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O.M., D.C.L.Oxon., F.R.S., Etc. 

Author of "Social Environment and Moral Progress, 
"Natural Selection," "Man's Place in the 
Universe," "Darwinism," Etc. 







^■. i 





Life Story of the Author . . vii 


1. Introductory ..... i 

2. The Dawn of a New Era . . 7 

3. The Lesson of the Strikes . . 11 

\ 4. What the Workers Claim and Must 

^ Have ' 14 

5. A Government's Duty ... 22 

6. Popular Objections, and Replies to 

Them 35 

7. The Problem of Wages ... 40 

\ 8. Self-Supporting Work the Remedy 

J^ FOR Unemployment ... 53 

9. The Economies of Co-ordinated 

Labour ..... 60 

10. The Effect of High Wages upon 

Foreign Trade .... 68 

11. The Rational Solution of the 

Labour Problem .... 74 

The Life Story of the Author 

Like a watchman on a lonely tower, with keen 
vision and responsive mind and heart, Alfred 
Russel Wallace has observed more change and 
development of scientific and social opinion 
and a higher advance of the tide of knowledge 
across the shores of human speculation and 
ignorance than any living scientist. Yet, unlike 
that solitary watchman, he himself has been, 
and is, an active pioneer of scientific revelation. 
For a long time he was the voice of a system of 
truths so far ahead of the attainments of his 
generation that to his contemporaries much of 
his teaching seemed rank heresy and almost 
blasphemy ; but, like a true prophet, he has 
had not only the patience but the opportunity 
given him to see most of his discoveries and his 
teachings incorporated into the stately palace of 

When he was born in 1823, our world, as 
we know it to-day (a composite thing of 
multitudinous energies thirled to the service 
and utility of mankind) had scarcely come 
into existence. He has seen the formidable 

The Life Story of the Author 

and mysterious powers of electricity en- 
slaved to the service of the ordinary affairs 
of daily life, and has watched with glowing 
interest the coming of the motor-car and the 
flying machine. He has lived under five British 
sovereigns, has witnessed the spread and deve- 
lopment of railways, and the adoption of steam 
for navigation, the supersession of the wooden 
walls by the steel bulwarks of Britannia, and 
other changes beyond record in the practical 
application of scientific discoveries, "When he 
was a boy, photography was a plaything, the 
electric telegraph a mere experiment, the penny 
post unknown, the newspaper a luxury of the 
few, the material world, as a whole, a vast and 
impenetrable wilderness, continent separated 
from continent by wide-stretching seas, traversed 
only by daring spirits. 

He has seen the material world of mere 
geography shrink till now it can be girdled by the 
commonest message in a matter of minutes ; he 
has seen the newspaper in every home, the 
simplest word of love carried the whole empire 
over for one penny, the criminal and the out- 
cast treated more like sinners to be redeemed 
who are often " more sinned against than 

To have seen so much is to make any man 
a centre of human interest. To hear the now 
aged naturalist tell of what his life has been 
awakens vivid response even in the heart of the 

The Life Story of the Author 

most apathetic. But to know that all the while 
he was no shirker in life's upward march, but 
himself a profound thinker, a ceaseless searcher, 
a sagacious discoverer, and that most of his 
theories and opinions, which had been scouted 
by thinkers for many years, are now sound 
and current coin in the treasure-house of true 
science, is gratefully to acknowledge him as 
one of the greatest sons of his age and a shining 
benefactor for all time. 

His father, Thomas Vere Wallace, a briefless 
lawyer, was also an experimenter. He had a 
family of nine children. It was little satisfac- 
tion that the number of the Muses was the same, 
for the Muses were not confronted by the prob- 
lem of bread-and-butter which perturbs a human 
family. He was not of a practical turn of mind, 
and his private income was not sufficient to 
provide for the necessities of his children. But 
he was a man of literary taste, and he embarked 
upon a venture of a very speculative nature, 
namely the publication of an Art Magazine, 
which wellnigh exhausted what means he still 
possessed. He therefore had to leave London, 
and transferred his household goods and gods 
to the town of Usk in Monmouthshire, where 
he tried the new experiment of economy. Here 
Alfred, the last but one of the nine, was born, 
and here he spent the first four years of his life, 
with no need to go outside of his own house for 
a plentiful supply of playmates. In 1828 the 

The Life Story of the Author 

family made another move — to Hertford — and 
there they remained for about nine years. At 
the grammar school of that provincial town 
young Wallace received the only regular edu- 
cation, in the popular acceptance of the term, 
which was to be the basis of his wider intel- 
lectual development. 

With him it is different than with most men 
of note, for his contemporaries, having all now 
passed into the greater silence, there is no source 
of anecdotal reminiscence and estimate of his 
boyhood left, except his own memory. It is 
always of pleasing interest to know what a 
boy's comrades thought of him, what he did or 
said to make the keen critics of the schoolroom 
or the playground take note of him, and wherein, 
if anywhere, he differed from his fellows. One 
thing, at any rate, is certain : the mode of formal 
instruction under the shadow of which he passed, 
in those swift enough years at the Hertford 
Grammar School, was not of a sort to benefit 
deeply such a mind as his. Geography was a 
list of towns and rivers ; history little more 
than tables of dates, all to be learned by rote, 
without regard to the causal origins of such a 
thing as a country, a kingdom, a river, or 
the achievement of human effort which gave 
memorableness to the figures of a calendar. To 
such a youth, who no doubt from the first 
looked over the shoulder of to-day back into the 
misty yesterdays out of which to-day emerges. 

The Life Story of the Author 

asking the Why as anxiously as the What 
of things, this schooling must have been very 
unsatisfying. As he himself says, " The labour 
and mental effort to one who, like myself, has 
little verbal memory was very painful ; and 
though the result has been a somewhat useful 
acquisition during life, I cannot but think that 
the same amount of mental exertion, wisely 
directed, might have produced far greater and 
more generally useful results." It was also most 
natural that the eclectic method of historical 
study should have most strongly appealed to 
him, so that he can say, " Whatever little know- 
ledge of history I have ever acquired has been 
derived more from Shakespeare's plays and from 
good historical novels than from anything I 
learned at school," 

To watch men and women who thought, toiled, 
and achieved, rough-hewing life's obstacles into 
instruments of life's victories, is of greater 
moment than reading tombstone records or having 
one's name written up on a schoolroom slate. 
The method of visualised humanities, breath- 
ing, living and doing, is ages in advance of that 
which thinks of history as being mainly great 
men sitting in their bones in an anatomical 
museum, labelled " History." Latin grammar, 
and, in the higher classes, Latin translation — 
these were the subjects chiefly taught. 

But Wallace's life was, fortunately, inde- 
pendent of, and lifted out of such a cramping 

The Life Story of the Author 

environment by other circumstances, which such 
narrow schemes could not control. His father was 
a book-lover and belonged to a book club, and 
the soul of the lad was enriched by a constantly 
flowing stream of suggestive and elevating litera- 
ture. A bookman's home is the best of universi- 
ties. His father frequently read aloud in the 
evenings from such books as Mungo Park's 
" African Travels," along with those of Denham 
and Clapperton. Then there was the sunshine 
that scintillates through Hood's " Comic Annual," 
and the grave and gay of " Gulliver's Travels " 
and of " Robinson Crusoe," and the deep-toned 
gravity and humour, with knowledge of the 
human heart unparalleled, in " The Pilgrim's 
Progress." Thus the companionship and wisdom 
of such creations of human genius enlightened 
the ready mind of the growing youth by the 
evening fire of that Hertford home. His father 
for some part of his residence in Hertford was 
librarian of the town library, and there, in the 
quickening presence of books, young Wallace 
spent many of his leisure hours. 

When he left school, at the age of fourteen, 
he stayed for a short time with his elder brother 
John, who was at that time apprenticed to a 
builder in London. It was at this period that 
he first came in contact with people of advanced 
political and religious opinions, and read such 
works as Paine's " Age of Reason." He also 
met followers of Robert Owen, the founder of 

The Life Story of the Author 

the Socialist movement in England. Robert 
Owen's fundamental principle was that the 
character of every individual was formed for 
him, and not hy himself : first, by heredity, 
which gives him his mental disposition with all 
its powers and tendencies, its good and bad 
qualities ; and, secondly, by environment, includ- 
ing education and surroundings from earliest 
infancy, which always modify the original 
character for better or for worse. 

Young Wallace, whose upbringing had been 
strictly orthodox, was greatly impressed by these 
doctrines ; and the ideas they inspired, though 
latent for fifty years, no doubt largely influ- 
enced his thoughts and his writings when he 
ultimately turned his attention from purely 
scientific to social and political subjects. 

After a stay of a few months in London he 
joined his eldest brother William, who was a 
surveyor ; and for the next four years (1837 to 
1841) they were occupied together in surveying 
in the counties of Bedfordshire, Herefordshire, 
Radnorshire, and Brecknockshire. Some of this 
work was in connection with the various Enclo- 
sure Acts, by which the landlords obtained powers 
to enclose waste lands and commons, under the 
pretext of bringing them into cultivation. The 
result of these measures was that the cottagers 
were deprived of the means of keeping their few 
cattle, pigs, or ponies, while the enclosed land 
was often not cultivated at all, or, in the course 

The Life Story of the Author 

of time was converted into building land or into 
game preserves, so that the intention of the 
Acts of Parliament was ignored, and the poor 
people were driven to the towns, where, unfit to 
compete, they sank into the deeper poverty 
of slumdom. 

Some of the surveys had to do with new 
railways which were being projected all over 
the country at that time, many of them doomed 
never to come into being, and many being mere 
clap - trap schemes of money - sucking adven- 

It was owing to this open-air life, with plenty 
of leisure amidst beautiful country, that Wallace's 
observant mind was drawn into loving observa- 
tion, which developed into more than companion- 
ship with the flowers and insects which every- 
where abounded in such vast variety. 

From such close interest he soon passed on to 
a serious study, in pursuit of which he com- 
menced to form a scientific collection of the 
wild flowers and the insects he met with. 

During his residence in Neath in 1841 he 
began to extend his knowledge in physics, astro- 
nomy, and phrenology, that half-blind groping 
after a greater science, taking advantage of 
popular lectures on those subjects and of such 
books as he could obtain. 

In 1843 his father died, and in the following 
year there being then little in the way of surveying 
to do, Wallace obtained a situation as drawing- 

The Life Story of the Author 

master at the Collegiate School at Leicester, His 
two years' residence in this town was to have 
an important influence upon his future career, 
for it was here that he first met Henry Walter 
Bates, with whom he commenced his tropical 
travels four years later — so momentous not only 
for himself, but for the world. It was here also 
that he read Malthus's " Principles of Popula- 
tion." This pioneer work, after his long study 
and observation of tropical fauna, supplied the 
inspiration which clinched the theory of evolution 
he originated in 1858. 

At this time one other important event hap- 
pened which was to influence his ideas in later 
years, namely, a demonstration of the pheno- 
menon of mesmerism, which interested him so 
much that he practised, and eventually suc- 
ceeded in mesmerising some of his pupils. 

After remaining in Leicester for two years, 
Wallace returned to Neath, where he and his 
brother John started in business as architects 
and builders. Hither they brought their mother 
and sister to live with them. 

He was now twenty-three years of age, and 
over six feet tall. He had acquired a large store 
of varied knowledge, and made his first appearance 
as a lecturer. He delivered a series of expositions 
of scientific subjects, dealing mainly with physics, 
at the Neath Mechanics' Institute, the building 
which he and his brother had designed and 
supervised. He also made his first essays at 

The Life Story of the Author 

literature, and wrote papers on botany and on 
the Welsh peasantry. 

His letters of this period throw an interesting 
light not only upon his own thoughts but upon 
the problems which were occupying the minds 
of scientific thinkers. He refers to the writings 
of Lyell, and to Darwin's " Journal of a 
Naturalist," Humboldt's " Personal Narrative," 
" The Vestiges of Creation," and Lawrence's 
" Lectures on Man." In a letter to Mr. Bates, 
dated 1847, he writes : 

" I begin to feel rather dissatisfied with a 
mere local collection ; little is to be learnt by it. 
I should like to take one family, to study tho- 
roughly, principally with a view to the theory of 
the origin of species. By that means I am strongly 
of opinion that some definite results might be 
arrived at." Eleven years later he gave to the 
world those " definite results " of his study in 
the theory of " Evolution by the Survival of the 

Bates and Wallace finally decided to go to 
the tropics to study the birds and insects, and 
to support themselves by their collections. They, 
therefore, sailed from Liverpool in April, 1848, 
in a barque of one hundred and ninety-two tons, 
and arrived in Para after a voyage of twenty-nine 

The four-and-a-half years which Wallace spent 
in South America have been fully described in his 
" Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro." In 

The Life Story of the Author 

a letter describing his impressions of the tropics 
he wrote : 

" There is one natural feature of this country 
the interest and grandeur of which may be fully 
appreciated in a single walk ; it is the ' virgin 
forest.' Here no one who has any feeling of the 
magnificent and the sublime can be disappointed ; 
the sombre shade scarce illumined by a single 
direct ray even of the tropical sun, the enormous 
size and height of the trees, most of which rise 
like huge columns a hundred feet or more without 
throwing out a single branch, the strange buttresses 
around the base of some, the spiney or furrowed 
stems of others, the curious and even extra- 
ordinary creepers and climbers which wind around 
them, hanging in long festoons from branch to 
branch, sometimes curling and twisting on the 
ground like great serpents, then mounting to the 
very tops of the trees, thence throwing down 
roots and fibres which hang waving in the air or, 
twisting round each other, form ropes and cables 
of every variety of size and often of most perfect 
regularity. These and many other novel features 
— the parasitic plants growing on the trunks and 
branches, the wonderful variety of foliage, the 
strange fruits and seeds that lie rotting on the 
ground — taken altogether surpass description and 
produce feelings in the beholder of admiration and 
awe. It is here, too, that the rarest birds, the 
most lovely insects and the most interesting 
mammals and reptiles are to be found. Here 

The Life Story of the Author 

lurk the jaguar and the boa-constrictor, and here 
amidst the densest shade the bell-bird tolls his 

He also relates his " unexpected sensation of 
surprise and delight " when he first met and lived 
with man in a state of nature — ^with absolutely 
uncontaminated savages. The wild Indians of 
the Uaupes were different from any he had 
previously met during two years' wanderings. 

