PRESIDENT D’HONNEUR DE LA
FEDERATION SPIRITE INTERNATIONALE
PRESIDENT OF THE LONDON SPIRITUALIST ALLIANCE
PRESIDENT OF THE BRITISH COLLEGE OF PSYCHIC SCIENCE
This work has grown from small disconnected chapters into a narrative which covers in a way the whole history of the Spiritualistic movement. This genesis needs some little explanation. I had written certain studies with no particular ulterior object save to gain myself, and to pass on to others, a clear view of what seemed to me to be important episodes in the modern spiritual development of the human race. These included the chapters on Swedenborg, on Irving, on A. J. Davis, on the Hydesville incident, on the history of the Fox sisters, on the Eddys and on the life of D. D. Home. These were all done before it was suggested to my mind that I had already gone some distance in doing a fuller history of the Spiritualistic movement than had hitherto seen the light-a history which would have the advantage of being written from the inside and with intimate personal knowledge of those factors which are characteristic of this modern development.
It is indeed curious that this movement, which many of us regard as the most important in the history of the world since the Christ episode, has never had a historian from those who were within it, and who had large personal experience of its development. Mr. Frank Podmore brought together a large number of the facts, and, by ignoring those which did not suit his purpose, endeavored to suggest the worthlessness of most of the rest, especially the physical phenomena, which in his view were mainly the result of fraud. There is a history of Spiritualism by McCabe which turns everything to fraud, and which is itself a misnomer, since the public would buy a book with such a title under the impression that it was a serious record instead of a travesty. There is also a history by J. Arthur Hill which is written from a strictly psychic research point of view, and is far behind the real provable facts. Then we have “Modern American Spiritualism: A Twenty Years’ Record,” and “Nineteenth Century Miracles,” by that great woman and splendid propagandist, Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten, but these deal only with phases, though they are exceedingly valuable. Finally-and best of all-there is “Man’s Survival After Death,” by the Rev. Charles L. Tweedale; but this is rather a very fine connected exposition of the truth of the cult than a deliberate consecutive history. There are general histories of mysticism, like those of Ennemoser and Howitt, but there is no clean-cut, comprehensive story of the successive developments of this world-wide movement. Just before going to press a book has appeared by Campbell-Holms which is a very useful compendium of psychic facts, as its title, “The Facts of Psychic Science and Philosophy,” implies, but here again it cannot claim to be a connected history.
It was clear that such a work needed a great deal of research-far more than I in my crowded life could devote to it. It is true that my time was in any case dedicated to it, but the literature is vast, and there were many aspects of the movement which claimed my attention. Under these circumstances I claimed and obtained the loyal assistance of Mr. W. Leslie Curnow, whose knowledge of the subject and whose industry have proved to be invaluable. He has dug assiduously into that vast quarry; he has separated out the ore from the rubbish, and in every way he has been of the greatest assistance. I had originally expected no more than raw material, but he has occasionally given me the finished article, of which I have gladly availed myself, altering it only to the extent of getting my own personal point of view. I cannot admit too fully the loyal assistance which he has given me, and if I have not conjoined his name with my own upon the title-page it is for reasons which he understands and in which he acquiesces.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.
THE PSYCHIC BOOKSHOP, ABBEY HOUSE, VICTORIA STREET, S.W.
VII. The Dawn in England
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