To A. R. Wallace 9 August 1859
Down Bromley Kent
Augst. 9th. 1859
My dear Mr Wallace
I received your letter & memoir on the 7th & will forward it tomorrow to Linn. Socy. 1 But you will be aware that there is no meeting till beginning of November. Your paper seems to me admirable in matter, style & reasoning; & I thank you for allowing me to read it. Had I read it some months ago I shd. have profited by it for my forthcoming volume.— But my two chapters on this subject are in type; & though not yet corrected, I am so wearied out & weak in health, that I am fully resolved not to add one word & merely improve style. So you will see that my views are nearly the same with yours, & 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 Malay Archipelago in relation to the depth of the sea between the islands?2 I was much struck with this & have been in habit of noting all facts on distribution in that Archipelago & elswhere in this relation. I have been led to conclude that there has been a good deal of naturalisation in the different Malay islands & 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?3 I wish that you had visited Timor:4 it has been asserted that fossil Mastodon or Elephant’s tooth (I forget which) has been found there, which would be grand fact.—5 I was aware that Celebes was very peculiar; but the relation to Africa is quite new to me & marvellous & almost passes belief.—6 It is as anomalous as relation of plants in S.W. Australia to Cape of Good Hope.
I differ wholly from you on colonisation of oceanic islands, but you will have everyone else on your side.7 I quite agree with respect to all islands not situated far in ocean. I quite agree on little occasional intermigration between lands when once pretty well stocked with inhabitants, but think this does not apply to rising & ill-stocked islands.
Are you aware that annually birds are blown to Madeira, to Azores, (& to Bermuda from America).—8 I wish I had given fuller abstract of my reasons for not believing in Forbes’ great continental extensions;9 but it is too late, for I will alter nothing. I am worn out & must have rest.—
Owen, I do not doubt, will bitterly oppose us; but I regard this very little; as he is a poor reasoner & deeply considers the good opinion of the world, especially the aristocratic world.—10
Hooker is publishing a grand Introduction to Flora of Australia & goes the whole length.—11 I have seen proofs of about half.—
With every good wish. Believe me | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin
Excuse this brief note, but I am far from well.—
Will forward ARW’s "admirable" paper to Linnean Society ["On the zoological geography of the Malay Archipelago", J. Linn. Soc. Lond. (Zool.) 4 (1860): 172–84].
Discusses geographical distribution of animals in the Malay Archipelago; relation of distribution to depth of sea between islands.
Relation of Celebes to Africa almost passes belief.
Differs wholly from ARW on colonisation of oceanic islands; does not believe in Forbes’s great continental extensions.
Anticipates Owen’s opposition to their views, but "he is a poor reasoner & deeply considers the good opinion of the world, especially the aristocratic world".