A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.
An original MS
Pages with text: 4
Transcriber: Brunnen, Claire
Transcription date: February 16, 2012
Scrutiny: 13/04/2012 - Jenkins, Helen; 15/01/2013 - Catchpole, Caroline;
Signed off: no
Feb. 7th. 1862
To P.L. Sclater Esq. Secretary to the Zoological Society of London
About 2 months back I received information, when in the interior of Sumatra, that there were two live Paradise Birds in Singapore. I immediately determined to come & enquire about them & accordingly proceeded to this place a full month earlier than I had intended. They were in the hands of a European merchant who was well aware of their value & asked an exorbitant price. As however they seemed in excellent health, had [] been in Singapore 3 months & in possession a Bugis trader a year before that, I determined if possible to obtain them.
After protracted negotiations I have purchased them for $400 (nearly £100), & tomorrow I take them on board the steamer for Europe.
I was afraid to let it be known that a free passage had been offered me with them, as the demands would then have risen proportionally. I therefore obtained a promise to sell before applying to the manager of the P&O Company, when I was much surprised & disappointed to find that no order for a free passage had been sent out, but merely instructions to take care of the Birds if sent on board.
Under these circumstances I was at first inclined to give up any idea of completing the purchase, but on mature consideration [] I thought that you would certainly blame me for want of confidence in the offers made me by yourself, & the promise of a free passage repeatedly made me through Mr. Sam Stevens. I have had no official notice of my terms having been accepted by the Zool[ogical] Soc[iety] except that in one of your letters you say "I suppose Stevens has told you that the Zoological Society has accepted your terms for Birds of Paradise"; but I presume from this that a resolution to that effect exists on the Books of the Society.
My intention is to stay at Malta & send a Telegram asking instructions, but post this letter here, to show that the Birds are purchased for [] the Zoological Society.
I remain Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]
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