OUR THIRD VOLUME
[Lucifer, Vol. II, No. 13, September, 1888, pp. 1-3]
With the present number our magazine enters the second year of its career, and the torch of our Flame-Bearer is lighting the second mile-stone of our progress. The path has been devious and difficult—at times, skirting as well the verge of precipices, as running over smooth levels; yet, always in the direction of its declared objective point.
It would be the height of folly to say that all readers have been equally satisfied: the editor who attempts to cater to every taste, ends by satisfying none, least of all himself. We have received protests almost as liberally as compliments. We have sometimes thought it would be an amusing experiment to send the former letters to the dissident third parties, that each might see how the articles they praise excite the ire of fellow-readers, and those they condemn are regarded by others as most interesting and meritorious. It is one of the stock-situations of the dramatist to thus contrive that letters shall fall into the wrong hands. But we have not yet heard of the joke being played by an editor, though the temptation to do so must be sometimes great. We think it may be fairly claimed that Lucifer has proved itself consistent to its originally declared policy. It has been the reverse of boneless. To the extent of its ability it has struck fairly and from the shoulder at the obstacles in the way. The aim it set itself was to shed light upon questions of deep moment affecting man and the constitution of
Society, which had become thoroughly obscured. Making no pretence to float a single new idea in philosophy, religion, or science, but only to revive and popularize the knowledge of the ancients upon these major human problems, it has played the part of the interpreter, not that of the iconoclast. Absolutely tolerant with respect to the several faiths of Humanity, its equal endeavour has been to uncover the ruin-encumbered universal foundation of religion upon which all rest alike.
Toward Science its feeling has been and ever shall be reverent, in the degree of the right of the latter to homage. At the same time, the hatred and antagonism of the Founders of our magazine have been unqualified against scientific and sectarian dogmatism and intolerance. Lucifer began by waving its torch before the windows of Lambeth Palace, not because of any personal feeling against His Grace of Canterbury, as an individual, but against the officialism he represents, which is at once selfish and un-Christian to the last degree. And so, if Lucifer has sometimes lit with its celestial flame the laboratory fires behind the back of the scientific obscurantists, it was under the inspiration of a fervent loyalty to that true scientific research whose axiom of impartiality and courageous quest throughout nature was formulated axiomatically by Arago in his famous apothegm that outside of pure mathematics the word “impossible” must never be pronounced.
We have not the vanity to suppose that we have done even a tithe of what was possible within the editorial field of our chosen labour. We have doubtless in many cases failed to expound our subjects clearly and exhaustively; perhaps, too, our sins of commission may have been as grievous as those of omission. But asking indulgence for all shortcomings, we appeal to that inborn love of fair play, which is the boast of our times, to give us credit for good intent and fearless defence of our ideals.
The most mischievous tendency of society is to confound general principles with individual merit, and to excuse oneself for disloyalty to these ideals on the score of shortcomings in individual representatives of those aspirations.
In no movement of modern times has this been more viciously evident than in that which Lucifer and its sister-magazines represent. Frequently the aims and objects of the Theosophical movement have been quite ignored when it was a question of the merit or demerit of its conductors. Of course it would be but a waste of time to point out the inconsistence of those who would stretch it upon this bed of Procrustes, while ready to protest indignantly against the same test being applied to religious movements and scientific advancement. The immorality or virtue of a theosophical leader no more affects the truth of theosophical ideas, than the mendaciousness and dishonesty of Francis, Lord Bacon, do the intellectual value of the contents of his opus magnum. Theosophists are all aware of the fact that the birth and development of our Society trace back to alleged hidden springs of influence and surveillance. Yet the vitality of such a source neither adds to, nor depreciates in the smallest degree the value of the ideas, principles and facts which have been spread throughout the world within the past fifteen years through various literary channels, of which Lucifer is one. That our magazine has not been partial, is shown in the fact that as occasion required we have criticized our own colleagues and co-members. In fact one of our editors has not hesitated to censure the policy of the ad interim conductors of her own magazine, The Theosophist of Madras.
If she has not held the torch nearer to certain American French, English, German and Hindu members of the Society, it is because the sweet spirit of theosophical charity demands that time should be given to these well-wishers but weak-doers to discover their ignorance and cleanse themselves of the ferocious selfishness, narrow-mindedness and conceit which have made their playing at “the higher life” an almost comical travesty. With time and experience, most of the Pharisaism of our worthy colleagues, the self-appointed censors of contemporary morals, will fade out, and they will acquire safer standards by which to judge outsiders and especially their own colleagues.
If there is one thing that Lucifer proposes to preach and enforce throughout the next year, more than any other subject, it is—CHARITY; unrelenting charity toward the shortcomings of one’s neighbour, untiring charity with regard to the wants of one poorer than oneself. Charity is the scope of all theosophical teachings, the synthesis of all and every virtue. A person who exercises charity under this dual aspect, cannot be a bad man or woman, do what he may. We think with a certain philosopher that “it is proper that charity should flow out of a little purse, as well as out of a great sack,” and with another writer, that one ought not to defer his charities till death. For “He who does so is rather liberal of another man’s substance than his own,” says Bacon. And how true and great these words of the eminent American poet, Joaquin Miller:
“ALL YOU CAN HOLD IN YOUR COLD DEAD HAND,
IS WHAT YOU HAVE GIVEN AWAY. . . . .”
Apart from this—the future lines of Lucifer will be but a prolongation of those of the Past. We do not wish to persuade a single additional subscriber to register himself under any promise of occult teaching that is barred by the rules of mystical training. We shall not utter the last or even the penultimate word of mystery, nor give any pocket Vade Mecum which shall serve as a super-terrestrial Bradshaw to excursionists in the Astral Light. Whosoever would
“. . . . . trace
The secrets of that starry race”
—must travel first along the lines of true Theosophy; and then only can he expect to break through the region of Mystery and the Supreme Knowledge.
We stand at the parting of the ways, where the one path leads down the acclivity to the dark valley of ignorance, and the other climbs upward toward the pure celestial level of being. For us, it is to utter the cry of warning and the word of encouragement; he that hath ears to hear, let him hear—AND BE WISE.