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Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

Dr. Russel Wallace and Woman (S650: 1908)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter to the Editor printed on page 89 of the 18 January 1908 issue of The Outlook. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S650.htm

To the Editor of "The Outlook."

     Sir,--As you have been so good as to call my attention to your correspondent "Eve's" letter, as being "a very shrewd attack" not only upon men in general but upon myself in particular, I presume you will not object to my making a few observations thereon.

     "Eve" may be shrewd in opening her attack upon myself by the definite statement that I can see "no difference between Cetewayo and Charles Gordon," but I cannot consider it fair fighting to begin with such a "blow below the belt," which nothing in my article (or in any of my writings) justifies.

     Again, it maybe a sufficient proof of her sense of humour (a faculty which she seems very anxious to claim for her sex, but which I have never doubted) to ridicule an important portion of my argument without referring to my original and fuller statement of it, as she does when she implies that I ignore altogether "the foolish sentiment we call love," but to do so is certainly neither honest nor even politic. But I suppose the pseudonym--"Eve"--is meant to imply that your correspondent speaks for the primitive woman, who was, according to modern anthropology, a very low type of humanity. If however she had taken the trouble to read the chapter on "Human Selection" to which I called attention, she would have found, among other important considerations, the following sentence: "It would probably come to be considered a degradation for any woman to marry a man she could not both love and esteem, and this feeling would supply ample reasons for either abstaining from marriage altogether, or delaying it till a worthy and sympathetic partner was encountered."

     But surely "Eve" is a little out of date in her suggestion as to the "foolish sentiment" being now a main factor in determining marriage. Do not such influences as wealth, social position, desire for independence, uncongenial homes, the dread of want, and many other causes arising from our very imperfect social economy, drive large numbers of women into matrimony either without, or in direct opposition to, the attraction of love?

     Equally beside the point is "Eve's" "humorous" suggestion (for it is not mine) that love of children can only "be tested by competitive examination." I regret that I am compelled to differ so completely from a lady who poses as my maternal ancestor, but I am glad to call attention to one statement in her letter with which I entirely agree; and that is, that in discussing the vast and important problem of the future well-being of humanity, I have never had "the least idea of being funny." Yet, if "Eve" will credit the fact, no one is fonder of genuine humour than I am!--I am, Sir, yours, &c., Alfred R. Wallace.

January 13.

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