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Arthur Conan Doyle, SPIRITUALISM and Harry Houdini

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Author Topic: Arthur Conan Doyle, SPIRITUALISM and Harry Houdini  (Read 597 times)
Morrison
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« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2007, 12:07:51 am »

Good job getting all of this together, Bianca.

Houdini's body was exhumed months ago at this point.  Have you ever found any results of what the tests have shown?
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« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2007, 06:10:18 am »


Hi, Morrison.

Glad to hear from you.  I promised to bring Doyle's version here, then I got a
bit sidetracked.  Would you kindly add a nice picture of him?  There are quite
a few  on Google.

I have not heard/read anything re: autopsy results on Houdini's body.  I thought that this thread might bring some information that I may have missed in the Media.

Since there's a big silence, I assume the results do not include any suspicion of
foul play. 

In those days many people died of peritonitis - burst appendix.  That was the case
with Rudolph Valentino also. (Before my time - I am not THAT old.  LOL!)

Love and Peace,
B
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« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2007, 07:12:53 am »





THE RIDDLE OF HOUDINI                                                                        continued



But one of Houdidni's characteristics was that nothing in this world or the next
could permanently abash him.

He could not suggest that they were guilty, considering that the Crandons had
actually asked to have the cabinet examined after she had entered, and Houdini
had refused.

Yet, incredible as it may seem, he had his advertisement after all, for he flooded
America with a pamphlet to say that he had shown that the Crandons were frauds,
and that he had in some unspecified way exposed them.

Since the cabinet had become a delicate subject, his chief accusation was that
Mrs. Crandon had in some way rung the bell-box by stretching out her foot.  He
must have known, though his complaisant audiences did not, that the bell-box was
continually rung while some sitter was permitted to hold it in his hands, and even
to rise and walk away with it.

Speaking with full knowledge, I say that this Boston incident was never an exposure
of Margery, but it was a very real exposure of Houdini, and is a most serious blot up-
on his career.

To account for the phenomena, he was prepared to assert that not only the doctor,
but even members of the committee seemed to have been overawed by the master-
ful conjurer, and even changed their very capable secretary, Mr. Malcolm Bird, at his
behest.  Mr. Bird, it may be remarked, with a far better brain than Houdini, and with a
record of some fifty seances, had by this time been entirely convinced of the truth of
the phenomena.



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Bianca
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« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2007, 07:29:29 am »





THE RIDDLE OF HOUDINI                                                                          continued



It may seem unkind that I should dwell upon these matters now that
Houdini has gone to his account, but what I am writing now I also pub-
lished during his lifetime.

I deal gently with the matter, but I have to remember its importance far
trascends any wordly consideration, and that the honour of the Crandons
is still impugned in print, by the false charges which were not only circula-
ted in print, but were shouted by Houdini from the platforms of a score of
music-halls, with a violence which browbeat and overbore every protest
from the friends of truth

Houdini did not yet realize the gravity of his own actions, or the consequen-
ces which they entailed.  The Crandons are themselves the most patient and
forgiving people in the world, treating the most irritating opposition with a
good humoured and amused tolerance. 

But there are other forces which are beyond human control and, from that day,
the shadow lay heavy upon Houdinin.  His anti-Spiritualist agitation became
more and more unreasoning, until it bordered upon a mania which could only be
explained in some quarters by supposing that he was in the pay of certain cle-
rical fanatics, an accusation which I do not believe.

It is true that, in order to preserve some show of reason, he proclaimed that he
wished only to attack dishonest mediums, but as in the same breath he would
assert that there were no honest ones, his moderation was more apparent than
real.

If he had consulted the reports of the National Association of American Spiritual-
ists, he would have found that this representative body was far more efficient in
exposing those swindlers than he had ever been, for they had the necessary ex-
perience by which the true can be separated from the false.
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Bianca
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« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2007, 07:47:34 am »





THE RIDDLE OF HOUDINI                                                                       continued



I suppose that at the time Houdini was, from an insurance point of view,
so far as bodily health goes, the best life of his age in America.  He was in
constant training, and he used neither alcohol nor tobacco.

Yet, all over the land, warnings of danger arose.  He alluded in public to the
matter again and again.  In my own home circle I had the message some
months before his death, "Houdini is doomed, doomed, doomed!"

So seriously I took this warning, that I would have written to him, had I the
least hope that my words could have any effect.  I knew, however, by pre-
vious experience, that he always published my letters, even the most priva-
te of them, and that it would only give him a fresh pretext for ridiculing that
which I regard as a sacred cause.

