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Alfred Russel Wallace: Evolution of an Evolutionist.

Chapter Five. The Completion of a Theory of Evolution.

    When Wallace returned home to England in 1862, he found himself in an awkward position. Despite the fact that in the four preceding years he had written virtually nothing that extended Darwinian thinking, on the basis of the Ternate essay he was considered a "Darwin supporter." This was true enough--as far as it went; what was not appreciated, however, was that the emergence of natural selection as a viable concept merely meant that he now had to concentrate on figuring out how, specifically, human beings might be evolving "without ever becoming aware of it."

    Not enough attention (in fact just about no attention) has been given to this very curious absence of development of evolutionary ideas in Wallace's writings in the years following the publication of "On the Tendency..." in 1858. Wallace first refers in print (and refers is all he does) to Darwinian natural selection in April 1860.1 The subject did not come up again in his writings--and obliquely at that--until his short discussion of mimicry in "List of Birds Collected in the Island of Bouru" in 1863.2 A few months later, in "Who are the Humming Bird's Relations?," it is referred to twice in passing.3 Not until "Remarks on the Rev. S. Haughton's Paper...", in October 18634--incredibly, over five and one half years after the Ternate essay was written--did Wallace actually develop any natural selection-related ideas in print. Evolutionary--but not natural selection-based--arguments regarding man initially appear in his "On the Varieties of Man in the Malay Archipelago," first presented publicly in September 1863.5

    This is not the kind of behavior one might expect from a man who late in life once described himself at this earlier time as follows: "I was then (as often since) the 'young man in a hurry'."6 Except for this one several year period, in fact, Wallace's writing and speaking career was characterized by the way he routinely spoke his mind, and usually sooner rather than later--as is surely indicated by his transmitting the Ternate essay to Darwin to begin with. Yet here he was, taking all the time in the world before actually contributing any substantive thoughts on a theme whose development he already knew would be his life's most important legacy. Doesn't this seem just the slightest bit odd?

    Previous Wallace investigators, however, have paid just about no attention to this curious situation, instead choosing to assume a continuity of his evolutionary view through to his return to England in 1862 as the background for his supposed later "change of mind." At that point (1862), as mentioned in Chapter One, he is thought to have become progressively disillusioned with natural selection, perhaps because of his adoption of spiritualism, or increasing judgment that the higher human attributes and/or social development could not be explained through the theory.7

    My view of the events following Wallace's return in 1862 is both quite different from, and less complicated than, these scenarios. Let us now consider this different interpretation.

    Initially encouraged by the success of the Darwinian formulation of natural selection, Wallace turned to the work of another famous materialist, Herbert Spencer, for inspiration. In 1862 he read Spencer's First Principles and, around the same time, apparently re-read Social Statics.8 In My Life Wallace writes:

Soon after my return home, in 1862 or 1863, Bates and I, having both read First Principles and been immensely impressed by it, went together to call on Herbert Spencer... Our thoughts were full of the great unsolved problem of the origin of life--a problem which Darwin's Origin of Species left in as much obscurity as ever--and we looked to Spencer as the one man living who could give us some clue to it. His wonderful exposition of the fundamental laws and conditions, actions and interactions of the material universe seemed to penetrate so deeply into [the] nature of things...that we both hoped he could throw some light on that great problem of problems...9

    In a 2 January 1864 letter to Darwin, Wallace remarks of Spencer:

He appears to me as far ahead of John Stuart Mill as J. S. M. is of the rest of the world, and, I may add, as Darwin is of Agassiz. The range of his knowledge is no less than its accuracy... in his forthcoming volume on Biology he is I understand going to show that there is something else besides Natural Selection at work in nature. So you must look out for a "foeman worthy of your steel"!10

In this letter Wallace also suggests that Darwin read Social Statics. Spencer's influence on Wallace's thinking was undoubtedly substantial during this period: for example, the combined arguments of Social Statics and First Principles probably convinced him once and for all that evolution unfolded through the application of "persistently directed force." Spiritualism would later lend itself to an extension of this conclusion: that such force was the manifestation of a universal will.11

    On at least two later occasions,12 Wallace recalled how during this time he had temporarily slipped into an "individualist" (Wallace usually employed the word "individualist" rather than "materialist") mode of thinking. This effort to make sense of the hierarchical causal structure he still envisioned culminated in two important position papers he presented at scientific meetings in early 1864. These were "The Origin of Human Races and the Antiquity of Man Deduced From the Theory of 'Natural Selection'," read to the Anthropological Society of London on 1 March 1864, and "On the Phenomena of Variation and Geographical Distribution as Illustrated by the Papilionidae of the Malayan Region," presented sixteen days later to the Linnean Society of London.13

    The first paper represented the first time Wallace combined his history-oriented "On the Law..." model with his population/ecological "On the Tendency..." arguments to treat man's evolution. In a letter to Darwin at the time, he remarks:

I send you now my little contribution to the theory [Wallace's italics] of the origin of man. I hope you will be able to agree with me. If you are able, I shall be glad to have your criticisms.

I was led to the subject by the necessity of explaining the vast mental and cranial differences between man and the apes combined with such small structural differences in other parts of the body, and also by an endeavour to account for the diversity of human races combined with man's almost perfect stability of form during all historical epochs.14

    If, as I have suggested, Wallace had been forestalled in making public his full opinions on the nature of the evolutionary process, it is exactly in this direction that one might have expected him to move. Apart from directly addressing the still very contentious issue of human biological evolution, its emphasis on racial differentiation provided the perfect link to questions bearing on human social and mental evolution. Importantly, and in addition to its building on materialistic Darwinian principles, it makes references to "above nature" influences, viz.: "By his superior intellect he is enabled to provide himself with clothing and weapons..."15 and "By his superior sympathetic and moral feelings, he becomes fitted for the social state..."16--remarks that look forward to his later considerations of supra-biological forces. He still had no handle, however, on where the line should be drawn between the biological and the supra-biological, as is suggested from the inclusion of the lines "If, therefore, we are of opinion that he was not really man till these higher faculties were developed, we may fairly assert that there were many originally distinct races of men; while, if we think that a being like us in form and structure, but with mental faculties scarcely raised above the brute, must still be considered to have been human, we are fully entitled to maintain the common origin of all mankind."17

    The second work mentioned above, "On the Phenomena...", constituted his parallel first combination of historical and ecological approaches to the subject of animal evolution. Wallace was uncharacteristically proud of both works, and intent on making sure Spencer knew of them: he sent him a reprint copy of "The Origin of Human Races...," probably as soon as one was available,18 and specially composed an article-length pre-print abstract of "On the Phenomena..." for the 16 April 1864 number of the journal Reader,19 with which Spencer was connected in an advisory capacity.20

    As we shall see, Wallace was not entirely happy with the individualism-influenced arguments presented in "The Origin of Human Races...". Nevertheless, by that time he was certainly (and still) convinced that natural selection was, at least within the general limits he had always conceived for it, an absolutely valid concept. Just as certainly, however, he still hadn't arrived at an overall causal structure through which he could interpret its place in evolution as a whole. He had managed to figure out how to connect utility arguments to the outcome of adaptation and avoid first-causes thinking, but this position didn't mean that natural selection could do more than provide a general label for a particular kind of outcome, or represent more than the proximate cause of organic change.

*                *                *

    In Chapter One I discussed in some detail the pattern of Wallace's participation in professional activities during the 1863 through 1867 period, including the fact that his systematics-related writing did tail off markedly in 1865 and 1866. I neglected to mention, however, that over the ensuing four years he embarked upon another "binge" of descriptive biology work that produced ten more publications consuming some 275 pages in print. Clearly, the 1865-1866 period of low production came about for some reason other than his having been left with nothing to do in this direction. It seems apparent that he chose a specific time--early mid-1865--to commence his "investigation." Something must have come up.

    In September of 1864 Wallace presented a paper entitled "On the Progress of Civilization in Northern Celebes" at the annual British Association for the Advancement of Science meetings.21 The essay features a description of what Wallace terms "true savage life," and how he felt this had been modified--positively--by the introduction of coffee plantation culture by the Dutch. He leads his discussion to the point of suggesting that initial dealings with completely uncivilized peoples might benefit from an attitude of mild despotism, arguing that:

...there is in many respects an identity of relation between master and pupil, or parent and child, on the one hand, and an uncivilised race and its civilised rulers on the other. We know, or think we know, that the education and industry, and the common usages of civilised man, are superior to those of savage life; and, as he becomes acquainted with them, the savage himself admits this. He admires the superior acquirements of the civilised man, and it is with pride that he will adopt such usages as do not interfere too much with his sloth, his passions, or his prejudices. But as the wilful child or the idle schoolboy, who was never taught obedience and never made to do anything which of his own free will he was not inclined to do, would in most cases obtain neither education nor manners; so it is much more unlikely that the savage, with all the confirmed habits of manhood, and the traditional prejudices of race, should ever do more than copy a few of the least beneficial customs of civilisation, without some stronger stimulus than mere example.22

    In this work Wallace is fairly obviously thinking out loud: exploring the kinds of forces that might be employed to raise people's consciousness levels--that is, that might promote development of "informed belief." I believe that this line of reasoning was an important precursor to two involvements in May 1865 that would provide Wallace with the impetus to drop what he was doing and spend a full year examining the literature and phenomena of spiritualism. These involvements have not been recognized previously for the importance they had in Wallace's life because workers have not paid enough attention to the connections regarding uninformed belief and justice, discussed earlier, that continually surface in his writings.

    Wallace apparently still was trying to work out a hierarchical causal model accounting for the evolutionary function of ostensibly survival-unrelated characters as the year 1865 began. Earlier I established, hopefully once and for all, that Wallace's intensive investigation of spiritualism began in mid-1865, and that he reached the point of committing himself to promoting its study sometime in early or early mid-1866. Beyond agreeing with Malinchak (1987) that this chronology seems related to the time Wallace would have needed to study and describe his collections within the period preceding that date, however, I offered no explanation for why he decided to fill his time at that point with a study of spiritualism. I just noted that although his systematics production did tail off markedly in 1865 and 1866, over the next three years he again published a large quantity of descriptive biology. Thus, the 1865-1866 period represented a hiatus in his systematics work, not a final tailing off. What are we to make of this?

    The themes present in "On the Progress of Civilization in Northern Celebes" are continued a few months later in his next significant writing, "Public Responsibility and the Ballot." This short essay-like letter to the Editor of Reader appeared in its issue of 6 May 1865;23 it constituted a response to comments made in the previous issue by the great English philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill. As of its printing Wallace was forty-two and had already published over one hundred writings, but this is the first one that concerned a wholly non-scientific subject. The entire text of this work follows:

In the review, headed as above, in your last number, and signed "J. S. M.," the well-known writer does not appear to me to have been quite successful in answering the arguments of the pamphlet he criticizes. Indeed, on the most important point, his own reasoning seems equally applicable to the opposite side of the question. I beg leave, therefore, to make a few observations on what appears to me, as I doubt not it must to many of your readers, a very inconclusive part of his article.

Mr. Mill truly says, that a voter is rarely influenced by "the fraction of a fraction of an interest, which he as an individual may have, in what is beneficial to the public," but that his motive, if uninfluenced by direct bribery or threats, is simply "to do right," to vote for the man whose opinions he thinks most true, and whose talents seem to him best adapted to benefit the country. The fair inference from this seems to be, that if you keep away from a man the influences of bribery and intimidation, there is no motive left but to do what he thinks will serve the public interest--in other words, "the desire to do right." Instead of drawing this inference, however, it is concluded that, as the "honest vote" is influenced by "social duty," the motive for voting honestly cannot be so strong "when done in secret, and when the voter can neither be admired for disinterested, nor blamed for selfish conduct." But Mr. Mill has not told us what motive there can possibly be to make the man, voting in secret, vote against his own conviction of what is right. Are the plaudits of a circle of admiring friends necessary to induce a man to vote for the candidate he honestly thinks the best; and is the fear of their blame the only influence that will keep him from "mean and selfish conduct," when no possible motive for such conduct exists, and when we know that, in thousands of cases, such blame does not keep him from what is much worse than "mean and selfish conduct," taking a direct bribe?

Perhaps, however, Mr. Mill means (though he nowhere says so) that "class interest" would be stronger than public interest--that the voter's share of interest in legislation that would benefit his class or profession, would overbalance his share of interest in the welfare of the whole community. But if this be so, we may assert, first, that the social influence of those around him will, in nine cases out of ten, go to increase and strengthen the ascendency of "class interests," and that it is much more likely that a man should be thus induced to vote for class interests as against public interests, than the reverse. In the second place, we maintain that any temporary influence whatever, which would induce a man to vote differently from what he would have done by his own unbiassed judgment, is bad--that a man has a perfect right to uphold the interests of his class, and that it is, on the whole, better for the community that he should do so. For, if the voter is sufficiently instructed, honest, and far-seeing, he will be convinced that nothing that is disadvantageous to the community as a whole can be really and permanently beneficial to his class or party; while, if he is less advanced in social and political knowledge, he will solve the problem the other way, and be fully satisfied that in advancing the interests of his class he is also benefiting the community at large. In neither case, is it at all likely, or indeed desirable, that the temporary and personal influence of others' opinions at the time of an election, should cause him to vote contrary to the convictions he has deliberately arrived at, under the continued action of those same influences, and which convictions are the full expression of his political knowledge and honesty at the time?

It seems to me, therefore, that if you can arrange matters so that every voter may be enabled to give his vote uninfluenced by immediate fear of injury or hope of gain (by intimidation or bribery), the only motives left to influence him are his convictions as to the effects of certain measures, or a certain policy, on himself as an individual, on his class, or on the whole community. The combined effect of these convictions on his mind will inevitably go to form his idea of "what is right" politically, that idea which, we quite agree with Mr. Mill, will in most cases influence his vote, rather than any one of the more or less remote personal interests which have been the foundation of that idea. From this point of view, I should be inclined to maintain that the right of voting is a "personal right" rather than a "public duty," and that a man is in no sense "responsible" for the proper exercise of it to the public, any more than he is responsible for the convictions that lead him to vote as he does. It seems almost absurd to say that each man is responsible to every or to any other man for the free exercise of his infinitesimal share in the government of the country, because, in that case, each man in turn would act upon others exactly as he is acted upon by them, and thus the final result must be the same as if each had voted entirely uninfluenced by others. What, therefore, is the use of such mutual influence and responsibility? You cannot by such means increase the average intelligence or morality of the country; and it must be remembered, that the character and opinions, which really determine each man's vote, have already been modified or even formed by the long-continued action of those very social influences which it is said are essential to the right performance of each separate act of voting. [my italics] It appears to me that such influences, if they really produce any fresh effect, are a moral intimidation of the worst kind, and are an additional argument in favour of, rather than against, the ballot.

Two other questions remain. Is the ballot necessary to prevent bribery and intimidation? Is it so injurious to independence of character as to overbalance its undoubted utility? I think Mr. Berkeley's letter in the Times in reply to Mr. Mill, and the experience of every general election, are sufficient to answer the first question in the affirmative. The answer to the second entirely depends upon the state of civilization and independence to which we have arrived; and it seems to me that in the days of standing armies, of an elaborate Poor Law, of State interference in education, of the overwhelming influence of wealth and the Priesthood, we have not arrived at that stage of general advancement and independence of thought and action in which we ought to give up so great and immediate a benefit to thousands as real freedom of voting, for the infinitesimal advantage to the national character which might be derived from the independent and open voting of the few who would feel it compatible with their duty to their families to struggle against unfair influence and unjust intimidation.

    If one follows this argument through, it seemingly would suggest that the only way to materially change the implications of a vote--at least in a positive way--is first to produce a voter who "is sufficiently instructed, honest, and far-seeing, [so that] he will be convinced that nothing that is disadvantageous to the community as a whole can be really and permanently beneficial to his class or party." Wallace continues to consider here what it will take to "raise the average intelligence or morality" of people. But how to accomplish such a goal? Wallace thought he knew: there being no merit to uninformed belief, people had to believe--that is, have individual conviction--that, as he later expressed it, "the thoughts we think and the deeds we do here will certainly affect our condition and the very form and organic expression of our personality hereafter."24

    Ten days after this work appeared in print, Wallace attended a meeting of the Anthropological Society of London. There, a paper entitled "On the Efforts of Missionaries Among Savages" was read by the Rev. J. W. Colenso.25 Wallace contributed a few comments at the meeting, but it is obvious that the subject began to gnaw at him. The result was another essay, also published in Reader, entitled "How to Civilize Savages." It was printed in the 17 June 1865 issue, apparently after some serious wrangling with the editor as to content.26 Again, the whole note follows.

Do our missionaries really produce on savages an effect proportionate to the time, money, and energy expended? Are the dogmas of our Church adapted to people in every degree of barbarism, and in all stages of mental development? Does the fact of a particular form of religion taking root, and maintaining itself among a people, depend in any way upon race--upon those deep-seated mental and moral peculiarities which distinguish the European or Aryan races from the negro or the Australian savage? Can the savage be mentally, morally, and physically improved, without the inculcation of the tenets of a dogmatic theology? These are a few of the interesting questions that were discussed, however imperfectly, at the last meeting of the Anthropological Society, when the Bishop of Natal read his paper, "On the Efforts of Missionaries among Savages;" and on some of these questions we propose to make a few observations.

If the history of mankind teaches us one thing more clearly than another, it is this--that true civilization and a true religion are alike the slow growth of ages, and both are inextricably connected with the struggles and development of the human mind. They have ever in their infancy been watered with tears and blood--they have had to suffer the rude prunings of wars and persecutions--they have withstood the wintry blasts of anarchy, of despotism, and of neglect--they have been able to survive all the vicissitudes of human affairs, and have proved their suitability to their age and country by successfully resisting every attack, and by flourishing under the most unfavourable conditions.

A form of religion which is to maintain itself and to be useful to a people, must be especially adapted to their mental constitution, and must respond in an intelligible manner to the better sentiments and the higher capacities of their nature. It would, therefore, almost appear self-evident that those special forms of faith and doctrine which have been slowly elaborated by eighteen centuries of struggle and of mental growth, and by the action and reaction of the varied nationalities of Europe on each other, cannot be exactly adapted to the wants and capacities of every savage race alike. Our form of Christianity, wherever it has maintained itself, has done so by being in harmony with the spirit of the age, and by its adaptability to the mental and moral wants of the people among whom it has taken root. As Macaulay justly observed in the first chapter of his history: "It is a most significant circumstance that no large society of which the tongue is not Teutonic has ever turned Protestant, and that, wherever a language derived from that of ancient Rome is spoken, the religion of modern Rome to this day prevails."

In the early Christian Church, the many uncanonical gospels that were written, and the countless heresies that arose, were but the necessary results of the process of adaptation of the Christian religion to the wants and capacities of many and various peoples. This was an essential feature in the growth of Christianity. This shows that it took root in the hearts and feelings of men, and became a part of their very nature. Thenceforth it grew with their growth, and became the expression of their deepest feelings and of their highest aspirations; and required no external aid from a superior race to keep it from dying out. It was remarked by one of the speakers at the Anthropological Society's meeting, that the absence of this modifying and assimilating power among modern converts--of this absorption of the new religion into their own nature--of this colouring given by the national mind--is a bad sign for the ultimate success of our form of Christianity among savages. When once a mission has been established, a fair number of converts made, and the first generation of children educated, the missionary's work should properly have ceased. A native church, with native teachers, should by that time have been established, and should be left to work out its own national form of Christianity. In many places we have now had missions for more than the period of one generation. Have any self-supporting, free, and national Christian churches arisen among savages? If not--if the new religion can only be kept alive by fresh relays of priests sent from a far distant land--priests educated and paid by foreigners, and who are, and ever must be, widely separated from their flocks in mind and character--is it not the strongest proof of the failure of the missionary scheme? Are these new Christians to be for ever kept in tutelage, and to be for ever taught the peculiar doctrines which have, perhaps, just become fashionable among us? Are they never to become men, and to form their own opinions, and develop their own minds, under national and local influences? If, as we hold, Christianity is good for all races and for all nations alike, it is thus alone that its goodness can be tested; and they who fear the results of such a test can have but small confidence in the doctrines they preach.

But we are told to look at the results of missions. We are told that the converted savages are wiser, better, and happier than they were before--that they have improved in morality and advanced in civilization--and that such results can only be shown where missionaries have been at work. No doubt, a great deal of this is true; but certain laymen and philosophers believe that a considerable portion of this effect is due to the example and precept of civilized and educated men--the example of decency, cleanliness, and comfort set by them--their teaching of the arts and customs of civilization, and the natural influence of superiority of race. And it may fairly be doubted whether some of these advantages might not be given to savages without the accompanying inculcation of particular religious tenets. True, the experiment has not been fairly tried, and the missionaries have almost all the facts to appeal to on their own side; for it is undoubtedly the case that the wide sympathy and self-denying charity which gives up so much to benefit the savage, is almost always accompanied and often strengthened by strong religious convictions. Yet there are not wanting facts to show that something may be done without the influence of religion. It cannot be doubted, for example, that the Roman occupation laid the foundation of civilization in Britain, and produced a considerable amelioration in the condition and habits of the people, which was not in any way due to religious teaching. The Turkish and Egyptian Governments have been, in modern times, much improved, and the condition of their people ameliorated, by the influence of Western civilization, unaccompanied by any change in the national religion. In Java, where the natives are Mohammedans, and scarcely a Christian convert exists, the good order established by the Dutch Government and their pure administration of justice, together with the example of civilized Europeans widely scattered over the country, have greatly improved the physical and moral condition of the people. In all these cases, however, the personal influence of kindly, moral, and intelligent men, devoted wholly to the work of civilization, has been wanting; and this form of influence in the case of missionaries is very great. A missionary who is really earnest, and has the art (and the heart) to gain the affections of his flock, may do much in eradicating barbarous customs, and in raising the standard of morality and happiness. But he may do all this quite independently of any form of sectarian theological teaching, and it is a mistake too often made to impute all to the particular doctrines inculcated, and little or nothing to the other influences we have mentioned. We believe that the purest morality, the most perfect justice, the highest civilization, and the qualities that tend to render men good, and wise, and happy, may be inculcated quite independently of fixed forms or dogmas, and perhaps even better for the want of them. The savage may be certainly made amenable to the influence of the affections, and will probably submit the more readily to the teaching of one who does not, at the very outset, attack his rude superstitions. These will assuredly die out of themselves, when knowledge and morality and civilization have gained some influence over him; and he will then be in a condition to receive and assimilate whatever there is of goodness and truth in the religion of his teacher.

Unfortunately, the practices of European settlers are too often so diametrically opposed to the precepts of Christianity, and so deficient in humanity, justice, and charity, that the poor savage must be sorely puzzled to understand why this new faith, which is to do him so much good, should have had so little effect on his teacher's own countrymen. The white men in our colonies are too frequently the true savages, and require to be taught and Christianized quite as much as the natives. We have heard, on good authority, that in Australia a man has been known to prove the goodness of a rifle he wanted to sell, by shooting a child from the back of a native woman who was passing at some distance; while another, when the policy of shooting all natives who came near a station was discussed, advocated his own plan of putting poisoned food in their way, as much less troublesome and more effectual. Incredible though such things seem, we can believe that they not unfrequently occur whenever the European comes in contact with the savage man, for human nature changes little with times and places; and I have myself heard a Brazilian friar boast, with much complacency, of having saved the Government the expense of a war with a hostile tribe of Indians, by the simple expedient of placing in their way clothing infected with the smallpox, which disease soon nearly exterminated them. Facts, perhaps less horrible, but equally indicative of lawlessness and inhumanity, may be heard of in all our colonies; and recent events in Japan and in New Zealand show a determination to pursue our own ends, with very little regard for the rights, or desire for the improvement, of the natives. The savage may well wonder at our inconsistency in pressing upon him a religion which has so signally failed to improve our own moral character, as he too acutely feels in the treatment he receives from Christians. It seems desirable, therefore, that our Missionary Societies should endeavour to exhibit to their proposed converts some more favorable specimens of the effect of their teaching. It might be well to devote a portion of the funds of such societies to the establishment of model communities, adapted to show the benefits of the civilization we wish to introduce, and to serve as a visible illustration of the effects of Christianity on its professors. The general practice of Christian virtues by the Europeans around them would, we feel assured, be a most powerful instrument for the general improvement of savage races, and is, perhaps, the only mode of teaching that would produce a real and lasting effect.27

    Wallace evidently has now reached the point of cogitating on exactly what it will take--what kinds of "model institutions"--to deliver forms of instruction serving what might be termed "believable example"; i.e., that will provide a foundation for informed belief. Clearly, inculcation was not enough; further, and building on the thoughts presented in the "Public Responsibility and the Ballot" letter earlier, neither were the opinions of the masses, which could not be depended on to "increase the average intelligence or morality of the country." It was just at this point--probably sometime in June 1865, give or take a few weeks--that Wallace may have had a second revelation regarding the way evolution worked.

    Although natural selection had for eons been able to accumulate biological variations through its trial and error enactment process, beyond a certain point this process was not further refinable: that is, it was inherently incapable of reacting constructively to the opportunities for "progress" afforded by the most subtle elements of the natural order. Human beings, possessing the qualities of higher intelligence and moral compass, could bring these to bear in an effort to identify these "most subtle elements"--which latter indeed turned out to be, in good part, those qualities themselves. As part of his debt to Spencer's teachings, Wallace had held for many years that people were due no more nor less than what was implicit as the consequence of their actions: this, nothing more nor less than simple justice. While ignorant beliefs often resulted in actions that were counterproductive, one could apply oneself (in a near Spinozian manner) to a program of self-instruction designed to broaden one's mind and ultimately produce fewer inappropriate actions. Thus, "intelligent conviction," as he termed it in the Sims letter quoted in Chapter One, could be progress-serving. The problem was to find some body of teachings that at one time promoted (1) intelligent examination of the facts and (2) a sense that one's current actions determined, or at least strongly affected, the quality of later experiences (thus providing incentive for commitment). Spiritualism, which claimed that there was a natural afterlife in which the implications of one's biological life experience were simply further lived out, fit this bill perfectly. Further, the "Spirit Realm" was itself alleged to have causal properties: various subtle avenues of communication (e.g., dreams) between the living and "spirits" supposedly existed, in theory contributing to the learning experiences of those still in the living, breathing, state. This was not religious inculcation of the type Wallace objected to; instead its supporters encouraged the interested to investigate and draw their own conclusions. Wallace's own investigation of spiritualism--involving both digesting its literature and examining its manifestations at seances--would soon lead him to believe that spiritualism was genuine in the way it portrayed itself as being.

    By mid-1865 Wallace probably had heard enough about spiritualism and its teachings to wonder whether it all might be true. (Later we will take a look at one specific suggestion that has been made regarding just how Wallace might have "heard.") Its followers invited the curious to have a look and decide for themselves--this seemed a reasonable enough proposition, so he began to do so. The events that followed suggest that he proceeded conservatively, in three steps. He would first digest available writings on the subject28 while simultaneously initiating a program of "field study" of the only apparent physical evidence bearing on it: "manifestations" associated with seances. Once he had convinced himself both of the consistency of the philosophical arguments and the investigatory potential of the physical evidence, he would publicly recommend to colleagues that spiritualism be taken seriously and subjected to formal study. Further, however, and beyond this, he would only adopt the belief himself and promote it unreservedly once he had experienced physical phenomena that were fully under his control; i.e., that could be controlled to such a degree as to preclude any chance of fraud.

    For several months in mid-1865 Wallace pursued the first of these agenda. Although his early seance experiences were relatively inauspicious, the writings he encountered must have helped to sustain the feeling he was on the right track. Further, there were lessons to be learned from an article by Francis Galton that was published in two parts during the summer of 1865. This article, "Hereditary, Character and Talent,"29 argued, with evidence to back it up, that talent, like any physical character, was hereditary. Galton would go on to suggest that society should be encouraging the talented to intermarry and produce more children, thereby elevating humanity through a form of conscious decision-making that worked alongside natural selection. For Wallace, however, this seemed to be quite opposite to the actual mechanism of natural selection, which effected change not through the elevation of the superior, but through the elimination of the unfit. His solution (only worked out to completion many years later when he adopted socialism30), by contrast, invoked a program of improvement through a particular application of the dynamics of "intelligent conviction": ameliorating social ills so that individuals, especially women, could base their decisions on a mate on the latter's merits, instead of a priori economic dictates. The inferior in mind and body would thus be differentially eliminated for their relatively fewer opportunities to reproduce. Wallace would spend the rest of his life opposing Galton's point of view and what it led to: eugenics.31

    By late 1865, if we acknowledge the evidence of Benjamin Coleman's comments noted in Chapter One, Wallace was not yet a full believer. An important connection with that 6 November 1865 "soirée" is worth noting at this point: he was probably there for a specific reason. The fact that Wallace attended the meeting at all is consistent with the idea he was exploring the conceptual potential of the belief at that time, as the featured speaker on the occasion was Emma Hardinge, an American with a reputation as one of the most outstanding lecturers on subjects of a spiritual nature. Her talk for that night, parts of which were later published in The Spiritual Magazine,32 consisted as usual of extemporaneous responses to questions raised on the spot by audience members. Portions of a few of her remarkable comments that night follow:

"In pointing to the analogy that exists between the great physical and spiritual laws of Earth, together with the modes in which they act, I have sought to shew you that all that man has called the supernatural, and classes as miracle, is but the out-working of an harmonious plan, which the mighty Spirit reveals through eternal laws; and the Spiritualism at which you marvel, and the Christianity before which you bow, are but parts of the same divine law and alternating life of order, which ever sees the day spring out of the darkest night."33

"By Chemistry, man learns through scientific processes, to dissolve and re-compose in changed form, every existing atom. Time, instruments, and material processes alone are asked for the chemistry of science to accomplish these results. To the Spirit (whose knowledge comprehends all laws revealed to man) such chemistry is possible, and truly is achieved, without the lapse of time, or the aid of human science yet known as such to Man."34

"Translated through the solemn utterance of dim antiquity all this is 'Miracle'--in simple modern science, it is 'Chemistry,' requiring only knowledge to effect these changes; in modern spiritualistic phrase 'tis mediumship, or chemistry employing subtler forces to effect in yet more rapid time and simpler modes than man's, the self-same changes which man can make by science. To-day you listen to the tap, tap, of the electric telegraph of the soul; you translate into sentences that strange and grotesque form of telegraphy; you behold inscribed on the blank page the name of some beloved one written with no mortal hand; you feel the baptism of the falling water, you know not from whence; and the fragrance of flowers not gathered by mortal power appeals to your startled senses. You call this Spiritualism; and what is this but the chemistry of the spirit?"35

"Truth is the discovery of God's law in any direction of enquiry."36

    For Wallace, who had been seeking a view of nature more flexible in its interpretation of human-originated phenomena and experience, these words must have seemed designed for his ears. I expect they became the deciding factor leading him to step two of his conversion process. Although his seance attendances apparently still were not producing evidence definitive enough to convince him of their validity, sometime over the next few months he began to compose a monograph-length essay he titled "The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural." This was ready for publication by mid-summer, and was released in installments shortly thereafter in the obscure secularist periodical The English Leader.37

    The orientation of this work is revealing. Conscious that he has not yet obtained satisfactorily definitive physical evidence, Wallace concentrates on literature review and producing a philosophical argument for investigating the phenomena. He begins by noting that our senses are limited, and that it is only through the accumulation of knowledge that we have elevated our understanding of physical processes above assumptions of the miraculous. He then argues that the so-called miracles of the past and present most likely represent non-miraculous aspects of natural process that we simply do not yet understand. Next he moves on to a consideration of cryptic forces in nature, and then to some of the recorded evidence of various spiritualistic phenomena. Finally, he treats the theory and moral teachings of spiritualism, drawing very heavily from the writings of Emma Hardinge to complete his review.38

    Entirely missing from the treatment are descriptions of any of his own investigations of the phenomena--which, of course, had so far only proved mildly corroborative. Nevertheless, he had done a passably good job of reducing a large and esoteric literature to a readable declaration of its legitimacy for study. Yet it must have been apparent to him that it was going to be difficult to sell the idea through an article that had come out in eight parts in a serial few had probably even heard of. The solution was to circulate privately a pamphlet version of the essay. Exactly when this was done is not known, but likely it was readied a few to several weeks after the last installment of the essay appeared in The English Leader issue of 29 September 1866. The story of Wallace's largely unsuccessful attempts to interest his friends and colleagues in the message of his little monograph is fully revealed in his autobiography.39

    Just as "The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural" was appearing in print, Wallace gave a short speech to the Anthropological Section of the annual British Association for the Advancement of Science meetings. Delivered on 23 August 1866, it contained the following pregnant words of advice:

The anthropologist must ever bear in mind that, as the object of his study is man, nothing pertaining to or characteristic of man can be unworthy of his attention. It will be only after we have brought together and arranged all the facts and principles which have been established by the various special studies to which I have alluded, that we shall be in a condition to determine the particular lines of investigation most needed to complete our knowledge of man, and may hope ultimately to arrive at some definite conclusions on the great problems which must interest us all--the questions of the origin, the nature, and the destiny of the human race. I would beg you to recollect also that here we must treat all these problems as purely questions of science, to be decided solely by facts and by legitimate deductions from facts. We can accept no conclusions as authoritative that have not been thus established. Our sole object is to find out for ourselves what is our true nature. . . .40

Surely Wallace had his spiritualism studies in mind when he delivered these remarks.

