Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, The Quincy to Violet Isabel Wallace, [Nutwood Cottage, Frith Hill, Godalming] on 2 November 1886.
Re. his first public lecture, rehearsals at Loughton and Farncombe useful, cut sections following advice of Mr Marshall, enclosing a newspaper and press cuttings (not present), report on lecture brief because today is election day; tour along Hudson and to West Point Military college with Mr Browne, spectacular scenery including basalt cliffs "The Palisades" along the river (with ink sketch of cliffs with a sailing boat on the river below); colourful autumn foliage; details of hotel food including "shaker apple-sauce"; tram cars in Boston; meeting with Spiritualist doctor Nichols, invited to visit; plans to visit botanist Asa Gray at Cambridge tomorrow; discovery of a chess club and plans to play.
A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.
An original MS
Pages with text: 4
Transcriber: Tew, Alison
Transcription date: July 8, 2006
Scrutiny: 15/01/2013 - Catchpole, Caroline;
Signed off: no
The Quincy Hotel
J.W. Johnson and Co.
Tuesday Nov. 2. 1886
My dear Violet
I gave my first lecture last night to a crowded audience every seat full & many standing. I was not a bit nervous and got on first rate, as the paper I have sent you this morning & enclosed cuttings from another paper will show. My rehearsals at Loughton and Farmcombe were of great use to me as they gave me confidence, and I altered the beginning and cut out the parts suggested by Mr. Marshall, & even then it took an hour and 10 minutes, but they all stopped to the end. I was rather excited after it & did not sleep much. Before I left New York Mr. Browne took me for a days excursion up the Hudson River to West Point where the American Military College is, in a most beautiful & romantic situation among mountains, but [] on a small plateau with the river winding round it and a magnificent view up the river with rocky islands and mountains in the distance. A few miles above New York and extending for 20 miles on the S.[outh] bank of the river are what are called the "palisades.", which are a row of cliffs quite vertical and looking exactly like a huge fence made of split trees -- something like this -- The cliffs are about [a sketch of the palisades appears here] 200 feet high and below for about the same height is the a slope of loose rocks covered with trees. The palisades are really formed of basaltic columns like those of the Giants Causeway in Ireland. In some places the colours of the autumn foliage were very fine, much more bright reds, purples and yellows than in England but every body says they are not nearly so bright this year as usual owing to the long drought. I came on here last Thursday in a drawing room car which is very comfortable, and I had a very good dinner in a dining car. But you ought to see the meals at this hotel! The bill of fare at dinner (1 to 3) has generally 2 kinds of soup, 2 of fish about 30 different dishes of meat poultry and game, a dozen sorts of pastry, a dozen of vegetables, besides ices and fruit. You can have just as many dishes as you like brought you in little dishes each holding about enough for two persons. I am trying most of the dishes, and find them mostly good and some splendid. The apple pies and puddings [] are grand, and there is a lovely "shaker apple sauce" I tried today with turkey and tongue. At breakfast and supper there is about half as much variety. If I had but any friend to take meals with me it would be delicious but sitting alone at a little table with about 50 strangers around at other tables is not lively. There is unlimited milk cream and fruit. I generally begin breakfast with a few grapes and finish with grapes & a pear -- most splendid juicy pears they are. I have splendid cocoa for breakfast & excellent tea at 6, and some supper from 9 to 10. Till Sunday it was very wet but now it is clear, with bright sun all day and I expect the fine autumn weather has set in. To day is election day here, and that is the reason the papers have given only a short notice of my lecture. Boston is very lively with scores of tramcars running about in every direction. I forgot to say the audience at my lecture were very attentive - They cheered when I came in [] and then not a sound was heard till I came to the Partridges, & that fetched them just as it did at Godalming. And again at the end they cheered heartily.
I begin to find it rather a nuisance to have so many things, and I wish I had only brought half, & got what I wanted here where most things seem to be not much dearer. I met a very nice old gentleman today who is a Spiritualist & has been so 40 years, & he has invited me to go to his house in the country next week. His name is Dr. Nichols -- a medical doctor & a chemist as well as a Spiritualist -- I am going tomorrow to se Dr. Asa Gray the Botanist at Cambridge which is only 2 or 3 miles from Boston. I wrote a letter to Willie from New York telling him the name of the boy whose brother was my fellow passenger. Let me know what o’clock the telegram reached Hurst[pierpoint]. You or Ma must write to me once a fortnight at least & tell me how things go on. I have just discovered a chess-club here so after tea I am going to see if I can get thoroughly beaten & learn something. With love to Ma and Willie & hoping you are all quite well,
I remain │ Your affectionate Papa │ Alfred R. Wallace [signature]
I have now quite recovered from my illness & weakness on board. The weather here is no colder yet than at home. 2
1. The letter is written on headed note paper which includes the hotel address and an engraving of the hotel.
2. This text is written vertically up the left hand side of the page 4.
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