Letter to Harry Price (2 february 1926)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

This letter was written by Arthur Conan Doyle on 2 february 1926 to Harry Price about spiritualism, Mrs. Deane and Mrs. A. V. E. Perryman...


2nd February, 1926.

Dear Price,

I have the desire to be friends with every one in the psychic world, especially with one who holds so distinguished a position as yourself, but it is absolutely essential that our mediums should be sustained until they are proved guilty — and that can only be done not on any mans 'ipse dixit' but by some authority before whom the defence as well as the accusation is heard. Otherwise there is chaos as in so shadowy and little known a subject every medium can be brought under suspicion and no firm results ever be established.

I saw copies of the Deane letters, both mother and daughter. They were vulgar and abusive but they are illiterate people. I saw only the natural anger of people who resent an accusation — certainly no admission of guilt. I also saw an explanation written by Mrs. Deane which might well be true. I only know Mrs. P. the accuser by the fact that she once before brought a peevish and unreasonable complaint against some other people.

It was natural that I and others should try to stop such a report as that Mrs. D. was a drunkard (that was what was rumoured and what I wrote to Bird about) since Warwick and Miss Stead both agreed it was not so and are in constant contact. If she drinks, which is possible, it is done very secretly and cunningly.

But the only scientific way is to go by positives and not by negatives. The Cushman photo is, I think, about the best positive result I know. Why upset that result in peoples minds? Even if the facts were sure — which they are not — they should be qualified by the remembrance of the proofs of real power in other cases.

I wish your Laboratory success but let it be constructive, That way wisdom - and our cooperation lie.

Yours sincerely,

A. Conan Doyle