RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1897-1908. [Letter favouring competition among trades unions and the working classes]. In Helene Fick ed., Heinrich Fick. Ein Lebensbild nach seinen eigenen Aufzeichnungen. 2 vols. Zürich: Leeman, vol. 2, pp. 314-5.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed and edited by John van Wyhe 5.2007. RN2

NOTE: See the annotated letter Darwin to [Fick, Heinrich], 26 July [1872] Correspondence vol. 20, p. 323. Published in Weikart 1995.

[page] 314

July 26 [1872]


Beckenham, Kent

Dear Sir1

I am much obliged for your kindness in having sent me your essay,2 which I have read with very great interest. Your view of the daughters of short-lived parents inheriting property at an early age, and thus getting married with its consequences, is an original and quite new idea to me. — So would have been what you say about soldiers, had I not read an article published about a year ago by a German (name forgotten just at present)3 who takes nearly the same view with yours, and thus accounts for great military nations having had a short existence.

I much wish that you would sometimes take occasion to discuss an allied point, if it holds good on the continent,—namely the rule insisted on by all our Trades-Unions, that all workmen,—the good and bad, the strong and weak,—sh[oul]d all work for the same number of hours and receive the same wages. The unions are also opposed to piece-work,—in short to all competition. I fear that Cooperative Societies, which many look at as the main hope for the future, likewise exclude competition. This seems to me a great evil for the future progress of mankind. — Nevertheless under any system, temperate and frugal workmen will have an advantage and leave more offspring than the drunken and reckless.—

With my best thanks for the interest which I have received from your Essay, and with my respect, I remain, Dear Sir

Yours faithfully

Ch. Darwin

1 Heinrich Fick (1822-1895), Swiss jurist and professor in Zürich.

2 Fick 1872.

3 Identified as H. Richter in Fick 1897-1908, vol. 2, p. 316.

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