The Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Sir Arthur Gallops 15,000 Miles in this Continent

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia


His American Husbandry of the Seeds of Spiritualistic Belief

OUR SECOND AMERICAN ADVENTURE. By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Illustrated. 250 pp. Boston; Little, Brown & Co. $3.

Tolstoy, to the last, was ashamed of "Anna Karenina," to which he referred as a stupid love tale — yet it remained the most popular, and one of the most artistic, of his works. When he entered the preaching period, as exemplified by "The Resurrection" and "The Kreutser Sonata," he was shocked at the interest aroused in what to him was a by-product. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be shocked at the popular appeal of "Our Second American Adventure," which is more rounded, picturesque, vivid, in some places more humorous, and everywhere just as sincere as his corresponding diary of a year ago called "Our American Adventure". But the main theme of spirit existence is inconclusive.

This amazing literary evangelist. accompanied by Lady Doyle, Denis, Malcolm and Billy (the latter a girl), dashed 15,000 'Mies across the Amer-ican continent and back by way of Vancouver Island, British (7olum-bia. Canada and the Adirondacks; played golf with •utchart, profes-atonal at the Biltmore Country Club: lectured on the hereafter: hobnobbed with Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford in the Pickford-Fairbanks studios; attended seances: studied the Goldwyn Cinema plant; waiched our marathon dancers in the last throes; smashed a bsttle of whisky in his trunk and was afraid of being taken for a bootlegger; entered com-bat with the pressmen of San Fran-cisco: studied ectoplasmic mediums and the Canadian coal fields; treked along the Colorado: traveled on horseback through part of the Rock-ies; Kodak-hunted and converted guar'ev in wonderful Jasper Park: camped and fished at Loon Lake. Adirondacks, and showed spirit pic-tures in a prizefight barn. It is thoroughly Arthurian—which is to say, an exuberant, human, naive. and yet artistic diary, written for the most part on the spot. The con-stant mixture of mundane and psy-chic—using the latter term in its general meaning—is not only because the events are chronologically re-corded, but because Sir Arthur wants to impress new readers that outside of his special domain he is a sensible. hard-headed observer. incidentally he reveals himself a showman par excellence. Sir Arthur's mission was to ripen the seeds of spiritualistic belief which had been scattered on his first visit. There are several additions to our psychic material: the Lally pho-tographs of spirit heads around the coffin of a lady who had died at the age of 71;; a chapter devoted to the visions of Joseph Smith and an anal-ysis of the cause of Mormonism, and passages concerning the alleged discovery of Dr. Littlefield of Seattle. that thought waves can produce def-inite images upon blood minerals. Coming within the domain of psychic science, none of them, however, is overwhelming proof to the uncon-vinced spiritualist. Of the genuineness of most spirit-istic phenomena—gename in the sense that_ the phenoniena arc seen in the mind's eye of the observer whether or not they actually exist—Sir Arthur's latest volume leaves no doubt whatsoever. Tie conclusion Is corroborated by thousands of wit-nesses recorded by Flammasion. the French astronomer: Schrenck-Not-zing, the • German scientist, and ethers. For example. we recall rlarnmarion.s care of the servant girl sent to fetch bets from the keg an the deep cellar of a French castle. She had heard stories of haunting by an evil spirit. She descended •to the cellar in some fear. A few mo-ments later a scream was heard. The girl was found in a faint. On becoming conscious she described a terrible phantom. This phantom. she said, approachsti hsr just as she had filled the jug, se, his fingers around her throat and choked her into unconsciousness. To corrobo-rate her story the marks of fingers were clearly visit', 0,, he,. From a medical point of view this story is said to be orate possible on this basis—provided the self-hyp-nosis (which we :Is.'s.: caused the vision of the gliost1 were sirong

