Letter (WCP1661.1534)



Feb[ruar]y. 27. 1867.

Dear Mrs. Sims

Mr. Wallace tells me you have found some diplomas of mine, in a black carton case, and I write to ask you to be so good as to wrap it up in paper and despatch [one illeg. word crossed out] the case and its contents to me by Post. I enclose stamps for the postage — if they are not sufficient I will gladly remit the surplus.

I trust you have passed unscathed through the glacial period of January and the semi-tropical one of February. Already they are bringing me nosegays of wild flowers — primroses, violets & buttercups.

Some time ago I invited Mr. Sims1 to come & pass a day or two with me. He replied by reading me a lecture on the necessity of making Sunday a day of rest — surely unneeded for me, who am ever ready to pray, after the fashion of Gilbert Elliott2,

Lord, grant to poor o'er-laboured3 man

More Sabbath and less Church!4

One day's rest in seven is in fact not enough for very hard-worked men[.] — I would have them able to take one day to rest and half a day to recreation, [two illeg. words crossed out] or wicey warsey5, according to the nature of the work or the conscientious scruples of the worker.

[2] I tried the Stereoscope Mr. Wallace sent me with all sorts of eyes — young eyes & old eyes — eyes set closer together than my own (like Mr. Mitten's6) and eyes very wide apart — but to all it was the same — two pictures & not one were invariably seen. I then measured the focal length of the lenses — compared it with the length of the tubes & the way they were mounted, & found that only except for the very shortest sight (and even then with a good deal of straining) was it possible the two images could be combined. The true remedy w[oul]d have been to make a new case; however, with the aid of a joiner I have so modified the old one that now eyes of all ages can see perfectly with the instrument.

I presume you continue to deal in the spirit line — a branch of business unknown here[.] — During that sharp frosty weather, one evening when I had reposed half an hour after taking any tea, I got up to pace the room, & feeling myself unusually light I set to and danced several steps of a hornpipe, by the space of 10 minutes, to the great astonishment of my "nuss"7! I did the same thing again on a following night — & I must add that at the end of the 10 minutes I felt my legs gradually (as it were) [one illeg. word crossed out] crumbling under me and sank into my chair — not exhausted, but fallen back into my usual [3] state of torpor. I have since in vain attempted to repeat this saltatorial experiment & at the present moment I might as well try to fly as to dance. Now, if you could connect this singular phenomenon with any incantation of your magic circle, it w[oul]d go far to convince me that one living body may act on another at a distance beyond the limit of possible perception by the senses.

With best regards to Mr. Sims & the famille8 Wallace, believe me, Dear. Mrs. Sims, | Yours very respect[full]y | Rich[ar]d Spruce. [signature]

Sims, Thomas (1826-1910). Brother-in-law of ARW; photographer.

Note the verse cited is by Ebenezer Elliott not Gilbert Elliot.

Elliott, Ebenezer (1781-1849). British poet, known as the Corn Law rhymer for his fight to repeal the Corn Laws which were causing starvation amongst the poor.

Archaic form of overlaboured.
The original verse reads, "Lord! grant to poor o'er-labour'd man / More leisure, and less pray'r." (Ebenezer, Elliot. 1850. More Verse and Prose. 2 vols. London: C. Fox. Vol 1. p.166).
Dialect variant for vice versa.
Mitten, William (1819-1906). Father-in-law of ARW; chemist and authority on bryophytes.
Dialetic variant for nurse.
French for family.

Please cite as “WCP1661,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 4 December 2023, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP1661