To A. R. Wallace 25 January 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Sir
I was extremely much pleased at receiving three days ago your letter to me & that to Dr Hooker.2 Permit me to say how heartily I admire the spirit in which they are written. Though I had absolutely nothing whatever to do in leading Lyell & Hooker to what they thought a fair course of action, yet I naturally could not but feel anxious to hear what your impression would be. I owe indirectly much to you & them; for I almost think that Lyell would have proved right & I shd never have completed my larger work, for I have found my abstract hard enough with my poor health, but now thank God I am in my last chapter, but one.3 My abstract will make a small vol. of 400 or 500 pages.— Whenever published, I will of course send you a copy, & then you will see what I mean about the part which I believe Selection has played with domestic productions. It is a very different part, as you suppose, from that played by “Natural Selection”.—4
I sent off, by same address as this note, a copy of Journal of Linn. Soc. & subsequently I have sent some dozen copies of the Paper.—5 I have many other copies at your disposal; & I sent two to your friend Dr Davies(?) author of works on men’s skulls.—6
I am glad to hear that you have been attending to Bird’s nest; I have done so, though almost exclusively under one point of view, viz to show that instincts vary, so that selection could work on & improve them.7 Few other instincts, so to speak, can be preserved in a museum—
Many thanks for your offer to look after Horses stripes; if there are any Donkey’s pray add them.—
I am delighted to hear that you have collected Bees’ combs; when next in London I will enquire of F. Smith & Mr Saunders.8 This is an especial hobby of mine, & I think I can throw light on subject.— If you can collect duplicates at no very great expence, I shd be glad of specimens for myself with some Bees of each kind.—9 Young growing & irregular combs, & those which have not had pupæ are most valuable for measurements & examination: their edges shd be well protected against abrasion.—
Everyone whom I have seen has thought your paper very well written & interesting. It puts my extracts, (written in 1839 now just 20 years ago!)10 which I must say in apology were never for an instant intended for publication, in the shade.
You ask about Lyell’s frame of mind. I think he is somewhat staggered, but does not give in, & speaks with horror often to me, of what a thing it would be & what a job it would be for the next Edition of Principles, if he were “perverted”.— But he is most candid & honest & I think will end by being perverted.— Dr Hooker has become almost as heteredox as you or I.—and I look at Hooker as by far the most capable judge in Europe.—
Most cordially do I wish you health & entire success in all your pursuits & God knows if admirable zeal & energy deserve success, most amply do you deserve it.
I look at my own career as nearly run out: if I can publish my abstract & perhaps my greater work on same subject, I shall look at my course as done.11
Believe me, my dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin
Expresses pleasure and relief at ARW’s response to joint publication of their pieces about natural selection.
Plans for the "abstract" [Origin].
Birds’ nests as evidence of variation of instincts.
Their collection of bees’ combs.
Praises ARW’s article.
Lyell’s and Hooker’s views [of species issue].
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2405,” accessed on 25 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2405