enough, it might induce the sen.- Don't you see them? The spirits! HORACE GREEN lion of being choked by ghostly The sSirilsr• fingers. A c.hemIcai reaction of The speaker intervened with a few blood would then cause finger marks steadying words, the tights were to appear on the feriae, of the skin, in the same mann3r R.; blisters have been known to appear where a hypnotic subject was told that he was being burned oy it match. The red surface and blisters are caused by rush of blood to prOtect the sur-face from a flame, ether real of Imagined. Similarly, the heir ac-tually does "stand on end" in the face of sudden fear. That fear may be because a wild bear is around the corner or because you 11.1,e., he is that for some time when in trance around the corner. she had been possessed by the de-But Sir Arthur. as we know. ac- ceased mother of some soldier who counts for such peenomena through was most anxious to convey to other the influence of perosis commonly bereaved mothers what had become spoken of as dead. of their sons. She said it was not On the night of Our Arthur's open- her own voice which had allied out. ing lecture of the second American "It was this other entity who had

switched on and the obsessed lady was led out. Obviously, there was no fake about the busiue.. In lay-man's language one should have said that the person had become emotionally hypnotized and was not responsible for her actions. But Conan Doyle puts the ease on spirit-ual grounds. The sequel is given in his book. After the hall bad been cleared he says that Lady Doyle at-tended to the lady, who declared tsun Captain Cubitt, is, indeed re-markable and remarkably good read-ings but to cold critics not convinc-ing becs.nse of the usual concomi-tants. like loud music• before en- trance and departure of the spirit forms, and lockers at the side of the cabinet and a bolted and wired door at the back. Sir Arthur gives It.s credential for the medium that he had been investigated by Mr. Yaryan. who had been Chief of Police under the Grant Government. (If the in-vestigation was made recently. a conservative estimate would there-fore place Mr. Yaryan's age at more than NO.) But in fairness one must say that those present were deeply impressed, or entranced, and that those not under the spell can render only inferential judgment. More and more as he progresses in his belief Sir Arthur puts at spirit-ualistic interpretation—and encour-

