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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   17 December 1879

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Dec 17. 79

My dear Hooker,

I have had a letter marked private from Miss Buckley on the following subject, but please observe that she wishes her name not to be mentioned. She says that Wallace “is not strong & that literary work tires him very much, & the uncertainty of it is a great anxiety to him”. She adds that she knows “that pecuniarily it is of importance to him to get a regular salary”. He lately wrote to her “I want some regular work either partially out-door or if indoor then not more than 5 or 6 hrs a day, & capable of being partially done at home. This I see no probability, hardly a possibility of getting at my age”.1

Miss Buckley asks me to consult you, Lubbuck,2 & others whether any thing can be done for him. I can see no possibility of obtaining any scientific post for him, with a small regular salary; but it has occurred to me that it might be just possible to get him one of the government pensions. You can judge infinitely better than I can on this head; and will you be so kind as to let me hear what you think. If the presidents of the several leading scientific societies & some dozen other eminent scientific men were willing to sign a memorial stating his claims, Government would perhaps listen to it; especially if any influential man like yourself could say a word in his favour. It seems to me that a fairly strong claim might be made out,— his travels in S. America & the Malay Archipelago for scientific purposes,— his large share in the descent theory,— his grand work on geographical distribution,— Essays on Protection &c.3 If you think at all favourably of the scheme, will you talk it over with any other leading men such as Huxley or Spottiswoode,4 as soon as you meet them. I am in very bad position for doing much, but should feel bound to undertake all the labour, if the plan is considered feasible by you & a few others. I hope & trust that the cause justifies me in troubling you about it.

My dear Hooker | Every yours sincerely | Charles Darwin


See letter from A. B. Buckley, 16 December 1879; she wanted CD to use his influence to find a post for Alfred Russel Wallace.
In the early part of his career, Wallace had collected specimens in the Amazon and the Malay Archipelago. While in the Moluccas, Wallace had written an essay on the origin of species through competition for survival and inheritance of useful characteristics and sent it to CD, with the result that CD was convinced to publish his own theory of natural selection, on which he had been working for many years (C. R. Darwin and Wallace 1858, Origin; see also Correspondence vol. 7). Wallace had published widely on mimicry for protective purposes and on geographical distribution (see, for example, [Wallace] 1867 and Wallace 1876).


Darwin, Charles and Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1858. On the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection … Communicated by Sir Charles Lyell … and J. D. Hooker. [Read 1 July 1858.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Zoology) 3 (1859): 45–62. [Shorter publications, pp. 282–96.]

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

[Wallace, Alfred Russel.] 1867b. Mimicry and other protective resemblances among animals. Westminster Review n.s. 32: 1–43.

Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1876a. The geographical distribution of animals, with a study of the relations of living and extinct faunas as elucidating the past changes of the earth’s surface. 2 vols. London: Macmillan and Co.


Miss Arabella Buckley’s letter on Wallace’s poor health and finances leads CD to seek JDH’s aid in getting a Government pension.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 491–3
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12360,” accessed on 12 September 2023,