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

Darwin's Friend. Chat With Mr. Albert
Russell Wallace. (S735a: 1887)

An Eminent Naturalist's Ideas on a Variety of Subjects.

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: An interview by an unnamed correspondent printed on page 4 of the 22 April 1887 issue of The Cincinnati Enquirer, during Wallace's tour of North America in 1886-7. In Wallace's journal he writes of this episode: "...Evening an interviewer called--questions displayed remarkable ignorance as to geography, cannibals!--Darwinism, etc., monkeys & man..." (not to mention the double name error!). To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S735A.htm

     Prof. Albert Russell Wallace, the eminent English naturalist, who will speak before the Natural History Society to-night, is the guest of Charles Dury, of Avondale. Dr. Wallace has been in the city several days, and much attention is being shown him by scientific people. An Enquirer reporter called on the famous friend of Charles Darwin last night at the residence of Mr. Dury. The doctor was playing a game of chess with his host, but cheerfully subjected himself to an interview.

     "I have been in America seven months," he said. "I like the country very much. In some places I find a lively


But this country is still behind Europe in these matters."

     "Were you not an intimate of Darwin?"

     "Yes, we were good friends, and had a great deal of correspondence. I have more than one hundred letters from him."

     "Did you not lend him valuable aid in working out the origin of species?"

     "I had the honor of helping in that important discovery. When Darwin made his announcement I was in the Malay Islands examining the chimpanzee1 and orang-outang."

     "Do you still believe in the evolution theory?"

     "More than ever. The longer a man lives and studies the more he is convinced of the truth."

     "Which of the lower animals is most like man in its construction?"

     "The orang-outang, chimpanzee and gorilla all have strong points of resemblance."

     "What becomes of men after they die, in your opinion?"

     "I have no doubt that they live again. I don't believe there is such a thing as absolute death."

     "In what form do we live hereafter?"

     "In a state of progression. I have a good deal of


Of Swedenborg."

     "Have you any particular religious belief?"

     "I am a Spiritualist, and have been one for twenty years. The believers in that faith give evidence of a future life. They do not ask men to believe in a book written by nobody knows who three thousand years ago."

     "You entirely deny the Bible plan of creation?"

     "Most certainly. If Adam and Eve were the first man and woman, where did the Indians, the Negroes and the Chinese come from? It won't do to say that Caucasians grew sable from living in a tropical country. The Boers in South Africa and the Dutch in Malacca, who are just as white as we are, contradict that theory."

     "What is the first great cause?"

     "I don't pretend to know."

     "Wasn't Beecher an evolutionist?"2

     "He didn't know much about the subject. A gentleman who heard Talmage3 some time ago told me that his denunciation of evolution was about as bad as Beecher's defense of it."

     Dr. Wallace, during his eight years' sojourn in


Heard many interesting facts about the nations, and, in fact, he is acquainted with the history of nearly every nation yet discovered. He believes that many of the nations not yet discovered in Africa are cannibals who live on human flesh, and during the conversation the naturalist referred to the fact that the worst cannibal countries at one time were New Zealand and the Fiji Islands. Dr. Wallace is sixty-six years old, and his long gray beard gives him a patriarchal appearance. He is a Liberal in politics and a warm sympathizer with the Irish cause, and he said he didn't want to be at home to celebrate the Queen's jubilee. In another reference to Darwin the Doctor remarked: "His memory is now reverenced by the best people in England. I was one of the mourners at his funeral when his remains were deposited in Westminster Abbey. Mr. Darwin was an invalid nearly all his life, but lived to the age of seventy-three."

     It was also developed in the course of the interview that the eminent Englishman is


Which he considers will have a most beneficial effect on society. Dr. Wallace, after his lecture in this city, will go West. Although he has been on an extended exploring trip in South America, on the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers, this is his first visit to the United States.

*                 *                 *                 *                 *

Editor's Notes

1. Wallace hardly would have included "chimpanzee" in this thought!

2. Henry Ward Beecher, the great Congregationalist clergyman and reformer, had died just the month before.

3. Dr. Thomas De Witt Talmage (1832-1902), an American Presbyterian preacher and clergyman.

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