A Public Debate on The Truth on Spiritualism Between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Joseph McCabe
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
A Public Debate on "The Truth on Spiritualism" Between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Joseph McCabe is a book published by Watts & Co.) in april 1920 including the verbatim report of the debate between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (representing spiritualism) and Joseph McCabe (representing the Rationalist Press Association) which took place on 11 march 1920 at the Queen's Hall, Langham Place, London W., UK.
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- A Public Debate on "The Truth on Spiritualism" Between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Joseph McCabe (april 1920, Watts & Co. [UK])
- A Debate on Spiritualism Between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Joseph McCabe (ca. 1922, Appeal to Reason [US])
- Debate on Spiritualism: Conan Doyle and Joseph McCabe (1922, Haldeman-Julius Co. [US])
Watts & Co. (april 1920)
A Debate on Spiritualism Between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Joseph McCabe
Appeal to Reason (ca. 1922)
Debate on Spiritualism: Conan Doyle and Joseph McCabe
Haldeman-Julius Co. (1922)
A Public Debate on "The Truth on Spiritualism"
This debate originated in November 1919, through an invitation from Mr. Charles A. Watts (Vice Chairman of the British Rationalist Press Association) to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to publicly debate the claims of Spiritualism with Mr. Joseph McCabe. The invitation was prompted in the interests of Truth only, and Sir Arthur expressed his willingness to accept it.
The conditions of debate, arranged by Mr. Watts (representing Mr: McCabe) and Mr. H. Engholm (representing Sir Arthur), were are follow:
Mr. Joseph McCabe to open the debate in a speech of forty minutes.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to follow with a speech of equal length.
Mr. McCabe then to speak for fifteen minutes.
Sir Arthur to follow with a speech of equal length.
Mr. McCabe then to make his final reply in a speech of fifteen minutes.
Sir Arthur to conclude the debate in a speech of equal length.
Sir Edward Marshall-Hall, K.C., consented to act as Chairman in response to the invitation of the representative of each disputant.
It may be noted that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was at one time a member of the Rationalist Press Association. The debate has been revised by each disputant, only verbal alterations being made.
It should be added that all moneys from the sale of tickets, after the expenses had been paid, were equally divided between the two organisations represented by the Disputants. Any profits from the sale of the Report of the Debate are to be similarly allocated.
The Truth of Spiritualism
The Chairman, in introducing the disputants, said:
I am here purely in the capacity of Chairman. It is no part of my duty to make speeches, or to do any more than introduce to you the two gentlemen who are going to take part in this debate. The debate will be commenced by Mr. McCabe, whom you all know as an author and a public speaker, and the chief representative of the Rationalist Press. He will open the debate. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whom again, I think, I need hardly introduce to you, will then make a speech in answer to Mr. McCabe. All I wish to say is that I trust you will all give them, whatever your own personal views may be, a fair and patient hearing. This is a serious debate. Both these gentlemen are in earnest, and it is only on that condition that I assented to take the Chair here tonight. I express no sympathy with one or the other. I hope to Bold an absolutely impartial balance between the two, and I trust that, by realizing that what they say to you they are saying of conviction, you will give them that patient hearing and attention which is their right. (Cheers.)
Joseph McCabe Opens Debate
Mr. McCabe, in opening the debate in a speech of forty minutes, said:
The movement of religion which we are dis-cussing before you tonight comes at a some-what dramatic moment in the evolution of man. It comes at a time when the old faith, at one time the common faith of all men and women on this globe, is growing somewhat dim and clouded. The authority of creeds is tottering. The speculations of philosophers are less convincing than they were three hundred years ago.
Long ago in the early history of man it was noticed that there was a shadow, a colored reflection of oneself, seen on the ground or in the water. From that germ early man a million years ago developed the idea that there was a twofold personality in the individual. As time went on creeds were formed, and priesthoods evolved this idea until at last it became the germ of another world — an immortal world, generally placed in the sky.
I do not wonder at that early speculation of primitive man. I do not wonder that it persisted during hundreds of thousands of years of human life. I do not wonder even that when man's mind rose to the height of philosophy he still retained that belief in his immortal personality. What was that world in which our fathers lived even three hundred years ago? A narrow world, a toy world, compared with the universe that we know today. It was a world bounded by unscaleable walls — those "flaming walls of the world," as they said in the older times. Beyond those narrow walls of this world were boundless spaces, in which the imagination of man could create endless legions of spiritual beings.
Three hundred year ago those walls of the universe fell, and man found himself living on one tiny speck in an illimitable material universe. The mind of man began to change. Where were those spiritual worlds of which earlier ages had dreamed? And, as I say, at the same time the old creeds began to grow dim and the old authorities began to totter. During the last hundred years there has been happening what has happened in every development of civilization since the world began — the mature mind of man, the maturer knowledge of man, dissolving all those old religious illustrations and religious creeds.
In the middle of the nineteenth century there were. many who believed that the end was near. In the older days, whenever a civilization decayed some strong young barbaric race came to take its place, and its own religious traditions remained firmly rooted in its mind. That can never happen again in the story of the world. Let civilization fall, and with it fall the last shapes of those old religious illusions. And many of us look round on this age of ours and ask, "Is it the last day of religious development!" Millions are fast falling from this dream of an eternal home, and just then there comes this rapping on the walls of the universe, this Spiritualistic movement. Just when men are beginning to wonder if at last religion is doomed, there comes this portentous phenomenon we are discussing in the shape of Spiritualism. I do not wonder that my opponent takes it to be a new religion, a new revelation.
But I want to draw your attention first to one feature which distinguishes this new religion, this new movement, among all the religions of the world. It was born of a fraud. It was cradled in fraud. It was nurtured in fraud. It is based today to an alarming extent all over the world on fraudulent performances. (Laughter.) I take it that there we stand on common ground — (laughter) — but whether Sir Arthur Conan Doyle realizes the extent of that fraud that has contributed to the Spiritualist movement I do not know. He says somewhere, in one of his works, that Eusapia Palladino, the most gifted, the most accomplished medium that there has ever been in the history of Spiritualism, was twice detected in fraudulent practices. She was detected hundreds of times in fraudulent practices. I suppose the highest authority in the world today on her is Professor Morselli, of Italy, one who admires and believes in Palladino. He tells us that at least 10 per cent of all her performances were fraudulent! 10 per cent of those thousands of performances which she gave in Europe for twenty years were fraudulent. He tells us that a further 15 per cent were questionable, and he claims that the remaining 65 per cent were genuine phenomena. A cautious man, like myself, would rather describe them as "not found out" phenomena. (Laughter and applause.)
I will be content on this point, which is material to my subject, to quote the words of one or two men who believe in these abnormal phenomena and have studied them for decades of their lives.
Flammarion, the great French astronomer, says, after fifteen years of intense and devoted investigation: "You may lay it down as a principle that every professional medium in the world cheats."
Baron von Schrenk-Notzing, an aristocratic medical man of Vienna, who has spent thirty or thirty-five years in the most in-tense investigation of these phenomena, says: "Hardly one medium has appeared that has not been convicted of fraud."
Another man, also a believer in these phenomena, says: "Ninety-eight per cent of the physical phenomena of Spiritualism are fraudulent."
So do not suppose for a moment that I am exaggerating the share of fraud in this movement. Can you name any other religion in the world of which it can be said, by one who believes in the phenomena in question, that "not one single professional medium, not one priest of that sect, is there who was not detected in fraud"? You will understand why I am stressing this at the outset of my speech tonight. I pass over, because they are irrelevant to me, the tens of thousands of mediums who are not fraudulent, because it is the physical phenomena mediums who have brought the attention of the world to this particular movement. That fraud imposes upon any investigator a duty of rigorous and scrupulous inquiry — more rigorous than he has made in any other department of culture.
I agree with Professor Richet that when there is question of these phenomena you need evidence far more rigorous, far more convincing, than the evidence that we use in modern physics, modern chemistry, or even modern medicine. When you contemplate that this is the kind of fraud on which the movement has been reared, then you say not only do you need more evidence because of. that towering superstructure, but because precisely of that fraud you need a more rigorous and judicial mind that any man in any branch of science or historical research needs today.
Therefore, I turn to those two works in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has made his appeal to the public, and I ask whether Sir Arthur has maintained that intensely judicial attitude, whether he has succeeded in persuading us that this movement is true or reasonable ? I speak under the correction of my distinguished opponent; but I submit that, in introducing that appeal which he has made, I have not chosen the feebler points of his demonstration. I have chosen what seemed to me those points which will most impress the general public, and which, in my opinion, were intended mostly to impress the general public.
