Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP3534

Sent by:
Herbert Edward ("Edward") Wallace
Sent to:
Mary Ann Wallace (née Greenell)
12 November 1849

Sent by Herbert Edward ("Edward") Wallace, Santarém, Pará, Brazil to Mary Ann Wallace (née Greenell) [none given] on 12 November 1849.

Record created:
06 December 2011 by Beccaloni, George
Verified by:
22/05/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline (All except summary checked);


No summary available at this time.

Record contains:

  • letter (2)

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LETTER (WCP3534.3426)

A transcription handwritten by other in English and signed by unsigned.

A contemporary copy of the letter possibly in the hand of Mary Ann Wallace. It occupies pages 22 - 31 of notebook WP3/6. The notebook also contains notes, poems and a transcript of a letter from Alfred Russel Wallace to Wallace's mother, which is dated February 1849.

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
Copyright owner:
©Wallace Family
Record scrutiny:
22/05/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline;

Physical description

Transcription information





Nov[embe]r 12th 1849

Dear Mother

You will see by this we are still at Santarem preparing for the voyage to the Rio Negro. We have just returned from an Excursion to the Village of Monte Alegre or (Healthy Mountains) situated about two days Sail down the Amazon, it is approached by a small tributary stream, and being rather out of the way no vessels trading up the Amazon touch there, the consequence is that we are I believe the first English travellers who have climbed Monte Alegre. The village is situated on the crown of the hill and so enveloped in trees as not to be distinguished from the beach, in fact it is only on entering the village that a stranger would know one existed[.] -- The first thing (and it strikes you with some degree of surprise) the eye rests upon on gaining the top of the hill is the unfinished walls of [[2]] a handsome building of stone rearing proudly above the one story[sic] mud cottages which surround the large square in which it stands, on enquiry we found it was a Church begun some 20 years ago when the place was of more note and richer than it now is -- but was discontinued for want of funds. -- There is a high chain of mountains about 15 miles from Monte Alegre and hearing from the villagers marvellous accounts of a wonderful cave and curious writings on the rocks we started one fine morning on a journey of discovery. We went with our Indian guide and a small canoe (with a Sail made of thin strips of Bamboo and put together something like a Venetian blind) to Belhem[?] about five miles of the mountain where was a Cattle Estate to the owner of which we had a letter. [[3]] We stopped there three days, climbed up the mountains, grazed our shins over the broken rocks, copied the curious figures that were drawn on them -- in short performed all those wonderful feats of arms with our legs & hands which wonder seeking travellers generally do. On the third day -- wishing farewell to our kind entertainers -- we launched our canoe and paddled to homewards. On our way the Indian saw the sign of the water tortoises nest on the bank and leapt out to seek after eggs -- he knelt down, took off his hat and began scratching up the ground with his hands -- in about 5 minutes he returned with a cap full of Eggs which boiled and mixed up with some milk (we brought from the Cattle Estate) and a little farinia made a very excellent meal.

[[4]] As we paddled on several immense aligators [sic] swam across our bows within gunshot. I fired at one about 15 feet long but they are so tenacious of life that a bullet shot through their brain is their only death blow[.] We have since killed a small one and skinned it. I have not yet tasted monkey; parrot, tortoise and turtle I have and find them very good eating -- a lizard here is reckoned a very delicate dish and we do not despise roasted Aligators [sic] tail. Here at Santarem we get some good fruits. Water mellons [sic] oranges and bandannas are the three best and commonest, here you need not vainly pine for the pine apple as you can buy them large and ripe for d3 each almost every mud cottage has a patch of them. The Castor oil [[5]] tree grows luxuriantly here but it is only used for home consumption.

Beef (the only meat) is three half pence per lb[?]. Theres no such thing as joints or prime pieces. It is all cut up as soon as killed -- and you must take a fair allowance of bone & meat together at one price. There is no good butter to be had so every one eats meat for breakfast. We got very fair milk & coffee which is a great luxury. Mr Spruce an English botanist and his companion are now here just arrived from Pará. They came over in the "Britania["] from Liverpool with me. Our house here consists of two rooms on the (ground) floor with the tiles above our heads. I have got pretty well used to sleeping in a Reidee (hammock) now, every body uses them. There is no such thing as Bedsteads or beds you may imagine the sun is pretty [[6]] hot here when I tell you that if you happen to have a hole in your shirt or leave any part of your body exposed to the sun it will scorch it that the skin will peel off in a very short time +. I send a new Enigma if you like to insert it in one of the Cambrian[?] papers.

This is placed in this book before the letter just copied.

+ a part omitted

I suppose the Railway is getting on rapidly at Neath, and ere long the Engines shrill whistle will awake an echo in the Cambrian Vales.

I have now nothing else to suppose we are now on our ready for our voyage to the Rio Negro [[7]] and shall start in a few days we expect it will be about a week[]s passage if we have good winds.


remember me to my Hostess Mrs Peters and family[.] I suppose they have taken up their residence on the road to Bretton ferry[.]

[[8]] Enigma

We met, and loved in days gone by

O She was young and very fair!

And oer a neck as white as milk

Fell down her chestnut hair

But on my first I lovd to gaze

Her Soul lay mirrord there

Cursed be the pride of Gold and birth

(For I alas was nobly born)

A Fathers lineal pride lookd down

Upon my choice with scorn

He parted us -- her broken heart

Hath ceased to beat -- Shes gone!

+ + + + + + + + + +

I stood within deaths chamber, where

She lay -- my virgin bride! --

I softly stole the coffin near

My second turned aside

And gazed -- O can I ere forget

For love of me she died,

[[9]] Those eyes will no more speak to mine

With language of the Soul

Nor never more at pitys tale

Tears from their fountains roll

Forever dry -- their sources lie

Beneath my silken whole


Answer -- Eye-lid

the whole Eyelid

Verses written at Santarem in the Brazils

I stand within a City

A City strangely small

Tis not at all like Liverpool

Like London not at all

The blue waves of the Tapojoz

Are rippling at its feet

Where anchord lie the light canoes

A Liliputian fleet

[[10]] The scream of Parrots over head

The cry of "Whip poor Will"

All tell me youre in England

And I am in Brazil

I saunter through the city

Where every thing is new

The grinning white tooth nigger

The pig with skins of blue

The naked little children

With skins of every dye

Some black, some brown, some lighter

Some white as you or I

A dozen such in family

With bellys[sic] all to fill

Would be no joke in England

~ Tis common in Brazil


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