RECORD: S712. Wikman, K.Rob V. 1940. Letters From Edward B.Tylor and Alfred Russel Wallace to Edward Westermarck. Edited.with introductory remarks concerning the publication of the history of human marriage. Acta Academiae Aboensis Humaniora XIII.7: 1-22.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed (double key) by AEL Data. RN1

NOTE: Wallace's letters are on pp. 13-22.


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ACTA ACADEMIAE ABOENSIS

HUMANIORA XIII.7



LETTERS FROM EDWARD B. TYLOR
AND ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE
TO EDWARD WESTERMARCK

EDITED WITH INTRODUCTORY REMARKS CONCERNING
THE PUBLICATION OF „THE HISTORY
OF HUMAN MARRIAGE"

BY

K. ROB. V. WIKMAN, PH. D.

Reader in Sociology at Åbo Akademy

ÅBO AKADEMI
ÅBO 1940

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INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.

The small bundle of letters reproduced below forms part of a large collection of correspondence addressed to the late Professor Westermarck and after his death presented to the Åbo Academy, the university to whose service he devoted many years of his life. They were written by two English scholars, Edward Burnett Tylor and Alfred Russel Wallace, at a time when Westermarck was engaged on the publication of »The History of Human Marriage», and shed some light on the origin of that famous work. The former of these scholars was the founder of Social Anthropology, and the latter, together with Darwin, the father of the Theory of Descendence through natural selection and the foremost representative of English biological science.

The eleven letters and two postcards from Tylor date from the period February 1890—April 1895, and later communications found in the Westermarck collection have not been included in the present publication. The fourteen letters from Wallace were all dated from Parkstone, Dorset, between January 1890 and January 1892, after which date no letters from Wallace are found in the collection. All the communications are reproduced unabridged.

Westermarck's thesis for the doctorate, »The Origin of Human Marriage», was publicly examined before the University of Helsingfors in December 1889. The dedicatory copies sent by the author to the two English scholars Tylor and Wallace were acknowledged by both in appreciative terms (3 Feb. and 29 Jan. 1890). In the autumn of 1890 Westermarck returned to England in order to continue his research concerning the origin and development of the marriage institution, the results of which were to be incorporated in the larger work on »The History of Human Marriage», of which his dissertation comprised only

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the first six chapters. The book was completed during the author's stay in England, which lasted from October 1890 to June 1891, when the first edition was published about the middle of the month. A second English edition appeared in January 1894. The correspondence with Tylor covers the whole of this period, whereas the letters from Wallace are confined to the time preceding and immediately following the printing of the first edition.

In his autobiography Westermarck has himself given an outline of the origin of his first great work, and I only want to draw attention to some important circumstances referred to in the present correspondence. On his arrival in England in October 1890 Westermarck visited Tylor at Oxford and was given an introduction to Macmillan's publishing company.1 Soon afterwards he seems to have requested Tylor to examine certain parts of the manuscript of his forthcoming publication. To judge from Tylor's reply these parts of the work dealt with Westermarck's theories concerning the purpose of primitive clothing and the instinctive aversion to sex intercourse among near kindred. It appears also that Tylor fell in with the suggestion, and towards the end of November he returned the manuscript to Westermarck in London (see his letter of 20 Nov. 1890). Already in his first letter Tylor referred to the tabulating method of investigating marriage relations which he had published in the previous year, and it seems as if he had contemplated the application of this method to the solution of the problem of incest.2 However that may be, he constantly returns to the question in his later letters. His statements concerning the problem are characterized by the same critical and cautious attitude which he applied also to the problem of primitive clothing.3

Wallace's contribution to Westermarck's great work was more posi-

1 Edward Westermarck, Memories of My Life, London 1929, see especially p. 88.

2 'On a Method of Investigating the Development of Institutions, applied to the Laws of Marriage and Descent' in Journal of the Anthropological Institute vol. xviij, 1889; cfr. Tylor's letter Dec. 27. 1890.

3 The paper referred to in Tylor's letter of 20 Nov. 1890 is apparently G. A. Wilken, 'Huwelijken tusschen bloedverwanten' in De Gids 1890.