What seems to me the most important, the most persistent, the most impressive note in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works is his insistence that in modern times so large a number of the scholars of the world have joined or sanctioned this movement that one can no longer plead, as one did in the older days, that it was opposed by all the elite of the world. A page in one of his works is consecrated to this theme, and I will read one sentence from that page, so that you may know what it is that I am submitting to my opponent tonight. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle says: "It is possible to write down the names of fifty professors in great seats of learning who have examined and endorsed these facts, and the list would include many of the greatest intellects which the world has produced in our time."
That is a straight issue between us. I am, I trust, concerned with this grand jury before whom I have the honor of appearing tonight; and, in so far as it depends upon me, I will try to secure that there be no loose ends in this discussion, that there be clear intellectual issues put before you. Here is the first that I would submit to you. Most of us understood from Sir Oliver Lodge's works that science, orthodox science, frowned contemptuously upon these phenomena.
Here is an article that has appeared within the last month in one of the leading journals of the United States — the Boston Herald. Sir Oliver Lodge is at present engaged in a Spiritualistic mission in the United States. (Cheers.) The writer of this article is one of the leading representatives of American University culture today, Dr. Stanley Hall, the President of Clarke University. He tells his readers that he and other American scolars have been repeatedly solicited to say what they think about this spiritualistic mission of Sir Oliver Lodge. He says that he long hesitated, and he adds, in words of cruel irony: "The spectacle of a father exhibiting a bleeding heart for a son who has died in the war seems to add its plea to immunity from criticism." But he cannot hesitate any longer, and he writes that "this Spiritualistic mission of Sir Oliver Lodge is an affront to science." He then enters upon a disquisition upon Spiritualism. I am not going to read more than one phrase, which I must be pardoned for repeating. He says of this prospect of a future life which is held out to America by Sir Oliver Lodge, and has been held out by Sir Oliver Lodge to the British public, that the kind of life it suggests for our departed is much like "an asylum for the feeble-minded." (Laughter.) He concludes this long article with the words: "I insist that there is no single golden grain of truth in all this mass of Spiritualistic dross." That is the opinion of one of the leaders of American culture, one of the most distinguished psychologists of America.
Many of us were under the impression that that was the typical or conventional attitude of scientific men towards Spiritualism. Therefore, in view of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's words, I courteously challenge him to give me in his first speech tonight the names, not of fifty, but of ten, university professors of any distinction who have within the last thirty years endorsed or defended Spiritualism. (Cheers.)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adds that during the last thirty years numbers of men of science have examined these phenomena, and he says that he is not aware of one single man among those who has not been converted to Spiritualism. Fifty or sixty university professors of Europe and America thoroughly examined the claims of the most gifted medium that ever appeared in Europe and America — Palladino. Twenty professors in Italy, fifteen professors in America — at least fifty or sixty professors in Europe and America — and I asked Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to name one of those professors, except Lombroso in Italy, who was converted to Spiritualism.
I will now take what seems to me the strongest point in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's exposition of this new religion. It is a reference to the famous occasion on which the celebrated med'um Home is supposed to have been wafted from one window to an-other. Home, says Sir Arthur, was no "paid adventurer," but a "nephew of the Earl of Home."
There, once more, I join issue, and say that Home was the ablest and most profitable adventurer that ever appeared the Spiritualist movement. Home was no nephew of the Earl of Home; but, if you will turn to the Dictionary of National Biography, you will find that Home was "the son of a natural son of the Earl of Home"; and I might add that even for that somewhat tarnished connection with the aristocracy you have nothing but the assertion of Home himself. (Laughter.)
Home lived on his Spiritualistic gifts from his sixteenth year to the year in which he died. Home married in succession two ladies of wealth, solely in virtue of his Spiritualist power. Towards the close of his life he obtained a further fortune from another lady — a sum of £36,000 from Mrs. Lyon in London, by representing to her that her dead husband commanded her through him to hand over this £36,000 to him. (Laughter.) And a London Court of Justice compelled him to return that sum, as having been obtained under improper pretenses. (Cheers.) The verdict of that Court is misrepresented in Spiritualist literature. I have read the summing-up of the Judge, and in the most contemptuous and scornful tones he said that the law of England exists to protect its people from the trickery of these Spiritualist mediums. (Cheers.)
But I am not surprised that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has taken this extraordinary occurrence, as he believed it to be, and put it in the forefront of his book as one of the reasons for recommending Spiritualism. What were the facts, as given by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Home, at a height of seventy feet above the street, was wafted by spirit hands from one window to another. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was astonished when he first heard this, but he says that it is "attested by three eye-witnesses" of such repute that there is no possibility of gainsaying it. Sir Arthur asserts that "the evidence for this was more direct than for any of those far-off events which the whole world has agreed to accept as true."
I am not surprised that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle chose this, because Sir William Barrett, one of the scientific exponents of Spiritualism, also chose this as one of the strongest arguments for Spiritualism. Remember that he says nothing was said to those three sitters beforehand of what they might expect to see. Kindly remember that, and I will give you the facts presently. The accounts of the three witnesses were alike, declares Sir William Barrett. Remember that also. Sir William Crookes also relies on this great performance of Home; and Sir William Crookes, one assuredly of the most distinguished scientific men of the last generation in this country — (cheers) — says that to "reject the recorded evidence on this subject is to reject all human testimony whatever."
There again I join issue directly and vehemently, and I say that the supposed levitation of Home was the most hollow piece of charlatanry in the whole history of Spiritualism. Earl Crawford, Lord Adare and Captain Wynne were the three men who were in the house at the time. Earl Crawford gives two accounts of this phenomenon. The first was given six months after the event. The second was given two years and a half after the event; but Sir William Barrett, the scientific man, has chosen the record which was written two and a half years after the event, and, without a word of explanation, has interpolated a date in the record by Earl Crawford which is disputed, and which is materially important to the issue.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been misled in following Sir William Barrett. The two accounts given by Earl Crawford diametrically oppose each other in the most important particulars, and I presume a lawyer would tell you that that would immediately begin to throw doubt upon those wonderful witnessess. But the two accounts agree in one point, and that is enough for my purpose. Both these accounts written by Earl Crawford say, and say emphatically, that his back was to the window, and all that he saw was a shadow upon the wall of the room. (Laughter.) That is more direct evidence, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle says, than the evidence for those far-off events on which the whole world is agreed today.
But what was the light that caused the shadow on the wall of the room ? Earl Crawford tells us plainly that there was no artificial light in the room, and he says that "the moon was shining full into the chamber." But how much moon was shining into that chamber? Most of us are aware that the moon waxes and wanes, and we would like to know at what particular part of the moon's development the light was shining so strongly in a London room that a man could be seen levitating above the level of the sill. Give a man the date, let him go back to the Almanacks of that particular year, and he knows how much moon there was in that London sky at the time.
The date as given by Lord Adare is December 13, which was the date of the new moon in that particular year. (Laughter.) Sir Arthur takes Sir William Barrett's date — December 16. The moon was, in that case, three days old at the time when Earl Crawford sees this wonderful shadow on the wall of a London room. Do you know what that means ? It means a thin tiny crescent of a moon, less than half a quarter of moon; and, if you have the slightest misgivings in your mind, the next time the moon is in its third day go and see how much shadow you will recognize on the walls of your room in the light of a three days' moon.
What does Lord Adare say ? He apparently wrote his account a few days after the event, and the account is so short that I will read the whole of it to you: "We heard the window thrown up, and presently Home appeared standing upright outside our window, and he opened the window and walked quite coolly into the room." No one saw him wafted from one window to another.
Both Earl Crawford and Lord Adare tell us explicitly that as they sat in the dark room a spirit whispered to Lord Crawford — that is to say, Daniel Dunglas Home in his slippers whispered to Earl Crawford: "They are going to waft him from one room to another." Sir William Barrett has not examined the evidence on this. Earl Crawford says he "told the others," and that the three men were told "Don't stir from your places." It is highly probable that all three were facing the wall, and turned away from the window. They heard the window in the next room raised. Lord Adare, for some reason, looked at the window in the room in which they were sitting, and he saw Home standing outside the window — not floating in the air outside the window.
Earl Crawford says that there was no foothold at all outside the window. But it was Lord Adare's window, and Lord Adare tells us there was a windowsill nineteen inches wide, with a balustrade of eighteen inches at the outer edge. Where is the evidence that Home had so miraculously floated from one window to the other ? Lombroso, in his old days, when he embraced these things, wrote for the Italian people a picture of Home "floating from window to window around one of the Palaces of London"; and all that was seen was one man scanning the image of Home in the light of a new moon, and one man who turns round to the window and sees Home standing upright on the window-sill.
