Skip to page content

Wallace's views on militarism and seances

Full transcription


                                        Parkstone, Dorset.
                                  Nov[embe]r. 20th. 1898

My dear Violet

The enclosed letter from Will came today, and as it was 4 days later than ours we opened it to have the last news. He had just got his log hut when he wrote to us & it has gone to Hurst. I ordered the book for you immediately & it was sent, but what you want to read books on "German Pedagogy" for, when you have the thing itself to study, "all alive and growing", I cannot quite see. I should have thought reading any book, newspapers, & magazines (I suppose there are German mag[azine]s.) would have been more useful to a beginner. I also ordered the Tea Merchants - Moose Brothers - to send you their Foreign List for tea, sent carriage & duty paid, so Frau rector will[page 2]be able to order some herself next time. What we have is the best mixed Ceylon and China tea.

I have just finished reading - "The Cross Roads" - by F. Montresor - a very interesting and well written story, and am now just beginning - "On the Face of the Waters" -

Some time back the Ed. of a Paris paper called "L'Humanité Nouvelle", sent me 4 questions, as to the causes and evils of War and Militarism, and the best and most effective Remedies - I have at length found time to write a short article on the subject, and am now copying in it out to send, and I suppose they will translate it as it will be published with a lot of others in French & Italian. I really bring in Socialism indirectly, as I maintain that the fundamental cause of War is the existence and almost absolute power of Ruling and Military Classes, to whom War brings profit, power, excitement, and the means of ever increasing their power and finding places for their friends& relatives. Then I admit that there is good as well as evil in Militarism, and show that the good arises from the organisation, the training, the cooperation, the brotherly life, and the Espirit-de-corps, & point out that all these good effects arise not from the fighting but from the preparation for all that work done by the soldier, and that the same good effects on character would arise from an equally effective industrial organisation, - whose purpose & ultimate effects would be as completely good as those of war are completely bad! I think that is a good and rather new argument for Socialism!   

Miss Chant with Miss. Comber & her niece, are having weekly séances, & have already got the table to tip, and move, and roll about and fall over, and they are very much astonished. Also they have had words and sentences spelt out by a wine glass on which they put their fingers with the letters of the A.B.C. placed all round it, and it was towards each letter even when they do not look at them and once when the letters were placed face-downwards!   The Nietsche [sic] member of the E.& S. was not amusing, but interesting as giving us an account of N[ietzsch]e. & his own writings. You can't have all plum cake! There has been nothing in the paper lately of interest. When there is I will send one, and a "Clarion" or something. You have not told us a word of what Mr. Ackland is like, what he has come for &c. &c. Illuminate us!         

Your affectionate Pa
[signed]            Alfred R. Wallace



Go back

Search this collection
Contact us

For enquiries about the Wallace Collection please email the library

Wallace Letters Online

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

View high resolution scans and transcripts of Alfred Russel Wallace's correspondence, including all surviving letters between him and Charles Darwin.

Explore Wallace's correspondence