Spirit Messages

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Spirit Messages is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in the Daily Mail on 25 february 1919.

Spirit Messages

Daily Mail (25 february 1919, p. 4)

To the Editor of The Daily Mail.

Sir, — Since the discussion concerning the Cardiff séance at which I was present began in your columns, perhaps you will allow me to say a few words before dismissing the matter.

There was, I repeat, no possibility of deception, as we were keenly on the alert and every precaution had been taken. Had the lights been on and the medium's hands free it would have been impossible for him to drop articles upon people at a distance with the absolute accuracy shown. In the case of my wife, for instance, I intervened between the medium and her. Yet the coat was found on her lap when the lights went up.

To say that Mr. Maskelyne or any other conjurer could, under his own conditions, produce similar effects is surely no more relevant than to say that a forger can produce bad sovereigns and to infer that therefore there can be no good ones. No doubt there are many of the miracles in the Bible which Mr. Maskelyne could duplicate from his stage, but would any sane man consider, that to be a valid argument against their occurrence?

The same applies to the occasional discovery of fraud. It is an undoubted fact that there have been frauds, but the unscrupulous imitation is founded upon the genuine original. Home demonstrated these phenomena for thirty years in daylight before the most credible witnesses, who have testified in their hundreds. There was no question of fraud there.

I agree, however, with many of the commentators that the phenomena are puerile in themselves. The rattling of the kettle-lid was puerile, but out of it came a train of thought which has covered the world with railways. So out of these crude manifestations of a power outside our philosophy will spring the greatest religious movement since the death of Christ, a movement which will bring such positive proof to the support of religion that the earnest inquirer will have something more solid and logical than faith, to sustain him.

I have every sympathy with those who say, "Why should spirits indulge in such antics, and what connection can, there be between flying tambourines and religion?" There is very real and intimate connection if the links of the chain be followed.

I cannot expand the whole thesis here, but I have shortly stated it in any "New Revelation," which can no doubt be found at any library. Reading it may perhaps induce the inquirer to consult those larger and more weighty volumes upon which it is founded. Should it have this effect, the humble séance of Cardiff will be justified alter all.

Arthur Conan Doyle,
Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex.