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Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

Slate-Writing Extraordinary (S273: 1877)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter to the Editor printed in the 6 October 1877 issue of Spectator. In this communication Wallace refers to two well-known spiritualist mediums of the period, Francis W. Monck and Henry Slade. Original pagination indicated within double brackets. To link directly to this page connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S273.htm

    [[p. 1239]] Sir,--I trust you may consider the following experiment worthy of record in your paper, because it differs from cases of abnormal slate-writing of which evidence was adduced at the trial of Slade, [[p. 1240]] and because it affords a demonstration of the reality of the phenomenon and the absence of imposture from which there seems no escape. I confine myself to this one experiment, and narrate the essential facts only.

    The sitting was at a private house in Richmond, on the 21st of last month. Two ladies and three gentlemen were present, besides myself and the medium, Dr. Monck. A shaded candle was in the room, giving light sufficient to see every object on the table round which we sat. Four small and common slates were on the table. Of these I chose two, and after carefully cleaning and placing a small fragment of pencil between them, I tied them together with a strong cord, passed around them both lengthways and crosswise, so as effectually to prevent the slates from moving on each other. I then laid them flat on the table, without losing sight of them for an instant. Dr. Monck placed the fingers of both hands on them, while I and a lady sitting opposite me placed our hands on the corners of the slates. From this position our hands were never moved, till I untied them to ascertain the result. After waiting a minute or two, Dr. Monck asked me to name any short word I wished to be written on the slate. I named the word "God." He then asked me to say how I wished it written. I replied, "lengthways of the slate;" then if I wished it written with a large or a small "g," and I chose a capital "G." In a very short time, writing was heard on the slate. The medium's hands were convulsively withdrawn, and I then myself untied the cord (which was a strong silk watch-guard, lent by one of the visitors), and on opening the slates, found on the lower one the word I had asked for, written in the manner I had requested, the writing being somewhat faint and laboured, but perfectly legible. The slate with the writing on it is now in my possession.

    The essential features of this experiment are,--that I myself cleaned and tied up the slates, that I kept my hand on them all the time, that they never went out of my sight for a moment, and that I named the word to be written and the manner of writing it after they were thus secured and held by me. I ask, how are these facts to be explained, and what interpretation is to be placed upon them?--I am, Sir, &c., Alfred R. Wallace.

     I was present on this occasion, and certify that Mr. Wallace's account of what happened is correct.--Edward T. Bennett.

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