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Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. R. Wallace   25 June [1869]1

Caerdeon, Barmouth | N. Wales

June 25

My dear Wallace

We have been here a fortnight & shall remain here till beginning of August.—2 I can say nothing good about my health, & I am so weak that I can hardly crawl half a mile from the House; but I hope I may improve & anyhow the magnificent view of Cader is enjoyable.—3

I do not know that I have anything to ask Mr. Geach: nor do I suppose I shall be in London till late in the Autumn, but I shd. be particularly obliged, if you have any communication with Mr. Geach, if you wd. express for me my sincere thanks for his kindness in sending me the very Valuable answers on Expression.— I wrote some months ago to him in answer to his last letter.4 I wd. ask him to Down, but the fatigue to me of receiving a stranger is something which to you wd be utterly unintteligible.

I think I have heard of the scales on Butterflies; but there are lots of sexual characters, which quite baffle all powers of even conjecture.5

You are quite correct, that I felt forced to make all additions to Origin as short as possible.—6

I am indeed pleased to hear & fully expected that your Malay work wd. be known throughout Europe.—7

Oh dear what wd. I not give for a little more strength to get on with my work.—

Ever yours | C. Darwin

I Wish that you cd. have told me that your place in the new Museum was all settled.8

P.S. | Hooker writes to me “Miquel has been telling me that the Flora of Sumatra & Borneo are identical, & that of Java quite different.”—9


This letter was published in Correspondence vol. 17 without the postscript, which was later found at the Natural History Museum. The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from A. R. Wallace, 23 June [1869] (Correspondence vol. 17).
CD and his family stayed at Caerdeon in North Wales from 12 June to 30 July 1869 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
CD refers to Cader Idris, a mountain.
CD refers to Frederick F. Geach. See Correspondence vol. 17, letter from A. R. Wallace, 23 June [1869] and n. 3. CD’s letter to Geach has not been found.
CD refers to the fifth edition of Origin. See Correspondence vol. 17, letter from A. R. Wallace, 23 June [1869].
CD refers to Wallace 1869a; see Correspondence vol. 17, letter from A. R. Wallace, 23 June [1869] and n. 6.
In 1869, the government was planning to open a branch of the South Kensington Museum at Bethnal Green to combine art and natural history. Wallace was hoping 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.)
Joseph Dalton Hooker had visited Friedrich Anton Wilhelm Miquel while he was in the Hague; the quotation is from his letter to CD of 24 June 1869 (Correspondence vol. 17). Miquel had written a flora of the Dutch East Indies, which included the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, and Java (Miquel 1855–60).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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

Miquel, Friedrich Anton Wilhelm. 1855–60. Flora van Nederlandsch Indië. (Flora Indiae Batavae.) 3 vols. in 4 and Supplement. Amsterdam and Utrecht: C. G. van der Post. Utrecht: C. van der Post.


On butterfly scales: there are many secondary characters which baffle conjecture.

Was forced to make additions to Origin as short as possible.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent from
Source of text
British Library (Add MS 46434: 186–7); Natural History Museum (Entomology Manuscripts MSS WAL A 1:1 (127-128))
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6802,” accessed on 27 May 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17 and 24 (Supplement)