partridge, have all special reference
to protection under slightly different conditions? I of course admit
that they are all protected by dull colours, derived, as I think, from
some dull-ground progenitor; and I account partly for their difference
by partial transference of colour from the male, and by other means too
long to specify; but I earnestly wish to see reason to believe that each
is specially adapted for concealment to its environment.

I grieve to differ from you, and it actually terrifies me, and makes me
constantly distrust myself.

I fear we shall never quite understand each other. I value the cases of
bright-coloured, incubating male fishes--and brilliant female
butterflies, solely as showing that one sex may be made brilliant
without any necessary transference of beauty to the other sex; for in
these cases I cannot suppose that beauty in the other sex was checked by

I fear this letter will trouble you to read it. A very short answer
about your belief in regard to the [female symbol] finches and
Gallinaceæ would suffice.--Believe me, my dear Wallace, yours very


       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, S.W. September 27, 1868._

Dear Darwin,--Your view seems to be that variations occurring in one sex
are transmitted either to that sex exclusively or to both sexes equally,
or more rarely partially transferred. But we have every gradation of
sexual colours from total dissimilarity to perfect identity. If this is
explained solely by the laws of inheritance, then the colours of one or
other sex will be always (in relation to their environment) a _matter of
chance_. I cannot think this. I think Selection more powerful than laws
of inheritance, of which it makes use, as shown by cases of two, three
or four forms of female butterflies, all of which have, I have little
doubt, been specialised for protection.

To answer your first question is most difficult, if not impossible,
because we have no sufficient evidence in _individual cases of slight
sexual difference_, to determine whether the male alone has acquired his
superior brightness by sexual selection, or the female been made duller
by need of protection, or whether the two causes have acted. Many of the
sexual differences of existing species may be inherited differences from
parent forms who existed under different conditions and had greater or
less need of protection.

I think I admitted before the general tendency (probably) of males to
acquire brighter tints. Yet this cannot be universal, for many female
birds and quadrupeds have equally bright tints.

I think the case of [female symbol] _Pieris pyrrha_ proves that females
alone can be greatly modified for protection.

To your second question I can reply more decidedly. I do think the
females of the Gallmaceæ you mention have been modified or been
prevented from acquiring the brighter plumage of the male by need of
protection. I know that the _Gallus bankiva_ frequents drier and more
open situations than the pea-hen of Java, which is found among grassy
and leafy vegetation corresponding with the colours of the two. So the
Argus pheasant, [male symbol] and [female symbol], are, I feel sure,
protected by their tints corresponding to the dead leaves of the lofty
forest in which they dwell, and the female of the gorgeous fire-back
pheasant, _Lophura viellottii_, is of a very similar _rich brown
colour_. I do not, however, at all think the question can be settled by
individual cases, but only by large masses of facts.

The colours of the mass of female birds seem to me strictly analogous to
the colours of both sexes of snipes, woodcocks, plovers, etc., which are
undoubtedly protective.

Now, supposing, on your view, that the colours of a male bird become
more and more brilliant by sexual selection, and a good deal of that
colour is transmitted to the female till it becomes positively injurious
to her during incubation and the race is in danger of extinction, do you
not think that all the females who had acquired less of the male's
bright colours or who themselves varied in a protective direction would
be preserved, and that thus a good protective colouring would be
acquired? If you admit that this could occur, and can show no good
reason why it should not often occur, then we no longer differ, for this
is the main point of my view.

Have you ever thought of the red wax-tips of the Bombycilla beautifully
imitating the red fructification of lichens used in the nest, and
therefore the females have it too? Yet this is a very sexual-looking

We begin printing this week.--Yours very faithfully,


P.S.--Pray don't distress yourself on this subject. It will all come
right in the end, and after all it is only an episode in your great

       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. October 4, 1868._

Dear Darwin,--I should have answered your letter before, but have been
very busy reading over my MSS. the last time before going to press,
drawing maps, etc. etc.

Your first question cannot be answered, because we have not, in
_individual cases_ of _slight sexual_ difference, sufficient evidence to
determine how much of that difference is due to sexual selection acting
on the male, how much to natural selection (protective) acting on the
female, or how much of the difference may be due to inherited
differences from ancestors who lived under different conditions. On your
second question I can give an opinion. I do think the females of the
Gallinaceæ you mention have been either _modified_; or _prevented from
acquiring much of the brighter plumage of the males_, by the need of
protection. I know that _Gallus bankiva_ frequents drier and more open
situations than _Pavo muticus_, which in Java is found among grassy and
leafy vegetation corresponding with the colours of the two females. So
the Argus pheasants, male and female, are, I feel sure, protected by
their tints corresponding to dead leaves of the dry lofty forests in
which they dwell; and the female of the gorgeous fire-back pheasant,
_Lophura viellottii_, is of a very similar rich brown colour.

These and many other colours of female birds seem to me exactly
analogous to the colours of _both sexes_ in such groups as the snipes,
woodcocks, plovers, ptarmigan, desert birds, Arctic animals, greenbirds.

[The second page of this letter has been torn off. This letter and that
of September 27 appear both to answer the same letter from Darwin. The
last page of this or of another letter was placed with it in the
portfolio of letters; it is now given.]

I am sorry to find that our difference of opinion on this point is a
source of anxiety to you.

Pray do not let it be so. The truth will come out at last, and our
difference may be the means of setting others to work who may set us
both right.

After all, this question is only an episode (though an important one) in
the great question of the origin of species, and whether you or I are
right will not at all affect the main doctrine--that is one comfort.

I hope you will publish your treatise on Sexual Selection as a separate
book as soon as possible, and then while you are going on with your
other work, there will no doubt be found someone to battle with me over
your facts, on this hard problem.

With best wishes and kind regards to Mrs. Darwin and all your family,
believe me, dear Darwin, yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. October 6, 1868._

My dear Wallace,--Your letter is very valuable to me, and in every way
very kind. I will not inflict a long answer, but only answer your
queries. There are breeds (viz. Hamburgh) in which both sexes differ
much from each other and from both sexes of _G. bankiva_; and both sexes
are kept constant by selection.

The comb of Spanish [male symbol] has been ordered to be upright and
that of Spanish [female symbol] to lop over, and this has been effected.
There are sub-breeds of game fowl, with [female symbol]s very distinct
and [male symbol]s almost identical; but this apparently is the result
of spontaneous variation without special selection.

I am very glad to hear of the case of [female symbol] birds of paradise.

I have never in the least doubted the possibility of modifying female
birds _alone_ for protection; and I have long believed it for
butterflies: I have wanted only evidence for the females alone of birds
having had their colours modified for protection. But then I believe
that the variations by which a female bird or butterfly could get or has
got protective colouring have probably from the first been variations
limited in their transmission to the female sex; and so with the
variations of the male, where the male is more beautiful than the
female, I believe the variations were sexually limited in their
transmission to the males. I am delighted to hear that you have been
hard at work on your MS.--Yours most sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. January 20, 1869._

Dear Darwin,--It will give me very great pleasure if you will allow me
to dedicate my little book of Malayan Travels to you, although it will
be far too small and unpretending a work to be worthy of that honour.
Still, I have done what I can to make it a vehicle for communicating a
taste for the higher branches of Natural History, and I know that you
will judge it only too favourably. We are in the middle of the second
volume, and if the printers will get on, shall be out next month.

Have you seen in the last number of the _Quarterly Journal of Science_
the excellent remarks on _Fraser's_ article on Natural Selection failing
as to Man? In one page it gets to the heart of the question, and I have
written to the editor to ask who the author is.

My friend Spruce's paper on Palms is to be read to-morrow evening at the
Linnean. He tells me it contains a discovery which he calls "alteration
of function." He found a clump of Geonema all of which were females, and
the next year the same clump were all males! He has found other facts
analogous to this, and I have no doubt the subject is one that will
interest you.

Hoping you are pretty well and are getting on steadily with your next
volumes, and with kind regards to Mrs. Darwin and all your circle,
believe me, dear Darwin, yours very faithfully,


P.S.--Have you seen the admirable article in the _Guardian_ (!) on
Lyell's "Principles"? It is most excellent and liberal. It is written by
the Rev. Geo. Buckle, of Tiverton Vicarage, Bath, whom I met at Norwich
and found a thoroughly scientific and liberal parson. Perhaps you have
heard that I have undertaken to write an article for the _Quarterly_ (!)
on the same subject, to make up for that on "Modern Geology" last year
not mentioning Sir C. Lyell.

Really, what with the Tories passing Radical Reform Bills and the Church
periodicals advocating Darwinianism, the millennium must be at

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. January 22, 1869._

My dear Wallace,--Your intended dedication pleases me much and I look at
it as a _great_ honour, and this is nothing more than the truth. I am
glad to hear, for Lyell's sake and on general grounds, that you are
going to write in the _Quarterly_. Some little time ago I was actually
wishing that you wrote in the _Quarterly_, as I knew that you
occasionally contributed to periodicals, and I thought that your
articles would thus be more widely read.

Thank you for telling me about the _Guardian_, which I will borrow from
Lyell. I did note the article in the _Quarterly Journal of Science_ and
put it aside to read again with the articles in _Fraser_ and the

I have been interrupted in my regular work in preparing a new edition[74]
of the "Origin," which has cost me much labour, and which I hope I have
considerably improved in two or three important points. I always thought
individual differences more important than single variations, but now I
have come to the conclusion that they are of paramount importance, and
in this I believe I agree with you. Fleeming Jenkin's arguments have
convinced me.[75]

I heartily congratulate you on your new book being so nearly
finished.--Believe me, my dear Wallace, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. January 30, 1869._

Dear Darwin,--Will you tell me _where_ are Fleeming Jenkin's arguments
on the importance of single variation? Because I at present hold most
strongly the contrary opinion, that it is the individual differences or
_general variability_ of species that enables them to become modified
and adapted to new conditions.

Variations or "sports" may be important in modifying an animal in one
direction, as in colour for instance, but how it can possibly work in
changes requiring co-ordination of many parts, as in Orchids for
example, I cannot conceive. And as all the more important structural
modifications of animals and plants imply much co-ordination, it appears
to me that the chances are millions to one against _individual
variations_ ever coinciding so as to render the required modification
possible. However, let me read first what has convinced you.

You may tell Mrs. Darwin that I have now a daughter.

Give my kind regards to her and all your family.--Very truly yours,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. February 2, 1869._

My dear Wallace,--I must have expressed myself atrociously; I meant to
say exactly the reverse of what you have understood. F. Jenkin argued in
the _North British Review_[76] against single variations ever being
perpetuated, and has convinced me, though not in quite so broad a manner
as here put. I always thought individual differences more important, but
I was blind and thought that single variations might be preserved much
oftener than I now see is possible or probable. I mentioned this in my
former note merely because I believed that you had come to similar
conclusions, and I like much to be in accord with you. I believe I was
mainly deceived by single variations offering such simple illustrations,
as when man selects.

We heartily congratulate you on the birth of your little
daughter.--Yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. March 5, 1869._

My dear Wallace,--I was delighted at receiving your book[77] this
morning. The whole appearance and the illustrations with which it [is]
so profusely ornamented are quite beautiful. Blessings on you and your
publisher for having the pages cut and gilded.

As for the dedication, putting quite aside how far I deserve what you
say, it seems to me decidedly the best expressed dedication which I have
ever met.

The reading will probably last me a month, for I dare not have it read
aloud, as I know that it will set me thinking.

I see that many points will interest me greatly. When I have finished,
if I have anything particular to say, I will write again. Accept my
cordial thanks. The dedication is a thing for my children's children to
be proud of.--Yours most sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. March 10, 1869._

Dear Darwin,--Thanks for your kind note. I could not persuade Mr.
Macmillan to cut more than twenty-five copies for my own friends, and he
even seemed to think this a sign of most strange and barbarous taste.

Mr. Weir's paper on the kinds of larvæ, etc., eaten or rejected by
insectivorous birds was read at the last meeting of the Entomological
Society and was most interesting and satisfactory. His observations and
experiments, so far as they have yet gone, confirm in _every instance_
my hypothetical explanation of the colours of caterpillars. He finds
that all nocturnal-feeding obscure-coloured caterpillars, all _green_
and _brown_ and _mimicking_ caterpillars, are greedily eaten by almost
every insectivorous bird. On the other hand, every gaily coloured,
spotted or banded species, which never conceal themselves, and all spiny
and hairy kinds, are _invariably rejected_, either without or after
trial. He has also come to the curious and rather unexpected conclusion,
that hairy and spiny caterpillars are not protected by their hairs, but
by their nauseous taste, the hairs being merely an external mark of
their uneatableness, like the gay colours of others. He deduces this
from two kinds of facts: (1) that very young caterpillars before the
hairs are developed are equally rejected, and (2) that in many cases the
smooth pupæ and even the perfect insects of the same species are equally

His facts, it is true, are at present not very numerous, but they all
point one way. They seem to me to lend an immense support to my view of
the great importance of protection in determining colour, for it has not
only prevented the eatable species from ever acquiring bright colours,
spots, or markings injurious to them, but it has also conferred on all
the nauseous species distinguishing marks to render their uneatableness
more protective to them than it would otherwise be. When you have read
my book I shall be glad of any hints for corrections if it comes to
another edition. I was horrified myself by coming accidentally on
several verbal inelegancies after all my trouble in correcting, and I
have no doubt there are many more important errors.--Believe me, dear
Darwin, yours very truly,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. March 22, 1869._

My dear Wallace,--I have finished your book.[78] It seems to me
excellent, and at the same time most pleasant to read. That you ever
returned alive is wonderful after all your risks from illness and sea
voyages, especially that most interesting one to Waigiou and back. Of
all the impressions which I have received from your book, the strongest
is that your perseverance in the cause of science was heroic. Your
descriptions of catching the splendid butterflies have made me quite
envious, and at the same time have made me feel almost young again, so
vividly have they brought before my mind old days when I collected,
though I never made such captures as yours. Certainly collecting is the
best sport in the world. I shall be astonished if your book has not a
great success; and your splendid generalisations on geographical
distribution, with which I am familiar from your papers, will be new to
most of your readers. I think I enjoyed most the Timor case, as it is
best demonstrated; but perhaps Celebes is really the most valuable. I
should prefer looking at the whole Asiatic continent as having formerly
been more African in its fauna, than admitting the former existence of a
continent across the Indian Ocean. Decaisne's paper on the flora of
Timor, in which he points out its close relation to that of the
Mascarene Islands, supports your view. On the other hand, I might
advance the giraffes, etc., in the Sewalik deposits. How I wish someone
would collect the plants of Banca! The puzzle of Java, Sumatra and
Borneo is like the three geese and foxes: I have a wish to extend
Malacca through Banca to part of Java and thus make three parallel
peninsulas, but I cannot get the geese and foxes across the river.

Many parts of your book have interested me much: I always wished to
hear an independent judgment about the Rajah Brooke, and now I have been
delighted with your splendid eulogium on him.

With respect to the fewness and inconspicuousness of the flowers in the
tropics, may it not be accounted for by the hosts of insects, so that
there is no need for the flowers to be conspicuous? As, according to
Humboldt, fewer plants are social in the tropical than in the temperate
regions, the flowers in the former would not make so great a show.

In your note you speak of observing some inelegancies of style. I notice
none. All is as clear as daylight. I have detected two or three errata.

In Vol. I. you write lond_i_acus: is this not an error?

Vol. II., p. 236: for _western_ side of Aru read _eastern_.

Page 315: Do you not mean the horns of the moose? For the elk has not
palmated horns.

I have only one criticism of a general nature, and I am not sure that
other geologists would agree with me: you repeatedly speak as if the
pouring out of lava, etc., from volcanoes actually caused the subsidence
of an adjoining area. I quite agree that areas undergoing opposite
movements are somehow connected; but volcanic outbursts must, I think,
be looked at as mere accidents in the swelling tip of a great dome or
surface of _plutonic_ rocks; and there seems no more reason to conclude
that such swelling or elevation in mass is the cause of the subsidence
than that the subsidence is the cause of the elevation; which latter
view is indeed held by some geologists, I have regretted to find so
little about the habits of the many animals which you have seen.

In Vol. II., p. 399, I wish I could see the connection between
variations having been first or long ago selected, and their appearance
at an earlier age in birds of paradise than the variations which have
subsequently arisen and been selected. In fact, I do not understand your
explanation of the curious order of development of the ornaments of
these birds.

Will you please to tell me whether you are sure that the female
Casuarius (Vol. II., p. 150) sits on her eggs as well as the male?--for,
if I am not mistaken, Bartlett told me that the male alone, who is less
brightly coloured about the neck, sits on the eggs. In Vol. II., p. 255,
you speak of male savages ornamenting themselves more than the women, of
which I have heard before; now, have you any notion whether they do this
to please themselves, or to excite the admiration of their fellow-men,
or to please the women, or, as is perhaps probable, from all three

Finally, let me congratulate you heartily on having written so excellent
a book, full of thought on all sorts of subjects. Once again, let me
thank you for the very great honour which you have done me by your
dedication.--Believe me, my dear Wallace, yours very sincerely,


Vol. II., p. 455: When in New Zealand I thought the inhabitants a mixed
race, with the type of Tahiti preponderating over some darker race with
more frizzled hair; and now that the stone instruments [have] revealed
the existence of ancient inhabitants, is it not probable that these
islands were inhabited by true Papuans? Judging from descriptions the
pure Tahitans must differ much from your Papuans.

       *       *       *       *       *

The reference in the following letter is to Wallace's review, in the
April number of the _Quarterly_, of Lyell's "Principles of Geology"
(tenth edition), and of the sixth edition of the "Elements of Geology."
Wallace points out that here for the first time Sir C. Lyell gave up his
opposition to Evolution; and this leads Wallace to give a short account
of the views set forth in the "Origin of Species." In this article
Wallace makes a definite statement as to his views on the evolution of
man, which were opposed to those of Darwin. He upholds the view that the
brain of man, as well as the organs of speech, the hand and the external
form, could not have been evolved by Natural Selection (the "child" he
is supposed to "murder "). At p. 391 he writes: "In the brain of the
lowest savages and, as far as we know, of the prehistoric races, we have
an organ ... little inferior in size and complexity to that of the
highest types.... But the mental requirements of the lowest savages,
such as the Australians or the Andaman Islanders, are very little above
those of many animals.... How then was an organ developed far beyond the
needs of its possessor? Natural Selection could only have endowed the
savage with a brain a little superior to that of an ape, whereas he
actually possesses one but very little inferior to that of the average
members of our learned societies."

