To A. R. Wallace 12 and 13 October 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
Oct 12 & 13th
My dear Wallace
I ordered the journal a long time ago, but by some oversight recd it only yesterday & read it.2 You will think my praise not worth having from being so indiscriminate, but if I am to speak the truth, I must say I admire every word.—
You have just touched on the points which I particularly wished to see noticed. I am glad you had the courage to take up Angræcum after the Duke’s attack; for I believe the principle in this case may be widely applied.3 I like the Figure but I wish the artist had drawn a better sphynx.4
With respect to Beauty yr remarks on hideous objects & on flowers not being made beautiful except when of practical use to them strike me as very good.5
On this one point of Beauty I can hardly think that the Duke was quite candid. I have used in the concluding paragraph of my present book precisely the same argument as you have, even bringing in the bull dog, with respect to variations not having been specially ordained.6 Your metaphor of the river is new to me & admirable; but yr other metaphor in which you compare classification & complex machines does not seem to me quite appropriate, tho’ I cannot point out what seems deficient.7 The point which seems to me strong is that all naturalists admit that there is a natural classification, & it is this which descent explains. I wish you had insisted a little more against the N. British on the reviewer assuming that each variation which appears is a strongly marked one; though by implication you have made this very plain.8 Nothing in yr whole article has struck me more than yr view with respect to the limit of fleetness in the race horse & other such cases; I shall try & quote you on this head in the proof of my concluding chapter. I quite missed this explanation, tho’ in the case of wheat I hit upon something analogous.9 I am glad you praise the Duke’s book for I was much struck with it. The part about flight seemed to me at first very good, but as the wing is articulated by a ball & socket joint, I suspect the Duke wd find it very difficult to give any reason against the belief that the wing strikes the air more or less obliquely.10 I have been very glad to see your article & the drawing of the butterfly in “Science Gossip.”11 By the way I cannot but think that you push protection too far in some cases, as with the stripes on the tiger.12 I have also this mg read an excellent abstract in Gard. Chron. of yr paper on nests; I was not by any means fully converted by yr letter, but I think now I am so; & I hope it will be published somewhere in extenso. It strikes me as a capital generalization, & appears to me even more original than it did at first.13
I have had an excellent & cautious letter from Mr Leach of Singapore with some valuable answers on expression which I owe to you.14
I heartily congratulate you on the birth of “Herbert Spencer”, & may he deserve his name, but I hope he will copy his father’s style & not his namesake’s.15 Pray observe, though I fear I am a month too late, when tears are first secreted enough to overflow; & write down dates.16
I have finished Vol. 1 of my book & I hope the whole will be out by the end of Nov;17 if you have the patience to read it through, which is very doubtful, you will find I think a large accumulation of facts which will be of service to you in yr future papers, & they cd not be put to better use, for you certainly are a master in the noble art of reasoning.
Have you changed yr house to Westbourne Grove??18
Believe me my dear Wallace | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin
This letter is so badly expressed that it is barely intelligible, but I am tired with Proofs19
P.S. Mr Warington has lately read an excellent & spirited abstract of the “Origin” before the Victoria Inst. & as this is a most orthodox body he has gained the name of the Devil’s Advocate. The discussion which followed during 3 consecutive meetings is very rich from the nonsense talked. If you wd care to see the number I cd send it you.20
I forgot to remark how capitally you turn the table on the Duke, when you make him create the Angræcum & moth by special creation.—21
Response to ARW’s "Creation by law", especially the Angraecum sesquipedale and the predicted Madagascar moth.
ARW’s argument on beauty strikes CD as good.
Wishes ARW had made more clear the assumption of the reviewer [in North Br. Rev.] that each variation is a strongly marked one.
The Duke of Argyll’s argument on beauty is not candid.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5648,” accessed on 6 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5648