Spiritualism's Peril

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Spiritualism's Peril is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in the Evening Standard on 6 november 1919.

Spiritualism's Peril

Evening Standard (6 november 1919, p. 11)

Sir A. Conan Doyle Replies to a Challenge.

Dr. Forbes Winslow's Beliefs.

We have received a letter from Sir A. Conan Doyle with reference to the challenge on spiritualism's perils mde to him by the Rev. A. V. Magee.

The Rev. Mr. Magee quoted Dr. Forbes Winslow's statement in 1877 that there were 10,000 people in asylums as a result of dabbling in spiritualism. He challenged Sir A. Conan Doyle to produce any recantation of that statement by Dr. Forbes Winslow.

Sir A. Conan Doyle writes to the "Evening Standard":—

"I understand from your columns that Mr. Magee has challenged me to produce Mr. Forbes Winslow's letter in which he disclaimed his previous views upon spiritualism, especially as regards lunacy.
"I therefore enclose the essential part of the letter, written in 1912. The allegations quoted by Mr. Magee were made in 1877. The original can be seen at the office of "Two Worlds," 18, Corporation-street, Manchester. It was written in answer to a direct question on the subject from the late J. J. Morse.
"I trust that Mr. Magee will apologise, and that he will forward the address of the priest who is alleged to have offered £50 for the production of this document. We may hope that we have now heard the last of the mythical 10,000 lunatics. — Yours faithfully,

The copy of the letter enclosed is as follows:—

"Dear Sir, — In response to your request, I desire to say that at the time I wrote the views alluded to in your letter I had under my care a lady of title, a great Spiritualist, whose mind was unhinged thereby. I was young at the time and the case made a great impression upon my mind and led me to write as I did.
"I am in the same position as the late Mr. Whewell, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, who, on refuting certain statements made in a book he had written some years ago on Chinese music, and being severely cross-examined on the same, gave the simple reply, "Yes, I wrote that, but I have changed my mind since then." This is my answer to your query.
"Faithfully yours,
(Signed) "Forbes Winslow.
"57, Devonshire-street, W., Oct. 17, 1912."