This passage is marked in Darwin's copy with a triply underlined "No,"
and with a shower of notes of exclamation. It was probably the first
occasion on which he realised the extent of this great and striking
divergence in opinion between himself and his colleague. He had,
however, some indication of it in Wallace's paper on Man in the
_Anthropological Review_, 1864, referred to in his letter to Wallace of
May 28, 1864, and again in that of April 14, 1869.

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. March 27, 1869._

My dear Wallace,--I must send a line to thank you, but this note will
require no answer. This very morning after writing I found that "elk"
was used for "moose" in Sweden, but I had been reading lately about elk
and moose in North America.

As you put the case in your letter, which I think differs somewhat from
your book, I am inclined to agree, and had thought that a feather could
hardly be increased in length until it had first grown to full length,
and therefore it would be increased late in life and transmitted to a
corresponding age. But the Crossoptilon pheasant, and even the common
pheasant, show that the tail feathers can be developed very early.

Thanks for other facts, which I will reflect on when I go again over my

I read all that you said about the Dutch Government with much interest,
but I do not feel I know enough to form any opinion against yours.

I shall be intensely curious to read the _Quarterly_: I hope you have
not murdered too completely your own and my child.

I have lately, i.e. in the new edition of the "Origin,"[79] been
moderating my zeal, and attributing much more to mere useless
variability. I did think I would send you the sheet, but I daresay you
would not care to see it, in which I discuss Nägeli's essay on Natural
Selection not affecting characters of no functional importance, and
which yet are of high classificatory importance.

Hooker is pretty well satisfied with what I have said on this head. It
will be curious if we have hit on similar conclusions. You are about the
last man in England who would deviate a hair's breadth from his
conviction to please any editor in the world.--Yours very sincerely,


P.S.--After all, I have thought of one question, but if I receive no
answer I shall understand that (as is probable) you have nothing to say.
I have seen it remarked that the men and women of certain tribes differ
a little in shade or tint; but have you ever seen or heard of any
difference in tint between the two sexes which did not appear to follow
from a difference in habits of life?

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E. April 14, 1869._

My dear Wallace,--I have been wonderfully interested by your article,[80]
and I should think Lyell will be much gratified by it. I declare if I
had been editor and had the power of directing you I should have
selected for discussion the very points which you have chosen. I have
often said to younger geologists (for I began in the year 1830) that
they did not know what a revolution Lyell had effected; nevertheless,
your extracts from Cuvier have quite astonished me.

Though not able really to judge, I am inclined to put more confidence in
Croll than you seem to do; but I have been much struck by many of your
remarks on degradation.

Thomson's views of the recent age of the world have been for some time
one of my sorest troubles, and so I have been glad to read what you say.
Your exposition of Natural Selection seems to me inimitably good; there
never lived a better expounder than you.

I was also much pleased at your discussing the difference between our
views and Lamarck's. One sometimes sees the odious expression, "Justice
to myself compels me to say, etc.," but you are the only man I ever
heard of who persistently does himself an injustice and never demands
justice. Indeed, you ought in the review to have alluded to your paper
in the Linnean _Journal_, and I feel sure all our friends will agree in
this, but you cannot "Burke" yourself, however much you may try, as may
be seen in half the articles which appear.

I was asked but the other day by a German professor for your paper,
which I sent him. Altogether, I look at your article as appearing in the
_Quarterly_ as an immense triumph for our cause. I presume that your
remarks on Man are those to which you alluded in your note.

If you had not told me I should have thought that they had been added by
someone else. As you expected, I differ grievously from you, and I am
very sorry for it.

I can see no necessity for calling in an additional and proximate cause
in regard to Man. But the subject is too long for a letter.

I have been particularly glad to read your discussion, because I am now
writing and thinking much about Man.

I hope that your Malay book sells well. I was extremely pleased with the
article in the _Q.J. of Science_, inasmuch as it is thoroughly
appreciative of your work. Alas! you will probably agree with what the
writer says about the uses of the bamboo.

I hear that there is also a good article in the _Saturday Review_, but
have heard nothing more about it.--Believe me, my dear Wallace, yours
ever sincerely,


P.S.--I have had a baddish fall, my horse partly rolling over me; but I
am getting rapidly well.

       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. April 18, 1869._

Dear Darwin,--I am very glad you think I have done justice to Lyell, and
have also well "exposed" (as a Frenchman would say) Natural Selection.
There is nothing I like better than writing a little account of it, and
trying to make it clear to the meanest capacity.

The "Croll" question is awfully difficult. I had gone into it more
fully, but the Editor made me cut out eight pages.

I am very sorry indeed to hear of your accident, but trust you will soon
recover and that it will leave no bad effects.

I can quite comprehend your feelings with regard to my "unscientific"
opinions as to Man, because a few years back I should myself have
looked at them as equally wild and uncalled for. I shall look with
extreme interest for what you are writing on Man, and shall give full
weight to any explanations you can give of his probable origin. My
opinions on the subject have been modified solely by the consideration
of a series of remarkable phenomena, physical and mental, which I have
now had every opportunity of fully testing, and which demonstrate the
existence of forces and influences not yet recognised by science. This
will, I know, seem to you like some mental hallucination, but as I can
assure you from personal communication with them, that Robert Chambers,
Dr. Norris of Birmingham, the well-known physiologist, and C.F. Varley,
the well-known electrician, who have all investigated the subject for
years, agree with me both as to the facts and as to the main inferences
to be drawn from them, I am in hopes that you will suspend your judgment
for a time till we exhibit some corroborative symptoms of insanity.

In the meantime I can console you by the assurance that I _don't_ agree
with the _Q.J. of Science_ about bamboo, and that I see no cause to
modify any of my opinions expressed in my article on the "Reign of
Law."--Believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. June 23, 1869._

Dear Darwin,--Thank you very much for the copy of your fifth edition of
the "Origin." I have not yet read all the additions, but those I have
looked at seem very interesting, though somewhat brief, but I suppose
you are afraid of its great and rapid growth.

A difficult sexual character seems to me the plumules or battledore
scales on the wings of certain families and genera of butterflies,
almost invariably changing in form with the species and genera in
proportion to other changes, and always constant in each species yet
confined to the males, and so small and mixed up with the other scales
as to produce no effect on the colour or marking of the wings. How could
sexual selection produce them?

Your correspondent Mr. Geach is now in England, and if you would like to
see him I am sure he would be glad to meet you. He is staying with his
brother (address Guildford), but often comes to town.

Hoping that you have quite recovered from your accident and that the
_great work_ is progressing, believe me, dear Darwin, yours very


P.S.--You will perhaps be pleased to hear that German, French, and
Danish translations of my "Malay Archipelago" are in progress.--A.R.W.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Caerleon, Barmouth, N. Wales. June 25, 1869._

My dear Wallace,--We have been here a fortnight, and shall remain here
till the beginning of August. I can say nothing good about my health,
and I am so weak that I can hardly crawl half a mile from the house; but
I hope I may improve, and anyhow the magnificent view of Cader is

I do not know that I have anything to ask Mr. Geach, nor do I suppose I
shall be in London till late in the autumn, but I should be particularly
obliged, if you have any communication with Mr. Geach, if you would
express for me my _sincere_ thanks for his kindness in sending me the
very valuable answers on Expression. I wrote some months ago to him in
answer to his last letter.

I would ask him to Down, but the fatigue to me of receiving a stranger
is something which to you would be utterly unintelligible.

I think I have heard of the scales on butterflies; but there are lots
of sexual characters which quite baffle all powers of even conjecture.

You are quite correct, that I felt forced to make all additions to the
"Origin" as short as possible.

I am indeed pleased to hear, and fully expected, that your Malay work
would be known throughout Europe.

Oh dear! what would I not give for a little more strength to get on with
my work.--Ever yours,


I wish that you could have told me that your place in the new Museum was
all settled.

       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. October 20, 1869._

Dear Darwin,--I do not know your son's (Mr. George Darwin's) address at
Cambridge. Will you be so good as to forward him the enclosed note
begging for a little information?

I was delighted to see the notice in the _Academy_ that you are really
going to bring out your book on Man. I anticipate for it an enormous
sale, and shall read it with intense interest, although I expect to find
in it more to differ from than in any of your other books. Some
reasonable and reasoning opponents are now taking the field. I have been
writing a little notice of Murphy's "Habit and Intelligence," which,
with much that is strange and unintelligible, contains some very acute
criticisms and the statement of a few real difficulties. Another article
just sent me from the _Month_ contains some good criticism. How
incipient organs can be useful is a real difficulty, so is the
independent origin of similar complex organs; but most of his other
points, though well put, are not very formidable. I am trying to begin a
little book on the Distribution of Animals, but I fear I shall not make
much of it from my idleness in collecting facts.

I shall make it a popular sketch first, and, if it succeeds, gather
materials for enlarging it at a future time. If any suggestion occurs to
you as to the kind of maps that would be best, or on any other essential
point, I should be glad of a hint. I hope your residence in Wales did
you good. I had no idea you were so near Dolgelly till I met your son
there one evening when I was going to leave the next morning. It is a
glorious country, but the time I like is May and June--the foliage is so

Sincerely hoping you are pretty well, and with kind regards to Mrs.
Darwin and the rest of your family, believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent, S.E. October 21, 1869._

My dear Wallace,--I forwarded your letter at once to my son George, but
I am nearly sure that he will not be able to tell you anything; I wish
he could for my own sake; but I suspect there are few men in England who
could. Pray send me a copy or tell me where your article on Murphy will
be published. I have just received the _Month_, but have only read half
as yet. I wish I knew who was the author; you ought to know, as he
admires you so much; he has a wonderful deal of knowledge, but his
difficulties have not troubled me much as yet, except the case of the
dipterous larva. My book will not be published for a long time, but
Murray wished to insert some notice of it. Sexual selection has been a
tremendous job. Fate has ordained that almost every point on which we
differ should be crowded into this vol. Have you seen the October number
of the _Revue des deux Mondes?_ It has an article on you, but I have not
yet read it; and another article, not yet read, by a very good man on
the Transformist School.

I am very glad to hear that you are beginning a book, but do not let it
be "little," on Distribution, etc. I have no hints to give about maps;
the subject would require long and anxious consideration. Before Forbes
published his essay on Distribution and the Glacial Period I wrote out
and had _copied_ an essay on the same subject, which Hooker read. If
this MS. would be of any use to you, _on account of the references_ in
it to papers, etc., I should be very glad to lend it, to be used in any
way; for I foresee that my strength will never last out to come to this

I have been pretty well since my return from Wales, though at the time
it did me no good.

We shall be in London next month, when I shall hope to see you.--My dear
Wallace, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. December 4, [1869]._

Dear Darwin,--Dr. Adolf Bernhard Meyer, who translated my book into
German, has written to me for permission to translate my original paper
in the _Linnean Proceedings_ with yours, and wants to put my photograph
and yours in it. If you have given him permission to translate the
papers (which I suppose he can do without permission if he pleases), I
write to ask which of your photographs you would wish to represent you
in Germany--the last, or the previous one by Ernest Edwards, which I
think much the best--as if you like I will undertake to order them and
save you any more trouble about it. It is, of course, out of the
question our meeting to be photographed together, as Mr. Meyer coolly

Hoping you are well, believe me yours very faithfully,


P.S.--I have written a paper on Geological Time, which will appear in
_Nature_, and I _think_ I have hit upon a solution of your greatest
difficulties in that matter.--A.R.W.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent, S.E. December 5, 1869._

My dear Wallace,--I wrote to Dr. Meyer that the photographs in England
would cost much and that they did not seem to me worth the cost to him,
but that I of course had no sort of objection. I should be greatly
obliged if you would kindly take the trouble to order any one which you
think best: possibly it would be best to wait, unless you feel sure,
till you hear again from Dr. M. I sent him a copy of our joint paper. He
has kindly sent me the translation of your book, which is splendidly got
up, and which I thought I could not better use than by sending it to
Fritz Müller in Brazil, who will appreciate it.

I liked your reviews on Mr. Murphy very much; they are capitally
written, like everything which is turned out of your workshop. I was
specially glad about the eye. If you agree with me, take some
opportunity of bringing forward the case of perfected greyhound or
racehorse, in proof of the possibility of the selection of many
correlated variations. I have remarks on this head in my last book.

If you throw light on the want of geological time, may honour, eternal
glory and blessings crowd thick on your head.--Yours most sincerely,


I forgot to say that I wrote to Dr. M. to say that I should not soon be
in London, and that, of all things in the world, I hate most the bother
of sitting for photographs, so I declined with many apologies. I have
recently refused several applications.

       *       *       *       *       *

_9 St. Mark's Crescent, N.W. January 22, 1870._

Dear Darwin,--My paper on Geological Time having been in type nearly two
months, and not knowing when it will appear, I have asked for a proof to
send you, Huxley and Lyell. The latter part only contains what I think
is new, and I shall be anxious to hear if it at all helps to get over
your difficulties.

I have been lately revising and adding to my various papers bearing on
the "Origin of Species," etc., and am going to print them in a volume
immediately, under the title of "Contributions to the Theory of Natural
Selection: A Series of Essays."

In the last, I put forth my heterodox opinions as to Man, and even
venture to attack the Huxleyan philosophy!

Hoping you are quite well and are getting on with your Man book, believe
me, dear Darwin, yours very faithfully,


P.S.--When you have read the proof and done with it, may I beg you to
return it to me?--A.R.W.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent, S.E. January 26, [1870]._

My dear Wallace,--I have been very much struck by your whole article
(returned by this post), especially as to rate of denudation, for the
still glaciated surfaces have of late most perplexed me. Also
_especially_ on the lesser mutations of climate during the last 60,000
years; for I quite think with you no cause so powerful in inducing
specific changes, through the consequent migrations. Your argument would
be somewhat strengthened about organic changes having been formerly more
rapid, if Sir W. Thomson is correct that physical changes were formerly
more violent and abrupt.

The whole subject is so new and vast that I suppose you hardly expect
anyone to be at once convinced, but that he should keep your view before
his mind and let it ferment. This, I think, everyone will be forced to
do. I have not as yet been able to digest the fundamental notion of the
shortened age of the sun and earth. Your whole paper seems to me
admirably clear and well put. I may remark that Rütimeyer has shown that
several wild mammals in Switzerland since the neolithic period have had
their dentition and, I _think_, general size _slightly_ modified. I
cannot believe that the Isthmus of Panama has been open since the
commencement of the glacial period; for, notwithstanding the fishes, so
few shells, crustaceans, and, according to Agassiz, not one echinoderm
is common to the sides. I am very glad you are going to publish all your
papers on Natural Selection: I am sure you are right, and that they will
do our cause much good.

But I groan over Man--you write like a metamorphosed (in retrograde
direction) naturalist, and you the author of the best paper that ever
appeared in the _Anthropological Review_! Eheu! Eheu! Eheu!--Your
miserable friend,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. March 31, 1870._

My dear Wallace,--Many thanks for the woodcut, which, judging from the
rate at which I crawl on, will hardly be wanted till this time next
year. Whether I shall have it reduced, or beg Mr. Macmillan for a
stereotype, as you said I might, I have not yet decided.

I heartily congratulate you on your removal being over, and I much more
heartily condole with myself at your having left London, for I shall
thus miss my talks with you which I always greatly enjoy.

I was excessively pleased at your review of Galton, and I agree to every
word of it. I must add that I have just re-read your article in the
_Anthropological Review_, and _I defy_ you to upset your own
doctrine.--Ever yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. April 20, [1870]._

My dear Wallace,--I have just received your book ["Natural
Selection"][81] and read the preface. There never has been passed on me,
or indeed on anyone, a higher eulogium than yours. I wish that I fully
deserved it. Your modesty and candour are very far from new to me. I
hope it is a satisfaction to you to reflect--and very few things in my
life have been more satisfactory to me--that we have never felt any
jealousy towards each other, though in one sense rivals. I believe that
I can say this of myself with truth, and I am absolutely sure that it is
true of you.

You have been a good Christian to give a list of your additions, for I
want much to read them, and I should hardly have had time just at
present to have gone through all your articles.

Of course, I shall immediately read those that are new or greatly
altered, and I will endeavour to be as honest as can reasonably be
expected. Your book looks remarkably well got up.--Believe me, my dear
Wallace, to remain yours very cordially,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent, S.E. June 5, 1870._

My dear Wallace,--As imitation and protection are your subjects I have
thought that you would like to possess the enclosed curious drawing. The
note tells all I know about it.--Yours very sincerely,


P.S.--I read not long ago a German article on the colours of _female_
birds, and that author leaned rather strongly to your side about
nidification. I forget who the author was, but he seemed to know a good

       *       *       *       *       *

_Holly House, Barking, E. July 6, 1870._

Dear Darwin,--Many thanks for the drawing. I must say, however, the
resemblance to a snake is not very striking, unless to a cobra not found
in America. It is also evident that it is not Mr. Bates's caterpillar,
as that threw the head backwards so as to show the feet above, forming
imitations of keeled scales.

Claparède has sent me his critique on my book. You will probably have it
too. His arguments in reply to my heresy seem to me of the weakest. I
hear you have gone to press, and I look forward with fear and trembling
to being crushed under a mountain of facts!

I hear you were in town the other day. When you are again, I should be
glad to come at any convenient hour and give you a call.