" They had nothing that we call clothes ; 
they had peculiar ornaments, tribal marks, etc., 
they all carried weapons or tools of their own 
manufacture ; they were living in a large house, 
many families together, quite unlike the hut of 
the tame Indians ; but more than all their whole 
aspect and manner were different — they were all 
going about their own work or pleasure which had 
nothing to do with white men or their ways, they 
walked with the free step of the forest dweller, 
and except the few who were known to my com- 
panions, paid no attention whatever to us, mere 
strangers of an alien race. In every detail they 
were original and self-sustaining, as are the wild 
animals of the forests, absolutely independent of 
civilisation, and who could and did live their own 
lives in their own way as they had done for 
countless generations before America was dis- 
covered. I could not have believed there could 
be so much difference in the aspect of the same 
people in their native state and when living under 
European supervision. The true denizens of the 

The Life Story of the Author 

Amazonian forest, like the forest itself, are unique 
and not to be forgotten." 

Amidst such scenes and among such people 
Wallace spent four-and-a-half years, often under- 
going many hardships, exploring regions not 
before visited by white men ; all the time collect- 
ing and studying the varied forms of life with 
which the forest glades and river banks abounded. 
He journeyed for many thousand miles in canoes 
on the great rivers, taking observations with 
sextant and compass of the courses of the Rio 
Negro and of the Uaupes which formed the basis 
for the first reliable map of those hitherto little 
known waterways. 

His voyage home from Para in 1852 was both 
adventurous and disastrous. After having been 
at sea a week, the ship caught fire, and all hands 
had to take to the boats. The vessel, with all 
its cargo — including Wallace's collections, and 
most of his notes and journals — ^was completely 
destroyed, and the crew, with only their clothes 
and a small quantity of provisions, were tossed 
about in the middle of the Atlantic in two small 
boats for ten days. And when at last they were 
picked up by a passing vessel their danger and 
troubles were not yet over, for the ship on 
which they found themselves was very unsea- 
worthy, and they encountered such violent storms 
that no one expected to reach land. His com- 
panions often wished themselves back in their 
open boats as being safer than the rotten and 

The Life Story of the Author 

overloaded vessel they were on. To add to their 
discomfort the ship was short of provisions, so 
that they had to endure semi-starvation during 
the rest of their tedious journey. 

After eighty-two days at sea Wallace at last 
landed at Deal, with only the clothes he stood 
in, and a few sketches of palm trees and of fishes 
which he had saved out of the wreckage of so 
many hopes and labours. The valuable collec- 
tion of four years' toil, the immediate results of 
patiently acquired knowledge, with the notes and 
journals of the greater part of his wanderings, 
were irretrievably lost. One can, without much 
imagination, picture his feelings under such a 
crushing blow. Luckily, through the foresight 
of his agent in London, his collections had been 
insured for a small amount, so that his losses 
financially were not so complete as he at first had 
feared ; yet no monetary recompense could ever 
make up for the loss of the material and the 
records of his arduous exploration and research. 
Soon after his return, with the aid of such 
scanty notes as he had saved, and the letters 
which he had sent home, he commenced to write 
the story of his travels, which was published in 
1853. He also published an account of the palm 
trees of the Amazon, with illustrations from his 
own sketches. 

In 1854 he again left Britain, and, travelling east- 
wards, arrived in Singapore, where he was to begin 
his eight years' wanderings amongst the islands 

The Life Story of the Author 

of the Malay Archipelago, an account of which 
is recorded in his most popular work of that name. 

It was while staying in Sarawak, in 1855 — 
where he became intimately acquainted with the 
celebrated Rajah Brooke — that he wrote his first 
article on the question of the Origin of Species. At 
that time, however, he had not grasped the com- 
plete solution of the problem. It was not till 1858, 
when at Ternate, suffering from an attack of fever, 
that, pondering over the subject, and recollecting 
Malthus's writings, the modus operandi of evolu- 
tion flashed with creative vividness upon his 
mind, resulting in the paper which, together with 
Darwin's contribution, was to startle the scientific 
and religious worlds, and set ablaze the fires of a 
controversy which burned fbr many years, ere 
the doctrine of " survival of the fittest " was 
finally accepted by the world at large. 

Wallace sent his paper to Charles Darwin, 
with whom he had corresponded about the 
previous article. Darwin, as the result of long 
and laborious study, had already arrived at the 
same conclusions, and had even taken his friends 
Lyell and Hooker into his confidence ; but in 
spite of their advice and their fears that he might 
be forestalled, he wished to collect still more 
evidence to support his theory before making it 
public. On receiving Wallace's paper he wrote 
to Sir Charles Lyell : " Your words have come 
true with a vengeance — that I should be fore- 
stalled. I never saw a more striking coincidence." 

The Life Story of the Author 

Darwin who had already written a large part 
of a book dealing with his conclusions, was natur- 
ally much troubled as to what he should do. In 
another letter to Lyell he wrote : "I would far 
rather burn my whole book than that Wallace or 
any other man should think that I had behaved 
in a paltry spirit." 

Ultimately, however, as a result of the 
advice of friends, who acted on their own respon- 
sibility, Mr. Wallace's essay and extracts from 
Darwin's manuscript were sent to the Linnean 
Society and read together before that Society 
in July, 1858. 

The interest excited by the papers was 
intense. Many lingered after the meeting and 
discussed the subject with bated breath ; but it 
was meanwhile too novel and too ominous to 
provoke that immediate opposition with which 
it met when its significance and effect were 
subsequently realised. 

Wallace spent another eight adventurous 
and arduous years amidst scenes of tropical lux- 
uriance and among the various savage and civi- 
lised races of mankind which inhabit the Malay 
Archipelago, before he returned home in 1862. 

The collections he had sent home, comprising 
many thousands of insects, birds, and other 
forms of life, many of them previously un- 
known, together with the scientific papers already 
mentioned, had made him famous, and secured 
for him on his return not only his admit- 

The Life Story of the Author 

tance to many of the great learned societies, but 
the acquaintance and friendship of the scientific 
leaders of the day with whom he was soon to 
rank in undisputed parity. Amongst those with 
whom his intimacy deepened most fruitfully 
were Sir Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin. 

With the former, Wallace had a long, amic- 
able, but controversial discussion on the subject 
of the glacial origin of Alpine lakes, which Lyell 
was not then inclined to accept. At Sir Charles's 
house, where he was a frequent visitor, Wallace 
met many interesting people, amongst them 
being Professor Tyndall, Sir Charles Wheat- 
stone, Mr. Lecky, and the Duke of Argyll, with 
all of whom he became on friendly terms. 

With Charles Darwin, Wallace's relations 
were still more intimate and friendly, and their 
rivalry in their great discovery rather enhanced 
their friendship instead of producing that an- 
tagonism which, on smaller minds, would have 
been the result. Darwin frequently asked Wal- 
lace's help on points of difficulty in the appli- 
cation of the new theory, and though on several 
questions they disagreed, they always maintained 
the warmest admiration for each other. 

In a letter to Wallace written in 1870, Darwin 
says : 

" I hope it is a satisfaction to you to reflect 
— and very few things in my life have been more 
satisfactory to me — that we have never felt 
any jealousy towards each other, though in 

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some senses rivals. I believe I can say this of 
myself with truth, and I am absolutely sure that 
it is true of you." 

In commenting on this letter Dr. Wallace 
writes : 

" To have thus inspired and retained this 
friendly feeling, notwithstanding our many 
differences of opinion, I feel to be one of the 
greatest honours of my life." 

The relations existing between Darwin and 
Wallace, to which we have already referred, are 
further exemplified by the affectionate love and 
warm admiration expressed in their letters to 
each other, and to mutual friends. 

Referring to the proposal by Lyell and 
Hooker that Wallace's paper and an abstract of 
his own MS. should be read together before 
the Linnean Society, Darwin, in his autobio- 
graphy writes : 

" I was at first very unwilling to consent, as 
I thought Mr. Wallace might consider my doing 
so unjustifiable, for I did not then know how 
generous and noble was his disposition " (" Life 
and Letters," i. 85.) 

While Wallace was still abroad, and before 
Darwin and he had met, Darwin wrote to Lyell 
of having received a letter from Wallace, "very 
just in his remarks, though too laudatory and 
too modest ; and how admirably free from 
envy and jealousy. He must be a good fellow." 

And in replying to Wallace, Darwin says : 

The Life Story of the Author 

" Before telling you about the progress of 
opinion on the subject (of ' The Origin of 
Species ') you must let me say how I admire 
the generous manner in which you speak of 
my book. Most persons would, in your position, 
have felt some envy or jealousy. How nobly 
free you seem to be of this common failing of 
mankind ! But you speak far too modestly of 
yourself. You would, if you had my leisure, 
have done the work just as well — perhaps better 
than I have done it." He ends " with sincere 
thanks for your letter and with most deeply felt 
wishes for your success in science, and in every 
way, believe me, your sincere well wisher." 

And in writing to H. W. Bates, Darwin said : 
" What a fine philosophical mind your friend 
Mr. Wallace has, and he has acted in relation to 
me like a true man with a noble spirit." 

Mr. Wallace differed from Darwin in believ- 
ing that something more than Natural Selection 
was necessary to produce the higher intellec- 
tual qualities of man. This was the " heresy " 
to which he refers in a note to Darwin relating 
to an article by the latter, where he says : 

" I have also to thank you for the great 
tenderness with which you have treated me and 
my heresies . . . " ; to which Darwin replied, 
" Your note has given me very great pleasure, 
chiefly because I was so anxious not to treat 
you with the least disrespect, and it is so dif- 
ficult to speak fairly when differing from 

The Life Story of the Author 

anyone. If I had offended you it would have 
grieved me more than you will readily believe." 
(" Life and Letters," iii. 134). 

When Darwin heard from Mr. Gladstone 
that a Government pension had been given to 
Wallace — in which matter Darwin himself had 
been largely instrumental — ^he wrote to a friend, 
" Good heavens ! how pleased I am." 

This admirable desire to give each other the 
credit for the theory of Natural Selection is 
shown again and again in their letters, and it 
should be emphasised here. 

" You ought not," Darwin wrote, "to speak 
of the theory as mine ; it is just as much yours 
as mine. One correspondent has already noticed 
to me your ' high-minded ' conduct on this 
head." (" More Letters," ii. 32.) 

And Wallace, in a long letter, replied : 

"As to the theory of Natural Selection 
itself I shall always maintain it to be actually 
yours, and yours only. You had worked it out 
in details I had never thought of years before 
I had a ray of light on the subject. . . . All 
the merit I claim is the having been the means 
of inducing you to write and publish at once." 

Again in a letter referring to colouring of 
mammals and kindred subjects, Darwin wrote : 

" I am surprised at my own stupidity, but 
I have long recognised how much clearer and 
deeper your insight into matters is than mine." 
(" More Letters," ii. 61.) And, when they dif- 

The Life Story of the Author 

fered over Sexual Selection, Darwin wrote : " I 
grieve to differ from you, and it actually terri- 
fies me, and makes me constantly distrust 
myself. I fear we shall never quite understand 
each other." (" More Letters," ii. 85.) 

'Although Darwin and Wallace worked to- 
gether so long and assiduously to develop and 
elucidate the theory they had originated, there 
were several points in its application in which 
they differed, and as these, though not in any 
way affecting the main principles of Natural Selec- 
tion (on which they entirely agreed), have 
been seized upon and have been magnified by 
those who objected to the theory, we should 
dwell a moment upon them. 

The principal differences may be stated thus : 
Darwin thought that Natural Selection alone 
was sufficient to explain the development of 
man, in all his aspects, from some lower form. 
Wallace, while believing that man, as an animal, 
was so developed, thought that as an intellec- 
tual and moral being some other influence — some 
spiritual influx — ^was required to account for his 
special mental and psychic nature. With regard 
to many cases of coloration, scent, or power of 
producing sounds, exhibited by the males of 
numerous animals, Darwin thought they were 
developed by the choice of the females for the 
males which were endowed by these qualities in 
the greatest degree, while those which had them 
in a less degree were not chosen, and so did 

The Life Story of the Author 

not so often produce offspring. Wallace, on the 
other hand, could find little or no evidence for 
this form of Sexual Selection. He maintained 
that all such colours, scents, etc., were produced 
by some operation of Natural Selection ; that with 
insects a bright colour was often a warning to 
insect-eating animals that its possessor was 
distasteful ; that the females required more 
protection, and therefore became coloured to 
harmonise with their surroundings. The males, 
owing to their habits and organisation, require 
less protection, and would therefore be modified 
no further than was sufficient to ensure the 
maintenance of the speciesA 

Darwin explained the presence of Arctic plants 
in the Southern hemisphere and upon moun- 
tain tops in the tropics, by assuming that the 
tropical lowlands of the whole earth were cooled 
during the glacial epoch, so that these plants 
could spread to the localities where they are now 
found isolated. Wallace, from his study of the 
floras of oceanic islands, concluded that all these 
plants were introduced by means of aerial trans- 
mission of seeds or by birds, those seeds which 
were deposited in a suitable soil and climate 
germinating and in turn producing seeds by which 
the plant would spread over its new habitat. 

The only other important matter on which 
these two great scientists differed was the ques- 
tion of the inheritance of acquired characters. 
Darwin always believed that the effects of use 

The Life Story of the Author 

or disuse, of climate, food, etc., on the indivi- 
dual were transmitted to the offspring ; and 
Wallace himself accepted this theory for many 
years. But later, after Dr. Weismann * had 
shown how little evidence there was for such 
inheritance, he became convinced that acquired 
characters were not inherited. 

