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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

English and American Spiritualism

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

English and American Spiritualism is an article published in The New-York Times on 7 november 1919.

English and American Spiritualism

The New-York Times (7 november 1919, p. 12)

It is more than a little humiliating that in this land of public and other schools there should be people, even over in darkest New Jersey, who could be incited to buy a farm and spend the better part of a Summer digging holes in it by having heard of a vision or dream wherein the spirit of a young colored girl had informed the original owner of the land that in it Captain Kidd's treasure to the value of $2,000,000 was still reposing. As testimony to that effect was given in a Paterson court this week, the existence of American citizens as credulous as that must be admitted. There is some consolation, however, for the disgrace of permitting such pathetic ignorance to persist in the fact that such folk are here the rare and astonishing exceptions, while over in England spiritism of a sort no higher than this is receiving grave attention in social circles far higher. While far from getting universal acceptance there as beneficent, it has such condemnation as it receives, not as absurd, but as wicked.

Sir A. Conan Doyle, for instance, a man whom everybody in the past would have credited with intelligence, announces his intention to devote the rest of his life to promulgation of the possibility and fact of communication with the dead, and in his public lectures he relates as proof of his contention "messages" quite on a level, so far as plausibility or sense goes, with the yarn that convinced the Jersey treasure hunters.

And while Sir Arthur is bitterly denounced by some of the British ecclesiastical authorities, it is for indulging in and encouraging a forbidden trafficking with the dead, and others equally high in the Anglican Church stand firmly beside hint in upholding a brand of spiritism which sane Americans ceased to find even interesting soon after the exposure as frauds of its inventors, the unlamented Fox sisters. Nobody in England laughs at him, and though some grieve, it is not the sort of grief that would be felt here at the fall of an eminent writer into a sorry delusion, but a grief due to the fear that his visitants come from below instead of from above.