Astrology As It Is author;
20th Century Astrologer editor(s)
– August 15-17, 2010
The 1856 book ‘Astrology As It Is, Not As It Has Been Represented’, nominally written by A Cavalry Officer, seems to be of disputed true authorship.
Various library records claim that the true author was Zadkiel I, Commander Richard Morrison, yet provide no evidence to validate this claim. The one piece of evidence I’m aware of that might suggest (without proving) such a link is the title, which is similar to that of one of Morrison’s works on astronomy published the following year:
‘The Solar System As It Is, Not As It Has Been Represented’ (1857).
However, given that Morrison was an astrologer who had regularly written astrologically under the pen-name Zadkiel, what reason would he have then to represent himself instead as ‘A Cavalry Officer’ suddenly, unless he was spouting a point of view at variance with his own or one granting spurious ‘independent’ support for his own?
Furthermore, it would seem a little odd, if he was so intent on disguise, that he saw fit not only to choose a pen-name that had links to the armed forces (he himself having been a naval commander) but also then to publish a work with a similar title under his own real name only a year later.
I am aware of two sources to date that expressly name the true author of ‘Astrology As It Is…’ as one Colonel Clements. Both turn out to have the same original voice in a Bredett C. Murray.
The first is the library record at Northwestern University in the United States, which holds a copy of the book, stating (see OCLC record at worldcat.org)
‘Authorship ascribed to Col. Clements by Bredett C. Murray, Catalogue of rare and curious books relating to judicial astrology, 1878, p. 14’
I do not have a copy of Murray’s catalogue, but it is certainly a source fairly close to the time of the book, and should therefore be given some credence.
The second is the December, 1899 issue of ‘The Sphinx’, edited by Catharine H. Thompson, in which, during the article “What is Directional Motion” by the same B. C. Murray, who compares the accounts of various notable astrological authors on the subject, he states:
“I found nothing of interest proper to the subject of this article, in the works of either of the Sibleys, Worsedale, Bishop’s “Marrow”, Col. Clements’ “Astrology As It Is”, “The Star” by D. Parks, and several other authors examined” (p. 348).
Murray’s at times liberal various insertions and omissions of the letter ‘e’ from the surnames of certain astrological authors notwithstanding, he writes as a man well-informed about the astrologers of the past, and one having ready access to a great variety of astrological texts from the preceding two centuries and more.
Is it really likely that Morrison managed to pull the wool over the eyes of astrologers for decades after his death over the true authorship of ‘Astrology as It Is’? Or is it more likely that its authorship by Colonel Clements was a well-understood fact within the inner circle of late 19th century astrologers, one published by Murray in 1878 and again stated as a matter of fact in a prominent astrological magazine in 1899 without it having evidently been challenged in the interlude?
Who exactly was Colonel Clements in any case, if not a skilfully devised and successfully perpetuated invented front for the true identity of A Cavalry Officer, which notion strikes me as more than a little preposterous? Might he have been a friend of Morrison, beknown to him from his days in the armed forces, even though they were in very different parts of the services?
If anyone has researched this topic previously and can provide more answers, they would be much appreciated!
Secondly, another interesting discovery I made while leafing through some issues from the second year (1898-9) of the periodical ‘The 20th Century Astrologer’ was that it was edited by the astrologer Astor, which fact is to be found neither in Gardner, nor in OCLC, where the New York Public Library records attribute the editorship of the first year to Dr. L. D. Broughton but lacks any issues of the second.
Astor’s editorship of the journal in its second year is not stated internally but is apparent from his having the same business address as the journal when he is one of the subjects for the regular column ‘Astrologers I Have Met’ by the pseudonymous ‘Pars Fortuna’! And it is directly stated in a contemporaneous issue of Frederick White’s journal ‘The Adept’ at the time of the announcement that the 20th Century Astrologer had suspended publication. White puts in a very good word for Astor and for the journal.
What might be relevant here is the fact that Dr. Broughton is recorded as having died in 1898, the year of the publication of his first edition of ‘The Elements of Astrology’. It would seem not impossible that he had edited ‘The 20th Century Astrologer’ until his death or until he became too infirm to continue, only for Astor then to take up the reins.
