My Life: A Record of Events and Opinions

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Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer and biologist, best remembered as the co-discoverer, with Darwin, of natural selection. His extensive fieldwork and advocacy of the theory of evolution led to him being considered one of the nineteenth century's foremost biologists. He was later moved by a variety of personal experiences to examine the concept of spirituality, but his exploration into the potential for compatibility between spiritualism and natural selection alienated him from the scientific community. He was also a social activist, highly critical of unjust social and economic systems in nineteenth-century Britain, and one of the first prominent scientists to express concern over the environmental impact of human activity. This autobiography was first published in 1905. Volume 2 deals with his many eminent acquaintances, including Darwin and Huxley, his lecture tour in America, and his involvement with spiritualism and with social activism.

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CHAPTER III HERTFORD : THE HOME OF MY BOYHOOD My recollections of our leaving Usk and of the journey to London are very faint, only one incident of it being clearly visualizedthe crossing the Severn at the Old Passage in an open ferry-boat. This is so very clear to me, possibly because it was the first time I had ever been in a boat . I remember sitting with my mother and sisters on a seat at one side of the boat, which seemed to me about as wide as a small room, of its leaning over so that we were close to the water, and especially of the great boom of the mainsail, when our course was changed, requiring us all to stoop our heads for it to swing over us. It was a little awful to me, and I think we were all glad when it was over and we were safe on land again. We must have travelled all day by coach from Usk to the Severn, then on to Bristol, then from Bristol to London. I think we must have started very early in the morning and have reached London late in the evening, as I do not remember staying a night on the way, and the stage then travelled at an average speed of ten miles an hour over good roads and in the summer time. The monotony of the journey probably tired me so that it left no impression ; but besides the ferry-boat the only other incident I can clearly recall is our sleeping at an old inn in London, and our breakfast there the next morning. I rather think the inn was the Green Man, or some such name, in Holborn, and the one thing that lives in my memory is that in the morning my mother ordered coffee for breakfast, and said to the waiter, " Mind and make it good." The result of which injunction was that it was nearlyblack, and so strong that none of the party coulddrink it, till boiling water was brought for us to dilute it with. I, of course, had only milk an...
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Table of Contents

25. My friends and acquaintances – Darwin; 26. My friends and acquaintances – Spencer, Huxley, Mivart, etc.; 27. My friends and acquaintances – Sir James Brooke, Professor Rolleston, Mr. Aug. Mongredien, Sir Richard Owen, Dr. Richard Spruce; 28. My friends and acquaintances – Dr. Purland, Mr. Samuel Butler, Professor Haughton; 29. Sketch of my life and work, 1871-1886; 30. An American lecture tour – Boston to Washington; 31. Lecturing tour in America – Washington to San Francisco; 32. Lecturing tour in America – California to Quebec; 33. Literary work, etc., 1887-1905; 34. Land nationalization to socialism, and the friends they brought me; 35. Mesmerism to Spiritualism – correspondence with scientific and literary men; 36. Two biological inquirers: an episode in the history of Spiritualism; 37. Spiritualistic experiences in England and America; 38. The anti-vaccination crusade; 39. A chapter on money matters – earnings and losses – speculations and law-suits; 40. My character – new ideas – predictions fulfilled; Addendum; Index.

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