    Wallace may actually have ended up regretting bringing out the pamphlet version of "The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural" just when he did. The latest date it could have been printed was early to mid November 1866: a cover letter dated 22 November 1866 that accompanied a copy of the work to Thomas Huxley exists.41 Just at this time, and apparently after a search of some months, Wallace finally discovered a friend of the family who demonstrated impressive mediumistic abilities. Wallace's sister Fanny found that a woman who was lodging with her, a certain Miss Nichol (later Mrs. Guppy), was capable of producing some dramatic manifestations, and now Wallace performed a series of tests--in his own quarters--that convinced him once and for all that the physical phenomena of spiritualism were real.

    Among the most remarkable early sessions that Wallace carried out with Miss Nichol was one reported in the 1 February 1867 issue of The Spiritual Magazine:

On Friday morning, December 14th, my sister, Mrs. S., had a message, purporting to be from her deceased brother William, to this effect: "Go into the dark at Alfred's this evening, and I will shew that I am with you." On arriving in the evening with Miss N., my sister told me of this message. When our other friends, four in number, had arrived, we sat down as usual, but instead of having raps on the table as on previous occasions, the room and the table shook violently; and, finding we had no other manifestations, I mentioned the message that had been received, and we all adjourned into the next room, and the doors and windows being shut, sat down round a table, (which we had previously cleared of books, &c.) holding each other's hands. Raps soon began, and we were told to draw back from the table. This we did, but thinking it better to see how we were placed before beginning the séance, I rose up to turn on the gas, which was down to a blue point, when just as my hand was reaching it, the medium who was close to me cried out and started, saying something cold and wet was thrown in her face. This caused her to tremble violently and I took her hand to calm her, and it then struck me, this was done to prevent me lighting the gas. We then sat still, and in a few moments several of the party saw faintly that something was appearing on the table. The medium saw a hand, others what seemed flowers. These became more distinct, and some one put his hand on the table, and said: "There are flowers here!" Obtaining a light, we were all thunderstruck to see the table half covered with flowers and fern leaves, all fresh, cold, and damp with dew, as if they had that moment been brought out of the night air. They were the ordinary winter flowers, which are cultivated in hot houses, for table decoration, the stems apparently cut off as if for a bouquet. They consisted of 15 chrysanthemums, 6 variegated anemones, 4 tulips, 5 orange berried solanums, 6 ferns, of two sorts, 1 Auricula sinensis, with 9 flowers--37 stalks in all.

All present had been engaged for some time in investigating Spiritualism, and had no motive for deceiving the others, even if that were possible, which all agreed it was not. If flowers had been brought in and concealed by any of the party (who had all been in the warm room at least an hour), they could not possibly have retained the perfect freshness, coldness, and dewy moisture they possessed when we first discovered them. I may mention that the door of the back drawing room (where this happened) into the passage was locked inside, and that the only entrance was by the folding doors into the lighted sitting room, and that the flowers appeared unaccompanied by the slightest sound, while all present were gazing intently at the table, just rendered visible by a very faint diffused light entering through the blinds. As a testimony that all present are firmly convinced that the flowers were not on the table when we sat down, and were not placed there by any of those present, I am authorized to give the names and addresses of the whole party...42

    Such a spectacular production of apports--occurring in his own quarters, under his own supervision, and through a medium who was not only not a professional, but a friend of the family--must have floored Wallace. The implications of the event are evident immediately, in his very next writing: a letter to the Editor of the Anthropological Review which appeared in its January 1867 issue. In this letter Wallace defends statements made in his 1864 paper "The Origin of Human Races...", ending his remarks with the intriguing statement:

I believe that I have now shown that the principles of Mr. Darwin's Origin of Species, if applied to man with such modifications as are required by the great development and vast importance of his intellectual and moral rather than his mere animal nature, leads to the apparently paradoxical result that he is tending to become again as his progenitors once undoubtedly must have been, "a single homogeneous race."43

What kind of "modifications," one wonders, might he be referring to here?

    At right around the same time, Wallace must have been putting the final touches on his monographic (it ran to a total of 115 pages in print) systematic review of the butterfly family Pieridae. He presented the paper before the Entomological Society of London on 18 February 1867. Remarkably, Wallace could not resist slipping the following into the introductory portion of this work:

It is, therefore, no objection to a theory that it does not explain everything, but rather the contrary. A true theory will certainly enable us to understand many of the phenomena of life, but owing to our necessarily imperfect knowledge of past causes and events, there must always remain complicated knots that we cannot disentangle, and dark mysteries on which we can throw but a straggling ray of light.44

This somewhat out of place remark (especially the very last part of it) would seem to expose a particular enthusiasm for the general point made.

    Also interesting is that it is right at this time that Wallace uses the word "evolution" in his writings for the first time. In a letter to the Editor dated 26 November 1866 that appeared in the 1 December 1866 issue of Athenaeum, he uses the term in a fairly innocent fashion in relation to some comments on the subject of mimicry.45 By 1869 and his Lyell review (discussed further below), however, he is more obviously contrasting natural selection with evolution, as at one point he states: "Neither natural selection nor the more general theory of evolution can give any account whatever of the origin of sensational or conscious life."46 His changing thoughts over this period are also mirrored in a small alteration made when he incorporated the essay "A Theory of Birds' Nests," first presented as a paper in 1867 but only appearing in total in print in 1868, into his collection Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection in 1870: in the 1867/1868 version, the text reads "...on the theory of evolution, as worked out in detail by Mr Darwin, a wide range...", whereas in 1870 this had been changed to read "on the theory of evolution and natural selection, a wide range...".47 One thus gathers that his views on the hierarchy of causation involved were in flux over this period.

    Wallace continued attending seances through 1867, both with Miss Nichol and the professional medium Mrs. Marshall. Meanwhile, a new flurry of activity was evident in his scientific studies. In the autumn of 1866 (and continuing through to the beginning of 1868) he resumed his contributions to scientific meetings, increased his correspondence (especially with Darwin, over sexual selection and other subjects), and again worked on lengthy systematic reviews. Most of this work constituted inappropriate venues for extended expositions of his new synthesis, however, and it was not until October of 1867 that he was able to find a subject suitable for such discussion. At this time he published a review of the Duke of Argyll's anti-natural selection work The Reign of Law.48

    In this remarkable essay Wallace manages to draw together a whole range of arguments against the Creationist "continual interference" model of organic diversity while: (1) restating and updating his "geographical Bauplan" evolutionary model from the 1840s, (2) opening the path leading to the final causes-based evolutionary cosmology of later works such as Man's Place in Nature and The World of Life, and (3) obliquely bringing explanations of the workings of mind and spirit into the picture. Typical of his analysis is the following:

...why should we measure the creative mind by our own? Why should we suppose the machine too complicated to have been designed by the Creator so complete, that it would necessarily work out harmonious results? The theory of "continual interference" is a limitation of the Creator's power. It assumes that he could not work by pure law in the organic as he has done in the inorganic world; it assumes that he could not foresee the consequences of the laws of matter and mind combined--that results would continually arise which are contrary to what is best, and that he has to change what would otherwise be the course of nature in order to produce that beauty and variety and harmony, which even we, with our limited intellects, can conceive to be the result of self-adjustment in a universe governed by unvarying law. If we could not conceive the world of nature to be self-adjusting and capable of endless development, it would even then be an unworthy idea of a Creator to impute the incapacity of our minds to him; but when many human minds can conceive and can even trace out in detail some of the adaptations in nature as the necessary results of unvarying law, it seems strange that in the interests of religion any one should seek to prove that the System of Nature instead of being above, is far below our highest conceptions of it. I, for one, cannot believe that the world would come to chaos if left to Law alone. I cannot believe that there is in it no inherent power of developing beauty or variety, and that the direct action of the Deity is required to produce each spot or streak on every insect, each detail of structure in every one of the millions of organisms that live or have lived upon the earth. For it is impossible to draw a line. If any modifications of structure could be the result of law, why not all? If some self-adaptations could arise, why not others? If any varieties of colour, why not all the variety we see? No attempt is made to explain this except by reference to the fact that "purpose" and "contrivance" are everywhere visible, and by the illogical deduction that they could only have arisen from the direct action of some mind, because the direct action of our minds produces similar "contrivances;" but it is forgotten that adaptation, however produced, must have the appearance of design. The channel of a river looks as if made for the river although it is made by it; the fine layers and beds in a deposit of sand often look as if they had been sorted and sifted and levelled designedly; the sides and angles of a crystal exactly resemble similar forms designed by man; but we do not therefore conclude that these effects have, in each individual case, required the directing action of a creative mind, or see any difficulty in their being produced by natural Law.49

Wallace is not arguing here that humankind is in any sense "above" natural law, but neither does he imply that one need limit considerations of the "appearance of design" to things as straightforward as river channels. These words--written, ostensibly, after he already had accepted all-out spiritualism--are looking towards a kind of design operationalized not by an anthropomorphic God, but instead through a final causes-based Bauplan.

