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Record number: WCP4770

Sent by:
Samuel Butler
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
24 May 1879

Sent by Samuel Butler, 15 Cliffords Inn, E.C. to Alfred Russel Wallace, [Waldron Edge, Duppas Hill, Croydon] on 24 May 1879.

Record created:
16 October 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline


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LETTER (WCP4770.5146)

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

Held by:
American Philosophical Society
Finding number:
Alfred Russel Wallace Collection Mss.B.W15a
Copyright owner:
Copyright of the Samuel Butler Literary Estate.

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Transcription information




15 Clifford’s Inn


May 24. 1879.

Dear Sir

I am very much obliged to you for the "Miracles & Modern Spiritualism"1 wh[ich]: reached me yesterday. I have already said that I quite acknowledge the impropriety[?] of saying that other people are lying or made fools of, when they say they have seen this or that, merely because I do not happen to have come across any thing of the kind myself, [[2]] at the same time. I do require them not to attempt to make me see things which I have no desire to see. I am passionately fond of Handel’s music since I was a boy of ten years old I have I believe never been many hours without having some of it in my head. All day long for over 30 years it is continually present with me-- I know nothing in the world which to me has been so vitally true, except the gratification of men animal want-- but, my Dear Sir, I don’t want other people [[3]] to love Handel, when they tell me they do not like music: I find it very delightful when I come across a person whom I can recognise as "a good Handelian", but I do not expect to find sympathy in this respect [2 words illegible] men whose society must fascinate me in others-- So with Spiritualism. Granted that wonderful Spirit [1 word illegible] have been seen & touched and then disappeared and that then has been no delusion, nor trickery. Well: I don’t care. I get along just nicely as I am. I don’t want to need to be with them, & I don’t want them to meddle with me. I had a very dear friend once whom [[4]] I believed to be dying, and so did she. We discussed the question of whether she c[oul]d communicate with me after death-- "Promise" I said & very solemnly "that if you find that there are means of visiting me here on Earth-- that if you can send a message to me-- you will never avail yourself of the means, nor let me hear from you when you are once departed." Unfortunately, she recovered, and never forgave me. If she had died she w[oul]d have come back if she could-- of that I am certain by her [1 word illegible] to me. I believe my instinct was perfectly right-- and I will so further-- if such a spirit form, takes to coming near me I shall not be content with trying to grasp it, but in the interest of science I will shoot it-- So help me in that I [[5]] think most likely to be of practical use to me. Miss Buckley2 will I am sure back me up in this line I have taken namely, in saying that I will have nothing to do with the matter until I feel that inward call to do so, which if I come to feel will be obliged very properly.

Forgive me, and believe me | Yours very truly | S[amuel]. Butler3 [signature]


1. Alfred Russel Wallace, On Miracles and Modem Spiritualism: Three Essays (London: James Burns, 1875).

2. Arabella Burton Buckley (1840-1929) [after 1884, Fisher]. Writer, science populariser and Spiritualist. She edited Mary Somerville’s Connexion of the Physical Sciences (1877) and Heinrich Leutemann’s Animals from Life (1887). She also wrote A Short History of Natural Science (1876) which was her first authored book. This book was praised by many including Charles Darwin. She also wrote The Fairy-Land of Science (1879, reissued many times in the 19th century), Life and her Children (1881), Winners in Life’s Race (1883) and Through Magic Glasses (1890, a sequel to Fairy-Land) on evolution and science as well as History of England for Beginners (1887). On 6 March 1884 she married the widower Thomas Fisher MD (1819/20-1895). She was the brother of the judge and legal writer Henry Burton Buckley, 1st Baron Wenbury (1845-1935).

3. Samuel Butler (1835-1902). English writer and artist. After originally considering ordination he decided against it and emigrated to New Zealand in 1859. In 1864 he returned to England and settled in rooms in 15 Clifford’s Inn, Fleet Street in London where he spent the rest of his life. He is most famous for his posthumously published novel The Way of All Flesh (1903) and his anonymously published Utopian Erewhon;

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