Hoping your health is improving, and with kind remembrances to Mrs.
Darwin and all your family, believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

In "My Life" (Vol. II., p. 7) Wallace wrote: "In the year 1870 Mr. A.W.
Bennett read a paper before Section D of the British Association at
Liverpool entitled 'The Theory of Natural Selection from a Mathematical
Point of View,' and this paper was printed in full in _Nature_ of
November 10, 1870. To this I replied on November 17, and my reply so
pleased Mr. Darwin that he at once wrote to me as follows:"

_Down, Beckenham, Kent, S.E. November 22, 1870._

My dear Wallace,--I must ease myself by writing a few words to say how
much I and all others in this house admire your article in _Nature_. You
are certainly an unparalleled master in lucidly stating a case and in
arguing. Nothing ever was better done than your argument about the term
"origin of species," and the consequences about much being gained, even
if we know nothing about precise cause of each variation. By chance I
have given a few words in my first volume, now some time printed off,
about mimetic butterflies, and have touched on two of your points, viz.
on species already widely dissimilar not being made to resemble each
other, and about the variations in Lepidoptera being often well
pronounced. How strange it is that Mr. Bennett or anyone else should
bring in the action of the mind as a leading cause of variation, seeing
the beautiful and complex adaptations and modifications of structure in
plants, which I do not suppose they would say had minds.

I have finished the first volume, and am half-way through the first
proof of the second volume, of my confounded book, which half kills me
by fatigue, and which I much fear will quite kill me in your good

If you have leisure I should much like a little news of you and your
doings and your family.--Ever yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Holly House, Barking, E. November 24, 1870._

Dear Darwin,--Your letter gave me very great pleasure. We still agree, I
am sure, on nineteen points out of twenty, and on the twentieth I am not
inconvincible. But then I must be convinced by facts and arguments, not
by high-handed ridicule such as Claparède's.

I hope you see the difference between such criticisms as his, and that
in the last number of the _North American Review_, where my last chapter
is really criticised, point by point; and though I think some of it very
weak, I admit that some is very strong, and almost converts me from the
error of my ways.

As to your new book, I am sure it will not make me think less highly of
you than I do, unless you do, what you have never done yet, ignore
facts and arguments that go against you.

I am doing nothing just now but writing articles and putting down
anti-Darwinians, being dreadfully ridden upon by a horrid
old-man-of-the-sea, who has agreed to let me have the piece of land I
have set my heart on, and which I have been trying to get of him since
last February, but who will not answer letters, will not sign an
agreement, and keeps me week after week in anxiety, though I have
accepted his own terms unconditionally, one of which is that I pay rent
from last Michaelmas! And now the finest weather for planting is going
by. It is a bit of a wilderness that can be made into a splendid
imitation of a Welsh valley in little, and will enable me to gather
round me all the beauties of the temperate flora which I so much admire,
or I would not put up with the little fellow's ways. The fixing on a
residence for the rest of your life is an important event, and I am not
likely to be in a very settled frame of mind for some time.

I am answering A. Murray's Geographical Distribution of Coleoptera for
my Entomological Society Presidential Address, and am printing a second
edition of my "Essays," with a few notes and additions. Very glad to see
(by your writing yourself) that you are better, and with kind regards to
all your family, believe me, dear Darwin, yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Holly House, Barking, E. January 27, 1871._

Dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your first volume,[82] which I have just
finished reading through with the greatest pleasure and interest, and I
have also to thank you for the great tenderness with which you have
treated me and my heresies.

On the subject of sexual selection and protection you do not yet
convince me that I am wrong, but I expect your heaviest artillery will
be brought up in your second volume, and I may have to capitulate. You
seem, however, to have somewhat misunderstood my exact meaning, and I do
not think the difference between us is quite so great as you seem to
think it. There are a number of passages in which you argue against the
view that the female has, in any large number of cases, been "specially
modified" for protection, or that _colour_ has _generally_ been obtained
by either sex for purposes of protection.

But my view is, and I thought I had made it clear, that the female has
(in most cases) been simply prevented from acquiring the gay tints of
the male (even when there was a tendency for her to inherit it) because
it was hurtful; and, that when protection is not needed, gay colours are
so generally acquired by both sexes as to show that inheritance by both
sexes of colour variations is the most usual, when _not prevented from
acting_ by Natural Selection.

The colour itself may be acquired either by sexual selection or by other
unknown causes. There are, however, difficulties in the very wide
application you give to sexual selection which at present stagger me,
though no one was or is more ready than myself to admit the perfect
truth of the principle or the immense importance and great variety of
its applications. Your chapters on Man are of intense interest, but as
touching my special heresy not as yet altogether convincing, though of
course I fully agree with every word and every argument which goes to
prove the "evolution" or "development" of man out of a lower form. My
only difficulties are as to whether you have accounted for _every_ step
of the development by ascertained laws. Feeling sure that the book will
keep up and increase your high reputation and be immensely successful,
as it deserves to be, believe me, dear Darwin, yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent, S.E. January 30, 1871._

My dear Wallace,--Your note has given me very great pleasure, chiefly
because I was so anxious not to treat you with the least disrespect, and
it is so difficult to speak fairly when differing from anyone. If I had
offended you, it would have grieved me more than you will readily
believe. Secondly, I am greatly pleased to hear that Vol. I. interests
you; I have got so sick of the whole subject that I felt in utter doubt
about the value of any part. I intended when speaking of the female not
having been specially modified for protection to include the prevention
of characters acquired by the [male symbol] being transmitted to the
[female symbol]; but I now see it would have been better to have said
"specially acted on," or some such term. Possibly my intention may be
clearer in Vol. II. Let me say that my conclusions are chiefly founded
on a consideration of all animals taken in a body, bearing in mind how
common the rules of sexual differences appear to be in all classes. The
first copy of the chapter on Lepidoptera agreed pretty closely with you.
I then worked on, came back to Lepidoptera, and thought myself compelled
to alter it, finished sexual selection, and for the last time went over
Lepidoptera, and again I felt forced to alter it.

I hope to God there will be nothing disagreeable to you in Vol. II., and
that I have spoken fairly of your views. I feel the more fearful on this
head, because I have just read (but not with sufficient care) Mivart's
book,[83] and I feel _absolutely certain_ that he meant to be fair (but
he was stimulated by theological fervour); yet I do not think he has
been quite fair: he gives in one place only half of one of my sentences,
ignores in many places all that I have said on effects of use, speaks of
my dogmatic assertion, "of false belief," whereas the end of paragraph
seems to me to render the sentence by no means dogmatic or arrogant;
etc. etc. I have since its publication received some quite charming
letters from him.

What an ardent (and most justly) admirer he is of you. His work, I do
not doubt, will have a most potent influence versus Natural Selection.
The pendulum will now swing against us. The part which, I think, will
have most influence is when he gives whole series of cases, like that of
whalebone, in which we cannot explain the gradational steps; but such
cases have no weight on my mind--if a few fish were extinct, who on
earth would have ventured even to conjecture that lung had originated in
swim-bladder? In such a case as Thylacines, I think he was bound to say
that the resemblance of the jaw to that of the dog is superficial; the
number and correspondence and development of teeth being widely
different. I think, again, when speaking of the necessity of altering a
number of characters together, he ought to have thought of man having
power by selection to modify simultaneously or almost simultaneously
many points, as in making a greyhound or racehorse--as enlarged upon in
my "Domestic Animals."

Mivart is savage or contemptuous about my "moral sense," and so probably
will you be. I am extremely pleased that he agrees with my position, _as
far as animal nature is concerned_, of man in the series; or, if
anything, thinks I have erred in making him too distinct.

Forgive me for scribbling at such length.

You have put me quite in good spirits, I did so dread having been
unintentionally unfair towards your views. I hope earnestly the second
volume will escape as well. I care now very little what others say. As
for our not quite agreeing, really in such complex subjects it is almost
impossible for two men who arrive independently at their conclusions to
agree fully--it would be unnatural for them to do so.--Yours ever very


       *       *       *       *       *

_Holly House, Barking, E. March 11, 1871._

Dear Darwin,--I need not say that I read your second volume with, if
possible, a greater interest than the first, as so many topics of
special interest to me are treated of. You will not be surprised to find
that you have not convinced me on the "female protection" question, but
you _will_ be surprised to hear that I do not despair of convincing you.
I have been writing, as you are aware, a review for the _Academy_, which
I tried to refuse doing, but the Editor used as an argument the
statement that you wished me to do so. It is not an easy job fairly to
summarise such a book, but I hope I have succeeded tolerably. When I got
to discussion, I felt more at home, but I most sincerely trust that I
may not have let pass any word that may seem to you in the least too

You have not written a word about me that I could wish altered, but as I
know you wish me to be candid with you, I will mention that you have
quoted one passage in a note (p. 376, Vol. II.) which seems to me a
caricature of anything I have written.

Now let me ask you to rejoice with me, for I have got my chalk pit, and
am hard at work engineering a road up its precipitous slopes. I hope you
may be able to come and see me there some day, as it is an easy ride
from London, and I shall be anxious to know if it is equal to the pit in
the wilds of Kent Mrs. Darwin mentioned when I lunched with you. Should
your gardener in the autumn have any thinnings out of almost any kind
of hardy plants they would be welcome, as I have near four acres of
ground in which I want to substitute ornamental plants for weeds.

With best wishes, and hoping you may have health and strength to go on
with your great work, believe me, dear Darwin, yours very faithfully,


My review will appear next Wednesday.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent, S.E. March 16, 1871._

My dear Wallace,--I have just read your grand review.[84] It is in every
way as kindly expressed towards myself as it is excellent in matter. The
Lyells have been here, and Sir C. remarked that no one wrote such good
scientific reviews as you, and, as Miss Buckley added, you delight in
picking out all that is good, though very far from blind to the bad. In
all this I most entirely agree. I shall always consider your review as a
great honour, and however much my book may hereafter be abused, as no
doubt it will be, your review will console me, notwithstanding that we
differ so greatly.

I will keep your objections to my views in my mind, but I fear that the
latter are almost stereotyped in my mind, I thought for long weeks about
the inheritance and selection difficulty, and covered quires of paper
with notes, in trying to get out of it, but could not, though clearly
seeing that it would be a great relief if I could. I will confine myself
to two or three remarks. I have been much impressed with what you urge
against colour[85] in the case of insects having been acquired through
sexual selection. I always saw that the evidence was very weak; but I
still think, if it be admitted that the musical instruments of insects
have been gained through sexual selection, that there is not the least
improbability in colour having been thus gained. Your argument with
respect to the denudation of mankind, and also to insects, that taste on
the part of one sex would have to remain nearly the same during many
generations, in order that sexual selection should produce any effect, I
agree to, and I think this argument would be sound if used by one who
denied that, for instance, the plumes of birds of paradise had been so

I believe that you admit this, and if so I do not see how your argument
applies in other cases. I have recognised for some short time that I
have made a great omission in not having discussed, as far as I could,
the acquisition of taste, its inherited nature, and its permanence
within pretty close limits for long periods.

One other point and I have done: I see by p. 179 of your review that I
must have expressed myself very badly to have led you to think that I
consider the prehensile organs of males as affording evidence of the
females exerting a choice. I have never thought so, and if you chance to
remember the passage (but do not hunt for it), pray point it out to me.

I am extremely sorry that I gave the note from Mr. Stebbing; I thought
myself bound to notice his suggestion of beauty as a cause of
denudation, and thus I was led on to give his argument. I altered the
final passage which seemed to me offensive, and I had misgivings about
the first part.

I heartily wish I had yielded to these misgivings. I will omit in any
future edition the latter half of the note.

I have heard from Miss Buckley that you have got possession of your
chalk pit, and I congratulate you on the tedious delay being over. I
fear all our bushes are so large that there is nothing which we are at
all likely to grub up.

Years ago we threw away loads of things. I should very much like to see
your house and grounds; but I fear the journey would be too long. Going
even to Kew knocks me up, and I have almost ceased trying to do so.

Once again let me thank you warmly for your admirable review.--My dear
Wallace, yours ever very sincerely,


What an excellent address you gave about Madeira, but I wish you had
alluded to Lyell's discussion on land shells, etc.--not that he has said
a word on the subject. The whole address quite delighted me. I hear Mr.
Crotch[86] disputed some of your facts about the wingless insects, but he
is a _crotchety_ man. As far as I remember, I did not venture to ask Mr.
Appleton to get you to review me, but only said, in answer to an
inquiry, that you would undoubtedly be the best, or one of the very few
men who could do so effectively.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent, S.E. March 24, 1871._

My dear Wallace,--Very many thanks for the new edition of your Essays.
Honour and glory to you for giving list of additions. It is grand as
showing that our subject flourishes, your book coming to a new edition
so soon. My book also sells immensely; the edition will, I believe, be
6,500 copies. I am tired with writing, for the load of letters which I
receive is enough to make a man cry, yet some few are curious and
valuable. I got one to-day from a doctor on the hair on backs of young
weakly children, which afterwards falls off. Also on hairy idiots. But I
am tired to death, so farewell.

Thanks for your last letter.

There is a very striking second article on my book in the _Pall Mall_.
The articles in the _Spectator_[87] have also interested me much.--Again


       *       *       *       *       *

_Holly House, Barking, E. May 14, 1871._

Dear Darwin,--Have you read that very remarkable book "The Fuel of the
Sun"? If not, get it. It solves the great problem of the almost
unlimited duration of the sun's heat in what appears to me a most
satisfactory manner. I recommended it to Sir C. Lyell, and he tells me
that Grove spoke very highly of it to him. It has been somewhat ignored
by the critics because it is by a new man with a perfectly original
hypothesis, founded on a vast accumulation of physical and chemical
facts; but not being encumbered with any mathematical shibboleths, they
have evidently been afraid that anything so intelligible could not be
sound. The manner in which everything in physical astronomy is explained
is almost as marvellous as the powers of Natural Selection in the same
way, and naturally excites a suspicion that the respective authors are
pushing their theories "a little too far."

If you read it, get Proctor's book on the Sun at the same time, and
refer to his coloured plates of the protuberances, corona, etc., which
marvellously correspond with what Matthieu Williams's theory requires.
The author is a practical chemist engaged in iron manufacture, and it is
from furnace chemistry that he has been led to the subject. I think it
the most original, most thoughtful and most carefully-worked-out theory
that has appeared for a long time, and it does not say much for the
critics that, as far as I know, its great merits have not been properly

I have been so fully occupied with road-making, well-digging, garden-
and house-planning, planting, etc., that I have given up all other work.

Do you not admire our friend Miss Buckley's admirable article in
_Macmillan_? It seems to me the best and most original that has been
written on your book.

Hoping you are well, and are not working too hard, I remain yours very


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. July 9, 1871._

My dear Wallace,--I send by this post a review by Chauncey Wright, as I
much want your opinion of it, as soon as you can send it. I consider you
an incomparably better critic than I am. The article, though not very
clearly written, and poor in parts for want of knowledge, seems to me

Mivart's book is producing a great effect against Natural Selection, and
more especially against me. Therefore, if you think the article even
somewhat good, I will write and get permission to publish it as a
shilling pamphlet, together with the MS. addition (enclosed), for which
there was not room at the end of the review. I do not suppose I should
lose more than £20 or £30.

I am now at work at a new and cheap edition of the "Origin," and shall
answer several points in Mivart's book and introduce a new chapter for
this purpose; but I treat the subject so much more concretely, and I
daresay less philosophically, than Wright, that we shall not interfere
with each other. You will think me a bigot when I say, after studying
Mivart, I was never before in my life so convinced of the _general_
(i.e. not in detail) truth of the views in the "Origin." I grieve to see
the omission of the words by Mivart, detected by Wright.[88] I complained
to M. that in two cases he quotes only the commencement of sentences by
me and thus modifies my meaning; but I never supposed he would have
omitted words. There are other cases of what I consider unfair
treatment. I conclude with sorrow that though he means to be honourable,
he is so bigoted that he cannot act fairly.

I was glad to see your letter in _Nature_, though I think you were a
little hard on the silly and presumptuous man.

I hope that your house and grounds are progressing well, and that you
are in all ways flourishing.

I have been rather seedy, but a few days in London did me much good; and
my dear good wife is going to take me somewhere, _nolens volens_, at the
end of this month.


       *       *       *       *       *

_Holly Home, Barking, E. July 12, 1871._

Dear Darwin,--Many thanks for giving me the opportunity to read at my
leisure the very talented article of Mr. C. Wright. His criticism of
Mivart, though very severe, is, I think, in most cases sound; but I find
the larger part of the article so heavy and much of the language and
argument so very obscure, that I very much doubt the utility of printing
it separately. I do not think the readers of Mivart could ever read it
in that form, and I am sure your own answer to Mivart's arguments will
be so much more clear and to the point, that the other will be
unnecessary. You might extract certain portions in your own chapter,
such as the very ingenious suggestion as to the possible origin of
mammary glands, as well as the possible use of the rattle of the
rattlesnake, etc.

I cannot see the force of Mivart's objection to the theory of production
of the long neck of the giraffe (suggested in my first Essay), and which
C. Wright seems to admit, while his "watch-tower" theory seems to me
more difficult and unlikely as a means of origin. The argument, "Why
haven't other allied animals been modified in the same way?" seems to me
the weakest of the weak. I must say also I do not see any great reason
to complain of the "words" left out by Mivart, as they do not seem to me
materially to affect the meaning. Your expression, "and tends to depart
in a slight degree," I think hardly grammatical; a _tendency_ to depart
cannot very well be said to be in a slight degree; a _departure_ can,
but a tendency must be either a _slight tendency_ or a _strong
tendency_; the degree to which the departure may reach must depend on
favourable or unfavourable causes in addition to the tendency itself.
Mivart's words, "and tending to depart from the parental type," seem to
me quite unobjectionable as a paraphrase of yours, because the "tending"
is kept in; and your own view undoubtedly is that the tendency may lead
to an ultimate departure to any extent. Mivart's error is to suppose
that your words favour the view of _sudden departures_, and I do not see
that the expression he uses really favours his view a bit more than if
he had quoted your exact words. The expression of yours he relies upon
is evidently "the whole organism seeming to have become plastic," and he
argues, no doubt erroneously, that having so become "plastic," any
amount or a larger amount of sudden variation in some direction is

Mivart's greatest error, the confounding "individual variations" with
"minute or imperceptible variations," is well exposed by C. Wright, and
that part I should like to see reprinted; but I always thought you laid
too much stress on the slowness of the action of Natural Selection owing
to the smallness and rarity of favourable variations. In your chapter on
Natural Selection the expressions, "extremely slight modifications,"
"every variation even the slightest," "every grade of constitutional
difference," occur, and these have led to errors such as Mivart's, I say
all this because I feel sure that Mivart would be the last to
intentionally misrepresent you, and he has told me that he was sorry the
word "infinitesimal," as applied to variations used by Natural
Selection, got into his book, and that he would alter it, as no doubt he
has done, in his second edition.