That, you are told, is better evidence than there is for the assassination of Caesar — better evidence than for "the far-off events which you all accept as true today." All that Wynne ever said was uttered ten years afterwards, when he declared: "I can swear that Home went out of one window and came in at the other window" — not that he saw him go out from one window and in at the other window. That is what I find amiss in the works of Sir William Barrett and Sir William Crookes. That is the evidence, the whole evidence, that has ever been put before the public for that extra-ordinary occurrence, and I repeat that it was one of the greatest pieces of trickery that you can find in the whole history of the Spiritualistic movement. (Cheers.)
Then we ask, What is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's own experience ? and I find among a very small number of anecdotes that this is given as the most convincing. One morning — on April 4, 1917 — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle awoke with a feeling that he had received a spiritual communication. Of that communication one word only remained in his consciousness — the word "Piave," the river where the Italian Army made its heroic stand in the same year, 1917. Everybody today knows the word "Paive," but at the beginning of 1917, in the spring time, "Piave" was a new word. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle looked up his geographical book — why geographical I do not know, if the word was so utterly strange to him. He found that it was the name of a river forty miles behind the Italian front, which at the time, he says, was "victoriously advancing." He could not understand it. He told his wife and secretary immediately.
There is no doubt whatever about that; but there is one little thing in the account of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which immediately sets one inquiring. At the beginning of April, 1917, the Italian line was not victoriously advancing. On April 4, 1917, Sir William Robertson was in Italy, seeing that the Italian line was, not fitted to advance, but was fitted to hold its own against the tremendous Austrian offensive that was immediately expected.
You know how the line ran in those days. The objective of the Austrian Army was Venice and the Venetian Plain; and you know that the broad road from the Alps to Venice was the Valley of Piave. During that period of April, 1917, there was not a military expert in Europe who was not expecting the Austrians to make the advance. Indeed, on April 3 — the very day before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had his mysterious vision — only April 3 the Times published a long article from its own Italian military correspondent on that precise expected advance of the Austrians upon the Venetian Plain.
I next find that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle recommends as one of the reasonable grounds for believing in Spiritualism — one of the main defenses for the truth of Spiritualism — the wonderful declarations made to Sir Oliver Lodge in connection with a photograph of his dead son.
I suppose many of you in the room have read that singular work Raymond, and you will remember what it was that happened. Sir Oliver Lodge unfortunately lost h s son, and it was known throughout the whole mediumistic world of England that Sir Oliver Lodge had lost a son. It was equally known throughout the mediumistic world of England that, infallibly, Sir Oliver Lodge would go for information about his dead son.
He goes to a medium, and the medium says: "Before your son left home you had three photographs. On one of those photo-graphs he is in a group of men, and he had a stick." The medium put his stick under his arm pictorially to represent it. It is perfectly true that the family of Lodge had, not only three photographs, but something like thirty photographs, of Raymond Lodge before he left home. It is utterly untrue that they had any photograph of Raymond Lodge in a group at that t me. And when the photograph was ultimately unearthed he had no stick under his arm at all.
Therefore the only three details given by the first medium who communicated with Sir Oliver Lodge were false. The news circulated that Sir Oliver Lodge was seeking information. I am not surprised — are you surprised ? — that the next time Sir Oliver Lodge consulted a medium he obtained more about that photograph. What was the information ? Sir Oliver told the medium that he wanted some information about that photograph. The medium said that there were "several," figures on it. Glance at the evidence in Sir Oliver Lodge's book, and you will find that he had asked precisly about a group photograph. "Were they soldiers ?" he asked the medium. "Yes, they were a mixed lot," said the medium. What does that mean ? "Were they in the open air ?" "Yes, practically," said the medium. I wonder if that famous oracle of Delphi, of long ago, could have improved upon those two answers to those two questions of detail. Raymond thinks that he was sitting on the ground; Raymond thinks there was some one leaning on him; but he was surely that some one wished to lean on him. In nearly every single detail that medium is right, whatever the details turn out to be. He could be in the open air or not; he could have a stick or not; the medium is not sure. This is offered to us — these details almost infallible where they are definite, always indefinite where they are not infallible — are offered to us as a sign of supernatural power on which to base our belief in immortality.
What are the other personal experiences of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ? There was a medium staying at his house when the Lusitania went down. Before any details were known she said: "It is terrible; it will have a great influence on the war." I do not know whether there is any person in the room who can perceive any aroma of spiritual power in that expression. I cannot, and will not discuss it.
Sir Arthur is told of a lady friend of his who dies, and there is some question of morphia. A week later he consults a medium, and that and says that there is a lady form, and she is saying something about morphia. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has given us absolutely convincing proof that that medium, by natural means, knew nothing about the death of that lady and morphia, then we will begin to dis-cuss the explanation of that phenomenon.
He is told of a haunted house. Years after-wards a "member of the family" informs him that the bones of a murdered man were found underneath it. Yes, so they said in America in the earliest days of the Spiritualist movement; but only the Fox family itself know anything about those bones found under their house.
Those are the only arguments I find in Sir Arthur's book. Does all that make Spiritualism reasonable ? Does that show that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has brought to the investigation of these claims that strictly rigorous judgment which the whole history of the movement should impose on you ? I submit not. I submit to this jury that, like every man who has gone into that dim supernatural world, he has lived in clouds, in a mist. Whatever other witnesses there may be, you will find, as I have proved by quotations from Sir William Crookes, Sir William Barrett, Sir Oliver Lodge, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, that distortion of judgment, that blearing of vision, which occurs whenever a man enters that wonderful world, that world of almost unparalleled trickery in the history of man.
I submit to you in conclusion: let us be satisfied with this great broad earth which we do know and can control. (Cheers.) Here is a world with mighty problems — a world with mighty resources. Here is a world which in its great task is fit to absorb the energy and devotion of every living man and woman on its surface. Let us leave that cloudy, misty, disputable, misleading world, and let us concentrate upon this earth upon which we live. (Cheers.)
Conan Doyle's Defense
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle followed with a speech of the same duration. He said:
Mr. McCabe has shown that he has no respect for our intellectual position, but I cannot reciprocate. I have a very deep respect for the honest, earnest Materialist, if only because for very many years I was one myself. But the same forces that brought me out of Orthodoxy into Materialism are the very forces which have brought me out of Materialism into Spiritualism. In each case I followed the evidence, and I tried to obey what my reason told one was true. I found that Materialism Was not, as I thought, a terminus, but that it was a junction at which one changed from the line of faith on to the line of experience.
Mr. McCabe waves our evidence away with contempt, taking naturally only that which is weakest. It is his right to do that. But when he tries to wave our evidence away with contempt he tries to do what it is impossible to do. (Cheers.) I have in this little book, partly compiled by myself, and of which I have a copy : or the disposal of Mr. McCabe or the Press, the names of 160 people of high distinction, many of them of great eminence, including over forty professors. He challenged me to name ten. I do not know why he limited me, but I have here the names of forty professors. (Cries of "Name.") Yes, Professor Crooks, Professor Barrett, Professor Lodge, Professor Mayo, Professor Challis, Professor Hyslop, Professor Henslow, Professor Hare, and many others. I could go on, and only give these from memory.
I beg you to remember that these 169 people whose names I submit to you are people who, to their own great loss, have announced themselves as Spiritualists. It never yet did a man any good to call himself a Spiritualist, I assure you, and we have had many martyrs among our people. These are folk who have taken real pains and care to get to the bottom of the subject. They have not been to one seance, like Mr. Clodd, or to two or three, like Mr. McCabe. Many have studied for twenty or thirty years, and been to a hundred seances. When it comes to people who have never had any practical experience, simply because they think and reason so, arguing against men who have taken the trouble and done the work, then I say they are out of court. (Cheers.)
I will now give you two or three cases from these authorities. Sir William Crookes has often been quoted, but I quote him again only to show that up to the last his view was unchanged. In 1917 he said: "It is quite true that a connection has been set up between this world and the next" (Intr. Psychic Gazette, May, 1917).
Dr. Crawford, who for many years has been working under laboratory conditions with scientific instruments, says: "I am as assured that man survives death as I am that I am writing these words at this moment" (Hints and Observations of the Phenomena of Spiritualism).
Dr. A. R. Wallace, the greatest Zoolgist next to Darwin, says: "I was a thorough and convinced Materialist, but facts are stubborn things, and the facts beat me" (Miracles and Modern Spiritualism).
