Letter about spiritualism (2 june)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

This undated letter was written by Arthur Conan Doyle from Windlesham to an unknown recipient. After 1916.


Dear Sir

Since you ask my frank opinion I would say that the simple person "Vision" is worth all the ultra mundane ones, and that the latter (which seem to me to be pompous nonsense for the most part) are undoubtedly from your subconscious self, of from some humourous literary sprite with a turn for parody.

I was much more interested in your prose which is very admirable. One paragraph I shall copy and possibly use sometime, if I may, as to the actual effect of such a revelation, if accepted, upon men of Science etc etc. Very good indeed. I will read it again right through before I return it.

You don't seem to me to have read much of the evidence of others. In forming your judgement the works of Home, Crookes, Crawford, Geley, Lambrose, Barrett, etc seem to have had no share. In every science the enquirer builds upon what is ascertained and does not begin de novo with no reference to his predecessors. I think you exaggerate about the evil forces at the threshold. The poor old fiend is an object of pity, to be reassured with and prayed for. You will, I believe, find him very amicable to charity if you try it. I believe these dangers are quite mythical, otherwise how do you explain that I in 33 years have never seen anything of them and I have met very many veteran spiritualists who tell me the same. What is certain is that the whole business is, as it should be, deeply religious.

I think you are cynical over Raymond [1]. His boyish account of the other world, and his very sweet and natural story of his experience of [Christ] would convince me far more than all the mental feats in the world. This kind of half sneering comment which expects fresh young minds & simple natures to do what mere sophisticated people would do, & blames then because they don't do it, always seems to me rather mistaken. In all this matter from 1848 onwards wisdom has, as of old, been given to the humble minded. I am very conscious of this as I go thro' the country & meet the actual working spiritualists — wonderful fellows, 50 years ahead of the Physical Researchers.

Yours sincerely

A Conan Doyle.

  1. RAYMOND, OR LIFE AND DEATH, BY SIR OLIVER J. LODGE (1916, GEORGE H. DORAN CO.). Raymond Lodge was the dead son of Sir Oliver Lodge.