WCP1839

Letter (WCP1839.1729)

[1]

Down Bromley Kent

May 1.— 1857

My dear Sir

I am much obliged for your letter of Oct. 10th. from Celebes [Sulawesi] received a few days ago:1 in a laborious undertaking sympathy is a valuable & real encouragement. By your letter & even still more by your paper in Annals,2 3 a year or more ago; I can plainly see that we have thought much alike & to a certain extent have come to similar conclusions. In regard to the Paper in Annals, I agree to the truth of almost every word of your paper; & I4 [2] daresay that you will agree with me that it is very rare to find oneself agreeing pretty closely with any theoretical paper; for it is lamentable how each man draws his own own different conclusions from the very same fact.—

This summer will make the 20th year (!)5 since I opened my first-note-book, on the question how & in what way do species & varieties differ from each other.—6 I am now preparing my work for publication, but I find the [3] [p. 2] subject so very large, that though I have written many chapters, I do not suppose I shall go to press for two years.—

I have never heard how long you intend staying in the Malay archipelago; I wish I might profit by the publication of your Travels7 there before my work appears, for no doubt you will reap a large harvest of facts.— I have acted already in accordance with your advice of keeping domestic varieties & those appearing in a [4] state of nature, distinct; but I have sometimes doubted of the wisdom of this, & therefore I am glad to be backed by your opinion.— I must confess, however, I rather doubt the truth of the now very prevalent doctrine of all our domestic animals having descended from several8 wild stocks; though I do not doubt that it is so in some cases.— I think there is rather better evidence [5] [p. 3] on the sterility of Hybrid animals that you seem to admit: & in regard to Plants the collection of carefully recorded facts by Kölreuter9 & Gaertner10, (& Herbert11) is enormous.—

I most entirely agree with you on the little effects of "climatal conditions", which one sees referred to ad nauseam in all Books; I suppose some very little effect must be attributed to such influences, but I fully believe that they [6] are very slight.— It is really impossible to explain my views in the compass of a letter on the causes & means of variation in a state of nature; but I have slowly adopted a distinct & tangible idea.— Whether true or false others must judge; for the firmest conviction of the truth of a doctrine by its author, seems, alas, not to be slightest guarantee of truth.—

[7] [p. 4] I have been rather disappointed at my results in the Poultry line; but if you sh[oul]d. after receiving this stumble on any curious domestic breed, I sh[oul]d be very glad to have it; but I can plainly see that this result will not be at all worth the trouble which I have taken.— The case is different with the domestic Pigeons; from its study I have learned much.— The Rajah12 has sent me some of his Pigeons & Fowls & Cats skins from interior of Borneo, & from Singapore.—

Can you tell me positively that Black Jaguars or Leopards are believed generally [8] or always to pair with Black? I do not think colour of offspring good evidence.— Is the case of parrots fed on fat of fish turning colour, mentioned in your Travels? I remember case of Parrot with, (I think,) poison from some Toad put into hollow whence primaries had been removed.

One of the subjects on which I have been experimentising & which cost me much trouble, is the means of distribution of all organic beings found on oceanic islands;13 & any facts on this subject would be most gratefully received: Land-Molluscs are a great perplexity to me.—

This is a very dull letter, but I am a good deal out of health; & am writing this, not from my home, as dated, but from a water-cure establishment.

