skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Alfred Russel Wallace   1 January 1864

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Jan 1. 1864

Dear Wallace

I am still unable to write otherwise than by dictation.1 In a letter received 2 or 3 weeks ago from Asa Gray he writes “I read lately with gusto Wallace’s exposé of the Dublin man on Bee cells &c”2

Now tho’ I cannot read at present I much want to know where this is published that I may procure a copy.3 Further on Asa Gray says (after speaking of Agassiz’s paper on Glaciers in the Atlantic Magazine)4 & his recent book entitled Method of Study5 “Pray set Wallace upon these articles”   So Asa Gray seems to think much of your powers of reviewing & I mention this as it assuredly is laudari a laudato.6 I hope you are hard at work & if you are inclined to tell me I shd much like to know what you are doing. It will be many months I fear before I shall do any thing.

Pray believe me yours very sincerely. | Ch. Darwin


The letter is written in Emma Darwin’s hand. See letter to John Lubbock, [1 January 1864] and n. 2.
In his letter of 23 November 1863 (Correspondence vol. 11), Asa Gray referred to Wallace’s review (Wallace 1863a) of Samuel Haughton’s article ‘On the form of the cells made by various wasps and by the honey bee; with an appendix on the origin of species’ (Haughton 1862). A lightly annotated reprint (Haughton 1863) of Haughton 1862 is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. In his review, Wallace defended CD’s argument in Origin (3d ed., pp. 254–6) that the complex structure of wax cells, and the more economical use of wax by the hive-bee in comparison with the humble-bee, provided evidence of the hive-bee’s development through natural selection (Wallace 1863a, pp. 305–7). Wallace noted that many of Haughton’s statements were ‘often so deficient in clearness’ as to suggest that Origin had been ‘but superficially studied by him’ (ibid., p. 304). See also CD’s note on Wallace 1863a in DAR 205.11: 126, and Correspondence vol. 11, letter to Charles Lyell, [7 May 1863]. For more on Haughton 1862, see Hull 1973, pp. 216–28; for CD’s long struggle to solve the problem of the hive-bee and the cell-building instinct, see Prete 1990.
Wallace’s review (Wallace 1863a) of Haughton 1862 was published in the October 1863 issue of the Annals and Magazine of Natural History.
In his letter of 23 November 1863 (Correspondence vol. 11), Gray referred to an article by Louis Agassiz that appeared in the November issue of the Atlantic Monthly (Agassiz 1863a). Gray thought CD would be amused by Agassiz’s description of a tropical climate turning to a bitter winter so quickly that animals ‘were frozen up’ (in Gray’s words) before they could migrate or their bodies could decay. See also Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Asa Gray, 26 May 1863 and nn. 12 and 14.
Agassiz 1863b. Gray noted: ‘It is announced, you may see in the preface, that this little book completely does away with all “Darwinism’” (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Asa Gray, 23 November 1863 and n. 19). There is a lightly annotated copy of Agassiz 1863b in the Darwin Library–Down (see Marginalia 1: 13). See also letter to B. D. Walsh, 4 December [1864].
Laudari a laudato: ‘to be praised by one who is himself praised’ (Cicero, Epistulae ad familiares, 5.12.7).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Haughton, Samuel. 1863. On the form of the cells made by various wasps, and by the honey bee; with an appendix on the origin of species. Dublin: University Press.

Hull, David L. 1973. Darwin and his critics: the reception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by the scientific community. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Prete, Frederick R. 1990. The conundrum of the honey bees: one impediment to the publication of Darwin’s theory. Journal of the History of Biology 23: 271–90.


Asa Gray’s high opinion of ARW as a reviewer [reference to S. Haughton’s paper on bees’ cells, Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. 3d ser. 11 (1863): 415–29, reviewed by ARW in "Remarks on the Rev. S. Haughton’s paper", Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. 3d ser. 12 (1863): 303–9].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent from
Source of text
British Library (Add. MS 46434: 31)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4376,” accessed on 7 December 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12