Skip to page content

Details of Boston seance

Full transcription

                                       Sunday - Boston [Dec 1886?]
My dear Violet
                          Last night I went to a  séance and saw a whole lot of ghosts.   I examined the room well, fastened one of the doors with sticky privately marked, & had my chair against the other so that nobody could possibly get into the room after we sat down, & I went down stairs & made sure there were no trap-doors in the floor. The cabinet was merely a curtain across one corner of the room with solid walls, perfectly clear & simple. The medium sat in chair inside and I was opposite about 10 feet off. Light sufficient to see every body. The medium came out of the cabinet with a woman in white, and also a young man figure. Afterwards 3 females figures in white came out together also a tall Indian either alone or  with them. He danced and shook my hand, a large, hard, rough hand like that of a labourer. Afterwards a woman with a baby came out, & I was told I might go & examine the baby. I felt its face, nose, & hair & kissed it, and it was a  nice soft live baby & no mistake. A lady next me said the same, yet as soon as the séance was over the gas was turned up, the medium came out of the cabinet & we found nothing but bare walls, & the door fastened as I had fastened it & no possibility of any body getting in or out. This is going on every day with 3-4 mediums in Boston. People recognise their friends who talk to them about private  matters, tell then their names & give other tests, yet all the learned & scientific & fashionable people treat it all as imposture. A gentleman then recognised his son whom he had often seen there and at other mediums & who had given him many tests by referring to persons & things only of interest to themselves.     When I came from Baltimore last week I had my first journey in a sleeping car. The beds very comfortable, twice as big as on board ship and beautifully clean& comfortable. If it was not for the rattling & shaking, and the awkwardness of undressing & dressing it would be as good as being in a house. At the hotel at Baltimore it was not near so nice as here; though the white people were rather better looking than those of Boston, but half the populations are negroes or coloured people, most of them ugly. I enclose some stamps for Willie which please give to him with my love. I hope you  persevere with your reading history & biography & travels & other useful & instructive books. Tell Ma that Mr. Sharpe's opinion is quite correct. My lectures do want flummery, but the "slides" serve the purpose in some of them                           Your affectionate Papa
[signed]                                Alfred R. Wallace

Go back

Search this collection
Contact us

For enquiries about the Wallace Collection please email the library

Wallace Letters Online

Letter to Alfred Russel Wallace from the Royal Society, about his Darwin Medal award

View high resolution scans and transcripts of Alfred Russel Wallace's correspondence, including all surviving letters between him and Charles Darwin.

Explore Wallace's correspondence