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tive than Tylor's. Not only did he take it on himself to examine the chapter on »Sexual Relations among Animals» in manuscript, but even read the proofs of the whole book and, at the request of the publishers, wrote the »Introductory Note» which became Westermarck's letter of introduction to his contemporaries in the world of scholarship and science. Unlike Tylor he adopted the incest hypothesis with unqualified approval, describing Professor Robertson Smith's criticism of it in »Nature» as »altogether erroneous». On the other hand he registered difference of opinion both in the case of Westermarck's application of the theory of Natural Selection to sexual selection, and above all concerning the origin of clothing. The correspondence with Wallace, says Westermarck, »considerably modified the real or supposed differences of opinion between us».1 On the question of primitive clothing, however, they seem to have continued to differ, and the variance of opinion is apparent from Wallace's letters. Nor can it be denied that the treatment of the problem is somewhat schematic in the early editions of »The History of Human Marriage». The subject is more fully treated in the fifth revised edition.2

The scholars and learned works mentioned in the present collection of letters are in most cases far too well known to students of Social Anthropology to require any commentary. One or two observations, however, may not be out of place here. C. N. Starcke's book about the primitive family appeared in a French translation in 1891 (»La famille primitive», Paris, Félix Alcan), and this may be the work referred to by Wallace in his letter of 3 April 1891. Westermarck's polemic against Starcke was printed in the »International Journal of Ethics», iv, 1893 (see Tylor's letter of 15 Dec. 1893). His visit to Foula in the summer of 1891 and his stay in Oxford early in 1893 Westermarck has described in his »Memories» (pp. 91 sqp. and 103 sqq.).

Åbo, October 1940.
K. Rob. V. W.

1 Memories of My Life, p. 91.

2 Vol.'i, ch. xv and xvi ('Primitive means of attraction').

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TYLOR to WESTERMARCK.

I.

University Museum, Oxford.
Febr. 3 1890.

Dear Sir

Allow me to thank you for your History of Marriage which has been here some time, but which, having till lately been absent at Aberdeen, I have only just read. I must congratulate you on having written so valuable a contribution to the subject. Especially I have long wished to see Kulischer's view as to a human »paring season» examined, and I think you have much advanced this question and that you will be able to bring it to a final settlement. With regard to your argument as to primitive promiscuity let me suggest that it may be streghtened by E. H. Man's account of the Andaman Islanders' marriage in Journal Anthropological Institute vol. xij p. 137 which disposes of Belcher's statement. Poole's remark on the Queen Charlotte Islanders is I believe worthless. You may have seen Mr H. S. Maine's remarks on the promiscuity-theory in his Early Law and Custom p. 204, which we should I think both agree with. I look forward with much interest to your discussion of the method applied by me in my paper on Development of Institutions. This method will I think lead to putting Anthropology in some respects on a more definite basis but the labour involved in reaching apparently simple results is immense. I send you a separate copy of this paper which may be useful, and it will give me great pleasure to be of assistance to you in your researches.

Yours sincerely

Edward B. Tylor.

to Dr Westermarck.

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II.

The Museum House, Oxford.
Nov. 14. 1890.

Dear Dr Westermarck

I will look over the chapter and write to you. At the Anthropological Institute you will I think be able conveniently to look through Roth's Tasmanians, Callaway's Nursery Tales of Zulus and Religion of Amazulu (the latter is at present issued by the Folklore Society). If you take this letter, Mr Bloxam will let you see the books. This will be less trouble than sending you them from here and you can read quite conveniently at the Anthropological Institute. The address is 3 Hanover Square.

I am glad you enjoyed your visit here which was a pleasure to us.

Yours sincerely

E. B. Tylor.

III.

University Museum, Oxford.
Nov. 20. 1890.

Dear Dr Westermarck

I will return your chapter by tomorrow's post. The publisher will judge better than I whether some of the data in it are too sexual for even a special public. My own opinion is that if the subject is to be argued, this evidence must be used, though in some cases the words may be a little toned down.

