A friend described Allen as a frail-looking little man, Christ-like, with a mass of flowing black hair...... I think of him especially in the black velvet suit he always wore in the evenings, the friend wrote. He would talk quietly to a small group of us then - English, French, Austrian and Indian - of meditation, of philosophy, of Tolstoy or Buddha, and of killing nothing, not even a mouse in the garden.
He overawed us all a little because of his appearance, his gentle conversation, and especially because he went out to commune with God on the hills before dawn.
James Allen's philosophy became possible when liberal Protestantism discarded the stern dogma that man is sinful by nature. It substituted for that dogma an optimistic belief in man's innate goodness and divine rationality.
This reversal of doctrine was, as William James said, the greatest revolution of the 19th Century. It was part of a move toward a reconciliation of science and religion following Darwin's publication The Origin of Species.