I do not have access to any issues from the first year of the publication (which began in 1897, and not, as falsely stated by Gardner, 1879), so I must reserve judgement on the claim recorded by the New York Public Library. Suffice it to say that in the issues I have from the second year of the journal, both the official review and the published correspondence regarding the recent launch of Dr. Broughton’s first edition of his main astrological text-book ‘The Elements of Astrology’ is extremely scathing. So if Dr. Broughton ever did edit this journal, it is clear that there was little love spared for his writing after his departure.
In the circumstances of Dr. Broughton’s death, and the possibly subsequent publication of his text-book ‘The Elements of Astrology’, correspondents and reviewers might have felt unrestrained in their free licence to criticise where criticism appeared to be due, with regard to the quality of the work. But I am nonetheless a little surprised that he is not shown more respect by the astrologers of the day in view of his historical importance as one of the pioneers of astrology in 19th century America.
All comments very much welcome! By the way, I apologise for my extended absence from participation on Skyscript of late. Personal matters have taken their toll lately, and I know I owe some long-overdue replies to one or two who have messaged me here. Your continuing patience would be appreciated!
– (In response to Tom Callanan’s correction of Broughton’s year of death:)
Tom, thank you for clarifying the date of Broughton’s death. Unfortunately I checked online sources briefly while composing and was duped by widespread claims that he died in 1898. Another time I would have verified this first! 1899 sounds right from what I recall, come to think of it.
So in fact the scathing attacks on his work ‘The Elements of Astrology’ occurred within his lifetime. Furthermore, looking again at the December 1898 issue of ‘The 20th Century Astrologer’, I see that he in fact wrote a column ‘Predictions for December’ for the magazine that month: the very month before the following attacks on his book appeared. Clearly he was still alive and working as an astrologer at that stage at least.
“I expected to see the review of [Dr. Broughton’s] “Elements of Astrology” in your December issue, but did not. I disagree very much with several of his chapters, especially the method of getting the personal description, and the method of finding the position of the Part of Fortune. The only correct description can be found from the degree ascending. No eighth or tenth house can describe the native. I have abundant proof should any be desired.
“I shall be pleased to give the method of finding the place of the Part of Fortune in some future number of your magazine. Of course, no publisher’s name appears in the magazine, so one has to act differently in such cases.
“BRYAN D. PINKNEY”
And then, in the following letter printed, is this savage (sadly, anonymously represented) attack:
“Why I am an Astrologer – Dr. Broughton tells us in his Elements of Astrology, but why he attempted to write a book the Lord only knows, and is not giving away his secret.
“In the first place, the Doctor shows his jealousy of the other astrologers by not giving credit where it is due. Why does he not give Prof. Astor the courtesy of saying that it was from him he learned the planetary hours, especially as he acknowledges the importance of them? Again, he says he has not read Mrs. Bennett’s book. This is not only his misfortune, but his own fault. The Doctor might learn yet a lot of useful information from it. As regards the work, it can scarcely be called a book; it is a hotch-potch of the different vaporings of the Doctor at different times. We read in it a few days ago, and find articles dated 1893, and, in one case, 1886.
“Dr. Broughton, to my mind, is a very poor astrologer, vide his predictions in this magazine; and what is more, he is not sure of his ground or he would never say, “it is a coincidence”. Astrology is a fact, not a coincidence. The first part of his work is evidently reprints of his early writings. The second part should be called “commit to memory”. In this part he speaks of the great importance of parallels, but he does not give anything definite. I have all my planets parallel to each and one another, yet my life has not been marked by just work, work, work. His medical part I would advise anyone to leave alone; the thought of the serious consequence that might attend an ill-advised client is too much even to think of. His appendix is a disgrace; there are words in it that should not be spoken, let alone printed. As regards his private affairs, I think the Doctor, like every one else who goes out to look for trouble, usually finds it. If the people annoyed him, why didn’t he move; if he was an astrologer, why did he move into the house – why not have selected a better one?
“One word for the last. No astrologer was ever sent to prison for practising astrology. It is when they give readings that are all wrong, the client complains to the police and there is trouble. If the reading is correct, the client will be pleased, and no one will be any the wiser. If the Doctor is as correct in his readings as he is in his monthly predictions, I would not wonder what happens him.”