    By late 1867, with the help of his wife, Wallace had finally begun to prepare the journal of his Malay travels for publication. This effort would monopolize his attention for just about the whole of 1868, but by the end of that year the lengthy manuscript of The Malay Archipelago was finally to the printers and he was again free to indulge in a full range of intellectual pursuits. Shortly before the work was finished, Wallace attended the annual meetings of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and heard a paper entitled "On the Difficulties of Darwinism" delivered by the Rev. F. O. Morris. When it was done, he offered some comments, apparently including the following remark, which fully previewed future events: "With regard to the moral bearing of the question as to whether the moral and intellectual faculties could be developed by natural selection, that was a subject on which Mr. Darwin had not given an opinion. He (Mr. Wallace) did not believe that Mr. Darwin's theory would entirely explain those mental phenomena."50 Obviously, Wallace was now ready to go public with a break from Darwin's views on the origin of the higher human faculties. The immediate problem became a context within which he could fully express such thoughts.

    He did not have to wait long for such to materialize. A paper entitled "On the Failure of 'Natural Selection' in the Case of Man," published anonymously in Fraser's Magazine in September 1868,51 provided the stimulus. The author turned out to be William R. Greg, a writer on social issues who would become a key figure in the eugenics movement. In his paper Greg argues that in our society protection of the weak--the poor and the inferior in mind or body--has left natural selection an ineffective agent for improvement. Greg uses Wallace's own reasoning as presented in his 1864 paper to the Anthropological Society as the basis for his argument, pointing to Wallace's insistence that in humans selection had become re-focused at the level of the mind.

    Reaction to the paper was considerable, with some early voices of approval, but then increasing criticism. An anonymous analysis in The Spectator appeared a few weeks later in which the writer opined that Greg's argument was flawed, because:

...The plan of God seems to be to ennoble the higher part of His universe at least, not so much by eliminating imperfection, as by multiplying graces and virtues. He balances the new evils peculiar to human life by infinitely greater weights in the scale of the good which is also peculiar to human life. "Natural selection" has its place and its function, doubtless, even amongst us. But over it, and high above it, is growing up a principle of supernatural selection, by our free participation in which we can alone become brethren of Christ and children of God.52

    Neither this position nor Greg's original one could have impressed Wallace very much, but somehow he managed to hold back comment for the time being. In January 1869, however, a new evaluation of Greg's reasoning was printed anonymously in the Quarterly Journal of Science.53 This writer concluded that Greg and others had missed the point: selection was still going on, but its nature was changing as humankind evolved:

...So with the communities of civilized men--the struggle is between one society and another, whatever may be the bond uniting such society: and in the far distant future we can see no end to the possible combinations or societies which may arise amongst men, and by their emulation tend to his development. Moral qualities, amongst the others thus developed in the individual necessarily arise in societies of men, and are naturally selected, being a source of strength to the community which has them most developed: and there is no excuse for speaking of a failure of Darwin's law or of "supernatural" selection. We must remember what Alfred Wallace has insisted upon most rightly--that in man, development does not affect so much the bodily as the mental characteristics; the brain in him has become much more sensitive to the operation of selection than the body, and hence is almost its sole subject. At the same time it is clear that the struggle between man and man is going on to a much larger extent than the writer in "Fraser" allowed. The rich fool dissipates his fortune and becomes poor; the large-brained artizan does frequently rise to wealth and position; and it is a well-known law that the poor do not succeed in rearing so large a contribution to the new generation as do the richer. Hence we have a perpetual survival of the fittest. In the most barbarous conditions of mankind, the struggle is almost entirely between individuals: in proportion as civilization has increased among men, it is easy to trace the transference of a great part of the struggle little by little from individuals to tribes, nations, leagues, guilds, corporations, societies, and other such combinations, and accompanying this transference has been undeniably the development of the moral qualities and of social virtues.54

    This analysis did impress Wallace, and for reasons that by now should be evident. In a letter to Darwin dated 20 January 1869 he exclaims: "Have you seen in the last number of the Quarterly Journal of Science the excellent remarks on Fraser's article on Natural Selection failing as to Man? In one page it gets to the heart of the question, and I have written to the Editor to ask who the author is."55 A few lines later he adds: "Perhaps you have heard that I have undertaken to write an article for the Quarterly (!) on the same subject [i.e., Lyell's Principles of Geology], to make up for that on 'Modern Geology' last year not mentioning Sir C. Lyell."56

    The "Quarterly" article57 Wallace alludes to is of course the one in Quarterly Review in which he owns up to the revelation he had in mid-1865, as eventually confirmed in his mind by late 1866. The "higher attributes" of human beings actually did have evolutionary utility: they supported the contacts with the "Spirit Realm" that would help to move us in a direction of greater social responsibility, away from self-centered actions. This was beyond the realm of biological natural selection directly to effect, but nevertheless part of the overall evolutionary program for humankind as it advanced from a savage to a civilized state.

    That Wallace finally came out on this matter in this particular work is not surprising. Although the immediate reason for undertaking the task might have been, as he states above, to "make up" for Lyell's mistreatment in the earlier work, it was also a perfect opportunity to review Lyellian uniformitarianism thoroughly, to place Darwinian principles within its context, and to cap the synthesis with his new thoughts on the subject. Indeed, this is exactly what he accomplishes. He starts out with a historical review of what geology as a field was like before Lyell's ideas took hold, then proceeds to a lengthy discussion of climate changes as evidenced by the geological record, only reaching the matter of Lyell's adoption of Darwinian ideas on organic evolution two-thirds of the way through the text. Considering the fact he recognizes the latter as "the great distinguishing feature of this edition" [of Principles of Geology], this may initially appear a little strange. Not so, however, if it is part of his object to point out that ideas on even the most thoroughly worked out subjects may be subject to alteration or adjustment. To discuss this matter he begins anew, not merely describing Lyell's thought process, but going back to explain the deficiencies of Lamarck's views and why Darwinian principles are superior. In fact, he spends a whole ten pages describing the various kinds of evidence for Darwinian natural selection before finally arriving at the culmination of his discussion: seven short paragraphs explaining in brief why, after supporting all that has preceded, he yet feels that "more recondite" forces act to shape the moral and intellectual evolution of humankind. He still believed that natural selection was self-enacting (though set within a larger framework), however, as is apparent from the following passage, taken from this source:

...we may well express it by the term--'survival of the fittest,' a term which states the absolute fact, that those best adapted to survive do survive, and those least adapted die. This is Mr. Darwin's celebrated theory of 'Natural Selection,' but which is more properly a self-evident principle or axiom. Having been led to it by the analogy of the choosing or selecting by man of certain varieties to continue the breed, while other were neglected or destroyed, he personified the various natural causes which led to the preservation of the half million, and the death of the million, and termed them 'natural selection,' But people are continually forgetting that the term is an analogical one, and object over and over again that 'selection' implies a selecter; whereas if they would take pains to understand the thing, instead of puzzling over the mere term, they would see that the preservation of those best fitted to live, was as much the secondary result of the powers of nature as is the arrangement of sand and pebbles by water, or the selecting of leaves to be drifted into heaps by the wind, while the stones and sticks are left behind.58

Here Wallace is still looking at natural selection as "the secondary result of the powers of nature"; i.e., as a principle or law subservient to more profound forces--a general view of natural organization, I submit, he held as early as the mid-1840s. Eventually, once it was demonstrated to him that migration to a socialistic state was feasible, he would additionally welcome that society-directed element into his overall evolutionary model.

    It should be noted here that the publication of the Quarterly Review article was actually preceded by several weeks by the issuance of The Malay Archipelago, which closes with the following remarks:

...We most of us believe that we, the higher races, have progressed and are progressing. If so, there must be some state of perfection, some ultimate goal, which we may never reach, but to which all true progress must bring us nearer. What is this ideally perfect social state towards which mankind ever has been, and still is tending? Our best thinkers maintain that it is a state of individual freedom and self-government, rendered possible by the equal development and just balance of the intellectual, moral, and physical parts of our nature,--a state in which we shall each be so perfectly fitted for a social existence, by knowing what is right, and at the same time feeling an irresistible impulse to do what we know to be right, that all laws and all punishments shall be unnecessary. In such a state every man would have a sufficiently well-balanced intellectual organization to understand the moral law in all its details, and would require no other motive but the free impulses of his own nature to obey that law.

Now it is very remarkable that among people in a very low stage of civilization we find some approach to such a perfect social state. I have lived with communities of savages in South America and in the East, who have no laws or law courts but the public opinion of the village freely expressed. Each man scrupulously respects the rights of his fellow, and any infraction of those rights rarely or never takes place. In such a community, all are nearly equal. There are none of those wide distinctions, of education and ignorance, wealth and poverty, master and servant, which are the product of our civilization; there is none of that wide-spread division of labour, which, while it increases wealth, produces also conflicting interests; there is not that severe competition and struggle for existence, or for wealth, which the dense population of civilized countries inevitably creates. All incitements to great crimes are thus wanting, and petty ones are repressed, partly by the influence of public opinion, but chiefly by that natural sense of justice and of his neighbour's right which seems to be, in some degree, inherent in every race of man.

Now, although we have progressed vastly beyond the savage state in intellectual achievements, we have not advanced equally in morals. It is true that among those classes who have no wants that cannot be easily supplied, and among whom public opinion has great influence, the rights of others are fully respected. It is true, also, that we have vastly extended the sphere of those rights, and include within them all the brotherhood of man. But it is not too much to say, that the mass of our populations have not at all advanced beyond the savage code of morals, and have in many cases sunk below it. A deficient morality is the great blot of modern civilization, and the greatest hindrance to true progress.

During the last century, and especially in the last thirty years, our intellectual and material advancement has been too quickly achieved for us to reap the full benefit of it. Our mastery over the forces of nature has led to a rapid growth of population, and a vast accumulation of wealth; but these have brought with them such an amount of poverty and crime, and have fostered the growth of so much sordid feeling and so many fierce passions, that it may well be questioned, whether the mental and moral status of our population has not on the average been lowered, and whether the evil has not overbalanced the good. Compared with our wondrous progress in physical science and its practical applications, our system of government, of administering justice, of national education, and our whole social and moral organization, remains in a state of barbarism. And if we continue to devote our chief energies to the utilizing of our knowledge of the laws of nature with the view of still further extending our commerce and our wealth, the evils which necessarily accompany these when too eagerly pursued, may increase to such gigantic dimensions as to be beyond our power to alleviate.

We should now clearly recognize the fact, that the wealth and knowledge and culture of the few do not constitute civilization, and do not of themselves advance us towards the "perfect social state." Our vast manufacturing system, our gigantic commerce, our crowded towns and cities, support and continually renew a mass of human misery and crime absolutely greater than has ever existed before. They create and maintain in life-long labour an ever-increasing army, whose lot is the more hard to bear by contrast with the pleasures, the comforts, and the luxury which they see everywhere around them, but which they can never hope to enjoy; and who, in this respect, are worse off than the savage in the midst of his tribe.