adventure (a lecture which, by the way, the burly Britisher had not in-tended to give), this writer hap-pened to be seated in one of the I front rows of Carnegie Hall, near by. i on the left side, being middle-aged lady of ancestry proboole Mixed and of countenance not sastisularlY Ins; telligent. Those In the adjacent seals will recall that at the end a rather unusual scene took place. SirArthur showed 4 p•cture of the London Cenotaph for the dead sol-i Biers before the two m;nutes silence On Nov. 11, 19.23. Around the Cenotaph were crowde• thousands of bereaved Britishers thinking of their dead. The second picture at the end of the silent pray, sisswed myriads of shadowy spirit faces. shoulder upon shoulder, fading into the dis-tance—the most remarkable and eerie photograph this witness ever hones to see. in the dusk of the great ball there was t'e'ndured what Sir Arthur called ..a noticeable psychic atmosphere." broken by the high female voice of :he lady sitting flier me. who poi met! and cried, "book. there they are' see them! now taken possession of her and through her had addressed the audi-ence. Sir Arthur admits he cannot cheek the statement, but gives it for what it may be worth. Reverting for a moment to lighter passages. the British novelist tells us that he found Mary Pickford in-tensely psychic herself, while Fair-banks had a robust open mind which only asked for definite experience; also (quoting Christy Mathewson) that baseball has been a tricky game in the United States and that it "used to be no uncommon thing to mix soap with the earth round the pitcher's box so that when the pitcher rubbed his hand it would be-come slippery rather than dry." To the medium Jenson of Alta-dena, Cal., a great deal of space and a small appendix is devoted, since Sir Arthur pronounce, the Jenson seance one of the most remarkable he had attended in his life. Sir Arthur's account of the materialisation of his own mother. of a little girl called Crystal Dahl-gren, who said she had died years ago in North Dakota, and of a cer- ages Sir A. Conan Doyle. other investigators to do the same--upon phenomena which all materialists and moot psychologists solve without hurdling the grave. Take the following novel treatment for lunacy: On Sunday. May 20, I had a long talk with Dr. Wicklant and his remarkable wife. Dr. Wick-land is doing pioneer psychic work as an alienist, and is about to bring out a book which may cause ridicule in this generation and re-spect in the next one. He is con-vinced that many forms of lunacy are produced by obsession exactly as portrayed in the New Testa-ment. That is the starting point 'of his system, and it is one which is founded upon a great deal of direct experiment and observation. The next stage is the discovery that static eiectricity makes the obsessing entity very uncomfort-able. He leaves the victim more readily if he has another ha.hita-lion, even though it only serves muSlr," one of the Lallflog: 1`,-1.1.!TV a, a half-way. sse, before he en-tirely dieappea• These seem to be the three main planks of his platform. The procedure then is its Oil-, lows: The sufferer is placed on a , platform with static• electric at-) tachments. The •ontruliing spirit I is reasoned with, kindly in the first place, More severely after-, ward. Meanwhile Mts. Wickland is placed in trance. if the entity gent' aPPbed. he leaves the suf-is still obstinate. elect neit y is s. ; fen, and pcesiesses Mrs. Wick-Itred.e=r:herht.:: IO;txt"rlavtduit221 spirit, as it returns to her body. This brave lady is 61 years of age, and I have never seen any one healthier and saner at the age, so it is clear that this self-sacrific-ing and dangerous task has not hurt her. I have never met any on, who has such wide experience of Os lower class of invisible, as he calls them. as Dr. Wickland. fur he is working with them every day. "They are not wicked for the most part." said he. "though you get a mean one now Lind then. They are simply ignorant. They don, know where they are and they can't believe they' art! dead. They are dreadfully puzzled and worried, like people in a wild dream." "I wish t had taken more carbolic acid." cued one; •.1 did not take enough or I would not still be living." These words came through on Nov. 14. The woman, who wise her name atitt addrm.i. had died from suicide on the 5th. The doctor verified it. though he had never heard of her before. They are to be treated. as every one should be treated, with love. They are usually quite amenable to that and to argument. Moe some reason they find that it is not a single spirit, but a colony which takes Possession of a Ver-son. "Sly name is Legion," says the New Testament. Dr. Wick-land claims to have expelled its many as fifteen from one Pers.., It opens Up a vista of medical all depending upon the Practical recognition of spiritual-ism. This brings one back momentarily to the crux of the whole spiritualistic business. No serious-minded person can deny that Joan of Arc heard VOieeS, that the disciples saw visions. that St. latui did likewise. that Conan Doyle converses with the dead. These visions, trances. dreams-- whatever you wish to call them--usually some to persons of serious. emotional • nature whose natural channel:, cif expression are tempo-rarily of permanently checked by death or denial. They are Also likely to come during the transmission from youth to manhood. In the ease of Joseph 14math, who now a great vision, which forms the background of Mormon faith. Sir Arthur says, "He was la years of age, that period • • • when both in males and females the outbreak of psyChie power is most common Cannot these manifestations be explained on the basis of abnormal psychology of one kind or another? We think so. Alienists, psychiatrists agree. But Sir Arthur bridges the gap into the next world. Listen to Sir Arthur's urnming up: The spiritual forces give sad al-ways have given explan"tion.. which have not been Improved upon by our earthly science. Thfse• explanations are that a val., which used to be called :inn tat magnetism, or odyllie force, but is now called evtoplasm, issues from certain specially endo•i•l in this ease the Jonsons; that it is collected in a confined space. the cabinet, by the presiding spirit • control: that the spirit:, wishing to manifest themselves have been al-ready assembled; Thai a simula-crum of earth-form is built up in succession by the experienced con-trol in the shape of an ectoplasmic mold, this simulacrum hem& more or less like the original: that the manifesting spirit then inhabits. its Own aiMOItterom for a longer or shorter period. using it RS a tem-porary tsiitty, that it is then dis-solved and a fresh form built Las and that finally the medium is ex-hausted by the constant eniission and so the proceedings cease. This is the teaching winch we get from the other side. and I do not know anything which revers the fac•ts more completely.