Comments on agreement of their respective views on distribution.
Reference to differences on subsidence.
Reports on progress of his work and praises ARW's investigations.
Down Bromley Kent.
My dear Sir
I thank you for your letter of Sept.
I have not yet seen your paper on distribution of animals in the Arru
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
volume of the Arru Isl
You ask about Land-shells on islands far distant from continents: Madeira has a few
identical with those of Europe, & here the evidence is really good as some of
them are sub-fossil. In the Pacific isl
Since writing before, I have experimentised a little on some land-mollusca & have found sea-water not quite so deadly as I anticipated. You ask whether I shall discuss “man”;—I think I shall avoid whole subject, as so surrounded with prejudices, though I fully admit that it is the highest & most interesting problem for the naturalist.— My work, on which I have now been at work more or less for 20 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 3 or 4 years more: what a wonderful deal you will have seen; & what interesting areas,—the grand Malay Archipelago & the richest parts of S. America!— I infinitely admire & honour your zeal & courage in the good cause of Natural Science; & you have my very sincere & cordial good wishes for success of all kinds; & 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 | C. Darwin
- f1 2192.f1Letter from A. R. Wallace, [27 September 1857].
- f2 2192.f2Wallace 1855.
- f3 2192.f3See Correspondence vol. 5, letter from Edward Blyth, 8 December 1855. Charles Lyell had read Wallace's paper in November 1855 and was much struck by it, for he began his scientific journals with notes on Wallace 1855 (Wilson ed. 1970, p. xli). CD had interleaved notes on Wallace 1855 in his copy of the journal in which it appeared. These are transcribed in Correspondence vol. 5, letter from Edward Blyth, 8 December 1855, n. 1.
- f4 2192.f4Wallace 1857.
- f5 2192.f5CD refers to a map showing the distribution of coral reefs throughout the world in Coral reefs, plate 3. The coloured areas indicated great zones of the sea-floor that were undergoing either elevation or subsidence. Wallace suggested in his paper that the Aru Islands once formed part of New Guinea, the intervening land having subsided (Wallace 1857, p. 479).
- f6 2192.f6To account for the similarity between many Australian genera and species and those found on Aru, Wallace suggested that these regions might have been connected at one time through New Guinea. He argued that other islands with rich floras similar to continental floras could be shown by geological evidence to have been recently united with continents, giving Britain and Sicily as examples. (Wallace 1857, pp. 478–9).
- f7 2192.f7See letters to Charles Lyell, 5 July , and to J. D. Hooker, 5 July .
- f8 2192.f8See Correspondence vol. 5, letter from R. T. Lowe, 19 September 1854.
- f9 2192.f9A. A. Gould 1852–6.
- f10 2192.f10See letter from T. V. Wollaston, [11 or 18 December 1856].
- f11 2192.f11According to CD's ‘Journal’ (see Correspondence vol. 6, Appendix II), he began the chapter on hybridism on 30 September and completed it on 29 December 1857.
- f12 2192.f12Wallace returned to England from Singapore in 1862, having spent eight years in the Malay Archipelago (DNB).