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Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. R. Wallace   19 November [1873]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Nov. 19th

Dear Wallace

I thank you for your extremely kind letter, & I am sorry that I troubled you with that of yesterday.2 My wife thinks that my son George would be so much pleased at undertaking to work for me, that I will write to him, & so probably shall have no occasion to trouble you.—3 If on still further reflexion & after looking over my notes, I think that my son could not do the work, I will write again & gratefully accept your proposal.— But if you do not hear, you will understand that I can manage the affair myself.— I never in my life-time regretted an interruption so much as this new Edit. of the “Descent”.— I am deeply immersed in some work bearing on physiological points with plants.—4

I fully agree with what you say about H. Spencers Sociology; I do not believe there is a man in Europe at all his equal in talents.5 I did not know that you had been writing on politicks, except so far as your letter on the Coal-question, which interested me much & struck me as a capital letter.6

I must again thank you for your letter & remain | Dear Wallace | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

I hope to Heaven that politicks will not replace Natural Science.—

I know too well how atrociously bad my hand-writing is7


The year is established by the reference to the second edition of Descent, which CD started work on in November 1873 (see n. 4, below).
CD had decided that his son George Howard Darwin might help him with with the second edition of Descent (see letter to A. R. Wallace, [18 November 1873].
CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II) records for 20 October 1873: ‘Began correcting Drosera MS.’, and for 20 November 1873: ‘Began correcting 2nd Edit of Descent of Man, & continued for rest of year & next year.’
CD refers to Spencer 1873b. See letter from A. R. Wallace, 18 November 1873 and n. 6.
Wallace’s letter ‘Free-trade principles and the coal question’ was published in the Daily News, 16 September 1873, p. 6. See also letter from A. R. Wallace, 18 November 1873 and n. 6.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.


Further discussion of ARW’s help on new [2d] edition of Descent.

Letter details

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

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9154,” accessed on 24 January 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21