Edmund Shaftesbury

Edmund Shaftes­bury was the pseu­do­nym of Web­ster Edger­ly (1852–1926). Edger­ly was a pro­lif­ic writer on a vari­ety of sub­jects, pre­dom­i­nant­ly self-improve­ment (not lim­it­ed to per­son­al mag­net­ism) and health. The fol­low­ing descrip­tion is from Alfred Arm­strong’s web site on Web­ster Edger­ly.

Albert Web­ster Edger­ly was a self-help guru, a crank and a racist big­ot. Pos­sessed of seem­ing­ly bound­less ener­gy, from his twen­ties until his death he wrote and pub­lished many books and found­ed a series of orga­ni­za­tions ded­i­cat­ed to health and self-improve­ment, main­ly under his pseu­do­nym “Edmund (or Edmonde) Shaftes­bury”. As the beget­ter of the “Ral­ston Health Club” he also used the name “Dr Everett Ralston”. 

In about 1900, William Dan­forth invit­ed “Dr Ral­ston” to par­tic­i­pate in his Puri­na Whole­food Com­pa­ny. At that time Edger­ly’s Health Club had a size­able fol­low­ing [accord­ing to this, over 800,000] and he was not­ed for his pro­nounce­ments on diet, which were com­pat­i­ble with Dan­forth’s own phi­los­o­phy. The com­pa­ny took a new name, Ral­ston Puri­na, under which it still trad­ed until rel­a­tive­ly recent­ly, when it was acquired by Nestlé. 

Edger­ly attempt­ed in 1905 to put his utopi­an ideas into prac­tice when he found­ed a com­mu­ni­ty of Ral­stonites at “Ral­ston Heights”. As is ever the case with such endeav­ors, it was not a success. 

Edger­ly also cre­at­ed “Ral­ston­ism”, a “minor social move­ment” based on his writ­ings, all of which was to enable the fol­low­er the abil­i­ty to devel­op “per­son­al mag­net­ism” and the pow­er over the thoughts of oth­ers, among oth­er ben­e­fits. To quote Edgerly: 

“We believe that Ral­ston­ism, since it is becom­ing uni­ver­sal, is as nec­es­sary as food, light or water. This move­ment is the grand­est, noblest, and already the most far-reach­ing pow­er that has orig­i­nat­ed in the present age. 

“Ral­ston­ism is the grand­est move­ment that man is capa­ble of establishing”. 

Fol­low­ers were encour­aged to pur­chase the Ral­ston­ism books, among oth­er ways to progress in the hier­ar­chy of the movement. 

Ral­stonites were to fol­low strict dietary guide­lines. … Cor­rect diet and prop­er phys­i­cal exer­cise would help read­er attain “per­son­al mag­net­ism”, which would give them con­trol over the thoughts of oth­ers. Much of the phys­i­cal regime demand­ed mov­ing in grace­ful curves and arcs and walk­ing exclu­sive­ly on the balls of one’s feet. Because sud­den starts and stops and sharp angu­lar move­ments caused a “leak­age of vital force”, Ral­stonites were to even pick mar­bles in con­tin­u­ous cir­cles. There was a prop­er way to bathe (dry bath), ges­ture, sit, stand, sleep, talk and have sex. Edger­ly claimed a sci­en­tif­ic basis for all this. 

To that end, he start­ed Ral­son Heights in New Jer­sey with the intent of cre­at­ing a com­mu­ni­ty of Ral­sonites. Unfor­tu­nate­ly the com­mu­ni­ty nev­er mate­ri­al­ized before his death and after­ward much of the ter­ri­to­ry was sold off. 

Among the rel­e­vant books are: 

“Instantaneous Personal Magnetism” (1926)

“The Magnetism Books”

  1. “Advanced Mag­net­ism” (?)
    Con­trol of Oth­ers Through the Feelings 
  2. “Men­tal Mag­net­ism” (1934)
    Mas­tery in All the Con­flicts of Life
    A Study of the Sev­en Realms of Mind and Mas­tery in the Con­flicts of Life 
  3. “Sex Mag­net­ism” (1924)
    Pri­vate Lessons in the Cul­ti­va­tion of Mag­net­ism of the Sexes
    Teach­ing the Devel­op­ment and Won­der­ful Enlarge­ment of those Pow­ers and Influ­ences That Nature has Invent­ed to Aid Every Human Life
    A review of this book can be found here.
  4. “Oper­a­tions of the Oth­er Mind” (1934)
    Gigan­tic Pow­ers of the Human Brain
    Mak­ing Known the Unseen Pow­ers of the Uni­verse in Their Con­trol Over Human Life 
  5. “Per­son­al Mag­net­ism” (1924)
    This book does not con­tain chap­ters; instead, it con­tains a series of steps required to devel­op the “per­son­al mag­net­ism” of the title.
    A review of this book can be found here.
  6. “Uni­ver­sal Mag­net­ism — Vol­ume I” (?)
  7. “Uni­ver­sal Mag­net­ism — Vol­ume II” (?)
    Secret Lessons in Con­trol of Self and Others 

“The College of Mental Studies”

  1. “Future See­ing and Des­tiny” (?)
    800 lessons in philosophy. 
  2. “The Great Psy­chic” (?)
    The Mas­ter Mind of the Universe 
  3. “Life Elec­tric­i­ty” (?)
    Cre­ation of Extra-ordi­nary Health-Vitality 
  4. “Thought Trans­fer­ence” (?)
    “Or The Radio-Activ­i­ty of the Human Mind”
    “Based on the New­ly Dis­cov­ered Laws of RADIO-Com­mu­nic­tion Between BRAIN and BRAIN”
    Uses of Telepa­thy, Mind and Thought 
  5. “Goal of Cre­ation” (?)
    The Tem­ple of Great Achievements 
  6. “Your­self Behind Closed Doors” (?)
    The Sub­lim­ist Study of Self 

And even though I have a num­ber of these books, many in fine print­ing, I haven’t real­ly been able to read them. 

Many of his books remain in print to this day. A com­plete list­ing of all works by this author is found here.

Oth­er References:

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