December 22, 1857 (a Tuesday)

Charles Darwin (1855)

On this date, Charles Darwin replied to a letter that Alfred Russel Wallace had sent him on 27 September. He praised Wallace for his dedication to natural science, and for his work on the distribution of species. Darwin also told Wallace he will not discuss the topic of man’s origins, even though it would be of highest interest to naturalists. Darwin pointed out that he had been working on the problem of species origins for twenty years, but would not publish for a few years yet:

You ask whether I shall discuss “man”;—I think I shall avoid whole subject, as so surrounded with prejudices, though I fully admit that it is the highest & most interesting problem for the naturalist.— My work, on which I have now been at work more or less for 20 years, will not fix or settle anything; but I hope it will aid by giving a large collection of facts with one definite end: I get on very slowly, partly from ill-health, partly from being a very slow worker.— I have got about half written; but I do not suppose I shall publish under a couple of years. I have now been three whole months on one chapter on Hybridism!

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