All this shows in a very clear light the un- 
selfish characters and singleness of purpose of 
two great minds, who set the dissemination of 
truth and the illumination of intellect above 
considerations of personal profit or reputation. 

Amongst the celebrities with whom Wallace 
had frequent intercourse were Herbert Spencer, 
Thomas Huxley, Sir John Lubbock (after- 
wards Lord Avebury), Dr. W. B. Carpenter, Sir 
William Crookes, Sir Joseph Hooker, Sir Francis 
Galton, and many others not less famous. 

In 1865 he married the eldest daughter of 
Mr. William Mitten, of Hurstpierpoint, the 
greatest living authority on mosses ; and for the 
next five years lived in St. Mark's Crescent, 

* Dr. Weismann writes (" Cambridge Comm. 
Essays ") : " Everyone knows that Darwin was not 
alone in discovering the principle of selection, and 
that the same idea occurred . . . independently to 
Alfred Russel Wallace. ... It is a splendid proof 
of the magnanimity of these two investigators that 
they thus, in all friendliness, and without envy, united 
in laying their ideas before a scientific tribunal ; their 
names will always shine side by side as two of the 
brightest stars in the scientific sky." 

The Life Story of the Author 

Regent's Park. Becoming, however, tired of 
town life, and wishing to return to more con- 
genial rural surroundings, he moved to Grays, in 
Essex, where he built a house close to an old over- 
grown chalk pit, which formed part of the garden. 

During his residence here he wrote an impor- 
tant book, in two large volumes, with elaborate 
maps and illustrations, dealing with a subject on 
which he has always been admitted to be the lead- 
ing authority, viz. " The Geographical Distribu- 
tion of Animals." It was published in 1876, and 
still remains the standard work in the English 
language on that branch of science. From this 
time onwards he devoted most of his energies 
to writing — at first on purely scientific subjects, 
but later on more general topics, and especially 
on social and political questions, which gradu- 
ally assumed a leading place in his thought. 

Amongst other scientific works which he pro- 
duced at this period were " Tropical Nature " 
and " Australasia " in 1878 ; " Island Life " in 
1880. His most popular book, " The Malay 
Archipelago," was written while he still lived in 
London in 1869, and gave an account of his 
travels and adventures in the East. 

In 1876 he found it necessary to give up his 
house at Grays, and, after living a few years at 
Dorking and at Croydon, he built a cottage at 
Godalming, where he remained from 188 1 till 1889. 

In 188 1 a society was formed for advocating 
the Nationalisation of the Land, a subject in 

The Life Story of the Author 

which he took a deep interest, and he was elected 
president, retaining that office until the present 
time. There is no doubt that his early ex- 
periences while surveying, and his observations of 
the life and customs of many civilised and savage 
races, had left upon his mind those impressions 
which were to be developed into definite principles 
and beliefs when he devoted close attention to 
this and kindred subjects, at the time we are 
dealing with. With the exception of about eight 
years, he has spent the whole of his long life in 
the country, and his powers of keen observation 
have shown him the inconveniences, the hardship 
and the injustice often suffered by our rural 
population on account of the existing system of 
the private ownership of land, with the privileges 
which have grown up along with it. 

In order to justify the formation of this 
society, and as a kind of programme of the 
work it had to do, he wrote a brochure 
entitled " Land Nationalisation : Its Necessity 
and Its Aims." This formed the starting-point of 
those political writings of his which have caused 
such mixed feelings amongst his scientific friends, 
many of whom deplore his views as unscien- 
tific and revolutionary, while others are no less 
unstinted in their praise and satisfaction. 

The beginning of his social views he himself 
traces to Herbert Spencer's " Social Statics," 
which he read soon after his return from the 
Amazon. That part on The Right to Use the Earth 

The Life Story of the Author 

especially interested him, but under the influence 
of Mill and Spencer himself, he could not see how 
to work it out without an excess of bureaucracy. 
It was twenty-seven years later that the idea 
suddenly came to him that this difficulty " could 
be overcome by State tenancy of the bare land, 
with ownership by the tenant of all that was 
added to the bare land, so that the State was 
only ground landlord, and need not interfere 
at all with the tenant who held a perpetual 
lease." ("My Life," ii. 34.) 

In the book on " Land Nationalisation," he 
dealt at length with these subjects. But his 
objection to Socialism remained for about ten 
years later, because he could not see the way out 
of existing things and relations into the practical 
operation of socialistic principles. Bellamy's 
book gave him the final impact, and, he says, 
" I have been an absolutely convinced Socialist 
ever since." He was supported in his step by 
Spencer's teaching that all classes of society were 
almost equal morally and intellectually, in com- 
bination with Weissman's proof of the non- 
heredity of results of education, habit, use of 
organs, etc. Dr. Wallace has briefly defined 
Socialism as " the organisation of the labour of 
all for the equal benefit of all." This implies " the 
duty of everyone to work for the common good, 
and the right of each to share equally in the benefits 
so produced, and in those which Nature provides." 

An address which he gave at Davos in 1896 


The Life Story of the Author 

on the invitation of Dr. Lunn, was the starting- 
point of the three last important works which he 
has written. 

The first of these was " The Wonderful 
Century," which was an account of the marvellous 
advances in scientific knowledge and in invention 
which had taken place during the nineteenth 
century, of most of which he had been an eye- 
witness. The astronomical chapters of this book 
suggested the second, namely, " Man's Place in 
the Universe," which appeared in 1903. This 
latter work gave a most interesting study of the 
latest theories and facts with regard to the stellar 
universe, and the solar system and our position 

Dr. Russel Wallace arrives at the conclusion 
that this earth is the only inhabited planet in 
our solar system — probably, indeed, the only one 
inhabited by beings of a high order in the whole 
vast universal scheme ; and that it is legitimate 
to suppose that the purpose of the universe was 
the production of man as a spiritual being. He 
showed that man's position, with regard to both 
the solar system and the whole universe, was 
unique, pointing to the probability of design and 
intention on the part of some Controlling Mind. 

This idea was further developed and extended 
in his last scientific book " The World of Life," 
which appeared in 191 1, its germ being the lecture 
which he delivered at the Royal Institution in 
the previous year. It was the act of collecting 

The Life Story of the Author 

the evidence of this work and " Man's Place in the 
Universe," from all the best scientific sources to 
which he had access, that forced upon him " the 
wonderful combination of conditions necessary 
for the possible development of life ; and the still 
more marvellous and ever present manifestations 
of foreseeing, directing and organising forces, 
resulting in a World of Life culminating in Man, 
and in every detail adapted for the development 
of man's highest mental and moral powers." 

" Thus," as he himself writes (letter to the 
present writer), " the completely materialistic 
mind of my youth and early manhood has been 
slowly moulded into the socialistic, spiritualistic, 
and theistic mind I now exhibit — a mind which 
is, as my scientific friends think, so weak and 
credulous in its declining years, as to believe that 
fruits and flowers, domestic animals, glorious 
birds and insects, wool, cotton, sugar and rubber, 
metals and gems, were all foreseen and fore- 
ordained for the education and enjoyment of 

At a later date, in May, 1913, in another 
letter to the writer. Dr. Russel Wallace writes 
upon the possibility of a living organism being 
some day produced in the laboratory of the chemist 
from inorganic matter. He declares it to be im- 
possible, because unthinkable, while even were it 
supposable that it should happen, it could not in 
anyway explain Life, with all its inherent forces, 
powers and laws, which necessitate " a constantly 

The Life Story of the Author 

acting mind power of almost unimaginable 
grandeur and prescience, in the co-ordinated 
motions, action and forces of the myriad 
millions of cells, each cell consisting of myriad 
atoms and ions, which cannot be supposed to be 
all acting in harmonious co-ordination without 
some superior co-ordinating power. 

" Recent discoveries demonstrate the need of 
co-ordinating power even in the very nature and 
origin of matter ; and something far more than 
this in the origin and development of mind. 
The whole cumulative argument of my ' World 
of Life ' is that, in its every detail it calls for the 
agency of a mind or minds so enormously above 
and beyond any human minds, as to compel us 
to look upon it, or them, as ' God or Gods,' and 
so-called ' Laws of Nature ' as the action by will- 
power or otherwise of such superhuman or 
infinite beings. ' Laws of Nature ' apart from 
the existence and agency of some such Being or 
Beings, are mere words, that explain nothing 
— are, in fact, unthinkable. That is my 
position ! 

" Whether this ' Unknown Reality ' is a single 
Being, and acts everywhere in the universe as 
direct creator, organiser and director of every 
minutest motion in the whole of our universe, 
and of all possible universes, or whether it acts 
through variously conditioned modes, as H. 
Spencer suggested, or through ' infinite grades 
of beings ' as I suggest, comes to much the same 

The Life Story of the Author 

thing. Mine seems a more clear and intelligible 
supposition as stated in the last paragraph of 
my ' World of Life,' and it is the teaching of the 
Bible, of Swedenborg, and of Milton ! " 

But in the very last paragraph of his " World 
of Life " he puts it as " a speculative suggestion," 
not as a definite scientific conclusion — " though 
it does seem to me to be one." 

He concludes (in the letter to the writer) 
with this definite declaration : 

" I write all this to show that, to me, if the 
chemist does some day show that living, developing 
' life ' was, and is now produced from inorganic 
elements, by and through ' natural laws,' it would 
not alter my argument one iota. * Natural Laws ' 
of such range and power are unthinkable, except 
as the manifestation of Universal Mind" 

" The World of Life " moved the whole 
thinking world. It awoke as with the whip crack 
of a prophet's word the theological sleepers who 
had been drowsing in dogmatic ease, and that 
other loud boasting company of the blind who 
confidently thought they were wide awake when 
they denied the possibility of the very existence 
of a spiritual world and believed that " matter 
and force " were sufficient for all things, from 
cosmic dust to the writing of Hamlet. 

This book was a revelation of the making 
of humanity, not starting from any basis of 
dogmatic preconception, but reasoned out by the 
clear mind of the trained natural observer, who. 

The Life Story of the Author 

turning his searchlight upon the footprints of the 
long-departed revealed, as the skilled hand drew 
aside the curtain, the picture of the actual 
world in process of evolution, thus, by a master- 
stroke, involving the exercise of all his powers, 
displaying eternal Providence, and " justifying 
the ways of God to man." The earliest result of 
the evolution theory seemed to be that earth 
was filled, not with the knowledge but with the 
terrors of God, and the human heart heard, if 
it could listen to their agonies and groans, of 
a struggling and suffering humanity punished for 
its own blindness and ignorance. 

With Wallace, however, pain is the birth-cry 
of a soul's advance. " The stamp of rank in Nature 
is capacity for pain." Pain, he holds, is always 
strictly subordinated to the law of utility, and is 
never developed beyond what is actually needed 
for the protection and advance of life. This brings 
the sensitive soul immense relief. Our suscepti- 
bility to the higher agonies is a condition of our 
advance in life's pageant. 

In this volume he summed up and completed 
his fifty years of brooding thought and long 
and patient labour on behalf of the Darwinian 
theory of evolution, extending the scope and 
application of that theory so as to show that it 
can and does explain many of the phenomena of 
living things hitherto considered to be outside its 

Thus Dr. Wallace now believes that to explain 

/ xxxvii 

The Life Story of the Author 

life and its manifestations God is a necessary 
postulate. And he here declares : 

" The absolute necessity for an organising 
and directive Life Principle in order to account 
for the very possibility of these complex out- 
growths. I argue that they imply, first, a Creative 
Power, which so constituted matter as to render 
these marvels possible ; next, a Directive Mind, 
which is demanded at every step of what we term 
growth, and often look upon as so simple and 
natural a process as to require no explanation ; 
and, lastly, an Ultimate Purpose, in the very 
existence of the whole vast life-world, in all its 
long course of evolution through the aeons of geo- 
logical time. This Purpose, which alone throws 
light on many of the mysteries of its modes of 
evolution, I hold to be the Development of Man, 
the one crowning product of the whole cosmic 
process of life-development ; the only being which 
can to some extent comprehend Nature ; which 
can perceive and trace out her modes of action ; 
which can appreciate the hidden forces and 
motions everywhere at work, and can deduce 
from them a supreme over-ruling Mind as their 
necessary Cause." 

The result of his investigation into spiritual- 
istic manifestations led him to believe in the 
genuineness of their spiritual origin, and he 
embodied them in his book " Miracles and 
Modern Spiritualism." If his political works 
produced feelings of regret amongst many of his 

The Life Story of the Author 

scientific friends, his advocacy of spiritualism 
caused them (as Tyndall said) " feeHngs of deep 
disappointment." He was not, however, without 
able supporters in his " heresy," amongst them 
being Sir W. Crookes, Sir William Barrett, Lord 
Lindsay, Robert Chambers, and others. 

Through his spiritualistic experience — of the 
actuality of which he was entirely convinced — 
he deduced a system of spiritual media, an 
angelology whereby the vast Divine Mind operates 
upon and communicates with " every cell of every 
living thing that is, or ever has been, upon the 
earth . . . through many descending grades of 
intelligence and power." He makes therefore 
his own, that which is, in effect, a summary of 
his teaching : — 

" All nature is but art, unknown to thee, 
All chance, direction which thou canst not see ; 
All discord, harmony not understood ; 
All partial evil, universal good," 

And therein he stands to-day the Grand Old 
Man of British Science, a true Revealer and 
Prophet, in the real sense of being a forthteller 
of the truth spoken to him. 

