We came from Singapore in a small schooner with about fifty Chinese, Hindoos and Portuguese passengers, and were two days on the voyage, with nothing but rice and curry to eat, not having made any provision, it being our first experience of these country vessels. Malacca is an old Dutch city, but the Portuguese have left the strongest mark of their possession in the common language of the place being still theirs. I have now two Portuguese servants, a cook and a hunter, and find myself thus almost brought back again to Brazil by the similarity of language, the people, and the jungle life. In Malacca we stayed only two days, being anxious to get into the country as soon as possible. I stayed with a Roman Catholic missionary; there are several here, each devoted to a particular part of the population, Portuguese, Chinese and wild Malays of the jungle. The gentleman we were with is building a large church, of which he is architect himself, and superintends the laying of every brick and the cutting of every piece of timber. Money enough could not be raised here, so he took a voyage round the world! and in the United States, California, and India got subscriptions sufficient to complete it.
It is a curious and not very creditable thing that in the English colonies of Singapore and Malacca there is not a single Protestant missionary; while the conversion, education and physical and moral improvement of the inhabitants (non-European) is entirely left to these French missionaries, who without the slightest assistance from our Government devote their lives to the Christianising and civilising of the varied populations which we rule over.
Here the birds are abundant and most beautiful, more so than on the Amazon, and I think I shall soon form a most beautiful collection. They are, however, almost all common, and so are of little value except that I hope they will be better specimens than usually come to England. My guns are both very good, but I find powder and shot in Singapore cheaper than in London, so I need not have troubled myself to take any. So far both I and Charles have enjoyed excellent health. He can now shoot pretty well, and is so fond of it that I can hardly get him to do anything else. He will soon be very useful, if I can cure him of his incorrigible carelessness. At present I cannot trust him to do the smallest thing without watching that he does it properly, so that I might generally as well do it myself. I shall remain here probably two months, and then return to Singapore to prepare for a voyage to Cambodia or somewhere else, so do not be alarmed if you do not hear from me regularly. Love to all.—Your affectionate son,
ALFRED R. WALLACE.
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TO HIS MOTHER
Singapore. September 30, 1854.