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Record number: WCP4884

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Charles Lyell
21 November [1872]

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, The Dell, Grays, Essex to Charles Lyell [none given] on 21 November [1872].

Record created:
16 November 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline


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  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP4884.5284)

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



[[1]] 4281

The Dell, Grays, Essex

Wednesday evening

Nov[ember]. 21st. 18722

Dear Sir Charles

As I am engaged tomorrow, I have devoted this evening to reading over your last four letters and the greater parts of Chap[ter]s. XX -- XXI -- XXII and XXIV. of the "Antiquity3".

Taking all the circumstances into consideration I am decidedly of [the] opinion that it will be better not to condense or materially alter these chapters, -- but merely to amend them in detail, making a few omissions and a few additions, but leaving them in their main features substantially as they are. I think this, because in the [[2]] first place, -- it will be by far the easiest plan, & will occupy least time; -- in the second, because to alter, without palpably and materially bettering them would be a great mistake, and I do not at all think that they would or could be materially improved by condensation. Their style & whole character is near in harmony with the rest of a4 the volume; -- if materially changed it might not be so. Again, by bringing in too much new matter these chapters would be made (inevitably) more like an abstract or resumé of the "Principles" chapters on the same subject. Now, they are altogether different, -- and [[3]] are suited for a different class of readers; -- and, as you remark, they may be read by those who would never read the "Principles" & so will do good.

The question remains as to their place in the book. My idea is simply to hHead them -- Part. III. The Origin of Species and the place of Man in Nature. -- or something of that sort. Pt. II. being the -- Glacial Period.

This is a matter of detail, but I think it would be best, both because the subject is separate in the Title page, & because it should be separated in some way from the "Antiquity" parts [[4]] proper.

If you definitely adopt this plan I will, if you desire it, go carefully through the 5 chapters, XX - XXIV, -- and make such suggestions as occur to me. The most important thing I have noticed tonight is, -- that the long history of the "Owen Brain Controversy5" (p. 484 - 491) is now almost forgotten, & had better be either omitted altogether or if retained put bodily into a note. There are several other minor points wh[ich]. I will not mention till I have read the chapters more carefully.

I shall be happy to call on you some day next week if you think you would like to discuss the subject, & I will let you know what day will be convenient as soon as I can.

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

Sir Charles Lyell Bart.


1. The number "428" has been inscribed at the top, left-hand, corner of the page. It is not Wallace’s hand-writing.

2. The date has been added by another hand. It is not written by Wallace.

3. Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man, by Sir Charles Lyell. Initially published in three parts in February, April and November 1863. The much revised fourth edition was published in 1873.

4. Wallace has omitted to cross out the indefinite article.

5. A reference to the scientific dispute between, in particular, Sir Richard Owen and Thomas Henry Huxley, regarding the uniqueness of human development and its relationship to the evolution of apes in general.

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