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Record number: WCP4647

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
George John Romanes
8 May 1881

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Nutwood Cottage, Frith Hill, Godalming to George John Romanes [none given] on 8 May 1881.

Record created:
14 August 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline


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  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP4647.4963)

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

Held by:
Bodleian Library
Finding number:
MS. Eng. d.3823 f.42-43
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Nutwood Cottage, Frith Hill, Godalming.

May 8th. 1881

Dear Mr. Romanes

Mr W. J. Bishop informs me that you, among other men of science, are going to see his performance of "thought-reading", & he has sent me a printed letter of Dr. Carpenters expressing the opinion that it is all done by skill as opposed to any occult faculty. I therefore asked Mr. Bishop to tell me if he would "explain in detail" the exact mode by which he performed each experiment" -- as that alone would be to me proof that it is "skill" & not "faculty" by which he [[2]] operates. His answer is unsatisfactory. He refers me to the opinion of those "whose scientific attainments specially qualify them to afford the explanation - (meaning Dr. Carpenter) and also says that he will "give all the information in his power". -- I shall therefore not attend, as this reply only confirms my opinion, formed byfrom the antecedents of Mr. Bishop that he is a charlatan if not worse. As however you are going I write to ask you to press this point on Mr. Bishop & on those present: -- either Mr. B. does his thought-reading by skill, in the manner suggested by Dr. [[3]] Carpenter (& which explanation he Bishop accepts by printing & circulating Dr. C.s letter) -- or he possesses some faculty which goes beyond this mere skill. In the former case he can explain in detail the exact modus operandi in each case, and no scientific man ought to rest satisfied with any less complete explanation of "how it is done".

In the latter case he is an impostor, attempting to discredit a most important enquiry and those who possess similar powers to his own, by using those powers while declaring he does not possess [[4]] them, & that those who say they possess them are impostors!

It seems to me that those who rest satisfied with Mr Bishops mere allegation on this point may be credulous dupes, but assuredly will not be scientific enquiries.

I see Dr Hack Tukes name also among the list of proposed enquiries. He believes in the reality of the phenomena of spiritualism & will I doubt not, cordially assist you in discovering the exact nature of Mr. Bishops performance. I trust that you will publish the result of your enquiry.

Yours truly Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

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