Our Second Year
Theosophist, August, 1880
Like all other pleasant things, our first year’s relations with The THEOSOPHIST’S subscribers are about to terminate. The present is the eleventh number, that has been issued under the contract, and the September one will be the twelfth and last. Thus every engagement assumed by the proprietors of the magazine has been honourably and literally fulfilled. It would seem as though they were entitled to the acknowledgement of this much even from those croakers who prophesied the total, probably speedy, collapse of the enterprise, both before and after the first number appeared.
The case of the THEOSOPHIST calls for a word or two of particular comment. Even in any large city of Europe or America, it is a very rare thing for a periodical of this stamp to survive the natural indifference or hostility of the public for a whole year. Out of scores of attempts made within our own recollection, the successes are so few as to be scarcely worth mentioning. As a rule their term of existence has been in exact ratio with the lump sum their projectors have been ready to spend upon them. In India the prospect was far worse; for the people are poor, cut up into innumerable castes, not accustomed to take in periodicals, and certainly not to patronize those put forth by foreigners. Besides, and especially, the custom has always been to give two, three, and even more years’ credit to subscribers, and every Indian publication advertises its respective cash and credit terms of subscription. All this we knew, and both Anglo-Indian and Native journalists of the largest experience warned us to anticipate failure; under no circumstances, they thought, would it be possible for us to make succeed among so apathetic a people so strange a magazine, even though we should give unlimited credit. But as our object was not profit, and as the Society badly needed such an organ, we decided to make the venture. A sum large enough to pay the entire cost of the magazine for one year was set aside, and the first number appeared promptly on the day announced—October 1st, 1879. Believing that the credit system was absolutely pernicious, and having seen the universal adoption in America of the plan of cash payment in advance and its unmixed advantages, we announced that the latter would be the rule of this office. The results are already known to our readers: in the fourth month the magazine reached, and before the half year was gone, passed that ticklish point where income and expenses balance each other, and its success was an assured fact. Many subscribers have been so anxious to have us succeed that they have sent us their money to pay for the magazine two years in advance, and others have told us we may count upon their patronage as long as they may live.
It goes without saying that the projectors of the THEOSOPHIST have been inexpressibly delighted with the affectionate response to their appeal to the Asiatic people for support in an attempt to snatch from the dust of oblivion the treasures of Aryan wisdom. What heart that was not made of stone could be untouched by so much devotion as has been shown us and our sacred cause of human brotherhood? And it is our pride and joy to realize that all these friends have clustered around us, even when we were under the heavy burden of the suspicions of the Indian Government, because they have believed us to be sincere and true, the friends and brothers of the ardent sons of Asia. If our first year began in uncertainty, it doses all bright and full of promise. Where our magazine had one well-wisher then, now it has twenty, and by the beginning of the third year will have fifty. It has become a necessity to hundreds of young Aryan patriots, who love to know what their ancestors were, so that they may at least dream of emulating them. It has won a place in the regard of even Anglo-Indians, of which class many in influential positions take it. Its merits as an Oriental magazine have been acknowledged by a number of the first Orientalists of Europe, who have been by it introduced for the first time to some of the most learned of Asiatic priests, pandits and shastrees. In another place, in this number, will be found a few of the kind words that have been said to and about us, at this and the other side of the world. In short, the Theosophical Society, and its organ, the THEOSOPHIST, are now so firmly established that—entirely apart from the splendid results of the mission to Ceylon—every lover of truth may well rejoice.
Were we inclined to boasting we might hold out very attractive inducements to subscribers for the second volume. We prefer to let our past performance stand as guarantee of what we will do in the future. We have engaged so many valuable articles by the best writers of Asia, Europe, and America that we have no hesitancy in promising that the THEOSOPHIST of 1880-81 will be still more interesting and instructive than it has been for 1879-80. Naturally, the Ceylon voyage, and the taking into the Theosophical Society of every Buddhist priest in the Island of any reputation for ability or learning, will lead to such a complete exposition of Buddhism in these columns, by the men best qualified to speak, as must arrest universal attention. No Oriental magazine in the world could ever point to such an array of learned contributors as the THEOSOPHIST may already pride itself upon.
There will be no change in the terms of subscription, as we wish to make it possible for even the poorest clerk to take the magazine. Our friends must not forget that the American plan embraces two features, viz., the subscription-money must be in the manager’s hands before any copy is sent; and the journal is discontinued at the expiration of the term subscribed for. These two rules are invariable, and they have been announced on the first page in every issue, as may be seen upon referring to the Publisher’s notices. The September number is, therefore, the last that will be sent to our present subscribers, except to such as have paid for a further term. And as it takes time both to remit money and to open a new set of books, we advise all who wish to receive the October number at the usual time, to forward their subscriptions at once. We must again request that all cheques, hundis, money-orders, registered letters, and other remittances on account of the magazine may be made to the order of “the Proprietors of the THEOSOPHIST,” and to no one else.
As an inducement to friends to make special exertions to increase the circulation of our magazine, we hereby offer the two volumes of “Isis Unveiled,” of the latest edition, as a prize for the person who shall during the next six months procure the largest number of subscribers at our advertised rates. The competitor must himself send us the names and money, or if not the latter, then a certificate from each subscriber that he consents to have his name credited on the competitor’s list.