Links with the Dead

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Links with the Dead is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in the Daily Express No. 5902 on 11 march 1919.

Links with the Dead

Daily Express No. 5902 (p. 5)


To the editor of the "Daily Express."

Sir, — I observe that Mr. Stuart Cumberland calls the physical phenomena of spiritualism "dud miracles," "piffle," and so forth. As they have been endorsed by ... of the first scientific minds in Europe and America, after exhaustive inquiry. I do not take Mr. Cumberland's noisy dissent any seriously.

I should never lend myself to, any of these challenges which begin by violating the very foundation of all psychic investigative - namely, harmonious conditions. The inflamed and aggressive mind is likely to bring its own difficulties with it. Neither would I countenance the absurd farce of conjuring entertainments which draw the public money by reproducing on a prepared ... some sort of parody of what has been done under entirely different conditions.

At the same time, nothing could be better than a sober and reasoned inquiry carried out by a body of earnest men who are not committed to any theory and who will report fearlessly on the facts. Such an inquiry should cover the higher as well as the lower phases of spiritual activity. Two such bodies have already existed. One was the Dialectical Society formed in 1860 from doctors, lawyers, and other men of that class, mostly agnostic or hostile at the beginning. I have their report before me as I write. It ends: "Delusion was out of the question... There is a force capable of moving heavy bodies without material contact, which force is in some unknown manner dependent on the presence of human beings." This was their conclusion ... a long series of investigations, most, if not all, of which were held in full light.


The other investigating body is the Psychical Research Society, also formed by independent men, many of whom were neutral or hostile. They have never given a collective report, but every one knows that a number of their most acute and intellectual members have been forced by the evidence to subscribe to the doctrine of spirit communication. In view of these facts, it is a sign of ignorance when our opponents propose an investigation as if no judgment had already been given against them.

The crude and elementary physical phenomena have little attraction for spiritualists, though they are of use in dealing with material-minded inquirers. It is the higher mental phenomena which impinge on religion, and it is to those that we would draw the attention of the earnest student. As an example, I know a medium in London, whom I will call Mrs. D. To her I have sent many mourning mothers in the last few years. These ladies I have never seen. I simply advise them by letter and ask them to report to me what happens. I have their reports. They are between twenty and thirty in number, and I can only find one who has failed to find what she sought. In nearly every case the evidence in quite conclusive, containing the name and appearance of the deceased, and often of other dead relatives. Telepathy is excluded, because in many cases the information is outside the thoughts of the inquirer, and the results are occasionally very unexpected.

Now, if there is call for proof and a test, I could not imagine a better one than these letters furnish. Many of them are in themselves alone conclusive, and the total effect is overwhelming. I am prepared to submit these letters to any benafide committee of investigators and to submit to any cross-examination on them, giving the full names of parents and of medium, so long as they are not published. That is surely a more convincing test than a conjurer with his stage and his trapdoors can be.