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Wallace on tackling London's pollution

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Note on the Smoke Nuisance.
How is it that amid the lamentations & grumbling over the incalculable mischief done by London smoke,- masterpieces of Art ruined, palaces spoilt before they are finished, life & prosperity lost in november fogs, our streets & squares & noblest public buildings all rendered hideous, our clothes & persons begrimed & our lungs diseased,- there should be no proposals made to go to the fountain head & instead of removing out galleries & museums to a distance from those who most want them, try to get rid of the smoke itself. When the thing is once done, when our city is clean our skies bright our air pure our linen unsoiled & our works of art uninjured, we shall be almost <………..> incredulous that such a state of apathy and barbarism could ever have existed. The thing can easily be done;- it is a mere matter of cost, & the expense of rendering each house in London smokeless it is not very difficult to calculate * We have the choice of gas, anthracite coal, or of substituting Amotts or any other smokeless grates & cooking ranges for those now in use, either of which if not absolutely <……..>perfect would certainly get rid of nine tenths of the smoke now produced, & would probably soon repay the expense of the change in the saving of fuels. What hardship, what impossibility  *The factories have been <….> parliamentarised but the million domestic hearths are at once more mischievous & easier to deal with  what interference with vested rights would there be in compelling by Act of Parliament the use of one or other of these methods, any more than in compelling chimneys to be swept at certain intervals or houses to be built of a certain stability? Why, the mere saving in soap & linen would cover the expense in a few years, to say nothing of the incalculable natural & sanitary advantages already alluded to.  If the Athenaeum & the Times would vigorously take up the question we might yet see our noble city not only the largest & the wealthiest but the cleanest & the healthiest in the world.
[signed]                                       Alfred R. Wallace


Batchian, Moluccas. Nov. 1858
How they manage matters in the Model Republic. Extract from a letter from California. "I must tell you that a friend of mine Mr. Mandeville has been appointed by the President to the office of the U.S. Surveyor General for the State of California. You will probably imagine that in a Model Republic like that of the United States an office of this kind would be filled by a person well qualified in every respect for such an important post; but the fact is Mr. Mandeville knows nothing either theoretically or practically of surveying,- has not even the remotest idea of the first principles; but there he has been as active politician & is on the winning side. This is the way all appointments to offices are made in this Country, no questions as to qualification asked, & no "right-man-in-the-right-place" cry raised. The principle seems to be "to the victors belong the spoils," and an active man of the right party is considered to be well qualified for any office!"

 ['envelope' addressed G.C. Silk]

via Southampton

    G.C. Silk Esq.
          79. Pall Mall
         London W.C.



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Letter to Alfred Russel Wallace from the Royal Society, about his Darwin Medal award

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