Lombroso says: "The facts relating to the activity of phantoms are so well proved that we can begin ourselves to construct their biology and psychology" (After Death, p. 329).
Dr. M. Hodgson, the greatest detective who ever put his mind to this subject, says: "I have no hesitation in affirming with the most absolute assurance that the spirit hypothesis is justified by its fruits."
Those are a few of the opinions which I am able to read to you. I turn now to some of the special points which have been raised, especially to the question of fraudulent mediums. If you could divide all the mediums into jet-black — and heaven knows they do exist — and into snow-white, then indeed our task would be an easy one. What I call a jet-black medium is one of those hyenas, for there is no other name for them — whatever Mr. McCabe might say about them I would be even more bitter — these men who have gone about trading on this sacred thing, making it a business, and even making actual paraphernalia to deceive people. I think that to deceive the living by imitating the dead is the most horrible crime a man could commit. But our hands are clean. We have done all we can to suppress that horrible traffic. Within the last three years I can remember only one materialist medium who has been captured. He was captured entirely by Spiritualists, in a room in which there was nobody present but Spiritualists. They could have hushed the matter up, but instead they published his name in every paper at once. That scoundrel's name, Chambers, appeared in all the papers through the Spiritualists' own action. Is not that a proof that our hands are clean ?
I admit that there are jet-black mediums, but I also say that we have many snow-white. The trouble is that you never hear of mediums unless they get into trouble. (Hear, hear.) I could tell you of many men and women who have gone through their whole life in mediumship and never been in any way detected.
D. D. Home, whom Mr. McCabe has talked about, was thirty years before the public. He never took any money for anything he did. He showed his powers in all lights. Of course some material manifestations need darkness. The ectoplasm, which is the substance out of which these things are built, dissolves in light. It is like developing a photographic plate. But Home was always willing to show all his phenomena under the best possible light, and to submit to every possible test. I call him pure white. Mr. McCabe has given us a great deal of talk. The facts, when the words are condensed, are that two noblemen and an officer of the Guards saw him do a certain thing. All that Mr. McCabe can say is that they were mistaken. Who are we to believe — the two noblemen and the officer of the Guards or Mr. McCabe? I presume that they knew best what they saw. Mr. McCabe raises such a little point as whether the moon was full. If you saw a man floating in at a window, and there was a light behind him, you would not ask yourself whether it was a street lamp or the shining of the moon. You would be too much occupied in thinking of that man floating in. Afterwards you might well say that there was a light at the back which was the moon. What would impress a witness is that he saw a light and a man coming into the room, and all three appear clear enough on that point.
I believe in Home. His reputation is dear to me, and I think his life was honorable. On one occasion he was offered £2,000 for a single sitting. He was a poor man and an invalid, but he refused it, saying that he had never taken money and never would. The details are given in his wife's biography.
Mr. McCabe has tried to throw some mud at him in the Lyon case. I know the literature of my opponents as well as my own. I have read Mr. Clodd, who is one of our bitter opponents, and he says: "Home made the acquaintance of Mrs. Lyon, a wealthy widow lady. She voluntarily gave him the sum of $24,000 (she adopted him as her son), and in recognition of her generosity he double-barrelled his name as Home-Lyon. But soon afterwards she cooled or repented and brought an action for restitution of the money which she won, the Court at the same time acquitting Home of what looked like unworthy behavior."
That is a Rationalist account of the matter. I have read the case very carefully, and I believe that Home behaved in a perfectly natural and honorable manner.
Besides Home I can mention very many mediums in the past, such as Mr. Stain-ton Moses, Mrs. Piper, and Mrs. Everett, who are free from stain. There are ten or twelve living mediums whom I could absolutely guarantee as true and honorable people. These are the snow-whites as against the jeb-blacks. But we have to sorrowfully admit that there is a considerable belt of grey. There are a certain number of mediums of undoubted psychic power who, when that power temporarily deserts them — and it is of course inter-mittten — are immoral enough to fill up the gap with fraud.
I will illustrate this by instances. Take Slade, for example. He was a medium whom I should not trust an inch. He occasionally cheated, I fear, and I believe that his exposure by Sir Ray Lankester was a true one. But please mark what followed. He went straight from that scandal in London to Leipzig, where he was a stranger. There he was examined and tested by Professor Zollner, together with Professors Scheibner and Weber. On his second visit to the room of this gentleman a great screen of aspen wood five feet away was shattered from end to end by psychic force. Zollner said that the fracture was against the grain of the wood, and that two horses could not have done it. It is as if these invisible forces, by this tremendous exhibition of power were saying: "Well now, is that fraud ?" You will read in Zollner's Transcendental Physics all the wonderful services of results which followed. They had in Bellachini, the Court Conjurer, the first conjurer in Germany, and he gave a solemn deposition that the effects could not be normally produced.
Now I will take Eusapia, to whom Mr. McCabe has alluded. She was certainly in the grey class; but one cannot read her record without feeling that for the first fifteen years of her mediumship she was quite honest. She was examined often in full light, and gave phenomena, such as movement of objects at a distance, which were beyond dispute. Then abuse or over-use sapped her power, and she began to introduce fraud. Even then she was often perfectly honest. Sir Oliver Lodge has been blamed for not detecting her in the South of France, but the simple answer is that there was nothing to detect. In 1895 she came to Cambridge, and was caught feeing her hand. Who caught her ? Dr. Richard Hodgson, himself afterwards a great Spiritualist. (Cheers.)
If the matter had ended there, one might have thought that there had been a mistake from the beginning. But it did not end there. Three chosen investigators followed Eusapia to Italy. They were the Hon. Everard Fielding, an experienced researcher; Mr. Baggally, an English amateur conjurer; and Mr. Hereward Carrington, an American expert at exposures. None of these gentlemen were Spiritualists, but all came to the same conclusion, which was that, while Eusapia, whether consciously or not, loosened and used her hand when power failed, there remained a large proportion of her phenomena which were undoubtedly psychic. In a private letter to me recently Mr. Fielding says: "I am absolutely convinced of the occurrence of psychic phenomena, not the result of fraud, in the case of Eusapia"; and he ends an interview on the subject with the words: "I must thank Eusapia for haling taught me two things — that not all phenomena are frauds, and not all frauds are deliberate."
It is very sad for us to admit this belt of grey, but as honest people we must do so. I am prepared even to admit that, amid much conflicting testimony and complications, the record of the Fox sisters leaves a suspicion that their strong and undoubted powers may finally have been artificially aided. But what I wish to impress upon you is that where the individual shows human weakness or deceit the sin is on that individual; but where there is the true psychic manifestation that is not individual, but is part of the common heritage of knowledge of the human race — a solid point on which further inquiry can be based.
Mr. McCabe has dealt with my little books. He picks out one or two of what he thinks are the weaker points, and has given you to understand that those are the things on which I have founded my argument. If any of you have done me the honor of reading my books, you will have noted the true bearing of that little anecdote about the Lusitania. First of all, Mr. McCabe does not tell these stories at all correctly. I must implore him to read the books again, for again and again he told a story and missed the whole point of it. He says it was a perfectly normal thing that I in April should know that the Italians were going to retreat to the Piave, when they actually did it in October! That is certainly a very remarkable saying on his part.
You cannot live on negation alone, and therefore you must allow me to put a constructive case and some constructive facts before you, for I am here tonight not only to answer Mr. McCabe, but also to try to prove to you the truth of Spiritualism.
I will take a number of cases; but I will not go back, as Mr. McCabe did, to 1866. I will take my cases from within the last few months, or within the last year or two at the outside. I will begin with one particular case — a case which is typical of the sort of thing which is going on all round us. It is the case of Mr. Lethem, a Justice of the Peace, who has been till recently the editor of one of the great newspapers in Glasgow. He is a Yorkshireman, so I think that that combination should give confidence. (Laughter.) Mr. Lethem lost his son in the war. He saw a lady who is a clairvoyante. He did not know her previously, but she was introduced to him. She said to him: "Your boy is standing beside you." She described him, gave his name and a number of particulars. Mr. Lethem said: "If my boy is here, tell me where did we part last?" "At Victoria Station," she replied, and was quite right. "Where did we sleep last ?" asked Mr. Lethem. "At the Grosvenor Hotel," replied the medium. Mr. Lethem was interested, and went back home. Presently his wife developed automatic writing. Mr. Lethem found that without saying a word, and only by thinking, he could bridge the gap to his son's spirit through his wife"and get correct answers to his questions. He then tried telepathy with his wife. He attempted to throw thoughts into her mind, and it was a total failure. So apparently the explanation was not contained in telepathy.
