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Record number: WCP5016

Sent by:
Eleanor, Mildred Sidgwick
Sent to:
Vaughan Jenkins
18 July 1888

Sent by Eleanor, Mildred Sidgwick, Hill Side, Chesterton-road, Cambridge to Vaughan Jenkins [none given] on 18 July 1888.

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06 February 2013 by Catchpole, Caroline


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Anon. (1888). Correspondence. Nellie Morris. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 3(55): 312-318.

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[[1]]1,2 [p. 315]

Hill Side, Chesterton-road, Cambridge.

July 18th, 1888.

E. Vaughan Jenkins, Esq.

Dear Sir,--I am much obliged to you for letting me see Mr. Wallace's letter, which I return. I do not feel that I quite understand his statement that I "pass over the evidence for facts, and especially the evidence of the genuineness of the mediums as opposed to the mere accusations and assertions against them." It was, I thought, the evidence for facts that I examined in my letter to the July Journal. And the second part of the sentence I have quoted seems to me to involve a certain confusion. I will try to explain what I mean. All mankind is for each of us divided into three classes. There is a small class, differing for each of us, about whom we feel that the hypothesis of conscious fraud is absurd. There is another small class about whom we feel sure that they have been guilty of, or might be guilty of, deliberate fraud. There is a third and much larger class, about whom we cannot tell whether if temptation came in their way they would cheat or not. Now, some people think that they have positive evidence placing Mrs. Beste and others of the mediums employed by General Lippitt in the second--or known-to be-fraudulent class. Mr. Wallace distrusts the facts and assertions brought forward by these witnesses, and does not think the fraud proved. But, supposing his distrust were well-founded, that would not place the mediums in the class above suspicion, as Mr. Wallace, in the sentence I have quoted, seems to imply. It would only place them in the large class about whom we cannot tell whether they would cheat or not, while it is known that they have strong pecuniary inducements to cheat.

[[2]] [p. 316] In my letter I was careful to base no argument on the assumption that fraud had been proved against the mediums in question, only on the assumption that they are not above suspicion.

I think that Mr. Wallace and General Lippitt do not allow enough for the ease with which one's senses may be deceived, and that, in consequence, they would probably have been equally convinced by the séance for materialisation described in our Proceedings, Part IV., pp. 482-485, if they believed Mr. Davey to be a medium: and indeed you may remember that Mr. Wallace was convinced that certain performances, under the auspices of Dr. Lynn (at the Westminster Aquarium, I think), were Spiritualistic.

Eleanor Mildred Sidgwick.


1. Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Fifth of seven letters exchanged among Wallace, E. Vaughan Jenkins, and Eleanor M. Sidgwick (Mrs. Henry Sidgwick) on the "spirit entity" Nellie Morris. Printed in the October 1888 issue of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research.

2. Editor’s note on page 312 preceding the printed letters: "(The following correspondence has been placed in my hands by Mr. Vaughan Jenkins (Associate of the S.P.R.), with a view to its being printed here. It relates to the case of Nellie Morris, communicated to the June number of this Journal by Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace. I am unable to find room for the whole correspondence, but I have thought it best to print Mr. Wallace's letters in full,--partly on account of his scientific eminence, partly because I disagree with his arguments and conclusions, and should therefore be afraid of not doing justice to the former, if I attempted to abridge them. Of the other letters only portions are printed.--Ed.)"


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/S411.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.