Letter (WCP4101.4048)


5 Westbourne Grove Terrace | W.1

January 20th. 1865

My dear Darwin2

I was pleased to hear a few weeks since that you were a little better in health & were again working, & I sincerely hope you are now getting over your severe illness.

For the last six months I have been doing absolutely nothing, & fear I shall not be inclined for work for some time to come. The reason is that I have suffered one of those severe disappointments few men have to endure. I was engaged to be married at ‘Xmas, & had every reason to look forward to happiness, [2] when at the last moment, when every thing was arranged, & even the invitations sent out by the lady's father, all was suddenly broken off! No cause has been given me except mysterious statements of the impossibility of our being happy, although her affection for me remains unchanged.3

Of course I can only impute it to some delusion on her part as to the state of her health. You may imagine how this has upset me [3] when I tell you that I never in my life before had met with a woman I could love, & in this case I firmly believe I was most truly loved in return[.]

Scarcely any of my acquaintances know of this, but though we have met so little yet I look upon you as a friend, & as such hope you will pardon my boring you with my private affairs.

I send you two papers of mine4 of which I have lately got copies, & with best [4] wishes for your speedy restoration to perfect health[.]

Believe me | Dear Darwin | Yours very sincerely | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

Charles Darwin Esq[uire].

The London residence of ARW's sister Frances ("Fanny") Sims (née Wallace, 1812-1893) and her husband Thomas Sims (1826-1910). ARW lived here from early April 1862 to March 1865.
Darwin, Charles Robert (1809-1882). British naturalist, geologist and author, notably of On the Origin of Species (1859).
According to the Darwin Correspondence Project, ARW had been engaged to Marion Leslie, daughter of Lewis James Leslie. In his autobiography, ARW described courting her, the engagement, and its end, but referred to Marion only as 'Miss L.' and her father as 'Mr. L.' (Wallace, A. R. 1905. My Life: A Record of Events and Opinions, 2 vols. London, UK: Chapman & Hall, Ltd. [Vol. 1, pp. 409-411]).
Wallace, A. R. 1863. On the Physical Geography of the Malay Archipelago. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society. 33: 217-234; and Wallace, A. W. 1864. On the Parrots of the Malayan Region, With Remarks on Their Habits, Distribution, and Affinities, And the Descriptions of Two New Species. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 32: 272-295.

Please cite as “WCP4101,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 4 December 2023, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP4101