But, as the months passed and fresh warnings came from independent sources,
both I and, as I believe, the Crandons, became seriously alarmed for his safety.

He was, on one side of his character, so fine a fellow, that even those who were
attacked by him in this monstrous way, were unwilling that real harm should be-
fall him.

But he continued to rave, and the shadow continued to thicken.  I have an Ame-
rican friend who writes in the press under the name of Samri Frikell.  He is really
Fulton Oursler, the distinguished novelist, whose STEPCHILD OF THE MOON is, in
my judgement, one of the best of recent romances.





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« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2007, 07:59:45 am »





THE RIDDLE OF HOUDINI                                                                     continued



Oursler was an intimate friend of Houdini, and he has allowed me to quote some
of his experiences:



"You know him as well as I do.  You knew the immense vanity of
the man.  You know that he loved to be important.  My experience
with him for the last three months of his life was most peculiar.

He would call me on the telephone at seven o'clock in the morning
and he would be in a quarrelsome mood.  He would talk for an hour,
telling me how important he was, and what a great career he was
making.  In his voice was a hysterical, almost feminine, note of re-
bellion, as if his hands were beating against an immutable destiny.

In all these cases Houdini portrayed to me a clear sense of impend-
ing doom.  This is not an impression which I have received subse-
quent to his death.  But I commented upon it at the time.  I believe
that Houdini sensed the coming of his death, but did not know that
it meant death.

He didn't know what it meant, but he hated it and his soul screamed
out in indignation."



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Bianca
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« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2007, 08:18:49 am »





THE RIDDLE OF HOUDINI                                                                        continued



Some time later he telephoned to the same friend in a way which show-
ed that his surmise had become more definite.  "I am marked for death,"
said he.  "I mean that they are predicting my death in Spirit Circles all
over the country." 

At that time he was starting, in perfect health, upon that tour of the
Vaudevilles which was destined to be the last of his career.  Within a few
weeks, he was dead.

The details of that death were in many ways most singular.  On October 11th
he had a painful but, as everyone thought, an unimportant accident when,
during a performance, his ankle sustained an injury.  The incident was treated
quite lightly by the Press, but was regarded more seriously by those who had
other sources of information. 

On October 13th, two days after the accident, the gentleman already quoted
had a letter from a medium, Mrs. Wood.

"Three years ago," said this ill-omened epistle, "the spirit of Dr. Hyslop said,
"the waters are black for Houdini," and he foretold that disaster would befall him
while performing before an audience in a theatre.  Dr. Hyslop now says that the
injury is more serious than has been reported, and that Houdini's days as a magi-
cian are over."

The sad prophecy proved to be only too true, though the injured leg was only the
prelude of worse disaster.  It seemed, indeed, to be a sign that the protective
mantle which had been around him had, for some reason been withdrawn.

The ankle continued to pain him, though he managed for some weeks to give his
accustomed show.  At Montreal, a member of the audience rose to protest against
the violence with which he raved against Spiritualism and, very particularly, against
me.  Such personal attacks were not to be taken too seriously, for it was part of
his perfervid nature that anyone who had experiences which differed from his own
was either a dupe or a scoundrel.

He bore up with great bravery against the pain from which he must have conti-
nually suffered, but in less than a fortnight, while on the stage at Detroit, he
completely collapsed and was carried to that hospital from which he never emer-
ged alive.
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« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2007, 12:11:06 pm »

 




Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognises genius.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, born on May 22, 1859; The Valley of Fear

If you, Sir Conan Doyle, believe in fairies,
Must I believe in Mister Sherlock Holmes?
If you believe that round us all the air is
Just thick with elves and little men and gnomes,
Then must I now believe in Doctor Watson
And speckled bands and things? Oh, no! My hat!
Though all the t's are crossed and i's have dots on
I simply can't Sir Conan. So that's that!
JE Wheelwright; contemporary poem to Arthur Conan Doyle’s gullibility

June 30
Dear Miss Elsie Wright
I have seen the wonderful pictures of the fairies which you and your cousin Frances have taken, and I have not been so interested for a long time. I will send you tomorrow one of my little books for I am sure you are not too old to enjoy adventures. I am going to Australia soon, but I only wish before I go that I could get to Bradford and have half an hours chat with you, for I should like to hear all about it. With best wishes
Yours sincerely
Arthur Conan Doyle
Mr Gardner told me about it.
Arthur Conan Doyle letter as his interest was aroused on the Cottingsley fairies



Here is the grave of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife:

http://www.kwest.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/SpiritualHolidayBreaks.html

The Riddle of the Dancing Man



 

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Thus ye may find in thy mental and spiritual self, ye can make thyself just as happy or just as miserable as ye like. How miserable do ye want to be?......For you GROW to heaven, you don't GO to heaven. It is within thine own conscience that ye grow there.

Edgar Cayce
Bianca
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« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2007, 12:57:06 pm »




THANK YOU, ROCKY, GREAT CONTRIBUTION to this thread!

b.
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Bianca
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« Reply #24 on: May 19, 2007, 06:07:13 pm »





"MARGERY" / AKA  Mina Crandon


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« Reply #25 on: May 20, 2007, 08:22:22 am »




THE RIDDLE OF HOUDINI                                                                          continued.



There were some remarkable points about his death.  It seems that upon
Friday, October 22nd, he was lying in his dressing room, reading his letters.

It was five in the afternoon.  He had lectured at McGill University a few days
before,and with his usual affability he allowed some of the students to come
in and see him.  What followed may be taken verbatim from the report of one
of these young men.


"Houdini,"he says, "was facing us and lying down on a couch at the
time reading some mail, his right side nearest us."  This first year student
engaged Houdini more or less continually in a conversation whilst my friend
Mr. Smilovitch continued to sketch Houdini.  This student was the first to
raise the question of Houdini's strength.  My friend and I were not so much
interested in his strength as we were in his mental acuteness, his skill, his
beliefs and his personal experiences.  Houdini stated that he had extraor-
dinary muscles in his forearms, in his shoulders and in his back, and he
asked all of us present to feel them, which we did.

The first year McGill student asked Houdini whether it was true that
punches in the stomach did not hurt him.  Houdini remarked rather unen-
thusiastically that his stomach could resist much, although he did not speak
of it in superlative terms.  Thereupon he gave Houdini some very hammer-
like blows below the belt, first securing Houdini's permission to strike him.

Houdini was reclining at the time with his right side nearest Whitehead,
and the said student was more or less bending over him.  These blows fell on
that part of the stomach to the right of the navel, and were struck on the
side nearest us, which was in fact Houdini's right side;  I do not remember
exactly how many blows were struck.  I am certain, however, of at least four
very hard and severe body blows, because at the end of the second or third
blow I verbally protested against this sudden onslaught on the part of this
first year student, using the words, "Hey, there.  You must be crazy, what are
you doing?" or words to that effect, but Whitehead continued striking Hou-
dini with all his strength.

Houdini stopped him suddenly in the midst of a punch, with a gesture
that he had had enough.  At the time Whitehead was stiking Houdini, the
latter looked as though he was in extreme pain and winced as each blow was
struck.

Houdini immediately after stated that he had had no opportunity to
prepare himself against the blows, as he did not think that Whitehead would
strike him as suddenly as he did and with such force, and that he would
have been in a better position to prepare for the blows if he had risen from
his couch for this purpose, but the injury to his foot prevented him from
getting about rapidly."
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« Reply #26 on: May 20, 2007, 08:35:44 am »





THE RIDDLE OF HOUDINI                                                                             continued



There is no doubt that the immediate cause of the death was ruptured
appendix, and it was certified as traumatic appendicitis by all three doc-
tors who attended him. 

When one considers how often boxers are struck violent blows in this re-
gion, one can understand that it is not usually so vulnerable.  From the
time he reached the hospital, he seems to have known that he was doomed.

Even after death, strange things continued to happen, which seem to be be-
yond the range of chance or coincidence.  Some little time before, Houdini
had ordered a very ornate coffin, which he proposed to use in some sensa-
tional act.  He paid no less than two thousand five hundred dollars for it.

The idea was, I believe, to have a glass face to it and to exhibit the magi-
cian within it , after it was hermetically sealed up, for he had shown in a
previous experiment an inexplicable capacity for living without air.

He carried this coffin about with him in one of the very numerous crates in
which his apparatus was packed. 

After his death, all his goods were, I am told, sent on to New York.  It was
found, however that, by some blunder, one box had been left behind.

On examination, this was found to contain the show coffin which was ,
accordingly, used for his burial.
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« Reply #27 on: May 20, 2007, 08:51:42 am »





THE RIDDLE OF HOUDINI                                                                               continued



At that burial some curious and suggestive words were used by the presiding
Rabbi, Barnard Drachman.

He said:  "Houdini possessed a wondrous power that he never understood, and
which he never revealed to anyone in life."  Such an expression coming at so
solemn a moment, from one who may have been in a special position to know,
must show that my speculations are not extravagant or fantastic, when I deal
with the real source of those powers.

The rabbi's speech is to be taken with Houdini's own remark, when he said to
my wife: "There are some of my feats which my own wife does not know the
secret of." 

A famous Chinese conjurer who saw him perform said, "This is not a trick, it is
a gift." 

He frequently said that his work would die with him, and he has left no legacy
of it so far as can be seen, though it would clearly be a very valuably asset.

What can cover all these facts, save that there was some element in his power
which was peculiar to himself, and that could only point to a psychic element -
in a word, that he was a medium?

In a remarkable ceremony performed beside his coffin by his brother-magicians,
the  spokesman broke a symbolic wand and said:  "The wand is broken.  God
touched him with a wondrous gift, and our brother used it.  Now the wand is
broken."

It may, indeed, have been not mere trickery but a God-given gift which raised
Houdini to such a heights.  And why should he not use it, if it were indeed the
gift of God?  I see no reason why the medium, like other God-endowed men -
the painter, the poet, or the romancer - should not earn money and renown by
his gift.  Let him hesitate, however, before he makes rash attacks upon those
who are using the same gift, and for higher ends. 
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Bianca
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« Reply #28 on: May 20, 2007, 09:01:22 am »





THE RIDDLE OF HOUDINI                                                                             continued



Other curious points, which may possibly come within the range of
coincidence, are connected with the death of Houdini.  For example,
there was a Mr. Gysel, who had shared in Houdini's views as to
Spiritualism. 

He wrote thus to a friend:



"MR. FRIKELL, -

"Something happened to me in my room on Sunday night, October 24th,
1926, 10:58:  Houdini had given me a picture of himself which I had
framed and hung on the wall.  At the above time and date, the picture
fell to the ground, breaking the glass.  I now know that Houdini will die.

Maybe there is something in these psychic phenomena, after all."



To this Mr. "Frikell" adds:


"As I think back on my own experience, I am inclined to agree maybe there
is, indeed, something to these psychic phenomena, after all."
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« Reply #29 on: May 20, 2007, 12:24:12 pm »

In doing a little investigation on Whitehead, I went to a McGill U. site and found this just below the material on the death of Houdini:

Did "Jack the Ripper" attend McGill University?

It is difficult to conclude whether a McGill-trained physician, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream, who was convicted and charged with murder, was, in actuality, the infamous nineteenth century serial killer "Jack the Ripper."
 
 

Here's a brief overview of Dr. Cream's career:

In 1872, Thomas Neill Cream enrolled at McGill University in the Faculty of Medicine. An average student, Cream, nevertheless, wrote his doctoral thesis on, curiously, the topic of chloroform, a poisonous substance in high doses. He earned his degree of Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery, and began to practice his profession.

In 1876 he married Flora Brooks, who died a year later from what one report called "a lingering illness." Dr. Cream continued to practice medicine and improve his skills, sometimes traveling abroad to better his education. But in his wake, he left behind him a trail of death, his victims (all female, mostly prostitutes) having succumbed to the deadly effects of chloroform. His killings, however, would soon come to an end. In 1891, while studying in England, Dr. Cream was arrested and charged with the murder of a London prostitute. He was sentenced to die by hanging, and in 1892 his execution was carried out.

Dr. Cream was a killer, without a doubt, with or without the "Jack the Ripper" association. But some researchers, most notably Donald Bell, believe that Dr. Cream and Jack the Ripper shared similar traits, similar criminal modus operandi, leading them to believe that Dr. Cream and "Jack the Ripper" were the same person.

Both chose prostitutes as victims;
Both wrote letters to authorities boasting about their evil deeds;
Both were very cruel, merciless;
their victims, as though intoxicated, nearly never cried out in fear.
From these similarities, Donald Bell is conviced that Jack the Ripper was in fact Dr. Thomas Neill Cream.

 WIKI has quite a detailed report on him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Neill_Cream

Sorry for the side trip!

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Thus ye may find in thy mental and spiritual self, ye can make thyself just as happy or just as miserable as ye like. How miserable do ye want to be?......For you GROW to heaven, you don't GO to heaven. It is within thine own conscience that ye grow there.

Edgar Cayce
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