Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscences, Vol. 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 357 pages of information about Alfred Russel Wallace.
you put them all right?” “Yes, sir.”  “There’s one with the wings uneven, there’s another with the body on one side, then another with the pin crooked.  Put them all right this time.”  It most frequently happens that they have to go back a third time.  Then all is right.  If he puts up a bird, the head is on one side, there is a great lump of cotton on one side of the neck like a wen, the feet are twisted soles uppermost, or something else.  In everything it is the same, what ought to be straight is always put crooked.  This after twelve months’ constant practice and constant teaching!  And not the slightest sign of improvement.  I believe he never will improve.  Day after day I have to look over everything he does and tell him of the same faults.  Another with a similar incapacity would drive me mad.  He never, too, by any chance, puts anything away after him.  When done with, everything is thrown on the floor.  Every other day an hour is lost looking for knife, scissors, pliers, hammer, pins, or something he has mislaid.  Yet out of doors he does very well—­he collects insects well, and if I could get a neat, orderly person in the house I would keep him almost entirely at out-of-door work and at skinning, which he does also well, but cannot put into shape....—­Your affectionate brother,


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Sarawak.  Christmas Day, 1855.

My dear Mother,—­You will see I am spending a second Christmas Day with the Rajah....  I have lived a month with the Dyaks and have been a journey about sixty miles into the interior.  I have been very much pleased with the Dyaks.  They are a very kind, simple and hospitable people, and I do not wonder at the great interest Sir J. Brooke takes in them.  They are more communicative and lively than the American Indians, and it is therefore more agreeable to live with them.  In moral character they are far superior to either Malays or Chinese, for though head-taking has been a custom among them it is only as a trophy of war.  In their own villages crimes are very rare.  Ever since Sir J. has been here, more than twelve years, in a large population there has been but one case of murder in a Dyak tribe, and that one was committed by a stranger who had been adopted into the tribe.  One wet day I got a piece of string to show them how to play “scratch cradle,” and was quite astonished to find that they knew it better than I did and could make all sorts of new figures I had never seen.  They were also very clever with tricks with string on their fingers, which seemed to be a favourite amusement.  Many of the distant tribes think the Rajah cannot be a man.  They ask all sorts of curious questions about him, whether he is not as old as the mountains, whether he cannot bring the dead to life, and I have no doubt for many years after his death he will be looked upon

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Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscences, Vol. 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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