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Record number: WCP365

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Fanny & Thomas Sims
10 December 1856

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Macassar [Makassar], Celebes [Sulawesi] Island, [Indonesia] to Fanny & Thomas Sims, [7 Conduit Street, Regent Street, London] on 10 December 1856.

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


Re. arrival of letters from home; birth of first niece or nephew; expense of Sims's rent and financial burden to his mother; departure for Aru in two days time; diet on Aru, list of food stores to be taken, scarcity of fowl, will eat Birds of Paradise and Kangaroo; friends and family; Eliza Roberts's moustache.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)
  • publication (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP365.365)

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

Letter signed in the margin of page 1.

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/3/40
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate
Record scrutiny:
21/08/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline;

Item notes

Physical description

Transcription information





Dec[embe]r 10th. 18562

My dear Fanny3

I have received yours of Sept[embe]r & my Mothers of October, and as I am now going out of reach of letters for six months I must send you a few lines to let you know that I am well & in good spirits though rather disappointed with the celebrated Makassar. My Mothers letter has informed me that we are all now Uncles and Aunts, and I hope you enjoy the title. I hear your country residence is fixed on, & I hope it may lead to the reestablishment of your health. I am sorry however you have to pay so high a rent, because when you leave it, (& you cannot have any certainty of staying more than a year) my mother will have to move again, as even the half rent is too much for her in proportion to her income, & expenses of moving coming into every year must be a great bother for her.

I believe my last letter to her & this will go together as the steamer is delayed & is [[2]] probably broken down this month, & I have told her all about where I am going so need not repeat it here. I have also written some details to Mr Stevens & G.[eorge] Silk4 from either of whom you can no doubt get their letters. The day after tomorrow I go on board the prow. We shall probably have 20 days passage not very comfortable ones for me, but the prospect of the wonders & rarities to be obtained at its termination will keep up my spirits. For the last fortnight since I came in from the country I have been living here rather luxuriously, getting good rich cows milk to my tea & coffee, very good bread & excellent dutch butter (3s a lb.) The bread here is raised with toddy just as it is fermenting, & it imparts a peculiar sweet taste to the bread which is very nice. At last there is some fruit here. The mangoes have just come in & they are certainly magnificent. The flavour of is something between a peach & a melon with the slightest possible flavour of turpentine, & very juicy. They say they are unwholesome & it is a good thing for me I am going away now. When I come back there will be not one to be had. [[3]] As I really know not what to write about to fill up this sheet, partly through having many preparations &c still to make & other letters to write, I will give you a list of my stores for my six months residence at Arru5[sic], so that you may see I am now taking pretty good care of myself.

Sugar --------------------------------- 66 pounds

Tea ------------------------------------ 7 "

Coffee (unroasted) ---------------- 27 "

Biscuits -- 2 tins -- about ------- 20 "

Butter a small keg cont<ainin>g 11 "

Wine (Madeira) -------------------- 18 bottles

Pickles ------------------------------- 3 bottles

Fish sauce ---------------------------- 1 "

Oil for cooking. about 2 gallons

" for lamp ------- " 3 gallons

Vinegar (native) --------------------- 1 gallon

Soy -- (native) --------------------- ½ "

Jams & Jellies ----------------------- 8 jars !!

Black pepper ------------------------------ 1 pound -------------------

Eggs --------------------------------- 100.....

Curry powder (home made)... 2 bottles

Rice all goes from here but the owner of the prow will supply me from there. Fowls are scarce but we shall eat Birds of Paradise. Fish [[4]] are abundant, and there is a small kangaroo about as big as a hare which they say is very plentiful & excellent eating, so I expect we shall get on first rate in the culinary department. I also take with me a bamboo wicker chair & a small folding table, as I find sitting on the ground for months together dreadfully fatiguing & irksome for my long legs. I can neither write nor work with pleasure unless I have a chair & table. I ought also to mention among my luxuries here, excellent potatoes grown on the Bontyne mountain & quite as good as you get in England. The sweet potatoes here however are so good that I like them as well or better & so take them by turns. Do not neglect to write by the May mail, as that will reach here just as I expect to return from Arru, & give me all the latest news. Kind regards to Thomas, Edw[ar]d, Mr & Mrs Sims & all friends. (Has Eliza Roberts got rid of her moustache yet? Tell her in private to use tweezers. A hair a day would exterminate it in a year or two without any ones perceiving.) You have told me of nobody married or dead for a long time.

[[5]]6 Is the world stationary or are you too busy to notice it.

I remain D[ea]r Fanny | Your ever affectionate Brother | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]


1. Now more commonly spelled Makassar, a city in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

2. "[WPI/3/40]" in pencil in an unknown hand.

3. ARWs sister Frances Wallace Sims (1812-1893).

4. George Silk, a lifelong friend.

5. The Aru Islands in the Maluku province of Indonesia.

6. These two sentences written by ARW vertically in the left margin of page 1.

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