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from Mr. J. Bellew, which message was worded in a manner so unexpected that it was, till completed, thought to be erroneous. And you declared your belief that some nonhuman intelligence was then communicating with you. You also described many physical phenomena occurring in your own house with the medium Williams. You saw 'hands,' apparently human, yet not those of any one present. You saw hand-bells, etc., carried about; you saw a human head and face above the table, the face with mobile features and eyes.
Williams was held all the time, and your brother walked round the table to prove that there was no wire or other machinery (in your own room !), yet a bell, placed on a piano some distance away, was taken up by a luminous hand and rung, and carried about the room!
"Can you have forgotten all this?
"In your second letter to Darwin you expressed your conviction of the truth of these facts, and of the existence of spiritual intelligences, of mind without brain. You said that these phenomena had altered your whole conceptions. Formerly you had thought there were two mental natures in Crookes and Wallace-one sane, the other lunatic! Now (you said) you belonged to the same class as they did.
“Tell it not in Gath! There are, then, two Romanes as well as two Wallaces. There is a Romanes of incapacity and absurdity !!' But he keeps it secret. He thinks no one knows it. He is ashamed to confess it to his fellow-naturalists ; but he is not ashamed to make use of the ignorant prejudice against belief in such phenomena, in a scientific discussion with one who has the courage of his opinions, which he himself has not.
“ALFRED R. WALLACE."
His answer, written from Scotland on July 21, was as follows:
“DEAR MR. WALLACE,
“I am truly sorry to observe the tone of injury which pervades your letter of the 18th inst., just received. It
certainly did not occur to me that I was hitting below the belt in alluding to matters so notorious; but after receiving this expression of your own opinion upon the matter, I shall assuredly never do so again. Unfortunately what has been done cannot be undone ; but perhaps you will allow me to say that, rather than have offended you
I would have suppressed the article altogether. Perhaps, also, I may add that in giving public expression to my opinion on the relative nature of your different lines of publication it seemed to me that I was only making 'fair comment. If you were to say that you thought my writings on Darwinism betokened 'incapacity and absurdity,' but my experiments in physiology the reverse, I do not think I should at all object. This, however, is a matter of feeling about which it would be fruitless to argue.
So all that I can now do is to express my sorrow, and promise never to allude to this subject again.
" Astrology’I alluded to, because you once told me that you were investigating it. You refused to hear argument against it, and left me with the impression that you believed in it.
“Touching my correspondence with Mr. Darwin, fourteen years is a long time to remember details, and I kept no copies. But I do clearly remember two points. The first is that the letters were to be strictly private, and the next is that they were to be regarded as provisional. Now, after these letters were written, further work with Williams showed him to be an impostor. I spent an immense deal of time and trouble over the matter, and in the end withdrew the opinions expressed in these letters.
"If you have gained your knowledge of their contents by any occult process, I hope you will publish them as evidence, which in that case I would not be wanting in courage to back. But otherwise, in the event of your publishing them, I should require to know the source from which they were obtained. That it was not from Mr. Darwin himself, I am already satisfied; if it was from any member of his family, the conditions under which they were written, and some time afterwards, with my permission, submitted to their perusal, must have
been forgotten. In any case, I do not know that you ought to have read them-but am not sorry that you did, if only to show you that, although too credulous in the first instance, I was at any rate not unopen to an honest conviction.
“ Yours truly,
“GEO. J. ROMANES."
"Parkstone, July 27, 1890. "DEAR MR. ROMANES,
“You are mistaken in thinking I wrote under a sense of injury, and I do not think my letter showed it. I merely pointed out that to assume, without any attempt at proof, that my writings on vaccination and land nationalization showed incompetence and absurdity was appealing to ignorant prejudice, and was therefore both unscientific and in bad taste. My writings on these subjects are public property. Pray, therefore, refer to them as much as you like, when you have read them and can refer to them and criticize them with knowledge of their facts and arguments. But this is a comparatively small matter. The important part of my letter and your reply refers to the spiritualistic phenomena.
