OUR CYCLE AND THE NEXT
The world's great age begins anew,
The golden days return,
The earth doth like a snake renew
Her winter weeds outworn.
My friend, the golden age hath passed away,
WHAT had the author of Prometheus Unbound in his mind's eye when writing about the return of the golden
days, and the new beginning of the world's great age? Has, his
poetical foresight carried his "Vision of the Nineteenth
Century" into the "One Hundred and Nineteenth,"
or has that vision revealed to him in gorgeous imagery the things
to come which are the things that were?
Only the good have power to bring it back
Fichte assures us it is "a phenomenon of frequent occurrence,
particularly in past ages," that "what we shall become is pictured by something which we already have been; and
that what we have to obtain is represented as something which
we have formerly lost." And he adds, "what Rousseau,
under the name of the state of Nature, and old poets by the title
of the Golden Age, place behind us, lies actually before us."
Such is also Tennyson's idea, when he says:
Old writers push'd the happy seasons back--
The more fools they--we forward: dreamers both. . . .
Happy the optimist in whose heart the nightingale of hope can
still sing, with all the iniquity and cold selfishness of the
present age before his eyes! Our century is a boastful age, and
proud as it is hypocritical; as cruel as it is dissembling.
Oh ye, gods, how dissembling and truly sacrilegious in the face
of every truth, is this, our century, with all its boastful sanctimoniousness
and cant! Verily, "Pecksniffian" ought to be thy name,
oh, nineteenth of thy Christian series. For thou hast generated
more hypocrites in a square yard of thy civilized soil than antiquity
has bred of them on all its idolatrous lands during long ages.
And thy modern Pecksniff, of both sexes, is "so thoroughly
impregnated with the spirit of falsehood that he is moral even
in drunkenness and canting even in shame and discovery,"
in the words of the author of Martin Chuzzlewit.
If true, how dreadful Fichte's statement! It is terrible
beyond words. Shall we then expect at some future recurring cycle
to rebecome that which "we already have been,"
or that which we are now? To obtain a glance into the future
cycle we have thus but to examine the situation around us in the
present day. What do we find?
Instead of truth and sincerity, we have propriety and cold, cultured
politeness; in one plain word, dissembling. Falsification
on every plane; falsification of moral food and the same falsification
of eatable food. Margarine butter for the soul, and margarine
butter for the stomach; beauty and fresh colours without, and
rottenness and corruption within. Life--a long race-course, a
feverish chase, whose goal is a tower of selfish ambition, of
pride, and vanity, of greed for money or honours, and in which
human passions are the horsemen, and our weaker brethren the steeds.
At this terrible steeplechase the prize-cup is purchased with
the heart's blood and sufferings of countless fellow-creatures,
and won at the cost of spiritual self-degradation.
Who, in this century, would presume to say what he thinks? It
takes a brave man, nowadays, to speak the truth fearlessly, and
even that at personal risk and cost. For the law forbids one saying
the truth, except under compulsion, in its courts and under threat
of perjury. Have lies told about you publicly and in print, and,
unless you are wealthy, you are powerless to shut your calumniator's
mouth; state facts, and you become a defamer; hold your tongue
on some iniquity perpetrated in your presence, and your friends
will hold you as a participator therein--a confederate. The expression
of one's honest opinion has become impossible in this, our cycle.
The just lost bill repealing the "Blasphemy Laws," is
a good proof in point.
The Pall Mall Gazette had, in its issue of April 13th,
some pertinent lines on the subject; its arguments, however, presenting
but a one-sided view, and having, therefore, to be accepted cum grano salis. It reminds the reader that the true principle
in the Blasphemy Laws "was long ago laid down by Lord Macaulay,"
To express your own religious or irreligious opinions with the
utmost possible freedom is one thing; to put forward your views
offensively, so as to outrage and pain other people, is another
thing. You may wear what clothes you please, or no clothes at
all, in your own house, but if a man were to assert his right
to walk down Regent-street clad solely in his shirt the public
would have a right to object. Suppose some zealous man were to
placard all the hoardings of London with "comic" pictures
of the Crucifixion, that surely ought to be an offense, even in
the eyes of those who do not believe the Crucifixion ever happened.
