Letter to Harry Price (19 july 1924)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

This letter was written by Arthur Conan Doyle on 19 july 1924 to Harry Price about the Hope scandal.


15 Buckingham Palace Mansions. S.W.1.
July 19th. 1924.

Dear Mr. Price,

Your excellent article soon to appear in 'Light' shows that you are fair in your judgment of psychic phenomena. Is it not a question now whether we cannot find some means by which the Hope controversy can be settled in some honourable fashion? At present it makes an open sore in the movement and greatly strains the relation between all mediums and their supporters with the S.P.R. The S.P.R. under wise guidance should regard the Psychic College as being their special most valuable laboratory instead of drifting into an attitude of hostility to it.

I will now tell you something which may possibly influence your mind. Shortly after the meeting of the S.P.R. when I brought the matter up, and when you demonstrated the holes made by your pricker. I went to Hope for a sitting. While in his room I casually picked up his old dark slide and examined it. To my surprise I at once saw one of your holes. It was rather round the curve of the side at the top corner and could not have been possibly seen by any casual glance. I examined the rest of the frame but could not find any other mark.

I said nothing to Hope but my impression from what I heard before was that he imagined you claimed to have made scratches on the woodwork and as there were none he dismissed the matter. I don't for a moment suppose he would notice this little round hole. nor would I had I not seen them when you demonstrated them.

What I gathered was two things. One was the honesty of your own intentions. This I have never impugned, tho' I have always thought there was a plot behind you somewhere - or call it an elaborate practical joke, if you will. But it is clear that if you were a party to such joke you would not need to prick holes in the dark slide so that your bona fides stands clear.

The second point is that when you looked at the slide and concluded it had been changed because you could not see your marks the reason you did not see them was that for some reason the pricker had only acted in a place which you could only see by turning the slide slightly over. Thus your opinion was natural and honest - but as it happens wrong.

This all seems very clear and you as a gentleman would wish to atone for a wrong, while we as brother-spiritualists would not wish to press the matter or allude to it save in so far as Hope's reputation is a precious thing to us. What I suggest as a final settlement is that you should state in writing that fresh cases of Hope's powers which seem undoubtedly genuine have come to your notice (vide for example 'The Heart of a Father', Allen & Co., 40 Museum St.) and that you are impressed by these, also that your attention has been drawn to a certain circumstance in connection with your sitting with Hope which would adequately explain what had seemed to you to be suspicious, though the same circumstances showed how bona fide your own action was - that under these circumstances you withdraw any imputations upon Hope's honour and would, so far as possible, withdraw the pamphlet from circulation. Such an action would, I think, redound to your own credit (save with those whose good opinion matters nothing) and would heal a breach which can in no other way be bridged.

I hope this may commend itself to you and the shadow be thereby lifted.

Yours sincerely,

A. Conan Doyle