Wallace Letters Online

Share this:

Record number: WCP3781

Add to My list
Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Lester Frank Ward
On:
12 October 1898

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Corfe View, Parkstone, Dorset to Lester Frank Ward [none given] on 12 October 1898.

Record created:
02 February 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline

Summary

No summary available at this time.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)
  • publication (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP3781.3695)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
John Hay Library, Brown University
Finding number:
Ms. 90.23, Series I, Subseries E
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information

View:

Transcript

[[1]]

Parkstone, Dorset.

Oct.[obe]r 12th. 1898

My dear Mr. Lester Ward1

I should have acknowledged your "Outlines of Sociology"2 long ago, but I was busy bringing out my own book, and with discussion & correspondence on the Vaccination question. I read most of the chapters of your book in the copies of the original papers which you were so good as to send me, but I am glad to have the connected whole, which contains I think some of the best things on Sociology you have written. Never was sound teaching on the subject more wanted, and wise legislation, if we are not to be soon plunged into a revolution. I have been reading with great interest Mr. Wyckoff's3 papers4 on the Workers in Scribner's Magazine [[2]] and I ask myself how much longer will men continue to work at their highest tension for a bare supply of necessaries and with no prospect of rest and comfort in old age? And even to get work at all, on these terms, becomes increasingly difficult. The whole miserable system -- or want of system -- has oft also been brought more vividly before me by my son's5 experience in America where he has now been a year and a half. He has had the best education I could give him in Electrical Engineering -- 3 years in College and 3 years in the workshops & at various jobs. So far, in America, he has been able to get nothing but labourer's or livener's work at moderate wages, [[3]] but the bosses always keep them at high pressure for nine hours a day, after which they are of course not fit for much but eating & sleeping. He enjoys the work greatly, being young & strong, especially as it has enabled him to see already a good deal of the country & people. He & a friend who went out with him worked their way, mainly bicycling, from Boston through the Adirondacks to Niagara, Chicago, and to Denver, and they want to go across to California if they can manage it. He is a thorough Socialist and makes friends with most of the men he works with; but after a job, they often have weeks or months of idleness [[4]] before they get another. What a terrible thing it is that under the present social system, the vast majority of workers, however steady and well educated, have, and can have, no prospect but a life of toil and an old age of poverty or worse -- and this when the work actually done, if properly organised, would provide not only necessaries but comforts for all, with ample leisure and a restful old age. Surely the coming century must see the end of the existing system of cut-throat competition, and wealth production based on the misery & starvation of the millions!

With best wishes | Yours very truly | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

ENDNOTES

1. Lester Frank Ward (1841-1913), American botanist and sociologist, and 1st president of the American Sociological Association.

2. LF Ward, 1899, Outlines of Sociology.

3. Walter A. Wyckoff (1865-1908), lecturer in sociology at Princeton University.

4. WA Wyckoff, 1898, "The Workers," Scribner.

5. William Greenell Wallace (1871-1951), son of Alfred Russel Wallace.

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.