WCP375

Letter (WCP375.375)

[1]

Sourabaya,1 Java.2

July 20th. 1861

My dear Mother3

I am as you will see now commencing my retreat westwards, I have left the wild & savage Moluccas4& New Guinea for Java the garden of the East & probably without any exception the finest island in the world. My plans are to visit the interior & collect till November & then work my way to Singapore so as to return home & arrive in the spring. Travelling here will be a much pleasanter business than in any other country I have visited, as there are good roads[,] regular posting stages & regular inns or lodging houses all over the interior, & I shall no more be obliged to carry about with me that miscellaneous lot of household furniture,— bed, blankets, pots[,] kettles & frying pan,— plates[,] dishes & wash basin, coffee pots & coffee, tea[,] sugar & butter,— salt, pickles, rice, bread & wine — pepper & curry powder, & half a hundred more odds & ends the constant looking after [of] which, packing & repacking, calculating & contriving,— have been the constant standing plague of my life for the last 7 years. You will better understand this when I tell you that I have made in that time about 80 movements averaging5 one a month, at every one of which all of these articles have had to be rearranged & repacked by myself [2] according to the length of the trip, besides a constant personal supervision to prevent waste or destruction of stores in places where it is impossible to6 supply them.

Fanny7wrote me last month to know about how I should like to live on my return. Of course my dear Mother I sh[oul]d. not think of living any where but with you,8 after such a long absence,— if you feel yourself equal to housekeeping for us both;— & I have always understood that your cottage would be large enough. The accommodation I should require is besides a small bedroom, one large room or a small one if this is besides a kind of lumber room where I could keep my cases & do rough & dirty work.

I expect soon from Thomas9 a sketch plan of your cottage by which I can at once tell if it will do,— If not I must leave you & Fanny to arrange as you like about a new residence. I should prefer being a little way out of town in a quiet neighbourhood & with a garden but near an omnibus10 route; & if necessary I could lodge at any time for a week in London. This I think will be better & much cheaper than being close to Town, & rents any where in the West end are sure now to rise owing to the approaching great Exhibition.11 I must of course study economy as the little money I have made will not be all got [3] in for a year or two after my return.

As I came here the steamer from the Moluccas passed us & my letters & I believe the box from Mr Stevens12 with my clothes &c. passed went on to Ternate13 & I shall have to wait a month for them. I have not had a letter from you for six months,14 but am glad to hear from Fanny that you are quite well as when I heard of the dreadfully severe winter I was rather alarmed.

You must remember to write to me by the middle of November mail as that is probably the last letter I can receive from you.

I send this letter to Fanny who will most likely call on you & talk over matters. I am a little confused arriving in a new place with a great deal to do & living in a noisy hotel. so different to my usual solitary life,— so that I can not well collect my ideas to write any more but must remain My dear Mother

Your ever affectionate Son | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

Mrs. Wallace.

[4] Sourabaya, Java

July, 1861.15

Surabaya, a port city on the Indonesian island of Java.
An island in central Indonesia, situated between the islands of Sumatra and Bali.
Wallace (née Greenell), Mary Ann (1792-1868). Mother of ARW.
The Moluccas, or Maluku Islands, are an Indonesian archipelago to the west of New Guinea, and are also known as the "Spice Islands" for their role in colonial spice trade.
The text "? Introduce some of this in Preface." was written vertically up the left margin of the page.
The text "where it is impossible to" has been faintly underlined in a different ink.
Sims (née Wallace), Frances ("Fanny") (1812-1893). Sister of ARW; teacher.
Upon his return to England in the spring of 1862, Wallace stayed not with his mother but with his sister and her husband at 5 Westbourne Grove Terrace, London, until March 1865.
Sims, Thomas (1826-1910). Brother-in-law of ARW; photographer.
A horse-drawn passenger vehicle.
A world's fair, the London International Exhibition, held from 1st May to 1st November 1862.
Stevens, Samuel (1817-1899). British entomologist and dealer in natural history specimens; agent of ARW.
An island in Indonesia, part of the Moluccas, or Maluku Islands.
a letter from you for six months: [needs cross-reference to another letter in the volume, if it exists (did not find this letter in van Wyhe & Rookmaaker nor NHM database)]
The location and date appear at the top and in the centre of the fourth page, with the text "to Mrs. Wallace." added in pencil by another hand, following "July, 1861.". Additionally, four "a"s were written in pencil just below and right of centre, and the text "for Mrs. Wallace" has also been added in pencil, in the lower right quarter of the fourth page.

Published letter (WCP375.5918)

[1] [p. 83]

To His Mother

Sourabaya, Java. July 20, 1861.

My dear Mother,— I am, as you will see, now commencing my retreat westwards, and have left the wild and savage Moluccas and New Guinea for Java, the Garden of the East, and probably without any exception the finest island in the world. My plans are to visit the interior and collect till November, and then work my way to Singapore so as to return home and arrive in the spring. Travelling here will be a much pleasanter business than in any other country I have visited, as there are good roads, regular posting stages, [2] [p. 84] and regular inns or lodging-houses all over the interior, and I shall no more be obliged to carry about with me that miscellaneous lot of household furniture— bed, blankets, pots, kettles and frying pan, plates, dishes and wash-basin, coffee-pots and coffee, tea, sugar and butter, salt, pickles, rice, bread and wine, pepper and curry powder, and half a hundred more odds and ends, the constant looking after which, packing and repacking, calculating and contriving, have been the standing plague of my life for the last seven years. You will better understand this when I tell you that I have made in that time about eighty movements, averaging one a month, at every one of which all of these articles have had to be re-arranged and repacked by myself according to the length of the trip, besides a constant personal supervision to prevent waste or destruction of stores in places where it is impossible to supply them.

Fanny wrote me last month to know about how I should like to live on my return. Of course, my dear mother, I should not think of living anywhere but with you, after such a long absence, if you feel yourself equal to house-keeping for us both; and I have always understood that your cottage would be large enough. The accommodation I should require is, besides a small bedroom, one large room, or a small one if there is, besides, a kind of lumber room where I could keep my cases and do rough and dirty work. I expect soon from Thomas a sketch-plan of your cottage, by which I can at once tell if it will do. If not, I must leave you and Fanny to arrange as you like about a new residence. I should prefer being a little way out of town in a quiet neighbourhood and with a garden, but near an omnibus route, and if necessary I could lodge at any time for a week in London. This, I think, will be better and much cheaper than living close to town, and rents anywhere in the West End are sure now to rise [3] owing to the approaching Great Exhibition. I must of course study economy, as the little money I have made will not be all got in for a year or two after my return....

You must remember to write to me by the middle of November mail, as that is probably the last letter I can receive from you.

I send the letter to Fanny, who will most likely call on you and talk over matters. I am a little confused arriving in a new place with a great deal to do and living in a noisy hotel, so different to my usual solitary life, so that I cannot well collect my ideas to write any more, but must remain, my dear mother, your ever affectionate son,

ALFRED R. WALLACE.

Please cite as “WCP375,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 9 December 2022, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP375