Letter (WCP428.428)


Sunday — Boston

My dear Violet

Last night I went to a séance and saw a whole lot of ghosts. I examined the room well, fastened one of the doors with sticking plaster privately marked, & had my chair against the other so that nobody could possibly get into the room after we sat down, & I went down stairs & made sure there were no trap-doors in the floor. The cabinet was merely a curtain across one corner of the room with solid walls, perfectly clear & simple. The medium sat in chair inside and I was opposite about 10 feet off. Light sufficient to see every body. The medium came out of the cabinet with a woman in white, and also a young man figure. Afterwards 3 female figures in white came out together [2] also a tall Indian either alone or with them. He danced and shook my hand, a large, hard, rough hand like that of a labourer. Afterwards a woman with a baby came out, & I was told I might go & examine the baby. I felt its face, nose, & hair & kissed it, and it was a nice soft live baby & no mistake. A lady next [to] me said the same, yet as soon as the séance was over the gas was turned up, the medium came out of the cabinet & we found nothing but bare walls, & the door fastened as I had fastened it & no possibility of any body getting in or out. This is going on every day with 3 — 4 mediums in [3] Boston. People recognise their friends who talk to them about private matters, tell then their names & give other tests, yet all the learned & scientific & fashionable people treat it all as imposture. A gentleman then recognised his son whom he had often seen there and at other mediums & who had given him many tests by referring to persons & things only of interest to themselves.

When I came from Baltimore last week I had my first journey in a sleeping car. The beds are very comfortable, twice as big as on board ship and beautifully clean & comfortable. If it was not for [4] the rattling & shaking, and the awkwardness of undressing & dressing it would be as good as being in a house. At the hotel at Baltimore it was not near so nice as here; though the white people were rather better looking than those of Boston, but half the population are negroes or coloured people, most of them ugly. I enclose some stamps for Willie which please give to him with my love. I hope you persevere with your reading history & biography & travels & other useful & instructive books. Tell Ma that Mr. Sharpe’s opinion is quite correct. My lectures do want "flummery", but the "slides" serve the purpose in some of them.

Your affectionate Papa | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

Please cite as “WCP428,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 17 April 2024, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP428