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Record number: WCP1331

Sent by:
Francis Hancock Balkwill
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
15 December 1903

Sent by Francis Hancock Balkwill, Haaf Cottage, Yelverton, South Devon to Alfred Russel Wallace [address not recorded] on 15 December 1903.

Record created:
23 May 2011 by NHM


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LETTER (WCP1331.1110)

A typical letter  .

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/8/143
Copyright owner:
Copyright of the Francis Hancock Balkwill Literary Estate.

Physical description

Transcription information




Huuf Cottage,


R. S. O.

S[outh]. Devon

Dec[ember] 15. 1903

Dear Sir

Yours [sic] letter received this morning was quite an unexpected pleasure; as I had nearly given up hopes of [1 word illeg. struck through] Hasan2 receiving any attention.

I tried him with six or seven magazines; but without success: and I fear least [sic] you also should find your labour thrown away upon him. The reason is, I think, that the subject is rather an incongruous one. [[2]] An audience who would be interested in the "Arabian Nights"3 as a rule not caring about Licence and vice versa. At any rate you are quite at liberty to make what use you like of my paper. Thoug I gave the substance of it from rough notes, viva voce at a meeting of the Plymouth Lit[erary]. Inst[itute]. So that it is not perfectly unpublished.

I am quite sure I may leave it to you to give me a fair share in the credit of the discovery such as it is: But what I should like best would [[3]] be, what you first proposed "to incorporate the greater part of your (my) paper, and print it in our joint names". But as you might find that this was impracticable I will leave the matter entirely at your discretion. There is one other point which I have not alluded to in my paper because the evidence was too slight; but which might or might not have some relation to our Hassan [sic], In the introduction to "Sales" Koran4, mention is made of a "Hosein el Basrah"5 who was a great man among the Mutazalite Moslems6. Now our tale is remarkable for the very high [[4]] state in which women are placed. The sentiment of the relation between the sexes, almost, reaching to the best Christian sentiment on the subject. The idea did suggest itself to me, but no more, that if this Hosein of Basra [sic] had ever travelled to the East and come in contact with the high civilization of the Buddhists in Celebes7; it might account for his views in this respect and have formed a base for the story.

If you do get a paper on Hasan published, I should like to know; so as not to miss it

I am | Yours very truly | F H Balkwill8 [signature]

Dr. A. R. Wallace


1. Page numbered WP1/8/143 in pencil in top centre. "Answ[ere]d" written in pencil across top LH corner.

2. Hasan (Hassan, Hosein) of Basrah, the story of whose travels overland from Baghdad, through Central Asia to China, then to Malaya, and thence to the Aru Islands is given in Edward William Lane's translation of the Arabian Nights.

3. One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of West and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights.

4. George Sale (1697-1736). English Orientalist and practising solicitor, best known for his 1734 translation of the Qur'an (Koran) into English.

5. See Endnote 2.

6. Mu'tazilite is a school of Islamic theology based on reason and rational thought, founded by some pupils of Hasan el Basri (see Endnote 3), who had seceded from him. It flourished in the cities of Basra and Baghdad in present-day Iraq, during the 8th-10th centuries.

7. Now known as Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia situated between Borneo and the Maluku Islands.

8. Balkwill, Francis Hancock (1837-1921). Pioneer of dental articulation (artificial dentures). Author of (1893) The Testimony Of The Teeth To Man's Place In Nature, With Other Essays On The Doctrine Of Evolution Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Ltd., London.

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