Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP729

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Frederick R. ("Fred") Birch
27 February 1905

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Old Orchard, Broadstone, Wimborne, Dorset to Frederick R. ("Fred") Birch [none given] on 27 February 1905.

Record created:
18 March 2011 by NHM


No summary available at this time.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP729.901)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM Catkey-418637
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Broadstone, Wimborne

Feb[ruar]y. 27th. 1905

My dear Fred

I received last Friday yours, recounting your journey to the Pitch lake & some of the south coast & back to P[ort]. Of Spain. It is most extraordinary to me that you seem to have found so few insects all the way & I am sure Trinidad must be a poor place. I am very sorry about your swollen lip, because I know how dreadfully painful it is -- I had one just the same when in California caused by some insect-bite & sun-burn combined. The reflected glare from the sand would burn your lip so it is most difficult to cure -- [MS damaged] had to be lanced and poulticed[?] [MS damaged] and kept me a month in the [MS damaged] I really hope you have [MS damaged] [[2]]3 and that it is well by this time.

I hope before you get this you will have found a good place upon the Continent somewhere!

You have now had three long walks through the tropical forests & you must, I think, see that it is nearly all waste time as far as collecting goes. I hope you will get somewhere on a river where you can change your station by canoe, which is very much cheaper even if you hire or buy one, and saves almost all the fatigue.

When you do find a good place stick at it. The absence of beetles on the fallen trees in the clearing is quite mysterious to me. Among the books I read on Brazil was one [MS damaged] a Mr. H. H. Smith4 -- “Brazil, the <Amazon> [MS damaged]5”. He is a regular Collector, [[3]]6 an American, but well known in England who has been almost all over S[outh]. America. In this book almost the only bit of collecting described, is at Santarem on the Amazon, where I staid [sic] 3 months & Bates7 a year or more. He lived a few months with some American[?] settlers in the forest a few miles inland, and in the new clearings they had made he describes the beetle-collecting as wonderful, giving the number of species and specimens collected on good days. He often got 80 or 90 species a day, and, if I remember, about half of these were sometimes longicorns. It <reminded> [MS damaged] me of my best days at Sarawak. It would be interesting to know [MS damaged] every new species he got, [MS damaged] about a dozen years after [MS damaged] Did you find no [MS damaged] [[4]]8 sands or Carabidae under the seaweed or stones? You must, I am sure, someday, come upon such a good locality & then you will enjoy it the more for so poor a beginning. I think [MS damaged] <the> fine Papilio, with green on black must be P. sesostris -- a family abundant at Para and Guayana. It is no good sending such things to Poulton, as he is sure to have it. The Helicopis Cupido was common in the gardens at Para, on fences covered with vanilla. Of course it is the ♀ Dismorphia that mimicks [sic] the Heliconidae -- wants protection while egg-laying. Did you not get the species it mimicks [sic] along with it?

You are quite reckless of expense putting 2 stamps on your letters, far under ½ ounce. Your thin paper will go 3 if not 4 sheets! [MS damaged] <I> have not much more to say till [MS damaged] <I hear> where you are. When you mention a [MS damaged] state the main point of it so [MS damaged] remember[?] it. I suppose it was the [MS damaged] Brazil.

[MS damaged] Alfred R.Wallace -- [signature]


1. There is fire damage to the right-hand and bottom edges of the page.

2. There is a stamp in the top left-hand corner of the page. It reads: Entomology BMNH Library”. Above this, there is a catalogue reference number. It reads: “85”.

3. There is fire damage to the left-hand and bottom edges of the page.

4. Herbert Huntingdon Smith (1851-1919). American collector and museum curator.

5. Brazil, the Amazons and the Coast, published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1879.

6. There is fire damage to the right-hand and bottom edges of the page.

7. Henry Walter Bates (1825-1892). British zoologist with whom Wallace travelled to Brazil in 1848.

8. There is fire damage to the left-hand and bottom edges of the page.

9. Edward Bagnall Poulton (1856- 1943). British evolutionary biologist.

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