Just so. Be religious or irreligious, in our age, as much as you
like, but do not be offensive, and dare not "outrage and
pain other people." Does other people mean here Christians
only, no other persons being considered? Moreover, the margin
thus left for the jury's opinion is ominously wide, for who knows
where the line of demarcation is to be drawn! To be entirely impartial
and fair in their verdict in these particular matters, the jury
would have to be a mixed one and consist of six Christians and
six "infidels." Now we have been impressed in youth
that Themis was a blindfolded goddess only in antiquity and among
the heathen. Since then--Christianity and civilization having
opened her eyes--the allegory allows now of two versions. But
we try to believe the best of the two inferences, and thinking
of law most reverentially, we come to the following conclusions: in law, that which is sauce for the goose must
be sauce for the gander. Therefore, if administered on this
principle, the "Blasphemy Laws," must prove most beneficent
to all concerned, "without distinction of race, colour or
religion," as we say in theosophy.
Now, if law is equitable, it must apply impartially to all. Are
we then to understand that it forbids "to outrage and pain" anyone's feelings, or simply those of the Christians? If
the former, then it must include Theosophists, Spiritualists,
the many millions of heathens whom merciful fate has made
Her Majesty's subjects, and even the Freethinkers, and Materialists,
some of whom are very thin-skinned. It cannot mean the
latter, i.e., limit the "law" to the God of the
Christians alone; nor would we presume to suspect it of such a
sinful bias. For "blasphemy" is a word applying not
only to God, Christ and the Holy Ghost, not merely to the Virgin
and Saints, but to every God or Goddess. This term, with the same
criminal sense attached to it, existed with the Greeks, the Romans,
and with the older Egyptians ages before our era. "Thou shalt
not revile the gods" (plural), stands out prominent
in verse 28 of chapter xxii of Exodus, when "God"
speaks out from Mount Sinai. So much admitted, what becomes of
our friends, the missionaries? If enforced, the law does not promise
them a very nice time of it. We pity them, with the Blasphemy
Laws suspended over their heads like a sword of Damocles; for,
of all the foul-mouthed blasphemers against God and the
Gods of other nations they are the foremost. Why should they be
allowed to break the law against Vishnu, Durga, or any fetish;
against Buddha, Mahomet, or even a spook, in whom a spiritualist
sincerely recognizes his dead mother, any more than an "infidel"
against Jehovah? In the eyes of Law, Hanuman, the monkey-god,
has to be protected as much as any of the trinitarian god-heads;
otherwise law would be more blindfolded than ever. Moreover, besides
his sacredness in the eyes of the teeming millions of India, Hanuman
is no less dear to the sensitive hearts of Darwinists; and blasphemy
against our first cousin, the tailless baboon, is certain to "hurt
the feelings" of Messers. Grant Allen and Aveling, as much
as those of many Hindu theosophists. We grant that he who makes
"comic pictures of the crucifixion," commits an offense
against the law. But so does he who ridicules Krishna, and misunderstanding
the allegory of his Gopi (shepherdesses) speaks foully of him
before Hindus. And how about the profane and vulgar jokes uttered
from the pulpit by some ministers of the gospels themselves--not
about Krishna, but Christ himself?
