skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. R. Wallace   1 October [1867]1

7612, Westbourne Grove | Bayswater. W.

Octr. 1st.

Dear Darwin

I am sorry I was not in town when your note came.2 I took a short trip in Scotland after the Brit. Ass. Meeting; and went up Ben Lawers. It was very cold and wet and I could not find a companion or I should have gone as far as Glen Roy.3

My article on “Creation by Law” in reply to the Duke of Argyle and the North British Reviewer, is in the present month’s Number of the “Quarterly Journal of Science”.4 I cannot send you a copy because they do not allow separate copies to be printed. There is a nice illustration of the predicted Madagascar Moth and Angræcum sesquipedale.5

I shall be glad to know whether I have done it satisfactorily to you, and hope you will not be so very sparing of criticism as you usually are.

I hope you are getting on well with your great book. I hear a rumour that we are to have one vol. of it about ’Xmas.6

I quite forget whether I told you that I have a little boy, now three months old, and have named him “Herbert Spencer”,—(having had a brother Herbert.)7 I am now staying chiefly in the country at Hurstpierpoint but come up to town once a month at least. You may address simply

Hurstpierpoint Sussex.8

Hoping your health is tolerable & that all your family are well | Believe me Dear Darwin | Yours very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace—

Charles Darwin Esq.

CD annotations9

4.1 I hope … ’Xmas. 4.2] scored red crayon
5.3 Hurstpierpoint] ‘Address’ added red crayon
Top of letter: ‘Leach’ red crayon; ‘Crossing’ pencil, circled pencil
End of letter: ‘Victoria Institute’ red crayon


The year is established by the reference to Wallace’s article in the Quarterly Journal of Science (A. R. Wallace 1867c).
CD’s letter has not been found, but he was in London from 18 to 24 September 1867 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Wallace refers to the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, which was held in Dundee from 4 to 11 September 1867 (Report of the thirty-seventh meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Dundee). Ben Lawers is a mountain just north of Loch Tay, Perthshire. Glen Roy is in the district of Lochaber, southern Inverness-shire. CD visited Glen Roy in June 1838 and in 1839 published ‘Parallel roads of Glen Roy’, in which he presented a theory of the marine origin of the ‘roads’ (for more on CD and Glen Roy, see Correspondence vol. 2 and Correspondence vol. 9, Appendix IX; see also Rudwick 1974).
George Douglas Campbell, the eighth duke of Argyll, had published The reign of law, a book critical of CD’s transmutation theory, in 1867 (G. D. Campbell 1867); the North British Review had published an anonymous article by Henry Charles Fleeming Jenkin, also critical of CD’s theory, in June 1867 ([Jenkin] 1867). Wallace responded to these criticisms in his article ‘Creation by law’ in the Quarterly Journal of Science (A. R. Wallace 1867c).
The illustration referred to is in A. R. Wallace 1867c, facing p. 471; see also the frontispiece to this volume. CD received a specimen of Angraecum sesquipedale in January 1862 and was astounded by the length of its nectary (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 [and 26] January [1862]). In Orchids, p. 198, CD concluded: ‘in Madagascar there must be moths with probosces capable of extension to a length of between ten and eleven inches!’ The illustration in A. R. Wallace 1867c is an artist’s rendition of the moth CD had predicted. The predicted moth, Xanthopan morgani praedicta, eventually discovered in 1903, was a subspecies of a moth mentioned by Wallace in his article (Macrosila morganii, now Xanthopan morgani; see A. R. Wallace 1867, p. 477; see also Kritsky 1991).
Wallace refers to Variation; both volumes appeared at the end of January 1868 (Freeman 1977).
Wallace’s son was born on 22 June 1867 (Raby 2001, p. 194). Wallace’s brother, Herbert Edward Wallace, had died of yellow fever in Brazil in 1851 (ibid., p. 76).
While in Hurstpierpoint Wallace stayed at the home of his father-in-law, William Mitten (Raby 2001, p. 194).
CD’s annotations are notes for his reply to Wallace (see letter to A. R. Wallace, 12 and 13 October [1867] and nn. 14 and 20).


Campbell, George Douglas. 1867. The reign of law. London: Alexander Strahan.

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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

[Jenkin, Henry Charles Fleeming.] 1867. The origin of species. North British Review 46: 277–318.

Kritsky, Gene. 1991. Darwin’s Madagascan hawk moth prediction. American Entomologist 37: 206–9.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

‘Parallel roads of Glen Roy’: Observations on the parallel roads of Glen Roy, and of other parts of Lochaber in Scotland, with an attempt to prove that they are of marine origin. By Charles Darwin. [Read 7 February 1839.] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 129: 39–81. [Shorter publications, pp. 50–88.]

Raby, Peter. 2001. Alfred Russel Wallace: a life. London: Chatto & Windus.

Rudwick, Martin John Spencer. 1974. Darwin and Glen Roy: a ‘great failure’ in scientific method? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 5 (1974–5): 97–185.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Informs CD of his reply to Argyll and the North British Review criticisms [in "Creation by law", Q. J. Sci. 4 (1867): 471–88]. Cites "the predicted Madagascar moth" and Angraecum sesquipedale.

Birth of Herbert Spencer Wallace.

Letter details

Letter no.
Alfred Russel Wallace
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Westbourne Grove, 76 1/2
Source of text
DAR 106: B43–4
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5637,” accessed on 2 February 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15