Some of Mivart's strongest points--the eye and ear, for instance--are
unnoticed in the review. You will, of course, reply to these. His
statement of the "missing link" argument is also forcible, and has, I
have no doubt, much weight with the public. As to all his minor
arguments, I feel with you that they leave Natural Selection stronger
than ever, while the two or three main arguments do leave a lingering
doubt in my mind of some fundamental organic law of development of which
we have as yet no notion.

Pray do not attach any weight to my opinions as to the review. It is
very clever, but the writer seems a little like those critics who know
an author's or an artist's meaning better than they do themselves.

My house is now in the hands of a contractor, but I am wall-building,
etc., and very busy.--With best wishes, believe me, dear Darwin, yours
very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. July 12, 1871._

My dear Wallace,--Very many thanks. As soon as I read your letter I
determined, not to print the paper, notwithstanding my eldest daughter,
who is a very good critic, thought it so interesting as to be worth
reprinting. Then my wife came in, and said, "I do not much care about
these things and shall therefore be a good judge whether it is very
dull." So I will leave my decision open for a day or two. Your letter
has been, and will be, of use to me in other ways: thus I had quite
forgotten that you had taken up the case of the giraffe in your first
memoir, and I must look to this. I feel very doubtful how far I shall
succeed in answering Mivart; it is so difficult to answer objections to
doubtful points and make the discussion readable. I shall make only a
selection. The worst of it is that I cannot possibly hunt through all my
references for isolated points; it would take me three weeks of
intolerably hard work. I wish I had your power of arguing clearly. At
present I feel sick of everything, and if I could occupy my time and
forget my daily discomforts or little miseries, I would never publish
another word. But I shall cheer up, I daresay, soon, being only just got
over a bad attack. Farewell. God knows why I bother you about myself.

I can say nothing more about missing links than what I have said. I
should rely much on pre-Silurian times; but then comes Sir W. Thomson
like an odious spectre. Farewell.--Yours most sincerely,


I was grieved to see in the _Daily News_ that the madman about the flat
earth has been threatening your life. What an odious trouble this must
have been to you.

P.S.--There is a most cutting review of me in the _Quarterly_:[89] I have
only read a few pages. The skill and style make me think of Mivart. I
shall soon be viewed as the most despicable of men. This _Quarterly_
review tempts me to republish Ch. Wright, even if not read by anyone,
just to show that someone will say a word against Mivart, and that his
(i.e. Mivart's) remarks ought not to be swallowed without some

I quite agree with what you say that Mivart fully intends to be
honourable; but he seems to me to have the mind of a most able lawyer
retained to plead against us, and especially against me. God knows
whether my strength and spirit will last out to write a chapter versus
Mivart and others; I do so hate controversy, and feel I should do it so

P.S.--I have now finished the review: there can be no doubt it is by
Mivart, and wonderfully clever.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Holly House, Barking, E. July 16, 1871._

Dear Darwin,--I am very sorry you are so unwell, and that you allow
criticisms to worry you so. Remember the noble army of converts you have
made! and the host of the most talented men living who support you
wholly. What do you think of putting C. Wright's article as an appendix
to the new edition of the "Origin"? That would get it read, and obviate
my chief objection, that the people who read Mivart and the "Origin"
will very few of them buy a separate pamphlet to read. Pamphlets are
such nuisances. I don't think Mivart could have written the _Quarterly_
article, but I will look at it and shall, I think, be able to tell. Pray
keep your spirits up. I am so distracted by building troubles that I can
write nothing, and I shall not, till I get settled in my new house,
some time next spring, I hope.--With best wishes, believe me yours very


       *       *       *       *       *

_Haredene, Albury, Guildford. August 1, 1871._

My dear Wallace,--Your kind and sympathetic letter pleased me greatly
and did me good, but as you are so busy I did not answer it. I write now
because I have just received a very remarkable letter from Fritz Müller
(with butterflies' wings gummed on paper as illustrations) on mimicry,
etc. I think it is well worth your reading, but I will not send it,
unless I receive a 1/2d. card to this effect. He puts the difficulty of
first start in imitation excellently, and gives wonderful proof of
closeness of the imitation. He hints a curious addition to the theory in
relation to sexual selection, which you will think madly hypothetical:
it occurred to me in a very different class of cases, but I was afraid
to publish it. It would aid the theory of imitative protection, _when
the colours are bright_. He seems much pleased with your caterpillar
theory. I wish the letter could be published, but without coloured
illustrations [it] would, I fear, be unintelligible.

I have not yet made up my mind about Wright's review; I shall stop till
I hear from him. Your suggestion would make the "Origin," already too
large, still more bulky.

By the way, did Mr. Youmans, of the United States, apply to you to write
a popular sketch of Natural Selection? I told him you would do it
immeasurably better than anyone in the world. My head keeps very rocky
and wretched, but I am better,--Ever yours most truly,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Holly House, Barking, E. March 3, 1872._

Dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your new edition of the "Origin," which I
have been too busy to acknowledge before. I think your answer to Mivart
on the initial stages of modification ample and complete, and the
comparison of whale and duck most beautiful. I always saw the fallacy of
these objections, of course. The eye and ear objection you have not so
satisfactorily answered, and to me the difficulty exists of how _three
times over_ an organ of sight was developed with the apparatus even
approximately identical. Why should not, in one case out of the three,
the heat rays or the chemical rays have been utilised for the same
purpose, in which case no translucent media would have been required,
and yet vision might have been just as perfect? The fact that the eyes
of insects and molluscs are transparent to us shows that the very same
limited portion of the rays of the spectrum is utilised for vision by
them as by us.

The chances seem to me immense against that having occurred through
"fortuitous variation," as Mivart puts it.

I see still further difficulties on this point but cannot go into them
now. Many thanks for your kind invitation. I will try and call some day,
but I am now very busy trying to make my house habitable by Lady Day,
when I _must_ be in it.--Believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. July 27, 1872._

My dear Wallace,--I have just read with infinite satisfaction your
crushing article in _Nature_.[90] I have been the more glad to see it, as
I have not seen the book itself: I did not order it, as I felt sure
from Dr. B.'s former book that he could write nothing of value. But
assuredly I did not suppose that anyone would have written such a mass
of inaccuracies and rubbish. How rich is everything which he says and
quotes from Herbert Spencer!

By the way, I suppose that you read H. Spencer's answer to Martineau: it
struck me as quite wonderfully good, and I felt even more strongly
inclined than before to bow in reverence before him. Nothing has amused
me more in your review than Dr. B.'s extraordinary presumption in
deciding that such men as Lyell, Owen, H. Spencer, Mivart, Gaudry, etc.
etc., are all wrong. I daresay it would be very delightful to feel such
overwhelming confidence in oneself.

I have had a poor time of it of late, rarely having an hour of comfort,
except when asleep or immersed in work; and then when that is over I
feel dead with fatigue. I am now correcting my little book on
Expression; but it will not be published till November, when of course a
copy will be sent to you. I shall now try whether I can occupy myself
without writing anything more on so difficult a subject as Evolution.

I hope you are now comfortably settled in your new house, and have more
leisure than you have had for some time. I have looked out in the papers
for any notice about the curatorship of the new Museum, but have seen
nothing. If anything is decided in your favour, I _beg_ you to inform
me.--My dear Wallace, very truly yours,


How grandly the public has taken up Hooker's case.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down. August 3, [1872]._

My dear Wallace,--I hate controversy, chiefly perhaps because I do it
badly; but as Dr. Bree accuses you of "blundering," I have thought
myself bound to send the enclosed letter[91] to _Nature_, that is, if
you in the least desire it. In this case please post it. If you do not
_at all_ wish it, I should rather prefer not sending it, and in this
case please tear it up. And I beg you to do the same, if you intend
answering Dr. Bree yourself, as you will do it incomparably better than
I should. Also please tear it up if you don't like the letter.--My dear
Wallace, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_The Dell, Grays, Essex. August 4, 1872._

Dear Darwin,--I have sent your letter to _Nature_, as I think it will
settle that question far better than anything I can say. Many thanks for
it. I have not seen Dr. Bree's letter yet, as I get _Nature_ here very
irregularly, but as I was very careful to mention none but _real errors_
in Dr. Bree's book, I do not imagine there will be any necessity for my
taking any notice of it. It was really entertaining to have such a book
to review, the errors and misconceptions were so inexplicable and the
self-sufficiency of the man so amazing. Yet there is some excellent
writing in the book, and to a half-informed person it has all the
appearance of being a most valuable and authoritative work.

I am now reviewing a much more important book and one that, if I mistake
not, will really compel you sooner or later to modify some of your
views, though it will not at all affect the main doctrine of Natural
Selection as applied to the higher animals. I allude, of course, to
Bastian's "Beginnings of Life," which you have no doubt got. It is hard
reading, but intensely interesting. I am a thorough convert to his main
results, and it seems to me that nothing more important has appeared
since your "Origin." It is a pity he is so awfully voluminous and
discursive. When you have thoroughly digested it I shall be glad to know
what you are disposed to think. My first notice of it will I think
appear in _Nature_ next week, but I have been hurried for it, and it is
not so well written an article as I could wish.

I sincerely hope your health is improving.--Believe me yours very


P.S.--I fear Lubbock's motion is being pushed off to the end of the
Session, and Hooker's case will not be fairly considered. I hope the
matter will _not_ be allowed to drop.--A.R.W.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. August 28, 1872._

My dear Wallace,--I have at last finished the gigantic job of reading
Dr. Bastian's book, and have been deeply interested in it. You wished to
hear my impression, but it is not worth sending.

He seems to me an extremely able man, as indeed I thought when I read
his first essay. His general argument in favour of archebiosis[92] is
wonderfully strong; though I cannot think much of some few of his
arguments. The result is that I am bewildered and astonished by his
statements, but am not convinced; though on the whole it seems to me
probable that archebiosis is true. I am not convinced partly I think
owing to the deductive cast of much of his reasoning; and I know not
why, but I never feel convinced by deduction, even in the case of H.
Spencer's writings. If Dr. B.'s book had been turned upside down, and he
had begun with the various cases of heterogenesis, and then gone on to
organic and afterwards to saline solutions, and had then given his
general arguments, I should have been, I believe, much more influenced.
I suspect, however, that my chief difficulty is the effect of old
convictions being stereotyped on my brain. I must have more evidence
that germs or the minutest fragments of the lowest forms are always
killed by 212° of Fahr. Perhaps the mere reiteration of the statements
given by Dr. B. by other men whose judgment I respect and who have
worked long on the lower organisms would suffice to convince me. Here is
a fine confession of intellectual weakness; but what an inexplicable
frame of mind is that of belief.

As for Rotifers and Tardigrades being spontaneously generated, my mind
can no more digest such statements, whether true or false, than my
stomach can digest a lump of lead.

Dr. B. is always comparing archebiosis as well as growth to
crystallisation; but on this view a Rotifer or Tardigrade is adapted to
its humble conditions of life by a happy accident; and this I cannot
believe. That observations of the above nature may easily be altogether
wrong is well shown by Dr. B. having declared to Huxley that he had
watched the entire development of a leaf of Sphagnum. He must have
worked with very impure materials in some cases, as plenty of organisms
appeared in a saline solution not containing an atom of nitrogen.

I wholly disagree with Dr. B. about many points in his latter chapters.
Thus the frequency of generalised forms in the older strata seems to me
clearly to indicate the common descent with divergence of more recent

Notwithstanding all his sneers, I do not strike my colours as yet about
pangenesis. I should like to live to see archebiosis proved true, for it
would be a discovery of transcendent importance; or if false I should
like to see it disproved, and the facts otherwise explained; but I shall
not live to see all this. If ever proved, Dr. B. will have taken a
prominent part in the work. How grand is the onward rush of science; it
is enough to console us for the many errors which we have committed and
for our efforts being overlaid and forgotten in the mass of new facts
and new views which are daily turning up.

This is all I have to say about Dr. B.'s book, and it certainly has not
been worth saying. Nevertheless, reward me whenever you can by giving me
any news about your appointment to the Bethnal Green Museum.--My dear
Wallace, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_The Dell, Grays, Essex. August 31, 1872._

Dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your long and interesting letter about
Bastian's book, though I almost regret that my asking you for your
opinion should have led you to give yourself so much trouble. I quite
understand your frame of mind, and think it quite a natural and proper
one. You had hard work to hammer your views into people's heads at
first, and if Bastian's theory is true he will have still harder work,
because the facts he appeals to are themselves so difficult to
establish. Are not you mistaken about the Sphagnum? As I remember it,
Huxley detected a fragment of Sphagnum leaf _in the same solution in
which a fungoid growth had been developed_. Bastian mistook the Sphagnum
also for a vegetable growth, and on account of this ignorance of the
character of Sphagnum, and its presence in the solution, Huxley rejected
somewhat contemptuously (and I think very illogically) all Bastian's
observations. Again, as to the saline solution without nitrogen, would
not the air supply what was required?

I quite agree that the book would have gained force by rearrangement in
the way you suggest, but perhaps he thought it necessary to begin with a
general argument in order to induce people to examine his new collection
of facts, I am impressed _most_ by the agreement of so many observers,
some of whom struggle to explain away their own facts. What a
wonderfully ingenious and suggestive paper that is by Galton on "Blood
Relationship." It helps to render intelligible many of the
eccentricities of heredity, atavism, etc.

Sir Charles Lyell was good enough to write to Lord Ripon and Mr. Cole[93]
about me and the Bethnal Green Museum, and the answer he got was that at
present no appointment of a director is contemplated. I suppose they see
no way of making it a Natural History Museum, and it will have to be
kept going by Loan Collections of miscellaneous works of art, in which
case, of course, the South Kensington people will manage it. It is a
considerable disappointment to me, as I had almost calculated on getting
something there.

With best wishes for your good health and happiness, believe me, dear
Darwin, yours very faithfully,


P.S.--I have just been reading Howorth's paper in the _Journal of the
Anthropological Institute_. How perverse it is. He throughout confounds
"fertility" with "increase of population," which seems to me to be the
main cause of his errors. His elaborate accumulation of facts in other
papers in _Nature_, on "Subsidence and Elevation of Land," I believe to
be equally full of error, and utterly untrustworthy as a whole.--A.R.W.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. September 2, 1872._

My dear Wallace,--I write a line to say that I understood--but I may of
course have been mistaken--from Huxley that Bastian distinctly stated
that he had watched the development of the scale of Sphagnum: I was
astonished, as I knew the appearance of Sphagnum under a high power, and
asked a second time; but I repeat that I may have been mistaken. Busk
told me that Sharpey had noticed the appearance of numerous Infusoria in
one of the solutions not containing any nitrogen; and I do not suppose
that any physiologist would admit the possibility of Infusoria absorbing
nitrogen gas. Possibly I ought not to have mentioned statements made in
private conversation, so please do not repeat them.

I quite agree about the extreme importance of such men as Cohn
[illegible] and Carter having observed apparent cases of heterogenesis.
At present I should prefer any mad hypothesis, such as that every
disintegrated molecule of the lowest forms can reproduce the
parent-form, and that the molecules are universally distributed, and
that they do not lose their vital power until heated to such a
temperature that they decompose like dead organic particles.

I am extremely grieved to hear about the Museum: it is a great
misfortune.--Yours most sincerely,


I have taken up old botanical work and have given up all theories.

I quite agree about Howorth's paper: he wrote to me and I told him that
we differed so widely it was of no use our discussing any point.

As for Galton's paper, I have never yet been able to fully digest it: as
far as I have, it has not cleared my ideas, and has only aided in
bringing more prominently forward the large proportion of the latent

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. October 20, 1872._

My dear Wallace,--I have thought that you would perhaps like to see
enclosed specimen and extract from letter (translated from the German by
my son) from Dr. W. Marshall, Zoological Assistant to Schlegel at
Leyden. Neither the specimen nor extract need be returned; and you need
not acknowledge the receipt. The resemblance is not so close, now that
the fragments are gummed on card, as I at first thought. Your review of
Houzeau was very good: I skimmed through the whole gigantic book, but
you managed to pick out the plums much better than I did for myself. You
are a born critic. What an _admirable_ number that was of _Nature_.

I am writing this at Sevenoaks, where we have taken a house for three
weeks and have one more week to stay. We came here that I may get a
little rest, of which I stood in much need.--Ever yours very sincerely,


With respect to what you say about certain instincts of ants having been
acquired by experience or sense, have you kept in mind that the neuters
have no progeny? I wish I knew whether the fertile females, or queens,
do the same work (viz. placing the eggs in warm places, etc.) as the
neuters do afterwards; if so the case would be comparatively simple; but
I believe this is not the case, and I am driven to selection of varying
pre-existing instincts.

       *       *       *       *       *

_The Dell, Grays, Essex. November 15, 1872._

Dear Darwin,--I should have written earlier to thank you for your
book,[94] but was hoping to be able to read more of it before doing so.
I have not, however, found time to get beyond the first three chapters,
but that is quite sufficient to show me how exceedingly interesting you
have made the subject, and how completely and admirably you have worked
it out. I expect it will be one of the most popular of your works. I
have just been asked to write a review of it for the _Quarterly Journal
of Science_, for which purpose I shall be in duty bound to seek out some
deficiencies, however minute, so as to give my notice some flavour of

The cuts and photos are admirable, and my little boy and girl seized it
at once to look at the naughty babies.

