Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP254

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Violet Isabel Wallace
25 September 1894

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Parkstone, Dorset, to Violet Isabel Wallace [address not recorded] on 25 September 1894.

Record created:
01 June 2002 by Lucas, Paula J.


Re. the delights of Switzerland; visit by Dr and Mrs Wigglesworth, daughter of H. H. Higgins, from Liverpool, Dr W recently stabbed by a patient at the lunatic asylum, description of incident and surgery on his severed carotid artery; alpine plants collected for Alfred Russel Wallace by Clement Reid delayed in post and some dead; Alfred Russel Wallace writing an article on "some Darwinian heresies" for the "Fortnightly" and about to write another on "The expressiveness of speech"; plans to view Mars with his telescope; William (Violet's brother) back in Newcastle.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP254.254)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/2/53
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Parkstone, Dorset

Sept[embe]r 25th. 1894

My dear Violet

You must keep your experiences in detail till Xmas, when you can "fight your battle, oer again". Of course Switzerland is the gem of the world & spoils one for every other country, though Mrs. Sharpe says she likes Norway better. On Friday we has an unexpected visit from Mr. and Mrs. Wigglesworth where I staid[sic] at the Lunatic Asylum near Liverpool (Rainhill). Mrs. W. is Rev[erend] H. H. Higgins daughter. Dr W. had been nearly killed by one of the lunatics -- the narrowest escape I should think any man ever [[2]] had. He was going his rounds, & had just seen one man & was talking to the next one, when the one just left stabbed him in the side of the throat with a piece of iron he had secreted & sharpened. It cut his jugular vein carotid artery quite in two, & he would have died in a few minutes if he had not himself pressed hard on the artery vein [one word illeg.] & stopped the loss of blood. The other doctors in the asylum applied pressure so as to check the loss of blood, & then sent for a first rate surgeon from Liverpool & they had to cut open his throat to get at the artery vein [one word illeg.] to tie & plug it up. Now he has no carotid artery at all! It will gradually shrink away, & all the blood is carried to the brain by other smaller arteries [[3]] which enlarge sufficiently. For a long time he had to be watched day & night as had the artery burst open he would have died in a few minutes unless it could be stopped. It is only six weeks since the accident, yet the wound is nearly healed and he looks quite well, though still of course weak. That seems to me a triumph of surgery and a marvel of physiology.

Mr. Clement Reid collected a lot of alpine plants for me the last day he was up the high mountains, & packed them & left them at the hotel to be posted. But they forget them for a week & they did not reach here till 12 days after they were gathered, so they were very bad [[4]] but I have potted them all, and it looks as if about half of them would recover. I have been writing a long critical article on some Darwinian heresies for the "Fortnightly", and am now going to write another, on "The Expressiveness of Speech", which I think will be more generally interesting. I have not heard from Mrs. Fisher since. I have now a tall stand for the telescope but not once for the last month has there been a fine night - always haze, or cloud or rain. Mars is now in a good position & the first fine night I mean to try at it. Also at the next new moon. Not heard from Will once since he returned to Newcastle 2 weeks ago.

Your affectionate Pa I Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

Tuesday now - Letter from Will. He is allright. ARW.1


1. Text written along the left-hand margin of page 4.

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