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Letters from J. Arthur Thomson to Piotr Kropotkin (1896-1911)

Archive: State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF)

Reference: Fond 1129 Opisi 2 Entry 2448

Date Range: 14 September 1896 - 15 March 1911

Number of sheets: 6

Number of letters: 4

Sir John Arthur Thomson (8 July 1861 – 12 February 1933) was a Scottish naturalist who authored several notable books and was an expert on soft corals. He mentions Kropotkin's work on evolutionary theory in his The Science of Life (1899) and praises it in his Evolution (1911). He worked closely with Scottish Geographer Patrick Geddes and co-authored Evolution (1911) and The Evolution of Sex (1901). He, Geddes and Kropotkin all broadly agreed that cooperation was a much more dominant force in biological evolution than competition.

J. Arthur Thomson to Piotr Kropotkin, 14 September 1896

(Crossed out address at the top is 11 Ramsay Garden, Edinburgh but the letter is addressed from Dunbar). Thanks for returning Nagel's memoirs (likely Willibald Nagel) and the Biologisches Centralblatt but what I am rather badly in need of just these weeks you have not returned - 2 volumes of Wood's Hall Biological Lectures. They are not in the Library in Edinburgh - or rather someone has them out - and I need them to complete a piece of work. If you could send them here by parcels post I would be greatly obliged. Sorry to bother you. I had read and admired the biological part of your recent science, but am v pleased to have a copy as also of your lecture. In regards brain and nerve Donaldson's little book in Contemporary Science Series is useful in suggestion; Hodge's papers on structural evidences of nerve fatigue, on gradual collapse of nerve seem v important; Dr Gustav Mann's work on nerve fatigue also solid; Ramon y Cajal should perhaps be supplemented by Lenhossek; it is probably worth while referring to anatomische ergebnisse for summaries by experts of recent progress on structural side; many useful references will also be found in my 'General Subjects' first part of Zoological Record for several years back! I can send precise refs if you wish. I do hope you manage to come to Edinburgh again; we should be honoured as well as delighted if you would accept hospitality from us

J. Arthur Thomson to Piotr Kropotkin, 11 February 1897

I see you are to lecture in Glasgow on March 4th. If it will be any convenience to you to spend a few days with us at that time we should be delighted. There is a Royal Physical Society dinner here on Wednesday the 3rd March which might interest you. I should be delighted if you would come as my guest.I shall still be making my daily journey to Glasgow where I have been lecturing since Xmas. Let me know we may look forward to your visit.

J. Arthur Thomson to Piotr Kropotkin, 6 March 1911

It gave me a 'thrill of pleasure to hear from you again.' Just returned from a few days in London and received your letter. 'I am sending for your acceptance my Heredity and Darwinism and Human life with my best regards.' I will try to look out in a day or two a bundle of papers I have on the transfer of modifications which I can lend for some time. I remain 'entirely unconvinced' of the alleged transmission of somatic modifications even to a slight degree. But I saw Tower/Jower's work in USA and was much impressed by its 'carefulness.' I look forward to great discoveries along similar lines - the direct action of environmental influences in prompting germinal variations without causing any bodily modifications. I believe strongly in that.' I am starting to feel there is more to what one may call 'Psycho-Lamarckism' than I once did. There is no better representative of the experimental school than Cuenot, but he yields nothing to the Lamarckian positionin his recently published highly successful book - La Genese des Especes Animales (Alcan, Paris, 1911). I am sorry to hear that your lungs are not vigorous but hope you are having loads of sun to hearten you. We are well (and our sons are in college) but I, as always, have too much work and too little time for reflection!

J. Arthur Thomson to Piotr Kropotkin, 15 March 1911

Have my 'heartiest thanks and kindest greetings.'

(This is all the last letter in its entirety)

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