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

Father Vaughan and Spiritualism

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Father Vaughan and Spiritualism is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in The Pal Mall Gazette on 11 june 1917.


Father Vaughan and Spiritualism

Sir, — Father Vaughan should learn by the history of his own order, which has often been unjustly attacked, to be more moderate in his censures upon others.

His article in your columns upon Spiritism displays all the intolerance and the persecuting spirit of the Inquisition. "So it is that I declare we must sweep the country clear of these charlatans." In using these. words he is evidently not referring to fraudulent mediums, especially as the sentence continues with a thinly veiled allusion to Sir Oliver Lodge. If Father Vaughan confined himself to fraudulent mediums he would have both the existing laws of England and all decent spiritualists upon his side, for they have always been the curse of the movement.

The whole context shows, however, that what he desires to forcibly attack is everyone who believes what few who have really studied the evidence have failed to believe — first, that the dead survive even as we knew them; secondly, that reverent communication with them is not absolutely impossible; and, thirdly, that many people have been confirmed in or converted to the belief in a future life by such experience, and have thus attained great spiritual good from it. Indeed, it may be said that the only valid answer to materialism lies in the phenomena of spiritualism.

I can assure Father Vaughan that the people who believe this are as good and earnest as he is himself, and very much more open minded and charitable. When he talks of persecuting them for their beliefs and spring cleaning them out of England he is using language which was sinister in the fifteenth century, but is out of place in the twentieth.

Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex.