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Record number: WCP4649

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Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Charles Grant Blairfindie ("Grant") Allen
7 October 1877

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Rosehill, Dorking to Charles Grant Blairfindie ("Grant") Allen [none given] on 7 October 1877.

Record created:
06 February 2013 by Catchpole, Caroline


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Clodd, Edward. (1900). Grant Allen: a Memoir. G. Richards. 1-222. [p. 63-64]

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[[1]]1 [p. 63]

Rosehill, Dorking,

Oct. 7th, 1877.

My dear Sir,--I have read the passages you marked, as well as a good many other parts of your book, with [[2]] [p. 64] much pleasure. I was particularly pleased with your suggestion (which had not occurred to me) that fruits, in our sense of the word, are much more recent developments than flowers, because they attract chiefly mammals and birds instead of insects.

There is, I admit, a partial contradiction between the view that 'red' excites animals on account of its glaring contrast, and that yet the perception of it by man is recent. The latter view must, I believe, be incorrect, and should be stated, I think, even more hypothetically than I have put it. I have just been reading Mr. Gladstone's interesting paper, which is almost wholly on Homer's colour terms, or rather the absence of them. The evidence is most curious, but I think it only goes to show that language was imperfect, and that 'colour' was too infinitely varied and of too little importance to early man to have received a systematic nomenclature. 'Flowers' and 'birds' and 'insects' were despised, and the colours of more important objects, as the 'sea,' 'sky,' 'earth,' 'iron,' 'brass,' etc., were not only not pure colours (generally), but subject to endless fluctuations.

Your remarks on 'nuts' are very good. I quite overlooked that case, and shall refer to you when I reprint my paper with others in a volume shortly.

I think that all the coloured fruits which are poisonous to 'man' are eatable to some birds, etc. They are far too numerous to be accounted for otherwise. --With many thanks, believe me, yours faithfully,

Alfred R. Wallace.


1. Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: First of a pair of personal letters to writer Grant Allen (1848-1899) regarding the latter's books Physiological Aesthetics and The Colour Sense, later printed in Edward Clodd's appreciation Grant Allen A Memoir in 1900.


This transcript originates from Charles H. Smith’s The Alfred Russel Wallace Page website (http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/index1.htm): See http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S591A.htm

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.