Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Parkstone, Dorset to Violet Isabel Wallace [address not recorded] on 19 December 1898.
Re. letters from her brother William; drainage work in road and garden; bulb plantings in garden; slipping bed quilts; learning German, recommending staying with a large family to improve conversational skills; correspondence with and proposed visit from Mr Howard on his model city and book 'The garden city'; recent visit from Mr Hudson and conversation on birds, snakes and books; Hudson's 'Naturalist in La Plata'; young chemistry student from Canterbury to visit for advice on collecting natural history specimens.
A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.
An original MS
Pages with text: 4
Transcriber: Murphy, Will
Transcription date: July 8, 2011
Scrutiny: 15/01/2013 - Catchpole, Caroline;
Signed off: no
Dec[ember] 19th. 1898
My dear Violet
I send you Will’s 2 last letters. They have been to Hurst. Please return them when read a sufficient number of times. I have been very busy with all sorts of things, & the days are so short that I have hardly time to do them. For more than a week the men have been cutting across the road to 10 feet deep to bring the drain to our garden. The last 20 feet they are tunnelling under the footpath & under the Arbutus[?] and holly tree by the steps. Then, when they have reached the garden path I shall have to get Alven[?] to do the rest, relay our drains so as to pass the cesspool, then empty the cesspool & fill it with earth &c.. I have planted this month 50 parrot tulips, 50 Montbretias and 100 dwarf Gladiolus,-- so we ought to have a show next summer & autumn. At present there are no flowers to speak of [] in the garden, and as the cheapest parcel is a shilling it is hardly worth sending a few common things. I have one of the inspirations of genius to give you. How to keep your down quilt on the bed! Eureka! I have done it! On the two lower corners sew a hook of red braid a few inches long. Put these loops over the tops of the lower bed-posts, and there you are! Tried for a month! Unexampled[?] success! Can be turned back & pulled up again as required. Never falls off! (Q.E.D.)
From what you say, the Scholz’[?] abode is not the place to learn German. Ma has told you what I think. Waste no more precious time (& money) there, but find some large German family to board with where there will be plenty of talking, morning noon & night. That is the one thing needful for learning a language. The rest is comparatively easy. Would not Weimar or Jena be likely places? [] I have been corresponding with a Mr. Howard who has written a book describing a model town in "the Garden City" -- to be established and the whole of the land to become the property of the city in 30 years. The City surrounds a park, garden, & crystal palace., with magnificent boulevards &c. beating anything hitherto conceived by the narrow mind of the existing generation. yet quite practicable. He has sent me his book & is coming here some day to lecture on it with lantern[?] illustrations. A few weeks back I had a visit from Mr. Hudson. He is tall, dark, handsome, grizzly, and very pleasant. He has become an anti vaccinator since being in England. He believes (as I do,) that infant vipers run down their ma’s throats, & he has found a minute account of it in a book 200 years old! So we got on very well though he is a little shaky on instinct & bird migrations. He will come again next time he visits Bournemouth. He likes [] snakes and goes to the New Forest to study them. I expect he is very poor & lives by his writings. He writes novels! He was cheated by his publisher so that he hardly gets anything from his Naturalist "La Plata."
Another "youthful enthusiast" wants my "paternal advice" about going collecting. He hails from Canterbury, & is coming to see us after Christmas. says he will walk over. He is 19! Is studying Chemistry (Analytical) & proposes to earn money for 5 years & then start!
That’s about all the news in this village up to date, from
Your affectionate Pa | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]
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