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Record number: WCP4776

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
R. Murray
2 May 1890

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Corfe View, Parkstone, Dorset to R. Murray [none given] on 2 May 1890.

Record created:
16 October 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline


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Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP4776.5152)

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

Held by:
American Philosophical Society
Finding number:
Alfred Russel Wallace Collection Mss.B.W15a
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Parkstone, Dorset.

May 2nd. 1890

R. Murray Esq.

Dear Sir

Your case for the mutilated cat producing tailless or imperfect-tailed kittens would be extremely interesting and valuable if it could be proved -- (1) that that there was no imperfect-tailed male cat in the neighbourhood who might have been father of the kittens, -- but if as you say, all her progeny have since been imperfectly tailed that would be improbable, -- and (2) that the cat herself had not an imperfect tail before it was cut off, -- and (3) that the mother [[2]] or father of the cat had quite perfect tails. If you have good evidence on all these points you should send an account of the facts to "Nature" in which -- this week -- there is an account of a similarly short & crooked tailed cat producing tailless or crook-tailed kittens; but this is nothing extraordinary because the common Malay cats have either stumpy or variously crooked tails and the Manx cats the same[.] Many abnormalities, when once produced naturally, [word illeg. crossed-out] are strongly heritable, while hitherto there is actually no good case (well proved) of a [[3]] mutilation being inherited, while there are many striking cases of non-inheritance -- the docked tails of horses & dogs, the cramped feet of Chinese women, & the circumcision of the Jews, which after being constantly practised for 30 centuries is not in the slightest degree inherited.

Your case therefore would be most interesting if well-established.

Your very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]


Dr A Russel Wallace1


1. Wallace’s name has been written on the reverse (unused) side of the second sheet. It is written in the central fold of the folded letter, and probably for filing purposes.

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