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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. R. Wallace   7 June 1876

The Dell, Grays, Essex.

June 7th. 1876

Dear Darwin

Many thanks for your very kind letter. So few people will read my book at all regularly, that a criticism from one who does so will be very welcome. If as I suppose it is only to p. 184 of Vol. I. that you have read, you cannot yet quite see my conclusions on the points you refer to,—(land-molluscs and Antarctic Continent).1 My own conclusions fluctuated during the progress of the book, and I have, I know, occasionally used expressions (the relics of earlier ideas) which are not quite consistent with what I say further on. I am positively against any southern continent as uniting S. America with Australia or New Zealand, as you will see at Vol. I. p.398–403 and 459–466. My general conclusions as to Distribution of Land-Mollusca are at Vol. II. pp.522–529.2 When you have read these passages & looked at the general facts which lead to them, I shall be glad to hear if you still differ from me.

Though of course present results as to origin & migrations of genera of mammals, will have to be modified owing to new discoveries, I cannot help thinking that much will remain unaffected, because in all geographical and Geological discoveries the great outlines are soon reached, the details alone remain to be modified. I also think much of the geological evidence is now so accordant with, and explanatory of, geographical distribution, that it is prima facie correct in outline. Nevertheless such vast masses of new facts will come out in the next few years that I quite dread the labour of incorporating them in a new edition.

Now for a little personal matter. For two years I have made up my mind to leave this place,—mainly for two reasons—drought & wind prevent the satisfactory growth of all delicate plants,—and—I cannot stand being unable to attend evening meetings & being obliged to refuse every invitation in London.3 But I was obliged to stay till I had got it into decent order to attract a customer. At last it is so, & I am offering it for sale, & as soon as it is disposed of I intend to try the neighbourhood of Dorking whence there are late trains from Cannon Street & Charing Cross.

I see your post mark was “Dorking” so I suppose you have been staying there. Is it not a lovely country?4

I hope your health is improved, & when, quite at your leisure, you have waded through my book, I trust you will again let me have a few lines of friendly criticism & advice. | Yours very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace


See letter to A. R. Wallace, 5 June 1876 and nn. 7 and 8. CD had sent Wallace comments on his Geographical distribution of animals (Wallace 1876a).
In Wallace 1876a, 2: 525, Wallace concluded that air-breathing molluscs had been distributed over the globe by air or sea, rather than by voluntary dispersal on land.
Wallace had supervised the building of The Dell himself, between 1871 and 1872 (Raby 2001, pp. 209–10). He moved with his family to Rosehill, Dorking, Surrey, in July 1876 (ibid., p. 216).
CD had been staying at Hopedene, Holmbury St Mary, Surrey (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)); the post town was Dorking.


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


Comments on CD’s criticism of Geographical distribution.

Plans to sell his house.

Letter details

Letter no.
Alfred Russel Wallace
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 106: B124
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10535,” accessed on 29 November 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24