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Record number: WCP1532

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Sent by:
James Brooke
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
31 October 1857

Sent by James Brooke, Singapore to Alfred Russel Wallace [none given] on 31 October 1857.

Record created:
23 May 2011 by NHM
Verified by:
10/10/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline (All except summary checked);


No summary available at this time.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)
  • publication (1)

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LETTER (WCP1532.1311)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/9/32
Copyright owner:
ęBrooke Heritage Trust
Record scrutiny:
10/10/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline;

Item notes

Physical description

Transcription information





31st Oct[obe]r 1857

My dear Wallace

Before I quit Singapore for England I must tell you that your papers on the Orangs turned up, after my letter had been dispatched-- I agree in your conclusion of the ridge on the cranium being attributable to individual peculiarities, but on the whole before coming to any positive conclusion on the number of species it will [[2]] be advisable to wait for more facts and a larger field of investigation. Your collection was made in [one word crossed out] a limited space of country and should not therefore be held conclusive as appli settling the general question-- Here for instance is the measurement of a Mias killed by my nephew C. Johnson1, with his remarks--

"September 3rd 1857

"Killed female Orang utan. Height, from head to heel 4f[t]-6i[n] [[3]] "Stretch from finger to finger (across body), 6[feet]-1[inch]. Breadth of face, including callosities, 11[inches]. Callosities large-- middle aged animal-- hair reddish brown, thick and shaggy, with beard, and hair on the upper lip."2

He added that the callosities were hard, ie as hard as the gristle of a mans nose.-- The head I will direct to be sent home when cleaned. This points from size alone to a distinct species-- however I have not time to discuss.--

[[4]] I wish you very well and happy,-- I am neither very the one or the other at present and suffering the consequences of follies long passed-- Change I hope will do me good and if England suits me not I shall take refuge on the continent.--

Write me whenever you feel inclined you know it affords me pleasure to hear from you and of your success.

Believe me | yours very sincerely | J Brooke3 [signature]

A[lfred] Wallace Esq.[uire]


1. Charles Anthoni Johnson (1829 -- 1917) changed his surname to Brooke and succeeded his uncle James Brooke as Rajah of Sarawak in 1868, which he ruled until his death.

2. The section in quotation marks is written partially in list form.

3. James Brooke (1803 -- 1868), Rajah of Sarawak from 24th September 1841 to his death on 11th June 1868.

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.