Sir Conan Doyle. Belief in Spiritualism

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Sir Conan Doyle. Belief in Spiritualism is an interview of Arthur Conan Doyle written by a journalist in The New Zealand Herald (New Zealand) published on 7 december 1920.


The New Zealand Herald (7 december 1920, p. 6)





The famous author and spiritualist, Sir Conan Doyle, arrived from Sydney by the Maheno last evening, and will commence his lecturing tour of the Dominion in the Town Hall to-night.

A tall, heavily-built man of about 60 years, Sir Conan looks the man of letters that he is. But it is when he engages in conversation that one realises the greatness of his personality. He is kindliness itself. His smile breaks down all barriers. About him there is not the slightest trace of austerity. He speaks with a Scottish accent, having been born and educated in Scotland, although his parents were Irish. What strikes an interviewer is his intense sincerity and earnestness.

Speaking of the tremendous interest which his message had aroused in Australia, he said that in Sydney the Town Hall had been packed on four occasions, this being said to ho a record. The keenest possible interest in his subject had been displayed, the people quickly realising that he had not come to attack religion.

"My object is to prove immortality," he said, "to prove the life beyond the grave, and therefore to prove the points which are the very centre, not only of Christianity but of every great religion in the world. Spiritualism is not confined to any one religion, but to the general stock of human knowledge. There is no religion which could not adopt spiritualism and yet retain its own fundamentals. There is a great wave of interest in the matter going over Great Britain at present, but the people out here have not yet learned what a tidal wave is sweeping over the world in this matter, and it is purely to show that that I am here. I have come against the greatest personal interest possible. I have come at my own peat loss. I take no payment for my lectures. Before leaving I was offered a very considerable sum to speak in America.

Consolation to Bereaved.

"I had found in England that my lectures had brought great consolation to those who had been bereaved in the war, and I felt that, Australia and New Zealand having made such sacrifices for the Imperial cause, if I could possibly carry that consolation to the people there it was my duty to do so before going to foreigners. In England I lectured in 50 cities and always found I had brought consolation to those who were mourning, in many cases people. taking off mourning clothes because they realised that their kinsmen were happier than they had been before. Spirit messages continually received are: 'Mother, we are nearer to you now than we were in life,' and it is the knowledge of that which eases so many sorrowing hearts. In my first lecture I shall give a general survey of the question, and in the second I hope to show my psychic photographs, many of which are guaranteed by myself, and all of which I can guarantee as to origin.

Opposition Welcomed.

When informed that, he would probably, encounter a great deal of opposition in New Zealand, Sir Conan said they welcomed, all opposition. "The only thing we object to," he said, "is stagnation. Opposition means that the man who is opposing you must have satisfied himself as to his own position first. That all means; activity. We spiritualists do not have a monopoly of spirituality. It is this great message of comfort we bring, but we do not in the least profess to be better men and women. Perhaps we ought to be, but I do not know if we are."

Questioned as to what had made him a spiritualist, Sir Conan Doyle said he had studied the question for 34 years. He had been an agnostic or a materialist at that time, but gradually through reading up the subject he found such evidences on the one hand and the absolute absence of investigation on the other, that he became convinced that the balance was in favour of it. He did not realise its importance, however, until the war broke out, and so such mourning was occasioned. He then went into the subject much more deeply, and, satisfied himself absolutely as to the truth of it, and he and his wife made up their minds to devote the rest of their lives to teaching the truth they had found.

Convert to No Particular Experience.

No particular experience had convinced him of the truth of spiritualism. Some People imagined that his son's death had been the cause. This "was not so. He was going on to the platform to lecture on the subject when he received the telegram announcing his son's death. He spoke for an hour and a half, but he could not have done so if he had not known what death was. Mention had been made of a lecturer who would oppose him. Sir Conan said he did not fight anyone. He would answer any arguments. The lectures would answer all arguments. He would defy anyone to say there was any deceit in him or his lectures.

"The churches here are very backward compared with those at Home," he said. "At many of my lectures in England vicars have presided. There the churches are by no means unsympathetic. The great conference of Anglican bishops had issued a statement to the effect that perhaps in this new method a method of proving the facts of religion had been discovered. That pronouncement," said the speaker, "practically grants our contentions that Canon Wilberforce, the great preacher and saint, had been a spiritualist Sects like the Plymouth Brethren and evangelical churches which believed in the literal interpretation of the Bible, opposed spiritualism. Of course I do not believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible," added Sir Conan. "That is the Jewish law. I am not a Jew."

Types in the Dominions.

In subsequent conversation Sir Conan displayed an interest in ethnological studies. He said the three great Dominions were developing new types. Without taking note of uniforms he believed that he could pick out an average Canadian, an average Australian, and an average New Zealander in a London street. Of the three types the New Zealanders most resembled the Briton. He had been struck with the resemblance of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles in the South African War to the yeoman type of Briton. "But you run bigger," he said, "the result, no doubt, of a more healthy and open, air life and better food." The Australian was developing along different lines. They were the sallow aquiline type. The Canadian, on the other hand was developing the square-headed, square-jawed type.

Sir Conan added that from his investigation for his history of the Great War he had ascertained that the New Zealand Infantry Division had the finest record of the British Army in France for the proportion of killed and wounded to prisoners taken.