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Fortune Telling by Cards, by P.R.S. Foli, [1915], at

p. xiii


"THIS goddess Fortune frustrates, single-handed, the plans of a hundred learned men." In this saying the Latin author has given us the key to all the restless striving to search out the Unknown and the Unknowable which marks our own age, just as it has marked previous periods in history which we are apt to look back upon as being but little removed from the dark ages.

Of all the methods by which men and women seek to penetrate into the mysteries of Fate and Futurity, Cartomancy is one that can claim the distinction of having swayed the human mind from prehistoric times right down to this twentieth century of ours.

It may be that this book will fall into the hands of those who agree with the words of L’Estrange: "There needs no more than impudence on the one side and a superstitious credulity on the other to the setting up of a Fortune-teller." This attitude of cynical superiority is sometimes genuine, but in many cases if we could read what lies beneath the surface we should find that it is but a cloak worn to conceal a lurking fear, an almost irritated condition of mind, born of a half-confessed faith in the power at which it is so easy to scoff.

There is a vein of superstition in every human heart, and many men who have played a great part in the world's history have not been ashamed to seek help from occultists, when the tangle of life seemed too involved for them to unravel with the ordinary means at their disposal.

The pages of history are full of the penalties meted out by kings and rulers to those who were accused of working evil spells upon them. It needs but to mention the names of Wallenstein, Murat, King of Naples; Bernadotte, afterwards King of Sweden; and the merciless Robespierre, as types of a vast number over whom the fascinations of Astrology and

p. xiv

[paragraph continues] Cartomancy, which are so closely allied, have cast their witching spell.

Pope treats the cards as sentient entities:

                            "The king, unseen,
 Lurked in her hand and mourned his captive queen."

[paragraph continues] While in another passage he says:

"Soon as she spreads her cards th’ aerial guard
 Descend and sit on each important card."

In the following pages we have given information that will, we hope, afford interest and amusement to many. We have not dwelt on the gift of prophecy, or on the power of second sight claimed by apostles of the occult. We would in no case obtrude the subject of Cartomancy upon the notice of those whose susceptibilities would be wounded, or whose sense of right and wrong would be outraged by the practice, and we have ventured to speak a word of warning to the morbidly minded.

We give this method of Fortune-telling for what it is worth. It may be either a pastime seasoned with a flavour of mystery, a study in the weird ways of coincidence, or a test of skill quickened by intuition. We would have all our readers amused and interested, but none saddened or enslaved by it.

Next: Chapter I