Letter (WCP429.429)


Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A


My dear Willie

When I was at Boston I went to Salem to visit Professor Morse2who has lived in Japan and has all sorts of Japanese China, Pots, Drawings, and books and is also a great Naturalist. His son is a very nice boy about 15 — one of the nicest looking boys I have ever seen. He and 5 of his schoolfellows have a Natural History Club and they meet once a week in a little room or hut they have had built for themselves. It is about as big as my dressing room or a little bigger and they have a little stove to warm it up in winter and have cabinets & boxes in it with insects, shells, and flint weapons they have collected, and they read papers about these, and once a month they have supper together in the hut at a little table they can just sit at leaving no room for anyone else. We went to see them while they were at supper & they had to stand up to make room for us. while we

Last week I went to Newhaven[sic] in Connecticut to Visit Professor Marsh3 who has collected some of4 [2] the most wonderful fossils in the world. He has skulls of great animals something like Rhinoceroses only bigger and with 6 horns, and a great reptile about 90 feet long and 20 feet high. The day I went there he had received 118 large cases full of fossils from one place where he had sent men to work and dig them out. A curious thing happened at the academy[?] a week or two ago. Prof[essor]. Marsh had sent for a lot of ostriches eggs from Africa to dissect the little ostriches inside, and as one of his assistants was filing round the end of the shell of one to take out the chick suddenly there was a great explosion, the shell flew[?] into small pieces, knocked the gentleman off his chair, cut his face and nearly poisoned him and other persons in the room with the horrible stinking gas from the rotten chick. I saw the broken shell which was nearly as thick and nearly as hard as a china tea-cup. [word illeg. crossed-out] On Monday lectured at a place called Poughkeepsie at a Ladies’ College and on Tuesday I had to get up at 5 in the morning[,] drive 3 miles to the station, come 70 miles to N[ew]. York[,] then drive 2 miles across N[ew]. York to another station then come 200 miles more to here where I arrived at 3 in the afternoon, & then gave my first lecture the same evening. I am none the worse for it so far.

Your affectionate Papa | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]




As I find my letter is over half an ounce I add a little more. Newhaven where I visited Prof. Marsh is a very pretty place with fine avenues of trees and beautiful villas and a rugged mountain near it. Mr. Marsh has acres of ground and a beautiful house built to his own design. It has a very large octagon hall occupying all the centre of the house which he uses as a sitting room, and there are a number of green little 3 cornered rooms full of pictures, China & curiosities. He has been 27 times across the rocky mountains, & has lots of buffalo, deer, wild-goat & sheep hounds that he has shot, also lots of Indian curiosities including scalps! & lovely mocassins[sic]. He is not married & lives quite alone, but he is fond of planting & gardening & has many fine shrubs & trees & his place must be [4] lovely in the summer. He also is away half the year collecting fossils & hunting & when at home is most of the time at the Museum where all his wonderful fossils are.

Here, there is a splendid park recently given to the city by a rich merchant. It is about a mile square full of fine trees, wood, hills, valleys, & water. The city is very monotonous having all its streets running parallel to each other, so there is no variety, but many of the public buildings are of white marble which is very handsome. To day (Sunday) it is snowing & freezing, so I shall stay in all day reading & writing & eating.. This was a slave-state before the war & half the people are negroes or "coloured". In the hotel at Boston all the waiters were white men and everything was [5] very clean & nice, and the attendance very quiet & nice. Here they are all negroes of various degrees of blackness and ugliness, and their ways are funny. They seem as if they can do nothing quietly. They slap down things on the table, shove them about to get them straight, & grab hold of them when they are taking them away. They swing about the trays while they are carrying them, and generally balanced on one hand over their heads, and altogether behave something like a lot of educated monkeys. The worst is to see them dressed in tail coats & white chokers, as the head waiters are, and in private houses. They look perfect guys! The travelling here is very nice & far preferable to ours, and I do not feel much afraid even of long journeys as the drawing room cars are very pleasant [6] and hardly more fatiguing than sitting at home. Then there is the advantage of their being all so well warmed with steam pipes that you sit without overcoat or hat just as you would in a well-warmed drawing room, while there is a lavatory and every convenience in every carriage. When there is no regular dining cars to a train there is what they call a buffet. The car-boy will get you anything for lunch or tea and nice little moveable tables are fitted into the side of the care between two chairs so that you can eat comfortably. The large plate glass windows, mirrors, & soft carpets, and beautiful fittings of the cars, which are all of different patterns make it very pleasant to travel in them. The They are 50 or 60 feet long. cost of a seat in their drawing room cars comes to about the same as our 2nd class fare or less for long journeys. I have just had a letter from Mr. Swinton summing his move to Mayfield w. Tunbridge Wells.

A.R.W. [signature]

There is a catalogue/reference number written in the top left-hand corner of the page. Its reads [WP1/5/10]. It is not in Wallace’s hand-writing.
Edward Sylvester Morse (1838-1925). Co-founder of the American Naturalist, and director of the Peabody Museum in Salem.
Othniel Charles Marsh (1831-1899). American paleontologist.
A previous, since expired, catalogue number is recorded at the bottom of the page, below the text. It reads [old Ref WP1/17/10].

Please cite as “WCP429,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 25 February 2024, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP429