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Record number: WCP702

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Frederick R. ("Fred") Birch
13 January ?1904

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Old Orchard, Broadstone, Wimborne, Dorset to Frederick R. ("Fred") Birch [none given] on 13 January ?1904.

Record created:
18 March 2011 by NHM


Offers advice in preparing for employment and on collecting in the tropics.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP702.874)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM Catkey-418486
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Broadstone, Dors<et>

Jan. 13th 190[MS burned]

My dear Fred

I think you had better write to Mr. De Jouge telling him that you have decided to come out to Georg[etown] leaving Liverpool at such a date, & hoping that he will h<ave> some employment for you the<re.> No doubt your friend is quite right about your going out [1 word illeg.] and I hope he will be able to gi<ve> you the passage, & that it will be not later than the latter part of Feb. as that seem to be a good month. Do not be afraid about the climate & being acclimatized. That is all [MS burned] With moderate care you will be just [MS burned] in the finest as here of [MS burned] [[2]] place on a sugar-estate is no good, as you might be 10 miles or more from a bit of virgin finest. See about securing the passage as soon as possible, & that it would be as well to go to London & do your business at the Museum & elsewhere - at Oxford, & here.

Supposing you get no suitable partial employment, it will be important for you to find some place where you can live cheaply at Georgetown for a few days or a week, while you are making inquiries, getting stores &c. for a first start in [1 word illeg.] as near as possible to Georgetown so as to send off your first month or two’ proceeds with as little delay as possible. With this is <min>d I wrote to Mr. Kaye who has [MS burned] & I send you his [[3]] very interesting & instructive lette<r>. Do not be afraid of what he says abo<ut> poor collecting ground in B. Guiana. It is true that in the same country the quality of the collecting varies immensely, and it is no good staying in a poor locality. Looking back at any various collecting places I feel pretty sure that it depends on a special combination of conditions. It must be near true virgin forest - An old village or settlement, in or near forest, seems best, because of the [1 word illeg.] & extent of roads and paths into the forest, - also of fruit-trees & flowers - Also especially of [1 word illeg.]- cutting, & new clearings - Streams or creeks with dry sandy banks or rocks where y[ou] can get along easily, are also goo<d> for butterflies, as Mr. Kaye says [MS burned] Again, the alluvial flat forest [MS burned] wonderfully rich in butterflies [MS burned] [following two sentences written up left side of page] I [2 word illeg.] many [2 words illeg.] payment. And very much [1 word illeg.] are had. [[4]] known is richer than Para - all feat<ures> [MS burned] therefore the places. Suddie’- near mouth of Essegiubo - Mr. Kaye mentions, [1 word illeg.] be worth trying first. I believe your skill & enthusiasm as a collector will develope[sic] the riches of B. Guiana. You must go to see Mr. Kaye when in Lindon - also Mr. Champion at Mr. Codman’s place in London, who has had great experience in Tropical Collecting, & can perhaps give you new hints. Half the collectors who go out d’ont[sic] know <h>ow to collect in tropical forests.

Above all, do not try live upon nothing. Tropical work is trying, owing to excessive perspiration, and plenty of wholesome nourishing food is essential. It is advantageous to be near some native Indian villages as they are such good fishermen & hunters, - & the fish are sure to be first-rate. I should think you ought to start for London in about <a> fortnight or earlier. I will try & get you the letter [MS burned] the Colonial Office, but a letter from Mr. P at Liverpool might help.

[MS burned] [1 word illeg.] trouble about Professors of [1 word illeg.] [MS burned] to Professor -- the first time - s

[MS burned] | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

[[5]] P.S.

Try and get a small Commiss<ion> from Mr. Forbes, for the Liverpool museum. Anything, however trif[MS burned] that they want. And get a note from him, asking you to get it. Then, by showing the Colonial office that you have Commission from [the] Oxford Museum, the Liverpool Museum, any other Museum (? Owens College ? Chester?) - I hope, the S. Kensington Nat[ural] Hist[ory] Museum, it will be easier to get an official recommendation from the Colonial Office than [if] you go as a private Collector.

A.R.W. [signature]

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