That is a very simple case, similar to more than a hundred which I have had within my own knowledge. If I have had more than a hundred, how many thousands and tens of thousands there must be in the country. (Cheers.) Imagine the cumulative evidence of such cases. That is what our opponents will never admit — the enormous cumulative evidence of all these cases.
I said just now that I could give a hundred cases. I have here a packet which contains the actual details of seventy-two cases. They are letters written by people immediately after consulting a single medium. I have recommended parents to this medium on condition that they would at once give to me an account of what happened. Out of these seventy-two cases six were failures, six were half and half, and sixty were complete successes. (Cheers.) When I say complete successes, I do not mean in a vague sort of way, but that the names were given with positive details. I cannot read seventy-two letters, but I will give you one case which is rather better than the average, though it is not by any means the best in the bunch. One reason why I give it is that the gentleman concerned has moral courage and permits me to give his name. He is a Professor of Music, Dr. Hutchison, and lives at 114 Osborne Place, Aberdeen. What makes his case valuable is that he had no appointment. I know what suspicious minds our opponents have. They think there is a wonderful spider's web all over the country, detectives sitting up all night planning things. (Laughter.) This man had no appointment. He arrived as a stranger with his wife, and went right in. He says: "She gave us an extraordinarily accurate description of our eldest son in physical form and character. We were both overcome by it. The names were given of a grandfather and two uncles. I inquired if there was any one in the spirit world killed in the war. Two names were at once given, pupils at Aberdeen Grammar School and school-mates of my son." He then goes on to show that the name was given of another person in Aberdeen. He did not know about the facts that were given, but when he went back to Aberdeen he found that they were true. That knocks telepathy out of the question again.
I must now turn to my own experience, which is more direct. My experience, has been with Mr. Evan Powell, whom I believe is here tonight, an amateur medium and a man of high honor, as every one who knows him will admit. I can assure you that it is as painful to me as it must be to Sir Oliver Lodge to talk about those we love who are dead. But we think that these things are given to us not for out own profit and comfort, but for the general good of humanity. Mr. Powell never knew my son at all. He came into my own private sitting-room and sat in the corner of it. He was very good-humored, and let us do what we liked. I thought I would make a clean job of it, and got six lengths of stout twine and tied him six times in different places. Therefore he had to get out of six bonds if he wanted to get out at all. He sat there; and six of us, all personal friends, sat in a semi-circle, my wife being on my left. It was dark. You must grant him darkness (as you grant a photographer darkness) in this particular form of phenomena. You can have a red light, but unfortunately I had not the material for one. I grant you that if it is dark you must be much more critical of what comes about. Presently, after many physical phenomena which were very striking, a voice came quite close up to my face. Both my wife and I cried out that it was my boy. He began to talk, and talked in a voice and manner quite distinctive about a private matter. When he had talked he put his strong heavy hand — he was a big fellow — on my head, and pressed my head forward as solidly as possible. He assured me that he was happy, and I can assure you that he left me a good deal happier than he found me.
What is the evidence for this ? I at once wrote to every one concerned. I wrote to the gentleman on my right, who was Mr. Blake, the head of the Spiritualistic Association of Bournemouth. He wrote back: "I had ample opportunity to hear the conversation held by Lady Doyle and yourself with your arisen son, and I can endorse fully your report of it." That report was one which appeared in Two Worlds of December 19 last. At the end of this little semicircle was sitting Mr. Engholm, who is here tonight. While my son was talking to me an old journalistic friend of Mr. Engholm began talking to him in a most intimate manner. I could hear what was going on. Mr. Engholm wrote: "The seance was conducted under unusually strict test conditions. While Sir Arthur and his boy were carrying on conversation of a private and sacred nature, I was addressed by a very dear old friend, a well-known newspaper man, in terms which left no doubt in my mind as to who the unseen personality was." You see there were two different voices speaking at one time, each of which could be recognized by voice characteristics alone. (Cheers.) I then wrote to the remaining witnesses, Mr. and Mrs. MacFarlane of Southsea. Mr. MacFarlane replied: "Your plain, unvarnished account of that memorable evening very much appealed to me."
Now I would like to ask: Where is the flaw in this evidence ? What have I left undone ? I hope Mr. McCabe will answer that question, for I should like to know.
My next seance with Mr. Powell was in Wales. Four spirits came to me in succession, each of them making their identity perfectly clear. The fourth was my brother. When I asked for a name he gave "Innes." The name published in his obituaries was John Francis, and Innes was his third name, used only by intimates. Besides my wife and myself, I do not think there was a person in Wales who could have known this. I at once began talking family matters with him, exactly as if he were alive. His widow is in ill health in Copenhagen, and we discussed her condition. I asked him if he thought psychic or magnetic treatment could avail. He answered by the two words, "Sigurd Frier," or "Trier." I could not catch it, and he repeated it twice. Mr. Southey, an ex-J. P. of Merthyr, with his daughter, was on my left, and my wife was on my right. They all made note of the words. Next day I wrote to a young Danish friend in London, and asked him if they had any meaning. He replied that it was the name of a well-known psychic in Copenhagen. Now I will swear to you that I did not know that there was a Spiritualistic Society in the whole of Denmark. As to the Welsh people who formed the circle, they could not have known that the conversation was going to Copenhagen. Now, if that entity, who stood in front of me in the dark, who talked in my brother's manner, who discussed family matters intimately, and who knew more about the surroundings of his widow than I did, was not my brother, I ask you, who was it?
I should now like to take my argument on broader lines. I will tell you of the recent investigations into ectoplasm. In early days Spiritualists used to state that a materializing medium exuded a sort of viscous gelatinous material, which they claimed to have felt and handled, and which was used by spirits to build up temporary forms and show material signs of their presence. For this these Spiritualists were much derided, but recent scientific investigation shows that their assertion was absolutely true. (Cheers.) Here is Madame Bisson's book upon the subject. She had a medium named Eva, with materializing powers. Every pains was taken to eliminate fraud. The medium had her dress completely changed before entering and after leaving the room. The key of the room was kept in Madame Bisson's pocket. As the experiments proceeded six red lamps illuminated the room, and eight cameras were trained upon the medium which, by a magnesium flash, would record each stage of the phenomena. The experienments lasted nearly five years in the presence of many witnesses, and are here recorded. The book contains 201 photographs, showing this viscous ectoplasm pouring out of the medium, forming an amorphous cloud, and finally moulding itself into human faces and human figures, gradually suffused with life, until, as Madame Bisson records, one could even step forward into the room, speak to and embrace her. You can see the ectoplasm here pouring from the medium's nose, her eyes, her ears, and her skin. They are repellent photographs; but many of nature's processes are repellent.
Now, these sittings were not held with Madame Bisson alone. In a few she was alone, but in the great majority as large number of people came in; and there were, as I have said, 201 photographs. When she began her experiements this young German, Dr. Schrenk-Notzing from Munich, was with her. He went back to Munich, and found he could get another medium with the same power. She was a Polish lady in reduced circumstances. She produced precisely the same effect, and he brought out a book with 168 photographs, many of them Madame Bisson's, but the others his own, and you cannot tell which is which. There is the same result with this identical ectoplasm pouring out, and being use as a basis for physical manifestations.
Then Dr. Geley took it up. He worked for months, and had 100 scientific men in to check his results. He published photographs which showed exactly the same results again. Don't you think it is simply the insanity of incredulity to wave that aside ? Imagine discussing what happened in 1866, or discussing what a Boston paper said about our venerated leader, Sir Oliver Lodge, who is quite used to that kind of thing and probably does not mind it; imagine that when you have scientific facts of this sort remaining unanswered.
How does this compare with some other cases we know ? You know that Professor Crookes fifty years ago claimed that when he took Florrie Cooke, a medium, and put her in a room under test conditions, at the end of an hour another woman emerged out of the room. She was four and a half inches taller and a blonde, where as the other was a brunette. She was certainly another woman. He cut an auburn tress from her hair, anal kept it for many years, whereas Florie Cooke was black-haired. This was such a miracle that they could not see any lead up to it. But now we can see what were the intervening stages. Florrie Cooke la d there in a trance. The ectoplasm poured from her and formed a mould, and you had a figure which draped itself just as these figures did which these scientific people speak of on the continent, and finally walked forth like Madame Bisson's phantom, with the power of speech in her. I had a letter from Professor Crookes' daughter some months ago, saying how Katie King, the spirit, used to talk to the children and play with them in this ante-room to the laboratory until that day when she announced that her mission was over. It had lasted nearly three years, during which the medium had never taken one penny of money, her only desire being to vindicate her reputation, which had been attacked.