With best wishes, believe me yours very faithfully,


P.S.--I will take this opportunity of asking you if you know of any book
that will give me a complete catalogue of vertebrate fossils with some
indication of their affinities.--A.R.W.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. January 13, 1873._

My dear Wallace,--I have read your review with much interest, and I
thank you sincerely for the very kind spirit in which it is written. I
cannot say that I am convinced by your criticisms.[95] If you have ever
actually observed a kitten sucking and pounding with extended toes its
mother, and then seen the same kitten when a _little older_ doing the
same thing on a soft shawl, and ultimately an old cat (as I have seen),
and do not admit that it is identically the same action, I am

With respect to the decapitated frog,[96] I have always heard of Pflüger
as a most trustworthy observer. If, indeed, anyone knows a frog's habits
so well as to say that it never rubs off a bit of leaf or other object,
which may stick to its thigh, in the same manner as it did the acid,
your objection would be valid. Some of Flourens' experiments, in which
he removed the cerebral hemisphere from a pigeon, indicate that acts
_apparently_ performed consciously can be done without consciousness--I
presume through the force of habit; in which case it would appear that
intellectual power is not brought into play. Several persons have made
such suggestions and objections as yours about the hands being held up
in astonishment:[97] if there was any straining of the muscles, as with
protruded arms under fright, I would agree: as it is I must keep to my
old opinion, and I daresay you will say that I am an obstinate old
blockhead.--My dear Wallace, yours very sincerely,


The book has sold wonderfully; 9,000 copies have now been printed.

       *       *       *       *       *

_The Dell, Grays, Essex. Wednesday morning, [November, 1873]._

Dear Darwin,--Yours just received. Pray act exactly as if nothing had
been said to me on the subject. I do not particularly _wish_ for the
work,[98] as, besides being as you say, tedious work, it involves a
considerable amount of responsibility. Still, I am prepared to do any
literary work of the kind, as I told Bates some time ago, and that is
the reason he wrote to me about it. I certainly think, however, that it
would be in many ways more satisfactory to you if your son did it, and I
therefore hope he may undertake it.

Should he, however, for any reasons, be unable, I am at your service as
a _dernier ressort_.

In case my meaning is not quite clear, I will _not do it_ unless your
son has the offer and declines it.--Believe me, dear Darwin, yours very


       *       *       *       *       *

_The Dell, Grays, Essex. November 18, 1873._

Dear Darwin,--I quite understand what you require, and would undertake
to do it to the best of my ability. Of course in such work I should not
think of offering criticisms of matter.

I do not think I could form any idea of how long it would take by seeing
the MSS., as it would all depend upon the amount of revision and
working-in required. I have helped Sir C. Lyell with his last three or
four editions in a somewhat similar though different way, and for him I
have kept an account simply of the hours I was employed in any way for
him, and he paid me 5/- an hour; but (of course this is confidential) I
do not think this quite enough for the class of work. I should propose
for your work 7/- an hour as a fair remuneration, and I would put down
each day the hours I worked at it.

No doubt you will get it done for very much less by any literary man
accustomed to regular literary work and nothing else, and perhaps better
done, so do not in the least scruple in saying you decide on employing
the gentleman you had in view if you prefer it.

If you send it to me could you let me have _all_ your MSS. copied out,
as it adds considerably to the time required if there is any difficulty
in deciphering the writing, which in yours (as you are no doubt aware)
there often is.

My hasty note to Bates was not intended to be shown you or anyone. I
thought he had heard of it from Murray, and that the arrangement was to
be made by Murray.--Believe me yours very faithfully,


P.S.--I have been delighted with H. Spencer's "Study of Sociology." Some
of the passages in the latter part are _grand_. You have perhaps seen
that I am dipping into politics myself occasionally.--A.R.W.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenkam, Kent. November 19, 1873._

Dear Wallace,--I thank you for your extremely kind letter, and I am
sorry that I troubled you with that of yesterday. My wife thinks that my
son George would be so much pleased at undertaking the work for me, that
I will write to him, and so probably shall have no occasion to trouble
you. If on still further reflection, and after looking over my notes, I
think that my son could not do the work, I will write again and
_gratefully_ accept your proposal. But if you do not hear, you will
understand that I can manage the affair myself. I never in my lifetime
regretted an interruption so much as this new edition of the "Descent."
I am deeply immersed in some work on physiological points with plants.

I fully agree with what you say about H. Spencer's "Sociology"; I do not
believe there is a man in Europe at all his equal in talents. I did not
know that you had been writing on politics, except so far as your letter
on the coal question, which interested me much and struck me as a
capital letter.

I must again thank you for your letter, and remain, dear Wallace, yours
very sincerely,


I hope to Heaven that politics will not replace natural science.

I know too well how atrociously bad my handwriting is.

       *       *       *       *       *

_The Dell, Grays, Essex. December 6, 1874._

Dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your kindness in sending me a copy of your
new edition of the "Descent." I see you have made a whole host of
additions and corrections which I shall have great pleasure in reading
over as soon as I have got rid of my horrid book on Geographical
Distribution, which is almost driving me mad with the amount of drudgery
required and the often unsatisfactory nature of the result. However, I
must finish with it soon, or all the part first done will have to be
done over again, every new book, either as a monograph, or a
classification, putting everything wrong (for me).

Hoping you are in good health and able to go on with your favourite
work, I remain yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_The Dell, Grays, Essex. July 21, 1875._

Dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your kindness in sending me a copy of your
new book.[99] Being very busy I have only had time to dip into it yet.
The account of Utricularia is most marvellous, and quite new to me. I'm
rather surprised that you do not make any remarks on the origin of these
extraordinary contrivances for capturing insects. Did you think they
were too obvious? I daresay there is no difficulty, but I feel sure they
will be seized on as inexplicable by Natural Selection, and your silence
on the point will be held to show that you consider them so! The
contrivance in Utricularia and Dionæa, and in fact in Drosera too, seems
fully as great and complex as in Orchids, but there is not the same
motive force. Fertilisation and cross-fertilisation are important ends
enough to lead to _any_ modification, but can we suppose mere
nourishment to be so important, seeing that it is so easily and almost
universally obtained by extrusion of roots and leaves? Here are plants
which lose their roots and leaves to acquire the same results by
infinitely complex modes! What a wonderful and long-continued series of
variations must have led up to the perfect "trap" in Utricularia, while
at any stage of the process the same end might have been gained by a
little more development of roots and leaves, as in 9,999 plants out of

Is this an imaginary difficulty, or do you mean to deal with it in
future editions of the "Origin"?--Believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_The Dell, Grays, Essex. November 7, 1875._

Dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your beautiful little volume on "Climbing
Plants," which forms a most interesting companion to your "Orchids" and
"Insectivorous Plants." I am sorry to see that you have not this time
given us the luxury of cut edges.

I am in the midst of printing and proof-sheets, which are wearisome in
the extreme from the mass of names and statistics I have been obliged to
introduce, and which will, I fear, make my book insufferably dull to all
but zoological specialists.

My trust is in my pictures and maps to catch the public.

Hoping yourself and all your family are quite well, believe me yours
very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. June 5, 1876._

My dear Wallace,--I must have the pleasure of expressing to you my
unbounded admiration of your book,[100] though I have read only to page
184--my object having been to do as little as possible while resting. I
feel sure that you have laid a broad and safe foundation for all future
work on Distribution. How interesting it will be to see hereafter plants
treated in strict relation to your views; and then all insects,
pulmonate molluscs, and fresh-water fishes, in greater detail than I
suppose you have given to these lower animals. The point which has
interested me most, but I do not say the most valuable point, is your
protest against sinking imaginary continents in a quite reckless manner,
as was started by Forbes, followed, alas, by Hooker, and caricatured by
Wollaston and Murray. By the way, the main impression which the latter
author has left on my mind is his utter want of all scientific judgment.
I have lifted up my voice against the above view with no avail, but I
have no doubt that you will succeed, owing to your new arguments and the
coloured chart. Of a special value, as it seems to me, is the conclusion
that we must determine the areas chiefly by the nature of the mammals.
When I worked many years ago on this subject, I doubted much whether the
now-called Palearctic and Nearctic regions ought to be separated; and I
determined if I made another region that it should be Madagascar. I have
therefore been able to appreciate the value of your evidence on these
points. What progress Palæontology has made during the last 20 years!
But if it advances at the same rate in the future, our views on the
migration and birthplace of the various groups will, I fear, be greatly
altered. I cannot feel quite easy about the Glacial period and the
extinction of large mammals, but I much hope that you are right. I think
you will have to modify your belief about the difficulty of dispersal of
land molluscs; I was interrupted when beginning to experimentise on the
just-hatched young adhering to the feet of ground-roosting birds. I
differ on one other point, viz. in the belief that there must have
existed a Tertiary Antarctic continent, from which various forms
radiated to the southern extremities of our present continents. But I
could go on scribbling for ever. You have written, as I believe, a grand
and memorable work, which will last for years as the foundation for all
future treatises on Geographical Distribution,--My dear Wallace, yours
very sincerely,


P.S.--You have paid me the highest conceivable compliment by what you
say of your work in relation to my chapters on Distribution in the
"Origin," and I heartily thank you for it.

       *       *       *       *       *

_The Dell, Grays, Essex. June 7, 1876._

Dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your very kind letter. So few people will
read my book at all regularly, that a criticism from one who does so
will be very welcome.

If, as I suppose, it is only to p. 184 of Vol. I. that you have read,
you cannot yet quite see my conclusions on the points you refer to (land
molluscs and Antarctic continent). My own conclusions fluctuated during
the progress of the book, and I have, I know, occasionally used
expressions (the relics of earlier ideas) which are not quite consistent
with what I say further on. I am positively against any Southern
continent as _uniting_ South America with Australia or New Zealand, as
you will see at Vol. I., pp. 398-403 and 459-466. My general conclusions
as to Distribution of Land Mollusca[101] are at Vol. II., pp. 522-529.
When you have read these passages and looked at the general facts which
lead to them, I shall be glad to hear if you still differ from me.

Though, of course, _present results_ as to origin and migrations of
genera of mammals will have to be modified owing to new discoveries, I
cannot help thinking that much will remain unaffected, because in all
geographical and geological discoveries the great outlines are soon
reached; the details alone remain to be modified. I also think much of
the geological evidence is now so accordant with, and explanatory of,
geographical distribution that it is prima facie correct in outline.
Nevertheless, such vast masses of new facts will come out in the next
few years that I quite dread the labour of incorporating them in a new

Now for a little personal matter. For two years I have made up my mind
to leave this place--mainly for two reasons: drought and wind prevent
the satisfactory growth of all delicate plants; and I cannot stand being
unable to attend evening meetings and being obliged to refuse every
invitation in London. But I was obliged to stay till I had got it into
decent order to attract a customer. At last it is so, and I am offering
it for sale, and as soon as it is disposed of I intend to try the
neighbourhood of Dorking, whence there are late trains from Cannon
Street and Charing Cross.

I see your post-mark was Dorking, so I suppose you have been staying
there. Is it not a lovely country? I hope your health is improved, and
when, quite at your leisure, you have waded through my book, I trust
you will again let me have a few lines of friendly criticism and
advice.--Yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham. June 17, 1876._

My dear Wallace,--I have now finished the whole of Vol. I., with the
same interest and admiration as before; and I am convinced that my
judgment was right and that it is a memorable book, the basis of all
future work on the subject. I have nothing particular to say, but
perhaps you would like to hear my impressions on two or three points.
Nothing has struck me more than the admirable and convincing manner in
which you treat Java. To allude to a very trifling point, it is capital
about the unadorned head of the Argus pheasant.[102] How plain a thing is,
when it is once pointed out! What a wonderful case is that of Celebes! I
am glad that you have slightly modified your views with respect to
Africa,[103] and this leads me to say that I cannot swallow the so-called
continent of Lemuria, i.e. the direct connection of Africa and
Ceylon![104] The facts do not seem to me many and strong enough to justify
so immense a change of level. Moreover, Mauritius and the other islands
appear to me oceanic in character. But do not suppose that I place my
judgment on this subject on a level with yours. A wonderfully good paper
was published about a year ago on India in the _Geological Journal_--I
_think_ by Blandford.[105] Ramsay agreed with me that it was one of the
best published for a long time. The author shows that India has been a
continent with enormous fresh-water lakes from the Permian period to the
present day. If I remember right he believes in a former connection with
South Africa.

I am sure that I read, some 20 to 30 years ago, in a French journal, an
account of teeth of mastodon found in Timor; but the statement may have
been an error.

With respect to what you say about the colonising of New Zealand, I
somewhere have an account of a frog frozen in the ice of a Swiss
glacier, and which revived when thawed. I may add that there is an
Indian toad which can resist salt water and haunts the seaside. Nothing
ever astonished me more than the case of the Galaxias; but it does not
seem known whether it may not be a migratory fish like the salmon. It
seems to me that you complicate rather too much the successive
colonisations with New Zealand. I should prefer believing that the
Galaxias was a species, like the Emys of the Sewalik Hills, which has
long retained the same form. Your remarks on the insects and flowers of
New Zealand have greatly interested me; but aromatic leaves I have
always looked at as a protection against their being eaten by insects or
other animals; and as insects are there rare, such protection would not
be much needed. I have written more than I intended, and I must again
say how profoundly your book has interested me.

Now let me turn to a very different subject. I have only just heard of
and procured your two articles in the _Academy_. I thank you most
cordially for your generous defence of me against Mr. Mivart. In the
"Origin" I did not discuss the derivation of any one species; but that I
might not be accused of concealing my opinion I went out of my way and
inserted a sentence which seemed to me (and still so seems) to declare
plainly my belief. This was quoted in my "Descent of Man." Therefore it
is very unjust, not to say dishonest, of Mr. Mivart to accuse me of base
fraudulent concealment; I care little about myself; but Mr. Mivart, in
an article in the _Quarterly Review_ (which I _know_ was written by
him), accused my son George of encouraging profligacy, and this without
the least foundation.[106] I can assert this positively, as I laid
George's article and the _Quarterly Review_ before Hooker, Huxley and
others, and all agreed that the accusation was a deliberate
falsification. Huxley wrote to him on the subject and has almost or
quite cut him in consequence; and so would Hooker, but he was advised
not to do so as President of the Royal Society. Well, he has gained his
object in giving me pain, and, good God, to think of the flattering,
almost fawning speeches which he has made to me! I wrote, of course, to
him to say that I would never speak to him again. I ought, however, to
be contented, as he is the one man who has ever, as far as I know,
treated me basely.

Forgive me for writing at such length, and believe me yours very


P.S.--I am very sorry that you have given up sexual selection. I am not
at all shaken, and stick to my colours like a true Briton. When I think
about the unadorned head of the Argus pheasant, I might exclaim, _Et tu,

       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham. June 25, 1876._

My dear Wallace,--I have been able to read rather more quickly of late
and have finished your book. I have not much to say. Your careful
account of the temperate parts of South America interested me much, and
all the more from knowing something of the country. I like also much the
general remarks towards the end of the volume on the land molluscs. Now
for a few criticisms.

P. 122:[107] I am surprised at your saying that "during the whole Tertiary
period North America was zoologically far more strongly contrasted with
South America than it is now." But we know hardly anything of the latter
except during the Pliocene period, and then the mastodon, horse, several
great Dentata, etc. etc., were common to the North and South. If you are
right I erred greatly in my Journal, where I insisted on the former
close connection between the two.

P. 252, and elsewhere: I agree thoroughly with the general principle
that a great area with many competing forms is necessary for much and
high development; but do you not extend this principle too far--I should
say much too far, considering how often several species of the same
genus have been developed on very small islands?

P. 265: You say that the Sittidæ extend to Madagascar, but there is no
number in the tabular heading.[108]

P. 359: Rhinochetus is entered in the tabular heading under No. 3 of the
_Neotropical_ sub-regions.[109]

Reviewers think it necessary to find some fault, and if I were to review
you, the sole point which I should blame is your not giving very
numerous references. These would save whoever follows you great labour.
Occasionally I wished myself to know the authority for certain
statements, and whether you or somebody else had originated certain
subordinate views. Take the case of a man who had collected largely on
some island, for instance St. Helena, and who wished to work out the
geographical relations of his collection; he would, I think, feel very
blank at not finding in your work precise references to all that had
been written on St. Helena. I hope you will not think me a confoundedly
disagreeable fellow.

I may mention a capital essay which I received a few mouths ago from
Axel Blytt[110] on the distribution of the plants of Scandinavia; showing
the high probability of there having been secular periods alternately
wet and dry; and of the important part which they have played in

I wrote to Forel, who is always at work on ants, and told him of your
views about the dispersal of the blind Coleoptera, and asked him to

I spoke to Hooker about your book, and feel sure that he would like
nothing better than to consider the distribution of plants in relation
to your views; but he seemed to doubt whether he should ever have time.

And now I have done my jottings, and once again congratulate you on
having brought out so grand a work. I have been a little disappointed at
the review in _Nature_[111]--My dear Wallace, yours sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Rose Hill, Dorking. July 23, 1876._

My dear Darwin,--I should have replied sooner to your last kind and
interesting letters, but they reached me in the midst of my packing
previous to removal here, and I have only just now got my books and
papers in a get-at-able state.

And first, many thanks for your close observation in detecting the two
absurd mistakes in the tabular headings.

As to the former greater distinction of the North and South American
faunas, I think I am right. The Edentata, being proved (as I hold) to
have been mere temporary migrants into North America in the
post-Pliocene epoch, form no part of its Tertiary fauna. Yet in South
America they were so enormously developed in the Pliocene epoch that we
know, if there is any such thing as Evolution, etc., that strange
ancestral forms must have preceded them in Miocene times.

Mastodon, on the other hand, represented by one or two species only,
appears to have been a late immigrant into South America from the North.

