You must remember to write to me by the middle of November mail, as that is probably the last letter I can receive from you.
I send the letter to Fanny, who will most likely call on you and talk over matters. I am a little confused arriving in a new place with a great deal to do and living in a noisy hotel, so different to my usual solitary life, so that I cannot well collect my ideas to write any more, but must remain, my dear mother, your ever affectionate son,
ALFRED R. WALLACE.
* * * * *
TO HIS SISTER, MRS. SIMS
In the Mountains of Java. October 10, 1861.
My dear Fanny,—I have just received your second letter in praise of your new house. As I have said my say about it in my last, I shall now send you a few lines on other subjects.
I have been staying here a fortnight 4,000 feet above the sea in a fine cool climate, but it is unfortunately dreadfully wet and cloudy. I have just returned from a three days’ excursion to one of the great Java volcanoes 10,000 feet high. I slept two nights in a house 7,500 feet above the sea. It was bitterly cold at night, as the hut was merely of plaited bamboo, like a sieve, so that the wind came in on all sides. I had flannel jackets and blankets and still was cold, and my poor men, with nothing but their usual thin cotton clothes, passed miserable nights lying on a mat on the ground round the fire which could only warm one side at a time. The highest peak is an extinct volcano with the crater nearly filled up, forming merely a saucer on the top, in which is a good house built by the Government for the old Dutch naturalists who surveyed and explored the mountain. There are a lot of strawberries planted there, which do very well, but there were not many ripe. The common weeds and plants of the top were very like English ones, such as buttercups, sow-thistle, plantain, wormwood, chickweed, charlock, St. John’s wort, violets and many others, all closely allied to our common plants of those names, but of distinct species. There was also a honey-suckle, and a tall and very pretty kind of cowslip. None of these are found in the low tropical lands, and most of them only on the tops of these high mountains. Mr. Darwin supposed them to have come there during a glacial or very cold period, when they could have spread over the tropics and, as the heat increased, gradually rose up the mountains. They were, as you may imagine, most interesting to me, and I am very glad that I have ascended one lofty mountain in the tropics, though I had miserable wet weather and had no view, owing to constant clouds and mist.