Dr. Wallace has written many articles and 
smaller books on diverse subjects, the latest, 
which has aroused deep and widespread interest, 
being his " Social Environment and Moral 
Progress," which was written in his ninety-first 
year. In it he shows that there is no evidence 

The Life Story of the Author 

of any advancement in man's intellectual or 
ethical manifestation during the whole historical 
period, and he states his belief that no real im- 
provement is possible until we reorganise society 
on a rational basis of mutual help, instead of our 
present system of mutual antagonism and de- 
grading competition. 

As has been well said — in a review of this 
work : — 

" The author's position as co-discoverer with 
Darwin of one of the most momentous theories 
in the history of thought, his venerable age, his 
wide scientific knowledge and deep philosophic 
insight, lend to his utterances an authority 
such as could be claimed by no living writer." 

His indictment of the present social environ- 
ment as the worst in history constitutes a chal- 
lenge to civilisation, and demands the closest 
scrutiny of the most impartial minds. He shows 
that it is well established that the essential 
character of man — intellectual, emotional, and 
moral — is inherent in him from birth ; that it 
is subject to great variation from individual to 
individual, and that its manifestations in con- 
duct can be modified in a very high degree by the 
influence of public opinion and by education. 
These latter changes, however, are not here- 
ditary, and it follows that no definite advance 
in morals can occur in any race unless there is 
some selective or segregative agency at work. He 
declares that history shows that the increase of 


The Life Story of the Author 

wealth and luxury has been distributed with 
gross injustice, no provision having been made 
for the overflow of these being utilised for the 
greater happiness and comfort of the producers, 
or the improvement of the condition of the 
struggling millions. 

He finds the " selective agency " which is to 
work for the amelioration which he desires, in 
sexual selection, which will be the prerogative 
of ■ woman ; and therefore woman's position in 
the not distant future " will be far higher and 
more important than any which has been claimed 
for or by her in the past." When political and 
social rights are conceded to her on equality 
with men, her free choice in marriage, no longer 
influenced by economic and social considera- 
tions, will guide the future moral progress of 
the race, restore the lost equality of opportunity 
to every child born in our country, and secure 
the balance between the sexes. " It will be their 
(women's) special duty so to mould public opinion, 
through home training and social influence, as to 
render the women of the future the regenerators 
of the entire human race." 

But before this can effectively operate much 
has to be faced, and Dr. Wallace summarises 
the matter into one general conclusion, namely, 
that a civilised government must, as its prime 
duty, " organise the labour of the whole com- 
munity for the equal good of all," but it is also 
bound immediately to take steps to " abolish 


The Life Story of the Author 

death by starvation and by preventable disease due 
to insanitary dwellings and dangerous employ- 
ments, while carefully elaborating the permanent 
remedy for want in the midst of wealth." The 
laws of evolution are all in favour of such a 
revolution, but the present system of competi- 
tion must become one of brotherly co-operation 
and co-ordination for the equal good of all. 
Apart from this there is no hope for advance 
towards true, living freedom, and this present 
volume on " The Revolt of Democracy " empha- 
sises and illustrates this tremendous indictment. 

And now we must bring to a close this very 
imperfect sketch, in the writing of which we 
have received great assistance, which we grate- 
fully acknowledge, from Dr. Wallace himself, his 
son, Mr. W. G. Wallace, and a generous friend 
who desires to remain unknown. 

In 1889 Dr. Wallace removed to Parkstone, 
Dorset, where he resided till 1902, when he again 
built himself a house — this time at Broadstone, 
overlooking Poole Harbour and the Purbeck 
Hills. Here he still lives and finds real interest 
and delight in his greenhouse and garden, which 
have always been such a pleasurable source of 
recreation in his times of leisure. 

He has always been an omnivorous reader, 
and his mind is stored with facts in relation to 
a very wide range of knowledge, while he is 
seldom without a novel by his side for his 
hours of relaxation. 



The Life Story of the Author 

Dr. Wallace's optimism is one of his most 
striking traits, and he looks back upon what- 
ever misfortunes and hardships have fallen to 
his lot as blessings in disguise, which have 
strengthened his character and stimulated him 
to fresh endeavour. 

At the memorable meeting of the British 
Association at Cambridge, in 1894, Lord Salis- 
bury, recalling the historic reception of the 
Darwinian hypothesis in the same place half a 
century previously, and in paying a just tribute 
to Charles Darwin, said that " The equity of his 
judgment, the single-minded love of truth, and 
patient devotion to the pursuit of it through 
years of toil and of other conditions the most 
unpropitious — these things endeared to numbers of 
men everything that came from Charles Darwin, 
apart from his scientific merit and literary 
charm ; and whatever final value may be assigned 
to his doctrine, nothing can ever detract from the 
lustre shed upon it by the wealth of his know- 
ledge and the infinite ingenuity of his resource." 

This tribute might be, with equal justice, 
applied to Wallace. In his charming modesty, 
his unselfishness, his instinct for truth — ^which, 
said Darwin to Henslow, " was something of the 
same nature as the instinct for virtue " — in his 
constant and singularly patient consideration of 
every opinion which differed from his own, and in 
his inventive imagination, Wallace is the worthy 
companion of Darwin. 


The Life Story of the Author 

But, as we have seen, he has other claims to 
be remembered by posterity. He is also a fearless 
social reformer who vigorously lays the axe to 
the root of great evils which flourish in our 
midst, some of which present-day society 
cherishes. He has struck what he believes to be 
a hard blow at vaccination — still an almost 
heaven-sent weapon against smallpox in the 
armoury of many doctors ; and he has dared 
boldly to accept a spiritualistic interpretation 
of Nature, which is still treated as charlatanism. 

He has not been the recluse calmly spin- 
ning theories from a bewildering chaos of 
observations, and building up isolated facts 
into the unity of a great and illuminating 
conception in the silence and solitude of 
his library, unmindful of the great world of 
sin and sorrow without. He could say with 
Darwin, " I was born a naturalist," but we can 
also add, his heart is on fire with love for the 
toiling masses. He has felt the intense joy of 
discovering a vast and splendid generalisation, 
which not only worked a complete revolution in 
biological science, but has also illuminated the 
vast field of human knowledge. Yet his greatest 
ambition has been to improve the cruel con- 
ditions under which thousands of his fellow- 
creatures suffer and die, and to make their lives 
sweeter and happier. His mind is great enough 
to encompass all that lies between the visible 
horizons of human thought and activity, and 


The Life Story of the Author 

now in his old age he lives upon the topmost 
peaks, eagerly looking for the horizon beyond. 
In the words of the late Mr. Gladstone's own 
precept, " He has been inspired with the belief 
that life is a great and noble calling, not a mean 
and grovelling thing that we are to shuffle through 
as we can, but an elevated and lofty destiny." 

James Marchant. 





As President of the Land Nationalisation 
Society for thirty years, I have given 
much attention to the various inquiries 
by Royal Commissions, by Parliamentary 
Committees, or by private philanthropists, 
into Irish evictions and Highland clear- 
ances, sweating, unemployment, low wages, 
unhealthy trades, bad and overcrowded 
dwellings, and the depopulation of the 
rural districts. These inquiries have suc- 
ceeded each other in a melancholy proces- 
sion during the last sixty years ; they have 
made known the almost incredible condi- 
tions of life of great numbers of our workers ; 

The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 

and they have suggested more or less in- 
effective remedies, but their proposals have 
been followed by even less effective legisla- 
tion when any palliative has been at- 
tempted. ^ ^ 

During the whole of the nineteenth 
century there was a continuous advance 
in the application of scientific discovery 
to the arts, and especially in the inven- 
tion and application of labour-saving 
machinery ; and our wealth has increased 
to an equally marvellous extent. Various 
estimates which have been made of the 
increase in our wealth-producing power 
show that, roughly speaking, the use of 
mechanical power has increased more than 
a hundredfold during the century ; yet 
the result has been to create a limited 
upper class, living in unexampled luxury, 
while about one-fourth of our whole popu- 
lation exists in a state of fluctuating penury, 
often sinking below what has been termed 

I] Introductory 

'* the margin of poyerty." Of these, many 
thousands are annually drawn into the 
gulf of absolute destitution, dying either 
from direct starvation, or from diseases 
produced by their employment, and ren- 
dered fatal by want of the necessaries and 
comforts of a healthy existence. 

But during this long period, while wealth 
and want were alike increasing side by side, 
, public opinion w^s not sufficiently educated 
to permit of any effectual remedy being 
applied for the extirpation of this terrible 
social disease. The workers themselves had 
not visualised its fundamental causes — land 
monopoly and the competitive system of 
industry, giving rise to an ever-increasing 
private capitalism which, to a very large 
extent, controlled the legislature. This 
rapid growth of wealth through the increase 
of the various kinds of manufacturing 
industry led to a still greater increase of 
aniddlemen engaged in the distribution of 

The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 

its products, from wealthy merchants, 
through various grades of tradesmen and 
petty shopkeepers who supplied the daily 
wants of the whole community. To these 
must be added the innumerable parasites 
of the ever-increasing wealthy classes ; the 
builders of their mansions and their fac- 
tories ; the makers of their furniture and 
clothing, of their costly ornaments and 
their children's toys ; the vast body of 
their immediate dependents, from their 
managers, their agents, commercial travel- 
lers and clerks, through various grades of 
domestic servants, grooms and game- 
keepers, butlers and housekeepers, down 
to stable-boys and kitchen-maids, all de- 
riving their means of existence from the 
wealth daily produced in mines, factories 
and workshops. This was apparently due 
primarily, if not exclusively, to the capi- 
talists themselves as the employers of 
labour, without whose agency and super- 

I] Introductory 

vision it was believed that all productive 
labour would cease, bringing ruin and star- 
vation to the whole population. Thus, a 
vast mass of public opinion was created, 
all in favour of the capitalists as the em- 
ployers of labour and the true source of 
the creation of wealth. 

To those who lived in the midst of this 
vast industrial system, or were a part of 
it, it seemed natural and inevitable that 
there should be rich and poor ; and this 
belief was enforced on the one hand by 
the clergy, and on the other by the political 
economists, so that religion and science 
agreed in upholding the competitive and 
capitalistic system of society as being the 
only rational and possible one. Hence, 
till quite recently, it was believed that 
the abolition of poverty was entirely out- 
side the true sphere of governmental 
action. It was, in fact, openly declared 
and believed that poverty was due to 

The Revolt of Democracy 

economic causes over which governments 
had no power ; that wages were kept 
down by the " iron law " of supply and 
demand ; and that any attempts to find 
a remedy by Acts of Parliament only 
aggravated the disease. This was the 
doctrine held, even by such great men as 
W. E. Gladstone and Sir William Harcourt, 
together with the dogma that it was a 
government's duty to buy in the cheapest 
market, in order to protect the taxpayer. 
It was the doctrine also which converted 
the misnamed " guardians " of the poor 
into guardians of the ratepayers' interests, 
and led to that rigid and unsympathetic 
treatment of the very poor which made 
the workhouse more dreaded than the jail, 
and which to this very day leads many of 
the most destitute to die of lingering star- 
vation, or to commit suicide, rather than 
apply for relief or enter the gloomy portals 
of the workhouse. 



It was, I believe, Sir Henry Campbell- 
Bannerman, when he became Prime 
Minister in 1905, who changed this atti- 
tude of negation of all his predecessors. 
He boldly declared in numerous speeches, 
both in and out of Parliament, that he 
held it to be the duty of a government 
to deal with the great problems of un- 
employment and poverty, and especially 
to attack the increasingly injurious land- 
monopoly, and so to legislate as to make 
our native soil ever more and more ** a 
treasure-house for the poor rather than a 
mere pleasure-house for the rich." And 
as an earnest of his determination to carry 
out these views, he brought into his 

The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 

Ministry John Burns and David Lloyd 
George, the former for his knowledge of 
the conditions and aspirations of skilled 
labour, and his administrative experience 
both in the County Council and in Parlia- 
ment, and the latter for his energy as 
an advanced thinker, his powers of public 
speaking, and his enthusiasm for social 

When Mr. Asquith became Prime 
Minister in 1908, he made Mr. Lloyd 
George his successor as Chancellor of the 
Exchequer, and never was the wisdom of 
an appointment more fully justified. The 
new Chancellor, in the memorable Budget 
thrown out by the House of Lords, made 
provision not only for our ever-increasing 
Navy, but also for Old-Age Pensions and 
for far-reaching measures calculated to 
benefit the working classes. 

It is, in my opinion, largely due to this 
attitude of Liberal Governments, without 

"] Dawn of a New Era 

adequate remedial legislation, during the 
last seven years, with a corresponding 
change in public opinion, that has led to 
the recent effort of the workers to bring 
about better conditions by means of com- 
bined strikes. The three great strikes in 
rapid succession, of the Railway and 
other transport Unions, of the Miners, and 
of the London Dock Labourers, must have 
brought home to the middle and upper 
classes and to the Government how com- 
pletely they are all dependent on the often 
despised working classes, not only for 
every comfort and luxury which they 
enjoy, for the means of rapid locomotion 
and of carrying on their respective busi- 
nesses and pleasures, but also for obtain- 
ing the daily food essential for life itself. 
The experience now gained shows us that 
when the organisation of the trade unions 
is rendered more complete, and the accu- 
mulated funds of a dozen or twenty years 

The Revolt of Democracy 

are devoted to this one purpose, the bulk of 
the inhabitants of London, or of any other 
of our great cities, could be made to suffer 
a degree of famine comparable with that of 
Paris when besieged by the German army 
in 1870. 

It is to be hoped that such a disaster 
will not happen, but it can only be pre- 
vented by much more effective action 
than has yet been taken to improve the 
social status of the great body of indus- 
trial and other workers, and to abolish 
completely the conditions which compel 
a large proportion of those workers to 
exist on or below the margin of poverty, 
often culminating in actual death from, 
want of the bare necessaries of existence. 



