Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP4881

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Charles Lyell
28 April 1869

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, 9 St Mark's Crescent, Regent's Park, London, N.W. to Charles Lyell [none given] on 28 April 1869.

Record created:
16 November 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline


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Record contains:

  • letter (1)
  • publication (1)

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LETTER (WCP4881.5282)

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

Held by:
American Philosophical Society
Finding number:
The Darwin-Lyell Collection
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




9 St. Mark’s Crescent

April 28th 1869

Dear Sir Charles,

I am glad the article gives satisfaction to yourself / your friends. Darwin tells me he likes it greatly, all except the conclusion which he would have thought written by some one else. He says however that he will consider the point I mention in what he is now writing about man. I fear that being in the "Quarterly" it will not attract the attention of scientific men.

It seems to me that if we [now?] admit the necessity of any action beyond "natural selection", in diveloping[sic] [[2]] man we have no reason whatever for confining that action to his brain. On the mere doctrine of chances it seems to me in the highest degree improbable, that so many points of structure all tending to [?]favour his mental development should concur in man, and in man alone of all animals. If the [erict?] posture, the freedom of the anterior limbs from purposes of locomotion, the powerful and opposable thumb, the naked skin the great symmetry of form, the perfect organs of speech;-- and in his mental faculties, -- calculation of numbers, ideas of symmetry, of justice, of abstract reasoning, of the infinite, of a future state, -- & many others can [[3]] not be shewn[sic] to be each and all useful to man in the very lowest state of civilization, how are we to explain their coexistence in him alone of the whole species of organised beings? Years ago I saw a Buslucan boy & girl in London, & the girl played very nicely on the piano. Bluid Lone the idiot negro had a "musical ear" or brain, superior perhaps to that of any living man. Unless Darwin can show me how this rudimentary or latent musical faculty in the lowest races can have been developed by survival of the fittest, -- can have been of use to the individual or the race, so as to cause those who possessed it in a fractionally greater degree than others to win in the struggle for life, I must believe [[4]] that some other power caused that development, -- and so on with very other especially human characteristics. It seems to me that onus probandi will liye with those who maintain that man, body & mind, could have been developed from a quadrumanous animal by "natural selection".

Believe me | Yours very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

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