Finally the offical review by the journal, after starting on a positive note, has this to say:
“Much of the reading matter is uninteresting, as well as foreign to the subject, and this fact, together with the language in certain paragraphs, helps to deteriorate the work very much. From a strictly astrological point of view, the work is not a complete success, though it is well worth the price asked; and should be in the hands of every astrological student or professional.”
NB: The 20th Century Astrologer was published in New York by the Astrologer Publishing Company, St. Paul Building: the same address given for the astrologer Astor. It was priced at 15 cents per copy in the US (20 cents internationally, post-paid), and ran to 60 pages per monthly issue (to judge by the sample I counted, though I have only a few issues) from 1897-99. Apparently it was also distributed by the Occult Publishing Co. in Boston, the Purdy Publishing Co. in Chicago, John Story in Sheffield, and W. W. Foulsham & Co. in London. It is all the more surprising, then, that so few copies survive in libraries of any issues at all, while second-hand I have seen copies listed only twice on eBay in five years, and not once on any used book network. Journals vanish fast.
Astor, the editor of the magazine, at least in its later issues, gives his full name as J.D. Astor, and styles himself ‘The Family Friend, the Wall Street Adviser, the Business Man’s Counsellor’ when advertising his services. When visited by Pars Fortuna, it is revealed that he charges $5 per consulation. His premises in the St. Paul Building are described as:
“the fin de siècle style office, consisting of an outer room, with a pretty typewriter, with whom I had a pleasant conversation while waiting for my interview.
“On being ushered into the inner office, a comfortable room, with heavy carpet on the floor, fine furniture, and pictures adorning the walls, in all of which good taste was shown. To my query, If this was Astor the astrologer, the answer was, “I am known as such; what is your pleasure?”….
“One remarkable thing which has since set me to thinking was an interruption of our reading by several telephone calls for some of his regular customers, business men, asking his advice on some of their private matters. It certainly is food for thought, when at the closing of this century an individual is called up on the telephone for advice on business and financial matters by shrewd business men, from an exponent of this ancient science, which at one time regulated the course of kings and empires, but which later days has [sic] consigned to the tomb as superstitious nonsense.”
Clearly the meaning of the word ‘typewriter’ has evolved somewhat from the personal to the mechanical since those days!
I agree that the attacks on Dr. Broughton are shocking in view of his historical importance.
But they are nonetheless historically interesting, both in the specifics of the objections to his writing and techniques, and in the indication they give with regard to his place in the buzzing turn-of-the-century astrological scene as perceived by other astrologers.
The general impression I have is that he was regarded by at least some as an old fool who was not as good an astrologer as he liked to be thought and who used antiquated language that was alien to the Americans of the day. Certainly there appears to have been much mischievous whispering against him, quite openly too, whether born of envy for his reputation or genuine disdain for his techniques.
Could it be that by 1898 his voice was one of so many in the astrological scene in New York that he truly no longer commanded the kind of status he does in the eyes of later historians and did back in the 1860s at the height of his fame on account of his successful predictions in his Monthly Planet Reader and Astrological Journal (a complete set of which recently sold on eBay for $4,250 on a Buy It Now basis, incidentally)?
James Holden dedicates his book ‘Astrological Pioneers of America’ to the memory of Dr. Broughton, which is high praise indeed. Astor, the editor of the 20th Century Astrologer, is not even listed among the hundreds of American astrologers whose biographies are sketched in Holden’s book. But to what extent is that a true reflection of their relative renown in their day, and to what extent does it merely reflect the fact that Astor’s fame was relatively short-lived, lacked an abiding book-form legacy (not counting his little ‘Drawing Room Astrology, or Solar Horoscopes’, published 1915, which is hardly a major work, and I must profess ignorance as to whether or not it was verifiably by the same Astor), and predated Holden’s major research sources?
I note that Broughton’s regular monthly prediction column does not appear in the January, 1899 issue of the 20th Century Astrologer. I have to wonder if he had taken offence at another letter that appeared attacking him in the December, 1898 issue, and had decided to distance himself from the publication once and for all as a result. Unfortunately I lack all issues following the January 1899 issue so I cannot verify this, and it would seem not inconceivable that he might have cared to write a rebuttal of the attacks on his work and predictions, if they did not send him into a spiral of declining health that contributed to his death later that same year, about which possibility I have to wonder, since a man of his standing might well have had cause to feel humiliated publicly and dampened in his spirits by these attacks.
