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

Professor Wallace's Seance with Fred Evans
(S400: 1887)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: An account of a slate-writing seance held in San Francisco written by the Editor of Golden Gate, printed on page 4 of its 4 June 1887 issue. Some of Wallace's comments during the seance are paraphrased, and his short confirmatory note of the account of events appears at the end. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S400.htm

    The most remarkable seance for independent slate-writing we ever witnessed occurred on Friday morning, May 27th, in presence of the eminent scientist, Dr. Alfred Russell Wallace, his brother, Mr. John Wallace, of Stockton, Dr. David Wooster, one of our leading physicians and a member of the Academy of Sciences, and the writer--four persons in all besides the medium, Mr. Fred Evans.

    We arranged for this seance with Prof. Wallace, to come off at 9 o'clock in the morning of the day mentioned, at the residence of Mr. Evans. It was fully half past nine when we reached the residence, at 1244 Mission street, where we were pleasantly received by Mr. Evans, and conducted to the seance room, which is a small front room directly over the hallway. The morning sunlight was streaming in at the window, and the room was as light as noonday.

    Mr. Evans took a seat at a table with his back to the window. Prof. Wallace and his brother sat at the opposite side of the table, Dr. Wooster sat behind the Professor, and the writer behind and a little to the right of Mr. John Wallace, the object being to give the brothers the fullest possible benefit of the seance.

    A pair of medium size folding school slates, brought by John Wallace, who had never witnessed any experiments in psychography before, was placed upon the table, together with two pairs of other slates, and, a few minutes later a single slate, with cross lines thereon to indicate that the colored writing usually produced in this experiment is written over the cross, was placed upon the table. The slates were all thoroughly cleaned and examined by the brothers, and were, from first to last, directly under their hands and sight.

    Without giving the experiments in the order in which they were produced, or even reproducing the numerous messages written (as they were mostly of a private or unimportant character) we will speak more especially of the manner of their production.

    As we have frequently described in these columns, the messages through this medium are always given under what may be regarded as absolute test conditions. All being done in the light and above board, with the slates in the hands of the investigator, there is not the slightest suggestion or possibility of deception. And such was the case in this instance.

    The influences worked readily, and in a few minutes several messages were written in the ordinary way, to the delight of Prof. Wallace, who expressed his admiration of the prompt and perfectly fair manner in which they were produced.

    The Professor then inquired of the medium if writing could be produced upon paper placed between the slates, when he was requested by the spirit control to tear off six sheets from a common writing pad of white paper at hand and place them between a pair of slates; which he did. In a few minutes we were assured by the medium that the forces were at work upon the paper, and soon it was found that upon each of five of the slips of papers was a finely executed crayon sketch of a prominent Spiritualist passed to spirit life, representing them as they appeared in earth-life, viz., D. D. Home, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Dr. Robert Hare, Jonathan Pierpont, Mrs. S. F. Breed, and upon one slip an unknown spirit picture not as well done as the others.

    It is a significant fact that these five sketches named were improved copies of pictures taken upon the slates upon former occasions by the spirit artist, Stanly St. Clair, through Mr. Evans' mediumship, and who also drew upon a slate, at this seance, the picture of Father Pierpont, which we reproduce upon our first page. (The artist produced this picture at our recent reporters' seance in Los Angeles, and it was retained by one of the reporters present.) And yet it was seen that the crayon sketch of the latter was not an exact copy of the slate picture produced at this seance. If it is of the former picture we have no means of knowing. They were all, with the exception of the spirit picture referred to above, pronounced by Prof. Wallace to be artistic and meritorious sketches.

    Perhaps the most remarkable test given at this seance was the writing in five colors, by the medium's control, produced on the under side of the slate with the cross, the writing appearing over the white lines. The colors used by the spirit in this experiment are remarkably brilliant. In fact it is the best sample of colored writing we have yet seen through this medium. The message reads as follows:

    Dear Friends:--I am pleased to meet you all here, and to you, Prof. Wallace, I must express my deep admiration for the noble stand you have taken in bravely advocating that which you believe to be true, namely, the truth of spirit return. Alas! too many are bound down to accept that which they do not believe in merely because it is not fashionable to doubt it. I mean orthodoxy. But the time is fast approaching when all will only be too glad to embrace a belief in Spiritualism. I must leave you now with the glad thought that I will one day welcome you all to the spirit side of life.

Spirit guide,
John Gray.

    Another most remarkable experiment was given as follows: The medium placed a sheet of white paper over a slate lying upon the table, upon which slate it was seen there was no writing. He raised the slate level, touching his forehead with the edge, when in less than half a minute there was found upon the upper surface a finely written and beautiful message of one hundred and forty-seven words, signed "Elizabeth Wallace," the name of a sister of Prof. Wallace. This message must have been almost instantaneously stamped upon the slate, and yet the writing is, to all appearances, the result of the attrition of a slate pencil over the surface of the slate.

    The last, and, to the scientist, perhaps the most satisfactory experiment of the seance, was the production of writing on the two inner surfaces of the folding slates brought by Mr. John Wallace. Upon one surface was a message by Spirit John Gray, and upon the other a message signed "T. V. Wallace," the name of the father of Prof. Wallace. This writing was absolutely conclusive of the existence of an independent occult intelligent power capable of performing such wonders.

    We will add, in conclusion, that a slate placed upon the floor contained four short messages to the writer--one from John Gray, the others from three spirit friends, and in a fac simile of their familiar chirography. The number of slates written over, including the one with the picture, is eight, containing in all thirteen written messages, which, with the slate picture and six crayon sketches, we consider the most remarkable result ever obtained at a single seance with any slate-writing medium. The duration of the seance was less than one hour.


    The above appears to me to be a correct account of one of the most remarkable and convincing seances I have ever attended. I have never on any occasion witnessed phenomena of so wonderful a character appear with such rapidity and in a manner so entirely free from suspicion.

Alfred R. Wallace.

    I agree with the above remarks of my brother.

John Wallace.

    I entirely agree with Prof. Wallace in his estimate of the phenomena and the perfect freedom from any suspicion of fraud in their production.

D. Wooster.

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