RECORD: S4. Wallace, A. R. 1850. Journey to explore the natural history of South America. Annals and Magazine of Natural History (ser. 2) 5 (26): 156-157.

REVISION HISTORY: Body text helpfully provided by Charles H. Smith from his Alfred Russel Wallace Page
Additional text added by John van Wyhe.

[page] 156


To the Editors of the Annals of Natural History.

GENTLEMEN,        24 Bloomsburv Street, Jan. 19, 1850.

In the January Number of your valuable Magazine for 1849, you were good enough to insert extracts from a letter I had received from Messrs. Wallace and Bates, two gentlemen who are investigating the Natural History of the Amazon River and its tributaries in South America, and who consign their collections to me for sale. I now send you extracts from a letter just received from Mr. Wallace, dated Sautarem, Sept. 12, 1849, which, if you think sufficiently interesting, you may perhaps feel inclined to insert:—

"I have got thus far up the river, and take the opportunity of sending you a few lines. To come here, though such a short distance, took me a month. I am now waiting here to get to Montalegre, but the difficulties of getting men even for a few days are very great. Here

[page] 157

the country is very sandy and dry, with a scrubby, shrubby vegetation; there are however some patches of forest, and in these, Lepidoptera are rather abundant; there are several lovely Erycinidæ new to me, and many common insects, such as Heliconia Melpomone and Agraulis Dido, abundant, which we hardly ever saw at Parà: Coleoptera I am sorry to find as scarce as ever. I hope however to do better at Montalegre, as the hills there are near a thousand feet high, and must I should think produce some. I wish to know what is thought of Cuyaba in the province of Matto Grosso as a locality; it is at the head of the Tapajoz and Paraguay River; there is a communication from here, salt being taken up. I could also from Rio Negro get up the Madeira to Matto Grosso city, or up some branches into Bolivia. Is Bolivia at all known? I see in the Museum Catalogue only five or six Erycinidæ from it, from Mr. Brydges' collections. I see there is a branch of the Andes in it the highest in America, and its capital cities appear higher ground than even Bogota or Quito. Either of the localities can be I think quite as easily reached as the Andes up the Amazon; at all events I should like to know if the ground is open and likely to be good, for some future time, if not just at present. I shall I think get up the Rio Nigro towards the sources of the Orinooko, but I am rather fearful that all N. Brazil is rather poor in Coleoptera.

"September 14th.—I believe I shall now start for Montalegre tomorrow, having a canoe lent me; I have however found so many new species of Lepidoptera, that I shall probably stay here a month on my return before going to Rio Nigro, unless indeed I find Montalegre so very good as to induce me to spend till December there. I do not think that you need send me anything till I write again. Pray write whenever you can, and give me all the information you may be able to obtain, both as to what things are wanted in any class or order and as to localities.

"The Tapajoz here is clear water with a sandy beach, and the bathing is luxurious; we bathe here in the middle of the day, when dripping with perspiration, and you can have no idea of the excessive luxury of it; the water is so warm that then is the healthiest time. Oranges are about fourpence a bushel here, and are far the best fruit; large pineapples twopence to fourpence, but we seldom eat them. The more I see of the country, the more I want to, and I can see no end of, the species of butterflies when the whole country is well explored. Remember me to all friends."

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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2012-. Wallace Online. (

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