WCP2018

Letter (WCP2018.1908)

[1]

Queens Hotel

Cliftonville

Margate

Aug. 10, 1894

Dear Mr Wallace,

Though we differ on many some points we agree on many, and one of the points on which we doubtless agree is the absurdity of Lord Salisbury’s representation of the process of Natural Selection1, based upon the improbability of two varying individuals meeting. His nonsensical representation of the theory ought to be exposed, for it will mislead very [2] many people. I see it is adopted by the Pall Mall.

I have been myself strongly prompted to take the matter up, but it is evidently your business to do that. Pray write a letter to the Times explaining that selection or survival of the fittest does not necessarily take place in the way he describes. You might set out by [one word illegible crossed out] remarking that— whereas he begins by comparing himself to a volunteer colonel reviewing a regiment of regulars, he [3] very quickly changes his attitude & becomes a colonel of regulars reviewing volunteers & making fun of their bunglings. He deserves a severe castigation. There are other points on which his views should be rectified but this is the essential point.

It behoves you of all men to take up the gauntlet he has thrown down.

Very truly yours | Herbert Spencer [signature]

P.S. I suggest the Times as a [4] medium because the diffusion of your answer should be co-extensive with that of the address.

Lord Salisbury at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in August 1894, whilst acting as President, questioned that animal life was purely the result of natural selection and argued natural selection alone was insufficient to account for all the facts of biological evolution.

Published letter (WCP2018.6424)

[1] [p. 59]

Queen's Hotel, Cliftonville, Margate.1 August 10, 1894.

Dear Mr. Wallace, — Though we differ on some points we agree on many, and one of the points on which we doubtless agree is the absurdity of Lord Salisbury's2 representation of the process of Natural Selection based upon the improbability of two varying individuals meeting. His nonsensical representation of the theory ought to be exposed, for it will mislead very many people. I see it is adopted by the Pall Mall.3 I have been myself strongly prompted to take the matter up, but it is evidently your business to do that. Pray write a letter to the Times4 explaining that selection or survival of the fittest does not necessarily take place in the way he describes. You might set out by remarking that whereas he begins by comparing himself to a volunteer colonel reviewing a regiment of regulars, he very quickly changes his attitude and becomes a colonel of regulars reviewing volunteers and making fun of their bunglings. He deserves a severe castigation. There are other points on which his views should be rectified, but this is the essential point.

It behoves you of all men to take up the gauntlet he has thrown down. — Very truly yours, | HERBERT SPENCER.

A seaside resort in Kent.
Gascoyne-Cecil, Robert Arthur Talbot (1830-1903). Lord Salisbury. British Conservative politician and Prime Minister three times between 1885 and 1902.
The 'Pall Mall Gazette', a London evening newpaper published from 1865 to 1921.
British daily newspaper, published in London since 1788.

Published letter (WCP2018.6828)

[1] [p. 364]

10 August, 1894.

If we differ on some points we agree on many, and one of the points on which we doubtless agree is the absurdity of Lord Salisbury's1 representation of the process of Natural Selection, based upon the improbability of two varying individuals meeting. His nonsensical representation of the theory ought to be exposed, for it will mislead very many people. I see it is adopted by the Pall Mall.2

I have been myself strongly prompted to take the matter up, but it is evidently your business to do that. Pray write a letter to the Times3 explaining that selection, or survival of the fittest, does not necessarily take place in the way he describes. You might set out by showing that whereas he begins by comparing himself to a volunteer colonel reviewing a regiment of regulars he very quickly changes his attitude and becomes a colonel of regulars reviewing volunteers, making fun of their bunglings. He deserves a severe castigation. There are other points on which his views should be rectified, but this is the essential point.

Gascoyne-Cecil, Robert Arthur Talbot (1830-1903). Lord Salisbury. British Conservative politician and Prime Minister three times between 1885 and 1902.
The 'Pall Mall Gazette', a London evening newpaper published from 1865 to 1921.
British daily newspaper, published in London since 1788.

Please cite as “WCP2018,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 3 March 2024, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP2018