And here steps in the comical discrepancy between theory and practice,
between the dead and living letter of the law. We know of several
most offensively "comic" preachers, but have hitherto
found "infidels" and atheists alone sternly reproving
for it those sinning Christian ministers, whether in England or
The world upside down! Profane blasphemy charged upon gospel
preachers, the orthodox press keeping silent about it, and an Agnostic alone
raising his voice against such clownish proceedings. It is certain
that we find more truth in one paragraph of ''Saladin's"1 writings than in half the daily papers of the United Kingdom;
more of reverential and true feeling, to whatsoever applied, and
more of fine sense for the fitness of things in the little
finger of that "infidel," than in all the burly, boisterous
figure of the Reverend-irreverend Mr. Spurgeon. One is an "agnostic"--a
"scoffer at the Bible" he is called; the other a famous
Christian preacher. But Karma having nought to do with
the dead letter of human laws, of civilization or progress, provides
on our spinning ball of mud an antidote for every evil, hence
a truth-worshiping infidel, for every money-making preacher
who desecrates his gods. America has its Talmage, described very
properly by the New York "Sun"2 as a "gibbering charlatan," and its Colonel Robert
Ingersoll. In England Talmage's imitators find a stern Nemesis
in "Saladin." The Yankee preacher was more than once
severely taken to task by infidel papers for leading his flock
to heaven not in a reverential spirit, but trying to shorten the
long and tedious journey with sundry Biblical anecdotes. Who in
New York has forgotten the farce-pantomine performed by
Talmage on April 15, 1877? We remember it well. His subject was
the "trio of Bethany," when each of the three dramatis
personae was "mimicked to perfection," as declared
by the congregation. Jesus was shown by the reverend harlequin,
"making a morning call" on Mary and Martha, throwing
himself "on an ottoman," then taking up the time
of Mary "the lover of ethics," who sat at his feet,
and finding himself "blown up for this" (sic)
by Martha, "left to serve alone." Colonel Sandys said
the other day in the House of Commons in his speech on Mr. Bradlaugh's
Blasphemy Bill which he opposed, that "while we punished
those who killed the body, the object of the bill was to allow
those who would murder the souls of men to do so with impunity."
Does he think that making fun of sacred beliefs by a Christian
preacher fills the souls of his listeners with reverence, and murders it
only when that fun comes from an infidel?
The same pious "commoner" reminded the House that: "Under
the law of Moses those who committed blasphemy were to be taken
out of the camp and stoned to death."
We have not the slightest objection to Protestant fanatics of
the Mosaic persuasion, taking the Talmages and Spurgeons, and
stoning them to death. We will not even stop to enquire of such
a modern Saul, why blame in such a case the Pharisees for acting
on that same Mosaic law and crucifying his Christ, or "certain
of the Synagogue of the Libertines" for stoning Stephen?
But we will simply state this:--If justice, like charity,
does not stop "at home," such unfairness as Freethinkers,
Agnostics, Theosophists, and other infidels receive generally
at the hands of law, will be a subject of the scorn for future
For history repeats itself. Spurgeon having poked fun at Paul's miracles, we recommend every fair-minded person to procure
the Agnostic Journal of April 13, and read Saladin's article
"At Random," devoted to that favourite preacher. If
they would find out the reason why, day by day, religious feeling
is dying out in this country, murdered as it is in Christian souls, let them read it. Reverence is replaced by emotionalism.
The Salvationists glorifying Christ on the "light fantastic
toe," and Spurgeon's "tabernacle" is all that remains
in this Christian land of the Sermon on the Mount. Crucifixion
and Calvary are solely represented by that weird combination of
hell-fire and "Punch and Judy show," which is pre-eminently
Mr. Spurgeon's religion. Who, then, will find these lines by "Saladin" too strong?
. . . . Edward Irving was a severe mystic and volcanic Elijah;
Charles Spurgeon is a grinning and exoteric Grimaldi. Newly returned
from Mentone and gout, he presided over the annual meeting of
the Metropolitan Tabernacle Church Auxilliary, held in the Tabernacle.
