The Conjuror’s Magazine
Vol 1 No 9 (April 1792) pp 389-90.
B. TO THE PUBLIC
The articles, which I have inserted from time to time in this magazine, having produced several enquiries at the Publisher’s whether I would calculate nativities and resolve questions, I answer that on the principle I am going to describe, I will.
It may be observed from what I said on Mr. Pitt’s nativity in number VII. that I have not pursued the old track of Astrologers, in calculating directions to ascertain the events of life, and the times which are to produce them. Time and its relations, space and its relations, are only the fleeting accidents of visionary matter, the creatures of death, and the forms of darkness. If Astrology be noble, if Astrology be true, it is noble and true from conversing with spirit, with eternity and essence. Thus, it readily, it officially announced the business of the Day Star from on high , at its first meeting the horizon, and never quitted it to its ZENITH.
The business, then of Genethliacal Astrology, is not to tell a person whether or when he shall be hanged or married; for nothing is to be added to the wisdom of Cato and Pope, on these several points. The first is to be found in Cato’s answer to Labienus, in Lucan’s Pharsalia, too long for present insertion. Pope’s passage is,
If to be happy in a certain sphere,
What matter soon or late, or here or there? [E1]
Let it then be the business of Astrology, founding itself on the basis, that “VIRTUE ALONE IS HAPPINESS,” help the student in ascertaining WHAT is the SPHERE.
In this view, and on this principle, not to satisfy puerile or inane inquisitiveness, nor to resolve whether a wicked purpose shall meet with a miserable end, I will render all service to any applicant.
But as no one action, though even the leading object of life, can be taken up singly, it is vain to expect success, unless all circumstances, though minute, be attended to. Therefore life must be regarded and watched entirely; for on a contrary supposition, what would be the case, and what the pleasure? It would be that of a person with a good nose, mouth, or eye, keeping all the rest of the face constantly masked, and introducing themselves by their nose, or other favorite feature, into all companies.
As the student of HIMSELF enters gradually into the minutiae of his life and actions, he will find, that every action has a correspondential or talismanic virtue: he will find with Virgil, not only, that there are “tears of things” [E2], but that there are pains of things, and JOYS of things; and he will also be able to give a rational account and philosophical illustration of the causes and operations of those things. He will find it a FACT that, Aeneid VI. 724.
“Essentially a SPIRIT WITHIN nourishes heaven and earth, and sea, and moon, and stars; and MIND diffused through every joint actuates the mass, and intermingles with the vast body.”
People proceeding alone, often are overpowered by superior strength, from doing what they feel and know to be right; and this is the true cause of religious frenzies. The SENSE OF RIGHT cannot be overcome; and thus ensues a long and doubtful conflict between heaven, and the agents of hell on earth, of which the poor creature who had not vigour to act right, that is to decide in the first instance, is the subject and victim. Conscience is a more severe revenger, than the most ingenious and inexorable tyrant on earth; for it is this vicegerent of GOD, as I perfectly agree with infidels, who, “after killing the body, is the agent that fixes both soul and body in hell.”
“Through desire, a man having separated himself, seeketh and intermedleth with ALL WISDOM,” saith Soloman [E3]. Now, the society which I propose, being calculated to strengthen the hands of those who would live conscientiously and wisely, with perfect opportunity of cementing more and more closely, is an object which applies to all ranks, and every person.
But, after all, how do the stars operate, or how are they indexes? Do they not take away free will? No: they operate as men operate: and they are indexes as looking-glasses. Every man and woman is a star. The stellar virtues are appropriated, inherent, active, and vital, in them. By the man may be seen what star predominated at birth; by the view of the heavens may be seen what manner of man was born; but both are best—Personal knowledge of the moment of birth too, the more intimate and more exact the better.
* * * Let all addresses be to myself. No 11, Devonshire-street, Queen-square, free of postage, and enclosing a guinea.
S.R.’s letter was without address, the last remark answers one part of it.
 “On high”—Evidently because the HIGHEST planet in the system, though moving in a concentric orbit with the rest: the planet is the humanity; the sun the divinity.
[ E1] Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, Epistle 1, lines 74-5. Gilbert has altered line 74. "If to be perfect in a certain sphere" is the line Pope wrote. Pope's Panglossian argument is that "whatever is, is right": we cannot hope to see or understand our ultimate purpose while we are stuck in our limited mortal perspective. Furthermore, Pope says, knowing our fate would make life unendurable: "Heav'n from all creatures hides the book of fate, / All but the page prescrib'd, their state." (lines 78-9). Gilbert uses Pope's lines to argue that astrology should properly not be used for fortune-telling but as a means of philosophical ascent, to reach the "sphere" where all is finally understood, and where true happiness lies.
[E2] In Virgils'
Latin: "Sunt lacrimae rerum" - Aeneid I 462. Gilbert
translates literally. Virgil's enigmatic phrase is used by Aeneas on arriving
[E3] Proverbs 18.1. The King James translation is opaque. The Vulgate translation gives the following sense: "He who wants to withdraw from a friend will seek occasions to do so: he will be argumentative at any opportunity." What does Gilbert want to convey? Separation (i.e. "People proceeding alone") is bad. He proposes a society that will strengthen its members and aid them in "cementing more closely".