I think ... on the whole we may say that the Archipelago is very rich, and will bear a comparison even with the richest part of South America. In the country between Ega and Peru there is work for fifty collectors for fifty years. There are hundreds and thousands of Andean valleys every one of which would bear exploring. Here it is the same with islands. I could spend twenty years here were life long enough, but feel I cannot stand it, away from home and books and collections and comforts, more than four or five, and then I shall have work to do for the rest of my life. What would be the use of accumulating materials which one could not have time to work up? I trust your brother may give us a grand and complete work on the Coleoptera of the Amazon Valley, if not of all South America....—Yours faithfully,
ALFRED R. WALLACE.
* * * * *
October 6, 1858.
My dear Mother,— ... I have just returned from a short trip, and am now about to start on a longer one, but to a place where there are some soldiers, a doctor and engineer who speak English, so if it is good for collecting I shall stay there some months. It is Batchian, an island on the south-west side of Gilolo, about three or four days’ sail from Ternate. I am now quite recovered from my New Guinea voyage and am in good health.
I have received letters from Mr. Darwin and Dr. Hooker, two of the most eminent naturalists in England, which has highly gratified me. I sent Mr. Darwin an essay on a subject on which he is now writing a great work. He showed it to Dr. Hooker and Sir C. Lyell, who thought so highly of it that they immediately read it before the Linnean Society. This assures me the acquaintance and assistance of these eminent men on my return home.
Mr. Stevens also tells me of the great success of the Aru collection, of which L1,000 worth has actually been sold. This makes me hope I may soon realise enough to live upon and carry out my long cherished plans of a country life in old England.
If I had sent the large and handsome shells from Aru, which are what you expected to see, they would not have paid expenses, whereas the cigar box of small ones has sold for L50. You must not think I shall always do so well as at Aru; perhaps never again, because no other collections will have the novelty, all the neighbouring countries producing birds and insects very similar, and many even the very same. Still, if I have health I fear not to do very well. I feel little inclined now to go to California; as soon as I have finished my exploration of this region I shall be glad to return home as quickly and cheaply as possible. It will certainly be by way of the Cape or by second class overland. May I meet you, dear old Mother, and all my other relatives and friends, in good health. Perhaps John and his trio will have had the start of me....