Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP358

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Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
George Silk
15 October [1854]

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Singapore to George Silk [none given] on 15 October [1854].

Record created:
01 June 2002 by Lucas, Paula J.


Re. sailing for Sarawak next day; arranging and cataloguing collection of 6,000 specimens - birds, insects and shells; impossibility of collecting plants for William Hooker; pleasure at quotation by Latham; any news of Sebastopol; wanting copies of "Punch"; expedition to Mount Ophir.

Record notes

Record contains:

  • letter (1)
  • publication (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP358.358)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/3/33
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Item notes

Physical description

Transcription information




Singapore, Oct.[ober] 15th.

Dear G.[eorge]

To morrow I sail for Sarawak. Sir. J.[ames] Brooke has given me a letter to his nephew Capt.[ain] Brooke to make me at home till he arrives which may be a month perhaps. I look forward with much interest to see what he has done & how he governs. I look forward to spending a very pleasant time at Sarawak. These four sheets are for the Lit. Gaz.[ette]-- Correct ad. lib. I think you need not rewrite a copy-- The mail is due tomorrow but may not come in time for me as I leave at 12. I have had very hard work for 3 weeks here packing up, arranging, & cataloguing all my Collections; about 6000 specimens of Insects Birds Animals, Quadrupeds & shells. If too long this letter may be cut in two, at the 2nd. page of sheet 2. when I have made a cross would do for a division. I am too hard worked to write home now, so please call at [1 word illeg.] & tell them, that they are not to expect to hear from me for three mails now as communications from Sarawak are not very regular.

Sir W. Hooker[]s remarks are encouraging but I [1 word illeg.] cannot afford to collect plants, I have to work for a living & plants would not pay unless I collect nothing else, which I cannot do being too much interested in Zoology-- I should like a botanical comparison like Mr. Spruce very much. We are anxiously expecting accounts of the taking of Sebastopol.1

I am much obliged to Latham for quoting me & hope to see it soon. That ought to make my name a little known.

I have not your talent at making acquaintances & find Singapore very dull. I have not found a single agreeable companion. I long for you to walk about with & observe the queer things in the streets of Singapore. The Chinamen & their ways are inexhaustibly amusing.

My revolver is too heavy for daily use, I wish I had had a small one.

Yours sincerely | Alfred R Wallace

G.C Silk Esq.

Excuse the awful uncorrectedness[sic] of this scrawl.2

P.S. A Parcel now & then will be very acceptable[.] Mr Stevens will be sending a box soon.3

[[2]]4 our men however declared the day that they had seen a rhinoceros. We heard the fine Argus pheasants every evening, but they are so wild that it is impossible to get a sight of them.

Our rice being finished & our boxes crammed full of specimens we returned, our men taking us by what they called a better road, winding about through Malay villages & making our second days walk upwards of 30 miles. I only staid at Ayer Panas, sufficient time to pack up all my collections & then returned to Malacca on my way to Singapore. We were congratulated by all our friends on having lived a week at the foot of Mt. Ophir without getting fever.

ARW [signature]


1. The siege of Sevastopol (often referred to as Sebastopol) was a major siege in the Crimean War lasting from September 1854 until September 1855

2. This text is written vertically up the left margin of page 1

3. This text is written vertically up the left margin of page 1

4. The text on page 2 is part of a letter from Wallace to Hertford Literary Society

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.