Menticulture - Press Collaboration

( Originally Published 1901 )



" Happiness," says Pope, " is our being's end and aim." A century later the promoters of American independence assented to the Declaration, as, many centuries before, Marcus Aurelius had given it voice. But how to secure that happiness was quite another proposition. The philosopher, the moralist, the religious teacher and the dogmatist each had his recipe, pronounced to be more or less infallible, and while it was the general consent that the pursuit of happiness was freely vouchsafed to mankind, the methods of arriving at that stage of beatitude were either faulty in construction or frequently not adapted to the temperament of the subject. Plainly the world was waiting for suggestions.

Down in New Orleans lives a modest gentleman, who combines a taste for philosophy with the general desire for happiness. According to his own confession he was a man built on the ordinary plan of human weakness, whose existence for the greater part of his days, up to a twelve-month ago, was as checkered as is assured by the not infrequent assertion of the human passions. In a happy moment he spent an evening with a gentleman who had lived many years in Japan, and who had absorbed the tranquil philosophy of that wonderful people. It was during the conversation of that evening that the New Orleans philosopher he is fairly entitled to the name gained the first hint of the possibility of emancipating the mind from the domination of the annoying passions and of procuring the peace which attends true and practical philosophy. The secret, for he is too modest to claim it as his own discovery, he has set forth in a vastly interesting little book called Menticulture; or, The A-B-C of True Living, and it is important enough to merit careful examination and discussion. Truly, Horace Fletcher impresses the reader not less by his own earnestness and simplicity than by the ample testimony he offers in evidence.

It [the book] is fascinating to the close, and the earnestness of the author and the growing belief in the supreme power of menticulture must be taken into account before this subject is dismissed as a " fad" or a temporary school of philosophy.

It would seem that Mr. Fletcher makes a modest but useless apology for not following the subject " beyond the elementary stage." For is it not the elementary stage that is so charming and convincing? Let a long-winded metaphysician, with his technical phraseology and his never-ending ramifications, get hold of the subject, and he will speedily plunge the reader into hopeless con-fusion. The mere statement of the cure, " Get rid of the germs," with the experiences in illustration, tells the story far more intelligently and convincingly, perhaps, than even Mr. Fletcher imagines, and whether he gains converts to his theory or is unsuccessful save in occasional instances, he has performed his task well and put his case intelligibly before any class of readers who are to be benefited. This is the charm of the little book: an interesting theory interestingly set forth. It has commanded the respect of men of wisdom, and goes forth to the great public as the best of counsel from a thoughtful and sincere man.

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