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Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. R. Wallace   [29? September 1863]1

Malvern Wells


My dear Mr. Wallace

Your kindness is never failing.2 I got worse & worse at home & was sick every day for two months; so came here, where I suddenly broke down & could do nothing; but I hope I am now very slowly recovering, but am very weak.—3

Sincere thanks about Melastomas:4 these flowers have baffled me & I have caused several friends much useless labour; though, Heaven knows, I have thrown away time enough on them myself.—5

The gorze case is very valuable & I will quote it, as I presume I may.—6

I was very glad to see in the Reader, that you have been giving a grand paper, (as I infer from remarks in discussion) on Geographical distribution.7

I am very weak, so will say no more | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


The date is conjectured from the relationship between this letter and the letter from A. R. Wallace, 26 September 1863; the first Tuesday after that date was 29 September.
CD stayed at Malvern Wells, Worcestershire, from 3 September to 12 or 13 October 1863, in order to undergo treatment at James Smith Ayerst’s hydropathic establishment (see Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) and letter to J. B. Innes, 1 September [1863]).
See letter from A. R. Wallace, 26 September 1863 and n. 2. CD never published his research on the Melastomataceae (see Cross and self fertilisation, p. 298 n., and ML 2: 292–302); his working notes on the subject are in DAR 205.8.
See letter from A. R. Wallace, 26 September 1863. CD discussed the acclimatisation of domesticated varieties in Variation 2: 305–15; however, he did not cite the case supplied by Wallace in Variation, or in any of his subsequent publications.
CD refers to a report in the Reader 2 (1863): 352–3, describing Wallace’s paper, ‘On the geographical distribution of animal life’ (Wallace 1863c), which was read on 31 August 1863 at the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The report made no reference to the discussion of Wallace’s paper; however, it was followed by a report of Henry Baker Tristram’s paper, ‘On the variation of species as pointing to Western Asia as the centre of the palæarctic area of creation’, in which Tristram referred to Wallace’s ‘magnificent epitome of all that science had yet attained in respect to the variations and limits of the different groups’. There are annotated copies of both reports in DAR 205.10: 2.


Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

ML: More letters of Charles Darwin: a record of his work in a series of hitherto unpublished letters. Edited by Francis Darwin and Albert Charles Seward. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1903.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Baffling problems with Melastoma. Appreciates ARW’s help with it and the "gorze case".

Has read report of ARW’s paper [to Newcastle BAAS meeting, "On the geographical distribution of animal life"] in the Reader [2 (1863): 352–3].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent from
Malvern Wells
Source of text
The British Library (Add. MS. 46434: 36–7b)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4310,” accessed on 30 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11