Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscences, Vol. 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 301 pages of information about Alfred Russel Wallace.


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Down, Bromley, Kent.  May 18, 1860.

My dear Mr. Wallace,—­I received this morning your letter from Amboyna dated Feb. 16th, containing some remarks and your too high approbation of my book.  Your letter has pleased me very much, and I most completely agree with you on the parts which are strongest and which are weakest.  The imperfection of the geological record is, as you say, the weakest of all; but yet I am pleased to find that there are almost more geological converts than of pursuers of other branches of natural science.  I may mention Lyell, Ramsay, Jukes, Rogers, Keyerling, all good men and true.  Pictet of Geneva is not a convert, but is evidently staggered (as I think is Bronn of Heidelberg), and he has written a perfectly fair review in the Bib.  Universelle of Geneva.  Old Bronn has translated my book, well done also into German, and his well-known name will give it circulation.  I think geologists are more converted than simple naturalists because more accustomed to reasoning.

Before telling you about the progress of opinion on the subject, you must let me say how I admire the generous manner in which you speak of my book:  most persons would in your position have felt bitter envy and jealousy.  How nobly free you seem to be of this common failing of mankind.  But you speak far too modestly of yourself; you would, if you had had my leisure, have done the work just as well, perhaps better, than I have done it.  Talking of envy, you never read anything more envious and spiteful (with numerous misrepresentations) than Owen is in the Edinburgh Review.  I must give one instance; he throws doubts and sneers at my saying that the ovigerous frena of cirripedes have been converted into branchiae, because I have not found them to be branchiae; whereas he himself admits, before I wrote on cirripedes, without the least hesitation, that their organs are branchiae.  The attacks have been heavy and incessant of late.  Sedgwick and Prof.  Clarke attacked me savagely at the Cambridge Philosophical Society, but Henslow defended me well, though not a convert.  Phillips has since attacked me in a lecture at Cambridge; Sir W. Jardine in the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, Wollaston in the Annals of Nat.  History, A. Murray before the Royal Soc. of Edinburgh, Haughton at the Geological Society of Dublin, Dawson in the Canadian Nat.  Magazine, and many others.  But I am getting case-hardened, and all these attacks will make me only more determinedly fight.  Agassiz sends me personal civil messages, but incessantly attacks me; but Asa Gray fights like a hero in defence.  Lyell keeps as firm as a tower, and this autumn will publish on the Geological History of Man, and will then declare his conversion, which now is universally

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Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscences, Vol. 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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