Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP759

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

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

Record created:
18 March 2011 by NHM


No summary available at this time.

Record notes

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP759.931)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English.

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM Catkey-418772
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Broadstone <Wimbourne>

Septr [MS burned]

My dear Fred2

Yours of Sept. 6th <reached> me yesterday, and I was very [MS burned] to see daylight in you affairs, [MS burned] to the very kind and liberal view [MS burned] situation taken by Mr Thayer. [MS burned] have certainly found in him a [MS burned] friend. It appears then now, [MS burned] the one, & vitally important thing <to> decide, is where to go after <visiting> England, and on this subject [MS burned] as you seem to wish, give you my [MS burned] views.

I am myself convinced that [MS burned] whole range of Tropical America [MS burned] could select no place less [MS burned] your purpose, none more [MS burned] ruin all your prospects [MS burned] yet you apparently [MS burned] a [MS burned] [[2]]3 [MS burned] to exist there, for the Tring4. Of course he would ! And [MS burned] might possibly pay for ½ doz. or [MS burned] a dozen species 20/-5 each, to [MS burned] which would probably cost you [MS burned] 50! or even more, while the <remainder> of your collection might [MS burned] be worth as many shillings!

[MS burned] extreme poverty of the fauna of [MS burned] the W. Indian islands, is well known [MS burned] Hayti [sic] there are less than 50 species [MS burned] resident land-birds. In Lepidoptera [MS burned] is a still more marked deficiency [MS burned] all the most characteristic S[outh]. Am[erican]. [MS burned] being either absent or very few, while even the [MS burned] genera and species are very [MS burned] perhaps extinct, and others [MS burned] in certain localities you [MS burned] in years. Add [MS burned] travelling [MS burned] quite [[3]]6 certain that it would never [MS burned] one but a permanent resident [MS burned] considerable means, even to [MS burned] for them.

Belize in British Honduras, is [MS burned] a fairly good locality, and if it <can> be reached much more <cheaply> [MS burned] any other part of the tropics it [MS burned] worth considering. But [2 words illeg] as Salvin7 & Godman8 for about 40 <years> were either personally or by [MS burned] paid collectors, native or English [MS burned] all the surrounding countries [MS burned] Central America, which owing to [MS burned] large American trade there, [MS burned] scores of American collectors [MS burned] worked in or near it, it cannot [MS burned] much novelty - - though of [MS burned] much more than all [MS burned] [[4]]9 [MS burned] England would probably [MS burned] than to Guiana10 or Para. [MS burned] <distance> is very much greater. [MS burned] as there is a far less amount of [MS burned] <unknown> or little-known region there, [MS burned] even in Guiana, it would be, I [MS burned] pure waste of time to go there [MS burned] England.

[MS burned] come back again there to the two [MS burned] Iquitos11 and British Guiana; and [MS burned] the first is more expensive to reach, [MS burned] foreigners, and is perhaps [MS burned] of a risk to begin with, there [MS burned] B[ritish]. Guiana - and there is these [MS burned] between the Missionary stations [MS burned] coast and the Berbice river.12 [MS burned] London you can probably find [MS burned] the missions - perhaps even [MS burned] some one who has been [MS burned] English mission is one [MS burned] is [MS burned] [[5]]13 If you decide on B[ritish].Guiana [MS burned] not be as well to write at once [MS burned] Rodwell, who I believe still lives [MS burned] Georgetown, and could probably [MS burned] information as to the place on the [MS burned] River the most likely to form a [MS burned] collecting centre, mentioning the [MS burned] conditions you require -- such as a [MS burned] settlement,-- roads and paths in [MS burned] which must be near the town -- [MS burned] Indian villages near &c. &c. It is <possible> there may be places on the <Berbice> river, which would be better still [MS burned] collector as being much less [MS burned] On this river I see places marked [MS burned] names & therefore probably [MS burned] settlements. If I hear <from> [MS burned] you decide for B.Guiana [MS burned] write to Mr. Kaye on [MS burned] [1 word illeg.] agreement14 [[6]]15 [MS burned] old settlement the 2nd growth [MS burned] the virgin forest, are often [MS burned] the old forest itself.16

[MS burned] as to various places in the [MS burned] both pleasant to live at and [MS burned] for the insect-collector.