Now I will draw your attention to what Dr. Crawford has done at Belfast. For years he has been experimenting — I forget whether it is four or five. He has written two books on the subject. He had the same amateur medium sitting all the time. The medium was known to lose thirty pounds at a single sitting, and after the sitting she was like a crumpled heap upon the chair. Only last week he announced the discovery that if he placed moist carmine on the blouse these rods of ectoplasm carry with them the stain, and you can see the line of scarlet showing exactly where it has gone. Dr. Crawford, the man who did the experiments, is perfectly convinced that it is an outside intelligence which is at work. I will now merely ask you whether Mr. McCabe is in a better position to give an opinion as to what this force is than a man who has devoted five years of his life in a laboratory under test conditions to working at it ? (Cheers.)
I hope I have made you realize that Spiritualism is not quite such a slight and humorous thing as Mr. McCabe has attempted to make it out to be.
Joseph McCabe's Reply
The Chairman then called upon Mr. McCabe to speak for fifteen minutes. He said:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has complained that I have detained you in the year 1866, while he wished me to discuss modern times. Surely I have the whole evening been telling you and discussing only the things that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published in the works he wrote in the years 1918 and 1919. (Cheers.) I want you to understand that the only opportunity a man has in opening such a debate is to take the published word of his opponent and examine it. He said that I selected the weaker points. Which are the stronger points he has given you out of those two books tonight? Not one single other point has he mentioned beyond those which I conscientiously chose as apparently the strongest points in h's book; and, as I said, I speak under correction of my opponent.
I asked Sir Arthur to justify those fifty Professors by giving me the names of ten. He tells you he has handed me a book of a hundred names of distinguished people. There is not one single reference to works of their own in the whole book, and any scholar would toss it on one side disdainfully and take no further notice of it. I should like to know where in any branch — literary, scientific, historical — where you would find any man quoting an authority and not giving one single reference to his works.
And what do I find ? I asked for the names of ten professors of distinction in the last thirty years. "Why thirty years ?" says Sir Arthur. Because in his book he said that during the last thirty years University professors have examined and have been converted to Spiritualism. Now I find that in this long list of I don't know how many distinguished men there are, so far as I can hurriedly count, just ten professors mentioned in the entire book. Ten University professors, and of those two are not University professors. (Laughter.)
Schiaparelli was never either a University professor or a Spiritualist. His words are even in a long letter in Flammerion's book, and he says: "I remain, after all my investigations, an Agnostic." Now do you — do some of you — see the importance of giving correct references to the works of the men you quote? (Cheers.)
Professor Richet figures very prominently in this book. He was never a Spiritualist. Professor Ochorowicz is not, and never was, a Spiritualist. In a word, three out of the supposed ten University professors are not, and never were, Spiritualists. When the correct references to their works are made in some work or other then I will begin to discuss the opinions of them, (Cheers.)
But what about Lombroso? I do not want to be meticulous, but ought a man to he called a Spiritualist who says disdainfully that he does not admit the existence of spiritual substance? The great Lombroso, the man who made his mark on the penal legislation of the world, was a Materialist and a humanitarian. If Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will read his life written by his daughter, Gina Ferrero, he will find that during his last three years when Lombroso expressed the strange idea that there is a fluid — a material fluid — in man which survives his body — during those three years Lombroso was an utter physical wreck. He could not eat. He could never work for more than half an hour a day during those three years. I acknowledge Lombroso within this limit, and pass him on to the Spiritualist movement.
What about Sir William Crookes ? You have heard of the wonderful things Sir William Crookes experienced. For two hours the ghost of Katie King walked arm-in-arm in London with Sir William Crookes. He felt her pulse. He cut her hair. He has been very chary of giving this experience to the world in modern times, remember. But do you not think it a singular thing that, after all his experiences, Sir William Crookes said: "I have found no proof whatever that man survives the grace"? Here is what Sir William said, and I am reading it as it was published in the Spiritualist Journal, Light, in the year 1900. It is what he said at the time his experiments were closed, and he was of this opinion until the year 1914: "During the whole time I have most earnestly desired to get the one proof you seek — to prove that the dead can return and communicate. I have never once had satisfactory proof that this is the case, and the great problem of the future is to me as impenetrable a mystery as ever." After walking arm-in-arm with a ghost for two hours! (Loud laughter.)
Therefore I am not intimidated, and am not contented by the answer to my challenge. Give me ten University professors of distinction — not just names which I am sure most of you do not recognize, not the names of some who are not Spiritualists, and two of whom are not professors.
But what does Sir Arthur reply to the structures of mine on the evidence which he gives in his book, and which I naturally assume to be the strongest evidence at his disposal ? What does he say about Home ? He says that "Mr. McCabe says they were mistaken when they saw the floating of Home from one window to another." You know perfectly well that is not what I said for a single moment. I never said they said they saw Home wafted from one window to another. I said that not one of the witnesses said that he saw it.
As to the Lyon case, I have read the summing-up of the judge, and in the most contemptuous tones he speaks of the trickery of the mediums and of the protection of the public in the law of England. Sir Arthur said the evidence for this levitation is more direct than the evidence for those far-off events you all believe. He has not said one word about the evidence tonight, and I ask him now to justify those words which he put before the British public, that the evidence for that levitation was more direct than the evidence for those historical events we all believe. (Cheers.)
Sir Arthur asks in connection with my second point — about the Piave — how could he be supposed to know anything about the retreat? Once more this is a complete perversion of what I said. What I said was that every military expert in Europe, at the time when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had this vision or this message, expected an Austrian advance in the direction of the Piave Valley, and therefore there is nothing singular in the slightest degree that a man who has probably read the article in the Times the day before awakes in the morning with the idea of the Piave Valley. (Cheers.)
Take the case of Mr. Lethem. Sir Arthur has an exceedingly confused idea of what happened in that case which is put before you. Mr. Lethem went to two mediums, separated by an interval of time, and Sir Arthur has fused them down into one medium; and that makes all the difference in the world. He lost his son, as so many unfortunately have done. He goes to a medium in a town where he is well known — where he is a justice of the peace and an editor. The medium tells him the name of his dead son; and that is all the medium tells on that occasion. It was days afterwards when he went to another medium; and, as I have suggested, when a man who is at all well known begins inquiring in the spirit world, is it not possible that mediums tell each other that so-and-so is seeking information ? (Cheers.) On the second occasion, after an interval of a week's time, and only on the second occasion, did he get an answer to his test question: "At what station did I see him off, and at what hotel did we stay ?" Every particle of super-naturalism disappears the moment you hear the facts stated correctly.
I decline to analyze ceses the evidence of which has not been put before me in such a form that I can reasonably and leisurely examine that evidence. (Cheers.) Sir Arthur suggests that at least there is force in the accumulation of evidence. You may pile urn ciphers as high as Vesuvius, and there is no weight in the accumulation.
He speaks of the work of Madame Bisson. In my few remaining minutes I will give you two words about what I think to be this most extraordinary evidence against Spiritualism. Many of you remember the seances of the Villa Carmen in Algiers in 1908. You remember how that medium, Marthe, was discredited. It is the same medium, Marthe Beraud, in this case. In one of those very photographs in Sir Arthur's book the ghost is a true picture of President Wilson, cut out of a French illustrated paper, and stuck with paste on the medium's breast. (Laughter.) Another ghost is a similarly crude picture of President Poincare. This medium had so great a contempt for her scientific investigators that she cut out the illustrations and stuck them on her breast. Now, even in Germany and Austria, Baron von Schrenk-Notzing is the laughing stock of his medical colleagues.
So with Crawford, whose medium was Kathleen Goligher. After twelve months' experience he thought he could control the hands and feet of seven mediums around a table in the dim red light. Kathleen got so contemptuous, as you will find in the book, that she stuck her big toe in a saucer filled with putty, and she has actually persuaded Crawford that the spirits made this toe out of the cells of the body, and impressed it on the putty, to prove their power. I have analyzed every experiment in the book on this theory, and I recommend it to you. The cantilever which worked the experiments in Crawford's book was the leg of that young Irish medium.
Conan Doyle in Rebuttal
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle then delivered a speech of fifteen minutes in answer to Mr. McCabe's second speech. He said:
I think Miss Goligher was possessed of a most remarkable limb. We are told that it did all these marvellous things, in which very often the table went to the ceiling, though sometimes the whole company could not raise the table at all. In addition to that her limb has the extraordinary property of making her weight vary twenty or thirty pounds at a time upon a dial. I think we must have some sort of inquiry into the extraordinary forces which lay in that limb. (Laughter.)
