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Record number: WCP4809

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Thomas Colley
26 February 1907

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Old Orchard, Broadstone, Wimborne, Dorset to Thomas Colley [none given] on 26 February 1907.

Record created:
26 October 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline


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  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP4809.5204)

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:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Broadstone, Wimborne

Feby. 26th. 1907

Revd. Archdeacon Colley1

Dear Sir,

Your second letter just received. I had replied already to your first, and cannot alter my decision.

Besides, I feel sure the opposing counsel will insist on the point that no evidence of what anyone else has seen is admissible. The question is, solely, whether Maskelyne has produced a sufficiently close indication of what you say, you saw, and for deciding that you will be bound by your description,-- and what I, or any one else saw, at another time is beside the question [[2]] at issue, & will probably be so ruled by the judge.

I have a letter this morning from a friend of yours-- Miss Felicia R. Scatcherd-- who also asks me to help you. From her I learn, for the first time, the actual character of Maskelyne’s performance, and the essential, (absolutely vital) difference from what you describe-- & it is on this difference, if properly brought out & fully insisted on by your counsel, that you should win your case; & I think you certainly would had your description been [[3]] more precise. She says-- "the Maskelyne illusion is not like any materialisations I have seen, in one particular especially as in the latter the vapour substance or mist-like emanation proceeding from the medium grows denser and denser,-- whereas in the illusion the mist is but ordinary smoke which disperses throughout the building".

In other words-- the vapour from the medium is used up to form the figure-- does not "diffuse" like ordinary "vapour," but is all drawn in to form the figure itself-- just as the figure changes back into [[4]] what looks like vapour, but is not, because it does not diffuse, but every particle is drawn back into the body of the medium! It seems that this lady has seen this recently with some other mediums, & more than once let her be one of your witnesses.

Fortunately you do use the words (p.5 [l]. 5) "and apparently using up which for the quick evolving of white raiment"-- Again (p.7) near foot you say-- "by means of this vapour cord the psychic figure was sucked back into the body of the medium."

Those two passages form the essence of your case, and if properly [[5]] used by your counsel may serve-- but unfortunately you have not clearly stated that the whole of the vapour-like substance goes to form the new figure-- none of it acting like smoke or vapour in diffusing itself away from or around the medium.

Again; you should insist upon the point that M---------- only professes attempts to produce half the phenomenon—whereas in every case you describe the figure produced in the first [one word illegible crossed out] instance again visibly dissolved & is [[6]] is drawn back again into the body of the medium,

thus proving that it was not an ordinary human body, as M-------‘s young lady admittedly is!

My last word is, that if your Counsel is not a whole-hearted believer that your accounts are true you had much better defend your own case.

Yours very truly | Alfred R. Wallace. [signature]


P.S. If the general question of the truth & reality of materialisation is allowed to be brought into the case Sir W. Crookes would be by far the best, having witnessed the phenomenon scores of time in his own house under the strictest test conditions. But I feel sure this will not be allowed.

A.R.W. [signature]

The idea is preposterous that you would pay £1000 to see a young lady brought up through a trap-door concealed in a mass of smoke!

A.R.W. [signature]


1. Thomas Colley (1839-1912). Archdeacon and spiritualist. In 1876, he had participated in the exposure of the fraudulent medium, William Eglington. However, later he would defend the materialisation phenomena of F. W. Monck.

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