WCP362

Lettersheet (WCP362.362)

[1]

Singapore

Feb. 20th. 1855.1

My dear Fanny

I have now left Sarawak, where I began to feel quite at home & may perhaps never return to it again but I shall always look back with pleasure to my residence there & to my acquaintance with Sir James Brooke,2 who is a gentleman & a nobleman in the noblest sense of both words. I have just got your's [sic] & Thomas'3 letters of Nov. 30th. My foot got well at last after keeping me 3 months in the house. Camphor ointment did no good at all. Another time I shall use caustic which is the only thing in this country to make bad wounds heal. I am sorry to hear you are not well. I hope you will not work too hard but take a days rest now and then and you should arrange to spend from Saturday afternoon to Monday morning in the country. Why did not my mother4 get a cottage & not take more rooms in London which I am sure she does not like so well as the country. I wish you would write me some more details of your business what are your highest prices, what is the most you take in a day &c. &c. I suppose Thomas & you have been to see Fenton’s Crimea Photographs5 — the first great application of Photography to Life & History. Do the transparent pictures for the gas microscope go on. No sooner do you seem to have got something new than I hear not a word more about it. [2] Charles6 has left me. He has staid [sic] with the Bishop7 at Sarawak who wants teachers & is going to try to educate him for one. I offered to take him on with me paying him a fair price for all the insects &c. he collected, but he preferred to stay. I hardly know whether to be glad or sorry he has left. It saves me a great deal of trouble & annoyance & I feel it quite a relief to be without him. On the other hand it is a considerable loss for me, as he had just begun to be valuable in collecting. I must now try & teach a China boy to collect & pin insects. My collections in Borneo have been very good, but some of them will I fear be injured by the long voyages of the ships. I have collected upwards of 25,000 insects besides Birds shells quadrupeds & plants. The day I arrived here a vessel sailed for Macassar [Makassar] & I fear I shall not have another chance for two months unless I go a round about way & perhaps not then. So I have hardly made up my mind what to do. The January Mail is expected in daily so I may receive another letter from you before I send this. I have spoken to the Rajah about G[eorge]. Silk.8 If matters go on well with the English Government there may be work for him here in a year or two. I shall write to him by this mail. This letter must do for all, as I [3] have no time to write separately. I have sent a paper9 on Borneo & the Dyaks10 to the Geographical Society.11 You will hear from G[eorge]. S[ilk]. when it is to be read & perhaps would like to go & hear it, as I have endeavoured to make it a little amusing & readable which the papers at the Geog. are not always.

I think this war12 is a noble and a necessary one & it is only by its being thorough & complete that it can effect its purpose & cause [?] the future peace of Europe. The warlike stores found accumulated at Sebastopol [Sevastopol] are alone a sufficient justification of the war.13 What were 4000 cannon for and other stores in proportion, if not to take Constantinople & get a footing in the Mediterranean, & ultimately to subjugate Europe? And why do such tremendous fortresses exist in every part of the frontiers of Russia, if not to render herself invulnerable from attacks which she has determined by her ambitious designs to bring upon herself. Russia is perpetually increasing her means of defence & of aggression; if she had continued unmolested a few years longer, it would have cost still greater sacrifices to subdue her. The war therefore is absolutely necessary as the only means of teaching Russia that Europe will not submit to the indefinite increase of her territory & power, & the constant menace of her thousands of cannon & millions of men. It is the only means of saving Europe from a despotism as much worse than that of Napoleon as the Russian people are behind the French, in civilization.

Kind love to Mother, Thomas, Mr.14 & Mrs. Sims,15 Webster16 & to all friends.

In haste | Your affectionate Brother | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

[4]17 My dear Mother18

I will write to you next time. Kind love from │Your affectionate Son | Alfred R Wallace [signature]19

via Southampton

Mrs. Sims

7 Conduit St[reet].

Regent St[reet].