"You now say you have found Williams to be an impostor. But I presume you did not write to Darwin, trusting to Williams' honesty, or to any statements that he made. You set forth your own observations and precautions in proof of the facts. Have you found out how the things you saw in your own room and in the presence of your own friends were done? Can you tell me how the bust and face, with moveable features and eyes,' appeared above your own table while Williams was sitting beside you and firmly held? Can you tell me how the luminous hand' was formed and worked, which lifted a bell from a distant piano, rang it, and carried it about, your brother walking round the table to see that no wires had mysteriously fixed themselves in the room? You knew then, as well as you know now, that almost all mediums are accused of imposture; but you gave your experience as evidence which did not admit of being explained by imposture. How is this altered now, if you can no more explain this to
me than you could to Darwin ? And were your own relatives impostors when you obtained answers to your mental questions? Do not those experiments prove a non-human intelligence now as they did when you wrote to Darwin ? If you cannot now explain these things, your change of opinion has no logical justification. If you can explain them, I call upon you to do so—if not to the scientific world, yet to me, whom you have publicly accused of incompetence and absurdity because I believe that phenomena of exactly the same character as yours are realities and cannot be proved to be impostures. As to your letters, copies of them were handed to me to read by a person to whom (I was told) they had been given without restrictions, and who was thus quite justified in showing them to me. Of course I have treated them, and shall treat them, as private letters; but they interested me so much that I made full notes immediately after carefully reading them, so that I possess their substance and many of their very expressions. After the way you have referred in print to my belief in such phenomena most persons would think I was quite justified in making known the fact of the existence of these letters and their general tenor. I hope, however, you will not render any such course necessary. I think your proper course would be to publish the letters together with the full details of your discovery of the imposture, a discovery so complete as to induce you to change those convictions you so earnestly and solemnly expressed to Darwin. “Hoping you will do so,
“I remain, yours faithfully,
"ALFRED R. WALLACE."
The next letter I will give the substance of. He stated that soon after having written to Darwin he detected Williams cheating. He then had a cage made of perforated zinc, and when Williams sat in it nothing happened. This fact, he says, logically justified his change of opinion. It could not be a supernatural power, or why should the interposition of a perforated zinc cage have suspended the power? There was VOL. II.
therefore nothing to publish. As to the answers to mental questions, he only got them when his own hands were on the table. He therefore concluded and still believes that he himself gave the initiatory impulse to move the table, which the other sitters involuntarily intensified and carried out.
I will give my reply because it points out some of the common fallacies of beginners in coming to hasty conclusions from a few isolated facts.
"DEAR MR. ROMANES,
“As I do not wish to continue this correspondence, I will confine myself to pointing out why I consider your present position to be logically untenable and unscientific. You admit you cannot explain what took place in your own house, but you say, 'not being able to explain ’ is very far from admitting it to have been done by supernatural means (I would say 'supernormal' or 'preterhuman' rather than supernatural; but that is a detail). You then describe the 'cage' you had made, with the result that nothing happened when the medium sat within it; and you imply that if phenomena had occurred when Williams was within it you would have admitted something 'supernatural.' But why? Simply because, in your own words, you could not explain "how the trick was done.' To me, and I think to most persons, what did occur—the 'luminous hand,' lifting a bell at a distance, etc., etc.—was just as inexplicable, and just as much a proof of something beyond 'trick, as would have been some physical effect produced outside the cage while Williams was in it.
“Again, it is not 'scientific' to treat your own limited experience as if it stood alone, and to refuse to admit all evidence from other inquirers in corroboration. Although your cage-test did not succeed, it did succeed with others. Mr. Adshead, a gentleman of Belper, had a wire cage made, and Miss Wood sat in it in his own house, many times, and under these conditions many forms of men, women, and children, appeared in the room. A similar cage was afterwards used by the Newcastle Spiritual Evidence Society, for