Letter (WCP3073.3041)



4: July 1856

My dear Wallace

Being in a state of suspense and anxiety relative to our affairs with the British government I delayed answering the kind letter which you wrote from Singapore. You have left several friends in Sarawak and amongst them my poor self and I am only one.

I look back to the [2] time you passed with us with much pleasure— the storm which has been raging for six years in my head has at length blown over, and has been succeeded by a gleam of sunshine. The British government have withdrawn their Consul General1 and admitted our jurisdiction, though Lord Clarendon2 says they are not prepared to recognize me as an [3] independent sovereign. To acknowledge the tribunals of a country is in fact to acknowledge its government but the government of England is pleased to run its head into a bush and hide this truth from its eyes which is glaring to others— It is this sort of shuffling action, to escape encouragement, which gets work here into such serious scrapes & begets difficulties by creating anomalies—

Lord Clarendon as all [4] the world says, is a clever fellow, because Louis Napoleon3 has made a peace, but he is infirm of purpose and does not look a difficulty in the face.

I read your little brochure4 with satisfaction but I am somewhat misty on these subjects owing to being badly informed, but whether the successive development of species, i.e. the shading one into another so as to manifest a gradual onward series— or whether species be distinct and unconnected it seems to me that the metaphysical question is the [5] [p. 5]5 same. The design (though we cannot understand or fit its parts) was complete from the beginning and it is an absurdity to maintain a supply of petty creations to mark[?] the imperfection of the original work, for this is only to say, that there was no design and ergo no designer— The great machinery of God — or as some insist of nature — cannot be disturbed though dogs howl — women weep — or men pray — or to bring a mite or a mastodon into the world[.] — The question however does not come to this as regards the mutation of species on [6] the one hand and their complete separation on the other for the advocate of unconnected species may argue that the germ has been called warmed into life when the proper & fostering conditions have arisen or arrived.

My great surprise is however at the bigotry & intolerance at which views or facts apparently adverse to received systems & doctrines are received[.] — You say your little pamphlet is to feel the pulse of scientific men in regard to this hypothes [sic] !— What an utter outrage a [one world illeg.] of intolerance to need such caution?— It is this which makes [7] me despair of advance— What harm can truth do us? — What good can it not do us? and [sic] yet the enquiry is as beset with bristles as a porcupine[']s back— At any rate my paper was very short I may say that if you will prove this or any other hypothesis to my satisfaction I will receive it and I will never quarrel with any one who seeks for truth because the search involves a scrutiny into my preconceptions & prejudices—

You see how I have run away with my subject & my subject has run away with me— Rather an outpouring of the spirit than the reason or [8] reflection though the spirit suppressed has dwelt long & anxiously on these & similar topics— I must now tell you in brief that we progress famously and that the Borneo Company6 is an established fact which is supported by men of character & capital. The Bishop7 & St John8 sailed yesterday to Labuan & Brunei— we have an immigration of 300 Chinese from Sambas— We have had Mr9 & Mrs Earl10 staying with us— a pleasing addition to our society for a visit here is a favor conferred rather than bestowed. Your youngster Charles11— now Martin is at Linga [Linnga Island] with Chambers12— They say he is not clever at book [sic] and when here he appeared damped & disheartened— Let me hear from [9]13you and keep me informed of your changes of localities and

believe me | my dear Wallace | Yours very sincerely | J Brooke. [signature]

A Wallace Esq.

St John, Spenser Buckingham (1825-1910). British Consul General at Brunei, 1856-63 and envoy-extraordinary and minister-plenipotentiary to Mexico, 1884-93.
Villiers, George William Frederick (1800-1870). Lord Clarendon; British diplomat and statesman; Foreign Secretary for three periods between 1852 and 1870.
Napoleon III (or Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte). (1808-1873). Emperor of the French 1852-70.
Wallace, A.R. 1855. On the Law Which Has Regulated the Introduction of New Species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 16 (2nd s.): 184-196 (Sept. 1855: no. 93, 2nd s.)
A pencil annotation at the upper left-hand corner of page 5 adds 'James Brooke | July 4 1856'.
The Borneo Company Limited was founded in 8 May 1856 by a group of Glasgow merchants to exploit business opportunities in Sarawak.The administrative hub of the company was based in Singapore and the business rapidly expanded to Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong. (Connell, C. M. 2004. A Business in Risk: Jardine Matheson and the Hong Kong Trading Industry. Westport, CT: Praeger, p.5).
McDougall, Francis Thomas (1817-1886). Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak, 1849-1868.
Refer to the first endnote.
Earl, George Samuel Windsor (1813-1865). British geographer. Author of works on the Indian Archipelago.
Earl (née Silborne), Clara (c. 1830-1905). Wife of the British geographer, George Samuel Windsor Earl.
Allen, Charles Martin (1839-1892). ARW's assistant in the Malay Archipelago.
Chambers, Walter (1824-1893). British cleric. Bishop of Labuan, Sarawak, and Singapore, 1870-1881.
The text from "you and keep me" to "A Wallace Esq." is written vertically on page 1.

Please cite as “WCP3073,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 30 November 2023, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP3073