You will not I hope think me unreasonable if I suggest that to investigate the primitive purpose of dress, it would be well for you to have collected an even larger body of evidence to reason from. Also, I feel that the postulate of an inherent instinctive aversion among mankind to sexual intercourse with near relatives would (considering the exceptions) require very strong proofs, and I cannot say I have ever seen proofs brought forward to satisfy my mind, though I am not

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prejudiced. I take the opportunity of sending you a paper just received from Dr Wilken who knows a great deal and whose conclusion quite contradicts yours. Will you send me this paper back.

Yours sincerely

E. B. Tylor.

IV.

The Museum House, Oxford.
Nov. 25 1890.

Dear Dr Westermarck

I am glad to hear of Messrs. Macmillan undertaking the publication of your work. If you should send me anything further as to intermarriage of the nearest kin I will endeavour to weigh your argument. Still no practical question is involved, as what is necessary is that the evidence should be brought thoroughly forward and we shall see to which side opinion tends.

Bishop Callaway's book will not tell you much as to marriage laws etc. though it is admirable as to religion etc. It is published by Mr Nutt for the Folklore Society. Maclean's Kafir Laws and Customs is more important for marriage. I think you know A. H. Post, Afrikanische Jurisprudenz.

Yours sincerely

E. B. Tylor.

V.

Lunefield, Kirkby Lonsdale
Dec. 28. 1890

Dear Dr Westermarck

A few days ago I had some talk with Professor Bain at Aberdeen about your forthcoming book which we both think likely to promote the understanding of early society. I write now to say what I may

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very likely have said already with respect to your last communication that I hope you will so far as possible bring out all evidence you can arrive at as to the question of marriage between nearest relations. If there is really a tendency in man which seems absent in lower mammals, to be averse to such unions, it will be necessary to know it in order to understand the whole superstructure of connubial institutions. If the evidence is inconclusive at any rate it will be well to lay a foundation for the settlement of the question. The method of tabulation and grouping which I have used has not carried me far enough in this direction to justify an opinion, except that the sister-marriages among such peoples as the Incas and Hawaiians have clearly nothing to do with primitive conditions but with complex family arrangements connected with the existence of a governing caste.

Yours sincerely

E. B. Tylor.

VI.

The Museum House, Oxford.
Oct. 23. 1891.

Dear Dr Westermarck

It is satisfactory to be able to congratulate you on your book being successful. I considered on reading it that it was not your fault that Wallace (not having examined properly) bracketed me to my irritation with Mr Herbert Spencer whom both personally and in his works I dislike. There is indeed one thing I must point out to you in case your work reaches a second edition, which is likely. It is that I have never assigned political expediency as the originating cause of exogamy. I have indeed shown that it has great value in consolidating tribes or nations, but have left its actual origin as unknown.

The more I think about your ideas as to aversion to marrying housemates the more I wish you would try to get more direct evidence. I should not be surprised to find it or something like it the real solution,

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but even then I do not understand its becoming hereditary. What you say of in-and-in marriage in Foula is very interesting. I wish you would write a paper on this or some cognate point for the Anthropological Institute of which I am just now President. Even if you would not be present to read it, I would be godfather to it.

Yours sincerely

Edward B. Tylor.

VII.

University Museum, Oxford.
May 24. 1892.

[Post card addressed to] Herrn Dr E. Westermarck, University, Helsingfors, Finland.

Dear Sir

Will you let me know if Prof. Evert Julius Bonsdorff is still at Helsingfors, or is there another address?

Yours very truly

E. B. Tylor.

VIII.

University Museum, Oxford.

Dec. 2. 1892.

Dear Dr Westermarck

A little while ago the widow of J. F. McLennan gave me a photograph of him, which I thought so good that I have had it enlarged. Thinking you would like to have one I send it enclosed. Can you do a small commission for the Pitt Rivers Museum? There is no specimen of the Finnish Kantele, and if you could buy one, especially a tolerably good old one, it would be an acquisition. You would know what

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to pay for it, and how to send it over. Do not take particular trouble, but if you meet with one will you see if we can have it.

Yours very sincerely

Edward B. Tylor.

IX.

Oxford Dec. 15. 1892.

[Post card, addressed to] Dr Edward Westermarck, University, Helsingfors, Finland.

Will you kindly purchase the Kantele which the Pitt Rivers Museum will be glad to have. We shall be very glad to see you again at Oxford.

Yours sincerely

E. B. Tylor.

X.

