Mr. Ouseley's letter states, first: that his institution, which was promulgated in 1888, and which bears the additional names of the "Order of the Atonement," and "United Templars Society," is the original Order of the Golden Age, and that we have taken his name; second, that our Order is only a month old, and has arisen to do the work of the Vegetarian Society. Now the facts of the case are as follows, viz:- The Order of the Golden Age was founded in 1882 by Rev. H.J. Williams, Rector of Kinross, a member of our council, the prospectus was printed (a copy of which can be seen at our office, 15, St. James' Road, Exeter), and officers were appointed, but the society has been lying in a dormant state, for financial and other reasons, until its recent re-establishment on a wider and more comprehensive basis.
I have a letter in my possession dated January 8th, 1896, in which Mr. Ouseley states that he knew of the existence of our order in its earliest days, and that he wrote to the founder of it to get the rules, some years before printing those of his own institution at Brighton, which is a conclusive proof that his institution is not the original Order, and that instead of having taken the name of his society, he has taken the name of ours.
Mr. Ouseley is also perfectly well aware from the correspondence that has passed between us that our Order has not been established to do the work of the Vegetarian societies but to strengthen and help all the societies by endeavouring to make all their members realize more fully the religious aspect of the movement, and the many reasons for regarding the same as practical Christian and philanthropic endeavour.
We wish it to be distinctly understood that we have no desire to obtain distinction or preeminence; but we wish to encourage and assist all Vegetarian societies and all workers to increased zeal, activity, and enthusiasm, with a view to lessening as rapidly as possible the volume of the great river of blood which is daily being shed un-necessarily. This is however only one branch of our work, which includes the advocacy of the Christian spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion to the doing of God's will, practical philanthropy, peace, mercy, benevolence, and universal goodwill. We shall be pleased to send gratis to any of your readers a copy of our prospectus and of the first number of our Official Journal, in order to remove any misapprehension which may have been created in their minds by Mr. Ouseley's letter. - Yours Faithfully,
Sidney H. Beard,
15, St. James' Road,
February 8th, 1896.
From The Vegetarian of February 22nd, 1896.
THE ORDER OF THE GOLDEN AGE
To the Editor of The Vegetarian.
Sir, - Having nothing but good will to all workers in the cause of truth, righteousness, and humanity, and having expressed that good will to the heads of this recently founded or re-founded order of Mr. Williams, I am surprised to find that any misunderstanding should arise from my letter explaining our position. I need only reply to that part of Mr. Beard's letter which accuses me of making an incorrect statement, and that "knowingly." My reply is very simple. By Mr. Beard's own statement Mr. Williams' Society bearing same name as ours was founded in 1882, a year after ours was incepted - 1881. Consequently I could not have taken his name, which, by the way, I think was "The order of or guild? St. James and the Golden Age," but I have mislaid the paper I then got.
It is quite correct that I heard of some new order and wrote for the rules of it "some years before printing my own in 1888;" but I certainly took nothing from it that I remember, and if I did it was under the impression that it was as I was told, "broken up and dead."
The most then that can be truly said is that the same name, "Order of Golden Age," occurred to two individuals - ours in 1881, Mr. Williams 1882 - independently of each other. But this I do know (for I have the letter before me) that Mr. Beard asked me, October 6th, 1895, for "particulars of the Order of the Golden Age and its modus operandi," and that I sent him all particulars I could and the rules I had drawn up (in 1881), and that in January, 1896, for the first time, I heard that by a mere accident through a friend of the new "Order of the Golden Age." We have not the least wish to "lessen the influence of the latter order for good," and never had; but as our work and object is, though partly the same, yet quite distinct in that it goes to the root of the matter, - the religious and moral teaching and the formularies, rites, and devotions of Christianity as we now have it in many sects, which ignore and exclude all ideas of the rights of our lesser brethren and our duties to them - we naturally desired to explain. For so long as the reaping of benefits to ourselves, real or supposed, by the sufferings of others is recognized as defensible by our religious teachers and in text-books of moral philosophy, so long religion stands in danger of being rejected as being of the evil one rather than of God.
P.S. - The original idea in the first set of rules was that all reform societies should be united under one roof - "United Reformers Temple," - and so gain knowledge of each other in a spirit of brother and sisterhood, and save time, money, and labour which are now wasted in seperate efforts often to the misunderstanding of each other. And this would be an enormous gain, for "Union is Strength." But I gave up the idea as impossible in this hard, selfish age of competition, and changed the basis to a simpler one, as may be seen in "Church of the Future," which, with a copy of the original rules if desired, any may have from me for 3d. post free. With most kindly wishes to all fellow - workers for God and humanity. - Yours,
I. G. Ouseley.
Founder, Order of the Golden Age and United Templary,
3 Evelyn Terrace,
From The Vegetarian of February 29th, 1896.
In 1904 the O.G.A. was reconstituted and declared "...founded in 1895 by Sidney H. Beard" with the consent of Rev. H.J. Willliams.
All extracts from The Vegetarian used with kind permission of The Vegetarian Society
3) The work was first published as articles in The Lindsey and Lincolnshire Star - a regional, weekly newspaper with an anti-vivisectionist agenda - between July 30th, 1898 and March 10th, 1901.
4) There is an apparant pattern of evolution in Rev. Ouseley's exegesis; from the orthodox to the delusive, in the course of a series of tracts which were published from the 1880's onwards.
5) During this period the term food reformer had become interchangeable with vegetarian whilst in 1912 a food reform journal; The British Health Review was incorporated within The Herald of the Golden Age. (see also: The Fruitarian Society - Notes)
6) The Herald of the Golden Age; vol.1, no.1. - January 1896.
7) The Herald of the Golden Age; vol.4, no.12. - December 1899
8) An example of the former appeared in Beard's Editorial Notes of The Herald of the Golden Age for September 1896:
"Our possibilities and opportunities are now such, that there is abundant reason for believing that a great influence upon the world's future may be exercised through our instrumentality, for God is with us - blessing our efforts in a wonderful manner - and truth is on our side. With increased faith and devotion it is difficult to over-estimate what we can accomplish"
And the latter:
"The sense of 'universal kinship' is in the air, and the days of systematic and unblushing tyranny towards God's other creatures are numbered."