Wallace Letters Online

Share this:

Record number: WCP696

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Frederick R. ("Fred") Birch
24 November 

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, [?Corfe View, Parkstone, Dorset] to Frederick R. ("Fred") Birch [none given] on 24 November .

Record created:
18 March 2011 by NHM


Describes parts of the country famous for their wild flowers, including the Vale of Neath and High Force in Teesdale. Looks forward to Birch's description of his Welsh tour and writes, "I love Wales more than any part of our country. I lived at Neath 5 or 6 years and I know nothing more beautiful than the Vale of Neath right up to the grand Brecknock Beacons".

Record notes

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP696.868)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM Catkey-418458
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Nov. 24 [MS burned]

My dear Mr. Birch

Many thanks f<or your> long & interesting letter. I read it e<very> word, & so did my wife; and I took <it> to a friend who, with his daughter a<re> great lovers & students of science & nature; & she read it aloud to h<er> father & me. I agree & sympathise with it all. I am glad to see you thinking about many things, and in <my> opinion your thoughts are true & <will> guide you rightly. I am especially glad to see that you are thinking ab<out> society & your fellow-workers. I and others have been trying for years to create a public opinion in that dire<ction>. I therefore send you a little book of mine (which did not sell!) & a few tracts & addresses dealing mainly with the Land question which, as you truly see, is fundamental. When you have read those odds & ends [[2]] [MS burned] <show?> them to any friends or <fel>low workmen that you think will <be> interested. Did you know Mr. H. [MS burned] Higgins? He was a delightful old man and enthusiastic naturalist. Your account of Llanferres & its flowers interested me and I should like to go there next summer, but perhaps shall not be able to do so. I know just such a place in South Wales -- the upper Vale of Neath -- where the river disappears for about a mile. Did you go up the Alyn towards the mountains? Is there a comfortable Inn at Llanferres where 2 or 3 could stay? I see by the Geol.[ogical] Map there is a long belt of Limestone there, which always has a pretty small alpine-like vegetation, but I have not usually found it very flowery. Have you ever been to Teesdale aboutove High Force. It is a lovely district for flowers, & in May is the only small area in Britain where <the> Gentiana verna grows, almost as beautifully [[3]] as in the Alps. It [MS burned] to see. The upper Tees is rich <in> plants, & probably in Insects al<s>o lately heard that Gentiana verna grows on Holyhead Mountain. That wou<ld> perhaps be more accessible for y<ou.> As to streams I quite agree with you<. In> a state of nature they are delightful in every way, and what a condemnation <of> our civilisation it is that we turn so many of them into open sewers! O<ne> of my principles is that it is a cri<me> to pollute a stream; - and anoth<er> that every stream in the country sho<uld> be free to all, and have a public right of way along its banks, except whe<n> it passed through private garden<s> or grounds near a house. Would not our country be delightful then<?>

I hope soon to have the description of your Welsh tour. I love Wales <more> than any part of our country. I lived at Neath 5 or 6 years and I know nothing more beautiful than the V<ale> of Neath right up to the gran<d> [[4]] [MS burned]lock Beacons. But all <around?> Snowdon is grander, & <th>at you have near to you. I <ha>ve never been in Flintshire, but <w>as once in Denbighshire at the Caves of Cefu which showed me something of the limestone Country.

Liverpool is in some respects our excellent centre having the two most beautiful districts of Britain, Wales & the Lakes,- within easy reach.

With best wishes | Believe me | Yours very truly | Alfred R. Wallace | [signature]

Fred. Birch

P.S. The lizard you sent me more than a year back in a bright-coloured <spe>cimen of the Common Zootoca vivipara, not <the> much larger Lacerta agilis of this district.

A.R.W. [signature]

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