The Museum House, Oxford
Feb. 1. 1893

Dear Dr Westermarck

Will you kindly let me know when you are coming to Oxford. Mr Im Thurn has just gone to London, and he intends to call on you, but there are two or three friends of mine here interested in primitive society whom I should like you to meet.

Believe me

Yours very sincerely

E. B. Tylor.

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XI.

The Museum House, Oxford

May 17. 1893

Dear Dr Westermarck

I am going to read a paper on Tuesday at the Anthropological Institute on the Tasmanians as representative of palæolithic man. You would be welcome. By the way have you a number of Folklore of mine?

Yours very truly

Edvard B. Tylor.

XII.

University Museum, Oxford
Dec. 15. 1893.

Dear Dr Westermarck

Thank you for the number of the Journal of Ethics. I have got Starcke's book somewhere but do not care much for it, and have never met with any quotation from it so far as I remember. It is very satisfactory that your book is being published in second edition. No doubt you will see that I am put right in the Introduction, as an unbeliever in primitive »communal marriage». I ought to have written the Introduction when the publishers asked me, though probably that by Wallace has done more to sell the book.

Have you any fresh information as to the critical problem, why should men and women avoid one another because of contiguity, and how much evidence is there of aversion to marriage among those brought up together?

Yours truly

E. B. Tylor.

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XIII.

The Athenaeum,
Pall Mall. S.W.
April 9. 1895.

Dear Prof. Westermarck

Lately I have been going carefully over your second edition, having to say something on the relation of animism to ethics. You seem to me to have strengthned several points of your position, but there is one matter which requires further attention. I have some evidence somewhere that where there is free intercourse before marriage, this must lie to a considerable extent between near relations. Among exogamous peoples, the question how far præ-marital as well as matrimonial intercourse is under exogamous rules is an interesting one. But I fear the evidendence is scanty, and that all I know of Australians etc. in this respect, and all you know, may be too little to form a judgment on. Still it is worth while to get it all together. I am just going to Holland and Denmark to see how anthropology prospers. A letter will find me at Oxford.

Yours sincerely

E. B. Tylor.

WALLACE to WESTERMARCK.

I.

Parkstone, Dorset, England
Jany. 29th. 1890.

Mr. Edward Westermarck.

Dear Sir

I thank you very much for sending me your excellent Essay on »The Origin of Human Marriage». — I have not studied the question myself, but I have long felt and believed that the theory of primitive promiscuity, of McLennan, Lubbock, Tylor and others was untrue, and I am

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very much pleased at the admirable and thorough way in which you have exposed its fallacy.

Yours facts and your arguments seem to me quite conclusive and must, I am sure, carry conviction to most persons who have not committed themselves to the opposite view.

Believe me

Yours very sincerely

Alfred R. Wallace.

II.

Decr. 4th. 1890.

Edward Westermarck, Esq.

Dear Sir

I shall be glad to read your chapter on »Sexual selection among Animals» if you think it will not be sufficient for me to read it in the proof. I shall be very glad to see you in a week or two, but at present my small house is being altered and the builders have hardly left us a room to inhabit.

Yours very truly

Alfred R. Wallace.

III.

Decr. 11th. 1890.

III.

Edw. Westermarck, Esq.

Dear Sir

I return you the first proof the of your book with only one or two verbal alterations or suggestions.

Yours truly

Alfred R. Wallace.

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IV.

Decr. 17th. 1890.

Edward Westermarck, Esq.

Dear Sir

I would rather you would put off your visit here a week or two because we have now builders in the house, most of our rooms are uninhabitable and we are altogether too full of dirt and discomfort to receive a visitor. When you come, there is a train from Waterloo Station at 8.5 am. if you would not mind starting so early: you would then reach here a little before 1 pm. and you could have lunch with us and return if you like either at 3. or 5.40 pm. reaching London at 7.40 or 9.50.

Yours very truly

Alfred Wallace.

The next morning train is at 11.15 reaching here at 3.31.

A. R. W.

V.

Febr. 6th. 1891.

Edw. Westermarck, Esq.

Dear Sir

Please do not send me 2nd. proofs of your book. It will read either the first or the second proofs, but not both. It is quite unnecessary and only confusing to me.

