Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.


Mr. Eglinton and "Koot Hoomi."

by William Eglinton

[Reprinted from Light (London), January 30, 1886, pp. 50-51.]

Sir, - My attention has been directed to the letter of "Truthseeker" in your last issue, and, for the sake of those who may not be sufficiently acquainted with the particulars of the "Vega incident," I beg to briefly refer to them before making known my matured conclusions upon the matter. On the 22nd March, 1882, I was at sea, having left Ceylon about 6 p.m. the same day. I occupied a deck cabin forward under the bridge, which one of the officers had kindly placed at my disposal. About ten o’clock I was in this cabin undressing preparatory to sleeping on deck, my back being to the open door. On turning round to make my exit, I found the entrance barred by what I took, at first sight, to be a khitmaghur or native butler. Thinking he had come on some message, I waited for him to speak, but as he did not do so, and deeming his manner insolent from his not having demanded entrance, and not paying the deference usual to Europeans, I angrily told him, in Hindustani, to go away; whereupon he stepped into the cabin, grasped me by the right hand, and gave me the grip of a Master Mason, before I had sufficiently recovered from my astonishment. I requested him to tell me why he had intruded upon me and to state his business. Speaking in perfect English he deliberately informed me he was "Koot Hoomi Lal Singh," and I was at the moment so profoundly impressed with his general appearance, his knowledge of Freemasonry, and the statement that he really was the person, mystic, or Adept of whom I had heard so much during my residence in India, that without hesitation I accepted him as such. We then entered into conversation of some length, of no particular importance to anyone but myself, but it proved to me that he was intimately acquainted with both the Spiritualistic and Theosophical movements, as well as with friends of mine in India. He was in every respect an intelligent man, perfectly formed, and in nowise differing, in outward semblance at any rate, from the thousands of natives one sees in the East. Nor was it hallucination, for I was in full possession of all my faculties; and that it was not a subjective vision is proved by the grasp of the hand, and the very evident materiality of the figure. Some little thing - it may have been a ruse of my visitor - attracted my attention from him for a moment, for I was criticising him keenly, and when I turned my head again - he was gone! Two steps took me to the open door, where I had the advantage of scanning both the fore and aft decks, but I could observe no one in the act of retreating, although no living being could have in the time escaped from the range of my vision. The next day I searched the ship, even going down into the shaft-tunnel to find a person in appearance like the man I had seen on the previous night, but without obtaining the slightest clue to his identity, although my mind was then dwelling upon the possibility of a man having been commissioned to come on board at Ceylon on purpose to deceive me. But the more I reflected the more difficult I found it to accept such a theory, and two days after I penned the hasty and enthusiastic letter which appears in "The Occult World" (p. 133), in which it will be seen that "Koot Hoomi" had promised to take a letter to Mrs. Gordon, at Howrah, if I would write one when on board, a fact I was made aware of through Colonel Gordon sending down his police-boat when I was in the Hooghly river with a letter to this effect. I thought my having seen the "figure" a good opportunity to convey the news in the manner suggested, and I accordingly wrote, asserting my complete belief that the person I had seen was none other than the Great Master before whom the devout knelt and the sceptical were supposed to quail. After I had written the letter, with practical intent (observed, let me here mention, through all my experiences in Spiritualism), I went on to the deck, and knowing a certain lady to be on board who was much interested in psychical matters, I read her the letter, and invited her to mark the envelope as a little test between ourselves and those at the "other end of the line." This she did. On my return to the smoking-room I told some of my fellow-passengers what I had done, whereupon a gentleman who claimed to be a Theosophist and acquainted with Madame Blavatsky, asked why, if I could send a letter, could he not do the same? I saw no objection to his doing so, and he at once wrote a short note, which, from a long experience, I knew must be enclosed in my envelope, for the reason that it was possible for one packet to be carried where two could not. Unwisely, as I now think, I opened the envelope and enclosed both letters in another, and again sought the lady to re-mark it. She was not on the deck at the time, so I returned to the smoking-room, and on mentioning the matter to those assembled, one said "Put a cross upon it"; another remarked "Add a second"; and a third person wished that three crosses should be put. As each one spoke I added the cross, until there were three in all, and I then took the envelope, placed it in my Bramah-locked writing-case, and put it (the case) upon a shelf in my cabin. I opened it at intervals to see whether the envelope was still there, and I last saw it, to the best of my recollection, about four p.m., for when I looked again just before dinner it was gone. At eight o’clock the same night, in the presence of Colonel Olcott and Colonel and Mrs. Gordon, an envelope marked with three crosses and stated to contain my letter, was dropped from the ceiling of the bedroom I had occupied when at Howrah. The former gentleman I have never met, and Madame Blavatsky only once, and that subsequently, in the ordinary course, at one of my seances. I have not been able to verify whether the letter was in my writing, but I imagine it to be mine as the letter was similar in terms to the one written by me - in addition to which Mrs. Gordon was intimately acquainted with my writing.

My more matured conclusions, arrived at, by the way, long before (as many of my friends are perfectly aware) the "Collapse of Koot Hoomi," regarding the "appearance" and the transmission of the letter, are: (1) That the figure I saw may have been a spontaneous materialisation of an unusual character, although it was unaccompanied by any sensation of fatigue on my part, there being no reason why it should not have been an "intelligence" or "spirit" of someone who dubbed himself "Koot Hoomi" (we know vanity is not entirely eliminated from those who have reached the higher life, as witness the large number of communications purporting to come from Shakespeare and others!); and (2) that the letter may, with every reason, have been taken by spiritual agency to India without the intervention of the "astral" aid of the Himalayan Adept, since at least thirty or forty letters had been similarly carried between England and India and vice versa during my residence in the latter country.

I should here like to observe that the Psychical Society may have satisfactorily, to itself, explained some of the phenomena occurring through Madame Blavatsky’s agency, but they have by no means disposed of the marvellous manifestations that took place in her presence in New York and other places in America, and which prove conclusively, to my mind at least, that she possesses psychical powers of no mean order.

I have exceeded the space required for an answer to "Truthseeker," but I have entered into detail that the exact facts may be (for the first time) recorded. I trust, however, my failing health will sufficiently excuse me if I decline to be drawn into a controversy after the lapse of so long a period from the time of the occurrence of the incidents above narrated. - I am, sir, yours sincerely,

W. EGLINTON.

6, Nottingham-place, W.