Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP5231

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Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
William James
[ ? 21 ] [?December] 1886

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, The Quincy hotel, Boston, USA to William James [none given] on [?21] [?December] 1886.

Record created:
08 April 2013 by Catchpole, Caroline


No summary available at this time.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP5231.5759)

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

Held by:
Houghton Library, Harvard University
Finding number:
MS Am 1092 (1149-1151)
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information









500 ROOMS.


J. W. Johnson & Co.



Tuesday Eve[nin]g. Dec[ember] 21st. 1886

Dear Mr. James3

Yours and Mr. Brackett’s4 just received. I stay in Boston till Thursday week -- Dec[ember]. 30th. and should much like to join you in a private séance with Mrs. Ross either at her home or yours if you can arrange a party of 10 half ladies. Monday & Tuesday are days on which she does not give regular séances & is therefore open to private engagement.

I think your constant allegation of fraud or mere suspicion unreasonable & unscientific[.] You ask for facts & proof on our side, but offer only suspicion on your side. If all materialisations [[2]] are frauds then there must be several confederates engaged by each medium, and elaborate contrivances in the way of well-made traps & concealed doors in the houses they occupy. When you prove the existence of these traps & the constant use of these confederates in any one case, you will have grounds for suspicion. But all these mediums go out to private houses, where they certainly do not always fail. How then about the trap-doors & confederates?

And if in any one case materialisation has occurred as a fact, then the presumption of imposture from its mere occurrence wholly falls to the ground.

Believe me | Yours faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]


1. A pencilled note has been written in the top-left corner of the page. It reads "A. R. Wallace to W.J."

2. The letter is written on the Quincy’s own notepaper and an image of the hotel is pictured at the top-left of the page.

3. William James (1842-1910). American philosopher and psychologist. Brother of Henry James and Alice James.

4. Edward Augustus Brackett (1818-1908). American sculptor and administrator. Author of "Materialized Apparitions: If Not Beings From Another Life, What Are They?" Colby and Rich, Boston, 1886.

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