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Record number: WCP2531

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Sent by:
Theodore Dru Alison Cockerell
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
[not recorded]

Sent by Theodore Dru Alison Cockerell, 29 Friars Stile Road, Richmond, Surrey to Alfred Russel Wallace [none given] on  .

Record created:
30 November 2011 by Mayer, Anna


No summary available at this time.

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Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP2531.2421)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
British Library, The
Finding number:
BL Add. 46438 ff. 288-289
Copyright owner:
Copyright of the Theodore Dru Alison Cockerell Literary Estate.

Physical description

Transcription information




29 Friars Stile Road.

Richmond. Surrey.


Dear Dr. Wallace,

May I bother you with a more definite statement of my views concerning some things we discussed yesterday?

(1.)3 As a philosophical postulate I recognise the oneness of matter (or force) and of spirit, just as I do the infinity of time and space. I think, however, that these conceptions are strictly transcendental, and cannot be connected up with actual experience or science in any way. I should therefore leave them out of a scientific book.

(2.) In the physical universe, all tangible phenomena are due to segregation. All human experience depends upon the practical separateness of things. Monism therefore is not a working hypothesis, it is incapable of working! Even human love, which is said to make two one, does no such thing; if it did it would cease. I have defined happiness as the consciousness of harmony: now harmony cannot exist in a monotone.

[[2]] (3.) Evolution has brought about greater and greater segregation, and hence variety; in order to do so, it has been necessary that the segregates should be so adjusted as not to unduly infringe on one another; hence individuals and species in nature form a genuine harmony strictly comparable to that produced by appropriately arranged musical notes.

(4.) It is the property of spirit, as exemplified by man, to perceive this harmony, and perceiving it, to enjoy it. -- also of course, to be pained by infringements of it.

(5.) I cannot imagine that this perceptive power has ever been lacking, or is lacking anywhere, but this is an "overbelief" which I cannot connect up with science.

(6.) Another "overbelief" is that spiritual beings, not visible to us, have a certain influence on the course of events in the world. To many people, this seems to be a matter of actual experience and I can well believe myself to have been influenced in this way, though I cannot prove it, even to myself. Supposing this actually to occur (as [[3]]4,5,6 most admirably postulated by W[illia]m. James7) it must be reckoned with as a factor in evolution, and a part of science. (Several years ago I had an argument in Nature8 with Karl Pearson9 on the possible recognition of a spiritual element in man : it might be worth looking up.)

Turning to another matter; from a considerable study of variations, I think I know that they are not in all directions, but are to a considerable extent determinate. The question is, however, in some respects an ambiguous one. A variation is a departure from the existing status. If a man falls off a ladder, there are numerous directions in which he could go, but as a matter of fact he always goes downwards. I think it is somewhat in this sense that variation is determinate, only of course there are usually at least two directions it may take!

Great confusion has no doubt arisen from mixing up different classes of "variation", thus:

(1.) Original variation, due to a change in the protoplasmic molecules.

(2.) Variation due to recombinations, without molecular change. (ie in bisexual inheritance[.])

(3.) Variation due to the influence of conditions upon the individual, & not heritable.

[[4]]10 Until these are disentangled, it is impossible to understand variation or inheritance.

I have written more than I intended. Don't bother to reply to this or other letters, at any rate at length. I shall be afraid to write if I think that I am in any way taking your time or strength, that you need for your book (which will, when it appears, be a reply to all correspondents.)

I cannot say how much I enjoyed my day at your house; it is something never to be forgotten.

Yours ever sin[cere]ly | Theo. D. A. Cockerell [signature]11


1. "288" written in unknown hand, top right corner of page.

2. "over" written in author's hand in the bottom right corner of page to indicate letter continues.

3. Numbers "(1.)" to "(6.)" are written in author's hand in the left margin.

4. "289" written in unknown hand, top right corner of page.

5. Text in left margin in blue pencil in unknown hand reads "Note[?]" Two further words are illegible.

6. "over" written in author's hand in the bottom right corner of page to indicate letter continues.

7. James, William (1842-1910). American philosopher and psychologist.

8. Nature, scientific journal first published in 1869.

9. Pearson, Karl (1857-1936). English mathematician and biometrician, proponent of eugenics and biographer of Sir Francis Galton.

10. "BRITISH MUSEUM", with crown, stamped in red below signature on right of page.

11. Cockerell, Theodore Dru Alison (1866-1948). American zoologist.

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