I believe myself, that besides [MS burned] large numbers of fine insects of [MS burned] orders, you will by a few years [MS burned] in a good locality, get a [MS burned] number of rare and a very [MS burned] <considerable> number of quite new [MS burned] remarkable species, which, taken [MS burned], will sell for about ten times [MS burned] the very scanty collections from [MS burned] would bring you -- to say nothing [MS burned] advantages of being in an old [MS burned] <British> Colony, and probably with as much [MS burned] society as in most country [MS burned] in England or America.

[MS burned] you should find a really good [MS burned] have the opportunity [MS burned] [[7]]17 house with fruit-trees & a [MS burned] ground. But, in a good [MS burned] you will need almost every [MS burned] your time in collecting and [MS burned] & packing your collections, <especially> if you send off different sets [MS burned] your chief purchasers.

Still, I hope you will get [MS burned] information you can as to <Iquito> [MS burned] both in America and England, as [MS burned] am pretty sure, myself, that it [MS burned] repay you very much better, [MS burned] a much larger number of the [MS burned] moths, and beetles, would be [MS burned] new species. You will [1 word illeg.] [MS burned] seriously to consider the [MS burned] an Agent. -- as without [MS burned] would lose [MS burned] [[8]]18 [MS burned] buy a few specimens at a time, but [MS burned] a good price for special [MS burned] or varities[sic] that they can [MS burned] from a large collection. [MS burned] <that> you will have to decide on [MS burned] interviews with any agents [MS burned] may now be available, and must [MS burned] clear19 understanding as to terms, & have a signed agreement. [MS burned] course when you are in London [MS burned] can easily go to Tring, and see [MS burned] they want, and ascertain if they [MS burned] take a set of Lep[idoptera]. from Guiana at [MS burned] each, and also if they will pay [MS burned] <higher> price for sets from Iquitos [MS burned] the lower slopes of the Andes. [MS burned] not take whatever collections [MS burned] you now have to Tring, or perhaps better, if you [MS burned] now and say you are coming to [MS burned] and will call on them. [MS burned] the N[orth]. American [MS burned] really [MS burned] 20


1. This letter was damaged by fire and the right hand side and the bottom of page 1 is missing.

2. Fred Birch.

3. The fire damage has destroyed the left hand side and the bottom of the letter on page 2.

4. Natural History Museum at Tring (previously Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum) est.1889.

5. 20/- = £1in the UK before decimilisation of currency in 1971

6. The fire damage has destroyed the right hand side and the bottom of the letter on page 3.

7. Salvin, Osbert, 1835-1898, naturalist.

8. Godman, Frederick Du Cane, 1834-1919, naturalist.

9. The fire damage has destroyed the left hand side and the bottom of the letter on page 4.

10. Guiana was the name of the British colony on the northern coast of South America and is now the independent nation of Guyana.

11. Capital of the Peruvian Amazon.

12. Located in eastern Guyana.

13. The fire damage has destroyed the right hand side and the bottom of the letter on page 5.

14. "[1 word illeg.] agreement" is written vertically up the left margin of page 5, but because of the fire damage it is not possible to know where Wallace intended this text to be inserted.

15. The fire damage has destroyed the left hand side and the bottom of the letter on page 6.

16. Wallace has drawn a line under this incomplete block of text.

17. The fire damage has destroyed the right hand side and the bottom of the letter on page 7.

18. The fire damage has destroyed the left hand side and the bottom of the letter on page 8.

19. The block of text from "clear" to "agreement" has been inserted above the sentence beginning "course when you are in London" and continues down the margin of page 8.

20. The fire damage has destroyed the valediction on page 8.

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