The immense development of Ungulates (in varied families, genera, and
species) in North America during the whole Tertiary epoch is, however,
the great feature, which assimilates it to Europe and contrasts it with
South America. True camels, hosts of hog-like animals, true
rhinoceroses, and hosts of ancestral horses, all bring North America
much nearer to the Old World than it is now. Even the horse, represented
in all South America by Equus only, was probably a temporary immigrant
from the North.

As to extending too far the principle (yours) of the necessity of
comparatively large areas for the development of varied faunas, I may
have done so, but I think not. There is, I think, every probability that
most islands, etc., where a varied fauna now exists have been once more
extensive, e.g. New Zealand, Madagascar. Where there is no such evidence
(e.g. Galapagos), the fauna is _very restricted_.

Lastly as to want of references; I confess the justice of your
criticism. But I am dreadfully unsystematic. It is my first large work
involving much of the labour of others. I began with the intention of
writing a comparatively short sketch, enlarged it, and added to it, bit
by bit; remodelled the tables, the headings, and almost everything else,
more than once, and got my materials into such confusion that it is a
wonder it has not turned out far more crooked and confused than it is.
I, no doubt, ought to have given references; but in many cases I found
the information so small and scattered, and so much had to be combined
and condensed from conflicting authorities, that I hardly knew how to
refer to them or where to leave off. Had I referred to all authors
consulted for every fact, I should have greatly increased the bulk of
the book, while a large portion of the references would be valueless in
a few years owing to later and better authorities. My experience of
referring to references has generally been most unsatisfactory. One
finds, nine times out of ten, the fact is stated, and nothing more; or
a reference to some third work not at hand!

I wish I could get into the habit of giving chapter and verse for every
fact and extract, but I am too lazy and generally in a hurry, having to
consult books against time when in London for a day.

However, I will try and do something to mend this matter should I have
to prepare another edition.

I return you Forel's letter. It does not advance the question much,
neither do I think it likely that even the complete observation he
thinks necessary would be of much use; because it may well be that the
ova or larvæ or imagos of the beetles are not carried systematically by
the ants, but only occasionally owing to some exceptional circumstances.
This might produce a great effect in distribution, yet be so rare as
never to come under observation.

Several of your remarks in previous letters I shall carefully consider.
I know that, compared with the extent of the subject, my book is in many
parts crude and ill-considered; but I thought, and still think, it
better to make _some generalisations_ wherever possible, as I am not at
all afraid of having to alter my views in many points of detail. I was
so overwhelmed with zoological details that I never went through the
Geological Society's _Journal_ as I ought to have done, and as I mean to
do before writing more on the subject.

With best wishes, believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Rose Hill, Dorking. December 13, 1876._

My dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your new book on "Crossing Plants,"
which I have read with much interest. I hardly expected, however, that
there would have been so many doubtful and exceptional cases. I fancy
that the results would have come out better had you always taken
weights instead of heights; and that would have obviated the objection
that will, I daresay, be made, that _height_ proves nothing, because a
tall plant may be weaker, less bulky and less vigorous than a shorter
one. Of course no one who knows you or who takes a _general_ view of
your results will say this, but I daresay it will be said. I am afraid
this book will not do much or anything to get rid of the one great
objection, that the physiological characteristic of species, the
infertility of hybrids, has not yet been produced. Have you ever tried
experiments with plants (if any can be found) which for several
centuries have been grown under very different conditions, as for
instance potatoes on the high Andes and in Ireland? If any approach to
sterility occurred in mongrels between these it would be a grand step.
The most curious point you have brought out seems to me the slight
superiority of self-fertilisation over fertilisation with another flower
of the same plant, and the most important result, that difference of
constitution is the essence of the benefit of cross-fertilisation. All
you now want is to find the neutral point where the benefit is at its
maximum, any greater difference being prejudicial.

Hoping you may yet demonstrate this, believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Rose Hill, Dorking. January 17, 1877._

My dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your valuable new edition of the
"Orchids," which I see contains a great deal of new matter of the
greatest interest. I am amazed at your continuous work, but I suppose,
after all these years of it, it is impossible for you to remain idle. I,
on the contrary, am very idle, and feel inclined to do nothing but
stroll about this beautiful country, and read all kinds of miscellaneous

I have asked my friend Mr. Mott to send you the last of his remarkable
papers--on Haeckel. But the part I hope you will read with as much
interest as I have done is that on the deposits of Carbon, and the part
it has played and must be playing in geological changes. He seems to
have got the idea from some German book, but it seems to me very
important, and I wonder it never occurred to Sir Charges Lyell. If the
calculations as to the quantity of undecomposed carbon deposited are
anything approaching to correctness, the results must be important.

Hoping you are in pretty good health, believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Rose Hill, Dorking. July 23, 1877._

My dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your admirable volume on "The Forms of
Flowers." It would be impertinence of me to say anything in praise of
it, except that I have read the chapters on "Illegitimate Offspring of
Heterostyled Plants" and on "Cleistogamic Flowers" with great interest.

I am almost afraid to tell you that in going over the subject of the
Colours of Animals, etc., for a small volume of essays, etc., I am
preparing, I have come to conclusions directly opposed to _voluntary
sexual selection_, and believe that I can explain (in a general way)
_all_ the phenomena of sexual ornaments and colours by laws of
development aided by simple Natural Selection.

I hope you admire as I do Mr. Belt's remarkable series of papers in
support of his terrific "oceanic glacier river-damming" hypothesis. In
awful grandeur it beats everything "glacial" yet out, and it certainly
explains a wonderful lot of hard facts. The last one, on the "Glacial
Period in the Southern Hemisphere," in the _Quarterly Journal of
Science_, is particularly fine, and I see he has just read a paper at
the Geological Society. It seems to me supported by quite as much
evidence as Ramsay's "Lakes"; but Ramsay, I understand, will have none
of it--as yet.--Believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. August 31, 1877._

My dear Wallace,--I am very much obliged to you for sending your
article, which is very interesting and appears to me as clearly written
as it can be. You will not be surprised that I differ altogether from
you about sexual colours. That the tail of the peacock and his elaborate
display of it should be due merely to the vigour, activity, and vitality
of the male is to me as utterly incredible as my views are to you.
Mantegazza published a few years ago in Italy a somewhat similar view. I
cannot help doubting about recognition through colour; our horses, dogs,
fowls, and pigeons seem to know their own species, however differently
the individuals may be coloured. I wonder whether you attribute the
odoriferous and sound-producing organs, when confined to the males, to
their greater vigour, etc.? I could say a good deal in opposition to
you, but my arguments would have no weight in your eyes, and I do not
intend to write for the public anything on this or any other difficult
subject. By the way, I doubt whether the term voluntary in relation to
sexual selection ought to be employed: when a man is fascinated by a
pretty girl it can hardly be called voluntary, and I suppose that female
animals are charmed or excited in nearly the same manner by the gaudy

Three essays have been published lately in Germany which would interest
you: one by Weismann, who shows that the coloured stripes on the
caterpillars of Sphinx are beautifully protective: and birds were
frightened away from their feeding-place by a caterpillar with large
eye-like spots on the broad anterior segments of the body. Fritz Müller
has well discussed the first steps of mimicry with butterflies, and
comes to nearly or quite the same conclusion as you, but supports it by
additional arguments.

Fritz Müller also has lately shown that the males alone of certain
butterflies have odoriferous glands on their wings (distinct from those
which secrete matter disgusting to birds), and where these glands are
placed the scales assume a different shape, making little tufts.

Farewell: I hope that you find Dorking a pleasant place? I was staying
lately at Abinger Hall, and wished to come over to see you, but driving
tires me so much that my courage failed.--Yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Madeira Villa, Madeira Road, Ventnor, Isle of Wight. September 3,

My dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your letter. Of course I did not expect
my paper to have any effect on your opinions. You have looked at all the
facts so long from your special point of view that it would require
conclusive arguments to influence you, and these, from the complex
nature of the question, are probably not to be had. We must, I think,
leave the case in the hands of others, and I am in hopes that my paper
may call sufficient attention to the subject to induce some of the great
school of Darwinians to take the question up and work it out thoroughly.
You have brought such a mass of facts to support your view, and have
argued it so fully, that I hardly think it necessary for you to do more.
Truth will prevail, as you as well as I wish it to do. I will only make
one or two remarks. The word "voluntary" was inserted in _my proofs
only_, in order to distinguish clearly between the two radically
distinct kinds of "sexual selection." Perhaps "conscious" would be a
better word, to which I think you will not object, and I will alter it
when I republish. I lay no stress on the word "voluntary."

Sound- and scent-producing organs in males are surely due to "natural"
or "automatic" as opposed to "conscious" selection. If there were
gradations in the sounds produced, from mere noises, up to elaborate
music--the case would be analogous to that of "colours" and "ornament."
Being, however, comparatively simple, Natural Selection, owing to their
use as a guide, seems sufficient. The louder sound, heard at a greater
distance, would attract or be heard by more females, or it may attract
other males and lead to combats _for_ the females, but this would not
imply _choice_ in the sense of rejecting a male whose stridulation was a
trifle less loud than another's, which is the essence of the theory as
applied by you to colour and ornament. But greater general vigour would
almost certainly lead to greater volume or persistence of sound, and so
the same view will apply to both cases on my theory.

Thanks for the references you give me. My ignorance of German prevents
me supporting my views by the mass of observations continually being
made abroad, so I can only advance my own ideas for what they are worth.

I like Dorking much, but can find no house to suit me, so fear I shall
have to move again.

With best wishes, believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. September 5, [1877]._

My dear Wallace,--"Conscious" seems to me much better than "voluntary."
Conscious action, I presume, comes into play when two males fight for a
female; but I do not know whether you admit that, for instance, the
spur of the cock is due to sexual selection.

I am quite willing to admit that the sounds and vocal organs of some
males are used only for challenging, but I doubt whether this applies to
the musical notes of Hylobates or to the howling (I judge chiefly from
Rengger) of the American monkeys. No account that I have seen of the
stridulation of male insects shows that it is a challenge. All those who
have attended to birds consider their song as a charm to the females and
not as a challenge. As the males in most cases search for the females I
do not see how their odoriferous organs will aid them in finding the
females. But it is foolish in me to go on writing, for I believe I have
said most of this in my book: anyhow, I well remember thinking over it.
The "belling" of male stags, if I remember rightly, is a challenge, and
so I daresay is the roaring of the lion during the breeding season.

I will just add in reference to your former letter that I fully admit
that with birds the fighting of the males co-operates with their charms;
and I remember quoting Bartlett that gaudy colouring in the males is
almost invariably concomitant with pugnacity. But, thank Heaven, what
little more I can do in science will be confined to observation on
simple points. However much I may have blundered, I have done my best,
and that is my constant comfort.--Most truly yours,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Waldron Edge, Duppas Hill, Croydon. September 14, 1878._

Dear Darwin,--An appointment is soon to be made of someone to have the
superintendence of Epping Forest under the new Act, and as it is a post
which of all others I should like I am trying very hard to get up
interest enough to secure it.

One of the means is the enclosed memorial, which has been already signed
by Sir J. Hooker and Sir J. Lubbock, and to which I feel sure you will
add your name, which I expect has weight "even in the City."

In want of anything better to do I have been grinding away at a book on
the Geography of Australia for Stanford for the last six months.

Hoping you are in good health, and with my best compliments to Mrs.
Darwin and the rest of your family, believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. September 16, 1878._

My dear Wallace,--I return the paper signed, and most heartily wish that
you may be successful, not only for your own sake, but for that of
Natural Science, as you would then have more time for new researches.

I keep moderately well, but always feel half-dead, yet manage to work
away on vegetable physiology, as I think that I should die outright if I
had nothing to do.--Believe me yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Walron Edge, Duppas Hill, Croydon. September 23, 1878._

Dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your signature and good wishes. I have
some hopes of success, but am rather doubtful of the Committee of the
Corporation who will have the management, for they have just decided
after a great struggle in the Court of Common Council that it is to be a
rotatory Committee, every member of the Council (of whom there are 200)
coming on it in succession if they please. They evidently look upon it
as a Committee which will have great opportunities of excursions,
picnics, and dinners, at the expense of the Corporation, while the
improvement of the Forest will be quite a secondary matter.

I am very glad to hear you are tolerably well. It is all I can say of
myself.--Believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. January 5, 1880._

My dear Wallace,--As this note requires no sort of answer, you must
allow me to express my lively admiration of your paper in the
_Nineteenth Century_.[112] You certainly are a master in the difficult art
of clear exposition. It is impossible to urge too often that the
selection from a single varying individual or of a single varying organ
will not suffice. You have worked in capitally Allen's admirable
researches. As usual, you delight to honour me more than I deserve. When
I have written about the extreme slowness of Natural Selection (in which
I hope I may be wrong), I have chiefly had in my mind the effects of
intercrossing. I subscribe to almost everything you say excepting the
last short sentence.

And now let me add how grieved I was to hear that the City of London did
not elect you for the Epping office, but I suppose it was too much to
hope that such a body of men should make a good selection. I wish you
could obtain some quiet post and thus have leisure for moderate
scientific work. I have nothing to tell you about myself; I see few
persons, for conversation fatigues me much; but I daily do some work in
experiments on plants, and hope thus to continue to the end of my days.

With all good wishes, believe me yours very sincerely,


P.S.--Have you seen Mr. Farrer's article in the last _Fortnightly_? It
reminded me of an article on bequests by you some years ago which
interested and almost converted me.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Waldron Edge, Duppas Hill, Croydon. January 9, 1880._

My dear Darwin,--It is a great pleasure to receive a letter from you
sometimes--especially when we do not differ very much. I am, of course,
much pleased and gratified that you like my article. I wrote it chiefly
because I thought there was something a little fresh still to say on the
subject, and also because I wished to define precisely my present
position, which people continually misunderstand. The main part of the
article forms part of a chapter of a book I have now almost finished on
my favourite subject of "Geographical Distribution." It will form a sort
of supplement to my former work, and will, I trust, be more readable and
popular. I go pretty fully into the laws of variation and dispersal; the
exact character of specific and generic areas, and their causes; the
growth, dispersal and extinction of species and groups, illustrated by
maps, etc.; changes of geography and of climate as affecting dispersal,
with a full discussion of the Glacial theory, adopting Croll's views
(part of this has been published as a separate article in the _Quarterly
Review_ of last July, and has been highly approved by Croll and Geikie);
a discussion of the theory of permanent continents and oceans, which I
see you were the first to adopt, but which geologists, I am sorry to
say, quite ignore. All this is preliminary. Then follows a series of
chapters on the different kinds of islands, continental and oceanic,
with a pretty full discussion of the characters, affinities, and origin
of their fauna and flora in typical cases. Among these I am myself quite
pleased with my chapters on New Zealand, as I believe I have fully
explained and accounted for _all_ the main peculiarities of the New
Zealand and Australian floras. I call the book "Island Life," etc. etc.,
and I think it will be interesting.

Thanks for your regrets and kind wishes anent Epping. It was a
disappointment, as I had good friends on the Committee and therefore had
too much hope. I may just mention that I am thinking of making some
application through friends for some post in the new Josiah Mason
College of Science at Birmingham, as Registrar or Curator and Librarian,
etc. The Trustees have advertised for Professors to begin next October.
Should you happen to know any of the Trustees, or have any influential
friends in Birmingham, perhaps you could help me.

I think this book will be my last, as I have pretty well said all I have
to say in it, and I have never taken to experiment as you have. But I
want some easy occupation for my declining years, with not too much
confinement or desk-work, which I cannot stand. You see I had some
reason for writing to you; but do not you trouble to write again unless
you have something to communicate.

With best wishes, yours very faithfully,


I have not seen the _Fortnightly_ yet, but will do so.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Pen-y-bryn, St. Peter's Road, Croydon. October 11, 1880._

My dear Darwin,--I hope you will have received a copy of my last book,
"Island Life," as I shall be very glad of your opinion on certain points
in it. The first five chapters you need not read, as they contain
nothing fresh to you, but are necessary to make the work complete in
itself. The next five chapters, however (VII. to X.), I think, will
interest you. As I _think_, in Chapters VIII. and IX. I have found the
true explanation of geological climates, and on this I shall be very
glad of your candid opinion, as it is the very foundation-stone of the
book. The rest will not contain much that is fresh to you, except the
three chapters on New Zealand. Sir Joseph Hooker thinks my theory of
the Australian and New Zealand floras a decided advance on anything that
has been done before.

In connection with this, the chapter on the Azores should be read.

Chap. XVI. on the British Fauna may also interest you.

I mention these points merely that you may not trouble yourself to read
the whole book, unless you like.

Hoping that you are well, believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. November 3, 1880._

My dear Wallace,--I have now read your book,[113] and it has interested me
deeply. It is quite excellent, and seems to me the best book which you
have ever published; but this may be merely because I have read it last.
As I went on, I made a few notes,[114] chiefly when I differed strongly
from you; but God knows whether they are worth your reading. You will be
disappointed with many of them; but they will show that I had the will,
though I did not know the way, to do what you wanted.

I have said nothing on the infinitely many passages and views which I
admired and which were new to me. My notes are badly expressed; but I
thought that you would excuse my taking any pains with my style. I wish
that my confounded handwriting was better.

I had a note the other day from Hooker, and I can see that he is _much_
pleased with the Dedication.

With all good wishes, believe me yours sincerely,


In two or three weeks you will receive a book from me; if you care to
know what it is about, read the paragraph in Introduction about new
terms and then the last chapter, and you will know whole contents of

       *       *       *       *       *

_Pen-y-bryn, St. Peter's Road, Croydon. November 8, 1880._

My dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your kind remarks and notes on my book.
Several of the latter will be of use to me if I have to prepare a second
edition, which I am not so sure of as you seem to be.

1. In your remark as to the doubtfulness of paucity of fossils being due
to coldness of water, I think you overlook that I am speaking _only_ of
waters in the latitude of the Alps, in Miocene and Eocene times, when
icebergs and glaciers temporarily descended into an otherwise warm sea;
my theory being that there was no glacial epoch at that time, but merely
a local and temporary descent of the snow-line and glaciers owing to
high excentricity and winter in _aphelion_.

