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Note Regarding Spiritualism Article (S200a: 1871)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Some short comments excerpted from a letter to the Editor decrying the treatment of Spiritualism in a Quarterly Review article. Printed untitled as part of the "Literary Notes" feature in the 15 November 1871 issue of The Academy. Original pagination indicated within double brackets. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S200A.htm

     [[p. 512]] In reference to the article on Spiritualism in the current number of the Quarterly Review, Mr. Alfred R. Wallace has written to us to protest "against that assumption of complete knowledge united to nearly total ignorance of the subject" which characterize the adverse criticisms to which Spiritualists are exposed. To this rule the Quarterly article, in Mr. Wallace's opinion, forms no exception. Its general plan is to "choose a number of the less important phenomena whose explanation is possible by the theories of 'expectant attention,' 'unconscious muscular action,' and 'unconscious cerebration,' and to pass over in silence a number of equally well-attested phenomena which cannot be so easily explained." The writer does not possess even "a tolerable knowledge of the literature of this puzzling subject," whilst he shows by several indications that he has never himself assisted at a dark séance, nor read through the reports of those which he criticizes. This last is notably the case in the evidently second- [[p. 513]] hand account given of Professor Hare's experiments, of which the essential particulars are ignored or misstated.

     Without expressing any opinion as to the nature or explanation of the alleged facts, we leave our readers to judge between one of the most eminent naturalists of the day and the anonymous writer in the Quarterly Review, as to the accuracy with which the phenomena have been described. But we entirely agree with Mr. Wallace in condemning the disingenuous personal depreciation of the scientific men concerned in the matter: which is a mode of attack--as we have had reason to say before on a recent occasion--as obsolete as it is unworthy of a respectable periodical.

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