skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From C. E. C. B. Appleton   18 May [1870]1

New Club, | 9, Spring Gardens. S.W.

18th. May

Dear Sir,

I have found considerable difficulty in getting a thoroughly competent reviewer of Mr. Wallace’s recent book for ‘the Academy’, because I was unwilling to trouble you with a request to do it.2 Mr. Bates however, with whom I have been sitting this afternoon has led me to hope that as the book contains a new chapter in which the application of your great theory to man is directly called in question, you might be induced to criticize this portion of it with some detail.3

The rest of the book being mainly composed of old essays requires little beyond a description of its contents, & a statement how far the views are up to the mark of present knowledge. The smaller additions & emendations, the references to which are collected together in the preface, shd. be cursorily noticed, but the main stress of the criticism shd. be made to bear upon the heretical chapter. Indeed I wd. not mind having this noticed exclusively.

As to time I have no desire to hurry you: take your own time to write down the views which you no doubt have already formed respecting this chapter. But a review from you, & on such a subject will be such a treat for my readers that I really do trust that you will not refuse my request. The little note you sent me for No I was most acceptable & did much good to the Journal.4

Believe me Dr Sir | Very truly yours | C. Appleton | Editor.

C. Darwin Esq.


The year is established by the reference to Wallace 1870a.
Appleton refers to Alfred Russel Wallace and Wallace’s book, Contributions to the theory of natural selection. A series of essays (Wallace 1870a), published in April 1870 (Publishers’ Circular, 2 May 1870, p. 268). The Academy was a new periodical; the first issue had appeared in October 1869. For CD’s praise of an early issue, see Correspondence vol. 17, letter to J. D. Hooker, 19 November [1869].
The new essay referred to by Henry Walter Bates, ‘The limits of natural selection as applied to man’, expanded on remarks Wallace had made in an earlier essay review (Wallace 1869b). Wallace concluded that ‘superior intelligence has guided the development of man in a definite direction’ (Wallace 1870a, p. 359). CD underlined the remark in his copy of the book, which is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 837). CD and Wallace had discussed the topic when Wallace 1869b first appeared (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 17, letter to A. R. Wallace, 14 April 1869).
A notice of CD’s forthcoming book, Descent, had appeared in the Academy 1: 15.


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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.


Asks CD to review Wallace’s recent book of essays [Natural selection (1870)], particularly the new essay, which questions the applicability of natural selection to man.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Edward Cutts Birchall Appleton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
New Club
Source of text
DAR 159: 79
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7193,” accessed on 1 March 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18