From A. R. Wallace 2 October 1865
9, St. Mark’s Crescent, | Regent’s Park,
Oct 2nd. 1865
I was just leaving Town for a few days when I received your letter1 or should have replied at once.
The “Reader” has no doubt changed hands, & I am inclined to think for the better.2 It is purchased I believe by a gentleman who is a fellow of the Anthropolog. Society but I see no signs of its being made a special organ of that Soc.
The Editor (& (I believe Propr.) is a Mr. Bendyshe the most talented man in the Society,3 & judging from his speaking, which I have often heard, I should say the articles on “Simeon & Simony”, “Metropolitan Sewage” and “France & Mexico” are his, & these are in my opinion superior to anything that has been in the “Reader” for a long time;4 they have the point & brilliancy which are wanted to make leading articles readable & popular. The articles on Mill’s Pol. Economy & on Mazzini, are also first rate.5 He has introduced also the plan of having two & now three important articles in each number,—one Political or Social, one literary & one Scientific. Under the old regime they never had an editor above mediocrity, except Masson;6 there was a want of unity among the Proptrs., as to the aims & objects of the Journal; & there was a want of capital to secure the services of good writers.7 This seems to me to be now all changed for the better, & I only hope the rumour of that bète noir the Anthropological Soc., having any thing to do with it, may not cause our best men of science to withdraw their support & contributions.8
I have read Tyler & am reading Lecky. 9 I found the former somewhat disconnected, & unsatisfactory from the absence of any definite result or any decided opinion on most of the matters treated of.
Lecky I like much, though he is rather tedious & obscure at times. Most of what he says has been said so much more forcibly by Buckle whose work I have read for the second time with increased admiration although with a clear view of some of his errors.10 Nevertheless his is I think unapproachably the grandest work of the present century, & the one most likely to liberalise opinion.
Lubbock’s book is very good, but his concluding chapter very weak.11 Why are men of science so dreadfully afraid to say what they think & believe?
In reply to your kind enquiries about myself, I can only say that I am ashamed of my own laziness. I have done nothing lately but write a paper on Pigeons for the “Ibis”,12 & am drawing up a Catalogue of my Collection of Birds.13
As to my “Travels” I cannot bring myself to undertake them yet, & perhaps never shall, unless I should be fortunate enough to get a wife who would incite me thereto & assist me therein,—which is not likely.14
I am glad to hear that the “Origin” is still working its revolutionary way, on the Continent.15 Will Mueller’s book on it, be translated?16
I am glad to hear you are a little better. My poor friend Spruce is still worse than you are, & I fear now will not recover. He wants to write a book if he gets well enough.17
With best wishes Believe me | Dear Darwin | Yours very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace
C. Darwin Esq.
Information concerning improvements in the Reader under new sponsorship.
Current reading and work [on pigeons for Ibis 1 (1865): 365–400, and catalogue of his collection of birds].
Book of travels postponed indefinitely.