Prentice Mulford (1834-1891). Although Prentice Mulford was one of the earliest pioneers of the New Thought teaching, he is still comparatively little known or read, chiefly on account of the high price of the six volumes known as “The White Cross Library,” in which form are published his essays in America. Prentice Mulford was born in Sag Harbor, Long Island, USA in 1834. He was described as the strangest of men. He envisioned the airplane and radio and prophesized mental telepathy and practiced it. At 22 Prentice sailed to California. In Jamestown, California he was a gold miner, cook, school teacher, lecturer and observer of human nature, but made his fortune not from gold but by his interesting and imaginative articles and books. He was a fixture in San Francisco literary circles with the likes of Twain, Harte, and the Bohemian set in the 1860’s. He wrote dozens of humorous short stories for the Overland Monthly, Golden Era, Californian, and other local journals. He referred to himself as “Dogberry”. In 1865 he became interested in mental and spiritual phenomena
and lived in an old whaleboat cruising San Francisco Bay. After returning from a trip abroad, Prentice Mulford lived for the next 17 years as a hermit in the swamps of Passaic, New Jersey. It was there he wrote some of his finest works on mental/spiritual laws including his “The White Cross Library” dealing in the topic Thought Currents and How to Use Them. His essays embody a particular philosophy, and represent a peculiar phase of insight into the mystery which surrounds man. The essays were the work, as the insight was the gift, of a man who owed nothing to books, perhaps not much to what is ordinarily meant by observation, and everything or nearly everything to reflection nourished by contact with nature. To many his thoughts may seem but dreams; to others they are priceless truths. That he was a wise teacher and no dogmatist is apparent from his own words “In the spiritual life every person is his or her own discoverer, and you need not grieve if your discoveries are not believed in by others. It is your business to push on, find more and increase your own individual happiness.”To him, at any rate, is due the credit of having been a pioneer in the thought that is now influencing people throughout the world, and his influence is very apparent in the writings of all the teachers of the same school that have followed him. At age 57, Mulford decided to return to Sag Harbor and write about Long Island after the Gold Rush but he passed away peacefully, without any apparent illness or pain, alone in his boat en route. After 30 years in an unmarked grave, Mulford’s body was taken to Oakland Cemetery in Sag Harbor where a large stone was placed on his grave with these words, “Thoughts are Things”. Partial works; Thoughts Are Things (1889) – Your Forces and How to Use Them (1907) – The Gift of Understanding – Gift of Spirit (1917 2nd revised ed.) – Thought Forces Essays Selected from the White Cross Library (1913) – Prentice Mulford’s Story: Life By Land and Sea (1889) – Prentice Mulford’s Thoughts Are Things.
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