[Review: Buddhism in Christendom]
Lucifer, September, 1887
Buddhism in Christendom, or Jesus the Essene, by Arthur Lillie, etc.—A queer and rather thickish volume, of a presumably scientific character, by an amateur Orientalist.
Contents:—Familiar theories, built on two sacred and time-honoured names, which the author enshrines between garlands of modern gossip and libels on his critics, past and present. A true literary sarcophagus inhuming the decayed bodies of very old, if occasionally correct, theories jumbled up together with exploded speculations.
The volume—title and symbology—is pregnant with the atmosphere of the sacred poetry attached to the names of Gautama the Buddha, and “Jesus the Essene.” To find it sprinkled with the heavy drops of personal spite, is like gazing at an unclean fly fallen into the communion-wine of a chalice. One can but wonder and ask oneself, what shall be the next move in literature? Is it a new “Sacred Book of the East,” in which one will find the evidence by Policeman Endacott against Miss Cass welcomed and accepted as an historical fact? Or shall it be the Pentecostal tongues of fire examined in the light of the latest improved kerosene lamp?
But a well-informed chronicler at our elbow reports that the author of Buddhism in Christendom, or Jesus the Essene, is a strong medium who sits daily for spiritual development. This would account for the wonderfully mixed character of the contents of the volume referred to. It must be so, since it reads just as such a joint production would. It is a curious mixture of “spirit” inspiration, passages bodily taken from the reports of the Society “for Spookical Research,” as that misguided body was dubbed—for once wittily—by the Saturday Review, and various other little defamatory trifles besides. The “spirit guides” are proverbially revengeful and not always wise in their generation. A former work by the same medium having been three or four years ago somewhat painfully mangled by a real Sanskrit and Buddhist scholar in India, the “Spirit Angel” falls foul now of his critics. The wandering Spook tries to run amuck among them, without even perceiving, the poor, good soul, that he only blots and disfigures with the corrosive venom of his spite the two noble and sacred characters whom his medium-author undertakes to interpret, before ever he has learned to understand them. . . .
This places Lucifer under the disagreeable necessity of reviewing the pretentious work at length in one of its future numbers. As the same mistakes and blunders occur in Buddhism in Christendom as in Buddha and Early Buddhism, the magazine must make it its duty, if not altogether its pleasure, to check the volume of 1883 by that of 1887.