Letter (WCP3560.3459)


44 Upper Albany St[reet]. Regents P[ar]k.

Nov[embe]r. 29th 1853

Dear Sir2

Understanding that Mr James Wilson3 has volunteered to join the4 proposed expedition to explore Northern Australia,5 under the auspices of the Royal Geographical Society,6 I beg leave to state that I consider him a person eminently fitted for such an undertaking.

He was for three years the [2] companion of my brother7 in California, engaged in various engineering & mining operations, & I have always heard of him as a good bushman, and as being hardy persevering and ingenious.

I have been acquainted with him myself for the last twelve months & believe him to be a man of great energy and acute observation, qualities no where more valuable than in the undertaking which he proposes to assist in. I can only add that were I about to [3] engage in a similar expedition, there is no one whose services I would be more anxious to secure,

I remain │ D[ea]r Sir | yours faithfully │ Alfred R Wallace [signature]

Dr. Norton Shaw.

The document is endorsed on the reverse of page 3 in the top right-hand corner: "1853 | Mr Wallace | Rec[eive]d Nov 29" in another hand, perhaps that of the recipient.
Shaw, Henry Norton ( -1868). British Surgeon and Diplomat; Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, London.
Wilson, James Spottiswood (c. 1813-1903). British-born friend of ARW’s brother John Wallace. Geologist with the North Australian Exploring Expedition of 1855 to 1856.
The words "join the" have been run together and ARW has shown that they should be separated with an oblique stroke through the link.
The North Australian Exploring Expedition of 1855 to 1856 was instigated by the Royal Geographical Society of London and sponsored by the British Government to explore the northern territory of Australia and search for Ludwig Leichhardt, an explorer feared lost (Baigent, E. 2004. Gregory, Sir Augustus Charles (1819-1905), explorer and surveyor in Australia. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. <https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/33551> [accessed 10 July 2018]).
The Royal Geographical Society, founded as the Geographical Society of London in 1830 for the promotion of the advancement of geographical science, later gained its Royal Charter in 1859 (Royal Geographical Society. N.d. History of the Society. The Royal Geographical Society. <https://www.rgs.org/about/the-society/history-and-future> [accessed 10 July 2018]).
Wallace, John (1818-1895). Brother of ARW; engineer and surveyor.

Please cite as “WCP3560,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 26 February 2024, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP3560