London

The document is annotated '56!' in pencil after the date, possibly in ARW’s hand; from the context, the letter may be dated to 1856. The document has also been later marked in places with blue pencil, perhaps by ARW for publication.
Brooke, James (1803-1868). British-born Rajah of Sarawak.
Sims, Thomas (1826-1910). Brother-in-law of ARW; photographer.
Wallace (née Greenell), Mary Ann (1792-1868). Mother of ARW.
Fenton, Roger (1819-1869). British photographer; creator of first British official war photographs in the Crimean War, 1855.
Allen, Charles Martin (1839-1892). ARW's assistant in the Malay Archipelago, the Moluccas and New Guinea.
McDougall, Francis Thomas (1817-1886). Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak, 1849-1868.
Silk, George Charles (1822-1910). Friend of ARW since childhood; secretary to the Archdeacon of Middlesex.
Wallace, A. R. 1857. Notes of a journey up the Sadong River, in North-West Borneo. Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London. 1(6): 193-205.
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].
The Royal Geographical Society, founded as the Geographical Society of London in 1830 for the promotion of the advancement of geographical science in Great Britain, later gaining 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]).
The Crimean War, which broke out in 1853 as a result of conflict over the Middle East, ended in victory in 1856 by the British and other forces over the Russians (The Editors of Enclycopaedia Britannica. 2018. Crimean War. Eurasian History [1853-1856]. Encyclopaedia Britannica. <https://www.britannica.com/event/Crimean-War> [accessed 3 August 2018]).
During the Crimean War, Sevastopol, a Russian naval base on the Black Sea, was besieged from October 1854 and captured in September 1855 by British and other forces. After the end of the siege, a large ordnance depot containing around 4,000 items was captured (The Editors of Enclycopaedia Britannica. 2018. Siege of Sevastopol. Russian History. Enclyclopaedia Britannica. <https://www.britannica.com/event/Siege-of-Sevastopol> [accessed 27 July 2018]; Tyrell, H. 1855. The History of the Present War with Russia, 2 vols. London, UK: London Printing and Publishing Company. [vol. 2, p. 305].
Sims, Thomas (c. 1796- ). Father of Thomas Sims, brother-in-law of ARW; Bootmaker; Domestic Missionary.
Sims (née Dyer), Jane (c. 1798- ). Mother of Thomas Sims, brother-in-law of ARW.
Perhaps Webster, Michael (c. 1787-1859). British builder; father of Mary Elizabeth Podger Wallace (née Webster), (1832-1913). Wife of ARW's brother John.
This is a folded letter, with the address written on the outer side of the final page, which bears two annotations; the first is in ink in an unknown hand, written across the top of the page above the address, but to be read if the document is rotated: "a note for Fanny w[ith][?] This from Alf W[?]". The second is in blue pencil, perhaps written by ARW's sister or brother-in-law, vertically at the left-hand side of the page, to be read if the letter is rotated: "a Paper sent by Alfred on Borneo & the Dyaks to the G. Society we have heard nothing about it". There are also two postmarks in red ink: 1. SINGAPORE P[?] O[?], 22 Feb 18[56][?]; 2. largely illeg. apart from the year, 1856, and a stamp, also in red ink: INDIA PA[ID][?].
ARW has included this note to his mother, written vertically at the right-hand side of the page, to be read if the letter is rotated.
The document is annotated in pencil, perhaps by ARW, next to the signature at the end of his note to his mother "Feb 1856", apparently confirming the correct month and year of writing.

Published letter (WCP362.5907)

[1] [p. 60]

TO HIS SISTER, MRS. SIMS

Singapore. February 20, 1856.

My dear Fanny,—... I have now left Sarawak, where I began to feel quite at home, and may perhaps never return to it again; but I shall always look back with pleasure to my residence there and to my acquaintance with Sir James Brooke, who is a gentleman and a nobleman in the noblest sense of both words....

Charles has left me. He has stayed with the Bishop of Sarawak, who wants teachers and is going to try to educate him for one. I offered to take him on with me, paying him a fair price for all the insects, etc., he collected, but he preferred [2] to stay. I hardly know whether to be glad or sorry he has left. It saves me a great deal of trouble and annoyance, and I feel it quite a relief to be without him. On the other hand, it is a considerable loss for me, as he had just begun to be valuable in collecting. I must now try and teach a China boy to collect and pin insects. My collections in Borneo have been very good, but some of them will, I fear, be injured by the long voyages of the ships. I have collected upwards of 25,000 insects, besides bird, shells, quadrupeds, and plants. The day I arrived here a vessel sailed for Macassar, and I fear I shall not have another chance for two months unless I go a roundabout way, and perhaps not then, so I have hardly made up my mind what to do. — Your affectionate brother, | ALFRED R. WALLACE.

Published letter (WCP362.6918)

[1]

In my next letter (from Singapore in February, 1856) I say — "I have now left Sarawak, where I began to feel quite at home, and may perhaps never return to it again, but I shall always look back with

[2] [p. 183]

pleasure to my residence there and to my acquaintance with Sir James Brooke, who is a gentleman and a nobleman in the truest and best sense of those words."

Please cite as “WCP362,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 25 September 2022, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP362