Wallace Letters Online

Share this:

Record number: WCP4998

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Editor of "Academy"

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, [address not recorded] to Editor of "Academy" [none given] on  1871.

Record created:
04 February 2013 by Catchpole, Caroline


No summary available at this time.

Record contains:

  • publication (1)

View item:


Editor of The Academy. (1871). Literary notes. Academy, 2(36): 512-513. [p. 512-513]

Copyright owner:
Not in copyright

About publication

Transcription information



[[1]]1 [p. 512]

In reference to the article on Spiritualism in the current number of the Quarterly Review, Mr. Alfred R. Wallace has written to us to protest "against that assumption of complete knowledge united to nearly total ignorance of the subject" which characterize the adverse criticisms to which Spiritualists are exposed. To this rule the Quarterly article, in Mr. Wallace's opinion, forms no exception. Its general plan is to "choose a number of the less important phenomena whose explanation is possible by the theories of 'expectant attention,' 'unconscious muscular action,' and 'unconscious cerebration,' and to pass over in silence a number of equally well-attested phenomena which cannot be so easily explained." The writer does not possess even "a tolerable knowledge of the literature of this puzzling subject," whilst he shows by several indications that he has never himself assisted at a dark séance, nor read through the reports of those which he criticizes. This last is notably the case in the evidently second- [[2]] [p. 513] hand account given of Professor Hare's experiments, of which the essential particulars are ignored or misstated.

Without expressing any opinion as to the nature or explanation of the alleged facts, we leave our readers to judge between one of the most eminent naturalists of the day and the anonymous writer in the Quarterly Review, as to the accuracy with which the phenomena have been described. But we entirely agree with Mr. Wallace in condemning the disingenuous personal depreciation of the scientific men concerned in the matter: which is a mode of attack--as we have had reason to say before on a recent occasion--as obsolete as it is unworthy of a respectable periodical.


1. Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Some short comments excerpted from a letter to the Editor decrying the treatment of Spiritualism in a Quarterly Review article. Printed untitled as part of the "Literary Notes" feature in the 15 November 1871 issue of The Academy.


This transcript originates from Charles H. Smith’s The Alfred Russel Wallace Page website (http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/index1.htm): See http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S200A.htm

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.