The serious position which these succes- 
sive strikes have brought about has led 
to much discussion in the newspapers and 
other periodicals, in which a number of well- 
known literary men have taken part, and, 
what is much more important, in which 
several of the most able and intelligent of 
the workers themselves have clearly stated 
their determination to obtain certain funda- 
mental reforms. Month by month it has 
become more clear and certain that what 
has been termed " The Labour Unrest " 
will certainly continue with ever-increasing 
determination and effective power till some 
such reforms as they demand are conceded 
by the Government. 

The Revolt of Democracy [ch 

A careful study of the more important 
of these various pronouncements shows us 
that two things stand out clearly, as to 
which there is almost universal agreement. 
These are, first, that the condition of the 
workers as a whole is absolutely unbear- 
able, is a disgrace to civilisation, and fully 
justifies the most extreme demands of the 
workers ; and, secondly, that among the 
whole of the writers — whether statesmen 
or thinkers, capitalists or workmen — there 
is not one who has proposed any definite 
and workable plan by which the desired 
change of conditions will be brought about. 
Yet one such plan was carefully worked 
out more than twenty years ago, and 
though the book had a considerable sale 
and a cheap edition of it was issued, not 
the slightest effect was produced on public 
opinion or on the Government.* The time 
had not yet come for such radical reforms 

♦ See Rev. H. V. Mills' Poverty and the State. 

"I] The Lesson of the Strikes 

to be seriously considered. But conditions 
have changed, and some definite action 
is now imperatively demanded if this 
" unrest " is to cease, and if the reason- 
able claims of the workers are to be 
satisfied. Let us see, then, what these 
claims are, and why none of the various 
palhatives hinted at by a few of those 
who have taken part in the discussion 
can do any real good, while they will 
certainly not satisfy the workers or allay 
their quite justifiable " unrest." 



The workers' claim is put forward by Mr. 
Vernon Hartshorn in the following clear 
and terse statement : 

" What is that demand ? It is, that the com- 
munity shall guarantee to the men and women who 
perform services essential to the existence or happi- 
ness of the community, a reasonably comfortable 
and civilised livelihood — a decent minimum of food 
and clothing, leisure and recreation, and houses fit 
for human beings." 

Then he proceeds to ask : 

" How do the workers propose that the com- 
munity shall give them that guarantee ? By the 
estabhshment of a legally guaranteed eight-hours 
day. By the establishment of a national housing 

standard at a rent within the reach of the workers. 


The Workers' Claim 

And also by the power of the trade unions to check 
the exploitation of Labour by competitive methods 
which tend to force down the average standard of 
living among the working classes." 

Then, after a reference to the recent 
claim of the doctors to what they consider 
a living wage under the National Insur- 
ance Act, and also to the many luxuries 
of the rich which the workers do not want, 
he again states the workers' claim thus : 

" It is not an extravagant demand. It is just the 
plain blunt demand that might be expected from 
British working-men. . . . It is a demand by those 
who, either by hand or brain, make the wealth of 
the nation, that the first charge upon that wealth 
shall be the maintenance of themselves in reasonable 

Then he concludes with this important 
declaration of policy : — 

" Democracy must be its own emancipator. But 

institutions hke the Church, Parliament, and the 

Press, and even the rich, have to make up their minds 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 

as to what shall be their attitude toward it. They 
must decide for themselves whether the demand of 
the workers for a fairer share of the good things of 
life is just or unjust. The working classes have 
already made up their minds. They are convinced 
that their demand is just, and with a highly intelli- 
gent, vigorous working class, stung by a sense of 
injustice, the future of this country will be full of 
danger. The stupid attitude of hostility or superior 
patronage which has been adopted towards the work- 
ing classes in the past by powerful elements in 
society has helped to generate the present revolu- 
tionary upheaval. . . . The worker does not want 
charity to redress the balance. He knows that 
charity robs him of his manhood. He feels that he 
is entitled to a man's share of the wealth he has 
produced, and he wants it assured to him, not as a 
charity, but as a citizen's right." 

Then, after describing how neither 
Parhament nor the present Government can 
or will secure this for him, and that their 
methods of " conciliation" or "arbitration" 
are useless or inadequate, he concludes : 


IV] The Workers' Claim 

"There is only one way to industrial peace. 
There is only one way to stave off a class war which 
may shake civilisation to its foundations. It is by a 
full and frank acknowledgement by society that the 
claim of the worker to a sufficiency of food and clothing 
and a fuller life is just, and that it must be made the 
first charge upon the wealth produced. ... It is 
the present order of society which is upon its trial. 
Can it do justice to the worker ? If it can, and if 
it does, then it will have justified its existence. But 
if it cannot, then its ultimate doom is sealed." 

Quotations from other Labour leaders 
could be made to the same effect, show- 
ing that the workers now know their 
rights and are determined to obtain them. 
But they do not see exactly how that is 
to be done, and it is for their friends and 
well-wishers to assist them in finding out 
a way. 

A few useful indications of how we 
must approach the problem may be 

Mr. Seebohm Rowntree, one of the 

E 17 

The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 

best and most sympathetic employers of 
labour in the country, tells us that — 

" The capitalists should entirely shake off the 
idea that wage-earners are inferior beings to them- 
selves, and should learn to regard them as valued 
and necessary partners in the great work of wealth- 
production — partners with whose accredited repre- 
sentatives they may honourably discuss the propor- 
tions in which the wealth jointly produced should 
be divided." 

He also sees clearly, and declares that — 

" The poverty at one end of the social scale will 
not be removed except by encroaching heavily upon 
the great riches at the other end." 

But this, apparently, is the last thing 
capitalist employers want or will submit 

Mr. Frederic Harrison urges that labour 
cannot be in a settled and healthy state 

" till seven hours is made the normal standard of a 
day's labour," 


IV] The Workers' Claim 

and that — 

" a fixed living wage is merely the irreducible part of 
the remuneration, the rest being proportioned to the 
profits on the work done." 

And he concludes his most interesting 
and suggestive article with the dictum 

"The unrest is come to stay, and will not be 
ended by petty devices." 

Mr. Sidney Low tells us that there are 
many young men among the workers who 
read Carlyle and Ruskin, and believe that 
if our society were rightly organised the 
life of cultivated leisure would not be the 
privilege of the Few, but the possession 
of the Many. Mr. Geoffrey Drage con- 
firms this statement, and declares that — 

" the worker sees that the time for cries is past, the 
time for action is come." 

But he, too, like all the others, gives 

The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 
no clue as to how the great change is to 
be brought about, not sporadically here 
and there, but universally — not by slightly 
improving the condition of skilled labour 
only, but by such means as will imme- 
diately begin to act upon the lowest 
stratum of the social fabric, and in a 
measurable space of time abolish want, 
culminating in actual starvation, in this 
land of ever-increasing wealth, and ever 
more and more extravagant luxury. 

Before laying before my readers what 
I conceive to be, at the present juncture, 
the best and, indeed, the only mode of 
successfully attacking this great and press- 
ing problem, I will give the statement of 
Mr. Anderson, the Chairman of the Con- 
ference of the Independent Labour Party, 
in the autumn of 191 2. In reply to a 
Press representative, he said : 

" The whole upheaval is a revolt against poverty ; 
against, that is, Social Injustice ; and it involves 

V] The Workers' Claim 

the Right to Live . . . Strikes are disintegrating . 
they are no real and permanent remedy. We have 
to find the solution in some new basis for industrial 
reform, and my view is, that if reform is to do any 
good it must contain in itself the germ of a better 
social organisation. Palliatives are no cure." 

And then, when he was urged to say, 
" What do you actually propose ? " his 
reply was : 

" We are determined that destitution must he 
stamped out ; and our remedy resolves itself into 
this : A national minimum of Wages, Housing, Leisure, 
and Education. That is Labour's battle-cry for the 

A government's duty 

Now, in all the foregoing views of the 
leaders and the friends of Labour, there 
is a very close agreement as to the pre- 
sent position of the whole body of workers, 
and as to the nature and amount of 
the reforms they insist upon, without 
which they will not be satisfied, and will 
not cease from agitation, culminating in 
more extensive and more determined and 
better-organised strikes. This will be the 
only method left open to them if their 
admittedly moderate and just claims are 
not fully and honestly recognised by the 
party in power, and at once translated 
into adequate direct action. 

It is a very strange thing to me, and 

A Government's Duty 

must be so to many others, that in this 
most wealthy country a powerful Govern- 
ment, long pledged to social reform, cannot 
or will not take any immediate and 
direct steps to abolish the pitiable extremes 
of destitution which are ever present in all 
its great cities, its towns, and even its 
villages ! The old, complex and harsh 
machinery of its Poor Laws has become 
less and less efhcient. Enormous sums 
spent in various forms of charity do not 
prevent starvation, do not appear to 
diminish it. The cause of this almost 
universal apathy is the very persistence of 
destitution and its obscurity. The various 
forms of charity aie more conspicuous and 
more obtrusive, so that most people are 
quite unable to realise that starvation is 
still rampant to a most terrible and most 
disgraceful extent all over our land. 

In 1898 I published in my volume on 

The Wonderful Century an appendix on 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch 

"The Remedy for Want in the Midst of 
Wealth," but, thinking that the general 
scheme I proposed was too advanced for 
immediate adoption, I also gave a plan, 
headed " How to Stop Starvation," which 
began with these words : 

" But till some such method is demanded by 
public opinion, and its adoption forced upon our 
legislators, the horrible scandal and crime of men, 
women, and little children, by thousands and millions, 
living in the most wretched want, dying of actual 
starvation, or driven to suicide by the dread of it, 
must be stopped ! " 

The Chairman of the Independent 
Labour Party now also declares that 
*' Destitution must be stamped out." 

Since the above passage was written 

nothing effective has been done, the 

horrors of our slums are as bad as ever, 

our cumbrous and unsympathetic systems 

of poor relief are utter failures. I, 

therefore, again submit my simple and 


V] A Government's Duty 

practical suggestion, which is as much 
needed to-day as it was then. It is as 
follows : 

" The only certain way to abolish starvation, not 

when it is too late, but in its very earhest stages, 

is free bread. I imagine the outcry against this • 

' Fraud ! Loafing ! Pauperisation ! ' etc., etc. Perhaps 

so ; perhaps not. But even if it must be so, better 

give bread to a hundred loafers than refuse it to a 

hundred who are starving. All who want it, all who 

have not money enough to buy wholesome food and 

other necessaries, must be able to g^t this bread with 

the minimum of trouble. There must be no tests like 

those for Poor Law relief. A decent home, with good 

furniture and good clothes, must be no bar ; neither 

must the possession of money if that money is needed 

for rent, for coals, or for other absolute necessaries 

of life. The bread must be given to prevent injurious 

destitution, not merely to alleviate it. The bread is 

not to be charity, not poor relief, but a rightful claim 

upon society for its neglect to organise itself so that 

all, without exception, who have worked, and are 

willing to work, or are unable to work, may at the 

very least have food to support life. 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch 

" Now for the mode of obtaining this bread. All 
local authorities shall be required to prepare bread- 
tickets duly stamped and numbered with coupons 
to be detached, each representing a 2-lb. or 4-lb. 
loaf. These tickets to be issued in suitable quanti- 
ties to every poUceman, to all the clergy of every 
denomination, and to all medical men. Any person 
in want of food, by applying to any of these distri- 
butors is to be given a coupon for one loaf, without 
any question whatever. 

" If the person wants more than one loaf, or 
wishes to have one or more such loaves for a week, 
a name and address must be given. The distributor, 
or some deputy, will then pay a visit during the 
day, ascertain the bare facts, give a suitable number 
of tickets, and, as in cases of sickness or of young 
children, obtain such other relief as may be needed," 

The cost of dealing with this wide- 
spread destitution should be borne by 
the National Exchequer, both because it 
is due to deep-seated causes in our social 
economy, and also because its distribution 

is very unequal, so that the cost would 


v] A Government's Duty 

be heaviest in the poorer and lightest in 
the richer areas. It must, however, be 
treated as essentially of a temporary nature, 
only needed till the fundamental causes of 
poverty are properly dealt with by some 
such method as that to be explained later 
on, when any such expedient will become 
a thing of the past. 

When we consider that during the last 
fourteen years our national expenditure 
has increased by about £80,000,000, and 
that it has now reached the vast amount 
of £185,000,000, it is almost incredible 
that we should have made no serious 
attempt to discover the causes and apply 
the remedy to this terrible social canker 
in our civilisation. Now, however, that 
the Labour Party insists upon an imme- 
diate remedy being applied, and also claims 
for the sufferers and for the whole body 
of workers full social equality with all 

other citizens — a claim recognised by many 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 

of our best and greatest writers to be a 
just one — perennial starvation of our very 
poor must no longer be ignored, and our 
Government must grapple with it without 
further delay. 

Government and its Employees 

We will now proceed to consider how 
the Government can itself lead the way 
towards that new organisation of society 
which will afford a permanent remedy for 
labour unrest, and satisfy the just demands 
of some considerable portion of the workers 
of our country. 

The Prime Minister has quite recently 
declared his invincible objection to fixing 
even a minimum wage by Act of Parlia- 
ment, but no positive objection has been 
made to raising the wages of all Govern- 
ment employees above such a minimum. 
This has been asked for again and again 
by the workers themselves, as well as by 

their representatives in Parliament, but 


V] A Government's Duty 

has only been acted upon partially, and 
any proposal for giving higher wages than 
are paid by private capitalists has been 
objected to for various reasons. It is said 
to be unfair to thus compete with private 
enterprise ; that more men at present 
wages can always be had than are re- 
quired ; and other reasons of the usual 
type of the old school of economists. 
These objections are also upheld for poli- 
tical reasons, since the large number of 
capitalists and wealthy employers of labour 
in the House of Commons would violently 
oppose any such unprecedented expendi- 
ture, and endanger the very existence of 
the Government. 

