Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Neath, Glamorganshire, Wales to Henry Walter Bates Leicester on 11 April 1846.
Re. exchanging monthly lists of (insect) captures; plan to keep a journal recording natural history captures with location, time and notes; periodical appearance of insects; meteorology; lists Coleoptera taken in March 1846; opinion of the writing of Lyell, Darwin and Humboldt; Kirby and Spencer's entomology; Spry's figures; lack of natural historians and books in Neath.
A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.
An original MS
Pages with text: 5
Transcriber: Murphy, Will
Transcription date: July 8, 2011
Scrutiny: 10/05/2012 - Parfitt, Elisabeth; 15/01/2013 - Catchpole, Caroline;
Signed off: no
April 11th 1846
I shall be most happy to exchange lists of captures with you each month as you propose. Your "Throscus[?]" is a nice capture acquisition as it belongs to an interesting family -- I find the common species here different in many respects from those of Leicester, and expect to make a great many good captures during the summer. I have recommenced a plan which I began 2-3 years ago but discontinued. That of keeping a Natural History Journal. A sort of day Book in which I insert all my captures in every branch of Natural Hist.[ory] with the day of the month, locality &c. and insert add any remarks I have to make on specific characters, habits, &c &c... I am convinced it is a most excellent plan, & after a few years becomes most interesting, as it enables you to compare without trusting to memory alone, the curious facts concerning the periodical appearance of insects &c their plenty or scarcity in different years, the times & duration of their appearances, as [] affected by meteorological considerations &c. &c.. The following are my the principal coleoptera I have taken this season.
x Rhagium Inquisitor -- common under bark
x Helops striatus -- plentiful d[itt]o. (oak).
x Tricoderma[sic] pubescens -- plentiful -------------
x Meloe Proscaraloeus [proscarabceus?] vulgaris -- grassy banks
x Stenopus Ethiots ? I am doubtful about this species -- it is plentiful here
x Platymus[sic platypus] angusticollis -- very common under bark moss, & stones
x Pogonus chalceus -- common under stones or salt marshes
x Calathus fuscus -- under stones, Cripular[?] Burrows
Gyrinus bicolor (1) under stone side of pool nr sea [?]
x Phylan gibbus -- plentiful under stones on Cripular [?] Burrows.
x Amara convexior -- with d[itto]o.
x Anchomenus albipes -- under stones
Cassida? -- under bark rather redder than Helops striatus - throughout
Otiorhynchus sulcatus (1) under stone
1Adelosia picea (1)
Abax striola -- (3) most probably common
Leistus spinibarbis (1) under stone in wood
Opatrum tibiale -- Cripular [?] Burrows.
Onthophagus Dilivyuii[?] -- (3) Burrows
Carabus granulatus -- plentiful.
[] Those marked with a x I have spare specimens of -- I think with this beginning I have a good prospect of an interesting & successful season. I have taken besides Peryphus nitidulus, oiceoptoma thoracica and numerous Brachyelytra for naming which latter in particular I find Spry’s figures of the greatest service -- they are so beautifully accurate in the general form & proportions as well as in the more minute particulars.
I was much pleased to find you so well appreciated "Lyell" -- I first read "Darwin’s Journal" 3 or 4 years back & have lately reread it -- as the Journal of a scientific traveller it is second only to "Humbolts personal narrative" as a work of general interest perhaps superior to it -- He is an ardent admirer & most able supporter of Mr Lyell’s views -- His style of writing I very much admire, so free from all labour, affectation, or egotism & yet so full of interest & original thought -- I am now reading, & with shame as an Entomologist I [] confess it, for the first time, Kirby & Spencers Entomology which I find a most talented & interesting work -- When I have got through the whole of it I may have a remark or two to make on it.
I quite envy you who have friends near you attached to the same pursuit. I know not a single person in this little town who studies any one branch of natural History so that I am all alone in my glory in this respect. We have a pretty good Library but they will have no works but those of general interest; and there is a Philosophical Society with a very nice little Museum but they have very little money to spare for books -- In the library of the Phil. Soc. at Swansea they have some very good works on Natural History but unfortunately scarcely one on Entomology -- How is it you get so many good works in the Library at Leicester? -- Be so kind as to tell me in your next the title of the catalogue with which you label your Coleoptera -- I had intended to make a few remarks on representation & analogy but finding I am out of paper must leave [] them for another time & hoping to hear from you soon.
Remain | Yours Sincerely | Alfred R Wallace [signature]
Mr H Bates
1. The word "April" is written vertically up the left margin at this point.
2. The block of text from "them for another time" until the end of the letter is written vertically across the right hand section of the page.
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