D. D. Home — His Life and Mission
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
D. D. Home — His Life and Mission is a book written by Mme. Dunglas Home published in june 1921 by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. including an introduction written by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Introduction by Arthur Conan Doyle
I have felt it to be an honour to be allowed to edit this new Edition of the Life of D. D. Home. The book is so vital that it went much against the grain to excise any part of it, but our first task is to make it easy for the public to get the information which they need, and in its original form the book was a little difficult on account of occasional redundancy and repetition. This I have endeavoured to correct, but I foresee the time when the full text will be restored and I censured for having tampered with what is a very valuable record. Meanwhile this shorter version gives the reader all that is essential.
Home has himself left three books to the world, the first and second series of Incidents of my Life and Lights and Shadows of Spiritualism. The latter contains the most earnest protest against the abuse either of mediumship or of Spiritualism which the most conservative critic could utter. Personally I am of opinion that Home took a somewhat narrow view of mediumship, failing to realise its protean aspects, so that when he found any which differed from his own he was inclined to put it down to bad observation or to fraud. At the same time he sets us an example of that alert and critical intelligence which every spiritualist should cultivate. In Incidents of my Life will be found a most interesting autobiography including his controversy with Sir David Brewster from which the man of Science emerged so badly. Very especially the second series is commended to the student of Home, because in it will be found all the actual papers dealing with the Home-Lyon lawsuit, showing conclusively how honourable was the action of Home, in spite of the severe remarks by Lord Gifford, which were the result of his own ignorance and prejudice. To quote them against Home's character is like quoting the remarks of a Roman judge upon an early Christian. A spectator has told me that Gifford asked Home's counsel : "Do I understand that your client claims to have been levitated ?" Upon the counsel assenting, Lord Gifford made a wild gesture of his arms, very much as the High Priest rent his garment of old. The reader who consults the evidence for levitation given in this volume will certainly have no doubt as to Home's power or as to Gifford's bumptious ignorance.
Home is a man to whom the human race, and especially the British public, owes a deep apology. He was most shamefully used by them. He came as one of the first and most powerful missionaries who have set forth upon the greatest of human tasks, to prove immortality, to do away with the awful mystery of death, to found religion upon positive knowledge, and to break down the dense materialism which was as great within the Christian Churches as outside them. All this he felt that he could do by those same personal demonstrations of spiritual power which were used for the same ends in the early age of the Church, before form and ritual smothered the living reality. He devoted his life to this end in spite of failing health and comparative poverty. Never did he receive any reward for his splendid, self-sacrificing work — save indeed those personal souvenirs from Royalties which were given not in payment but in friendship. He left a trail of religious conviction and of human consolation behind him wherever he went. He was admirable in every relation of life, a good husband, a devoted father, a beloved friend, a charitable helper, a worker upon the battle-fields, a lover of art and of all that is beautiful. And yet when he died worn out at the age of 51 there was hardly a paper in Great Britain which did not speak of him as if he had been a Cagliostro, who had spent a life of intrigue and deception. Those who read this life will surely echo my words that we owe him a deep apology, and recognise that in this Spiritual tide which flows so strongly to-day we find much which undoubtedly found its spring in his unselfish labours. His influence was admirably summed up by Mrs. Webster, a well-known resident of Florence, when she wrote : "He is the most marvellous missionary of modern times, and the good that he has done cannot be reckoned. Where Mr. Home passes he bestows around him the greatest of all blessings, the certainty of a future life."
One or two of Home's aphorisms may be quoted to show the mind of this man who is even now hounded down by ignorant traducers, especially Materialists who cannot forgive the shattering blow which he inflicted upon their whole philosophy — a death-blow, as it will prove. "Follow Christ's teaching and carry out His mission." "Religion is to worship something outside and beyond yourself." "Try all communications by the help of your conscience and your reason." The sanity as well as the essential piety of the man shines through such sayings. Surely it is the outworn case of a beautiful soul which lies under the slab in Paris on which is carved the words : "To another, discerning of spirits." — Cor. xii. 10.
A. C. D.
NOTE. — In reading this edition of "D. D. Home — His Life and Mission it is necessary to remember that the book was originally written nearly forty years ago. It is thus necessary to make allowance for dates and occurrences referred to as of comparatively recent occurrence — the original language being retained.