To A. R. Wallace 28 [May 1864]1
Down Bromley Kent
I am so much better that I have just finished paper for Linn. Soc;2 but as I am not yet at all strong I felt much disinclination to write & therefore you must forgive me for not having sooner thanked you for your paper on man received on the 11th.—3 But first let me say that I have hardly ever in my life been more struck by any paper than that on Variation &c &c in the Reader.4 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 simple 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.5 One correspondent has already noticed to me your “high-minded” conduct on this head.6
But now for your Man paper, about which I shd. 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;7 yet I had got as far as to see with you that the struggle between the races of man depended entirely on intellectual & moral qualities.—8
The latter part of paper I can designate only as grand & most eloquently done.—9 I have shown your paper to 2 or 3 persons who have been here10 & they have been equally struck with it.— I am not sure that I go with you on all minor points:11 when reading Sir G. Greys account of constant battles of Australian savages, I rember thinking that N. Selection would come in,12 & likewise with Esquimaux with whom the art of fishing & managing canoe is said to be hereditary.13 I rather differ on the rank under 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 divisions.—14 Ants would not be separated from other Hymenopterous insects however high the instinct of the one & however low the instincts of the other.—15
With respect to the differences of race, a conjecture has occurred to me that much may be due to the correlation of complexion (& consequently Hair) with constitution. Assume that a dusky individual best escaped miasma & you will readily see what I mean:16 I persuaded the Director Gen. of the Med. depart. of the army to send printed forms to the surgeons of all Regiments in Tropical countries to ascertain this point, but I dare say I shall never get any returns.17 Secondly I suspect that a sort of sexual selection has been the most powerful means of changing the races of man. I can shew that the difft races have a widely difft standard of beauty. Among savages the most powerful men will have the pick of the women & they will generally leave the most descendants.18
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, & if so would you like at some future time to have my few references & notes? I am sure I hardly know whether they are of any value & they are at present in a state of chaos. There is much more that I shd like to write but I have not strength19
Believe me dear Wallace | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin
Our aristocracy is handsomer (more hideous according to a Chinese or Negro) than middle classes from pick of women; but oh what a scheme is primogeniture for destroying N. Selection.—20
I fear my letter will be barely intelligible to you—
Response to ARW’s papers on Papilionidae ["On the phenomena of variation and geographical distribution", Trans. Linn. Soc. Lond. 25 (1866): 1–71; abstract in Reader 3 (1864): 491–3],
and man ["The origin of human races", J. Anthropol. Soc. Lond. 2 (1864): clviii–clxxxvi].
The former is "really admirable" and will be influential.
The idea of the man paper is striking and new. Minor points of difference. Conjectures regarding racial differences; the possible correlation between complexion and constitution. His Query to Army surgeons to determine this point. Offers ARW his notes on man, which CD doubts he will be able to use.
On sexual selection in "our aristocracy"; primogeniture is a scheme for destroying natural selection.
[Letter incorrectly dated March by CD.]
- constant varieties, races
- geographical distribution
- pathology, disease
- physical ‘external’ characters
- positive attitude/assessment
- queries / requests
- sexual selection
- social behaviour
- theory (including philosophy)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4510,” accessed on 25 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4510