IT is only fair to any one who may take up this book, to say that it is made up of lectures given, for the most part, before the Society for Ethical Culture of Chicago. It is due to my colleagues in the Ethical Movement to say that they are not responsible for the views here expressed, that the book nowise claims to represent the Movement, but simply reflects my own attitude of mind upon the various topics treated. Even in discussing " The Basis of the Ethical Movement," I but give my own interpretation of it. The bond of union between the lecturers, as between the members, of Ethical Societies is not a speculative but a moral one. I must add, however, that my own intellectual indebtedness to Professor Adler is so great that it would be difficult to measure it. Many of the thoughts in this volume — probably the best ones — are really his thoughts; he has given me, or at least quickened in my mind, ideas that will never go from me, that are a part of my better self. As I have gone over the proof-sheets of these pages, I have felt afresh how deep and constant are my obligations to him.
The link connecting the subjects treated in this volume is their dependence upon mental states. Should it be thought tlittt Astrology, Divination, Apparitions, and Witchcraft arc based upon objective facts, it is believed that the method of their explanation will show that they are properly classified. The author has adopted certain principles as working hues: namely, that before endeavoring to explain how phenomenaerist, it is necessary to determine precisely what exists : and that so long as it is possible to find a rational explanation of what unquestionably is, there is no reason to suspect, and it is superstition to assume, the operation of supernatural causes.
Botany is doubtless a very delightful study ; but a botanical treatise is one of the last things that I should be found engaged in. Truth shall be told : my love of flowers—for each particular petal —is such, that no thirst after scientific knowledge could ever prevail with me to tear the beautiful objects in pieces. I love to see the bud bursting into maturity; I love to mark the deepening tints with which the beams of heaven paint the expanded flower; nay, with a melancholy sort of pleasure, I love to watch that progress towards decay, so endearingly bespeaking a fellowship in man's transient glory, which, even at its height, is but as " the flower of grass." I love to gaze upon these vegetable gems—to marvel and adore, that such relics of paradise are yet permitted to brighten a path where the iniquity of rebellious sinners has sown the thorn and the thistle, under the blighting curse of an offended God. Next after the blessed bible, a flower-garden is to me the most eloquent of books—a volume teeming with instruction, consolation, and reproof.
It is of the utmost value to learn how to concentrate. To make the greatest success of anything you must be able to concentrate your entire thought upon the idea you are working on. The person that is able to concentrate utilizes all constructive thoughts and shuts out all destructive ones. The greatest man would accomplish nothing if he lacked concentration.