The Alleged Message from the Late Lord Northcliffe

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Alleged Message from the Late Lord Northcliffe is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in Light on 21 july 1923.

The Alleged Message from the Late Lord Northcliffe

Light (21 july 1923, p. 456)

To The Editor of Light.

Sir, — Light has followed me with pleasing regularity, and I have not missed a number since I left home. As to the discussion which has taken up so large a space in it, I should not, in any case, have joined in it, save to say that I am ready to subscribe to those Seven Principles which have been the central core of the whole movement, and which have the supreme advantage that they are as applicable to a Buddhist or to a Mohammedan as to a Christian. My own example is Christ, but another man can use his own. What anyone calls us or thinks of us is surely of no consequence whatever. We are world-wide or nothing.

But the reason why I have taken up my pen was to comment upon a paragraph in which you quote the "Morning Post" and other papers which have reproduced an American account of an alleged message from the late Lord Northcliffe. I wish to explain that the use of this name was not authorised by me. I have always felt, and haw publicly stated, that to use the names of those who were not with us in life is calculated to give pain to relatives and to lay us open to damaging criticism. I was placed in an embarrassing position since a message was given to me to deliver under very solemn circumstances, but I did it as coming from a great Englishman lately deceased. I never gave it to the Press for publication as coming from Lord Northcliffe, and I now neither affirm nor deny it. Suffice it that the message came as described.

Since the matter has come up, I may as well give a more particular account. The medium was Mr. Ticknor, of New York. Mrs. Ticknor acted as reporter, and there were present, my wife, the Rev. G. Vale Owen, Miss Owen, and one other. Mr. Ticknor being in deep trance, the voice gave the name of the Englishman in question. He began by describing several very intimate personal and family matter which could not be reproduced, and which I have no moans of verifying, save that the names mentioned represented real persons. He then gave me correctly the name of a small estate, which would hardly, one would think, he known of in New York. He then made several references which seemed to show that he was confusing me with someone else. When I denied them he said. "I am trying to solidify myself in order to memorise better. I want to strengthen my confidence in my own memory." He then said, "You are not too busy to attend to these vital things. I was. I could not see the value of it. I was too busy. That is my message to America through you. Don't be too busy. I was so full of the things that do not matter that I had no time for those things that do matter. That is my message."

The question of a possible impending catastrophe is another one, and did not come up on that occasion or from that source.

With greetings to all friends and co-workers, and with assurance that great advance towards truth is being made over here.

Yours faithfully,

Arthur Conan Doyle.

Jasper, Alberta (Canadian Rookies),
7th July, 1923.