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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. R. Wallace   18 November 1873

The Dell, Grays, Essex

Nov. 18th. 1873

Dear Darwin

I quite understand what you require, and would undertake to do it to the best of my ability. Of course in such work I should not think of offering criticisms of matter.1

I do not think I could form any idea of how long it would take by seeing the MSs. as it would all depend upon the amount of revision & working in required. I have helped Sir C. Lyell with his last 3 or 4 editions in a somewhat similar though different way,2— & for him I kept an account roughly of the hours I was employed in any way for him, — & he paid me 5/- an hour; but (of course this is confidential) I do not think this quite enough for the class of work. I should propose for your work 7s/- an hour as a fair remuneration, and I would put down each day the hours I worked at it.

No doubt you will get it done for very much less by any literary man3 accustomed to regular literary work & nothing else, and perhaps better done, so do not in the least scruple in saying you decide on employing the gentleman you had in view if you prefer it.

If you send it to me could you let me have all your mss. copied out, as it adds considerably to the time required if there is any difficulty in deciphering the writing, which in yours (as you are no doubt aware) there often is.

My hasty note to Bates was not intended to be shewn you or any one.4 I thought he had heard of it from Murray5 & that the arrangement was to be made by Murray. | Believe me | Yours very faithfully, | Alfred R. Wallace —

P.S. I have been delighted with H. Spencer’s Study of Sociology — Some of the passages in the latter part are grand. You have perhaps seen that I am dipping into politics myself occasionally.6 | ARW


Wallace refers to the work needed to produce a second edition of Descent, detailed in the letter to A. R. Wallace, 17 November 1873.
Charles Lyell’s last four editions were Elements of geology 6th ed. (C. Lyell 1865); Principles of geology 10th ed. (C. Lyell 1867–8) and 11th ed. (C. Lyell 1872); and Geological evidences of the antiquity of man 4th ed. (C. Lyell 1873). In A. R. Wallace 1905, 1: 430, Wallace referred to assisting with the completed manuscript and the proofs of part III of Geological evidences of the antiquity of man, 4th ed.
Wallace refers to Henry Walter Bates and the enclosure to the letter from H. W. Bates, 15 November 1873.
John Murray (CD’s publisher).
Wallace refers to Herbert Spencer’s The study of sociology (Spencer 1873b). He had written on political topics in his articles ‘Modern applications of the doctrine of natural selection’, Nature, 13 February 1873, pp. 277–9; ‘Disestablishment and disendowment: with a proposal for a really national Church of England’, Macmillan’s Magazine 27 (1873): 498–507; ‘Free-trade principles and the coal question’, Daily News, 16 September 1873, p. 6; ‘Limitation of state functions in the administration of justice’, Contemporary Review 23 (1873): 43–52.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Lyell, Charles. 1865. Elements of geology, or the ancient changes of the earth and its inhabitants as illustrated by geological monuments. 6th edition, revised. London: John Murray.

Lyell, Charles. 1867–8. Principles of geology or the modern changes of the earth and its inhabitants considered as illustrative of geology. 10th edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Lyell, Charles. 1872. Principles of geology or the modern changes of the earth and its inhabitants considered as illustrative of geology. 11th edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Lyell, Charles. 1873. The geological evidences of the antiquity of man, with remarks on theories of the origin of species by variation. 4th edition revised. London: John Murray.

Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1905. My life: a record of events and opinions. 2 vols. London: Chapman & Hall.


Discussion of his possible assistance on editorial work for revised edition of Descent.

Letter details

Letter no.
Alfred Russel Wallace
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 106: B118–19
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9151,” accessed on 27 January 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21