With most sincere good wishes for your success in every way I remain14 | My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin [signature]15

ARW's letter to Darwin on 10 October 1856 is lost.
Wallace, A.R. 1855. On the Law Which Has Regulated the Introduction of New Species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 16 (2nd s.): 184-196 (Sept. 1855: no. 93, 2nd s.).
ARW adds blue crayon underlining to the text "Annals".
ARW adds blue crayon underlining to the text from "I agree to" to "& I".
ARW adds blue crayon underlining to the text "the 20th year".
ARW adds blue crayon underlining to the text from "way do species" to "from each other".
ARW would not publish an account of his travels for another until 1869. (Wallace, A. R. 1869. The Malay Archipelago, 2 vols. London, UK: Macmillan & Co.)
ARW adds blue crayon underlining to the text "several".
Kölreuter, Joseph Gottlieb (1733-1806). German botanist who pioneered artificial fertilization in plants and conducted experiments in hybridisation.
Gaertner, Karl Friedrich von (1772-1850). German botanist and physician who specialised in plant hybridisation.
Herbert, William (1778-1847). British botanist, botanical illustrator, classical scholar and clergyman.
Brooke, James (1803-1868). British-born Rajah of Sarawak.
A double scored pencil annotation is added to the left-hand margin of page 8 from the text "is the means" to "on oceanic islands".
The text from " With most sincere" to "I remain" is written vertically in the right-hand margin of page 8.
The text from "My dear sir" to "Ch. Darwin" is written vertically in the left-hand margin of page 5.

Published letter (WCP1839.5922)

[1] [p. 129]

LETTER I

C. DARWIN TO A. R. WALLACE

Down, Bromley, Kent. May 1, 1857.

My dear Sir; — I am much obliged for your letter of Oct. 10th from Celebes, received a few days ago: in a laborious undertaking, sympathy is a valuable and real encouragement. By your letter, and even still more by your paper in the Annals,1 a year or more ago, I can plainly see that we have thought much alike and to a certain extent have come to similar conclusions. In regard to the paper in the Annals, I agree to the truth of almost every word of your paper; and I daresay that you will agree with me that it is very rare to find oneself agreeing pretty closely with any theoretical paper; for it is lamentable how each man draws his own different conclusions from the very same fact. This summer will make the twentieth year (!) since I opened my first note-book on the question how and in what way do species and varieties differ from each other. I am now preparing my work for publication, but I find the subject so very large, that though I have written [2] [p. 130] many chapters, I do not suppose I shall go to press for two years.

I have never heard how long you intend staying in the Malay Archipelago; I wish I might profit by the publication of your Travels there before my work appears, for no doubt you will reap a large harvest of facts.

I have acted already in accordance with your advice of keeping domestic varieties, and those appearing in a state of nature, distinct; but I have sometimes doubted of the wisdom of this, and therefore I am glad to be backed by your opinion. I must confess, however, I rather doubt the truth of the now very prevalent doctrine of all our domestic animals having descended from several wild stocks; though I do not doubt that it is so in some cases. I think there is rather better evidence on the sterility of hybrid animals than you seem to admit : and in regard to plants, the collection of carefully recorded facts by Kölreuter and Gaertner (and Herbert) is enormous. I most entirely agree with you on the little effect of "climatic conditions" which one sees referred to ad nauseam in all books: I suppose some very little effect must be attributed to such influences, but I fully believe that they are very slight. It is really impossible to explain my views in the compass of a letter as to causes and means of variation in a state of nature; but I have slowly adopted a distinct and tangible idea — whether true or false others must judge; for the firmest conviction of the truth of a doctrine by its author seems, alas, not to be the slightest guarantee of truth.

I have been rather disappointed at my results in the poultry line; but if you should, after receiving this, stumble on any curious domestic breed, I should be very glad to have it; but I can plainly see that the result will not be at all worth the trouble which I have taken. The case is different with the domestic pigeons; from its study I have learned [3] much. The Rajah has sent me some of his pigeons and fowls and cats' skins from the interior of Borneo and from Singapore. Can you tell me positively that black jaguars or leopards are believed generally or always to pair with black ? I do not think colour of offspring good evidence. Is the case of parrots fed on fat of fish turning colour mentioned in your Travels? I remember a case of parrots with (I think) poison from some toad put into hollow whence primaries had been removed.

One of the subjects on which I have been experimenting, and which cost me much trouble, is the means of distribution of all organic beings found on oceanic islands; and any facts on this subject would be most gratefully received.

Land-molluscs are a great perplexity to me. This is a very dull letter, but I am a good deal out of health, and am writing this, not from my home, as dated, but from a water-cure establishment.

With most sincere good wishes for your success in every way, I remain, my dear Sir, yours sincerely, CH. DARWIN.

A footnote here reads: "On the Law which has regulated the Introduction of New Species."- Ann. and Mag. of Nat. Hist, 1855. The law is thus stated by Wallace: "Every species has come into existence coincident both in time and space with a pre-existing closely-allied species.""

Published letter (WCP1839.6886)

[1] [p. 214]

(MOOR PARK, FARNHAM)

May 1, 1857.

MY DEAR SIR,

I am much obliged for your letter of Oct. 1 from Celebes received a few days ago: in a laborious. undertaking sympathy is a valuable and real encouragement. By your letter and even still more by your paper in Annals, a year or more ago, I can plainly see that we have thought much alike and to a certain extent have come to similar conclusions. In regard to the Paper in Annals, I agree to [2] [p. 215] the truth of almost every word of your paper; and I daresay that you will agree with me that it is very rare to find oneself agreeing pretty closely with any theoretical paper; for it is lamentable how each man draws his own different conclusions from the very same fact. This summer will make the 20th year (!) since I opened my first note-book on the question how and in what way do species and varieties differ from each other. I am now preparing my work for publication, but I find the subject so very large, that though I have written many chapters, I do not suppose I shall go to press for two years. — I have never heard how long you intend staying in the Malay Archipelago; I wish I might profit by the publication of your Travels there before my work appears, for no doubt you will reap a large harvest of facts: I have acted already in accordance with your advice of keeping domestic varieties and those appearing in a state of nature, distinct; but I have sometimes doubted of the wisdom of this, and therefore I am glad to be backed by your opinion. I must confess, however, I rather doubt the truth of the now very prevalent doctrine of all our domestic animals having descended from several wild stocks; though I do not doubt that it is so in some cases. I think there is rather better evidence on the sterility of Hybrid animals than you seem to admit : and in regard to Plants the collection of carefully recorded facts by Kölreuter and Gaertner (and Herbert) is enormous. I most entirely agree with you on the little effects [3] [p. 216] of "climatal conditions," which one sees referred to ad nauseam in all books; I suppose some very little effect must be attributed to such influences, but I fully believe that they are very slight. It is really impossible to explain my views in the compass of a letter on the causes and means of variation in a state of nature ; but I have slowly adopted a distinct and tangible idea, — whether true or false others must judge; for the firmest conviction of the truth of a doctrine by its author, seems, alas, not to be slightest guarantee of truth.

I have been rather disappointed at my results in the Poultry line ; but if you should after receiving this stumble on any curious domestic breed, I should be very glad to have it; but I can plainly see that the result will not be at all worth the trouble which I have taken. The case is different with the domestic Pigeon; from its study I have learned much. The Rajah has sent me some of his Pigeons and Fowls and Cats' skins from interior of Borneo and from Singapore. Can you tell me positively that Black jaguars or Leopards are believed generally or always to pair with Black? I do not think colour of offspring good evidence. Is the case of parrots fed on fat of fish turning colour mentioned in your Travels? I remember case of Parrot with (I think) poison from some Toad put into hollow whence primaries had been removed.** One of the subjects on which I have been experimentising [sic] and which cost me much trouble, is the means of distribution of all organic beings found on Oceanic islands; and any facts on this [4] [p. 217] subject would be most gratefully received: Land-molluscs are a great perplexity to me. This is a very dull letter, but I am a good deal out of health, and am writing this, not from my home, as dated, but from a water-cure establishment.

With most sincere good wishes for your success in every way

I remain, my dear Sir, | Yours Sincerely, | CH. DARWIN.

Please cite as “WCP1839,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 22 September 2021, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP1839