Preface to Private Edition.
In 1883 a small edition of the book was published, but not advertised. Very few copies of it were ever sold. The preface to that edition was as follows:—
More than twenty years ago a few ladies, alarmed at the tempest of discussion about all things human and divine which threatened to sweep them from their accustomed anchorage, asked me to help them to find out whether anything was left which we might still venture to believe without finding ourselves in antagonism with something else which seemed to have equal claims to be considered true. The then almost new theory of Evolution on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the marvellous tales which were being told of spirits appearing at stances, seemed to be considered by the critics of the day so contrary, both to each other and to all that had hitherto been considered sacred or reasonable, that these ladies almost felt as though the thought-world were reverting to chaos. In answer to their appeal the following lectures in their original form were written.
Since they were first delivered, I have had assistance in rendering them more complete.