Spiritualism (3 january 1920)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Spiritualism is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Times on 3 january 1920.


The Times (3 january 1920)


Sir, — As you were good enough to couple my name with that of Sir Oliver Lodge in hour original remarks upon Spiritualism, you will perhaps allow me to associate myself with his disclaimer of the views attributed to us. Those views were that mediums had the power "of raising spirits and of foretelling the future." To "raise a spirit" would seem to imply that we had some control over those who have passed into the beyond. Such is not the case. The most that we can do is to make the physical conditions such that if they should of their own desire wish to manifest themselves to our senses, they may be able to do so. As to "foretelling the future," I lave expressly stated in my "New Revelation" (p. 123) :— "On the whole I preserve an open mind upon the powers and imitations of prophecy." I have known some very remarkable cases of fulfilment, and I have known grievous lapses. From their higher ground the spirit people see the relations between cause and effect more clearly than we do, but I for one would never admit that they have any certain power of foretelling the future. Thus on both counts you have unwittingly misrepresented my views. You add that mediums use "darkened rooms, banjos, and hymns." The darkened room is common, but by no means universal, the banjo is, so far as I know, unknown, but hymns and prayers do certainly accompany this, the most solemn of all religious functions.

Sir Oliver has published his one war-widow letter as a sample, no doubt, of a large correspondence. I have myself received hundreds. Of these, 60 complete successes out of 72 attempts have been obtained from a single medium. These documents are entirely at the disposal of yourself or of any other competent authority who would care to examine them. My testimony, however, is more direct than this, since I can solemnly declare that, using an unpaid medium, I have beyond all question or doubt spoken face to face with my son, my brother, my nephew by marriage and several other friends since their death. On each occasion there were six or more witnesses.

Yours faithfully,

Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex, Jan. 1.