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Record number: WCP3783

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Lester Frank Ward
21 November 1893

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Corfe View, Parkstone, Dorset to Lester Frank Ward [none given] on 21 November 1893.

Record created:
06 February 2013 by Catchpole, Caroline


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Stern, Bernhard J. (1935). Letters of Alfred Russel Wallace to Lester F. Ward. The Scientific Monthly, 40: 375-379. [p. 378-379]

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[[1]]1 [p. 378]

Parkstone, Dorset, November 21, 1893

Many thanks for sending me your new book--The Psychic Factors of Civilization. I have read the third part through, carefully, & think your exposition of the scientific character of Socialism as opposed to Herbert Spencer's Individualism exceedingly forcible, and calculated to do much good. I have also looked through & read a good deal of the first & second parts, which however being so purely psychological does not interest me so much. Chapter XVII on Social Friction is however an exception, & seems rather out of place, & would come better in the 3rd part. If these were embodied together, with a good deal more of concrete illustration, it would form an excellent work on the Scientific Basis of Socialism which would have great value as a weapon against the individualist school, and would enlighten many who are now blinded by the prestige of Spencer & the Political Economists. The greater part of your book is so purely philosophical and it is so difficult to see the bearing of several of the chapters on Social reform, that I fear it will not reach beyond students of philosophy & psychology, & thus have less influence than it deserves to have in shaping public opinion as to the true method of political and Social advance.

No doubt we are advancing on the very lines you point out as the true ones, but only empirically, and so much in the very teeth of the popular political economy that politicians only give way to it as a concession to the demands of the populace. I think I shall try to make known your doctrine in the form of a popular review article, though it will be a difficult job.

How dreadfully Herbert Spencer has fallen off in his Justice. Parts of it are so weak and [[2]] [p. 379] illogical as to be absolutely childish. You have no doubt seen H. George's severe criticism of it.


1. Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Third of five letters from Wallace to Ward sent over an eleven year period, which were published in a note by Bernhard J. Stern printed in the April 1935 issue of The Scientific Monthly.


This transcript originates from Charles H. Smith’s The Alfred Russel Wallace Page website (http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/index1.htm): See http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S710.htm

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