Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP406

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
George Silk
16 June 1848

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Pará, Brazil to George Silk [none given] on 16 June 1848.

Record created:
01 June 2002 by Lucas, Paula J.
Verified by:
22/05/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline (All except summary checked);


Letter from Alfred Russel Wallace to George [Silk], from Para [Brasil], 16 June 1848. Refers to safe arrival, and describes voyage from Liverpool to Para which was achieved in 31 days (26 April - 28 May); describes the City in detail, including its public spaces and buildings, and refers to having taken a house "nearer the woods"; comments on the abundance of oranges and bananas and the cost of beef; comments on the racial mix in the City; describes the climate and comments on how much he is enjoying it; he has been collecting insects and comments on their variety - has collected 400 "distinct kinds"; hopes to collect plants and other things when he gets to his own house; he will send word when a parcel is expected as postage is expensive.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP406.406)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/3/89
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate
Record scrutiny:
22/05/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline;

Physical description

Transcription information




Para, June 16th 1848

Dear George1

You will see by the above that I have delayed answering your letter rec[eive]d. in London, till I could give you satisfactory proof of my having reached my destination safe & sound.-

The perils of the deep were less than I expected. I was sick for the first 10 days more or less & unwell from want of exercise the rest of the time, but after we got out of the Channel we had beautiful weather & made the passage in 31 days which was less than we anticipated -- We sailed from Liverpool on the evening of April 26 & arrived at Para early on the morning of May 28th. Since then we have been [[2]] staying at the House of the conseqence[sic] of the vessel Mr Miller the captains brother -- for the last fortnight we have been at his Country House on Rosinha ab[ou]t. half a mile out of the city.

We have now just taken a house ourselves rather nearer the woods and tomorrow expect to be in it. We have an old nigger here who cooks &c. for us, & have been practising housekeeping for a fortnight. - Now for a little description of the place -- The city is a curious outlandish looking place the best part of it very like Boulogne. The streets narrow & horribly rough. No pavement -- The public buildings handsome but ruinous & out of repair. The squares & public places grass & weeds like an English Common. Palms[sic] trees of many different kinds Bananas & plantains abundant in [[3]] all the gardens. Oranges innumerable most of the Roads out of the city having rows of orange trees on each side of them -- Bananas & oranges are delicious. I eat them at almost every meal -- Beef is the only meat to be constantly had -- not good but cheap 2 3/4d per lb. Coffee grows wild all about the city -- yet it is imported for use, the people are so lazy -- Every shade of colour is seen here in the people from white to yellow brown & black -- negroes[,] Indians, Brazilian & Europeans & every intermediate mixture. The Brazilians & Portuguese are very polite & have all the appearance of civilized beings -- naked nigger children abound in the streets.

Within a mile of the city all round is the forest extending uninterruptedly many hundreds [[4]] and even thousands of miles into the interior -- The climate is beautiful. We are now at the commencement of the dry season -- It rains generally for an hour or two every evening though not always -- Before sunrise the thermometer is ab[ou]t. 75o. in the afternoon 85o to 87o the highest I have yet seen it -- This is hot but by no means oppressive -- I enjoy it as much as the finest summer weather in England -- We have been principally collecting Insects at present -- The variety is immense we have already got about 400 distinct kinds -- When we get to our house sure in the country we shall collect plants & other things --

This letter will go to England by the ship I came in & as I have many more letters to write I must now remain

Yours sincerely | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

PS. when a parcel is coming I will let you know as postage is very expensive here.


1. George Silk, Wallace’s childhood friend.

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