Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP465

Sent by:
Frederick R. ("Fred") Birch
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
19 July 1910

Sent by Frederick R. ("Fred") Birch, Theophilo Ottoni, Brazil to Alfred Russel Wallace Old Orchard, Broadstone, Wimborne, Dorset on 19 July 1910.

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


Thanking Alfred Russel Wallace for the pamphlet (by Sir Arthur Cotton) on intensive agriculture which has arrived safely along with copies of "The New Age", is delighted with it; gives details of his gardening methods and previous year's crops of oats and potatoes, potatoes this year destroyed by ants; adds to description of Calliste birds given in last letter (see WP1/6/5) and corrects description of Toucan; reminds Alfred Russel Wallace he wants details of prices, soil, temperature and rainfall of land in Devonshire.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP465.465)

A postcard handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/6/6
Copyright owner:
Copyright of the Frederick R. ("Fred") Birch Literary Estate.

Physical description

Transcription information





July 19. 10.

Hurrah! the Pamphlet on Intensive Culture came last Friday along with a batch of N.A. for April & 1st week in May. I am delighted with it! I was so eager to read it or rather so fearful or reading it too soon that I read only the advertisements on the back of it on Friday evening & consoled myself with a no. of the N.A. but the following evening I could refrain no longer & read it thro at one sitting -- staying up till 10.30 p.m. devouring every word & being vasty entertained & astonished by the wonderful results which rewarded such thorough work as the author recommends. Ever since I began to cultivate our garden here I have made some approach to Sir A. Cottons methods. for i have thoroughly loosened & pulverized the soil to a depth of 10 inches in all of the 15 beds I have divided the ground into, & the results from even this have astonished me. You will remember that I had an average of 12 stalks & heads from each oak seed I planted & one plant had 21 stalks. Last year I had about 120 potatoes form two square yards of ground -- a result chiefly of the thorough fining of the soil. This year the crop of this tuber would have been fine also but for the attacks of a small ant which formed galleries in the earth about them & bit through [continue from bottom of page to top in reverse] the stems & gnawed innumerable holes in the tubers just when they were the size of walnuts. I tried mixing wood ashes wih the soil about the stems but it was no use. I even took the trouble to smear each [1 word illeg.] stem with vaseline but still they went on gnawing & killed the whole lot--about 40 plants. They are dreadful beasts! The morning after I sent off my last letter I discovered on seeing the birds again what I had suspected that I had omitted all mention of the vivd blue in the glorious finch (?) calliste. It was strange that I did not remember that the greater part of his head & all the lower breast is blue & that this is separated from the green by yellowish green. The merging of the purple over the base of the primaries in wing with the blue of the breast is perfectly bewitchingly beautiful. You should look it up in your bird books. Since I wrote they have been several times on the kitchen window ledge; once there were 6 of them together pecking away at a half papw we had put there for them. How I wish I had the camera arranged all ready to take a snapshot of them! I forgot to state also that the black & white bird has white on the lower back, above tail. Today the great red macaws have been flying overhead. What a fine thing it would be if we could induce them to settle & tarry a while with us. Theyd be welcome to all the oranges they wanted if they only would honour us thus! With best wishes to you & yours, F.

Please dont forget to tell me what you knowx about the New Forest & the north coast of Devonshire.

[footnote to the left of previous sentence] x soil, temperature, rainfall & usual price per acre.

The big Toucans beak is yellow not black as I wrote [in margin]

[the following sentence is written on the left margin of the current page] The big toucans beak is yellow not black as I wrote.

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