Evil Spirit Influences

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Evil Spirit Influences is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in the Daily Mail on 3 december 1919.

Evil Spirit Influences

Daily Mail (3 december 1919, p. 6)

To the Editor of The Daily Mail.

Sir, — I observe that the Rev. A. V. Magee introduces my name into an article in your columns. I wonder that he ventures to do so, for upon the last occasion he challenged me to produce a certain document with a strong assertion that I could not do so. I at once produced it. I have had no explanation or apology, and I think that in decency he should be silent for a while.

Having been proved to be entirely wrong is his assertion about lunacy, he now takes refuge in fables about evil spirits. I observe that you state that he has had "special opportunities for observation of the effects with which he deals in the article." May we know what these special opportunities are? I have in the course of thirty years inspected thousands of messages and automatic scripts and I have never once seen a "blasphemous obscenity," but I have continually seen exhortations to clean living and unselfishness.

Mr. Oaten, president of the National Spiritual Union, has had an even more extended experience than mine, and he assures me that it is similar. What sort of company does Mr. Magee keep, and how is it that in his short investigation he has come upon things which we have never encountered in our long one? Our knowledge is first hand. Can he say the same, and, if so, why these evil influences?

I do not think that so huge a revolution as the general adoption of Spiritualism could possibly occur without some suffering and even occasional disaster. Weaklings may find that it is strong wine, though I have found it act in most cases as a medicine rather than a poison. But supposing it were so, how small a price would that be if the human race had thereby absolute assurance of its own destiny and could give a final convincing answer to materialism!

The motor, the aeroplane, have claimed victims by the thousand in the course of their development. How cowardly, then, is this flinching from the mere vague possibility that we might have some price to pay for knowledge of such vital import!

Mr. Magee states that there are 35,000 mediums in Paris. That would be 1 in 100 of the whole population, including children. Could credulity and absurdity go further?

Arthur Conan Doyle,
Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex.