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Record number: WCP2272

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Sent by:
Thomas William Bland
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
On:
15 May 1871

Sent by Thomas William Bland, 42nd ? Street, New York to Alfred Russel Wallace, [Holly House, Tanner Street, Barking] on 15 May 1871.

Record created:
30 November 2011 by Mayer, Anna

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  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP2272.2162)

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

Held by:
British Library, The
Finding number:
BL Add. 46435 ff. 218-219
Copyright owner:
Not in copyright

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[[1]]1

42 Pine St. New York

15th. May 1871

Dear Sir,

By this mail, I send you copies of a couple of papers of which I am the author, one of which, that on the Physical Geography &c of certain of the West India Islands, will I think especially interest you.2 I mentioned to my friend Mr. J. H. Redfield3 of Philadelphia, with whom I think you have correspondence, that I should take this step, and in a letter just received from him, he urges me to do so.

I may mention that for some years the subject of the geographical distribution of Terrestrial Mollusks [sic] in the West Indies has engaged my attention and from time to time I have published the results of my inquiries.

I resided for some time in Jamaica, also in Barbados and St. Thomas, - knowing personally or corresponding with most of the Naturalists in the Islands I have had peculiar facilities for obtaining specimens.

Governor Rawson4 and I are now preparing for publication a Catalogue of species with further notes on their distribution. [[2]]

About a year ago I took up [the] subject of the depth of water in the Caribbean Seas, and discussing the matter with Professor Baird5 and Mr. Lawrence,6 both distinguished Ornithologists, was referred to your work on the Malay Archipelago.7

I read it with great interest, - it really opened to me a new field, and shewed me the value of the line of inquiry upon which I had entered. I <communicated?> this to my friend Gov[ernor]. Rawson, and he fortunately obtained the results of the labors of the Telegraph Cable people. To you, then, should I especially send a copy of the paper referred to.

In every point of view the study of the distribution of the Land Shells seems to be of value.

Geologically, so far as I know, they are of comparatively recent existence. Their habits preclude distribution by many of the means to which the distribution of Vertebrates may be attributed. Marine Mollusks [sic] have, as may be expected, a wider range. The Caribbean marine fauna, as shewn both by fossil and [[3]]8 recent shells is one and the same.

The "fittest" have doubtless survived and multiplied, yet natural selection and sexual influences seem scarcely to account for the amazing number of peculiar forms, and their limited distribution even in each of the larger Islands.

If the <central?> one third of Cuba were submerged not a few species would become extinct, - the same is the case with Jamaica.

The condition of the fauna of St. Croix, its relations with that of Puerto Rico, and the great depth of water between them illustrates your views as to the latter being an indication of the time which has elapsed since the Islands were united.

The occurrence of Asiatic forms (Cyclophorus, Diplommatina)9 in Martinique &c., and not elsewhere is remarkable, - but the limits of a letter preclude more than a few unsatisfactory remarks. [[4]]

If, for any reason, you desire to have specimens shewing the diversity of forms prevailing in and characteristic of the faunas of the different groups of the Islands, it will afford me pleasure to supply you.

I may mention that I have been a Fellow of the Geological Society of London for since 1836, but now for some years non-resident.

You will I am sure excuse my thus trespassing upon you.

I am, dear sir, | truly yours | Thos. Bland10 [signature]

Alfred R. Wallace Esq11

ENDNOTES

1. Numbered "218" in pencil in an unknown hand in the top right corner of the page.

2. Bland, Thomas (1871) Notes Relating to the Physical Geography and Geology of, and the Distribution of Terrestrial Mollusca in Certain of the West India Islands. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 12, No. 86, pp. 56-63.

3. Redfield, John Howard (1815 - 1895). American naturalist.

4. Rawson, Rawson William (1811 or 1812 -1899). British government official and statistician. Governor of the Bahamas and Windward Islands c. 1860s. Collector of natural history specimens.

5. Baird, Spencer Fullerton (1823 -1887) American naturalist and first museum curator at the Smithsonian Institution.

6. Lawrence, George Newbold (1806 - 1895). American businessman and amateur ornithologist.

7. Wallace, Alfred Russel. (1869).The Malay Archipelago: The land of the orang-utan, and the bird of paradise. A narrative of travel, with studies of man and nature. Macmillan and Co. London.

8. Numbered "219" in pencil in an unknown hand in the top right corner of the page.

9. Cyclophorus and Diplommatina are two genera of land-snails.

10. Bland, Thomas (1809 - 1885) English-born conchologist.

11. British Museum stamp in lower right, below Bland's signature.

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