But all these objections may now, 
perhaps, be much weakened, or even dis- 
regarded, in view of the recent strikes and 
the future possibilities they suggest. The 
workers are now steadily becoming better 
organised and more conscious of their own 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch 

power at the polls, and they will no longer 
support a Government which confesses 
itself impotent to lift them out of the 
terrible quagmire of misery and degra- 
dation into which the present economic 
system is steadily forcing them. The time 
for conferences and discussions and for 
petty alleviations which are wholly use- 
less is gone by. What the workers now 
demand is that the Government shall begin 
to act so far as it possesses the power to 
act ; that it must raise the wages, provide 
decent houses, establish shorter hours of 
work, give suitable holidays, and establish 
liberal retiring pensions, for every one of 
its own employees. 

It is true that something has been 
done in this direction, but many Govern- 
ment workers are still said to be as badly 
off as under the lower class of private 
capitalists. Whether or not this is due 
to the old idea that the taxpayers must 

V] A Government's Duty 

be protected though the children of the 
workers suffer want, I do not know ; but 
unless this economy in the wrong place is 
changed, and the very reverse principle 
acted upon, the present Government will 
bring upon itself the united opposition of 
the workers. 

What then must our rulers do in the 
present crisis ? To use the forcible expres- 
sion of the late W. T. Stead, what we 
insist upon now is, that we declare war 
against every form of want, poverty, and 
industrial discontent, and that the Govern- 
ment must lead the way and set the pace. 
It must do this because it is the greatest 
employer of labour in the kingdom : its 
Civil Service alone — the receivers of annual 
salaries instead of weekly wages — compris- 
ing 136,000 persons ; and because it has the 
power of influencing all other employers 
of labour through the force of its example, 

as well as by the action of economic laws. 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 

In order to give confidence to the 
Labour Party, a proclamation should be 
at once issued establishing for the entire 
Government Service a liberal scale of 
wages, based upon the inquiries of Mr. C. 
Booth, Mr. S. Rowntree and others, so 
that adult workers shall receive at next 
pay-day an ample " living wage," to be 
increased each year by (say) 2s. a week 
till it reaches the estimate of these dis- 
interested and capable inquirers. Let it 
be declared also that, except for gross bad 
conduct, no man shall be dismissed the 
public service till he reaches the age when 
he will receive a liberal retiring pension. 

As the avowed object must be to make 

Government employment at once an honour 

and an advantage, and also that it may 

serve as a model for all other employers 

of labour, everything must be done to 

promote the health and contentment of 

the whole body of public workers. In 


V] A Government's Duty 

order to give effect to this declared pur- 
pose, a considerable proportion of them 
should be gradually trained in some alter- 
native employment, especially in those that 
give healthy outdoor occupation, such as 
the various building trades, and, pre- 
eminently, in some kind of agricultural 
work. It will thus be rendered possible, 
whenever we cease to expend so many 
millions annually on purely destructive 
ships and weapons, that the surplus men 
engaged in our dockyards and various 
factories of war-material need not be dis- 
charged and create a new army of the 
unemployed, but be gradually drafted into 
an army of true wealth-producers. 

Another important feature of this new 
departure in the organisation of the ex- 
tended Civil Service would be the gradual 
removal of all factories and workshops 
from towns and cities into the open and 
healthy country, where large areas of land 


The Revolt of Democracy 

can be obtained sufficient to produce most 
of the food and clothing for its inhabitants. 
Large estates of several thousand acres are 
constantly in the market, and are often 
sold at from £io to £20 an acre. An 
additional means of obtaining such estates 
would be a short Act giving the Govern- 
ment power to take death-duties and land- 
taxes in land at the taxation value when- 
ever it is suitable for the purpose. Of 
course, acting on the general principle of 
making its own employees and labourers 
the best and most contented of all the 
working classes, the Government must at 
once make arrangements for giving up its 
contract work, especially in the clothing 
and provision departments, replacing it 
by farms and factories of its own. 



The scheme of improved Government em- 
ployment now briefly explained will, of 
course, give rise to a host of objections 
of various degrees of futility, but I know 
of none of the least real weight. The first 
of these objections will, of course, be the 
great expense ; and that it will neces- 
sitate more taxes, which will ruin those 
who only just manage to live now. To 
this I reply, that the cost to the poor 
need really be almost nothing ; first, be- 
cause every pound paid extra in wages is 
a pound more expended in food, clothing, 
furniture, houses, and other necessaries of 
life. It will, therefore, benefit the makers, 
growers and retailers of those commodities 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 

by the increase of their trade, and it is a 
maxim of pohtical economy that the home 
trade is the best trade for the prosperity 
of a country. In the second place, even 
with our present system of taxation the 
workers will largely benefit, because, though 
they will secure almost all the immediate 
good results of the expenditure, they will 
pay less than half the increased taxa- 

But, fortunately, we have a Chancellor 
of the Exchequer who will know how to 
raise the money required for the salvation 
of the destitute from the excessive and 
harmful accumulations of the very rich. 
The lower and middle classes, therefore, 
will ultimately pay either nothing at all 
or a very small fraction of the amount 
required for the increased wages, while 
they are the classes which will most largely 
benefit by the general prosperity caused 

by its expenditure. It must surely be 


VI] Replies to Objections 

better for the country to preserve the very 
poor in health and strength, and to give 
them the training which will enable them 
to do productive work as soon as we pro- 
vide it for them, than to allow them to 
die of want, and its resulting diseases, as 
we do now. It is simply irrational to say, 
as many do, that these people are con- 
stitutionally unable to support themselves. 
They belong to the very same class as 
those who, both here and in the Colonies, 
and throughout the whole civilised world, 
not only do support themselves, but, in 
addition, support everybody else, and at 
the same time produce all the luxuries 
and costly amusements of the wealthy. It is 
clear, therefore, that it is not the fault 
of the poor that so many of them are 
compulsorily idle or starving, but of the 
Government which proclaims itself unable 
to give them productive work. There can- 
not possibly be such a difference in nature 



The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 

between the same class when employed 
and when unemployed. 

Another objection, a little less obviously 
irrational, is, that if the Government itself 
were to provide all its Army and Navy 
clothing and other necessary stores, wea- 
pons, etc., some of the former contractors 
will be ruined. But they will only suffer 
if they have hitherto sweated their workers, 
and you cannot abolish sweating without 
some temporary suffering to the sweaters. 
But even such employers will get compen- 
sation. The high wages paid for all Govern- 
ment work will be almost wholly spent in 
the neighbourhood of the public factories 
and offices, and benefit everybody by the 
increase of trade. A further benefit will 
accrue through the increased expenditure 
of the many thousands of Custom House, 
Excise, Post Office, and other employees, 
whose higher wages and salaries would be 

immediately distributed among the various 


VI] Replies to Objections 

producers and retailers of the necessaries 
and comforts of life — that is, among those 
constituting what we term generally " the 
middle classes," who may be said to 
constitute the very backbone of the 



High Wages are Good for Everybody 

If we look at the great problem of wages, 
as affecting the entire life and well-being 
of about three-fourths of the whole popu- 
lation, and try and divest ourselves of 
our ideas of what wages a particular kind 
of worker is worth, without any regard 
to the material and mental well-being of 
his wife and children, we shall be forced 
to the conclusion that nothing is so hurtful 
to the community at large, especially to 
the middle classes, as for the wages or 
earnings of all kinds of workers to be low ; 
and nothing is so beneficial as for them 

to be high. 


The Problem of Wages 

A Government cannot benefit its people 
at large more surely than by establishing 
a very high minimum wage for really 
necessary or useful work. Every thinker 
agrees (as they did at the Industrial 
Remuneration Conference held twenty-five 
years ago) that our aim and object should 
be *' to cause wealth to he more equally 
distributed." Yet, during the whole period 
that has elapsed since that Conference was 
held, successive Governments have acted 
as if their object was the very reverse ; 
with the natural result of increasing the 
number both of millionaires at one end of 
the scale, and of the excessively poor and 
destitute at the other. And they actually 
claim this as a merit ; for their supporters 
always refer to the increase of great for- 
tunes made mostly by foreign trade as a 
proof of general prosperity, and have 
always resisted giving their own employees 
more than a bare competition wage, on the 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch 

ground that it was their chief duty to save 
the pockets of the taxpayers ! 

The Just Basis of Taxation 
Till quite recently our various Govern- 
ments, whatever party has been in power, 
have claimed it as a merit that they have 
distributed taxation as equally as possible 
over the whole community, on the ground 
that the very poorest ought to contribute 
something towards the Government of 
which they are said to receive the benefits 
of law and order at home, and protection 
from invasion by foreign armies. We are 
now seeing the results of this policy in 
labour unrest, chronic strikes, and terrible 
destitution. The beginning of a juster and 
wiser policy has been made in the differen- 
tial taxation of very large incomes, but 
only a very small beginning. Justice and 
humanity alike should lead us to see that 
those who, by their hard and life-long toil, 
have created and still create the whole of 

VII] The Problem of Wages 

the national wealth, should not be taxed 
on the very small portion of that wealth 
which they have been allowed to retain — 
a bare sufficiency to support life. Justice 
and public policy alike demand that every 
penny of taxation should be taken from 
the superfluously wealthy at or near the 
other end of the scale. Thus, and thus 
only, could we cause the present insuffi- 
cient minimum wage to rise, first above 
the bare subsistence rate, and then by a 
steady increase to an amount sufficient 
to procure for all our workers the essentials 
for a full and enjoyable existence. Thus, 
and thus only, can we solve the crucial 
problem of our day, that of the long 
expected and perfectly justifiable revolt of 
the workers, euphemistically termed the 
" Labour Unrest." 

The Class-Prejudice against High Wages 
Perhaps more difficult to overcome than 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 

the supposed economical dangers of high 
wages is the class-prejudice. This is really 
due to differences of education, of forms 
of speech and of manners, rather than to 
any real difference either in physical or 
mental powers. As human beings the 
workers with their hands, commonly called 
the '* working class," know themselves to 
be fully equal to those who look down 
upon them as inferiors ; and they are 
beginning to resent this claim to superiority. 
They know, too, that their work is really 
more important than that of many pro- 
fessional men, such as lawyers and the 
mass of Government officials, and that the 
scale of remuneration of the two classes 
should be more nearly alike. The idea that 
the work of a carpenter or engineer, of a 
bricklayer or of a ploughman is intrinsically 
worth less than that of a Member of Parlia- 
ment, an officer in the Army, or the owner 
of a cotton-mill they no longer accept. 


vn] The Problem of Wages 

They have read history, and they know 
that these class-ideas are derived from 
feudal times, when all manual labour was 
done by serfs, or by peasants only one 
degree higher in the scale. They see 
many of their own class becoming rich, 
and then being received as equals by 
those who term themselves " Society " ; 
and they see, too, that these upstarts, as 
they are sometimes termed, are often not 
even the best examples of their own class. 

It is this widespread belief in there 
being a '' lower class " among us — hewers 
of wood and drawers of water — whose 
intrinsic worth as human beings is measured 
by the small wages they receive, that 
causes the proposal to raise their earnings 
to what we now term " a living wage " to 
be widely resented, as if it were something 
dangerous, unnecessary, or even immoral. 

Most liberal thinkers now agree that 
wages ought to be much higher than they 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch 

are ; but unless they rise automatically 
in obedience to some mysterious eco- 
nomic law, not even the most advanced 
Government in the most advanced country 
in the world has yet dared to make the 
attempt to improve the condition of its 
vast army of employees by raising them, 
on principle, well above " the margin of 
poverty." So great and so widespread is 
this objection that there are, perhaps, not 
more than two or three members of our 
present Government who would welcome 
with any approach to enthusiasm such a 
proposal as I have outlined here. When 
it was recently stated that certain classes 
of men in the Navy were to receive an 
increase of pay it was at first denied, 
as if it were too extravagant to be 
thought of by an economical Liberal 

It is, however, certain that we have 
now reached a point in our political history 


VII] The Problem of Wages 

which will necessitate much more direct 
and radical measures than have yet been 
taken to ensure the immediate abolition 
of that disgrace of our civilisation — starva- 
tion, and suicide from dread of starvation. 

It is for this reason that I have now 
placed before the public the simplest and 
most direct method of doing this, with- 
out any special legislation ; and I most 
earnestly urge the Labour Party, as well 
as advanced thinkers of all parties in 
Parliament, to use their influence with the 
present Government to give it effect. 

The wages of the lower classes of 
Government clerks, etc., are, I believe, 
being frequently modified by the various 
heads of departments without any special 
sanction from Parliament ; and as I have 
now shown how every step of the process 
of more equal wealth-distribution by a 
steady rise of wages will injure few or 
none, but will in various ways benefit us 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch 

all, there can be no sufficiently serious 
objection to its being immediately begun. 

I would also with equal earnestness 
urge upon the Government itself to press 
forward this matter — the abolition of desti- 
tution — without a single day's further delay. 
Every day sees numerous deaths by starv- 
ation at our very doors. Yet these have 
come to be looked upon as due to " natural 
causes," implying that it is quite a natural 
and inevitable thing that, in this super- 
wealthy country, thousands of men, women, 
and children should be continually starv- 
ing ! Were not the position so terribly, so 
disgracefully pathetic, it would be ludic- 
rous. It reminds one of David Copper- 
field's arrival at his aunt's house at Dover 
in a dreadfully dilapidated condition after 
a six days' walk from London, having 
slept every night in the fields. Mr. Dick 
was called to hear his story ; and on being 
asked by Miss Betsy Trotwood what she 

VII] The Problem of Wages 

should do with him, looked him all over 
very carefully, and said without hesita- 
tion : " If I were you, I should wash him." 
On which Miss Betsy ordered a hot bath 
to be got ready, declaring that Mr. Dick 
sets us all right ! 

