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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Nature   3 August [1872]1

Permit me to state— though the statement is almost superfluous— that Mr. Wallace, in his review of Dr. Bree’s work, gives with perfect correctness what I intended to express, and what I believe was expressed clearly, with respect to the probable position of man in the early part of his pedigree.2 As I have not seen Dr. Bree’s recent work, and as his letter is unintelligible to me, I cannot even conjecture how he has so completely mistaken my meaning: but, perhaps, no one who has read Mr. Wallace’s article, or who has read a work formerly published by Dr. Bree on the same subject as his recent one, will be surprised at any amount of misunderstanding on his part.3

Charles Darwin

August 3


The year is established by the date of publication of this letter in Nature.
Alfred Russel Wallace’s review of Charles Robert Bree’s An exposition of fallacies in the hypothesis of Mr. Darwin (Bree 1872) appeared in Nature, 25 July 1872, pp. 237–9. According to Bree, CD had placed the origin of humans between marsupials and lemurs; however, Wallace stated that CD had positioned the origin of man after that of the catarrhine or Old-World monkeys. For CD’s discussion of human ancestry in relation to other primates, see Descent 1: 195–9. CD wrote: ‘There can … hardly be a doubt that man is an offshoot from the Old World Simian stem; and that under a genealogical point of view, he must be classed with the Catarhine division’ (ibid., p. 196).
Bree had defended his interpretation of Descent in a letter in Nature, 1 August 1872, p. 260. For CD’s views on Bree, see also the letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 14 May [1872].


Bree, Charles Robert. 1872. An exposition of fallacies in the hypothesis of Mr. Darwin. London: Longmans, Green, and Co.

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


Replies to C. R. Bree’s letter of 27 July [Nature 6 (1872): 260] contending that CD was wrong about early pedigree of man.

Defends the statement of CD’s view in Wallace’s review [Nature 6 (1872): 237–9] of Bree’s book [Exposition of fallacies … of Darwin (1872)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Nature, 8 August 1872, p. 279
Physical description
Printed & ADraftS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8448,” accessed on 13 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20