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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. R. Wallace   18 April [1869]1

9, St. Mark’s Crescent | N.W.

April 18th.

Dear Darwin

I am very glad you think I have done justice to Lyell, and have also well “exposed” (as a frenchman would say) Natural Selection.2 There is nothing I like better than writing a little account of it, & trying to make it clear to the meanest capacity.

The “Croll” question is awfully difficult. I had gone into it more fully, but the Editor made me cut out 8 pages!3

I am very sorry indeed to hear of your accident, but trust you will soon recover & that it will leave no bad effects.4

I can quite comprehend your feelings with regard to my “unscientific” opinions as to man, because a few years back I should myself have looked at them as equally wild & uncalled for. I shall look with extreme interest for what you are writing on Man, & shall give full weight to any explanation you can give of his probable origin.5

My opinions on the subject have been modified solely by the consideration of a series of remarkable phenomena, physical & mental, which I have now had every opportunity of fully testing, & which demonstrate the existence of forces & influences not yet recognised by science. This will I know seem to you like some mental hallucination, but as I can assure you from personal communication with them, that Robert Chambers, Dr. Norris of Birmingham the well known Physiologist, and C. F. Varley the well known Electrician, who have all investigated the subject for years, agree with me both as to the facts and as to the main inferences to be drawn from them, I am in hopes that you will suspend your judgment for a time till we exhibit some corroborative symptoms of insanity.6

In the mean time I can console you by the assurance that I don’t agree with Q. J. of Science about Bamboo, & that I see no cause to modify any of my opinions expressed in my Article on the “Reign of Law”.7

Believe me | Yours very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace

C. Darwin Esq.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to A. R. Wallace, 14 April 1869.
Wallace reviewed Charles Lyell’s geological works in the Quarterly Review ([Wallace] 1869b). See letter to A. R. Wallace, 14 April 1869.
Wallace refers to James Croll; see [Wallace] 1869b, pp. 376–9. The editor of the Quarterly Review was William Smith.
Wallace refers to Richard Norris and Cromwell Fleetwood Varley. For more on Wallace’s interest in spiritualism, see Kottler 1974 and Fichman 2004, pp. 139–210.
See letter to A. R. Wallace, 14 April 1869 and n. 10. Wallace also refers to his review of George Douglas Campbell’s The reign of law (G. D. Campbell 1867, Wallace 1867).


Campbell, George Douglas. 1867. The reign of law. London: Alexander Strahan.

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

Kottler, Malcolm Jay. 1974. Alfred Russel Wallace, the origin of man, and spiritualism. Isis 65: 145–92.


Expands upon their differences in regard to man and the question of the existence of forces not yet recognised by science.

Letter details

Letter no.
Alfred Russel Wallace
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, St Mark’s Crescent, 9
Source of text
DAR 106: B79–80
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6703,” accessed on 16 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17