This paper may never reach the eye of any one afflicted in the same way that I have been. It probably never will; but for all that, there are many shy natures which will recognize tendencies in themselves in the direction of my unhappy susceptibility. Others, to whom such weakness seems inconceivable, will find their scepticism shaken, if not removed, by the calm, judicial statement of the Report drawn up for the Royal Academy. It will make little difference to me whether my story is accepted unhesitatingly or looked upon as largely a product of the imagination. I am but a bird of passage that lights on the boughs of different nationalities. I belong to no flock; my home may be among the palms of Syria, the olives of Italy, the oaks of England, the elms that shadow the Hudson or the Connecticut; I build no nest; to-day I am here, to-morrow on the wing.
If I quit my native land before the trees have dropped their leaves I shall place this manuscript in the safe hands of one whom I feel sure that I can trust; to do with it as he shall see fit. If it is only curious and has no bearing on human welfare, he may think it well to let it remain unread until I shall have passed away. If in his judgment it throws any light on one of the deeper mysteries of our nature,—the repulsions which play such a formidable part in social life, and which must be recognized as the correlatives of the affinities that distribute the individuals governed by them in the face of impediments which seem to be impossibilities,—then it may be freely given to the world.
But if I am here when the leaves are all fallen, the programme of my life will have changed, and this story of the dead past will be illuminated by the light of a living present which will irradiate all its saddening features. Who would not pray that my last gleam of light and hope may be that of dawn and not of departing day?
The reader who finds it hard to accept the reality of a story so far from the common range of experience is once more requested to suspend his judgment until he has read the paper which will next be offered for his consideration.
The report of the biological committee.
Perhaps it is too much to expect a reader who wishes to be entertained, excited, amused, and does not want to work his passage through pages which he cannot understand without some effort of his own, to read the paper which follows and Dr. Butts’s reflections upon it. If he has no curiosity in the direction of these chapters, he can afford to leave them to such as relish a slight flavor of science. But if he does so leave them he will very probably remain sceptical as to the truth of the story to which they are meant to furnish him with a key.