During 1909, The Order of the Golden Age issued a total of 87,340 bound books and booklets; in addition to 132,000 pamphlets. Yet The Herald of the Golden Age – as with all O.G.A. literature – was usually printed at lower than its production costs which obliged the journal to contain an annual article, entitled; “Our Empty Exchequer” – or similar. In contrast to the Vegetarian Society offices of London and Manchester:
“The Order, it should be said, is entirely a missionary body: its Officials are voluntary workers, and the profits derived from the numerous publications issued in connection with it are devoted to the extension of propaganda work.”
The Morning Post
Cited in: The Herald of the Golden Age, July, 1909.
A renewed estimation of the Food Reform movement had become evident in the national press whilst the O.G.A. experienced international expansion, particularly in India.
From April 1910, onwards, the Lecture Room at Brompton Road facilitated fortnightly talks which attracted a regular attendance of journalists. Vegetarianism – or Fruitarianism as The Order were inclined to term it – was increasingly espoused on a medical and nutritional basis.
A Fruitarian Restaurant was opened at the Harrods department store in the winter of 1909 – less than a minutes’ walk from the International Headquarters of the O.G.A. On 29th October 1910 a major fundraising concert took place at The Albert Hall which attracted 6,000 guests; including European royalty. A year later Beard provided a revealing picture of the period of progress which The Order were experiencing:
“On three separate occasions during the past quarter, as many as 8,000 books have been sold in a single day. Many societies are doing less work with a subscription list 10 times as large as our own.”
The Herald of the Golden Age, July, 1911.
Perhaps the ultimate accolade appeared in an extract from The Meat Trades Journal which was reprinted in the October 1911 edition of The Herald and claimed that:
“Vegetarianism is spreading across the country like some loathsome disease.”
It may have been a fear amongst the public of a particularly “loathsome disease” which could explain some of the extraordinary sales of literature which The Order were achieving. During 1911 the O.G.A. published the first of several books by a leading specialist in cancer research of forty years’ experience – “The Cancer Scourge and how to Destroy it” by Robert Bell, M.D., F.R.F.P.S. The subject became a regular theme of O.G.A. lectures and was already a frequent topic of articles in The Herald. (14)
At a theological level, a gap had appeared which was briefly occupied by an independent periodical; The Better Quest during 1911. Akin to The Herald of the Golden Age and edited by Douglas MacMillan; the monthly paper was entirely orthodox in its approach and therefore capable of appealing – at least initially – to the traditional Christian outlook. The final edition echoed an administrative situation which had begun to escalate within the O.G.A.:
“Our cause is most certainly not a dying one. It is probably the healthiest on earth to-day, and its waters are issuing forth to the great flooding. As a commercial venture, and amongst the particular groups we hoped to help and lead, we have, of course, failed – and badly…
“A frank appeal for encouragement a few months back brought no response, and we concluded that we were not justified in continuing any longer to tax our very limited means, and our equally limited physical strength, for a few hundred people who mostly have become indifferent, if not actually opposed to our clear ideals.”
The Better Quest, November, 1911.
Shortly after their move to London the O.G.A. realised that:
“We cannot take full advantage of the flowing tide because of our financial limitation and our need for secretarial help.”
The Herald of the Golden Age, January, 1910.
It was a situation which had actually afflicted the organisation for over a decade and had led to regular bouts of despondency, on the part of Beard:
“If only our members would display a tenth part of the devotion and zeal in circulating our literature which members of the Salvation Army manifest in circulating and selling their journal, The War Cry, we should soon arouse society from its apathy…
“We ask one and all to share our work and not to leave the toil, complacently, to those who are labouring early and late at Headquarters.”
The Herald of the Golden Age; February, 1899.
In contrast to The Better Quest the literature of the O.G.A. had become considerably less focussed on churchgoing Christians. There were nonetheless indications that humane theology was receiving a healthy appraisal within certain spheres of Christian thought. In August 1908 The Christian Commonwealth (15) invited prominent Food Reformers to contribute articles to a full-page fortnightly feature. Similarly, in 1914 the Catholic weekly newspaper The Universe contained extensive correspondence on the ethics of human stewardship of creation, over a two month period. A subsequent editorial stopped short of embracing the vegetarian approach to life yet espoused substantial sympathy towards animal welfare. (16)
It was a glimmer of humanitarian hope which was about to be overwhelmed by four years of slaughter between nations.
Christendom at War
The Order of the Golden Age were unable to embrace pacifism, as a response to the eventual outbreak of war in Europe; given their concept of justice and its implementation on earth.
In fact The Herald had its own unique contribution to make towards a public consciousness which had already embraced an imperial arms race. Editorial concern was expressed that poor nutrition was a factor behind large numbers of young men being declared unfit for military service:
“The danger which threatens our country at the present time through the increased strenuousness of the struggle for existence, international rivalry, and increase of military armaments abroad, make it almost a patriotic duty for every Briton to advocate and support such reforms as tend to combat physical deterioration and to increase the fitness of our race. Only by our health, stamina, industry, discipline and enlightenment can we expect to uphold our Empire and to maintain its great traditions, responsibilities and opportunities.”
“England’s Need” – The Herald of the Golden Age, January, 1910.