Prophecy and Finance
Prophecy — and Finance
Sir Conan Doyle's Reply
To the Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette.
Sir, — I notice that Mr. Charles Duguid regards my prophecy as to the immediate future of the Kent coal enterprise to be unduly optimistic. Only the future can show.
But I would remind him that the pessimistic prophecies of the past — to some of which he has appeared to lend his own high authority — have invariably been falsified. There was no coal in Kent. Coal in Kent could not be won. If coal in Kent were won it would be of poor quality and would find no market — each of these in turn has been disproved. Up to now, at any rate, my own more cheerful outlook has proved to be justified.
Details of finance I must leave to those who are more competent than myself, remarking only that I have seen the property and what has been done upon it, and that it seems to me that it is very extraordinary value for the money expended.
I would repeat, however, what I said in my original article, that the matter is far too great to be influenced by personal prejudices or by narrow questions of detail. If such letters as that of Mr. Charles Duguid, typical as it is of a series which has appeared in various papers, has any effect at all, it would be to seal the financial market, to wreck the present mines, and to ruin the pioneers of a great industry.
Fortunately, this cannot occur, as a stage has been reached when the property has a definite selling value, but experience has shown that these sales can be effected most readily to foreign syndicates, who approach the matter without prejudice. It is this selling of what should be a national birthright to which I called attention in my original article, and I fear that such letters as that of Mr. Charles Duguid can only tend to this deplorable end. — Yours faithfully,
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.