Skip to page content

Wallace builds a garden pond

Full transcription

                 Parkstone, Dorset
                         Nov. 21st  1891
My dear Will

We were very glad to hear that your accident has not been so bad as it might have been, & that you are feeling well and able to go to College again. Pray be careful and do not read too much at night till your eye gets quite strong again. You have not told us whether you had glass in both eyes, as you said that when the glass was taken out of one eye you could not see out of the other or open it. Explain this when you next write.

[written vertically at the left hand side of the page]
Play tiddle winks or anything instead of reading

I had a paper yesterday from California (Stockton) with a par[agraph] in it that, the day before John Wallace, the pioneer surgeon, had fallen off a balcony, 8 feet, & broken his arm in two places. That was exactly a week before your accident. I hope to have a letter soon to say how he has got over it. Eight feet is a great fall for a man 73 years old, and I am afraid he may never quite get over it.

I & Monk have been working at the pond and bog the last 3 weeks, about 2 days a week. I had a large load of clay from Jennings' & a load of fine bog peat from the water works, & a load of bricks, and a sack of cement. We have made the sides for the pond brick, cemented; the bottom clay. There are thee projecting pockets built out to grow water plants in, and somewhere about the centre a fountain. I expect we shall finish it tomorrow and then let the water in and see if it leaks! The bog is also lined with clay &filled with fibry [sic] bog peat and earth mixed, and the overflow from the pond runs into the bog. The earth out of both has been made into a bank between the pond & the border on the road side.

About the drawing instruments I am doubtful exactly what to get you. I have got Stanley's Catalogue, who is one of the best makers, and I enclose you the pages cont[ainin]g the drawing instruments. Some of them have beau-compass heads [?] in them, - which we have somewhere, here, unless you have them with you. I thought the cases I have marked A. & B would be about what would be most useful for you, but you can have any case fitted with any instruments at a proportional cost. So if you liked to have the largest case, like those marked C or D (in pencil) with only what instruments are now most necessary, you could add afterwards other instruments as you required them, & would have room for them, in the case.

It will be best for you to consult some of your professors or teachers, and then go to Stanley's yourself and see these cases, and let me know exactly what would be best. I do not mind going to five or even six guineas for you to have really good and useful instruments. The steam will still force the water to overflow in the cistern & wet the ceiling of your room, so we are going to have a steam pipe straight up to the roof.
Your affectionate Papa 
[signed]      Alfred R Wallace.

Go back

Search this collection
Contact us

For enquiries about the Wallace Collection please email the library

Wallace Letters Online

Letter to Alfred Russel Wallace from the Royal Society, about his Darwin Medal award

View high resolution scans and transcripts of Alfred Russel Wallace's correspondence, including all surviving letters between him and Charles Darwin.

Explore Wallace's correspondence