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Record number: WCP1841

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Sent by:
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
25 January [1859]

Sent by Charles Robert Darwin, Down, Bromley, Kent to Alfred Russel Wallace [none given] on 25 January [1859].

Record created:
30 November 2011 by Mayer, Anna
Verified by:
05/12/2012 - Szentgyorgyi, Katherine (All except summary checked);


No summary available at this time.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)
  • publication (1)

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LETTER (WCP1841.1731)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
British Library, The
Finding number:
BL Add. 46434 ff. 9-12
Copyright owner:
©William H. Darwin
Record scrutiny:
05/12/2012 - Szentgyorgyi, Katherine;

Physical description

Transcription information




Down Bromley Kent

Jan.[uary] 25th1

My dear Sir

I was extremely much pleased at receiving three days ago your letter to me & 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 & 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 [[2]] indirectly much to you & them; for I almost think that Lyell would have proved right & I sh[oul]d. never have completed my larger work, for I have found my abstract hard enough with my poor health, but now thank God I am in my last chapter, but one. My abstract will make a small vol. of 400 or 500 pages.-- Whenever published, I will of course send you a copy, & then you will see what I mean about the part which I believe [[3]] 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 Journal of Linn. Soc. & subsequently I have sent some 1⁄2 dozen copies of the Paper.-- I have many other copies at your disposal; & I sent two to your friend Dr. Davies(?) author of works on mens skulls.--

I am glad to hear that you have been attending to Birds nest; I have done so, though almost [[4]] exclusively under one point of view, viz to show that instincts vary, so that selection could work on & 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 enquire [[5]] of F. Smith & Mr Saunders. This is an especial hobby of mine, & I think I can throw light on subject.-- If you can collect duplicates at no very great expence[sic], I sh[oul]d. be glad of specimens for myself with some Bees of each kind.-- Young growing & irregular combs, & those which have not had pupae are most valuable for measurements & examination: their edges [[6]] sh[oul]d. be well protected against abrasion.--

Everyone whom I have seen has thought your paper very well written & interesting. It puts my extracts, (written in 1839 now just 20 years ago!) which I must say in apology were never for an instant intended for publication, in the shade.

You ask about Lyells frame of mind. I think he is somewhat staggered, but does not give in, & speaks with horror often to me, of what a [[7]] thing it would be & what a job it would be for the next Edition of Principles, if he were "perverted".-- But he is most candid & honest & I think will end by being perverted.-- Dr. Hooker has become almost as heteredox as you or I.--and I look at Hooker as by far the most capable judge in Europe.--

Most cordially do I wish [[8]] you health & entire success in all your pursuits & God knows if admirable zeal & 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 & perhaps my greater work on same subject, I shall look at my course as done.

Believe me, | my dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin [signature]


1. The year ‘1859’ is written in pencil in another hand.


This transcript is based on that produced by The Darwin Correspondence Project (http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/): see http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-2405

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.