THIS book, which now leaves our hands, concentrates in a small compass -the results of very considerable labour, and the diligent study of very many books in languages living and dead. it purports to be a history (for the first time treated seriously in English) of the famous Order of the 'Rose-Cross', or of the 'Rosicrucians'. No student of the occult philosophy need, however, fear that we shall not most carefully keep guard--standing sentry (so to speak) not only over this, which is, by far, the pre-eminent, but also over those other recondite systems which are connected with the illustrious Rosicrucians.
An accomplished author of our own period has remarked that 'He who deals in the secrets of magic, or in the secrets of the human mind, is too often looked upon with jealous eyes by the world, which is no great conjuror.'
How is it that, after centuries of doubt or denial--how happens it, in face of the reason that can make nothing of it, the common sense that rejects, and the science which can demonstrate it as impossible, the supernatural still has such vital hold in the human--not to say in the modern--mind? How happens it that the most terrible fear is the fear of the invisible?--this, too, when we are on all hands assured that the visible alone is that which we have to dread! The ordinary reason exhorts us to dismiss our fears. That thing 'magic', that superstition 'miracle', is
now banished wholly from the beliefs of this clear-seeing, educated age. 'Miracle', we are told, never had a place in the world--only in men’s delusions. It is nothing more than a fancy. It never was anything more than a superstition arising from ignorance.
What is fear? It is a shrinking from possible harm, either to the body, or to that thing which we denominate the mind that is in us. The body shrinks with instinctive nervous alarm, like the sensitive leaf, when its easy, comfortable exercise or sensations are disturbed.
Our book, inasmuch as it deals--or professes to deal--seriously with strange things and with deep mysteries, needs the means of interpretation in the full attention of the reader: otherwise, little will be made, or can come, of it. It is, in brief, a history of the alchemical philosophers, written with a serious explanatory purpose, and for the first time impartially stated since the days of James. the First and Charles the First. This is really what the book pretends to be--and nothing more. It should be mentioned that the peculiar views and deductions to be found herein were hinted at as demonstrable for the first time by the same Author in the year 1858, when a work entitled Curious Things of the Outside World was produced.
Let it be understood, however, that the Author distinctly excepts against being in any manner identified with all the opinions religious or otherwise, which are to be found in this book. Some of them are, indeed, most extraordinary; but, in order to do full justice to the speculations of the Hermetic Brethren, he has put forward their ideas with as much of their original- force as he was able; and, in some parts of his book, he believes he has urged them with such apparent warmth, that they, will very likely seem to
have been his own most urgent convictions. As far as he can. succeed in being so considered, the Author wishes to be regarded simply as the Historian of, the Rosicrucians, or as an Essayist on their strange, mysterious beliefs.
Whether he will succeed in engaging the attention of modern readers to a consideration of this time-honoured philosophy remains to be seen; but this he is assured of, that the admiration of all students and reflective minds will be excited by the unrivalled powers of thinking of the Rosicrucians. The application, proper or otherwise, of these powers is a matter altogether beside the present inquiry.
The Author has chiefly chosen for exposition the Latin writings of the great English Rosicrucian, Robert Flood, or Fludd (Robertus de Fluctibus), who lived in the times of James the First and Charles the First.
Our final remarks shall be those of a very famous Brother of the 'R.C.', writing under the date of 1653: 'I will now cloze up', saith he, 'with the doxology of a most excellent, renowned Philocryphus:
Amen in MERCURIO, qui pedibus licet carens decurrit AQUA, et metallice universaliter operatur.'
LONDON, January 20th, 1870