In the December 1898 issue we find:
“Dear Sir: For goodness sake chain up your prognosticators. As soon as I got the November number I saw that Rososevelt could not possibly win. I went and bet all I had on Van Wyck, and I have handed your magazine to my lawyer to see whether I am to sue you or Dr. Broughton for the money I lost. It is occurences like this and your other predictions that hurts astrology. I doubt if the doctor knows as much as he pretends to. I know of a case where the doctor taught a person, and has taught him that the yearly direction only starts one day after birth, instead of the first day the first year. Last year I had one of the worst years I ever had, and by the doctor reckoning the Sun was sextile Saturn. Why don’t you, Mr. Editor, write the predictions yourself?
*The election for State Governor of New York, November 1898, which Roosevelt very narrowly won over Van Wyck
The editor, being Astor, allowed this rebuke to pass without comment, and those previously quoted from the January 1899 issue likewise. It would seem plausible on that basis that Dr. Broughton felt ill-supported enough to discontinue his willing participation in the magazine.
The prediction in question by Dr. Broughton appears in the November, 1898 issue, which I have here, in two places. Firstly, in his November Predictions, thus:
“The President of the United States+ is still feeling the evil influences of Uranus and Saturn near a conjunction in his ascendant; danger of some other affliction or misfortune overtaking him or his family, and likely to be attended with some other sorrow and misfortune, or there may even be attempts made to take his own life. Those aspects will not add to the domestic happiness or comfort of the President. The probability is that the election will go much against the Republican party, if there is not even danger of a majority of Democrats at Congress in Washington.”
+ President McKinley
Secondly, in the same issue, Dr. Broughton details the previous month’s meetings of The Astrological Society (presumed based in New York), including (in the third person) upon ones in which he was personally involved, thus:
“On October 17, Dr. Broughton gave a lecture on the coming election, but he stated that he was sorry to inform the audience that he had not been able to ascertain the times of birth of either of the candidates for the governorship of New York, and therefore only had to go by the time of the meeting of the Republican and Democratic conventions, and also the times of the nomination of both of the candidates.
“The Republican convention met September 27, 1898, at 0.25 P. M., when 21 degrees of Sagittarius were rising, and 14 of Libra in the midheaven; Jupiter was in the midheaven in the sign Libra; Saturn and Uranus were rising in the 12th house, and Venus in the 11th house; but the Moon was on the cusp of the third, and making a square of Saturn, which the doctor deemed a very evil time for the success of the Republican party. Roosevelt will be disappointed in his expectations of becoming the Governor of New York State, as Mars is setting in the 7th and making a square of Jupiter in the midheaven.
“At the time of the Democratic convention, which occurred September 28, 1898, at 0.30 P. M., 24 degrees of Sagittarius were rising, and 17 of Libra were on the midheaven; Jupiter was on the exact cusp of the 10th house, much closer to the midheaven than that of the opening of the Republican convention. The Moon was in close opposition to Mercury and coming to a sextile of Venus in the 11th house, which the doctor deemed much more fortunate aspects than that of teh opening of the Republican convention.
“Col. Roosevelt was nominated September 27, 1898, at 7.41 P. M., when 20 degrees of Tauras [sic] were rising, and the lady of the ascendant was in the 7th house, in its detriment, just setting. The Moon in the midheaven has just left a square of Saturn, also setting, and making a good aspect of Mars in the third house.
“At the time that the Democrats made their nomination 26 degrees of Capricorn were rising and 20 of Scorpio culminating. Venus was within 2 degrees of the cusp of the midheaven, and Mercury in its own sign, just making a sextile aspect. The Moon was in the second house, applying to a good aspect of Saturn in the 11th; all indicating that the Democrats will have a majority of votes on the evening of the eighth of November
“L. D. Broughton, M. D.”.
Tangential historical query: was Broughton unique in his expression ‘The Lady of the Ascendant’?