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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. R. Wallace   24 November 1870

Holly House, Barking.E.

Novr. 24th. 1870

Dear Darwin

Your letter gave me very great pleasure. We still agree I am sure on nineteen points out of twenty, and on the twentieth I am not unconvinceable.1 But then I must be convinced by facts & arguments, not by high-handed ridicule such as Claparèdes.2

I hope you see the difference between such criticisms as his, & that in the last number of the N. American Review, where my last chapter is really criticised, point by point;3—& though I think some of it very weak I admit that some is very strong, & almost converts me from the error of my ways.

As to your new book I am sure it will not make me think less highly of you than I do, unless you do, what you have never done yet,—ignore facts & arguments that go against you.

I am doing nothing just now but writing articles and putting down anti-Darwinians, being dreadfully ridden upon by a horrid old-man-of-the-sea, who has agreed to let me have the piece of land I have set my heart on,4 & which I have been trying to get of him since last February, but who will not answer letters, will not sigh an agreement, & keeps me week after week in anxiety though I have accepted his own terms unconditionally, one of which is that I pay rent from last Michaelmas! And now the finest weather for planting is going by. It is a bit of wilderness that can be made into a splended imitation of a Welsh valley in little, & will enable me to gather round me all the beauties of the temperate flora which I so much admire,5—or I would not put up with the old fellow’s ways. The fixing on a residence for the rest of your life is an important event, and I am not likely to be in a very settled frame of mind for some time.

I am answering A. Murray’s Geog Dist of Coleoptera for my Ent. Soc Pres. Address,6 and am printing a 2nd. Edition of my ‘Essays’ with a few notes and additions.7

Very glad to see (by your writing yourself) that you are better, & with kind regards to all your family

Believe me Dear Darwin | yours very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace

My wife8 is suffering from face-neuralgia, otherwise we are pretty well.


See letter to A. R. Wallace, 22 November [1870]. CD and Wallace had long been discussing mimicry, sexual selection, and natural selection in Lepidoptera (see Correspondence vols. 15–17, and Descent 1: 414–15 n. 31).
Wallace refers to Edouard Claparède and his essay review of A. R. Wallace 1870a (Claparède 1870); see letter from A. R. Wallace, 6 July 1870, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 July [1870] and n. 3.
Wallace refers to Chauncey Wright’s review of his Contributions to the theory of natural selection (Wright 1870; Wallace 1870a). The last chapter was ‘The limits of natural selection as applied to man’. There is an annotated copy of Wright 1870 in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Wallace was negotiating with James Theobald for the purchase of four acres of land on the Thames near Grays, Essex (Slotten 2004, p. 298). Theobald was probably a retired farmer, then residing in Chelmsford, Essex (Census returns 1871 (Public Record Office RG10/93/15)).
For Wallace’s work on his property in Essex, see Raby 2001, pp. 209–11, and Slotten 2004, pp. 298–9.
Wallace gave the presidential address to the Entomological Society of London on 23 January 1871 (Wallace 1871a). He responded to Andrew Murray’s ‘On the geographical relations of the chief coleopterous faunæ’ (Murray 1868).
Wallace refers to the second edition of Contributions to the theory of natural selection (Wallace 1871b).
Annie Wallace.


Claparède, Edouard. 1870. Remarques à propos de l’ouvrage de M. Alfred Russel Wallace sur la théorie de la sélection naturelle. Archives des Sciences Physiques et Naturelles n.s. 38: 160–89.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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

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

Slotten, Ross A. 2004. The heretic in Darwin’s court; the life of Alfred Russel Wallace. New York: Columbia University Press.


On a good criticism of ARW’s views [North Am. Rev. (1870)].

Problems of establishing a permanent residence.

His Presidential Address for Entomological Society will answer A. Murray on geographical distribution of Coleoptera.

Letter details

Letter no.
Alfred Russel Wallace
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 106: B94–5
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7382,” accessed on 4 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18