Believe me

Yours faithfully

Alfred R. Wallace.

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VI.

March 12th. 1891.

Edw. Westermarck, Esq.

My dear Sir

Notwithstanding your full and ingenious discussion of the origin of sexual modesty in Chap. IX and of the concealment of the organs of generation, I cannot feel quite satisfied with it. Although there are many instances among savages of perfect nudity in one or both sexes, these are, after all, very few in comparison with those in which some regular concealment by clothing occurs. This is so general that I should think nine-tenths of all savages use it. There are several considerations which place the concealment of the sexual organs in a different category from concealment by clothing of other parts of the body. Sexual union among all peoples occurs normally at night, and there are I believe no people recorded among whom it is practised openly, at all times, and with no concealment. This may have arisen partly from the helplessness againts attack of both parties, and also because the females, even of animals, require a considerable amount of solicitation or courting to obtain consent. Why this if there is no feeling that the act is different from all other acts, —a feeling of shame or modesty? Again, the erect attitude of man exposes the sexuals organs more to accidental blows or wounds, or to be seized by an enemy, and this would naturally lead to the bandaging of the penis, especially among people who did not constantly carry shields to protect the body. Even the completely naked women of the Uaupes showed great sense of modesty in their attitudes, always turning sideways on meeting a man, and when sitting, so disposing the legs as to well conceal the pudenda.

I am therefore disposed to think that a sense of sexual modesty arose in man with the erect posture, and that the comparatively few cases in which it now appears to be non-existent are perversions or reversions, and do not show the normal condition of savage man. Perhaps if you

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think over the subject from this point of view you may add a par. but I do not wish you to quote anything I have said here, which is merely a suggestion for your consideration.

Yours very faithfully

Alfred R. Wallace.

P. S. I would add that travellers are apt to exaggerate nudity or the absense of modesty and that their statements not unfrequently apply to the exception rather to the rule.

A. R. W.

VII.

March 20th. 1891.

Edw. Westermarck, Esq.

Dear Sir

Your interesting letter does not yet convince me of the correctness of your view, as to rudimentary dress (concealing the pudenda) being wholly due to desire to excite the sexual passions. I see no facts supporting it, and it seems to me improbable. However, as you have fully considered the matter, you have a right to your opinion, — but I think it would be well to give the substance of your letter to me in your book, either as text or a note. It will show you have considered the other views and have rejected them. Your short chapter on Sexual Selection is very interesting to me because as an independent reasoner I find that your views very nearly approach mine. I have made several observations in pencil on the margin, where your facts are not quite accurate.

You carry the importance of recognition even farther than I have done, and I am very glad of your support in this. But I feel sure that there is a normal production of colour in animate as in inanimate nature,

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which is modified or directed for utility but not produced by it. Else why colour in internal organs blood, bile, etc. in sightless organisms as bivalve Molluscs and in the mineral kingdom? The hair of man, — black, red or flaxen, — is certainly produced by physiological causes in correlation with other physical characters, — and is not due to utility in itself. Again the brilliancy and diversity of the warning colours of the inedible catterpillars is a strong case. As a warning of inedibility one colour for all — red or yellow or blue —, contrasting with the green or brown of edible catterpillars would have been better as being more easily learnt and recognised by insectivorous birds etc. etc. No selection or utlity is conceivable here for the diversity of brilliant colour.

With all the rest of your argument I am in full accord, and I hope you will retain the Chapter.

Yours very faithfully

Alfred R. Wallace.

VIII.

April 13th. 1891.

Dear Mr Westermarck

I think your Chapter on Sexual Selection will do very well now. I have given a few pencil notes of modifications which will I think be clearer and more accurate.

I like your discussion of the origin of universal repugnance to incest very much, and I think you have solved the problem.

Yours very truly

Alfred R. Wallace.

IX.

May 3rd. 1891.