At the commencement of the proceedings he remarked to those about
to pray; "Now, it is a cold night, and, if anybody prays
very long, somebody will be frozen to death. (Laughter.) I remember
that Paul preached a long sermon once, and a young man tumbled
out of a window and killed himself. If anybody gets frozen to-night,
I am not like Paul, and cannot restore him, so please don't render
a miracle necessary, as I cannot perform it. ( Laughter. )"
Such a Jester as this, if he had been alive and in Palestine.
contemporary with the "blessed Lord," out of whom he
makes such a profit, would have poked the "blessed Lord"
jocularly in the ribs with a "well, and how are you, old
boy from Nazareth?" There would have been Judas, called Iscariot,
who carried the bag, and Charles, called Spurgeon, who wore the
cap and bells.
I make light of the Galilean fables, because to me they are simply
fables; but to Mr. Spurgeon they are "the very word of very
God," and it is not for him to make light of them, even to
please the holy mediocrites of the Tabernacle. I venture to recommend
to Mr. Spurgeon's devout attention a sentiment to he found in
Cicero's De Legibus, and which runs thus: De sacris
autem haec sit una sententia, ut conserventur. As Mr. Spurgeon
has all his life been so prayerfully absorbed that he has had
no time for study and knows no language save a voluble gush of
washerwoman English, I may tell him and his that the words mean, But let us all concur in this one sentiment, that things sacred
be inviolate.--(Agn. Journal, April 13.)
Amen, we utter, from the bottom of our soul, to this noble advice.
"But his pen is dipped in sacrilegious gall!" we heard
a clergyman say to us the other day, speaking of "Saladin."
"Aye," we answered. "But his is a diamond pen,
and the gall of his irony is clear as crystal, free as it is from
any other desire than to deal justly and speak the truth."
In view of the "blasphemy law" remaining on hand, and
the equitable law of this country which makes a libel more libellous in proportion to the truth it contains, and especially with
an eye to the pecuniary ruin which it entails upon at least one
of the parties, there is more heroism and fearless self-abnegation
in speaking the truth pro bono publico, than in pandering
to public hobbies. With the exception, perhaps, of the brave and
outspoken editor of the Pall Mall Gazette there is no writer
in England whom we respect more for such noble-minded fearlessness,
and none whose fine wit we admire more than "Saladin's."
But the world, in our day, judges everything on appearance. Motives
are held as of no account, and the materialistic tendency is foremost
in condemning a priori that which clashes with skin-deep
propriety and encrusted notions. Nations, men, and ideas all are
judged according to our preconceptions, and the lethal emanations
of modern civilization kill all goodness and truth. As observed
by St. Georges, the savage races are fast disappearing, "killed
by the mere contact of civilized man." No doubt, it must be a consolation to the Hindu and even the Zulu, to think
that all their surviving brethren will die (thanks to the missionary
effort) linguists and scholars, if not Christians. A theosophist,
a colonist born in Africa, was telling us the other day that a
Zulu had offered himself to him as "a boy." This Caffre
was a graduate of a college, a Latin, Greek, Hebrew and English
scholar. Found unable with all these achievements to cook a dinner
or clean boots, the gentleman had to send him away--probably to starve. All this has inflated the European with pride.
But, as says again the above-quoted writer, "he forgets that
Africa is fast becoming Mussulman, and that Islam, a kind
of granite block which in its powerful cohesion defies the force
of the waves and winds, is refractory to European ideas, which,
so far, have never seriously affected it." Europe may yet
awaken one day to find itself Mussulman, if not in "durance
vile" to the "heathen Chinee." But when the "inferior
races" have all died out, who, or what shall replace them
in the cycle that is to mirror our own?
