We have seen lots of Turkish soldiers walking in comfortable irregularity; and, after feeling ourselves to be dreadful guys for two hours, returned to the hotel whence we were to start for the canal boats. You may think this account is exaggerated, but it is not; the pertinacity, vigour and screams of the Alexandrian donkey-drivers no description can do justice to....—Yours sincerely,
ALFRED R. WALLACE.
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Singapore, April 30, 1854.
My dear Mother,—We arrived here safe on the 20th of this month, having had very fine weather all the voyage. On shore I was obliged to go to a hotel, which was very expensive, so I tried to get out into the country as soon as I could, which, however, I did not manage in less than a week, when I at last got permission to stay with a French Roman Catholic missionary who lives about eight miles out of the town and close to the jungle. The greater part of the inhabitants of Singapore are Chinese, many of whom are very rich, and all the villages about are almost entirely of Chinese, who cultivate pepper and gambir. Some of the English merchants here have splendid country houses. I dined with one to whom I brought an introduction. His house was most elegant, and full of magnificent Chinese and Japanese furniture. We are now at the Mission of Bukit Tima. The missionary speaks English, Malay and Chinese, as well as French, and is a very pleasant man. He has built a very pretty church here, and has about 300 Chinese converts. Having only been here four days, I cannot tell much about my collections yet. Insects, however, are plentiful....
Charles gets on pretty well in health, and catches a few insects; but he is very untidy, as you may imagine by his clothes being all torn to pieces by the time we arrived here. He will no doubt improve and will soon be useful.
Malay is the universal language, in which all business is carried on. It is easy, and I am beginning to pick up a little, but when we go to Malacca shall learn it most, as there they speak nothing else.
I am very unfortunate with my watch. I dropped it on board and broke the balance-spring, and have now sent it home to Mr. Matthews to repair, as I cannot trust anyone here to do it....