WCP1858

Letter (WCP1858.1748)

[1]1 2

Down Bromley Kent

[May] 28th 18643

Dear Wallace

I am so much better that I have just finished [a] paper4 for [the] Linn[ean]. Soc[iety];5 but as I am not yet at all strong I felt much disinclination to write & therefore you must forgive me for not having sooner thanked you for your paper on man received on the 11th.6 7— But first let me say that I have hardly ever in my life been more struck by any paper than that on Variation &c &c in the Reader.8,9 I feel sure that such papers will do more for the spreading of our [2]10 views on the modification of species than any separate Treatises on the simple subject itself. It is really admirable; but you ought not in the Man paper to speak of the theory as mine; it is just as much yours as mine. One correspondent11 has already noticed to me your "high-minded" conduct on this head.

But now for your Man paper, about which I sh[oul]d like to write more than I can. The great leading idea is quite new to me, viz that during late ages the mind will have been modified more than the body; [3] yet I had got as far as to see with you that the struggle between the races of man depended entirely on intellectual & moral qualities.— The latter part of paper I can designate only as grand & most eloquently done.— I have shown your paper to 2 or 3 persons who have been here & they have been equally struck with it.— I am not sure12 that I go with you on all minor13 points: when reading Sir G. Grey[']s14 account of constant battles of Australian savages, I rember [sic]15 thinking that N[atural]. Selection would come in, & likewise with Esquimaux16 17 [4] with whom the art of fishing & managing canoe is said to be hereditary. I rather differ on18 the rank under classificatory point of view which you assign to man: I do not think any character simply19 in excess ought ever to be used for the higher divisions.— Ants would not be separated from other Hymenopterous insects however high the instinct of the one & however low low the instincts of the other.—

[5] [p. 5] 20 With respect to the differences of race, a conjecture has occurred to me that much may be due to the correlation of complexion (& consequently Hair) with constitution. Assume that a dusky individual best escaped miasma & you will readily see what I mean: I persuaded the Director Gen[eral]. of the Med[icine]. depart[ment].of the army21 to send printed forms to the surgeons of all Regiments in Tropical countries to ascertain this point, but I dare say I shall never get any returns. Secondly I suspect that a sort of sexual selection has been the most powerful [6] means of changing the races of man. I can shew22 that the diff[eren]t races have a widely diff[eren]t standard of beauty. Among savages the most powerful men will have the pick of the women23 & they will generally leave the most descendants.

I have collected a few notes on man but I do not suppose I shall ever use them. Do you intend to follow out your views, & if so would you like at some future time to have my few references & notes? I am sure I hardly know whether they are of any value & they are [7] at present in a state of chaos. There is much more that I sh[oul]d like to write but I have not strength[.]

Believe me | dear Wallace | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin [signature]

Our aristocracy is handsomer24 (more hideous according to a Chinese or Negro) than middle classes from pick of women; but oh what a scheme is primogeniture25 for destroying N[atural]. Selection.26

I fear my letter will be barely intelligible to you—

ARW adds a pencil annotation at the upper left-hand corner of page 1: 'quote him on ably [?] [one illeg. word] or [one illeg. word] of one of the best & most orig[inal]. paper I ever wrote.'
A pencil annotation in the top left-hand corner of page 1 adds '(given in "More Letters["] II. p.32)'.
Darwin's original written date 'March 28th 1864' is incorrect. A later annotation adds 'May' beneath Darwin's date in the upper right-hand corner of page 1. A pencil annotation in the upper right hand corner adds '1865?'. The Darwin Correspondence Project have established that 'May 28 1864' is the correct date for this letter. See DCP-LETT-4510.
Darwin, C. 1864. On the Sexual Relations of the Three Forms of Lythrum salicaria. Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London (Botany), 8(31): 169-196.
ARW adds an annotation "Linn[ean]. Soc[iety] ?" above Darwin's text on page 1.
Wallace, A. R. 1864. The Origin of Human Races and the Antiquity of Man Deduced From the Theory of "Natural Selection." Journal of the Anthropological Society of London. 2: clviii-clxx.
The text 'paper on man' is underlined in pencil with a pencil annotation in the right-hand corner of page 1 adding '(put? May 1864)'.
Wallace, A. R. 1864. Mr. Wallace on the Phenomena of Variation and Geographical Distribution as Illustrated by the Malayan Papilionidae. The Reader. 3 (16 April 1864) 491b-493b.
A pencil annotation adds '?' next to the "the Reader" in the lower left-hand margin of page 1.
A vertical pen line is added in the left-hand margin of page 2 from the text "It is really" to "noticed to me".
Darwin refers to Joseph Dalton Hooker who wrote to Darwin on 14 May 1864, 'I am struck too with his [ARW's] negation of all credit or share in the Natural Selection theory — which makes me think him a very high-minded man.' See WCP5296.
ARW adds 'sure' as an annotation above Darwin's text on page 3.
ARW adds 'minor' as an annotation above Darwin's text on page 3.
Grey, Sir George (1812-1898). British explorer, writer and colonial governor of New Zealand.
ARW adds 'remember' as an annotation above Darwin's text on page 3.
Archaic form of Eskimo.
A vertical line is added in the left-hand margin from the text 'when reading' to 'with Esquimaux'.
ARW adds 'as' as an annotation above Darwin's text on page 4.
ARW adds 'simply? existing?' as an annotation above Darwin's text 'simply' on page 4.
The text "With respect to" to "Yours very sincerely" has been dictated by Darwin and written in the hand of Emma Darwin.
Gibson, James Brown (1805-1868). British Director General of the Army Medical Department 1860-67.
Archaic form of show.
ARW adds '?' as an annotation on page 6 above the text 'pick of the women'.
ARW adds '?' as annotation on page 7 above the text 'our aristocracy is handsomer'.
ARW adds 'scheme is primogeniture' as annotation above Darwin's text on page 7.
ARW adds 'natural' as annotation above 'n[atural]. selection' on page 7.

Published letter (WCP1858.5941)

[1] [p. 153]

Down, Bromley, Kent. May 28, 1864.

Dear Wallace,— I am so much better that I have just finished a paper for the Linnean Society; but as I am not yet at all strong I felt much disinclination to write, and therefore you must forgive me for not having sooner thanked you for your paper on Man received on the 11th. But first let me say that I have hardly ever in my life been more struck by any paper than that on variation, etc. etc., in the Reader. I feel sure that such papers will do more for the spreading of our views on the modification of species than any separate treatises on the single subject itself. It is really admirable; but you ought not in the Man paper to speak of the theory as mine; it is just as much yours as mine. One correspondent has already noticed to me your "high-minded" conduct on this head. [2] [p. 154]

But now for your Man paper, about which I should like to write more than I can. The great leading idea is quite new to me, viz. that during late ages the mind will have been modified more than the body; yet I had got as far as to see with you that the struggle between the races of man depended entirely on intellectual and moral qualities. The latter part of the paper I can designate only as grand and most eloquently done. I have shown your paper to two or three persons who have been here, and they have been equally struck with it.

I am not sure that I go with you on all minor points. When reading Sir G. Grey's account of the constant battles of Australian savages, I remember thinking that Natural Selection would come in, and likewise with the Esquimaux, with whom the art of fishing and managing canoes is said to be hereditary. I rather differ on the rank under the classificatory point of view which you assign to Man: I do not think any character simply in excess ought ever to be used for the higher division. Ants would not be separated from other hymenopterous insects, however high the instinct of the one and however low the instincts of the other.

With respect to the differences of race, a conjecture has occurred to me that much may be due to the correlation of complexion (and consequently hair) with constitution. Assume that a dusky individual best escaped miasma and you will readily see what I mean. I persuaded the Director-General of the Medical Department of the Army to send printed forms to the surgeons of all regiments in tropical countries to ascertain this point, but I daresay I shall never get any returns. Secondly, I suspect that a sort of sexual selection has been the most powerful mean of changing the races of man. I can show that the different races have a widely different standard of beauty. Among savages the [3] most powerful men will have the pick of the women, and they will generally leave the most descendants. I have collected a few notes on Man, but I do not suppose I shall ever use them. Do you intend to follow out your views, and if so would you like at some future time to have my few references and notes?

I am sure I hardly know whether they are of any value, and they are at present in a state of chaos. There is much more that I should like to write but I have not strength.— Believe me, dear Wallace, yours very sincerely, CH. DARWIN.

Our aristocracy is handsomer? (more hideous according to a Chinese or negro) than the middle classes, from pick of women; but oh what a scheme is primogeniture for destroying Natural Selection! I fear my letter will be barely intelligible to you.

Please cite as “WCP1858,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 22 May 2024, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP1858