There are those, also, who with a superficial eye to ancient as
also to modern history, slight and disparage everything ever achieved
in antiquity. We remember reading about heathen priesthoods; who
"built proud towers," instead of "emancipating
degraded savages." The Magi of Babylon were contrasted with
the "poor Patagonians" and other Christian missions,
the former coming out second best in every such comparison. To
this it may be answered that if the ancients built "proud
towers" so do the moderns; witness, the present Parisian
craze, the Eiffel Tower. How many human lives the ancient
towers cost, no one can tell, but the Eiffel, unfinished as it
is, has cost in the first year of its existence over one hundred
workmen killed. Between the latter and the Babylonian Tower, the
palm of superiority in usefullness belongs by rights to the ziggurat, the Planet Tower of Nebo's Temple of Borsippa. Between a "proud
tower" built to the national God of Wisdom, and another "proud
tower" constructed to attract the children of folly--unless
it is urged that even modern folly is superior to ancient wisdom--there
is room for a diversity of opinions. Furthermore, it is to Chaldean
astrology that modern astrognosy owes its progress, and it is
the astronomical calculations of the Magi that became the ground-work
of our present mathematical astronomy and have guided discoverers
in their researches. As to missions, whether to Patagonia or Anam,
Africa or Asia, it is still an open question with the unprejudiced,
whether they are a benefit or an evil which Europe confers on
the "degraded savages." We seriously doubt whether the
"benighted" heathen would not profit more by being left
severely alone than by being made (in addition to treason to their
earlier beliefs) acquainted with the blessings of rum, whiskey
and the various ensuing diseases which generally appear in the
trail of European missionaries. Every sophistry notwithstanding,
a moderately honest heathen is nearer the Kingdom of Heaven
than a lying, thieving, rascally Christian convert. And--since
he is assured that his robes (i.e. crimes) are washed in
the blood of Jesus, and is told of God's greater joy "over
one sinner that repenteth" than over 99 sinless saints--neither
he, nor we, can see why the convert should not profit by the opportunity.
"Who," asks E. Young, "gave in antiquity twenty
millions, not at the bidding of an imperious monarch or a tyrannical
priesthood, but at the spontaneous call of the national conscience
and by the immediate instrumentality of the national will?"
the writer adding, that in this "money grant" there
is "a moral grandeur that sinks the Pyramids into littleness."
O, the pride and the conceit of this our age!
We do not know. Had each of the subscribers to this "money
grant" given his "widow's two mites," they might claim collectively to have cast "more
than all," more than any other nation, and await their reward.
England being, however, the wealthiest nation in the world, the
intrinsic merits of the case seem slightly altered. Twenty millions
in a lump represent indeed a mighty engine for good. But such
a "money grant" could only gain in Karma, were it to
pander less to national pride, and were the nation not to feel
itself so exalted for it, in the four quarters of the globe, by
hundred-voiced fame trumpeted by public organs. True charity
opens her purse-strings with an invisible hand, and:
Finishing its act, exists
no more. . . .
It shuns Fame, and is never ostentatious. Besides which, everything
is relative. One million in specie, 3,000 years ago, represented
ten-fold more than twenty millions to-day. Twenty millions are
a Niagara inundating with Titanic force some popular want, and
creating, for the time being, as great a commotion. But, while
helping for a certain lapse of time tens of thousands of hungry
wretches, even such an enormous sum leaves ten times as many unfortunate,
starving wretches still unrelieved.
To such munificent bounties we prefer countries where there are
no needy people at all, e.g. those small communities, the
remnants of once mighty races, which allow no beggars among their
co-religionists--we mean the Parsis. Under the Indian and Buddhist
Kings, like Chandragupta and Asoka, people did not wait, as they
do now, for a national calamity, to throw the surplus of their
overflowing wealth at the head of a portion of the starving and
the homeless, but worked steadily on, century after century, building rest-houses, digging wells and planting fruit-trees along
the roads, wherein the weary pilgrim and the penniless traveler
could always find rest and shelter, be fed and receive hospitality
at the national expense. A little clear stream of cold, healthy
water which runs steadily, and is ever ready to refresh parched
lips, is more beneficent than the sudden torrent that breaks the
dam of national indifference, now and then, by fits and starts.
