Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Sir,--In the last number of the Journal you print a letter from Mr. Angelo Lewis in which occurs the following passage: "One of Dr. Monck's stock feats was to place a musical-box on the table, and cover it with a cigar-box, after which it played or stopped playing at command. Suggested explanation, 'Spirits.' Real explanation, that the box in question did nothing at all, the sound being produced by a second box strapped to Monck's leg above the knee (inside the trouser), and set in motion by pressure against the under surface of the table."
Now, as you refuse to accept any evidence of spiritual phenomena on vague hearsay, I think you should equally refuse to accept or print such vague accusations as this. Does Mr. Lewis mean by "real explanation" that he himself actually discovered a box tied to Dr. Monck's leg in the way described? Or, merely, that in his own imitations of the phenomenon he uses one so tied? If the latter, I submit that he had no right whatever to use the term "real explanation" or to treat Dr. Monck as an impostor in this matter. I happen to have witnessed the phenomenon myself, and I can declare positively that Mr. Lewis' account of it is incorrect. The following is an extract from my notes made at the time: "September 21st, 1877. Séance at Mr. C. Reimers', 6, Manor-villas, Richmond. Present--Dr. Monck, Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, Dr. Malcolm, Mrs. Firmin and sister, Mr. Reimers, Mr. A. R. Wallace." (The last of an extraordinary series of phenomena is described as follows.) "A musical box, or rather the working part taken out of its box, was placed on the table laid on a sheet of white paper. It then played and stopped when requested, and this took place when I placed my hand lightly on it. Under these conditions it played and stopped just as I desired, Dr. Monck's hands being at a considerable distance on the table. Each person in succession placed his hands on the box and felt it play or stop [[p. 144]] when desired, thus proving that it was not another box under the table which played."
On this occasion, then, there was no cigar-box to hide the musical-box and muffle its sound, while the hands of the spectators assisted their eyes and ears in declaring that the actual box before them played and stopped at command.