The writer of this book desires to say that, in preparing the work, it has been no part of his design to express his individual opinions upon the topics discussed. His purpose has been to suggest the opinions of others, especially of a class of men scarcely recognized as existing in the world. The art they profess, called after the name of Hermes, Hermetic Philosophy, is so little known at the present day that the name of it by no means indicates it. The adepts profess to be, or to have been, in possession of a secret, which they call the gift of God. The art has been prosecuted under many names, among which are Alchemy, Astrology, and even Chiromancy, as well as Geomancy, Magic, &c., under all of which names it has had deluded followers, who have been deceived, as those who claim to be true artists say, not by the art itself, which never “ did betray the heart that loved it,” but by their own selfish passions, which play the Asmodeus with so many that the few who escape delusion are mystical, not to say mythical, beings who are supposed to have lived upon dreams.