2. I cannot see the difficulty about the cessation of the glacial
period. Between the Miocene and the Pleistocene periods geographical
changes occurred which rendered a true glacial period possible with
high excentricity. When the high excentricity passed away the glacial
epoch also passed away in the Temperate zone; but it persists in the
Arctic zone, where during the Miocene there were mild climates, and this
is due to the persistence of the changed geographical conditions. The
present Arctic climate is itself a comparatively new and abnormal state
of things due to geographical modification. As to "epoch" and "period,"
I use them as synonyms to avoid repeating the same word.

3. Rate of deposit and geological time: there no doubt I may have gone
to an extreme, but my "twenty-eight million years" may be anything under
100 millions, as I state. There is an enormous difference between _mean_
and _maximum_ denudation and deposition. In the case of the great faults
the upheaval along a given line would itself facilitate the denudation
(whether subaerial or marine) of the upheaved portion at a rate perhaps
a hundred times faster than plains and plateaux. So, local subsidence
might itself lead to very rapid deposition. Suppose a portion of the
Gulf of Mexico near the mouth of the Mississippi were to subside for a
few thousand years, it might receive the greater part of the sediment
from the whole Mississippi valley, and thus form strata at a very rapid

4. You quote the Pampas thistles, etc., against my statement of the
importance of preoccupation. But I am referring especially to St.
Helena, and to plants naturally introduced from the adjacent continents.
Surely, if a certain number of African plants reached the island and
became modified into a complete adaptation to its climatic conditions,
they would hardly be expelled by other African plants arriving
subsequently. They might be so conceivably, but it does not seem
probable. The cases of the Pampas, New Zealand, Tahiti, etc., are very
different, where highly developed _aggressive_ plants have been
artificially introduced. Under nature it is these very aggressive
species that would first reach any island in their vicinity, and, being
adapted to the island and colonising it thoroughly, would then hold
their own against other plants from the _same_ country, mostly less
aggressive in character. I have not explained this so fully as I should
have done in the book. Your criticism is therefore useful.

My Chap. XXIII. is no doubt very speculative, and I cannot wonder at
your hesitating at accepting my views. To me, however, your theory of
hosts of existing species migrating over the tropical lowlands from the
North Temperate to the South Temperate zone appears more speculative and
more improbable. For, where could the rich lowland _equatorial_ flora
have existed during a period of general refrigeration sufficient for
this? and what became of the wonderfully rich Cape flora which, if the
temperature of Tropical Africa had been so recently lowered, would
certainly have spread northwards and on the return of the heat could
hardly have been driven back into the sharply defined and _very
restricted area_ in which it now exists?

As to the migration of plants from mountain to mountain not being so
probable as to remote islands, I think that is fully counterbalanced by
two considerations:

(a) The area and abundance of the mountain stations along such a range
as the Andes are immensely greater than those of the islands in the
North Atlantic, for example.

(b) The temporary occupation of mountain stations by migrating plants
(which I think I have shown to be probable) renders _time_ a much more
important element in increasing the number and variety of the plants so
dispersed than in the case of islands, where the flora soon acquires a
fixed and endemic character, and where the number of species is
necessarily limited.

No doubt, direct evidence of seeds being carried great distances through
the air is wanted, but, I am afraid, can hardly be obtained. Yet I feel
the greatest confidence that they _are_ so carried. Take for instance
the two peculiar orchids of the Azores (Habinaria species): what other
mode of transit is conceivable? The whole subject is one of great
difficulty, but I hope my chapter may call attention to a hitherto
neglected factor in the distribution of plants.

Your references to the Mauritius literature are very interesting, and
will be useful to me; and again thanking you for your valuable remarks,
believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Pen-y-bryn, St. Peter's Road, Croydon. November 21, 1880._

My dear Darwin,--Many thanks for your new book containing your wonderful
series of experiments and observations on the movements of plants. I
have read the introduction and conclusion, which shows me the importance
of the research as indicating the common basis of the infinitely varied
habits and mode of growth of plants. The whole subject becomes thus much
simplified, though the nature of the basic vitality which leads to such
wonderful results remains as mysterious as ever.--Yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Pen-y-bryn, St. Peter's Road, Croydon. January 1, 1881._

My dear Darwin,--I have been intending to write to you for some weeks to
call your attention to what seems to me a striking confirmation (or at
all events a support) of my views of the land migration of plants from
mountain to mountain. In _Nature_ of Dec. 9th, p. 126, Mr. Baker, of
Kew, describes a number of the alpine plants of Madagascar as being
_identical species_ with some found on the mountains of Abyssinia, the
Cameroons, and other African mountains. Now, if there is one thing more
clear than another it is that Madagascar has been separated from Africa
since the Miocene (probably the early Miocene) epoch. These plants must
therefore have reached the island either _since_ then, in which case
they certainly must have passed through the air for long distances, or
at the time of the union. But the Miocene and Eocene periods were
certainly warm, and these alpine plants could hardly have migrated over
tropical forest lands, while it is very improbable that if they had been
isolated at so remote a period, exposed to such distinct climatal and
organic environments as in Madagascar and Abyssinia, they would have in
both places retained their specific characters unchanged. The
presumption is, therefore, that they are comparatively _recent_
immigrants, and if so must have passed across the sea from mountain to
mountain, for the richness and speciality of the Madagascar forest
vegetation render it certain that no recent glacial epoch has seriously
affected that island.

Hoping that you are in good health, and wishing you the compliments of
the season, I remain yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. January 2, 1881._

My dear Wallace,--The case which you give is a very striking one, and I
had overlooked it in _Nature._[115] But I remain as great a heretic as
ever. Any supposition seems to me more probable than that the seeds of
plants should have been blown from the mountains of Abyssinia or other
central mountains of Africa to the mountains of Madagascar. It seems to
me almost infinitely more probable that Madagascar extended far to the
south during the Glacial period, and that the southern hemisphere was,
according to Croll, then more temperate; and that the whole of Africa
was then peopled with some temperate forms, which crossed chiefly by
agency of birds and sea-currents; and some few by the wind from the
shores of Africa to Madagascar, subsequently ascending to the mountains.

How lamentable it is that two men should take such widely different
views, with the same facts before them; but this seems to be almost
regularly our case, and much do I regret it.

I am fairly well, but always feel half dead with fatigue. I heard but an
indifferent account of your health some time ago, but trust that you are
now somewhat stronger.--Believe me, my dear Wallace, yours very


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. January 7, 1881._

My dear Wallace,--You know from Miss Buckley that, with her assistance,
I drew up a memorial to Mr. Gladstone with respect to your services to
science. The memorial was corrected by Huxley, who has aided me in every
possible way. It was signed by twelve good men, and you would have been
gratified if you had seen how strongly they expressed themselves on your

The Duke of Argyll, to whom I sent the memorial, wrote a private note to
Mr. Gladstone. The memorial was sent in only on January 5th, and I have
just received a note in Mr. Gladstone's own handwriting, in which he
says: "I lose no time in apprising you that although the Fund is
moderate and at present poor, I shall recommend Mr. Wallace for a
pension of £200 a year." I will keep this note carefully, as, if the
present Government were to go out, I do not doubt that it would be
binding on the next Government.

I hope that it will give you some satisfaction to see that not only
every scientific man to whom I applied, but that also our Government
appreciated your lifelong scientific labour.--Believe me, my dear
Wallace, yours sincerely,


I should expect that there will be some delay before you receive an
official announcement.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Pen-y-bryn, St. Peter's Road, Croydon. January 8, 1881._

My dear Darwin,--I need not say how very grateful I am to you for your
constant kindness, and especially for the trouble you have taken in
recommending me to Mr. Gladstone. It is also, of course, very gratifying
to hear that so many eminent men have so good an opinion of the little
scientific work I have done, for I myself feel it to be very little in
comparison with that of many others.

The amount you say Mr. Gladstone proposes to recommend is considerably
more than I expected would be given, and it will relieve me from a great
deal of the anxieties under which I have laboured for several years.
To-day is my fifty-eighth birthday, and it is a happy omen that your
letter should have arrived this morning.

I presume after I receive the official communication will be the proper
time to thank the persons who have signed the memorial in my favour. I
do not know whether it is the proper etiquette to write a private letter
of thanks to Mr. Gladstone, or only a general official one. Whenever I
hear anything from the Government I will let you know.

Again thanking you for your kindness, believe me yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. January 10, 1881._

My dear Wallace,--I am heartily glad that you are pleased about the

I do not feel that my opinion is worth much on the point which you
mention. A relation who is in a Government office and whose judgment, I
think, may be fully trusted, felt sure that if you received an official
announcement without any private note, it ought to be answered
officially, but if the case were mine, I would express whatever I
thought and felt in an official document. His reason was that Gladstone
gives or recommends the pension on public grounds alone.

If the case were mine I would not write to signers of the memorial,
because I believe that they acted like so many jurymen in a claim
against the Government. Nevertheless, if I met any of them or was
writing to them on any other subject, I should take the opportunity of
expressing my feelings. I think you might with propriety write to
Huxley, as he entered so heartily into the scheme and aided in the most
important manner in many ways.

Sir J. Lubbock called here yesterday and Mr. F. Balfour came here with
one of my sons, and it would have pleased you to see how unfeignedly
delighted they were at my news of the success of the memorial.

I wrote also to tell the Duke of Argyll of the success, and he in answer
expressed very sincere pleasure.--My dear Wallace, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Pen-y-bryn, St. Peter's Road, Croydon. January 29, 1881._

My dear Darwin,--Yours just received was very welcome, and the delay in
its reaching me is of no importance whatever, as, having seen the
announcement of the Queen's approval of the pension, of course I felt it
was safe. The antedating of the first payment is a very liberal and
thoughtful act; but I do not think it is any way exceptional as regards
myself. I am informed it is the custom because, as no payment is made
after the death of the person, if the first payment were delayed the
proposed recipient might die before the half-year (or quarter-day) and
thus receive nothing at all.

I suppose you sent the right address to Mr. Seymour. I have not yet
heard from him, but I daresay I shall during the next week.

As I am assured both by Miss Buckley and by Prof. Huxley that it is to
you that I owe in the first place this great kindness, and that you have
also taken an _immense_ amount of trouble to bring it to so successful
issue, I must again return you my best thanks, and assure you that there
is no one living to whose kindness in such a matter I could feel myself
indebted with so much pleasure and satisfaction.--Believe me, dear
Darwin, yours very faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. July 9._

My dear Wallace,--Dr. G. Krefft has sent me the enclosed from Sydney. A
nurseryman saw a caterpillar feeding on a plant and covered the whole
up, but, when he searched for the cocoon [pupa], was long before he
could find it, so good was its imitation, in colour and form, of the
leaf to which it was attached.

I hope that the world goes well with you. Do not trouble yourself by
acknowledging this.--Ever yours,


Accompanying this letter, which has been published in "Darwin and Modern
Science" (1909), was a photograph of the chrysalis (_Papilio sarpedon
choredon_) attached to a leaf of its food-plant. Many butterfly pupæ
are known to have the power of individual adjustment to the colours of
the particular food-plant or other normal environment; and it is
probable that the Australian _Papilio_ referred to by Darwin possesses
this power.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Nutwood Cottage, Frith Hill, Godalming, July 9, 1881._

My dear Darwin,--I am just doing, what I have rarely if ever done
before--reading a book through a second time immediately after the first
perusal. I do not think I have ever been so attracted by a book, with
perhaps the exception of your "Origin of Species" and Spencer's "First
Principles" and "Social Statics." I wish therefore to call your
attention to it, in case you care about books on social and political
subjects, but here there is also an elaborate discussion of Malthus's
"Principles of Population," to which both you and I have acknowledged
ourselves indebted. The present writer, Mr. George, while admitting the
main principle as self-evident and as actually operating in the case of
animals and plants, denies that it ever has operated or can operate in
the case of man, still less that it has any bearing whatever on the vast
social and political questions which have been supported by a reference
to it. He illustrates and supports his views with a wealth of
illustrative facts and a cogency of argument which I have rarely seen
equalled, while his style is equal to that of Buckle, and thus his book
is delightful reading. The title of the book is "Progress and Poverty."
It has gone through six editions in America, and is now published in
England by Kegan Paul. It is devoted mainly to a brilliant discussion
and refutation of some of the most widely accepted maxims of political
economy, such as the relation of wages and capital, the nature of rent
and interest, the laws of distribution, etc., but all treated as parts
of the main problem as stated in the title-page, "An Enquiry into the
Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of
Wealth." It is the most startling novel and original book of the last
twenty years, and if I mistake not will in the future rank as making an
advance in political and social science equal to that made by Adam Smith
a century ago.

I am here settled in my little cottage engaged in the occupation I most
enjoy--making a garden, and admiring the infinite variety and beauty of
vegetable life. I am out of doors all day and hardly read anything. As
the long evenings come on I shall get on with my book on the "Land
Question," in which I have found a powerful ally in Mr. George.

Hoping you are well, believe me, yours most faithfully,


       *       *       *       *       *

The following is the last letter Wallace received from Darwin, who died
on Wednesday, April 19, 1882, in the seventy-fourth year of his age.

_Down, Beckenham, Kent. July 12, 1881._

My dear Wallace,--I have been heartily glad to get your note and hear
some news of you. I will certainly order "Progress and Poverty," for the
subject is a most interesting one. But I read many years ago some books
on political economy, and they produced a disastrous effect on my mind,
viz. utterly to distrust my own judgment on the subject and to doubt
much everyone else's judgment! So I feel pretty sure that Mr. George's
book will only make my mind worse confounded than it is at present. I,
also, have just finished a book which has interested me greatly, but
whether it would interest anyone else I know not: it is "The Creed of
Science," by W. Graham, A.M. Who and what he is I know not, but he
discusses many great subjects, such as the existence of God,
immortality, the moral sense, the progress of society, etc. I think some
of his propositions rest on very uncertain foundations, and I could get
no clear idea of his notions about God. Notwithstanding this and other
blemishes, the book has interested me _extremely_. Perhaps I have been
to some extent deluded, as he manifestly ranks too high what I have

I am delighted to hear that you spend so much time out of doors and in
your garden; for with your wonderful power of observation you will see
much which no one else has seen. From Newman's old book (I forget the
title) about the country near Godalming, it must be charming.

We have just returned home after spending five weeks on Ullswater: the
scenery is quite charming; but I cannot walk, and everything tires me,
even seeing scenery, talking with anyone or reading much. What I shall
do with my few remaining years of life I can hardly tell. I have
everything to make me happy and contented, but life has become very
wearisome to me. I heard lately from Miss Buckley in relation to Lyell's
Life, and she mentioned that you were thinking of Switzerland, which I
should think and hope you will enjoy much.

I see that you are going to write on the most difficult political
question, the Land. Something ought to be done--but what is to rule? I
hope that you will [not] turn renegade to natural history; but I suppose
that politics are very tempting.

With all good wishes for yourself and family, believe me, my dear
Wallace, yours very sincerely,


       *       *       *       *       *

Wallace's last letter to Darwin was written in October, 1881:

_Nutwood Cottage, Frith Hill, Godalming. October 18, 1881._

My dear Darwin,--I have delayed writing to thank you for your book on
Worms till I had been able to read it, which I have now done with great
pleasure and profit, since it has cleared up many obscure points as to
the apparent sinking or burying of objects on the surface and the
universal covering up of old buildings. I have hitherto looked upon them
chiefly from the gardener's point of view--as a nuisance, but I shall
tolerate their presence in the view of their utility and importance. A
friend here to whom I am going to lend your book tells me that an
agriculturist who had been in West Australia, near Swan River, told him
many years ago of the hopelessness of farming there, illustrating the
poverty and dryness of the soil by saying, "There are no worms in the

I do not see that you refer to the formation of leaf-mould by the mere
decay of leaves, etc. In favourable places many inches or even feet of
this is formed--I presume without the agency of worms. If so, would it
not take part in the formation of all mould? and also the decay of the
roots of grasses and of all annual plants, or do you suppose that _all_
these are devoured by worms? In reading the book I have not noticed a
single erratum.

I enclose you a copy of two letters to the _Mark Lane Express_, written
at the request of the editor, and which will show you the direction in
which I am now working, and in which I hope to do a little
good.--Believe me yours very faithfully,



[1] "While at Hertford I lived altogether in five different houses, and
in three of these the Silk family lived next door to us, which involved
not only each family having to move about the same time, but also that
two houses adjoining each other should have been vacant together, and
that they should have been of the size required by each, which after the
first was not the same, the Silk family being much the larger."--"My
Life," i. 32.

[2] "My Life," i. 191-2.

[3] "My Life," i. 108-111.

[4] Darwin makes a similar comment: "I was very successful in
collecting, and invented two new methods ... and thus I got some very
rare species. No poet ever felt more delighted at seeing his first poem
published than I did at seeing, in Stephens' 'Illustrations of British
Insects,' the magic words, 'captured by C. Darwin, Esq.'"--Darwin's
Autobiography, in the one-volume "Life," p. 20.

[5] "My Life," i. 194-5.

[6] There is no record in his autobiography as to the exact date when he
first became acquainted with Lyell's work, though several times
reference is made to it.

[7] "Travels on the Amazon," p. 277.

[8] "Voyage of the _Beagle_," pp. 11-12.

[9] "Voyage of the _Beagle_," p. 534.

[10] It is interesting to note that the careers of Sir Joseph Hooker,
Charles Darwin, H.W. Bates, Alfred Russel Wallace and T.H. Huxley were
all determined by voyages or journeys of exploration.

[11] "Life of Charles Darwin" (one-volume Edit.), p. 29.

[12] "Voyage of the _Beagle_," p. 535.

[13] This letter may have been written for publication.

[14] A reference to the loss of his earlier collection (p. 29).

[15] The original of this letter is in the possession of the Trustees of
the British Museum.

[16] For the other part of this letter see "My Life," i. 379.

