RECORD: S711a. Wallace, A. R. 1904-06. Letters [to Sydney Carlyle Cockerell, ca. 1904-1906]. In: Cockerell, S.C. & Meynell, Viola. 1940. Friends of a lifetime: letters to Sydney Carlyle Cockerell. London: J. Cape, pp. 210-212.

REVISION HISTORY: Body text helpfully provided by Charles H. Smith from his Alfred Russel Wallace Page http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S711A.htm


[page] 210

ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE, F.R.S.
1823-1913
Naturalist, traveller, sociologist. Along with Darwin in 1859 propounded the theory of Natural Selection.

Broadstone, Wimborne
Aug.
21st, 1904

Dear Mr. Cockerell,

Many thanks for Tolstoy's latest, which I shall read with intense interest. I am just now reading Robert Owen's Autobiography. What a marvellous man he was! A most clear-seeing Socialist and educator ages before his time, as well as one of the most wonderful organisers the world has seen. Both this, and his son's—R. Dale Owen's—Threading my Way are intensely interesting. One only regrets that neither was completed.

Believe me
Yours very truly
Alfred R. Wallace

*                 *                 *

Broadstone, Wimborne
Aug. 23rd, 1904

Please give me Mr. John Burns' address. I want some of Owen's works not in the London Library. I go even further and consider Owen one of the best as well as one of the greatest men of the 19th century, an almost ideally perfect character, but too far in advance of his time. He was my first introducer to mental philosophy and social reform. I heard him speak once.

A. R. W.

*                 *                 *

[page] 211

Broadstone, Wimborne
Dec. 17th, 1905

Dear Mr. Cockerell

Many thanks for your very kind present of Kropotkin's Life.1 I have begun reading it with very great pleasure. His early life—its childhood I mean—allowing for immense difference of rank, wealth and country—was, in essentials (education, play, &c) not unlike my own, and affords another indication of how wonderfully alike is human nature under all external changes.

I am also reading with great delight that wonderfully clever, entertaining and deeply instructive book No 5 John Street by Whiteing. Never have I seen the contrasts of wealth and poverty in London portrayed with such insight and intensity. Perhaps you know the author.

Yours very sincerely
Alfred R. Wallace

*                 *                 *

Broadstone, Wimborne
Jan. 15th, 1906

Dear Mr. Cockerell,

I have now finished reading Kropotkin's Life with very great interest, especially for the light it throws on the present condition of Russia. It also brings out clearly some very fine aspects of the Russian character, and the horrible despotism to which they are still subject, equivalent to that of the days of the Bastille and the system of 'Lettres de cachet' before the great Revolution in France. It seems to me probable that under happier conditions—perhaps in the not distant future—Russia may become the most advanced instead of the most backward in civilisation—a real leader among nations, not in war or conquest but in social reform.

I did not write much to Kropotkin about his Mutual Aid because although the book is very interesting and instructive in bringing together the numerous cases in which animals help

1 Prince Peter Alexeivitch Kropotkin. Memoirs of a Revolutionist, 1900.

[page] 212

each other, yet I consider he is quite wrong in his conclusion that this at all affects the question of the severe struggle for existence. This is due to his want of practical knowledge of the facts of variation and multiplication in animals, and also to his not having fully grasped the varied modes in which the struggle acts—He talks of the millions killed by storms, floods &c. as leaving so few that there is no further struggle,—not seeing that all such causes are part of the 'struggle'. He even states, as his conclusion, that in many cases there is 'no competition'! I have noted a large number of cases in which he shows want of appreciation of the actual mode of evolution by natural selection.

Yours very truly
Alfred R. Wallace


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