Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP429

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
William Greenell [ARW's son] Wallace
December 1886

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Baltimore, Maryland, USA to William Greenell [ARW's son] Wallace, [Nutwood Cottage, Frith Hill, Godalming] on December 1886.

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


Re. visit to Prof Morse at Salem, Morse's Japanese artefacts and books, his 15 year old son's weekly natural history club meetings and collections of flints, shells and insects; visit to Prof Marsh at Newhaven Connecticut, his fossil collection including great animal skulls and skeletons; explosion of rotten ostrich egg in Marsh's museum (Peabody Museum, Yale); Alfred Russel Wallace's lecture to ladies" college at Poughkeepsie; route of travel to Baltimore via New York.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP429.429)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/5/10
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate
Record scrutiny:
21/08/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline;

Physical description

Transcription information




Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A


My dear Willie

When I was at Boston I went to Salem to visit Professor Morse2 who has lived in Japan and has all sorts of Japanese China, Pots, Drawings, and books and is also a great Naturalist. His son is a very nice boy about 15 -- one of the nicest looking boys I have ever seen. He and 5 of his schoolfellows have a Natural History Club and they meet once a week in a little room or hut they have had built for themselves. It is about as big as my dressing room or a little bigger and they have a little stove to warm it up in winter and have cabinets & boxes in it with insects, shells, and flint weapons they have collected, and they read papers about these, and once a month they have supper together in the hut at a little table they can just sit at leaving no room for anyone else. We went to see them while they were at supper & they had to stand up to make room for us. while we

Last week I went to Newhaven[sic] in Connecticut to Visit Professor Marsh3 who has collected some of4 [[2]] the most wonderful fossils in the world. He has skulls of great animals something like Rhinoceroses only bigger and with 6 horns, and a great reptile about 90 feet long and 20 feet high. The day I went there he had received 118 large cases full of fossils from one place where he had sent men to work and dig them out. A curious thing happened at the academy[?] a week or two ago. Prof[essor]. Marsh had sent for a lot of ostriches eggs from Africa to dissect the little ostriches inside, and as one of his assistants was filing round the end of the shell of one to take out the chick suddenly there was a great explosion, the shell flew[?] into small pieces, knocked the gentleman off his chair, cut his face and nearly poisoned him and other persons in the room with the horrible stinking gas from the rotten chick. I saw the broken shell which was nearly as thick and nearly as hard as a china tea-cup. [word illeg. crossed-out] On Monday lectured at a place called Poughkeepsie at a Ladies’ College and on Tuesday I had to get up at 5 in the morning[,] drive 3 miles to the station, come 70 miles to N[ew]. York[,] then drive 2 miles across N[ew]. York to another station then come 200 miles more to here where I arrived at 3 in the afternoon, & then gave my first lecture the same evening. I am none the worse for it so far.

Your affectionate Papa | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]


1. There is a catalogue/reference number written in the top left-hand corner of the page. Its reads [WP1/5/10]. It is not in Wallace’s hand-writing.

2. Edward Sylvester Morse (1838-1925). Co-founder of the American Naturalist, and director of the Peabody Museum in Salem.

3. Othniel Charles Marsh (1831-1899). American paleontologist.

4. A previous, since expired, catalogue number is recorded at the bottom of the page, below the text. It reads [old Ref WP1/17/10].

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