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

Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace. (S752c: 1913)
Nonagenarian Scientist's Birthday at Broadstone.
Interesting Interview.

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: An anonymous story and interview printed on page 7 of the 11 January 1913 issue of The Bournemouth Guardian. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S752C.htm

     Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, O.M., was the recipient of many congratulations at his residence, Old Orchard, Broadstone, on Wednesday, on the occasion of celebrating the completion of his 90th year. The eminent scientist spent the day very quietly, surrounded by members of his family. The early post brought kindly letters from personal friends, whilst telegrams were being received until late in the afternoon.

     The beautifully situated home among the pines and heather at Broadstone, from which some charming views of Poole Harbour and the Purbeck Hills are to be obtained, was also the Mecca of numerous callers from far and near. Practically every available room in the house was occupied by friends, but Dr. Wallace allowed a break in the felicitations that were being showered upon him for a few minutes' conversation in the library surrounded by his favourite books. Dr. Wallace, with considerable agility for a man of his great age, rose to greet a representative of the "Bournemouth Guardian." His eyes were alert, and he seemed to possess a vitality often absent in men of much younger years.

     "Have you received many congratulations to-day, doctor," asked the interviewer. "A good many for me," replied Dr. Wallace, "But not for some. The greater part are from personal friends, a few from societies, several from American admirers, and so on. There are some in German." After a moment's pause he continued: "By-the-bye, do you know German? I have received one in German text, but I think there is something wrong in its transmission, as from a translation made it does not read right." Unfortunately, the interviewer’s knowledge of the German language was very limited, and he could not assist the nonagenarian in his elucidation of the message.

     Seated in an easy chair, with spectacles on, Dr. Wallace readily replied to several queries. Asked as to the prospects of the betterment of mankind in 1913, the aged scientist said: "I think there will be little done in the present year, but I hope, unless there is a debacle in the Liberal Party, that something may be accomplished in the next ten or twenty years. You see, we move so dreadfully slow; there are so many things antagonistic to real advance."

     "As to the trend of modern legislation," he continued, "well, it is a great cry and little wool. I understand that a threatened great split in the Liberal Party has been going on for weeks and months, and I think it is in a high degree probable that there will be a row. I have always admired Mr. Asquith for his boldness in taking two such men as Mr. John Burns and Mr. Lloyd George into the Cabinet, although the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was the first to promote the former of these to Cabinet rank. But for Mr. Asquith, who, before he became Prime Minister, was Chancellor of the Exchequer in Campbell-Bannerman's administration, to put Mr. Lloyd George in the same office showed wonderful liberality and also very great esteem in which he holds Mr. Lloyd George. As Prime Minister must be taken to endorse all that Mr. Lloyd George has done.

     "In his treatment, however, of the great coal and railway strikes of last year Mr. Asquith has shown dreadful timidity. He has been afraid to commit himself to any definite and real and lasting remedy, the consequences being to hush up and stop the strikes for a time. But they will be as bad again until something is done of a thorough nature to put an end to these disturbances between employer and employed."

     Dr. Wallace was very emphatic as to Mr. Lloyd George's land policy. "I believe myself," he went on, "that what the Chancellor wants to do with regard to land should secure the Liberal Party great strength in voting power. It will doubtless make a good many enemies among capitalists and landlords, for the latter are in the main capitalists, but if the Liberal Party get the votes capitalists and landlords ought to be ignored. With the franchise enlarged, one man one vote, and a backing up by those who will be benefited by a really advanced land policy--it is the only chance of the Liberal Party--a great majority would be secured at the next election.

     "If Lloyd George is to be dropped, and not to have a chance of formulating his policy, then the Liberal Party will be ignominiously defeated. What is wanted to-day is a bold, firm policy."

     "What do you think of the present position of Tariff Reform," was a question that brought forth a sarcastic and pronounced reply from the doctor. "Tariff Reform," he said, "is the greatest idiocy and nonsense in world. I don’t want to talk about it."

     In conclusion, Dr. Wallace said, "My opinion still is that the saving of life is the most important question of the times, infinitely more important than to acquire wealth. The rich seem to get more and more, and the poor to get worse and worse. The Liberal Party should declare that starvation must be stopped. It is no good simply to talk about it. The Government could do it tomorrow if they desired. The Labour Party could force the Government to do it if they were determined. The Government should give free bread or free sustenance to all who wanted it. It might cost a thousand or ten thousand a day, but no matter, it should be done. Efforts should be made to save human life, to save children from starvation, to save men and women from suicide owing to lack of food or from inability to secure necessaries for their children."

     There was a ring of sincerity the aged philosopher's voice as he wished his interviewer a cheery good afternoon before returning to chat freely with his guests. Dr. Wallace maintained a quiet yet somewhat breezy demeanour, and it was some time after darkness had closed in that he retired to a well-earned rest, apparently none the worse for a day of unusual excitement.

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