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Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. R. Wallace   27 July [1872]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

July 27th

My dear Wallace

I have just read with infinite satisfaction your crushing article in Nature.2 I have been the more glad to see it, as I have not seen the book itself: I did not order it, as I felt sure from Dr. B.’s former book, that he cd. write nothing of value. But assuredly I did not suppose that anyone would have written such a mass of inaccuracies & rubbish.— How rich is everything which he says & quotes from Herbert Spencer!3

By the way I suppose that you read H. Spencer’s answer to Martineau: it struck me as quite wonderfully good, & I felt even more strongly inclined than before to bow in reverence before him.—4 Nothing has amused me more in your Review than Dr. B.s extraordinary presumption in deciding that such men as Lyell, Owen, H. Spencer, Mivart, Gaudry &c &c are all wrong.5 I daresay it would be very delightful to feel such overweening confidence in oneself.

I have had a poor time of it of late: rarely having an hour of comfort, except when asleep or immersed in work; & then when that is over I feel dead with fatigue. I am now correcting my little book on Expression; but it will not be published till November, when of course a copy will be sent to you. I shall now try whether I can occupy myself, without writing anything more on so difficult a subject, as evolution.

I hope you are now comfortably settled in your new house & have more leisure than you have had for some time.— I have looked out in the paper for any notice about the curatorship of the new museum, but have seen nothing.— If anything is decided in your favour, I beg you to inform me.6

My dear Wallace | Very truly yours | C. Darwin

How grandly the public has taken up Hooker’s case:7


The year is established by the dates of the publications mentioned in the letter.
The article, ‘The last attack on Darwinism’ (Wallace 1872b), was a review of Charles Robert Bree’s An exposition of fallacies in the hypothesis of Mr. Darwin (Bree 1872).
In his article, Wallace exposed the errors Bree had made when quoting other authors, including his attempt to interpret a passage from Spencer 1867 (Wallace 1872b, p. 237). For CD’s opinion of Bree, see the letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 14 May [1872]. There is an annotated copy of Bree’s earlier book, Species not transmutable (Bree 1860) in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 69).
Spencer 1872 (‘Mr. Martineau on evolution’) was a reply to James Martineau’s article ‘The place of mind in nature and intuition in man’ (J. Martineau 1871). See letter to Herbert Spencer, 10 June [1872] and n. 1.
Charles Lyell, Richard Owen, Herbert Spencer, St George Jackson Mivart, and Albert Gaudry were all criticised by Bree for affirming some form of evolution. See Wallace 1872b, p. 239.
In March 1872, Wallace had moved into The Dell, the house he had built in Grays, Essex (Wallace 1905, 2: 91–3). He had applied for (but did not get) the post of director of a new museum combining art and natural history ‘for the instruction of the people’ at Bethnal Green (ibid., 1: 415–16).
CD probably refers to the numerous newspaper articles that had appeared about the dispute between Joseph Dalton Hooker and Acton Smee Ayrton (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 12 July [1872].


On ARW’s "crushing" review [Nature 6 (1872): 237–9] of C. R. Bree’s An exposition of fallacies in the hypothesis of Mr Darwin.

Comments on other reviews and exchanges.

Letter details

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

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8429,” accessed on 21 June 2018,

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