Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP430

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.


Re. Newhaven landscape; Prof. Marsh's 10 acre grounds and house of his own design with octagonal sitting room and rooms displaying china and artefacts including American Indian scalps and heads of animals shot by Marsh; Marsh's travels in the Rocky Mountains; Baltimore park, streets and buildings; Maryland a Slave state before the war, many people black, antics of black waiters in hotels.

Record notes

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP430.430)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/5/11
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information






As I find my letter is over half an ounce I add a little more. Newhaven where I visited Prof. Marsh is a very pretty place with fine avenues of trees and beautiful villas and a rugged mountain near it. Mr. Marsh has acres of ground and a beautiful house built to his own design. It has a very large octagon hall occupying all the centre of the house which he uses as a sitting room, and there are a number of green little 3 cornered rooms full of pictures, China & curiosities. He has been 27 times across the rocky mountains, & has lots of buffalo, deer, wild-goat & sheep hounds that he has shot, also lots of Indian curiosities including scalps! & lovely mocassins[sic]. He is not married & lives quite alone, but he is fond of planting & gardening & has many fine shrubs & trees & his place must be [[2]] lovely in the summer. He also is away half the year collecting fossils & hunting & when at home is most of the time at the Museum where all his wonderful fossils are.

Here, there is a splendid park recently given to the city by a rich merchant. It is about a mile square full of fine trees, wood, hills, valleys, & water. The city is very monotonous having all its streets running parallel to each other, so there is no variety, but many of the public buildings are of white marble which is very handsome. To day (Sunday) it is snowing & freezing, so I shall stay in all day reading & writing & eating.. This was a slave-state before the war & half the people are negroes or "coloured". In the hotel at Boston all the waiters were white men and everything was [[3]] very clean & nice, and the attendance very quiet & nice. Here they are all negroes of various degrees of blackness and ugliness, and their ways are funny. They seem as if they can do nothing quietly. They slap down things on the table, shove them about to get them straight, & grab hold of them when they are taking them away. They swing about the trays while they are carrying them, and generally balanced on one hand over their heads, and altogether behave something like a lot of educated monkeys. The worst is to see them dressed in tail coats & white chokers, as the head waiters are, and in private houses. They look perfect guys! The travelling here is very nice & far preferable to ours, and I do not feel much afraid even of long journeys as the drawing room cars are very pleasant [[4]] and hardly more fatiguing than sitting at home. Then there is the advantage of their being all so well warmed with steam pipes that you sit without overcoat or hat just as you would in a well-warmed drawing room, while there is a lavatory and every convenience in every carriage. When there is no regular dining cars to a train there is what they call a buffet. The car-boy will get you anything for lunch or tea and nice little moveable tables are fitted into the side of the care between two chairs so that you can eat comfortably. The large plate glass windows, mirrors, & soft carpets, and beautiful fittings of the cars, which are all of different patterns make it very pleasant to travel in them. The They are 50 or 60 feet long. cost of a seat in their drawing room cars comes to about the same as our 2nd class fare or less for long journeys. I have just had a letter from Mr. Swinton summing his move to Mayfield w. Tunbridge Wells.

A.R.W. [signature]

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