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Record number: WCP5093

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Pieter Johannes Veth
28 December 1870

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Holly House, Tanner Street, Barking, E. to Pieter Johannes Veth [none given] on 28 December 1870.

Record created:
21 February 2013 by Catchpole, Caroline


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  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP5093.5572)

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

Held by:
Leiden University Library
Finding number:
ms. BPL 1757
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Holly House, Barking, Essex


Dec[embe]r. 28th. 1870

Dear Sir

I should have written before to thank you for your present of the 1st. volume of Your translation of my book on the "Malay Archipelago", but I have been waiting to get a translation made of some of your notes, and have only just now succeeded in doing so.

I find in them some corrections of matters of fact, for which I am obliged; but in matters of opinion regarding government &c. I cannot say that I find any proof that I am wrong.

I do not for a moment suppose that the the[sic] Dutch government of the Indies is perfect. No European government is so, [[2]] and the government of an inferior race by a superior one must always be[?] a choice of evils. I believe, however, that the principle of the Dutch Colonial system (as it was when I saw it) is good, -- the practice may no doubt be greatly improved. If, because of the evils in the practice, the system is now altered to one of perfect free trade, I feel sure from a long observation of uncivilized races in many tropical countries that the result will be deterioration, both in civilization and morals.

I believe, also, that the present system is good only for a time. [[3]] It will require to be gradually modified as education advances, & ultimately, perfect freedom may & must be given: But to give it too soon, and expose the native to the whole force of European Competition, and all the temptations of unlimited advances of goods opium and arrack, (which are always made under free trade in the East) will be to ruin their character and impoverish the Country.

Thanking you for the Compliment you have done [[4]] me in publishing a translation of my book in so handsome a form

I remain D[ea]r Sir

Yours very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

Professor P. J. Veth1


1. Pieter Johannes Veth (1814-1895), a Dutch professor of geography and ethnology.

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