It is a remarkable fact that our opponents never can argue this thing without attributing ill health to anybody who has been unfortunate enough to disagree with them, or else imagining that all these experts, who showed the greatest acumen on any other subject, became drivelling lunatics the moment they became engaged with this one. (Laughter.) Here is this young scientific man ambitious and with his reputation to make. He has done four years' work and produced his results. And yet here is Mr. McCabe, who knows nothing about it, who has never been there, who has built up in his own head how it is done, and who now tells Dr. Crawford, a trained scientist, exactly what the facts are. Unfortunately, he has told it in such a way that he has never really accounted for the facts.
Mr. McCabe seems to have thought that this debate was upon my book. I cannot take up such a position in Spiritualism as to imagine that my experiences in that book cover the ground. Here and there, it is true, I had to hark back to some of the early things in the movement. But, as a rule, it is a story of how it was that I, who as a young medical man was a Rationalist, gradually had cumulative evidence forced upon me which became so strong that my own self-respect could not stand against it. That was why the book was written, but to take it as a text-book of spiritualism is to do it very much too great an honor.
Mr. McCabe said that Lombroso was never a Spiritualist. Lombroso cays: "I have myself witnessed the complete materialization of my mother." That occurs in his book "After Death," page 347. That is good enough for me as a Spiritualist. (Cheers.) It may not be what Mr. McCabe understands by Spiritualism, but I think most of us who are Spiritualists would admit that Professor Lombroso was in our ranks.
Mr. McCabe complains that I have not given chapter and verse. Professor William Barrett says: "I do not hesitate to affirm that a careful review of my experiments extending over forty years compels my belief in Spiritualism as so defined." That is from page 10 of "Threshold of the Unseen." I gave Mr. McCabe chapter and verse for the authorities I quoted; but he must not imagine that I could here go through thirty or forty. I thought that would have been sufficient. In this little book the opinions of these men are given. If chapter and verse are not quoted, I am sorry it is not so, but you may be sure that those words were uttered or written by the men.
Mr. McCabe comes back again and again, and cannot get away from that new moon and Mr. Home in 1866. I have said there were three people there who were all agreed. Surely that is good enough. You can pick a little hole here and there, but if those three — Lord Adare, Lord Lindsay, and Captain Wynne — are not good enough, Professor Crookes caw Home levitated twice, and has left it on record. There are altogether on record some fifty or sixty cases of levitation on the part of Home. He used to fear that people might think they were hypnotized, and so as he floated round the room he wrote his name above the pictures. That was told by Carter Hall, the editor of the Art Journal, a most excellent witness. He and his wife deposed to seeing that. Home's levitation has been put on record again and again. It s no good saying it depends only upon these three men, though for me that is enough.
When I was talking about it being better evidence than exists for many historical incidents we were prepared to accept, I was speaking of evidence in religion, and I was thinking of incidents in Palestine and elsewhere in the early history of the Church which most of us are prepared to accept, but which are not given on such direct evidence as that of two noblemen and one officer of the Guards who saw the incident with their own eyes.
Mr. McCabe says that Richet is not a Spiritualist. Richet checked all the early experiments at Algiers of Eva. He pronounced himself absolutely satisfied with them, and afterwards sat for a long time with Eusapia Paladino. Again he entirely accepted the thing. I cannot say that he believes absolutely in everything that I do. I said when I quoted these men that they were in accord in different degrees. Some of them go the whole length, and accept Spiritualism as a religion. Others accept the material phenomena, and say that these things are true, though it cannot be said what they lead to. But Richet is thoroughly identified with the cause, and has again and again given his assent to the phenomena" upon which we build our case.
Before I sit down I must give one other bit of positive evidence which will strike you. It was a case of crystal gazing which came in my way, where all could see the vision. I met the lady in the Savoy Hotel only last week. I thought I would like someone else to look in the crystal. First of all I thought of Mr. McCabe. (Laughter.) And then I considered that perhaps it would be hardly cricket to convert him by force at the last moment. (Laughter.) So I asked the editor of the Morning Post to be good enough to come over. He came and saw what no one could help seeing — these visions succeeding each other in the crystal. I asked him to put it down in black and white. What he said was that he could not put any religious interpretation upon it, but that he would consider himself a coward if he refused to let himself be quoted. He said that he could vouch for it, but what its meaning was he could not explain.
There is a phenomenon seen in broad day-light in a hotel in London. It was no sort of trickery, because in his letter he said that trickery was out of the question. What it meant he did not know; but he saw two or three visions succeed each other in the crystal. I give that as indication that these wonders we see are not invariably seen in the dark or under conditions in which you are unable to check them.
I will now make room for Mr. McCabe's final attack.
Joseph McCabe's Final Attack
Mr. McCabe then delivered his last speech of fifteen minutes. He said:
I do not think my distinguished opponent has yet quite clearly seen what I am driving at in this debate. I was perfectly aware that Sir Arthur was going to give us a rich and interesting collection of anecdotes tonight. But I fear that many of those have never yet been in print, and it is exceedingly difficult to analyze an anecdote of which you have not had the opportunity of analyzing the evidence beforehand. There are many people who like doing that sort of thing, but I do not. I like analyzing a fact when I know that the authority is conclusive and demonstrative, and that it is a real fact that I am dealing with. Therefore I analyze the written words of Sir Arthur, because in them I had the opportunity of checking coldly and dispassionately the words that he had written.
I fear he has continually misconceived 'my objection in so doing. He returns to that string of authorities that I asked of him. "Why did I ask him ?" I asked him because he has told the British public that there are fifty men in the greatest seats of learning in the world who have examined and adopted Spiritualism. I have the right to ask for ten of them. I have not yet got the names of those ten men. When Sir Arthur says that he regrets that the reference is not "always" given in this little book, you will be surprised to know that the reference is given in no single case in the entire book. That is what I complain of. That is what makes it so extremely difficult to discuss the problem of Spiritualism in this way. I do not ask for thirty or forty names, as Sir Arthur now says, or for a single reference to the words of the ten I asked for.
I was surprised that he used that general expression, that we Rationalists always call a man a fool, or mad, or something of that kind, when he differs from us. Surely I only spoke in one single case tonight of a man whose judgment, I suggested, was incapacitated by old age. Sir Arthur is a medical man. He knows that some old men have a hardening of the arteries which slows down the pulse of life and lowers their mental vitality. Read Lombroso's daughter's biography of her father, and she says that he was such a total wreck in those last three years, when he produced a modified form of Spiritualism, that the whole family begged him not to deface his whole career by writing that book. That is all I have suggested. Never will I say that simply because a man differs from me his intellect has fallen from some high estate or another.
I represent Rationalism. That is to say, I want the whole world to use its reason, every man and woman in the world. I will respect any man or any woman, no matter what their conclusions may be, if they have used their own personality, their own mind, and their own judgment, rigorously and conscientiously. I do not care what conclusions they come to. So it is in regard to Home, to whom I must again return. You know what my precise point is, but I repeat it finally. Sir Arthur told the public that the evidence in that case is more direct than for those far-off events, not "which many of us" accept as true, but which all of us accept as true. I ask you to examine the evidence. I do not believe Sir Arthur has examined it. I am confident that no man who has examined the evidence could possibly teach such a proposition as that. That is why I return, and return again, to Daniel Dunglas Home.
As to Richet, Sir Arthur has not succeeded in quoting any Spiritualist utterance of his. There are a number of Professors in Europe today who accept the abnormal phenomena of mediumism, but who decline contemptuously to put a Spiritualist interpretation on them. Morselli, the Italian Professor, who is the greatest authority on Eusapia Palladino, accepts 65 per cent of those abnormal phenomena as genuine, but he says that the Spiritualist theory is absurd and immoral, and is spoiling one of the most promising fields of the new science.
Dr. Crawford had said that the medium when put on the scale showed a loss of weight of twenty pounds during the performance. I suggest that she lifted the table with her foot. That table weighed twenty pounds, and that will explain why the scale went up twenty pounds.
Sir Arthur says that Mr. McCabe was never there and knows nothing about it, and that the table went up to the ceiling. I challenge him to show me any single page of Crawford's book in which it is recorded that the table, or even the light stool which she usually lifted, was raised more than four feet from the ground, which is just within the physical possibilities of the mediums present.
Crawford himself says especially, in concluding his work, that the highest height to which any table rose was four feet. There is no question whatever of rising to the ceiling, and that incident in the book is consistent with my theory that the medium, possibly assisted by the other six members of the family, probably explains the phenomenon in the book.