This is not a result to boast of, or to be satisfied with; and, until there is a more general recognition of this failure of our civilization--resulting mainly from our neglect to train and develop more thoroughly the sympathetic feelings and moral faculties of our nature, and to allow them a larger share of influence in our legislation, our commerce, and our whole social organization--we shall never, as regards the whole community, attain to any real or important superiority over the better class of savages...59

    This epilogue represents the true continuation of the thoughts expressed in the 1864-65 works on "informed belief" discussed earlier. Further, it is the perfect complement to the last seven paragraphs of the Quarterly Review article, which focus on the relation of natural selection to human biological change rather than social and moral change. Here, however, the latter focus is more appropriate as Wallace reflects on what constitutes the "perfect social state" and how informed belief can contribute to its development. As he says to end the first paragraph: "In such a state every man would have a sufficiently well-balanced intellectual organization to understand the moral law in all its details, and would require no other motive but the free impulses of his own nature to obey that law."

    From his many later writings on the subject (including those sampled earlier in Chapter 1), it can be seen that Wallace had by now come to the conclusion that the "Spirit Realm" described by spiritualist prophets such as Stainton Moses constituted a natural domain within which the trace of organic evolution was continued--in the same way the latter continued, was intimately linked with, and depended on, the inertia of continuing forms of inorganic evolution. The critical connection for Wallace would have been his recognition that, given the supposed nature of the spirit realm, the higher faculties of man did in fact have utility. But this was not a function contributing only to biological survival, and thus devolving from causes dictated by conditions of the immediate physical environment. Instead, the refinement of the higher faculties made possible a continuing elevation of function after the biological death of the individual within a purely psychic (or "will-expressed") domain of organization. Higher spiritual development meant a greater capacity for identifying (and setting into action) new causal forces contributing to the overall evolutionary progression (much as biological evolution had secondarily modified the evolution of physical systems such as the atmosphere).

    Wallace apparently felt that the formal languages of thought--logic and mathematics, for example--did no more than to serve belief.60 Both logic and mathematics could be called upon to help identify and characterize any evidence adjudged, of course, but ultimately a belief confirmed by the evidence of the senses--including the ramifications of others' beliefs--was the final object of learning-based knowledge, not a detached logical shorthand. Wallace's style of thinking is therefore more realistically relatable to pragmatism than it is to naturalism, unless one is willing to acknowledge a form of naturalism that includes psychophysical elements. Will existed prior to force, which itself was prior to matter. Causal continuity was best addressed in terms of will, not matter; thus, coincidence of structure and function should not be held to offer proof that the former "caused" the latter. The brain, for example, was not to be construed as the "cause" of conscious awareness; rather, it was a structure that had evolved pursuant to the final cause of consciousness. As he put it in 1885 in a letter published in Light: "[To the question] 'Does mortality give consciousness to spirit, or does spirit give consciousness for a limited period to mortality?' I would reply, 'Neither the one nor the other; but, mortality is the means by which a permanent individuality is given to spirit'."61

    As just noted, Wallace's adherence to an evidence-based form of inquiry suggests a not-distant affinity with the school of thought that later came to be known as pragmatism. And, as it so turns out, both Charles Peirce and William James maintained a lifelong interest in Wallace's work. The two were in their impressionable twenties when the debate over evolution was new and at its height, and both men later spoke very appreciatively of Wallace's powers of logical argumentation. The connections are in fact intriguing enough to deserve a short aside here, and beg for more concerted study.62

    It is well known that in mid-life James became a spiritualist, in good part as a result of his discovery of the famous medium Mrs. Leonora Piper in early 1885. (Piper, a trance writer, allowed herself to be subjected to test conditions so extreme--including being removed from her home in Boston to undisclosed locations in England for months at a time, and providing readings for subjects randomly brought in off the street--that a number of former skeptics turned believers accordingly.) James in fact attended at least one seance with Wallace during the latter's visit to Boston in 1886 to give a series of lectures at the Lowell Institute.63 Could James, who may well have been connected either directly or indirectly with that organization (surely at the very least he knew most of its members), been the leading reason for Wallace's invitation, in late 1885, to speak there? The timing of the invitation is too intriguing to ignore; was James interested in getting Wallace's views on this new subject that had so completely captured his attention? Lending credence to this suspicion is the knowledge that research by James biographer Gerald Myers has revealed that James's first professional publication was an anonymous--and very approving--review of "The Origin of Human Races..."64 James, moreover, was a close associate of Chauncey Wright, and the latter figure was one of the best known reviewers and philosophers of literary Darwinism of that period. Further, James almost certainly knew of Wallace's natural history writings and had for some time, as he accompanied Louis Agassiz on a collecting expedition to the Amazon region in 1865 and undoubtedly had read Wallace's A Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro.

    Peirce, for his part, also apparently followed Wallace's career rather closely, and some of the most remarkable things ever said about Wallace's work appeared in his reviews of Studies Scientific and Social and My Life in The Nation in 1901 and 1906, respectively.65 Considering the path of Peirce's own career, nothing could be more poignant than the following commentary, incorporated into the second of these two notices:

Wallace remained in the Malay Archipelago for eight years, studying the living forms in the forests of the chief islands and many smaller ones. He was thirty-one when he went, thirty-nine when he returned. Those years were passed in intellectual solitude. All that time he hardly spoke except in Malay, a language without abstractions, comparatively. His only constant servant was a native picked up on the north shore of Borneo. That such a life must bring a great but dangerous education to a young man we may be sure. He came home even more ignorant of how to steer his bark than when he went out. He had gone for no better reason than that he was captivated by the accounts of the fauna and flora. He had not the slightest idea that he was going to the one country where a collecting naturalist could gather a fortune in specimens. Before he returned, he committed the folly of sending home a paper giving the theory of natural selection, and defending it. Was he a duke or a millionaire, that he could afford to shock every right-minded man with such a theory, whose enormity was aggravated by its being pretty evidently true? Perhaps he thought it his duty to mankind, though mankind decidedly thought not; yet even when he learned that Darwin had long had in hand a great work to the same purport, he had not the common sense to suppress his own book, and sink it deeper than ever plummet sounded. His conception of Natural Selection (at least, as he now holds it) is superior to Darwin's, in that he maintains that variation in every character of every form is so great in every generation that the vast majority of the young are destroyed without reproducing; so that a new species could be established in a century, if changes in the environment were rapid enough to call for such swift transformation. Of course, such variations exist.

Returning to England, he found he had earned a competence. Let him keep still, leave mankind to shift for itself, and distrust his own potential folly, and a happy life was before him. Alas! his ignorance of the world and want of appreciation of that ignorance were such that ere long the savings were evaporated, and he found himself in the desperate condition of having to live on his pen. Still, even then, had he written what was most conservative and indisputable, carefully concealing his original power, he might doubtless have obtained an appointment to a position where he could give carefully measured vent to his genius. But, perhaps feeling that he had not been put into the world for that, he preferred defending startling hypotheses that are not of a nature to be verified or disproved by decisive experiment. The result naturally was to press him more and more into byways of thought, diverging constantly further from the sober conservatism of worldly interest. Far be it from us to blame the veteran naturalist whose paradoxes have been so instructive to us... We repeat that Wallace is a great scientific reasoner; and of course this implies that he is perfectly fair-minded, and sincerely anxious to do full justice to that side of each question which he combats. We may add that, where he differs most from received opinions, his arguments are in general the most carefully considered and consequently the strongest... He believes in all that he believes down to the very soles of his boots; and his arguments are mostly so surprisingly strong that some one of his works, say his Studies, Scientific and Social, ought to be made the basis of a course of lectures on logic.66

    And from the first review:

Fifty-two essays, one for every card in the pack, in the four suits of geology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, and sociology, written in Wallace's clear, flowing style, and with all his argumentative force and ingenuity, full of information upon all sorts of matters of curiosity, afford nothing more interesting among all these than their portraiture of the writer himself. Not quite a typical man of science is Wallace: not a man who observes and studies only because he is eager to learn, because he is conscious that his actual conceptions and theories are inadequate, and he feels a need of being set right; nor yet one of those men who are so dominated by a sense of the tremendous importance of a truth in their possession that they are borne on to propagate it by all means that God and nature have put into their hands--no matter what, so long as it be effective. He is rather a man conscious of superior powers of sound and solid reasoning, which enable him to find paths to great truths that other men could not, and also to put the truth before his fellows with a demonstrative evidence that another man could not bring out; and along with this there is a moral sense, childlike in its candor, manly in its vigor, which will not allow him to approve anything illogical or wrong, though it be upon his own side of a question which stirs the depths of his moral nature. One cannot help entertaining a great esteem for him, even when he is most in earnest and at his isms.67

    Could it be that both men looked to Wallace as something of a role model--at least to the extent that he represented living proof that a pragmatic view of nature and society, taken through to its logical conclusion, leads to the discovery of significant truths?

    In any case, Wallace's approach to spiritualism itself seems little different from that he applied to the consideration of any other subject he took up.68 His attraction to automatic slate-writing, apparitions, and so forth almost assuredly had nothing to do with a "religious conversion" occasioned by "disappointment" over natural selection. Instead, he considered spiritualism to be what might be termed "evolutionary psychology"--a "new branch of anthropology," as he put it in 1866 in a letter to Thomas Huxley.69

    In sum, Wallace "believed" in the tenets of spiritualism for exactly the same reason he "believed" in natural selection (or, for that matter, any other concept he had come to accept as being valid within certain limits)--they were substantiated by "facts":

...I have reached my present standpoint by a long series of experiences under such varied and peculiar conditions as to render unbelief impossible. As Dr. W. B. Carpenter well remarked many years ago, people can only believe new and extraordinary facts if there is a place for them in their existing "fabric of thought." The majority of people to-day have been brought up in the belief that miracles, ghosts, and the whole series of strange phenomena here described cannot exist; that they are contrary to the laws of nature; that they are superstitions of a bygone age; and that therefore they are necessarily either impostures or delusions. There is no place in the fabric of their thought into which such facts can be fitted. When I first began this inquiry it was the same with myself. The facts did not fit into my then existing fabric of thought. All my preconceptions, all my knowledge, all my belief in the supremacy of science and of natural law were against the possibility of such phenomena...70

    And from the Preface to On Miracles and Modern Spiritualism (1875):

...I was so thorough and confirmed a materialist that I could not at that time find a place in my mind for the conception of spiritual existence, or for any other agencies in the universe than matter and force. Facts, however, are stubborn things. My curiosity was at first excited by some slight but inexplicable phenomena occurring in a friend's family, and my desire for knowledge and love of truth forced me to continue the inquiry. The facts became more and more assured, more and more varied, more and more removed from anything that modern science taught or modern philosophy speculated on. The facts beat me. They compelled me to accept them as facts long before I could accept the spiritual explanation of them; there was at that time "no place in my fabric of thought into which it could be fitted." By slow degrees a place was made; but it was made, not by any preconceived or theoretical opinions, but by the continuous action of fact after fact, which could not be got rid of in any other way.71