[17] "My early letters to Bates suffice to show that the great problem
of the origin of species was already distinctly formulated in my mind;
that I was not satisfied with the more or less vague solutions at that
time offered; that I believed the conception of evolution through
natural law so clearly formulated in the 'Vestiges' to be, so far as it
went, a true one; and that I firmly believed that a full and careful
study of the facts of nature would ultimately lead to a solution of the
mystery."--"My Life," i. 254-7.

[18] "On the Law which has regulated the Introduction of
Species."--_Ann. and Mag. of Natural History_, 2nd Series, 1855, xvi.

[19] "Life of Charles Darwin" (one-vol. Edit.), p. 171.

[20] "Life of Charles Darwin," (one-vol. Edit.), p. 40,

[21] _See post_, p. 112.

[22] "My Life," i. 359.

[23] "My Life," i. 361-3.

[24] It will be remembered, that Darwin died in April, 1882, twenty-six
years previously.

[25] "Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," ii. 188.

[26] "The Herbert Spencer Lecture," delivered at the Museum, December 8,
1910. (Clarendon Press, Oxford.)

[27] "My Life," ii. 23-4.

[28] "On the Law which has regulated the Introduction of New
Species."--_Ann. and Mag. of Nat. Hist._, 1855. The law is thus stated
by Wallace: "Every species has come into existence coincident both in
time and space with a pre-existing closely-allied species."

[29] "The Origin of Species."

[30] "The Origin of Species."

[31] First Edit., 1859, pp. 1, 2.

[32] "On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties and on the
Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection." By
C. Darwin and A.R. Wallace. Communicated by Sir C. Lyell and J.D.
Hooker. _Journ. Linn. Soc._, 1859, iii. 45. Read July 1st, 1858.

[33] "On the Law which has regulated the Introduction of New Species."
_Ann. and Mag. of Nat. Hist._, 1855, xvi. 184.

[34] This seems to refer to Wallace's paper on "The Zoological Geography
of the Malay Archipelago," _Journ. Linn. Soc._, 1860.

[35] Dr. Samuel Wilberforce.

[36] Now Major Leonard Darwin.

[37] The last sheet of the letter is missing.

[38] Wallace's paper was entitled "Remarks on the Rev. S. Haughton's
Paper on the Bee's Cells and on the Origin of Species." Prof. Haughton's
paper appeared in the _Ann. and Mag. of Nat. Hist._, 1863, xi. 415.
Wallace's was published in the same journal.

[39] For March, 1864.

[40] _Reader_, April 16, 1864. An abstract of Wallace's paper "On the
Phenomena of Variation and Geographical Distribution, as illustrated by
the Papilionidæ of the Malayan Region," _Linn. Soc. Trans._, xxv.

[41] _Anthropolog. Rev._, 1864.

[42] _Nat. Hist. Rev._, 1864, p. 328.

[43] "Read June, 1864."--A.R.W.

[44] "June 8, 1864."--A.R.W.

[45] "Referring to my broken engagement."--A.R.W.

[46] Paper on the three forms of Lythrum.

[47] Probably the one on the Distribution of Malayan Butterflies, _Linn.
Soc. Trans._, xxv.

[48] E.B. Tylor's "Early History of Mankind," and Lecky's "Rationalism."

[49] "Prehistoric Times."

[50] The note speaks of the "characteristic unselfishness" with which
Wallace ascribed the theory of Natural Selection to Darwin.

[51] "Für Darwin."

[52] "On the Pigeons of the Malay Archipelago," _Ibis_, October, 1865.
Wallace points out (p. 366) that "the most striking superabundance of
pigeons, as well as of parrots, is confined to the Australo-Malayan
sub-regions in which ... the forest-haunting and fruit-eating mammals,
such as monkeys and squirrels, are totally absent." He points out also
that monkeys are "exceedingly destructive to eggs and young
birds."--Note, "More Letters," i. 265.

[53] "The Geographical Distribution and Variability of the Malayan
Papilionidæ," _Linn. Soc. Trans._, xxv.

[54] The passage referred to in this letter as needing farther
explanation is the following: "The last six cases of mimicry are
especially instructive, because they seem to indicate one of the
processes by which dimorphic forms have been produced. When, as in these
cases, one sex differs much from the other, and varies greatly itself,
it may be that individual variations will occasionally occur, having a
distant resemblance to groups which are the objects of mimicry, and
which it is therefore advantageous to resemble. Such a variety will have
a better chance of preservation; the individuals possessing it will be
multiplied; and their accidental likeness to the favoured group will be
rendered permanent by hereditary transmission, and each successive
variation which increases the resemblance being preserved, and all
variation departing from the favoured type having less chance of
preservation, there will in time result those singular cases of two or
more isolated and fixed forms bound together by that intimate
relationship which constitutes them the sexes of a single species. The
reason why the females are more subject to this kind of modification
than the males is probably that their slower flight when laden with
eggs, and their exposure to attack while in the act of depositing their
eggs upon leaves, render it especially advantageous for them to have
additional protection. This they at once obtain by acquiring a
resemblance to other species which, from whatever cause, enjoy a
comparative immunity from persecution."

[55] This no doubt refers to Janet's "Matérialisme Contemporain."

[56] _Quarterly Journal of Science_, January 7, 1867. "Ice Marks in
North Wales," by A.R. Wallace.

[57] I.e., the suggestion that conspicuous caterpillars or perfect
insects (e.g. white butterflies) which are distasteful to birds are
protected by being easily recognised and avoided.

[58] A bearded woman having an irregular double set of teeth. See
"Animals and Plants," ii. 328.

[59] The letter to which this is a reply is missing. It evidently refers
to Wallace's belief in the paramount importance of protection in the
evolution of colour. _See also_ Darwin's letter of February 26, 1867.

[60] _Menura superba._ See "The Descent of Man" (1901), p. 687.
Rhynchæa, mentioned on p. 184, is discussed in the "Descent," p. 727.
The female is more brightly coloured than the male and has a convoluted
trachea, elsewhere a masculine character. There seems some reason to
suppose that "the male undertakes the duty of incubation."

[61] _Westminster Review_, July, 1867.

[62] _Angræcum sesquipedale_, a Madagascar orchid, with a whip-like
nectary, 11 to 12 in. in length, which, according to Darwin
("Fertilisation of Orchids," 2nd Edit., p. 163), is adapted to the
visits of a moth with a proboscis of corresponding length. He points out
that there is no difficulty in believing in the existence of such a moth
as F. Müller had described (_Nature_, 1873, p. 223), a Brazilian
sphinx-moth with a trunk 10 to 11 in. in length. Moreover, Forbes had
given evidence to show that such an insect does exist in Madagascar
(_Nature_, 1873, p. 121). The case of _Angræcum_ was put forward by the
Duke of Argyll as being necessarily due to the personal contrivance of
the Deity. Mr. Wallace shows (p. 476, _Quarterly Journal of Science_,
1867) that both proboscis and nectary might be increased in length by
means of Natural Selection. It may be added that Hermann Müller has
shown good grounds for believing that mutual specialisation of this kind
is beneficial both to insect and to plant.

[63] "Variation of Animals and Plants," 1st Edit., ii. 431. "Did He
cause the frame and mental qualities of the dog to vary in order that a
breed might be formed of indomitable ferocity, with jaws fitted to pin
down the bull for man's brutal sport?"

[64] _See_ Wallace, _Quarterly Journ. of Sci._, 1867, pp. 477-8. He
imagined an observer examining a great river system, and finding
everywhere adaptations which reveal the design of the Creator. "He would
see special adaptations to the wants of man in the broad, quiet,
navigable rivers, through fertile alluvial plains, that would support a
large population, while the rocky streams and mountain torrents were
confined to those sterile regions suitable for a small population of
shepherds and herdsmen."

[65] At p. 485 Wallace deals with Fleeming Jenkin's review in the _North
British Review_, 1867. The review strives to show that there are strict
limitations to variation, since the most rigorous and long-continued
selection does not indefinitely increase such a quality as the fleetness
of a racehorse. On this Wallace remarks that the argument "fails to meet
the real question," which is not whether indefinite change is possible,
but "whether such differences as do occur in nature could have been
produced by the accumulation of variations by selection."

[66] Abstract of a paper on "Birds' Nests and Plumage," read before the
British Association. See _Gard. Chron._, 1867, p. 1047.

[67] Sir Henry Holland, Bart., M.D., F.R.S., a writer on Mental
Physiology and other scientific subjects (b. 1788, d. 1873).

[68] "This turns out to be inaccurate, or greatly exaggerated. There are
no true alpines, and the European genera are comparatively few. _See_ my
'Island Life,' p. 323."--A.R.W.

[69] "In pigeons" and "lizards" inserted by A.R.W.

[70] See _Westminster Review_, July, 1867, p. 37.

[71] _Proc. Linn. Soc._, 1867-8, p. 57.

[72] It is not enough that females should be produced from the males
with red feathers, which should be destitute of red feathers; but these
females must have a _latent tendency_ to produce such feathers,
otherwise they would cause deterioration in the red head-feathers of
their male offspring. Such latent tendency would be shown by their
producing the red feathers when old or diseased in their ovaria.

[73] The symbols [male symbol], [female symbol] stand for male and
female respectively.

[74] The fifth.

[75] Explained in letter of February 2, 1869. _See_ p. 234.

[76] June, 1867.

[77] "Malay Archipelago."

[78] "Malay Archipelago."

[79] The fifth edition, pp. 150-7.

[80] In the _Quarterly Review_, April, 1869.

[81] Inserted by A.R.W.

[82] "The Descent of Man."

[83] "The Genesis of Species," by St. G. Mivart. 1871.

[84] In the _Academy_, March 15, 1871.

[85] "Mr. Wallace says that the pairing of butterflies is probably
determined by the fact that one male is stronger-winged or more
pertinacious than the rest, rather than by the choice of the females. He
quotes the case of caterpillars which are brightly coloured and yet
sexless. Mr. Wallace also makes the good criticism that 'The Descent of
Man' consists of two books mixed together."--"Life and Letters of
Charles Darwin," iii. 137.

[86] G. Crotch was a well-known coleopterist and official in the
University Library at Cambridge.

[87] _Spectator_, March 11 and 18, 1871. "With regard to the evolution
of conscience the reviewer thinks that Mr. Darwin comes much nearer to
the 'kernel of the psychological problem' than many of his predecessors.
The second article contains a good discussion of the bearing of the
book on the question of design, and concludes by finding in it a
vindication of Theism more wonderful than that in Paley's 'Natural
Theology.'"--"Life and Letters," iii. 138.

[88] _North American Review_, Vol. 113, pp. 83, 84. Chauncey Wright
points out that the words omitted are "essential to the point on which
he [Mr. Mivart] cites Mr. Darwin's authority." It should be mentioned
that the passage from which words are omitted is not given within
inverted commas by Mr. Mivart.--_See_ "Life and Letters of Charles
Darwin," iii. 144.

[89] July, 1871.

[90] A review of Dr. Bree's book, "An Exposition of Fallacies in the
Hypotheses of Mr. Darwin."--_Nature_, July 25, 1872.

[91] "Bree on Darwinism," _Nature_, Aug. 8, 1872. The letter is as
follows: "Permit me to state--though the statement is almost
superfluous--that Mr. Wallace, in his review of Dr. Bree's work, gives
with perfect correctness what I intended to express, and what I believe
was expressed clearly, with respect to the probable position of man in
the early part of his pedigree. As I have not seen Dr. Bree's recent
work, and as his letter is unintelligible to me, I cannot even
conjecture how he has so completely mistaken my meaning; but, perhaps,
no one who has read Mr. Wallace's article, or who has read a work
formerly published by Dr. Bree on the same subject as his recent one,
will be surprised at any amount of misunderstanding on his
part.--CHARLES DARWIN, Aug. 3." _See_ "Life and Letters of Charles
Darwin," iii. 167.

[92] That is to say, spontaneous generation. For the distinction between
archebiosis and heterogenesis, _see_ Bastian, Chap. VI. _See also_ "Life
and Letters of Charles Darwin," iii. 168.

[93] Sir Henry Cole, K.C.B. (1808-80).

[94] "Expression of the Emotions."

[95] _Quarterly Journal of Science_, January, 1873, p. 116: "I can
hardly believe that when a cat, lying on a shawl or other soft material,
pats or pounds it with its feet, or sometimes sucks a piece of it, it is
the persistence of the habit of pressing the mammary glands and sucking
during kittenhood." Wallace goes on to say that infantine habits are
generally completely lost in adult life, and that it seems unlikely that
they should persist in a few isolated instances.

[96] Wallace speaks of "a readiness to accept the most marvellous
conclusions or interpretations of physiologists on what seem very
insufficient grounds," and he goes on to assert that the frog experiment
is either incorrectly recorded, or else that it "demonstrates volition,
and not reflex action."

[97] The raising of the hands in surprise is explained ("Expression of
the Emotions," 1st Edit., p. 287) on the doctrine of antithesis as being
the opposite of listlessness. Mr. Wallace's view (given in the second
edition of "Expression of the Emotions," p. 300) is that the gesture is
appropriate to sudden defence or to the giving of aid to another person.

[98] At this time Darwin, while very busy with other work, had to
prepare a second edition of "The Descent of Man," and it is probable
that he or the publishers suggested that Wallace should make the
necessary corrections.--EDITOR.

[99] "Insectivorous Plants."

[100] "The Geographical Distribution of Animals." 1876.

[101] Wallace points out that "hardly a small island on the globe but
has some land shell peculiar to it," and he goes so far as to say that
probably air-breathing mollusca have been chiefly distributed by air- or
water-carriage, rather than by voluntary dispersal on the land. _See_
"More Letters," II. 14.

[102] _See_ "The Descent of Man," 1st Edit., pp. 90 and 143, for
drawings of the Argus pheasant and its markings. The ocelli on the wing
feathers were favourite objects of Darwin's, and sometimes formed the
subject of the little lectures which on rare occasions he would give to
a visitor interested in Natural History. In Wallace's book, the meaning
of the ocelli comes in by the way, in the explanation of Plate IX., "A
Malayan Forest with some of its Peculiar Birds." The case is a
"remarkable confirmation of Mr. Darwin's views, that gaily coloured
plumes are developed in the male bird for the purpose of attractive

[103] "Geographical Distribution of Animals," i. 286-7.

[104] "Geographical Distribution," i. 76. The name Lemuria was proposed
by Mr. Sclater for an imaginary submerged continent extending from
Madagascar to Ceylon and Sumatra. Wallace points out that if we confine
ourselves to facts Lemuria is reduced to Madagascar, which he makes a
subdivision of the Ethiopian Region.

[105] H.F. Blandford, "On the Age and Correlations of the Plant-bearing
Series of India and the Former Existence of an Indo-Oceanic Continent"
(_Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc_., 1875, xxxi. 519).

[106] In the _Contemporary Review_ for August, 1873, Mr. George Darwin
wrote an article "On Beneficial Restrictions to Liberty of Marriage." In
the July number of the _Quarterly Review_, 1874, p. 70, in an article
entitled "Primitive Man--Tylor and Lubbock," Mr. Mivart thus referred to
Mr. Darwin's article: "Elsewhere (pp. 424-5) Mr. George Darwin speaks
(1) in an approving strain of the most oppressive laws and of the
encouragement of vice to check population. (2) There is no sexual
criminality of Pagan days that might not be defended on the principles
advocated by the school to which this writer belongs." In the _Quarterly
Review_ for October, 1874, p. 587, appeared a letter from Mr. George
Darwin "absolutely denying" charge No. 1, and with respect to charge No.
2 he wrote: "I deny that there is any thought or word in my essay which
could in any way lend itself to the support of the nameless crimes here
referred to." To the letter was appended a note from Mr. Mivart, in
which he said: "Nothing would have been further from our intention than
to tax Mr. Darwin personally (as he seems to have supposed) with the
advocacy of laws or acts which he saw to be oppressive or vicious. We,
therefore, most willingly accept his disclaimer, and are glad to find
that he does not, in fact, apprehend the full tendency of the doctrines
which he has helped to propagate. Nevertheless, we cannot allow that we
have enunciated a single proposition which is either 'false' or
'groundless.' ... But when a writer, according to his own confession,
comes before the public 'to attack the institution of marriage' ... he
must expect searching criticism; and, without implying that Mr. Darwin
has in 'thought' or 'word' approved of anything which he wishes to
disclaim, we must still maintain that the doctrines which he advocates
are most dangerous and pernicious."--EDITOR.

[107] The pages refer to Vol. II. of Wallace's "Geographical

[108] The number (4) was erroneously omitted.--A.R.W.

[109] An error: should have been the Australian.--A.R.W.

[110] Axel Blytt, "Essay on the Immigration of the Norwegian Flora."
Christiania, 1876.

[111] June 22, 1876, p. 165 _et seq._

[112] "The Origin of Species and Genera."

[113] "Island Life."

[114] In "My Life" (ii. 12-13) Wallace writes; "With this came seven
foolscap pages of notes, many giving facts from his extensive reading
which I had not seen. There were also a good many doubts and suggestions
on the very difficult questions in the discussion of the causes of the
glacial epochs. Chapter XXIII., discussing the Arctic element in South
Temperate floras, was the part he most objected to, saying, 'This is
rather too speculative for my old noddle. I must think that you overrate
the importance of new surfaces on mountains and dispersal from mountain
to mountain. I still believe in alpine plants having lived on the
lowlands and in the southern tropical regions having been cooled during
glacial periods, and thus only can I understand character of floras on
the isolated African mountains. It appears to me that you are not
justified in arguing from dispersal to oceanic islands to mountains. Not
only in latter cases currents of sea are absent, but what is there to
make birds fly direct from one alpine summit to another? There is left
only storms of wind, and if it is probable or possible that seeds may
thus be carried for great distances, I do not believe that there is at
present any evidence of their being thus carried more than a few miles.'
This is the most connected piece of criticism in the notes, and I
therefore give it verbatim."

[115] "_Nature_, December 9, 1880. The substance of this article by Mr.
Baker, of Kew, is given in 'More Letters,' vol. iii. 25, in a
footnote."--"My Life," ii. 13.

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