The book of Madame Bisson was written by Baron von Schrenk-Notzing, and not by Madame Bisson, who merely translated the work into French. It was suggested that the medium was one of those abnormal human beings who are known in medicine as "ruminants," of which there are more than a hundred cases in modern times, where a man or a woman can swallow articles of a large size and bring them up from their stomachs. You might examine every inch of her body, even by X-rays, without discovering what she had swallowed. In every single photograph in the book there is no more apparatus than could be concealed in that particular way.
The photographs of the book show that the fraud of that shameless medium is as crude as that of any medium who ever appeared in the Spiritualist movement. So cynical was she that on one occasion she allowed the very title of the newspaper to be taken in the photograph. The newspaper was Le Miroir, and she declared that the spirits had materialized that title to show that she was the mirror of their intelligence. Yet we are told that that is the last word of science!
I decline to accept a new religion on those terms. I decline to accept any revelation which rests in any large degree upon mediums like Marthe Beraud, and Home, and others. I prefer to study the world, and to study the world in that natural light that shines above our heads day by day. (Cheers.) I prefer to cling to this life, to this human nature that we do know so well. I stand here respecting to the uttermost the sincerity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but I stand here with the same sincerity to say that this movement is one vast, mischievous distraction of human energies from the human task that lies before us today. (Prolonged cheers.) I say that with'n the four corners of this world in which you live you will find inspiration for all the human conduct you can conceive.
Conan Doyle Closes the Debate
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in concluding the debate with another fifteen minutes' speech, said:
I have long esteemed my opponent as a man of great learning. I have read many of his books with advantage to myself, and I know that he is a man of moral courage and that he says what he means. Having said so much, I may add that in the range of his knowledge, his very exact knowledge, psychic matters do not appear to me to come. He has got up a case. He has got it up cleverly and superficially. But he has not read those books. (Cries of "Oh" and "Shame.") Not at all! I intend to prove what I say. I have said nothing discourteous of my opponent. It is very natural that a man should get up a case when he has a debate of this sort. Psychic research is not my opponent's business. For some years I have devoted my life to it. Professor Geley, the young French scientific man, brought in a hundred scientific men of different sorts to check these experiments he has been doing with the medium Eva. He winds up his account by the words: "There has been no fraud, and I will even say there has not been the possibility of fraud." (Cheers.) We have been given by Mr. McCabe the explanation that she swallowed this extraordinary stuff which afterwards she regurgitated. My opponent, if he has really read the book, has certainly not read it with care, for there are photographs here showing that the medium had a fine-meshed net put round her head. This net was fastened or pinned on to the dress which she always had on when she came into the seance room, but that made not the slightest difference to the experiments, and in these particular photographs you will see the ectoplasm pouring out just as if the net had not been there. Thus Mr. McCabe's regurgitation theory is disproved in the book itself, and if he had read it he could hardly fail to have seen that photograph. Surely the most prejudiced of you must admit that you must withdraw that explanation of regurgitation, because it will not do. I may have sometimes been inaccurate. I am not infallible. I quite admit my error if I am wrong, but my opponent has also slipped up pretty badly now and then.
Take the case of the Crawford experience. He must have read that rather hurriedly. The weight of the table was in reality ten pounds. The variation on the dial was twenty, and sometimes went up as high as fifty pounds. So, if you are really going to attempt to explain one by the other, there is a considerable gap which you have got to get over somehow. I put it to you, as reasonable human beings, putting prejudice aside: "Do you think that a young, ambitious scientific man is going for four years to make experiments of raising tables and so on, and all the time the medium is holding her leg up four feet in the air and so causing all the phenomena ? The first thing to remember is that every one had to sit clear of the table. You will read a full account of that and see a photograph of a table in the air, also photographs in Lombroso's book of tables in mid-air with every one quite clear. Are those a fake ? Why should they fake them ? There is no sense in such an idea.
Take the case of the words. "The Miroir" being arranged above the head of the medium. My opponent is wrong in saying that the explanation was that she was the mirror. The explanation was that these entities wished to say that the figures were not them, but the reflections of them. That is what, according to her explanation, they were trying to say. Supposing that it was a fraud, imagine the absurdity of it. Here is a woman taking enormous pains to conceal a smuggled picture or paper in the room. In coming out she again takes the same enormous pains to conceal it. Yet you are asked to believe that when she is in the room she sticks it on her head and gets photographed with it. Can you make any kind of reason out of that at all ? Madame Bisson, who did write this book which has her name on it, says that, although the word "Miroir" is there, it is not in the same print as the paper in Paris called by that name. That I do not know, but to any one who has had any familiarity with the occult powers by which things can be brought into rooms I do not think it would seem beyond the bounds of possibility that a "miroir" might be brought in to convey a message quite apart from anything the medium might have done. But I put it to you how incomprehensible would have been her action if she herself smuggled the paper in.
As to the picture of President Wilson, when I tell you that it has a large heavy moustache you will not think it is a very close resemblance. I have the picture here, and only wish I could throw it on a screen.
Mr. McCabe spoke as if Professor Crookes had weakened in some way. As a matter of fact, he found that the psychic study was so extraordinarily engorssing that he put it out of his life in order to do the physical work Which he had to do. I think that was largely the reason why he did not write more books upon the subject. But again and again he expressed himself most strongly. Almost his last words, uttered in May, 1919 — the last words of his I saw in print — were: "I had communication with my wife direct." What is the good of harking back twenty years, and trying to prove a man was not a Spiritualist when those were almost his last words ?
We come again to the famous Professors. I can only repeat once more that these names are here on this list. I have got forty names of Professors. Mr. McCabe may raise the point that some do not go as far as others; that some only admit phenomena. I am quite prepared to admit that. I said originally that there were different degrees of acceptance.
Mr. McCabe complained that I have not given the exact references. Here, for example, is what is said by Professor Mayo, Professor of Anatomy at King's College, London: "Twenty-five years ago I was a hard-headed unbeliever. Spiritual phenomena suddenly developed in my own family. That led me to inquire, and to try numerous experiments in such a way as removed the possibility of trickery or self-deception. That phenomena occur there is overwhelming evidence, and it is too late now to deny their existence." That is quoted as an extract from his published works.
Professor Challis, Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge University, says: "Testimony has been so abundant that the facts must be admitted to be such as reported, or the possibility of certifying facts by human testimony must be given up."
I could occupy a considerable part of the evening in reading such quotations. I repeat that there are thirty or forty Professors named in this little summary, and that all that I have said about them is justified.
I wish to recognize the courtesy with which my opponent has carried out the debate. We shook hands before we began, and said that there was no ill feeling; and I have no doubt that we are ready to shake hands again. But I am sure he would not have talked lightly of this matter if he had known, as I know, the consolation it has brought to thousands and thousands of people. (Prolonged cheers.) If I am here to-night, it is simply because I deeply feel the absolute importance of trying, as far as one man may, to remove all those barriers which stand between suffering humanity and this great knowledge which is pouring out week by week, and month by month, but which is still held back by honest, well-meaning men who cannot adapt their minds to a philosophy which, if they admit it, is a negation of all that they have been preaching during their whole lives. (Cheers.)
Vote of Thanks to the Chairman
Mr. McCabe, in proposing a vote of thanks to the Chairman, said :—
Allow me, in conclusion, to take the opportunity of saying that I am sure we are all extremely indebted to Sir Edward Marshall-Hall for presiding at this meeting to-night. I hope that my courteous opponent will second me in asking you to give expression to that sentiment.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in seconding, said :-
It is perfectly delightful to me to find that there is one subject upon which I can agree with Mr. McCabe. I beg to second that resolution.
The vote was cordially approved by the audience, and Sir Edward Marshall-Hall replied. He said :-
I suppose I must say just two or three words of thanks for the kind vote of thanks which you have accepted from the two speakers to-night. It was obvious to any man as accustomed as I am to public meetings that there was a very equal distribution of the supporters of the two speakers here. Never have I had an opportunity of presiding over a public meeting which has been carried out in the spirit of order that this has been done. Your Chairman has had nothing to do. He has had simply to look at the watch and call time. (Laughter.) The very speakers knew the time before it arrived. As your Chairman, I am bound to hold the scales impartially between the disputants. There is no discussion, there are no questions, and above all there is no decision. Holding these scales absolutely impartially, may I not say that between the Rationalists on the one side, who deny the future existence, and the Spiritualists on the other, who are anxious to bring back to this world the denizens of the other, there may be a body of opinion who will lean entirely to neither side; who, knowing nothing, yet hopes everything; who, in the words of that glorious hymn :—
Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those Angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.
The meeting closed amid cheers.