Thus, if we have to become in the future cycle that which we
already have been, let this be as in the days of Asoka, not
as it is now. But we are reproached with forgetting "Christian heroism." Where will you find, we are asked, a parallel
to the heroism of the early martyrs and that displayed in our
day? We are sorry to contradict this boast like many others. If
casual instances of heroism in our century are undeniable, who,
on the other hand, dreads death more, as a general rule, than
the Christian? The idolater, the Hindu and the Buddhist, in short
every Asiatic or African, dies with an indifference and serenity
unknown to our Western man. As for "Christian heroism,"
whether we mean mediaeval or modern heroes or heroines, a St.
Louis, or a General Gordon, a Joan of Arc, or a Nightingale, there
is no need of the adjective to emphasize the substantive. The
Christian martyrs were preceded by the idolatrous and even godless
Spartans of many virtues, the brave sisters of the Red Cross by
the matrons of Rome and Greece. To this day, the daily self-tortures
submitted to by the Indian Yogi and the Mussulman Fakir, tortures
often lasting through years, throw entirely into the shadow--the
unavoidable heroism of the Christian martyr, ancient or modern.
He who would learn the full meaning of the word "heroism"
must read the Annals of Rajistan by Colonel Tod. . . .
"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and to
God the things that are God's," is a golden rule, but like
so many others from the same source, Christians are the first
to break it.
Pride and conceit are the two hideous cancers devouring the heart
of civilized nations, and selfishness is the sword handled
by evanescent personality to sever the golden thread that
links it to immortal INDIVIDUALITY. Old Juvenal
must have been a prophet. It is our century that he addresses
We own thy merits;
but we blame beside
Thy mind elate with insolence and pride!
Pride is the first enemy to itself. Unwilling to hear any one
praised in its presence, it falls foul of every rival and does
not always come out victorious. "I am the ONE,
and God's elect," says the proud nation. "I am the invincible and the foremost; tremble all ye around me!"
Behold, there comes a day when we see it crouching in the dust,
bleeding and mangled. "I am the ONE,"
croaks the private crow in peacock's feathers. "I am the ONE--painter, artist, writer, or what
not--par excellence. . . . On whomsoever I shed my light,
he is singled out by the nations; on whomsoever I turn my back,
he is doomed to contempt and oblivion."
Vain conceit and glorification. In the law of Karma as in the
truths we find in the gospels, he who is the first will be the
last--hereafter. There are those writers whose thoughts, however
distasteful to the bigoted majority will survive many generations;
others which, however brilliant and original, will be rejected
in the future cycles. Moreover, as the cowl does not make the
monk, so the external excellence of a thing does not guarantee
the moral beauty of its workman, whether in art or literature.
Some of the most eminent poets, philosophers and authors were
historically immoral. Rousseau's ethics did not prevent his nature
being far from perfect. Edgar Poe is said to have written his
best poems in a state verging on delirium tremens. George
Sand, her magnificent psychological insight, the high moral character
of her heroines, and her elevated ideas notwithstanding, could
have never claimed the Montyon prize for virtue. Talent,
moreover, and especially genius, are no development of any one's
present life, of which one ought to feel personally proud, but
the fruition of a previous existence, and its illusions are dangerous.
"Maya," say the Orientals, "spreads its thickest
and most deceitful veils over the most lovely spots and objects
in nature." The most beautiful serpents are the most venomous.
The Upas tree, whose deadly atmosphere kills every living
thing that approaches it, is--the Queen of Beauty in the African
Shall we expect the same in the "coming cycle"? Are
we doomed to the same evils then that befall us now?
