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Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. R. Wallace   21 October 1869

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Oct. 21. 1869

My dear Wallace

I forwarded your letter at once to my son George, but I am nearly sure that he will not be able to tell you any thing; I wish he cd for my own sake; but I suspect there are few men in England who could.1 Pray send me a copy or tell me where your article on Murphy will be published.2 I have just recd “the month” but have only read half as yet. I wish I knew who was the author; you ought to know as he admires you so much; he has a wonderful deal of knowledge, but his difficulties have not troubled me much as yet, except the case of the dipterous larva.3 My book will not be published for a long time, but Murray wished to insert some notice of it.4 Sexual selection has been a tremendous job. Fate has ordained that almost every point on which we differ shd be crowded into this vol.5 Have you seen the Oct. No. of Rev. des deux mondes? It has an article on you, but I have not yet read it; & another art. not yet read by a very good man on the Transformist school.6

I am very glad to hear that you are beginning a book, but do not let it be “little”, on distribution &c— I have no hints to give about maps; the subject wd require long & anxious consideration.7 Before Forbes published his essay on distribution & the glacial period I wrote out & had copied an essay on the same subject, which Hooker read.8 If this M.S. wd be of any use to you, on account of the references in it to papers &c I shd be very glad to lend it to be used in any way; for I forsee that my strength will never last out to come to this subject.

I have been pretty well since my return from Wales, tho’ at the time it did me no good.9

We shall be in London next month when I shall hope to see you—10

My dear Wallace | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. How curiously inaccurate the author of article in “The Month” is in some respects— He speaks of similarity of teeth of Thylacinus & Canis as being so great as to bespeak community of descent, & what a profound difference in essential nature in incisors & premolars & molars!11

How odd with the giraffe—12 but it is not worth writing.—


This letter was published in Correspondence vol. 17 without the postscript in DAR 270, which had been wrongly assigned to another letter. The footnotes have been altered. CD refers to George Howard Darwin. See Correspondence vol. 17, letter from A. R. Wallace, 20 October 1869 and n. 1.
See Correspondence vol. 17, letter from A. R. Wallace, 20 October 1869. Wallace reviewed John Joseph Murphy’s Habit and intelligence (J. J. Murphy 1869) in Nature, 25 November and 2 December 1869 (Wallace 1869b).
CD refers to an an unsigned article, ‘Difficulties of the theory of natural selection’ ([Mivart] 1869) by St George Jackson Mivart, published in parts in the Jesuit journal the Month between July and September (see Correspondence vol. 17, letter from A. R. Wallace, 20 October 1869 and n. 4). The author argued that the development of certain flies from grub to adult could not be explained by natural selection (see [Mivart] 1869, p. 47). The passage is scored in CD’s copy of the article, which is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
See Correspondence vol. 17, letter from A. R. Wallace, 20 October 1869 and n. 2. CD refers to Descent.
For more on CD and Wallace’s differences on sexual selection, see Correspondence vols. 15 and 16.
CD refers to two articles published in the 1 October 1869 issue of Revue des deux mondes, one a review of Wallace 1869a (Randau 1869) and the other a review by Gaston de Saporta of three works, including Variation (Saporta 1869).
CD refers to Edward Forbes and E. Forbes 1846. In 1856, CD sent Joseph Dalton Hooker a fair copy of his manuscript on geographical distribution (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to J. D. Hooker, [16 October 1856] and n. 1). The manuscript is in DAR 14; see also Natural selection, chapter 11.
CD refers to his stay in Wales during June and July 1869 (see Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix II).
CD was in London from 1 to 9 November 1869 (see Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix II).
See [Mivart] 1869, p. 49. Thylacinus is a genus of marsupials that had one extant species in the nineteenth century, T. cynocephalus, the Tasmanian wolf or thylacine. Thylacine dentition differed from that of Canis (the genus of wolves, coyotes, and jackals) in many respects (see M. E. Jones and Stoddart 1998). The Tasmanian wolf became extinct in the 1930s.
Mivart had argued that other herbivores besides the giraffe ought to have developed longer necks ([Mivart] 1869, p. 43).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Forbes, Edward. 1846. On the connexion between the distribution of the existing fauna and flora of the British Isles, and the geological changes which have affected their area, especially during the epoch of the Northern Drift. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, and of the Museum of Economic Geology in London 1: 336–432.

[Mivart, St George Jackson.] 1869. Difficulties of the theory of natural selection. Month 11: 35–53, 134–53, 274–89.

Murphy, Joseph John. 1869. Habit and intelligence in their connexion with the laws of matter and force: a series of scientific essays. 2 vols. London: Macmillan and Co.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

Randau, R. 1869. Un naturaliste dans l’Archipel Malais. [Review of A. R. Wallace, The Malay Archipelago.] Revue des deux mondes 2d ser. 83: 675–706.

Saporta, Gaston de. 1869. L’école transformiste et ses dernièrs travaux. Revue des deux mondes 2d ser. 83: 635–74.

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


Anticipates that all their differences are fated to find expression in projected book on man.

Offers his early MS with useful references related to the distribution of animals. Hopes ARW’s book will not be "little".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Add MS 46434: 189–90); Linnean Society of London (Quentin Keynes Collection)
Physical description
LS(A) 5pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6951,” accessed on 26 September 2022,

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