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The start of Wallace's Malay Archipelago expedition

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2nd letter                  Singapore  April 30th. 1854
                                                     Singapore

My dear Mother

We arrived here safe on the 20th of this month having had very fine weather all the voyage. On shore I was obliged to go to a Hotel which was very expensive so I tried to get out into the country as soon as I could, which however I did not manage in less than a week, when I at last got permission to stay with a French Roman Catholic Missionary who lives about 8 miles out of the Town & close to the jungle.

The greater part of the Inhabitants of Singapore are Chinese many of whom are very rich, & all the villages about are almost entirely of Chinese who cultivate pepper & Gambir. Some of the English merchants here have splendid Country houses. I dined with one to whom I brought an introduction - His house was most elegant & full of magnificent Chinese &Japan furniture.

[written vertically at the left hand side of the page]
address "A.R.Wallace Esqr to the care of Mess[e]rs. Hamilton Gray & Co- Singapore (via Southampton)

We are now at the mission of Bukit Tima. The missionary speaks English Malay & Chinese as well as French and is a very pleasant man. He has built a pretty church here & has about three hundred Chinese converts. Having only been here four days I cannot tell much about my collections yet. Insects however are plentiful. Some sorts more so than at Pará, others less. I have not yet decided what I shall do but I think to stay here a month& then go to Malacca till my boxes arrive by the "Eliza Thornton". The mail from England will be in tomorrow or next day when I shall expect some letters & papers. I wrote last to George Silk from Aden & told him to show you the letter. Letters addressed to me, care of Mess[e]rs. Hamilton Gray & Co. will reach me till further orders.

Tell Mr. Stevens I will write to him next mail & tell him a little about the Insects &c. I have not seen any tigers yet & do not expect to, for there are not many in this neighbourhood & there has not been a man killed at this place for two years - Charles gets on pretty well. He is quite well in health & catches a few insects, but he is very untidy which you may imagine by his clothes being all torn to pieces by the time we arrived here. He will no doubt improve & will soon be useful.

Singapore is a very curious & interesting place. The Chinese do all this work, they are a most industrious people, & the place could hardly exist without them. The harbour is full of Chinese junks & small native vessels. There are now also 3 English men of war as some Russian vessels were expected here.  Malay is the universal language in which all business is carried on. It is easy& I am beginning to pick up a little, but when we go to Malacca shall learn it most, as there they speak nothing else. I am very unfortunate with my watch. I dropped it on board & broke the balance spring & have now sent it home to Mr Matthews to repair as I cannot trust any one here to do it.  The bill will be sent to Mr. Stevens who please tell to pay it. There was also a book I left unpaid for 10s/6d I think at Williams & Norgate. - Tell Mr S-[tevens] to pay this also. Every thing for living in this Town of Singapore is very dear except clothing &c. I have had a lot of jackets & trousers made by a Chinese very well at 2s. each for making -
Love to Fanny & Thomas.
I remain your affectionate Son
[signed]                         Alfred R Wallace


[written vertically at the left hand side of the page]

P.S. The climate here is almost that of Para & is very delightful. The forest too looks very much the same. Palms are very abundant - AW.

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