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

Dr. Wallace on Astrology. (S703bc: 1913)

Editor Charles H. Smith’s Note: A letter to the Editor of The Times of India from barrister R. K. Tarachand of Bombay containing text from a letter Wallace sent him in 1911. Printed on page 4 of that title's issue of 11 November 1913 (just three days after Wallace’s death). The letter Tarachand sent to Wallace that precipitated the latter's reply may be viewed as item WCP3485.2972 at the "Wallace Letters Online" website. Additional insight into Wallace's remarks here is provided by Gerrell Drawhorn at the "Wallace Online" website. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S703BC.htm

To the Editor of The Times of India:

    Sir,--With regard to the article on Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace which appeared in your issue of yesterday’s date, many of your readers in India will be interested to learn the views on Astrology of so eminent a scientist and so kind and generous a friend. Accordingly I enclose herewith the copy of a holograph letter I received from him so late as the 27th May, 1911. For those of your readers who are not familiar with Dr. Wallace’s habit of always carefully underlining all words to which he wished to draw special attention I may mention that the interlineations are all his own:-- "I have had good proofs of Astrological methods giving very good results, quite beyond chance-coincidence. Yet the same person, with another enquirer utterly fails. This looks so like the irregularities of Mediumship, and the whole conception of the position of the planets in regard to the earth, influencing the character and whole lives of individuals, in correspondence with the hour and minute of birth of those individuals, seems so extremely improbable, and even grotesque, that I am inclined to believe that the results attained (like those of Palmistry etc.) are really mediumistic. The astrologer is a special form of medium, who is impressed by Spirits with the supposed result of planet-position; but the study of these positions and relations merely affords the conditions of their mediumship, and the complexities and uncertainties of the Horoscope are such, that they can, by very slight modifications--giving greater weight to some "aspect" or some "position" than to another--the Astrologer is impressed to read "from the stars"--results which the "spirit" influencing him has the power and the wish that he should read.

    The more I consider this explanation the more it seems to me to explain all the facts.

    I am very much overworked now, and cannot write more, but I think if you will give this view your attention, you will find it to be the only one which rationally solves the problem.

Yours very truly,
(Signed) Alfred R. Wallace."

    I do not think that by giving a personal letter for publication I am at all transgressing the sacred privacies of intimate correspondence; nay I think, si ut sapientibus placet non cum corpore extinguuntur magnae animae, that Dr. Wallace himself would prefer it to be made public, so various and so many are the calumnies levelled at his head for investigating subjects that are taboo by Modern Science.

R. K. Tarachand.
18 Hamam Street, Bombay.

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