Lettersheet (WCP2024.1914)


Kalangan Banjermassing [Banjarmasin]1

May. 22. 1858.

Alfred R.Wallace Esq

My dear Sir,

I have received only a few days ago your letter from Ternate2 dated Jan 4th.3 I have naturally heard of your wanderings in these countries, & I have long hoped to meet with you, a good fortune to which it appears I am not destined. I believe indeed that it is very unfortunate that you have not visited Banjermassing. There is no spot in Borneo which off[ers] such easy access to the interior, from its enormous rivers & the very friendly character of the Dyak4 tribes. & though I have only within two or three months commenced collecting them, I have reason to suppose that the country is exceedingly rich in insects. I have just despatched to Mr Dillwyn5 a collection in other branches of natural history, among which are some rare if not new species it consists of between 500 & 600 specimens comprising 185 species of birds6 35 mammalia & about 50 reptilia the generality of which are very beautiful specimens, but my time is so fully employed here, that I have col[lected] but few of them myself. I have in my service a Chi[nese?] [text lost through damage to corner of page] [2] collector, but I have not yet brought him into the way of collecting insects, he is however a clever & enterprising fellow afraid of nothing, & well acquainted with the interior, & should it fall in your way to come here I shall with pleasure send him with you into the heart of Borneo, & I really believe we should both profit by such an arrangement. I have lately commenced a collection of coleoptera, hemiptera &c &c in conjunction with one of my mining pupils here Mr van Heekeren,7 this collection is destined for Leyden, but we shall doubtless have many duplicates which I shall be most happy to exchange with you however you must not expect to receive them very soon, as we have yet perhaps less than 1500 specimens, but as we have very little time, & have been at work about 2 months only I consider that we go on pretty well. For the lepidoptera we have also good intentions, but we wait for more boxes, & as you by this time very well know, this is a horribly slow country[.] we are also terribly at a loss for pins, & if you could give me a hint about the best way of procuring them & the terms in which to order them, as to numbers or sizes you would do me a great favour.

Among the specimens sent to Mr Dillwyn are two sculls [sic] and one skin of the great orang Hutan of very uncommonly large size.8 I am pretty sure such specimens have not been seen in Europe, the animal from which the skin was taken [3] measured 11 feet9 over the outstretched arms, unhappily he received a ball in the mouth & the canines on one side are shattered. While in the far East should you hear any tidings of an animal which seems some what [sic] apocryphal, I should be very much obliged for them[.] I mean a species of alligator of which I have had reports from the native traders to the Aru Islands10 & new Guinea, they call it buaya Kodok11 or toad alligator & it is reported to have a tail less than half the length of the body. I am much interested in the saurians, & of this species either a young one in spirits or an adult scull would be exceedingly acceptable, if indeed the species exists. A saurian with a carapace or a tortoise with a sauroid tail & head, whichever it may be, is also said to exist in New Guinea[.]

I am not yet altogether without hopes of seeing you in this part of the world; & hoping to have the pleasure of an occasional letter from you.

I remain | my dear Sir | Yours | James Motley [signature]12

P.S. I omitted to tell you that we have here an acquaintance of yours, from whom I have frequently heard of you, Mr van der Tak13 of the Handel Maatschappij.14 he is well I believe but stationed too far from me to be asked if he has any message for you[.]


Alfred R. Wallace Esq

[c/o] Messrs Duivenboden16


James Motley

Banjermassing [Banjarmasin], Banjarmasin, capital of South Kalimantan province, Indonesia (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2018. Banjarmasin. Indonesia. Encyclopaedia Britannica. <https://www.britannica.com/place/Banjarmasin> [accessed 31 December 2018]).

Motley was developing the Julia Hermina coal mine some 50 km to the south east.

Ternate, an island in North Maluku province, Indonesia, off the largest island in the Moluccas [Maluku] group, Halmahera island, formerly named Djailolo or Jailolo (known to ARW as Gilolo) (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2018. Ternate Island. Island, Indonesia. Encyclopaedia Britannica. <https://www.britannica.com/place/Ternate-Island> [accessed 30 December 2018]).
ARW's letter to Motley is presumed lost (see: WCP4826.5223).
Dyak tribes; indigenous peoples of Borneo, particularly Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan) (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2018. Dayak. People. Enclyclopaedia Britannica. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/Dayak> [accessed 3 August 2018]).

