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Record number: WCP457

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Annie Wallace (née Mitten)
31 July 1887

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Michigan Agricultural College, Department of Botany and Forestry, USA to Annie Wallace (née Mitten), [Nutwood Cottage, Frith Hill, Godalming] on 31 July 1887.

Record created:
01 June 2002 by Lucas, Paula J.


From Wallace to his wife describing his week spent in the Rocky Mountains and celebrating the plant variety there: Aguilagia cerubea, Castelleias, gentains, primrose, primula japonica, Pechstercous, Poleucurum, Mertensia, Rawnculuus, Trollius and Anemone. He remarks that the air was too dry for ferns. Wallace states that Colorado Springs is the only place in America that it would be pleasant to live. He advises Annie that he will be leaving for home at once via Kingston and Quebec and sailing to Liverpool or Glasgow.

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  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP457.457)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/5/41
Copyright owner:
©A. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Michigan Agricultural College

July 31st. 1887.

My dear Annie

Since write to you last (or to your father) I have spent a delightful week in the Rocky Mountains which beat the Sierra Nevada and even beat Switzerland so far as I have seen it, for variety and beauty of flowers. The climate is splendid, the foot of the mountains being 6000 ft. above the sea, which the places we staid at (I and a lady botanist from Denver) were 10,000, and 11,000 ft., and one night we slept in a missions camp[?] about 12,500 ft. above the sea, and saw the highest [1 word illeg.] house in the U. States! From that we walked and climbed up Grays Peak - 14,400 feet high and about the highest in the whole Rocky Mountains. Aguilagia cerubea[?] was there by thousands in great splendor growing 1 ½ ft. to 2 ft. high, and with its grand flowers of every kind from lavender there to pure white. Next to this pink and scarlet Castelleias were the most abundant, a flower not known in England & said the impossible to grow because parasitical but I have sent some to Miss Jekyll. There were also a few blue and white gentains[?], a lovely purple primrose [[2]] equal in size and colour to Prinula japonica[?], beautiful Pechstercous[?], a glorious alpine Poleucurum[?] and Mertensia neither I think known in English gardens, and some genus[?] of Rawnculuus[?], Trollius and Anemone, all of which with many others I have sent to Miss J. - no ferns, the air being too dry, though there are several we did not find. We found a valley not visited by botanists, a perfect garden of flowers, in the woods, pastures, high meadows and rock slopes - flowers everywhere by millions especially close to the snow patches. I have at length found a place in America where it would be pleasant to live. It is called Colorado Springs - just two or three miles from the foot of the mountains with a grand view of the range & of Pikes Peak, and a winter not much if any colder than ours & with almost constant sunshine in the winter. I had to come here to give a lecture that was freed before I went to California, and I was asked to give lectures on Spiritualism in Chicago, Boston &tc. but they cannot have there till the middle of September on account of the heat, and as I can do nothing profitable till & should spend [[3]] the greater part of what I earned, & get home too late to have any nice weather, and perhaps a stormy passage, I have decided to come home at once, & perhaps go again next year. I leave here tomorrow night for Kingston Canada, to spend a few days with Mr. Allen (Grant Allens father) and shall sail from Quebec (going down the St. Lawrence) either to Liverpool or to Glasgow. As soon as decided I will write you again, where to write to me, so that I can get it on my arrival in England. If the house is still let you might all come to meet me somewhere, but if it is not now let it will be better for me to come straight home & there we can decide what to do. If you have a good offer for it you can let it again of course. I shall be very curious to know how my plants from the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mts. have arrived, as they are all packed in a new method which if quiet successful may enable me to pay most of the expenses of another whole summer in the mountains. I have got a few nice ferns for you here, & [[4]] may perhaps get some more in Canada, as here in the North in a mossy, ferny, country totally different from the wesh[?] with its dry atmosphere. My life is at last well, but with a scar on it, & a little tender, but otherwise, I have not been so well for years as I have been in America especially in the mountains, where my walking and climbing without such fatigue astonished myself. I never contemplate ascending a mountain as high as Monte Rosa all the way a foot, but it was well worth the trouble. Tell Willie scalps are unattainable now, as are war bows & arrows &c. almost all the Indians very tame, & the rest using Rifles, so that only boys use bows & arrows, roughly made, for amusement. I suppose you have had a nice time visiting. I would have written to Mrs. Fisker, but I did not know her present address as I suppose they have left their old house. I saw a notice that her "History" was published.

I send this to your Father as I dont know where you are, a letter, perhaps from you, being at Truckee in the Sierra Nevada (sent by John). I have sent for it.

Your affectionate Husb[an]d. | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

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