    Though it is apparent that Wallace came to believe that creative diversification was in the broadest sense purposeful (i.e., was part of a universal process evolving enlightened spirituality), there is nothing to suggest that he thought the alleged "spirit realm" itself was constituted in a fashion necessitating fundamentally exceptional treatment in a conceptual/analytical sense:

...Now, modern Spiritualism rests solely on the observation and comparison of acts in a domain of nature which has been hitherto little explored, and it is a contradiction in terms to say that such an investigation is opposed to science. Equally absurd is the allegation that some of the phenomena of Spiritualism "contradict the laws of nature," since there is no law of nature yet known to us but may be apparently contravened by the action of more recondite laws or forces. Spiritualists observe facts and record experiments, and then construct hypotheses which will best explain and co-ordinate the facts, and in so doing they are pursuing a truly scientific course.72

    Within this cosmology, natural science as we usually conceive it was effectively restricted to the study of emergent origins; that is, to those classes of efficient causes that could be attached to specific immediate results, whether these led to permanent structural divergences or reversible ecological relationships. In a letter printed in Marchant (1916/1975) referring to the then recent publication of his book The World of Life, in 1910, Wallace notes:

Hardly one of my critics (I think absolutely not one) has noticed the distinction I have tried to draw between Evolution on the one hand, and the fundamental powers and properties of Life--growth, assimilation, reproduction, heredity, etc.--on the other. In Evolution I recognize the action of Natural Selection as universal and capable of explaining all the facts of the continuous development of species from species, "from amoeba to man." But this...has nothing whatever to do with the basic mysteries of life--growth, etc., etc.73

    In 1909, in another letter,74 he writes: "Another point I am becoming more and more impressed with is, a teleology of fundamental laws and forces rendering development of the infinity of life-forms possible (and certain) in place of the old teleology applied to the production of each species." "Growth, etc., etc." are thus recognized as properties of nature "more recondite" than natural selection per se, though the latter is still viewed as a law of interaction supporting a progression of changing life forms within the constraining operation of these properties. When one began to look beyond the fact of change (and toward the overall context of its "accumulations"), however, Wallace preferred to view the forms of interaction (for example, gravity, natural selection, and spiritualization) propelling the whole process as operating in hierarchical conjunction with one another. Wallace would probably have agreed that gravity could not explain why dogs have eyes and choose to walk uphill some of the time for the same general reasons that natural selection could not provide a reason for the creation of a great symphony or the acts of a martyr. At the same time, he believed there was nothing in his approach that either contradicted or discouraged working within a conventional materialistic framework (which, in its own fashion, filled in the pieces one at a time by concentrating on the evidence-based elucidation of increasingly subtle efficient causes).

    There seems little reason to complain that Wallace's natural science studies (e.g., in biogeography, glaciology, and the individual applications of natural selection) "suffered" after 1865 from any apparent spiritualism-related concepts. Nor should they have. When Wallace felt that the subject of interest could be analyzed adequately on the basis of efficient causes, there was no need to bring questions regarding indeterminate confining functions into the discussion. For man, cosmological subjects (i.e., "beginnings" and "ends," in both a spatial and temporal sense), and all social issues, however, the extenuating circumstances of the "more recondite forces" operating became directly relevant. Humankind, for example, was increasingly to become the architect of its own further evolutionary diversification (i.e., as a spiritual being):

...we Spiritualists must feel ourselves bound to work strenuously for such improved social conditions as may render it possible for all to live a full and happy life, for all to develop and utilise the various faculties they possess, and thus be prepared to enter at once on the progressive higher life of the spirit-world. We know that a life of continuous and grinding bodily labour, in order to obtain a bare existence; a life almost necessarily devoid of beauty, of refinement, of communion with Nature; a life without adequate relaxation, and with no opportunity for the higher culture; a life full of temptation and with no cheering hope of a happy and peaceful old age, is as bad for the welfare of the soul as it is for that of the body...75

    Wallace viewed social cooperation as the road to the development of higher awareness in the individual. Society was thus pictured as an evolving "collective will" that was slowly but surely transcending the constraints imposed by environment and restrictive historical customs. In the early stages of this process scattered civilizations had arisen, their eventual declines being more attributable to a lack of collective social wisdom in not recognizing the need for establishing non-materialistic goals than to any simple physical, moral, or intellectual inferiorities on the part of their citizens individually. One should not underestimate the weight of these ideas on Wallace's thoughts in general. Given his very early-developed Owenite ideals, it is just as likely--perhaps more likely--that his acceptance of the degeneracy theory of social evolution shaped his biological theorizations as vice versa. In this regard it should be noted that he refers to the concept of social degeneracy as early as 1843 in a work called "The South-Wales Farmer" that reached publication only in 1905 as part of My Life.76 The basic idea of the degeneracy theory appears in many different aspects of his writing, as explained earlier. And, predictably, he continued to defend the idea in print right to the end.77

    Wallace reasoned that evolution of the "collective will" would accelerate only once the physical necessities of life had been made equally available to all, allowing people the leisure time to pursue more varied and consciousness-expanding interests. Not surprisingly, therefore, most of his social criticism was aimed at what he felt were the institutions standing in the way of "equality of opportunity" for the general populace. Typical of Wallace's efforts in this direction was his leadership of the land nationalization movement; as President of the Land Nationalisation Society for over thirty years he fought a battle for land reform energized by the objective of breaking up large land holdings.78 Meanwhile, he despised the many crude attempts to apply Darwinism to social analysis by analogy; in his view, an over-emphasis on individualistic forms of competition within society led, among other things, to wars, a discriminatory distribution of wealth, and addiction to a consumptive materialism that was both individually and collectively counter-evolutionary.79

    While spiritualist philosophy helped Wallace recognize a transitory function in existing imperfections (these forced a process of moral advance through "character-building": mankind's own route of changing without being "aware of it"), human progress in general was measured through their absolute rate of elimination. Such progress could not be contextualized within simplistic material "one cause-one effect" frameworks: the more "human" the problem, the more its just solution lay in terms of evolutionarily-consistent goals, as opposed to reactions arising from the consumptive inertia of tradition or habit. One of Wallace's most ingenious combinations of immediate- and final causes-based reasoning in a social theory context related natural selection to the women's rights movement. On a number of occasions80 he argued that natural selection would only reassume an important role in human evolution when women no longer needed to marry for reasons of economic security, and could instead select mates purely on consideration of their moral qualities.

*                *                *

    Before closing here, I feel I should specially comment on some conclusions that have been drawn by author Ross Slotten in his recently published biography of Wallace.81 While Slotten does an excellent job of documenting and relating most of Wallace's activities and involvements, I feel that the section on his adoption of spiritualism represents a low point in his discussion. Slotten argues that a certain Miss Leslie's break-off of a marital engagement with Wallace around October 1864 left Wallace so despondent that he was unable to continue his professional life for nearly two years (until early or mid-1866, around the time he married his eventual wife). Thus in theory, his decision to start attending seances in July 1865 was triggered, at least proximately, by a simple need for some emotional support.

    There are several reasons why this hypothesis will not wash. First, it is not true that Wallace's involvement in professional science was much, if any, disturbed by the event. After October 1864 and running through May 1865 he was present and contributing to the six scientific societies he kept up with at about the same average rate he had been over the thirty month period preceding October 1864. And between October 1864 and June 1865, moreover, no fewer than twelve of his writings/commentaries reached print--a rate of publication just about matching his career standard. It may be true that for a while he was distracted enough not to keep up his same earlier rate of work on birds, but it may also be that by that point he had largely exhausted his efforts in that direction: he would only even eventually turn out two more medium-sized (thirty-six and twenty-nine pages) systematic works on birds, though after 1866 his systematic biology studies on insects would extend to several hundred pages.

    Further, it should be pointed out that the chronology of all this just does not make sense. Why would a full nine months have passed before Wallace's production and dissociation with his professional activities began to drop off (as it did after June 1865)? And it should not be ignored that Raby, Shermer, and Slotten himself have concluded that Wallace began socializing with his eventual wife Annie in early 1865 (they married on 5 April 1866); thus the surmise would be that by July 1865 he was already entering into a generally happier period in his life.

    Next, there is no evidence that Wallace ever experienced any great "comfort" (at least in terms of relief from an emotional stress) from his involvement with spiritualism. Neither I nor anyone I have contacted about this point can recall ever seeing anything linking Wallace to spiritualism-focused religious groups, including attending any of their services. His interest in the study appears to have been strictly related to "the facts," and anything greater in an emotional sense that he gained from his involvement seems due more to a satisfaction with his operating cosmology than it might have with conventional forms of socially-mediated healing.

    Again, just what kind of comfort could Wallace have expected to receive at that time from such a move? Otherwise put, what do seances have to do with curing problems stemming from being jilted? This line of reasoning might hold had he just lost a relative, fiancee, or friend through death, and wanted some kind of reassurances, but hardly under these conditions.

    It is also important to point out that the kind of incidental involvement Slotten has proposed--related to a single and discrete source of emotional stress--does not explain why Wallace continued to take spiritualism so seriously as an intellectual pursuit right through to the end of his days. This is indicative of a strong intellectual commitment extending far beyond those immediate circumstances.

    Lastly, Slotten's suggestion does not explain the neat progression of ideas related to "informed belief" that Wallace was developing at the same time, as explained earlier. Neither does it help us understand why the progressive development of this theme seemed to end abruptly after June 1865, resuming only in his closing words of The Malay Archipelago--which, it should be remembered, appeared just a few weeks before his Quarterly Review article did. The answer here is that it didn't really end: it was continued through his writings on spiritualism, notably in "The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural."

    Nevertheless, Slotten does make one point that seems likely to be correct: that Wallace's sister Fanny may have been the immediate link triggering Wallace's study of spiritualism just when he did, beginning in mid-1865. At that point she was apparently already a believer and she, Wallace, and their mother were living together in early 1865. Wallace and his sister were close, and it might well have taken the advice of a close friend or relative at that point to cause him to take the plunge. Still, in my opinion it is unlikely that he would have proceeded had he not been progressing in a suitably parallel intellectual direction; further, moving in the circles he did it is likely that it would have been just a matter of time before he commenced his investigations, even had his sister not been around.

Notes, Chapter Five

1. S57, p. 146.

2. S72, pp. 26-28.

3. S77, pp. 8489, 8490.

4. S83.

5. S82, pp. 209-210.

6. S656, p. 7.

7. Kottler (1974), p. 190, also offers that "It has been suggested to me that Wallace's conception of natural selection differed from Darwin's conception; unlike Darwin's, it could not in fact explain man's intellectual and moral nature. According to this viewpoint, the source of Wallace's recognition of natural selection's adequacy in the origin of man was his own conception of the nature of natural selection rather than his belief in spiritualism..." but quickly rejects this notion.