Dillwyn, Lewis Llewelyn (1814-1892). British industrialist and politician.

Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn (1814-1892) had been M.P. for Swansea since 1855. He was a Fellow of the Geological and Linnean Societies but, it seems, principally a collector. Motley had known him and his father when he lived in the Swansea area before leaving for Borneo in 1849. Dillwyn arranged the publication of a jointly authored, illustrated journal, Contributions to the Natural History of Labuan, and the Adjacent Coasts of Borneo, of which only Part I appeared, in 1855.

The word "birds" has been circled in pencil at a later date and a question mark added.

He probably meant 185 in all i.e. 100 birds, plus the 35 mammals and 50 reptilia. In 1863, P.L.Sclater published a paper on the birds sent by Motley to Dillwyn which totalled 134 species (Proc.Zool.Soc., XIV, pp.206-224) and there is evidence for a few more in other collections, but nowhere near 185.

Heekeren, Jacobus Johannes van (1834-1859). Dutch mining pupil of James Motley of Kalangan Banjarmasin.
These are probably part of the collection presented to the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society by Dillwyn, as recorded in their 41st Report of Council for 1860-61: "A valuable series of 141 specimens from Borneo "Two fine skulls and Skin of a very large Orang Outan...". Motley had separately presented many other birds, animals, and "A series of Fossils, from the Tertiary Coal Field of South Borneo".
ARW has added an annotation "my longest 7.8!" over "11 feet" at the head of the page.
Aru Islands, easternmost islands in the Moluccas (Maluku) group, Maluku province, Indonesia (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2018. Aru Islands. Islands, Indonesia. Encyclopaedia Britannica. <https://www.britannica.com/place/Aru-Islands> [accessed 30 December 2018]).
"Buaya Kokok", known locally as "frog crocodile", may not be an apocryphal name, as it is found in: Muin. A & Ramano, W. S. 1994. Preliminary survey of Buaya Sumpit (Tomistoma schlegelii) and Buaya Kokok (Crocodylus siamensis) in East Kalimantan. Jakarta, Indonesia: N.s., but in that report, those animals were associated with Crocodylus siamensis , which does not have a particularly short tail, is not thought to have extended east of Borneo, and neither the new Guinea Crocodile (Crocodylus novaeguineae), nor the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) fit either of the reports described.

Motley, James (1822-1859). Mining engineer and naturalist.

James Motley (1822-1859) was born in Leeds, educated in York and at St.John’s College, Cambridge, and spent part of his youth and the first part of his working life in South Wales where his father had investments in iron and, later, tin works. He was an ardent naturalist, being particularly interested in botany. He worked as a mineral surveyor and mine manager and moved to Labuan in 1849 in that capacity. He left for Singapore in 1853 and spent part of 1854 travelling, partly in search of work, in Sumatra and Java until he obtained his final job with a Dutch firm S.E. of Banjarmasin. He corresponded with, and sent specimens to, the Hookers at Kew Gardens (botany and artefacts), William Mitten (bryophytes), and others besides Dillwyn (birds, mammals, and reptiles). He also corresponded with De la Beche and others on geology, especially about coal and its origin.

Perhaps Tak, Willem Martinus van der (1838-1899). Later Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij N. V. (Netherlands Trading Company Ltd) agent in Yokohama, Japan, 1865-1873.
Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij (NHM) (The Netherlands Trading Company), an import/export company founded in 1824, through Dutch King William 1's desire to boost the economy, expand and develop external trade relations (ABN AMRO Bank N. V. [NL]. Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij, 1824-1964. Trading Roots, 1824-1882. ABN AMRO Historisch Archief. <https://www.abnamro.com/en/images/Documents/010_About_ABN_AMRO/History/NHM_(UK).pdf> [accessed 30 December 2018]).
This is a letter sheet, with the address written in the centre panel of the outer side of the final page. The letter has been franked by James Motley and there is one postmark: "ONGEFRANKEERD ZEE BRIEF BANJARMASSING" (Unfranked Sea letter Banjarmassing). This side of the page has been annotated in pencil: "Motley from Bajarmassing", perhaps in ARW's hand, and "Motley", again, possibly in ARW's hand.
"Duivenboden, Messrs", presumably the company of Maarten Dirk van Duivenbode (1805-1878), a prosperous Dutch merchant in Ternate, Indonesia.

Please cite as “WCP2024,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 23 February 2024, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP2024