But the most advanced and Liberal 
Government we have ever had, has for 
the last seven years looked on tens of 
thousands of destitute humanity far worse 
off than was David Copperfield, without 
arriving at the practical wisdom of first 
feeding and clothing them, and afterwards 
inquiring and discussing how to prevent 
them from getting into the same trouble 
again. I, therefore, take the place of poor 
Mr. Dick as an adviser, and venture to 
assure them that the problem is not really 
insoluble, and that the common idea, that 
the pitiable condition of the starving 
population is " their own fault,'' is not the 
correct diagnosis of this social disease. 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch 

Popular Errors as to the Effects of High 
Wages on Prices 

One of the most common objections to 
a general increase of wages, and one of the 
most difficult to reply to, is, that it would 
inevitably lead to a general rise of prices, 
equal to, and sometimes greater than, the 
increase of wages. The reason why it is 
difhcult to reply to this supposed fact is 
because the retail prices of the necessaries 
of life depend upon a variety of causes, of 
which a rise or fall in the wages of those 
who produce them is sometimes an import- 
ant and at other times a very unimportant 
item ; and also because, as a matter of 
fact, wages and prices have, sometimes, 
risen or fallen together as if they were 
directly connected. 

This whole question of the well-being 
of the wage-receiving classes is often 
obscured by considering wages alone, or 
hours of working, or prices of food, which 


vu] The Problem of Wages 

may all vary in different degrees, and be 
due to quite different causes. The result 
thus reached is often largely modified by 
an increase of rents, of rates, or in the 
price of such a necessary as coals, while a 
still further complication is introduced by 
local causes, such as the time, labour, or 
cost of reaching his place of work, which 
may seriously reduce a workman's net 
earnings, as well as his hours of actual 
labour. Personal observation during the 
last fifty years leads me to conclude that, 
amid constant fluctuations in wages and 
in food prices, and constant rise in the 
rental of houses and of land, the average 
wage-earner has continued to live in much 
the same low condition as regards the 
necessaries and comforts of life. 

But during this whole period there has 
been a continuous increase in the numbers 
of the very poor, the destitute, and the 
actually starving ; serving as a balance to 


The Revolt of Democracy 

a similar increase in the numbers of those 
who Uve in great or superfluous luxury. 
Let us then endeavour to see how this 
long-continued process and baneful result 
can be changed in the future. 



As a matter of public policy, no less than 
of common humanity, it is essential that 
all Government and municipal employees, 
including labourers of all kinds, be paid 
a full and sufficient living wage as a mini- 
mum, rising to at least the highest trades 
union wages at the time. To prevent any 
lowering of the latter, by increase of 
population, fluctuations in trade, new 
labour-saving machinery and other causes 
of unemployment, it is equally essential 
that those who have hitherto been dis- 
charged when no longer wanted should be 
provided with self-supporting work. 

This can best be done in connection 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch 

with the re-occupation of the land, which 
is now seen to be of vital importance by 
most social reformers. No more blind and 
disastrous policy has ever been pursued by 
a civilised community than that of our 
wealthy and money-making classes, who 
have during half-a-century, in pursuit of 
wealth, discouraged the cultivation of land, 
and forced the inhabitants of our once 
numerous self-supporting villages, and 
especially our half-starved agricultural 
labourers, into the cities and towns, to be 
exploited by manufacturers and landlords. 
The result to-day is a vast mass of unem- 
ployed, keeping down wages to the starving 
point, together with an infant mortality that 
is a disgrace to a civilised community. 

Having thus destroyed the old rural 
populations which were for centuries the 
pride and strength of Britain, it now be- 
comes the duty of the Government to 
build up a new and a better form of rural 


VIII] The Remedy for Unemployment 

society to replace it. To do this we require 
far stronger measures than the miserable 
red-tapism of our Small Holdings Acts, 
which are ludicrously ineffective and even 
harmful. We have examples in Denmark, 
in Italy, and even in Ireland, of admirable 
results of co-operative cultivation, where 
extensive areas of land are dealt with, and 
either private or municipal associations 
help on the work. 

For this purpose a large portion of the 
agricultural land of England, which has 
been so misused by its owners, must be 
acquired by the Government in trust for 
the nation. This can be best done by a 
further increase of the death duties and 
land taxes ; to be paid in land itself 
instead of in money : while, wherever 
there are no direct heirs who may have 
a sentimental affection for their ancestral 
home, large landed estates of suitable 
character and position should be purchased 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch 

at the official valuation and utilised at 
once either by the State, the municipality, 
trade unions, or co-operative societies, to 
establish self-supporting colonies, on the 
plan fiist clearly described by Mr. Herbert 
V. Mills in his Poverty and the State, and 
further developed by myself in the second 
volume of my Studies, Scientific and Social. 
The great essentials in starting such 
methods of dealing with the problems of 
poverty and unemployment are liberality 
and sympathy. Ample funds should be 
provided for supporting each colony for 
the first two or three years ; the land 
should be rent-free for at least the same 
period ; and the greatest amount of liberty 
should be given to all the workers com- 
patible with the success of the experiments. 
No expense can be too great to establish 
a system of land re-occupation which will 
abolish poverty ; and just as certainly 

as a continuous rise in wages wdll 


vm] The Remedy for Unemployment 

repay its cost in the general well-being of 
the lower and middle classes, so, with 
equal certainty, will the still greater ex- 
penditure necessary for the productive 
re-occupation of our uncultivated or half- 
cultivated soil complete the regeneration, 
the power, and the safety of the British 

Everyone interested in the subject here 
discussed should read Our National Food 
Supply, by James Lumsden : perhaps the 
most original, suggestive, and vitally im- 
portant work on the subject that has yet 

One of the injurious results of our 
competitive system, having its roots, how- 
ever, in the valuable " guilds " of a past 
epoch, is the almost universal restriction 
of our workers to one kind of labour only. 
The result is a dreadful monotony in almost 
all kinds of work, the extreme unhealthi- 
ness of many, and a much larger amount 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch 

of unemployment than if each man or 
woman were regularly trained in two or 
more occupations. In addition to two of 
what are commonly called trades, every 
youth should be trained for one day a 
week or one week in a month, according 
to demand for labour, in some of the 
various operations of farming or gardening. 
Not only would this improve the general 
health of the workers, but also add much 
to the interest and enjoyment of their 
lives. This is a matter of great national 
importance, because it would supply in 
every locality a body of trained workers 
ready to assist the farmers at all critical 
periods, and thus save valuable crops from 
almost total loss during unfavourable 
seasons. The gain to the whole nation by 
such a supply of labour, whenever needed, 
would be enormous, and it would 
also lead to pleasant social meetings like 

those of the " bees " in the early years 


viii] The Remedy for Unemployment 

of American colonisation. Such gatherings 
would combine a holiday with national 
service, when the whole strength of the 
population would be put forth to save 
the national food. 

This form of multiple industrial train- 
ing should be commenced at once in con- 
nection with all Government employment ; 
and it should be further developed as a 
part of our system of education, in the 
various colonies or villages established for 
the absorption of the unemployed. Its 
advantages would be so great both to the 
workers and to the nation, that the various 
trade unions may be expected to adopt 
it ; and they should be assisted to do so 
by ample Government grants, or by the 
free provision of the land and buildings 
required, so long as they were used for this 
great national service. 



It may be well here to consider what 
would be the economic result if the 
labour of the whole country were com- 
pletely organised and its various depart- 
ments co-ordinated, so that production and 
consumption should be as nearly as possible 
balanced in the various local communities. 
This local co-ordination of production and 
distribution has never, hitherto, been at- 
tempted on an adequate scale, yet it is 
through such co-ordination alone that co- 
operative labour can produce its most 
beneficial results, by means of a number of 
hitherto unknown and apparently almost 
unsuspected economies, to the enormous 

gain of the whole community. The more im- 


Co-ordinated Labour 

portant of these may be briefly enumerated. 
The first of these great economies would 
arise from the absence of surplus crops or 
manufactured goods beyond the ascer- 
tained monthly or yearly amount required 
for the use of the local population. From 
this approximate balance of production 
with consumption the proportional cost of 
each article in labour-power would be 
calculated, and their several exchange- 
values or true economic prices be ascer- 
tained. The use of a more expensive 
article when a less costly one would be 
equally serviceable would then be easily 
checked, and the great loss incurred by the 
forced sale of such articles would cease. 

Far more important than this, however, 
would be the entire abolition of every 
form of advertisement, such as those in 
our newspapers and placards, in costly 
shop-windows, in high rents, and in the 
employment of a whole army of agents 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 
and commercial travellers, whose business 
is to puff and exaggerate the qualities of 
their respective goods, so as to induce 
retailers and private purchasers to buy 
things that are of little or no use to them, 
and often, as in the case of foods and 
medicines, positively injurious. 

It has been estimated that, on the 
average, these costly processes of com- 
petitive sale lead to the consumer paying 
about double, and in some cases much 
more than double, the real cost of produc- 
tion. Here, then, we have an economy 
which would enable wages to be largely 
increased, and sometimes even doubled, 
without adding to the retail price of the 
various necessaries or comforts of life. But 
even this would not be the whole of the 
economy that would follow such a mode of 
truly co-ordinated production for use and 
not for profit. It is well known that in all 

manufactured goods a large economy results 


K] Co-ordinated Labour 

from an increased demand, enabling 
the whole of the machinery to be almost 
continuously employed at its full power. 
In addition to this, another economy 
of the same nature, but perhaps of still 
greater extent, would arise from there 
being no such necessity for the manu- 
facture of new articles or new patterns 
or colours every year, as the competition 
of numerous manufacturers now compels 
them to seek for. These new things or pat- 
terns are often very inferior to the older 
ones, which the purchaser is assured " are 
quite gone out now." 

As a concomitant of the competitive 
system, two almost world-wide immoralities 
are created : one is the universal practice of 
adulteration and the accompanying false 
descriptions of things sold ; the other is 
the equally vast system of false weights and 
measures, which, though of small amount 

to each purchaser, secures an unfair profit 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch 

at his expense. Our present competitive 
social system is, therefore, necessarily im- 
moral, as well as extremely wasteful ; yet, 
strange to say, it is almost universally held 
to be a necessary and a right system, 
founded on natural and unchangeable laws 
of social life. Those who see most clearly 
its evil results, and trace them to their 
root causes, monopoly and competition, 
are almost alwa3^s condemned as unprac- 
tical idealists or dangerous revolutionists. 
Another proof of the fundamental error 
of this system of society which is held to 
be so good and sacred as to be essentially 
unalterable is equally conducive. For more 
than a century this system has been slowly 
elaborated by a body of able men who are 
so admired by us, that we term them our 
"Merchant princes" and our "Captains 
of industry." Many of them are enormously 
wealthy and are supposed to be especially 

qualified as Members of Parliament, and 


IX] Co-ordinated Labour 

they possess great influence in directing the 
course of legislation. Yet this wealth and 
power were obtained by means of a system 
of industry which soon became a byword 
for all that was vile and degrading to the 
workers who were employed. Everything 
was arranged so as to get the most profit 
out of the " hands," as the factory- workers 
were termed. The mills were unhealthy, 
the wages low, and the hours of labour 
long. In the early part of the nineteenth 
century, children of five or six years old 
were kept in the mills thirteen or fourteen 
hours a day, and were often flogged by the 
overseers to keep them awake ; and it 
needed a long succession of Factory Laws, 
all bitterly opposed by the employers, to 
mitigate the evils which till recently existed, 
and which were only got rid of by the 
continued efforts of a few determined 
humanitarians. An army of inspectors 
had to be appointed to see that these laws 

H 65 

The Revolt of Democracy [ch 
were obeyed. Yet even now the net result 
of our strictly supervised manufacturing 
system is that whole districts are defaced 
by dense palls of smoke, and the vegeta- 
tion is often destroyed by poisonous 
vapours ; that our great cities are dis- 
figured by hideous and filthy slums ; that 
a large proportion of our manufactures are 
carried on under such conditions as to 
produce painful disabling or fatal diseases ; 
while the infant mortality in all these areas 
of wealth-production, of which we are so 
proud, is about double what it is in other 
parts of the same towns or cities. 

The various facts and considerations 
now adduced demonstrate that a well- 
arranged system of co-operative production 
and co-ordinated distribution, whether 
carried out by the Government, muni- 
cipality, or private associations of the 
workers, which the trade unions them- 


IX] Co-ordinated Labour 

selves might combine to establish, would 
result in so many economies in various 
directions as to render it possible in a few 
years to double, or more than double, the 
effective wages the workers now receive, 
but which, under existing conditions, they 
can only hope to raise by the slow and 
costly process of recurrent strikes. This 
sketch of the economics of the problem is 
now brought before the Labour Party in. 
order that it may have a definite pro- 
gramme to work for, and may be able to 
enforce its claims upon the Government 
with all the weight of its combined and 
determined action. I 



I HAVE now shown that an increase in the 
rate of wages does not necessarily raise 
prices in a proportionate degree, but, on 
the contrary, that, under conditions not 
difficult to obtain, such enormous econo- 
mies both in production and distribution 
may be effected as to result in a very large 
balance in favour both of the producer 
and the consumer. This, however, relates 
to our home trade only, and it will be said, 
and has often been said, that as regards 
our foreign trade the case is quite different. 
In such goods as minerals, metal-work, and 
most textile fabrics, wages form a large 
portion of the cost, and it is argued that a 


High Wages and Foreign Trade 

considerable rise will render us quite un- 
able to compete with Germany, France, or 
America in the chief markets of the world. 
Now, it is a remarkable circumstance 
that the Labour Party and their friends in 
and out of Parliament seem to be quite 
unaware of the fallacy of this statement. 
It is quite true that if wages rose in one 
industry only, our foreign trade might be 
injured or even ruined in those special 
goods. But if, as is here supposed to be 
the case, there was a general rise of wages 
in all industries, such as would be caused 
by bringing about a high " living wage," 
sufficient at its lowest to keep every work- 
man and his family in health and comfort 
with a reasonable amount of the enjoy- 
ments of life, then our foreign trade in 
the markets of the world would not 
in any way be diminished or become less 

This results from the fact admitted by 

The Revolt of Democracy [ch 

all political economists, that foreign trade 
is essentially barter, since we send abroad 
those goods which we produce at the 
lowest cost proportionately, and import 
those only which no other country pro- 
duces at a lower proportionate cost than 
we do. In this set of transactions, as a 
whole, the part played by money is merely 
to enable both parties to keep their ac- 
counts and determine what goods it is 
advantageous to them to export and what 
to import. Hence money has been defined 
as the " tool of exchange." If, therefore, 
our wages bill were doubled by the adop- 
tion of a high " minimum wage," that 
would not make any alteration (or very 
little) in the proportionate cost of the things 
we export and those we import. 

