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The Response to the Appeal (S474: 1893)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: On the commencement of the spiritualist magazine Borderland in 1893 its editor (W. T. Stead) solicited evaluations of the publication's stated purpose from a number of notable figures, including Wallace. His reply, given below, was printed on page 17 of the first issue of the magazine in July 1893. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S474.htm

    I have no doubt your new periodical will be the means of bringing together much valuable information that would otherwise be lost.

    The only point on which I have a few remarks to make is that of your suggested classification. It seems to me that your divisions are not, or may not be, real ones. In (2) and (3) it seems to me necessary to insert the words "appear to" before "depend," because I believe that many which thus "appear" do not really so depend. It involves a theory which may not be a true one. The one thing I object to in your recent writings on the subject is your assumption of theories as if they were facts. Thus the statement that certain persons at a distance write through your hand, though they are totally unconscious of doing so, seems to me a pure theory, and an unfounded one, not a fact, as you appear to think. So I object to Mr. Myers speaking of the "second self," the "subconscious ego," &c., &c., as if they were facts, instead of very doubtful theories; and I think it a great pity that you also adopt his terms as representing proved facts.

    There seems to me to be a much more valid basis of classification of the phenomena, determined by their subjective or objective nature as indicated in the following, rough outline:—

    A. Subjective.--Phenomena which affect the senses of one person only, while others present are not thus affected. These may be veridical and therefore real, but subjective.

    B. Perhaps subjective but with an objective basis.--Phenomena which affect the senses of all present in the same way but which have no material indication of objecting, e.g., apparitions, noises, opening doors which are yet locked and remain locked, &c., &c.

    C. Objective.--Movements of matter not caused by physical agency of any person present, as direct writing, and drawing spirit photographs, flower bringing, levitation, &c., &c.

    These seem to me fundamental classes, while yours are subdivisions of each of them.

    Wishing you every success.

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