Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP569

Sent by:
William Ramsay
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
31 December 1911

Sent by William Ramsay, Pulteney Hotel, Bath, Somerset to Alfred Russel Wallace, [Old Orchard, Broadstone, Wimborne, Dorset] on 31 December 1911.

Record created:
01 June 2002 by Lucas, Paula J.


Re. article in the "Daily Mail", forms sent out to Fellows of the Royal Society to be signed by those discontented with the Government Insurance Bill, cannot recall receiving one back from Alfred Russel Wallace.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP569.569)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/8/98
Copyright owner:
Copyright of the William Ramsay Literary Estate.

Physical description

Transcription information






31st Decr 1911

Dear Mr. Wallace,

I continued [to] send out forms to be signed by those entrusted with our method of government to all available fellows of the Royal Society & to you with the rest. But so far as my judgment[?] goes, I received no forms returned by you. The forms are at my house, while I am in Bank[?] & I cant make some. It is quite impossible for a copyist to add a name to those on the forms, though he might easily have missed one; so if I own right in opportunity that you did not sign the writer[?] of the article [?] for the Daily Mail (which I havent seen) must [[2]] have added your name prospect[?] north[?]. Is it not sufficient if you call attraction to the mistake? I am not in the least responsible for what is printed in the Daily Mail.

Perhaps it may interest you to hear what was tried[?] one a fortnight ago by Marquis Costes[?], mayor of a small town south of Paris. There, they have "compulsory" insurance[?]. He is continually being sent official demands that he should insist on collecting the tax in his district; it appears that the forms sent out by the government are forms with no attention is provided[?] to them. He told me that he replies that he is quite without impatience[?] as mayor, & that of the govt wishes to collect the tax. They must do so at the point of the bayonet. So much for practical[ly] nothing in France. In Germany, [[3]] those servants & employees who elect to pay the tax attain[?] admission to the State Hospitals, and must people do so elect. But it is always in fast deducted from wages; so that, for instance, a German lady friend of mine pays his servants wages smaller than they used to be by the moment of the tax.

We all agree that, in general, insurance is a very good thing. But a government department is acknowledging a very expensive machine, and town[?] will not be anything but[?] so good as those attainable from any good insurance office can[?] pesting with others. The deficit will, of course, be made up out of taxation; but it is the people who are misused who will pay this deficit; because just as much as make going its own back, no taxation is distributed. After a shorter or llonger[?] period, so as to fall on the class least able to bear it.

These are the reasons, which make me opposed to the present insurance bill. I can conceive of tentative issues[?], ones having been intertwined[?], making [[4]] it so advantageous to misuse[?] that no sensible person would care not to do so; that is the sovereign [?] place. Had the govt begun by misplacing[?] actuality[?] the accounts of Building societies[?], then so as to be able to guarantee this sometimes. Had it helped the wealth[y] ones, their prosperity [1 word illeg.] might have worked. But even then, any help given from government funds would simply have come out of the prospect of the class to be helped.

In very general terms, everything have[?] to destroy individual initiative is harmful to the race[.] It is an approach to enslaving the people[.] And while I am sure that you would agree that in individual cases, slavery (to extend the use of the ward [?]) is not nearly[?] permissible but necessary (in the case of criminals) it is out of pity to partially enslave the whole race, in order to make it burden of slavery practices [?] can have on the weak or criminal notoriety.

Yours very faithfully | William Ramsay [signature]

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