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Record number: WCP5001

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Editor of "The Zetetic"
14 July 1873

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, The Dell, Grays, Essex to Editor of "The Zetetic" [none given] on 14 July 1873.

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06 February 2013 by Catchpole, Caroline


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Anon. (1873). The challange: its acceptance, trial, and postponement. The Zetetic and Anti-Theorist: 41-47. [p. 41-42]

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[[1]]1 [p. 41]

Grays, Essex, July 14, 1873.

To the Editor of the Zetetic.

Sir,--You have sent me your issue for July, containing a mis-statement with respect to myself. I never "agreed to try the boat experiment," and had never heard such an experiment proposed till after the trial referred to.

As to the challenge to try such an experiment, I have no hesitation in admitting it to be a conclusive one, and will cheerfully abide the result of the trial with any impartial judges to decide whether the boat continues to be seen or not. But I would not accept the dictum of any person unaccustomed to the use of the telescope, because it requires practice to distinguish between small objects at such a distance and so near the surface.

I propose therefore that you should invite any professional land surveyor or civil engineer from the neighbourhood to decide the simple question of fact whether the boat in question remains visible at a distance of six miles under the conditions named by you, the telescope being one quite capable of rendering it visible when taken to a sufficient elevation.

I will ask Mr. Coulcher, of Downham, to represent me, so far as to see that the experiment is fairly tried; the statement of the surveyor on the [[2]] [p. 42] matter of fact being agreed to be accepted by us both.

I also agree to pay half the surveyor's fee.



1. Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Some three years after the Bedford Canal "flat earth" experiment was carried out in 1870, it was proposed that the experiment be repeated, albeit with a certain difference of approach. Wallace was agreeable, but the arrangements became complicated and the effort bogged down. Related correspondence was published as part of a summary of the discussion in the August/September 1873 issue of The Zetetic and Anti-Theorist (a "cosmography" journal edited by one of the chief flat-earth proponents, known as "Parallax"). Some twenty-three letters were printed; following are Wallace's five contributions to the discussion, written over a period of about two weeks in July 1873.


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/S228A.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.