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Record number: WCP1705

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Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Samuel Stevens
29 October 1858

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Batchian, Moluccas to Samuel Stevens [none given] on 29 October 1858.

Record created:
21 October 2011 by Catchpole, Caroline


Talks of collecting beetles and birds (some new species) at the Kaisal Islands. 20 new species of Loyrcorus and several species of the genus Serixia. Discovered a new bird of paradise (new genus). Surprised to find it so far out. Mentions that the essay he sent to Darwin on "Varieties" has been read out alongside Darwin's at the Linnean; asks if they are published can Stevens obtain a few copies and send them to Wallace's friends.

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  • letter (1)
  • publication (2)

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LETTER (WCP1705.1587)

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

Held by:
Cambridge University Library
Finding number:
Add 7339/236
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information





2Oct[ober] 29th. 1858

My dear Mr. Stevens

As there is now a boat going which may just catch the mail at Ternate I write a few lines to let you know of my having arrived here safe & commenced operations & to mention a few things I forgot in my last hasty letter.

I came here in a small hired boat with my own men. Luckily it was fine weather or a hundred miles at sea with no means of cooking & only room for one days[] water would have been more than unpleasant. It was however a useful experience before my proposed more extensive voyages. I stopped 5 days at Kaisa Islands just half way, & got a nice coll[ection] of beetles but few birds. A fair number of new species & some curious varieties of those before found at Ternate & Gilolo. Here I have been as yet only 5 days, -- & from the nature of the country & what I have already done I am inclined to think it may prove one of the best localities I have yet visited. I have already 20 species of Longicorns new to me [-] nothing very grand but many pretty & very interesting. The most remarkable is one of a Bornean Genis, - a Triammatus very near T. Chevrolatii [illeg.] also several species of the elegant little genus Serixia which have been very scarce or absent since I left Sarawak. I have also an elegant new Pachyrhynchus, a fine Ips, a small new Cicindela allied to the [illeg.] of Dorey, & a small new Therates. In Butterflies I have taken an imperfect spec[imen] of a glorious new species very like Ulysses but distinct & ever handsomer! Perfect species of this must be five pounders.

[[2]] I have seen also a ♀ of a grand new Ornithoptera but cannot tell what the male will prove. Codrus or I rather think a new allied species I have several times seen but too wild to catch. The Macassor Papilio [illeg.] Sarpedon is also here & 2-3 others I have not yet taken. Other butterflies scarce as yet but one close to or the same as the largest of the Aru blues very abundant. These are decidedly good prospect. Birds are as yet very scarce but I still hope to get a fine collection though I believe I have already the finest & most wonderful bird in the island.

I had a good mind to keep it a secret but I cannot resist telling you, I have got here a new Bird of Paradise!! of a new genus!!! quite unlike any thing yet known, very curious & very handsome!!! When I can get a couple of pairs I will send them overland to see what a new Bird of Paradise will really fetch. I expect £25 each! Had I seen the bird in Ternate I would never have believed it came from here, so far out of the [illeg.] supposed region of the Paradisia[?] I consider it the greatest discovery I have yet made & it gives me hopes of getting other species in Gilolo & Ceram.

There is a species of Monkey also here much further east than in any other island so you see this is a most curious locality combining forms[?] of the East & West of the Archipelago yet with species particular to itself. It also differs from all the other Moluccas in its geographical formation[,] containing iron, coal, copper, & Gold, with a glorious forest[,] vegetation & fine large mountain streams. It is a continent in miniature. The Dutch are working the coals[?] and this is good [illeg.] to the [illeg.] which gives me easy access to the interior forest. [[3]] So much for my prospects.

When I mentioned subscribing to Foxcroft

1. I did not intend subscribing to for Lepidoptera if separate, as I cannot afford it, & beside care little for any but the Papilios & Pieridae. Withdraw my name therefore for Lepidoptera after the first year if you cannot at once. In Coleoptera I am willing to subscribe 2 years & even a third if he changes his locality, always supposing however that the collections are divided fairly, that is that each subscriber gets the same number of species,-- the only advantage the first on the list have, being the best of the unique ones, & quite enough advantage too, in fact too much, for when 20 people subscribe equally to anything, it is absurd that there sh[oul]d be any advantaged attached to being first on the list.

2. I see among the [illeg.] last sent some no. 14 which are perfectly useless being so short. They are as short as 7. & as thick as 13. What I want is a [illeg.] nearly as fine as 7 but much larger because many [illeg.] beetles have such long legs that 7 does not raise them high enough. This [illeg.] of [illeg.] I hope to find in the next box as I see you have sent some no. 5 (I think).

3. An essay on varieties which I sent to Mr. Darwin has been presented read to the Linnean Soc.[iety] by Dr. Hooker & Sir C.[harles] Lyell on account of an [illeg.] extraordinary coincidence with the same views of Mr. Darwin, long written but not yet published, which were also read at the same meeting. If these are published I dare say Mr. Kippish will let you have a dozen copies for use. If so send my friends who may be interested in the matter & who do not attend the Linnean.

[[4]] 4. Again I wish to remind you to obtain 2 copies of all the papers published under my agreement with Mr Saunders sending me one & keeping the other carefully for me. I should much like also a copy of Mr Westwoods paper on the Singapore Cleridae as many of the same genera & closely allied species occur all over the Archipelago.

I do not think Siam much of a locality. It is too much cultivated. Cambodia on the other hand is a grand country for a naturalist. I know much about if from the French missionaries I met at Singapore. Every body says Ceram is a fine country for birds but I believe no remarkably fine birds are known from it but Lories etc. The natives all say the birds of Ceram are very beautiful & they judge only by the domesticated birds lories[,] cockatoos etc. It may be very good but I think there is no good grounds for saying it is so. What a wonderful locality Ega is! for the museum to take £70 worth from a collection after 2 years previous collecting there. Two months exhaust my localities here.

I enclose a note for my mother which please forward. I can do nothing at drawing birds, but send a horrible sketch3 of my discovery that you may not die of curiosity. I am told the wet season here is terrible & it begins in Dec[ember] so I shall probably have to leave but if I do well may return next year two months earlier. I am waiting anxiously to hear that the Amboyna beetles have come safe & unspoilt.

I must now remain | Yours very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

Samuel Stevens Esq[uire]


1. Inserted text reads "Add 7339/236"

2. Inserted text reads "[One word illegible]" and below "March 9/59"

3. This sketch is missing and is presumed to be lost.

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