The Mission of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
The Mission of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is an article published in Light on 19 february 1921.
The Mission of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Missionaries Homeward Bound.
Before these lines appear Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his party will, all being well, have started on their homeward voyage by teo steamship "Naldera," leaving Australia on the 4th inst.
His journey to Australia has been one of the greatest of the great adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as a missionary of the "New Revelation."
Our letters from him — the last, dated 30th of December, 1920, was written in the Tasman Sea, on his return from New Zealand — give us a splendid report of his travels. As regards New Zealand he writes that he spent fifteen days there, and "it is no exaggeration to say that the island is fermenting from Auckland to Dunedin." It seemed to him as though "the cause advanced fifty years in two weeks."
Of his meetings in Australia we have already given accounts, but the full, true and particular history must remain to be told when he returns to England.
The high courage, the faith and self-sacrifice that have inspired Sir Arthur and Lady Conan Doyle in their championship of Spiritualism before the world, are not easily to be estimated at their real value. Even with the tremendous alteration in the public attitude (itself partly doe to Sir Arthur's advocacy) there was a whole "sea of troubles" to be faced in combating the forces of religious conservatism, and all the "principalities and powers" ranged against what is regarded as a new, and, therefore, disruptive and dangerous doctrine. This was especially the case in Australia.
It was no holiday spirit of adventure that took Sir Arthur and his family to Australasia, but the consciousness that there was a great work to do in a comparatively untilled field.
Those who, being small and mean in their own aims, are always eager to impute small, mean motives to others, have explained Conan Doyle's campaign for Spiritualism by saying that he is making money by his lectures. True, he is, but he is distributing it all, after meeting his own expenses, with a generous hand — it is given to societies and charities associated with the Spiritualistic movement. He could have done better for himself had he, dominated simply by self-interest, remained outside the active propaganda of Spiritualism, as a passive sympathiser, thus following the example of some other distinguished men who have not felt the "call" in the same way. Meantime we can only applaud the heroic spirit that has dared all and risked all for a great cause. To few of us is given either the disposition or the opportunity to enter upon so splendid an enterprise. But we can all give our need of sympathy, admiration and affection to the great novelist and his devoted wife, for they are working for us and for the world at large, facing all the "peering littlenesses" of calumny, derision and that malignity which comes of fear — fear of an unknown thing which menaces many vested interests. But the nobility which lies often unsuspected in thousands of minds will rise to greet the missionaries as they return, and to pay tribute to their work. Sir Arthur and Lady Conan Doyle, indeed, have won a place in the love and esteem of many thousands quite outside the ranks of avowed Spiritualists, for there is a great host of "witnesses" on this side as well as the "cloud of witnesses" in the unseen.
Since writing the foregoing we have received a letter from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, written at Wellington, New Zealand, on December 24th, supplementing the particulars already given.
He tells us that his whole tour has been a great success. From Auckland to Dunedin in New Zealand, the message has been unequivocally given, backed in the second lecture by the photographic proofs, and in each of the four great cities there has been the utmost agitation, discussion and ventilation, with noise and empty clamour on the surface, but deeper and more permanent effects as well.
In Australia it has been the same, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane being the main points of propaganda. The lecturing agent, Mr. Smyth, states that in every town the lecturer has broken all existing records for crowded houses. It was not a matter of personal curiosity on the part of the people, because the second and third houses were even more crowded than the first. As Mr. Smyth said, it was not merely a success, "it was an epidemic," on the occasion of one great rush.
The work has naturally been a severe strain on Sir Arthur, but he finds himself greatly upheld and feels perfectly fit. He will naturally want a period of rest on his return, but it is possible that he may give his three Australian lectures in London on successive nights, as an appropriate "wind up" to the great adventure. He sends his greetings and warm remembrances to all his friends here. THE