Dear Mr. Westermarck

I think it will be very injudicious to conclude your work with so comparatively unimportant a subject as The duration of Marriage. The book

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is such a vast accumulation of facts, that few but professed Anthropological students will read it through. It is therefore very important to give in a concluding Chapter, a Summary of the facts and conclusions arrived at in the whole work. This will be the only popular part of the book, and such a Chapter is absolutely necessary in order that the Reviewers may give a reasonably fair account of your Work. It will be wery easy for you to pass in review the various subjects you have treated, stating in each case your conclusions and how they differ from those of preceeding writers, and referring to the Chapters or pages where the facts are given on which your conclusion is founded. Such a Chapter will ensure good reviews, and in all probability double the sale of the book.

You might conclude with a few general philosophical reflexions on the bearing of the whole enquiry on the future of Marriage. You might perhaps be interested to read an article of mine in the »Fortnightly Review» of September 1890 which incidentally gives my ideas on that point.

I see that a french writer has just anticipated your work. I saw the advertisement the other day, but I forget where. No doubt you have heard of it. It might be as well to refer to it, either in the concluding Chapter or in the Preface.

Yours very truly

Alfred R. Wallace.

X.

May 14th. 1891.

Edward Westermarck, Esq.

My dear Sir

I return you the last proof. I have made one or two verbal suggestions, — especially »marriage» in place of »sexual intercourse» because

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this last chapter will be the most read, and it is well to be as reticent as possible.

I enclose also a »Prefatory Note», which I suppose is something of the kind that you and Messrs Macmillan wish for.

Yours very truly

Alfred Wallace.

XI.

May 22nd. 1891.

Edw. Westermarck, Esq.

Dear Sir

I wish to inform you that I shall be from home on Monday and Tuesday next, and perhaps again at the end of the week. I shall be glad to see you on Wednesday if you can come on that day. If not then the week after.

Yours faithfully

Alfred R. Wallace.

XII.

[Postmark: Parkstone Ju. 2. 91.]

[Post card addressed to] Edward Westermarck, Esq. 15, Bedford Place, Russell Square, London W. C.

Dr. Sir

I sent revise of the introductory note to the printers marked »Press». There were no further corrections.

Yours truly

Alfred R. Wallace.

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XIII.

Jany. 20th. 1892.

Dear Mr Westermarck.

Many thanks for your letter and your kind offer to send me some views of your Scenery which will be very acceptable.

I am very glad to see that Macmillan has brought out your book in such a handsome volume, and I trust that it is selling satisfactorily and that it will, notwithstanding its peculiar subject and somewhat repulsive details bring you in a moderate return besides bare reputation.

I quite think with you that Prof. Robertson Smith's criticism is altogether erroneous, — but then he evidently has not grasped the wide-reaching principle of natural-selection as you have done. For want of this he does not see that in the case he refers to individual variations are all that are required to bring the »group» into existence, and thus his criticism that you postulate the thing to be explained falls to the ground. To naturalists the very objections of Prof. R. Smith that you assume the laws of society (as regards marriage) to be in many cases »formulated instincts» will seem the greatest merit of your book.

It is so many years since I read much of Anthropology that I made a very stupid mistake in naming Prof. E. Tylor among those who had adopted the views of McLennan etc. I have written to Macmillan to insert an »Erratum» slip in all copies on hand, and to omit his name from any reprint. I still differ from you on the sexual origin of dress. I do not know if any of your critics have touched on this. It is however not a very important matter.

Believe me

Yours very faithfully

Alfred R. Wallace.

P. S. Your facts about the Foula intermarriages are very interesting. The community being so small there can be no adequate selection, — and this would also be the case amoung the small tribes of most savages.

A. R. W.

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XIV.

Oct. 30th. 1893.

Dear Mr Westermarck

From the Maps of rain distribution in Africa in Stanford's Compendium, the dryest months in the Gorilla country seem to be January and February, and these would be probably the months of greatest fruit supply. But in the regions close to the equator there is usually so much sunshine and the rain is so equally distributed that fruits are to be found — green or ripe — all the year round.

I found the young sucking orang-utan in May, and that was about the 2nd or 3rd month of the dry season in which fruits began to be plentiful and continued so till October, as far as I remember. There were however always showers.

The great man-like apes are I think confined to these equatorial regions on account of there being both continous forest for protection and a continous fruit supply for food. Probably the low and high grounds supply fruit att different seasons. Also the swamps and the mountains.

Yours very truly

Alfred R. Wallace.


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