Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscences, Vol. 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 301 pages of information about Alfred Russel Wallace.

My dear Mr. Wallace,—­I received your letter and memoir[34] on the 7th, and will forward it to-morrow to the Linnean Society.  But you will be aware that there is no meeting till beginning of November.  Your paper seems to me admirable in matter, style and reasoning; and I thank you for allowing me to read it.  Had I read it some months ago I should have profited by it for my forthcoming volume.  But my two chapters on this subject are in type; and though not yet corrected, I am so wearied out and weak in health that I am fully resolved not to add one word, and merely improve style.  So you will see that my views are nearly the same with yours, and you may rely on it that not one word shall be altered owing to my having read your ideas.  Are you aware that Mr. W. Earl published several years ago the view of distribution of animals in the Malay Archipelago in relation to the depth of the sea between the islands?  I was much struck with this, and have been in habit of noting all facts on distribution in the Archipelago and elsewhere in this relation.  I have been led to conclude that there has been a good deal of naturalisation in the different Malay islands, and which I have thought to certain extent would account for anomalies.  Timor has been my greatest puzzle.  What do you say to the peculiar Felis there?  I wish that you had visited Timor:  it has been asserted that a fossil mastodon or elephant’s tooth (I forget which) had been found there, which would be a grand fact.  I was aware that Celebes was very peculiar; but the relation to Africa is quite new to me and marvellous, and almost passes belief.  It is as anomalous as the relation of plants in South-West Australia to the Cape of Good Hope.

I differ wholly from you on colonisation of oceanic islands, but you will have everyone else on your side.  I quite agree with respect to all islands not situated far in ocean.  I quite agree on little occasional internavigation between lands when once pretty well stocked with inhabitants, but think this does not apply to rising and ill-stocked islands.

Are you aware that annually birds are blown to Madeira, to Azores (and to Bermuda from America).  I wish I had given fuller abstract of my reasons for not believing in Forbes’s great continental extensions; but it is too late, for I will alter nothing.  I am worn out, and must have rest.

Owen, I do not doubt, will bitterly oppose us; but I regard that very little, as he is a poor reasoner and deeply considers the good opinion of the world, especially the aristocratic world.

Hooker is publishing a grand Introduction to the Flora of Australia, and goes the whole length.  I have seen proofs of about half.—­With every good wish, believe me yours very sincerely,

C. DARWIN.

Excuse this brief note, but I am far from well.

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LETTER VI

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