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Attending seances and Wallace's fame in America

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[page 1]
                                
                                       The Hamilton, Washington, D.C.
                                                             January 15th. 1887
 
My dear Violet
                          Just before I left Boston I went to
several séances & saw some wonderful things which
I will tell you about. We examined the room, locked
the door, and were quite sure nobody could get in.
The medium sat behind a curtain in the corner & there
was light enough to see any body moving. Then we saw
the medium come out with a figure in white, and also a
man, to the middle of the room. Afterwards 3 female figures
in white came out together . Then a male figure, recognised by
a gentleman as his son. Then a tall Indian, who danced
spoke, & shook hands with us all. Then a female figure
with a baby. We felt its face and hair & kissed it, and it
was just like a real live baby! As soon as the séance was
over the gas was turned up, the medium came out, & we
looked behind the curtain & found nothing but bare walls
& a chair. The door was locked, and some gummed paper I
had put over it & privately marked was untouched. There
were 10 visitors in all. A few days afterwards we had

[page 2]

a private séance with a party of spiritualists I had
met. Many similar figures came, some very perfect.
But two asked for me & this was most interesting.
A beautiful female figure in white said she had met
me in London at Florence Cook's. She certainly resembled
the spirit who used to appear with Florence Cook the
medium, and I had often seen and talked with
her, but no one in America knew of this. She could
not speak much, but certainly seemed to recognise me.
Some time after an old gentleman asked for me. I
went up to the cabinet and found a rather short old
gentleman with white hair & beard, dressed in black with
a large white shirt front, who bowed and nodded, looked
pleased and shook my hand. I could not think who it
was, though I seemed to recognise someone. I thought
only of my father, but it was not a bit like him, then of Darwin
but it was not like him. Then all of a sudden it flashed
on me that it was like the last photograph we have
of my cousin Algernon Wilson. The whole figure and cut
looked like him, only I had imagined him to be tall

[page 3]

while the figure was about the height of G. Silk or a little
taller. I then said "Is it Algernon?" and he immediately
shook my hand, nodded his head several times, &
patted me on the shoulder & face, seeming delighted
that I had recognised him. This astonished me
more than anything I have ever seen, as no one in
America knows anything of him which, as he has corresponded
with me for many years, has written a good deal about
me in Australia, and died just as he had arranged
to come over to England and visit us, he was more likely
than any one else, just now, to come to me
   Just before I left Boston a rich merchant, Mr. John. M. Forbes,
invited me to dinner at a hotel and asked Dr. Ol.W. Holmes
Dr. Asa Gray, Hon. James Russell Lowell, & other celebrated
men to meet me. The dinner was first rate. Before
every plate was a glass vase full of flowers. I had about 20 lovely
rose buds, others had violets, others jonquils, each a different
sort of flower, while the whole table was strewn over
with maiden-hair fern. I send you the Bill of Fare
by book-post. I put up with it a little poem I

[written vertically at the left hand side of the page]

I enclose a letter for Willie which please send him if the holidays are over.

[page 4]

cut out of a magazine here. It is a lovely thing to
recite, if you learn to give it proper expression.
Study it well, put yourself in the place of the
heroine, and you will make a sensation when
you recite it. There is the subject of a whole
novel in those few verses.
     I have now been here two weeks. In a most
beautiful city - wide streets all with trees, & plenty of
squares & gardens and monuments. It has been very
cold & sunny but is now finer & warmer. The people
here are very civil, and are so enthusiastic in their compliments
that they make me quite ashamed! Everybody says it is
an honour to meet me, that they have read my books all
their lives, & have longed to see me, &c. &c. &c. &c.   There are
grand museums here and I have plenty to do going over
them, but I am sorry to say that I have hardly any
lecture - engagements yet, unless I go to Canada in
the middle of winter. Send this letter to your Aunt
Fanny to read as I cannot write about the spirits twice
over. With love to Ma & Willie, Believe me
      your affectionate Papa
[signed]                                Alfred R. Wallace



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