8. Per S329, p. 735.

9. S729 ii, pp. 23-24.

10. Marchant (1916; 1975 reprint ed.), pp. 124-125.

11. See S716, 1st ed., pp. 366-368, for Wallace's argument relating force to will (including the conclusion that matter must be energy!). Although Spencer may have first planted this train of thought in Wallace's mind, it was probably not fully engaged until he came upon Emma Hardinge's writings, as we will see later.

12. In a letter to Keir Hardie published in Labour Leader in 1896 (S528) he writes: "...in middle life, while chiefly engaged in scientific work, I was influenced by the individualistic teaching of Herbert Spencer. Nine years later, on p. 104 of Volume 1 of My Life, he says, in referring to Robert Owen: "later in life my very scanty knowledge of his work was not sufficient to prevent my adopting the individualist views of Herbert Spencer and of the political economists..."

13. S93 and S96.

14. Marchant (1916; 1975 reprint ed.), p. 126.

15. S93, p. clxviii.

16. ibid., p. clxviii.

17. ibid., p. clxvi.

18. Marchant (1916; 1975 reprint ed.), p. 277.

19. Reader, 16 April 1864, pp. 491-493.

20. For a period Reader became Wallace's favorite publication venue: at least fifteen of his letters, notes, and abstracts appeared in that journal between late 1863 and 1866. This is an important fact. It indicates that as of 1863--before his involvement with seances or his failed marriage engagement--Wallace was already involved in thoughts extending beyond his purely scientific studies.

21. S104 (abstract), Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science for 1864, London, 1865, pp. 149-150.

22. S104, Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London (1866), 4, n.s., pp. 61-70, on p. 67. Wallace read this version of the paper to the Society at their meeting of 24 January 1865.

23. S110.

24. S451, p. 648. The article this excerpt was taken from was published in 1892 for inclusion in a new edition of Chambers's Encyclopædia, but note how similar the thoughts expressed are to those found in one of his earliest known writings, S1 (from 1843). Also consider how this train of thought eventually led to words expressed in S243, "In Defence of Modern Spiritualism," and slightly re-written as follows for inclusion in 1894's "Why Live a Moral Life?" (S506, p .9): "...we are, all of us, in every act and thought of our lives, helping to build up a mental fabric which will be and constitute ourselves in the future life, even more completely than now. Just in proportion as we have developed our higher intellectual and moral nature, or starved it by disuse, shall we be well or ill fitted for the new life we shall enter on. The Spiritualist who, by repeated experiences, becomes convinced of the absolute reality and the complete reasonableness of these facts regarding the future state--who knows that, just in proportion as he indulges in passion, or selfishness, or the reckless pursuit of wealth, and neglects to cultivate his moral and intellectual nature, so does he inevitably prepare for himself misery in a world in which there are no physical wants to be provided for, no struggle to maintain mere existence, no sensual enjoyments except those directly associated with sympathy and affection, no occupations but those having for their object social, moral, and intellectual progress--is impelled towards a pure and moral life by motives far stronger than any which either philosophy or religion can supply."

25. S111.

26. S729 ii, pp. 52, 54.

27. S113.

28. In My Life he reported: "During this time I was reading almost everything I could obtain upon the phenomena..." (S729 ii, p. 279).

29. F. Galton, "Hereditary Talent and Character." Macmillan's Magazine 12 (1865), pp. 157-166, 318-327.

30. See in particular S427 and S445.

31. Wallace spent much of the late 1860s and 1870s trying to convince his contemporaries that spiritualism provided a direct path forward toward the goal of improving the levels of intelligent conviction in the population, with minimal success. His increasing interest in social and economic matters as he aged likely developed as he came to accept that societal inequities were a prior issue: i.e., that a social system he sometimes described as being "rotten at the core" could not be expected to lead to the luxury of clear, unbiased reasoning as to one's means of self-improvement.

32. "Miss Emma Hardinge." The Spiritual Magazine 6(12) (1865), pp. 529-543. Hardinge's remarks were shortly thereafter compiled and published by F. Farrah in the Spring of 1866 as the now extremely rare 122 page monograph Extemporaneous Addresses.

33. ibid., p. 531.

34. ibid., p. 532.

35. ibid., p. 532.

36. ibid., p. 538.

37. S118. Wallace apparently had completed the work no later than the middle of July 1866, as a note on page 9 of The English Leader issue of 21 July 1866 confirms that they had received his manuscript and were ready to give it 'immediate attention'; i.e., prepare it for print. It is probably no coincidence in this respect that the last lecture in Emma Hardinge's tour was given on 24 June 1866 (per mention in the National Reformer issue of 1 July 1866): just in time for Wallace to hear or read before putting the finishing touches on his manuscript.

38. Quotations from Hardinge in fact make up over three full pages of the pamphlet version of S118 (The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural: Indicating the Desirableness of an Experimental Enquiry by Men of Science Into the Alleged Powers of Clairvoyants and Mediums, London, 1866), extending over large sections of pages 50 through 54. Hardinge (1823-1899) was well known to the spiritualist communities on both sides of the Atlantic at that point. Wallace would have had easy access to her previous writings, which included transcriptions of lectures she had delivered in earlier years. An annotated copy of her pamphlet On Ancient Magic and Modern Spiritualism, published in 1865 or 1866 (and representing another lecture in the soiree series, this one given on 4 December 1865), is still to be found among the materials from his personal library held by the Special Collections unit at the Library of the University of Edinburgh. In The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural his quotations from Hardinge are taken from her essay "Hades," included in her Six Lectures on Theology and Nature, published in Chicago in 1860.

39. S729 ii, pp. 277-281. Also see Kottler (1974) and Marchant (1916; 1975 reprint ed.), pp. 417-419. Wallace's account in My Life is a bit disjointed chronologically, and must be read with care.

40. S119, pp. 93-94.

41. Marchant (1916; 1975 reprint ed.), pp. 417-418. The pamphlet was likely printed after the work's initial serialized run was completed. Not only does this seem likely a priori, but the pamphlet version, despite being produced from the same typesetting of the text, includes a couple of notes and edits and an Introduction not present in the original serialization. The timing of the release of the pamphlet is itself interesting. If it was distributed before Wallace's first convincing seances with Miss Nichol, which is likely, this suggests that he was satisfied with the essay's basic arguments in favor of the reasons for studying spiritualism even before he had received any personally convincing direct evidence of its supposed manifestations. If it was distributed after he had received such confirmations, this too is interesting because it implies he felt the a priori arguments were so strong that he didn't even need to bother augmenting them with his own observations at that point.

Two further points regarding The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural should be made. First, and beyond the overall tone and approach of the work, Wallace makes his specific purpose for writing it known on pages 7 and 8: ". . . Let us now return to the consideration of the probable nature and powers of those preter-human intelligences whose possible existence only it is my object to maintain . . ." [my italics]—again, this is not the phraseology of a full convert, but instead of one who wishes to bring notice to a possible subject for research.

Second, one specific link to the earlier-discussed "advantages of varied knowledge" theme that appears in the work should be pointed out. On pages 34-35 of the pamphlet version Wallace writes ". . . these descriptions, taken as a whole, give us a far more exalted, and at the same time more rational and connected view of spirit life, than do the doctrines of any other religion or philosophy; while they are certainly more conducive to morality, and inculcate most strongly the importance of cultivating to the uttermost every mental faculty with which we are endowed . . ."

42. S126. See also "Notes of Personal Evidence," and Kottler (1974). Another remarkable seance Wallace held with Miss Nichol, on 15 May 1867, was also reported in The Spiritual Magazine (see S132).

43. S125.

44. S127, p. 309.

45. S123, p. 716.

46. S146, p. 391.

47. S139, p. 89; S717, p. 263. An earlier version of this paper had been read on 9 September 1867 at the annual meetings of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

48. S140. This was only the second book review Wallace had published; a few months earlier he had prepared one for the same journal on Quatrefages de Bréau's book Les Polynésiens et Leurs Migrations.

49. ibid., pp. 479-480.

50. S142a, p. 373.

51. W. R. Greg (anon. in source), "On the Failure of Natural Selection in the Case of Man." Fraser's Magazine 78 (September 1868), pp. 353-362. See discussion by R. J. Richards, Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior (Chicago & London, 1987), pp. 172-176.

52. anon. in source, "Natural and Supernatural Selection." The Spectator 41 (1868), pp. 1154-1155, on p. 1155.

53. anon. in source, "The Alleged Failure of Natural Selection in the Case of Man." Quarterly Journal of Science 6 (1869), pp. 152-153.

54. ibid., pp. 152-153.

55. Marchant (1916; 1975 reprint ed.), p. 190.

56. ibid., p. 191.

57. S146.

58. ibid., pp. 383-384.

59. S715, 10th ed., pp. 455-457.

60. In 1877 he wrote: "The direct testimony of the educated senses guided by reason is of higher validity than any complex results of reason alone," and that it was better to accept the "uniform and consistent testimony of our senses" (S283, p. 698).

61. S383, p. 352.

62. As has in fact been undertaken by Fichman (2004).

63. S396; S729 ii, p. 338.

64. Myers, Gerald E., William James: His Life and Thought (New Haven, 1986). James's review appeared in the North American Review, July 1865, pp. 261-263.

65. Nation 72 (10 Jan. 1901), pp. 36-37, and Nation 82 (22 Feb. 1906), pp. 160-161.

66. Nation 82 (22 Feb. 1906), pp. 160-161.

67. Nation 72 (10 Jan. 1901), p. 36.

68. This opinion is shared by Malinchak (1987) and Peck (2003).

69. Marchant (1916; 1975 reprint ed.), p. 418.

70. S729 ii, p. 349.

71. S717, pp. vi-vii.

72. S379, p. 809.

73. Marchant (1916; 1975 reprint ed.), p. 341.

74. ibid., p. 337.

75. S545, p. 335.

76. S623.

77. Note S645 (1907), S649 (1907), S733 (1913), and S752 (1913).

78. For summaries of his views on this subject, see S722, S365, and S729 ii, pp. 235-266.

79. For Wallace's views on the "might vs. right" issue, see S549, S567, S580, and S659. For his opinion of eugenics, see S737 (an interview by Sarah A. Tooley), S750 (an interview by Frederick Rockell), and S733. Wallace's social criticism writings are voluminous. For an introduction, see S727 ii, S723, S726, S734, and Charles H. Smith, ed., Alfred Russel Wallace; An Anthology of His Shorter Writings (Oxford, etc., 1991), pp. 119-216.

80. Most notably S427, S445, and S734.

81. Ross Slotten, 2004. The Heretic in Darwin's Court: The Life of Alfred Russel Wallace. New York: Columbia University Press.



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