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

 
 
Comments on a Paper by Capt. Richard Burton
on Spiritualism in Eastern Lands (S294a: 1878)

 
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Recorded comments on a presentation Capt. Burton gave at the British National Association of Spiritualists meeting of 2 December 1878. Note Wallace's sense of humor. Printed on page 283 of The Spiritualist issue of 13 December 1878. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S294A.htm


    Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace--Ladies and gentlemen, I merely get up because the chairman has called upon me, and somebody must set the ball going. I think most of us must have been somewhat agreeably surprised to find that Captain Burton believes so much. (Laughter.) It appears to me, in fact, that he believes everything that we do, only he puts a different interpretation upon it. That interpretation certainly was not very clear to me, and I hope, when he replies, as he probably will, he will throw a little further light upon it. As far as I understand him, he admits all the phenomena which we believe to be real, as phenomena for which there is good evidence. He also appears to admit the existence of other beings than ourselves, for he tells us that what we call spirits, when they appear materialised (which I confess is to some extent an Irish bull expression), can be photographed, are tangible, and can move objects, and yet he expresses his belief that there is nothing in the world but what is human and what is mundane. Now, I should like to know what he means by "human," because, if these spirits are human, that is exactly what we say they are. Therefore, he agrees with us totally. (Laughter.) If they are human, they can only be other human beings, and therefore, as far as I understand Captain Burton, he agrees absolutely with us, and he is really a thorough Spiritualist. I cannot understand the difference; I only ask for an explanation. There are a great many other points on which I could say a few words, but they are really collateral points, and I do not like to go away from the main issue. I think most of us would have liked to have heard a little more of Captain Burton's personal experience. He has told us a great deal that is very interesting, taken from Eastern authorities, about Spiritualism, but nothing about his own experience. Nothing is so interesting as to have the experiences of a man from his own mouth, and as we believe that Captain Burton has had wonderful opportunities, and must have seen wonderful things, I think it would be very gratifying to all of us if he would give us one or two of his own personal experiences. (Applause.)


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