WCP4367

Letter (WCP4367.4605)

[1]

Godalming,

June 2nd. 1889

My dear Mr. Poulton

I am exceedingly obliged by your kind letters, and I will say at once that if the Council of the University should again ask me to accept the degree to be conferred in the Autumn as you propose, I could not possibly refuse it. At the same time I hope you will not in any way urge it on them, as [2] I really feel myself too much of an amateur in Nat[ural] Hist[ory], and altogether too ignorant (I left school — a bad one — finally, at 14) to receive honours from a great University.

But I will say no more about that.

Mr Edwards of Coalbury has sent me 2 copies of his paper discussing more fully the question of the rank of butterfly families than in the letter, part of which I sent [3] to "Nature". Will you at your leisure give an hour to this paper which please keep— you will find it easy & pleasant reading — and then consider whether there is any way of throwing light [letter crossed out] upon the subject by Embryology. Can the embryology of the eggs of butterflies be possibly worked out? I have always felt that Bates’ classification — founded on the fore-leg atrophy, & [word crossed out] suspension of pupa — was, to say the least, unsatisfactory, — & the facts adduced by Edwards seem [4]1 to me to destroy the base it rested on. I think the principle of making degradation imply higher rank, is wrong. On this principle the Whale is the highest mammal, and the snakes the highest reptiles.

Most special Entomologists are committed to this theory of Bates’. You, I think, will look at it impartially. It is an interesting point & [word crossed out] I have no doubt you have some facts that will bear upon it.

Yours very faithfully| Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

This is actually the verso of the first sheet of the letter.

Published letter (WCP4367.6627)

[1] [p. 218]

Godalming

June 2, 1889

My dear Mr. Poulton,—I am exceedingly obliged by your kind letters, and I will say at once that if the Council of the University should again ask me to accept the degree, to be conferred in the autumn, as you propose, I could not possibly refuse it. At the same time I hope you will not in any way urge it upon them, as I really feel myself too much of an amateur in Natural History and altogether too ignorant (I left school—a bad one—finally, at fourteen) to receive honours from a great University. But I will say no more about that.—Yours very faithfully,

A. R. Wallace

Please cite as “WCP4367,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 3 July 2022, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP4367