En juillet 1923, Montréal accueille l’écrivain Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Il n’est pas à Montréal pour parler de son célèbre personnage, Sherlock Holmes, mais bien de spiritisme.
Le passage de Sir Arthur Conan Doyle semble avoir été peu souligné par les journaux francophones de la métropole.
Voici un article publié dans la Gazette de Montréal le 11 juillet qui nous donne un aperçu de la conférence de Sir Arthur.
SPIRIT PICTURES RATHER GRUESOME
INTENSE INTEREST, BUT NOT UNDUE EXCITEMENT DISPLAYED OVER GHOSTLY PHOTOGRAPHS
APOLOGY FOR ECTOPLASM
SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE GAVE FINAL LECTURE IN NORTH AMERICA – THANKED CANADIAN PRESS
Spirit photographs, around which hot controversy has raged, and many others hardly less interesting, were submitted to the critical gaze of a thousand or more Montrealers last evening, when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave his second lecture on Spiritualism in the Mount Royal Hotel. In addition to the lantern reproduced pictures of spirits, roughly designated as "highly spiritualized, earth-bound and lower", there were photographs of famous apostles of the cult, including Sir Oliver Lodge, Sr Wm Crookes, W. T. Stead and various mediums. The presentment of these undeniably "brainy" upholders of spritualism, as the lecturer designated them, visibly strengthened the impression made on the audience.
As for the audience, which nearly filled the banquet half, it numbered an unusually large number of persons with well-polished glasses, who sat intently forward on their chairs, determined to penetrate, if at all possible, the mysteries of psychographs. Whether sceptics or converts they heard what Sir Arthur had to say with respectful interest. Of course there where the midly facetious ones, for instance the cheery gentleman who pushed is straw headgear farther underneath his chair when the first picture was called out, with the remark "I must watch my hat now". There were no demonstrations of extreme feeling, such as are said to have occurred when Sir Arthur lectured in New York. No one fainted or shrieked. But when certain pictures were announced, for instance the one of Raymond, Sir Oliver Lodge’s soldier son and that taken Whiteha?? during the two-minute silence last Armistice day, there was the rattle of dozen of chairs in the far corner of the darkened hall as their owners temporarily vacated them in order to gain a better view.
The lecture proper, which consisted of a detailed description of the spirit photographs shown, with all the attendant circumstances, was prefaced by an explanation of "ectoplasm", "the extraordinary substance" – to use Sir Arthur own words – which is the basis of all psychic phenomena. As far back as 1860 there are records of the manifestation of this peculiar viscous substance which is exuded from the bodies of mediums in the form of a vapor, the lecturer said. Admittedly it is repellent to the sight and touch, but it is only a means to an end Who, for instance, would connect the writtings of Shakespeare with the ink they were penned. So Sir Arthur excused the spirits’ choice of material.
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