Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Never Really Died (S662: 1908)
The most eminent of living British thinkers. Codiscoverer with Darwin of the theory of evolution. Author of "Man's Place in the Universe," "Miracles and Modern Spiritualism," etc.
The facts [of Spiritualism] become more and more assured, more and more removed from anything that modern science teaches or modern philosophy speculates upon. The facts beat me. I will mention a case taken from my own personal experience. I had a brother with whom I spent seven years of my early life. He died more than fifty years ago. This brother before I was with him had a friend in London whose name was William Martin; my brother's name was William Wallace. I did not know his friend's name was William, because he always spoke of him as Martin. I knew nothing more. Attending a séance in the city of Washington, D. C., I received, to my great astonishment, a message to this effect: "I am William Martin; I write for my old friend, William Wallace, to tell you that he will, on another occasion when he can, communicate with you." Only one other person in America knew of the relations between my brother and Martin, or knew my brother's name, and that was my brother in California.
[[p. 852]] The Dead Have Never Really Died
Codiscoverer with Darwin of the theory of evolution. Author of "Man's Place in the Universe," "Miracles and Modern Spiritualism," etc.
During the last sixty years evidence has been accumulating in every part of the world which affords demonstration that the so-called dead have never really died at all, but have passed into a new and higher stage of existence. Many of these are able to communicate with us and most of them assure us that when they wake from the sleep we call death they find themselves much more alive than ever they were before. And this is only what we might expect; for we all feel that our mental faculties are to some extent clogged and stifled by the garment of flesh, and that only when in the most perfect health do our higher faculties attain their fullest expression.
This rapid entrance on a state of spiritual well-being and happiness seems to be very general among those who have led ordinarily good and natural lives, but is by no means universal. Those who have led selfish or sensual lives, or have given way to evil passions of any kind, have a different awakening, into a world of darkness or gloom, often of solitude for a longer or shorter period and infinitely varied in the surroundings according to their previous lives. But whatever germs of good are in them are ultimately developed through the kind ministrations of spirit-helpers, and thenceforth progress towards a higher and happier state depends mainly on themselves.
We have all kinds of phenomena which are inexplicable even to the scientific mind, except on a spiritualistic hypothesis. We have the alteration of the weight of bodies which has often been tested. We have the phenomena of articles of various kinds being moved without human agency, such as chairs, tables and musical instruments. More curious is the conveying of bodies to a distance; flowers and fruits are the most common of these, but also other bodies such as letters and various small objects have been conveyed long distances--sometimes several miles.
Further, we have that curious phenomenon which is recorded more or less throughout history, the raising or levitation of human bodies into the air and sometimes conveying them a considerable distance. More remarkable by far than these, because beyond all human power to produce, is the tying of knots on endless cords, the taking of coins out of sealed boxes, and the passage of solid rings over [[p. 853]] the body far too large for them to pass over by any natural means. All these things have happened in the presence of careful scientists and their assistants; I have frequently myself seen, in good light, sticks and handkerchiefs pass through a curtain.
We have chemical phenomena. Chief among these is that of protection from the effects of fire. Mr. D. D. Home, deceased now some years, and perhaps the most remarkable medium that ever lived, used to take from a grate a brilliant, red-hot mass of coals, carry them about the room in his hands, and by his peculiar power indicate certain persons who were able to have them placed in their hands, and placing them there they would experience no unpleasant results.
There is Small Chance for Fraud
In view of the numerous men who have investigated this matter and given their decision, we may entirely throw aside the idea that imposture, only in slight measure, has produced these phenomena.
Scientific men almost invariably assume that in this inquiry they should be permitted at the very outset to impose conditions, and if under such conditions nothing happens, they consider it a proof of imposture or delusion. But they well know that in other branches of research, nature, not they, determines the essential conditions without a compliance with which no experiment will succeed.
The underlying laws of the testimony of evidence are simple. If a man of good judgment, in full possession of his senses and a reputation for honesty, tells us of a certain fact which he witnessed we are inclined, in the absence of contradictory evidence, to believe the fact that he states. If ten men, similarly endowed, say they witnessed the same thing, we feel reasonably certain; whereas the concurrent independent testimony of a thousand sincere capable men may be said to make assertion a certainty.
As I have already said, in my introduction to "Miracles and Modern Spiritualism," outside of modern spiritualism I know nothing in recognized science to support the belief in immortality. Up to the time when I first became acquainted with the facts of spiritualism, I was a confirmed philosophical skeptic. My curiosity was at first excited by some slight but inexplicable phenomena occurring in a friend's family, and my desire for knowledge and love of truth forced me to continue the inquiry. The facts compelled me to accept them as such long before I could accept the spiritual explanation of them; there was at that time no place in my fabric of thought into which it could be fitted. By slow degrees a place was made; but it was made, not by any preconceived or theoretical opinions, but by the continuous action of fact after fact which could not be got rid of in any other way than by accepting the explanation of them which spiritualism presents.