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THIS work has grown from small disconnected chapters into a narrative which covers in a way the whole history of the Spiritualistic movement. I had written certain studies with no particular ulterior object save to gain myself, and to pass on to others, a clear view of what seemed to me to be important episodes in the modern spiritual development of the human race. These were all done before it was suggested to my mind that I had already gone some distance in doing a fuller history of the Spiritualistic movement than had hitherto seen the light—a history which would have the advantage of being written from the inside and with intimate personal knowledge of those factors which are characteristic of this modern development.
These included the chapters on Swedenborg, on Irving, on A. Davis, on the Hydesville incident, on the history of the Fox sisters, on the Eddys and on the life of D. It is indeed curious that this movement, which many of us regard as the most important in the history of the world since the Christ episode, has never had a historian from those who were within it, and who had large personal experience of its development. Frank Podmore brought together a large number of the facts, and, by ignoring those which did not suit his purpose, endeavoured to suggest the worthlessness of most of the rest, especially the physical phenomena, which in his view were mainly the result of fraud. Mc Cabe which turns everything to fraud, and which is itself a misnomer, since the public would buy a book with such a title under the impression that it was a serious record instead of a travesty. Arthur Hill which is written from a strictly psychic research point of view, and is far behind the real provable facts.
There has, however, been no time in the recorded history of the world when we do not find traces of preternatural interference and a tardy recognition of them from humanity.
Spiritualists are in the habit of taking March 31, 1848, as the beginning of all psychic things, because their own movement dates from that day.Upon the other he contends that its true meaning is entirely different from its obvious meaning, and that it is he, and only he, who, by the help of angels, is able to give the true meaning. The infallibility of the Pope would be a trifle compared with the infallibility of Swedenborg if such a position were admitted.