This note obviously requires no answer. I trust that you continue your most interesting investigations on ants.
(PLATE: MR. A.R. WALLACE, 1878. From a photograph by Maull & Fox.)
LETTER 389. TO A.R. WALLACE.
(389/1. Published in "Life and Letters," III., page 230.)
(389/2. The following five letters refer to Mr. Wallace's "Geographical Distribution of Animals," 1876.)
[Hopedene] (389/3. Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood's house in Surrey.), June 5th, 1876.
I must have the pleasure of expressing to you my unbounded admiration of your book (389/4. "Geographical Distribution," 1876.), though I have read only to page 184--my object having been to do as little as possible while resting. I feel sure that you have laid a broad and safe foundation for all future work on Distribution. How interesting it will be to see hereafter plants treated in strict relation to your views; and then all insects, pulmonate molluscs and fresh-water fishes, in greater detail than I suppose you have given to these lower animals. The point which has interested me most, but I do not say the most valuable point, is your protest against sinking imaginary continents in a quite reckless manner, as was stated by Forbes, followed, alas, by Hooker, and caricatured by Wollaston and [Andrew] Murray! By the way, the main impression that the latter author has left on my mind is his utter want of all scientific judgment. I have lifted up my voice against the above view with no avail, but I have no doubt that you will succeed, owing to your new arguments and the coloured chart. Of a special value, as it seems to me, is the conclusion that we must determine the areas, chiefly by the nature of the mammals. When I worked many years ago on this subject, I doubted much whether the now-called Palaearctic and Nearctic regions ought to be separated; and I determined if I made another region that it should be Madagascar. I have, therefore, been able to appreciate your evidence on these points. What progress Palaeontology has made during the last twenty years! but if it advances at the same rate in the future, our views on the migration and birthplace of the various groups will, I fear, be greatly altered. I cannot feel quite easy about the Glacial period, and the extinction of large mammals, but I must hope that you are right. I think you will have to modify your belief about the difficulty of dispersal of land molluscs; I was interrupted when beginning to experimentise on the just hatched young adhering to the feet of ground-roosting birds. I differ on one other point--viz. in the belief that there must have existed a Tertiary Antarctic continent, from which various forms radiated to the southern extremities of our present continents. But I could go on scribbling forever. You have written, as I believe, a grand and memorable work, which will last for years as the foundation for all future treatises on Geographical Distribution.
P.S.--You have paid me the highest conceivable compliment, by what you say of your work in relation to my chapters on distribution in the "Origin," and I heartily thank you for it.
LETTER 390. FROM A.R. WALLACE TO CHARLES DARWIN. The Dell, Grays, Essex, June 7th, 1876.
Many thanks for your very kind letter. So few people will read my book at all regularly, that a criticism from one who does so will be very welcome. If, as I suppose, it is only to page 184 of Volume I. that you have read, you cannot yet quite see my conclusions on the points you refer to (land molluscs and Antarctic continent). My own conclusion fluctuated during the progress of the book, and I have, I know, occasionally used expressions (the relics of earlier ideas) which are not quite consistent with what I say further on. I am positively against any Southern continent as uniting South America with Australia or New Zealand, as you will see at Volume I., pages 398-403, and 459-66. My general conclusions as to distribution of land mollusca are at Volume II., pages 522-9. (390/1. "Geographical Distribution" II., pages 524, 525.