Sir A. Conan Doyle. My Argument Not Affected

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Sir A. Conan Doyle. My Argument Not Affected is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in the Daily Mail on 31 december 1919.

A letter from the husband of Mrs. Spencer, Victor Spencer, was also included in the same issue, where he denied any spirit influence in the painting.

My Argument Not Affected

Daily Mail (31 december 1919, p. 5)

To the Editor of The Daily Mail.

Sir, — I had not intended to write further upon this matter, but as silence might give the impression that I had in the first instance made some mistake, I am forced to restate, my position.

As to the psychic nature of the picture, I can only refer to the statement made by one of the family in the same issue as contained my letter. I can distinguish no difference between "psychic" and "spiritual." Psychic influences do not necessarily imply possession or control (save of the limb used), nor are they always evident to the person concerned. If a picture can be done upside down, as is here stated, then it seems to me impossible to call the process normal.

I am very sorry that Mrs. Spencer's name has been used against her will in her absence, but I was careful to exclude it from my letter. She has had nothing whatever to do with this controversy, and could not have known that it would take place.

It has been pointed out that there is a previous picture by a Swedish lady which resembles the one under discussion. I agree that the similarity is beyond coincidence and that, consciously or subconsciously, the pose of the one suggested the pose of the other. The features, however, are quite different and are, in my opinion, very much more original and finer in the version of Mrs. Spencer. As the Swedish picture is admitted to be done under spiritual inspiration, its introduction does not affect my argument.

Arthur Conan Doyle.

The statement of a relative mentioned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is that of Viscountess Churchill (mother-in-law of Mrs. Spencer), who said in an interview that the picture had been painted upside down. "I can only explain it by saying," she continued. "that, with Mrs. Spencer's intense desire to help, aid is given her; there is nothing in the nature of control or trance."

Letter from Victor Spencer

Daily Mail (31 december 1919, p. 5)