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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. B. Buckley   16 December 1879

1 St Mary’s Terrace | Paddington W.

Dec 16./79


Dear Mr. Darwin,

I want very much to consult you upon a matter in which I have perhaps no real concern, but with which I believe I am better acquainted than others—

You will no doubt have known that Mr. Wallace was a candidate for the post of Superintendent of Epping Forest & has been making great efforts to get it during the whole past year. He is now rejected & they have chosen a landscape-gardener instead—1

Now he is so modest & sensitive about himself that I am sure he would never tell anyone that which however I know, that “pecuniarily it was of importance to him to get a regular salary”:

He is not strong & literary work tries him very much & the uncertainty of it is a great anxiety to him—

In a letter to me the other day he writes “I want some regular work either partially outdoor, or if indoor then not more than 5 or 6 hours a day & capable of being partially done at home— This I see no probability—hardly a possibility of getting at my age & with my irregular antecedents”—

Now I cannot help thinking that if men like Sir J. Lubbock, Sir J. Hooker & others knew that Mr. Wallace wanted work of a modest kind & not some important post, some good use might be made of his great Natural History power & his future made more secure— Only, of course, my moving in the matter should not appear, I merely suggest that, which if it could come, must do so from men of his own standing & I shall not mention to any one that I have written to you— Years ago he was to have had the East London Museum but it passed into the hands of S. Kensington & he lost it—2 I feel he ought to have something & I could think of no one as good as yourself to whom I could say so—

I remain | Yours very sincerely Arabella B Buckley


Alfred Russel Wallace had asked for CD’s support in his application for the post of superintendent of Epping Forest (see Correspondence vol. 26, letter from A. R. Wallace, 14 September 1878). The new superintendent was Alexander McKenzie, previously superintendent of open spaces for the Metropolitan Board of Works.
In 1869, the government planned to open a branch of the South Kensington Museum at Bethnal Green in east London to combine art and natural history. Wallace had hoped to be appointed as a director. In the event, when the museum opened in 1872, it was managed from South Kensington. (Fichman 2004, p. 60.) See also Correspondence vol. 16, letter from A. R. Wallace, 7 February 1868 and n. 1.


Fichman, Martin. 2004. An elusive Victorian: the evolution of Alfred Russel Wallace. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


On Wallace’s need for a regular income. He has been rejected as Superintendent of Epping Forest. Thinks men such as Lubbock, Hooker, and CD might help.

Letter details

Letter no.
Arabella Burton Buckley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 160: 366
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12358,” accessed on 27 February 2024,