This question is discussed with great 
care and thoroughness by J. S. Mill, in 
his great work, The Principles of Political 

Economy ; but as the subject is referred 


X] High Wages and Foreign Trade 

to more than once, and for different pur- 
poses, it requires very close attention to 
realise its full importance. It is discussed 
most fully in his Book III., Chap. XVII., 
"Of International Trade," where he says : 

" It is not a difference in the absolute cost of pro- 
duction which determines the interchange, but a 
difference in the comparative cost " ; 

and this is illustrated by an account of 
many actual cases of our dealings with 
other countries, in which he shows that — 

" We may often by trading with foreigners obtain 
their commodities at a smaller expense of labour and 
capital than they coad to the foreigners themselves. 
The bargain is still advantageous to the foreigner, 
because the commodity which he receives in ex- 
change, though it has cost us less, would have cost 
him more." 

Then, later on, in Chap. XXV. of the 

same Book, dealing with " Competition of 

Countries in the same Market " (page 414 

of The People's Edition), he says, as a 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 

terse summary of the facts and arguments 
he has set forth : 

" General low wages never caused any country 
to undersell its rivals, nor did general high wages 
ever hinder it from doing so." 

I venture to hope that, in future, the 
speakers among the Labour Party in Par- 
liament will not allow the bugbear of 
" ruin to our foreign trade " to deter 
them from claiming their admitted right 
to a " living wage" throughout the whole 
country. Such wage must be determined 
by what is needed to supply an average 
working-man's family with all the neces- 
saries of life in ample abundance, together 
with all such modest comforts as are 
beneficial to health of mind and body. 
It must be estimated as payment for five 
or five and a half days of eight hours 
each at the utmost, any overtime neces- 
sitated by the nature of the employment 


xj High Wages and Foreign Trade 

or by exceptional events to be paid at 
double the normal rates. 

I have now shown that a general rise 
of wages, if accompanied by the absorp- 
tion of all the unemployed in duly co- 
ordinated productive labour, so far from 
raising prices in the open market, will 
result in so many and such great econo- 
mies as to allow of a considerable lowering 
of price of the chief necessaries and com- 
forts of Hfe, and will, therefore, add still 
further to the well-being of the whole of 
the workers, whether skilled or unskilled, 
whether receiving wages from capitalist 
employers, or working in co-operative and 
self-supporting village communities. 




I HAVE now endeavoured to place before 
my readers, and especially before the 
Labour Party, the series of economic 
fallacies which alone prevent them from 
claiming and obtaining, for the workers 
of the whole country, a continuously in- 
creasing share of the entire product of 
their labour. 

The chief of these fallacies is, that there 
is any necessary connection between wages 
and prices, so that the former cannot be 
raised without the latter increasing also 
to an equal amount. Of course, in such 
a fundamentally unjust social system as 
that in which we live, we cannot abolish 


A Rational Solution 

all the wrongs and evils of low wages, 
unemployment, and starvation, by a more 
just and rational system without partial 
and temporary losses to a few individuals ; 
but by adopting the course here advo- 
cated, these losses will be small in amount 
and quickly remedied. This will be es- 
pecially the case with our foreign trade, 
as to which it has been again and 
again asserted that higher wages will 
lead to ruin. But, as has been clearly 
shown in the preceding chapter, no such 
loss would occur if high wages were 
universal, such as would result from a 
general minimum of 30s. or £2 a week 
for every adult worker in the kingdom, 
while a large maj ority would receive much 
more than this. Even in such an extreme 
case as this our merchants might continue 
to export and import the same products 
in the same quantities as before, and 

with the same average amount of profit. 


The Revolt of Democracy [ch. 

Recurring to the statements of Mr. 
Vernon Hartshorn and Mr. Anderson as 
to what the workers insist upon as the 
very lowest living wage, but which it is 
clear they will never obtain by negotiation 
with their employers, I again urge upon 
them to concentrate their rapidly increas- 
ing influence and voting power upon the 
Government, compelling it to use the full 
resources of the National Credit to abolish 
starvation at once, and simultaneously 
to organise the vast body of Government 
employees in such a manner as to be able 
to absorb into its ranks the whole of the 
unemployed workers as they arise. These 
may be looked upon as the waste product 
of our disorganised and inhuman com- 
petitive system, indicating the fermenta- 
tion and disease ever going on in its lower 

The principle of competition — a life 

and death struggle for bare existence — 


XI] A Rational Solution 

has had more than a century's unbroken 
trial under conditions created by its up- 
holders, and it has absolutely failed. The 
workers, now for the first time, know why 
it is that with ever-increasing production 
of wealth so many of them still suffer the 
most terrible extremes of want and of 
preventable disease. There must, there- 
fore, be no further compromise, no mere 
talking. To allow the present state of 
things to continue is a crime against 
humanity. Any Government that will not 
abolish starvation in this land of super- 
fluous wealth must be driven from power. 
The forces of Labour, if united in the 
demand for this one primary object, must 
and will succeed. Then will easily follow 
the general rise of wages at the cost of 
our unprecedented individual wealth, and 
the absorption of the unemployed in self- 
supporting communities, re-occupying our 
deserted land, and bringing about a more 


The Revolt of Democracy 

general and more beneficial prosperity than 
our country has ever before enjoyed. 

This must be the great and noble 
work of our statesmen of to-day and of 
to-morrow. May they prove themselves 
equal to the great opportunity which the 
justifiable revolt of Labour has now 
afforded them. 


Acts of Parliament, aggravation 

of social disease by, 6 
Adulteration, immorality of, 63 
Advertisement, abolition of, 61 
Anderson, Mr., on the labour 

problem, 20, 76 
Asquith, Mr., 8 
— and minimum wage, 28 

" Bees," American, 58 
Booth, Mr. C, 32 
Bread, free, advocated, 24 
Budget of 1909, 8 
Burns, Mr. John, 8 

CampbeItL-Bannerman, Sir H., 
on the duty of a govern- 
ment, 7 
Capitalism, private, 3 
Capitahsts, 4 
Charity, sufficiency of, 23 
Children, employment of, 65 
Civil Service, Government and, 

Civilisation, conditions of work- 
ers disgrace to, 12 
Class ideas, 44 
— , parasites of wealthy, 4 
— , upper, creation of an, 2 
Colonies, self-supporting, 56 
Competitive system, aboUtion of, 
by co-ordinated labour, 60 

, creators of, 64 

, evils of, 5 

, failiure of, 76 

, immoralities of, 63 

, outhne of, 3 

, results of, on workers, 5 7 

. wastefulness of, 63 

Contract work, Government and, 

34, 38 
Co-operative agriculture, 55 

— distribution, 66 

— economies, 60 

— labour, effects of, on wages, 


Death Duties, 34, 55 
Democracy its own emancipator, 


Denmark, co-operative cultiva- 
tion in, 55 

Destitution, 2, 7 

— , co-operative, 66 

— , Government and, 23, 26, 47 

— , increase of, 51 (see also 
Poverty, Starvation) 

Disease, social, 3 

Diseases, industrial, 66 

Drage, Mr. G., on the labour 
problem, 19 

Education 21 

— and class- prejudice, 44 

— , industrial, as a remedy for 

unemployment, 58 
Eight hours day, 14 
Employment, Government, 

scheme of, 28 

, objections to, 35 

Era, dawn of a new, 7 
Exchange, money simply the 

tool of, 70 

Factories, removal of, to coun- 
try, 34 
Factory laws, 65 



Farming, need for education in, 

Foreign trade, 75 
, effects of high wages on, 


, increase of, 41 

is barter, 70 

, J. Stuart Mill on, 70 

Gardening, need for education 

in, 58 
George, Mr. D. Lloyd, 8, 36 
Gladstone, W. K., and the social 

disease, 6 
Government and agricultural 

land, 55 

— and Civil Service, 31 

— and contract work, 34, 38 

— and destitution, 23, 26, 47 
— , duty of, 7, 22 

— employment, minimum wage 

for, 76 

, objection to, 35 

, scheme of, 28 

wages, 47 

— and industrial education, 59 
Guardians of the Poor, 6 

Harcourt, Sir \Vm., and the 

social disease, 6 
Harrison, Mr. F., on the labour 

problem, 1 8 
Hartshorn, Mr. V., on the 

workers' claims, 14, 76 
Housing, 21 

Industrial conditions in nine- 
teenth century, 64 

— disease, 3 

— diseases, 66 

— education as a remedy for 

unemployment, 58 

— peace, path to, 17 

— Remuneration Conference, 41 
Infant mortality, 54, 66 
Inquiries, Parliamentary, inef- 
fectiveness of, I 

Invention of machinery, 2 
Ireland, co-operative cultivation 

in, 5 5 
Italy, co-operative cultivation 

in, 5 5 

Labour, battle cry of, 21 
— , co-ordinated, economies of, 

— Party, and theory of wages, 


, demand of, for remedy for 

social disease, 27 

— problem, economics of, 66 
, fallacies concerning, 74 

— — , restriction of workers, 57 
, solution of, 74 

— unrest, 1 1 

, labour leaders on the, 1 7 

, no definite plan to settle, 


, W. T. Stead on, 31 

Land, agricultural, should be 

acquired by Government, 

— , co-operative cultivation of. 

5 5 

— monopoly, 3 

— Nationalisation Societies, i 
— , re-occupation of, as remedy 

for unemployment, 53 
— , — , scheme for, 55 

— taxes, 34 

Law, Mr. S., on the labour 

problem, 1 9 
Legislation designed to solve 

social problems, 2 
Leisure, 21 
Lumsden, James, " Qui National 

Food Supply," 57 
Luxtury, increase of, 52 

Machinery, invention of, 2 
Mechanical power and effect on 

wealth, 2 
Middlemen, increase of, 3 
Mill, J . Stuart, on wages, 7 1 
Mills, Mr. H. V., 12, 56 



Minimum wage, 28, 41, 43, 53 

for Governm.ent employees, 


, national, 21 

Money, in foreign trade, 70 

National expenditure, 27 

— insurance, 15 
Nineteenth century, industrial 

conditions in, 64 

Old-AGE pensions, 8 

" Oiir National Food Supply," 57 

Poor Laws, inefficiency of, 23 
Poverty, 27, 51 

— abolition of, 5 

— Government and, 23, 26, 47 
— , re-occupation of land as 

remedy for, 53 
— , self-supporting colonies a 

remedy for, 56 
— , starting points in dealing 

with, 56 
" Poverty and the State," 12, 56 

— (See also Destitution, Starva- 

Prices, Isalance of production 
and, 60 

— and wages, 68, 74 

— , effects of high wages on, 50 
" Principles of PoUtical 

Economy," 70 
Production, balance of, 60 

Religion, upholder of competi- 
tive system, 5 

Rowntree, Mr. S., on the labour 
problem, 18, 32 

Rural populations, destruction 
of. 54 

, necessity for building up, 


Science, upholder of competitive 

system, 5 
Scientific discovery, appUca- 

tion of, 2 

Slums, 65 . 

Small Holdings Acts, inefficiency 

.of, 55 
Social disease, 3, 27 

— problems, legislation designed 

to solve, 2 
Starvation, 3, 6, ^7 
— , aboUtion of, 7;^ 
— , deaths from, 48 
— , disgrace of civiUsation, 47 
" Starvation, How to Stop," 24 
— , responsibility of Govern- 
ment for, 77 

— (See also Destitution, Poverty) 
Stead, W. T., on industrial dis- 
content, 31 

Strikes, cause of, 8 

— effect of, on agitation for 

minimum wage, 29 

— effects of, 9 

— , lessons of the, 1 1 

— , no remedy, 21 

" Studies, Scientific and Social," 

Suicide, 47 

Taxation, 36 

— , effect of, present system of, 

— , just, 42 

— of large incomes, 42 
Trade descriptions, false, 63 

— Foreign (see Foreign, 

— Unions, organisation of, 9 

Unemployment, 7, 53 

— , cause of, 5 7 a 

— , industrial education as a 

remedy for, 58 
— , productive work essential 

for, 53 
— , re-occupation of land as a 

remedy for, 53 
— , self-supporting colonies as a 

remedy for, 56 
— , starting points in dealing 

with, 56 



Wage, minimum, 28, 41, 43, 53 

for Government employees, 


national minimum, 21 

Wages, false law of, 6 

— , Government employees, 47 

— , high, errors regarding, 50 

, class prejudice against, 43 

— , effects of, 35, 73 

, foreign trade and, 68 

, need for, 46 

— , J. Stuart MiU on, 70 
— prices and, 68, 74 
— , problem of, 40 
" Want, Remedy for," 24 

Want (See Destitution. Poverty, 

Wealth, increase of, 2 
Weights and measures, false, 

" Wonderful Century," 24 
Work, productive, essential for 

unemployed, 53 
— , two classes of, 44 
Workers, claim of the, 14 
— , condition of, a disgrace to 

civilisation, 1 2 
— , stationary condition of aver- 
age, 51 
Workhouses, 6 


Prikted by 

Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauvage, 

London. E.C. 

This book is DUE on the last date stamped below 

tD n^C 1 




Ra-u '-'' 




~ ^.:-.T' 

MAR 8190(7 


Form L-9-15)7i-7,'32 




y' I 


AA 001098172 8