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Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. R. Wallace   19 August [1868]1

Freshwater—Isle of Wight

Aug. 19th

My dear Wallace

Thanks for your note. I did sometimes think of going to Norwich, for I shd. have very much liked it, but it has been quite out of the question.2 We have been here for 5 weeks for a change, & it has done me some little good; but I have been forced to live the life of a drone, & for a month before leaving home, I was unable to do anything & had to stop all work. We return to Down tomorrow.

Hooker has been here for 2 or 3 days, so that I have had much talk about his Address. I am glad that you will be there.3

It is real good news that your Book is so advanced that you are negotiating about its publication.—4

With respect to dimorphic plants: it is a great puzzle, but I fancy I partially see my way—too long for a letter & too speculative for publication.5 The groundwork of the acquirement of such peculiar fertility (for what you say about any other distinct individual being, as it would appear, sufficient, is very true) rests on the stamens & pistils having varied first in relative length, as actually occurs, irrespectively of dimorphism, & the peculiar kind of fertility characteristic of dimorphic & trimorphic plants having been secondarily acquired.

Pangenesis makes very few converts: G. H. Lewes is one.—6

I had become, before my nine weeks horrid interruption of all work, extremely interested in sexual selection & was making fair progress. In truth it has vexed me much to find that the further I get on, the more I differ from you about the females being dull-coloured for protection.7 I can now hardly express myself as strongly even as in the Origin.8 This has much decreased the pleasure of my work.—

In the course of September, if I can get at all stronger, I hope to get Mr J. Jenner Weir (who has been wonderfully kind in giving me information) to pay me a visit, & I will then write for the chance of your being able to come & I hope bring with you Mrs. Wallace.9 If I could get several of you together, it wd. be less dull for you for of late I have found it impossible to talk with any human being for more than half-an-hour, except on extraordinary good days.—

Believe me | My dear Wallace | Ever yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the address. The Darwins stayed at Freshwater on the Isle of Wight from 17 July to 20 August 1868 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
See letter from A. R. Wallace, 16 August [1868]. The British Association for the Advancement of Science held its annual meeting at Norwich from 19 to 26 August 1868 (Report of the 38th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, p. lvii).
Joseph Dalton Hooker visited Freshwater from 8 to 14 August 1868 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 6 August 1868, and letter to Asa Gray, 15 August [1868]). He was to deliver the presidential address at the British Association meeting (see n. 2, above).
The book was published as A. R. Wallace 1869. See letter from A. R. Wallace, 16 August [1868] and n. 5.
CD refers to George Henry Lewes; see letter from G. H. Lewes, 26 July 1868 and n. 2.
See Origin, pp. 84–5, 89, 197. CD made small changes to the first and last passage in the fifth edition of Origin (pp. 97–8, 241).
John Jenner Weir had corresponded with CD about birds and insects. Weir, Edward Blyth, and Wallace and his wife, Annie, visited Down on the weekend of 12 and 13 September 1868 (letter to J. D. Hooker, [8–10 September 1868], Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).


Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


The problem of dimorphic plants and their fertility.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Add MS 46434: 143–6)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6322,” accessed on 27 October 2021,

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