Sent by William Mitten, Hurstpierpoint to Annie Wallace (née Mitten) Corfe View, Parkstone, Dorset on 15 December 1904.
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Transcriber: Buckingham, Amanda Belle
Transcription date: September 2, 2014
Signed off: no
15th Dec. 1904
My dear daughter1,
I have postponed replying to your letter in the hope that something might turn up; but the roses and asters have not come, thank you all the same.
Ma is better; bit still poorly and has not been up either today or yesterday, the day before she seemed much better and was up in her room; her tiresome trouble is now piles which is depressing and very troublesome; the rest of us are pretty well.
I will try if I can put together the information respecting Spruce, which Alfred asks for, I am a very bad one for remembering such dates, I asked Davey, the son of the people whose rooms Spruce occupied just opposite the Church and he said he thought he should find some particulars.
There is the matter of his going away from here under very uncomfortable circumstances, just before he left he went to London and then he wrote to me asking to come and live with me, he to pray his proprietor of expenses &c. You know our house was smaller then than now, and that he was no better than a confirmed ivalid continually wanting little attentions; so I at once [one word illeg.] him it [three words illeg.]; for I [] could not find room for him and another [one word illeg.] which would be required, we had one and I considered my home would be [one word illeg.] by any such arrangement; he said no more on the matter; but within a few days after his return he suddenly packed up and left without taking any leave of us and soon after I had a note from him protesting most vehemently against some insinuations which from some source had been made against him. These insinuations I never heard of except from this note, but I think I can quite understand how the trouble came about. When Spruce was sticking down on papers the named specimens, he had one or two of the daughters of his landlady to help him and probably also for company; for he told me they sang fragments of some old ballads which much amused him. Mr. Davey[?] the landlady was employed in sweeping and dusting the church, her husband being Sexton; so had the Rector wants be some to know how she got on with her lodgers and how he spent his time to do. You know how be need to find out all domestic matters and how ready he was to scent mischief from afar. Also [] you may know how keenly he must have suffered from having two illegitimate brothers living in [one word illeg.] in [one word illeg.] circumstances. A little before the time when this was going on at Spruce's lodgings, [one word illeg.] before he was [one word illeg.], he contributed some papers to some weekly magazine which were Lampoons of the Church and churchgoers which I remember he called therein a Warchief of the White Elephant [one word illeg.] know these papers which he [one word illeg.] and [one word illeg.] finally as waste, to me this was introduced when the cause is remembered that all tattle would reach the Rector and from that quarter I feel some of the [one word illeg.] cause. The oldest of these girls of the Davey's was married just about the time S. left, she was the one most usually with him.
I had no knowledge of all this except from the indignant note: doubtless S. thought I must in some way be aware of the attack; but in truth I only got it from him; but could hardly think how it came about and quite understand how hurt our friend was when the thrust was made at him.
This morning, Saturday, Davey the brother of the girl who was married just at the time Spruce left he tells me she was [] married on the 17th Oct. 1867 this then is within a day or two of his departure and corresponds with Ma's recollections that he cam here in 1864 and was here about 3 years.
I shall have to write again soon and send this now with love to all.
Your affectionate Pa | William Mitten2 [signature]
1. Wallace, Annie (née Mitten) (1846-1914); the wife of Alfred Russel Wallace.
2. Mitten, William (1846-1910); botanist
REFERENCES IN ENDNOTES:
Beccaloni, George (2009). Wallace's Genealogy. <http://wallacefund.info/wallaces-genealogy> [accessed 1 July 2014]
New York Botanical Garden (2003). William Mitten Papers. <http://sciweb.nybg.org/science2/libr/finding_guide/mitten.asp.html> [accessed 1 July 2014]
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