Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Si Munjon near Sarawak to Frances ("Fanny") Sims (née Wallace) 7 Conduit Street, Regent Street, London on 28 September 1855.
Re. the Sims' move to Conduit Street and photography business, with detailed advice and questions, suggests asking Mr Vignolles [Vignoles] to introduce their work at Royal Society Soirees; mother's future; post from England and arrival of a box with shoes (good) and bacon (spoiled).
A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.
An original MS
Pages with text: 4
Transcriber: Jackson, John
Transcription date: February 16, 2012
Scrutiny: 20/06/2012 - Moody, Liz; 15/01/2013 - Catchpole, Caroline;
Signed off: no
Si Munjon near Sarawak
Sept.[ember] 28th. 1855
My dear Fanny
I received a short note from you & Thomas & from my mother by the May mail from which I learnt that you had taken "suitable premises" in Conduit St. at a Rent of £200 a year. I imagined it was only a ground floor with place for glass house above & that you would live near Town. By the June mail I received no letters at all. By the July mail a short mail letter from my mother by which I hear that you are gone to live at Conduit St. & have a whole house for your £200. By August mail which we expect here daily I hope to have some more particulars from you, & afterwards will finish this letter. I am afraid you have been telling my mother not to write about your affairs or she would never have said so little as she has done in the last two letters. But why should you mind what she says to me? You know I don’t judge hastily or harshly, & make full allowance for everything. It amuses her very much to write all she thinks at the time, & it amuses me here to read it, and as it is one of the chief pleasures she now enjoys to write at full to me, I should be sorry if you had given her any hint not to do so. However perhaps you have not, only from what you said in one of your former letters I thought you might have done so. Now as you live in Conduit Street of course my mother will have to leave Albany St. when the time is up and I should very much wish if you would try and arrange with her to get her settled comfortably so that she need not have to move any more which at her time of life must of course be very disagreeable & fatiguing. I think (& I recommended her in my last letter) that she should have a little cottage or half a small house somewhere near London, and near some of her friends (such as Miss Draper) in some healthy & cheerful neighbourhood, where you could go down to spend Sunday with her now and then. I believe the House in Albany St. will be given up in March next, when will be an excellent time for her to move. I think this plan would be much better & more comfortable for her & you, than for her to lodge or board with any one. It will give me a great deal of pleasure to hear that something of this kind has been [] agreed to & that she is comfortably settled.
I see in the "Daily News" 5 roomed Cottages with Garden near Peckham Rye advertised at £17 rent. Something of that sort would be just the thing. You could then spend from Saturday evening to Monday morning in the Country1[.]
In my Mother’s letter I received one of your new cards which is very neat & well arranged but to make it handsome wants a good wide margin. Get the next printed on a much larger card with a narrow line border & a wide margin & it will do first rate. I hope to receive soon a full account of your opal & enamel pictures. You tell me nothing about your new things. I have not yet received a word of explanation about your transparent pictures, except that they are much admired. I hope you have a fine set of specimens of all that you advertise. You should get Mr Vignolles or some other person to introduce some of your new things at the Royal Societys Soireés, or to bring some of "Athenaeum" or "Times" correspondents to see them. Thats the way Mayall & Claudet get so much talked about. In a newspaper a month ago I received a paper photograph of a melancholy young lady, who should be much obliged to the person who folded the paper so cleverly as to crease her exactly across both her eyes, where there is now a faint line of printing ink, of course vastly improving her personal appearance. Besides this the camera was below her face which spoils a picture. I presume it is meant for Sarah Matthews but pray get her to smile or look cheerful when you take her next, & if you send me any more photographs of myself or any one else I should like to see a good clear sharp positive if you can produce such a thing in Conduit Street. Every thing you have sent me yet has been indistinct faint & washy. Do you still Burn your glass pictures, and are the opal pictures the unvarnished state or really done on opal?. I hope you sent one of your new cards round to every one of your old customers, & I hope to hear of your taking from £5 to £10 a day now you are in a good situation. Do not fail to get a handsome plate at the corner of Regent St. as I recommended in my last; it would call in hundreds who, passing along Regent St. would otherwise know nothing of you. It would probably be worth more than £50 a year & perhaps produce £500 to you.
Oct.[ober] 17th. The mail has just come in and again no letter from you or Thomas; three months you have not written! & you really don’t deserve this letter, because you might write to me on Sunday, it would be a work of charity. However I have received [] a pretty long letter from my mother who gives some account of the unequalled magnificence of your rooms at Conduit St. quite a palace of Photography according to her account. But then I want to know how it pays, & you must have had nearly a months trial when she wrote, July 19th. To make up for your past delinquencies I shall look for a letter, 2 sheets crossed all over, entirely occupied with details of all your doings, new processes, prices, customers, what they are thought of, &c. &c &c &c &c --&c--&c &c --
The box has just arrived. The shoes fit well. The bacon I fear is not eatable. 8 months exposed to great heat, the fat melted and rusty, & all the small pieces utterly rusty throughout. Why did not you try lime which succeeded with John? It would evidently be far cheaper to buy some ham or tongue put up by Fortnum & Mason on purpose for India & which will keep for years. If I want any thing more I will send to them direct as it is a great pity to have such splendid bacon as it evidently was, spoiled. I am having a piece boiled for breakfast & will give you my account of it bye and bye. But any how I shall be obliged to eat it all quick-- For the other things I am also much obliged & they will all be useful. I am in a hurry so cannot write more now so must enclose a note for my mother who I am glad to find intends as I suggest to live out of Town. I found in the box a glass picture for a white ground. Taken from a paper photograph I presume or from the glass. It is very pretty but the tone is blue & cold, though that hardly matters for buildings. Your circular (my mother encloses one) is very good & well worded. I hope your new pictures are a tall price.
In haste | Your affectionate Brother | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]
[] P.S. After Breakfast.
The bacon is eatable, just! but very high & very rich of a dark brown colour, a slice is a very nice relish, but I should have enjoyed a meal off it of fresh & I fear I shall be obliged to eat it too quickly to enjoy it. I suppose you bought mild bacon which could hardly keep 8 months good in a cupboard at home & this voyage is fully equal to 2 years in England.
I have written in a hurry & may have forgotten many things.
7 Conduit St.
1. The whole of this short paragraph is written as a margin addition on p.1 of the letter, running vertically from bottom to top of the page. Presumably written after p.1 and p.2.
2. This text and the following address are written at ninety degrees to the postscript to show on the outside of the folded page in place of an envelope. Postmark on p. 4 shows "Singapore P.[O.] 22 NOV. Also on the page in another hand in blue? pencil is the text "A.R.W. to Mrs Sims Sep 1855".
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