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continued depreciating so constantly as to be a source of great anxiety to me, and every effort to extricate myself by seeking better investments only made matters worse. It was at this time that the endeavour to get the Epping Forest appointment failed, and had it not been for the kindness of a relative, Miss Roberts, of Epsom, a cousin of my mother's, with whose family I had been intimate from my boyhood, I should have been in absolute want. She had intended to leave me £ 1000 in her will, but instead of doing so transferred it to me at once, and as it was in an excellent security, and brought me in from £50 to £65 a year, it was most welcome. I had sold my house at Grays fairly well, and in 1880 bought a piece of land and built a cottage at Godalming, so that I had a home of my own; but I had now to depend almost entirely on the little my books brought me in, together with a few lectures, reviews, and other articles. I had just finished writing my “ Island Life," and had no idea that I should ever write another important book, and I therefore saw no way of increasing my income, which was then barely sufficient to support my family and educate my two children in the most economical way. From this ever-increasing anxiety I was relieved through the grant of a Civil Service pension of £200, which came upon me as a very joyful surprise. My most intimate and confidential friend at this time was Mrs. Fisher (then Miss Buckley), and to her alone I mentioned my great losses, and my anxiety as to any sure source of income. Shortly afterwards she was visiting Darwin, and mentioned it to him, and he thought that a pension might be granted me in recognition of my scientific work. Huxley most kindly assisted in drawing up the necessary memorial to the Prime Minister, Mr. Gladstone, to whom Darwin wrote personally. He promptly assented, and the next year, 1881, the first payment was made. Other of my scientific friends, I believe, signed the memorial, but it is especially to the three named that I owe this very great relief from anxiety for the remainder of my life.
I have already stated that what at the time appeared to
be the great misfortune of the loss of about half of my whole Amazonian collections by the burning of the ship in which I was coming home, was in all probability a blessing in disguise, since it led me to visit the comparatively unknown Malay Archipelago, and, perhaps, also supplied the conditions which led me to think out independently the theory of natural selection. In like manner I am now inclined to see in the almost total loss of the money value of those rich collections, another of those curious indications that our misfortunes are often useful, or even necessary for bringing out our latent powers. I am, and have always been, constitutionally lazy, without any of that fiery energy and intense power of work possessed by such men as Huxley and Charles Kingsley. When I once begin any work in which I am interested, I can go steadily on with it till it is finished, but I need some definite impulse to set me going, and require a good deal of time for reflection while the work is being done. Every important book I have undertaken has been due to an impulse or a suggestion from without. I spent five years in quiet enjoyment of my collections, in attending scientific meetings, and in working out a few problems, before I began to write my “Malay Archipelago," and it was due to the repeated suggestions of my friends that I wrote my “Geographical Distribution of Animals."
But if the entire proceeds of my Malayan collections had been well invested, and I had obtained a secure income of £400 or £500 a year, I think it probable that I should not have written another book, but should have gone to live further in the country, enjoyed my garden and greenhouse (as I always have done), and limited my work to a few lectures and review articles, but to a much less extent than I actually have done. It was the necessity of earning money, owing to my diminishing income, that caused me to accept invitations to lecture, which I always disliked ; and the same reason caused me to seek out subjects for scientific or social articles which, without that necessity, would never have been written, Under such conditions as here supposed, my dislike to lecturing would probably have increased, and I should never have
ventured on my lecturing tour in America, in which case I should not have written “Darwinism," and, I firmly believe, should not have enjoyed such good health as I am now doing. Then, too, I should probably not have accepted Dr. Lunn's invitation to lecture at Davos, and my two later books would never have come into existence.
Of course this is all conjecture, but it seems to myself highly probable. At all events, I feel perfectly sure that without the spur of necessity I should not have done much of the work I have done. I have always had a great desire to see many of the beauty-spots of the world. Some of them I have seen, but usually under strict limitation of time and
have longed to visit the old volcanoes of Mont Doré or the Eifel, both for their geology and their rich flora ; the Dolomites and the Italian lakes; Pompei, and Rome, and the lovely Riviera ; Sicily and Greece; while the little I have seen of Switzerland has made me wish to see more. If I had had the means I should probably have spent a good part of each winter, spring, or summer, in these countries, and should have found such constant delight in them, and in my garden at home, to which I should have brought home every year new floral treasures, that I should not have felt the want of any other occupation, and should probably have written nothing but an occasional review or magazine article. If, therefore, my books and essays have been of any use to the world—and though I cannot quite understand it, scores of people have written to me telling me somthen the losses and the struggles I have had to go through have been a necessary discipline calculated to bring into action whatever faculties I possess. I may be allowed here to give an extract from one of these letters on my literary work, nearly the last I received from my lamented friend F. W. H. Myers. He writes (April 12, 1898) :
"I am glad to take this opportunity of telling you something about my relation to one of your books. I write now from bed, having had severe influenzic pneumonia, now going off. For some days my temperature was 105', and I was very restless at night-anxious to read, but in too sensitive and
fastidious a state to tolerate almost any book. I found that almost the only book which I could read was your ‘Malay Archipelago. Of course I had read it before. In spite of my complete ignorance of natural history there was a certain uniqueness of charm about the book, both moral and literary, which made it deeply congenial in those trying hours. You have had few less instructed readers; but very few can have dwelt on that simple, manly record with a more profound sympathy."
Other people, quite strangers, have also told me that they have read it over and over again, and always take it with them on a journey. This is the kind of thing I cannot understand. It is true, if I open it myself I can read a chapter with pleasure ; but, then, to me it recalls incidents and feelings almost forgotten, and renews the delights of my wanderings in the wilderness and of my intense interest in the wonderful and beautiful forms of plant, bird, and insect life I was continually meeting with. Others have written in almost equally laudatory terms of
“ Land Nationalization and on “Spiritualism,” which have introduced them to new spheres of thought; while others, again, have been equally pleased with parts of my “Wonderful Century" and "Man's Place in the Universe.” I am thus forced to the conclusion that my books have served to instruct and to give pleasure to a good many readers, and that it is therefore just possible that my life may have been prolonged, and conditions modified so as to afford the required impulse and the amount of time for me to write them.
Of course, such a suggestion as this will seem foolishness or something worse to most of my readers; but for those who are imbued with the teachings of modern spiritualism, and to others who vaguely believe in spiritual guidance on general religious grounds, such forms of what used to be termed special providence will not be wholly rejected.
MY CHARACTER-NEW IDEAS-PREDICTIONS
I HAVE already in Chapter XV.) given an estimate of my character when I came of age. I will now make a few further remarks upon it as modified by my changed views of life, owing to my becoming convinced of the reality of a spirit world and a future state of existence.
Up to middle age, and especially during the first decade after my return from the East, I was so much disinclined to the society of uncongenial and commonplace people that my natural reserve and coldness of manner often amounted, I am afraid, to rudeness. I found it impossible, as I have done all my life, to make conversation with such people, or even to reply politely to their trivial remarks. I therefore often appeared gloomy when I was merely bored. I found it impossible, as some one had said, to tolerate fools gladly ; while, owing to my deficient language-faculty, talking without having anything to say, and merely for politeness or to pass the time, was most difficult and disagreeable. Hence I was thought to be proud, conceited, or stuck-up. But later on, as I came to see the baneful influence of our wrong system of education and of society, I began to realize that people who could talk of nothing but the trivial amusements of an empty mind were the victims of these social errors, and were often in themselves quite estimable characters.
Later on, when the teachings of spiritualism combined with those of phrenology led me to the conclusion that there were no absolutely bad men or women, that is, none who, by a