This Volume, that originally appeared as a Second Series to “Historic Oddities and Strange Events,” is now issued under a new title which describes the peculiar nature of the majority of its contents. Several of the articles are concerned with the history of mysticism, a phase of human nature that deserves careful and close study. Mysticism is the outbreak in man of a spiritual element which cannot be ignored, cannot be wholly suppressed, and is man’s noblest element when rightly directed and balanced. It is capable of regulation, but unregulated, it may become even a mischievous faculty.
When the Jews are being expelled from Russia, and are regarded with bitter hostility in other parts of Eastern Europe, the article on the accusations brought against them may prove not uninstructive reading.
There is political as well as religious and racial fanaticism, and the story of the “Poisoned Parsnips” illustrates the readiness with which false accusations against political enemies are made and accepted without examination. “Jean Aymon” exhibits the same unscrupulousness where religious passions are concerned. The curious episode to “The Northern Raphael” shows the craving after notoriety that characterises so much of sentimental, hysterical piety.