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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Alfred Russel Wallace to J. D. Hooker1   6 October 1858

Ternate, Moluccas,

Oct. 6. 1858.

My dear Sir

I beg leave to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of July last, sent me by Mr. Darwin, & informing me of the steps you had taken with reference to a paper I had communicated to that gentleman.2 Allow me in the first place sincerely to thank yourself & Sir Charles Lyell for your kind offices on this occasion, & to assure you of the gratification afforded me both by the course you have pursued, & the favourable opinions of my essay which you have so kindly expressed. I cannot but consider myself a favoured party in this matter, because it has hitherto been too much the practice in cases of this sort to impute all the merit to the first discoverer of a new fact or a new theory, & little or none to any other party who may, quite independently, have arrived at the same result a few years or a few hours later.

I also look upon it as a most fortunate circumstance that I had a short time ago commenced a correspondence with Mr. Darwin on the subject of “Varieties”,3 since it has led to the earlier publication of a portion of his researches & has secured to him a claim to priority which an independent publication either by myself or some other party might have injuriously effected;—for it is evident that the time has now arrived when these & similar views will be promulgated & must be fairly discussed.

It would have caused me much pain & regret had Mr. Darwin’s excess of generosity led him to make public my paper unaccompanied by his own much earlier & I doubt not much more complete views on the same subject, & I must again thank you for the course you have adopted, which while strictly just to both parties, is so favourable to myself.

Being on the eve of a fresh journey I can now add no more than to thank you for your kind advice as to a speedy return to England;—but I dare say you well know & feel, that to induce a Naturalist to quit his researches at their most interesting point requires some more cogent argument than the prospective loss of health.4

I remain | My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Alfred R. Wallace J. D. Hooker, M.D.


The letter was sent to CD to be forwarded to Joseph Dalton Hooker (see letter to J. D. Hooker,23 January [1859]).
CD had forwarded Hooker’s letter to Wallace along with his own. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 [July 1858].
Wallace was preparing to leave Ternate for the nearby island of Batchian (Batjan), on the south-west side of Gilolo (Halmahera), which he reached on 21 October 1858 (Wallace 1905, 1: 365). He spent nearly six months there.


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

Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1905. My life: a record of events and opinions. 2 vols. London: Chapman & Hall.


Thanks JDH and Lyell for the actions they have taken with respect to ARW’s and CD’s papers. Considers himself fortunate to have been given any merit for his work. Is pleased that his correspondence has led to the earlier publication of CD’s work. It would have caused him "much pain & regret" if CD had made ARW’s paper public unaccompanied by his own views.

Letter details

Letter no.
Alfred Russel Wallace
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
Linnean Society of London (Quentin Keynes Collection)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2337,” accessed on 19 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7