Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

Letter to W. T. Stead (S646b: 1907)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter concerning working in the tropics sent to W. T. Stead, and printed in the latter's article "Brazil at the Hague" in The Review of Reviews (London) issue of November 1907. Original pagination indicated within double brackets. To link directly to this page, connect with:

[[p. 24]] Broadstone Wimborne, Oct. 24, 1907.

     Several people have ridiculed my statements at pp. 230-232 of my "Amazon and Rio Negro," and have quoted the many failures of German, French, English and other emigrants. But in every case those emigrants have set themselves to work to produce something for sale--crops, timber, rubber, cacao, coffee, sarsaparilla, etc., etc.; and, of course, doing this on a small scale, taking their produce to towns, selling at the cheapest rate (in competition with capitalists) and buying at the dearest (of retail shopkeepers) they can barely live.

     But if they are content to work at first wholly and solely to produce necessaries--then, a little later, comforts--they will be able in a few years to obtain both luxuries and leisure! Of course, I take it for granted there must be some one of the party at least who has experience of the country, of the soil, of the climate, and of the people, both Europeans and natives, and who has either practised or carefully observed the mode of cultivation of the various products I refer to. That is needed everywhere in the country. But given that experience--a careful selection of the site, securing an ample tract of ground, say eight or ten square miles of good soil, either partially cleared or with nearly all forest, and with the amount of clear capital I mention (.50 per family), besides the necessary outfit of clothes and tools--then, I still feel sure that all I have stated could be realised.

     [[p. 25]] Of course if people go out direct from England who have never been out of it, even if they are fair gardeners or farmers, and go with the idea of making money, they will inevitably make a mess of it. They will then inevitably drift into trading, which will excite the opposition and enmity of the Portuguese and Brazilians, and they will in a year or two drift into the towns or come back beggars! But the right people with the right ideas would certainly succeed!--Yours very truly,

(Signed) Alfred R. Wallace.

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