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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. R. Wallace   8 March [1868]1


March 8th.

Dear Darwin

I am very sorry your letter came back here while I was going to town, or I should have been very pleased to have seen you.2

Trimen’s paper at the Linnæan was a very good one,—but the only opponents were Andrew Murray and B. Seeman,—3 the former talked utter nonsense about the “harmony of nature” produced by “polarization”,—alike in “rocks plants and animals” &c. &c. &c. And Seeman objected that there was “Mimicry” among plants, and that our theory would not explain it. Lubbock4 answered them both in his best manner.

Pray take your rest, and put my last notes by till you return to Down,—or let your son discover the fallacies in them.5

Would you like to see the specimens of pupæ of butterflies whose colours have changed in accordance with the colour of the surrounding objects. They are very curious, and Mr. T. W. Wood6 who bred them would I am sure be delighted to bring them to show you. His address is, 89, Stanhope Street, Hampstead Road N.W.

Believe me | Yours very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace—

CD annotations

1.1 I am … nonsense 2.2] crossed pencil
4.1 Would … N.W. 4.4] double scored pencil
Top of letter: ‘Keep’ pencil
End of letter: ‘Protection’ pencil


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from A. R. Wallace, 1 March 1868.
Wallace was writing from the home of his wife’s parents (see Raby 2001, pp. 182–3). CD’s letter to Wallace has not been found.
Roland Trimen presented his paper ‘On some remarkable mimetic analogies among African butterflies’ (R. Trimen 1868) at the 5 March 1868 meeting of the Linnean Society. Wallace also refers to Berthold Carl Seemann.
John Lubbock.
In his letter of 1 March 1868, Wallace sent CD a note titled ‘Sterility of hybrids produced by natural selection’ and invited CD to point out to him any fallacy in the argument presented. Wallace refers to George Howard Darwin, who was a mathematician.
Thomas W. Wood.


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

Trimen, Roland. 1868. On some remarkable mimetic analogies among African butterflies. [Read 5 March 1868.] Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 26 (1868–70): 497–522.


On critical exchanges at the Linnean Society on natural selection and mimicry.

Roland Trimen’s paper on South African mimetic butterflies ["On some remarkable mimetic resemblances among African butterflies", Trans. Linn. Soc. Lond. 26 (1870): 497–523; read 5 Mar 1868].

Letter details

Letter no.
Alfred Russel Wallace
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 106: B51–2
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5996,” accessed on 21 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16