Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP4308

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Roderick Impey Murchison
June 1853

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, [address not recorded] to Roderick Impey Murchison, [Royal Geographical Society, 3 Waterloo Place] on June 1853.

Record created:
02 July 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline


Application made to the Royal Geographical Society detailing A. R. Wallace's proposed trip to the Malay Archipelago and asking for free passage for the journey.

Record notes

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP4308.4436)

An other document handwritten  in English and signed by unsigned.

Held by:
Royal Geographical Society
Finding number:
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Copy sent to F.R.S. [one word illegible] July 23 for Earl Clarendon1

To the President and Council of the Royal

Geographical Society of London.2

Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace begs leave to lay before the Council of the Geographical Society an outline of his proposed expedition & to solicit its support and interest.

He proposes leaving England in the Autumn or Winter of the present year, and, making Singapore his head quarters, to visit in succession Borneo, the Phillippines, Celebes, Timor, the Moluccas and New Guinea, or such of them as may prove most accessible, remaining one or more years in each as circumstances may determine.

His chief object is the investigation of the Natural History of the Eastern Archipelago in a more complete manner than has hitherto been attempted; but he will also pay much attention to Geography, & hopes to add considerably to our knowledge of such of the Islands as he may visit.

It is therefore his earnest desire to provide himself with such Astronomical and Meteorological instruments, as are required to determine the position, [one word illegible] Latitude, Longitude & Height above the Sea level, of all his stations.

The expense however of the journey from England is so considerable, that he finds himself unable to make the necessary outlay, & he would therefore wish to know, whether the Council of the Royal Geographical will feel justified in recommending her Majestys Government to grant him a free passage to any convenient port in the (turn over); [[2]] Archipelago, and thereby enable him to supply himself with the necessary instruments.

Through the influence of your Medallist, Sir James Brooke, who has kindly promised him every assistance, he has little doubt of success in exploring the great Island of Borneo. He understands however that the permission of the Governments of Spain & Holland is necessary to visit the interior of any of the Islands where they have settlements, and he trusts that the Council will give him their support in endeavouring to obtain such permission.

As some guarantee of his capabilities as a traveller he may perhaps be excused for referring to his recent travels for nearly five years, in South America, where alone and unassisted he penetrated several hundred miles beyond any former European traveller, as shown by the Map & description of the Rio Negro, which he has had the honour to lay before the Society at its last meeting.

During his travels in South America he relied entirely on his duplicate collections in Natural History to pay his expenses, and he shall follow the same plan in his proposed journey. On his homeward bound voyage from Parà he suffered the loss of a very extensive and valuable collection together with all his books & instruments by the burning of the Brig "Helen" of Liverpool (in which he was a passenger) on the 6th of August 1852,-- a loss which has rendered necessary the present application to the Royal Geographical Society.



Alfred R Wallace

Rec[eive]d June 303


1. Written in pencil in another hand.

2. Wallace, AR ARCHIVES RGS Corr block 1851-60 written in pencil in another hand by the archive.

3. Written in the middle to the left hand side of the page in another hand.

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