WCP365

Letter (WCP365.365)

[1]

Macassar [Makassar]1

Decr. 10th. 1856

My dear Fanny2

I have received yours of Septr. & my Mothers3 of October, and as I am now going out of reach of letters for six months I must send you a few lines to let you know that I am well & in good spirits though rather disappointed with the celebrated Makassar. My Mothers letter has informed me that we are all now Uncles and Aunts,4 and I hope you enjoy the title. I hear your country residence is fixed on, & I hope it may lead to the reestablishment of your health. I am sorry however you have to pay so high a rent, because when you leave it, (& you cannot have any certainty of staying more than a year) my mother will have to move again, as even the half rent is too much for her in proportion to her income, & expenses of moving coming into every year must be a great bother to her.

I believe my last letter to her & this will go together as the steamer is delayed & is [2] probably broken down this month, & I have told her all about where I am going so need not repeat it here. I have also written some details to Mr Stevens5 & G[eorge]. Silk6 from either of whom you can no doubt get their letters. The day after tomorrow I go on board the prow [prahu, Malay: boat]. We shall probably have 20 days passage not very comfortable ones for me, but the prospect of the wonders & rarities to be obtained at its termination will keep up my spirits. For the last fortnight since I came in from the country I have been living here rather luxuriously, getting good rich cow's milk to my tea & coffee, very good bread & excellent dutch [sic] butter (3s a lb.) The bread here is raised with toddy7 just as it is fermenting, & it imparts a peculiar sweet taste to the bread which is very nice. At last too there is some fruit here. The mangoes have just come in & they are certainly magnificent. The flavour of is something between a peach & a melon with the slightest possible flavour of turpentine, & very juicy. They say they are unwholesome & it is a good thing for me I am going away now. When I come back there will be not one to be had. [3] As I really know not what to write about to fill up this sheet, partly through having many preparations &c still to make & other letters to write, I will give you a list of my stores for my six months residence at Arru [Aru]8, so that you may see I am now taking pretty good care of myself.

Sugar ————————————————- 66 pounds
Tea —————————————————— 7 "
Coffee (unroasted) ———————— 27 "
Biscuits — 2 tins — about ————- 20 "
Butter a small keg cont<ainin>g 11 "
Wine (Madeira) —————————— 18 bottles
Pickles ———————————————- 3 bottles
Fish sauce ————————————— 1 "
Oil for cooking. about 2 gallons
" for lamp ———" 3 gallons
Vinegar (native) —————————— 1 gallon
Soy — (native) ——————————— ½ "
Jams & Jellies ——————————— 8 jars !!
———— Black pepper————————- 1 pound ——- ——————-
Eggs ————————————————— 100 .....
Curry powder (home made)... 2 bottles

Rice all goes from here but the owner of the prow [prahu, Malay: boat] will supply me there. Fowls are scarce but we shall eat Birds of Paradise. Fish [4] are abundant, and there is a small kangaroo about as big as a hare which they say is very plentiful & excellent eating, so I expect we shall get on first rate in the culinary department. I also take with me a bamboo wicker chair & a small folding table, as I find sitting on the ground for months together dreadfully fatiguing & irksome for my long legs. I can neither write nor work with pleasure unless I have a chair & table. I ought also to mention among my luxuries here, excellent potatoes grown on the Boutyne [Buton or Butung?] mountain9 & quite as good as you get in England. The sweet potatoes here however are so good that I like them as well or better & so take them by turns. Do not neglect to write by the May mail, as that will reach here just as I expect to return from Arru [Aru], & give me all the latest news. Kind regards to Thomas,10 Edw[ar]d.,11 Mr12 & Mrs Sims13 & all friends. Has Eliza Roberts14 got rid of her moustache yet? Tell her in private to use tweezers. A hair a day would exterminate it in a year or two without any one’s perceiving15 — You have told me of nobody married or dead for a long time.

[5]16 Is the world stationary or are you too busy to notice it.

I remain D[ea]r Fanny | Your ever affectionate Brother | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

Makasssar (also Macassar or Makasar), capital city of South Sulawesi province, Indonesia (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2018. Makassar. Indonesia. Encyclopaedia Britannica. <https://www.britannica.com/place/Makassar> [accessed 9 October 2018]).
Sims (née Wallace), Frances ("Fanny") (1812-1893). Sister of ARW; teacher.
Wallace (née Greenell), Mary Ann (1792-1868). Mother of ARW.
Presumably a reference to the birth of John Herbert Wallace (1856-1934), nephew of ARW, son of his brother John Wallace and his wife Mary (née Webster).
Stevens, Samuel (1817-1899). British entomologist and dealer in natural history specimens; agent of ARW.
Silk, George Charles (1822-1910). Friend of ARW since childhood; secretary to the Archdeacon of Middlesex.
"Toddy", an alcoholic drink produced from the fermented sap of various Asian or African palm trees, also known as palm wine (Oxford English Dictionary. 2016. toddy, n. Oxford English Dictionary. <www.oed.com>).
"Arru", the Aru Islands, situated in the Arafura Sea, forming the easternmost group of islands of the Moluccas, part of the Malay Archipelago, in Maluku province, Indonesia (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2018. Aru Islands. Islands. Indonesia. Encyclopaedia Britannica. <https://www.britannica.com/place/Aru-Islands> [accessed 9 October 2018]).
Perhaps a mountain on the island of Buton in the province of Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2018. Buton. Island, Indonesia. Encyclopaedia Britannica. <https://www.britannica.com/place/Buton> [accessed 29 October 2018]).
Sims, Thomas (1826-1910). Brother-in-law of ARW; photographer.
Sims, Edward (1829-1906), Brother of Thomas Sims, brother-in-law of ARW; photographer.
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.
Roberts, Elizabeth ("Eliza") (c. 1815- ). Second cousin of ARW; lived in Epsom.
The text from "Has Eliza Roberts..." to "without anyone's perceiving" has been later enclosed in square brackets in blue pencil or crayon, perhaps for editing for publication.
The text from here to the end of the letter appears in the left-hand margin of page 1, written to be read if the page is rotated by 90 degrees to the right.

Published letter (WCP365.5910)

[1] [p. 64]

TO HIS SISTER, MRS. SIMS

Macassar. December 10, 1856.

My dear Fanny,— I have received yours of September, and my mother’s of October, and as I am now going out of reach of letters for six months I must send you a few lines to let you know that I am well and in good spirits, though rather disappointed with the celebrated Macassar.... For the last fortnight, since I came in from the country, I have been living here rather luxuriously, getting good rich cow’s milk to my tea and coffee, very good bread and excellent Dutch butter (3s. a lb.). The bread here is raised with toddy just as it is fermenting, and it imparts a peculiar sweet taste to the bread which is very nice. At last, too, there is some fruit here. The mangoes have just come in, and they are certainly magnificent. The flavour is something between a peach and a melon, with the slightest possible flavour of turpentine, and very juicy. They say they are unwholesome, and it is good thing for me I am going away now. When I come back there will be not one to be had.... — I remain, dear Fanny, your ever affectionate brother, | A. R. WALLACE.

Please cite as “WCP365,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 2 July 2022, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP365