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Old 10 November 2007, 07:59 PM
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Bonnie Bonnie is offline
Join Date: 01 January 1970
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Posts: 148
Shifty Eyes

[From "Men Met in the Hotel Lobbies," The Washington Post, 16 June 1901, Pg. 18.]

"I heard Dr. Conan Doyle tell a good story during a trip I made to London last winter," said George D. Aldrich at the Arlington last night. "He said that at a dinner party he had attended the guests began discussing the daily discoveries made to the detriment of people occupying high stations in life and enjoying the confidence of the business world. Dr. Doyle said that it had always been his opinion that there was a skeleton in the closet of every man who had reached the age of forty. This led to a lot of discussion, some of the guests resenting the idea that there was no one who had not in his past something that were better concealed. As a result of the controversy, Dr. Doyle said, it was suggested that his views as to family skeletons be put to the test. The diners selected a man of their acquaintance whom all knew only as an upright Christian gentleman, whose word was accepted as quickly as his bond and who stood with the highest in every respect. 'We wrote a telegram saying 'All is discovered; flee at once" to this pillar of society,' said Dr. Doyle, 'and sent it. He disappeared the next day and has never been heard from since.'"
[From "Storyettes," The Commercial Appeal [Memphis, Tennessee], 2 October 1897, Pg. 7, Col. C.]

Conan Doyle tells a story of a friend of his who had often been told that there is a skeleton in the cupboard of every household, no matter how respectable that household may be; and he determined to put his opinion to a practical test. Selecting for the subject of this experiment a venerable archdeacon of the church, against whom the most censorious critic had never breathed a word, he went to the nearest postoffice [sic] and dispatched this telegram to the reverend gentleman: "All is discovered! Fly at once!" The archdeacon disappeared and has never been heard of since.
[From Catharine Cole, "Pride," The Daily Picayune [New Orleans, Louisiana], 21 May 1893, Pg. 23, Col. A.]

Once upon a time there was a bishop who had six suspicious and objectionable curates and who did not know how to get rid of them. He sent each one an anonymous letter, saying: "All is discovered. Flee." And they all fled!
[From James Payn, The Canon's Ward (Volume III) [London: Chatto & Windus, Piccadilly, 1884], pp. 153-154.]

There is a story told (no doubt by an enemy of the Church) called the "Six Curates of Cornerton." These divines were shady as to character, and by no means spotless as to conduct, but the Bishop had a difficulty in getting rid of them. At last he hit upon a device -- he sent each of them an anonymous letter, with these words of warning: "All is discovered; flee." And the next day the diocese was clear of the whole half-dozen.
[From "Miscellaneous," The Boston Investigator, 23 August 1876; Pg. 5, Col. A.]

If the following is a joke, it is amusing; but if a fact, it brings to mind a passage of Scripture, -- "The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are as bold as a lion": --

SUDDEN SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL. -- There was no preaching in this town last Sunday, and all in consequence of a practical joke perpetrated by a lively young girl. The young girl, inspired by the world, the flesh, and a little devil mixed, sat down on Saturday evening and sent a note to each of the pastors. The missives were on tinted paper, and written nicely. They each contain these words: -- "All is discovered -- fly!" Nine of the preachers fled to St. Louis and three went West. There is a sensation in town larger than a man's hand. -- [Kansas City Times.]
Writing in his syndicated column in 1936, Irvin S. Cobb, who collected and retold anecdotes, recalled this as "the ancient story story of the Frenchman who bet with his friend that he could prove every man, however outwardly pure, had a dreaded secret in his life." (In Cobb's version, those who receive the anonymous note kill themselves.) It's quite possible that this is old and European in origin and that we just haven't looked in the right places. (I haven't gone looking for French or German forms, for example.)

In the end, I think it doubtful that Conan Doyle ever tried it, but it's suggested that he liked passing on the yarn as truthful.

-- Bonnie
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