Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Journal of Mesmerism
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter to the Editor printed as part of The Critic's (London)
regular column titled "Journal of Mesmerism," this one from their issue of 10 May 1845 (the
letter itself appeared on page 45). At the moment (June 2011), this is the oldest known Wallace
publication (as distinct from even older writings that either were read to the public aloud then,
or eventually published much later: see S1, S623, and S712a), though his "An Essay, On the Best
Method of Conducting the Kington Mechanic's Institution" (S1a) also reached print as part of a
town history sometime in 1845. To link directly to this page, connect with:
LEICESTER.--(From a correspondent.)--Seeing in your journal an account from a correspondent, of some mesmeric experiments with metals, I beg to send you a brief account of a few experiments I have made on the same subject, the results of which, however, do not agree
with those of your correspondent, and it is for that reason I send them, as I think that it is only by
the accumulation of a variety of facts that an explanation will be found. The patient is a boy of
about fourteen, of a sanguine temperament, and displays all the usual phrenological and
cataleptic phenomena in great perfection. No single metal appears to have any effect upon him,
not even gold. Any two metals in contact have a most decided and powerful effect. I have tried
with gold, silver, copper, zinc, and iron. If any one of these is in the patient's hand, on being
touched with any other he immediately drops it, complaining that it hurts and burns him. He can
hold any two in different hands, or in the same hand if they are not allowed to come in contact
with each other. Wood or stone with a metal produces no effect. From these facts I think it
appears a fair conclusion, that the effect is produced by galvanic action to which, in the mesmeric
state, the body appears extremely susceptible.
Any two metals
in contact with each other and held in the hand do undoubtedly, by means
of the moisture of the hand, form a galvanic circuit, and a galvanic circuit
cannot be formed without two metals, or two different fluids.
The effects of
gold alone, or any single metal, which I have not witnessed, must be owing
to a different cause.
The patient who
exhibits the phenomena shews the sympathy of feeling very distinctly. If
three or four persons take hold of hands, and are connected with him through
me, on the last person being pinched he instantly complains and exhibits
most unequivocal signs of feeling.
--Alfred R. Wallace.
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