The Challenge

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Challenge is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in John Bull on 3 november 1923 in the article Conan Doyle's Sensational Challenge!, by Sydney A. Moseley.

The Challenge

John Bull (3 november 1923, p. 13)

"I have read with interest Mr. Sydney Moseley's article upon the so-called 'Masked Medium.' It is a very accurate account of what occurred, save only that I did not observe that Lady Glenconner was more credulous than the two coroners, the police inspector, myself, or any others of the company.

"Mr. Moseley quotes me as saying that I was 'very impressed.' So I was, and so I will continue to be until receive some adequate explanation. This has not yet been forthcoming.

"The performance began by a remarkable exhibition of what I can only suppose to have been telepathy. Mr. Moseley tells us that it was 'wireless telephony.' This in a crowded room!

"We spiritualists may be credulous, but I do not think we can go that length. Mr. Moseley should measure his legs, for I am convinced that one of them has been badly pulled by the gentleman who gave him so absurd an explanation.

"This first part of the show had nothing in it which belonged to Spiritualism, for telepathy would seem to be a function of the normal body under particular conditions. The second part went further.

"In this second part there issued from the lady's side a slightly luminous vapour. This gathered into a cloud which gradually assumed a shape which was roughly human. This cloud then rose, passed over the lady's head, came down on the other side, and vanished.

"This may have been a trick. If it was I am still 'greatly impressed.' But before I admit that it is a trick, I want some stronger assurance than that of the showman who used Mr. Moseley in order to mystify the Press. Naturally, he said it was a trick, since he proposed to exhibit it, and the example of the Davenport Brothers had shown that the exhibition of psychic things in public led to trouble.

"But I want some better assurance than the word of the showman, or of Mr. Moseley, who is the echo of the showman. If it is not psychic, I will freely admit it, and confess myself deceived, but before doing so I claim that I have a right to an explanation, and a second demonstration, so that I may check that explanation.

"As this may involve trouble, I will willingly pay otter £25, either to the manager or to the lady, if they will satisfy me that what I and others saw that night was merely a trick."

Arthur Conan Doyle