By Alfred Russel Wallace. Macmillan. 1900. 2 vols. 8vo, pp. 541 and 543. With
CSP, identification: Haskell, Index to The Nation. See also: Burks, Bibliography; List of
Articles; MSS L 159.171, L 159.173-174.
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.
A poor reviewer needs to summon all his professional omniscience to comment upon fifty-two discussions with such a range as these; but he can plead the stern exigencies of space as a reason for only noticing a few of them. The seventh essay gives a remarkably luminous and distinct popular account of the different families of monkeys. The reader is disposed to wonder what set Alfred Russel Wallace writing such indisputable matter; but he finds out what it was when, the description being done, in reviewing the order, he pronounces monkeys to be rather low down in the scale of quadrupedal life, both physically and mentally. He still acknowledges that man is the crown of the animal kingdom in both respects. One of these days, perhaps, there will come a writer of opinions less humdrum than those of Dr. Wallace, and less in awe of the learned and official world—for why is not this as supposable as a fourth dimension of space?—who will argue, like a new Bernard Mandeville, that man is but a degenerate monkey, with a paranoiac talent for selfsatisfaction, no matter what scrapes he may get himself into, calling them "civilization," and who, in place of the unerring instincts of other races, has an unhappy