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Record number: WCP355

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Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Mary Ann Wallace (née Greenell)
[ 2 ] July 1854

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Jungle near Malacca to Mary Ann Wallace (née Greenell) [none given] on [2] July 1854.

Record created:
01 June 2002 by Lucas, Paula J.
Verified by:
21/08/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline (All except summary checked);


Re. sea journey from Singapore; living conditions in Malacca; employment of servants; French missionaries; Chinese farmers; Charles Allen's progress as assistant; birds and monkeys; plans to visit Cambodia.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)
  • publication (1)

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LETTER (WCP355.355)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/3/30
Copyright owner:
©A. R. Wallace Literary Estate
Record scrutiny:
21/08/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline;

Item notes

Physical description

Transcription information




In the jungle near Malacca

July 1854

My dear Mother

As this letter may be delayed getting to Singapore, I write at once having an opportunity of sending to Malacca tomorrow. We have been here a week living in a chinese house or shed, which reminds me remarkably of my old Rio Negro habitations. I have now for the first time brought my "rede" into use & find it very comfortable. We came from Malacca Singapore in a small schooner with about 50 chinese, hindoos & Portuguese passengers & were two days on the voyage with nothing but rice & curry to eat, not having made any provision, it being our first experience of this Country[s] vessels. Malacca is an old Dutch City but the Portuguese have left the strangest marks of their possession in the common language of the place being still theirs. I have now two Portuguese servants, a cook & a hunter & find myself thus almost brought [[2]] back again to Brazil by the similarity of the language the people & the jungle life. In Malacca we staid [sic] only two days being anxious to get into the Country as soon as possible. I staid [sic] with a Roman Catholic Missionary, there are several here, each devoted to a particular part of the population Portuguese, Chinese & wild Malays of the Jungle -- The gentleman are[?] now[?] with is building a large church -- of which he is architect himself & superintends the laying of every brick & the cutting of every piece of timber. Money enough could not be raised here so he took a voyage round the World! & in the United States & California, & India got subscriptions sufficient to complete it -- It is a curious & not creditable thing that in the English Colonies of Singapore & Malacca there is not a single protestant missionary; while the conversion education physical & moral improvements of the inhabitants (non European) is entirely left to these French missionaries, who without [[3]] the slightest assistance from our Government devote their lives to the Christianising & civilizing the varied populations which we rule over.

Here the birds are abundant & most beautiful, more so than on the Amazon & I think I shall soon form a most beautiful collection. They are however almost all common & so are of little valued except that I hope they will be better specimens than usually come to England. My guns are both very good, but I find powder and shot in Singapore cheaper than in London, so I need not troubled myself to take any. So far both I and Charles have enjoyed excellent health -- He can now shoot perfectly well & is so fond of it that I can hardly get him to do any thing else. He will soon be very useful if I can cure him of his incorrigible carelessness -- At present I cannot trust him to do the smallest thing without watching that he does it properly, so that I might generally as well do it myself.

The Chinese are most industrious -- They clear & cultivate the ground with a neatness I have never before seen in the tropics, & save every particle of [[4]] manure both from men & animals to enrich the ground. The country about Malacca is much more beautiful than Singapore, it being an old settlement with abundance of fruit and forest trees scattered about -- Provisions are cheaper, but everything else dearer than in Singapore. Monkeys of many sorts are very abundant here, in fact all animal life seems more plentiful than in Brazil. Among fruits I miss most the oranges, which are scarce and not good; & there is no substitute for them. I shall remain here probably two months & then return to Singapore to prepare for a voyage to Cambodia or somewhere else, so do not be alarmed if you do not hear from me regularly.

Love to all at home from │Your ever affectionate Son │ Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

Mrs Wallace

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