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

 
 
Psychography in the Presence of Mr. Keeler
(S452: 1892)

 
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A note printed in the July 1892 number of Psychical Review. Original pagination indicated within double brackets. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S452.htm


    [[p. 16]] On January 19th, 1887, while in Washington, I accompanied some friends, two of whom were complete skeptics, to one of Mr. Keeler's seances. Before the seance commenced, it was suggested that the paper block on which messages were usually written and which was lying on a table, should be privately marked. Accordingly one of the skeptics loosened the edges of the block and marked about a dozen sheets with his initials--L. O. H. At the seance, the medium sits in front of a calico screen about five feet high hung across the corner of the room, behind which is a small table, a tambourine, stick, bell, etc. A lady from among the visitors sits beside the medium, who places both his hands upon her arm, and another calico screen tied across at the level of their necks hides the lower portion of their bodies. From behind the calico screen, above the head of the medium, a hand appears which takes a pencil and the paper block from the hand of a gentleman sitting near. The sound of writing is then heard, a sheet of paper seems to be torn off, and is immediately thrown over the screen and falls between the medium and the spectators. It is found to contain either some remark pertinent to what has been occurring at the moment or a message for some of the audience; and frequently a dozen or more such messages are given in the course of the evening, most of which are said by the recipients to contain names or facts which they recognize as correct. Sometimes a hand holding the pencil, appears to come bodily through the calico screen and writes on the paper block held by a person indicated. On this evening, I was asked to hold the block, and it was written on by a hand which appeared to come through a slit in the screen just above the medium's shoulder. The writing was rapid and partly unintelligible, but the words appear to be--"Friends were here to write, but only this one [[p. 17]] could this time. Come when they can." Later on a paper was thrown out to me containing these words--"I am here. William Wallace." Both the sheets are initialed L. O. H., showing that they could not have been prepared beforehand. No aperture could be found in the calico screen when it was examined after the seance, and no means could be discovered by which any person could have entered the corner of the room cut off by the screen. There was sufficient light to see everything and to read the writing, and full examination of the room was permitted both before and after the seance.

    At another seance on February 21st, a paper was thrown out to me on which was the following message, in a different handwriting from the previous one--"I write for Mr. William Wallace, my old friend, to say that he is desirous of giving you an important message and will do so on a clear night when he can write himself. William Martin."

    Two days afterward, I had another message in the same writing, beginning--"I am William Martin, and I come for Mr. William Wallace, who could not write this time after all"--and then the message goes on to refer to a matter on which I had written a letter to a newspaper that very morning. These two communications are important on account of the person from whom they purport to come. My eldest brother, William, had been educated as an architect and surveyor, and after leaving the gentleman with whom he had been articled, he went to London and engaged himself with a large London builder, to obtain a practical knowledge of materials and construction. This builder was named Martin, and he had a son about my brother's age. This was in the year 1830 or thereabouts, and when I was living with my brother some ten years later, he used often to refer to his friend Martin, but I do not remember hearing him spoken of in any other way, and therefore did not know his Christian name. Since my brother died, in 1845, I have heard nothing of these Martins, and no one in America, besides my brother John, who resides in California, and myself, could possibly know anything of the relations existing sixty years ago between them and my brother. I do not think I have ever heard their names mentioned since my brother's death, and it was therefore most startling and altogether unexpected to have the name brought before me in this manner in connection with that of my brother. I may add that on enquiring of my sister, who being nearer my brother's age, knew more of his early life, she informs me that the Christian name of both the elder Martin and of his son was William.

    At a subsequent seance on February 26th, I received a message in quite a distinct handwriting, claiming to be from the [[p. 18]] elder Martin and stating that he was a friend of my father's. Whether this was so I do not know, but as my father lived much in London in his early life, it is very probable, and will account for my brother's business connection with the Martins. The essential point, however, is, that after more than forty years of silence and forgetfulness, the names of these Martins and my brother should be brought before me at the place and in the manner here described.


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