[A. C. Swinton of Land Nationalisation Society, friend of Alfred Russel Wallace.] Three Autograph Letters Signed to the 'Misses Shore' [poet Louisa Catherine Shore and sister], on their brother in Australia, spiritualism, other topics inc. Wallace

A. C. Swinton (d. c.1905) [Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), naturalist, co-conceiver with Darwin of Theory of Evolution; Louisa Catherine Shore (1824-1895), poet; her sister Arabella Susanna Shore]
Publication details: 
ONE: 31 December 1891; The Vine, Sevenoaks, Kent. TWO: 14 August 1893; Parkfield, Haslemere.
SKU: 22276

The context is explained in Wallace's 'Island Life' (1880), in which he discusses 'a fragment of a well-formed stone axe' that his 'friend A. C. Swinton, Esq.' found, 'while working in the then almost unknown gold-field of Maryborough, Victoria, in January, 1855'. Later in the book Wallace refers to the brother of the recipients of the letter, 'Mr. Mackworth Shore', i.e. Mackworth Charles Shore, as 'one of the discoverers of the gold-field, before any rush to it had taken place'. See the Oxford DNB entry on one of the two recipients of the letter, Louisa Catherine Shore. For more on Swinton's association with Wallace, see the end of this description. Two letters to the 'Misses Shore', both signed 'A. C. Swinton'. Both 4pp, 12mo, and each on a bifolium of grey paper. In good condition, lightly aged and worn. Two interesting letters, neatly and closely written, and full of content. ONE: 31 December 1891. To make amends for the late reply to their 'very kind note' to him, he presents them with 'the two enclosed notes from the eminent naturalist Dr. A. R. Wallace, with copies of my replies attached, in relation to an ancient Australian relic which your brother Mackworth found whilst we were together at Maryborough'. He hopes he will be able to offer 'another or two' for the 'collection of autographs' that one of the sisters has. He makes a poetic quotation with regard to 'the fatalist belief' that 'little apparently changes in life', adding: 'had Mackworth recived what he should have done from the Victorian Government how different his fate and future might have been there'. He explains how he is making 'some records of our Psychological experiences' for the Psychical Research Society, and that these include a reference to 'a communication from Mackworth by initials. Though he was not able to say more than a few words, he seemed to convey the comforting impression that his death [Mackworth Shore was lost at sea in 1860] was as sudden as if he had been shot through the brain – suggesting to me that he probably struck his head, and became unconscious ere his body reached its sea-grave.' Swinton's recent labours have 'rendered my state much less suitable for communication with the “Summerland”', but he is as interested as ever 'in what should be the most interesting of enquiries to us. Dr. Wallace's most recent article on the subject – in the American Arena – I have by me, and I deem it unanswerable'. In the rest of the letter he discusses Home Rule ('I see not why Scotland & Wales should not equally manage their home affairs on essentially the same basis as that of Ireland'), and 'the coming of the British Republic'. TWO: 14 August 1893. Their 'esteemed note' has 'just reached me in this highland Surrey home of Tennyson, where I am likely to be, with my invalid wife and daughter, during the next 4 weeks or so, as we are planning a Cottage to be built on some lands I am styled the owner of on Hindhead'. He turns to their 'work of love', evidently a memoir of Mackworth Shore, stating: 'Had I known, in time, of your intended publication, I might perhaps have submitted to you some notes relating to the experiences of your brother & myself, but probably the form of letters which you are adopting would so have been unwisely interfered with.' He is writing 'to Dr. Wallace as to his permission which I feel sure he will gladly give you. I will also ask him about the axe-head, of which I have not heard anything since he wrote to the Govt. Geologist (at Melbourne, I believe) as to the age of the drift below which your brother found it.' He continues with reference to a note of Wallace's, and a letter he has written to the publisher 'Mr. Fisher Unwin to enquire if he has yet pub[lishe]d Olive Shreiner's new book', with other recent pubications. Turning to spiritualism he writes: 'I have just sent some Spirit photographs to Dr. Wallace, taken in a friends house under test conditions. If you were to see the collection that we have I think you would not be among the sceptics in the matter.' He transcribes the 'most cheering note' he has received, 'at any time', which 'came to me recently from Francis William Newman, now in his 89th year'. In a lenthgy message Newman states that he is happy the developments of the last fifty years give 'the bright hope that the future is not to be a mere reproduction of the past, with its crimes and miseries'. The letter concludes with a discussion of 'our Land Tenure reform cause'. In April 1905 Wallace published a reminiscence of Swinton in 'Land and Labour'. In his autobiography Wallace describes how in 1880 he published an article on land nationalisation, and it 'immediately attracted the attention of Mr. A. C Swinton, Dr. G. B. Clark, Mr. Roland Estcourt, and a few others, who had long been seeking a mode of applying Herbert Spencer's great principle of the inequity of private property in land, and who found it in the suggestions and principles I had laid down. They accordingly communicated with me; several meetings were held at the invitation of Mr. Swinton, who was the initiator of the movement, and after much discussion as to a definite programme, the "Land Nationalization Society" was formed, and, much against my wishes, I was chosen to be president. Notwithstanding the scanty means of the majority of the founders and members, the society has struggled on for a quarter of a century. Its lecturers and its yellow vans have pervaded the country, and it has effected the great work of convincing the highest and best-organized among the manual workers as represented by their Trades Unions, that the abolition of land-monopoly, which is the necessary result of its private ownership, is at the very root of all social reform. Hence the future is with them and us, and thou the capitalists and the official Liberals are still against us, we wait patiently, and continue to educate the masses in the certainty of a future and not distant success. Elsewhere he states that he met Professor F. W. Newman 'several times at the house of my friend Mr. A. C. Swinton'.