Leslie's Letters to his Mother

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Leslie's Letters to his Mother
(1926, Democrat Publishing & Printing Co.)

Leslie's Letters to his Mother is a book written by Alice Stringfellow published in 1926 by Democrat Publishing & Printing Co. including a facsimile of a calling card enclosed in a note from Dr. Conan Doyle urging publication of the letters. The book also include two letters from Conan Doyle, one as a facsimile.

Sub-titled: "Being a collection of messages received by Henry Martyn Stringfellow and Alice Johnston Stringfellow, his Wife, through the medium of the planchette in the form known to psychology as automatic writing, in the privacy of their own home, and never before published in any form."


First letter

Dear Madam,

I read your typed communications with great interest and sympathy. No doubt a cold critic could claim that there was no absolute proof of the truth of these remarkable statements but no one could possibly read the preface and the narratives themselves without feeling that at least they are absolutely bonafide, and that if there is any deception anywhere it is certainly not wilful. Personally, I do not believe that there is any deception and I believe that this account of the world beyond to which the average human being may hope to attain is in substance true.

There are some internal proofs or texts such as the remarkable one that the words which were recorded by the dead wife as being the first uttered by her husband as he rejoined her, "Bless me, Louisa, this is grand!" were afterwards ascertained to have been actually the last words which he was heard to utter as he was dying. This certainly is in the nature of proof, even to an outsider, while I have no doubt that there are a thousand fine points which have united to give your mother that certitude which she expresses.

What weighs very heavily with me is that I already possess several unpublished manuscripts describing life in the other world, and that they agree very closely with the details which Leslie has given to us. There are in all these accounts some minor points of difference which may well be capable of explanation. We cannot understand why they sometimes choose to walk, and yet if they wish travel with the speed of thought. It seems a contradiction. And yet we can ourselves travel in any one of half a dozen ways and choose each as the fancy or convenience suggests.

On the matter of sustenance there is also some difference of opinion which may be reconciled by the supposition that the method of sustenance is not the same as with us. There may be pleasure of taste for example without the necessity of digestion and an etheric body may be nourished from the ether around it. We must not be too ready to think that statements are contradictory for certainly the experiences of this present life as narrated by several witnesses of different classes would be hard to reconcile.

It is in the obvious bonafides of the recipients of such messages, and in their general agreement that the strongest argument lies for their substantial truth. At the same time no single statement is to be taken as final, and each has to be weighed by common sense and compared with other statements, for after all we never know who is in temporary control of the other end of the telephone, and practical jokers or wilful deceivers are, I fear, not uncommon. Thus in the case of what Raymond says about alcohol, though it seems to be supported by a passage from the New Testament. I still think that we should be very critical of such an isolated statement. Possibly what Leslie says of the use of unfermented wine might explain Christ's utterance, though it would not cover that of Raymond. There is a volume of evidence as to the torment of drunkards from the loss of the stimulant, and as to the way in which they are drawn towards those who have had a similar vice upon earth, which would seem to be in direct contradiction to Raymond's view, though it is fair to say that Raymond seemed to refer to some unusual experiment upon the part of the synthetic chemists of the other world. There are many who will object to the materialism of the other world as here revealed. The answer is that it is only one higher stage upon our journey and that other more ethereal regions are ready when we in sum are ready for them. Here is a world without pain, with a surcease of sorrow, full of music, beauty, rest and intellectual development. Surely the ever increasing mass of evidence as to its existence is the very happiest tiding that has ever yet reached the human race, tiding which can carry a man through every grief when he has certitude of such a fate awaiting him if he lives in such a way as to deserve it. I have ranged over many religions and sought for truth and happiness but this revelation in its certainty seems to me to be the happiest, and also the one supported by the greatest volume of evidence, which has ever come to mortals. Wishing you success in your publication which should carry the news to others,

I am sincerely,

Arthur Conan Doyle

Second letter

Facsimile letter (p. 146-147)
(1926, Democrat Publishing & Printing Co.)

Dear Mrs. Read—

I am returning your interesting script after an unconscionable delay. I have twice read it very carefully and taken notes. It is very impressive, and on the whole coincides closely with other accounts of the next stage of existence. We can understand that if two accounts were sent from this world, one from England arid one from India, each would differ and yet each be true.

The prospect opened up is certainly a delightful one. It is the most consoling message which the poor old human race has ever received from that Father who is disclosed as being our most loving benefactor instead of being the hard task-master or stem judge that he has been depicted in the past. It is so glorious that people cannot believe it and both so-called science and so-called religion have fallen down badly in the presence of what will prove to be real science and real religion. It is I think the most astonishing story in the history of the human race, the brilliancy and clearness of the Revelation and the blindness of the recipients. Short of having an archangel in Trafalgar Square or Madison Square, Providence seems to have done everything conceivable to give us means of forming a judgement, but it is the law that before you find you must seek, and it seems to me that most people are in such a rut and so clogged up with their four meals a day and their need for earning a living that they have no time to seek and no spiritual aspiration whatever. However that will mend itself and most of them are not to blame, as they live under unnatural conditions and trust false guides.

If any of this is useful to you, you are welcome to publish it. The limited time still left to me on this side is entirely devoted to this work and I grudge nothing which can advance the truth. I have spoken to great audiences in about thirty British cities and hope to do them all if my strength holds out.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely, Arthur Conan Doyle.

The manuscript goes separately by registered post. I hope you will publish Leslie. It is one of the best documents I have seen.