Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP714

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Frederick R. ("Fred") Birch
16 April 1904

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Old Orchard, Broadstone, Wimborne, Dorset to Frederick R. ("Fred") Birch 23 Orford Street, Wavertree, Liverpool on 16 April 1904.

Record created:
18 March 2011 by NHM


Wishes Birch well for the expedition and offers tips regarding dealing with luggage and slinging hammocks.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)
  • envelope (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP714.886)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM Catkey-418546
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Broadstone, Dorset

April 16th. 1904

My dear Fred

I just write a few lines to wish you every success in your great expedition. I shall feel the greatest interest in your success & shall be glad of a few lines now & then when you can spare time. I am by one of your recent letters, which I did not have at hand when I wrote, that you have a wrong idea of S. American hammocks (at least the Brazilian) which are quite unlike the Sailor’s hammock. They are (the mesh cotton ones) about 5 1/2 f[ee]t or 6 f[ee]t square or nearly so with long cord woven in the two ends, and a strong rope at each of these, and they hand low, so as to serve as a seat in the daytime. To sleep in them you sit down, then lay your head on one side & throw your feet on the other so that you lay diagonally, from corner to [[2]] corner, which enables you to lie nearly horizontally. A very small pillow or cusion under the headis all that is required, & even this is not necessary. Get one of the best strong cotton hammocks, which, though expensive, are invaluable for comfort and general utility. The mosquito curtains are made like a complete oblong tent, with a little rod at each end to stretch it out and circular holes at each end at top to pass the hammock rope through. It is long enough to hang down to the floor with a little to spare, & there is no opening whatever for the mosquito to get in at. To enter you simply lift up the side get in & let it drop again, and there you are. If one or two mosquitoes are in you kill them by flapping a towel or handkerchief. [[3]] They may adopt a different form in Guiana but you will certainly find that they know all about what is practically best. The [1 word illeg.] sketch gives you an idea of the arrangement. In Brazil every room has strong pegs in the walls for hanging hammocks across each of the four corners.

I hope you have made some arrangement with the Newspaper Syndicate about letters. It is quite right to be sure of your baggage by taking it with you. It would be well to take your baggage with you. I fear the Victoria Docks are a long way down the river & it will save you much expense & time to go there direct by rail, which I think you can do by changing at the Willes[MS burned] Junction (L.N.W.), & going via Stratford right to the Docks. There you can get your things on board, ascertain the latest time for yourself to arrive, & have only a small bag to take back to your hotel or lodging; unless they will let you come back & sleep on board.

Certainly call on Janson, merely to make his acquaintance. I would say nothing [[4]] more about business arrangement, but say you wished to make his personal acquaintance and receive any final instructions on advice he can give you, as he has had a life-long experience of Entomological collectors & purchasers.

After leaving the ship go back to W. Russell St. & call on him, & if he is not in, make an appointment for Tuesday morning. If you have not a place fixed on to stay the night, you will find one by enquiring of Janson, - or if not, there is a most comfortable Temperance Hotel - "The West Central" - in Southampton Row, quite near, where you can have supper, bed, & breakfast, on very moderate terms.

My Last advice to you is, do not be careless about food. The climate is exhausting and ample nourishing food is most essential; and to nourish it must be varied and appetising, & such as agrees with your constitution. You are too apt to despise such care but on bodily health everything depends, & that rests almost wholly on wholesome & suitable & enjoyable food.

With my best wishes | Your sincere friend | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

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