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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

The Late Mr. J. A. France

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The Late Mr. J. A. France is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in Light on 15 december 1923.

The Late Mr. J. A. France

Light (15 december 1923, p. 792)

To The Editor of Light.

Sir, — May I express in your columns my deep sense of the loss which Spiritualism has sustained by the passing upwards of J. A. France. In spite of his age he was one of the most whole-hearted workers in our Cause, and it is good to know that our Cause in turn gave him a mental peace and intellectual satisfaction which was beyond price. Only a very few weeks ago he discussed death with my wife, and spoke in strong and possibly prophetic terms of its happiness and of the glorious future which lay beyond. Spiritualism, he said, had robbed it of every terror.

He was a very remarkable man, and his long life covered the whole of modern civilisation, for he served in one of the early steam warships at the end of the Crimean war. In spite of this great age he had the heart of a boy, and took, I am told, unholy joy in exceeding the legal motor-speed on the King's highway. Mentally he was wonderful. I have never known a man approaching his age who was able to preserve so elastic and adaptable an intelligence that, when over eighty, he could not only accept but thoroughly understand and assimilate a new system of thought. I had the privilege of being the means of conveying these great truths to his mind, and I remember his quaint remark when from the platform at Battersea he said, "I am really only four years of age and there" — pointing to me — "sits my father!"

He was completely whole-hearted in his devotion to truth, and when I planned some central Spiritualistic meetings — which will, I hope, take place in February at the Queen's Hall — he offered a large sum towards their continuance. There were reasons why I was not able to accept his generous offer, but it was none the less a final proof of his unselfish championship of our Cause.

Yours faithfully,

Arthur Conan Doyle.