Nevertheless, and though Fichte's speculation will have proved
correct and Shelley's "Golden Age" will have dawned
upon mankind, still Karma will have its usual way. For we shall
have become "the ancients" in our turn, for those who
will come long after us. The men of that period will also believe
themselves the only perfect beings and show scorn to the
"Eiffel" as we show scorn to the Babel-tower. Slaves
to the routine--the established opinions of the day; what
they of the next cycle will say and do, will alone be well said
"Wolf! wolf!" will be the cry raised against those who,
as we defend the ancients now, will attempt to say a good word
for us. And forthwith the finger of scorn and every weapon available
will be directed at him who falls off from the beaten track, and
at the "blasphemers" who may dare to call by their right
names the gods of that cycle, and presume to defend their own
ideals. What biographies shall be written of the famous infidels
of to-day, one can foresee in reading those of some of England's
best poets; e.g., the posthumous opinions passed on Percy
Yea, he is now accused of what he would have otherwise been praised
for, because, forsooth, he wrote in his boyhood "A Defence
of Atheism"! Ergo, his imagination is said to have
carried him "beyond the bounds of reality," and his
metaphysics are said to be "without a solid foundation of
reason." This amounts to saying that his critics alone know
all about the landmarks placed by nature between the real and
the unreal. This kind of orthodox trigonometrical surveyors of
the absolute, who claim to be the only specialists chosen by their
God for the setting of boundaries and who are ever ready to sit
in judgment over independent metaphysicians, are a feature of
our century. In Shelley's case, the metaphysics of the young author
of "Queen Mab," described in popular encyclopedias as
a "violent and blasphemous attack on Christianity and the
Bible," must, of course, have appeared to his infallible
judges without "a solid foundation in reason." For them,
that "foundation" is in the motto of Tertullian, "Credo
quia absurdium est."
Poor, great young Shelley! He who laboured so zealously for several
years of his too short life in relieving the poor and consoling
the distressed, and who, according to Medwin, would have given
his last sixpence to a stranger in want, he is called an Atheist for refusing to accept the Bible literally! We find,
perhaps, a reason for this "Atheism" in the Conversations
Lexicon, in which Shelley's immortal name is followed by that
of Shem, "the eldest son of Noah . . . said in Scripture
to have died at the age of 600 years." The writer of this
encyclopedic information (quoted by us verbatim) had just
indulged in saying that "the censure of extreme presumption
can hardly be withheld from a writer who, in his youth, rejects
all established opinions," such as Bible chronology
we suppose. But the same writer passes without a word of comment
and in prudent, if not reverential, silence, the cyclic years
of Shem, as indeed he may!
Such is our century, so noisily, but happily for all preparing
for its final leap into eternity. Of all past centuries, it is
the most smilingly cruel, wicked, immoral, boastful and incongruous.
It is the hybrid and unnatural production, the monstrous child
of its parents--an honest mother called "mediaeval superstition"
and a dishonest, humbugging father, a profligate impostor, universally
known as "modern civilization." This unpaired, odd team
which now drags the car of progress through the triumphal arches
of our civilization, suggests strange thoughts. Our Oriental turn
of mind makes us think, as we gaze at this orthodox piety harnessed
together with cool sneering materialism, of a fitting symbol for
our century. We choose it in the colonial production of European
ethics (alas, living productions!) known as the half-castes. We fancy a coffee-coloured, oily face, looking insolently
at the world through an eyeglass. A flat and woolly head, surmounted
by a tall hat, enthroned on a pedestal of white-starched collar,
shirt, and fashionable satin cravat. Leaning on the arm of this
hybrid production, the flat swarthy visage of a mongrel beauty
shines under a Parisian bonnet--a pyramid of gauze, gay ribands
and plumes . . . . .
Indeed, this combination of Asiatic flesh and European array is
no more ludicrous than the bird's-eye view of the moral and intellectual
amalgamation of ideas and views as now accepted. Mr. Huxley and
the "Woman clothed with the Sun"; the Royal Society
and the new prophet of Brighton, who lays letters "before
the Lord" and has messages for us in reply "from Jehovah
of Hosts"; who signs himself, unblushingly, "King Solomon"
on letters stamped with the heading, "Sanctuary of Jehovah" (sic), and calls the "Mother"--(the said Solar "woman") "that accursed thing" and an abomination.
