Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP289

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Violet Isabel Wallace
18 April 1897

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Parkstone, Dorset, to Violet Isabel Wallace [address not recorded] on 18 April 1897.

Record created:
01 June 2002 by Lucas, Paula J.


Re. his article for the kindergarten magazine; news from her brother William in America; Sunshine (a medium) and Madame Greck's involvement in Mr Sharpe's business affairs.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP289.289)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/2/88
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Item notes

Physical description

Transcription information




Parkstone, Dorset

April 18th, 1897

My dear Violet

I enclose you an object-lesson on unbusiness-like habits -- second part (proof) of my Kindergarten Article with not a word inside or out to show where I am to send it.!!! Beautiful! isnt[sic] it? Perhaps you know. If not, find out, &. -- like Captain Cuttle1 -- "make a note of it."

I also enclose Wills last letter[.] no luck, no work, so are going cave hunting. I have advised them to go to Maine directly, & work on a farm or lumber-camp till midsummer, then to the caves [[2]] and if first-rate secure the land & admit tourists at a dollar a head! Send letter to Hurst2 when read.

Now for spirits3 -- a brief outline. "I tell the tale as twas told to me".

Some months back Sunshine told Mr. Sharpe he would have to take an expensive holiday this summer. He said he had no money for an expensive holiday, as his income was diminished by very heavy repairs to his house -- property in E. London. (This is extensive, & he is a trustee for the whole family -- repairs & expenses sometimes come to £1000 in one year.) Sunshine said -- "You must go. It will do you all good. I [[3]] have found a place for you, & Ill get you the money". About a month later, Sunshine told him that his Agent in London had been cheating him for years & must be discharged. Sharpe said, he expected it but had no proofs, & had an Agreement by which he could not discharge him for some years. Then Sunshine told him what this man had done, taken percentage (10 or 20 p.c.) from contractors on all work done, taken bribes from new tenants -- in one case £.200 for large business premises just relet on by lease, & robbed & illtreated the poor tenants against Sharpes express instructions. Still Sharpe said -- "I have no proof of this." [[4]] The S. said -- "I will bring his spirit here" -- (Sh) "But hes alive’" -- (Suns.) "I will bring his spirit here when hes asleep" -- So one evening they had a sèance and this mans spirit (or an imitation) came through Mrs. Greck, & confessed what Sunshine had said. Still Sharpe said "This is no evidence." (Sunsh.) "Send for him on business, put him into a room with my medium, and I will charge him with all he has done, and you shall stand outside and hear if he denies it." -- So Sharpe sent for him on special business -- He excused himself -- too busy -- Sharpe wrote again -- "very important business -- you must come unless you want to lose my business." After three [[5]] letters he came. On Sunshines instructions S. had an attic made to look like an office with an old desk bores &c. &c. brought him in and introduced him to Madame Greck. When made some excuse and went out of the room, took a few steps and then stood by the door. Almost immediately Sunshine controlled & began speaking to the man, seriously and impressively, telling him how bad he was, and one by one all the things she had told Sharpe, with names dates &c. The mans "magnetism" was so bad that it made Mrs G. ill, & the room had to be purged with salt-water!4 After each saying -- "Is that true?" And he [[6]] denied nothing! Sharpe says it was finer than any play he ever heard. It was like a judge talking to a convicted swindler. When it stopped, Sharpe came in & asked the man to come into his study, and then without saying anything about Madame Greck, asked for explanations about the accounts, and gradually brought in the particular things he was accused of (when he began to bluster & decry) telling him he knew everything, & that his only chance of not being [[7]] prosecuted was to write a full confession. He then puts paper before the man who wrote down all that Sunshine had accused him of. Then Sharpe read it over -- called in one of his servants who witnessed the mans signature. Altogether he has robbed them in the last 3 -- 4 years of about £1500.

Then Sunshine told him that his lawyer for this property was also untrusthy & must he changed. Sharpe also suspected [[8]] this, but knew no one to have instead. Sunshine gave him the name & address of one who was really honest & clever. Sharpe had heard his name, went to see him liked him, told him all the circumstances, & has acted on his advice since. As he5 (Sharpe) holds £500 of the Agents money as security, he is sure of this amount & the lawyer thinks they will get at least £1000 back. -- So there is the money for the holiday! They are to go to Les Avants above Montreux, for 3 or 4 months to a chalet which Sunshine has told them of.

This is only a quarter of which Sharpe told me. Is it not a good test case?

Yours very affectionately | A.R. Wallace [signature]


1. Possible reference to a character from Dickens Dombey and Son.

2. This individual is mentioned in letters 286 and 287 -- probably an associate of Wills?

3. Wallace begins telling Violet this story in letter 288.

4. Written along the left edge of page 5.

5. Written As | he (with a bar to separate the words)

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