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Record number: WCP5037

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Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Edvard Alexander Westermarck
20 January 1892

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Corfe View, Parkstone, Dorset to Edvard Alexander Westermarck [none given] on 20 January 1892.

Record created:
06 February 2013 by Catchpole, Caroline


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Wikman, Karl Robert Villehad. (1940). Letters From Edward B. Tylor and Alfred Russel Wallace to Edward Westermarck; Ed. With Introductory Remarks Concerning the Publication of The History of Human Marriage. Abo. 1-22. [p. 21]

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[[1]]1 [p. 21]

Jany. 20th. 1892.

Dear Mr Westermarck.

Many thanks for your letter and your kind offer to send me some views of your Scenery which will be very acceptable.

I am very glad to see that Macmillan has brought out your book in such a handsome volume, and I trust that it is selling satisfactorily and that it will, notwithstanding its peculiar subject and somewhat repulsive details bring you in a moderate return besides bare reputation.

I quite think with you that Prof. Robertson Smith's criticism is altogether erroneous,-- but then he evidently has not grasped the wide-reaching principle of natural-selection as you have done. For want of this he does not see that in the case he refers to individual variations are all that are required to bring the »group» into existence, and thus his criticism that you postulate the thing to be explained falls to the ground. To naturalists the very objections of Prof. R. Smith that you assume the laws of society (as regards marriage) to be in many cases »formulated instincts» will seem the greatest merit of your book.

It is so many years since I read much of Anthropology that I made a very stupid mistake in naming Prof. E. Tylor among those who had adopted the views of McLennan etc. I have written to Macmillan to insert an »Erratum» slip in all copies on hand, and to omit his name from any reprint. I still differ from you on the sexual origin of dress. I do not know if any of your critics have touched on this. It is however not a very important matter.

Believe me

Yours very faithfully

Alfred R. Wallace.

P. S. Your facts about the Foula intermarriages are very interesting. The community being so small there can be no adequate selection,-- and this would also be the case among the small tribes of most savages.

A. R. W.


1. Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Thirteenth of fourteen letters from Wallace to Edward Westermarck, concerning the writing of the latter's The History of Human Marriage. These were included in the article "Letters From Edward B. Tylor and Alfred Russel Wallace to Edward Westermarck; Ed. With Introductory Remarks Concerning the Publication of The History of Human Marriage" by K. Rob. V. Wikman that appeared in 1940 as Acta Academiae Aboensis Humaniora XIII.7. The Wallace letters make up the second half of the work. Note that there are several apparent minor editing errors in the source material that I have not bothered to correct.


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/S712.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.