But, above all things, I beg the reader, laying aside all prejudice or preconceived opinion, and neither believing nor disbelieving what he reads, to simply try it—that is to test it in his own person to what degree he can influence his will, or bring about subsequent states of mind, by the very easy processes laid down. If I could hope that all opinion of my book would be uttered only by those who had thus put it to the test, I should be well assured as to its future.
And also I beg all readers, and especially reviewers, to note that I advise that the auto-suggestive process, by aid of sleep, shall be discontinued as soon as the experimenter begins to feel an increase in the power of the will; the whole object of the system being to acquire a perfectly free clear Will as soon as possible. Great injustice was done, as regards the first edition of this work, by a very careless though eminent critic, who blamed the author for not having done what the latter had carefully recommended in his book.
There are four stages of advance towards the truth: firstly, Disbelief; secondly, Doubt, which is, in fact, only a fond advance towards Disbelief; thirdly, Agnosticism, which is Doubt mingled with Inquiry; and, finally, pure and simple Inquiry or Search, without any preconceived opinion or feeling whatever. It is, I trust, only in the spirit of the latter, that I have written; therefore I say to the reader, Neither, believe nor disbelieve in anything which I have said, but, as it is an easy thing to try, experiment for yourself, and judge by the result. In fact, as a satisfactory and conclusive experiment will not require more time, and certainly not half the pains which most people would expend on reading a book, I shall be perfectly satisfied if any or all my critics will do so, and judge the system by the result.
“Unto many Fortune comes
“Few know what is really
going on in the world.”—
It is but a few years since it suddenly struck the gay world of comic dramatists and other literary wits, that the Nineteenth Century was drawing to an end, and regarding it as an event they began to make merry over it, at first in Paris, and then in London and New York, as the fin-de-siecle. Unto them it was the going-out of old fashions in small things, such as changes in dress, the growth of wealth, or “the mighty bicycle,” with a very prevalent idea that things “are getting mixed” or “checquered,” or the old conditions of life becoming strangely confused. And then men of more thought or intelligence, looking more deeply into it, began to consider that the phrase did in very truth express far more serious facts. As in an old Norman tale, he who had entered as a jester or minstrel in comic garb, laid aside his disguise, and appeared as a wise counsellor or brave champion who had come to free the imprisoned emperor.