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Record number: WCP3073

Sent by:
James Brooke
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
4 July 1856

Sent by James Brooke, Sarawak, Borneo Island, [Malaysia] to Alfred Russel Wallace [none given] on 4 July 1856.

Record created:
30 November 2011 by Mayer, Anna
Verified by:
10/10/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline (All except summary checked);


No summary available at this time.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP3073.3041)

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

Held by:
British Library, The
Finding number:
BL Add. 46441 ff. 2-5
Copyright owner:
ęBrooke Heritage Trust
Record scrutiny:
10/10/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline;

Physical description

Transcription information





4th July 1856

My dear Wallace

Being in a state of suspense and anxiety relative to some affairs with the British government I delayed answering the kind letter which you wrote from Singapore. You have left several friends in Sarawak and amongst them my poor self and I am only one.

I look back to the [[2]] time you passed with us with much pleasure-- the storm which has been raging for six years in my head has at length blown over, and has been succeeded by a gleam of sunshine. The British Government have withdrawn their Consul General and admitted our jurisdiction, though Lord Clarendon says they are not prepared to recognize me as an [[3]] independent sovereign. To acknowledge the [one word illeg] of a country is in fact to acknowledge its government but the government of England is pleased to run its head into a bush and hide this truth from its eyes which is glaring to others-- it is this sort of shuffling action, to escape embarrassment, which gets [one word illeg] her into such serious scrapes & begets difficulties by creating anomalies.

Lord Clarendon1 as all [[4]] the world says, is a clever fellow, because Louis Napoleon has made a peace, but he is so firm of purpose and does not look a difficulty in the face.

I read your little brochure with satisfaction, but I am somewhat misty on these subjects owing to being badly informed, but whether the successive development of species, i.e. the shading one into another so as to manifest a gradual onward series-- or whether species be distinct and unconnected it seems to me that the metaphysical question is the [[5]] same. The design (though we cannot understand or fit its parts) was complete from the beginning and it is an absurdity to maintain a supply of petty creations to mark the imperfection of the original work, for this is only to say, that there was no design and ergo no designer. The great machinery of God-- or as some insist of nature-- cannot be disturbed though dogs howl-- women weep-- or men pray-- or to bring a mite or a mastodon into the world. The question however does not come to this as regards the mutation of species on [[6]] the one hand and their complete separation on the other for the advocate of unconnected species may argue that the germ has been called warmed into life when the proper & fostering conditions have arisen or arrived.

My great surprise is however at the bigotry & intolerance at which views or facts apparently adverse to received systems & doctrines are received-- you say your little pamphlet is to feel the pulse of scientific men in regard to this hypothesis!-- what an utter [one word illeg] [two words illeg] of intolerance to need such caution?-- It is this which makes [[7]] me despair of advance-- What harm can truth do us?-- What good can it not do us? and yet the enquiry is as beset with bristles as a porcupines back-- At any rate [one word illeg] paper was very short I may say that if you will prove this or any other hypothesis to my satisfaction I will receive it and I will never quarrel with any one who seeks for truth, because the search involves a scouting out my preconceptions & prejudices.--

You see how I have run away with my subject & my subject has ran away with me. Another outpouring of the spirit than the reason or [[8]] reflection though the spirit suppressed has dwelt long & anxiously on these & similar topics. I must now tell you in brief that we progress famously and that the Borneo Company is an established fact which is supported by men of character & capital. The Bishop & St John sailed yesterday to Labuan2 & Brunei3-- we have an immigration of 300 Chinese from Sambas4-- We have had Dr & Mrs Earl staying with us-- a pleasing addition to our society for a visit here is a favor conferred rather than bestowed. Your youngster Charles5-- now Martin is at Quop with Chambers-- they say he is not clever at books and when here he appeared dumped & disheartened.-- Let me hear from [[9]] you and keep me informed of your changes of localities and

believe me | my dear Wallace | Yours very sincerely | J[ames] Brooke6. [signature]

A.[lfred] Wallae Esq[uire]


1. George Villiers (1800 - 1870) was the 4th Earl of Clarendon.

2. An island and federal territory off the North West coast of Sabah, Malaysia.

3. Also known as Brunei Darussalam and is a sultanate located on the north coast of Borneo.

4. A town in the Kalimantan Barat province of Indonesia.

5. Charles Allen, Wallaces assistant in the Malay Archipelago.

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

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