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Record number: WCP1846

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Sent by:
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
18 May 1860

Sent by Charles Robert Darwin, Down, Bromley, Kent to Alfred Russel Wallace [none given] on 18 May 1860.

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 (WCP1846.1736)

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

Held by:
British Library, The
Finding number:
BL Add. 46434 ff. 21-22
Copyright owner:
©William H. Darwin
Record scrutiny:
05/12/2012 - Szentgyorgyi, Katherine;

Physical description

Transcription information




Down Bromley Kent

May 18th 1860

My dear Mr Wallace

I received this morning your letter from Amboyna dated Feb. 16th, containing some remarks & your too high approbation of my book. Your letter has pleased me very much, & I most completely agree with you on the parts which are strongest & which are weakest. The imperfection of Geolog. 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, Keyserling, all good men & true--Pictet of Geneva is not a convert, but is evidently staggered (as I think is Bronn of Heidelberg) & he has written a perfectly fair review in the Bib. Universelle of Geneva.-- Old Bronn has translated my book, well-done also, into German & 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 progress of opinion on subject, you must let me say how I admire the generous manner in which you speak of my Book: [[2]] most persons would in your position have felt some envy or 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 pleasure leisure done the work just as well, perhaps better, than I have done it.--

Talking of envy, you never read anything more envious & spiteful (with numerous misrepresentations) than Owen is in the Edinburgh Review. I must give one instance he throws doubts & sneers at my saying that the ovigerous frena of cirripedes have been converted into Branchiæ, because I have not proved them to be Branchiae; whereas he himself admits, before I wrote, on cirripedes, without the least hesitation that these organs are Branchae.--

The attacks have been heavy & incessant of late. Sedgwick & Prof. Clarke attacked me savagely at Cambridge Phil. Soc. but Henslow defended me well, though not a convert.-- Phillips has since attacked me in Lecture at Cambridge. Sir W.[illiam] Jardine in Eding.[burgh] New Phil. Journal.-- Wollaston in Annal of Nat. History.-- A. Murray before Royal Soc. of Edinburgh--Haughton at Geolog. Soc. of Dublin-- Dawson in Canadian Nat. Magazine, [[3]] And many others. But I am got case-hardened, & all these attacks will make me only more determinately 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, & this autumn will publish on Geological History of Man, & will there declare his conversion, which now is universally known.-- I hope that you have received Hookers splendid Essay.-- So far is bigotry carried, that I can name 3 Botanists who will not even read Hookers Essay!!

Here is a curious thing, a Mr. Pat. Matthew, a Scotchman, published in 1830 a work on Naval Timber & Arboriculture, & in appendix to do this, he gives most clearly but very briefly in half-dozen paragraphs our view of natural selection. It is most complete case of anticipitation. He published extracts in G. Chronicle: I got Book, & have since published letter, acknowledging that I am fairly forestalled.-- Yesterday I heard from Lyell that a German Dr Schaffhausen has sent him a pamphlet[sic] published some [[4]] years ago, in which same View is nearly anticipated but I have not yet seen this pamphet.[sic]-- My Brother, who is very sagacious man, always said you will find that some one will have been before you.--

I am at work at my larger work which I shall publish in separate volumes.-- But from ill-health & 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, & with most deeply-felt wishes for your success in science & in every way believe me,1 | Your sincere well-wisher | C. Darwin [signature]


1. The manuscript has been damaged and the last paragraph is no longer present. The text has been extracted from a previous copy produced by the Darwin correspondence project


This transcript is based on that produced by The Darwin Correspondence Project (http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/): see http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-2807

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