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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

The Return of Leslie Curnow

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The Return of Leslie Curnow is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in Light on 22 january 1927.


The Return of Leslie Curnow

On his death bed I made a compact with Leslie Curnow that he should come back to me through Mrs. Barkel. On Wednesday, the 5th inst., I was able to get a sitting with that medium at the Psychic College. Two-thirds of the sitting was taken up with other communications. Then the following came through. I omit long portions which are private.

"He wants to say [the control was talking] that it was the happiest time of his life his passing over, because it showed him how many true friends he had. When he was told before that he had much work to do he thought it was with you, but it was really over here.

"He says that he hopes, if possible his library will not be scattered. It was his life’s work; keep it in the movement. The books, if separated would fetch very little, so it is of no use to anyone save Spiritualists.

"He says what a beautiful thing; death is. The last thing that he can remember is seeing Mrs. Stobart and then dropping off to sleep, and waking to find his dear father, mother and brother waiting for him.

"Since he has been over here he had made himself known to several on your side.

" 'I wouldn't come back, Sir Arthur, much as I love the movement. I can see further now and do more.'

(These words were uttered in a very close approximation to his ordinary voice. It was most convincing.)

"I [the control] met him because I promised I would,

"Will you look into the notes which he made for a little book on mental phenomena and put them in order?

(A. C. D.: “I will do my best, but you know I am hard pressed”)

He is laughing now. He is thinking of your shop. He says that he did you over a book. He says he bought one book at your shop for two shillings and he would not part with it for fifty pounds."

"What was it about?"

"It was an old book, out of print. It was about mediumship. Very old and discoloured.

He says, 'Make sure of your old books before you sell them so cheap.' He is still laughing.

"Now he talks of Australia. He wishes to send his love to his sister.

"He says that no words he has heard or read can describe or come near the wonders of the spirit world. If he had his life once again he says that he would fight tooth and nail for it. It is the greatest and most glorious truth ever known and men, through their own ignorance, have forfeited their birthright, which was conscious union with the spirit world and angelic guidance.

"He says that he has met many of the old timers here. It seems that there is a great stir to work in. unity in order to bring about a greater knowledge of the laws of communication.

"It will become the universal religion despite what any may say to the contrary.

"When the times of trouble are over Curnow says that the spirit voices will be audible in the land and man will again walk hand in hand with his angelic guides.

"He came to his own funeral and heard something of a little bird which pleased and amused him."

Those were the chief points in his communication. One has to admit that the medium was familiar with Curnow’s affairs and may have retained, even in trance, a subconscious memory of them. It is also to be noted that I asked for him before he came through, so that it did not appear to be spontaneous. On the other hand it is quite possible that he was waiting his turn and would have come even if I had not asked. The evidential points are the reference to Mrs. Stobart which I know to be true, though the medium, so far as I know, did not. His views about his library are characteristic but not strictly evidential. The use of his own voice for a single sentence was extremely impressive. He had a peculiar nasal rising intonation when he used to say the words “Sir Arthur” which was exactly reproduced. The point about the unfinished book is true, but may have been within the knowledge of the medium, and the same applies to the allusion to a bird at the funeral. The reference to the valuable book bought for two shillings, and his amusement at the transaction is very characteristic. He bought several books at the shop, and I shall have some difficulty in tracing this particular one, but if I can do so in would certainly be an excellent test. The total result of the interview, making every allowance for the particles from the medium’s mind which are always swept forward in the psychic current, was extremely convincing. The passage about what man has lost by his ignorance was beautiful and impassioned as delivered, and it took a Curnow brain to frame it.






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