skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. R. Wallace   6 April 1859

Down Bromley Kent

April 6 /59

My dear Mr Wallace

I this morning received your pleasant & friendly note of Nov. 30th. 1 The first part of my M.S is in Murray’s hands to see if he likes to publish it. There is no preface, but a short Introduction, which must be read by everyone, who reads my Book. The second Paragraph in the Introduction, I have had copied verbatim from my foul copy, & you will, I hope, think that I have fairly noticed your paper in Linn. Transacts—2 You must remember that I am now publishing only an Abstract & I give no references.— I shall of course allude to your paper on Distribution; & I have added that I know from correspondence that your explanation of your law is the same as that which I offer.—3 You are right, that I came to conclusion that Selection was the principle of change from study of domesticated productions; & then reading Malthus I saw at once how to apply this principle.—4 Geographical Distrib. & Geological relations of extinct to recent inhabitants of S. America first led me to subject. Especially case of Galapagos Islds.—

I hope to go to press in early part of next month.— It will be small volume of about 500 pages or so.— I will of course send you a copy. I forget whether I told you that Hooker, who is our best British Botanist & perhaps best in World, is a full convert, & is now going immediately to publish his confession of Faith; & I expect daily to see the proof-sheets.—5 Huxley is changed & believes in mutation of species: whether a convert to us, I do not quite know.— We shall live to see all the younger men converts. My neighbour & excellent naturalist J. Lubbock is enthusiastic convert.

I see by Nat. Hist notices that you are doing great work in the Archipelago;6 & most heartily do I sympathise with you. For God sake take care of your health. There have been few such noble labourers in the cause of Natural Science as you are.

Farewell, with every good wish | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin

P.S. | You cannot tell how I admire your spirit, in the manner in which you have taken all that was done about publishing our papers. I had actually written a letter to you, stating that I would not publish anything before you had published. I had not sent that letter to the Post, when I received one from Lyell & Hooker, urging me to send some M.S. to them, & allow them to act as they thought fair & honourably to both of us. & I did so.—7


Wallace’s letter has not been found.
Apparently CD enclosed a copy of the relevant paragraph in his letter. The text in Origin, pp. 1–2, reads: My work is now nearly finished; but as it will take me two or three more years to complete it, and as my health is far from strong, I have been urged to publish this Abstract. I have more especially been induced to do this, as Mr. Wallace, who is now studying the natural history of the Malay archipelago, has arrived at almost exactly the same general conclusions that I have on the origin of species. Last year he sent to me a memoir on this subject, with a request that I would forward it to Sir Charles Lyell, who sent it to the Linnean Society, and it is published in the third volume of the Journal of that Society. Sir C. Lyell and Dr. Hooker, who both knew of my work—the latter having read my sketch of 1844—honoured me by thinking it advisable to publish, with Mr. Wallace’s excellent memoir, some brief extracts from my manuscripts.
In Origin, p. 355, CD stated: ‘This view of the relation of species in one region to those in another, does not differ much (by substituting the word variety for species) from that lately advanced in an ingenious paper by Mr. Wallace, in which he concludes, that “every species has come into existence coincident both in space and time with a pre-existing closely allied species.”’ CD refers to Wallace 1855.
Hooker 1859 was the first scientific work to discuss CD’s theories at length.
Several of Wallace’s letters to his natural history agent Samuel Stevens were published in the Zoologist and in the Proceedings of the Entomological Society during 1858 and 1859. Many of his specimens, particularly his entomological and ornithological specimens, were exhibited at meetings of the Zoological Society and the Entomological Society and reported in their printed proceedings and in Annals and Magazine of Natural History and Cottage Gardener.
See the correspondence between CD, Charles Lyell, and Joseph Dalton Hooker in June 1858.


Malthus, Thomas Robert. 1826. An essay on the principle of population; or, a view of its past and present effects on human happiness; with an inquiry into our prospects respecting the future removal or mitigation of the evils which it occasions. 6th edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

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. 1855. On the law which has regulated the introduction of new species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 2d ser. 16: 184–96.


First part of Origin MS is with Murray;

CD hopes he has noticed ARW’s work fairly.

ARW is right in thinking that CD was led to believe that selection was the principle of change from studying domesticated productions and that after reading Malthus he "saw at once how to apply this principle". Geographical distribution and geological relations of extinct and recent inhabitants of S. America first led him to the subject, "Especially case of Galapagos Islds". Hooker and Lubbock are full converts and Huxley now believes in species mutation. "We shall live to see all the younger men converts."

Praises ARW’s work and spirit.

CD had actually written a letter to ARW stating he would not publish before him but was persuaded by Lyell and Hooker to allow them to act "as they thought fair & honourably".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Add MS 46434)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2449,” accessed on 28 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7