Skip to page content

Wallace advises his son on collecting animals

Full transcription

Parkstone, Dorset.
Dec[embe]r 2nd. 1898.

My dear Will1

We were glad to get your letter yesterday giving us an account of your daily life in your hut. Your adventure with the cattle was disagreeable. Would it not be better another time to run at them earlier. I fancy it was only curiosity on their part, & when they get used to seeing you they will take no notice. Ma thinks it was your dog. They don't like dogs.2I am sorry you are not catching much. Cannot you alter your traps so as to make the spring less strong? Or arrange new traps. A jar or pitcher (cracked) sunk in the ground is said to be good for small things or a tip-up trap which you can easily make with an old box [sketch of a box] thus. It has occurred to me that at such a remote place the mice in your hut cannot be common English house-mice, but most likely some American field mice. Anyhow it would be [[2]] well to send some skins & skeletons. Are you not near any pine or oak woods, as there you would get small mammals who eat the acorns or fine seeds. Are there no chipmunks or squirrels or musk-- rats, or rabbits, or prairie-dogs about?

Try and find out all about your neighbours at the small ranches. Have they bought their farms, for how much, is it mortgaged & at what interest, how do they live, what they grow &c. &c. It is a great pity you are not near water. I thought of course there would be either a stream or spring wherever they put up a log hut. I am afraid you have chosen a bad place and from your photo, of the camp the scenery appears about as uninteresting as it can be. Is it too late to change? Could you not get taken in at one of the larger ranches? Where are the deer now; are they all gone [[3]] lower down, or higher up?

As Violet lives with the head-master (or Rektor) [sic] of all the schools, she goes with his permission, merely to look on and see the methods of teaching, which she says are far better than anything in England. This Rektor [sic] Schulz is an authority on education and lectures at Jena University and other places during his vacations. A young Englishman, Mr. Acland, son of a former Minister of Education under Gladstone3, has been there some weeks also to learn German & study Education. I send you today a "Chronicle" with one of Conway's letters about his mountaineering in the Andes. I also send C[harles]. Reade's "Hard Cash" which I hope you have not read before. It will give you a lot of reading at Xmas. I also send 3 photos of the house and garden Miss Casey took; I do not know if you had them before. One shows [[4]] the Summer House, as altered, and the Loop line path. Last week I gave them a Reading & talk here, for the schools, about the Malays, and Papuans, illustrated by the two big pictures. I gave first a sketch of all the great races of men, showed how they differed from each other and what were the relations of the Malays, Papuans, Australians &c., and finished by reading the story of How the Rajah of Lombock took the Census. There was a good audience & they seemed much interested. I think I told you in my P.[ost]card last week that Dr. Allman had died suddenly. His house will be sold in the Spring, I suppose, and I hope we shall have a nice neighbour. Your photos. of your hunting trip were very good, and some quite first-rate though the scenery was disappointing. Ma has had a bad cold for a few days but is now better. They are all right at Hurst.

Your affectionate Pa | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

ENDNOTES

1. ARW's son, William Greenell Wallace (1871-1951).

2. This is written vertically at the left hand side of page 1.

3. William Ewart Gladstone, (1809-1898), English Prime Minister on four separate occasions.



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