Yet their teachings are all authoritative and orthodox. Just
fancy Mr. Grant Allen trying to persuade General Booth that "Life
owes its origin to the chemically-separative action of ethereal
undulations on the cooled surface of the earth, especially carbonic
anhydride and water"; and "le brav' general" of
England, arguing that this cannot be so, since this "cooled
surface" was only called into being 4004 B.C.;
thence, that his (Grant Allen's) "existing diversity of organic
forms" was not in the least due, as his new book would make
the unwary believe, "to the minute interaction of dynamical
laws," but to the dust of the ground, from which "the
Lord-God formed the beast of the field" and "every fowl
of the air."
These two are the representatives of the goats and the sheep on
the Day of Judgment, the Alpha and the Omega of orthodox and correct
society in our century. The unfortunates squeezed on the neutral
line between these two are steadily kicked and butted by both. Emotionalism and conceit--one, a nervous disease,
the other that feeling which prompts us to swim with the current
if we would not pass for retrograde fogeys, or infidels--are the
powerful weapons in the hands of our pious modern "sheep"
and our learned "goats." How many swell the respective
ranks merely owing to one or the other of these feelings, is known
to their Karma alone . . . .
Those who are not to be moved by either hysterical emotion or
a holy fear of the multitudes and propriety; those, whom the voice
of their conscience--"that still small voice" which,
when heard, deafens the mighty roar of the Niagara Falls itself
and will not permit them to lie to their own souls--remain outside.
For these there is no hope in this departing age, and they may
as well give up all expectation. They are born out of due time. Such is the terrible picture presented by our present cycle,
now nearing its close, to those from whose eyes the scales of
prejudice, preconception and partiality have fallen, and who see
the truth that lies behind the deceptive appearances of our Western
"civilization." But what has the new cycle in store
for humanity? Will it be merely a continuation of the present,
only in darker and more terrible colours? Or shall a new day dawn
for mankind, a day of pure sunlight, of truth, of charity, of
true happiness for all? The answer depends mainly on the few Theosophists
who, true to their colours through good repute and ill, still
fight the battle of Truth against the powers of Darkness.
An infidel paper contains some optimistic words, the last prophecy
by Victor Hugo, who is alleged to have said this:
For four hundred years the human race has not made a step but
what has left its plain vestige behind. We enter now upon great
centuries. The sixteenth century will be known as the age of painters,
the seventeenth will be termed the age of writers, the eighteenth
the age of philosophers, the nineteenth the age of apostles and
prophets. To satisfy the nineteenth century it is necessary to
be the painter of the sixteenth, the writer of the seventeenth,
the philosopher of the eighteenth, and it is also necessary, like
Louis Blanc, to have the innate and holy love of humanity which
constitutes an apostolate, and opens up a prophetic vista into
the future. In the twentieth, war will be dead, the scaffold will
be dead, animosity will be dead, royalty will be dead, and dogmas
will be dead, but man will live. For all, there will be but one
country--that country the whole earth; for all, there will be
but one hope--that hope the whole heaven.
All hail, then, to that noble twentieth century which shall own
our children, and which our children shall inherit!
If Theosophy prevailing in the struggle, its all-embracing philosophy
strikes deep root into the minds and hearts of men, if its doctrines
of Reincarnation and Karma, in other words, of Hope and Responsibility,
find a home in the lives of the new generations, then, indeed,
will dawn the day of joy and gladness for all who now suffer and
are outcast. For real Theosophy IS ALTRUISM,
and we cannot repeat it too often. It is brotherly love, mutual
help, unswerving devotion to Truth. If once men do but realize
that in these alone can true happiness be found, and never in
wealth, possessions, or any selfish gratification, then the dark
clouds will roll away, and a new humanity will be born upon earth.
Then, the GOLDEN AGE will
be there, indeed.
But if not, then the storm will burst, and our boasted western
civilization and enlightenment will sink in such a sea of horror
that its parallel History has never yet recorded.
H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, May, 1889