Wallace Letters Online

Share this:

Record number: WCP735

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

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Old Orchard, Broadstone, Wimborne, Dorset to Frederick R. ("Fred") Birch [none given] on 23 May 1905.

Record created:
18 March 2011 by NHM


The merits of collecting in Brazil and Nicaragua.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP735.907)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM Catkey-418735
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Broadstone, Wimborne.

May 9th. 1905

My dear Fred

I got yours last week telling of your mysterious letter from San Catalina. It looks as if Venezuela is “bust up” for you; so I suppose you will have gone to your much desired [word illeg.]!2 (I always forget [MS damaged] <the> name). But now I think you [MS damaged] <must> be driven to choose between Nicaragua and Brazil! I am inclined to think you might try Maranhão the next port beyond Para, and I think very little [MS damaged] <visited> by travellers or Collectors. I [MS damaged] <think> it has the same climate as Para [MS damaged] equally grand forests, -- but [MS damaged] <perhaps> rather more Brazilian than [MS damaged] in its fauna. It is really [MS damaged] 100 miles nearer Trini[dad] [MS damaged] <than> [[2]]3 Nicaragua (Bluefields), and probably quite as easy to reach, as I expect all the coast steamers from Para (& perhaps from Trinidad) call at it. I can find little information, except that it has a “fine climate” and grand forests there are also Campos near. You can no doubt learn something it of it at your city. If you had to call at Para on your way you could get all the information about cost of [MS damaged] journey up the Amazon or the Madeira to the Andes lower [MS damaged] slopes. But if that is possible ultimately [MS damaged] <year?> in the Maranhão district would [MS damaged] <be?> needed to get the funds.

One other alternative is, to go to [MS damaged] [Ba]rranquilla at [the] mouth of the Magdalena [MS damaged] either to the forests of the Sierra de [[3]]4 Santa Marta, or, what perhaps would be even better, the forests of the Lower Magdalena. A good locality there, if it is to be found, would be, probably, be as good as anywhere. The Magdalena is a great river for Orchid collectors, but they have to go a long way into the lofty mountainous forests for the cool[?] orchids. The forests on its [word illeg.] would probably be richer in insects. I had no idea that any Morpho was now so [MS damaged] <scarce> and valuable as you say M. [MS damaged] <Hecuba?> is. Still, in any really good locality you may get new things equally valuable.

So now you have 3 places to choose from, if the Orinooko [sic] Delta is from any cause impossible, but [MS damaged] perhaps the mystery may not [MS damaged] disastrous, and Cap[tai]n. Boynton5 [MS damaged] have something as good to [MS damaged] <bring> to you. I wait[?] [MS damaged] [[4]]6 for your next letter to learn all about it.

7Yours very sincerely | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

P.S. I hope you wrote again to the B[ritish]. Minister at Caracas saying you may go to Nicaragua, Colombia or Brazil, and that is why you want the F[oreign]. Office Passport. It mentions no country but serves for all Foreign Countries. Of course when in the Country you have to get Passports &c if necessary.

Till I know definitively that you are [MS damaged] <staying?> somewhere, or even that you have [MS damaged] <searched> that “somewhere” and find it good, [MS damaged] must make any arrangements with [MS damaged] Museum or elsewhere, and there will [MS damaged] be plenty of time, and something [MS damaged]

A.R.W. [signature]


1. There is fire damage to the right -hand edge, and to the top and bottom right-hand corners of the page.

2. Wallace is probably referring to Guayaguayare, located on the south-east coast of Trinidad, and an objective referred to in earlier correspondence between Wallace and Birch. Wallace appears to be deliberately misspelling the name.

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

4. There is fire damage to the right -hand edge and to the bottom right-hand corner of the page.

5. Boynton, Captain George R. (dates unknown). Veteran of the American Civil War and implicated in the forging of Venezuelan currency.

6. There is fire damage to the left -hand edge and to the bottom left-hand corner of the page.

7. There is a stamp placed to the left of Wallace’s valediction and signature. It reads: Entomology BMNH Library”.

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