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Record number: WCP5387

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Herbert George Wells
6 March 1907

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Old Orchard, Broadstone, Wimborne, Dorset to Herbert George Wells [none given] on 6 March 1907.

Record created:
18 July 2013 by Catchpole, Caroline


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LETTER (WCP5387.6097)

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

Held by:
Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Finding number:
H.G. Wells Collection: Correspondence, W-039
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Broadstone, Wimborne

March 6th. 1907

Dear Mr. Wells

Thanks for the copy of your booklet on "Boots". I read it in the "Independent" with great pleasure & have now read it again. I am of course delighted with your bold & open adoption of Socialism-- the hated name & all! but, I do not think it either politic or necessary to take any ones property wholesale. It excites great antagonism among some (perhaps many) who would accept milder, but equally effective measures.

I say to such people-- we do not propose to take away the property of any living individual (except in the way [[2]] of reasonable legal taxation) but, having satisfied ourselves of the inherent & terrible evils of the present system, we refuse to continue it one day beyond the lives of the actual present owners of it, and their direct living heirs of full age who have been brought up in expectation of it, & have no other means of living. In other words we recognise no legal property-rights in the unborn and we therefore abolish all inheritance of accumulated wealth, making the State (the community) universal legate.

Now, considering that property owners are dying every day in the year, such an act would bring in funds to be dealt with quite as quickly as it would be possible to use them efficiently. Both land & other kinds of property [[3]] would fall I, gradually at first afterwards more rapidly, just in proportion as the State became able to deal with it properly. Of course long before this method can is likely to be adopted, progressive Income-tax & Death duties, so graduated as to absorb the whole of both incomes & properties above a certain fixed maximum-- say £20,000 a year income and half a Million of property to be begin with-- but which maxima might be lowered as soon as more was wanted-- would have abolished all the more cruel evils of the private-property system, & given us time to gain experience in the necessary steps & modes of [[4]] organisation.

To me it seems very important to show that we do no propose and do not need to take away the property of any living person. I explained it this view somewhat fully in my Studies Scientific & Social (v.II. Ch. XXVIII.) and founded it mainly on H. Spencer’s "Law of Social Justice."

I wish Socialist thinkers would take it up because not only is it founded on an irrefutable principle but it also seems to me to be in the line of least resistance.

Thanking you for the great work you are doing.

Believe me | Yours very sincerely | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

H.G. Wells Esq.

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