After writing to Sir Charles Lyell, Mr. Darwin informed me of Mr. Wallace's letter and its enclosure, in a similar strain, only more explicitly announcing his resolve to abandon all claim to priority for his own sketch. I could not but protest against such a course, no doubt reminding him that I had read it, and that Sir Charles knew its contents, some years before the arrival of Mr. Wallace's letter: and that our withholding our knowledge of its priority would be unjustifiable. I further suggested the simultaneous publication of the two, and offered—should he agree to such a compromise—to write to Mr. Wallace fully informing him of the motives of the course adopted.
In answer, Mr. Darwin thanked me warmly for my offer to explain all to Mr. Wallace, and in a later letter he informed me that he was disposed to look favorably on my suggested compromise, but that before making up his mind he desired a second opinion as to whether he could honorably claim priority, and that he proposed applying to Sir Charles Lyell for this. I need not say that this was a relief to me, knowing as I did what Sir Charles's answer must be.
At Vol. II., pp. 117, 118 of the "Life and Letters," Mr. Darwin's application to Sir Charles Lyell is given, dated June 26, with a postscript dated June 27. In it he requests that the answer shall be sent to me to be forwarded to himself. I have no recollection of receiving the answer, which is not to be found either in Darwin's or my own correspondence; it was no doubt satisfactory.
Further action was now left in the hands of Sir Charles and myself, we all agreeing that, whatever action was taken, the result should be offered for publication to the Linnean Society.
On June 29, Mr. Darwin wrote to me in acute distress, being himself very ill, and scarlet fever raging in his family, to which an infant son had succumbed on the previous day, and a daughter was ill with diphtheria. He acknowledged the receipt of letters from me, adding, "I can not think now of the subject, but soon will: you shall hear as soon as I can think": and on the night of the same day he writes again, telling me that he is quite prostrated and can do nothing but send certain papers for which I had asked as essential for completing the prefatory statement to the communication to the Linnean Society of his and Wallace's "Essays." This was only forty-eight hours before the reading of the paper laid before the society by Sir Charles and myself on July 1. It may be interesting to recall that the last ordinary meeting of the session of this society is held in the middle of June The occasion of the meeting on July 1 was exceptional, and was duo to the death of the eminent botanist, Robert Brown. As a mark of respect to that great past president, the ordinary meeting of June 17 was adjourned, and a special meeting called in order to elect a successor to the vacancy on the council, caused by his decease, George